Until this past week, our weather has been so cool and rainy, I was beginning to think we would only be able to grow lettuce and spinach, this year. But true to Nebraska form, the weather turned quite abruptly and we experienced the first days hot enough to send my trembling finger to the thermostat [...]
Until this past week, our weather has been so cool and rainy, I was beginning to think we would only be able to grow lettuce and spinach, this year. But true to Nebraska form, the weather turned quite abruptly and we experienced the first days hot enough to send my trembling finger to the thermostat and switch on the air. While I would have preferred to wait on that particular event, the flowers and garden plants loved the switch to hot, humid weather and a few days of it has set them to their work of growing and producing.
This is the smallest garden I can ever remember cultivating, but I wanted to be sure that I would be able to move it easily when we relocate. So, as you remember from my previous gardening post, I am using EarthBoxes instead of my favorite square-foot gardening. I actually like them, quite a bit. The water reservoir in the bottom provides a self-watering system that allows me to go several days without worrying about the plants drying out. Another great feature is that they are deep, so realistically root crops could be grown in them a little easier than in the typical six-inch deep square-foot garden box. (I have stacked two square foot garden boxes and successfully grown potatoes and carrots, though. )
It has been so cool and even cold at night, that I haven’t planted anything new, since my first foray into the garden. However, I am still hoping to get a couple cucumber plants in, this weekend. At any rate, I wanted to share some of the progress in the gardens with you, now that the weather is consistently warm. The tomatoes are spreading and reaching for the sun and have reached a point where I will definitely need to be staking them. They are sporting several blooms and promising abundant fruit. The nursery was out of jalapeno pepper plants the day I visited and I picked up something called a salsa pepper, instead. I have been a little disappointed with them, as they haven’t seemed to grow. Yesterday morning, I opened the blinds to see a full-grown pepper hanging from one of the tiny plants, however. So, small as they are, they are capable of producing and I’m looking forward to a new batch of hot pepper jelly! The thyme and chives seem to be thriving in their ceramic pot. They were quite small when I planted them and are growing quite nicely. The oregano, doesn’t seem to have grown at all, though I admit it is my first year growing it, so I’m not quite sure what to expect.
The flower garden didn’t produce quite the color show I was hoping for at our senior’s graduation, but now, two weeks later, is finally beginning to bloom and show off its vibrance. In another week, I anticipate it to be loaded with blooms and color. The lilies are just beginning to show some blooms, but have dozens of buds waiting to open. The columbine is beautiful in scarlet and my yellow yarrow is in full bloom, (I really need to trim that back and shape it up a bit), although the burgundy yarrow hasn’t even budded out, yet. Dianthus is blooming, as are the pretty daisy-like flowers I can’t remember the name of. I think it started with an “h”. I originally bought it because the foliage was so unusual with different shaped leaves. This plant is an overachiever, however, producing not only beautiful green foliage, but lovely flowers, too.
I heart spring.
How is your garden coming? We’d love to hear about it or see some pictures!
I ♥ baking! I ♥ chocolate! I ♥ Pioneer Woman and her Tasty Kitchen recipe site! Danger! Warning! Overload! This combination can sometimes lead to extreme bouts of heavenly, chocolatey, blissful aroma wafting from my kitchen, and stampeding in our household hallways. (look both ways before crossing.) So, now that you’ve been warned and read [...]
I ♥ baking! I ♥ chocolate! I ♥ Pioneer Woman and her Tasty Kitchen recipe site! Danger! Warning! Overload! This combination can sometimes lead to extreme bouts of heavenly, chocolatey, blissful aroma wafting from my kitchen, and stampeding in our household hallways. (look both ways before crossing.) So, now that you’ve been warned and read my full disclaimer, you can enter at your own risk. And run!!! It’s delicious, molten, chocolate heaven.
I didn’t change a thing about this yummy recipe, except to double it. That’s not really changing it, is it? That’s more like…gluttony. Well, somebody had to do it. So this is the way I mixed it up doubled.
- 2 cup All-purpose Flour
- 4 teaspoons Baking Powder
- ½ teaspoon Salt
- ⅓ cup Cocoa powder, (for batter)
- ½ cup Cocoa powder, (for topping)
- 1½ cup Sugar, (for batter)
- 1 cup Sugar, (for topping)
- 1 cup Milk
- ⅔ cup Melted Butter
- 3 teaspoons Vanilla Extract
- 1 cup Brown Sugar, packed
- 3 cups Hot Tap Water
Begin by adding the flour, baking powder, salt, 1½ cups sugar and ⅓ cup cocoa to a mixing bowl. Give it a good whirl and make sure the dry ingredients for the batter are thoroughly mixed.
Add the milk.
Add the butter.
Add the vanilla.
Mix it thoroughly until the batter is nice and smooth.
Spread the batter in an ungreased 9×13 baking pan.
In a separate, smaller bowl, mix the brown sugar, 1/2 c. cocoa and 1 c. white sugar.
Spread the dry, mixed topping ingredients over the batter in your baking pan.
Drizzle the hot tap water over the dry ingredients. IMPORTANT!! Do Not Stir!
Bake in a 350° oven for 1 hour. (The original recipe stated a 40 minute baking time, however after reading through the reviews and doubling the recipe, I increased the baking time to 50 minutes. It required an additional 10 to be finished.)
We served it warm, topped with vanilla ice cream. Enjoy!
Do you ever have one of those days where nothing goes like you thought it would, you forgot to pull anything out of the freezer and you need a dinner idea in a hurry? Me either, but I know some people; and they tell me it’s rough. Actually, it happens more often than I care [...]
Do you ever have one of those days where nothing goes like you thought it would, you forgot to pull anything out of the freezer and you need a dinner idea in a hurry? Me either, but I know some people; and they tell me it’s rough. Actually, it happens more often than I care to admit. Why is it that those days are so wearying and stressful and they make you crave something warm and filling and “comfort-food-like”? I know, technically that’s not a word, but tonight we’re just going to be flexible. Those nights when I have peered into the pantry or freezer in hopes that something pre-made would jump up and reveal itself to find ingredients for a quick, ”throw-together” meal, I have often been fortunate enough to create something that turns out to be a delicious surprise. This was one of those happy occasions!
In the back of the freezer I found a bag of O’Brien-style Hash Browns with Peppers and Onions and one ring of beef sausage. This could be the beginning of a beautiful thing, but I would have to find some ingredients to complement and accessorize them. Here’s what I ended up putting together.
Potato Sausage Casserole
- 1 lb ring of beef sausage
- (1) 28 oz bag of Ore-Ida Potatoes O’Brien
- 1 can of cream of chicken soup
- (1) 8 oz block of cream cheese
- 1 cup sour cream
- 1 – 2 cups frozen broccoli florets
- 1 cup sharp cheddar cheese, shredded
- 1 Tbls. butter
Melt the butter in the bottom of a large skillet and add the frozen potatoes.
Slice the sausage into bite-size pieces and add to potatoes, stirring and cooking until they begin to soften and brown a bit. Continue cooking until potatoes are tender (just a few minutes).
Stir in the cream cheese, sour cream and cream of chicken soup.
Add the frozen broccoli florets and cheddar cheese. Stir and cook until heated through.
I served this quick casserole with some honeydew melon and cantaloupe that I had cubed up. With a glass of iced tea, it was a delicious and perfectly satisfying meal. I hope your family can enjoy it, too.
What’s your favorite “happy accident” or “throw-it-together-at-the-last minute” meal. Share your recipe and help us all to add to our list of make-it-quick meals.
Somehow, in my middle-aged, menopausal fog, I thought I had already made this post. I edited the pictures and uploaded them, some time ago. I want to be sure you see what an amazing event Crop for a Cause actually is, let you in on the fun and help you plan for next year. Plus, [...]
Somehow, in my middle-aged, menopausal fog, I thought I had already made this post. I edited the pictures and uploaded them, some time ago. I want to be sure you see what an amazing event Crop for a Cause actually is, let you in on the fun and help you plan for next year. Plus, you still have two weeks to participate in the Quilt Giveaway that will take entries until midnight on June 1, 2010. For every donation of $5 to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation that you make, you will receive one entry in the drawing for this beautiful, handmade quilt. It was donated to Crop for a Cause to help with the fundraising.
I’ll give you all the info a little later in the post to get your entries in for a chance at the quilt, but first I have to tell you all about our day at the Crop for a Cause. I got to travel to Elkhorn with my sister, Debi, and we had no idea what to expect. We love Becca (my cousin who organized the whole event), we both want to be more involved with diabetes research, and neither one of us are going to turn down a chance for a “day off” together; so even though we didn’t know what a “crop” was or what we would do, we were definitely up for a roadtrip and a chance to visit with family we don’t get to see often enough. What a great surprise it turned out to be! I’ll bet all of you scrapbookers already knew what a “crop” is, but it was all new to us and loads of fun! I don’t think either one of us is going to become an avid scrapbooker, but we definitely had a blast and will look forward to making this an annual event. Plus, we saw and experienced so many different types of crafting, we will definitely know how to come prepared next year.
There were people scrapbooking of course, but there were also seamstresses there with their sewing machines, piecing quilts,there were stampers and knitters and crocheters. Someone had their Cricut set up and their were so many different creative things going on, it was very inspiring. We were inspired, delighted and embarrassed. We hadn’t brought anything to work on. No worries! As we arrived, we were greeted by Becca and ushered over to the “family” table where we sat with family members we hadn’t seen in such a long time and members of Becca’s family by marriage that we had never met. What a treat! Now, they’re “our family”, too! And what good fortune! Brooke had seven fleece blankets to tie off for a children’s charity project she was working on. She happily shared and we had meaningful work to keep our hands busy (If you knew Debi and I, you would know how critically important that is. We don’t sit still well.), plus conversations that kept us in smiles and laughter all day long.
Donations for the garage sale (a scrapbooker’s dream bargain bonanza!), the silent auction and giveaways, even our meals (yup! They fed us lunch AND supper.) were contributed by generous people and businesses from all around. I was overwhelmed at the dollar value of what was given and the wonderfully giving hearts of those who helped.
I have to tell you that at the end of the evening, as the auction was coming to a close, I sat back, so tickled to just observe those final minutes. The “casual” strolling that ensued as ladies watched the items that they had placed silent bids on was wonderful entertainment! I don’t have much experience with silent auctions, so I didn’t have the sense to check and see if I had been outbid in the final seconds. This was not the case with the Crop for a Cause veterans, however. They circled, they exchanged pleasantries and they pounced when necessary to get those wonderful items. It was a delight to see the enthusiasm and the generous spirits that contributed so much to the cause.
I’ve forgotten to ask how much this event raised for Juvenile Diabetes Research, but I believe I heard Becca say it was the best year ever! And the most important thing you should know about that is that EVERY penny raised goes to JDRF! Nothing is taken out for “administrative fees or expenses”. Becca and many others donate their time and resources so this event can contribute the largest possible amount to Juvenile Diabetes Research.
If it hasn’t touched your family or your circle of friends, yet, statistically you can expect that at some point diabetes will. According to the National Diabetes Association, nearly 17.9 million people in the United States alone are diagnosed diabetics. Many more (5.7 million) are undiagnosed and the largest group of all, (57 million), merely insulin-resistant (pre-diabetic). Diabetes was the seventh leading cause of death in the U.S. in 2007 and as if the disease alone were not enough, it can cause other health complications and risks. The world needs a cure. You need a cure. Our family needs a cure. There are some great ways to get educated and to get involved. Check out some of these websites:
B*Cause I Need a Cure (My cousin, Becca’s website.)
and the easiest way to make a difference right now, (You thought I forgot, didn’t you.)
For every $5 donated to the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
you will receive one entry in a drawing to win this beautiful quilt.
Make checks payable to : Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation
and mail them to:Crop for a Cause Quilt Giveaway 1704 N 212th St Elkhorn, NE 68022
To be eligible for the drawing, donation checks must be received by midnight, June 1, 2010. A random drawing will be held and video-taped the first week in June. The winner will be notified and you can watch the website to see the lucky winner!
And this, in the final moments of the event, is our family — gathering for a quick group shot and creating a great memory. That’s Becca, the organizer extraordinaire, stretched out in front.
I arrived in Tifton, Georgia on April 28. Tifton is known as “The Friendly City” and I certainly know why. The Smith family was so generous and welcoming. I appreciated being able to stay with them on my journey. There are about 15,000 friendly people who reside in Tifton. I learned a lot about Georgia [...]
I arrived in Tifton, Georgia on April 28. Tifton is known as “The Friendly City” and I certainly know why. The Smith family was so generous and welcoming. I appreciated being able to stay with them on my journey. There are about 15,000 friendly people who reside in Tifton.
I learned a lot about Georgia during my stay. It’s capital is in Atlanta. That’s about 180 miles from Tifton. Georgia was named for King George II of England. It was the fourth state to adopt the United States Constitution and enter the Union. They proudly display their heritage as one of the 13 original states to enter the Union, in their flag, which carries 13 stars encircling their state emblem.
Georgia’s state flower is the Cherokee Rose. The Smith’s had beautiful flowers, too and I enjoyed the nice weather as I spent time outdoors in their yard. I also spent time at Josie’s high school and got to visit with her and her friend, Jeffrey, about the other interesting things to see and do in Georgia.
Now, I’m off to Omaha to meet the Rogers family. Thanks again, Smith family, for a great visit!
This is one of the best reasons to have a garden, even if it’s only in a pot on your deck or patio. My garden was so lovely last year and while we enjoyed the tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, the jalapenos and serrano chiles were some of my favorite garden fare. We used them in [...]
This is one of the best reasons to have a garden, even if it’s only in a pot on your deck or patio. My garden was so lovely last year and while we enjoyed the tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchini, the jalapenos and serrano chiles were some of my favorite garden fare. We used them in many of our favorite dishes, but this recipe is the top of our list and is always a hit wherever I take it. I have even used it as an ingredient in other recipes. It was THE critical element in some delicious pinwheel sandwiches we made for our senior’s graduation reception, last weekend. (That recipe will be coming soon.) I hope you enjoy this jelly as much as our family.
Hot Pepper Jelly
Yield: (6) ½ pint jars
[I have easily doubled this to make 6 pints or (12) ½ pints.]
- 2/3 c. hot peppers ( I used jalapenos and serranos)
- 1 bell pepper (red or green depending on the color of jelly you want)
- 1 ½ c. white vinegar
- 6 c. sugar
- 1 (8 oz) bottle of liquid pectin or 2 (3 oz) packets (Can be any brand . Just needs to be at least 6 oz. of liquid pectin.)
- 1 t. red or green food coloring
[We like spicy, so I chop these, seeds, veins and all. You can remove the veins and seeds for milder spice. Please, wash hands thoroughly and use special care when handling hot peppers.]
Chop peppers and put in blender with vinegar. Blend well and pour into large boiler. Add sugar and mix well. Bring mixture to a rolling boil and boil for 1 minute.
Remove from heat and strain through sieve or cheesecloth. Return liquid to pan and bring to a boil.
Boil for 5 minutes. Remove from heat.
Add pectin and food coloring, stirring quickly. When pectin is thoroughly mixed in ladle the jelly into sterilized jars.
Fill 6 (½ pint) jars 1/4 inch from rim. Wipe edges of rims clean and hand tighten lids on the jars.