Tuesday, 30 December 2014

Mint Green


(Mentha) labiatae. Pernnial.
Applemint: (M.rotundifolia).
Catnip. (Nepeta cataria) Labiatae.
Eau-de-Colonge mint: (M.piperita citrata).
Pennyroyal: (M.pulegium).
Peppermint: (M.piperita officinalis).
Spearmint: (M.spicata, or M.crispa, or M.viridis).
Propagation: cuttings, root division, seed.
Season: spring.
Position: semi-shade to shade.
Soil: rich, moist.
Height: 30-90 cm ( 1-3 feet) according to variety.
Part used: leaves.

The mints are a versatile family, there are a number with pronouncedly different flavours and scents, even though between them there is a strong outward resemblance, except for leave colour. The six listed are easily available varieties, although there are other more rare kinds.
History and mythology:
Mint’s history goes back to Greek mythology and to Biblical times. The Romans introduced it to Britain and it was familiar to Chaucer and Shakespeare. One Greek historian wrote that” “the smell of Mint does stir up the minde and taste to a greed desire of meate.” The Pharisees in the Bible were paid tithes of mint, anise and cumin.

Mints are usually propagated by root division, as even the smallest piece will grow. However, if this is not possible, short stem cuttings taken after the new growth has hardened in late spring can be put straight into the ground, where roots will quickly form. They are best grown in rich, moist soil, semi-shade, but will also grow in poor, sandy soil if the ground is fertilized from time to time. Cut the plants back to ground level in winter. If mint is attacked by rust, the plant must be dug out and burnt, starting again with new stock in a different part of the garden. Mint is not usually propagated by seed because it is small and difficult to harvest. If however, you grow mint from seed, sow in spring in prepared seed boxes, keep moist, and when the plants are large enough plant them out. It is also important to keep mint contained in pots as it does spread and keep different scented mints apart from each other as mint is known to cross over to each other with scents.

Harvesting and processing:
Mints will dry satisfactorily by hanging the leafy stems, cut just before coming into full flower, in bunches in a dry, airy place. Make sure that when the crisp, dried leaves are stripped from their stalks they are kept in an airtight container as this herb does not keep its full aroma and flavour if exposed to the air for long. For freezing, chop fresh leaves finely, mix them with a little water and put them into ice cube trays in the freezer. Sprays of fresh mint may be wrapped in foil, sealed and kept in the deep freeze for some weeks. Mint can be added to butter and frozen. Chop fresh leaves, pound them into softened butter and allow to set in the fridge then freeze.

Mint can be made into mint sauce. Rolled in frying bananas. Mixed into fruit salads and fruit jellies. It can be made into mint julep. And it is customary with green peas. Chopped mint goes with hot, buttered new potatoes, with tomatoes, in some egg dishes, in custards and ice cream.
Spearmint helps prevent bad breath, and is incorporated into herbal toothpastes for this reason. It also helps whiten teeth and condition the gums. A few sprigs of fresh mint in hot bath water is also effective. Mint leaves makes and excellent fragrant addition to pot-pourri and sleep pillows. Spearmint and peppermint are excellent for conditioning oil hair.
Companion planting:
Peppermint in the vegetable garden aids cabbage plants. Planted with stinging nettles increases the oil in peppermint plants. It is also noted planting next to chamomile will lessen the peppermint plant oil but the chamomile itself will have greater oil content. Spearmint is an excellent insect repellent, and will keep butterfly caterpillars, ants, fleas, and sometimes aphis at bay. Spearmint is also reported to repel various rodents. Indoors dried mint leaves placed in drawers and cupboards keeps away moths. All varieties have the reputation for preventing milk from curdling. Sprigs of mint placed in a room will also overcome the smell of stale tobacco.
Herbal warning: Pennyroyal should not be grown around cows as it brings on abortions. Take herbs only if you are safe to do so and the herbs are free from pesticides.
Take as much fresh leaves as you like and wash them. Pull the leaves from the stems and add to hot water ( or cold if making a chilled drink. when making a chilled drink crush the leaves up with your hands to release the mint flavour into the water). Let the leaves steep in the hot water, the water will colour once the leaves have steeped. Use a tea strainer or cloth to strain off the leaves when adding the mint water to cup. Add some honey if preferred. Add some lemon slices.
This tea can be drunk hot or cold. Add ice cubes to make a nice chilled refreshing summer drink .
I hope everyone is having a good day or evening whereever they are.

Monday, 29 December 2014

Mistress Mary...

These crochet bobby pins or hair slides are really sweet, very quick to make, and not at all exspensive with materials. I think I’ll have a whole garden of these blooming pretty soon.

Mistress Mary, Quite contrary,
How does your garden grow?
With Silver Bells, And Cockle Shells,
And so my garden grows.
-Nursery rhyme

Crocheted Flower Hair Slides
1.5mm Crochet hook
DMC Pearl cotton of colour choice
Small buttons
Bobby pins ( Hair slide)
Tapestry needle
(British English crochet stitches given)
Step 1: 5 chain and slip stitch into first chain to form a ring.
Step 2: work 7 double crochet into the ring, join with a slip stitch.
Step 3: work 5 chain, slip stitch to join in next double crochet stitch to form first petal. Continue around until you have 8 petals, slip stitch to join and fasten off keeping a long end.
Step 4: Thread the long left over yarn end and using a tapestry needle secure a small button to the flower centre. Sew the flower onto the end of the bobby pin. You can use a spot of glue to make sure the flower does not move around as well.

Chart for translating crochet patterns:
British English-------------------------USA-American English
double crochet----------------------------single crochet (sc)
half treble (htr)----------------------------half double crochet (hdc)
treble(tr)-----------------------------------double crochet(dc)
double treble (dtr)------------------------treble (tr)
triple treble (trtr)-------------------------double treble (dtr)
yarn over hook (yoh)--------------------yarn over (yo)
I hope everyone is having a good day or evening wherever they are

Sunday, 28 December 2014

Waste Not

Thankfully the weather has been giving us some cooler days. We did have some rain but it was still muggy out side, the last couple of days we had very foggy, rainy, days that do seem a bit cooler. In fact it almost like late Autumn weather.
Some time ago, you may remember I started a set of tea towels and while transferring the designs I had all kinds of trouble, including scorching them with the iron. I did think, oh well, these will have to be tossed in the bin. As you know I hate wasting.

A search online provide helpful and there were tips to use Hydrogen Peroxide to remove the scorch marks. I was rather dubious but gave it a go at any rate.

While not one hundred percent successful, the Hydrogen Peroxide did remove a majority of the scorching. Leaving a ghost of an image. My tea towels did say on the label not to bleach so I suppose this is why there was some left over scorch stain. I could live with the stain as they are tea towels I hope will be used and stained and loved over time. They were a Christmas gift to my niece who moved in a place of her own.
I hope everyone is having a good day or evening wherever they are.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

Simple happiness

I hope everyone had a very Merry Christmas and a happy Christmas. The new year will soon be arriving with another year. How did that happen so soon?!

Wednesday, 10 December 2014

Wrapped up

The weather of late has been stormy with some rain. It's still very muggy though, but today is a bit cooler with what looks like another storm on the way. Meanwhile I've been wrapping up my Christmas presents and have them all finished.  If, you are like me, and are rubbish at wrapping anything I find placing things in boxes the most easiest way to make nice looking presents. Buying boxes can be expensive a cheap alternative is to recycle food boxes. And if you are feeling humorous on the day you can leave the box undecorated and let folks think you've given them a box of ice cream cones.

A fast way to place items in a cheap box is to use cupcake boxes. Don't put the cupcake tray in them. You'll get three cupcake boxes per pack for about $3 which is pretty good value. Line the box with crumpled up tissue paper or cellophane and add your smallish presents. If you have scented items and food items together like chocky's, wrap the scented item so the smell doesn't go through the box contents and or leak.

Boxes like ice cream, mochaccinco boxes and any other boxes can be used to. Wrapping paper, scrapbooking paper, washi tape, paint, ink, stenciles can all be used to decorate them. Give all boxes a good coat of Gesso paint first which covers well. If you are just going to paint your box try to avoid using any box with a raised embossed writing and design as it will show through the paint. Use these boxes for when covering in paper.

If you buy tea bag boxes, especially the big boxes they can be used like cupcake boxes. Sometimes the writing shows through on the inside so paint and cover the inside of the box however you like. This teabag box I used crepe paper party streamers to make ruffles around the edges and for the bow. I added a thriftstore brought card and sequin trim for next to nothing decoration.

And before you know it you'll have all your presents wrapped and ready to go.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening whereever they are.

Sunday, 7 December 2014

Her Room

The last couple of days we've had some rain and storms to help cool things down again. The seeds I thought would never grow are shooting up all over the area I planted them. The Lilliput Zinnia's now have some flowers on them. I've also been puttering around re organizing my room. Technically I'm really just moving things from one end and back again. But it does make me clean and sort things up a bit. This time I put all my material out so I can see it at hand. My craft space won't win awards for most beautiful but at least it is functional and much of the shelving/cupboards/tables were given to me. So frugal too. I even put up a tiny christmas tree given to me too.

Speaking of giving. My brother gave me a Nikon camera. It's a huge beast of a thing and I'm not sure if I'm comfortable with it. I've been using my phone. I've been playing with the nikon here to see what it can do and these images are taken from the camera.
I've also been sending out mail. This is the last to go. A gift for an o.s friend. I gave a to learn knitting book. Homemade chapstick and Cinnamon soap (from the secret santa swap at the Simple Living group) and a stitched homemade bag to put their knitting in. The design is from Red Brolly. Aren't those gal's cute? The design says: Laughter with friends keeps you in stitches.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening wherever they are.

Thursday, 4 December 2014

Jewelled gifts

The weather today is mostly cool with a lot of cloud cover. It looks like it will rain but doesnt' seem to be getting any where to do it. Meanwhile I'm working on Christmas presents. This is a scarf I picked up at the thrift store for 50 cents. It was still in the packet and the packet declared it was a free magazine gift. I intend to add a beaded fringe and some ribbon embroidered roses on either end. Making your own beaded fringe is easy and a lot cheaper (mostly) than buying store brought beaded fringe. Glass beads are always nice but expensive. The next best thing is the acrylic look glass beads which I used here.
To make a simple beaded fringe:
You will need enough packets of beads to finish the edging. I needed about four packets.
Sewing thread or beading thread. Sewing thread works just fine.
A beading needle or needle thin enough to go through the holes of your beads.

Start at the corner of your edging and bring the needle up through the fabric. String your beads onto your thread. Work out what kind of beaded arrangement you would like. I used five beads. At first I thought I'd do random but I ended up alternating orange, green, orange.
Bring your needle up again into the next space (I measured how far apart this space should be using the machine stitches on the hem) Pull the thread to make a loop. I also did a couple of more little stitches to tighten it. Then right next to those stitches start your next loop. Start as close as you can to the last stitches by bringing your needed up and add your beads. Continue until you are done.

I used the sewing machinge stitches to space my beads. I counted five stitches across. If you make your own beaded trim you can buy enough beads to make earings and necklaces to match.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening wherever they are.

Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Creamed Peaches

The weather has been a mixed bag, from some rain to mildly warm. Better than the heat wave we were having. I've been crocheting, I'm a beginner at this so I'm still learning. This edging I adpated from one I read in a book. The edging is pretty simple: Three double crochet in the same space. Three chain. Repeat until you are done. I used a blue fade away pen (slightly visble still) and measured the spaces to keep it even. Simple, no? The dishcloths were $2 from the cheap dollar stores and are very soft. The crochet hook went straight throught theses. The crochet thread is a vintage sort from mum's stash. The colour looks sort of brown here but in real life it's a rich peachy kind that suits the flowers. I'll be adding some cinnamon soap I recieved in the Simple Living secret santa swap to these and call them done for Christmas presents.

I've also been doing some junk journaling using up some of the paper stash. And there's scribblings for maybe future paintings.

I hope everyone is having a good day or evening wherever they are.