Thursday, December 31, 2009


We are girls with a mission, and we LOVE to learn. We usually have several things going on both actively and in our minds (which can be frustrating at times...we scarcely know how to relax or sleep!). When every year makes it's debut, we each have a list of new things we want to learn. We don't tend toward goals of a physical nature (losing weight, exercising, etc., we like to cook and eat FAR too much to ever stick with resolutions like that!), rather ours run more toward learning a new skill, doing something different in the garden, traveling somewhere new, learning a new language (this one might be a stretch),but you know, things like that, that keep us active and moving! We talk about what we want to learn and usually end up doing a few of them together!

Here are a few for 2010...

1. We are tackling chickens! Mom has an elaborately beautiful coop plan she is going to tackle (turrets and all), one big enough to house enough chickens for both organic eggs and meat. I will be taking on a much smaller version; one that will hold up to 4 chickens (just for eggs...I don't know if I am ready to slaughter yet...gulp...)

2. We, believe it or not, have technology goals (this one makes me we are not technology lovers). Mom is going to get a new phone (with all the bells and wistles), she is going to learn how to use it in and out. I, on the other hand, am beginning to work on Andrew's new website. I have never designed a website before, so this will be a challenge, but I have wonderful people willing to help if I get stuck, and I know what my end goal is!

3. I want to learn to cook more ethnic food! My family and husband love trying foods from all over the world, so my goal is to add a few more recipes to my repetoire that reflect many different areas (Thailand, Japan, France, China, India, Mexico, Spain, etc.)! If any of you have great ethnic recipes, please do pass them on! I would love it! (I am also going to make my own butter, even if it only gets accomplished once! It only takes 15 minutes people! Did you know that!?)

4. I am going to learn to sew. I can do BASIC pillows, curtains tablecloths and napkins, but I am going to try to sew clothes... this should be interesting. Luckily, my mom is an ace. I hope she is prepared for lots of sewing emergency phone calls.

I could go on and on with things that we want to learn and do. I hope you, as well, have fun plans to look forward to in 2010, but first and foremost, we want to wish our wonderful readers a blessed and beautiful New Year!!!


Thursday, December 24, 2009

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Saturday, December 19, 2009

Can't get enough herbs!!!

Okay, I don't know about you guys, but I don't like paying $3 at the store every time I need 1 Tablespoon of a specific herb. I also don't care for the quality in which I get them half the time. I love to cook, and still want my cooking to be fresh and flavorful through the winter months so here's my plan...I am going to grow my own.

I usually start off with already established herb plants that I plant outside and therefore can't use in the winter, or I have them in pots and forget to bring them in before the frost finishes them off. This time, I am going to do it from seed (yes, I know it's December)! I am using things I already had laying around (for the most part); a pot, some good potting mix, and a spray bottle for watering (create your own spray bottle by puncturing a plastic water bottle about 10 times with a sewing needle in a small circular pattern near the neck of the bottle-the water squeezes out at the perfect rate. I came up with this when I figured out I had started using my only spray bottle for floor cleaner). The seed and a grow light (I chose a 150 watt incandescent Agrosun Dayspot Grow Bulb) were the only things I had to gather .

A few herbs that I wanted to make sure I have around are rosemary, basil, parsley, chives and cilantro (having oregano and thyme wouldn't hurt either!). I haven't started rosemary from seed before, but all the others are a cinch! Plant them in the pot as you would sow them in the ground, keep the grow bulb on during the day, keep them constantly damp until they germinate (*imporant! if they dry out they will not germinate! just remember to water before work and before you go to bed), then follow a regular watering schedule once they get a little growth on them. You will have fresh herbs in no time!

I can't wait until I am biting into a peice of bruschetta made with tomatoes (preserved from this summer's garden) and a mound of fresh basil straight from my own windowsill! YUM!


Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Planning Ahead

I am always so grateful for the first spot of color in the spring after what seem like the longest, darkest days, when all I want to do is get outside and work in the garden. I am an instant gratification kind of girl, so planting bulbs in the fall oftentimes isn't hugely satisfying, but a few months later I am so happy that I did.

This past fall was the first I was able to plant bulbs in flower beds (my husband and I just bought a house and moved out of a rental), but there are ways to have bulbs even if you can't plant them directly in the ground or don't want to go to all the work of planting them in the ground (it gets a little tiring, I will admit, bending over for hours digging little holes for each bulb). Any kind of bulb (tulip, daffodil, crocus, hyacinth, etc.), works beautifully planted in pots for your front porch, back patio or even tucked into your flower beds! I write about it now, because it does take just a little bit of planning ahead. I am gathering up the bulbs I want in the next couple days to begin the project! I love to have something pretty by my front door every season, so this is always a fun way to ensure that it's pretty in the spring! It's fun to mix and match bulbs or have just a pot full of one color (very striking).

Here's how you do it:

Option #1
* Gather up the bulbs of your choice
* Put them in cold storage (a cool garage, cellar, refrigerator) for 8-12 weeks depending on the type of bulb you chose (some require 8 weeks, some require 10-12).
* Take out of cold storage in the early spring (after required chill time). Pot bulbs the depth indicated on bulb tag in good potting soil (I use Miracle Grow potting mix). You can use any size, shape, color of container you want!
* Keep evenly moist, don't let dry out completely but make sure not to give them too much water or it will rot the bulb.
* Put out on front porch when out of danger of freezing temperatures.

* There is one other way to do it, but it may just be slightly more touchy depending on what kind of conditions you have at your house. You can plant bulbs in pots now, keep them outside under covered patio, awning, etc.(to keep them protected from hard frost), but you must make sure to keep the roots damp, but not overly wet, just as with all potted plants this time of year. This would require watering every couple weeks or so. I tend to go with option #1 because it doesn't require me going out when it's freezing cold to water my plants!

That's it!!! Simple isn't it?

Here is some picture inspiration to get the juices flowing!

Happy Planting!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Need an appetizer idea?

Sometimes, I find it hard to figure out what hors de ouvres to serve at dinner parties, and it's especially hard to come up with something wonderful to take to a friend's dinner party that doesn't need to be served hot right out of the oven. We have a yummy solution, and want to share it with you! (Best part...only three ingredients!!!)

Almond stuffed Dates wrapped with Prosciutto

-One pouch pitted dates
-One package prosciutto
-One bag of slivered almonds

Toast almonds, in oven set on broil, just until lightly browned. Keep a CLOSE watch, they burn easily. When cooled off enough to handle, put an almond inside each date. Wrap dates with thin strips of prosciutto. Put wrapped dates in a heated skillet. Cook until prosciutto shrinks slightly around dates. Remove and enjoy!!! (Equally as wonderful served hot or at room temperature!)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

12 Shopping Days of Christmas!

We are closing in on Christmas, so we wanted to make sure everyone knew about the special deals we have going!!!

For the last 12 shopping days until Christmas a different item (or category) will be substantially discounted! See below for the deal of the day!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Pickling Your Paperwhites

The paperwhite narcissus is a popular bulb for indoor forcing in the winter months. Unlike most other daffodils, paperwhites do not require a cold period. They are simply planted in pots with soil, or even more commonly, in dishes or bowls with gravel, marbles or other decorative material. With a little water, they rapidly form roots, grow leaves and shoots. The white,fragrant flowers usually open up within 2-3 weeks of planting.

A common problem with paperwhites, however, is that they often grow too tall and fall over.

There is a simple and effective way to reduce stem and leaf growth of paperwhites. The "secret" is using dilute solutions of alcohol. Properly used, the result is paperwhites that are 1/3 to 1/2 shorter, with equal sized flowers that last as long as normal.

Place your bulbs in stones, gravel, marbles, glass beads, etc., as usual. Add water as you normally would, then wait about 1 week until roots are growing and the shoot is green and growing about 1-2" above the top of the bulb. At this point, pour off the water and replace it with solution of 4 to 6% alcohol, made from just about any "hard" liquor. You can do the calculations to figure the dilution but, as an example, to get a 5% solution from a 40% distilled spirit (e.g., gin, vodka, whiskey, rum, tequila), you add 1 part of the alcohol to 7 parts of water. This is an 8-fold dilution yielding 5% alcohol.

Then, simply use this solution, instead of water, for further watering of your bulbs. It's as simple as that!
The result will be a plant that is shorter, but with flowers, just as large, fragrant, and long-lasting as usual. The plant will be nicely proportioned and won't need support stakes, wires, or other gizmos to keep it upright.

*Do not use beer or wine, as the sugars in them will cause major problems with the plants.
*If you do not have alcohol in the house, rubbing alcohol (isopropyl alcohol) works just as well. A dilution of 1 part rubbing alcohol to 10 or 11 parts water is appropriate.

It is simply "water stress", where the alcohol makes it more difficult for the plant to absorb water. the plant suffers a slight lack of water, enough to reduce leaf and stem growth, but not enough to affect flower size or flower longevity.