My Cookbook is Returning… mid to end of September!

Gardens, a wedding, and more!

It has been awhile since I penned any lines here. This was a place I often meandered to when a reprieve from the daily chaos was needed. This was my happy place… and it will be again!

I’m so excited to return and share the many wonderful things which have happened in my life since my last entry.

Over the last six years a couple of my children have grown & had children of their own (I’m a grandma two times… more boys!), one became a Marine, and my youngest started playing football. My life is filled with so much joy… and still some chaos- but we focus on the joys. Life is too short! 

In just a few short weeks I will marry my best friend, and the best thing that has ever happened to me.

But that’s not it friends! I have a few big projects in the works.

I am working on publishing a new cookbook with all my favorite recipes, AND a compilation of For Dragonflies & Me blogs in one concise book both in print & eBook!

Even more exciting is my new Podcast in the making… you’re gonna love it!

Of course these will all take some time, but I promise to keep you updated on the progress.

I might even have a call out for my book cover!

Keep posted for weekly blogs and of course follow me on Facebook for updates, beautiful photos, and fun memes!

Thanks to Moonlight Photography for taking our beautiful engagement photos!

See them at https://www.moonlightphotographymi.com/

Planting Garlic: Now’s the time to get your garlic planted for next years harvest

Now’s the time to start thinking about planting your garlic for next years harvest… Read On!

For Dragonflies And Me

“Adopt the pace of nature: her secret is patience.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson

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Garlic is gold. This gold takes patience for sure.

The clove is tenderly placed in the cool earth and then carefully buried into a wintery grave.
The ground freezes with this little life waiting… sleeping…
Snow falls. Insulates. Freeze.

Soon will come the spring… my time of joy will come again. When I can step outside, closing my eyes to inhale the good clean smell of mud… grass… wind through the trees… earth smell. All you gardeners reading this are holding your breath… imagining and understanding fully what I’m saying… goose bumps…

You know because you love the same things I love.

Dirt.
Air.
Seeds.
New life.

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So now that I’ve got you all excited to garden again… here’s the easy as one, two, three planting guide!

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1. Using your nicest, largest bulbs, divide them into separate…

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How-to Start seeds in-doors, Homemade Liquid Fertilizer Recipe

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The longing of my soul for warmth and sunshine is becoming deeper everyday… especially now that the calendar says it’s truly spring. I, as I’m sure so many others, are anxious for warmer days. This winter was a trial for many of us die-hard gardeners… even for winter lovers.

I long to place my hands into the warm soil… sense the life force that dwells within the seeds… watching life spring forth out of nothingness… yes we are gardeners.

Many of you who are my friends on For Dragonflies And Me Facebook page have witnessed many changes take place in my life over the last several months. I’ve sadly left my beloved farm in the thumb of Michigan for a newer, brighter location that I now call home. I am blessed to be living at a wonderful greenhouse/nursery that I am in my literal heaven on earth. I would like to thank all of my followers for their patience as I needed a hiatus from the love of my life… my writing… But now things are in order and I feel that I can put my whole heart back into my passions…

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We are like plants… we are conceived… we are born… we live… we struggle… then all too soon we will die. But… in the midst of all this we find joy in life and living it to the fullest…

It is spring… and I am ready to live my life to the fullest… I hope all of you will continue to join me here as I share my love with all of you…

It’s time to start thinking about starting seeds and planning our gardens. Starting Seeds in doors is very easy and extremely rewarding! All you need is a few everyday household items~

*If you buy organic baby lettuce, greens or spinach than you will have access to those handy clear plastic containers with lids. These are perfect for seed starting. Be sure to poke several drainage holes on the bottom of the container.

*Fill your container about 2/3 way full with a good organic potting mix. Plant your seeds as package describes. Be sure to follow planting dates on packet. Water accordingly.

*Put the lid on, which will give a greenhouse effect. You will not have to water due to the condensation that will be created.

*Put in a sunny window and wait until seeds start to sprout see seed packet instructions.

*Once the seeds start to germinate, remove lid and water according to packet instructions. Another easy but more extravagant way is to set your flats on a table and hang lights on ‘s’ hooks with light chains from the ceiling in a warm basement or other room. The lights must be no more than 3 to 6 inches from the top of the flat (or the plants once they start growing), so be sure to make your light set up adjustable. Plain old fluorescent shop lights work best for starting seeds, or you can even purchase ‘grow lights’ from greenhouse supply companies or seed catalogs.

*You can go to any big box retailer and purchase really slick ‘seed starting’ kits. Follow instructions on kit…. and enjoy! Transplant outdoors following packet instructions.

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Here’s an easy and inexpensive recipe for liquid fertilizer. You can use this for both house plants as well as your outdoor potted plants. I’ve shared this recipe before, but it’s worth a repeat.

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Easy Liquid fertilizer~ to give your house plants and potted outdoor plants an extra boost, add 1 teaspoon of Epsom salt and 1 teaspoon of fish emulsion plant fertilizer to 1/2 gallon of water, then stand back and watch’er grow! Extra fertilizer water can be stored at room temperature for up to 3 months.

Please feel free to share this information with your friends… and I hope you’ve found it helpful.  Please be sure to follow me on Facebook for daily posts!

Happy Day,
Jean

 

 

 

 

Hybrid vs. Heirloom Seeds, Heirloom Varieties of Basic Garden Fair and some Yummy Root Storage Crop Recipes

Just seemed like the right time to re-share this

For Dragonflies And Me

You’re probably wondering why I am talking about seed shopping and gardening in December… well I realize some of my readers live in areas where they have the luxury of year round planting. While others, like myself living in cold climates have green houses and hoop houses to play in. Yet other home gardeners in cool climates are trying to get through these next few months cheerfully! I say, “Who cares if the calender says December!”… now is the time when us gardeners yearn and long for the arrival of those beautiful seed catalogs! As they make their arrivals in our mailboxes we gather them together, cozy up with a cup of java, a fuzzy blanket on our favorite chair with a notebook… ready to start making our lists of ‘new’ varieties! We flip and long for the life that spring and summer bring into our lives… we long even…

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Heirloom Seeds: Why they’re better and my favorites varieties

Hello all…

Check out my new post over at Farm to Table, Field to Plate!

http://outdoorsexperiencejournal.wordpress.com/2014/01/23/heirloom-seeds-why-theyre-better-and-my-favorites-varieties/

 

 

The Promise of Spring: 5 garden planning tips

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“It’s raining but the tulips are still managing to poke their green shoots out of the mud, a promise that spring is coming, and so is the sun. I suppose I owe it to them to at least keep my head up until then.”
Quote adapted from one by Writers Block

Only 57 days till my beloved spring. The new life I long for along with all her secret promises will soon come up out of the ground. The snow drops and crocus’ and then the daffodils and tulips rising up to greet me each day. Sending me silent messages of love to encourage me on through the last of winters dead days.

New life… but presently life is dormant. Still and cold.

Winter is filled with dreams and anticipations of planning new garden projects.
Spring is one of new beginnings… fresh hopes… dreams of what will be…

The dream I’m ever longing after is feeling the dirt once again along with the warmth of the sun.Close up of my garden plan I drew out.

I thought with all this dreaming we’d look at something all of us die-hard gardeners are doing… planning our gardens.

Here are 5 garden planning tips to get you started in the right direction.

1. Gather all your seed catalogs, sticky notes, a pen and high-lighter along with a note pad.  Once you’ve decided on the amount of space you have in your garden you’ll know what you need and the quantities.

2. Decide on the varieties that you want to grow.  The best way to do this is to plot out some time when you can sit and peruse your catalogs. Read variety descriptions carefully to determine light, soil, moisture and spacing requirements.

3. Draw your garden design out. I always draw out my gardens so I have a visual to see. You don’t have to get as detailed as mine… I just enjoy the whole planning aspect.  You can use graph paper or a piece of notebook paper. Be sure to think on your space and it’s limitations.

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4.  Determine available space.  When planning your garden you need to keep in mind space limitations and each plants growing habits. For example, a tomato plant should have three square feet for proper growth and maturation.  Think about your isle ways when planning this. If your isles are two feet wide, then plan your tomato row with three feet and then two on both sides. You’ll need a total of 7 feet minimum for a row of tomatoes.  Look at the plant descriptions in the catalogs.DPP_0011

5. Soil testing. I advise, especially for first time gardeners to test your soil. You can buy a simple soil test at most garden centers or take your sample into an agency that offers this service. You will have better success if you know what your soil may be lacking. It could be something as simple as calcium/lime or copper.

Although there are many other aspects to getting your garden plan done, these are the basics to get you on your way!

Enjoy friends,
Jean

Room by Room Organizational Tips: The Kitchen

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I thought after my last series of posts on organization, it might be nice to give you some Room-by-Room Organizational Tips. Through this month I’ll touch on the most common rooms in our homes and give you tips and idea’s on how-to organize and clean with purpose. I thought we’d start with the kitchen… so here we go!

The kitchen is the gathering place in our home like most others. It’s where little boys get to lick the icing off the mixer beaters… 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’ll give you the details of how I keep my kitchen tidy and organized. Next time I’ll touch on my pantry.

What a happy mom am I when the boys rooms are clean, the fridge is shining with no ‘science experiments’ going on in it, the appliances are shining and the windows are clean… at least for fifteen minutes! After all, with a three-year old that likes to lick the window at the cat sitting on the window shelf and the six-year-old that loves to draw on a steamy window… I’m lucky to get the fifteen minutes!

So here are some helpful Room-by-Room Organizational Tips for the kitchen.

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*I keep all my spices and herbs in half pint, pint and quart size mason jars.

*In the fridge, I always keep the older products up front so they are used first. I do use Tupperware Fridge Smart containers in my fridge. They stack neatly and they really do keep things fresher longer. I use them for my lunch meat, cheeses and even leftovers. They are not just for fruit & veggies.

*I also prefer to use cling wrap over foil to cover things in the fridge~ it’s easier to see what’s in the bowl.

*I keep all my baking supplies: measuring items, spices, herbs, flour, baking pans and sheets on the same side of the kitchen in neighboring cupboards so I don’t have to run all over the kitchen for items.

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*Use plastic totes to keep loose items like cookie cutters and other items that you don’t use every day in and then they stack neatly in the cupboard as well.

*I use baskets in my utensil drawers~ I like the way it looks better than the regular plastic utensil dividers. I am all about cute~ especially if I can use baskets!

*If you do a lot of baking like we do, keep your 25# and 50# bags of sugar, oatmeal and flours in plastic totes with air tight lids. This will keep it fresh and keep the bugs out!

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Here’s  my Kitchen Routine as I have it in my journal. This is to be done on a weekly basis unless otherwise noted.

Weekly:

Wash down: Counter back splash, fronts of cupboards, spot wash walls.

*Wipe down counters and stove after every use

*Wash windows

*Put clean foil on stove burner plates; clean out fridge

*Wash floors- Saturday; spot clean through the week‰ 

*Sweep floor after each meal daily

*Dust all around ceiling lines and through room

*Wash floor carpets

Monthly

*Take down curtains and wash; pull fridge & stove out and clean; wash down ceiling fan

Seasonally
Spring and Fall:

*Wash walls and ceiling

*Empty out cupboards and wash

*Take all knick-knacks off top of cupboards and wash

*Dust top of cupboards and wash

*Touch up any spots with paint.

I hope this gives you some inspiration to get your kitchen organized and cleaned up! Next time we’ll look at how I keep my pantry organized and tidy… until then,
Happy Day,
Jean

Brussels Sprouts: Some supper yummy recipes!

Yes we are still in the season of Fall! I don’t care what the weather is doing… I don’t care how much snow is on the ground… and I don’t care what the temperature is! It is Fall!

So… Brussels sprouts are a late fall crop that do taste much better with at least one good frost, even better with a couple.  Many people have only ever eaten them out of the grocery store where they are way too big and bitter… because more than likely they were not frosted. The frost is what takes the bitterness out of them… so if you’ve grown them, don’t be too hasty to cut the stalks because you don’t want to harvest when the thermometer is below yours and my comfort zone!

Many people simply boil or steam their sprouts and that is for sure a yummy way to serve them, but not close to the only way.  Here are some super yummy recipes to expand your horizons!

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I thought I’d throw in a BONUS recipe from my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats… Enjoy friends.

By the way… you can purchase my cookbook Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats by clicking this link that will take you directly to my PayPal account  https://fordragonfliesandme.com/2013/10/12/2610/

Or click the Facebook link over to the left of this post. The first pinned post will give you more info. Leave me a private message (and don’t forget to give me a LIKE 😉 and tell me you’d like my cookbook. I will give you my address to mail a check to if you’d prefer to purchase it that way! Be sure to click the link over to the left “Cookbook Testimonials” to see all the testimonials of others who have purchased it. You can also see lots of details and photo’s of the pages by clicking the link that says “My Cookbook” over to the left as well.

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Brussels Sprouts and Bacon Crumb Topping

1/3 c. regular bread crumbs
2 Tbsp. salted butter, melted
6 slices bacon; friend, drained and crumbled. Reserve 2 Tbsp. of bacon fat
1 tsp. dried parsley or 1 Tbsp. fresh snipped
1 quart (4 cups) cleaned and stemmed Brussels sprouts
1 small red onion, diced
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. fresh ground pepper
2 Tbsp. olive oil
1/3 c. chicken broth

1. In a large skillet toast the bread crumbs on low heat, tossing continuously for about 3-5 minute. When toasted remove from heat and place the crumbs in a large mixing bowl. Add butter, crumbled bacon, parsley, salt and pepper; toss till evenly mixed. Put aside.

2. In a large skillet sauté Brussels sprouts and onions in olive oil and reserved bacon fat; about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Add broth, bring to boil then turn down heat and simmer covered for 10-15 more minutes, or until sprouts are tender.

3. Remove from heat and place sprouts and onions into a serving bowl; toss the bacon crumbs in mixing thoroughly. Serve hot.

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Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Cherry Tomatoes

1 quart (4 cups) cleaned and stemmed Brussels Sprouts
1 pint (2 cups) cherry tomatoes
1/4 c. olive oil
1/4 c. Balsamic vinegar
1/4 c. parmesan cheese, shredded
2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1 tsp. sea salt
1/4 tsp. fresh ground pepper

Toss everything together in a baking dish, being sure the sprouts and tomatoes are evenly coated and in a single layer. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-45 minutes or until the sprouts are fork tender. Serve immediately!

Lemon Butter Sauce
Toss this yummy butter over steamed or fried Brussels sprouts to add a zip! This recipe will coat 1 quart or 4 cups of sprouts.

1/2 cup butter, melted
1 tsp. salt
1 tsp. paprika
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 Tbsp. lemon juice from fresh squeezed lemon

Mix everything together and pour over cooked Brussels spouts. Super Yummy!

Creamed Brussels Sprouts

1 quart (4 cups) cleaned and stemmed Brussels sprouts
1/4 c. butter
1/4 c. flour
1 tsp. sea salt
1/2 tsp. pepper
1 chicken bouillon cube
2 c. whole milk

1. Boil sprouts in salt water for about 10 minutes, or until fork tender.  Drain and place sprouts in a baking dish.

2. While sprouts are cooking: In a sauce pan melt butter on medium heat; stir in flour until a paste; stir in milk; add seasonings. Stir until thick about 1-2 minutes, don’t stop stirring. Pour over sprouts and serve immediately.

Potatoes are a major fall crop as well and one of the most versatile veggies in the kitchen. From mashed to boiled with brown butter and then home fries and Potato Pancakes!

Growing up my grandfather loved when my grandma made his favorite Crispy Potato Pancakes for breakfast! So here’s the bonus recipe from my cookbook, Lovingly Seasoned Eats & Treats!

For those of you who have purchased my cookbook, this recipe can be found on Pg. 191 and is the first recipe on the page!

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Crispy Potato Pancakes

3 c. peeled, shredded raw potatoes
1/4 c. grated onions
1 tsp. parsley flakes
1/4 tsp. salt
dash of pepper
1/8 tsp. nutmeg (optional in my opinion)
2 egg yolks
2 Tbsp. flour
2 egg whites, stiffly beaten
butter for frying

1. Toss grated potatoes into ice water. Drain well. Press out all water between paper towels.

2. Combine onion, parsley, nutmeg and egg yolks. Mix well.  Add to potato and blend well.

3. Sprinkle over top; mix. Fold in stiffly beaten egg whites.

4. Heat an electric frypan to 375 degrees and lightly grease with butter. Drop potato mixture by large spoonful’s onto frypan. cook until browned, turning as often as needed to  make crispy and cooked through.

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Yields: approximately 6-8 small pancakes.

Hope you all enjoy these yummy treats as much as my family does!
Happy Day,
Jean