Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The GREAT KitchenAid Holiday Giveaway

Hi everyone!

Well the holiday season is here AGAIN.  If you're like me, you're still struggling to put up Christmas lights after Turkey Day.  Did you all make some great stuff last weekend?  I can't say for sure how "healthy" my food was, with all the cream and butter, BUT anything homemade is better than store-bought, right?

Can I get an A-M-E-N sistah?

Anyway, I wanted to bring to your attention the Great KitchenAid Holiday Giveaway.  I've tweeted about it, but I'm also posting it on my blog, in case you don't follow my tweets.  My favorite - that I'm hoping to win, although I never win anything - is the new 13-cup food process with ExactSlice technology.  What it allows you to do is choose the thickness of the slices you want to cut.  It also has an extra-wide mouth so you don't have to cut produce or other food items up into little pieces.

KitchenAid 13-Cup Food Processor with ExactSlice™ System

Check out the product at the Kitchen Aid product page:

Kitchen Aid Home Page

To enter the giveaway, to to this blog:

Kitchenaid Giveaway 13-cup Kitchenaid Exactslice Food Processor

There are other giveaways listed on her blog, if you're interested. You'll also find great pictures and really delicious recipes. Check it out!

Peace n Love for the start of this holiday season!  Keep it healthy...and make it at home!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Let's talk containers...

Someone had asked me about my sunflowers and if the flowers had actually opened up. Here's a pic of what they look like now!  Butterflies and Bees...come on over! Supper's ready!

(The fence is about 4 feet tall. The tallest flower is about 5 feet tall - pretty cool huh?)

So, about a couple weeks ago I decided to have a potting party. I've had a subscription to Sunset Mag, and usually in every issue, they will have a sample of a container garden and a legend of what is exactly in that container. I thought, wouldn't it be great to learn how to create different types of container gardens and share that info with friends and family. The concept of a container garden applies to flower boxes and flower beds, where you want to have plants of different heights and textures so that you have a bed/box that is multi-dimensional.

 In doing research on various containers, I came across water gardens.  Now, I've always wanted to build a fountain in my backyard, so this definitely piqued my interest.  It's a great way to experiment with putting a water feature together, but on a smaller scale.

Sometime after I moved into my house, my sister-in-law came to visit and we went to just about every junk store in my city. It was GREAT!  I had purchased a huge ceramic pot, then about 8 months later, I had returned to the same junk store and purchased another big pot. I had not planted anything in the pots, because I couldn't figure out what I wanted to put in there.  When I decided to build a water feature, I got the bright idea to use these pots as base cauldrons.

There were a couple of things that I needed.  1) The shorter planter had a drainage hole at the bottom. I had to get a piece of cork, or rubber stopper to plug that hole up.  2) I needed water plants.

The cork was easy, I went to OSH and they sell them piecemeal.

The water plants I got were from a pond store. This was a store where they sell Koi and other water garden supplies.  I have no idea what type of grass this is...I think it's called Blue Mohawk.  The flower is a Water Hyacinth.  I bought only 2, because according to the guy at the store, they propagate quickly.

Just an aside:  I just learned about water hyacinths, but when my dad saw them, he knew exactly what they were called and why they were great in the water.  I was surprised and said "how did you know that!?!" and he said he had them in the philippines. Apparently they are everywhere.

Water plants are great, not only because they decorate the container. They are beneficial to ponds/fountains because they absorb the nitrates and phosphates that algae need to grow, and they feed the fish!  They do not anchor to the bottom of the container but float as a mass at the water's surface.

When I was speaking with the sales person, he mentioned to me that when putting plants in a pond or other water feature, I should use GARDEN SOIL, as opposed to potting soil. Garden soil is heavier than potting soil (which tends to be a mix of garden soil and other lighter material that floats. This is why potting soil has great drainage). The garden soil will settle into the plant pot. 

I did not take the grasses out of the plant pots because the place where I purchased these used a garden soil/clay mix.  However, if you purchase grass from a regular nursery, then they may be planted in regular potting soil. You may need to bareroot the plant and replant them in garden soil.

The salesperson also told me that after three days (when the plants balance the water), I should consider getting a couple of goldfish. The fish will keep the bug population down.

What I need now are: 1) rocks to line the bottom of both containers; 2) cut up some bamboo pieces for the taller pot (I'm going to build a bamboo fountain for the pot on the left).

Sunday, May 22, 2011

the beds are planted

My raised beds are FINALLY planted. It's actually been about a month since I had planted the seedlings.  Believe it or not, because of my bumble-headed-ness, I actually planted 2 rows of jalapeƱo peppers. I like spicy food, but I think 2 rows is ridiculous. The problem was that when the seedlings were in the peat pots, the whole tray fell and everything got jumbled. The only pepper seedlings that survived were the jalapeƱos (what does that tell you about this pepper)?

This was, by far, the LONGEST and most trying project yet. The yard is looking better, week by week. I planted some sunflowers, and they are about 4 feet high and look like they are just about to bloom. Here is a pic of them - though I didn't get a bud to show...

My cat, Bella, is totally intrigued by these plants.  Maybe she likes the way they smell?

I also have a flowering aloe vera!  All my neighbors tell me that it's pretty rare for aloe vera to flower. I went walking around the neighborhood to look at other yards that had mature plants. I found one other house that had flowers.  If you've never seen a flowering aloe vera, here's a pic...

Friday, February 18, 2011

How to Make an Organic Fruit Tree Spray | Garden Guides

I'm always looking for natural ways to control pests in the garden. I love this site: If you need a quick tip, this is the place to get it!

Below is the link for an organic pesticide for fruit trees.

How to Make an Organic Fruit Tree Spray | Garden Guides

Monday, January 31, 2011

The Fence is In!!

Oh my aching A**! But what an accomplishment. After a brief hiatus last week (thanks to the flu) I finally put up the fence panels and BOY what a difference! Now I'm totally excited about my backyard!

On Saturday, I bought a 4th hedge rose and an Orange tree! I also got some scalloped brick edging to see what that would look like as a border to the hedge roses. And...I like it!

Here's the transformation between last month and this.... Sorry for the short post, a picture is worth a 1000 words...

Last month...

And NOW...

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Natural Gingerale - Naturally!

I found this great gingerale recipe at a fellow blogspot and thought that you guys might want to try it... If you want to check out the blog, here's the address:

Cooking Rut: Ginger Ale... Homemade, of course: "Ginger Ale

1/2 cup finely grated fresh ginger
1 1/2 cups raw sugar or regular white sugar
3 tablespoons honey
7 1/2 cups filtered water
1/8 teaspoon yeast (I used bakers yeast but you may have better results using brewers yeast)
2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice
1 cleaned and emptied 2-litre bottle

Bring the sugar, honey, and 1/2 cup of water to a boil over medium heat. Stir until the sugar is nearly dissolved. Add the ginger. Remove from heat, cover, and allow to steep for 1 hour. Pour the syrup through a fine mesh strainer. Press the solids to get the juice out. Stir in the lemon juice. Let the mixture cool to room temperature.

Using a funnel, pour the syrup into the 2-litre bottle and add the yeast. Pour in the remaining 7 cups of luke warm water (not hot... luke warm). Place the cap on the bottle and gently shake to combine the ingredients. Leave the bottle at room temperature for 48 hours. You may want to burp it one or two times before the 48 hours are up. We didn't do this and it fizzed all over the place when we opened it.

Once you've achieved proper carbonation, refrigerate until ready to serve. Store for up to 2 weeks in the refrigerator. Open the bottle at least once a day to release some of the carbonation.

This method produces a soft, delicate carbonation. It won't be like the commercial brands of ginger ale."

Got my plans....waiting for my seeds!

I was looking at various ways to plan my raised bed gardens. I thought about thematic beds - or so to speak. I'll eventually have 4 beds, possibly 4X4 or 6X4, whichever, but I think they may be broken down into themes.  Although I'm thinking about making one of them a dedicated tomato bed for this season - it will be easier to rotate. Here are the plans for at least 2 of the boxes.  Let me know what you think:


The second box is an Italian theme. I think I like it just for the tomatoes, so if I have
one bed dedicated solely to tomatoes, why would I need this?

Italian Inspired Vegetable Garden Plans

If anyone has any suggestions for planting, your comments are welcome. I'm also planting the usual: carrots, celery, lettuce - a virtual salad bowl!