Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Summer Garden Side Dinner Party

Last night we had some family members over for an outdoor dinner party. The tables were setup under the canopy next to the garden. The kids were so excited to help set up for the dinner each taking a turn  at arranging the place settings around the table. They helped clean and my girl was more than helpful with food preparation. The evening was filled with conversation, laughter, and good food. The table was decorated with little mason jar candle holders that the kids and I whipped up last minute to make the table look special.

The mason jars had a piece of jute twine tied in a bow around the rim. Little guy filled the jars 1/3 of the way with sand and my girl carefully placed tealights in the sand. They looked beautiful but thanks to the breeze that cooled down the evening and kept the bugs at bay the candles would not stay lit. We will have to give them a try on a night that is a little less breezy.

It felt great to give a tour of the gardens to our guests who have on more than one occasion enjoyed the harvests. At the end of the evening they left with a handful of radishes with leave and flowers intact.

It was a successful evening and I look forward to be able to do it again. Hopefully we get several more opportunities this summer. 

Shared on the Homestead Barn Hop

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Farmers Market Shopping- First Attempt

I know that I have mentioned my favorite little farm stand more than once here on the blog. I can't help it, I just love the place so much. During the spring and summer months the temporary walls come down and the market becomes an open air haven for those who love fresh, local produce and goods at great prices. There are many recipe cards located next to the items showing ways to help showcase the flavor of the food in a dish. The market is now holding monthly cooking lessons for customers and children are welcome to participate. So since I love this place so much when I look around at the other offerings of my area I always have to compare it to this market.

The open air section of my favorite farm stand. 

The nursery part of the farm stand. 

The other day I went to a small local farmers market with an open mind hoping for the best. The light misting rain had kept most of the crowds at home which gave me the ability to take my time and really take in all the things around me. I met a wonderful woman who was selling meat and eggs raised on the farm she works for. The prices were a little steep but were a little less than the co-op down the road from me. I did not need eggs on this particular trip but next time I go there I will give her farm fresh eggs a try. I also noticed a tent that had the name of baker whose product is carried at my favorite farm store. I had a chance to talk to some of his staff and they gave me recommendations of breads and pastries to try based on some of my established favorites. Have you ever had a chocolate, cherry bavarian pretzel made just hours ago? If not I recommend trying to get your hands on one, it may change your whole world.

The farmers market. 

In the midst of all of these wonderful things there was one really big thing that was bugging me. Most of the local farms had a very sparse variety due to the early season. Peas, greens, lettuce, berries and root veggies were still abundant but the summer produce has not really begun to make its appearance, except for at one booth. This one booth was filled with tomatoes, cucumbers, greens, lettuce, corn, and more all claiming to be local. Behind the booth there were boxes from which the produce was unpacked with labels all intact. I felt a little blah about it. I went there looking for good wholesome, local foods and felt like I was being duped. After I thought about it a minute it may be better to just get what you need in one place from the same face week after week outside the walls of the grocery store, even if the food is not local. No harm no foul. I left that booth and went over to a table with this one man selling 2 pints of blueberries, 1 pint of strawberries, 6 pints of peas and greens. His sign told the name of his business and stated, "We grow everything we sell." He was more than willing to talk about the gardens he had and the how the summer crops were doing and he was within an hour from my town.

Sunflowers from the farmers market. 

I had such a great time meeting and talking to all of these people from the area. Since it was a relatively slow day the sellers were more than willing to spend a few minutes with me and it really gave me a sense of community. I learned a lot and even look forward to going again this week.

Does your farmers market sell only local goods or do they have large booths of people selling grocery store quality produce?

Shared on The Homestead Barn Hop

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Campfire Conversations

8 year old girls are kind of funny. Well, at least mine is. She seems to talk incessantly, about what ever is running through her head at the moment. Sometimes she challenges me with some of the most thought provoking questions but most of the time she is narrating her way through life. She does not talk to anyone in particular but comments on whatever she is doing, asks her self questions and always says, "hey, mom, wanna know what I just thought of?"

Little guy on the other hand is the exact opposite. He is quiet and thoughtful. On the drive to school I would catch him looking out the window, completely silent and would question if he was okay. He would do his best impersonation of his older sister's eye roll and reply with a giggle, "I'm just looking' out the window!"

There is one place that I can count of both of the kids to sit down and hold a conversation that is completely relaxed, unstaged, and for the sake of being truthful distracted enough to be meaningful. The dinner table is our usual talk to place but the real business of meal time is to chow down which makes talking somewhat cut short and watered down. To really catch all the good stuff, the feelings, hopes and some extra cuddle time we sit around the camp fire. It is really amazing how the glow of the fire sets an environment that makes everyone including children relax. Stories are shared, songs are sung, plans are made. I get to find out little tid bits about their lives that they forget to share in the business of day to day life that seem to just sneak their way out as the flames dance. I learn who is mean at school and who is nice. I get to hear about what they think about things that they have heard others, mostly Dad and I, discuss between adults. I get a chance to see them for who they are when they let their guard down and have no distractions and no one around. The great thing is, I like what they let me see. Campfires are a pretty great way to bond with family and learn about one another. Not only that but campfires make really good food which leads to the fall back place of conversation, the dinner table.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Home Remedy for Splinters

  1. This blog post is not intended to diagnose or treat any ailment. It is not a replacement for medical treatment. Please seek the help of a trained medical professional if you feel you need it. This post is intended for reading enjoyment. 

    Home remedy: A home remedy is a treatment to cure a disease or ailment that employs certain spices, vegetables, or other common items.

    My mom grew up on farm in middle America. She was raised at a time when town was hours away and Doctors and vets made home visits but were quiet costly. She was also raised at a time when people were reliant upon home remedies for simple ailments. Modern medicine is useful and wonderful but every once in a while it is useful to try to rely on a home remedy. I know there are reasons that we have abandoned certain remedies but it is fun to see if they work.

    With all of that said over Father's Day weekend our family went camping again. We stayed at a place that was having a whole weekend dedicated to Dads and had a lot of fun activities for kids as we were with another family with young children. One of the events was a mini golf tournament. Some how, during the course Little Guy managed to climb up onto a wooden horse that was old and weathered and fit in perfect with the wild west gold mining theme the campground was going for. Other kids were doing it is was funny the staff found it cute and so did I until I realized later that his hand was filled with splinters. He had about six of them stuck in his hand from very tiny to very large. Some of them we were able to pull out with tweezers no problem while other required the use of a sewing needle to open the skin. The were a couple (the two largest ones of course) that were so deep and so brittle that we could not get them out. We tried softening the skin in water. Finally Little Guy let us know that he had had enough and was not going to let us touch him anymore. I couldn't blame him. 

    Before (it is hard to see them but they are there)
    When we arrived home I contacted grandma to find out if she had any special techniques for removing splinters. She told me take a pice of bacon fat and put it against the skin where the splinter was and then wrap his hand. She also noted that bedtime was the right time to do this procedure to keep him from messing around with it and even went so far as to bring me over of piece of bacon since there was none in our house. I found her advice completely nonsensical but did as she told me. Then I tucked my precious little baby who now smelled like smoked pork into bed hoping that he would not wake up in worse condition. 

    The bacon is under wraps but it's there
    First thing in the morning I felt a little body climb into my bed and in the twilight a little face popped right into my face and said, "Are you going to take this thing off yet? It smells like bacon and it's making me hungry!" I stumbled out of bed unwrapped the little hand and discarded the bandage in the trash. I took tweezers to one of the splinters and it came right out. The other required a little bit of work but it came out also. So was grandma's bacon trick helpful? Definitely! I guess I owe her an apology for all the ribbing I gave her about her this after all I may need her advice in the future if she can keep providing gems like this one. Thanks Grandma!

    Again difficult to see but the splinters are out leaving behind only the irritation from being in there for 2 whole days. 

Monday, June 9, 2014

June Photo Tour

I have a case of the Mondays today. I completely lack motivation so while on my third cup of coffee I took my daily walk around the yard. Luckily I took my camera with me and now I can share the progress of the garden with you. 

Here are the sunflowers that the rabbits so kindly demolished for me. I guess with all the little bunnies that have been born within the last 2 weeks the mommas ave been hungry. How could I be upset with pregnant gals or new mommas? 

We had a grand total of 2 strawberries from our two plants this year. Hopefully in the coming years we will have better luck. It might help if I kept on top of the weeds a little better and some mulching probably wouldn't hurt either. I'll have to remember to put that on the to do list. 

The radishes are doing great! We enjoyed some with our homegrown leaf lettuce over the weekend. Yum! The onions and leeks are also doing well. The carrots on the other hand have failed despite two separate planting attempts. 

The broccoli looks awesome. I am so happy we tried a spring planting after all of our fall plants failed last year. We will be eating this soon as the warm weather will probably make it flower quickly.

The cabbage it coming along nicely and thanks to some lovely birds with new babies in the nest the looper population is all but gone.

We purchased a flag for the front of our house and my wonderful husband finally got it hung over the weekend. I love it! Can you see our little table? Yes, it's a tree trunk. Nothing like using what you already have to create something you need.

The three sisters garden (or at least my attempt). The squash, beans, and corn are popping up. I was trying to work on making some homemade trellises to support the beans while the corn grows. This is what I get for planting all at one time rather than stagger starting like recommended.

I took this photo to put my peas on blast for never making it or producing. Then I noticed the one pea pod. It will probably be the only one we get as the average temps now are in the 80's but I am so stinking happy to see that one pea. I forget everything I said about never planting peas again.

Stormy dog enjoying a ball she found. What is a walk without a friend even if she abandons you for the first fun thing she finds?

Over all the garden is progressing well. The plants are getting bigger and most of them have flowers. I even have a tomato or two already.

Enjoy your Monday and thanks for taking a tour with me. 

Shared on the Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead

Monday, June 2, 2014

Homemade Grapefruit Cleaner

Homemade cleaners are one of the ways that I can control the number of chemicals coming into my home. This is very important to me as I have two children who suffer from asthma. One of the easiest cleaners I have stumbled upon in my search for safe and effective cleaners is this grapefruit cleaner. I use it for cleaning the bathtub and sinks, occasionally I will use it to scrub the toilet. I have found that it works best when baking soda is added to the solution as I am using it. The best part is that it is super simple to make.

1. Fill one mason jar of any size with grapefruit or other citrus peels being careful to only use the skin and as little of the white as possible and not part of the actual fruit. 

2. Cover the peels with white vinegar.

3. Let sit in dark area (I place it under the sink) for roughly two weeks keeping covered. 

4. When ready strain peels from vinegar solution and return liquid only to mason jar or into spray bottle.

5. Wet surface you intend to clean with vinegar solution and add baking soda scrub with cloth and rinse. 

Variations include lemon, orange, lime. Also herbs can be added to enhance the aroma. I have used rosemary and mint along with grapefruit.

Shared at the Homestead Barn Hop on The Prairie Homestead