For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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The Art of Meaningful Gift Giving, How to Preserve a Child and some Yummy Market Fresh Recipes


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]
 
 

Gift Giving Ideas and More Yummy Winter Thyme Recipes


There is a light dusting of snow on the ground and the air is chilled... next Friday will herald in the first day of Winter... my personal countdown to beloved Spring.  I have Spring in the hoop house despite what the calender says right now... but today I am not feeling very well and thought I would do something else I love that I have been neglecting... "For Dragonflies and Me"... an essentially all of you who read this.  The days have been growing shorter and the sunshine diminishing more and more each day.  Today is a sunny day and I will be happy for that. Here are some great gift giving ideas for those of you that want to do something extra special along with some ideas on drying and freezing your herbs and of course a few recipes to use them in. Enjoy friends.

We are in the heart of the Gift Giving season and us crafty people are always looking for that extra unique gift that we can hand make for those special people in our lives.  Gift Baskets are a fun and super easy way to create a one of a kind gift.  Although we need to look out of the box, or should I say 'basket' and look around for unique and original 'containers' to hold the gifts!  Here a few ideas that you can expand on... just remember, be creative and have fun, that special person will know that you spent extra time in this gift of love!  Please remember that there are many Winter Farmers Markets going on right now, including our farms in Downtown Farmington, The Old Winery and we've got over 30 vendors there every Saturday that can easily help you create many of these novel gifts...
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Choosing Perennials, Lavender Heart Card, Easy Flavored Sugar's Gift and Yummy Apple Pie Oatmeal

Our gardens are filled with love, patience and long suffering... these are attributes that we as spouses, parents, co-workers and such strive to maintain and build in our personal character.  I believe that gardening helps us grow these virtues.  I always tell my my friends that God made me to love gardening because that was the only way He was sure to get these virtues instilled in me.   Perennials I believe help along with this much more than annuals.  My closer friends know how much I enjoy 'instant gratification'~ which is why I probably will always incorporate my beloved annuals... petunias, nasturtiums, pansies and the likes~ they are ever faithful!  Today we will look at perennials and the pro's and con's to them along with some tips & hints on maintenance.
         
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Cookbook Journals, The Gift of Bread, More Garden Tips, Potting Shed Organization and Taylor's Yummy Beef and Veggie Soup

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.
So good.

Happy Day,
Jean

 
 
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