Rosemary & Lemon Simmer Pot Recipe

“I enjoy the spring more than the autumn now. One does, I think, as one gets older.” ~Virginia Woolf

Peeking at my she shed through deep pink crabapple blossoms. Spring has arrived at Three Pines Farm.

This time of year is perfect for opening up the windows to air out the stuffiness that settles in after a long, cold winter. When the weather gets warmer and the leaves on the trees begin to green, I get the urge to start scrubbing floors, baseboards, organize the pantries, etc. When the weather warms up and the smell of freshly cut grass is in the air, I just don’t want to be inside. I want to get the house thoroughly cleaned and then spend my days digging in the garden.

One of my favorite things to do in the spring and summer is head off to my she shed and garden & collect fresh herbs to use in a simmer pot. If you have never heard of or you haven’t tried simmer pots before, I think you will enjoy the fresh smell that will permeate & freshen your home.

You can use all sorts of herbs- rosemary, parsley, basil, sage, chamomile, peppermint, in addition to fresh citrus juices or essential oils. Try lemon, grapefruit, orange, or lime.

Here’s my favorite go-to recipe for a refreshing spring simmer pot.

Rosemary & Lemon Simmer Pot Recipe

You will need:

Fresh or dried rosemary

One lemon, sliced

Vanilla Extract

Lemon & rosemary essential oils (optional)

Firstly, get a sauce pan & fill with fresh water. Bring to a slow boil, then put on low to simmer.

Gather a good bunch of rosemary from your garden, (or use 1-2 tablespoons of dried rosemary), and add it to the pot of simmering water. Next, add one entire sliced lemon & one teaspoon of vanilla extract. Let this to simmer on low as long as desired. Feel free to add more vanilla extract, or a few drops each of lemon and rosemary essential oils.

When it’s finished, just dump the remnants into your outdoor compost pile.

Have fun with this and create your own sweet-smelling combinations. I also love to combine fresh sage from my herb garden, orange slices, and dried lavender buds, along with a few drops of lavender & sweet orange essential oils.

Over the next few months, I’ll be sharing more recipes on this blog. I’ve started several trays of seeds to plant a medicinal & tea herb garden. I’m growing echinacea, borage, chamomile, lavender, basil, thyme, coriander, rosemary, St. John’s Wort, and many other herbs. In addition to my herb garden, I have started an English cottage garden with foxglove, hollyhock, cleome, rudbeckia, alyssum, zinnia, snapdragons, cosmos, lupine, and sweet peas. I’m truly blessed because my mother has a greenhouse & has been sending me home with new plants every week.

There are a lot of exciting changes happening around our mini-farm. My husband, David, has planted a Victory Garden & built a trellis for our various berry shrubs to climb. We planted blackberries, raspberries, and boysenberries. I don’t know about you, but with the C-Virus outbreak and food shortages at the grocery stores, it has really ignited our desire to grow our own food to feed our family. So, canning is a new skill I hope to acquire this summer.

David’s Victory Garden. He planted celery, peppers, cabbage, carrots, onions, radishes, parsnips, turnips, tomatoes, and broccoli. The little white cross in the background is part of the berry trellis he built.

David is also repairing the old chicken coop on our property & in June we pick up our first flock of six hens. I’ll share before & after photos of the coop & pictures of our girls once we bring them home.

I wish you all a very productive & healthy spring! Please take care of yourselves.

Brightest blessings,

Amanda

Sunday Musings

My favorite poet, Mary Oliver.

With a crackling fire in the fireplace, courtesy of my beloved husband, I spent last night curled up on the sofa next to Dexter, our 8-year old lab-golden mix, and read aloud Mary Oliver’s book, “Why I Wake Early.” Mary is Dexter’s favorite poet, too. There’s something about her words- so simple, yet so deep- that reach into my soul, make me want to strap on a pair of hiking boots, go traipsing into the woods & breathe in the smell of rotting leaves, dirt, and fir needles. But, of course, it’s too bloody cold outside right now, so reading about the forest next to a cute pup and warm fire sounded like a much better idea.

I’ve been thinking a lot about my birthday this year. I turn 45 in July. I’m grateful to be turning 45 and I’m not upset about it at all. When I was younger, I used to think that 45 was so old, but now that I’m staring that number right in the face, I can’t help but feel deep gratitude that I’ve made it this far. I’ve begun to ask myself the question Mary Oliver posed: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”

In the grand scheme of things, I honestly don’t know. I seriously have no clue. Once upon a time, I studied anthropology, but that no longer interests me. I’ve been a homemaker for most of my life. I’ve been busy caring for a husband, two children, running a household, and doing all of those things. Now that the kids are older and I have more freedom, I have no idea what I truly want to do.

I’m a certified aromatherapist & an herbalist. There’s always that. I’ve written articles on those things. Should I consider going back to school? Should I get certified in something like nutrition or personal training? Should I take a class on something that interests me such as writing, gardening, or learning about wine? There’s so much I want to do, but I don’t have the time or resources to do everything I want to do. I feel like I need God to give me a good, hard nudge and shout at me in his booming, omnipotent voice that sounds like a bizarre mix of Morgan Freeman and Jack Nicholson, because let’s face it, God has a BIG sense of humor & we all have a bit of crazy Jack inside us all. In my head, he would say:

“Mandy, do THIS!!! THIS is what I’ve chosen for you. THIS is who you are meant to be. Use this particular gift, use it well, and use it to help others.”

*sigh* If only it were that easy. About a year ago, I started hospice training, but an inner voice told me to take a moment and pause. It’s not that I don’t think I could handle it- I know that I could. It’s just that I don’t think it’s the right time. Every time I would pick up my learning binder, something would distract me. In my soul, I truly believe that the answer isn’t “You won’t ever do this, but ‘not right now.'”

I need to start from a place of humility. I need to start very small. I need to work on myself before I can help others. They always say, “When an airplane is going down, put on your oxygen mask first before you help the person sitting next to you.” I think that’s where I need to begin. I have not treated this body well & it shows.

I decided to make an investment in my health this year. I joined a gym and hired a personal trainer and nutritionist. We don’t have a lot of money to do things like this usually, but I felt like I needed help, so I scraped together my pennies and went for it. I struggle with inflammation, lethargy, and skin issues. My body was really letting me know that I needed to change in a very big way, or it was just going to throw in the towel. And since I’m not ready to cross over and play ping pong in heaven with Audrey Hepburn, I’m going to roll up my sleeves and get to work.

So, to answer Mary’s question of what I plan to do with MY one wild and precious life, my answer is: “Stop playing it safe. Stop hiding in my house. Show up and work hard. Quit complaining. Don’t resist change, but give into it. Let the past go & give God permission to create something new.”

So now the real work begins. The hard work. The work that will help me to grow and change and embrace who it is that I’m meant to be.

That being said, I plan to spend the rest of my day doing laundry, reading something spooky (I’m finishing up Ruth Ware’s “In a Dark, Dark Wood”), and having a cuppa of red rooibos tea with coconut milk, vanilla extract, and stevia. And, for your viewing pleasure, here’s a picture of Dexter McCartney, the cutest lab-golden mix rescue that ever graced the planet.

Be well, birds.

~M

A Summer House/Meny/Orangeriet/She Shed

One of my favorite decorating blogs is Vibeke Design. Vibeke is an interior designer living in Norway & she decorates in a Scandinavian/ vintage style that I love. I belong to her closed Facebook group & upon sharing a photo of my new “She Shed” she told me that it was called a “meny” or “orangeriet” in her country. I looked it up and “orangeriet” in Norwegian means “little house.” That suits me just fine, as I truly wanted it to be a usable extension of our home.

My brother commented that our shed looks like something from Little House on the Prairie. Since then, we’ve been affectionately referring to it as our “Little Schoolhouse Shed.” It even has a little copper cupola. All that’s missing is a cast-iron bell near the front door.

One question I’ve been getting as of late is “What are you going to do with it?” or “What’s the point of having a shed that isn’t for storing lawn mowers and other junk?” Good questions, as I’m still figuring that part out! So far, it is a little potting shed, but I also go in there to read, journal, color (adult coloring books are a lot of fun), listen to music, or just to pray/meditate and clear my head. The shed is right in front of my raised vegetable/herb gardens, so it’s really convenient. In the spring, I’ll start seedlings and make plans for next year’s garden.

That being said, here are the details of my shed:

  • It is 10′ x 16′ .
  • It has a white metal roof & a copper cupola.
  • The siding is board & batten. It’s painted white.
  • It has a 4′ porch.
  • The inside is unfinished, so my husband painted the walls SW Extra White and the floor is painted SW Privilege Green. He also installed a small window A/C unit to keep me cool while potting plants and/or just hanging out.
  • The porch is unpainted, but my husband is painting it white. (We bought our paint from Lowe’s.)
  • We had it custom made from Carolina Storage Solutions in Hendersonville, NC.
  • We do plan to finish the walls/ceiling ourselves eventually.

Now, on to the vegetable garden…

We wanted to keep it manageable, so we planted just a few things. So far, we’ve planted jalapeno peppers, cucumbers, carrots, green beans, watermelon, pumpkin, and a variety of cooking herbs. Also, catmint because we have a few cats.

My husband built the raised beds himself & painted them black. I read somewhere that if you paint garden fences/beds black, it makes the flowers & foliage really pop. So far, I really like the way it looks.

My hardworking husband. He’s a keeper, that’s for sure!

We also bought a few metal arbors. I am going to plant clematis vines on them & those will be planted soon.

My husband plans to build a few more beds in the spring & he’s also going to put in a picket fence with a garden gate. We will also get rid of the grass and put gravel between all of the beds. Eventually, I want a brick path, but this will be a slow process. 🙂

I’ll close this post with a few pictures of the shed’s interior.

xx,

Amanda