For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Mountain Pie Suppers, Homemade Napkin Rings, Cute 'Cookie' Packaging, Taylor's Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Summer is here and how I just love to be outside~ especially where entertaining is concerned.  Nothing is as enjoyable to me as having my friends over for a lovely evening of food & fellowship... listening to the gobs of children running and playing and laughing... Spring and summer come to an end much too quickly for me, so I try to take advantage of my outside time as much as possible.  Our family really enjoys Mountain Pie suppers- in Canada we call them  [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
 
 

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! 

Happy Day,
Jean,
 
 

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

 
 

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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