Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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As I have mentioned so many times, I love to journal! Taylor was looking through the cookbook journal I had made her several years back and I thought that would be something interesting to talk about. After all I always add some recipes so why not. Journaling through my blogs has been such a delight for me and a way to share my thoughts and ideas with all of you. So often I get asked questions about a lot of the things that I have been blogging about and now I can direct the folks to this blog. Thanks for staying turned and if anyone has any question please don't hesitate to ask through our Facebook page and I will try to address each question as best I can!
*Several years ago I was going through one of my Scrapbook magazines and they had a whole section on Cookbook Scrapbook Journal's. Well that's all it took for me and I was right into it. I called my mom, Neil's mom & sisters and got all the families 'favorites'. One stipulation was that each had to send the recipes in their own handwriting- not typed. I had several of my Grandmas, her sisters, my aunts & my moms as well as some of my own from when I was a teenager. I also included some of Neils own concoctions along with his brothers. But I needed more than just the recipes- I needed photographs. I wanted photographs preferably of each person in the kitchen or doing something in the line of cooking- even camping & grilling. I got more than I dreamed of, this was going to be fun. One more key ingredient to the book was to be the story telling aspect of it- journaling! This comes easy for me, so with each recipe and photo is a short story about the cook and why the recipe is special. Being the avid scrap booker I am I of course had the perfect 10x10 inch Creative Memories scrapbook and all the supplies any one could dream of, so it was just getting it organized and decide on the format I wanted. Once I had all the recipes I made copies of all on Scrapbook paper so they would not deteriorate over time. I put the appropriate photos with the right recipes; I decided on my title pages and the order they would go in; knowing that this couldn't be an encyclopedia I had to decide on what recipes to use and which to scrap- (get rid of) -no pun intended- this was the hard job. In the end Taylor now has a beautiful Scrap-Cookbook that she truly enjoys and uses quite often.
*Everybody loves bread, and if they don't they should! Bread makes a lovely gift~ weather it be a yeast, sweet or flat bread, they are all yummy. To make your gifts of bread even more special, pick up inexpensive yet cute Tea Towels at discount stores and tie your loaf up into one, tie with raffia, jute or cute ribbon and add a special tag. The recipient will be so tickled.
*More Garden Tips....
*If you have a fireplace that needs cleaned out, right about now, don't just throw those ashes away- they have great garden value! If you have blueberry bushes or an asparagus patch put those ashes around the base of them. They will give the plants much needed potash for the growing season. Also, if you plan on planting peas in your garden this spring and know where the patch will go, sprinkle the ashes over that area and the day before you want to plant, till them into the ground! Beware- my pea vines got over 8 feet tall!
*Keep a five gallon bucket filled 3/4 way with oily sand to put your shovels, pitch & potato forks & spades in. It will keep them from getting rusty.
*If you are like me you will find yourself standing around the garden asking yourself, "Now where did I lay those clippers?" I don't quite understand why some of these garden companies don't think to make the handles on the tools bright colors so they are more easily found. Or maybe that is why they don't, because they get lost so easily and then we have to buy more~ now there's an "A-ha" moment. Anyway, until they do design them with them, pick up some bright color spray paint and spray the handles- no more 'lost' tools!
*This spring be sure to plan certain flowers into your garden plan- Marigolds, basil, nasturtiums should all be planted along with your tomatoes to keep bad bugs away and attract the beneficial's. They are not only pretty, but practical.
Potting Shed or Garage Organization is a key for a content & happy gardener. I am very blessed to have a very lovely Potting Shed and as I mentioned in a previous blog, it is a mess each spring that I need to clean out. This mess is never my doing, I will not take the blame for it. I have several wonderful helpers that just have not acquired my love of organization~ YET! Kyle is the closest yet with Evan not far behind. Everyone else is 'a work in process, or should I say progress?' Anyway, I have a spot for everything in my shed and I am much happier when I can find what I want when I want it. As I always say in & out of doors, "Everything has it's place so put everything back in its place.... please!" On that note, here are a few tips on organizing your potting shed, garage or where ever you store your tools.
*I put 2 sections of peg board in my shed, on which I use hooks to hang all my shovels, rakes, loppers and several other tools. I also hang small buckets and even a wire utensil basket in which I keep my hand tools in along with other small things. I used one of those plastic shoe organizers that hang on the back of doors to store nuts, screws, garden gloves, markers, hooks, ground staples and any other small things that I want to be able to see at a quick glance. I have several shelves where I keep planters, bird feeders,watering cans, etc. I also have an old kitchen counter with cupboards below where I store plastic containers, dirt, bird seed and any other extra stuff. I also keep five gallon buckets to use for putting my weeding garbage in. In the rafters I keep fold up chairs, my push seeders, shutters and other large items I don't have room for on the walls or floors. The outside of my shed is decorated to my liking- an old window with three old buckets for planters, an antique scale and of course an old fashioned bike leans on it. On the back I have an old french door surrounded by antique tools and a shelf above which showcases empty pots and bird houses. On the other side is the window with a planter under it which I plant with pansies each year. The front has two wash tubs, one on either side of the door that I plant with petunias, a "The Potting Shed" sigh I hand painted and of course a Welcome sign. You can use any of these ideas in your garage as well, simply pick a corner and deck it out with whatever you have. Watch at garage sales & flea markets for old counters or even an old table. Shelves are easy to come by; peg board can be got at any hardware store. The ideas are only limited by your space and creativity- so have fun and make it say it belongs to you!
Taylor's Yummy Beef & Veggie Soup
I know most of us think of soup in the cooler months, and with the way the weather has been the last couple weeks I wouldn't feel like soup either. The next week though is supposed to be on the cooler side so pick up a Garden Gate Chuck Roast tomorrow to make this super yummy soup next week! Enjoy...
3# or so, Beef Chuck Roast from Garden Gate farm (of course :-) )
enough water to cover roast and over about 4 inches
1 small red onion from Garden Gate, chopped fine
1 bunch Swiss Chard from Garden Gate, ribs & stemmed removed and then leaves washed and cut into bite size pieces
1 cup of Carrots from Willowridge Farm, cut into 1/2 inch coins
4 ribs of Celery from Willowridge Farm, cut into 1/2 inch chunks
2 cups Cocktail Vegetable juice, like V-8
1 tsp fresh Rosemary from Garden Gate
1 tsp. each salt & pepper from James Creek Sutlery
1. In a large crock pot add water, meat, onion, salt & pepper and rosemary. Cover and cook on low for about 8 hours.
2. Stir in carrots, chard, celery and cook until almost tender, about 1/2 hour. Transfer meat & veggies to a large stock pot; add juice. If not enough juice, add enough water to cover.
3. Cook on low for about another hour or until veggies are tender.
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 09:56 PM EDT
The daffodils, forsythias & magnolias are all in full bloom~ it is absolutely magnificent! It is about 9Pm right now and the rain just started coming down~ it sounds like a calm and steady straight down rain. Evan, Ryan & I got several things planted in the raised beds & the kitchen garden today and this rain is such a blessing for all those little seeds and soon to be us :-) ! Ryan wanted to pick his teacher a bouquet with the daffodils for tomorrow, he is so sweet. He loves to make bouquets and plant things. We were planting beets in a few of the raised beds after school today and all of a sudden he was gone. I called after him and he was getting ready to till up the spot he had worked in last summer. "Too wet yet" I told him. Raised beds are different then regular gardens, they dry out quite a bit quicker and you can get lots more stuff in them faster. One more reason why I am all about raised beds! We all love those first spring bouquets and they never seem to last long enough. You can add some vase life to them with a really simple homemade 'Flower Fresh' fresh recipe~ all ingredients you are sure to have right in your own home!
*Homemade "Flower Fresh"
Put 1/2 tsp. of regular household bleach and 1 tsp. sugar to every 1 cup of room temperature water. Change water every 5-7 days.
If you snip just a 1/4 inch off the bottom of the stems each day, this will also help.
You will be able to keep your bouquets looking nice for about 2-3 weeks.
*More Garden Tips
There are so many things that I have read & picked up over the years that it seems I could write on & on about this stuff forever... so here are a few more tried & true tips! Have fun...
*If you have trouble with flies coming in the house, try putting a potted Basil on the step or porch by each of your doors and if you have a window ledge outside you kitchen window or any other put a few there. Not are they only helpful here, just think how easy it will be to make Brushetta or Pesto now.... oh now that is sooo yummy!
*If you have shrubs or trees that need pruned in the spring, lay a tarp under the area to be pruned; then when you are done, simply fold up the tarp and dispose of in your compost or burn pile... easy as pie!
*It is seed planting time and some of those seeds are soo tiny! Lettuce & carrot to mention just a couple. Try using a large holed salt or sugar shaker~ simply put your seed in it and then shake them out in your prepared row! So easy!
*Weeding can be a trying experience even for the gardener who loves to garden. If at all possible, weed after a rain, everything comes out easier.
*Mulching is a time & back saver! If you know a farmer that has cows, horses or sheep they will have hay & straw. Bales often pop open and there is always loose straw around. Ask if you clean up the loose straw & hay if you can have it. I lay newspaper down my isles in the garden and even in the raised beds between the rows, and then cover with straw. Some people will say then you will be planting the seeds~ it's green manure! Plus I rather deal with the very minimal seeding as opposed to the hours of hoeing, tilling and hand weeding! I will be touching more on mulching & it's importance in coming posts!
*Simple Cuttings are very easy to do. Here are instructions on how to start your own Rose & Forsythia.
~ For a new rose bush all you need to do is cut a stem with a full bloom rose on it. Stick the stem into the ground. Leave a few of the leaves at the top with the bloom. Water the ground thoroughly and put a clear glass jar over it- like a mason jar- if you have a 2 quart jar that would be best, but a 1 quart works well too- and anchor it into the ground by twisting it until the jar is in the ground up to its shoulder; place a rock on it. Keep the soil watered around jar every day until frost. don't remove the jar until next spring. You will then have a new rose bush growing! I have tried this and it worked~ I got 2 out of 6 new roses.
~ Forsythia is super easy too! If you have a friend with a bush you are all set~ I am sure she/he will let you have a start. Forsythia branches will tend to 'bend' down and when the tips meet the ground they root on their own! Go to the shrub and you will see gobs of branches that appear to be separate bushes, but in actuality they are branches rooted down. All you need to do is cut the branch from the actual mother plant and carefully dig up the 'rooted branch'. Put in a bucket of water with the flower fresh in it and transplant into the location you have for it at home! Presto~ your own forsythia!
Mini Farmers Market Pizza's
These nifty little pizza's are so much fun for the children because you can let each one of them create their very own masterpiece! Not to mention they can put whatever toppings they like best. Here is one way, but be creative and have a yummy fun time!
6 Pita Rounds
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
1 cup fresh Spinach from Garden Gate Farm, washed & snipped into bite size pieces
1 medium Red Onion from Garden Gate Farm, chopped
2 Roma Tomatoes from Willowridge farm, sliced thinly with seeds removed
2 cups mixed shredded cheese from Grassfields Organic cheese- choose two types for a more interesting flavor
Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 cup fresh Parsley from Garden Gate Farm, snipped
1. Place pita rounds on an ungreased baking sheet and spread each with 1/4 cup of pizza sauce.
2. Top with cheese; put tomato, spinach & onions on top.
3. Drizzle 1/2 tsp. oil over each pizza; sprinkle 1 tsp. parsley over each;
4. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese over each.
5. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly!
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 09:26 AM EDT
"Gardening is a joy when one's time is managed to enjoy it!" Jean Smith.
Well it is finally Spring, I can hardly believe the calendar. I am so excited with this weather and all that we've got accomplished outdoors the last two weeks. I am getting ready to transplant some scallions, lettuces, chard and spinach seedlings into the raised beds; I am also going to get radishes and more greens seeded this week. For the next few weeks I will focus on giving some practical Garden Tips to help you get your growing season started~ and of course I will continue to give you loads of other fun ideas to do and lot's of yummy recipes! I hope you are all enjoying my blog as much as I am!
Tomorrow I am having a Sisters Day at my house. What is a Sisters Day you wonder~ well in brief it is when you and a group of friends or relatives decide to have a special day of being together & doing something you all enjoy . The ideas and group of people to include are both endless! Here are some Sisters Day themes as well as groups!
*Themes or activities can include but are certainly not limited to~ Card making, scrap booking, canning & preserving, dinner/meal swap, crafty day, sewing or quilting day. You can even just have your group over and let everyone do what they want. Tomorrow when all my 'sister's' come we are going to do yard work & finish cleaning up the rest of the flower beds, do some transplanting and one of my 'mother in the Lord' is coming to do the mending that I just cannot bear to do! The other one is too far away to be here, and my heart aches that she won't be with us. We will have one every month and each 'sister' whose turn it is gets to choose what we all do at her house. If you are thinking that seems pretty good, it gets better. They are all going to bring a dish to pass for lunch that we will all share and to top it off they will each bring in a dish for my families supper! Yeah, isn't that great?
*Groups you may be involved with: Obviously if you have sister's &/or cousins you are especially fond of :-) ~ and of course you can include your mom, mother & sister in laws, grandma & special aunts too. If there is a lively group in your work place that you enjoy spending time with have one with your co-workers. Do you belong to a M.O.P.'s, homeschooling, Brownies or Girl Scouts, Master Gardeners or any other group? I am sure you could think of several of the other group members you may have fun with!
Whatever theme or group of friends you decide on you will surely have a great time so let your imaginations soar!
Helpful Garden Tips!
*If you are like me you just can't bear to wear gardening gloves. I love the way the dirt feels on my fingers and it's warmth is to good to pass up. Besides who can get a good hold on those nasty roots with gloves on. So before you go outside to work in the dirt, push your finger nails into a bar of soap. Then when you get back in just wash up and no dirt in the nails!
*If you have earwigs, place several sheets of rolled up newspaper secured with rubber bands where you are seeing infestations. Leave it there over night and then in the morning, simply pick up the rolled newspaper and put in a garbage bag, tie tightly. They love to hide in cool, dark & damp places.
*To control slugs and snails simply spread bran around the bases of the plants where you are noticing them. They do not like bran and this will be a natural way to be rid of the slimy suckers!
*I am a list maker! What I like to do is to walk around the yard and any other areas that I know there is work to be done and make a list of what needs to be done~ these work well for 'Honey-do' lists as well! Then you can visually look at each thing to do and as it gets accomplished you have the thrill of scratching that job off and it is one less thing to do! It also helps for folks like me who forget it as quickly as I think of it ;-) !
*Timing is everything! I for one have many gardens and they take time to work in and get the job done, especially in the spring when all the weeds are trying to take a strong hold before the perennials can get a fair chance! Spread your work out~ give yourself fifteen to thirty minutes in the morning and then again in the evening to work at weeding. This way you can easily stay on top of the work instead of trying to do the whole lot in a day once a week.
If you are fortunate enough to have a kitchen garden you can easily throw together these yummy & quick sandwiches for a little picnic, special luncheon or a leisurely lunch that is sure to become a family favorite!
Cucumber 'Herb Garden' Sandwiches
1- 8 oz. package of Cream Cheese, softened
2 tsp. mayonnaise
1/2 tsp. lemon juice
1/2 cup fresh* herbs, finely chopped such as: chives, thyme, parsley and basil
8 slices Old World bread, sliced
2 cucumbers, peeled and sliced thin
1. Combine first 4 ingredients and blend until thoroughly mixed.
2. Spread on bread; then layer cucumbers on bread about 2 slices thick. Close sandwiches and serve cool.
This is so refreshing on a hot summer day!
*To interchange dry herbs for fresh cut the amount to 1/4 cup scant~ but I recommend using fresh!
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 11:03 AM EDT
"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
"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap, but by the seeds that you plant." Robert Louis Stevenson
Today was magnificent! The sun was shining and the warmth it gave was strength for the soul. We worked outside all day~ Neil cleaned out the very messy garage; Taylor washed all the windows in & out; I got flower & raised beds cleaned up with some help, my front porch swept & tidied up and my potting shed all cleaned out~ that was a job. It seems every fall when 'stuff' is getting picked up and put away, it all goes into 'my' shed! Kyle was helping me and he very innocently say's, "You do this every spring mom." I'm like, no kidding! But that's OK, I love getting in there and finding all the 'clearance' garden stuff I stashed away last fall in anticipation for the next summer. After school Kyle and Ethan were outside with Evan helping him fill his bird feeders~ they are so sweet to their baby brother! It paid off, Evan's boo~jays were there shortly after. As I was meandering through the flower beds and cleaning, of course I am thinking what needs to be replaced, added and thinned out. Gardening is a job, but when it is your passion it is so worth while. Today is going to be the last for ideas on Garden Themes, so I thought we would end with a few I was saving for last.
Many people think flowers are just for looking at, cutting for arrangements or giving as gifts~ have you ever thought about eating some? Edible flower's are much more common in the many gardening magazines the last few years. I love to include pansies and nasturtiums in my salads, they don't just add beauty but they really are yummy~ Nasturtiums add a 'peppery' flavor. Here are a more edibles, try planting them in your kitchen garden, in pots or in your veggie garden. Especially nasturtiums, they should go with your tomato plants!
*All herbs of course, scented geraniums, viola, violets, pansies, nasturtiums, dandelion petals & leafs, hibiscus, johnny jump ups, rose petals, snapdragons, day lily and calendula petals. There are many more and if you are interested in finding more out on edible plants, a good book is, "Edible Wild Plants~ A North American Field Guide, by Thomas S. Elias & Peter A. Dikeman. As with all plants, be sure to read about them before ingesting because some need to be had in moderation and some do not go well with certain medications.
*Tea Gardens are always fun simply because of what you can plan with them, who doesn't love a Tea Party? Creating a Tea Garden is very special, it is beautiful and practical. Here are some easy to grow plants that make superb teas and blends.
*Lemon Balm, Raspberry leaves, Mints including but not limited to: Spearmint, Pineapple, Apple, Balsam, Orange, Peppermint; Sage, Rose & Chamomile. This is a very small list but some of the most common to give you a start.
*Beautiful Ice Cubes~ If you are having some friends over or are planning any type of party here is a very easy yet elegant idea to spruce up your beverages. First boil enough water to fill 4 ice cube trays. After the water is boiled pour into ice cube trays and drop in 2 Johnny Jump Up's or Viola's into each insert. Freeze. Pop out when ready to use and hear the 'ahhs'. The boiling of water makes it so the water is crystal clear.
We don't always need meat on our sandwiches, despite what my husband thinks :-) ! Some days you just want it light & simple. Here are two yummy treats that are sure to please!
Farm Fresh eggs are a farmer's market delight, especially when you get them from The Garden Gate!
Egg Salad on Sour Dough
4 eggs from Garden Gate, hard boiled, peeled and chopped
1/4 cup red onion from Garden Gate, finely chopped
1/2 cup mayonnaise, divided
1 tsp Matt's Mix Seasoning
1/2 stick butter, softened
1 loaf of Sour Dough Bread from Fostoria Bread Factory
1. Using a fork, mash eggs, stir in onion, seasoning and 1/2 the mayo.
2. Cut the loaf in slices, about 8 will do. Cut the crust* off. Spread the butter evenly on 4 of the slices and the remaining mayo on the other 4 slices.
3. Spoon on egg mixture evenly between 4 slices; top with other.
What to do with radishes other than throw them on a salad or dip in salt and crunch! Radishes have more uses than that. Here is a fun treat to change things up. Serve with your favorite soup and a fresh fruit salad, Superb!
Spicy Radish Sandwiches
10 radishes from Garden Gate, washed, trimmed and thinly slice
4 Tbsp. butter, softened
3 Tbsp. fresh chives from Garden Gate, chopped and divided
1 Tbsp. toasted sesame seed
3/4 tsp. fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1/4 tsp. olive oil
1/4 tsp. each salt & pepper
1 baguette , sliced 1/4 inch thick
1. Mix butter, 2 Tbsp. of the chives, sesame seed, ginger and oil in a bowl. Sprinkle with salt & pepper.
2. Spread mixture over one side of each baguette slice. Top with radishes, overlapping slightly. Sprinkle with remaining chives.
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 04:08 PM EDT
*Old Fashioned Cottage Garden are my favorite. All of my gardens are Cottage type simply because I love the natural way they feel and look, not all fuss & pomp, just calm and relaxing. I think that is why I love them, most often life is not any of these and I can escape to the garden's and simply be there. There are certain flowers that speak specifically in a cottage garden~ Hollyhocks, Delphiniums, Foxglove, Bleeding Heart, Climbing Roses, Peony, Phlox, and of course one of my personal favorites, Lupine's. We use to have a childrens story book called, The Lupine Lady. I don't know the author any longer, but I use to love to read it to the children, it was just a happy book! My garden's incorporate picket fences, old wooden posts, arbors and a pergola. This picture is of my front arbor and fence with a Sweet Autumn Clematis growing on it just starting to bloom. These are one of my favorite climbers. They are breathtaking and car stopping when in full bloom, around the end of August. Country Garden's magazine is jammed packed with beautiful garden idea's for creating Cottage Gardens. If you haven't picked up a copy yet, be forewarned, once you start you'll be a life long subscriber!
*Here is a fun project if you are a Bible reader or even if you are not. Plant a Bible Garden- the following plants can be found at the listed verses in the King James Version. Try having a trivia game using the following plants & see who knows where these plants can be found. See who the Bible scholars are!
Rose of Sharon- Song of Solomon 2.1 Roots- Job 30.4
Rue- Luke 11.42 Saffron- Song of Solomon 4.14
Hyssop- Hebrews 9.19 Mint- Mathew 23.23
Anise- Mathew 23.23
*Living Wreaths~ As most of you know we are Farmer's Market vendors. At a market I use to participate in there was a vendor that created the most beautiful Living Wreaths. I gathered the following tips from Country Gardens magazine, Early Spring Issue 2009, Vol. 18, No.1 on how to market them. They are fairly simple and inexpensive to make on your own, and if properly cared for will last you all summer long. You will need a few supplies- here is a brief outline of material's & how to!
*First gather your supplies~ At least a 16" metal wreath form or Grape Vine wreath with pocket, 16oz. bag of Sphagnum moss, small bag organic potting mix, about 12-18 plants- choose one or two varieties; when choosing your plants decide if this wreath is going to be in the sun or shade- this will make a big difference on your selections, green florist wire.
*Choose your plants:
~Shady plants that work well are impatiens, ivy, button ferns or tuberous begonias.
~Sunny plants that work well are pansies, petunias or herbs. A mixture of Thyme's, viola's and a variegated spearmint is just stunning, not to mention smells scrumptious.
*Step 1: Soak moss well in bucket (about 10 minutes) of water and then drain. It should be damp & pliable. Attach a short length of doubled wire to the back of the wreath form, so it will be easy to hang. Place three or four such lengths, evenly spaced, on the back of the wreath so that it can be turned to keep it growing evenly.
*Step 2: Line the form with the moss, with the green mossy side facing out, like fitting rolled out dough in a pie pan. Overlap pieces of moss and patch as you go.
Step 3: Make sure the moss overlaps both upper edges of the form or grape vine basket by a couple of inches. Fill the form about 3/4 full with the potting mix.
Step 4: Arrange the plants on top of the soil. When you are happy with your design, take the plants out of their pots and plant them.
Step 5: Give the wreath a full look by planting the sides as well. Poke holes through the moss in three or four places around the sides of the form, and carefully insert a plant in each hole.
Step 6: Tuck the overlapping edges of the moss over the top, around the crowns of the plants. The moss holds the plants in place until their roots have taken grip. It also helps keep the soil from drying out and falling out when watered.
Step 7: Secure on end of the florists wire to the back of the wreath form. Wrap wire around the front and back, moving in a spiral all the way around. Cut the wire and twist the end onto the form.
This is a beautiful gift as well, and homemade with love can't be more special!
Some people are afraid of Greens simply because they have never been exposed to them, they sound too different or they are just not a real 'go getter' with new foods. Then there are those that dive at the market table when the greens are spread before them. What constitutes the name 'greens' other than the obvious~ lettuces the curious one asks. Well greens include kale, chard, spinach, mustard's, arugula, endive to name the most common. Usually a 'salad mix' of greens includes many of the above combined together to make a yummy salad. Most often when cooked alone these things are steamed or wilted. But there are so many other options! Here is a really yummy recipe, remember that you can interchange any of the above for the 'green' in the ingredients!
Soft Boiled Eggs in a 'Green' Nest
1 Bunch of Chard, Kale or Spinach from Garden Gate, stems & ribs discarded
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Red Pepper flakes
1/2 tsp each salt & pepper
4 Eggs from Garden Gate
1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Chop your greens into bite size pieces and toss in the oil and seasoning to coat evenly. Spread evenly in the bottom of a 10"x10" glass baking dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes, till crisp. Remove from oven and divide into 2 bowls and create a 'nest' with a hole in the center.
2. While greens are baking, bring a 2 quart pot of water to a rolling boil and gently lower eggs into water, turn off heat and cover. Let eggs sit in water for 6 1/2 minutes for soft boiled eggs.
3. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let sit for about 1/2 minute. Working carefully and quickly, peel eggs, and place in center of nests. Season with Matt's Mix and serve immediately.
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 03:13 PM EDT
"To own a bit of ground, to scratch it with a hoe, to plant seeds, and watch the renewal of life... this is the commonest delight of the race, the most satisfactory thing a man can do." Charles Dudley Warner
Gardens are such a joy and can be an inspiration to others. When one walks through a garden they should be welcomed by a warm, fuzzy feeling that grabs hold of them to the point of not wanting to leave. Quiet, rest and peacefulness ought to be the theme of every garden, and it can be accomplished simply by making it a small reflection of who you are. When your friends are there it should be a time of not just visiting, but sharing secrets of both joy and sadness; a place where memories are in the making. A garden says so much about it's creator~ favorite plants, colors, garden style~ mine is all cottage! My hope is that these writings will stimulate that new, hopeful gardener to dive into a new project or inspire the one that has it 'all' to do something new. Gardening is meant to be a joy, so be joyful & garden!
As I mentioned in the previous entry I am going to discuss for a few days some different Garden Themes.
Many people are moved by Shakespeare's writings and find his work quite fascinating. Some may have even heard of a Shakespeare Garden Theme. This garden represents plants that have been mentioned in many of his writings. As you will notice, many of the plants listed are herbs, and therefore an Herb Garden would be a great way to incorporate this into your yard! Remember, as with all gardens consider your area, drainage, available sunlight or lack of, and the plants growing habits. As always, I suggest drawing it out and planning before you start~ this always saves a lot of disappointment.
*Thyme *Pink Rose
*Lavender *Johnny Jump Ups
*Lemon Balm *Myrtle
A few other Garden Themes are....
*Friendship Garden~ This is one of my favorites, and it is so easy to get started! First make a list of some of your best friends and think about their garden's and what they have to offer in the line of perennials. After you decide on your garden location, size and have it prepared for planting, you can begin asking your friends for starts of the plants you want to 'remember' them by. They will be so tickled that they mean that much to you, they will gladly give you a 'baby'. But be careful, you may get a whole group ready to start 'Plant Swapping' and garden making~ now wouldn't that be terrible ;-) !
*Sittin' Garden~ This garden is for quiet times. At our other home I had a special spot where I could look over the garden and watch the birds, bee's and just relax. I took two tree stumps and a wooden slab board; I then laid the board across the two stumps for a very rustic bench. You can use whatever suits your fancy & taste for your quiet spot. Take a cup of tea, coffee or cocoa and just enjoy the moment.
Herbed Mushroom Omelets
Try this yummy treat with of course Garden Gates awesome eggs!
6 eggs beaten from Garden Gate
1 Tbsp. fresh Parsley from Garden Gate
1/4 tsp. of each dried Oregano & Thyme
1/4 tsp. seasoning salt
2 Tbsp. butter, divided
1 1/2 cup Portabello Mushrooms
1. Whisk together eggs & seasonings and set aside.
2. Melt 1/2 the butter in skillet over medium heat and add sliced mushrooms; saute until tender~ about 5-10 minutes. Remove from skillet, set aside.
3. Melt rest of butter in skillet over low heat; pour in half the egg mixture. Stir the eggs slightly, without scrambling. When almost cooked, spoon the mushrooms in and fold over.
*If you would like to add cheese try some from Grassfields Organic Cheeses!
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 10:11 AM EDT
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When we purchased our farm the home had been abandoned for over a year and to say the least it was a 'fixer' upper. Although as we walked through it I could imagine what I could make it to be, and so the long road of fixing is still in progress. That's o.k. though because I enjoy making things look like 'me'. We moved in the first of March almost five years ago and I had the garden's to be on paper before you could bat an eye. The veggie garden and flower beds would be first priority and then planning some hard scaping. Each year we have added new elements and I can always envision more beds and dreams.
Remembrance Trees or plants are a beautiful and potentially long lasting treasured gift. Neil's mom had purchased for each of the six children a 'remembrance' tree in memory of their father after he passed away. Unfortunately our beautiful Emerald Luster Maple tree was left at our previous home. She had wanted something for our new home and got us several much needed shrubs. This is such a wonderful idea that can be remembered for generations.
Wedding Showers can be so fun and especially with the right theme. If you are planning on hosting one, even in the dreary months of winter, make it a Garden Theme. Here are a few cute ideas to get you started!
*Invitations- You can create the cutest invitations with all the graphics, rubber stamps and stickers out there today. Especially if you have one of those nifty die cutting machines!
*Have everyone bring their favorite Recipe on a card that you send them with the invitation (then they are all the same size & coordinate). Put them in a cute Terra cotta pot as each guest arrives; have the bride-to-be pull 2 or 3 of the cards and whoever's name is on them, they win a door prize- give them a potted plant. The recipes then can be put in a book or box for the bride-to-be and will be a long lasting treasured memory.
*Place Setting Name Tags- use 10 for $1.00 seed packets- simply use address labels with a cute font and garden graphic to print each guests name on and then put on the front of seed packet to cover the company name, but not flower. Have just one of a certain seed and use that for another door prize winner.
*Door Prizes- pairs of garden gloves, hand tools- trowels, shovels, scratcher's; garden stationary, seed packets, potted flowers or any other garden themed gift you can come up with.
*Menu- You can change names of recipe's to feature the theme. For example, 'Berry Blossom Salad'- use edible flowers (if available) like pansies & nasturtiums. Rhubarb Punch or Garden Spiral Pasta Salad are a few more. Use your imagination!
A wonderful Wedding Gift for the happy couple to be is a Picnic Basket. Be sure to fill it with two of everything- linen napkins, place mats, plates, cups, flatware and pretty glasses. Don't forget to include a table cloth, candles & candle sticks and some of the couples favorite treats.
Another special gift is a small Planter of Cooking Herbs such as Basil, Parsley, Sage, Thyme, Oregano and Rosemary. Make it even more special by including a book on Herb Gardening and an Herb Cookbook.
Try this yummy meal using Garden Gates Italian Sausage and let your tastes soar....
Three Cheese Herb Pasta Bake
3 Tbsp. butter 1 tsp each- basil, dill & oregano
2 cloves garlic, minced 2 Tbsp. fresh parsley from Garden Gate
1/4 cup Whole Wheat flour, from Garden Gate 1/2 tsp. Pink Himalayan Salt
1 tsp. mustard from 1/2 tsp. Black Pepper
3 cup milk 16oz. package ofRigatoni, cooked
1 cup shredded Cheddar Cheese from 1 pound Italian Sausage from Garden Gate1 cup shredded Monterrey Jack
1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
1. Melt butter in a skillet over medium heat. Add garlic; saute one minute. Whisk in flour & mustard. Pour in milk; continue to whisk until smooth. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce heat and simmer one minute.
2. Combine cheeses; reserve 3/4 cup and set aside. Add remaining cheese to sauce, a little at a time, stirring until cheese melts. Add herbs and seasonings.
3. Toss pasta with sauce; sprinkle with reserved cheese. Spoon into a lightly greased 13"x9" baking pan. Bake uncovered, at 350 degrees for 10-15 minutes. Uncover and broil for 1 to 2 minutes, until golden and bubbly.
Posted by Neil & Jean
@ 07:59 AM EDT