Sunday, September 25, 2016

Nature's Bounty and Salsa.

This is the first time in about 5 years that I've had a vegetable garden! And I'm loving it. I didn't plant too much this year, but it's a start on the right track. Although I've lived at places for the last 5 years that had acreage, we were renting and I just couldn't get enthused about putting in a garden on land that wasn't mine. It's alot of work to develop and nurture a garden!

But the new (old) house we live in now is ours! so I feel much more motivated to put in flowers and plant a small vegetable garden.  And mind you, it's only a small LOT in town, not on acreage, so not much room here for a garden in the ground (and besides, about 6 inches down I swear there is a layer of cement under our back yard!).......... so I decided to use some of the plastic tubs that we  used for moving (3 times in the last 4 years!) and get some additional use out of them! Plus... there is a big gravel area on the side of our house that is a perfect place for all those tubs. 

Our biggest "crop" was tomatoes. Five plants (that were pretty sad when we bought them) have yielded us probably a good 25 lbs. of tomatoes or more. So what do you do when you have an excess of tomatoes and you can't eat enough every day to keep up with them? You make salsa!

I must have chopped and minced and sliced for 3 hours at least! I could have made FOUR six apples pies for all the chopping and cutting I did! I don't think I'll make salsa again..... too labor intensive for a small reward.  I didn't want to "can" the salsa, so opted to make a batch for the freezer (after searching the internet for hours, of course, for a freezer recipe). 

I think I'd rather have apple pie for all the chopping and cutting I did....... just sayin'............

Used LOTS of limes.

Hubby had to try some poured over his roast beef and spud dinner. He said it was very tasty!

Ready to put into the freezer.
I'd much rather just eat fresh tomatoes.... I love the sweetness of a "real" tomato from the garden..... wish there was some way to just keep them fresh and not have to can or freeze or roast or dry them!

And the ironic thing is..... I can't eat this salsa! I have had bouts of diverticulitis over the years, and for some reason, eating this made me hurt really bad. I think it's the Cumin Seeds that I used.. they were pretty big and I don't do well with seeds. Next time, I'll use ground cumin, not the seeds... buy hey... I already said there probably won't be a next time so I won't have to worry! 

Live and learn............. next year there will maybe be only two tomato plants. We've had some night time freezes already, and they just keep on keepin' on! There are still tons of green and pale orange tomatoes on the vine. I may be forced to make some fried green tomatoes or something? Or green relish.........

I think planting marigolds by the tomatoes kept all the pests away..... companion planting is a great thing and I didn't even think of it when I slid that tub of marigolds over by the tomatoes! And then I remembered that years ago I used to companion plant all the time. 

In my younger years (my 30's), with two small children, I managed to work full-time and have three huge gardens. I really don't know how I did it... plus did tons of canning and freezing at the end of each summer.... PLUS went out scrounging for free stuff, like plums, blackberries and apples.... and usually made jelly, apple butter, and jam too. Oh to be young again and have all that energy!

Mums from my front raised flower bed - they have blown up like crazy! the plants bushes are gigantic!
I also had one lemon cucumber plant this summer that survived and thrived... so we enjoyed just eating those sweet little gems fresh. They were so sweet, and the neighbor kids loved them also.. so I think they got about half of them.

I planted one celery plant - see in the picture below.. it got overtaken by the nasturtiums I planted.... where I wrote "celery plant", the "p" is touching the top of the plant.... but I got quite a few stalks of celery from that one plant!

I experimented with potatoes in one of the tubs... planted them only about 3 inches deep, and once they started popping up through the dirt, I threw straw over them. The plants are  huge now and I haven't harvested the spuds yet, but I think they're just about ready! I did pull up a smaller plant two weeks ago and was rewarded with about 10 little potatoes and one big one! That's always exciting... wasn't sure how they'd do in such shallow depth..

My two raspberry plants (above) that I hauled all over for the last 4 years in a tub, that I brought from our home up in SW Washington.. .finally found a home here in the ground..... and they have THRIVED! I'm eating raspberries today as I write..... I didn't know they were everbearings, but they must be and they are so so sweet. I'm in Raspberry Heaven!  I even bought another plant to keep them company.... a golden raspberry.......  you can see it way in the back... very small and a lighter green. And added two strawberries to the mix which I'll probably transplant into a tub of their own.. and I know they'll multiply next spring.

So........ I've been enjoying nature's bounty for the first time in years.. at my own hands.. and it's been really rewarding and fun.

Not to be outdone by the tomatoes... all of my flowers have been flourishing also... under my green thumb.. which I forgot I had... but I am relearning the do's and don't's of flower gardening. I am in Flower Heaven too! Nature's "bounty" in a different way.
Hollyhocks that we just planted 2 weeks ago.

My "almost" patio.... still has a gravel floor...... but I love the flowers that surround our sitting area.. and love how the sun peaks over the trees as it sets........ and am hoping by next summer we will get the much longed for pond installed over there behind the row of flowers! A girl can dream can't she?  And oh.. I need a tree to shade our sitting area too... not the blue canopy.

Our rescue kitty, Maddie, that we found last Fall right before we moved to our house. loves playing in her own little jumgle amongst the pots and tubs. She's not a kitty any more... she has definitely grabbed our hearts and keeps us on our toes.

Never thought Coleus would do well outdoors in such heat... but it has been thriving too.... we have watered everything every day (and sometimes twice) through this long hot summer.  I've taken a couple of cuttings from it and they are indoors in water.. hoping for some roots so I can grow it through the winter.
A few more pretties:

I finally got my Potting Shed sign up on the fence..... I like it above the little yellow bench.

I know I've been "ga ga" over my flowers and "garden".... (and overwhelmed everyone with pictures), so this will probably be the last post for the year as far as summer, gardens and flowers go! (maybe...................)

We got something new to dress up our house a little bit, which I'll show you next time...... have a nice day everyone!

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Tuesday, August 30, 2016

Around my house... favorite things and updates.

It's been awhile since I've shown some of the "updates" in my new (old) house that we purchased last October. I seem to be decorating with alot of vintage/thrift store (old) finds! Here goes... I'll try to be brief as this post is very PHOTO HEAVY. I love every single thing here... some I've had for years and years.. and some are new to me. Enjoy! 

Little wire basket from Restore (Habitat for Humanity).
Let's start with the master bedroom. I think I've shown most of it since we painted it pink last Fall, but here are a few new things:

LOVE my china teacups... most were given to me as a child by my godmothers... and they are lovingly placed on my mom's cup shelf that she had in her house for many many years. I hope to paint this shelf white one of these days.

New old picture from a thrift store... how much better could it match my pink bedroom? And more of my mom's china plates.

My mom's china plates over our closet. Love the ones she had with pink as the main color.

My "what not" shelf for miniatures. I bought this probably 30 years ago.. was rough wood and I painted it white a few years ago. LOVE all of my miniatures that I've collected over the years.
 Next... our master bath:

I LOVE the pale gray walls! It was BRIGHT yellow before I painted. Never thought I would be a "gray" person.. but coming from the pink bedroom, I decided I needed something calmer. This is our new white wall cabinet that my sister got us for a housewarming gift.. I love the little baskets and open shelves.

My sister bought me the little "books" for my birthday, which are really little boxes with lids. Perfect for storing things I use alot but don't want out in sight.  (Oops.. I see a spot of paint I missed over that switch plate!).

These "fish china plates" were perfect for the bathroom. They were my dad's that my mom gave him over the years (they are both deceased now).......... and though he had about 20, I only got about 2 from the estate... then I happened to see these at a garage sale my sister was having... she was selling them! can't believe it.... I snapped them up of course.  Also.. love this little "bath" sign that I bought at the Dollar Store.

Pretty little wicker shelf I got for $3.00 at a  yard sale last  year.. painted it white (wish I had a before photo, but forgot to take one). My accent color in this bath is aqua, so found some aqua votive candle holders, and fabrics with aqua in them that I wrapped around my pill bottles and tied with a pretty bow! The little bunnies were my mom's.. they needed a home as had been stored in a box for years.  The "key" hooks I've had for about 10 years and love it. Was perfect here for little what-nots and necklaces.

Moving on......... to our living room.....

This large picture found a home here.... found by hubby from the local Restore.... not totally what I had in mind, but I like it... and the colors are so pretty in our darkish room  The picture to the left I've had for years..... always loved the porch scene... and it was a perfect match here.

Dreamy porch scene... I want one just like it! I DO have a white wicker chair that was my great grandmother's..... but is still stored at my son's house many miles away! Someday................
And now for my most favorite "find" from a recent trip to a garden store.....  PINK shutters! can you believe it????

I bought these for $12.00 at a garden shop...... could not believe the gal there had painted them pink! They were supposed to be for our bedroom... but instead found their home on my side table on the small living room wall that I didn't know what to do with. I can sit and look at this little vignette from my favorite chair, so think it will live here for now.

Above is the short wall in our living room.. one doorway goes into the kitchen and the other end (right end) is open to the dining area. I didn't quite know what to do with it... the white beadboard is NOT attached yet! and sorry about the mirror on the floor that hasn't found a home yet.  I love everything on this wall.. the little antique drop-leaf table that was my aunt's (although it really needs to be in a different spot).... the Victorian lamp on top that was my mom's and her mom's.....the picture in the middle on the wall that is a collage of pictures of my mom and dad..... the "Home" sign (have had for years)..... the PINK SHUTTER of course!.........and the little pink birds on the piece of wood.

Oh my... can you believe my sister found pink birds?? Amazing... she found this at a little shop in La Pine, Oregon called Twigs..... the owners make most of their items.... he is a genius with wood and she is a genius with twigs!

One more thing....

I won these CUTE little squishy squash pumpkins from a drawing at  Embracing Cottage Style. I can't remember which shop offered these for the prize for that month... I really DID try to find it, but can't remember which month I won! They are the cutest little things and decorated so sweetly. If you like "shabby, romantic, french, farmhouse, coastal and retro".... take at look at this site! It's pretty awesome. 

The squishy squashes look so cute in my little wire basket!

Well maybe one more thing.............. a few things in my kitchen:

Love my flowered curtain that  hides our hot water heater! Fabric that I've had for  years.. intended for bedroom curtains but never made it there.  I really do need to find a more vintage looking clock for this spot! 

LOVE this Mary Englebreit tray that I've had for many years.... just didn't know where to put it... but it looks darling on my apple green kitchen wall (see the temp today???)..... that's "cooler" for here!

Little wood fish plaque that I made for my dad 15 years ago. The fish is hand carved. He was an avid fisherman!
Uh..... I was going to show some craft room thrifty finds.. but this is so long I think that'll be in one of my next posts.

Have a great day!  That's it for now.....

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

Healthy gluten free apple cinnamon protein bars!

Who doesn't want a quick and healthy "snack" for breakfast? I do! I'm always looking for a good gluten free protein bar recipe... one for a healthy, sugar-free (but yummy) bar I can grab in the morning to snack on while I drink my daily cup of herbal tea. 

By jove, I think I found a really good one! My husband is an avid collector of recipes he finds on the internet, and sometimes I'll try one of his recipes just out of curiosity.  

He has a (huge) 3 ring binder of recipes. I was browsing through his binder today, and saw one he printed out from a website called Anabolic Cooking. It's a website by a guy named Dave Ruel, who is quite the muscle builder (or used to be), dealing with ways to eat for building muscle mass... hubby is always looking for ways to build his muscles so he tends to save alot of high protein and muscle building recipes.

The Anabolic Cooking website promotes the cookbook Dave Ruel wrote, called The Anabolic Cooking Cookbook. I just wanted to try this one recipe for Apple & Cinnamon High Protein Muffins. It sounded pretty easy to make, had no sugar in it, and lots of other healthy things, like oats, oat bran, flax oil, protein powder, eggs and applesauce. hum.m.m.m.m sounds good don't ya think?.... plus looked quick and easy.

I'm not into muscle building(!) but would rather have a high protein, healthy snack in the morning with my first cup of tea, rather than a high carb bowl of cereal or something like that, and that's what this recipe sounded like.  So off I went to the kitchen!

So here's my take on these Apple & Cinnamon High Protein Muffins. Of course, they weren't gluten free, which is all I can eat, so I changed them up somewhat, and I made bars rather than muffins (as much easier to wash a baking dish than muffin tin - I HATE washing muffin tins for some reason!).

Bake at 350 degrees for about 30 minutes.

If you don't have to eat gluten-free, then you could use "normal" oats and regular flour, etc.


3/4 cup of gluten free oatmeal (I use Bob's Red Mill)
1/4 cup of oat bran (I didn't have any, so used some ground up gluten free rice krispies)
1 tbs. gluten free coconut flour (plus an added 1/8 of a cup as the batter seemed too thin to me)
4 eggs (it called for 6 egg whites, but I used 4 whole eggs instead)
1 scoop Vanilla Protein Powder (I used "Pure Protein" 100% Whey Protein Powder - it does contain a very small amount of sucralose, which I don't like but it's all I had)
1/4 tsp. baking soda
Dash of salt
1 tbs. organic Agave sweetener (it called for Splenda but I didn't want any artificial sugars in my bars-yuk)
1 tbs. Virgin olive oil (I added maybe another tbs. as I wanted them to be a little more moist)
2 tbs. softened butter (my own addition for moistness)
4 tbs. unsweetened apple sauce
1 tsp. cinnamon
1 tsp. vanilla extract
1 peeled and diced apple
1/2 to 1 cup raisins (optional, but they do add some sweetness)
1/2 to 1 cup nuts (optional)


1.  Blend all dry ingredients. I used a whisk. Then add wet ingredients (do not add apple pieces or raisins, nuts, etc. until everything has been blended with the mixer) and mix very well with an electric mixer. Then add apple, raisins and nuts.

2.  Add the apple pieces, raisins and nuts and mix in with a spoon.

3.  Poor batter into a buttered or oiled 9x9 baking dish.

4.  Cook for approx. 30 minutes at 350 degrees. Check with toothpick at about 25 minutes so you don't overcook.

You could make muffins if you wish. Also, I think these bars or muffins would freeze well, and then microwave one when you want a quick snack.  (NOTE TO SELF: Make a double batch next time as 2 days later, they are already gone!)

The original recipe from Dave Ruel can be found HERE.

Don't these look pretty yummy? And they WERE! Hubby and I just had to try them, right?

Perfect to have with my cup of tea in the morning.... and here's a note.. if you've never tried Stash Tea's Meyer Lemon tea, you HAVE to try it! If you love the taste of lemons, then this tea is just the most awesome lemon tea I've ever tried, and I've tried alot of them.

Well.. that's my excitement for the day...... I'm already looking forward to my tomorrow morning cup of (lemon) tea with a super healthy protein bar!


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