Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Where Did Julie Go?

Technically, I'm still right here. 

What I did was move over to another blog.  I do a lot of the same things there.  Some is getting more technical and not quite so amateur hour. 

If you'd like to follow to the new blog then leave me a comment and your email in the comments section and I'll let you know where the new blog is.


Friday, April 26, 2013

Springtime Flies By

Time really flies when you're completely bogged down with too many responsibilities and stresses.  You might even convince your husband to take you out of town because you can't look at the dishes and laundry another day without thinking it would be a good idea to just throw it all in the garbage can.  He might comply. 

The day before we escaped I noticed our oddball cactus had a flower.  It was incredibly stunning.  Not your ordinary cactus flower.  The petals were delicate and tissue paper thin, not something you'd think of belonging on a prickly beast. 

I was blown away at this next shot.  I didn't do anything special with my camera.  I just took the picture.  I love all the details it picked up.  Such vivid colors!

Cactus:  The most beautiful varieties and how to keep them healthy

Here's the girl's pumpkin(?)  I've counted 4 on the vine so far. 

29 Delicious Pumpkin Dessert Recipes {$2.99 Kindle Edition}

Someone has moved into the garden!  I was really quite surprised.   They've moved in next to the pink jasmine.  They obviously have good taste.

The first sunflower is open.  I don't expect seeds from this one.  We're patiently waiting for the next one to bloom.  That one is a Mammoth.  It's currently 5 feet tall.

These guys were a surprise.  I didn't know we planted radishes.  And only 3.  

The square foot garden with corn, squash, and beans is coming along.  This prompted a big discussion about why some plants grow bigger than others even when they are in the same soil.  After much thought we came to a consensus:  I don't know.

All New Square Foot Gardening, Second Edition

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Update to No Poo Hair

I had a humerous moment today when I found a link back to a post I did on Pinterest.  It was funny to me because of this pic.  So the back of my head is on Pinterest.  Who else gets to actually say that?

I'm just posting an update to the recipe.  It still works.  I use it, but not all the time.  I have some other less chemical brands of shampoo I also use.  Frankly, it depends on if I'm in a hurry.  I have a 7 year old.  What can I say. 

2 teaspoons Baking Soda to 32 ounces of water

1 teaspoon Apple Cider Vinegar to 20 ounces of water

I find I like it best if I blow dry my hair.  You may have to play around with the amounts of baking soda/apple cider vinegar to water to get the best mix for your hair. 

Fog AND Rain

The weather is ugly today.  It will be great for the plants.  After the rain last week the plants are growing like weeds and the weeds are growing like weeds, too.  I still have grape vines to plant and another salvia bush.  In the meantime here's some pics of things I noticed.  Hold on, the dog's crying so I have to go let him inside.  For an animal that's supposedly been around thousands of years, dogs can be kind of whiney.

I came home from work and the husband had built this for me.  He used my free pallets and fixed up my compost screen.  I get the pallets free from Gardenville.  Marriage tip:  If your husband does things like this it means they love you.

Here's my glorious compost pile.  It's mostly rabbit poo.  The husband cleaned the old mulch out of the entire rabbit area and dumped it here before he added a new layer of mulch to the area.  Rabbits make lots of poo in case you didn't know. 

"I don't know, what project do you want to work on?"-  A usual conversation with the husband.

A rare sighting of the husband.  Do NOT tell him I posted this pic.  

This is a zombie eggplant.  Everyone thought it was completely dead from the freeze we had but now it has lots of little green leaves growing.  It might survive my care after all.

This is a pic of companion planting between a sunflower and pumpkin plant.  Someone's tail had to be in the pic, too.

Lastly, some of the onion plants from last year are flowering.  I'll let them go to seed and collect the seeds and see if I can grow some more.  Onions love me.  I don't know why.

Sunday, April 7, 2013

The Non-SuperWoman Way of Canning Green Beans

I spend a lot of time reading blogs that have my head spinning at all the things they are able to accomplish.  I, however, am not filled with that much energy or I'm just not able to cram that much activity into a certain amount of time.  I work slow, but I do work.

I bought some green beans and thought I'd show you what a typical canning adventure would look like for me.  Maybe it's a more realistic view you can appreciate.

The first thing I do is look for a recipe.  I found a basic simple recipe on the Ball Canning website.  I follow Julia Child's advice to read the entire recipe, several times if needed, to get a clear picture of what I'll be doing and what will be happening.

Ball Green Bean Canning Recipe

Now I'm ready to start.  I begin by cleaning my kitchen.  This is best done by tricking some other family member into doing it but I usually have to do it.  I like to have a completely clear space so things will stay organized and there's less confusion about what's happening in the kitchen and where things are at.  This is a good time to gather supplies and ingredients.

Since I'm canning green beans I have to get them prepared and cut up.  Food prep can often take longer than you might think, try not to take on too much.  In your head you might think it's a great idea to can up all the green beans you'll eat in a year but you'll find yourself still cutting beans at midnight, unless you like to can at midnight, and that's o.k., too.  It took me 45 minutes to get this standard sized colander filled.

My next step is to rinse the beans, get them into a big pot and cover them with water to cook.  While they are heating to boiling I get my jars and lids ready.  I wash the jars in hot soapy water, rinse and place on my cart.  I keep the hot soapy water because I'll continue to use it by washing things as I go along.  I put the lids in a saucepan of hot water and let simmer.

I have this wonderful kitchen cart that I love to use during the whole canning process.  I'm able to arrange everything I'll need on top and can move it exactly where I'll need it.  This speeds things along and keeps spills and accidents from happening.

Once the beans have boiled for 5 minutes I ladle them into the jars.  I use a food funnel which I failed to have in the picture.  I ladle in the boiling water and then top off with salt.  I clean the rims of the jars, place lids and rings on the jars.  I've had the canner getting ready on the stove by heating water in it.  This will get the pressure needed quicker once the lid goes on.  

I place the jars in the canner and lock the lid on.  I push my little cart in front of the stove to block anyone from knocking the canner accidentally.   Once the desired pressure is achieved I set my timer for 20 minutes and take a break!  When my 20 minutes is up I turn off the heat and go take another break or work on something else since I won't be able to open the canner until the pressure drops.  This is a drawback compared to waterbath canning. 

When the canner drops pressure and I can take the jars out, I place them on my cart and then wheel them on over to the table.  I move the jars onto a towel and let them cool.  When they have cooled off I label them on the lids with a sharpie marker.  The rings are reusable but the lids are not so I like to write on the lids.  I'll write "Green Beans with Salt 4/7/13."  I'll leave them on the table till the next day and then put them away till we're ready to eat them.

I finish by cleaning up the entire project.  Everything is washed and put away.  I keep all my tools and utensils for canning in the canner so they're easy to find.  I even have a set of measuring spoons I use only for canning.  It keeps me from having to search high and low for these things that other people can misplace.  Then I'm finished!

This whole project from start to finish has taken me 3 hours.

American Red Cross Emergency Radio

My husband spends a lot of time on Amazon.  I should clarify that, he spends ALL his time on Amazon.  Most of the time my Amazonics Anonymous husband orders silly stuff and I just look at him wondering what planet he's from.  Every once in awhile he'll order something truly useful (in my mind) and practical.  Such is the case with this lovely radio from the American Red Cross.

Right now it is $30.05 shipped.   It does not need batteries.  It has a hand crank charger and a solar charger.  It has an FM and AM tuner and a flashlight.  It also has an USB port!  This means you could charge all those pesky phones, etc.  It is red, which is my favorite color.  A great addition to your home emergency planning kit.

                                          Amazon's American Red Cross Emergency Radio

What my husband usually orders...

He can order in bulk and give to all his friends.  Weirdos unite!

Friday, April 5, 2013

Friday and the Sun Came Back

Yesterday afternoon the sun came back and it was still too cool and too windy to want to stay in the garden.  We opted for the yearly ritual called Girl Flies Kite and Makes Big Knot.  Another successful year!  The girl has improved in keeping the kite in the air.  Her attention span is not improved.  After 5 minutes she wanted Daddy to hold the string.  Daddy said no.  Then her brain said, "get on your bike and ride while you fly the kite.  What could go wrong?"  And she was off on her bike flying her kite.  Luckily, the wind intervened by going away and the kite fell.  The girl no longer thought it a good idea.  I was just happy knowing I wouldn't be in an E.R. trying to explain how my kid was inextricably tied up to her bicycle by a possessed kite.  (In case you're wondering, composting, wood pallets, and things to go in a burn pile happen back here.)

I was driving through a little back neighborhood to get some produce from the discount produce supplier.  I drove past this house and then came back around and took a very quick picture before they thought I was the IRS or something.  What I was looking at was their greenhouse.  The husband decided we will build ours.  I'm hesitant about the materials due to the terrible winds we get here sometimes.  I was happy to see someone else using the materials we're pretty sure we're going to use.  The size looks about right so I can study the pic and guess pretty close how much supplies we'll need.

Back at the homestead it was time to throw down the first of the mulch.  This is just to cover muddy areas that are our main walkways. 

I know I said I was done with planting.  I wasn't going to look at another plant.  I lied.  This hydrangea was 50% off at Lowe's.  Along with some other...plants.  Maybe some fern leaf dill, grape vines, and salvia.  I'm happy with the hydrangeas because it got my imagination working on how to incorporate a flower growing area in the garden.  I'm thinking of adding a section of white picket fence to the back corner.  I'll want to grow only flowers there for cuttings.  It should be a wonderfully relaxing childlike spot.

I stopped at the grocery store and they were selling their tomato plants for $1.25.  I'm working really hard to have tomatoes this year so I'm growing lots and lots of tomato plants.  Last count was 14 and I have seedlings inside.  Overproduction is not a problem.  I love to can food.  Last year we didn't have hardly any tomatoes and it was depressing.  I'm hoping to avoid it this year.

I also very quickly took a piece of wire fencing, formed it into a circle, and connected it to itself by bending back the wire edges over the other ends.  I should probably bury it in the ground a few inches or get some metal brackets to keep it firm on the ground.  I also planted these in the new low-raised bed. 

At the grocery store I picked up some odds and ends that always seem to disappear.  That's right I don't know where my salt and pepper shaker wondered off to.  Someone in the house is always burning or melting the spatulas because they don't know how to cook with them.  My knives seem to walk off.  I haven't seen any sticking out of anyone's back so hopefully it's all good.

Lastly I picked up this beautiful Dutch Oven.  I've been looking around on Amazon and stuff and haven't seen it priced/pretty enough.  This is a 5.2 qt enameled cast iron.  I just know I'm going to make all kinds of delicious things I'll need to use salt and pepper shakers, spatulas, and paring knives to make.