For Dragonflies And Me

  (Snover, Michigan)
Enjoy the everyday life I love to live!
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Starting Cuttings with Willow Water and Yummy Salad Dressing Recipes


I'm always looking for things to do to get me through the winter months... even if those things are projects that won't happen until springs warmer days arrive! I am planning on getting into the green house this week and starting some seeds...  [Read More]
 
 

More Organizational Tips: De-clutter With Flyladies '27 Fling Boogie', Dining Room and Closets and Yummy Pasta with Veggies!

Personally I don't mind a bit of 'organized' clutter... now Flylady says there is no such thing but I disagree!  I like a homey look with a row of neat and dusted antique clay pitchers that top my bookshelf in my family room... I like the floral's and old blue mason jars that adorn the top of my kitchen cabinets and I like the three bowls that set as center pieces on my dining room table. I like 'details' in my decorating!  I can honestly say that 99% of my friends as well as acquaintances have told me over & over again that they have seen something or picked me up this or that because, in their words, "It looked just like you Jean!"  My friends know what I like because my home & gardens are a reflection of me. Now don't get me wrong... as I mentioned in a few blogs ago, my upstairs hallway is NOT ME!  It is dark paneling and really old, ugly carpet... it is my boys play space.  I realize that my home is not just a reflection of me, but also my family, I just like certain things and I like things to look a certain way... and that way just happens to  say "me"! My goal is to make our home both cozy & welcoming while allowing our children to be children. My challenge to you in all this is to do the same.  Don't decorate your home to 'please' others or even the latest & greatest trends... make you home yours & your families~ and have fun doing it!
         
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More on Organization: Creating Routines with P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify , The Kitchen and Pantry and More Market Fresh Canning Recipe's!

Oh what a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no 'science experiments' going on it, the appliances are shining and the windows let in all the bright sunshine because the little paddy prints have been washed off... at least for fifteen minutes... so look fast! After all I do have a just turned two year old that loves to stand on the kitchen chairs (... and the table...) and look at the out of doors... cry when everyone else is going 'bye-bye', and stand and wave at the dumpster guy pulling in the lane... yes windows are nice, but they don't stay clean at our house for very long. The boys say why bother... I tell them can you imagine if we didn't- think layers boys! Well, the kitchen is the gathering place in most homes and it is at ours as well... It is where little boys get to lick the beaters and get a spoonful of homemade chocolate pudding... where soap bubble beards are made and wet towel 'thwacks' happen... yes the kitchen is the heart of the home... after all it's where we nourish those we love... I will go into some more details of how I keep the kitchen and pantry tidy and organized. Today I thought it would be fun to throw in a couple canning recipes for some of the good stuff that you are getting in your CSA shares and across our market table... an possibly out of your very own gardens!   [Read More]

More on Organization: Creating Routines with P.M.S.- Prioritize, Minimize and Simplify , The Kitchen and Pantry and More Market Fresh Canning Recipe's!

Oh what a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no 'science experiments' going on it, the appliances are shining and the windows let in all the bright sunshine because the little paddy prints have been washed off... at least for fifteen minutes... so look fast! After all I do have a just turned two year old that loves to stand on the kitchen chairs (... and the table...) and look at the out of doors... cry when everyone else is going 'bye-bye', and stand and wave at the dumpster guy pulling in the lane... yes windows are nice, but they don't stay clean at our house for very long. The boys say why bother... I tell them can you imagine if we didn't- think layers boys! Well, the kitchen is the gathering place in most homes and it is at ours as well... It is where little boys get to lick the beaters and get a spoonful of homemade chocolate pudding... where soap bubble beards are made and wet towel 'thwacks' happen... yes the kitchen is the heart of the home... after all it's where we nourish those we love... I will go into some more details of how I keep the kitchen and pantry tidy and organized. Today I thought it would be fun to throw in a couple canning recipes for some of the good stuff that you are getting in your CSA shares and across our market table... an possibly out of your very own gardens!   [Read More]
 
 

Decorating with Herbs, Step Stone Patterns and More Rhubarb and Strawberry Recipes

Here we are just about in the middle of June... how the days fly. The other day Kyle & Ethan were planting another 50 pounds of Yukon potato seeds... I walked down the row punching the holes in the plastic where they were to plant... Suddenly I saw this big, bossy and majestic dragonfly... He lives here at The Garden Gate Farm... he sports an iridescent blue jacket and flits about like he doesn't have a care in the world. I love to watch them fly about... whip over this way and then dart over that way.  They are by far my favorite insect. I quick pointed him out to the boys and we watched awhile as he showed off.  I truly believe that God always sends me one because He knows how special they are too me.  We also had another 'not so majestic' flying critter that day~ this one though was darting through my house and I was screaming running out the door~  [Read More]
 
 

Cooking & Baking with Herbs, Herbs for Pets, Lovely Lavender and Yummy Lavender Recipes

Lavender is one of my favorite herbs; although I don't use it as a culinary herb even though you can, I am partial to it as a lovely hedge about my flower beds.  Evan loves lavender, he will often bring me a bouquet of the sprigs he has picked... so sweet. 

Cooking with Herbs is such a special treat... once you start using fresh herbs and taste the difference from the dried, it will be hard to enjoy them as much in the winter.  Fresh herbs are a culinary delight to the senses and add a flavor that is hard to beat. Many people skip herbs when baking, so here are some yummy 'Herb Additions' to your everyday meals along with some baked good recipe's!
  [Read More]
 
 

Window box Gardening, Easy Jewelry Magnets, Make Pillows with Old Shirts, Honey, Almond & Oats Granola and Yummy Spring Potato Salad!

Spring is such an exciting time of year... I love all the flowering trees and shrubs... in my opinion if it doesn't bloom at some point, why bother having it! Although I do admit the beautiful colors of Autumn in the fall with all the maples and other trees bursting forth in spectacular hues of orange, red, yellow and bronze is stunning as well... I welcome spring with open arms, dream for summer and long for fall...  
         
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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
 
 

Children's Gardens & more themes, Butterfly Kisses & a super Yummy Apple 'Breakfast' Pie!

Each Spring my children get pretty enthusiastic about planting 'their' own garden plots.  Ryan, my soon to be 10year old is always right there ready to get going.  Last year he gathered several old bricks he discovered and made small 'raised' beds.  He dug around to loosen the dirt and proceeded to plant his tomato plants along side basil, nasturtiums & marigolds.  He has learned the art of Companion Planting like a true gardener!  Taylor & Kyle are usually in competition as to who's garden shall yield the greatest bounty and there-by collect the most funds from dad 'n' mom! The problem most often is that the thrill doesn't always last through till the harvest~ before the harvest is weeding & tending~ not such glamorous tasks as the planting!  But they are learning and I believe will someday have beautiful flower & veggie gardens for me to walk through!

But in the meantime here are a few more Garden Themes to dream about & work toward!
The first is a lovely *Children's Garden~  Sunflower Houses~  A good friend of mine has a really neat book called 
Roots, Shoots, Buckets & Boots by Sharon Lovejoy.  It is a book all about different children's garden theme's.  One that struck us most was a sunflower house. It is so fun & incredibly simple~ first find the perfect spot, a sunny corner in the far back of your veggie garden works well~ or in a flower bed if you have room~ figure about a 6'x6' area.  You will need the Giant Grey Stripe or Mammoth Sunflower's or even better a combo of both.  Using a stick for a marker, draw out the area in the dirt, any shape you want will do~ round, diamond, square, whatever~ then plant the seeds according to package directions.  Be sure to leave enough of an opening for an entrance.  Once the seeds start to sprout reseed where any didn't germinate so you have a complete 'wall'.  After your sunflowers are about six inches high plant Morning Glory seeds at the base of some of the sunflowers~ about every six would be good.  To make a roof over your hide away, take twine and go around the tops of the sunflowers to make criss~cross sections for the morning glories to climb over.  Once your sunflowers and morning glories are full grown it will be the perfect spot for picnics, story time or playing house.  Your children will love it!
other stuff for the Children to plant.... Children love to plant and if you give them something fun to grow it can even be more special! Let them plant some decorative gourds.  There are more varieties than you can shake a stick at including Swan, Bottle, Snake, Apple and even a Dinosaur Gourd.  Let them page the seed catalogs with you and have them pick what interests them.  There are books that teach the art of Gourdology which can be found at your local library.  The garden project can at harvest time become a craft project!  

Are you a crafty type of person?  Why not try growing your own Wreath Garden.  With the cost of materials these days, a package of seeds will go a long way in the savings department. Try growing these easy plants and who knows you might even be able to start a little business with your craft!
*Flowers that work well for Wreath's include~ boxwood, sweet annie, yarrow, bay, statice, artemisias and gomphrena. 

*Ditch Garden~
Do you have a ditch in front or alongside your home that just screams 'do something with me'? It is always an eye soar and you just don't really have the time to tend another garden? You want something but would like a maintainence free space that looks good without a lot of effort? I did, so last year I attacked the ditch that runs along the road in the front of our yard. My ditch is often fairly wet so my choice was a day lily patch. Here are two very quick & simple solutions if you have a similar dilemma. First & foremost determine how often and to what degree the area is wet.  This will determine if you do a Wild Flower or Day Lily Garden.  Next, if tilling is a possibility
rotor~till up the section to be seeded/planted.  If the area is not tillable due to moisture you will need to do a Day Lily garden.  If this is the solution, dig holes about every two feet and plant a clump of day lilies.  They can handle the early spring moisture and tolerate the dry & hot summer days that hit Michigan. If the area is not overly moist and tilling is an option,  simply scatter Wild Flower seeds in it. After a couple years you will have a breathtaking, car slowing garden that will never be an eye soar again.  Which ever you decide will best fit your space, be sure to check planting directions/requirements before you put all the work into it.  

What are Butterfly Kisses you ask? These have been shared in my gardens for many years by me & all my children.  They are the sweetest way to give that little person in your life a 'special' kiss & I love you.  So here are step by step instructions for those who are interested!
*First, find one or more of your favorite children.
*Next, stand them close to you and get down to their level~ face to face!
*Getting right up close in their face, put your eye up against their eye and blink as quickly as you can!  Be sure to tell the child to do the same!  The child will of course giggle and ask for tons more and of course you will gladly oblige!
That's a Butterfly Kiss, and of course they are most fun in a garden!

Who says Apple Pie is just for desert?  This yummy Apple Pie will surprise the ones you love around the table, give it a try!

Apple 'Breakfast' Pie


1 beaten Egg, from Garden Gate
1/4 cup oil
1 cup milk
1 1/2 cup Pancake Mix from Taylor's Bake Shoppe
1/2 cup plus 2 Tbsp. Vanilla Sugar                                                                                    2 Granny Smith apples cored & wedged
1/2 tsp. Cinnamon
1/4 tsp. Nutmeg
2 Tbsp. butter
Add about 1/2 cup nuts is you would like!
Top it with some Whipped Cream or Ice Cream~ Yummy!

1.  Beat the egg, oil & milk together and then add Pancake mix, 1/2 cup of sugar and nuts if using.  Beat until smooth, but don't over beat.
2. Pour into a greased 10" pie plate. 
3. Arrange the apples evenly over batter.  Combine the 2 Tbsp. of sugar with cinnamon & nutmeg; sprinkle over the apples.  Dot with butter.
4.  Bake at 375 degrees for about 30- 35 minutes or until apples when poked feel tender.  Serve warm with your choice of topping.

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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