Saturday, July 31, 2010

Lavender and Cardboard

Ever since seeing Heather's recipe for lavender lemonade, I've wanted to make it. This week, I finally did, and it's the loveliest summer beverage. Since then, she's posted a recipe for lavender vanilla cupcakes. Even if the recipe is not something you think you'll try, check out those lovely thrifted dishes. Speaking of thrifted treasures, check out this portrait found at a Goodwill. I do so love a good thrifted treasure.

Joseph found a treasure this week, in an old, but strong and sturdy tiller. The man selling it told him it had transmission problems, but he's looked it over, and it only needs a couple of belts and a bearing to get it operational. I've not been fond of using a tiller in the garden, but our organic market gardener friends tell us it doesn't harm the earthworms or the soil structure. We definitely need to do something. About this time last year, we began putting down cardboard in the paths between the raised beds. As so much of gardening is, it was an experiment in seeing what works. On the plus side, it held the moisture in really well, and supported a multitude of earthworms. On the down side, the nightime critters discovered the worm buffet, and tore through the cardboard getting to them, making a huge mess. Worst of all, this allowed the grass and weeds to take hold again. The bermuda grass probably didn't need the help, as it happily ran for yards underneath the cardboard, until it found a spot to poke back up. So, we'll be tilling the paths up, to get rid of grass, weeds and the dreaded bermuda grass. Next, we're going to try using the cardboard on the beds, and planting through it, for moisture, and weed control. Wish us luck!

Friday, July 30, 2010

Summer Studio Tour: 3

Well, it may be stretching things a bit, but I didn't want to miss another of Heather's Summer Studios (link on right). Mostly, I've been "creating" lots of filled canning jars. But, the zinnias have lots of blooms, which I've been arranging in bouquets. I also made a batch of 930 Pint soap this week. The photos aren't the best quality, but I've been working on doing what I can do, and calling it enough. If any of you want to pass on tips that have helped you with this, I'd appreciate it most kindly.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

Just a Wee Bit

Can you tell I'm just a wee bit tomato crazy today? Well, and easily amused.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Garden Friends

Some little friends have been keeping me company in the garden. They don't talk much, but don't seem to mind my singing. I've been taking soap pictures, mostly of my newly tweaked Kitchen Thyme. A fellow blogger will be reviewing my Wake Up & Smell the Coffee soap set in August, and I'll be doing a giveaway to coincide with it. I'm pretty excited, and will keep you posted once I have more details.

Friday, July 23, 2010


What with all the garden goodness coming in, I've not been able to keep up with my blogging friends. I miss their gorgeous photos, their wisdom and encouragement, and their recipes. Let's not forget the recipes :o) It's amazing how the internet can make the world seem so much smaller. How someone hundreds of miles away can seem like a neighbor or good friend. Maybe that's because, on one level, we really are pulling up a chair and sharing a cup of tea or a glass of wine with them. I'm thankful for how this blog has broadened my world, for all those who leave comments, and goodness from the garden this day.

Monday, July 19, 2010

Chaos in the Garden

While I was gone, the garden tipped towards chaos, as it always eventually does. The point where the weeds and harvesting become overwhelming. I expect having 5 1/2 inches of rain on Saturday helped things along. I've picked zucchini and okra, and 17 cucumbers from what I'm pretty sure is one plant. The tomatoes and beans will have to wait. One of my massage clients recently asked for any cucumbers that were big & yellow, as she makes cucumbers with them. I'll set her right up tomorrow.

There were some wonderful synchronicities while I was on vacation. I went to Virginia Beach to take a massage course at A.R.E., which was cancelled at the last minute. But I met the most delightful woman who was attending another seminar there, and was full of positive energy about the upcoming times. I would have loved to have talked with her for hours, as it's not often I meet someone else who is positive about the future. For sure, we are and will likely continue having challenges in birthing this new world, but I have the utmost faith that we will get there. It put wind in my sails to meet a kindred spirit. Wishing you hopeful days, friends!

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Peace, Squash and Thankfulness

On my walk this morning, I was happy to see a young doe and buck munching happily, when I arrived at the back field. They smelled me before long, but didn't see me for a time, so I got to enjoy their beauty. I'm thankful for that. We've been in summer squash bliss here lately. I must admit, I don't love the taste of either summer or winter squash, but if I doctor them up in some manner, they're good eating. Both of them grow so well here, I've been searching for good recipes, and having done that, I want to share them with you. The first one is a Zucchini and Ricotta Galette from the Smitten Kitchen. It requires the most work of all the recipes, and requires a lot of waiting time. So, I'd suggest you read it over before you commit. I didn't, & that night, we sat down to dinner at 10:30! It's worth it. This next recipe was Ruby Brown's, the mother of my Mom's partner:

Calabazas con Elote (Italian Squash with Corn)
1 pound zucchini (4 smallish), washed & cut in 1/4" rings
1 medium onion, chopped
1 can whole kernel corn (or the equivalent fresh)
3 medium tomatoes, cut in 1/8's
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp chili powder
1/8 tsp pepper

In large frying pan, heat 4 tbs olive oil. Add onion & saute for 3 mins or until tender. Add zucchini & saute for 5 mins, turning often. Add corn, tomatoes, and remaining ingredients. Cook, stirring for 10 mins or until squash is just tender. Serves 6.

Next is my Mom's zucchini soup. Not new to me, but it hit the spot, along with some homemade bread, on a recent rainy night. Sorry, I have no measurements for this one, but will give suggestions. Feel free to improvise.

Mom's Zucchini Soup

Saute onions & garlic in olive oil. Add zucchini (4 cups) & fresh tomato (1-2), chopped up, and celery (1 stalk), chopped, a handful of basil, chopped and some parsley (optional). Cover with water, and cook until squash is tender. Add small pasta (optional), such as stars, last 10 minutes. Salt to taste.
After ladling into bowls, top with a good amount of Romano cheese.  *If you save the rinds from your Romano cheese, this is a good time to use them.  Just throw in the pot with the rest of the ingredients, then fish out when soup is done.  This typically makes enough for the two of us with a little left over.

Spaghetti Squash Florentine

1 small (1.5 lb) spaghetti squash
2 c spinach, firmly packed (I used lambs quarters)
1 tbs butter
1/4 tsp nutmeg
1 tbs heavy cream or sour cream
salt & freshly ground pepper to taste

Preheat oven to 350. Lightly oil/spray a baking sheet. Halve squash lengthwise & scoop out & discard seeds. Place cut-side down on the baking sheet & bake 40 mins, or until flesh is just tender. Meanwhile, cut spinach into very thin strips & set aside. Set the squash right side up to cool. Once cool, use a fork to scrape the spaghetti-like strands of squash into a small bowl. You should have approx. 2 cups.

Melt butter in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add the squash, spinach & nutmeg, and stir until the spinach is wilted & the mixture is well-combined, approx 2 mins. Stir in heavy cream or sour cream, & season with salt and pepper. Serves 4.

Today, I'm making my second batch this week of Green Tea soap. I'm stocking up, getting ready for the Seagrove Potters for Peace event. Tomorrow, I'm off to Virginia Beach with Teresa. Every so often, we just need a road trip. J will be holding down the homestead in my absence. Eat well, and have a marvelous weekend, friends!

Sunday, July 11, 2010

It's the Berries

We're having a nice weekend here on the homestead. We got 3/4" of rain Friday night, so J was able to burn brush in the pond area yesterday. All that's left to do is haul out some posts, including some oaks we'll be using as structural supports when adding on our greenhouse room. I canned up 11 pints of tomatoes. I usually can mostly quarts, but last winter, wished I'd had more pints. Being there aren't that many tomatoes coming in yet, it seemed like a good time to take care of that. I did make Meredith's blueberry pie, and it's fantastic! I'll share the zucchini recipe later this week, as it was excellent.
I've been collecting all sorts of treasures, with the idea of opening a vintage section in my etsy shop. I'm excited about opening it this weekend, starting with 2 listings, with plans to create more listings soon. Wishing you summer goodness of all sorts!

Friday, July 9, 2010

Summer Studio Tour: 2

Well, I had high hopes of painting some of my eye pillows this week, but other things kept me occupied. I got my canning mojo going, and canned peaches, blackberry/blueberry jam, peach/almond jam and dill pickles. I expect tomorrow it will be tomatoes. This is my second week joining Heather's Summer Studio. I did try my hand at swirling, when making a batch of Earth Goddess soap. It was a last minute decision, and I didn't follow anyone's instructions to a tee. Doing so, and some practice, will get me closer to the look I'm after. But I'm pleased with my first try.
I'm seriously considering making Meredith's blueberry pie tonight, and I'm definitely making a zucchini dish I saw recently. I'll share the recipe if it's a good one. I hope summer is treating you well!

Monday, July 5, 2010

We Be Jammin'

All sorts of fruity goodness was being canned up on the homestead yesterday. I had picked wild blackberries a few days ago. Meredith invited me to come and pick blueberries there, and mentioned she used to make "Black & Blue" jam with both berries. That sounded good to me, so that was the first batch canned. When I made my early garden rounds, I found that our night visitors had had a peachfest, & didn't invite us. There was nothing else to do, but harvest all but a dozen or so of the peaches, and can them. Most of the peaches were imperfect in some way, so wouldn't keep for long. I canned up the larger pieces as is, and made peach almond jam with all the smaller bits. The peaches were quite wet, and took some time to cook down. Unfortunately, they ended up a bit scorched, but I added a little more sugar and almond extract, and J pronounced them just fine. I won't be giving any as gifts, as I'd hoped, but we'll enjoy it anyway. Today, we're making peach ice cream. Now, what am I going to do with all those cucumbers?

Saturday, July 3, 2010

New Music

Recently, I've noticed Playlists on some of the blogs I visited, and found some new music there that I'm enjoying. I decided to try it out here, and wonder what your thoughts are. The reader has the option of turning the Playlist off if it's annoying or distracting, or changing to another song. I wish you all a safe and happy 4th!

Friday, July 2, 2010

Summer Studio Tour: 1

Today I'm joining Heather, at Beauty That Moves, with a summer studio post. The idea is to share some glimpses of your creative time throughout the week. Sometimes I need a bit of spurring on, to make sure I fit in some creative time, so this seemed just the ticket. This picture is one of the vintage silk scarves I'll be turning into eye pillow covers. The first step is washing them with my homemade liquid soap, and letting them line dry.

A batch of lavender soap, ready to transfer to a drying rack.

Some ivory silk with designs sketched out in glue. When dry, they'll be painted, then sewn into eye pillows.

Some patchouli soap, just poured into the mold.

How about you? What creative endeavors have you been up to this week? Join in, and share a glimpse with us each Friday.

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Thursday Toad

Good morning! Have a hoppy day, friends!