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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 Interest...it 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 salsa...it 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 it...it 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


Instructions

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 chips...so 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 20th...so I have been spending a LOT of time organizing my home and in a way...my 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.  And...it 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 pecans...my 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 how...you 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 week...my 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 marshmallows...here 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 now...here 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 in...it'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 furniture...it 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.