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If you aren’t following me on Instagram, you are missing out on daily inspirations for your home & garden. I post fun reels showcasing my recipes along with local small businesses! Everyday I share the things that will inspire you to do something special!

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Preserving Your Fall Pumpkins!

“… Just for one’s health… it is very necessary to work in the garden and to see the flowers growing.”
Vincent Gogh

If you’re like me, you want pumpkins from September through Thanksgiving! But how do we keep them from rotting prematurely & preventing little critters (AKA squirrels & others) from chewing them to pieces you ask? Well there are a few ways to stop them.

I’m going to discuss both a natural & chemical way to preserve your pumpkins. You choose the path you feel most comfortable with.

The natural way to deter critters from gnawing away at your beautiful pumpkins is by using cayenne pepper!

Please note, if you accidently purchase a pumpkin with any cuts, scratches, deep wounds, or if the stem is broken off this alternative will not work. The cayenne pepper will simply deter insects & critters from attempting to eat them, it will not prevent rotting.

Using Cayenne pepper is a natural alternative to chemical means. It is very easy & inexpensive, however you will need to reapply the pepper after each rain.

Rabbits, squirrels, and chipmunks will take one taste & quickly scurry away!

It’s cute, but it will destroy your beautiful pumpkins!

The not so natural way.

An alternative way to keep those critters at bay is to simply coat each of your pumpkins, gourds & even your Indian corn with clear acrylic spray. This is also an inexpensive way to protect them, however you do not want to toss these pumpkins into your garden as compost. I happen to live on seven acres with five of those being woods. We generally toss our corn stalks, pumpkins, Christmas trees &  any other live garlands into our woods. They naturally compost, act as habitat for the wild life, and of course food for the animals as well.

Depending on how many pumpkins & gourds you have purchase 2 to 3 cans of clear acrylic spray.

Taking a damp rag or paper towel wipe down any debris and moisture on your pumpkin or gourd.

Watch my video on how to appropriately spray your pumpkin with clear acrylic spray!

How to pick the perfect pumpkins!

I wanted to share a few tips & tricks on choosing the perfect pumpkin. 

First, be sure the pumpkin or gourd has a securely connected stem. If it is loose at all, or even worse broken off DON’T buy it… no matter how cute it is, no matter how perfect it is, walk away. It will rot and attract insects & critters that will be happy to chew away at it.

This pumpkin has a securely attached stem and no wounds or knicks.

The stem of this pumpkin is broken off. It will rot much more quickly as well as attract insects & critters.

Secondly, be sure there are no cuts or wounds on your pumpkins.
Unfortunately even with our best attempts to be cautious, we can miss them. A perfect example is the pumpkin I used in my video. In this case the price tag was covering the large wound & I had no idea until I took it home and removed the sticker. I was so thankful I did as this allowed me to take care of it.

This is a very deep wound, so as you saw in the video I sprayed a lot of acrylic spray into it.

With this wound using cayenne pepper unfortunately would not work.

Lastly, support your local farmers & farmers markets with the purchase of your pumpkins and other holiday decorations. As we continue to spend our dollars locally, it naturally benefits our community.

If you enjoyed this post, please Like, Share, & of course follow me here and at my Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=100049613212778.

Happy Day,

Decorating The Porch, Dreaming of Summer and My Favorite Popover Recipe and Yummy Herb Roasted Potatoes

One of my antique watering cans nestled on an arbor among Sweet Autumn Clematis vines.


Decorating The Porch, Dreaming of Summer and My Favorite Popover Recipe and Yummy Herb Roasted Potatoes
I love to decorate for the seasons… inside and outside in all the seasons. There is true beauty in all, yes even Winter (stay sitting, I really do think so!)  I’m not talking about all the Christmas lights and plastic yard ornaments, I’m talking about using nature to beautify along with some cool ‘junque’… creative decorating shall we say! Your porch is a reflection of your home and what you adorn it with says a lot about you… That’s why when the dog carries a dear leg from one of the boys prizes, I get a bit cranky! Some of ‘them’ just don’t seem to get it.  There’s no reason that you can’t keep it cute till we can once again adorn our porches with live, beautiful flowers. Each season holds some beauty, yes I do admit that with even winter…  Evergreen boughs strewn with red berries and there really is nothing like a hoar frost glistening in the bright early morning. Let your neighbors and those that pass by have a treat for their senses with the beauty of your front porch!

Winter Lake Shot in Michigan.

 A common saying right now is, “I’m dreaming of a white Christmas”, I just can’t say that. I’m dreaming of a green summer… I’m sure some people wonder why in the world I live in Michigan… move somewhere where there is no winter you might say. I would love to, but opportunity hasn’t oppened her door yet, so I try to make the best out of my circumstances right where I’m ‘planted’.
So I decided to share garden shots~ go to my blogspot at http://www.fordragonfliesandme.blogspot to share in the sunshine where we can make believe it’s summer!

Here are some super cute idea’s to decorate your front porch for the winter months… not just the Holidays!

~Lay several pieces of evergreen across the window ledge(s), window boxes or any other decorative item you may already have under your window; put pint size glass mason jars* filled about 1/2 way with pea gravel (so they don’t blow off), snuggle in between boughs; put battery operated candles in each.  Add some service berry, holly or any other branch with red berries.
*The candle/jar will not work if you don’t have a roof over the windows.

~Surround any windows on your front porch and the front door with live garland, intertwine with white lights! In Spring switch it out with grapevine… leave the lights- there not just for Christmas! I think lights in summer are even more spectacular, especially in the patio!

~Put an old chair beside the front door; get an old fashioned wooden sled with metal runners, lean up against the back of the chair; hang a small Boxwood wreath with a bright red or powder blue bow and drape a pair of red knitted mittens over the back to hang down on side of chair!

~Take small wreaths and hang centered in each of the house windows with a bow on it- and of course the front and any other doors you may have.  Put battery operated candles in each window.

~If you have large urns or other planters that you would typically put plants in during the warmer months, change it up for Winter!  Add evergreen boughs, pampas grass, any branches with red berries. Make it look like an arrangement you would set on your table… If you have solar lights, put one in each planter to light it up at night.

~If you have a table on your porch: put several evergreen boughs down the center from side to side, like a table runner, add any branches you can get with red berries, intertwine; put a big bowl in the center… preferably one long and shallow; place a 2 quart mason jar in center filled 1/2 way with pea gravel; place a battery operated candle in center, tie a big red or powder blue bow around shoulder of jar; surround with pine cones, pomagranites, oranges and nuts. 

…now for some summer…

“Spring Garden” photo by Jean Smith
My spring gardens abound with beautiful Peonies.  If only they lasted longer…
“White Climber”, photo by Jean Smith


The Potager, AKA The Kitchen Garden
Even with winter here I can still go and cut fresh oregano
and Thyme. Parsley is also very hardy along with the sage.
“Beautiful Morning” photo by Jean Smith
The Bistro Garden heralds in
beautiful hosto and other greenery

Here are some yummy good recipes to keep you and your family eating while the children are home for winter break!

I know I’ve shared this recipe before, but it is seriously one of my favorites.  I don’t always feel like making dinner rolls that I have to wait till they rise. This is such an easy and quick bread that can be made just before the meal!  Enjoy friends!
You can use any combination of cheese & veggie you like– that’s what makes this recipe so much fun & oh so yummy!

Nonstick cooking spray
1 c all purpose flour
1/2 tsp salt
2 eggs
1 c milk
1 c shredded cheddar cheese
1 sm.-med onion diced

preheat oven to 450 degrees.  Coat 8 cups of a muffin tin with cooking spray. 
In a medium bowl whisk together egg & milk until well blended, add flour and salt.  Stir just until mixed.  Stir in cheese & onion.  Fill prepared cups about 3/4 way full– about 1/3 c batter
Bake for 15 minutes.  Reduce oven temp to 350; bake for 10-15 more minutes or until browned & puffed.  Do not open oven door until end of baking time or popovers will collapse!!!!
Remove popovers from oven and immediately remove from pan.  Pierce sides once with a knife to release steam.  Serve warm with butter.

Other combinations;
Broccoli & cheese
Dried tomato & basil with parmesan cheese
Onion & chives with cheese
Ham & Swiss Cheese
The options are only limited by your imagination.

Oven Roasted Tomatoes

About 7 c of Roma or Cherry Type tomatoes, stemmed
2 tbsp olive oil from Olive Grove
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar from Olive Grove
2 cloves minced fresh garlic
2 tsp dried or 4 tsp fresh Oregano leaves
1/4 c snipped fresh basil
2 red onions wedged
1/2 tsp ground pepper
Crusty Bread

Preheat oven to 400 degree.  Line a 9×13 inch baking pan with foil.
In a small bowl whisk together oil, vinegar, garlic, herbs, salt & pepper.  Toss tomatoes  to coat thoroughly.
 Arrange tomatoes  & onions in  a single layer on baking pan. 
Roast uncovered for 14 to 18 minutes or just until the tomatoes are soft & skins begin to split, gently stirring once. 
Transfer the tomatoes to a shallow serving bowl.  Drizzle the vinegar mixture from the pan over the tomatoes.  Sprinkle with snipped basil.  Serve warm  with crusty bread.
  Have fun with this one, be creative!

Herb Roasted New Potatoes
2 quarts new red skin baby potatoes
1 cup sweet onion, halved then sliced
1/2 cup thyme infused olive oil OR 1/2 cup olive oil and 2 tbsp.s fresh thyme leaves
4 tbsp. butter
3/4 cup crumbled feta cheese plus all juice
1 tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. pepper

1. Put potatoes and onions in a deep dish 9″x13″ baker; pour oil over; toss to coat evenly. 
2. Sprinkle with salt & pepper; dollop with butter; sprinkle crumbled feta cheese evenly over top; pour the juice over top.
3. Bake in a 350 degree oven for about 35-45 minutes; stir potatoes to mix cheese in and coat  all potatoes with oil; bake for 15 to 20 more minutes or until the potatoes are fork tender.

Happy Day,