Spring To-do List, Using Old Ladders In Our Gardens, Yummy Soft Boiled Eggs in a ‘Green’ Nest

Spring is a time of new birth and rejuvenation. It’s when we look around and simply stand in awe at the beauty surrounding us… forsythias vibrant yellow… the sweet aroma of apple and cherry blossoms… lavender lilac bouncing in the breeze carrying the scents through the open windows… searching out the first tips of rhubarb and asparagus.

This is a hedge of 'Miss. Kim' lilacs we planted in our front yard three years ago.

This is a hedge of ‘Miss. Kim’ lilacs we planted in our front yard three years ago.

Spring… there isn’t quite anything as perfect in my mind.

Yesterday I was walking to the greenhouse when my feet went ‘squishhhh’ in the mud… I loved it, especially wearing flip-flops. Yes, I know it was cold, but it was almost 85 degrees in the greenhouse when the sun was shining! Neil was helping me and his feelings were a tad bit different… more of exasperation from the heat- he likes the cold. I’ll take the heat and a sweaty brow any day of the week over bundling up to keep warm.

Spring is also a time ‘to-do’ lots of stuff! As most of my dragonfly readers can testify, I strongly encourage lists- for everything! Garden and yard projects are no exception. I love the feeling of making the list and scratching off each item as it’s accomplished. I’m a visual person and I think that’s why lists make so much sense to me… plus they keep me on track.

This photo is of my chalkboard in my office where I keep my 'daily' lists.  I add sticky notes below as things need to be done.

This photo is of my chalkboard in my office where I keep my ‘daily’ lists. I add sticky notes below as things need to be done.

Scanning through my yard and gardens I’m seeing the multitude of things I need and want to get accomplished this season. I have a couple windows of opportunity before and after my ‘busy’ times, so I must utilize that time wisely. I thought it would be interesting to share this years list with all my dragonfly friends… now don’t be alarmed when you see it… I have lots of helping hands around our farm!

My list of outside jobs to do this year…
Painting:

back of garage
potting shed
front of greenhouse
back of hoop house
repaint back door where dog scratched

2. Fix arbor in front of hoop house- put new lattice on sides and top
3. Put post up at small herb bed for wisteria
4. Move raised beds from beside hoop house to cut flower raised bed garden
5. New flower bed around potting shed

6. Plant:

Pink climbing roses at back corners of potting shed
Rose of Sharon at back corner of house in back yard
Rose trellis on front of house at living room window

7. Finish Patio:

planters
floor and sides

8. Ladder trellis on side of garage over tea bed in Potager

Here is the photo I mentioned a few blog posts back. I got a photo of it the other day.  I'm so excited to do this on my garage this summer!  Can't you just see it covered with pink roses!

Here is the photo I mentioned a few blog posts back. I got a photo of it the other day. I’m so excited to do this on my garage this summer! Can’t you just see it covered with pink roses!

Number eight is one of the topics of this post. I often talk about my love for garden junque, it’s one of my favorite things about cottage gardening. I love being able to artfully incorporate what I absolutely adore, even though some people consider it trash. There are oodles of items that can be used, but lets look at old wooden ladders today.

A few posts ago I mentioned this ladder trellis- well I stopped the other day and took a photo of it… not the greatest, but you get the idea. I plan on doing this on the side of my garage over the tea bed in our Potager and planting… you guessed it, a climbing rose… but first I have to find them! So if you read my guest post at Flea Market Gardening ( http://www.fleamarketgardening.org/2013/04/04/flea-market-windows-how-to-make-a-decorative-mini-greenhouse/ ) you’ll understand how patient I can be!

Uses for ladders…
*Ladders can also be used in your flower beds to put potted plants on (see photo).

This is a really cool old ladder that I picked up at a garage sale for a couple bucks... so cut with pots!

This is a really cool old ladder that I picked up at a garage sale for a couple bucks… so cut with pots!

*I also have a ladder on one of the columns on our front porch that a climbing rose uses.
*Lattice/ trellis- I have a few ladders that go across the top of my pergola for the vines.

To many they are just something to climb up, but on my list, they have a much higher calling 😉

Spring is here and greens are coming in abundantly… and so are the eggs! Here’s a yummy recipe to use what you have- Enjoy friends!
Soft Boiled Eggs in a ‘Green’ Nest

Farm fresh eggs just laid in one of our farms many nesting boxes!

Farm fresh eggs just laid in one of our farms many nesting boxes!

1 Bunch of Chard, Kale or Spinach, stems and ribs discarded
1 1/2 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/4 tsp Red Pepper
1/2 tsp sea salt
4 Eggs

1. Preheat oven to 300 degrees. Chop your greens into bite size pieces and toss in the oil and seasoning to coat evenly. Spread evenly in the bottom of a 10″x10″ glass baking dish and bake for about 30-40 minutes, till crisp. Remove from oven and divide into 2 bowls and create a ‘nest’ with a hole in the center.
2. While greens are baking, bring a 2 quart pot of water to a rolling boil and gently lower eggs into water, turn off heat and cover. Let eggs sit in water for 6 1/2 minutes for soft boiled eggs.
3. Transfer eggs to a bowl of ice water and let sit for about 1/2 minute. Working carefully and quickly, peel eggs, and place in center of nests. Season and serve immediately.

Be sure to come on over to Dragonflies Facebook for lots more photo’s and extra info plus tons of great links to other interesting sites. Hope to see you there…
https://www.facebook.com/pages/For-Dragonflies-And-Me/550000798362651?ref=stream
Happy Day,
Jean

Serendipity Discovered, My Banister Garden and Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

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As you stroll through my garden’s you’ll notice many unusual things sprinkled here and there… peaking out of a cluster of tulips or bowing over a rash planting of zinnias… Friends say that I have a flair for mixing my passion for plants and garden junque, marrying them together into welcoming and intriguing garden rooms. As I place these abandoned and unappreciated objects throughout my gardens it allows me to express my passions using my innate creativity.

Recycling things that no one else wants is something I enjoy doing… I can see the ‘practical’ and artistic use of an old fashioned metal canner… a rusty old wagon wheel… wooden crates or drawers… a wash tub or even more exciting, a derelict water trough… tin buckets, old wheel barrows… garden bikes, chairs… oh the list could go on and on! In my last post I talked about that discovered element… stumbling upon some tiny treasure you’ve been unknowingly looking for. My eye has become quite keen to spotting usable junque at estate sales, thrift shops and even along the curbside. My minds eye is in tune with what I love in my gardens. I’ve been to sales and there and behold an old wooden crate and tin bucket cast off in a corner… yes that will sit beautifully on my porch topped by that tin bucket over flowing with double petunia’s in it!

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As my friends and I walk and talk meandering here and there I watch their faces… I delight in seeing the shocked look at how cute 'they think' my antique metal canner's look planted up with purple pansies… how whimsical that old banister appears in the garden surrounded by a cascade of nasturtiums… and the 'wow' when they see hot pink geraniums in a white enamelware bucket that now sits on a rickety old chair… I love inspiring people, especially in the home and garden.

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I name all of my gardens. When we bought our home the upstairs railing was kicked in and totally destroyed by the previous owners… but a beautiful, old white banister still stood. As the men were removing what was left of it and getting ready to toss everything in a ‘junk’ pile, I was quick to say, “Hold on to that! That’s not junk… that is going in a garden!”… and so was born my Banister Garden.

Legend for The Banister Garden
Here is my rendition of my Banister Garden. This garden is just under 200 square feet.

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1. Knock Out Rose Bushes- 2 pink
2. Daylily- 2 orange
3. Creeping Phlox- 3 lavender
4. Burning Bush shrub
5. Lavender- Hidcotte
6. Peony- 2 pink
7. Bee’s Balm planted behind Antique Two Burner Antique Canner filled with geraniums. The Banister stands behind the Bee’s Balm
8. Hydrangea- old fashioned white- just planted last summer
9. Iris- purple
10. Purple Bell Flower
11. Varrigated Sedum
12. Purple Ruffles Basil
13. Spirea- pink
~I have a garden chair that sets in the garden and I usually have a tin bucket planted up on it.
This garden like the Side and Bistro was dug up and replanted as well. I didn’t do all of these gardens in one year, it has been a process going on since 2009. This garden has had many faces as you will see in the photo’s at the end of this post under the recipes.

I’m a bargain shopper when it comes to plants as well as for garden junque. If I can’t grow it myself, swap or get from a family member or friend then I wait for stuff to go on clearance. In 2011 I ‘stumbled’ upon a great deal at a big box store on a couple Knock Out rose bushes. They were discounted 75%… now I never would have paid the full price for these even with all the hype about them… I can’t say that anymore! They are worth every penny… honestly, they don’t stop blooming except for about two weeks in mid summer. I would like to get several more and make a hedge with them in another garden… I always have a garden plan in mind!

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Here are some idea’s for things to combine in your gardens!
*Tin or Enamelware buckets with either geraniums or double petunias.
*Wash tubs- I purchase nice big hanging baskets and plant them right into them… instant wow! I have also planted them with cascading nasturtiums. (see photo).
*Wooden crates and drawers- I like to incorporate right into my gardens. I will take the bottoms out bury part way, fill with dirt and then plant herbs or again hanging baskets. I also like to use crates on my front porch as both planters and as objects to place other pots on.

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*Tea Kettles, coffee pots, old oil cans, any other type of metal container plant worthy. I have planted succulents like Hen’s & Chicks in these, pansies and petunias.
*Mailboxes- I have not done this, (yet) but I have seen some really cool ones done up. You need to use a ‘top’ door type- one where the top opens and the mail drops in (see photo at my blog 😉 )
…here are a few other ideas of some things I have seen, but haven’t done and don’t really fit into my garden scheme, but may be of interest to others…
*Old fashioned claw foot bath tubs- I would plant something tall down the entire center- zinnia’s, cosmos, cleome or all and then have something that trails out all around the edges- Wave Petunias, trailing nasturtiums.
*Row boat or other nautical piece- I would bury it and then do as with the bath tub- height and cascade
*Antique Metal Bed frame- Plant the bed’s legs or just set the frame down on the ground and then using appropriate flowers, plant a design of a quilt block- obviously not too detailed- maybe a Bow Tie, Diamond, Nine Patch or something along those lines.
… there are many other ‘found’ objects that you can use… be creative, you know what you like!
~The key to using any type of container is proper drainage!

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We are still in the grips of winter and here is Michigan we just got another six inches of the white stuff… so today I thinking comfort food! Enjoy friends!
Butternut Squash and Bacon Quiche

All purpose flour for rolling
1 recipe Flaky Pie dough (below)
8 slices bacon (Off course Garden Gates!)
1 medium yellow onion, halved and thinly sliced
Salt & pepper
3/4 pound butternut squash, peeled, halved and very thinly sliced
8 large eggs
1/2 c whole milk
1/2 c heavy cream
6 fresh sage leaves

1. Preheat oven to 350 digress. On a lightly floured work surface, roll out dough to an 11×15 inch rectangle. Transfer to a 9×13 inch baking pan. Fold edges of dough so sides are about 1 inch high. Prick dough all over with a fork and freeze until firm, 15 minutes. Press on dough, draping over rim of pan. Bake until crust is firm and edges are lightly browned, about 35– 45 minutes or until bottom is dry and light golden.
2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, cook bacon over medium until almost crisp, 10 minutes, flipping once. Drain bacon on paper towels. Add onion to skillet, season with salt & pepper, and cook, stirring often, until golden brown, 10 minutes. Spread mixture evenly in crust. Top with squash, overlapping slices and adding a piece of bacon every few rows.
3. In a bowl, whisk together eggs, milk, and cream; season with salt 7 pepper. Pour enough egg mixture over filling to just reach top of crust. Top with sage. Bake until set in center and puffed at edges, 45 minutes. Let cool 15 minutes.

FLAKY PIE DOUGH:

In a food processor, pulse 1 1/4 c all purpose flour and 1/2 tsp slat to combine. Add 1/2 c cold unsalted butter, cut in 1/2 inch pieces; pulse until mixture resembles coarse meal, with a few pea size pieces of butter remaining. Sprinkle with 2 tbsp ice water; pulse until dough is crumbly but holds together when squeezed (if necessary, add up to 2 tbsp more water, 1 tbsp at a time). Form dough in a 1 inch thick rectangle, wrap tightly in plastic, and refrigerated until firm, 1 hour or up to 3 days).

“So… what are you going to do with a rickety old wooden chair with chipped paint Jean?” my husband asks me…”It’s serendipity Neil….”
Happy Day,
Jean
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This photo was taken in Spring of 2009. This was the first ‘face’ she had… the tulips were beautiful and the creeping phlox looked stunning. Notice the lattice on the side of the front porch… The wisteria that now covers that side of the porch was just a baby in this photo.

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Here is a photo of the same garden, same spot but taken in 2012. You can see it is deeper and quite a bit different. The burning bush in the far left corner is larger and now there is the spirea bush in the front right corner.

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This photo was taken in Summer 2011. You can see the black ground cover still laying around the edges from the ‘re-do’ that this garden received early in the spring.

Choosing Perennials, Lavender Heart Card, Easy Flavored Sugar’s Gift & Yummy Apple Pie Oatmeal

Flavored Sugars make a super cute gift.
See how to below

Lavender Heart Card… see how to below

Our gardens are filled with love, patience and long suffering… these are attributes that we as spouses, parents, co-workers and such strive to maintain and build in our personal character.  I believe that gardening helps us grow these virtues.  I always tell my my friends that God made me to love gardening because that was the only way He was sure to get these virtues instilled in me.   Perennials I believe help along with this much more than annuals.  My closer friends know how much I enjoy ‘instant gratification’ 🙂 ~ which is why I probably will always incorporate my beloved annuals… petunias, nasturtiums, pansies and the likes~ they are ever faithful!  Today we will look at perennials and the pro’s and con’s to them along with some tips & hints on maintenance.

Perennials can create a challenge for some due to the simple fact there are so many to choose from.  Several factors come into play when deciding on what, where and when.  I will touch base on what I believe to be the most important factors to take into consideration. Perennials will be where ever you place them for a long while and if they are larger plants such as shrubs and trees, you need to make sure you love what you choose!  The color of your home, whether it be dark, light or painted brick, vinyl siding or painted wood~ all play into the choices. You wouldn’t want to put a white flowering pear in front of your white house- you would loose all interest because when the tree is in full bloom you would loose the tree into your home.  A pink flowering crab on the other hand would be much more stunning.
Many of the factors listed with annuals are also relevant for perennial, for instance sun & shade tolerances.
~Size is one factor with perennials that does differ from perennials.  You will be looking at trees and shrubs as well as bush types, ground covers, small to mid-size growers. 
~I would suggest that first you go to a nursery or garden center with a note book, plan on spending some serious time there.  Go through each category of plant that you are interested in; jot down what you like and the details to that plant.  If you have a really good plant encyclopedia at home, you won’t need too much of the detail, but if you don’t be sure to get these details- sun requirements, blooming time, height & width at mature stage and any special requirements that might be listed.
~Bloom time is one factor to pay close attention to.  You will want to be sure to incorporate plants that will give you seasonal blooming.  Here are a few more common perennials and there bloom time:
*Spring bloomers: Ajuga, bergina, bleeding heart, columbine, coral bells, hellebore, lady’s mantle, peony, poppy, primrose, viola and of course bulbs such as snow drops, daffodils, crocuses, hyacinths and my favorite of all, tulips.
*Summer bloomers: Astible, baby’s breath, bee balm, coreopsis, day lily, delphinium, dianthus, helianthus, hosta, lupine, obedient plant, phlox, purple corn flower, black eyed susan, Shasta daisies, Russian sage, scabiosa, sedum, verbena, veronica and yarrow.
*Fall bloomers: Aster, chrysanthemum, lobelia, Japanese anemone and goldenrod.
The next thing to take into consideration when you are ready to purchase is, “What size plant/shrub/tree do I start with?” Well the fact of the matter here is truly how much money and patience do you have! I most often times want the biggest bang for my buck and therefore typically will go with a smaller plant and be patient with growth.  There are a few ‘slow’ growers that I don’t, like trees for instance.  I’ve done the catalog mail order and get a ‘twig’ in the mail, which has in every situation been mowed over, run over by a child, week wacked or dug up by an animal! No thanks~ too many disappointments and wasted time in this area.  What I do is wait until August and go to the garden centers when everything is typically marked down 50% and buy the 8′ to 12′ trees.  I mulch heavily and water deeply and regularly so the tree will have plenty of time to take root and make it through the cold Michigan weather I live in.  I have not lost one yet!  This is also what I do with some of my larger shrubs if they are going to be in a ‘high risk’ area. Otherwise I go for the small pots here too.  Mulching and watering is the key to success.
* A few other tips:
~Prepare the soil well- add plenty of organic matter to ensure adequate water and air circulation.
~Always plant the plant to the same depth of the size of the pot that you purchased it in.
~Water often the first season. This will aid the plant in developing a strong root base.
~Fertilize in spring- most growth happens during this time.  Choose appropriate fertilizers according to type of plant.
~Mulch year round- this aids in maintaining moisture and protecting roots.
~Get more blooms!  Dead heading certain varieties, such as roses will stimulate more blooming.
~Division of plants, especially Iris’s and bulbs are crucial to long life and better blooming.  Be sure to read on each plant before dividing, some prefer spring, others fall!
There is so much to be said and time and space would never allow me to do it all in a day’s blog.  I hope this helps you get started!

For a thoughtful gift, create on of these simple Lavender Filled Heart Cards. 
*First you will need to choose a sheet of card stock and cut to the desired size;  fold vertically in the center. Cut two heart shapes from a piece of printed muslin to fit nicely on the front of your card; stitch them together, outsides in, leaving a small opening; invert the hearts; loosely fill with dried lavender; stitch the opening closed and attach the heart to the card.  See attached photo!      

Flavored Sugars are an easy thing to make, here is a quick recipe that you can use on oatmeal or in your tea.  They make super cute gifts as well.  See attached photo!
Start with 2 cups organic raw sugar.
For Vanilla Sugar: Split 1 vanilla bean in half and scrape the seeds from the bean into the sugar; then bury the bean in the sugar.
For Cinnamon Sugar:  add 1 1/2 Tbsp. ground cinnamon and 2 sticks.
For Cardamon Sugar: add 1/4 cup whole green cardamom pods.
The sugars will stay flavorful i a sealed container for up to one year. 

To make it gift worthy put the sugar’s in pint size jelly jars; using pinking shears cut a cute piece of fabric circle 1 1/2 inch’s wider in diameter than the metal lid; place fabric circle over the lid, place on filled jar and then seal with ring.  Create a cute contents label to put on the front of jar. Happy giving!

Oatmeal doesn’t have to be the way grandma made it- goopy & thick!  This alternative to an already hearty breakfast goes a long way when it tastes like Apple Pie.  Sometimes we are really busy in the morning and getting a good breakfast can be a challenge.  Here is a quick, forget about it in the crock pot till morning meal that is sure to please!
Apple Pie Oatmeal

2 1/2 cups milk
1 cup steel cut oats, uncooked
1/4 cup brown sugar, packed
2 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp. butter, melted
1 Tbsp. apple pie spice
1 apple, cored, peeled and chopped
1/2 cup raisins, optional
1/2 cup chopped walnuts, optional

Place all ingredients in a slow cooker sprayed with non stick spray; stir well until well mixed. Cover and cook on low for 6-8 hours.

Happy Day,
Jean

Mountain Pie Suppers, Homemade Napkin Rings, Cute ‘Cookie’ Packaging, Taylor’s Best Ever Chocolate Chip Cookies!

Spring is here and how I just love to be outside~ especially where entertaining is concerned.  Nothing is as enjoyable to me as having my friends over for a lovely evening of food & fellowship… listening to the gobs of children running and playing and laughing… Spring and summer come to an end much too quickly for me, so I try to take advantage of my outside time as much as possible.  Our family really enjoys Mountain Pie suppers- in Canada we call them Hobo Pies.  Our children think this is so fun because they get to ‘make’ their pie just as they want with what they want.  Some of you may be saying, “what in the world is a Mountain or Hobo Pie?” Well you can purchase the pie irons at most big box stores and at all the hunting outfitters out there.  The are simply called ‘pie irons’ on the package. 
*How to get started: First build a good camp fire and get a nice hot bed of coals with very little flames- you will need to keep it going though.
*Supplies you will need: Organic non-spray & bread. Have a table set up with all the toppings on where all guests can make their pies; make sure you have a board or something ‘melt’ proof to place the hot irons on when they are ready to come out. 
*Toppings can be anything savory or sweet.  Here are a few ideas
    ~Sweet- Nutella & Banana, PB&J, any kind of fruit pie filling
    ~Savory toppings can include: pepperoni, cheese, mushrooms, bacon, ground beef regular or seasoned, ham, sausage, tomatoes, sweet &/or hot peppers, pineapple, olives or onions. 
    ~Use pizza sauce, ranch dressing, mayo or any other dressing/sauce that goes with your combo!
*How to make: Be sure to spray both sides of the pie iron; place a slice of bread in each side; put your sauce on first and then layer on the toppings of your choice; carefully close iron and latch; put on the hot coals turning often, check the bread by opening the latch and carefully lifting to see how things are coming.  When toasted to perfection take iron out of the fire, place on prepared area and carefully open iron and remove the ‘pie’.
Enjoy one after another and watch your guests have one of the most enjoyable meals they’ll ever have!
Charming Homemade Napkin Rings…
When I entertain I love to add special touches. In many of my previous entries I have described table settings, special dinner ware and other little touches.  I often use linen napkins, they are just extra special. Here is a really cute idea to make an already special touch sweeter.  We all have extra buttons and now is the time to round them up and put them to use as charming clasps on napkin rings.  Use several different ones for an eclectic and wistful look. 
*You will need to use ‘shank’ type buttons- buttons with a loop on the back, not holes.
* Choose a theme for your set, such as flowers, mother of pearl types or seashells.
*Decide on how many you want to make- I would say at least eight.
* I would recommend your buttons be at least 1 1/2″ to 2 1/2″ in size.
*Next thread a 12″ length of cording through each shank, and tie its ends in a knot.  Secure knot to shank with a needle and tread so that it will stay hidden behind the button.  Wrap cording around a folded napkin, looping it back over the button to secure.
Giving gifts is so much fun, especially food gifts~ and cookies are always well appreciated!  Here is the cutest and simplest Cookie Packaging idea I have ever heard of, so I wanted to share it will all of you.
*First purchase a package of paper C.D. envelopes with a window- yes you are reading correctly!
* Next create a label- (a good size would be an Avery 5198 or a label about 3.5″ wide by 1.67″ high)- with what ever you want it to say- Happy Birthday, Happy New Year, It’s A Boy/ Girl or whatever the occasion is!  Add a cute graphic to the label and you’re all set. 
*All you need to do is put your cookie inside the envelope and seal- you get to see how yummy it looks through the window!
*Adhere the label so it’s center is on the top of the envelope so half is in front and the other half seals the back down.
These make great party favors as well!

We have growing boys in our house and after school snacks are a must have around here.  One of the favorites around here is Taylor’s chocolate chip cookies.  Some people say to use semi sweet or dark- but forget that, nothing makes a cookie like Milk Chocolate!  Enjoy one of families favorites, 
Taylor’s Best Ever Milk Chocolate Chip Cookies!

1/3 cup shortening
1/3 cup butter
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1/2 cup raw organic sugar
1 egg
1 tsp. vanilla
1 1/2 cups flour
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup walnuts (optional)
3/4 cup mini Milk Chocolate Chips

1.  Preheat over to 375 degrees.
2. Mix shortening, butter, sugars, egg and vanilla will.  Measure flour by dipping method or by sifting.  For a softer, rounder cookie, add 1/4 cup more flour.)
3. Stir dry ingredients together and blend in; mix in chips and nuts if adding.
5. Drop rounded teaspoons of  dough 2 inches apart on an ungreased cookie sheet.
6. Bake for 8-10 minutes, or until delicately browned.
Cookies should still be soft.  Cool slightly before removing from pan!

Happy Day,                                                   
Jean

 

Simple To Make Birdbath, Say I Love You with Herbs, Recycled Cloth Shopper Bags & Taylor’s Ready To Go French Toast!

Spring is a time of love and rejuvenation! The awakening all around us stimulates a desire to give and share~ everything just seems happy!   The birds start returning, buds start popping, the first Snow Drops and Crocus’s start peeking out giving us a foretaste of the Daffodils & Tulips not far behind.  This Spring has brought some things earlier than usual and with it that energy has sprung forth for me as well.  I love to be in the greenhouses and gardens working in the dirt… watching seeds sprout and develop into the plants we will take to market and plant in our gardens, beds and fields.  As mentioned in the previous blog post birding is one of our favorite things to do~ here is a really simple & cool bird bath along with some gifty ideas and of course a yummy recipe from Taylor, enjoy!
*
Here is a super Simple Birdbath that even the most ‘un-handy’ minded person can make using just a few simple tools! First you will need:
~a really cool old banister or porch post, which if you don’t have go to any antique or salvage yard and they will abound.  If you want newer than simply go and buy what you would like.  It should be at least 4 feet tall.
~an old granite dishpan for the bath.
~a bag of concrete, a Tap-con screw (for metal) and some clear acrylic caulk.
Dig a hole about a foot deep, place the post in and pour enough concrete to fill hole to just about ground level.
Cover with dirt and let set about an hour.
Take the dish pan and center on top of banister/post; screw to banister/post. Put a dab of caulk over screw to prevent leaking and rusting.
Plant flowers like Shasta Daisies, Black Eyed Susan’s or Purple Cone Flowers around and enjoy the birdie frolic!

*I love to give gifts especially those that say I love you with flowers or plants… or really any type of garden type stuff.  Here is a gift that will keep on giving the recipient!  Many plants have meanings, even the color of roses have specific meanings to them.  Here are some herb’s that you can give to express your admiration or love to them. 
Here are some ways to arrange the Herbs for gift giving:
~Plant them in a lovely window box or two.
~Pot each herb up in separate pots- choose Terra cotta, painted pottery or some old galvanized pails~ you will know what they will like best!
~Plant in one or two large patio pots if they have a patio or porch.
Here are the Herbs and their meanings:
Dill~ cheer and survival in the face of difficulties\
Sage~ wisdom
Marjoram~ joy
Bay~ achievement and success
Rosemary~ remembrance and friendship
Scented ‘Attar of Rose’ Geranium~ happiness
Choose one, some or all… you know what you want to say!

Recycled Clothe Shopper Bags have been a really big thing the last couple years and being a market vendor I notice more and more of our customers going to them. This in turn saves us from having to buy as many plastic bags!  So of course I thought we could make and in turn sell them at market. Taylor & I decided to go pattern shopping and find a practical pattern to make.   We decided to use old denim pants, scraps from our dress fabrics, old sheets, shirts and any other ‘scraps’ of fabric we could acquire.  This was a lot of fun and if you enjoy sewing this is a really simple project to make a few ‘one of a kind’ shopper bags for yourself and even for gifts!  We added buttons, pockets, ribbons and other little charms that we had.  Be as creative as you like and before you know it , you might have a little business in bag making!

Taylor’s Ready To Go French Toast
French toast can be way more exciting that just some bread dipped in egg & fried.  We have eight hungry people to feed, six of them in the male category, so we need to keep things interesting around our house.  This is a great make ahead breakfast great for Sunday breakfast or Brunch, or for any day of the week.

1/2 Stick of Butter
2 Apples cored, peeled and sliced
1 cup brown sugar
1 tsp. apple pie spice
8 slices bread- your choice- thicker the better in my opinion
4 eggs from Garden Gate Farm, beaten
1 cup milk
1 tsp. Maple Syrup Extract*

1. Melt the butter in a heavy skillet over medium heat. Reduce heat to med-low; add apples and cook until tender.
2. Stir in sugar and spice and cook until dissolved, about 2-3 minutes.  Pour apple mixture into a greased 9×13 inch baking dish. 
3. Lay the slices of bread on top of apple mixture.
4. In a medium bowl whisk together the remaining ingredients; pour over bread slices.
5. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight.
6. Remove plastic and bake at 350 degrees for about 30 to 40 minutes, or until eggs are cooked & set, until firm and browned slightly. 
*Don’t use regular maple syrup because the flavor with cook off!
Serve nice and warm and if you for brunch add some yummy vanilla ice cream with it!

Happy Day,
Jean





Homemade "Flower Fresh" Recipe, More Garden Tips & Simple Cuttings & yummy Mini Farmers Market Pizza’s

The daffodils, forsythias & magnolias are all in full bloom~ it is absolutely magnificent! It is about 9Pm right now and the rain just started coming down~ it sounds like a calm and steady straight down rain.  Evan, Ryan & I got several things planted in the raised beds & the kitchen garden today and this rain is such a blessing for all those little seeds and soon to be us 🙂 ! Ryan wanted to pick his teacher a bouquet with the daffodils for tomorrow, he is so sweet.  He loves to make bouquets and plant things.  We were planting beets in a few of the raised beds after school today and all of a sudden he was gone.  I called after him and he was getting ready to till up the spot he had worked in last summer.  “Too wet yet” I told him.  Raised beds are different then regular gardens, they dry out quite a bit quicker and you can get lots more stuff in them faster. One more reason why I am all about raised beds!  We all love those first spring bouquets and they never seem to last long enough.  You can add some vase life to them with a really simple homemade ‘Flower Fresh’ fresh recipe~ all ingredients you are sure to have right in your own home!

*Homemade “Flower Fresh”
Put 1/2 tsp. of regular household bleach and 1 tsp. sugar to every 1 cup of room temperature water.  Change water every 5-7 days.
If you snip just a 1/4 inch off the bottom of the stems each day, this will also help.
You will be able to keep your bouquets looking nice for about 2-3 weeks.  

*More Garden Tips
There are so many things that I have read & picked up over the years that it seems I could write on & on about this stuff forever… so here are a few more tried & true tips! Have fun…
*If you have trouble with flies coming in the house, try putting a potted Basil on the step or porch by each of your doors and if you have a window ledge outside you kitchen window or any other put a few there. Not are they only helpful here, just think how easy it will be to make Brushetta or Pesto now…. oh now that is sooo yummy!
*If you have shrubs or trees that need pruned in the spring, lay a tarp under the area to be pruned; then when you are done, simply fold up the tarp and dispose of in your compost or burn pile… easy as pie!
*It is seed planting time and some of those seeds are soo tiny! Lettuce & carrot to mention just a couple.  Try using a large holed salt or sugar shaker~ simply put your seed in it and then shake them out in your prepared row!  So easy!
*Weeding can be a trying experience even for the gardener who loves to garden. If at all possible, weed after a rain, everything comes out easier.
*Mulching is a time & back saver!  If you know a farmer that has cows, horses or sheep they will have hay & straw.  Bales often pop open and there is always loose straw around.  Ask if you clean up the loose straw & hay if you can have it.  I lay newspaper down my isles in the garden and even in the raised beds between the rows, and then cover with straw.  Some people will say then you will be planting the seeds~ it’s green manure!  Plus I rather deal with the very minimal seeding as opposed to the hours of hoeing, tilling and hand weeding!   I will be touching more on mulching & it’s importance in coming posts!
*Simple Cuttings
are very easy to do. Here are instructions on how to start your own Rose & Forsythia. 
~ For a new rose bush all you need to do is cut a stem with a full bloom rose on it.  Stick the stem into the ground.  Leave a few of the leaves at the top with the bloom.  Water the ground thoroughly and put a clear glass jar over it- like a mason jar- if you have a 2 quart jar that would be best, but a 1 quart works well too- and anchor it into the ground by twisting it until the jar is in the ground up to its shoulder; place a rock on it.  Keep the soil watered around jar every day until frost.  don’t remove the jar until next spring.  You will then have a new rose bush growing!  I have tried this and it worked~ I got 2 out of 6 new roses.
~ Forsythia is super easy too!  If you have a friend with a bush you are all set~ I am sure she/he will let you have a start.  Forsythia branches will tend to ‘bend’ down and when the tips meet the ground they root on their own!  Go to the shrub and you will see gobs of branches that appear to be separate bushes, but in actuality they are branches rooted down.  All you need to do is cut the branch from the actual mother plant and carefully dig up the ‘rooted branch’.  Put in a bucket of water with the flower fresh in it and transplant into the location you have for it at home! Presto~ your own forsythia!

Mini Farmers Market Pizza’s

These nifty little pizza’s are so much fun for the children because you can let each one of them create their very own masterpiece!  Not to mention they can put whatever toppings they like best. Here is one way, but be creative and have a yummy fun time!

6 Pita Rounds
1 1/2 cups pizza sauce
1 cup fresh Spinach from Garden Gate Farm, washed & snipped into bite size pieces
1 medium Red Onion from Garden Gate Farm, chopped 
2 Roma Tomatoes from Willowridge farm, sliced thinly with seeds removed
2 cups mixed shredded cheese- choose two types for a more interesting flavor
Grated Parmesan Cheese
1 Tbsp. Olive Oil
1/2 cup fresh Parsley from Garden Gate Farm, snipped

1.  Place pita rounds on an ungreased baking sheet and spread each with 1/4 cup of pizza sauce.
2. Top with cheese; put tomato, spinach & onions on top.
3. Drizzle 1/2 tsp. oil over each pizza; sprinkle 1 tsp. parsley over each;
4. Sprinkle lightly with Parmesan cheese over each.
5. Bake at 350 for 15-20 minutes, or until cheese is bubbly!

Happy Day,
Jean