For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Decorative Garden Journal, Gardener's First Aid Kit, Testing Old Seeds, Freezer Strawberry Jam and Yummy Heirloom Brushetta

"Flowers have spoken to me more than I can tell in written words." Lydia M. Child

I often talk about my love for journaling and awhile back I talked about a Cookbook Journal I had made for my daughter Taylor.  Well, I also have created several Gardening Journals to show the progress of my gardens as the years go by.  It is fun to put the photo's in along with magazine articles or pictures that inspired me to my newest creation.  As the years move forward seeing the growth and changes that naturally take place in a garden are both exciting and joyful.  This morning while I should have been busy harvesting, I just couldn't resist taking a few moments to weed the Pergola garden and walkway... it is so relaxing for me... the cool morning with the light fog across the fields is so inviting as I prepare for the heat of the day.  Yesterday Taylor took the boys swimming and I had some quiet time... in my gardens... Well here we are at the end of June and I haven't even given you a Strawberry Freezer Jam recipe... shame on me! Well they are still in season so here is my families favorite and if you were fortunate enough to be one of our Winter CSA members you got this in your shares... so here's the not-so-secret recipe! Enjoy!

Gardening Journal's can be made from any type of book you want... you can even make a homemade one for that matter. Pre-made scrapbooks come in so many styles you are sure to be able to find one that suits your style- botanical, cottage, Victorian, English or shabby chic... the choices are endless.  Ordinary composition books work well and these can be easily personalized. You can design the covers to inspire their contents and your gardening style. A color photocopy of a any picture from a gardening book or magazine can be used; Just about any type of sturdy, decorative paper, including maps and wallpaper, can be used for the pages of your gardening journal if you decide to go homemade.
Here are the materials and instructions on how to create a home made journal using a composition book- (SEE ATTACHED PHOTO)
Tools and Materials that would be helpful in this endeavor:
Ruler
Blank composition book
Scissors
Patterned paper
Glue stick
Bone folder or wallpaper squeegee
Craft knife
2-inch-wide self-adhesive linen tape- be sure the color matches your theme- can purchase at any craft store.

Customized Journal How-To
1. With a ruler, measure the front cover of a blank composition book. Adding 1/2 inch to all sides, measure and cut two pieces of decorative paper to size.

2. Apply a thin layer of glue to the front cover of the composition book including the spine. Lay a piece of decorative paper patterned or a photocopy of one that you have chosen side down on a work surface, and carefully center the book's glued cover on the paper. Turn the book over, and use a bone folder or squeegee to smooth out any wrinkles; let dry. Carefully trim excess paper using a craft knife. Repeat process with book's back cover.

3. Cut a piece of adhesive linen tape slightly longer than the book's spine. Remove the tape backing, and carefully center the tape along the spine. Adhere the tape to the spine; use a bone folder to smooth out any wrinkles. Carefully trim excess tape using craft knife.

As gardener's we all should have a First Aid Kit handy in the potting shed or at least in the house.  Our garden's have many hazards all there own and we should take precautions to be safe.  It harbors insects that bite, thorns that scratch, and other potential nuisances that may require simple first aid.
~ A basic kit should include the following: alcohol for cleaning wounds, triple anti-biotic ointment, cotton balls, bandages of all sizes, gauze and tape, Epsom salt for soaking, tweezers for thorns and splinters, organic insect repellent and sunscreen, anti-itch cream for stinging nettles and poison ivy, Benedryl, and of course some wonderful organic hand cream to sooth and soften your dry skin at the end of the day.
*Be sure that if anyone in your home has KNOWN allergies to bee stings you have an epee pen on hand at all times when out of doors.  Be sure to check with your physician for info on this.

Testing Old Seeds
Many of us are still planting and adding things into the garden.  We come across a spot that we are sure could fit one more thing in and decide to plant... what shall it be as we sort through all the leftover seeds? Or we may have some seeds that germinated spotty in the garden so we want to fill in and get a full row. Succession planting keeps us busy seeding and planting right through into late fall. With this in mind you will want to be sure your seeds are viable~ especially if saved over from last year.  I save seeds for up to 3 years, some think that is foolish, but I always do a germination test and I have not had many disappointments.  This sounds much harder than it is, but anyone with water, paper towel, plastic baggie and seeds can do it~ really!  Seeds saved can be worth sowing -- but only if they pass this germination test:
* Fold 10 seeds in moist paper towel, place in resealable bag, mark with date put in and the date germination if viable should take place, as well as the type of seed.
*Be sure to read on the package instructions how many days the seed takes to germinate~ add a couple to be sure. *After the 'day's to germination' have safely passed by, open the paper towel to see how many of the seeds germinated. *Multiply that number by 10 to calculate the percent of germination. More than 70 percent is passing. If between 40 and 60 percent, sow thickly. Below 40 percent, it's best to buy fresh seed.
~Be sure to keep any seed you want to save for next year in the freezer in air tight freezer bags or plastic containers.  Also be sure to label any packages that may be tattered or where the labels may be faded.

Cute Personalized Herb Pots... make cute gifts or are a wonderful addition clustered together on your window sill or table top.  Personalizing them is so super easy, yet adds such a flare to the simplest pot!   Individually, they're portable and easy to handle: Bring the basil indoors, for example, when making pesto, instead of stooping in the garden. When you plant the herbs, label the rims with a permanent felt-tip marker, and use these pots year after year! (see attached photo)

Strawberries, strawberries... oh yummy strawberries!  Here is our families favorite Strawberry Freezer Jam recipe.  This is one of the few jams I don't can... Strawberry Jam frozen is like eating them fresh picked~ there is no comparison with canned!
Strawberry Freezer Jam
3/4 cup pectin - equivalent to 6oz. (like sure-jel)
1 1/4 cup water
4 cups whole strawberries (1 quart container)
4 cups organic raw sugar

*Following the instructions, especially with the amount of sugar is crucial to have proper set up!  DON'T SKIMP ON THE SUGAR!!!!
1. De-stem berries and then crush berries in a bowl; add sugar and stir for 3 minutes until sugar is dissolved. Let stand for 10 minutes.
2.  Boil pectin and water for exactly one minute and 45 seconds!  Start timing when the mixture is at a rolling boil.
3. As soon as the time is up add the pectin mixture to the strawberry mixture slowly pouring in and continually stirring for 3 minutes to dissolve sugar completely!  It will be grainy if it is not stirred long enough.
4. Pour into either freezer containers or canning jars.  Leave 1 inch head space in either container.
5. Let set on your counter for 24 hours before freezing.
Super yummy!

Heirloom Tomatoes, fresh garlic and just picked basil... this all adds up to Brushetta at our home! Here is our families favorite recipe!
Brushetta
1 loaf Persian Bread from Sunflour Bakehaus or a loaf of fresh bread.
7-8 Roma tomatoes or 4 to 5 large ones, diced~from Garden Gate~ multi colored looks best!
2 fresh garlic cloves, minced
1 tsp. sea salt or earth salt
1/2 cup olive oil from The Olive Oil Store, plus extra for brushing on bread
1/2 cup fresh snipped basil leaves from Garden Gate
Fresh Parmesan Cheese

1. In a 2 quart bowl put chopped tomatoes; sprinkle salt over top. Let set for about 10 minutes.
2. In the mean time snip basil finely; add basil, minced garlic and 1/2 cup olive oil to tomatoes; stir gently as not to mash the tomatoes. Place in refrigerator for at least 1 hour before serving so flavors blend.
3. Just before serving, cut bread into 2-3 inch wide pieces, then slice diagonally; lay on a cookie sheet and brush olive oil onto one side, flip over and brush oil on other side; place in oven under low broiler and toast until golden, about 1-2 minutes; flip and brown other side.
4. Top bread with brushetta topping; grate fresh Parmesan over top.  Serve immediately.

Happy Day,
Jean

'Guinea Pig' Meals, Seed Packet Magnets, Sheets for Tablecloths and Springtime Salad, Salad Dressings and Homemade Croutons!

"Flowers always make people better, happier, and more helpful; They are sunshine, food, and medicine to the soul."
Luther Burbank

Meals are important at our house~ they are a time where we all sit together and talk about the days events, big news, mishaps or anything else that happens to pop up.  Meal times can get a bit on the noisy side, but they are special together times that everyone gets to give their two cents worth.  Last night at the supper table, Taylor said she wanted to do 'Guinea Pig' Suppers every night next week~ Neil said, 'no way'; Kyle said, 'yeah, cool'; Ethan said, 'uh-uh'; I said, 'OK, but I have to say yes first before anything is approved'; Neil said, 'That sounds better'; and then my sweet little 10 year old Ryan said, 'Where are we going to get the guinea pig meat?', quite seriously.  So you may be saying, what is a guinea pig meal?  Well they are fun & easy. All you do is try a new recipe that you think looks good that you have never tried, really not that scary.  Anyway, I thought that this was cute!

*The other day I was at a friends house and they gave me a tour of their new 'little' greenhouse. It was cute- her daughter had saved several of her seed packets to keep for a handy reference.  I saw them as something much different- cute Fridge Magnets for home & gifts of course! I am sure most of us gardeners are guilty of buying that 'extra' pack of seed just because of the package, the photo of the flower, herb or veggie- "Oh," we say, "I have to have that ....." .  We all love a pretty picture- as they say, 'a picture says a thousands words'...  So often I purchase a seed packet just because of the package.  Seed companies would be smart if they all put more energy into the packaging!  I have already used them as name cards at a tea party, pasted on the front of a homemade card and to make Fridge Magnets.  It is so easy and they are the cutest gift to quick throw into a card you are going to send someone! Here's how~ You will need a laminator or self laminating sheets, a roll of self sticking magnet and of course your empty seed packets.  Simply laminate the pack and then stick on the magnet! So cute, so simple and so fast!

*Some people collect shoes, purses, books, I collect table clothes.  No matter what thrift shop I go to, the first place I hit is the linens department; I stand back and look down the rack so I can pick out the fabrics that catch my eyes~ plaids and floral's are always first on my list.  After I find a few things it's off to the sheets~ yes the sheets!  Sheets make wonderful outdoor entertaining table clothes; they cover picnic tables beautifully!  I also have used quilts for a unique touch on a special occasion! Be creative, it's your table!

Everyone loves the first yummy things out of the garden in spring, lettuces, greens, spinach, radishes, scallions and the list can go on & on.  Here is a variation to the everyday salad using some of Garden Gates awesome Bacon, lettuces, greens and radishes!

Garden Gate Farms Special Springtime Salad

1 bag mixed Greens from Garden Gate Farm, about a pound
1 bag baby lettuces from Garden Gate Farm, about a pound
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
1/2 cup chopped pecans
1/2 cup dried Cranberries or cherries or mix of both
1 bunch Radishes from Garden Gate, washed, trimmed and thinly sliced
1/2 pound Garden Gate Bacon, crisply cooked & crumbled
1/ pound blue cheese or feta cheese (without juice), crumbled
Poppy Seed Salad Dressing- see recipe below
Homemade Croutons- see recipe below

1. Wash & snip greens & lettuces into bite size pieces; arrange in a large salad bowl or on a large serving platter.
2. Layer each of the remaining ingredients, except dressing, on top of  lettuce/greens.
3. Serve with dressing on side.
This is a large batch and will feed 12 to 15 hungry folks! 

Yummy Poppy Seed Dressing

1/2 cup raw organic sugar
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. mustard
1/3 cup real lemon juice
1 tsp. grated red onion
3.4 cup Olive Oil
1 Tbsp. poppy seed
1/8 tsp. pepper

Combine all ingredients and mix well.  Refrigerate and serve chilled.

Homemade Croutons

1/4 cup butter
1 Tbsp. minced fresh garlic
1/4 tsp. each salt & pepper
1/3 cup grated Fresh Parmesan cheese
6 slices french or sour dough bread, day old is fine,  crusts trimmed* (don't throw away)

1. Melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Cook until butter foams;  Add garlic and cook about 1 minute; add bread cubes and toss to coat with butter. 
2. Season with salt & pepper.  Transfer to a baking sheet and bake at 375 degrees fro about 15 minutes, tossing once in between, until lightly golden.
3.  Remove from oven and sprinkle with cheese and toss until cheese melts. 
Makes about 4-6 cups.
*Don't throw away those crusts- put them in a freezer zip lock bag or freezer plastic container and freeze for up to 3 months.  Use them for your next batch of homemade dressing!

Happy Day,

Jean



 

     

 
 
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