Thursday, August 9, 2012

How does your garden grow?

My little potted garden on the porch has grown so good this summer. I think the rain water is what it really likes.

I have had a wonderful crop so far this summer and the plants still are not finished producing fruit. Next year we are going to try for more plants and see what happens. I think I am going to try to grow greens and strawberries in the spring. Maybe I will look for some things that can grow in the fall too. I love growing stuff.

My herb garden is doing good indoors too! I use the herbs in everything. I would love to grow lemon balm and mint. But I think they would do better outside. I am still learn but I think for my first growing season I did good. We can try again next year.

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

Summer Night Alone

Lights over the top of my deck 

Pandora Station I am listing to. Add a little Tiny Tim in there too!
MacBook for tunes, wine for sanity, and the mason jar as a night light
Drink of choice, almost as good as my Pink Truck 

I love the lights 
A nice spot to rest and relax after working all day 
The patio garden that surrounds me

Things I have learned from Contemporary Folk Music tonight:
  1. Let it be 
  2. You can't roller-skate in a buffalo herd
  3. You can't go fishing in a watermelon patch 
  4. Sweet Pea your the reason I keep coming home 
  5. Darlin' your heads not right 
  6. You were only waiting for this moment to arise
I think Contemporary Folk music could be my new favorite music especially if I am going to lean things like these! To night was a nice relaxing time and I am glad I got to spend it with myself. It is hard to remember that you need to have time to turn your brain off and just pick up on the funny lyrics to calming music. It takes my mind off the fact that all the clothes I have washed are hanging around the Apartment because the dryer is broken. 

My goal for this week is to spend time with myself!! 

Monday, June 4, 2012

Anniversary Adventure

Yesterday, June 3rd, was mine and Owen's two year anniversary. We spend the day on the beach with Rosco. It was a beautiful Sunday. The water was almost completely see-through and there was hardly a cloud in the sky.

Thank goodness summer is here. We were starting to get the winter blues and I think I may have overwhelmed Owen with all the projects I had for us on those cold winter weekends. 

It is true the quality of our life is way better in the summer. We just made it through our first beach winter together and there were several times when we weren't so sure we could make it. We are so glad to have the sunshine and warm weather. Back to spending weekends on the beach! 

Rosco loves the beach. He is getting so brave in the ocean. Before we know it he will be out there in the deep water with me and O. Of course it would not be a beach day on the National Seashore without the third degree from the Park Service about keeping Rosco on a leash. Good to know our tax dollars go toward something other than putting up fences around the birds.

Yesterday was a perfect day for me to surf! Little waves beautiful water and it was such a warm day. We even had some very up close encounters with the most beautiful dolphins. 

This is my sumer project! Surfing! Gary, Owen's Dad brought me this throwback in the eye board from florida. Now that the water is getting warmer I think it is time we put it to use!

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Rain catching

I had this wonderful ideas that I would buy a rain barrel, but I do not have gutters so filling up this 50 gallon bucket is not an easy task!

I love my collapsible rain barrel because I live in an apartment and I rent so it is a lot easier to travel. I also love how the top of it is so big so I can catch more rain. That was the main selling point. You can build your own. But you have to find a large barrel first. If you find one let me know I want to make a compost bin in one.

This publication gives the most info about rain barrels!
I put these guys on the front porch to catch more water. I need more buckets are gutters. Then as they fill I run them to the rain barrel on the back deck. I'm only half full now. Hopefully I'll get a few more good rains before summer.
My new window herb garden loves my rain water! I found this basket to put them in at Hot Line. They look so good. They taste wonderful too. I have dill, time, oregano, and lavender in this window sill. It smells so good over there.

I keep a little rain water inside so that I always remember to water my house plants with it too. It also gives me a good use for all the half gallon jars I found in the old house. They are no longer safe for canning and I am not sure where I would find a canner big enough to put them in. I know I will never make that much juice! As you saw from how I made jelly making juice is hard. 

These guys like the rain water too! Its only May and look how big my tomato plants are. The pepper plant is working on it. I think it just takes longer for them to grow. 

My rose bush is finally growing! I had two in there but i successfully killed the one that was on the left side. Poor thing. Hopefully I will have a huge rose bush growing over the side of the railing soon. Or maybe that is wishful thinking for this year. 

Yogurt making

I don't know where these wild ideas come from! I think I was reading a blog about urban homesteading or something like that and I saw them making their own yogurt and I eat yogurt everyday. So clearly I should try to make my own yogurt. I tried in the oven first because that is cheapest, but I had to leave my oven at 110 degrees all night. It made me a little nervous and then my yogurt was very runny and i did not add any sugar so it was super tart. It was still good with granola and honey. If milk freaks you out you should not do this because you do have to boil the milk. And it's not too pretty.

Then I bought this nifty thing. It incubates my yogurt and has a timer that shuts off after you have set it for the right time based on the milk fat content. Usually 8 hours, but last time I did 10 and it was really tart. The yogurt maker came with these cute little glass jars. You can put the expiration date on the top of them. Homemade yogurt is only good for 19 days.

I take 42oz of milk which fills all my containers. I bring the milk to 120 degrees in a double boiler and add about 3/4 a cup of powdered milk. Then I bring the milk to a boil for 1 to 2 minutes. That is 180 degrees if you use a thermometer. The milk needs to climb the sides. Then I let it cool to 120 and you can add sugar or honey, but only a little like 5 tablespoons or so. But I usually wait until I am going to eat it to sweeten it. Once the milk has cooled to 110 degrees I add my starter; which can be plain sugar free yogurt or freez dried yogurt culture. If the milk it too hot the bacteria in the yogurt will die and yogurt cannot form. Then you have to incubate the yogurt. However you would like to keep the yogurt between 108 and 112 degrees. Yogurt temperature should not drop below 100 degrees.

Once the incubation process is over I let it rest for at least 3 hours before I eat it. And hot yogurt is not very good.

It's pretty easy! No preservatives, added sugar or artificial flavorings. I actually use my jam to flavor the yogurt. It is really good and totally homemade.

Yogurt puls homemade granola.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

After my Jams and Jellies class!

We used my granddad's apples to make this really pretty pink apple jelly. After making the juice you just add sugar. My jelly did not set up as well because I could not choose from ripe and unripe apples. The perfect ration would be 3/4 ripe and 1/4 unripe so there is enough pectin in the skin and core. Pectin and sugar are what cause the jelly to gel. The combination has to be just right to achieve the proper consistency. I read that powdered pectin might set up better than liquid. I'll have to experiment with that!

These are beautiful!! I tasted it before I canned it and it was great! I have not opened it yet because I am not ready to eat it. They look beautiful in my cabinet. I also printed labels from the computer so those who took my class could put their name on the top.

We also made raspberry jam. Jam I'd made from crushed berries rather than from the fruit juice which is how you make jelly. It is very easy if you have planed your own fruit. Usually you have to have double the amount needed because you will crust them down. Which if you are buying can be rather expensive. But the result is beautiful! The jam set up really well because we added pectin which I bought at Walmart, but can also be found at your local hardware store. Both were put in a boiling water bath for less than 15 minutes so the jars have to sterilize the jars. I just put them in the dishwasher.

If you are interested in canning you can do some research in both of these books! The USDA has the Complete Guide to Home Canning on their website so check that out for free. The Ball Bule Book is good too. They are a little over $6.00.

Monday, April 23, 2012

Making jelly

I am making apple juice from my grandaddy's apple straight from his orchard! The juice I am making will be used to flavor the jelly I will be making tomorrow in my canning class.

Here is how my juice is looking so far. I took the apples and simmered them in a little bit of water -1 cup of water for every heaping quart. Then you pour the apples and water through cheese cloth. I took the cheese cloth and pulled it up around the apples.

There is the bag hanging from the cabinet. After this drips or at least until bed time I have to bring it to 190 degrees to pasteurize it with heat. This will kill any E coli O157 H:7. I will let you know how the jelly turns out!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Chicks at the office

Look at how cute these guys are. They showed up at our office after the schools hatched them. The Cooperative Extension 4-H program provides classrooms with an incubator, and eggs to teach students about embryology. I think it is so cool and one day I will be taking on of these guys home. 

This guy is really cut, but cute comes with poop! Almost all the pictures have poop in them! It is just like any animal. I don't think they poop nearly as much as the rabbits I once had. Oh and I am going to have a rabbit again one day. You know there poop is really good fertilizer for the garden. 

It is so hard to work when theses guys are around.

I grew that!

I grew herbs in my window in the living room! They are doing so good. I decided I wanted to use them fresh. Way different from the dried stuff that McCormick sells. Turned out way better. 

I am growing Parsley, Basil, and Cilantro. The basil went into the spaghetti sauce I made. I put the Parsley on the garlic bread and toasted it. OMG! Good! I had a great dinner to night.

I want to grow a lot of my own food. These herbs were my first experiment. I think Tomatoes and Pepper will grow will well on my porch. I have already planted a rose bush that I want to grow up and over the railing. It would give me a little more privacy from the road. 

Painting Pottery

Owen and I went to Glazin Go Nuts at milepost 6 and made these! Mine is a coffee mug with fish on it and Owen made a noodle bowl with dog prints on the outside. I love to paint my own pottery. So much fun!

Close up! We did a good job! 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Love smoothies!

I have a new found love for smoothies which is great because otherwise I do not get enough fruits. I bought this frozen berry medley from Walmart and some non fat frozen yogurt to make it cheaper than buying fresh. Although the blackberries have really big seeds. I really don't like seeds so maybe I'll try some different frozen fruits next time.

Oh and I bought plastic straws to use instead of disposable straws. I like to drink out of straws but I hate to waste so much buying them over and over again so these I got at Kirkland's for $2.99 a pack of six. But because I live on here on the outter banks I had to order them.

Wood burning

I have always wanted to try wood burning. So I have these super cool wood burning tools....

I know I don't have a stand so I put the hot one on a shot glass. I made the cutes little sign out of beach fence. I found it washed up on the beach so that makes even cooler looking. Don't judge me too harshly it was my first experience.

Now I have to find some ore wood to burn! I could come up some cute ideas for organization and burnt wood signs. I'll get back to you on that one.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

I love growing stuff now!

I have been trying to grow things these days and it turns out my black thumb isn't so black anymore! I think it is thanks to Jan the ag tech at the cooperative extension office where I work. She got a lot of bulbs about a month ago and I potted a few that have grown into beautiful flowers.

They are beautiful aren't they? See why I have taken up growing things. It is not that hard to make things grow like this aloe plant. When I got it it was soo small. I repotted it and now it is getting pretty big. In fact I think it is time to repot it again. It loves the sunlight from our out of place window. The best part is the aloe plant does mind to much if you forget to water it.

I would really like to have one of those really large aloe plants... It is a project in the works. I think I will have to add another aloe plant to this one to make it spread out. This one just likes to grow up.

I bought this herb garden at target. I'm growing cilantro, basil, and parsley. I started them from seeds so I excited to watch them grow. I see this hobbie growing especially when it gets warmer.