Thursday, July 29, 2010

Pollen Party




The other morning I walked out to my garden, as I do EVERY morning, to see what has occurred in the night. I'm always amazed at the growth, or the damage, that can occur in one night. So, I like to know immediately if I've been invaded by some sort of pest so that I can obsess immediately over what measures I need to take.

I haven't updated about my garden in some time, because honestly, I almost ripped out the whole thing about a week ago. Everything was dying! Every.Single.Plant was being attacked by any number of pests. I was amazed that my little yard could be the meeting place for every imaginable pest that can destroy a garden. My tomatoes were a wilting, yellowing MESS. I was so sad and so defeated.

Until this point, my garden was totally organic. The only fertilizer had been from my own compost. There had been no pesticide use. I sprayed a castille soap mixture at one point, but that's it.

As I desperately searched for ways to save my garden, I contemplated nuking the crap out of it with Sevin dust....which seems to be everyone's go-to insecticide. BUT, I love my dragon flies! I didn't want see them killed or fly off to greener (safer) pastures! I LOVE my daddy-longleggers! I didn't want to see them lying dead all over the place. I LOVE my hummingbirds! And I LOVE my bees! My adorable little hard working pollinators!

Look at this guy! On this particular morning, I was looking in at my zucchini plant and this guy was having a HAY DAY rubbing all up in the pollen. It was adorable! You can see his legs are covered in it. By the time I got back with my camera, he was inside a different blossom doing the same thing and in turn, doing his job as super pollinator.

I was so HAPPY!

I was so happy I didn't resort to using the Sevin. Because it would have been THAT harmful dust all over this cute little bee and it would have been THAT harmful dust he carried back to his hive. And it would have been THAT harmful dust that would have potentially killed the whole hive. And we can go on and on about all the other far reaching affects that the dust would have had, but we'll save that for another day.

But another problem I was having was lack of nutrients. Like I said, I was relying entirely on my compost as fertilizer and I'm afraid it just wasn't enough. There is no manure in it, just food scraps. So, I'm sad to say, as a desperate attempt at salvaging my garden, I applied Miracle Grow. I'll never do it again....I'll take the time to research more organic products....but like i said, I was desperate! So, I think my veggies were a little extra compromised and became easy targets for the pests. The Miracle Grow worked wonders! I have to say. So, I'm happy and I feel like I'm learning soooooo much about gardening, farming, being earth friendly, and the struggles with being pesticide-free. But, it's WORTH it!


In conjunction with all this gardening drama, I read the book The Organic Manifesto. Wow! Wow! Wow! So informative!

Since my kids were born, I made more of a conscious effort to be organic, cut out high fructose corn syrup and partially hydrogenated oils, and limit harsh chemicals in my house. But, admittedly, it was not a very educated decision and it was based almost entirely on the health of my kids, not so much on affects to the environment. After reading this book, though, I know more about how supporting organic farming is beneficial in so many more ways! It makes it feel really worth the effort to me.

Monday, July 26, 2010

Meatless Monday! Colorful Vegetable Lasagna



So, lasagna isn't really summer time food; but this one, with all these fresh veggies, is perfect any time of year. This recipe is from Cooking Light. I took a picture of the veggies cooking in the pot, but forgot to take a picture of the finished product! Too busy EATING it, I guess!

Colorful Vegetable Lasagna

Ingredients

  • Cooking spray
  • 1 cup chopped red bell pepper (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped yellow bell pepper (about 1 medium)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 4 medium zucchini, halved lengthwise and thinly sliced (about 5 cups)
  • 2 (8-ounce) packages presliced cremini mushrooms
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2 cups (8 ounces) shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided
  • 1 1/2 cups fat-free ricotta cheese
  • 1/2 cup (2 ounces) grated fresh Parmesan cheese, divided
  • 1 large egg
  • 5 cups Basic Marinara, divided
  • 12 precooked lasagna noodles (about 8 ounces)

Preparation

Preheat oven to 350°.

Heat a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add bell peppers, onion, zucchini, and mushrooms; sauté 10 minutes or until vegetables are crisp-tender and mushroom liquid evaporates. Add garlic; sauté 30 seconds.

Combine 1 1/2 cups mozzarella, ricotta, 1/4 cup Parmesan, and egg, stirring well.

Spread 1 cup Basic Marinara over bottom of a 13 x 9-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray; top with 3 noodles. Spoon 1 cup Basic Marinara evenly over noodles. Top evenly with one-third of ricotta mixture and one-third of vegetable mixture. Repeat layers twice, ending with noodles. Top with remaining 1 cup Basic Marinara. Sprinkle evenly with remaining 1/2 cup mozzarella and remaining 1/4 cup Parmesan. Cover and bake at 350° for 45 minutes. Uncover and bake an additional 10 minutes or until cheese melts. Let stand 10 minutes.

Thursday, July 22, 2010

Fibers on Friday: Pink Tank Complete!


Two of these tank tops under my belt. Oh, I love them! This girl loves her pink tank. For hers I use Berroco Weekend yarn and I like it more than the Berroco Vintage I used on the purple one. The Vintage is really fuzzy and pills a lot. I've already had to shave it although I haven't even washed it yet! NOT good for children's wear.

About the purple one: you may have heard me mention that I couldn't, for the life of me, get my girl to wear it! I was so upset having put all that work into it and she refused to wear it out of the house! I'd ask her and she'd say, "But, are we going anywhere? Because I don't want people to laugh at me"! What?! So, finally.....FINALLY....she wears it one day and LOVES it. So, she of course wants to wear it every day. Fine! No problem! I'm so happy! I even let her wear it on the day we leave for a camping trip.

Wrong Answer!!!

We arrive at our campsite and the girls proceed to ride their bikes and explore. So why does my sweet one decide to play right near the trailer hitch and get grease all over her purple knitted tank top???!!! AAAAGGGGHHHH!

I think I got it all out. I used Dawn dish soap because that's all I had in the camper.

Sharing this project at:
House of Hepworth's
Somewhat Simple
Blue Cricket Design
Sew Much Ado

Make it, Wear it

Have you been knitting? I was beyond thrilled to have you guys link up some projects a few weeks back. If you have any more projects, or progress made lately, please link up again!


Monday, July 12, 2010

Kid's Nature Art

My kids love to go on nature walks. We've done a couple projects during the fall with stuff collected on walks, like pine cones, acorns, and other fall matter. I saw this idea in this month's Family Fun magazine to draw a stick figure on paper and dress it up with nature's garments. I was excited to do this during a different season. I really thought we had enough growing in our own back yard to forgo the blazing HOT walk around the neighborhood, but no, the children insisted.

Taking her collection out of her satchel

She took apart the wheat-looking grass and used the seeds for hair

Careful, meticulous placement of the Impatiens Petals

Chives (chopped) for hair. I really loved this idea.

Stunning


The girls' works of art: Angel Fairy on the Left, college graduate wearing a loin cloth on the Right???


And a couple more composed along the way. Mine on the left....I had such fun doing this project! And the girls made another batch the next day.


The Kids Cook Monday :: Blueberry Pie



We are so lucky to have a family member with a farm! A couple weeks ago we picked strawberries and we got to go back as soon as blueberries were ready. "Uncle Joe" has two whole rows of blueberries dedicated and reserved for family. That's us!!

washing the fresh berries

make fresh whipped cream and spread on bottom of pie shell



refrigerate for a little while and then dig in!


I am not exaggerating when I tell you, I made this pie four....count 'em....FOUR times in less than two weeks! Delicious!!


Ingredients:

4 oz. cream cheese
1/2 c. heavy whipping cream, whipped
1/2 c. Powdered Sugar
2/3 c. sugar
1/4 c. cornstarch
1/4 c. lemon juice
1/2 c. water
3 c. blueberries
1 pie shell, baked and cooled

Directions:

Beat cream cheese and powdered sugar until smooth. Add whipped cream. Spread in pie shell.
In a sauce pan, combine sugar, cornstarch, water, and lemon juice. Stir until smooth, then add blueberries. Bring to a boil over medium heat and stir for 2 minutes or until thickened. Cool. Spread over cream cheese layer. Refrigerate. Serve with additional whipped cream.

Saturday, July 10, 2010

A Card?!

I've been soooo neglecting my paper crafting! I'm very behind in scrapbooking, which includes MAJOR events that need to be scrapped.....like learning to ride bikes without training wheels, field day, pre-school graduation, and our trip to Disney! Yikes....I need another weekend devoted to scrapping....and quick!

It's my niece's birthday party this weekend, so I took the opportunity to make some girly cards based upon this week's CPS challenge. Here's the sketch:

And here's my take:

Ever since she could talk, she'd say "Happy Day" instead of "Happy Birthday"...although when I wished her a "Happy Day" on her actual birthday, she corrected me by saying, "Happy BIRTHday, Aunt Beff." Kids!

For those of you who started following my blog because of paper crafting, thanks for humoring me with all the other stuff, too!

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

Freckles


Freckles on her cheek
so close they are almost one
I can't stop staring

Tuesday, July 6, 2010

Mirror Mirror on the Wall

Rainbow girl has never had a mirror in her bedroom....until now! I bought this mirror at a thrift store. It came with a horrendous metal shelf.....all for the bargain price of $5.


I actually like how it looks in these pictures.....but in real life??? Not so much, especially for a little girl's room. It was dirty, dusty, and grimy. We took the back off and we were able to take the mirror out, which was extremely helpful in being able to clean it real good and also paint it without having to tape off.

And here it is in all of it's pink glory, the first pictures does no justice for the color, but I like how it captures my girl with flowers on the deck.


I just love it in her room!


Photobucket

Blue Cricket Design
Sew Much Ado
Somewhat Simple
House of Hepworth's

Monday, July 5, 2010

Meatless Monday! Pad Thai


Personally, I couldn't tell you if this was anything like "real" Pad Thai, because I've never had it. I AM here to tell you that this is DELICIOUS!

Ingredients:

1/4 C. Soy sauce (to replace Fish Sauce)
3 TBS. Brown Sugar
4 TSB. Lime Juice
1/2 tsp. Cayenne
1 TBS. Rice Wine Vinegar

8 Oz. Rice Noodles
4-8 oz. Silken Tofu
2 cloves garlic
2 lg Eggs, beaten
1 Md. Head Napa Cabbage
1 can Bean sprouts
cilantro
peanuts
green onion
limes

Instructions:

Prepare Rice Noodles (I soaked mine in hot water)
Combine first 5 sauce ingredients, set aside
Chop cabbage, beat eggs, set next to wok
Heat oil in wok (2 tbsp). Cook eggs with garlic and cayenne. Add noodles, cabbage, and sauce. Saute until cabbage is crisp tender, add tofu. Break it up and cook for 2-3 minutes. Remove from heat.

Garnish with bean sprouts, cilantro, peanuts, green onions, and limes.

**I made 2 batches of sauce. Most used for cooking, save some for garnish***

Thursday, July 1, 2010

Random Garden Stuff

The other day I had to harvest my beets. I planted 4 squares in my square foot garden with 16 beets in each. Early on in the season, though, something dug them up. So, I salvaged what I could at the time. Then recently, the leaves started being eaten by something. I really wanted to wait to harvest until they were all nice and big, but I feared I would lose the whole crop. I found white caterpillars as I was harvesting. I'm pretty sure they were Salt Marsh Caterpillars. Anyway, here's one of my Bull's Blood Beets....so beautiful!

Also, my favorite thing growing right now are my Dragon Tongue Bush Beans. Look at these awesome things!

My yard is swarming with dragon flies. Like I've never seen! I searched to see if/how dragon flies were beneficial to my garden. They eat pests, like mosquitos, gnats, and green heads. Our mosquito population is as small as I've ever had it here. It's really quite pleasant to sit outside. The green heads, on the other hand, are the WORST we've ever had. I guess the dragon flies are too busy munching on mosquitos to keep up with the green heads.

The method of square foot gardening has us training our tomatoes to grow up trellis. I mentioned to Bruce that I needed to find tomato netting, but that I was having a hard time finding it. He asked me what I needed, the dimensions, and the material. Then he got to work tying knots!

Do I have THE BEST husband or what? He made two nets measuring 4' X 6'. Can you believe that his training in the Army SERE (Survival, Evasion, Resistance, and Escape) School enabled him to throw a tomato net together? He astounds me.....every day.

So, that's what's happening in my back yard lately. I hope you're having a lovely week!