Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Monday, March 29, 2010

Some Are Better Than Others

I like trying new recipes. I get it from my Mom. I definitely have some favorites, but like to mix it up a bit too. We had some leftover sweet potatoes from Saturday's gathering, so I tried a recipe for Sweet Potato-Pinto Bean balls with Lemon-Tahini sauce last night. They weren't great. With or without the sauce, we agreed. Though I see J took them for his lunch today. I love how easy he is to please. I do, however, want to give another thumbs up for the Food & Wine recipe that Elspeth posted, for Butternut Chocolate-Chip Brownies. I made a batch for the gathering. My Mom copied the recipe, and my sister gave it a double thumbs up, and I know she'd agree that, unlike her crunchy vegi sister, she's a typical American eater. The aunts and uncles wouldn't touch it once J shared the squash part. It is so chocolatey, you truly do not taste any hint of squash. Give it a try, and get a dose of beta-carotene with your chocolate. You'll be glad you did. Promise.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Simple Sunday


Yesterday's family gathering was a joy. It was so nice to have my Mom & her 3 brothers & spouses all together, as well as my siblings and families. The day itself was lovely, and J & I enjoyed showing our garden, trees and plants. Our little chicks are growing. I can't seem to get the zoom on my camera to work, so have got to figure that out. Today we're just doing a bit of this & that. Tonight, we'll sit back and enjoy Julie & Julia.

Friday, March 26, 2010

It's Magic

The spring cleaning is finished. Doesn't a house just feel so much nicer when all the dust bunnies and grime are removed? And fresh air enlivens the space? Some fresh flowers set around. The product I mentioned that helped me in my cleaning efforts is a Magic Eraser. I'm embarrassed to say that Joseph had gifted me with a pack, as a stocking stuffer Christmas of 2008, and I had never tried them. I put them under the kitchen sink, and never thought of them. Shame on me, 'cause they're great. And I remember reading they're nontoxic, though I don't exactly remember how they work. They erased most scuff marks on the walls. I'm so glad I was inspired to try them.

We're ready for the family. With a bit of creative seating, we'll hold 17 in this little house today. Wishing you a wonderful weekend, with fresh air, fresh flowers, and whatever spring lovelies bring you happiness.

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Still Cleaning & Happy Birthday

I'm tackling the great room today. Thanks to this blog, I've got a new helper for my spring cleaning. I'll be sharing it once the dust settles. I wanted to take a minute to wish my Mom a Happy Birthday!

Wednesday, March 24, 2010

Spring Cleaning

Last night, while catching up on my blog reading, I noticed a common element in several. Spring cleaning time is here. That's been my focus here too this week. Monday, I worked on the bedroom, cleaning cobwebs, wiping walls & furniture down with Seventh Generation All-Purpose cleaner. I even got the sweet potatoes that have spent the winter under the bed moved out. Between the ones I'll be cooking on Saturday, and the ones J is using to start this year's slips, that will just about be the end of the 2009 harvest.

Yesterday, I began cleaning the bathroom. When I was building this house, I decided to use cedar in the shower. I do like pretty tile, but not spending my time cleaning grout. So, I opted to use cedar drawer liner on an angle, with tile along the bottom edge. I'm really happy with it, but it does take scrubbing every so often to remove soap and shampoo residue. I did use a natural sealer on it, which helped keep it nice for the first six months or so. Soon, I'll apply another coat of sealer. The products I used are Ecover Limescale remover, & when that ran out, Seventh Gen. Natural Tub & Tile Cleaner, which I recently found at my favorite discount grocery store. That made me happy! The water here is very hard, and challenging. I do have a whole house filter, which is in need of some repair, along with an under counter filter in the kitchen. I also have a Berkey filter on the kitchen counter for filtering rainwater, which is our drinking water. Water has probably been the greatest challenge of living here. I'll delve into that another day.

One of the tips I read yesterday was to put orange peels in the vinegar you use for cleaning. I bet that does smell lovely, & intend to try it. Do you have any cleaning tips you'd like to share today?

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Birthdays, Chicks & Brownies

Last night, I made winter squash & chocolate brownies, which Elspeth shared on her blog. They were moist & delicious, and just have to be good for you, with the squash and all. Don't you think? The chicks are chirping away this morning, a pleasant sound to have in the house. Helps to make up for all the chicken dust.

I've been thinking some more about kazoos. When my siblings and I were still at home, my Mom would wake us up on our birthday playing Happy Birthday on a kazoo. I'm having the family out this Saturday to celebrate my Mom's and J's birthdays. I'm thinking we just may have to break out the kazoos again!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Old and New

J & I had lots of fun at the wedding Saturday. Not only did we do the tarantella, but followed that up with playing kazoos to "When the Saints Go Marching In". Well... now you may have a good idea where I get some of my silliness from. J agreed it was unlike any other wedding he'd been to. It was an absolutely gorgeous day; a picture perfect first day of spring.

Soon after snapping those first photos of the chicks, I reacquainted myself with chick care by reading the awesome Carla Emory's Encyclopedia of Country Living. I replaced the straw with burlap, which helps to prevent spraddle legs. And gathered my oats, wheat berries & corn to grind. I've started incorporating the grains, along with finely chopped chickweed and plantain into their starter feed. The storebought feed is laced with antibiotics, and I like to transition them to a more natural diet as soon as possible.

The daffodils are from an old homestead that borders my land. There's not much left of the homestead, other than what appears to be parts of some animal housing, and a swath of these daffodils. After getting permission, I dug up a few to relocate here. I believe you would call these doubles, with all the extra petals. Correct me if I'm mistaken on that. I've been watching, and over the past few days, my pulmonaria has come up, and even has what looks like little flower buds forming! I celebrated by feeding it with a good dollop of compost yesterday. It's pretty tiny, but I'm hoping I can encourage it into a beautiful plant. Wishing you happy plant surprises this Monday morning!

Saturday, March 20, 2010


I arrived home last night to the sound of cheeping. Yup, Joseph got 6 chicks to add to our family. We're off to a family wedding... on the Italian side. Tarentella, here we come!

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Apricots and Rolls

I worked my last scheduled nursing day yesterday. It's still unclear whether the merger has done away with my position, or if it's a temporary thing. There are plenty of other things to fill my days, so I am trusting all will work out for the best.

We did enjoy the sandwich rolls the other night. They were a little bit on the dense side, but I'm attributing that to the fact that I used more than half whole wheat flour in them, as I ran out of the unbleached white. I'll try them again with less whole wheat. I let the bread machine do all the initial work. This was a larger than usual recipe for the machine, but it managed with an additional couple sprinklings of water.

2c water

1 tbs sugar

1 tbs or packet active dry yeast

6c all-purpose flour

(cornmeal to sprinkle on baking sheet)

After first rise in the bread machine, I rolled out the dough to 3/4" thickness, and used a glass to cut out rolls. Sprinkle cornmeal on cookie sheet and place rolls on sheet. Let rise for a minimum of 20 mins, 1 hour if you can. Preheat oven to 475. Just before you pop them in the oven, brush rolls with cold water or beaten egg, and top with sesame or poppy seeds. Bake 15 mins.

Signs of spring continue to show themselves. The apricot has begun blooming. As of yet, there has never been any fruit, which has me doubting the self-fertile claim. But, it is a pretty sight, just the same.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Top o' the Mornin'

Top o' the Mornin' to you! I found this festive apron at a thrift store recently. Being half Irish, I decided I needed it. Wishing you a Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Some New Things

It seemed it was going to be a low-energy day this morning, so instead of hitting the ground running, I decided to piddle today, and try some new things. One of the things I've been wanting to try is making my own laundry detergent, using some of my homemade soap. I got a batch mixed up, though haven't tried it yet. I also decided recently I wanted to try making buns. Though I've been making bread off & on for years, I don't recall making any buns. We don't use them all that often, but for the occasional Morningstar Griller or Chik Pattie, they're nice. And for vegi Sloppy Joes, which is what I wanted to make tonight. I haven't tried them yet either, but I'll let you know if either of these worked out well today, and share recipes.

Friday, March 12, 2010


My friend, Teresa, shared some of this shrub with me. She wasn't sure of the name. That's her looking at the sunset. I love the orangey-red buds, opening into bright yellow blooms. J moved it for me last year. It was languishing where I had it. It's rewarded us with its first blooms, which greet us out at the road when we drive up.

In researching it, I'm thinking it's likely a broom. Apparently, some brooms are invasive. I'm hoping this isn't one of those, and didn't seem to be very aggressive at Teresa's. Some can be used for a yellow dye. That excites me, as I'd love to cultivate more plants that I can use in my soaps and other products. Can anyone enlighten me as to what this is?

J is putting the finishing touches on the first piece of our renewable energy system. I'll write more once I've taken pics. I hope you're having a lovely weekend!

Good Folks All Around

I'm convinced bloggers are some of the best people. There is so much beauty, encouragement, and wisdom shared in the blogging world. I'm humbled to be a part of it. Today I'm wrapping soaps and packaging bath melts and bombs. J and I are planning on heading to STARworks tonight to see Beer Wars. In addition to all the wonderful things happening there, STARworks also has microcinema nights, complete with munchies and good beer. These are the same fine folks who shared their handcrafted India Pale Ale with me recently, for my beer soap. We're lucky to have such creative folks in our midst. Happy Friday, friends!

Thursday, March 11, 2010

Food of the Soul

It's been hard being cooped up indoors at work this week. Instead of working with my plants, I've been learning the latest phase of our computer system. The changeover went pretty smoothly, but that didn't keep me from hankering to be working in the earth. But today, I got my wish. I've pruned, did some spring cleanup, and marveled at all the plants that are returning. It's been threatening rain, but has held off so far. I'm in to feed my body, then heading back out to feed my soul.

Sunday, March 7, 2010

STARworks Suds

I was asked to create some beer soap by one of my accounts. They're wanting to have more things that have a broader appeal to men. Of course, there are men that love my other soaps-- patchouli, cedar lemongrass, lavender, but this one was created especially for them. I didn't scent this one, to let the hops shine. It smells light and pleasant, almost a licorice scent. I ground some flax seed, and added that in, both for the omega 3's and visual appeal. Some folks at STARworks are learning the art of brewcraft, and graciously shared some IPA for this batch. So far, this recipe looks like a keeper.

Dreaming of Spring

I'm patiently awaiting the first blooms. Will it be the daffodils or the hellabores? Soon now.


Thanks to Jenna of Cold Antler Farm, I'm inspired to get back out into my garden today. What's got me inspired is a movie called Fresh, about healthy local food. You can bet it's going on my Netflix queue. Yesterday, J & I finished putting down the last of the cardboard in our garden paths, then covering all of it with a thick layer of leaves. We can already see a difference in the soil. We started this in the late summer/fall. It takes quite a lot of cardboard to cover the paths in a large raised bed garden. The soil is moister, there are more earthworms and it just looks healthier. As an added bonus, we'll never have to mow the garden again. Woohoo! What are you doing in your gardens?

Friday, March 5, 2010


After a pretty tough week of work, some serious number crunching, and finishing up my business plan, I had some fun today. First, I visited with the folks at Whynot Pottery. We talked a bit about their upcoming Spring Kiln Opening, which I'm going to take part in this year. A friend came by and brought me some sourdough starter, which is now happily bubbling away on the counter. It's been quite a few years since I've done sourdough, and I'm excited to have some again. We headed to STARworks, and visited with several of the people there. They're doing some really neat things at STARworks, and have some interesting plans in the works. We left there, and headed to Seagrove Orchids. It was like being in a tropical paradise. The diversity of plants, blooms in a multitude of colors and sweet scents of a number of them was heavenly. To top it all off, I noticed this is my 100th posting. A good day, indeed! Sorry for one more amaryllis post. This is my newest, a Minerva.

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Whooo Said Spring was Around the Corner?

There's a nice white covering on things again. But it should melt off quickly. The sun is shining, and the temps are steadily climbing over the next few days. J just called to say the roads are horrible, the worst this winter, because they weren't expecting anything, and didn't brine the roads. Some areas of the county got 6 inches. That works just fine for me, as my main focus today is finishing up some business paperwork, here at home. Wishing you a cozy Wednesday.