Wednesday, December 16

State Flag Christmas Ornament

Besides our large family tree, every year I put up a smaller tree in my dining room. This tree has evolved and changed themes and decorations somewhat over the years. It started out as a nature tree. Then I mixed in cardinals (our state bird), which has led me to make the tree a nature / Ohio tree.
I have added buckeyes, cardinals, morel mushrooms, pine cones, bird nests and various other things that can be found around our state.

We started a Crafting Circle and have an ornament exchange with family and friends, so I decided to make our Ohio flag as a Christmas ornament. Another reason I wanted to make the state flag: most ornaments for Ohio are centered around the buckeye nut or our OSU football team or other Ohio teams. I wanted a more unique ornament and one that is not sports related (although this can be used for that theme).

This ornament can be made as your own state flag and hung on a sports tree too! Or made larger to use as a decoration in a man cave or family room. Go Team!

Saturday, November 14

Felt Snowman Ornament

This is a cute little felt Christmas ornament I made for our ornament exchange one year.
We have a really large family so instead of having a gift exchange we started an ornament exchange. It's not mandatory so not everyone participates. It's wonderful to receive the little gift boxes in the mail containing each homemade ornament. And many of us add other small gifts like specialty coffee or tea, candy, fudge, cookies, jams, bookmarks or other goodies.

Many family members live out of state but for the ones close to me and who want to make crafts for Christmas we started a Crafting Group. It's a great way to stay in contact with friends and family while enjoying time set aside just for a hobby we love.

This ornament is made of felt and cross stitching thread and is really pretty easy.

Sunday, November 8

Grand Champion Pumpkin Cake

It's November already (yikes! how did that happen!?) and I just finished packing away all the Halloween decorations.
 I've been busy making a list for our Thanksgiving dinner and corresponding grocery list. I usually try out a new dish or dessert at Thanksgiving so have also been scanning through a few cookbooks for ideas.
I purchased a Pumpkin Cookbook way back in 1992 which was put together by The Crusader Sunday School Class at Calvary United Methodist Church in 1982 for a fundraiser. I purchased the cookbook at the Circleville Pumpkin Show and it's full of everything pumpkin!
One of the recipes in the book is for this Grand Champion Cake, called “Pride O' Pumpkin Cake”.

The note with the recipe states:

Friday, October 30

Thanksgiving Paper Craft

I got the idea for a Fall Decorated Christmas Tree a few years ago after seeing a 6 foot one in a home I was visiting.
My fall tree is just a 4 foot tall and in my kitchen bay window. 

I decorate this little tree for fall with autumn leaves, acorns, pumpkins, etc. , then add Halloween ornaments towards the end of October.  In November I use a fall/Thanksgiving theme.

Since my Christmas Vintage Paper Ornaments turned out so well last year, I decided to make Thanksgiving ornaments too!
It's pretty much the exact same steps or directions as the Christmas ornaments except using creams, browns and black colors of scrap booking paper. And instead of Santa I used black silhouette cut-outs of pilgrims and turkeys.

These also make cute gifts.

Tuesday, October 27

Start a Crafting Group

I usually make Christmas ornaments every year and give them out as gifts to a select few friends and family. Some years, some of my sisters and I and other family and friends also have an ornament exchange.
To me, it's wonderful to see all the talent and hard work put into each home crafted ornament and I cherish them as keepsakes throughout the years.
My daughter Alexis and I, my son's girlfriend Jennica and a couple of our friends decided to start an Ornament Crafting Group meet-up each year.
Our Crafting Group is for making Christmas ornaments but this idea can be used for starting a knitting, sewing, quilting or painting group or any other type craft. The group could also be for lessons or instructions to learn a new craft!
Lately we have kicked around the idea of having a painting group or class later this winter. 

Saturday, October 17

Halloween Apothecary Bottles

It's October and Halloween is almost here! 
Every year we host a Fall Party, put up lots of decorations, bake everything pumpkin and even dress up in costumes

The first week of September we had an Under the Sea Baby Shower and I used small glass bottles to make favors for that party and had about a dozen little bottles left over.
I decided to use the extra bottles to make these apothecary bottles for a Halloween display. But any small bottles will work.
I usually save small and medium glass food or spice jars to use for seed saving and they would work great for this project too. 

Friday, October 9

Freezing Green or Sweet Bell Peppers

This year I had an over abundance of many different types of peppers, so decided to freeze a few of the Bell Peppers.

Not only are bell peppers packed with lots of flavor, they also add important nutrients to any dish. 
One red sweet bell pepper provides an entire day’s worth of vitamins A and C, (more than twice the amount found in an orange) and are a good source of the antioxidant vitamin E!

Bell peppers belong to the nightshade (Solanaceae) family of plants, along with chili pepper, cayenne pepper, eggplant, tomatoes and potatoes (except sweet potatoes and yams). Their scientific name is Capsicum annuum. This scientific name, however, is used to refer not only to bell peppers, but also to wax peppers, cayenne peppers, chili peppers, and jalapeno peppers.

Thursday, October 1

Candle Lantern Redo and Updating

We like having candles on the table when enjoying our dinner outside on the patio. 
But I also use lantern candle holders when camping by hanging on Shepard’s hooks around the camp site.
The newest ones are battery operated that look and work great and not messy with melted wax. 
Recently I found an old lantern in a thrift store that was designed to hold a pillar candle. 
I thought I could revamp it with little effort and besides, it was 50% off!

Once home the lantern had to be washed and scrubbed. Because the top opens up, I was able to remove all the glass panes, including the pane that had the price written on it in crayon.

Wednesday, September 23

More Halloween Costume Ideas

My son Daniel as a ninja, early 1990's
It's nearly Autumn and October. Yeah!!
The weather has been cooler here during the day and chilly at night which to me is just wonderful. And we're already seeing the edges of leaves beginning to change color. I am in the mood for everything pumpkin and even found a pumpkin salsa! I'm so ready for hearty stews, college football, bread baking and hot casseroles.

We have an annual Fall Party and dress up in costumes every year which is always lots of fun, I think this year is our 11th or 12th consecutive annual party! We had fall parties on and off before that too!
This year I'm a little behind getting our costumes together, I usually start weeks earlier than this,  but this year we had an Under the Sea Baby Shower to host, a new barn to build (which isn't 100% finished) plus trying to keep up with the vegetable gardening, canning, stocking firewood for winter,  (and hay) feeding livestock and raising a pig.

Last year I wrote 2 blog posts about previous costumes we have worn, made or someone wore to one of our parties.

Monday, September 7

Under The Sea Party Ideas

My youngest son and his finance are having a baby in December. Daniel and Jennica had their first date on March 17, 2010, got engaged early this year and set the date for the wedding for March 17, 2017. Unexpectedly, they found out in May they were going to have a baby. When they saw the doctor for the first time she told them their estimated date of conceiving was March 17th!!
We created very unique Pregnancy Announcement Cards to send out to family and close friends, and then started planning a baby shower. Jennica choose Ariel's Under The Sea theme and this is a few of the things we did for the party. The nursery will also have “Under The Sea” as the theme or décor so we can reuse a lot of the items we made.
Our new barn isn't quite finished, the walls have not been covered, but it worked out great for the party. 

Tuesday, September 1

Hot Pepper Relish

We grow numerous varieties of peppers in our garden every year, hot, sweet, mild and use them fresh in salsas, Pico De Gallo, on sandwiches, sliced on pizza, diced in casseroles and stuffed.
If there’s any left over at the end of the season, I dice and freeze them to use through out the winter months.

Recently, I've read many rave reviews online about Hot Pepper Jelly so wanted to give it a try. I made a couple batches using popular recipes, but I found it seem to lack the “hot” and the pepper “flavor” and was way too sweet for our tastes.

I played around with the recipes and decided instead to use my pickle relish recipe but make it into a Hot Pepper Relish-Jelly. Still sweet, but just not as much and with a stronger hot pepper flavor and heat.

If you’re like me, you sometimes need to come up with a quick snack to serve when last minute guests arrive. One of my favorite tricks is to pour hot pepper relish over goat cheese or cream cheese and serve with crackers.
Everyone seems to love it as it disappears quickly. This also keeps the hungry masses occupied while you finish making dinner!

Monday, August 31

Ariel's Candelabra and “Under the Sea” Party

I'm hosting an Under The Sea BabyShower for my son Daniel and his long time girlfriend, Jennica, (they got engaged early this year).
Jennica decided about 2 months ago that the baby shower was either going to be themed for a boy, (King Triton) or a girl, (Ariel). We found out in July that we're having a girl, and they're naming her Lilly! 
So Ariel's Under The Sea it is.

One of the decorations we decided to make was Ariel's candelabra.
And really it has been one of the easier decorations for the party I've made!
I was able to find an old brass candle stick at a thrift store for .90 cents. Also, used silverware at a thrift store usually only runs around .30 cents each.

Friday, August 28

Lemonade Vodka Thirst Quencher

OK, so this was going to be either a post about building an arbor in the garden for gourds and pumpkins
or a post about painting and restyling a garden lantern.
But while digging through my photos for those posts,  I came across the pics I took earlier this week for a drink I mix up occasionally for my hubby and me on hot summer evenings!

This delicious and refreshing adult beverage with a kick, won out over the other posts, sign.
It's been a long week!

I suggest you mix this drink up the first time according to the recipe, then you can tweak it from there.
Example:  You can add more lemon or less sugar or adjust the vodka amount to your tastes, etc.

Tuesday, August 18

Baltimore, Maryland and Edgar Allan Poe

Recent photo I took
Baltimore Poe
I have always been fascinated by what drove certain authors to write what they did, or where they were living at the time of writing such great works.  I have toured a few famous authors’ homes, or “chased an author” as I call it, including Washington Irving’s Sunnyside in New York

And we recently started a book club and along with reading books from all different genres, we also sometimes take field trips related to the current book we're reading.
For August we read two tales and one poem by Edgar Allan Poe (or more if we were so inclined). I grew up on Poe and loved his stories of lost love, terror, suspense and horror.
A few of us in the book club, The Bookworms Literary Guild, decided to take a trip to Baltimore, Maryland to visit the many Poe sites located there.
Although Baltimore has been in the news lately concerning riots and is listed on a few websites as being in the top 10 most violent cities, we found it to be a beautiful city full of culture, historical buildings and sites, harbors, ethnic neighborhoods, churches, restaurants, statues and many parks.  My nephew Anthony lives and works in Baltimore as a luxury yacht builder and assured us it’s a safe city in most areas and that we would love it.  We did.

Tuesday, August 11

Zucchini Bread

Yowza! What to do with all the zucchini my garden produced this year!
Zucchini is one of the easiest vegetables to grow and as such, it's known far and wide among home gardeners for overwhelming crops. 

When cooking, zucchini is treated as a vegetable and is usually cooked and served as a savory or side dish. 
Botanically, however, zucchini is really a fruit.

With zucchini, you can make Zucchini bread, sautéed zucchini, grilled zucchini, zucchini muffins, marinated zucchini salad, zucchini pancakes, zucchini fries, zucchini brownies, zucchini lasagna, zucchini frittata, zucchini pizza, zucchini quiche, zucchini in zucchini sauce, zucchini stuffed zucchini, and many other zucchini dishes!

Thursday, August 6

Shrimp BLT Sandwich

My son Daniel is always looking for new and unique recipes for me to make.  Recently he picked up a magazine from the grocery store and marked a few recipes to try and this one for a Shrimp BLT sandwich was at the top of his list. 

My husband Bill and I just got back from visiting Historical Jamestown and Assateaque Island along the coast of Virginia and enjoyed fresh seafood for 4 days straight.  Right now, anything with seafood sounds really good to me.

Variations and Tips:

  • I just so happen to have all the ingredients on hand except the Old Bay Seasoning.  I used a little garlic, course ground black pepper, Cajun seasoning and seasoning salt to replace the Old Bay. The sandwiches turned out wonderful!
  • Spring or Bibb lettuce or similar is best but a good old head of lettuce works just fine.
  • Lightly toasting the bread will help keep the bread from getting soggy.

Tuesday, August 4

Building A Hog Trough

We decided to raise a feeder pig this past spring for butchering in the fall.  We purchased “Burt” a Hampshire breed, from a farmer for $50.00.

Hampshire Hog History
Hampshire hogs are black with a white belt, heavily muscled, lean meat breed.  They are the fourth most recorded breed of the pigs in the United States.
The Hampshire breed is also the oldest, early-American breed of hogs in existence today. The Hampshire hog originated in southern Scotland and Northern England. These pigs were known as the "Old English Breed". They were noted and criticized for their large size, as pigs were commonly killed at 125 pounds live weight. However, they were admired for their proficiency, hardy vigor, foraging ability and outstanding carcass qualities.
Hampshire pigs were imported into America between 1825 and 1835 from Hampshire County in England. Some of the first importations were also known as the McKay hog because a man by that name was thought to have imported these hogs from England to America.

Sunday, August 2

Canning Carrots

We love carrots in our house and eat them in many different ways.  There is nothing better than raw carrots dipped in Ranch dressing! I put carrots in just about all my homemade soups, chicken pot pie and we love them steamed or candied (brown sugar and butter).

I try to grow a crop of carrots every year, but some years I only get enough to eat fresh and not enough to can.  
This summer Ohio was reported to be the wettest in history, so I'm having a pretty poor crop harvest, and that goes for vegetables such as onions, garlic and green beans too, ugh. 

Carrots have become very popular as a quick snack for most kids (and adults too).  Parents love the petite size carrots because not only are kids eating their vegetables, they like them!

Tuesday, July 21

Corn Stock

I just finished canning Whole Kernel Corn and have dozens of corn cobs left.  I am a recycler and savager and hate to waste anything if the item can be used again or re-purposed.  I feed all our leftover food scraps to our livestock so nothing goes to waste from cooking. 

Years ago I started picking up a few of the Martha Stewart books on cooking and entertaining, for cheap at yard sales and second-hand stores.   In one of her books or magazines (I don’t remember which) she had a recipe for corn stock. And I must tell you, I was skeptical.  I am not a huge fan of corn on the cob (I know, weird right?) so was not really excited about doing more with corn.

But with a little thought, I realized corn stock can be used as I would Chicken Stock, to flavor soups, stews, sauces, risotto, casseroles and many other dishes. We love hot soup on cold winter days, and I found homemade stock is really great added to my homemade Vegetable Soup or Sausage Corn Chowder.

Looking in the Ball Blue book, there are recipes for vegetable, beef, and chicken stock, but no mention of corn stock.  I decided to follow the cooking times for vegetable stock which is a little longer processing time,  just to be safe.

Tuesday, July 14

Canning Whole Kernel Corn

It's summer and along with many other warm weather activities, canning the vegetables that are ripe and in season is something I do every year.

When corn first comes in, it can be a little expensive but as the weeks pass the price per dozen is alot of times greatly reduced.
When buying sweet corn in the husk, look for bright green color snug husks and dark brown silk.

Sweet corn is a low acid food so must be pressure canned to avoid food poisoning and botulism.

I preserve corn in pint jar to closely match the commercially canned size for recipes.

Monday, July 6

Pregnancy or Birth Announcement Idea

My son Daniel and his girlfriend Jennica have been living together for a couple of years and although they have talked about when they want to get married my son decided to make it official this year.
He is a hopeless romantic like his mother (me) so planned a dreamy romantic weekend by renting a lodge in a beautiful secluded area here in Ohio called Hocking Hills.  The weekend went wonderful and Jennica came home in a princess-dreamy-state all full of smiles, butterflies and happiness. 
The wedding is set for March 2017, a date they have had set all along because St. Patrick’s Day 5 years ago was the date of their first date.

Fast forward to April and Jennica sets me down in a teary eyed state letting me know she thinks she is expecting! 
After a visit to the doctor’s, it was confirmed they got pregnant on St. Patrick’s Day.  How fitting.

After the initial shock, Daniel and Jennica decided to send out announcements to immediate family and their closest friends.

Thursday, July 2

Moving a Shed

Moving a small gardening shed or other small building is not impossible.  There are a couple of ways to move a shed; one takes hard work and numerous people, but not for lifting. 
The second is to hire the work out.

We learned how to move a shed with PVC pipes and jacks from a guy who moved a shed for us about 20 years ago. The shed was sitting directly outside my kitchen window and in the center of the yard.  Eyesore!  It took the guy about two hours tops to move the shed and we were impressed!

Moving the Original Chicken Coop:
We are in the process of rebuilding our farm’s original chicken coop and turning it into a camping cabin (or maybe a smoke house).  It was quite deteriorated so to move that small barn we had to completely rebuild the entire base or bottom third of the structure.

Wednesday, June 24

Blackberry Cobbler (or One Cup Cobbler)

This is a really quick and easy dessert, made with items almost all kitchens have on hand.  And it quickly becomes nearly everyone’s favorite.  
You will get repeated requests for this dessert! 
A berry cobbler is very homey, a comfort food even, a dessert that’s not really fancy but gets nearly the same reaction every time:  Dessert Heaven.

Blackberry is our favorite berry to use but just about any fruit works well.  Our next favorite fruits to use are peach and cherry.  
The great thing about this dessert is it can be made when berries are fresh and in season, or use frozen fruit in the middle of winter for a taste just as good as in summer.

Tuesday, June 16

Black Bean, Tomato and Corn Salsa

We love salsa and pica de galla and eat both year round.  I have a favorite Honey Lime Chicken kabob that I grill during summer months and needed a new side dish to compliment the chicken.
Salsa of course came to mind, and although I make different kinds, like strawberry and peach salsa,  I decided to try a new version. 

This is way easy and super delicious!  We ended up eating nearly half of it with tortilla chips before dinner was even ready so factor that in when making this recipe.

I’m going to keep this recipe in mind for our occasional Mexican Dinner night.

Thursday, June 11

Strawberry Pie Filling

Strawberries are among the first fruit to ripen in the Northeast.  
In my area of Ohio, strawberries are ripe around the first week in June.  For me, strawberries mark the passage from spring to summer each year. And besides, making delicious fresh strawberry edibles gives me something to do while I eagerly wait for my garden vegetable to ripen.

In 2010, strawberries surpassed apples to become the third largest among fruits in agriculture crops in the U.S., after grapes and oranges. And strawberries are the fifth highest consumed fresh fruit by weight in the U.S. behind bananas, apples, oranges and grapes.  The health benefits of strawberries include antioxidants, folate, potassium, vitamin C and fiber besides just being so darn delicious!

Every year we make Strawberry Freezer Jam, freeze cut up strawberries to use during cold winter months and sometimes other things like Strawberry Schnapps.  This year I decided to try homemade Strawberry Pie Filling.   There is nothing better as a cool dessert on a hot summer day than a chilled strawberry pie.

Sunday, May 31

Propagating a Clematis Vine

I just love flowering clematis vines!  
There are so many different colors and types and all are beautiful growing up a trellis, over an arbor, up a lamp post, along a fence or just anywhere really. 
The best way to grow clematis is from clematis cuttings.
Propagation is pretty easy and you can have anywhere from a 50% to up to a 90% success rate.

The Clematis is in the Buttercup family and hundreds of species and cultivars of clematis exist around the world. The popular vine is available in single- and double-bloom varieties, in dozens of colors that often change as the plant grows, and in cultivars that grow as high as 30 feet or remain about 6 to 8 feet. 

Certain clematis vines are winter hardy even to zone 3, while others are hardy in zones 4 through 9. Clematis originated in Europe and Asia and the late 1800's brought about numerous varieties through breeding and cross pollination.

Wednesday, May 27

Wire Garden Orb

I have an older wire orb on a stick I've had for years.  It started out painted a pretty lime green color I believe but all the paint has faded and now it’s just a drab rusted looking orb.

I am in love with Alliums, which is a perennial bulb that comes up in the spring and has a huge purplish or pinkish round flower.

Allium is the onion genus and comprises flowering plants and includes the onion, garlic, chives, scallion, shallot, and the leek as well as hundreds of wild species.
The majority of Allium species are mostly native to Asia but a few are native to Africa and Central and South America

The Allium I have in my flower gardens and that are most commonly used as ornamental flowers include A. cristophii and A. giganteum.   These are used as border plants because of their beautiful orb shape flowers.

Thursday, May 21

Cheesy Bacon Dip

Summer is nearly here along with endless barbecues, July 4th parties and family gatherings.  Looking for recipes to take along I thumbed through a cookbook my daughter Alexis gave me for Christmas last year.  

Trisha Yearwood’s cookbook Home Cooking with Trisha Yearwood is full of really yummy recipes which were passed down through the years from Trisha’s mother, aunts, cousins and longtime friends.  I love those kind of recipes.
A few of my favorite recipes are the Lettuce Wedge with homemade Blue Cheese Dressing, Corn Salsa, Chicken Pizza and I really want to try her Magic Lemon Meringue Pie.   Included in the cookbook is this recipe for dip, which is easy to make and absolutely delicious.  It is one of those recipes you just can’t stop eating!

Sunday, May 17

The Birth Tree

My daughter Jami
The last time my daughter came to visit she had a surprise for us.  She asked if we would be willing to plant a memorial tree on our farm using the placenta from her last child’s birth to place under the new tree.
My grandson Dax was born in Texas, so the placenta had to be frozen until the planting ceremony.
Truthfully I had never heard of this before and it all happened so very quickly that I didn't have much time to prepare. 
Afterwards I did a little research and found out quite a lot. 
There are simple ceremonies, eloquent ceremonies and elaborate ceremonies preformed to honor the placenta all over the world. 

Many cultures, including the Navajo Indians and New Zealand's Maori, bury the placenta to symbolize the baby's link to the earth. 
The Navajo of the American Southwest customarily bury a child's placenta within the sacred Four Corners region to bind the child to its ancestral land and to its people. The Maoris of New Zealand bury the placenta in native soil for the same reason. They even applied their word for land to the placenta - "whenua."
In certain regions of Siberia, the buried placenta is thought to be ill or uncomfortable if the baby becomes sick. The gravesite is treated, and the placenta may be reburied in another spot in hopes of curing the child.  

Thursday, May 14

Blueberry Lemon Jam

Blueberry season is fast approaching! 
Blueberry-picking season depends on the geographical location of your blueberries, but most blueberries are ripe in June and July. Some years, depending on the weather, the season can start in late May or extend until early August.

I purchased my blueberries while on one of our trips to Michigan.  Once home I froze them until I could make blueberry jam and syrup, add to muffins or to mix up a batch of blueberry pancakes.  

Besides Michigan being a beautiful state, it is the leader in highbush blueberry production.  Michigan farms produce approximately 220,000 tons (490,000,000 lbs) of blueberries, accounting for 32% of all the blueberries eaten in the United States.

Picking blueberries and making jam always reminds me of one of my favorite children’s books “Blueberries For Sal” by Robert McCloskey. “

Monday, May 4

Zombies and the Zombie Walk

With the popularity of the TV show The Walking Dead, more and more people are getting into zombie fandom.  But where did all this zombie love come from or what started it all?

First, What are Zombies? 
Zombies are fictional undead creatures, usually depicted as mindless, reanimated human corpses with a hunger for living human flesh. Zombies are most commonly found in horror and fantasy genre works.

The term Zombie comes from Haitian folklore:  The Haitian /French “zombie” and the Haitian / Creole “zonbi” is a dead body animated by magic. Modern depictions of zombies do not involve magic but invoke other methods such as a virus or illness.

Thursday, April 30

Toinette's Limoncello

I met Toinette, (Antoinette) through our friend Larry whom Toinette was dating.  Not only is she a great cook, but she’s fun to be around and a good conversationalist.  We used to meet for lunch once or twice a month. And oh, did I mention smart?  
She was a college professor at a local college here in central Ohio but took position in another state, so with our busy lives we don't get to see each other like we used too.  
I do have a few of Toinette’s recipes, like her Shrimp Salsa, (a fav) but I never got a chance to ask her for her Limoncello recipe.  Toinette makes beautiful little bottles of this delicious adult citrus beverage to give out as gifts during the Christmas holidays.

Recently because the weather is finally improving and summer is right around the corner, I started thinking of a drink we could enjoy on hot summer days after a hard sweaty day working in the garden and around our little farm.
Toinette’s Limoncello came to mind so I looked up a few recipes. I plan on mixing my Limoncello with lemonade and serve over ice. Maybe I’ll add a few frozen strawberries or raspberries!  Doesn't that just sound like a cool refreshing summer drink? This will also be nice to serve to dinner guests

Sunday, April 19

Building a Greenhouse (Part One)

A greenhouse has always been on my list of things I want to help with gardening.  
When we lived in the burgs (city) our house had a 3 seasons room (sometimes called a Florida Room in this area), which was the closest to owning a greenhouse I have been.  
Because of all those windows it was easier to get my seeds going in early spring.  Having an actual greenhouse will give me a head start on planting and will also extend my growing periods. 

How a greenhouse works is simple. Sun streams through the windows and warms the surfaces inside. The glass or glazed panels trap the heat, keeping the temperature inside the greenhouse warmer than outside. 

Because the sun is key, it is best to build the greenhouse on the south – southeast side of the house and away from the shadow of other structures or large trees.

Wednesday, April 15

Strawberry Jam (No Canning Required)

Strawberry Freezer Jam in 30 Minutes

My future daughter-in-law's mom Terri recently made a batch of strawberry jam and I can't wait for our berries to get ripe in our region! Strawberries are ripe here in central Ohio around the first week in June.  I originally posted a recipe on here when I first started my blog but thought it time I updated the recipe!

I started making Strawberry Freezer Jam in the early 1990’s  and now my kids will not eat (or even like) commercially produced jam. Every year we go to a “Pick Your Own” farm to pick the strawberries fresh. 

When choosing strawberries, home grown or farm fresh strawberries produce the best jam.  Store purchased lack the intense sweet strawberry flavor. 

I have taken photos every year of us, me and my kids in the strawberry patch picking berries.  My kids are all grown now, so the photos are like a time lapse.  A bitter sweet thing for me to look at, which sometimes brings me to tears and causes me to long for the days when they were still little.  I told them recently that I hope they take their children and their grandchildren berry picking long after I’m gone.

Tuesday, April 7

Chicken Spaghetti (Tetrazzini)

What ever you call it; Chicken Spaghetti, Chicken Tetrazzini or Chicken Noodle Casserole, it doesn't really matter, this stuff is delicious!

My husband’s family, (particularly his cousins) seem to have a lot of good recipes.  And although I only have a few of them, the ones I have are great like this super moist Banana Nut Bread
On one of our trips to visit my husband’s cousin Krista in Illinois, Krista made two big casseroles of this stuff and we were hooked. 

This recipe can be easily adjusted to your family’s tastes so here's a few tips before beginning:
  • I reduced the onion to half and added an additional stalk of celery. 
  • We love cheese, so I added a little extra.
  • Krista’s recipe called for cream of chicken soup, instead of chicken stock and flour to thicken the sauce.
  • You can add fresh sliced mushrooms, just cook with the celery and onions.  
  • I added thyme for more flavor.
  • You can add parsley for a nice splash of color.
  • For spicy add a little cayenne pepper.
  • I added a cheese and bread crumb topping. Yum!
  • If you're out of bread crumbs, just use mozzarella cheese as the topping.
  • Use turkey instead of chicken.
  • This recipe is even better with a fresh slow cooked chicken and homemade chicken stock!

Thursday, April 2

The Carnton Plantation and the Battle of Franklin

My husband and I like to tour Civil War historical sites and have been to quite a few. The Antietam Reenactment, with 13,000 re-enactors was the largest, most dramatic and the best one we have been too.  
Recently I picked up a book called The Widow of the South, written by Robert Hicks.  The book is part true story and fact with other parts created to fill in the gaps.  It’s a book about the Battle of Franklin and one family’s home being turned into a field hospital.  

“Mrs. McGavock - later to become known as the Widow of the South - is in mourning over the death of three of her children during a typhoid epidemic. She spends most of her time in bed letting Mariah, her Creole slave, (Mariah Reddick) run the household. But the days of mourning her children come to an abrupt end as she must come to grips with the death of 9,000 soldiers in a single day, and care for the wounded that blanket every square inch of her home and grounds.”

Driving home from a visit with my daughter and her family in Texas we stopped to tour the Carnton Plantation, the battle field and the Confederate Cemetery.  Nearly Spring, the day was chilly and raining off and on but it was still worth the stop.

Friday, March 27

Brenda's Sourdough Waffles

It’s Maple Sugaring time again here in Ohio and I have been busy boiling down sap.  Every year I try out a new recipe to go along with the season and to use some of the fresh maple syrup; pancakes, waffles, maple cake and even maple cookies.

I have also been baking Sourdough Bread most of this winter. I shared my Sourdough Starter with whoever wanted a start, one of which was my friend Brenda.

Brenda grew up just down the street from my mom and dad’s house years and years ago and we recently started talking through Facebook.  She lives pretty close to me now and she and her husband do something I have wanted to get into, Bee Keeping!  Anyway, she sent me a text that the starter makes the best sourdough waffles ever.  She sent me the recipe and I gave it a try.  These are Oh-My-Gosh-Good!  

The waffles turn out light, crisp and flavorful!  And using my homemade Maple Syrup was just the “icing on the cake!”

Tuesday, March 24

Homemade Powder Laundry Detergent

A couple years ago I decided to make my own homemade laundry detergent.
I did a lot of research and weighed the cost per load against the leading brands and also discovered the leading brands have lots of added chemicals and fillers.
For cost comparison please go to:  Homemade Laundry Detergent.
I’m still making my own laundry soap and it's still working wonderful for me. 
It’s just that I have always used liquid detergent so when I started making my own I of course made the homemade liquid kind.

A few months ago while talking to a neighbor about homemade detergent, she stated she does make homemade, but is just too lazy to make liquid.  Hmmmm……
What exactly did she mean?  Well back to Google and a little more research.  Seems she is right, powder is much easier to make!
Following is the new recipe I use for making detergent.  I still get the same great results and the powder form lasts us around 2 months.  I have four adults in my house, even one who works construction. And did I mention I live on a small farm with way too many animals? 
Believe me, if it works for me it will work for you.

Saturday, March 14

St. Patrick's Day and Sauerkraut Balls

At the Irish Parade
St Patrick’s Day has always been a fun holiday for us and a reason to spend time with family and friends.  Our day always starts with breakfast then off for a fun filled day with a stop at our favorite tavern, then an Irish parade, followed by visiting the Irish Family Reunion and then back to our favorite St. Patty’s Day tavern, the Hey Hey Bar and Grill.

The Hey Hey is actually located in an old immigrant neighborhood called German Village where my mother grew up. When young, my father (who was mostly Irish) was visiting his sister Mary, (who lived near German Village) and met my mother (who is German).
I also married an Irishman, and both our German and Irish heritages are celebrated and embraced by my husband and I and our children.  

My husband Bill was even at the Hey Hey for their Friday Steak-fry lunch with business associates back in 1989 when I went into labor with our daughter Alexis.  After numerous phone calls to locate him, I was able to find him in time for our daughter’s entrance into the world.
The Hey Hey serves traditional food on St. Patrick’s Day including Corned Beef and Cabbage and Irish Coffee. And their famous Sauerkraut Balls are served every day.  These delicious morels were even featured in MidWest Living Magazine!

Tuesday, March 10

Cancun Mexico

Our first trip to Mexico
Relatives called me a couple days ago to tell me that they’re invited to a destination wedding in Cancun, Mexico.  I’m so excited for them.  We have visited Cancun, Mexico both during the Christmas Holidays and during Spring break.  Their call got my husband and I reminiscing about our trips to Mexico and going through all our old photos.  

What a beautiful country it is!  On all our trips, we chose to stay at All-inclusive Hotels.  All-inclusive means the meals and drinks are included in the price.

There are dozens and dozens of hotels to choose from, all in the same area with pricing ranging from affordable/moderate to over the top expensive.  It’s best to shop around for the best deal.
On our first trip to Mexico, and because we had never visited, we booked the trip with a travel agent. After that I booked the trips myself on line.  To find a good hotel,  make sure to read Hotel reviews from people who have actually stayed there.

Wednesday, March 4

Building a Wine Rack

Small Pantry Wine Rack 
Last year we remodeled our kitchen, which took nearly a year.  And while at it, I also build a new pantry.  
When I built the pantry I didn't paint it right away because summer was fast approaching.   Instead I filled the shelves and waited for colder winter months.  
Once Spring arrives, I am outside all day working on projects! 
So last month, while the snow was flying I decided to paint the shelves. And while the shelves were bare, I came up with the idea to build a wine rack.  This wine rack is a simple design and easy for just about anyone to build.

Monday, March 2

Aunt Janey's Sour Cream Coffee Cake

My daughter Jami met her husband Donnie, fell in love and got married a few years back.  (Seems like yesterday!)  
We are really pleased with her choice for our son-in-law, just a great guy.  We also have had the pleasure of meeting many of his family members, which, happily we love too!

Donnie's mother Julie and grandmother Mary are wonderful cooks and I'm still trying to get their Apple Pie recipe (best I've ever tasted) and homemade Chicken and Dumplings recipe. 

Donnie's Aunt Janey and Uncle Eddie live in southern Ohio in a beautiful hilltop home.  Aunt Janey shared this recipe with me after bringing it to one of our fall parties. She told me she originally found the recipe in a magazine years and years ago.
It is absolutely delicious!

And it’s a nice change from all the overly sweet and excessive chocolate desserts, cookies and candies we devoured, (I mean sampled),  recently during Valentine’s Day and the Christmas holiday.  I usually make this as a cake but it is great made into muffins too. 

Thursday, February 26

Dry Rub Mix

Dry Rub Mix for Meat or Barbecue Sauce
While searching the Internet a few years back for a good homemade dry rub mix I came across this recipe on The Yummy Life Blog. 
I decided to give it a try and I was not disappointed.  Turns out it’s great on chicken, beef, and pork and I have even used it on fish or when grilling shrimp.

Most of the spices I already had on hand and only had to purchase one or two.
I love spices and when I find one we like I usually purchase an extra.  I also love going into spice shops when we travel.  It's comparable to some people's shoe addiction I think. 

This dry rub mix took me back to long ago memories of my sister Debra and her wonderful recipes and spicy cooking.  One summer weekend years ago, she even spent the day showing my husband Bill and I how to make homemade barbecue sauce.  My sister Debra could just mix things together and they came out delicious every time.  I lost my sister a few years back, but this dry rub mix encouraged me to try to reproduce her barbecue sauce. And I have to say, it turned out wonderful!
So much so that the kids think I shouldn't share it, but I don't want good recipes to be lost forever. 
Been there, regret that.

Sunday, February 22

Sausage Kale Soup (Zuppa Toscana)

There is something so comforting and soothing about having a hot bowl of soup on a cold winter’s day. 

If you ever wondered about soup, traditionally, soups are classified into two main groups: clear soups and thick soups. 
I always call mine soup or stew; depending on how thick it is and if there are more ingredients than liquid. 

For soup sticklers, many definitions state: 
“Soups are similar to stews, and in some cases there may not be a clear distinction between the two; however, soups generally have more liquid than stews.” 

According to Wikipedia, “Evidence of the existence of soup can be found as far back as about 20,000 BC. Boiling was not a common cooking technique until the invention of waterproof containers (which probably came in the form of clay vessels). Animal hides and watertight baskets of bark or reeds were used before this. To boil the water hot rocks were used.”

Friday, February 20

Rabbits: A Natural and Cultural History

Lagomorphs; A Natural and Cultural History.
By Guest Blogger Alexis Lynch.

Rabbits are remarkable and fascinating creatures that deserve appreciation, so I think a bit of an overview is in order:

Rabbits (Sylvilagus) and Hares (Lepus) of North America belong to the Order and Family Lagomorpha Leporidae, and in total there are 29 species of rabbits and 32 species of hares.

So what’s the difference between a rabbit and a hare? 
Rabbits are altricial; meaning they are born in an undeveloped state and require care and feeding by the parents. Rabbits are born naked and blind into fur-lined nests in burrows below ground. They stay in the nest tended to by their mother for a couple of weeks.

Thursday, February 12

Psycho Kitty or Sybil the Cat

Our small farm was once part of a much larger property with acres of farmland.  Included in that original property were woods.  Our land is still pretty wooded and has a creek, but now the denser woods are across the road from ours.  Two of our neighbor’s homes are in and surrounded by woods, a creek and ravines.
Because of that natural setting we see a lot of wild animals:  Deer, fox, coyote, opossum, raccoon, rabbits, snakes and hawks to name a few.

A couple years ago on a trip to see Maple Syrup making demonstrations, we ended up adopting 2 barn cats from Malabar Farm, the historical farm of Pulitzer prize winning author Louis Bromfield.  Seems many cats are dumped in front of the park and end up living in their main barn.  The park workers are constantly looking for homes for the many (and I mean many) barn cats living on the property.

Monday, February 9

Make in the Morning Cinnamon Rolls

I am anxiously awaiting the perfect outdoor temperatures so I can once again tap my maple trees to make maple syrup.  The temps need to be above 40 degrees during the day and below freezing at night. This causes the sap to run.  

While waiting all I can think about are recipes using maple syrup.

This is a pretty easy homemade Cinnamon Roll recipe and perfect for a lazy Saturday morning.

These can be started in the early morning hours before everyone wakes, and are ready in about 1 to 1½ hours, start to finish.   Their also just as good the next day! (if any make it that long)

Tuesday, February 3

Look What I Found: Antique Handmade Quilt

Patchwork Quilt
I like stopping in second hand stores, thrift stores and antique shops whenever possible.
This is my latest find:  a beautiful old patchwork quilt!
I know very little about quilts except I like them and collect them if the price is right.  This is one of my best finds yet at $8.99.
I found this quilt especially interesting because of the pattern and names so I did a little research on old quilts.

A patchwork quilt is a quilt in which the top layer consists of pieces of fabric sewn together to form a design. Originally, this was to make full use of left-over scraps of fabric.

If you are reading this post and can shed more light on this quilt I would really 
appreciate it! 

Friday, January 30

Quick and Easy Strawberry Cake

Strawberry Cake
An easy sheet cake or layer cake and ready in no time using a prepackaged cake mix and frozen strawberries. 
Or if you prefer something more natural, mix up a white cake batter and homemade frosting!

We pick our strawberries at a nearby farm every year around the first week of June to make our own natural Homemade Strawberry Jam.  And I always buy extra strawberries to chop and freeze to use with desserts, on ice cream and in salads.  There is nothing like the taste of a summer fresh strawberry!  Well June is quickly approaching so this year I decided to use up some of the strawberries from last year to make a Cake for my husband Bill’s birthday.

This cake is also perfect if you’re looking for a Valentine’s Day Dessert.  Or bookmark or Pin this recipe for summer and use fresh garden strawberries.  Great to serve at outdoor barbecues and summer dinner parties too!

If making cake batter from scratch using your favorite recipe, just decrease the liquid by a 1/3 to ½ cup and add 1 cup mashed strawberries with juice and the strawberry flavored gelatin.
If Jell-O brand gelatin is not for you, Better Bowls makes a natural brand of strawberry gelatin!

Wednesday, January 28

How I Got Started Breeding Rabbits

Rabbits:  The Beginning
By Guest Blogger Alexis Lynch:  An Introduction

Hello! I’m Elizabeth’s daughter and after many requests from my Mom, I agreed to do a little guest blogging.  
I will be blogging about Rabbits: raising, feeding, housing and breeding along with other rabbit concerns.    

As a child I had a pet rabbit. It’s been so many years ago that I no longer remember the exact day I got him but he was a grey short-haired Mini-Rex named Thunder.   He was an average example of his breed, only special because he was my very own and I loved him. He lived near our clubhouse in an outdoor hutch my mother built from salvaged lumber.  I have many happy memories of taking him out to our sunny grassy yard where we spent many hours playing together.  Time passed and as all living things do; sadly including pets, Thunder eventually died. I remember crying and running to tell my parents. I never had another pet rabbit after that; my experience with rabbits thereafter stemming from what I read from books or online, watching nature shows or rabbits I saw at county fairs.