For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Cooking & Baking with Herbs, Herbs for Pets, Lovely Lavender and Yummy Lavender Recipes

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs; although I don't use it as a culinary herb even though you can, I am partial to it as a lovely hedge about my flower beds.  Evan loves lavender, he will often bring me a bouquet of the sprigs he has picked... so sweet. 

Cooking with Herbs is such a special treat... once you start using fresh herbs and taste the difference from the dried, it will be hard to enjoy them as much in the winter.  Fresh herbs are a culinary delight to the senses and add a flavor that is hard to beat. Many people skip herbs when baking, so here are some yummy 'Herb Additions' to your everyday meals along with some baked good recipe's!
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Herbs: Planting, Tips and Varieties and a few Herb Recipe's!

The end of the month... we are already through one third of this year... I certainly cannot believe how fast time keeps moving on.  Our farms winter market is over ~ 21 weeks have flown by and now the regular season farmers market which will consume the next 29 weeks our lives begins... Gardening and farming will soon take up much of each day.  I love this time of year and the feeling of exhilaration that comes along with it.  In the next few entries here at Dragonflies, I will be focusing on Herbs. We will be able to start putting out all those goodies in the gardens, decorating our porches and patios and adorning our flower beds with boundless blossoms... my favorite time of year!  [Read More]
 
 

More on Companion Planting & Beneficial Bugs, Crafty Spring Sachet, Yummy Spring Dishes Radish Chive Spread and Sorrel Soup!

Evan and I picked rhubarb and asparagus today... so fun! He enjoys being outside helping so much, it is such a blessing. The other day when we were in the front garden hoeing he and Ryan were picking up all the weeds putting them in buckets to dump... well Evan wanted to do more, so there he goes with my hoe diligently working away at some weeds 'mom missed'... Hard work is something that needs to be nurtured in them while young, and when we can make it fun they want to be with us!  I am working hard at teaching these children all about gardening and feeding themselves... companion planting is an important part of this process, especially for the Organic gardener.
     
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Window box Gardening, Easy Jewelry Magnets, Make Pillows with Old Shirts, Honey, Almond & Oats Granola and Yummy Spring Potato Salad!

Spring is such an exciting time of year... I love all the flowering trees and shrubs... in my opinion if it doesn't bloom at some point, why bother having it! Although I do admit the beautiful colors of Autumn in the fall with all the maples and other trees bursting forth in spectacular hues of orange, red, yellow and bronze is stunning as well... I welcome spring with open arms, dream for summer and long for fall...  
         
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Kitchen Tips and Tricks, Cute Curtain Tie Back, Herb Garden Spritzer and Citrus Raspberry Tea


I spend a lot of time in the kitchen especially in the summer when we are busy with all the canning & freezing we do around our home.  I love to can as you will learn more this summer through my blogs I am sure!  Right now I am excited with spring and all the bounty she holds... rhubarb, asparagus, fresh greens, spinach, fresh garden tea... oh spring is delicious.  But I think all the seasons can be, especially with the season extensions that we have now with hoop houses and heated green houses at our farm.  With our Winter CSA they allow for fresh stuff all year!  Today I am kitchen mode so here are some fun ideas, tips, decorating ideas and yummy drinks to read about! Have a great day and wonderful weekend!
     
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Choosing Perennials, Lavender Heart Card, Easy Flavored Sugar's Gift and Yummy Apple Pie Oatmeal

Our gardens are filled with love, patience and long suffering... these are attributes that we as spouses, parents, co-workers and such strive to maintain and build in our personal character.  I believe that gardening helps us grow these virtues.  I always tell my my friends that God made me to love gardening because that was the only way He was sure to get these virtues instilled in me.   Perennials I believe help along with this much more than annuals.  My closer friends know how much I enjoy 'instant gratification'~ which is why I probably will always incorporate my beloved annuals... petunias, nasturtiums, pansies and the likes~ they are ever faithful!  Today we will look at perennials and the pro's and con's to them along with some tips & hints on maintenance.
         
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Canning Tips, To-Do List Tags & How to Can Yummy Sweet and Sour pickles and Mexican Style Salsa!


Heirloom Tomatoes... basil, garlic... oh my!  Summer goodness just keeps flowing into our kitchens from the gardens.  We are busy starting to put our food up for the coming cold months and how wonderful it is to watch those can shelves fill up with all that good stuff. Today we are going to busy making salsa and sweet & sour pickles.  Every time we add to the shelves, I just stand back and cannot help but be so thankful for all we have.  Life is good!  Today I am going to give some helpful canning tips that I compiled several years back for my cookbook, "Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats" along with my salsa & pickle recipe... and of course  [Read More]
 
 

Choosing Annuals, Keep Flowers Blooming, Mud Room Coat Racks and Yummy Breakfast Bake

The nursery & garden centers are a tempting place to go right now for us gardeners.  As we drive past we can see the happy pansies that we just know want to come home with us, shrubs that we are sure we would have just the right spot for beckon us to take them, that beautiful flowering American Red Bud would go just perfect over in the side yard...   [Read More]
 
 

Market Day At The Garden Gate Farm, Plant Tags, Plant Growing File and more yummy Market Fresh Recipe's!

Market Day At The Garden Gate Farm, Plant Tags, Plant Growing File & more yummy Market Fresh Recipe's!

We have been busy... I thought today along with the normal fun stuff I like to share I would give a journal entry of "A Day In The Life..." at our farm on Friday while we get ready for market... so here it is... enjoy!

Here was our day last Friday...  it was 97 degrees with a heat index of 103 degrees...
"We take so much care in what we do because we do it for you!" Jean Smith
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Landscape Design Tips, The Importance of Soil and Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes!

I am a Cottage Gardener through and through~ I love the free form it allows me to have... the natural flow that occurs with time... the feel that everything has been there forever. Cottage gardens just seem happy and inviting to me~ they seem to say, 'go ahead & pick a bouquet.. take it in the house, smell it... gaze upon it's beauty and wonder...' Daisies, lupines, delphiniums and roses are just a few of the Cottage Gardens blooms that abound. I wouldn't even know where to begin to explain how to do other garden types. I believe your heart becomes a part of your garden over time, it calls out to you each time you pass by and invites you in like an old friend. Landscaping can be fun and exciting, filled with anticipation of what each year will bring, what news plants will be added, new walkways, arbors... Enjoy your gardens and be one with it, it will bring you years of peaceful abundance. There are several aspects to consider when considering your Landscape Design. These elements will effect the outcome quite drastically and need to be planned well in advance. *First make your Plan~ Walk through your yard and break it into three basic areas~1. Public Spaces- your front yard and driveway; these should be neat and organized; 2. Private Spaces- patios, pools areas and children's play areas; these spaces allow for your personal creativity; 3. Utility Spaces- garbage cans, propane tanks, central air units, firewood piles and such- be practical when planning these areas. For instance, you don't want to walk across your entire yard in the winter when you want to get some firewood. *Decide what your Personal Taste is~ this is probably going to be the easiest step in my opinion, unless of course you are not a gardener at heart and simply want a yard that is esthetically appealing to the eye and don't really care about personal expression. If this is the case, I would recommend going to a book store that has gobs of magazines; look at the covers of all the gardening magazine and see what catches your eye; decide what you like and then purchase several in that category of gardening; what is your budget? what is your time limit to maintenance? *Take into consideration the Style of your home when choosing your garden style. You wouldn't want to put a formal English garden with an old Victorian home. *Blueprint your yard~ you don't have to be an architect to do this. You can actually purchase kits at garden centers to aid you, or do as I do, just take a pad of paper and rough draw your entire property or just the area in which you want to do the landscaping. Take into consideration where all shade, all sun and partial shade/sun areas are located. This will make a big difference in the plants that you finally choose. Jot down where trees, fences, ditches, buildings, sidewalks, driveways, etc. are located. * Make a Plan of Action~ take time to develop your blueprint and plan. Most well done gardens are a work in progress that require time and patience, not to mention funds! Decide on all the elements that you want to incorporate into the landscape and then decide what is the most practical thing to start with. You will more than likely be incorporating hard scape elements into the design with the plants and maybe some garden art. These would include walkways, pergola's, patios, pools, arbors and trellises. Also bird baths, sun dials, statues and any other 'art' you want. *Choosing the plants will be another big decision. You will need to decide on trees, shrubs, perennials and annuals. This will need to be decided upon once you choose your style. *When deciding on the Layout, if you choose to incorporate paths, make them winding if at all possible; this adds interest and creates a feeling of anticipation as to what is coming up around the bend. This obviously is not possible in all yards, so a way to create that feel is in your flower beds. Instead of making a straight line edge for your beds, put curves in them to create interest. It is amazing how this creates a natural flow that is appealing to the on lookers eye. Different things to consider when planning: ~ do you want a veggie & herb garden? ~ do you want shrubs and trees that require little pruning ~ do you want flowering or evergreen shrubs & trees? or a mixture of both. ~ take into consideration all four seasons when choosing your plants. ~ be sure to look at growth patterns- maturity height & width, shade or sun, dry or wet, etc. Designing and planning your garden is the fun part of gardening, but there is another very important element that is the Key to Success~ your Soil. The following information was found and adapted from "Michigan Gardener" magazine, April 2012 issue on page 9. "Soil is comprised of three materials: sand, clay, and loam. The best soil has equal parts of all three. Problems arise when there is too much of one material. Sandy soil is too loose and drains too quickly... Clay soil is too hard when dry, repelling water and making it difficult for roots to grow. When wet, it holds too much water, leading to root rot.... Spending a little time becoming familiar with the soil type in your backyard will greatly improve your gardening success. If you need help, bring a sample into your local garden center and an expert will help you determine your soil type.... You're not necessarily stuck with the soil you're given. Adding amendments will help create a rich, loamy composition that's a great environment for plants to thrive. For sandy soil, add organic matter, such a peat moss or compost, to give it more texture add water holding properties. To break up clay soil, add gypsum, pine bark fines or ceramic pellets. It is also important to know your soil's pH as well as nutrient composition before applying fertilizers.... Tests are available for about $20...." There is much information to be had on this topic that I wouldn't have time to get into here. I would advise you to get a soil sample done and get your soil prepped for maximum benefits. Yummy Apple & Cinnamon Pancakes! Here is yet anther way to use Taylor's awesome pancake mixes! Be sure to pick one up at the market! 1 Package of Taylor's Bake Shoppe Regular Pancake Mix. Follow package instructions for 1 recipe. 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 apple, cored, peeled, quartered, grated and divided sugar for sprinkling butter for melting to fry in 1. Make batter according to package instructions adding the cinnamon. 2. On a heated skillet melt 1 Tbsp. butter; sprinkle 1/2 tsp. sugar on top of melted butter; add 1 Tbsp. grated apple on top of this. 3. Immediately pour 1/4 cup of batter over top of apple, sugar & butter; cook until bubbles appear on the surface, about 1 to 2 minutes; turn and continue to fry for an additional 2 to 3 minutes, until golden. Serve warm with maple syrup , butter and whipped cream. Happy Day, Jean

Bringing Children In The Garden and Yummy Veggies On The Grill!

"Any garden demands as much of its maker as he has to give.  but I do not need to tell you, if you are a gardener, that no other undertaking will give as great a return for the amount of effort put into it."  Elizabeth Lawrence, 1904-1985, Gardening For Love.

I absolutely cherish the moments that I get to be in the garden with our children.  It is quality time that I feel will make a lasting impression on their lives and hopefully create memories for them of special moments with mom teaching them about how God makes all this great stuff happen!  I love to see them planting seeds, transplanting a tomato plant in the garden, tilling up the good earth and feeling that soft, rich soil squish between their toes!  My children love to feel that they have their own little space in the garden, to grow the things that interest them, to experiment and to harvest what they tended.  It can be a challenge sometimes to include them.  It is often just easier to do it ourselves and just getting it done.  It will usually add on some minutes, well maybe even hours, with the little helpers involved! But what memories you will make, what happiness will beam in their eyes when they pull out that carrot from the seed 'they' planted. That smile, that gleam in the eye is worth more than all the saved minutes of just doing it our self.  I love everything about gardening... yes even the back wrenching weeding & hoeing, the sun burnt back of my neck and the stiff arms... I love gardening!  

Here are some fun ideas to incorporate your children into your gardening 'thyme'!
Gardening With Your Children~ 

*Be sure to have child size tools for the little folks. You can purchase such items at just about any store that sells gardening supplies.  Make them responsible for their tools- to put them back, keep them clean, and be careful when using. Add a name plaque where their tools belong in the potting shed or garage, make them feel special.
*Keeping them interested is another challenge, especially with the ones that aren't that interested.  Allow them to choose what they would like to grow.  Some suggestions would be giant sunflowers, pumpkins, decorative gourds or root crops. Radishes and lettuce are quick growers and can be 'encouraging' to the one that needs a little boost in interest. They are also available in multiple colors and sizes and can really encourage interest.   If you choose a root crop I would suggest using some fun Heirloom things.  Carrots for instance offer a multitude of shapes and colors, from Cosmic Purple to Lunar White and every shade of orange in between.  Potatoes are also a fun crop.  You can purchase red, white and even blue potatoes.  Watch their eyes light up when they dig those potatoes. 
*If you don't have a spot for a garden, let them Container Garden.  You can use anything~ some fun things for the little people would be a wagon planted with some pansies, an old shoe with some Hen's & Chicks or any type of pot. They can plant herbs, flowers or veggies.  Go back to my blog on Container Gardens in the archives to get more great ideas.
*Also in the archives you will find the blog with the Sunflower House so your child/ren can create a secret room or play house. 
*Plant a cucumber plant; once the plant starts to form flowers it will not take long for it to start changing into a cucumber; once the cucumber is still small enough to fit into the hole of a 20oz. or so plastic bottle, carefully insert the cucumber into the hole.  Make sure the bottle is clear; once the cucumber 'fills' the bottle, pluck it off the plant and carefully cut the bottle off! Presto, a bottle shaped cucumber.  This would work with many types of veggies, try out a few and use different containers to make multiple shapes.
*If you grow a pumpkin plant, once the pumpkin is about 6 inches across, carefully scratch the child's name and a silly face into the skin being careful not to puncture.  Over time as it grows, the drawing will grow right along with it!
*With a stick, trace the child's name into the soil in a planting area; sprinkle lettuce, radish or carrot seed in the name. Watch it grow! 
*Be sure to take tons of pictures of your child in the garden and even photograph the planting, growing and harvesting process so those precious memories will not be forgotten.

Veggies On The Grill


As I have mentioned often, we love to grill and it is grilling season.  I will probably be giving lots of grill time recipe's so if you don't have a grill, now's the time to get one!

4-6 large red skin potatoes from The Garden Gate Farm, washed & cut into chunks with skins on
1 yellow onion from Garden Gate, cut into slivers
1 clove of garlic from Garden Gate, minced
1 cup spinach leaves from Garden Gate, washed & trimmed into bite size pieces
1 cup of Heirloom Cherry Tomatoes from Garden Gate
1 medium yellow squash from Garden Gate, sliced 1/4 inch thick
1 tsp. Matt's Mix Seasoning Salt
1/4 cup fresh Thyme from The Garden Gate
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
3 Tbsp. butter, diced
piece of foil wrap large enough to hold all ingredients and be folded over and sealed on top and sides.

1. In foil place all veggies; sprinkle evenly over top with seasoning and herb; drizzle Olive oil over top; put dobs of butter evenly dispersed over all.
2. Fold over the foil across the top and sides so it doesn't leak.
3. Place on top rack of grill and let cook about 45minutes to an hour. 

This goes great with any type of meat, so grill some awesome T-bones from Garden Gate to go along with it, and let your taste buds be taken to an all new level!

Happy Day,
Jean
 
    
 
 

Houseplant Tips, Season Planting Guild, Name Bookmarks and Yummy Spinach Pie!

'Tis planting time! How joyous this time is for all us gardener's!  Gardening is a relief to my soul from the hum drum of life and all the expectations that surround me.  I love to care for all these little plants... nurture them... watch them grow and flourish... and then eventually harvest delicious food that feeds my family... use all the flavorful fresh herbs as well as dry some for winters use...  make lovely bouquets through the season that adorn our home!  Life is good, then you garden!  This month I am going to focus on giving some planting tips, harvesting advise, dividing and transplanting guild lines along with all the fun entertaining & gift ideas and of course lot's more yummy recipes! So sit back and enjoy from my home to yours!

I am probably not the most likely person to be giving Houseplant Tips, but I decided to give it a shot anyway.  Taylor likes them and I have had great success with my Jade Trees- they require very little care.  Recently Taylor & I were at a house warming party and I noticed the hostesses giant African Violets! I didn't even know they got that big!  Anyway, I asked if they were some new hybrid variety or something. No she said, they were not.  I marveled and said I have only ever killed them no matter what I tried- by the way, I have never read anything on them prior to this, so I probably didn't care that much anyway, but these enormous plants amazed & intrigued me.  This sparked a lively conversation on the plants & what tips several of the others had. So here are some Do's & Dont's to African Violet Care, I hope they help!
*Do:
~ water them from the bottom by using a deep set plant saucer, using hot water.                                        ~ crush washed eggs shells and put in a bowl with hot water and set the pot in it until all water is      absorbed- this gives them needed calcium.
~ Let them totally dry out and then water deeply.
~ Put them in a window where they will have indirect light.
*Don't:
~ever water the leaves.
~water with cold water- they are tropical plants.
~dead head- remove spent flowers.
These are just a few of the tips that I thought were most prosperous!

As I mentioned above I have had great success with Jade Trees.  They do not require a lot of care and grow to size according to the pot you put them in. My tree is about 3 feet tall and the trunk is about 6 inches in diameter.  It is quite beautiful and it gets a lot of ooooh's and ahhh's when friends come over. Although I will say, mine is small compared to some that I have seen.  Jade Trees are very easy to propagate- make new plants from. You can use one of three very easy methods, here they are-
1. Simply take a branch that is about 5-6 inches long and put it in a glass of warm water.  Give it clean water every 4-5 days and watch for little root hairs to start.  After it gets several root hairs plant in a pot with potting mix and watch it grow!
2. Take a branch as described above, but go ahead and bury about half of it directly in a pot with potting mix; Be sure to strip leaves off of the buried part; keep watered and moist to stimulate root growth.  Within about two to three weeks you will notice new leaves coming out of the stem.  In the meantime some of the original leaves may wither and fall off- don't give up it will live!
3. If you only have a small plant and want to grow more but there aren't any 'branches' to speak of, you can still propagate.  Take a leaf and lay on top of a pot of potting mix with the stem tip slightly in the dirt; keep moist, do not let it dry out- but don't soak; a slight misting regularly will be good in between watering's.  You will be amazed at fast it will take root and start growing.
      
It is time to start thinking about planting garden with all the early spring things that are readily available to you.  Here is a basic Planting Guild that will help you get the basics in your veggie garden through planting season.
Early Spring- that means now! Peas, onions, potatoes, lettuce, radish, spinach and chard.
Mid- Spring- around the end of April to mid May- Beets, broccoli, cabbage, carrots, cauliflower, celery, fennel. You can also do a reseeding of lettuces and radishes to keep a steady supply.
Late Spring- after the last predicted frost- end of May, typically- Beans, corn, cucumbers, melons, squash, and pumpkins.  Some things you need to grow as plants at this time, not seeds- eggplant
, peppers, tomatoes and sweet potatoes. Plant your herb plants now too.

If a light frost does touch your late Spring crops you can save them by taking a watering can and sprinkle all the plants BEFORE the sun touches them.  Once the sun touches the plants they are burned and will more than likely die.  Certain things will only get tip burned- lettuce, chard, radishes, spinach and potatoes. These things will grow out of it if they had their true leaves.  Seedlings will need to be sprinkled.
Another easy way to prevent frost damage is to cover with light sheets, or if you want to be fancy, you can purchase 'fabric row cover' from green house supply companies.  Most seed catalogs even offer it now, but sheets work just fine for the small home gardener.  Do not cover with plastic though unless you have a way to prevent it from touching the plants.  The plastic on the plants will cause them to be tip burned as well.

A friend of mine makes these charming Bookmarks for all her family members and friends.  They are really special yet simple and easy to make.  She takes the persons name and puts a Bible verse next to each letter as it pertains to it.  I have attached a photo of it for you to get the idea. She laminates them so they will have a longer life and this adds a professional look to them. 

Yummy Spinach Pie
The spinach is in abundance right now and what else do you do with it except add into salads or steam you might be asking.  Well spinach is loaded with iron and is very tasty in many recipes including Italian Wedding Soup, quiches and lasagna.  Here's one more to add to your spinach recipe folder!

6 cups  baby spinach from The Garden Gate
, trimmed
1/4 cup sweet onion from Garden Gate, chopped
2 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
2 Tbsp. grated Parmesan cheese
1/4 cup grated Colby jack cheese
1 cup milk
2 Tbsp. salad dressing
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/8 tsp. celery salt

1.  Rinse spinach; chop and place in a large saucepan over medium- high heat; Cook covered for about 3-5 minutes, or until wilted; Drain, pressing out as much of the liquid as possible.
2.  Combine remaining ingredients; fold into spinach.
3. Spoon mixture in a well greased 9" pie plate; bake at 375 degrees for about 40 to 45 minutes, or until a knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Happy Day,
Jean

   



                                                         
 
 

Preserving Herbs, Grilling Tips, Yummy Grilled Pizza

Our family loves to grill and it doesn't matter the season. Neil as well as the boys get the grill fired up winter, spring, summer and fall~ it is respecter of no season! The only difference is the location; in the warm days it's on the patio, in the winter it's in the garage. When the warm days of spring roll around it is our daily companion for cooking! Neil won't let me touch the grill~ we, the grill & I go back a long way. You see when Neil & I were dating there were two incidents that banished me from the grill side. They now are quite funny. The first episode was when we were very newly dating. We went to a park and Neil wanted to grill some steaks. It was a beautiful day and we were having a very nice afternoon. Neil had to use the restroom so asked me to take care of the grill. Well, I had never grilled before, but I wanted to help where I could, so of course I said yes. I don't really know what happened but suddenly one of the steaks was on the ground. Horrified I quickly picked it up and put it back on the grill, dirt side down of course- Neil would never notice, surely it would cook off. There comes Neil leisurely strolling back with all trust in his eyes having faith I had taken care of his steaks that he was quite hungry for. Well, it didn't take him long to realize once he flipped the steak that something went awry while he was gone. I looked at him innocently and said it was a mistake and I was sure that it would cook off. He was not so sure, so I said I would wash it off. It was quite windy that day, and while I took it to the ladies room and diligently washed it, the coals had died out... so in the end, the sea gulls got the steak. I will tell the next story some other time... *Preserving Spring Herbs... We use herbs a lot in our cooking and I am fortunate enough to have greenhouse's and hoop houses to grow in year round. I do realize that not everyone has this luxury so here are some tips on preserving herbs starting right in the spring when many of the perennial ones are popping up right now~ chives, oregano, sage and parsley would be the main ones right now for us living in Michigan and similar climates. *The easiest way is to simply dry your herbs using a dehydrator; baking on a cookie sheet in a 150 degree oven until dry- length of time depends on herb- don't pile on the pan- just put in a single layer; you can also bunch and tie with rubber bands and hang upside down from drying racks, or rafters in the basement. Direct sunlight should be avoided. Parsley is the only one I don't like to do this type of drying to- although I am not sure why, but it looses it's color! To store, keep in air tight glass jars or plastic containers. *Freezing is also easy & fast- chives and parsley work best with this method. *We love Pesto- make your recipe in big batch quantity and freeze in plastic containers, baby food jars or jelly jars. Remember to leave at least an inch head space when freezing! *You can also pack 2 cups of any fresh culinary herb with 1/2 cup oil~ I would use safflower or canola- olive oil will leave a strong flavor- fill baby food jars, small plastic containers or jelly jars and freeze this way as well. This works great when you want to baste on any meat, saute veggies or meat in, or brush on bread for brushetta, pizza crust or bread sticks. Here are some grilling tips from Neil: *If you love garlic like we do, try throwing a few fresh garlic cloves on the hot coals to add extra flavor to your goodies. *Neil loves to smoke stuff~ if you want to wow your guests, try adding some hickory, apple wood or cherry wood chips or sawdust on the coals for an extra special treat. Make sure you soak the chips in water for about hour before you are ready to put them on the coals; if using sawdust just get wet. *If you are using charcoal, then keep a spray bottle with water to spray on the coals to keep temperature down so it doesn't get too hot. *Neil likes to brush the grill with some olive oil before putting the food on, this helps it to not stick. Yummy Grilled Pizza! Last summer we fell in love with grilling pizza! The children enjoyed it both in the way of having fun because they created their own masterpieces and it was absolutely delicious. Here is my pizza crust recipe and some of our favorite toppings! Crust: 2 cups warm water 1 Tbsp. yeast 1 tsp. raw organic sugar 1 tsp. sea salt 1 Tbsp. olive oil 3-4 cups flour, plus some for dusting Toppings: shredded cheese fresh Portobella mushrooms sweet peppers onions bacon, ham, sausage, ground beef or chicken pizza sauce, ranch dressing tomatoes ... these are just some ideas, use your favorite toppings 1. In a large, mixing bowl add yeast to water and stir gently; add sugar, salt and olive oil, stir in gently until dissolved. 2. Add 2 cups of flour, mix in until well blended; add 1 more cup flour, mix in well; and the rest of flour in 1/4 cups at a time until the dough is soft and doesn't stick to hands. Add a bit more flour in until the dough feels right; Knead dough for about 2-3 minutes until all flour is mixed in well. Form into a ball and place in bowl, cover with kitchen towel and leave on the top of stove to rise until doubled, about 45 minutes. 3. While dough is rising get your toppings prepared. Sauteing the veggies is best and making sure any raw meats are cooked. 4.When dough has risen, punch it down using your hands and knead a bit more into a ball again. On a floured surface, cut the dough into 4 even sized pieces and roll out to about and 1/2 inch thick. The dough should be thicker so it doesn't fall apart on the grill. 5. Brush the dough with Olive Oil and put on heated grill; grill on one side for about 2-3 minutes, checking to be sure it doesn't burn; when the one side is done, remove from grill onto a cookie sheet, cooked side up; put your toppings on the cooked side; sauce, cheese, meat & veggies and add a bit more cheese; return to the grill to finish grilling- about 2-3 more minutes; put lid on for about the last minute to help melt the cheese. Remove from grill and have your feast! Happy Day, Jean
 
 

Mountain Pie Suppers, Homemade Napkin Rings, Cute 'Cookie' Packaging, Taylor's Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Summer is here and how I just love to be outside~ especially where entertaining is concerned.  Nothing is as enjoyable to me as having my friends over for a lovely evening of food & fellowship... listening to the gobs of children running and playing and laughing... Spring and summer come to an end much too quickly for me, so I try to take advantage of my outside time as much as possible.  Our family really enjoys Mountain Pie suppers- in Canada we call them  [Read More]
 
 

Idea Note Books, Remembrance Shadow Boxes, Edible Centerpiece and A Yummy Romaine & Bacon Salad!

I love photographing my gardens, both veggie and flower. I take photos of them at each stage so I know what I need to fill in, get rid of, thin out or re-do. As I page through my garden journals, it is so interesting to see how the beds have matured, changed and been redone over time. To be able to go back and see each season and where I need to add, thin out or add an element to hard scapeing an area helps in future planning & budgeting. I always think that I need more in the spring, for some reason I have never been able to be satisfied with my spring garden's. Shall I say they are always a work in progress~ slow, steady progress! I use an Idea Notebook as one way to keep track of all the wonderful idea's I see as I drive past a lovely yard or see something 'neatsy' at a greenhouse/nursery. I keep this in my purse so I can simply take it out and jot down the idea. I also like to keep my camera along with me so I can photograph anything of interest. This is how my mailbox came to be. I had driven past this super cute mailbox that had bird houses hand painted on it. I took some photographs, bought a new mail box, a really big one, and replicated the images onto my own. Now I too have a super cute mailbox! I am too forgetful to remember everything I like and would like to eventually do. I love my gardening magazines and often find all sorts of neat ideas that I would like to do. I don't like ripping pages out of them so I will either photocopy them and then tape them in my idea notebook or journal. Be sure to include magazine name, page number and date in which the idea/article was in! Remembrance Shadow Boxes are a beautiful heirloom for oneself or to give as a gift. My dear mother in the Lord made one of these in memory of each of her parents after they passed away. She purchased the shadow boxes at a big box hobby store and then created what I believe are heirloom treasures. They are done very scrapbook'ish with pretty paper on the back, almost looking like wall paper. Then she incorporated several meaningful items in each that represented each parent. The memorabilia are tacked onto the 'wall' with adhesive tape or small pins. Each contains their reading glasses, a photograph and several other items that. So easy and yet simply stunning! No table is quite done without a centerpiece. It creates a finished and homey atmosphere to the room. Whether it is a vase filled with in season flowers, a rooster statue, a candelabra or a bowl filled with fruit, it sets the stage to an inviting feeling. Edible plants are one way to create something very special. To create a lovely Edible Centerpiece you first will need a container that you can set in the center~ indoor or out. This can be a large, shallow Terra cotta or clay pot, an old fashioned wooden toolbox, an old drawer lined with plastic or a wicker basket lined with plastic so the dirt won't flow out- the key is that there is proper drainage and that you have it resting in a container to catch water- especially if inside. Personally I think these are most special on a patio or picnic table for outdoor enjoyment. Here are a few choice plant combo's: *For a yummy Salad Bowl plant one of each in the corners if square container or an 'x' if round: nasturtium~trailing preferably, a variegated lemon thyme, Genovese basil and Italian Large leaf parsley; in center plant a romaine lettuce and spinach plant. Please take into consideration the growth size of each plant and determine the size of your planter if it will accommodate this planting. A 24" in diameter pot would be recommended. *Herb Lovers~ try Genovese Basil, Lemon Basil, Italian Large Leaf parsley, tarragon and a thyme. Whenever you are ready to grill you can snip off some to add into a butter for brushing on corn or shish-ka-bob. Fresh snipped basil & parsley for yummy Brushetta, thyme for grilled squash or chicken and tarragon for fish! The combo's are really up to your taste buds, so be creative and let your taste buds soar! Everyone loves our bacon, for what I believe to be very good reasons~ no nitrates or nitrites, no G.M.O. feed given to our hogs, naturally raised with open fresh air & sunshine. Here is yet another way to serve up some of our bacon with our yummy heirloom Romaine lettuces! Romaine & Bacon Salad 2 medium heads romaine lettuce from Garden Gate, chopped 1 red onion from Garden Gate, sliced thinly 1/2 pound bacon from Garden Gate 1 cup raw organic sugar 1 cup cider vinegar 1/2 cup dried cranberries 1/4 cup salted sunflower seeds homemade croutons (see previous blog for recipe) 1. Arrange lettuce in a bowl and top with onions. 2. Fry bacon in skillet over medium- high heat, cook bacon until crisp; drain. 3. Combine vinegar & sugar; pour over bacon in skillet; bring to a simmer over medium heat; cook and stir until sugar dissolves, about 3 minutes. 4. Pour mixture over lettuce and onion. Toss together to mix evenly; top with cranberries, seeds & croutons. 5. Serve immediately. Enjoy! Happy Day, Jean
 
 
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