For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Tussie Mussies Made Simple, Putting Up Rhubarb, Rhubarb Crisp and Rhubarb Punch!

Well here we are getting fired up about the garden and all that she will bear for us... spring, summer, fall and winter... each holds a different gift for the individual.  Most people are not aware of the extended growing capabilities that we now have available in more northern climates, such as mine here in the thumb of Michigan.  We have some cold winters but with heated and unheated greenhouses, high tunnels and/ or hoop houses the posibilities are quite amazing.  No we can't grow tomatoes, they need a certain amount of sunlight to bear that vine ripened flavorful tomato.  I don't believe in hydroponics and wouldn't eat anything grown that way on purpose... read the labels friends, you'd be surprised at what you're eating during the winter months.  I believe, but don't totally practice eating 'in season'... my family likes banana's and oranges and we buy them in the winter. I do realize that eating local and in season are wonderful and right things, but, we are a bit spoiled. With all the preserving and root cellaring we do we have pretty much every thing we could want out of the garden all winter long and right on through spring until it all starts coming in fresh again.  With our hoop houses we can have fresh greens and lettuces all winter long... like I said we are spoiled! Which brings me to helping you put up some rhubarb and giving you recipes on how to use it in and out 'of season'... enjoy!  [Read More]
 
 

Simple To Make Birdbath, Say I Love You with Herbs, Recycled Cloth Shopper Bags And 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! *Here is a super Simple Birdbath that even the most 'un-handy' minded person can make using just a few simple tools! First you will need: ~a really cool old banister or porch post, which if you don't have go to any antique or salvage yard and they will abound. If you want newer than simply go and buy what you would like. It should be at least 4 feet tall. ~an old granite dishpan for the bath. ~a bag of concrete, a Tap-con screw (for metal) and some clear acrylic caulk. Dig a hole about a foot deep, place the post in and pour enough concrete to fill hole to just about ground level. Cover with dirt and let set about an hour. Take the dish pan and center on top of banister/post; screw to banister/post. Put a dab of caulk over screw to prevent leaking and rusting. Plant flowers like Shasta Daisies, Black Eyed Susan's or Purple Cone Flowers around and enjoy the birdie frolic! *I love to give gifts especially those that say I love you with flowers or plants... or really any type of garden type stuff. Here is a gift that will keep on giving the recipient! Many plants have meanings, even the color of roses have specific meanings to them. Here are some herb's that you can give to express your admiration or love to them. Here are some ways to arrange the Herbs for gift giving: ~Plant them in a lovely window box or two. ~Pot each herb up in separate pots- choose Terra cotta, painted pottery or some old galvanized pails~ you will know what they will like best! ~Plant in one or two large patio pots if they have a patio or porch. Here are the Herbs and their meanings: Dill~ cheer and survival in the face of difficulties\ Sage~ wisdom Marjoram~ joy Bay~ achievement and success Rosemary~ remembrance and friendship Scented 'Attar of Rose' Geranium~ happiness Choose one, some or all... you know what you want to say! Recycled Clothe Shopper Bags have been a really big thing the last couple years and being a market vendor I notice more and more of our customers going to them. This in turn saves us from having to buy as many plastic bags! So of course I thought we could make and in turn sell them at market. Taylor & I decided to go pattern shopping and find a practical pattern to make. We decided to use old denim pants, scraps from our dress fabrics, old sheets, shirts and any other 'scraps' of fabric we could acquire. This was a lot of fun and if you enjoy sewing this is a really simple project to make a few 'one of a kind' shopper bags for yourself and even for gifts! We added buttons, pockets, ribbons and other little charms that we had. Be as creative as you like and before you know it , you might have a little business in bag making! Taylor's Ready To Go French Toast French toast can be way more exciting that just some bread dipped in egg & fried. We have eight hungry people to feed, six of them in the male category, so we need to keep things interesting around our house. This is a great make ahead breakfast great for Sunday breakfast or Brunch, or for any day of the week. 1/2 Stick of Butter 2 Apples cored, peeled and sliced 1 cup brown sugar 1 tsp. apple pie spice 8 slices bread- your choice- thicker the better in my opinion 4 eggs from Garden Gate Farm, beaten 1 cup milk 1 tsp. Maple Syrup Extract* 1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to med-low; add apples and cook until tender. 2. Stir in sugar and spice and cook until dissolved, about 2-3 minutes. Pour apple mixture into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. 3. Lay the slices of bread on top of apple mixture. 4. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients; pour over bread slices. 5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. 6. Remove plastic and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until eggs are cooked & set, until firm and browned slightly. *Don't use regular maple syrup because the flavor with cook off! Serve nice and warm and if you for brunch add some yummy vanilla ice cream with it! Happy Day, Jean
 
 

Homemade "Flower Fresh" Recipe, More Garden Tips & Simple Cuttings & yummy Mini Farmers Market Pizza's

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!

Happy Day,
Jean

 
 

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!

*
Here is a super Simple Birdbath that even the most 'un-handy' minded person can make using just a few simple tools! First you will need:
~a really cool old banister or porch post, which if you don't have go to any antique or salvage yard and they will abound.  If you want newer than simply go and buy what you would like.  It should be at least 4 feet tall.
~an old granite dishpan for the bath.
~a bag of concrete, a Tap-con screw (for metal) and some clear acrylic caulk.
Dig a hole about a foot deep, place the post in and pour enough concrete to fill hole to just about ground level.
Cover with dirt and let set about an hour.
Take the dish pan and center on top of banister/post; screw to banister/post. Put a dab of caulk over screw to prevent leaking and rusting.
Plant flowers like Shasta Daisies, Black Eyed Susan's or Purple Cone Flowers around and enjoy the birdie frolic!

*I love to give gifts especially those that say I love you with flowers or plants... or really any type of garden type stuff.  Here is a gift that will keep on giving the recipient!  Many plants have meanings, even the color of roses have specific meanings to them.  Here are some herb's that you can give to express your admiration or love to them. 
Here are some ways to arrange the Herbs for gift giving:
~Plant them in a lovely window box or two.
~Pot each herb up in separate pots- choose Terra cotta, painted pottery or some old galvanized pails~ you will know what they will like best!
~Plant in one or two large patio pots if they have a patio or porch.
Here are the Herbs and their meanings:
Dill~ cheer and survival in the face of difficulties\
Sage~ wisdom
Marjoram~ joy
Bay~ achievement and success
Rosemary~ remembrance and friendship
Scented 'Attar of Rose' Geranium~ happiness
Choose one, some or all... you know what you want to say!

Recycled Clothe Shopper Bags have been a really big thing the last couple years and being a market vendor I notice more and more of our customers going to them. This in turn saves us from having to buy as many plastic bags!  So of course I thought we could make and in turn sell them at market. Taylor & I decided to go pattern shopping and find a practical pattern to make.   We decided to use old denim pants, scraps from our dress fabrics, old sheets, shirts and any other 'scraps' of fabric we could acquire.  This was a lot of fun and if you enjoy sewing this is a really simple project to make a few 'one of a kind' shopper bags for yourself and even for gifts!  We added buttons, pockets, ribbons and other little charms that we had.  Be as creative as you like and before you know it , you might have a little business in bag making!

Taylor's Ready To Go French Toast
French toast can be way more exciting that just some bread dipped in egg & fried.  We have eight hungry people to feed, six of them in the male category, so we need to keep things interesting around our house.  This is a great make ahead breakfast great for Sunday breakfast or Brunch, or for any day of the week.

1/2 Stick of Butter
2 Apples cored, peeled and sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. apple pie spice
8 slices bread- your choice- thicker the better in my opinion
4 eggs from Garden Gate Farm, beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp. Maple Syrup Extract*

1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to med-low; add apples and cook until tender.
2. Stir in sugar and spice and cook until dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.  Pour apple mixture into a greased 9x13 inch baking dish. 
3. Lay the slices of bread on top of apple mixture.
4. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients; pour over bread slices.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
6. Remove plastic and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until eggs are cooked & set, until firm and browned slightly. 
*Don't use regular maple syrup because the flavor with cook off!
Serve nice and warm and if you for brunch add some yummy vanilla ice cream with it!

Happy Day,
Jean
www.thegardengatefarm.com

 
 
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