Tuesday, April 22, 2014

Rain, Rain Go Away...

We have had a very wet spring so far in the Pacific Northwest.  When we actually have sun...I have so much going on that I am unable to get out into the garden.  Tonight rain was in the forecast...but surprise!  It is NOT is blustery and chilly but still good enough to get my hands in the dirt.
About a month ago I planted quiet a few rows of radishes (3 different kinds), carrots (2 different kinds) several types of lettuce, kale and spinach.  It has been so wet...that they are just now starting to reach for the sun. 
Today I planted 30 starts of broccoli (Waltham 29 and Di Cicco).  I planted them WAY to close together but I have no choice.  Mike and I bought a new trailer...and it is bigger so I am now losing 1/2 of my gardening space to accommodate the parking of said new trailer.  It took me a couple of day to overcome my grief...but it is what it is.  I have a ton of starts so will need to get very creative in my plantings...I see lots of veggies growing in my flower gardens in the front yard.
Here are some shots of my greenhouse.  The first picture is 3 different types of tomatoes, yellow peppers, red peppers, jalapeno peppers, cauliflower (can't see in the pic) and zinnias.
The other side of the greenhouse includes: trailing lobelia, yellow onions, Chinese cabbage, baby watermelon (both of these are in the newspaper pots that I made), red onions, impatiens and more zinnia plants.
Next up some Candy Onions (on the right side) a friend gave me and some walking onions (on left side) that we received from some friends we visited while we were in Las Vegas. 
Finally...some garlic that I thought my dogs had destroyed last year.  It came back up.  So happy!

Not too bad for April 22, 2014.  There are still many weeds to pull and seeds to plant but it will all get done in time.  Happy Spring!


Sunday, January 26, 2014

First Seeds are in the Dirt!

Oh happy day!  I planted the first of my seeds for the 2014 gardening seasoning.  Unfortunately, I ran out of seed starting soil so will need to finish up the rest of the onion seeds tomorrow.  A few days ago I received a large order of seeds from Botanical was like Christmas in January.  Today I went through each packet, with a calendar, and marked which date each seed is started or needs to go into the ground.  I feel so organized!

Today I planted:

Cauliflower ~ Chef's Choice Blend
Onion ~ Red Amposta

Tomorrow, after I get more seed starting soil, I will plant a tray of:

Onions ~ Yellow Granex

Thankfully Mike is building me another grow light and hauled in an 8' table...he could tell by the box of seeds I got that we were in for a bigger season of gardening. 

Botanical Interests
Chef's Choice Blend Cauliflower & Red Amposta Onion

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Fantastic Salsa

I hate buying just doesn't taste good to me.  I want the kind of salsa that taste like tomatoes, onions and cilantro...fresh!  I tried canning my own salsa, I didn't like that either.  When the tomatoes in my garden are in season, I make a lot of fresh salsa.  But what happens in the winter?  Do I have to succumb to yucky salsa bought in the stores?  Nope!!  I love Pinterest...I find lots of great things.  Not long ago I found a recipe called "Quick and Easy Blender Salsa".  I gave it try, it took about 10 from start to finish.  Mike and I LOVED is a keeper recipe, for sure!

Quick & Easy Blender Salsa

(1) 14 oz canned diced tomatoes
(1) 10 oz can original Rotel *
1/2 small onion, roughly chopped
1 clove garlic, peeled & smashed                
1/2-1 jalapeno, seeded **
1 tsp honey
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cumin
small to medium size handful of cilantro, washed
juice of one lime


Put all ingredients in the base of a food processor or good blender and pulse to combine for 30 seconds or so until all the ingredients are finely chopped and salsa is desired consistency.  Taste for seasoning and adjust to taste. 

* I did not use Rotel. I used Winco brand chopped tomatoes with chile's ~ much cheaper
** I used one entire jalapeno, seeded.  Seeds can be added for a spicier salsa.

I was out of I cut up several corn tortillas, sprayed them with some oil and sprinkled them with some salt.  I placed them in a 450 degree oven for 10 minutes.  (May get done faster so keep your eye on them.)  I am not going to lie...these are not as good as those chips that are fried in oil. but they were quite good and crunchy...and definitely healthier.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Happy 2014!

Happy 2014!  I can't believe another year has zipped right on by.  I love this time of year...I love taking the time to reflect on what I (and my family) have accomplished the past year and I like taking the time to think about new goals for the new year. 

I have been off work since December I have been spending a LOT of time organizing my home and in a life.  I (and my husband) burned up one paper shredder and put our brand new one under heavy use.  Closets have been cleaned out, they pantry organized...and lots of lists being made. 

Today I took the whole day to make muffins, muffins and more muffins.  I made triple chocolate muffins for Cassidy (can that really be considered a muffin...or an unfrosted cupcake?)  I made blueberry muffins for my husband.  Normally for me I make a cream cheese pumpkin muffin...but I found a new recipe to make today. 

Sweet Apple Butter Muffins.  Since I canned a bunch of apple butter this past fall, I thought this would be a good way to use it up. was a great muffin!  Even my "it is not a muffin unless it has blueberries" husband loved this new muffin.  I found this recipe in the "Gooseberry Patch Mom's Favorite Recipes" cookbook.

1-3/4 cup all purpose flour
1/3 cup plus 2 T. sugar divided *                
2 t. baking soda
1/2 t. cinnamon
1/4 t. nutmeg
1/4 t. salt
1 egg, beaten
3/4 cup milk
1 t. vanilla extract
1/4 cup oil
1/2 cup apple butter **
1/3 cup chopped pecans ***

Combine flour, 1/3 cup sugar, baking soda, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt in a large mixing bowl; set aside.  Blend egg, milk, vanilla and oil together; mix into flour mixture. Spoon about one tablespoon batter into each muffin cup (can be paper-lined...I didn't line with paper); add one teaspoon apple butter. Fill muffin cups 2/3 full with remaining batter; set aside. Toss pecans with remaining sugar; sprinkle evenly on tops of muffins. Bake at 400 degrees until a toothpick inserted in the center removes clean...about 20 minutes.  Makes one dozen.

*I did not use this extra sugar.  Instead I sprinkled the top of the muffins with a cinnamon sugar blend.

**I thought I was supposed to use a tablespoon on apple butter...not 1 teaspoon.  More is better I think.

***Did not top with husband wouldn't have tried them if I had.  Still tasted great.

I made over 70 muffins today...doubled each batch.  They are tucked into the freezer and will make a great breakfast for us all for the next month or two!

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

Getting Back into Couponing

After couponing strongly for a couple of years...I took a break.  Couponing does take a bit of time...and I just haven't had the time to do it...or maybe I just needed a break.  Probably a little of both.  Gardening and preserving food has become much more of an interest to me.  I am loving learning how to can, how to make my own dishwasher tabs...and so many other things.  However, that being said, I decided to coupon during the winter.  By doing so, I can stock up on our toiletries and other necessities for the year.  When gardening gets into full swing...I will stop couponing and devote that time to pulling weeds instead. 

One thing I found...couponing is like riding a bike, once you know never really forget.

Here were my buys for today:

Rite Aid.  Retail:  $6.49each, on sale for $5.00 each
$1.00 off coupons ~ dropping the price to $4.66
Buy 3 ~ save $5.00 (Ups).  My price:  $3.00 each
54% Savings

Rite Aid.  Retail:  $5.99, on sale for $3.99 each
$6.00 off coupons ~ dropping the price to $1.99 each
Buy 4 ~ save $4.00 (Ups).  My price: $.99
84% Savings!

My best deal of the day did not involve any coupons or stores.
I belong to an online group called "Besties" ~ it is like a virtual
garage sale.  One of the members is an avid couponer and decided
to sell off some of her stash.  I picked up 20 packages of disposable razors.
Schick Razors.  Retail $7.99, I paid 75 cents each
91% Savings
Bic Razors.  Retail: $4.49, I paid 75 cents each
83% Savings
Not too shabby for my first day out in a long, long time!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Happy 16th Birthday Cassidy!

I have been busy and have not blogged...but I miss it and decided I needed to start writing/blogging again.  I don't care if my posts are never read...I just love going through the post and reminiscing. 

This week was a big youngest daughter turned 16.  I think because this is the last "big" birthday party I will really ever throw for my kids...I wanted it to be extra special.

I chose the theme "A Night in Paris" to celebrate her upcoming trip to England and France over spring break.  Cassidy wanted seafood fettuccini, caesar salad, salmon (with homemade pesto) and John's rolls (a very favorite or ours).  She also requested formal attire...and our family and friends did not disappoint!

In the weeks prior to, I made and froze mini cupcakes and regular cupcakes, cake pops and Eiffel Tower sugar cookie cutouts for the dessert bar.

I also decided to make a hot cocoa bar since it is very chilly here.  I made homemade marshmallows...something I have always wanted to do.  They were easy to make and delicious...especially melting in a warm cup of homemade hot cocoa.  This hot cocoa bar was both "kid friendly" and had some stronger spirits that adults could add if desired.  Peppermint sticks, mini chocolate chips, whip cream and Andes mints were all a part of the experience.
It was a successful night...most importantly, Cassidy loved it.  I feel very blessed that so many of our family came to celebrate.  Cassidy was also thrilled her two "other sisters" Jenna and Chelsi came to celebrate with her as well.
For those interested in making the is the recipe.  

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Not blogging...but I am gardening!

I have not been blogging at all.  I have been gardening, crafting, vacationing...but not blogging.  I will also admit to not couponing much at all.  In fact, I just cancelled our newspaper subscription.  So for are some pictures of my garden as of today:


This is my potato bed.  I am growing red and purple potatoes.  In another bed I am also getting some "volunteer" potatoes which are probably russets.  I decided not to grow russet potatoes because I can buy them so cheap around here and I wanted to devote more room for other things.

I grew broccoli this year and was pretty successful.  I have a couple of gallon sized bags of frozen broccoli which I will use in the fall and winter to make soup...yum!  Hopefully I will get a bit more before long.  I will also be putting more seeds in the ground soon so I hope to have more in a few months.

Carrots, lettuce, kale and spinach.  I also had radishes here...but we ate those all gone already!  I want to get more carrots's on my to-do-list.

Nestled in with my broccoli is some cauliflower.  It is looking good!  I have never been successful with cauliflower before but I may have done something right this year.  I have closed the leaves over the head of cauliflower to keep it from burning.  Hopefully we will be eating some in the next week or two.

Nestle next to lettuce and kale is the "volunteer" potatoes and some corn.  I tried to start my corn inside this year...didn't work so good.  The seeds that I put directly in the soil outside are looking good.  This is an indian type corn and will be used for decorating...not eating.

I planted a TON of garlic with hopes of making braided garlic for family members...but that was before my naughty dogs dug most of it up.  I will be harvesting most of the garlic tomorrow...and I hope to have enough for me until next year.  I tried growing this same garlic two years in a row...and I am not to impressed.  I will try something new in the fall.

I have a few tomatoes...but not many.  I hope my plants hurry up ~ I have LOT's of plans for my tomatoes. 

I love this section.  I have peas growing up the fence section and the rest is a variety of pumpkins and zucchini's.

Pretty Peas!

One zucchini...I bet there's more to come!

Getting my second round of strawberries for this season.

My greenhouse rocks!  It has two cucumber plans, 3 containers of basil...

and on the other side of the greenhouse I have jalapeneos, red peppers, yellow peppers and cilantro!  It sounds like salsa in the making!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Our Deck is Ready for Sunshine!

A few years ago we built an addition on to our house which created a covered deck for us.  It is not a huge space but it is covered.  I inherited a wicker set from my grandparents some years back and decided that it would be perfect on the deck.  The wicker set is of VERY good quality but it was meant to be used as indoor was not meant to be used by two dirty yorkies who love to cuddle on it.  The cushions were faded out and just looked really bad.  I thought about selling the set but knew I could not afford to purchase a set of this caliber for a long time.  So, all winter, I thought and thought about what I could do to save it...

Here is what the set started out as...pretty tired and sad looking!

I found some very rugged outdoor material on the web on sale and decided to recover it.  The covers can easily be removed to be washed.  I love the color.

Then I had an idea for displaying a great croquet set that I had bought at an auction...for $20.00.  My hubby made me a peg board and painted it the same color as the house trim.

Now the other side of the deck is all tricked out and looks welcoming.

For about $200.00 and a weekend of sewing and ironing ~ we transformed our deck.  By NO means am I confident seamstress...but I just created an easy pattern based on each individual cushion.  The material was expensive but it is very good quality and I have every reason to believe that it will hold up really well.  I am totally in love with this space now.

Friday, April 5, 2013


Much of the reason that I have been couponing, menuing, cooking from scratch, etc. is because of our desire to get out of debt.  We have always had too much debt.  For many years we have lived the typical American dream...don't save for purchases....CHARGE them!  The tanking of our economy the past few years have made us reevaulate that notion. 

My hubby does his part by doing much of the household fixes himself and making repairs as frugally as possible.  For example our dishwasher door broke...and he scoured the intenet until he was able to find a part to fix it and he did fix it at a fraction of the price.  Recently our toilet tank cracked.  Instead of tearing the toilet out and getting a new one, he asked around and someone actually had one that they had found in a "bone yard" behind his place of work.  We got the toilet tank for free and it works and looks perfect.  By taking time to find a solution, he has saved us a bunch of money. 

My contribution is trying to buy food and personal products for our household as cheap as possible.  We cook from scratch as much as possible and try to eat out as little as possible (but that is always a work in progress).  I have also tried to stock up and preserve foods that are in season.  I am also starting my own seeds for the garden...and saving in the total cost of the garden.

It is not easy...we are very budgeted and there is not much room for flexibility.  But today...we reached a big milesstone....both our truck and our car are PAID OFF!  The truck was paid off early a while back but today our car was officially paid off.  We put extra on the principal and paid if off about 7 months early.  I cannot even remember how long it has been since we have been without a auto payment...may the last for many more years.


Thursday, April 4, 2013

Feeling Energetic

I dont' know if it is because it is spring...or if it is because I have been counting calories and limiting the bad stuff...but whatever it is, I have more energy then normal.

My butt, back and shoulders are sore from planting my red and purple potatoes yesterday...but I will blog more about that soon.  I am behind on my gardening.  We have had beautiful weather (up to today) but most days we spent out of town at a volleyball tournament.  I will need to get a bunch of starts going this weekend. 

Tonight I came home and cooked.  Actually, I came home with a good share of our dinner already cooking.  My favorite youngest daughter is home on spring break so I had her make pulled pork in the crockpot.  BUT...I didn't let her make it with bottled bbq sauce ~ rather, she got to make it homemade from a new recipe I just found.  I am going to post the recipe but I am kind of afraid because the website has this scary sounding warning about "duplication of any content...".  However it was adapted from Emeril Legasse and I found it on the Cinnamon Spice & Everything Nice blog.  Visit her blog...she has a TON of yummy recipes.

Crockpot Barbecue Pulled Pork

3 tsp. paprika (can use a combination of sweet and/or smoked)
2 tsp. dry mustard
1 tsp. dried oregano
1 tsp. dried thyme
1½ tsp. salt
1/2 tsp. black pepper
1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, optional                                                                        
1 tsp. onion powder
1/2 tsp. garlic powder
1 (6oz) can of tomato paste
1½ cups beef broth
1/2 cup cider or white vinegar (or a combination of both)
6 tbsp. brown sugar
1½ cups sliced onions
6 cloves garlic, finely chopped
3 pounds boneless pork roast

In a large crockpot whisk everything except the onion, garlic and pork together until well combined.  Stir in onion and garlic and add the pork roast (you can cut the pork roast in half first for a shorter cooking time).  Cook on high 4-6 hours or until you can shred the pork easily with two forks; after shredding pork, I continued to cook for additional 1+ hour.

I served the bbq pork topped with fresh made coleslaw all on a homemade roll that I had in the freezer.  I found the coleslaw recipe via what2cook.  I actually found both these recipes on Pinterest...I am becoming a total Pinterest junkie...but I will save that story for a different blogging day. 
KFC Coleslaw Copy Cat

8 cups finely chopped cabbage (I used one head)
1/4 cup shredded carrot (I used one carrot)
2 tbsp. minced onion
1/3 cup sugar
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/4 cup milk
1/2 cup mayonnaise (I used more, I like a thicker dressing)
¼ cup buttermilk
1½ tbsp. vinegar
2½ tbsp. lemon juice

Mix all together.  Taste amazing!
Finally, in between getting the pork finished up and making the coleslaw, I made a couple loaves of regular bread, I got some pizza dough into the freezer and made my first ever batch of French Bread.  I got a lot done before 7:00 pm tonight!  I love when I have such productive days. 

This was my first attempt at making french bread...and one loaf turned out beautifully!  The other loaf doesn't look as good but I am sure it will taste just fine.  Right at this house smells wonderfully of homemade bread ~ no better smell that I know of.