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I posted a photo of the uniquely-shaped pottery that I came across at a local nursery, yesterday on facebook and asked you to guess what they were used for.

This unglazed pottery was commonly used in arid regions long ago to store both food and water.  They are called ollas.  

Ollas are making a comeback in the garden – particularly in arid regions.  

Why?


Ollas are a great way to deep water plants.

They are buried so that only the top is exposed.  Water is added and slowly seeps through the walls of the olla, providing uniform moisture to plant’s roots.

The top of the soil remains dry, so that evaporation is limited and decreases problems with weeds because their roots can’t reach the moist soil underneath.

Ollas can be used in vegetable gardens, containers and among other plants in your garden that may not be attached to an irrigation system.

To use, simply take the lid off, and fill with water. Every few days, refill and then let the water slowly percolate into the soil.


There are companies now making ollas for the home gardener.  They are not cheap.  The ones above were going for $35.  
I would love to buy one, but they are not in my budget right now.  Maybe I can add one to my Christmas list?

You can make your own inexpensive olla using a plastic milk jug or 2-liter soda bottle, with small holes punched all around and then bury it.

OR, you can take two unglazed tera-cota pots and glue them together with silicone.  *Learn how to make both types of homemade versions, here.

I really like when the old-fashioned ways of doing things come back into style.  Technology is a wonderful thing, but it doesn’t mean that the older ways of doing things is obsolete.

**For those of you who would like to purchase an olla, like the ones pictured above – they are available at local Summerwinds nurseries throughout the Phoenix area.

For those of you who live elsewhere, here is a link to the company who created the ollas in the photos above.

If someone asked you what your favorite food was, what would you tell them?


My daughter, Gracie, would answer by saying “anything chocolate”.  

My husband would say “pizza”.

But my favorite food is a warm slice of sourdough bread with melted butter.  My idea of heaven is being surrounded with loaves of French bread and plenty of Irish butter without the carbs or calories 😉

Because I like to make things using produce from my garden, I decided to try making herb butter using the herbs that I grew and dried earlier this summer.


Just for fun, I decided to make my own butter using some leftover heavy whipping cream (did you know that if you beat heavy whipping cream long enough that you will get butter)?  

When we were kids, my mom would teach us how to make butter this way using her antique butter churn.  It was a lot of work, but it was fun.

Most of the time, I just use regular butter to make herb butter.


I beat the whip cream until it became thick and continued until it looked like this…


Your butter will start to solidify with a little buttermilk liquid left.


Drain the buttermilk and you are left with butter!  You can salt it to your taste at this point.

1. You will need a 1/2 cup of softened butter. (Store bought works just as well as butter you made yourself).

2. Add a 1/2 teaspoon of your favorite herb.  Dried basil, chives, dill, oregano, rosemary, sage or thyme work well for herb butter.  You can also use a 1/2 teaspoon of poultry or Italian seasoning instead if you like.

3. I also added 2 cloves of minced garlic, also from my garden, to the herb butter.

4. Mix it all together using a rubber spatula.


5. Place your butter mixture onto wax paper and begin to form it into a roll by folding over the wax paper and using your hands to mold the herb butter.


6. Twist the ends of the wax paper and place your herb butter into a plastic freezer bag.


7. Freeze until 2 hours before using.  You don’t have to use it all at once.  Simply cut off a few sections at a time.  

You can freeze herb butter up to 6 months.

So, get started now and preserve the taste of your summer herbs by making your own herb butter.  

Make some for yourself and give some away to friends.

I must say, that I was going to take a picture of my herb butter melting over a hot slice of sourdough bread.

But, I ate it before I remembered to take the picture….

**You can use your own herbs that you have dried or you can use herbs from the grocery store.  

To learn how to dry herbs, check out my earlier post – “How to Grow and Dry Your Own Herbs”

What herb(s) would you add to herb butter?

My youngest sister, is very creative.  She even has her own company where she creates clothing for kids.

This year, she has gone all out for Christmas in regards to decorating the house at Double S Farms.  My mother, who is also super creative, helped as well.

I thought you would enjoy seeing some of what they have done…..

Here is what my sister had to say about decorating her house:

It’s beginning to look a *bit* like Christmas. I have been sick the past two weeks (boo!) and am super behind on my holiday preparations but I have managed to whip out some new Christmas decor to give the house a festive feel.


I had a million grand ideas for a new advent calendar this year. On November 30th and nothing done, I ran to Target to buy one. Oh my – so ugly and overpriced. Ran back home, busted out my felt stash and an old bulletin board I had laying around to create this one. Inside each little stocking are two treats for the boys and a Christmas related activity to do for each day. It has been a blast so far and the boys love to peek inside each morning to see what we get to do.


Do you see these adorable trees?!?! I found them on the Anthropologie website (pictured on left) and pinned them a few weeks ago. However, we are really cutting back this year and they are totally out of my budget. Bless my sweet mom for figuring out how to make something similar and helping me with them! I think they turned out great and cost us just $17 to make six of them. 


Speaking of my awesome mom, she put together these little *globes* from some trees, mason jars, and salt. Love them.


Again, keeping the budget in mind I made this little peace banner for the fireplace out of linen and some leftover felt. It cost me a a few dollars and I love it.


Since we used mellow neutrals to decorate the family room, I figured the boys needed new stockings to match. These are nothing fancy and I was able to use fabric and felt that I had on hand.


(Please ignore the ugly black TV). We kept the decor simple and understated this year but I really like it.


And of course it wouldn’t be the holidays without our cheeky little elf, Cooper. This is Cooper’s third year with us but thanks to Pinterest and some creative bloggers, Cooper is far more clever than before.


Although I’m feeling frazzled and behind, my little guys are enjoying every bit of this joyous season. I hope you are too!

(I’m a little too scattered to come up with proper tutorials on these right now but if you have any questions as to how I made anything, please message me at finleyandoliver@gmail.com – I’d love to help).

You can check out more of my sister’s great photos and ideas at finleyandoliver

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I like to think that I am somewhat creative, but I am not in my sister’s league.  But, I did write a recent post on the Birds and Blooms blog about using items in your garden for decorating for Christmas.
Please check it out here:
I’d love to know what you think.
Do you have any decorations that you make from your garden?

Please tell me about them 🙂