Thursday, February 11, 2010


Rain, Rain go away… oh… morning everyone. LOL Hope you are staying warm and healthy wherever you may be! And I was so happy to hear from a couple of my readers… I am glad you are still here and I wish you the best! Jean, eat those soups and feel better soon my darling! Susan, I will play with some stuff this weekend and see what I can come up with for that recipe you’re looking for. A couple of the other readers haven’t checked in, so I hope they are ok.

I’ve been working on stock up cooking a little this week… preluding to this weekend LOL. Well last night I worked on a few breakfast things. I made burritos, croissants and omelets. Wrapped and labeled and ready for quick grab-n-go meals. Check these out…

These are the Southwestern omelets I made. The have cooked taco meat, tomatoes, bell peppers, cheese, onions, etc inside. Didn't they turn out pretty?

Remember all those croissants I found on clearance? Well I got more the other day and made more breakfast Crossiant sandwiches with cooked sausage patties, egg, and cheese. Assemble and wrap them up and stick them in the fridge. 45 seconds to 1 minute and you have a nice hot and filling breakfast on the go!

Ground pan sausage browned, eggs, and cheese wrapped up in a burrito size tortilla and wrapped up for hungry teens are easy. Heat it up in the morning for 1 minute 15 seconds and they are good to go!

Well, it’s cold and wet and nothing has changed weather wise here. So I am trying to make the inside bright and sunny and happy! Oh I have to share with you my new babies…

Aren’t they cute?!! OMG these are gonna be the perfect start to my garden! Two healthy strawberry plants to start my season! I have to build new planters but wooden palates are a dime a dozen here. I have tons of seeds I am waiting for to germinate. I’m aiming for a big crop this spring/summer… I have all kinds of peppers, tomatoes, melons, squash, zucchini, and a ton of other stuff… herbs, fruits, veggies, you name it! I might even try a few fruit trees! Not sure yet… either way I am going green and hope for tons of free fruits and veggies! You should try it. Even if all you have is a small concrete patio balcony or something… try a husky cherry tomato or something else that grows well in containers. . A number of edibles including herbs, small-fruited tomatoes, salad greens and peppers are suited to grow in containers. Pole beans, cucumbers and squash can be trained to grow up a trellis, arbor or fence, providing vertical interest and plentiful production. You can join the Home Depot Garden club and you will get coupons in the email and snail mail good on all kinds of things to help your gardening adventure. I also find it very therapeutic. They have those Topsy-Turvey things you can try to grow your tomatoes, etc from hanging planters to help with space issues as well. I have seen the tomato and strawberry hanging planters at Home stores and even Walgreens and CVS! And they have bonus bucks and coupons you can use on your purchases too… just something to think about. Don’t want to spend a bunch on the planters? Use buckets, etc to make your own… save money, recycle, and have fun! You can find lots of instructions online to build your own hanging planters.

Ok, so if you haven’t guessed already, the crafts I am making today are going to be for my upcoming garden. I am making the Spoon Garden markers with some old wooden spoons. I am transforming a couple of cat litter buckets (that have been super scrubbed out) into hanging planters. I’ll be prepping some wooden palates for building my box planters. I will be making lists of things I need to get… compost, etc. Also gotta map out my plant placement, etc. And of course, I am planning to make the yard pretty and nature friendly… I have to attract bees and other pollinators and of course birds, etc. So check out some of these yard/nature crafts I’m working on…

Terra Cotta Garden Birdbath

You can choose what size terra cotta pots and trays you want to use. Glue them together with clear caulking, let dry at least 24 hours. Whitewash with thinned out white acrylic paint. Let dry about an hour, then paint what ever you want on it, or just blend paints, that is also nice. I liked the leaves and frogs on mine. It is really whatever you like. Let it dry 24 hours then spray with sealer. You really should let it dry 24 hours then spray again and let dry another 24 hours. Fill and watch the birds play in it.

Milk Carton Bird Feeder

Here's how to recycle a milk carton or juice carton to make an excellent bird feeder for finches, sparrows, chickadees and other small feathered visitors to backyard bird feeders. This design protects the bird seed from rain and snow, which is very useful in the winter months when many bird feed platforms become snow covered and unusable. Don't forget, however, that feeding the birds is a year-long commitment; during the nesting season in spring and summer, the nutritional needs of many birds increases tremendously as they work to build nests and feed their young.


milk or juice carton
craft knife or scissors
wax pencil or crayon
ruler or straight edge
two small lengths of double-sided tape
two bamboo skewers or straight, small diameter twigs to use as perchs
bird seed
hole punch
twine to make a hanger


1. Use the wax pencil and ruler to draw the shape of the opening on the front of the milk carton, as shown in the diagram at right. The opening looks like the outline of a house with a peaked roof. You should allow about two inches at the bottom of the carton to hold a good amount of seeds.

2. Use the craft knife to cut out the opening. Younger children will need an adult to help with this part.

3. Using the top of the peak as a center point, fold the piece of milk carton that you just removed in half along its length. Make a half inch cut from the point of the peak down the center fold. Fold up a half inch flap on either side of this cut, as shown in the diagram at right.

4. Attach a length of double-sided tape to each flap.

5. Insert this roof piece into the top of the opening and use your fingers to press the flaps against the inside of the milk carton until the double-sided tape holds securely.

6. Poke a bamboo skewer or thin straight twig through the wall of the milk carton, just below the left side of the opening. Repeat on the right side. Poke skewers all the way through and out the back wall of the carton. This keeps the perches straight and secure.

7. Use a hole punch or a skewer to punch two holes through the top line of the carton.

8. Thread twine through the two holes to make a hanger. 9. Fill the bottom of the feeder with nyger seed or a small bird seed mixture. Hang your milk carton bird feeder from a tree branch that you can reach easily when you need to add more bird seed.

Painted Strawberry Rock

Find a larger rock that is either naturally more round, or you can chip it into a rounder shape. Gather your paints and have fun making a yard Strawberry! And did you know that May is National Strawberry month? Check out some interesting info HERE regarding strawberries including some great recipes!

And then of course… let’s talk about BUTTERFLIES! Both my mom and I thought there were worms in our gardens that were there to eat everything! Well she killed them… I just threw them in the field. We later discovered they were butterflies! OMG did we feel horrible! So we started having “sacrificial plants” strictly for the butterflies! It works great! So I wanted to stress the butterfly issue for those who are thinking about starting a garden and I found this article that is great about the importance of butterflies to your garden..

Butterfly Gardening: What to Plant in Your Garden to Attract Butterflies
Copyright © 2002-2008 Jane Lake

One of the joys of having a garden is seeing the butterflies take wing among the flowers. By adding a few new plants to your backyard you may attract up to 50 different types of butterflies, says landscape architect Katherine Dunster, designer of the Gosling Wildlife Gardens at the University of Guelph, Ontario. Butterflies, like the honeybee, are excellent pollinators and will help increase your flower, fruit and vegetable production. The secret to successful butterfly gardens lies in providing a wide variety of flowers and shrubs.

Start by seeding part of your lawn with a wildflower seed mix, available through seed catalogues and garden centers. Wildflowers are a good food source for butterflies and their caterpillars.

Aim for a wide spectrum of flower colors. Some butterflies prefer oranges, reds and yellows, while others like whites, purples and blues.

As a rule, simple flowers are better than fancy double-hybrids, offering an easy-to-reach nectar source.

Plant your annual and perennial beds with butterfly milkweed, arabis, sweet rocket, black-eyed susan, purple coneflower, honesty, hollyhocks, sweet william, white and purple alyssum, cosmos, coreopsis, phlox, daisies, catnip, heliotrope, sea holly, asters, stocks, zinnias, yarrow, globe thistles, lavender, rosemary, thyme, stonecrops, sweet woodruff, candytuft, verbena and gaillardia.

Good choices for shrubs and small trees include the butterfly bush, common lilac, mock orange, beauty bush, blackberry, potentilla, honeysuckle, hawthorn, weigela, sumac, rose of Sharon, spirea, privet and pussy willow.

Try growing some of these plants in masses, rather than as single specimens. Butterflies are attracted to a riot of color and will return to an abundant nectar supply.

Most caterpillars have specialized food requirements such as grasses, common weeds and wildflowers. However, if it appears that caterpillars are destroying a favourite plant, reduce the population by removing them by hand. Spraying is not recommended as it may also harm beneficial insects.

In addition to selective planting, there are a variety of other ways to offer butterflies their food and attract them to your garden.

Mud Puddling

Butterflies, particularly males, enjoy pulling up a stool to the local mud bar - otherwise known as "mud puddling." They are seeking salts and minerals that enhance their libido and encourage breeding. According to the University of Kentucky, Department of Entomology:

"Butterflies also like puddles. Males of several species congregate at small rain pools, forming puddle clubs. Permanent puddles are very easy to make by burying a bucket to the rim, filling it with gravel or sand, and then pouring in liquids such as stale beer, sweet drinks or water. Overripe fruit, allowed to sit for a few days is a very attractive substance (to them!) as well."
From the University of Texas article on Butterfly Gardening:
"A damp sand patch, baited with a small amount of manure, fermenting fruit such as bananas or cantaloupe, or ripe fish will attract butterflies in a puddle assemblage where they will be less wary. These assemblages make observation and photography easy."

The damp edges around garden ponds are perfect areas for butterfly puddling, but you can also make your own butterfly puddle by filling a small bowl with sand and moistening with water. Find a nice spot in your garden and dig the bowl into the ground. Add a small pinch of salt to entice the males; you may find that many males of a single species come to visit with their friends. Decorate the butterfly puddle with river rocks or clam shells to give the butterflies a nice place to bask in the sun.

According to the University of Kentucky, Department of Entomology:
"Butterflies also like puddles. Males of several species congregate at small rain pools, forming puddle clubs. Permanent puddles are very easy to make by burying a bucket to the rim, filling it with gravel or sand, and then pouring in liquids such as stale beer, sweet drinks or water. Overripe fruit, allowed to sit for a few days is a very attractive substance (to them!) as well."
The measure of your success as a butterfly gardener will be the number and varieties you manage to attract. Experimenting with different color and flowering plant combinations over a few years will establish which plants are best for the species in your area. All that remains then is to purchase a field guide to butterflies, and to sit back and watch your garden take wing.

Okie dokie… all this talk about fresh veggies is making me hungry! Of course they are wonderful for soups, roasting, or even eating fresh! So its time to share some great recipes with fresh veggies! Oh I just remembered… I have some fresh pears in the fridge and oh this salad is yum… think I’ll have it for lunch LOL!

Roquefort Pear Salad


1 head leaf lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces
3 pears - peeled, cored and chopped
5 ounces Roquefort cheese, crumbled
1 avocado - peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 cup thinly sliced green onions
1/4 cup white sugar
1/2 cup pecans
1/3 cup olive oil
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
1 1/2 teaspoons white sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons prepared mustard
1 clove garlic, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
fresh ground black pepper to taste


In a skillet over medium heat, stir 1/4 cup of sugar together with the pecans. Continue stirring gently until sugar has melted and caramelized the pecans. Carefully transfer nuts onto waxed paper. Allow to cool, and break into pieces.

For the dressing, blend oil, vinegar, 1 1/2 teaspoons sugar, mustard, chopped garlic, salt, and pepper.

In a large serving bowl, layer lettuce, pears, blue cheese, avocado, and green onions. Pour dressing over salad, sprinkle with pecans, and serve.

Broccoli Salad


10 slices bacon
1 head fresh broccoli, cut into bite size pieces
1/4 cup red onion, chopped
1/2 cup raisins
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
2 tablespoons white sugar
1 cup mayonnaise
1 cup sunflower seeds


Place bacon in a large, deep skillet. Cook over medium high heat until evenly brown. Drain, crumble and set aside.

In a medium bowl, combine the broccoli, onion and raisins. In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, sugar and mayonnaise. Pour over broccoli mixture, and toss until well mixed. Refrigerate for at least two hours.

Before serving, toss salad with crumbled bacon and sunflower seeds.

Spinach and Strawberry Salad


2 bunches spinach, rinsed and torn into bite-size pieces
4 cups sliced strawberries
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1/4 cup white sugar
1/4 teaspoon paprika
2 tablespoons sesame seeds
1 tablespoon poppy seeds
1 tablespoon slivered almonds


In a large bowl, toss together the spinach and strawberries. In a medium bowl, whisk together the oil, vinegar, sugar, paprika, sesame seeds, almonds, and poppy seeds. Pour over the spinach and strawberries, and toss to coat.

Oh yummy yummy! Refreshing and the best part is you can “Pear” LMAO these with a nice dinner entrée like a steak or chicken. If you have a child who might not enjoy fresh salad… try these and maybe you will have them eating greens in no time! Okie dokie… I’m gonna get off here for the day and get working on my garden goodies! You take care, be safe, and I’ll see you back here tomorrow… HUGS!

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