Thursday, December 31, 2009

Chicken Tortilla Soup

Nothing like enjoying the produce from your garden in the middle of winter. This is one of my favorite soup recipes. Chicken Tortilla Soup. I can't remember where the recipe came from, but I'll leave the recipe below for anyone that wants to try this delicious soup! I probably altered it anyway! I used the tomato sauce that I canned this summer for the very first time!

Chicken Tortilla Soup
1 large onion
3 or more cloves of garlic
tbs olive oil
1/2 tsp oregano (I used some from the garden)
1/2 tsp cayenne
1/2 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp chili powder
I am not very exact with these, I like it a bit spicy...
saute till soft
add 3 cups water
3 tbs lime juice
1/2 tsp salt
simmer
add 1 lb chicken cook till pulls apart about 15 minutes
pull out chicken, pull apart
separate the liquid from the solids and puree the solids return all to pan, chicken, puree and liquid and add tomato sauce 1 can or 1 jar
cook 5 more minutes and add tortilla strips ( I fried them and added some spicy seasonings), cheese and avocado. (my pic is cheeseless, Dairy free for Eli! Uhg! Miss my cheese!)

I hope you try it, it sure is good!


Sunday, December 27, 2009

Looking forward to 2010 gardening year!

Sure hope I have time and energy for it cause I am getting very excited. I got a new mini indoor/outdoor greenhouse stand for Christmas and I can't wait to use it!


For my birthday, I got a new camera to take beautiful garden photos with! A canon Powershot SX200 IS. I need to practice with it cause it is nicer and can do more than the one I had before!
Seed catalogs are coming in and I hope to order a few new seeds and I hope to start a few EARLY this year. Especially peppers, my peppers took so long last year some of them didn't even start producing till right before it got cold! And, my cabbage, broccoli, etc, I need to start earlier! It'll be here before we know it!

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Diaper Sewing Ministry

This post isn't about gardening, but hey, its winter, and I have other "green" things on my mind!
Earlier I posted a link on my FB and on my blogs to highlight an organization that I think could use some attention. Miracle Diapers is an organization that helps new moms in need with cloth diapers...Not the rubber pants and cheap prefolds most people think of when they hear about cloth diapers! Those are the diapers of our mothers day!
For example...
These are some Pocket diapers I made for my children. They have velcro closures and go on just like a disposable!

These are called wool longies. The are diaper covers for quality prefolds and fitted diapers. Cute fluffy butts huh?

This is a snapping cover.

There are other even easier varieties as well. Some fluffy, some trimmer!

Someday soon, I would like to start a ministry that helps organizations like these, including local pregnancy centers by providing diapers that we have sewn. It is my hope to find others in my area or in my church that like to sew and get together on a regular basis to teach and learn to make diapers to be donated to these groups for mothers in need and interested in using cloth. And there are more than we realize that would be interested! I've thought about this for a while, all I need to do now is have the time and motivation to actually get it started! With the whole country trying to find more ways to be green this is the perfect time to do something like this.
I really hope you read this far and hope you have the opportunity to spread the word about organizations like Miracle Diapers! And my intention for highlighting this organization is not only for new moms to find help, but for others to find it in their hearts to donate in some way, whether it is diapers and accessories you no longer need or money.

Thursday, December 3, 2009

Zone Defense

Just a picture of my little "green" baby! Well, he is growing. Up to 10 lb 12 oz now. Can't wait for him to sleep through the night! Hopefully soon. All the company/helpers are now gone and we are left to what the kid's soccer coach calls zone defense! (Instead of man to man defense!) LOL, yep, we are out numbered and we can feel it!



Absolutely nothing going on in the garden. Dh has done a little clean up here and there. But the christmas lights are up and they look very nice. Maybe if we get a new camera I will be able to get a picture of them. Yep, the current camera has pretty much died...it won't read a memory card. It has about 14 pictures worth of space on the camera itself, but that certainly does not get you far! Looking into either a canon Powershot SD780 IS or a Nikon compact S630. Anyone have any opinions? I did want to get something a little bigger and better, but I figured that wouldn't be practical when taking it places and having to carry it around.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Camera Recommendations?

So, at some point I hope to get a new camera and hope some of you gardening friends will have some recommendations and tell me what you like about your camera. I was kind of looking at some Nikons and some Canons. What do ya think? Please share!

Friday, October 16, 2009

Recieved Dynamite Crape Myrtle Replacement!

One week from Monday, the baby will be here...that is 10 more days! And yes I am counting them down!

You can tell it is fall in our yard, with all the red and yellow maple leaves covering our yard. If it wasn't so rainy, I am sure the kids would enjoy some time outside playing in piles of leaves with daddy. But the rain just doesn't seem to want to stop. However, last night, it had stopped long enough for DS and DH to plant the Dynamite Crape Myrtle that was sent to replace the one that we recieved in the spring...which turned out to be white...not red!  So the boys spent the evening in the dark planting the tree and enjoying some father son time together!


He is doing a good job isn't he!

Such a good digger...my little gardener in the making!

I thought I would take a picture of the finished job this morning, still needs some mulch around to keep it warm hopefully. I was surprised to recieve it without a leaf on it...our other one still has leaves and buds, and this one came from GA which is much warmer than KY! I will enjoy seeing it bud and bloom in the spring!

Notice my Impatients above...they are practically bushes on the left and small plants on the right. Too much shade on that side I guess. And I thought these were shade plants! I will grow these again next year though. They looked much fuller and nicer than the Begonias I planted here last year! I might plant some of my tall Red Salvia behind them. Maybe a little trim on the Maple will get some more sun to the other side of the porch! I did get lots of compliments on my flowers in the front this year though. I feel like a proud gardener!


We transplanted the white Crape Myrtle in the back by the shed. Hopefully it will fill out and grow nicely and hide the ugly shed! It sits next to the Weigela, which is also very lovely in the spring...it does need a trim however! He is a little wild and out of control right now. But, it can't be trimmed till after blooming!

This is also right in the path of our white water river (when it rains). We have tried to plant some grass seed here but it has rained pretty hard, so we will see if we get anything!
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In other gardening....DH spent Saturday cleaning up some things in the yard. One of them being my veg garden. It looks so bare and messy doesn't it! The heavy rains have really done a number on the pathways and surrounding areas. Maybe we will be able to come up with a better plan next year to avoid it getting washed away! At least the veggies were in raised beds and did not get washed away!


I have also taken some cuttings from some of my pepper plants, just to experiment and see what happens. Especially since my Habanero never got big enough to bloom or grow fruits. So I thought maybe I would try inside. We'll see what happens. In the white pot is or was my Gloxinia. It died off and now a tiny little plant is starting to grow again, so I am glad I have not lost it! And there is my Spicy basil cutting in the middle. I fertilized it today, so maybe it will start growing better. I also just moved it from the window to the grow light to see if that will help it along! I will report the progress of these cuttings if there is any.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

Pumpkin Pickin!

We like to go out to the Farm occassionally for pickin and playing! Since we didn't have any pumpkins make it this year due to the dreaded SVB, we spent the afternoon at the Farm for pumpkin pickin. And the kids sure do enjoy it!
When we went for Strawberry pickin in June, DD had more strawberries in her mouth and all over her than in the basket!
This is a view of one of the pumpkins fields and this place was packed with people today because of a fall festival. The field we went to was not as busy as the others!

We rode on a trailer pulled by a tractor, like a hayride, out to the fields. Their were a lot of tractors with trailors today! DS kept saying "there are tractors everywhere mommy!"

The kids next to some of the pre-picked pumpkins and squash.

After the fields we went to the childrens barnyard to play for a bit...the kids LOVE the 40 foot barn slide!
This is a really fun place to go with the kids. Lots of fun and activities for them. And lots of good fresh fruits and vegetables to bring home (depending on the time of year).
I definitely suggest this place for a place to visit for the afternoon if you are ever in the area! Both of the Farm links at the top are different, not sure why they are not linked together, but it is all the same farm! (I guess one is more for the winery...but they should still link them together.)

We did pick out 3 nice pumpkins...DD picked out a smaller, warty looking pumpkin and DS picked out a couple that were too big for him to carry, but they are nice looking.


Monday, September 28, 2009

Fall is showing itself in my garden...

Not too much of a harvest today. I got a couple more cucumbers before ripping the dead vines off the trellis. They were a surpise, I didn't even notice them till the dead vines were on the ground. A few tomatoes, but the constant rain has done their number on them and I picked as many good ones as I had bad ones that had to be tossed. Some of these are still quite a bit green, but fell off when I was fumbling through the plants.
I brought in the other two tiny watermelon as well. I am not sure they will be as good as the first one, if ripe at all.

Cut a bunch of Oregano to dry and save. This is the first time I have cut off of the plant, and the first time I have grown Oregano.

This is only my second pepper off of  my bell plants. Hope it is better than the first. The kiddos did not like it at all, and it just didn't look right. And something has been digging around my carrots so I pulled this one out. It is a bit small, but maybe it will taste alright. First time growing carrots too!

In the picture above and below I have some more seeds to save. The ones above are a red Nasturtium, the ones below are 'Bonfire Salvia'. They were quite a bit taller than I expected (see Seriously need to read the heights on my plant seeds), but I do like them! I might try to plant them behind my red and white Impatients in the spring.

I am happy to say that my one little pumpkin did appear to ripen the rest of the way on the counter...at least, all the green is gone and it looks like a nice little pumpkin.
I am not sure there will be much more to write about my garden this year, as most of it is dwindling away. There are still plenty of tomatoes out their. A cabbage, some beans, peppers, and carrots finishing up. But the cold weather seems to be on its way, and fall clean up is right behind it.

I have been working on a new plan for the spring so maybe I will be able to share it when I feel it is complete...though somehow I never feel like something like that is every really complete. Who knows how many times it will change before it is actually planted and if it will all come together the way I plan. It never really does, does it?!

My new little one will be here 4 weeks from today...I am counting down the days!

Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Bats belong in the Garden NOT the house!

I have no pictures for this post...the moment was just too quick. But I could not help but share the story!
We had a visitor last night. Or maybe for the past couple of weeks and didn't  know it!
I kept finding lint debris that kept falling from the ceiling fan/vent in the bathroom so I asked dh to take it down and help me vacuum it out. He gladly helped, yet the debris kept coming. So I asked him to take it down again a couple of days later. As he had his hand up in their the bat began to squeel and hiss and showed me his lovely teeth! I yelled "BAT!" and we ran out of the bathroom and closed the door...with vent cover! Dh asked if I was sure it was a bat, and after seeing those teeth from something hanging upside down, I had no doubt! It is a bat! After several minutes Dh went back in with the cover and put it back on quickly as the bat was still up in the vent, thank God.
Needless to say, we had no idea how to get rid of a bat. They bite, and can have rabies! So dh called someone to come get it out this morning. I totally expected a fully protective suit, etc. Nope, shorts, t shirt, gloves and a PRINGLES CAN to catch it! Are you kidding me, we paid good money for this!!!? Yep, and I am still glad cause it is gone! The thought of this thing in the house with me pregnant and two little ones was just scary! Needless to say I did not get a good night of sleep knowing that thing was in the house!

Now, I would not have been so upset had this bat been in my GARDEN! Eating all those squash bugs and whatever else he can get rid of! But, no, he decided to try to get in my house! Uhg!
Well, hopefully we can all get a better night sleep tonight!

Saturday, September 19, 2009

One Fat Eater!

My first (and very late) signs of something big eating in my garden.
Here is the culprit!
And he is FAT! Pics just don't do it justice...
A lovely little surprise...it is only about an inch and a half or two wide. This is my first Cauli ever...and it only took it since April to show itself!!!!!
Again, pictures do not do this tomato justice...you aren't gonna find this bad boy at your local grocer! I would have to say this is probably the biggest tomato I have ever grown, so I am proud of it! It is a Pruden's Purple.
It is 5 inches wide and 3 inches tall.
Todays harvest...Tomatoes, spicy basil, Serano Peppers, Royal Burgandy Bush beans.

Friday, September 18, 2009

My One and Only pumpkin!

I went out to the garden today to find my little pumpkin on the ground, the vines are just dead. There is some green on it still...don't know if a few days will ripen it without it being on the vine or not. But I just wanted to rescue it from the squash bugs since their is an army of them out there now!
He is about 4 1/2 inches wide and about 5 inches tall.

I have never used a fresh pumpkin for a pie but I hope this will be enough. I am gonna have to start researching what to do and how to save it if I can, till Thanksgiving! For instance, should I just leave it as is, or cook, puree and freeze it? I bet Granny knows!
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 In other gardening, the veg garden appears to be on its last leg. There is still a couple of Accorn squash toughing out the squash bugs. The tomatoes are still producing well. Serrano peppers are turning red. There are still beans producing, but for some reason they just don't taste as good as the first round, the plants don't look as good either.
I pushed the dirt away to find some pretty purple carrots are growing in the tall box! Only a few though. I wish I had read granny's advice about gluing the seeds to a paper towel before I planted them! I will try that next time!
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On the advice or request of my family I decided not to plant anything for the fall! So my garden is going to be winding down quite a bit from here on out. Which is ok, cause my mind has been focused on preparing for baby lately...and not much on the garden. Except, next summer, I hope to use FRESH VEGGIES from the garden to make his baby food! Won't that be great! And SO healthy! I am glad that there will be even more uses for my garden harvests!

Monday, September 14, 2009

Bringing in Basil cuttings

After seeing Daves post on sustaining fresh basil through the winter I decided to try it on my own and see how it goes. So far so good. First I started by taking a few cuttings from my plants outside. I washed them up, removed the lower leaves, and put them in a glass of water. It took about a week for mine to get these roots, and this one is the best one out of about 5 or 6. This is Spicy Globe Basil. I don't know if others root faster or not.
Doesn't he look pretty?
Now I don't get a lot of light since the sun goes over my house from the NW corner of my house to the SE corner of my house, but maybe when the leaves fall from the trees I might get enough. Or I can take them and put them under the grow lights. We'll just have to see how it goes!
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No, you are not looking at giant tomatoes! These are TINY MELONS!!! I think that after the squash bugs and cucumber beetles did their number on all my squash and pumpkins and cucumbers, they went to work on my Ambrosia melons and watermelons!
The vines are dead, and these melons just fell off. There are two more of each out there but the vines are dead and one of the Ambrosia melons appears to be rotting on the bottom. So I don't have any hope for any of them!
I think they are about the size of a baseball and softball! I'll have to cut them open today and see what I find! I am kind of doubting there will be anything edible!
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I was so excited to see a RED serrano on the plant until I picked it and saw that something else has been enjoying it before me!
But their are a few more begining to turn red out there and should be ready soon!
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In other gardening news...I am afraid pregnancy has given me a black thumb! LOL!
All the pretty flowers I got this summer appear to be dead! Monarda Pink Lace, Limerock Ruby Coreopsis,  and a couple of others. We are gonna try to put them in the ground anyways and see if anything comes back, whether it is this year or next. I will have to look for new ones next year if they don't come back. And I will be sure to get them planted right away!
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Edited to add:
The melons were not bad after all! The Ambrosia was good, smelled good, and my daughter ate it. The water melon was not real sweet but still tasted fine and my son ate it! Not too bad for a couple of TINY melons!

Thursday, September 10, 2009

Seriously need to read the height's on my plant seeds!

Thanks to those of you who posted encouraging comments, here and on your own sites! I really appreciate your thoughtfullness! I do enjoy reading about all your gardens and getting GREAT ideas!
I wouldn't normally post a pic of myself here, but, this warranted it! I needed something to compare to this cosmo! Yes, it is not a tree, it is a Bright Lights Mix Cosmo! It is more than 6 feet tall! The package said 4 ft...don't know what I did to get 6! They were randomly sent in the mail to me by some company wanting my membership, they were year old seeds and I planted them late! How did they get SO BIG!? You can't see many flowers on them now, but when they were about half the size or more they did have plenty of flowers on them. Their "trunks" are like an inch or more in diameter!  This is the first time I have ever planted these so I did not know what to expect anyways, but this was way beyond my expectations. I am glad I put it in a spot where it did not crowd out any other plants...though the Achillea below it might beg to differ!
Right around the corner from the Cosmo, is my  ' Bonfire Salvia'. This plant was suppose to be 2 ft tall...it is more like 3-4 ft tall. I totally didn't read the package on this one either. I assumed it would be about the size of most other red salvia's I have seen, about a foot or less. Good thing most of the flowers in this corner area were all tall plants such as cosmos, salvias, Achillea. So they are all doing well together...though when neglected, it can tend to look quite unruly in this garden. I really tend to like a neat looking garden...not weedy looking or unruly.
This is after I did a lot of hacking in this bed. Still doesn't look as nice as I would like it to, but there is only so much energy a pg girl can put into a garden! I did trim the other cosmo plants way back, they were about 4 feet, but they were falling over from all the hard rain and just needed a good trim. Hopefully they will rebound for what is left of summer weather.
These were all new plants to me and new seeds, so it was definitely a learning experience. But overall this bed still looks way nicer than it did last year! I am happy with the progress, and I am figuring out what will stay or return and what will not!

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Meme Award

Thank you to Rachel at  GrafixMuse's Garden Spot and Amy at Gardening With Care who have both given me the Meme award. If it is ok, I am only going to do this one time though and know that others who I choose will have already been chosen and hopefully will not feel obligated to do it again (if that is how it works), and will just feel honored!
The funny thing is, I don't read a whole lot of garden blogs but theirs are 2 out of those that I read most. I feel like I am in a similar place in my gardening experiences and it is nice to learn together! Thanks for thinking of me!

So, here are the Meme award guidelines:
1. Link back to the person who gave you the award

2. Reveal 7 things about yourself

3. Tag 7 other bloggers at the end of your post and link to them

4. Let each blogger know they have been tagged by leaving a comment on their blog.

5. Let the tagger know when your post is up.

7 things about me...
1. I am having my third baby, a boy, the end of next month. Needless to say, I have not been to my garden a whole lot lately! My first two are 3 yr old boy and girl twins! I am not totally crunchy, but I did and will agin make my own baby food this time. And I made my own cloth diapers for the twins, but will buy most of what I need for the new baby. Some really cute ones too! Who knew what CUTE diapers were out there! But this time around I am too tired and too busy to make my own!
2. I have lived in MI, TN, TX, KY.
3. I am somewhat of a perfectionist...which does not go very well with gardening, since gardening comes with all kinds of little annoyances like bugs and diseases and failures! But I am also very persistent as well, once I set my mind to something I am very determined to accomplish it. And gardening gives such a sense of accomplishment! I like that!
4. I am VERY shy, but talk too much...I know, it doesn't make sense. But once I warm up to someone, I will talk your ear off! Even telling you the same story several times! That is why blogging comes easy for me cause I can talk away and not feel the intimidation I feel as most shy ppl do.
5. I have two cats, Cassie and Charlot, who are terribly neglected since children have entered the picture. They use to be the babies, and boy were they spoiled. There was a time that they couldn't get away from me fast enough, and now they take every chance they get to get right up in my face and hang out there!
6. I have been married to a wonderfully helpful man for more than 7 years. There aren't a lot of good ones out there, but he is one of them! He really takes care of his family, and enjoys and loves his children....and their mommy!
7. I absolutely HATE cold weather! I am not saying I love it hot, but I can tolerate hot way more than I can tolerate cold. I would never ever live in MI again, way too cold for me and the snow lasts way too long! Though I do enjoy taking my kids out to play in a good snow now and then. But once or twice a year is more than enough for me!

Now, onto my list of Blogs that I would like to pass the Meme award to. In no particular order, these are some of my regular reads...again, if you have already gotten an award don't feel obligated to do all this again. Just enjoy the recognition!
Our Engineered Garden in addition to his gardening talents he does some beautiful building projects!
Annie's Kitchen Garden I love her experienced advice and the recipes and she loves to tempt us with her culinary creations for dinner every night! And I am so jealous of her beautiful and huge garden!

These next 4 I like because they use similar approaches to gardening and seem to be at the same level of gardening experience as I am and we can learn together...and they are just plain nice ppl!
The Corner Yard
Gamine's Garden
Tales of a Transplanted Gardener
Crystabel's Garden

The Home Garden: Gardening in the Home Landscape  This is a great resource for me for gardening! I love all the tips, projects, plant knowledge, etc that he shares with everyone! And he lives in the same town as my mom!

Sorry if I don't have a  lot of new blogs to introduce here. I don't regularly read too many, and these in addition to the two that tagged me are the ones I read the most.

I enjoy reading all these blogs because it is nice to share the experience, the accomplishment, the failures, and to find fresh ideas and insight!

Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Mom's garden in the woods of TN

My mom has gardened for many years, and when they moved to this place...she wasn't about to let all the trees and rocks get in her way of gardening. She mostly gardens tomatoes and peppers. She also has a few parsnips, onions, spicy basil, regular basil, mint...etc.
Needless to say, gardening in the woods, with a ground that is almost completely rock (envision the rocks you see when they cut roads through the mountains), is not an easy endeavor. She picked a spot down by the road next to the drive that looked like it might get the most sun...which still is not a lot.

When we were driving by the garden I said to her that she must trim the heck out of her tomato plants...cause they are very skimpy! "NO, that is just how they are," she said. I thought about it that night and realized that it must be the lack of sun and the amount of rock she has to grow in. So she has to plant A LOT of tomatoes to even get a similar amount of harvest that I do with only about 8 plants. I think she plants anywhere from 30-50 plants every year. She does get a decent harvest all together by the end of it all and does a LOT of canning.
There is JA and DA checking out the garden. JA picked a tomato for gramma...it was red.

Her peppers here must like the shade a bit, cause my peppers don't look this good! She has Banana, Habanero, Jalapeno, and another she is not sure of...maybe Pablano.


Here is a view of all the tomatoes.



This is one tomato plant...doesn't he look sad? He is reaching for the sun!


This is some of the basil and spicy basil. I don't think it is too happy with the lack of sun either. They were planted in the spring and some still look like seedlings. They never turned bush like. But I think she is gonna bring some in for the winter, so maybe they will grow some more.

Most of her tomatoes are kind of small, but these were really small. About golf ball size.


This is the harvest she had on the counter when we got there. A few tomatoes, some habanero, jalapeno, and banana peppers. They are pretty. And she makes some nice salsa to can with what she gets from her garden.
I would have to say they are pretty determined to try to grow their garden in the wood and rocks. They do pretty well despite...
Maybe someday SF will be willing to cut down a tree or two so she can get some more sun to her garden! They do have one spot that would get a lot of sun, but it is even further away than what they got, and it already takes about 4 hoses to get down to this one from the house. And they said that there is only about a half inch of topsoil out there on top of the rock in order to get grass to grow. Whew! They need some SFG'S and a pump!!
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Meet JADA! Her name comes from my kids initials, JA is my son and DA is my daughter. They love Jada! And Jada loves them. She is a nice dog! Part German Shepherd and part Alaskan Wolf. She is HUGE! Well over 100 lbs.

They have another dog too...Macy, but she is scared of the kids and hides when we are there. She is a Border Collie.