Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Craft show season

Started the craft show season this past Saturday at Arbuckle Acres Park in Brownsburg, IN.  Had a great show, met lots of interesting people and saw some good talented items and artists.  My booth looked good using my new EZ up tent.  Turned out to be a hot, sunny day so was nice to have a good covering.  My family also showed up, which always helps the day go by better instead of sitting there all alone. Plus, it was my dad's first outing since his surgery so that was also great! :) 

What shows have you crafters been to?  I'm going to set up a booth in Lebanon at the Back to the 50's Festival, but want to check out some more, either to sell or buy from!

Monday, July 7, 2014

July 4th!

The Fourth of July is definitely one of my favorite holidays.  I spruced up the coop and added a homemade bandanna bunting, planted some marigolds to keep the pests away and added a little picket fence.  I think the girls loved it.  My mammoth sunflowers in the back have really grown!

We had the Symphony at Sunset, checked out the new park pool, parade, cookout, water balloon fight, went to the carnival and watched fireworks that night.  Perfect!

I was off work that week and really caught up on sewing for my next craft fair - July 19th in Brownsburg, IN if you're nearby ! Sounds like there will be a lot to see and do!

Monday, June 16, 2014

Birds of a Feather...

Here is my garden in progress now!  Just had to be patient but finally with the warm weather and rains, everything is blooming and doing great.  I'll have some great veggies to put up soon this summer and have already been eating lots of salads with radishes and carrots.

While I was watering and weeding the other day, I kept hearing a bunch of  peeping.  I was gathering some good garden peas and look over to see this.  See it?  A cute chicken clucking away and looking inside the dog house?
No, look closer...
How about now? 
Yep, a baby robin perched away on my beagle's doggy bed.  Probably the same baby bird that my boyfriend recently rescued after he fell out of the nest and was hopping around to follow one of my Bantam chickens.  I was worried he would get pecked to death, so he put him back in the nest while I flapped around the yard to keep Momma Robin away.  

So, cute and all but the chickens all kept trying to find the baby birds and Momma again was squawking and trying to peck my eyes out when I would go anywhere.  I was able for the most part to keep them away and I think he learned how to fly later and took off.  Good thing, because I've read that wild birds carry some bad diseases like Newcastle disease that can wipe out my whole egg laying flock! Anyone else have good ways to keep wild birds out of your yard?  I usually knock down their nests in the beginning and have all the birdfeeders in the front yard to discourage them from finding the back yard. 

Monday, June 2, 2014

Saving all those strawberries

My family went strawberry picking this weekend and I came home with so many strawberries!  We went to Spencer Farm in Noblesville, IN and I highly recommend it.  Such a nice place with lots of berries to pick!

Yum, but then what to do with them?  Here is a little glimpse of how I start preserving and saving them until I'm ready to bake.  First, I wash them in a vinegar bath, leaving the caps and hulls on.  Just add 1 cup of white distilled vinegar to 3 cups of water.

Let them sit for a minute or two and swish them around to get all the dirt and grit off them.  The vinegar will kill the mold spores and this helps them last MUCH longer in your refrigerator and not get moldy and mushy.  After they are washed, drain them in a colander while running a little water over them to rinse.  Then, just lay them in a single layer on a towel to dry.  I chose red for obvious reasons and since berries stain, wear some old clothes too!

Now I was able to store some in a cute little berry container in my fridge for snacking this week.  You can also place them on paper towels in a container, but don't seal it completely or all the moisture will build up inside and make them go bad faster.

I also like to flash freeze some of them whole and chopped on a baking sheet.  Just freeze for about an hour and then you can place them all in a freezer container or freezer bag without the fruit sticking together in one big frozen mess.  The whole ones are perfect for summer smoothies and the chopped ones are good for scones.  Using frozen berries, they stay together while baking and don't spread out in the dough. Save those strawberry tops for your compost pile or chickens! Mine love them!

Another way to save the berries is frozen with sugar.  Halve a quart of strawberries and then sprinkle 1/2 cup of sugar over them and stir together.  The sugar will break down the strawberries more and create a yummy syrup.  Once frozen, just thaw later and use for ice cream toppings and strawberry shortcakes!

And then, if you still have more berries, use them up for some good jam!  There are countless recipes out there for traditional jams and also other variations.  Always use a trusted recipe that has been tested and follow canning directions carefully.  It's not hard at all , but you don't want to go through all the work to not have your jars seal or go bad.  You can also make freezer jam that does not need to be processed in a canner that will last up to a year!  Tonight I made just a regular strawberry jam from the Ball Book of Canning and ended up with 10 half pints.  You really can't beat a fresh jar of jam on some warm homemade bread.  I think I'll have to make some of that tomorrow night! 

Happy Berry Pickin'!  

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

Busy busy bee

Since my last post I have been so busy enjoying our warm spring weather.  It has been amazing after the winter we all had!  Just being outside watching the chickens, working in my new garden beds or playing with my niece and nephew is good to me.  Here are my new raised beds that my boyfriend built me.  He modeled them after the VegTrugs that I saw on Williams-Sonoma.  Love them!  Didn't he do such a great job??
 That contraption was built by my dad and I for the cucumber plants to grow up, which then shades the lettuce, spinach and greens from the sun. Hopefully they start taking off soon. Might have planted them a little early. :)
  And below, the aqua shields were taken off tonight and the tomatoes inside have grown so much and were protected from the frost and kept warm like a little greenhouse.
The middle is perfect for deeper roots like carrots and the edges are great for lettuces and onions.  Next I need to figure out some rock paths or mulch underneath and finish staining them.  I know the mulch will get kicked all over the yard from the chickens dust bathing or searching for bugs, so then a little edger or fence will be needed, too.  All ideas and designs are welcome!  Time to plant some grass seed, too after all the digging around.

I also made some plant markers like the ones that are all over Pinterest right now.  The trick is finding real silver spoons, not stainless, unless you're REALLY strong.  I picked up four at Goodwill and they stamped perfectly with the metal stamp set I have.  Then you color over the letters with a permanent marker, wipe over it with some hand sanitizer and voila- vintage little markers!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Hurry up Spring

Well, since my last post, the seedlings have really taken off.  I can't wait to have a peanut harvest! So different than just my regular veggies.  Here is one of the peanut seeds that have sprouted.  Pretty much all of them have now started to sprout, along with the other seeds I planted.

Hopefully after this last snow... yes, snow, I will be able to plant more in my new raised beds.

Also, my chickens are little egg laying machines these days.  I pretty much get 7 or 8 eggs a day from my 8 chickies. 3 Red Stars, 3 Orpingtons and 2 Sebrights!  I'm getting a large collection of eggs in the fridge... time to make some creme brulee again and maybe some quiche!

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Wishing for Spring

Finished another jelly roll quilt, this time with a flannel bundle.  I love it! It's the rag type quilt where you basically sew backwards so that the seam shows on the top side.  After you sew all the layers together, flannel solid on bottom, batting strip then flannel strip, you fringe all the top seam allowances that show and then wash and dry!  There are a lot of tutorials online if you need pictures and better steps.  Some use three layers of flannel, but I had a lot of batting leftover and just cut small strips from that.  This quilt is now for sale in my Etsy shop, too. 

 Since I'm so ready for spring to get here, I got a jumpstart this past weekend on my seed starting.  I bought the Pot Maker from Burpee and also several new seeds, like Peanuts and Luffa! Everyone may get canned goods and luffa sponges this year for Christmas. :) Here is my little set up with a new grow light hanging down from a chain. My dad built a T frame from some leftover lumber in my garage and I made all the newspaper pots to get a head start on growing. The rest is just a little shelf I already had so all the supplies can go on the other shelves.  As they sprout, I'll cover with a larger plastic dome, water the tray at the bottom and raise the light until it's time to harden them off outside.   I can't wait to have a harvest of peanuts along with all the other normal veggies I like to grow.
 So far in the pots, I have onions, super sauce tomatoes, lettuce and peanuts!

Getting so ready for Spring!!