Saturday, December 26, 2009

Christmas Tree Potpourri

It's about that time
Soon we will begin taking down the Christmas tree
I'm so sad to see so many artificial trees in homes, lifeless, smell-less, dull...
nothing for later
You get the picture, I like the forest best.
Save a bit of that beautiful tree with this Potpourri
It makes a nice gift for next year, just date it 2009 Christmas tree,
something to spark a good 2010 Christmas celebration.
Christmas tree Potpourri
Collect 2 cups of your Christmas trees small outer branches
Be sure to cut them into small bits 2" or so
The peel from 2 oranges, just peel, cut into 1/8 " strips
and lay out to dry
1/2 Cup Bay leaves
3 tablespoons Lavender buds
3 Tablespoons dried cloves
2 tablespoons of orris root tossed with 6 drops of spice oil (you have many choices here, fragrance oils to essential oils, I like a little clove leaf eo and a little cinnamon leaf eo)
You need to let the ingredients dry completely. Once my tree and oranges are dry I put them in a clean jar and save it until next year. Open and shake from time to time.
If they aren't dry they mold
Around Oct I mix in the other ingredients and return it to the jar to age until Christmas,
Open and stir every week.
You can make this recipe as large as your Christmas tree can provide! You can mix all ingredients now, cure for a month shaking each few days and then storing in and airtight container.
Jars of potpourri make wonderful gifts!
NOTE: you can cut what ever part of the tree you want but no one needs the big branches so stick with the needle bundles. No need to cut the needles themselves. But when you put out your mix, in a glass bowl or pretty bag, be sure and press it with you hand to release the smell of the needles.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

The little things that make Christmas happy

I finally got the table cleared of craft projects and Christmas cards and bits of the babies who had visited. Now the yearly puzzle takes over the table.
We love a good puzzle.
Not only does it brings us together to work out a problem area but it allows
us each a moments stress relief.
My mind loves to go deeply into a problem that has no stakes to it. It provides rest from worries and a challenge I can enjoy. This is one of the little things about Christmas that we really enjoy.
I know they make family puzzles with bigger pieces so that all ages can join in.
It draws families to a location like nothing can, and encourages conversation in a causal way. There are many little things that I love about this season.
Sitting in my rocking chair just looking at the ornaments quietly.
So many are from the hands of my children now adults raising their own children. What makes you happy at this time of year?
Set aside the stress you may feel and think for a moment of what makes you smile at this time.
Here is one ornament that always makes me smile.
No it's not on the tree but when our son, (oldest kiddo) made it in grade school
he made it to be a Christmas ornament for the tree.
I can brag at what a good artist he is as he is paid to produce art every day
but back then it was the beginnings of creative thought.
He made a family tree with a likeness of each family member and their hobby beside them.
I don't remember what we are sitting in on the tree, hopefully he will tell us
and also tell us what grade he made this masterpiece in.
I think I'll share an ornament or two in the next few days.
It will give my family a smile too.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Drink water

I've heard it twice now.
I loved to fly places, before it became such an impossible hobby.
I would always get a respiratory infection when I'd fly. A wise friend told me to drink lots of water for 24 hours before I went on a trip. The recycled air, full of virus, can't be avoided but if you have well hydrated sinus those virus can't attach to you as easily.
Now a couple of nurses I know told me to drink extra water
when I'm going to be around the sick grand kids.
Guess why? Yes the virus's can't get you as easily if you are "wet" inside.
So it can't hurt can it?
Drink some extra water when you know you will be around crowds, little kids, etc.
Besides if you are one of the Spark people you are trying to get your eight cups a day anyway!

Sunday, October 25, 2009

What happens when you dump the potatoes grown in a trash can!

Oh how I love to garden!

Fall is not going to keep my delight in homegrown food from slowing down. Today, after several nights of freezing weather, we decided to dump our potato can.

We've had this can for a lot of years but it doesn't aways work out so each time I dump a potato can I get some kind of surprise. I think I'll let the photos tell the story.

I'm cooking some right now for dinner. Yummy! Next year I'm adding a couple more trash cans.

The big green potato tops were melted after the last couple nights dusting of frost

I trimmed them down

Bleach boy spread out the tarp

As I pulled out the dead stems up came this beauty

Bleach boy has the dirt dumped out of my can in seconds.

I use Mel's mix in my can so it just slides out

Oh on first look it I see there are some nice surprises lurking!

Wow that's a big one

Well here they are a bit of dirt clinging

I pulled some potatoes early on so all total it's over 30 potatoes from a small can

One last thought, If you wonder about can drainage here is the bottom.

We don't remember what size drill bit we used but you can clearly see they are nice big holes.

Now is the time to plant your garlic, shallots etc. They use this cold time to put down good roots and lay still all winter and start back up in spring. Then the heat as it begins will make the bulbs produce as they think about going to seed. Such delight nature is.

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Is what "they say" true?

I had read that veggies grown up will be straighter than those allowed to grow on the ground. So I tested. I took one vine of the same cucumber and let it grow on the ground and one went up the trellis. Don't let the size difference bother you we collected plenty of straight long cucumbers! You decide if what "they say" is true! Next issue; can you plant your square foot garden even tighter than suggested? Of course you can. I put beets near each corner as well as the normal placement. You can see the beets that lived in the corners are odd shaped and the beets in the middle had the freedom to grow. And YES they all cut up and pickled the same no matter what their size.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

It's getting cooler now and you can see the signs of fall in the trees. My thinking goes to cozy food. Here is a favorite pancake recipe and if you aren't from the South you might never have eaten anything like it. These fill you up fast and aren't the most healthy food
(I know because I now have to cook heart healthy for Bleach Boy) but they are VERY GOOD!

Here is how the batter looks, not too thick. If it gets too thick add a bit of milk

They fry up nice and crisp if you use butter on the griddle

Oh and I wouldn't serve them with anything else but real maple syrup. The taste is amazing

from my first cook book

1963 Good Housekeeping cookbook

Southern Pancakes

1/2 cup sifted all purpose flour

3 teas. baking powder

1/2 cup corn meal

1/2 teas salt

1 tablespoon sugar

1/2 cup boiling water

1/4 cup milk

1/4 cup melted shortening (oh do use veggie oil!)

1 egg, well beaten

Sift flour with baking powder.

Into bowl, sift corn meal, salt, sugar. Slowly stir in boiling water; beat well.

Stir in flour

Stir in milk, shortening

Fold in beaten egg

Drop batter by tablespoonfuls onto hot griddle, spread each with the back of your spoon into a nice flat round. Cook until puffy, full of bubbles and the edges are cooked.

Turn, and cook the other side.

Serve Hot

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

The colors just amaze me

More garden photos. I can't walk out to my gardens without feeling the thrill the beautiful colors give me. There have been plenty of great successes in this years garden. Failure? yes no peas, the bean plants grew but gave nothing, tomatoes are always a disappointment. Not enough heat units. Lots of green ones nothing ripe. The other big frustration is earwigs. They are decimating the cabbage. The salad table was amazing and I collected all of it's basil today and made and froze 4 cups of fresh pesto.

I love watering this garden! Today I hung the squash on the rack with my old nylons!

Monday, August 10, 2009

how colorful eating can be!

left to right, rainbow chard in orange, yellow, pink, bright yellow and bright orange. Chard stays nice when heat would have turned spinach to seed! next a patty pan summer squash, Cross wise is some rhubarb, in the back some boc choi, and then spinach nearly all seed. For this one pot meal I also pulled some onions. I know bleach boy must think I'm a crazy lady taking photos of the veggies that I just washed!
If you can't tell I LOVE to garden.
Unlike my weaving where my favorite part is planning, and the hard work of warping, in gardening it's the eating I like!
Tonight was vegetable soup with a Thai twist (lemon grass and coconut milk)
For dinner I just walked out to the garden and collected a Rainbow to put in the pot!

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Garden box update

side garden on the south wall
Oh yes the heat has made some things grow and other things went straight to seed. Compare my garden photos to the ones a few months ago. You can see what we are getting a lot of now! Wow are fresh veggies good. It's never too late to start a small container garden. Do a lot of careful watering in this heat. Avoid getting water on the leaves if you are in the sun, and water deeply. click to enlarge and see all the different plants.

UP Up we go, up the verticals!

kale before

Kale now

Joi choi before

Joi Choi now

Ching-chang a mini pac choi early harvest

baby beets then

Beets (use some of the leaves as they grow for salad) now

China Express cabbage

Rainbow chard, all parts are eatable

egg plant then

Egg plant now


Broccoli went to seed before growing much

Potatoes doing wonderfully growing in a trash can

Cucumber then

Carrots then

Carrot now

onions then

Pumpkins then

Basil then

Back yard garden now

left to right, ching-chang, Nasturtium, Swiss chard, more Nasturtium

Behind, patty pan summer squash

Onions, pac choi, nasturtium, basil, basil , rainbow chard behind

onions now