Enjoy the everyday life I love to live![ Member listing ]
31 Dec · Mon 2012
Local is an important thing to many people, not just to the businesses but also to the consumer. I remember when I was a young girl growing up in Windsor, Ontario and going to 'town' with my grandma... the little downtown and the "five & dime" shops. I remember the 'big' store downtown where grandma use to do a lot of the domestic shopping... it had a little cafe in there that we would always get a bite to eat... my favorite- french fries and gravy, yeah that's a Canadian thing! Well anyway, I use to love to go to the little hardware store that she would by her canning jars and lids at, the Chinese food restaurant that we would patronize on grandpa's pay day... memories of a small town... a lot of children in today's society won't know that as a regular experience. It will more likely be a 'vacation' memory. So many of us want to know who grew those tomatoes, or who raised that sheep to produce the fiber that made those lovely mittens, or shake the hand with the farmer that milked that cow that you now can get fresh raw milk from. It is a good feeling to 'know your farmer'... it is good feeling to talk to Mary when you purchase that jar of cherry preserves she made... it is rewarding to hand your hard earned money over to a person that worked hard to provide you with something essential. It is a win-win situation for all involved.
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 08:34 PM EST
04 Sep · Tue 2012
More on Organization: Working on Menu Planning & Grocery Lists, The Organized Home Makers 10 Commandments (adapted from the FlyLady!) and More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!
I don't mind cooking, it's not my favorite thing to do, but we gotta eat right? Taylor is the one who is in love with being in the kitchen. It's funny though... she firsts loves to bake~ that is my least favorite; she likes to cook and I don't mind, especially with garden fresh goodies; she doesn't mind canning, but I love it and we are both OK with yeast baking stuff~ although I will say, I like that a bit more than her... but neither one of us can make a pie crust to save our lives~ honestly... we just have never been able to master that! Taylor would be happy to sit in a rocking chair with a pile of cookbooks and cooking mag's where I would be there with my gardening ones! We balance each other out I guess...
Anyway lets head into the last of this series on Organization with Menu Planning and Grocery Lists... be sure to check out my blog spots & web site for lots of great photo's to go along with the post! [Read More]
Tags: yummy working organization: & fresh the makers grocery lists more recipes! 10 menu on home organized (adapted from market planning flylady!) commandments
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 09:59 AM EDT
23 Aug · Thu 2012
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 a cute crafty idea too! Have a wonderful day! [Read More]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 09:51 AM EDT
18 Aug · Sat 2012
What's a Foodshed you ask? Most people who call themselves Localvore's, Foodies or the like will probably be familiar with this term, but for those of you who are not, here is a brief description and how you can make or find one! *Though it may be unfamiliar, the term "foodshed" was used almost 80 years ago in a book entitled How Great Cities Are Fed (Hedden, 1929) to describe the flow of food from producer to consumer. Seven decades later, the term was used to describe a food system that connected local producers with local consumers (Kloppenburg et al., 1996). In this project, the general definition of a foodshed is a geographic area that supplies a population center with food. However, the Mapping Local Food Systems Project focused specifically on potential local foodsheds, areas of nearby land that could theoretically provide part or all of a city's food needs (Peters, 2007).
*Used from Cornell University web site, 2012 [Read More]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 07:16 PM EDT
28 Jul · Sat 2012
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! [Read More]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 04:00 AM EDT
26 Jul · Thu 2012
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.
Tags: crafty bugs radish spring and beneficial dishes & soup! yummy sorrel sachet companion planting on spread chive more
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 07:19 AM EDT
25 Jul · Wed 2012
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...
Tags: gardening pillows easy shirts with & window almond old box magnets salad! and honey oats yummy make spring granola potato jewelry
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 12:23 PM EDT
12 Jul · Thu 2012
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]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 08:18 AM EDT
09 Jul · Mon 2012
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
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 07:18 PM EDT
01 Jul · Sun 2012
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
Tags: idea bacon and a salad! romaine boxes centerpiece & books note edible yummy remembrance shadow
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 11:00 PM EDT
28 Mar · Wed 2012
Simple To Make Birdbath, Say I Love You with Herbs, Recycled Cloth Shopper Bags & Taylor's Ready To Go French Toast!
Spring is a time of love and rejuvenation! The awakening all around us stimulates a desire to give and share~ everything just seems happy! The birds start returning, buds start popping, the first Snow Drops and Crocus's start peeking out giving us a foretaste of the Daffodils & Tulips not far behind. This Spring has brought some things earlier than usual and with it that energy has sprung forth for me as well. I love to be in the greenhouses and gardens working in the dirt... watching seeds sprout and develop into the plants we will take to market and plant in our gardens, beds and fields. As mentioned in the previous blog post birding is one of our favorite things to do~ here is a really simple & cool bird bath along with some gifty ideas and of course a yummy recipe from Taylor, enjoy!
Tags: you with simple herbs say french make taylor's to shopper i & love birdbath go recycled bags ready toast! cloth
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 09:36 PM EDT
26 Mar · Mon 2012
Nifty Birdfeeders, Homemade Hummingbird Nectar, A Lovely Garden Path & Taylor's Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes
March 26th, 2012
Nifty Bird Feeders, Homemade Hummingbird Nectar, A Lovely Garden Path & Taylor's Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes!
I was in the kitchen the other day leaning on the counter looking out one of the windows when a male & female Purple Finch landed on the feeder. I quick called over baby Aaron and picked him up to watch them. We were actually only about seven feet away so the view was quite charming. Aaron got big eyed of course and started pointing and oohing over them. The birds were quite relaxed due to the 'usual' noise coming out of the house- this was no big deal and continued to eat and enjoy the sunny day. Soon another pair settled in and things were even more splendid. As I have mentioned in several of my entries, we are big bird watchers and we enjoy feeding them very much. Although all the bird feed can get a bit expensive I do believe it is well worth the efforts and the rewards of being able to see one of Gods most intricate & beautiful creatures so closely. I have large climbing Sweet Autumn Clematis' growing on both my front arbor and my pergola and the birds just love them. They gather for shelter as well as nesting! Last week I put a bird house in the inside corner of my front arbor well in the vines and I am pleased to say I already have a pair of sparrows nesting in there!
If you enjoy feeding the birds, here is a really easy bird feeder recipe that you and the children can make to stretch the seed out a 'little' bit longer .
*Nifty Bird Feeders~ General Recipe: Mix about a tablespoon of white corn syrup with approximately 1 cup of bird seed~ Make as much as you want and then using a rolling pin, roll out onto counter or table until about 1/2 inch think or so. Using cookie cutters have the children cut out shapes; re-roll any remaining seed mix until you have used it all. Using a thin dowel, no larger than a pencil make a hole about 3/4 of an inch below the top edge of the bird treat; using yarn, thin wire or twine make a loop about 12 inches or so long to hang it out with. You can also form into suet size to put into your suet holders.
*To make suet cakes use smooth Peanut Butter mixed with a couple tablespoons flour and mix in bird seed of choice, form into cakes and fill your holders. Keep these in shady areas because they will melt in the heat of August. You can store these in the freezer for up to 3 months, so have fun and make ahead when the peanut butter is on sale and you have time!
*If you do purchase pre-made suet cakes, save a few of the plastic holders they come in so you have a form handy and they will be the right size.
*Hummingbird nectar is super easy to make without buying the expensive mixes. Simply add to four cups hot water 1 cup of sugar; stir until sugar is completely dissolved then add 2 drops of red food coloring if you want to, but it is not necessary. Put in fridge to cool down and then fill your feeders- hang out and enjoy the flock that will come.
*Be sure to plant a row of Mammoth or Giant Grey Striped Sunflowers in your veggie garden or some in your gardens, you will be entertained in the fall by many birds looking for food!
*If you don't have room for a large bird bath somewhere, you can use large Terra cotta or plastic plant saucers for them. Put down on the ground next to a large shrub so they have somewhere to fly and be sure to keep clean water in it.
*A Pretty Cobblestone Walk ~ see attached photo
One of the first things I did when we purchased our home was plan all the 'future' gardens and then some. There was nothing here when we came except on overgrown apple tree, an ugly shrub next to the front porch steps, two lilac bushes, a hydrangea bush and one big beautiful Maple in the back yard. Some might be saying, "Well that's not too bad." Well maybe it's not to some and the ease of that would be just fine & dandy~ not so for me. I want gardens that surround and abound, both veggie and flower. In my opinion they go hand in hand~ you can't not have flowers in your veggie garden anymore than you can't have herbs and a few pretty chard or potato plants mixed in the flower beds. So the planning started. One thing I had to have was a cobble stone walk. A good friend of mine, also a gardener, had a form, soooo I put Neil to work, of course I helped, after all someone had to tell him what to do :-) ! He is my muscles when I need certain hard scapeing done, so we got the neighbors cement mixer, bought several bags of concrete and went to work. First I dug up the sod from the planned walkway; next I put down black plastic ground cover to hold back the nasty grass that would surly want to rear it's ugly head up into my path; next we put down about four inches of sand. Now we have a gravel/sand pit right across the road from us, so this is free for the taking for township residents. If you don't have access to free, then you need to buy enough to lay at least 4 to 6 inches of sand down for the stones to mold into. Now I needed my 'muscles' and as usual he came through beautifully. He mixed the concrete and filled the form on and on until the walk was complete. I wanted it to be more special though so I had each of our children press their little patties (hands) gently into a stone, then I carefully printed their name and the date in another stone beside it. I added marbles and made smiley faces with them in neighboring stones as well. I also had Neil & I do the same and put our wedding date and a heart made with marbles in ours (see photo attached). I wanted a bit more so I took some maple, fern and hosta leaves and pressed them into several of the other stones. Now after several years they are all still perfectly visible and are a happy reminder of a hard days work.
Pancakes can have so many variations, it's simply to the cooks imagination as what to add or not. Here is a yummy variation that goes over well at our house!
Taylor's Yummy Oatmeal Pancakes
1 Package of Taylor's Bake Shoppe 'Buttermilk Pancake Mix'~ follow package directions and then add to one batch recipe:
1/2 cup whole oats
1/4 cup more buttermilk
1 tbsp. Maple Syrup
Fry as you would and serve hot with Garden Gates Breakfast Sausage patties or links and a jug of Kapnick Orchards yummy Apple Cider!
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 05:33 PM EDT