Thursday, March 31, 2011

Yummy biscuit recipe

Hey there! We've had a cold and snowy couple of days here. (UGH!) So, to beat back the cold and stormy blues, I mixed up a batch of drop biscuits. These are so tasty and soft. My kids and husband inhaled them!

The recipe says it makes 12, but I always get 20 biscuits. This recipe is from, posted by mydesigirl:

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour

  • 4 teaspoons baking powder

  • 2 teaspoons sugar

  • 1/2 teaspoon cream of tartar

  • 1/2 teaspoon salt

  • 1/2 cup margarine

  • 1 cup milk

  • Stir together first 5 ingredients.

  • Cut in margarine with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.

  • Add milk all at once and stir until dough sticks together.

  • Drop 2 tablespoonfuls of dough per biscuit ontp a baking sheet sprayed with non-stick cooking spray.

  • Bake at 450* for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

  • Serve warm.

  • Hope you enjoy!

    Friday, March 25, 2011

    Learning lessons

    Yesterday I thinned my seedlings. Let me just tell you, it was one of the saddest things I've done in a while. Here's this beautiful little piece of God's work, and I'm killing it because it's neighbor looks a bit stronger. Just ripping it out of the dirt, before its life even really began. I'm not ashamed to admit...I teared up a bit.

    From the sorrow comes new knowledge. This is the first year I've started plants from seed, so naturally I was bound to make some mistakes. Lesson #1...don't let the kids help. I know, I'm a bad mom, but part of the reason I had to pull so many seedlings is because they poured the seeds all in one spot. Lesson #2...Make more pots! I could have kept some of those plants if I had made more pots. Lesson #3...Peppers like sun! In fact, they also like to live in an old cake container from Kroger. In the sun. I had given my peppers up for lost when I discovered a few little seedlings. The plants had been in the sun for a few days, and poof! instant plants. They are really thriving now and catching up to the tomatoes.

    And now, for your viewing pleasure:

    These are all tomato plants. Look how big they're getting!

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011

    Building the compost bin and info on composting

    I have a confession. I've always been a messy gardener. I leave the dead plants in the garden until spring. Then I clear them out and toss them in a pile. So far, my soil has been good to me, despite my careless ways. This year, I knew I had to make a change, so I built an actual compost bin. Crazy, right?

    Compost bins can be made out of anything. I'm a big fan of recycling, so I chose an old, worn out plastic tote. It has a giant crack in the side, and the bottom was almost falling out. This type of container is perfect because you're going to cut the bottom out anyway. More on that later. You also want air to be able to reach your compost components, or they won't rot properly. So my piece of trash was perfect!

    The first step is to determine where you want the bin. This is a harder decision than you might think, because this method is pretty permanent. I chose a spot that was close to the garden, that was not on any path we currently use, and that I was pretty sure my demon dogs wouldn't destroy.

    After you choose your location, you need to clear a spot for your container. This spot needs to be about two inches wider than your container, and you need to dig about 3-6 inches deep. Clear out the dirt and add it to your garden or anywhere you need some extra dirt. I have a digger of a dog, so I used it to fill in some of the many spots she's dug. The hole should look like this:

    After your hole is dug, you need to prepare your container. I pushed the bottom out of the tote I was using (I told you it was old!) and placed it in the hole. This is what the bottom looked like:

    I ended up needing to make the hole I dug just a bit wider than the picture shows, but after I got everything in place, I ended up with this:

    Then I stepped down the sides and pushed the edges into the ground pretty firmly. I filled it with some browns (last year's plants that hadn't already decomposed into the dirt) and watered it. I'll need to fill it with some greens still. I put the lid to the tote on top, and now I have an actual place to put kitchen scraps and grass clippings.

    So what can you put in a compost bin or pile? Just about anything. Here's a list I've gathered from

    Ashes - Wood ashes from the fireplace or stove are a good source of potassium carbonate.  Make sure they are wood ashes, not coal ashes which can be toxic to plant life.
    Garbage - Most organic kitchen waste can be diverted from the garbage to the compost pile.  However, you should not put oil, fats, or greasy dishwater into the pile.  Also avoid meat scraps, bones, and dairy products because they attract animals and flies.
    Grass clippings - Some homeowners leave clippings on the lawn for fertilizer.  If you’d rather not do that, you can compost the clippings.  To avoid a soggy mess, let grass dry out or mix it up with dry, absorbent material before adding it to the pile.  Don’t use grass that has been sprayed with herbicides or pesticides because a chemical residue can remain after composting.
    Ground shells - Pulverized shells from oysters, clams, lobsters, and other sea creatures make a very good compost ingredient.  They are loaded with minerals that plants need.
    Hay or straw - The best type of hay or straw for composting is the stuff that has been left in a field for a while and has started to rot.  Fresh straw requires a lot of nitrogen to decompose, so it should be balanced with nitrogen-rich materials or composted only in small amounts.
    Hedge trimmings - Hedge trimmings and pruned tree branches are often easy to obtain.  However, they are slow to decompose.  This means they should be chopped or shredded thoroughly before being put into a compost pile.
    Leaves - Leaves make an excellent compost ingredient and many homeowners have an abundant supply from the trees in their yards.  Because leaves decompose slowly on their own, it’s best to chop them up and mix them with some manure before composting them.
    Newspapers - Newspapers contain little in the way of nutrients but can be used sparingly in a compost pile as a carbon source.  Shred papers finely before composting or they will take a long time to rot.
    Pine needles - Pine needles decompose quite slowly and should normally be used only in small amounts, not as a main ingredient of the pile.  They tend to make compost more acidic unless counteracted by other materials.
    Seaweed - Seaweed or kelp is a valuable source of potassium and trace elements such as boron, iodine, calcium, and magnesium.  It decomposes quickly and is good for balancing out straw and other bulky, carbon-rich materials.
    Sod - Sod contributes organic matter and beneficial bacteria to the compost.  It should be distributed throughout the other raw materials rather than added in one clump.  You can also lay sod on top with the grass side down.  It will insulate the compost heap and keep flies away as it slowly decomposes.
    Weeds - Weeds are quite suitable for the compost pile.  Try to pull them out before they go to seed.  Otherwise, make sure that the pile heats up enough to destroy the seeds.  The dirt left on the roots is excellent for the compost as well.

    Basically, you want a mix of greens and browns. Both provide the nutrients your garden needs, as well as the bacteria that make your compost rot appropriately. Have fun with composting! You will be helping your yard as well as the planet.

    Saturday, March 19, 2011

    Putting the garden in...part 1

    Today we started putting in the garden. We put in all the lettuces and the spinach. Since you can plant these for every two weeks until it gets too hot, we only planted some of our seeds. The seeds we started indoors are doing well, and I've started to harden them off. They're still far too small to plant, and the weather isn't completely consistent, so they'll have some more indoor time.

    While working, we met Wilbur the Worm, who is quite possible the largest worm I have ever seen. Jerimiah-boy made up a funny story about how poor Wilbur was just sitting on his chair, eating some dirt, when this big dude just picked me up and threw me. We thought it was funny, and we're encouraging Jerimiah to start writing some of his stories down. He's a creative little man.

    We've expanded the garden quite a bit from last year. Since I've gone all out with multiple types of tomatoes, beans, cucumbers, peppers, and I'm still planting pumpkins and zucchini...we needed more room. Luckily, I've got strong men to help me.

    My wonderful husband Jerimiah helping to break up the new ground.

    Jerimiah explaining where he thinks should go once we're done.

    Anthony taking a break and keeping us all laughing.

    Anthony hard at work.

    This farming stuff is serious business.

    Just in case you were wondering, I was working too. But as the official documenter of the Garden of 2011, I have very serious responsibilities. :)

    Thursday, March 17, 2011

    Bet you thought I couldn't write about anything but gardening...

    I made this recipe for dinner last night, and it was so good, I needed to share it with everyone. The recipe is from Ina Garten, but was posted on by Kirstin in the 'Couv. I made it with boneless skinless chicken breasts and thighs, and it is AMAZING! So here it is, for your reading enjoyment:

  • 1/2 cup gold tequila

  • 1 cup freshly squeezed lime juice (5 to 6 limes)

  • 1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice (2 oranges)

  • 1 tablespoon chili powder

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno pepper (1 pepper seeded)

  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh garlic (3 cloves)

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt

  • 1 teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

  • 6 boneless chicken breasts, skin on

  • Read more:

    So make it already!

    Wednesday, March 16, 2011

    Today's Walk...a trip to the library

    Today I decided to have some time spent just having fun. Getting everything caught up after three years working fifty plus hour weeks takes its toll.
    I went on a walk to our local library. For such a small town, we have an amazing library. I could spend hours there. And have, in fact. The best part of the library is that it's free! All the knowledge and stories you could ever want, just waiting for you to come pick it up. After restraining myself from taking home all the books, I headed home.
    It is a gorgeous day. These are the spring days we've all been waiting for. Sunny, breezy, warm with just a bit of cool in the air. Of course, I took some pictures. Wanna see? If not, stop reading now.

    Tuesday, March 15, 2011

    Monarch Butterflies

    Last school year, the boys and I would always stop and see the butterflies at the "butterfly bush." It's not really a bush so much as a telephone pole with a bunch of weeds growing on it. Anyway, we really enjoyed seeing all the butterflies and especially the monarch butterflies.

    A few days ago, I was walking by the butterfly bush, and I found a bunch of milkweed. Most of you know, I'm sure, that monarch butterflies lay their eggs in milkweed pods. This is the only place they will choose to do so. With the loss of so many natural areas, butterfly habitat is lost too.

    So this spring and summer,
    we will be on the lookout for caterpillars. Now that I have a photo editing program I like on my phone, I can upload pictures that are a better quality. It's a lot easier too. Below is the picture of the milkweed. I hope there are monarch eggs in there!

    Monday, March 14, 2011

    Pretty little crocus

    Didn't get my planting done today since I have a sick little Anthony man. I did have enough time to take a few pictures though of my pretty little crocus out in the flowerbed. I love crocus because they aren't afraid of a little snow!

    Sunday, March 13, 2011

    Here we go!

    Hello, everyone!

    I finally got my seeds and pots together. I started my tomatoes and peppers on Monday last week. The pots were easy to make and were a great project for me and the boys. Basically, you just wrap a strip of newspaper around the bottom of a can, leaving a two or three inch edge of paper at the bottom. Then, you fold the edges down to make a pot. You have to fill with dirt immediately, or the pot will collapse. I filled the bottoms with organic potting soil and the top part with organic seed starter. My soil needs a bit of amending. Here's what the pots looked like:

    Today, when I checked on the pots, I found lots of little seedlings. We're doing well!

    Outside, things are moving right along. I have daffodils coming up that are about two inches tall. The crocus have blooms. The lilies are coming up too! I think this year I will actually have tulips as well. Tomorrow is a big planting day for me. I will be putting out my flower seeds that are sowed directly outdoors. Should be a fun day in the dirt!