Friday, September 30, 2011

Monkey Birthday scrapbook pages

My son loves monkeys.  Maybe it's because everyday after Dad walks in the door he rushes to change out of his 'monkey suit' into something comfy.  Maybe it's the cute monkey he earned the money to buy from Build a Bear.  Maybe it's the fact that the neighbor boy bought one just like it so they could play together.  Maybe it's the monkey blanket I made him from fleece I purchased at JoAnn's.  

He asked for a monkey party and he got one.  I finally made the paper to go with it so that I could finally scrapbook it. I'm funny that way, I like things custom.  Apparently so do my children.

Go check out the Monkey kit at CottageArts.  It's on sale during it's introduction stage.

By Laura Vanderbeek

Cottage Arts Design Team member

Harvest - uhm not quite monday

I didn't quite get this done for harvest Monday.  But my neighbor said I could go get as many peppers and tomatillos as I wanted because they were out of jars.  They grow over 80 tomato plants.  I didn't even count the pepper plants.  The left 3 bags are Serrano chilies. The front red is chopped salsa peppers that he didn't know the name of.  The right two bags are jalapenos.  The far right bags are tomatillos.  He said to just throw them in the freezer and pull them out as I want to make salsa this winter.  Yum! He also have me the gourds.  One of his pumpkins crossed with the gourds and is all warty and about 4x's the size of the other pumpkins.  It's going to look cool on their porch.  

I bout that tall metal bucket for $1.  It was blue.  I spray painted it black and it works perfectly with my harvest decor.  

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Oh boy...

I love autumn.  I love the decorations.
This is what happens when you store your candles in the attic all summer. doh...

I broke most of it apart but I had to take the torch to the rest of the little bits.  It looks much better.  And I didn't add another candle.  Yet...

Monday, September 19, 2011

Harvest Monday - September 19th

Right now I have 3 peaches on my peach tree.  Because it's still so new I still purchase my Early Elberta peaches in Brigham City at Grammy's.  We purchsed 1 1/2 bushels. They even gave me a 5% off card to use anytime I go there. The peaches are bigger this year than I ever remember.  They need to sit for a few days. My house smells amazing. My husband is looking forward to eating them - like every morning on his cereal or with ice cream once in a while.  

We also picked a 1/2 bushel of apples at my mom's house.  She gave me the square foot garden off her back porch since they are getting ready to sell the house.  It's 16 feet long and fits with about a foot to spare in my row garden.  I'll share a photo when I get the soil added in. 

The other day when I grilled the tomatoes I cut the core out of the heirlooms and saved the seeds in this bowl. I've never saved tomato seeds before.  I've saved onion seeds but that's it.  I think it's something great to learn.  

Then I put them in this metal strainer of mine and ran luke warm water over them.  

Then I spread them out on paper towels.  When they were nearly dry I scraped them off with a spoon and put them on some old plastic ware lids to finish drying.  I really want to see if I can get a few to grow before I freak out in the spring because nothing is growing.  And I'm excited to make a few seed packets in Adobe Illustrator - uhm and peach canning labels. I saved the Red Beefsteak and the Pink Brandywine.

Sunday, September 18, 2011


Not a gardening post but I had to anyway.

One letterman's jacket.  At Bartlett High in Anchorage, Alaska I lettered in Drama.  You had to participate for 2 years to letter.  My favorite part was Dream Laurie in Oklahoma. I also lettered in Swimming.  I would have been in several AP classes my Junior year but that didn't happen. Then between my Sophomore and Junior year we made the trek to Utah.  Home is where the Army sends you, after all.  I went from a class of 650 students to a whopping 37 students at Dugway High in the middle of the Utah desert.  I lettered in Choir - I even got to be Choir president.  I lettered in Track.  And I got to participate in Honors Math via TV with a class in Tooele.

I received a bit of a scholarship to Weber but went to BYU Idaho instead. I wanted to be further away to clear my head and stand on my own two feet.  That choice had nothing to do with family.  Dugway-ites know why. Best thing I ever did.

And here you can see my Sterling Scholar pin.  

Proof that this is my jacket. 

A friend of mine has a son going to Bartlett.  They just had homecoming week.  I realized that it's been 20 years since I attended my first Bartlett Homecoming.  What?! 

At Bartlett they gave you your letter with a certificate.  At Dugway you had to purchase your letter and since the shop was so far away I never did.  I'd already spent a bundle on this jacket. I need to get this dry cleaned but it's only going to hang in my closet.  huh.  If I'd saved the certificates I would have ripped everything off and had it framed.  

Roasted Tomato Soup

I went visiting teaching to a lady at church and her husband was making salsa.  He told me his trick - he grills the tomatoes first.  It was unbelievably good.  So the next day I threw these tomatoes on the grill to try it myself.  Normally I don't rush into things I'm not quite sure about but I was tomato-ed out and didn't really mind if they didn't turn out.  

I also decided to grill some garlic cloves.  Uhm, yum!  Luckily none of them fell through and disappeared into the flames. 

I threw all of the roasted tomatoes into this bowl when I was done.  Use a hot pad while transporting them inside.  I ran them through my Roma Strainer. But then something interesting happened.  
I didn't make salsa.  I was out of cilantro (again).  I ended up with about 5 quarts of tomato sauce/juice so I grabbed the Canadian Steak Seasoning I get at Sam's Club -  I hear the new brand isn't as good as the Tone's Brand. Add 1 tsp per quart.  Anyway, I added 1 chopped onion (I even ran it through the food processor because I wanted the pieces smaller).  Add 1 chicken bullion cube per quart. Then it needed a few more tsp of salt - salt to taste.  It was amazing!  I ate 3 bowls worth.  I can't stand Campbell's tomato soup - it's too bland and I'm allergic to wheat.  This however was a delight for my taste buds.  Make some and you'll see. 

Monday, September 12, 2011

Harvest Monday - September 12th

You can click on this to see it larger

There are Red Beefsteak tomatoes up front, next is the sugar pie pumpkin and pumpkemons (the little multi-color pumpkins) and Pink Brandywine tomato on the far right (those are my favorite slicing tomato -yum!) and also one crook neck yellow squash, some genovese basil, 11 quarts of tomato juice, a bunch more green beans (way more than I expected this year), two very small but firm columbia cabbage (they took the entire summer to grow), more than my fair share of lemon cucumbers (if you want some email or text but you have to live close enough to pick them up or let me drop them off), and the basket in the back is full of early girl tomatoes and a few roma tomatoes. 

Check out Daphne's Dandelions for even more great harvests from around the world.  Did you see all the links at the end of today's post?  Click on those and you'll see some great gardens.

Friday, September 09, 2011

A new visitor

Last night a squirrel came to visit.  You have to understand that this is very rare for us.  Once a year usually.  This morning I went downstairs to work on the sleeves of my daughter's RaTangled costume and I heard this squeaking on the window.  I thought it was another vole.  

It was this tiny bunny.  I mean 5 inches from head to cotton tail. There is no way for it to get out of the window well.  It's cement walls are smooth and they are deep and quite large. We get pretty good light for a basement. Mom - doesn't this bunny remind you of Daisy?

I took a few photos and then donned my garden gloves and picked him up.  It's feet were moving speedy fast as I quickly put it in this paper bag.  Then I carted it up from the basement. This is a regular brown paper bag from the grocery store - see what I mean?  TINY!

Then I tipped the bag on its side and after a minute of coaxing it hopped out.
 And ran to the rock wall to hide.  Cute little cotton tail.  
And that was it.  Hopefully it doesn't find its way back into the window well again.  

Wednesday, September 07, 2011

Differences in tomatoes

So what's the difference between these two tomatoes?  

The one on the left is an heirloom tomato - it's meatier and has fewer seeds spread throughout.  The pink Brandywine really is pink. The Red Beefsteak is more sour than the Brandywine. The one on the right is an Early Girl which is a hybrid tomato and the seeds are all in fancy little pockets and easy to scrape out.  I like the heirloom for slicing and for puree - the seeds can be saved and used next year but it's a little process.  A free process.  I like the Early Girl for salsa because I can get rid of the seeds so easily but it's a really juicy tomato but I prefer to not puree it if I can.  

And I've had some whoppers like this come out of the heirloom plants this year.  The skin is lumpy.  I think it's kinda cool looking. They are great on sandwiches - wish I could eat a sandwich but gluten free bread just isn't calling my name this year.

And this is a Hybrid tomato (Early Girl to be exact) - it's not terribly huge - it's more like the vine ripe tomatoes you see at the grocery store.  The skin is smooth too. My neighbor loves them for canning whole.  The skins slip off easily when tossed in boiling water for 60 seconds and then into icy cold water after that.

Monday, September 05, 2011

Harvest Monday - September 5th - Labor Day

So this has been an interesting week with its twists and turn.  Thankfully the grasshoppers are no more.  I got sick just looking outside my windows but not any longer.  I even walked outside once today without shoes on.  Life is so much better now that the hoppers are mostly gone. However they are still in my garden.  In fact they've eaten most of the ripe tomatoes on 3 plants.  Good thing there are 22.

About every 4 days I end up with a harvest like this:

On Thursday I decided I had better get to work on some more pico de gallo before they went bad.  I quarter them and then scoop the seeds out.  In the other three bowls are tomatoes that I ran through my Roma Strainer

I ended up with 5 quarts of tomato sauce after it boiled down for a while. 

And 32 cups pico de gallo.

See - 32 cups right here.  Now it's in the freezer.  Wish I could find more of those Ball canning jars locally.  I love them for freezing salsa.  

Two of the quarts of tomato sauce before going into the water bath canner.

Genovese Basil - next year I am going to plant it around every tomato plant.  

And jalapenos - just enough for all my pico and even some incase I get to put away more this week.

Today's tomato harvest.  Weird heirloom tomatoes - half green, half red.  Oh and today I ripped most of the leaves off the top part of the heirloom plants to get some more airflow and sunlight on them. It's apparently going to frost soon. We get about 3 to 4 months frost free and then it's over.

Here is my big harvest.  I pulled these this morning - all 108 of them.  Considering that a medium size onion sells for $1 each during the winter here I am pretty happy with this.  Thankfully we only have 1 car in a 3 car garage although car #2 will be here soon. And Daphne, thank you for sharing how to braid them.  As you can see I will be very busy soon.

This is my largest heirloom so far.  It's a Red Beefsteak. 

And this is me being cheesy.  My husband took the photos for me and I was being silly and did this just as he took a photo to make sure the camera settings were the way he liked them.  BUT I always say the gardener is missing in most garden photos so I included it even though I was covered with dirt and looking like I just woke up and I was being cheesy. Nice.  Forgive me. I think I even stuck my tongue out and rolled my eyes a second after this.  Aren't you so glad he caught this photo instead?

This is a Big Daddy onion.  What's cool about all of these onions is that I started them from seed.  All 108 onions cost me 99 cents total.  Of course I have no idea what it costs me to power the pump for the well to water everything in the high desert but we'll ignore that part ok.

And today with the help of both of my children and my wonderful husband I have 26 more cups of pico made.  So that's 32 on Thursday and 26 today.  Nice - freezer is STOCKED!

And Bell Peppers - I washed them and saved 2 for chicken fajitas this week.  The rest I put in the dehydrator that I received when I graduated from high school.  Nice graduation present huh?  It sat forever.  But I use it more often now. I've had it for a long time. A very long time.  I am way older than I look.  I got a kids menu when I was 6 month pregnant with my oldest - I was 26.

And here is that ancient dehydrator with the bell peppers I picked today.  
It does the job so I'm good with it.  

Hope you had a great Labor Day!