Monday, April 22, 2013

DWM/Blogger Girl Block of the Month #4

On my design wall this morning are my two completed blocks for the Blogger Girl BOM. This is month 4 and I LOVE the block this month. I took the opportunity that the large open space in the center offered and fussy cut a pretty flower for this one. When I looked at the blocks I've done so far I decided I needed a little more blue so the predominate color for this star is shades of blue.

We're supposed to take the pattern and change the block by rearranging the color placement to make it look different. I could not for the life of me wrap my head around how to do that for this one and besides I really like it just as it is so I just went with it. I think the color values make it look different enough. What do you think? Should I try harder and make another one?

What's on your design wall? head over to Patchwork Times to see what so many other creative people are doing and thanks to Judy for hosting Design Wall Monday.

Until next time,

Friday, April 19, 2013

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate

Some of you already have strawberries available while the rest of us are still dreaming about them. When they do come in there is often a glut. Now here's an idea about what to do with the excess that I love that comes from the El Dorado County Master Food Preservers newsletter. Make concentrate for Strawberry Lemonade while fresh fruit is in season to use all summer long. I love this refreshing summer drink but it can be a pain to prepare it so having a concentrate in the pantry to take out whenever we're thirsty - what a treat!

Strawberry Lemonade Concentrate!!!

Makes about 7 pints

6 cups strawberries, cleaned and hulled
4 cups freshly squeezed lemon juice
6 cups sugar

1.) PREPARE boiling water canner. Heat jars and lids in simmering water until ready to use. Do not boil. Set bands aside.
2.) PUR√ČE strawberries in a blender or food processor fitted with a metal blade, working in batches, until smooth. Transfer to a large stainless steel saucepan as completed.
3.) ADD lemon juice and sugar to strawberry puree, stirring to combine. Heat to 190° F over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. DO NOT BOIL!!!. Remove from heat and skim off foam.
4.) LADLE hot concentrate into hot jars leaving 1/4 inch headspace. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Apply band until fit is fingertip tight.
5.) PROCESS jars in a boiling water canner for 15 minutes, adjusting for altitude. Remove jars and cool. Check lids for seal after 24 hours. Lid should not flex up and down when center is pressed.

To reconstitute, mix one part concentrate with one part water, tonic water or ginger ale. Adjust concentrate to suit your taste.
Adapted from El Dorado County Master Food Preserver newsletter
Recipe source

The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Until next time,

Thursday, April 18, 2013

This is My California

I thought I'd give you a glimpse of my California. If you watch even a smattering of reality TV you've seen the 'Real Housewives'. In what universe those women are real I don't have a clue but anyway today I'm thinking about the Real Housewives of Beverly Hills and Orange County. If you tune in to those shows for five minutes you get a pretty warped idea about what life is like in California. Everyone swans around on 6 inch high heels with fake boobs and lots of make-up and diamonds. Nothing about those people is real. 

I'm a California girl born and bred and I love my state. There are lots of urban centers in California but there's also plenty of beautiful open land where a person can breathe. Get up off your duff and get out!

Last weekend we joined some friend less than an hour from our house for a wonderful, easy hike along the Yuba River. You'll break an ankle in high heels in this terrain!

covered bridge
Beautiful covered bridge
Yuba River covered bridge

Happy Henry
Yuba River
Spectacular vistas
california path

This is my California! Don't be fooled by those cheep and tawdry imitations. I'm a Real Housewife of Dogwood Lane and my diamond ring is in the dresser cuz I might loose it when I clean the hen house.

oak forest path

Until next time,

Monday, April 15, 2013

Design Wall Monday/A Finish At Last

Off my design wall and off my UFO list is this baby quilt that I really like and haven't got a clue why it took me so long to finish!

chinese coin quilt

All it needed was binding and it has sat languishing in my sewing room literally for YEARS! Why do I do that? Anyway this weekend I told myself I'm going to finish it and it really only took about an hour. After all it's not very big. It's made from the scraps of this quilt, Insomnia that I told you about in this post.

insomnia quilt

As I sewed the binding down I marveled at how soothing hand work can be, the rhythm of the needle going in and out of the fabric. That special sound as you pull the thread through, the satisfying feeling as you give it a small tug to seat your stitch. I love the quilting that my friend  Karen did on this little piece and I love the backing - a large piece of Thimbleberries from my stash that went perfectly.

I'll say it again, what took me so long?

I was featured at Freemotion by the River. Hop on over and check out the other pretty projects.

Until next time,

Friday, April 12, 2013

Upcycled Garden Bench

I've had this ratty plastic bench in the garden forever. It's comfortable and just the right size and there's not a thing in the world wrong with it except it's UGLY! It used to be a pretty dark green that matched the hen house but now... not so much. I would never throw away a perfectly good something because of a little wear and tear so let's see what $8 worth of paint can do. 

First choose your color. There are a million and all of them are beautiful, choose the kind that works for your project. In this case painting on plastic. (I forgot to take a picture of the spray paint can but your not an idiot so you don't need it, right?) I like color in the garden so I chose a really pretty lavender for my new bench color. Clean the surface really well and let it dry. Now you're good to go, start spraying. Several light, even coats are better than one heavy coat. That way you'll avoid drips and runs. Ask me how I know this.

 Here's the bench after one coat of paint. as you can see it doesn't have complete coverage so after letting it dry for a day (I had other stuff to do) I gave it another coat. In all it took almost two full cans of paint to cover this project. Remember there's a back and sides, cover everything you can expect to see. You can also see that I didn't use a drop cloth because I was painting in the woods, I'm messy but I jus move the duff around and it's all disappears.

garden bench

Here's the bench in it's new place in the garden. A place to relax and enjoy the view or watch Silent Bob and his ladies.

garden bench w/hat

It looks wonderful out there. I can see it from my kitchen window and that pop of color looks fabulous in the twilight. 

Farm Girl Friday Blog Fest

Until next time,

Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chicken & Herbs

rooster and hens

 From the post title bet you thought this was gonna be about a dinner recipe. Nope it's about feeding my chickens and the weather. We talk a lot about the weather living in the country. It's practically a sport.

It rained heavily for several days this past week which is great news. This has been a freakishly warm and mostly dry winter and the rain is greatly appreciated. It's a far cry from the first winter we spent here on Dogwood Lane. Boy oh boy, that winter it rained cats and dogs for forty days and forty nights! I set Chris to work building the ark and we both were starting to grow webs between our toes!! I'm a So. Cal gal - it does not rain in the south! Or hardly ever and that much water from the sky was a hardship. But like most things in life I got used to wet winters pretty quickly and now that our climate has changed so radically the last few years I miss the gloomy skies.

lemon balm
Lemon Balm
Anyway, the rain followed by sunny days has brought a bumper crop of the early herbs. The first to show up around here are the perennials - lemon balm and surprisingly, oregano. I would think that oregano would wait for it to get a little warmer but 35* nights don't seem to bother this hardy plant that reseeds itself every year.

I'm happy to see these herbs because they make a healthy, nutritious treat for my laying hens. We don't use pesticides or chemicals of any kind on any part of our gardens so as I pass through each day on my way to the hen yard I snip and collect as I go. Newly emerging weeds go in the basket too along with grass cuttings and nips and tucks from straying new growth. The garden gets a trim and Silent Bob and the girls get a healthful, green snack.

chickens eating herbs

 They come running when I call!

Until next time,

Monday, April 8, 2013

Garden Dreaming

Actually we've been doing a lot more than dreaming about our garden. Chris and I have been working for months renovating the rose garden bringing it back from the brink of disaster. If you've been reading this blog for a while then you remember what a mess this was last year when we had to remove a hazardous tree from the edge of the garden. You can go to this post and read about it. 

It's taken us a full year to clean up and re-design the space. We decided to turn the rose garden into a rose/vegetable garden. With that huge tree gone we now have plenty of sun to grow veggies as well as flowers!

Chris has been building retaining walls because of the slope and raised beds out of recycled wood. We kept the rock paths and wine bottle edging. Love the way those sparkle in the morning sun! I got busy filling the beds with all that good compost from our hens and transplanting the roses we could save to their new locations. He also built a new pergola to add some interest and just because I needed a place to hang my wind chimes.

I could not wait to plant something so lettuce starts went in before the paths were finished.

And of course my beloved rhubarb! I won't be able to harvest any this year but a garden is all about the future and waiting for what comes next. I can just taste it, yummy.

The tulips are popping up and the girls are enjoying their new view. I'm dreaming and planning just what I'm going to plant in all those beds. Oh, the possibilities!


The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Until next time,

Friday, April 5, 2013

Visiting the Tropics In My Kitchen

Deb of Smitten Kitchen fame has done it again! She's transported me to a completely different and dare I say better or at least warmer place just by posting one of her amazing recipes. She' tempted me to come along with her this time to a tropical isle.  People if you don't know about Smitten Kitchen you are not serious about your food. If you are serious about your food and have missed SK then please check out this delightful food blog. You will thank me after you wipe the drool off your chin.

© Urosr | <a href="">Dreamstime Stock Photos</a> & <a href="">Stock Free Images</a>

Let me just say right now that I'm one of those people that loves to read recipes. I love to imagine the flavors and how they'll taste together and how I might change and rearrange them substituting one ingredient for another. Cookbooks are wonderful reading and entertainment for me and so I love the way Deb writes about how she might change this next time or how this or that would probably go well with it. Like Deb I'm always changing a recipe to make it my own and rarely make it as written.

The post that got me going this time was a March 18 number which seemed simple enough: Coconut Bread. Sounds intriguing. I'm not a coconut nut but still... It sat in my in box for a week waiting for me to explore further. Finally I clicked over and dove in. Oh - My - Goodness. It looks amazing and easy and I have all the ingredients right here in the pantry, even an open carton of coconut milk. What am I waiting for? Nothing that's what. 

DELICIOUS! Toasted with some honey butter, oh gracious.

You can find the recipe here. Instead of milk I used coconut milk in a straight trade out. I only used 1 tsp. of cinnamon. Next time I'm trying some of the additions Deb talks about. Don't you just love  playing around with recipes or would you rather just stick with a what's written as long as it's good?
The Self Sufficient HomeAcre

Until next time,