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26 November 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

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Signing off for the holiday -- much to do here and it is SNOWING~
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving and I will see you next week!

Make sure you enter the Starbucks giveaway running HERE NOW 
and a new giveaway for a Christmas tree, wreath and garland starts next week!!

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24 November 2014

The Ultimate Gardener's Gift Guide for Christmas

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Some items have been provided for editorial review to A Nest for All Seasons.  ALL items have been tested and used by ME and all opinions are my own.  Links are to Amazon.com which will return a small profit to A Nest for All Seasons.  I appreciate your support!

Before we dive in, a special thank you to Starbucks for sponsoring the Nest Garden Gift Guide for 2014 with a giveaway!  We all need a little Starbucks to get moving in the morning don't we?  Starbucks is premiering the new Dot Collection and a couple mugs and some coffee $$ are the absolute perfect gift for anyone that loves a cup of Starbucks.  Thus, we are giving one of YOU a little Christmas pick-me-up.  Giveaway rafflecopter is at the bottom of the post -- make sure you enter!!

My favorite is the boy with the little green balloon...isn't he adorable?   >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

Of course, it was hard to pass up Pike Place (my favorite Starbucks brew for sure), but I thought the little boy had a lot of spunk, so you will be entering to win the Green Balloon Gift Pack and Starbucks giftcard.

OK -- Here we GO!  Have a friend or family member that loves to garden?  I have the gifts they will LOVE to receive!

BOOKS:

The After Dinner Gardener -- an old paperback from the '70's with TONS of ideas for planting after you eat -- i.e How to Plant the Avocado Pit and Planting seeds from various fruits.  I love this little book :)

Vegetable Literacy -- a bit more expensive than the $2 paperback above (Vegetable Literacy costs about $25), but it is a huge, heavy, beautiful book.  It would make a gorgeous gift!

Sissinghurst: Vita Sackville-West and the Creation of a Garden -- I adore gardens with history and could spend hours upon hours walking among the ancient trees and mature perennials in gardens like Longwood or the Burpee farmstead.  Sissinghurst is on my long list of gardens to visit very near the top.  The next best thing is this book; like Beverly Nichols without all the snark.



Speaking of the snarkster...anything by Beverly Nichols is always on my list. Start with Down the Garden Path and eat all the rest of them right on up!  Beverly is a man and he speaks of gardening like no one else I have ever read.  His words are like candy.

Along with Beverly, I have been collecting old texts from Elizabeth Lawrence.  My very, very favorite so far is Two Gardeners - A Friendship in Letters.  The letters exchanged are between Elizabeth and Katharine S. White.  They are absolutely charming for anyone sincerely captivated by gardening.

FUN GARDEN CRAFTS & PROJECTS:

Hypertufa and Concrete planters are still hot in the gardening community.  THIS LITTLE KIT from NativeCast is a fantastic introduction to the art of concrete planters.  I made one little one and am completely hooked.  I want to go buy a few bags and make some giant planters now!

Nativecast Hypertufa Planters

Note that the NativeCast planters are small, but also include potting mix and seeds.  It is a super fun little stocking stuffer!  How much do we love the cupcake planter????

GARDEN GEAR:

SHARP Pruners - FELCO is the gold standard, but I have always loved a solid pair of FISKARS as well.  Last Christmas I received two pairs of pruners, a solid metal German pair from my father-in-law and a leather-handled pair from my Mom.  They have been my best friends this year.  The point is to get solid and SHARP pruners for the gardener in your life.  You will save them hours upon hours by providing sharp and solid pruners!

A Bulb Auger is on my Christmas list this year to make bulb planting quick and easy.  I have a plan for a "Valley of Poets" that will require many daffodil holes in clay soil, so an auger is a must for next fall!  This one attaches to your drill and is only 11 bucks.

For the "cousin gift" last year, I requested a HoriHori.  It costs almost $30 so it was too expensive to justify buying for myself.  That means it made the *perfect* Christmas gift.  Thanks Arvas!

Potty Mouth Planters -- These are fantastic bottomless planters with sharp teeth that dig into the ground.  these are PERFECT for starting new plants off on the right foot.  I can't wait to dig mine out this spring!

The Roo Apron.  See that girl with fruit in her shirt?  That was me.  The roo Apron solves a major problem for me and it might be the PERFECT gift for your gardener friend.  (Side note: The roo blog is really cute -- you can visit it HERE!)

That is one (of many) loads of magnolia leaves carted up to the house to decorate our Christmas tree. 
See how quickly they UNload from the Roo on the instagram video RIGHT HERE!

Re-Leaf Leaf Scoops --  If your garden friend moves more leaves and mulch than flowers and veggies, they might think these "claws" are worth their weight in gold.  They are exactly the right size...manageable, but big enough to grab a nice chunk of leaves (or mulch!) and the plastic is rigid to support the weight.  Plus, the kids think they make FANTASTIC dragon wings.


...and YES...they do save a nice manicure :)

For the Hands...

Gardener hands suffer a LOT.  Here are my favorite products for taking care of them.

My Homemade Gardener's Green Tea and Allspice Soap
HollyBeth's Oil Lotion -- really nice for tired hands
Burt's Bees Hand Lotion
GLOVES GLOVES GLOVES (This 6 pack is only about 10 bucks and they are FABULOUS!)


THE REAL DEAL: Plants, Seeds and Bulbs

For any gardener, nothing quite beats the true stars of our hobby - the PLANTS.  If you have a few pennies, give seeds.  If you have a few more, give bulbs.  If you have a good deal of $$$ to spend on your garden friend or family member, buy some big, beautiful plants.

Let's start with the plants, shall we? The Southern Living Plant Collection is a tried and true collection of plants and they do not just have to be for southern gardeners!  I am technically a Yankee here i Pennsylvania, but we are zone 6 and the temperate valleys here allow for many plants to survive farther north than you might think.  My favorite use of plants a zone or two further south?  A little bit of LIFE in the middle of winter via indoor planters!


Two fail-proof plants for Christmas are hardy herbs like  Chef's Rosemary with a super high oil content (yum-yum!) and tough evergreens like Holly.  Both can handle a little bit of shade and a little bit of water.  Both hold their green color well and add LIFE LIFE LIFE all winter long.  Come spring, they can be transitioned outdoors and even planted in the ground for permanent residence.  Those of you in the west might want to check out the Sunset Western Garden Collection and Azalea Fiends will have a hard time resisting the variety at Encore Azaleas.  They are running a giveaway HERE!


If you can't afford to buy plants, why not gift bulbs or tubers?  There are plenty of options to choose from during winter and even for early spring and they can be quite inexpensive.  Nothing is certain to please your gardening friend more than a stocking bulging heavy with bulbs!  My favorite source for bulbs is Longfield Gardens and I am currently growing my Winter Pot with their classic Muscari and Van eijk Tulips. My wishlist includes bunches of Holiday Bulbs like this pretty white Amaryllis n a birch bark pot -- lovely!


If you only have a few bucks, you can still bless the gardeners among you.  Do you know how?  SEEDS.  The rick to gifting seasoned gardeners with seeds is to gift NEW RELEASES.  Every year, new seeds, new hybrids and rediscovered heirlooms become available.  If you follow along on the Nest facebook page, you will know that my favorite source for new seed introductions is the American classic Burpee.  New releases for 2015 that I am excited about include the corn that can grow IN A POT on the porch, the Summer Squash 'cupcake' (I helped name that one!!) and 'Candy Mountain' Sunflower.  Find the new releases HERE!

Zinnias at Burpee's Fordhook Farm

My WISHLIST for 2015

EVERYTHING above I have tried and loved.  This year for Christmas, I have a few new garden items on my list.

-- Deerskin or Sheepskin Gloves (I can't wait to get my hands in a pair of THESE! -- again at $15 too expensive for me to buy for myself, but just the right thing for a Christmas gift!)

-- Salt Blocks (Maybe Sweet Apple for the deer??)

-- Birdfeeders and Birdseed/Suet for 4 posts in our side yard (Maybe a chapel or two?!)

WHEW -- if you made it this far, you NEED a cup of coffee!!  Enter to win the giftpack from Starbucks RIGHT NOW!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

...and if you cannot think of anything else...remember...Each  Starbucks dot collection mug is individually packaged in a festive red box (no gift wrap required!) all for under $20.  You know how many Starbucks are along the turnpike??  No excuse for no gift!

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Chocolate, Ginger and Praline Bombe

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Dear Mia, I thought we had a little talk about my hips. I thought that your monthly foodie posts were NOT going to add any more pounds to mine. Chocolate + Ginger + Praline and with a last name of BOMBE pretty much ,means I will be maing these tonight and 2 pounds added to the scale tomorrow morning. grrrrrrrr....and THANK YOU. ++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


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Happy November, foodies! We're in the full throes of Autumn, and on the run up to Christmas
 I wanted to share with you one of my recipes that has become a solid favourite in my household!

Ingredients:

- 200-340g jar ginger conserve, depending on how gingery you want it!
- 150g bar dark chocolate
- 568ml pot double cream or whipping cream
- 50g caster sugar
- 50g flaked almonds
- icing sugar, for dusting

Method:

1.Take a large food bag, cut down one side and along the base, then open out. Use this to line a 1-litre pudding basin.

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2. Tip the ginger conserve into a large bowl, then stir to break it down.
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3. Using a large sharp knife, shave 50g of the chocolate into shards, then reserve.
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4. Measure 450ml of the cream into a bowl, then whip until it just holds its shape (try not to overwhip).

Fold the cream into the ginger conserve using a large spoon until the cream is
evenly flecked with ginger, then gently fold in the shaved chocolate.
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5. Spoon the cream mixture into the lined bowl and smooth the top.
 Freeze for at least 4 hrs, or overnight is better, until the ice cream is firm.
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6. Line a wooden chopping board with foil, then lightly oil the foil.

7. Tip the sugar into a heavy based pan, then gently heat, without stirring, until the sugar is melted and a golden caramel. You can swirl the pan gently to help it melt evenly if necessary. Remove from the heat, then stir in the almonds. Tip onto the foil, spread out with the back of an oiled metal spoon, then leave to set.

8. Pour the rest of the cream into a small pan. Break up the remaining chocolate, then add to the pan, stirring over a low heat until the chocolate has dissolved. Set aside to cool and thicken.

9. When the almond caramel has set, break it up into small pieces using a rolling pin. You are aiming for a mix of larger and smaller pieces.

10. When the chocolate sauce has cooled and is thick enough for spreading, turn the ice-cream bombe out onto a serving plate, remove the bowl, then peel off the plastic. Spread the chocolate over the top and sides of the bombe as evenly as possible. Add more as the first layer starts to set until you have used it all up.

11. Scatter over the almond caramel, then return to the freezer until firm. To store the bombe, wrap in freezer film until ready to serve.

12. To serve, transfer the bombe to the fridge 45 mins before serving. Dust with a little icing sugar and cut into thick wedges.

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I will be back next month with another Christmassy recipe.
Enjoy lovelies!
Mia :-)



Like Mia's recipes??  Go visit her on her blog, follow along with her on twitter or leave her a comment here at the Nest!  

Show Mia a little love and click the photo below to visit HER BLOG, check her out on  TWITTER or PINTEREST


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