Enjoy the everyday life I love to live![ Member listing ]
21 Feb · Thu 2013
Spring Jobs 'To Do List', Planning A Plant Exchange, Successful Plant Division and Yummy Chicken Paprika!
For me and I believe many others, Spring holds a promise for newness of life! It's when I look out and dream of new flower beds, anticipate the coming springs first crops of asparagus and rhubarb...savoring the memory of their here today, gone tomorrow presence. I scan the yard and think of all the jobs that I will have to get done as soon as nicer weather affords me time in my personal Eden. I anxiously await the first buds to pop on the lilacs... those small, brave tulips and daffodils, reaching up out of a cold, hard ground to the warming sunshine ready to burst forth into simple beauty! I love that first trip out to my potting shed after the winter... the smell and then the challenge of tidying up and reorganizing. An early morning stroll through The Potager scanning for baby lettuces sprouting from scattered seeds... imagining the bounty and longing for my quiet time that I am able only to have in my gardens. If you are an avid gardener or if this is your first season in the dirt, lets look to those promises and plan on a great new gardening year! Enjoy friends!
Tags: paprika! planning chicken jobs 'to successful yummy division and exchange list' a plant spring do
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 09:24 PM EST
27 Dec · Thu 2012
It's just about January now and I am already thinking about what I am going to get to start in the green house here in just a few weeks... oh it sends a chill of excitement up my spine! It really isn't too early for all the home gardeners to start thinking about a few things as well, that's why you are getting all those beautiful seed catalogs in the mail (see graphic). I thought today would be a great day to discuss Vermicomposting- you'll want to order your worms here in a jiffy- yes I said 'worms'! A.K.A free fertilizer- not the worms- ugh! You should be thinking about seed orders now... lots of companies offer discounts for orders placed before the first of the year... check it out... every penny counts... plus those extra pennies might add up to a few extra packs of seeds! Before you know it, you'll be seeing all the big box stores starting to put up the shelves of seed packs, seed starting kits and all that other good stuff! Now is also the time that you might be thinking of drawing up your garden plan... I love doing that! You will also see gobs of fertilizers in both the catalogs and store shelves. That's where Vermicomposting is coming into play in today's post. You will definitely want to start now, so you will have this rich, wonderful fertilizer ready for your seedlings and garden plants... read on!
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 11:29 AM EST
26 Dec · Wed 2012
Its cold, its blowing, there's snow on the ground, ice on the windshields and us summer lovers need to keep looking for things to keep us occupied until we can dig in the dirt. Now that all the holiday hustle and bustle is over, we are getting ready for our New Years Eve parties, lets think food... cookies particularly today! Forget the resolutions and enjoy life... like a wise one once wrote, "Life is short, eat desert first!" The gyms and the weight loss programs are gonna be there next week... so just have some good, homemade fun with friends you enjoy being around!
What could be more fun than gathering together with a group of our close friends and family when you include cookies and lunch? Well of course the getting ready for it... making the invitations, decorating the tables, preparing the food and baking those pretty cookies. Not to mention buying just the right containers for your guests to package up all your love in!
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 01:18 PM EST
18 Dec · Tue 2012
We're at the time of year when everyone is in a hustle and bustle of the Holidays. For us the Farmers Market is filled with beautiful gift items and our market friends are all too happy to stop by and pick up that beautiful, one of a kind, hand crafted item to give their loved ones. There's an art to gift giving. Some folks like the idea of gift cards- quick & simple and they don't have to worry about the 'did they like it or not?' Others love the thrill of searching and finding just the right thing for that special person. Then there are those that take the time to actually create something unique for each individual... and all three are fine! I don't think there is any wrong way to give a gift, especially when it's given with love. We are all different and we need to do what fits our personalities... and those that love us will know that whatever the gift is, it was given with heart. I hope this post will help all of the above and you will find something that helps you in this typically crazy time of year. [Read More]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 06:49 PM EST
07 Sep · Fri 2012
More on Organization: Weekly Schedule At A Glance, Focused Event Days~ Errand and Desk Days, More Yummy Market Fresh Recipes!
Everyone that knows me knows I love to create schedules, make lists and have multiple day planners & calenders. I love everything about organization. Over the years I realized that I inherited this trait from my mother... who I may say has even the labels of her spice jars and canned goods all facing in the same direction and to size... they even might be alphabetized- I've never dared look. Her cupboards are immaculate and she never has dust. Mind you, it is just her and my dad and she only had me! I am glad that I have this trait thanks to her... even though I never realized it while I was growing up. It has only been since I have had a home of my own and my family have I realized all the important things she taught me... or at least tried to! My 'other' mom, is also extremely organized~ she's actually the one who introduced me to The Flylady program. She has helped me tremendously in many area's, especially with sewing 'stuff'. Her material/craft closet is also immaculate and completely organized right up to type's of fabrics and colors. Her craft stuff is always tidy and in it's place! What wonderful examples I have been blessed with! Anyway, back to schedules & lists... [Read More]
Tags: days~ event market organization: schedule focused yummy weekly days errand on more recipes! at glance a desk fresh
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 09:39 AM EDT
17 Aug · Fri 2012
Summer is here and we are in full swing! I am finding it harder and harder to get to this blog with all the responsibilities I have around on the farm. I am constantly thinking of things to write about and share, but finding the 'thyme', or should I say making the 'thyme' is just taking more effort than I would actually like. But here I am and of course I love being here. Lets talk more on herbs shall we? I just can't seem to get enough of herbs, they are so versatile and useful in so many areas in life... the kitchen, bouquet and right into the personal care line! I love to go out to the gardens and pick them... as I brush against their leaves they just welcome me there with their lovely aroma's telling me to pick & enjoy! I have often touched on companion planting and I recently came across a great list that I thought I would like to share with all of you. Today I am going to focus a bit on the personal care end with of course a few yummy recipes for Herb Butters! Thanks for coming... see you again soon! [Read More]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 07:45 AM EDT
15 Aug · Wed 2012
Flowers are bursting open everywhere and the fledglings are leaving the nest... young robins are hopping all over the garden eating creepy crawlies and enjoying being out of the nest... glorious, glorious summer! The fields are starting to bear and the harvest will soon be coming on heavily... that means 'puttin' up time is just around the corner. Of course we've been busy with rhubarb and now strawberries are ripe for the pickin' and that means the yummiest jam of all... Strawberries scare me though... that is growing them. They are really the only 'garden' fruit I don't grow. The runners and weeding they require have never tempted me... until this year! I think I have figured a way to keep them... I will blog more on this next week, so keep watching. Today we'll stick with more herb stuff and of course some garden junque too! Enjoy and thanks for comin' over! [Read More]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 10:02 PM EDT
27 Jul · Fri 2012
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]
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 12:08 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 Jun · Thu 2012
Planning a new garden is always so much fun for me. Each year
I get to draw up field, garden and flower bed plot plans! This is
one way that I spend my winter days! If you start with a garden
journal and jot down what your garden dreams are, add some
pictures from magazines~ my personal favorite is Country
Gardens~ then you will have a plan of action and goals to
work toward. Pre-planning your
gardens on paper will give you an idea of space needed &
quantity of plants required to have proper fill effect. There
will be plants you can start from seed and others that you will
need to get from your local nursery. Look in seed catalogs~ we
are all getting loads of those and plan for Fall planting of bulbs
for next Spring now! You can always tweek things after you start,
but having that plan of action will give you a visual aid that is
sure to help in the long run. For the next few entries I will be
focusing on Garden Themes and helping you plan ahead to get a
beautiful and long lasting end result.
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 07:21 AM EDT
23 May · Wed 2012
Nifty Bird Feeders, Homemade Hummingbird Nectar, A Lovely Garden Path and 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!
Tags: taylor's and nectar a path nifty homemade garden oatmeal bird feeders pancakes! yummy lovely hummingbird
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 05:59 PM EDT
27 Apr · Fri 2012
"In all things of nature there is something of the marvelous." Aristotle
It's still winter, can you believe it? We were sitting on the front porch last evening watching the lightning and listening to the thunder claps & rain. I had been working in my flower beds & cleaning up the yard running around all day bare foot! I can handle this kind of winter any day of the week. I planted some Rhubarb Chard & Golden Chard today in the raised beds in the front garden. They will be able to handle a frost and even a bit of snow~ although I will cover them if we get some of the white stuff. About 4 years ago we had a snow storm on Easter, after all we live in Michigan and anything can happen. But today I was bare foot and that's all that I care about.
But on to the topic at hand~ planting. What can you get away with planting right now you ask. Well there are a few things that will tolerate light frosts and even a light snow. So if you want to live life with some adventure here are a few things you can go ahead and try if you have a garden site that the soil is 'fit' to plant in. By fit I mean that it is not too wet. To check your soil, take a hand full of soil and squeeze it into a ball. If it doesn't hold it's shape then it is dry enough, if it stays in a wad then it is too wet, wait a bit longer.
Here are some things you can plant right now:
*Spinach, Chard, Scallions, Peas, Radishes, Lettuces such as May Queen, Butter Crunch, Merriville de'Four Seasons, Green or Red Deer Tongue, Lolla Rosa to give you a few ideas.
As I mentioned above, if we do happen to get some serious snow, than you might want to cover your seedlings. Most of these things will tolerate and even taste better with a bit of snow & frost, the worst that will happen is the tips will get burned looking and a bit ugly. That is easy enough to snip off before you cook it though. Also, please remember I live in the Thumb of Michigan, so these are tips for folks who live in similar climates.
If you are serious about wanting to have early spring garden stuff or even would like to experiment with the cold winter months, than look into building a Cold Frame. The best book out there for this type of info is Eliot Coleman's "Four-Season Harvest". There are many styles to choose from starting with a simple straw bale structure to an elaborate glass pained wooden structure with hinges. The following information is adapted from Four Season Harvest.
*There are two parts to a cold frame- the sides & top. "The sides can be made of almost any material- boards, concrete blocks, bales of hay, logs...." according to Coleman. He recommends boards, but they all work.
*The tops need to be for the light! You can use old storm windows, wooden frames with plastic sheeting adhered to it or anything that will cover the top and be translucent enough to let the light shine in.
*"Traditional home garden cold frames measure 4 to 6 feet front to back and are 8 to 12 feet long. They are laid out with the long dimension running east to west. the frame should be just tall enough to clear the crops you plan to grow. In the standard design, the back walls 12 inches height and the front wall 8 inches high, so that there is a slight slope to the south," according to Coleman.
*The tops can be hinged or just set on. But either way I would personally recommend putting weights on each of the four corners to prevent them from flying off in high winds.
These are just a few basic steps in building your own cold frame. Again to get greater detail & design drawings refer to Coleman's book or Google it!
Who says onions are just for salad & burgers? Try this delicious savory onion & cheddar pie!
Cheddar & Onion Pie
2 Cups crackers crushed, Club crackers are very good
1/2 cup butter, melted
2 each red & yellow onions from Garden Gate, sliced thin
2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1 cup milk
1/4 tsp. Creole Seasoning mix
2 eggs from Garden Gate, beaten
1 cup Cheddar Cheese , shredded
1. Combine cracker crumbs with butter; set aside one cup. Press remaining crumb mixture into the bottom and up the sides of a 9" deep dish pie plate.
2. Saute onions in oil until transparent and tender, about 10 minutes.
3. Spread drained onions over crust.
4. In a saucepan over medium heat, combine milk and seasoning; without bringing to a boil, cook until heated through. Turn off heat; stir in eggs and cheese. Continue to stir until cheese melts. Spoon over onions; top with reserved crumb mixture.
5. Bake at 325 degrees for about 40-45 minutes- until eggs are set.
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 07:18 PM EDT
14 Dec · Tue 2010
FINALLY GOT OUT OF THE HOUSE TODAY. WE ARE SNOWED IN. 12 INCHES OF SNOW & SNOW DRIFTS UP TO 5 FEET! I JUST CANNOT MAKE MYSELF LIKE WINTER. IT'S ONLY FOR MY CHILDREN I TRY TO BE HAPPY ABOUT IT. THEY ABSOLUTELY LOVE TO GO OUT & PLAY. EVEN OUR 3 YEAR OLD EVAN LOVES IT. HE'S JUST INTENT ON BEING ONE OF THE BOYS. HE IS SO SWEET!
WE HAD TO RESCHEDULE OUR THURSDAY BAY CITY BECAUSE OF ALL THIS SNOW TO FRIDAY. YOU SHOULD OF ALL GOT THE EMAIL.
THE SNOW IS PRETTY, ESPECIALLY ON THE EVERGREENS. I AM TRULY TRYING TO BE POSITIVE HERE! LOL!
WELL HOPE EVERYONE IS HAVEING A GREAT DAY, TALK AGAIN SOON!
Posted by Neil & Jean @ 12:41 PM EST