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Thursday, April 27, 2017

A Big Pot of Potatoes

In line with my March homestead skills challenge of "garden, soil, & seeds" I decided to try planting a potato tower.

We started with some potatoes that sprouted in our potato bin.  I set them aside and they really put on some long leggy sprouts.

On 18 March Himself planted them in this container which is 'half whiskey barrel' size.

They are VERY enthusiastic potatoes... this is on 25 March!  I added more dirt about half way up the remaining space.

About a week later they were well over the top of the planter.

I topped off the dirt and added a wire cage that Himself made.  The pool noodle around the top keeps me from getting scratched up by the sharp edges.

I added straw about 1/3 up the wire cage.  At first I completely covered the potato plants but then I thought better of it.  Straw is used to mulch kill weeds...right?  So why wouldn't do the same to the potatoes?

So I pulled the straw out of the middle and indeed, the potatoes were looking a bit pitiful.  So I did a straw donut instead.  Straw on the sides and dirt in the middle.

When we got back from Missouri on 15 April, I put in another 1/3 height of straw as that is how far they had grown up.  Just their crowns were above the dirt/straw.  I decided this would be my last layer as I wanted some portion of the cage to support the plants.

And here they are on the 24th!

They seem quite happy with their container.

Do you think I'll get baby potatoes??

Tuesday, April 25, 2017

I Get Free Money

Every week I am handed free money and I keep it in this file.

Where does it come from?


They come to me through the mail... in my magazines... on my computer.

I get coupons from stores I regularly shop at like Michaels and Kohls and Harbor Freight.

We rarely eat a meal at a restaurant chain without using a coupon.

My file fits easily in my purse so I am always ready to use them.  This case has 13 slots with 12 tabs.  I keep the coupons behind their tab which leaves the first slot open.  This area I use to keep the soon to be expired coupons.

It takes me about 10 minutes a week to clip the coupons (I ONLY clip ones for products we use) and to go through each slot to pull out the expiring coupons.  And each week I will use about $8 of coupons.  On a good week I can save $25 or more on my purchases.

This little 'home kit' is a real money maker!

Sunday, April 23, 2017

April Food In Jars Challenge: Quick Pickles

The Food In Jars challenge for April was to make a "quick" pickle (AKA refrigerator pickle).

Hmmm.  There are no pickling cucumbers to be found around here this time of the year.  So what other veggies could I pickle?  Carrots?  Nope, already have a jar of them in the fridge.  Cauliflower?  Not at $5.79 a head...for a little head!   Asparagus?  It is just coming into season, so not yet.

Then I found the recipe...

Pickled cherry tomatoes!

Easy to get.  Inexpensive.  And you want them firm so they don't mush up on you.

I found the recipe at:

We have done a bit of early tasting and they are getting better as they mellow.  The 24 hour test was a bit puckery...

I wasn't done playing though and I found an even easier quick pickle recipe...

Pickled eggs!

We went a bit fancy with the first batch ~ turmeric pickled eggs.  Then more simple for the second batch ~ dilly pickled eggs.

Aren't they pretty?

You have to let them soak for at least 3 days, which we impatiently did.  And we had another winner!  Two actually...

Turmeric Pickled Eggs

For 8 eggs in a quart jar I used this spice mix that I made up:
1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 t turmeric
1 t peppercorns
1 t salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1 t juniper berries
2 t coriander seeds
2 bay leaf

Dilly of a Pickled Egg

For a pint jar I used these spices (I had extra brine for this one):

1 1/2 cup apple cider vinegar
1/2 cup water
2 t turmeric
1 t peppercorns
1 t salt
pinch red pepper flakes
1 t juniper berries
2 t coriander seeds
2 bay leaf

Success all the way around!  I'll be revisiting quick pickling when produce comes into season.

Wednesday, April 19, 2017

Swapping a Cuppa

March was time for the spring tea swap at The Enchanting Rose blog . 

Here is the swap I sent out to Jill in NC.

It started with the antique tea cup with a dogwood pattern that I found at an estate sale.  There were two and I kept the other for myself.  And to go with it, I put in this dogwood iron piece that was made by a blacksmith friend.  

I enclosed a box of my favorite chai and a cinnamon candle.  Finally I put in a note pad with ladybugs... as what is more spring than the annual spring ladybug invasion?  LOL 

And I am so happy to see that Jill enjoyed her parcel... 

And here is the package I received from Anne in CO.

I absolutely love the beautiful tea cup.  It's my favorite shade of teal.  The box of tea she enclosed is a new one for and lemon verbena.  It's very good; so relaxing to sip.  All the goodies she sent were so nice... in fact, there are a couple missing from the photo.  A square of dark chocolate disappeared very quickly and a lip balm from Celestial Seasonings is in my purse.

Thank you so much Anne!

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

An Elephant (Rock) Safari

We've just returned home from 10 days in Missouri.  It was a pretty busy visit but we did manage one day with the kids.

The weather was beautiful so we decided to head south to Elephant Rocks State Park ( )

We took the left trail which is known as the "Braille Trail" because of the braille markers along a paved pathway.

Climbing up the granite boulders burned off a lot of young energy!

Some energy took longer to burn off than others...

The back part of this section is an old quarry with the blasted out stone and chips leftover when it closed.

It was a perfect day for finding wildflowers to photograph.

An oak tree with new leaves and sneezy-wheezy pollen filled flowers

Little Bird and some tree fungus.

There are many types of lichen growing on the granite stones.

The kids loved them.

We had them bring their iPads to take photos and videos of what they saw.

This fence lizard was a rock star with his paparazzi.

What an interesting trunk on this oak tree!

The quarry pond.

A budding Spielberg working on his video.

Photo op!

We all had a great time and will come back to do the right trail this fall (when the weather isn't melting).

Monday, April 17, 2017

I Will NOT Go To The Vet!!

This is too funny!  Someone definitely has an opinion about getting a pedicure and threw a hissy fit.  Watch it all the way through... it gets funnier.