Sunday, December 29, 2013

Weekend Wisdom: What's the Story Behind Jarlsberg Cheese?

Huffington Post recently posted an article entitled "What Your Favorite Cheese Says About You."  These personality analyses are apparently designed to help you know who you really are.  When we read them, we secretly hope that we're shown to be only good with a smidgeon of spunk, snark, and silly. I don't think we really give much credence to these pseudo-Freudian exercises, but it's all in good fun.

In the latest cheesy edition, by virtue of my favorite cheese being Swiss, I am deemed to be a liar.  Well.  It's said that even a liar tells the truth sometimes and I would imagine the inverse is true too, but lying is something I just don't do, save for those little white ones that don't really matter to anyone except the person you're lying to.  ("No, it does not make you look fat.")  So much for that.

But let's talk about my favorite cheese.  Swiss.  The cheese that doesn't taste a thing like it smells.  The sense of smell is closely affiliated with our sense of taste, so why on earth do we like cheese so much?  Even Swiss cheese doesn't come close to being the stinkiest cheese of all, but clearly, there are millions who don't let the strong odor bother us and we chow down.

Swiss cheese originated in Switzerland (hence, the common name) and my nearly lifelong penpal from there told me years ago that what most of us think of as Swiss cheese is properly called Emmenthaler, coming from the Emmental region of Switzerland. But Swiss cheese is also made elsewhere and a number of varieties exist.

Ohio plays a major part in the cheese world, in spite of most people thinking of Wisconsin as the cheese capital in the U.S. The biggest producer of all-natural Swiss cheese in the U.S. is located in Brewster, Ohio.  And Baby Swiss was invented here.  The characteristic holes are the result of bacteria (one is Streptococcus!) producing gases as one bacteria consumes the lactic acid produced by the others, and the bigger the holes, the longer the cheese has been aged.  However, hole size is regulated because it becomes a problem for mechanical slicers when they're too large.

I like all kinds of Swiss cheese, but my favorite is Jarlsberg (pronounced yarlz'-berg), which doesn't come from Switzerland at all, but Norway.  It seems that the formula for producing Jarlsberg cheese is closely guarded and it is only made in Norway, except for two other places in all the world.  One is in Ireland and guess where the other one is.  Go on, guess.

That's right - Ohio.  The cultures used to make my favorite cheese are imported by Alpine Cheese in Winesburg, Ohio, and they do their part in satisfying the country's taste for the Number One most imported cheese in the country - over $125 million worth each year.

All I really care is that this sweet, nutty cheese is sitting in my refrigerator right now and I can partake of its deliciousness when the mood strikes.  Which is often.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Wordless Wednesday: Abutilon

Parlor Maple
(Abutilon pictum)

Zone 9-10
3-10' tall
Sun to Part Shade
Blooms all year
Keep soil moist

Tuesday, December 17, 2013

"Fine Foliage" Book Giveaway

You know how excited Jenny and I were that Indoor Plant D├ęcor: The Design Stylebook for Houseplants made the Amazon Best Books of 2013 list about a month ago?  Well, I know a couple of other authors who knew just how we felt.  Christina Salwitz and Karen Chapman wrote Fine Foliage: Elegant Plant Combinations for Garden and Container and their book made the list, too!

I did a review of it over on Horticulture's website, back in April:

Besides being a neat little package of horticultural eye candy that could stand on this merit alone, Fine Foliage delivers much more for beginning and seasoned gardeners alike. For those challenged or overwhelmed by the plant choices available for combining in the garden or the container, Karen and Christina come to the rescue, giving more than 60 examples of what works together, without the use of blooms.

Starting out by explaining the science behind their beautiful combinations, readers will soon learn how to start playing with possibilities in their own gardens. Most of the book, however, is a graphic volume of recipes, one after another, of simply gorgeous plant pairings, with such names as “Bright Lights, Big City,” “Deep Sea Jungle,” and “Ribbons and Curls.” To make things even easier, shade plants and sun plants are given separate sections, and other vital growing requirements such as hardiness zone are provided.

With its genius play on texture and color, Fine Foliage will almost make you forget that flowers exist. Or at the very least, that you don’t need to rely on them for beauty in the garden.

I've often said if I were forced to choose between flowers and foliage that I'd choose foliage every time. (Thank goodness I don't have to choose though!) Christina and Karen's book illustrates beautifully why I feel this way.

I've got an extra copy of Fine Foliage here that I'm going to send to one lucky reader.  All you have to do to enter to win is to leave a comment on this blog post, telling me the name of one of your favorite foliage plants.  If you don't have one, just tell me you'd like to win the book.

Be sure to include a way to contact you if you're the winner.  I'll pick a winner sometime after midnight this Friday, December 20th, using's Random Number Generator.  If it all goes well, the book could be in your hands by Christmas.  U.S. entries only, please.


The winner is jchapstk !  You'll be receiving your book this week!  Congratulations and enjoy!  Thanks to all who entered.  The book can be ordered from if you want a copy of your own.  And you know you do.  :-)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Need Garden Gloves? Here's a Giveaway!
A few weeks ago, Kara, over at Angela's Garden,contacted me and asked if I'd like to host another glove giveaway just before Christmas.  Since I have a pair of my own and like them, I quickly said, "Sure!"  I always love hosting a giveaway of things that I use and like.

So here we go...

One lucky reader will win a pair of Classic Leather Gloves, valued at $29.  These are made of washable, lanolin-infused kidskin (that means they're soft and will stay that way), with padded palms, reinforced stress points, and outside seams (to help prevent blisters).  They come in sizes S, M, and L and you'll get the size you want in Willow, which is a nice shade of green.
Photo from Angela's Garden

But WAIT!  There's MORE!

Kara also is giving the winner a matching pair of Willow Knee Pads! These are made of a synthetic stretch material and are filled with gel.  They have a Velcro-type closure that's adjustable and sell for $17.
Photo from Angela's Garden
All totaled, if you ordered these from the website, it would cost you $46 for the pair of gloves and the knee pads, and $5 for shipping, so whoever wins will be getting $51 worth of value for FREE!  And right at the perfect time of year to gift a gardener on your list.  That gardener can even be you, because doesn't everybody shop for themselves while shopping for others?

Here's how to enter:

  • Leave a comment on this blog post, telling me what size glove you wear.  (Size guide is here.)
  • Be sure to give me a way to contact you, should you be the winner.  Blogger does not always automatically provide this information.
  • This is not required and she didn't mention it, but I'm sure Kara would appreciate it if you "Liked" her page on Facebook.

I don't know how to make it any easier for you to enter.  You have until midnight EST on Sunday night, December 15, 2013, to leave your comment with your size and contact info.  On Monday, I'll use the Random Number Generator to pick a winner.  So there you enter already!  You can't win if you don't enter!  And Happy Holidays!

EDIT:  We have a winner!

That means that Teresa Soule, you are the winner!  I'll be contacting you to get your shipping information.  Congratulations!  And thanks to all who entered!  Another giveaway is coming right up!

I received no compensation whatsoever for hosting this giveaway.  I received a free pair of gloves from Angela's Garden in connection with a previous giveaway last June.  All opinions stated here are my own.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

P. Allen Smith's Rustic Collection ~ And Our Library!

Christmas comes earlier this year. just seems like it because Thanksgiving was later than most years.  As a procrastinator extraordinaire, I like that it did, but with fewer days between Thanksgiving and Christmas, I'll still be right up to the last minute preparing, just like all the other years prior.  I know there's a solution to this problem I have, and I'm workin' on it.

I did get the Christmas tree up by Thanksgiving, which is always my goal, so that we can decorate it when the kids come for dinner that day.  But this year, Hannah stole the show and the tree remained bare until I got it decorated yesterday.

Another thing that helped jump-start me this year was a lovely box of live greens that arrived the day before Thanksgiving, courtesy of my friends, P. Allen Smith and Heidi Berry, over at the Berry Family of Nurseries.  They sent a wreath last year that looked good for months, and this year I got a 15-foot garland.

I knew exactly what I was going to do with the garland, because each year I put one on the short bannister at the bottom part of our stairs.  When you walk through our front door, it's one of the first things you see, so it's the ideal place to put this.  And this year, because I'm using live greens instead of my usual artificial garland, it smells good too!  Walk in my house, and it smells like a Christmas tree. Mmmmmm!

The garland came as a kit, with six pre-wired ribbons and eight pine cones: four white ones and four natural ones.  I was a little worried about whether the garland would hold together as I wound it around the bannister, but it's really well put together and I didn't lose anything more than small pieces of the juniper.

Since I didn't need all 15 feet of the garland for this area, I simply cut it in two and used the other half on top of our bookcase.  I don't have that part completely decorated yet, or I'd show that to you too.  But it's nice that this was long enough that I could use it in two different places, and of course that lovely fragrance is in both places, too.


This was part of the P. Allen Smith Rustic Collection, which has companion pieces available (seven, in all) along with the garland, at Home Depot.  They're only available online, so have a look at all the collections here.

Look what they're doing and YOU can help!

Allen and Heidi are doing something really nice this year.  The top three bloggers with the most interaction on Allen's Pinterest board will get a collection of greenery sent to a local non-profit, charity, or religious organization.  If my blog post is one of the three winners, I'm having the greenery sent to The Paulding County Carnegie Library.

Our local library isn't large, but it's pretty special.  It's been designated an Ohio Historical Landmark because it's the first county library in the United States to be funded by The Andrew Carnegie Foundation and was established in 1912.  It serves our rural area well (2012 population of Paulding County was 19,295), and there are several branches in the little towns throughout the county, as well as a bookmobile.  The staff at the library is very supportive of local authors (like me!) and they've got plenty of activities for kids and adults alike throughout the year.

I'd like to see this special place receive some Christmas cheer, and if you'd like to help, just head over to Allen's Pinterest page and either "like" the pin about my blog post or leave a comment on that pin or even better, REPIN IT!  On December 9th - that's next Monday - they'll have their winners.  If you don't see the pin there yet, it will be very soon!

In any case, I hope you'll have a blessed holiday season!

The Rustic Collection Garland was provided to me free of charge by P. Allen Smith and The Berry Family of Nurseries.  All opinions stated here are my own.

blogger templates | Make Money Online