odds & ends

I’d rather be gardening….but that is a long way off !  Reading this morning’s  post of  one of the bloggers I follow, Johnwhays, renewed my resolve to enjoy these cold winter days and put them to good use.

I finished a pillow I was making and it adds a cheerful note to this funny chair that I painted and reupholstered earlier.  I removed the back from some earrings I had and gorilla glued them onto the ends of the arms.   I don’t go for “high style” here, (obviously, lol),  I lean more toward the whimsical….things that make me happy

I made my weekly batch of kefir in this big, 8 cup glass jar. For any of you out there that want to make your own kefir and haven’t gotten your own kefir grains or don’t want to deal with maintaining them..dehydrated kefir starter works great and it’s quick and convenient. Eventually, I will get a hold of some live kefir grains  but this is  fine for now.

A while back  I learned from another blogger, Agnes from Gaiainaction , that it’s possible to start plants from  grocery-store bought ginger and tumeric  and that she had done it.  I potted some up and will keep them moist.   Hopefully, if I can keep myself from poking at them, they will be growing in no time!

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Missed by the Blizzard

It was our turn to get lucky, I guess.  We ended up with only 6-8 inches of snow where I live.   I took a ride around town in my old jeep and everything was shut down except for a gas station and a liquor store.  Sending out warm and safe thoughts to those who did not fare as well!

Big Blizzard, Soup with Potato Dumplings

A Big Blizzard is on the way with 2-3 feet of snow  predicted and 50-60 mph winds.  The governor has a travel ban posted after 9pm. tonight.

The news was stressing me out, speculating on all the worst things that could happen and issuing warnings so I turned it off.

I happened to have  a good bit of stock ready this morning so I made a big pot of soup.  Some left-over mashed  potatoes mixed up quickly into little dumplings.  They  were very easy to make.  If you’d like to try them, here’s the recipe;

Make a little well in  3/4 cup of mashed potatoes.  Crack a large egg into it.  Add 1/2 cup flour and salt, pepper to taste.  Combine it all together with your hands. It will be very soft and have a moist consistency.   Drop by 1/2 teaspoonfuls onto simmering soup.   In a few minutes, the dumplings will rise to the top.  Simmer an additional 30 minutes.

Sometimes I make potato noodles instead of dumplings.  It’s just a matter of adding extra flour to this same dough so it gets stiffer.  Then, on a floured board you roll the dough with a rolling pin, quite thin, and cut it into noodles.  Add them to simmering soup and they are done when they rise to the top.

 

Cousins & Senior Bananas

Snow Day!!  This morning I  got a text from my cousin, “Are you baking today?”  Turns out we were both making something to use up our “senior bananas”….that ‘s what she calls them, so funny.   She is an artist in the kitchen!  (outside the kitchen too).  At family gatherings, we all bring something home-made and whatever she brings is the first thing to disappear from the table.  Today she made a banana cake with struesal  topping and finished it off with a beautiful, drizzled glaze.

Meanwhile, I was trying to figure out a way to trick my family with my brown bananas.  I used a carrot cake recipe and played around with the ingredients to try and sneak in healthy things.  I substituted coconut oil and organic butter for the vegetable oil. I cut the amount of sugar in half and substituted it for Sucanat and I added 2 large, mashed bananas to the mix .  Organic flour, pasture raised eggs, extra cinnamon and spices… my cake came out delicious and didn’t need frosting.   If I was bringing this to a family gathering I would definitely finish it with a homemade cream cheese frosting and pray that my cousin wasn’t bringing her banana cake.  I know mine would be left standing alone on the table, in shame.

I am watching my daughter’s dog, Ella this weekend.  She looks so sweet and harmless…until you try and put drops in her ears. Cousin Ella gets scary very quickly.  Her body whips around like an alligator’s.   Geez!!   I got a text from another cousin, our family dog-whisperer, reminding me not to restrain her by the scruff of the neck as it could cause an eyeball to collapse in this type of dog.     I love my family.

Snow, Bees & Yo-yos

My daughter is back at school and snow is in the forecast again.  I’ve been working on color filled projects and reading about bees. I’ve tentatively decided to go with the top bar beehive..it seems easier, a little more natural and organic.   This is a big expensive.  I figure, including the bees it will be $500!   A hive  starts with around 10,000 bees.  I watched some videos on You Tube of new bee keepers  getting  bees into their hives.  I have to admit, it is a little intimidating.   I’m not ready to commit, lol.

I’ve been resourcing heirloom seed companies and I came across a company that sells heirloom fruit trees..some dating back to the 1600’s.   It’s called Orange Pippin Trees.   A lot of  the trees are sold out.  Hopefully that is a good thing, maybe a lot of people are trying to keep these old varieties going.  I’m  trying to fit a few small apple trees into my garden plan.

This is a good time to paint woodwork, mend quilts and freshen up the house.  These little yoyo’s will soon become  pillows.   My goal is to have everything inside fresh, clean, cheerful and organized  by the time gardening season starts…yayy

 

Bees?

When I was a kid, we never had a garden. My Dad was a city boy. My Mom grew up on a farm and didn’t want that life for herself. I lived across the street from a Methodist church. I found some gardening books at a rummage sale there. The next day, I was digging a patch right in the middle of the lawn. My first garden. I’ve had one ever since. I’m still finding gardening books at rummage sales too.

Last January I joined the local Beekeepers Association. I had been reading everything I could find about bees. I felt ready to set up a hive and get going… until I went to bee school. I stumbled out of that first 6 hour beekeeping class totally overwhelmed and confused. What was I thinking? All those diseases, CCD, attracting bears and rodents…never mind the prospect of possibly being responsible for the deaths of thousands of little creatures … No way! I never went back. I still really wanted one of those suits though, lol.

Lately, I’ve been reconsidering the bee thing. I’m thinking gardening school could easily be a deterrent to someone who’s never gardened before… diseases, insect invasions, animal pilferings, poisonous plants, soil management, ph analysis, compost, dead plants. Maybe keeping bees is a lot easier than school made it out to be

One Lovely Blog Award

2 of my favorite bloggers; Matt from Railway Parade House and Jim from Mind Your Dirt  have nominated me for The  Lovely Blog Award!

I love Matt’s blog.  He lives on the other side of the world from me and it brightens my day, (especially in these cold ,winter months) to see the beautiful pictures of his gardens, all the quirky wildlife and to read his upbeat, colorful and knowledgable stories that go with them.  Thank you Matt!!

Jim is on the other side of the country from me, in California.   He’s an amazing “tree person”, gardener, excavator, “chicken man’, bonsai artist…the list goes on!  He shares so much information…”How to’s” and “How Not to’s”, lol.  I learn so much from him and he really makes me laugh ..so funny and clever.  Thanks Jim!!

I’m supposed to say 5 things about myself so,  1.I am an art school drop out  2. I studied herbalism from a native American who is was also an M.D.  3.I am married  4. I was an optician  5.  I’m the oldest of 3 sisters and have 3 daughters

Five truly Lovely Blogs I would like to nominate  are

Fox and Finch Antiques

Mrs. Walker Goes Back to School

farmerkhaiti

Everyday Cheer

Practicing Resurrection

Away with the Grey

The grey was getting to me.  Dark skies,freezing rain, slush…my daughter laying on the couch eating contraband poptarts..lights off and TV blaring… ugh, too depressing

Gone are the days when I could turn off the television and set her onto something productive so I lured her up from the couch and away from poptarts with the offer of an afternoon of beauty.  We started off with yoga….I have a nice instuctional video that has waves and sea gulls in the background. It drowned out the sound of sleet pelting our windows. Then, I mixed up an avocado and honey  facial. It was easy to make and  our skin felt  refreshed and rosy.  (it was a little chunky and awkward to apply, next time I’ll run it through the blender).

Next came  the “Dead Sea Detoxifier and Relaxant”.  In other words, a hot bath with sea salts added.  I added 2 tablespoons of castor oil to 1 cup of Dead Sea Salts.   Castor oil doesn’t  leave the greasy residue in the tub like the other oils.  Epsom salts can be substituted for the Dead Sea Salts and castor oil is optional.  The salts are high in minerals which are absorbed  by the body during the bath.  There’s a good amount of magnesium which relaxes muscles.  I added some lavender oil to the mix and lit a beeswax candle near the bathtub.

While my daughter soaked away, hopefully leaching some of the college toxins out of herself,  I spent the rest of my ‘afternoon of beauty” looking at garden catalogues .  Lavender and honey in the air, poptarts in the garbage..

Warm from the inside

 

I woke up to snow this morning! I never checked the weather report so it came as a complete surprise. I guess I’ll spend some time shoveling today before everything turns into a frozen, crusty mess..it’s still soo cold.
Yesterday I made a good, warming soup. A bunch of kale, 2 carrots, 2 small potatoes, a tuber of tumeric and a 3 inch chunk of ginger root all went into a pot with homemade chicken stock. Everything was brought to a boil and then simmered until the carrots were tender. When it cooled down a bit, I pureed the whole lot. It tasted good.. a little,spicy, warm and kind of exotic to my New England taste buds. Sea salt, black pepper and a teaspoon of coconut oil made it even better. I’ve been trying to think of ways to incorporate fresh tumeric into my diet..it has so many health benefits: anti-inflammatory, antioxidant and there’s a lot of studies showing it may improve brain function and increase endorphins. I’m in! Maybe I wont feel crabby and sore from shoveling this snow:)
My daughter is still home with me for a few more days. Last night we watched the first of “The Lord of the Rings” trilogy together and we turned this year’s Christmas cards into next year’s gift tags. Tonight is part 2. I do love having her back home.

Doldrums & Super-juice


I was away for a week with my whole family, (almost), including the dogs! I loved being all together again. It was so much fun.
This morning was a different story. The long car ride home yesterday, the too-quiet house, a week of vacation food ….I felt like a blob.
The temperature was 22 degrees and the wind was terrible. I decided I’d rather face the bitter cold than the dreary prospect of taking down the Christmas decorations so I headed out to our local organic market.
The produce department invigorated and inspired me. (pathetic, I know) Overwhelmed by healthy thoughts, I gathered up ingredients to make a real powerhouse juice… Watercress, wheatgrass, carrots and a nice fat pineapple. Pineapple is a great anti- inflammatory and good for digestion. Beets would have made a healthy addition as they are good blood purifiers but I can’t stand the taste of them. I also picked up a good looking ginger rhizome, raw honey and a bottle of raw, organic apple cider vinegar.
When I got home, I pulled out one of my Christmas presents…a little Ninja juicer. Doubting if it could handle a raw carrot, I threw it in along with some pineapple and my greens. Wanting to hit the whole color spectrum, I added some frozen berries from my garden. It was smooth and delicious! Quick, easy and clean up was a snap. The rest of the pineapple was cut up into cubes and frozen.
Then, I diced up about an inch of the ginger and added it to 2 cups of boiled water. I covered it and left it to steep for a couple hours. Later, I added a teaspoon of honey and 2 teaspoons of apple cider vinegar, mixed it until the honey dissolved and drank it with ice. It tasted really good and clean, very refreshing. I had bought a bottled drink in an expensive gourmet store while I was away that had these same ingredients, except they used stevia instead of honey. It was advertised as being good for detoxifying, digestion and clearing the sinuses. My version tasted a lot like theirs and cost practically nothing.
Still avoiding the Christmas decorations, I cleaned out the fridge and noticed the eggs were getting close to expiring. I made some custard. Organic milk and cream, pasture raised eggs and substituting sucanat for sugar… healthy dessert for tonight.
I stuck the eggshells into the oven when the custard was almost done,that makes them clean and easy to crumble. I keep a jar of powdered eggshells under the sink and add them to boost my seedlings when they get transplanted into the garden. The garden…I can’t wait