December 10, 2012

Baking Cart

My kitchen is a lot like people.  It's greatest strength is its greatest weakness.  The 1935 space (renovated in 1997) is small.  Happily, this makes it easy to clean...and quickly...since I am not covering a lot of square footage in the process.

But it is small by new home standards, and  though ample enough for me, it still has storage and flat surface issues.

So a number of years back, I put together a baking cart that lives next to my refrigerator and rolls out as my baking whims arise.  

It holds, as you might expect, my canisters of flour, sugar, etc., my food processor, and measuring cups and spoons.

(And also right now, this cute new Oklahoma! apron that Sunshine gave me for my birthday.)

Oh, and my favorite mixing bowls, a set of glass nesting ones. Find a set here if you think they might make a nice Christmas gift for a baker on your list.

With my college boys (ahem, men) coming home for Christmas, I better get that
cart a'rolling.  :)

December 5, 2012

Rosemary Christmas Trees

Small rosemary trees, to give as gifts or decorate your home, are everywhere right now.  Groceries, big box stores, not to mention nurseries...are all peddling these aromatic herbs in various forms: trees, standards, double or triple standards.

I have been known to give them as gifts (usually with an accompanying rosemary-infused recipe), absent their festive foil packaging (replaced with a more appropriate and attractive a mossy terra-cotta pot.)

But truthfully, most of the time I am buying them for myself. And not for the dry, heated interior of my Christmas-decked halls, but for next spring and summer...when they will really  be happy...outside, with good air circulation and strong light.

If I can hold them over that long. Because these inexpensive shaped rosemary specimens are not as easily found then.

So coddle them I do, keeping them alive, if not beautiful,

until the weather warms the following year when they can move outdoors.

Here are some tips for getting them to survive the winter indoors:

* Put them outside whenever possible.  Just remember to bring them back in when temps dip much below freezing.

*  DON'T LET THEM DRY OUT!  Unlike some water stressed plants that can recover, rosemary cannot.  Once they get too dry, they are done for.  Burn them in an outside fireplace to make them useful to the very end; the fragrance is wonderful.

*  While indoors, place them in a south facing window, if possible.  They will get gangly in weak light, so the stronger the light exposure the better.  Wait till spring to start feeding.

*Of course, if you are just enjoying them for the holidays, place them anywhere their piney scent, lovely form, and dark green color will be appreciated.  Decorate them if you like...they make a cute little tree for your kitchen.

If they survive until warm weather rolls around, they might need repotting.  Potted rosemary of any size is notoriously root bound when first purchased.

*  Lastly, give them plenty of space and air circulation. They are prone to powdery mildew and spider mite. In them in a pebble-filled saucer with water. They will appreciate the extra humidity. Just
remember that air circulation!  

A lot of tending, I know. But next spring you'll be glad you made the effort.

For more info, how about watching LC and me this Friday on Newschannel 4 at 4:30? We'll be talking about gifting and caring for rosemary and other traditional holiday plants.

December 4, 2012

Jon Stewart and Stealing Christmas

"Christmas is getting so big it's starting to eat the other holidays."  
Jon Stewart

Jeez! Yes, Christmas now starts around Halloween, has pretty much
devoured Thanksgiving (MUCH to my dismay), and now, and NOW

it is December 4 and I am forced to run the a/c in my car, dig out my anti-humidity hair spray (humidity galore, but no rain), and anguish over my tulips (just planted a couple of weeks ago) that are ALREADY STARTING TO COME UP IN MY FRONT FLOWER BEDS!

The grass couldn't be any greener,

the pansy bloom any heavier,

the unseasonable clematis blossoms any larger.

I am beginning to think that, yes,


the Grinch DID steal Christmas.

And then hid it.

Behind a big ol' Easter egg.

December 3, 2012

"The It's All Right Here" Organizer

Ah, gift giving. Tis the season of course. Shopping for loved ones...often including ourselves in that category.

All of those sales and deals out there incite seasonal outbreaks of 'one for you, two for me...'  holiday shopping. 

This Thursday is my birthday, and I have been working for the past couple of days (months, really) on a birthday gift for myself, and Husband (whose birthday is also this month.) 

It's one of those gifts I'll be so happy to have, but has been a real trial in the making.

This summer (after dealing with many of my parents' health, home and financial issues), I resolved to deal with some of my own.  Or mine and Husband's that is.

I resolved to tackle, organize, and address all of those sticky financial matters, decisions, documents, and (whereabouts there of) that always seem to escape our attention.

Because it is no fun, frustrating to do, scary to consider, and a real pain in the you know what.

But that when done,

will give us tremendous peace of mind...

and be a great gift to our children as well as ourselves.

LC told me about a workbook of sorts, 

(order it here)

as a tool to get started. I am methodically working my way through living wills, safe deposit box inventories, long term care policies, and end of life decisions.

Whereabouts of birth certificates, keys, passports, savings bonds, and on and on.  With maps to their location for significant others.  WHEW!

Decidedly NOT fun, I must tell you, but I am happy to report that I am making headway.  Not yet smug, because there is still much to do...but significant headway, nevertheless.  Enough to feel much greater peace of mind on 
my birthday.  Sometimes to feel better we have to feel worse for a while.

(BTW, this beautiful, stately concrete Father Christmas was a gift from some gardening friends last year.  He is now holding court along side my Christmas tree.  Much more fun to receive than a tedious ol' workbook, I might add.)

Oh...L'il Sis' Lady Grace is getting in the Christmas spirit too. Helping out with the twinkle lights, she is.