Sunday, November 29, 2009

The bees are back!

So, a couple of days ago, my son came in the house having a fit. "The bees are BACK!" And, of course, he was right. It really bothers me to have to spray these things, because I really do need them in the garden. I didn't have half the pollination from last year during the summer, because we had to spray this hive. But, we really did have to spray it because we had honey dripping off the front of the house, as I have previously blogged about. And I just had this feeling the bee "guys" were going to show up during the baby shower I was throwing for my sister. Sure enough, the doorbell rang and that is exactly what happened. Oh well. SIGH. So, now we have a constant shower of dead bees on the front porch as we wait for the hive to die. So sad.


Friday, November 20, 2009

Awesome Quote

I just found this awesome quote at this site for the Herb Companion Magazine:

I am trying to use my herbs a little more & there is a giant herb book I really would like over at Barnes & Noble for my birthday. (hint hint...)

But I just love this...

"If you have a garden and a library, you have everything you need."
Marcus Tullius Cicero

Preserving & Etc.

So, do you ever wonder what to do with all those jalepenos, or other peppers that your plant just keeps on producing and you can't eat quick enough? My mother-in-law makes jalepeno jello, which you can do. I just really only have one recipe that I use that for, & I'm pretty sure I haven't made that in oh, about 5 years. So, last week, I was looking through my trusty Ball Blue Book and came across this recipe:

Hot Peppers

1 1/2 pounds banana peppers

1 pound jalepeno peppers

1/4 pound serrano peppers

6 cups vinegar

2 cups water

3 cloves garlic

Leave peppers whole or cut into 1 inch pieces. Mix peppers together. Combine vinegar, water, & garlic in a large saucepot. Bring mixtu to a boil; reduce heat & simmer 5 minutes. Discard garlic. Pack peppers into hot jars, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Ladle hot pickling liquid over peppers, leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles. Adjust two piece caps. Process 10 minutes in a boiling-water canner. Yield: about 5 pints.

Note: When cutting or seeding hot peppers, wear rubber glovs to prevent hands from being burned.

I definately do not have that many peppers, so what I did was fill one jar crammed full of whole peppers (mostly because I didn't feel like cutting them up). I then put 2 cups white wine vinegar (not distilled) with 1 cup of water & 2 cloves garlic, minced into a pot and continued to do the recipe that way. I didn't even process the jar after I was done, and the heat sealed it on it's own. Also, as I make flavored vinegas all the time, I figured the vinegar would preserve it without having to actually can it. Guess what? Today I opened that jar of jalepenos and it looked & smelled just like the jar's you buy at the store. YAY! The jalepenos even changed color to look like the ones you buy in the jar. So, I was happy!

Also, for those of you who have trouple with your bell peppers looking as big as the ones at the grocery store, I have been doing some research on this topic. This year, my peppers have had a few problems. Mostly, I think, because I have a fungus in the soil that they are growing in, so the leaves look wilted. I have buried banana peels under each plant, because apparently this is good for them as it provides magnesium as the peel breaks down (which it does rather quickly, despite the fact that it is very thick). I have also read to do this for rose bushes. I have also given them a good dose of epsom salts for nitrogen, which has helped them a little bit. Anyway, to make a long story short, the other day, I was picking up my vegetable basket from boutiful baskets and I had done the organic one (yes, even though I have a garden, I do get other veggies, mostly for the fruit right now). There were lots of bell peppers. They were smaller ones, just like the ones in my garden. So, apparently, it doesn't matter. So, don't fret about your peppers. I was pretty happy when I saw that!

I let the dove out of the chicken coop this am. The dog simply couldn't stand that there was a dove in there and was trying to dig into the coop. Ridiculous! I had my husband go out there and look at the coop and he couldn't figure out how these birds are getting in either! It's a mystery!

Lots of long beans came off today! I really love those. If anyone would like some seeds for these, I have been saving and drying a few in my window. You really only need a few beans for a meal. And they are really tasty sauteed with a little jalepeno. Even my husband likes them, which is saying something!

[caption id="attachment_197" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Bay leaves, long beans, peppers, & radishes"][/caption]

Pictured above are the leaves from the laurel bay that I am drying. Apparently, when you cook with them, you are supposed to tear the leaf a little to release the flavor. Who knew? All these years, I have been putting them into my spaghetti sauce recipe and didn't realize I was supposed to be doing that.

Yesterday, I went to lunch with my delightful friend, Roma, who is so incredibly talented, if I do say so. And, afterward, I dropped by the fun boutique, Rustic Hutch, which is located on Gilbert & Baseline, in Gilbert. I found some really awesome candles there. I have been burning one this morning & love the smell.

[caption id="attachment_199" align="alignnone" width="225" caption="McCall's Country Canning Candles"][/caption]

I bought 2 of them. The one above is for Christmas, & is really lovely. The one I have been burning this morning, is "Raspberry Lemon Tea" & I do believe I love it!

Simple Invite

My lovely sister is having a baby and I was lucky enough to be able to give her a shower. These are the simple, yet elegant, invites we sent out. Some of them had a little rose at the top instead of a ribbon bow. Joanne's ran out of the roses and I decided that the bows looked pretty as well.
How to: Print up the invite on your computer onto cardstock. Trim down to 5 in. sq. I used a Stampin' Up Big Shot with a square scallop die to cut the invite into the shape. You can cute 2-3 invites at a time & the good thing about this particular die is that it is clear so you can see to center the invites words. After all were cut, I then ran it back through the Big Shot using the embossing plate with the large polka-dots. Then using adhesive, fixed it onto some cardstock and adhered the rose or bow to the top. EASY!

Crocheting in Style

So, a few days ago, my daughter Haylee & I began our winter crochet projects. We have been doing this for the past couple of years, along with my new sister-in-law, Bekah, who last year became obsessed with crocheting also. I purchased this book at Barnes & Noble, mainly because I liked the hats & it seemed pretty easy. I finished a really cute magenta flapper style hat and added a crocheted flower, which I tied on to it, a week ago. I didn't take a picture of it before I gave it away for a birthday present to a friend. Drat! But, let me just say, it was CUTE!

I am almost finished with this hat shown below, & am probably going to give it to my neighbor down the street as she is going to New York in a few weeks and told me she didn't have any. I really do like it. In fact, after I am finished, I might just make me one.
Haylee is working on a multi-colored aviator style hat & it is going to be cute, as well. So, Diane, this is for you. Good luck!

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Here we are...

[caption id="attachment_190" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Sparkler radish planted October 5-6th."][/caption]

Ok. I finally took some pictures, but then had to load the new PS Elements 8.0 before I could bring them to you. Lame, I know. And that took a few more days because then my mouse was out of commission. So, finally we are back in business. Thankfully. It has been so beautiful outside that I am just loving it. Unfortunately, so are the birds. And despite the fact that they have plenty of bird seed, they are thinking that my lettuce and newly sprouted lettuces are wonderful and eating them down to the ground. At first, I thought I had some kind of worm, but then discovered the birds. Some baling wire to make some little hoops to fit over the lettuce and seedlings & a trip to the local hardware store to buy some bird netting to fit over those hoops has solved the eating problem, but not the bird issue. They are seriously everywhere. My dog is going crazy chasing them. And somehow, every morning I go out there, they are getting into the chicken coop. I just came in from there, and there were seriously 10 sparrows and a dove. The dove is still in there. It wouldn't come out. So, I say, whatever, to it!

I planted some celery this year, and don't know if it will make it, but it has sprouted and they are seriously the smallest little leaves I think I have ever seen. The brussel sprouts have sprouted and the peas are starting to climb. YAY! I have a couple more new little basil plants that if anyone wants, they are  free to come pick up, since I have 3 already and really don't need anymore. Although, I did discover that my chickens love basil. I have been giving them the extras. And I started with 9 strawberry plants and am already up to 12.

[caption id="attachment_191" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Overall view of garden"][/caption]

[caption id="attachment_193" align="alignnone" width="300" caption="Celery seedlings"][/caption]

I am excited to see the scarlet runner bean growing just like a bean! And by that I mean, it is a fast growing plant, so much that I can probably measure it's growth every day! I am excited to see it in a few weeks. I do have a laurel bay that I really need to get into a pot, as it is sitting in it's plastic nursery pot in the garden. I am pruning it into a topiary and it is pretty so far. The leaves look awesome as wreaths so that will be kind of nice to have as well as the culinary uses.

Ok. Gotta go. I have tickets to "New Moon".