Monday, May 22, 2017

Water Lily Fairy Wall Hanging is Finished

I finally finished this wall hanging after dithering around it for a few weeks.  I saw a program on how to add flange binding and thought this the ideal situation for a flange approach Water Lily Fairy.
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Flange Binding is actually binding with an accent border already attached.

Water Lily Fairy is 14" wide by 18" long and I finished it in a stained-glass block method instead of quilting it.

Here's how the flange binding looks when its added.  I like it.  It gives a nice accent piece before the final binding, but its all done in one piece.  Normally, when I do an accent border, I have to put that on first then add the binding later.  This flange method skips that step and another good thing is one can machine-sew it down and not do the tedious hand-stitching which takes lots of time.  Believe me, I know.  I usually hand-hem my bindings and they can take several hours.

Here's one close-up.  I made this pattern from a free-hand drawing of my own.  Then I stitched on the pieces in Replique, which is an upside-down type of applique.  One works from the back as opposed to appliqueing from the front.

Another close-up.  The black satin-stitching that holds the pattern pieces in place tends to have a stained-glass look.

Another close-up shot.  I like to work in fancy fabrics for these because, being wall hangings, they don't get washed like quilts and snugglers do.  An occasional vacuuming works best.  So fancy nets and beaded fabrics and even buttons and decals, can be used in Replique.

Have a good day.

Sunday, May 21, 2017

Braciole and Meatballs Made Today

Today I made Sunday Dinner for my son and grandson.  I went Italian.  Braciole and meatballs was on the menu with Rotini but also Spaghetti (which I prefer).
Braciole is steak pouned thinner, then spread with one's desired stuffing.  I like a bread stuffing and this time I also added some thinly sliced deli roast beef.

You roll up the meat like a jelly roll and tie it so it stays firm while cooking.  Then you saute it in a pan till browned on all side.

The next step it to drop them into sauce that's been heated.  You don't want the temp do drop in the braciole so the sauce needs to be hot.  Bring the sauce to a low boil, then lower temp to a simmer and simmer the braciole for 1 1/2 to 2 hrs or until the steak is tender.

Today I also made up meatballs to add to the sauce the last half hour of cooking. 

My son and grandson took some home with them for later tonite.  I made plenty. 

I also took some pix of the gardens outdoors. 
Here you can see the radishes coming up among the lettuces.

Lilacs are in bloom on the young bushes planted a year ago at the front entrance.  The aroma is divine.

The flower box has been planted with assorted summer annuals for the season.

The Creeping Phlox among the moss bed is in full bloom right now.

We still have some tulips in one of the raised beds.

Here's another of the raised beds with Creeping Phlox and other small flowers.

Temps here in the high 60sF and sunny today.  Love it.
Have a good day.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

Its Always Nice To See Friends

Today a couple of friends stopped in to see my new place.  They hadn't been here before and we have missed our gardening efforts together from years past when I was a member of the community garden.  I'm told they got a later start this year but plans are being made for some improvements including a rail fence around the Children's Garden and a Pergola.  I hope to visit the garden this summer to see how things are progressing.

Here its been a nice sunny day with temps only in the 60sF and a nice cooling breeze wafting over the river.  Loving it.  I just watered my lettuces.  They are looking healthy and the radishes are starting to shove thru the soil so I hope to harvest those sometime next month as well.

No tomatoes or thyme plants delivered today but hoping by mid-week next week to see them arrive.  They would be traveling when the heat is not as oppressive which is a good thing.

Have a nice day.

Tuesday, May 16, 2017

STILL 6 Babies Today

We still have 6 babies today.  Mom and Dad took them out grazing today.  One kept watch while the other grazed right along with the babies.  They must be teaching them what grasses to eat.
Here  they are heading across the dirt roadway to the safer parts of the area.

Have a good day.

My First Harvest 2017

I had to trim off some lettuce leaves with brown on them from too much rain, I think.
My 2 pots of leafy lettuce.  A few leaves have brown on them.

But in trimming off the browns, I also lifted a few nice leaves for my salad today.  Nice and green and crisp.  Mmmmm, good.  My very first harvest here.

Our garden areas are greening up and the grass is quite lush after all the rain.  The blue bags of potting soil in this photo are mine, awaiting my tomato plants.

The moss bed is ripe with tiny lavender flowers.

The tulips are still blooming and some have yet to flower.
Spring has sprung and I eagerly await the arrival of my tomato and thyme plants in the mail either this week or next. 

Maintenance has put my a/c unit in my living room window and with the temps. rising to the low 70sF today, it was most welcome.  Its already running to salute the season.
Penny and I sat outside today with me reading my book and she smelling the plants and then lying in the shade of my bench.  I'm really lovin' it.

Have a nice day.

Monday, May 15, 2017

Baby Goslings Make Their Debut

What a wonderful surprise awaited me this afternoon.  The pair of Canada Geese that have visited us earlier made a return visit today, and they were not alone.
They had their 6 hatchings with them.
Here they are strutting proudly atop the reservoir banking.  They have 6 downy figures trotting around them.

In this one you can count the little fuzzy babies.  I counted and recounted at different moments, and the total I've seen is six.

Their fuzz is still a dark yellow so they must be only hours or a day old.

They don't let momma out of their sight.

It was such a joy after all this rain, rain, rain.  It evidently didn't bother momma and poppa Canada Goose in rearing their hatchlings.

The rain didn't hurt our garden at all.
Flowers are blooming in force.  If you look closely you can see the adult Canada Geese in this photo to the right of the left tree in the background.  Very small in the distance, but visible.

I'm so pleased to share this news with you.
Have a good day.

We Got a Rainy Nor'easter.

Yes, the rains came again.  I know that a gardener acquaintance in nearby NH got 4" of snow the other morning.  What a surprise with her tomatoes and greens already out and growing.  At least it wasn't cold so I think the plants were saved after brushing away the snow.

Here we are getting rain for the 2 days.  I moved my lettuce pots beneath a patio bench under the overhang after they got enuf of Mother Nature's watering.  They were quite happy there for nearly 2 days.  I don't see any radish greens poking thru yet but its early days.

My son stopped by with gifts for me for Mother's Day.  My daughter phoned and we talked for close to an hour.  It was a pleasant day for me.

Today I just finished making some chicken rice soup.  It tasted good.  I'll have enough for several days of meals now.

Tomorrow the maintenance guy comes to put our window a/c's in for us here in the building.  What doesn't get done tomorrow will have to wait for 8 days forward.  I hope mine gets in tomorrow with high 70sF predicted for Wednesday.  This little apt. gets awfully hot in the summer, I'm sure.  When I moved in here in October, it was way too hot.  I had 2 large floor fans going to keep me comfy.  Quite a change from a basement apt. underground on 3 sides where I rarely needed to turn on the a/c.  I think maybe 3 days a year since I bought the thing 3 years ago.

If it doesn't come to pass for another week, I have my fans at the ready.  I like to stay comfy.

I hope my tomatoes and thyme, ordered online, get here next week.  I'm eager to get them planted in their pots for the season.  My lettuces are looking really good and healthy.

I'm really going to miss my raised beds that kept me so busy for the last 6 years.  But oh, what a wonderful busy it was.
I loved starting my own seeds under lights so I could have the varieties I most preferred, like the tomatoes and peppers above in 2011

Then I could harden them off on my garden bench in their large 2- and some 3-liter air-pruning soda bottles.  They got a great and healthy start.  Again, these are from 2011.

Of course, with age, the hard work thankfully, is a thing of the past and I will have to be content with some container veggies this year.  I know it will put a smile on my face. I'll keep you posted on how things are growing for me here.

Have a good day.

Friday, May 12, 2017

Peanut Butter Balls On The Menu Today

I had the makin's so I made them, good old peanut butter balls.

Ingredients:
1 1/2 sticks Salt-Free Butter
18 oz. Creamy Peanut Butter
1 Lb. Confectioner's Sugar
12 Oz. Semi-Sweet Chocolate Chips (sometimes I need a bit more)
One inch of Gulf Wax

First you have to have the butter at room temperature so you can cream it easily and then add the peanut butter to it and cream them together.
Add the lb. of confectioners sugar to the butters and stir together well.
Mine looks like this.  Pretty much incorporated together but not a solid mixture.

I use a one-inch Oneida scoop to get a more uniform size with my balls.

Place the amount in my hand.

Roll it between my palms so it looks like this.  The rolling and the heat from your palms smooths out the mixture nicely and rolls up into a nice ball.

I roll them all out and place on a waxed-papered cookie sheet.  These have to go in the refrigerator to chill for at least a half hour. I got two of these sheets full of candy.

Melt your Gulf Wax in a double boiler first then add the choc. bits.  Stir to mix them together well and smoothly.
Note:  Some folks add a couple Tablespoons butter to the melting chocolate instead of Gulf Wax to give it a shine.  I prefer using Gulf Wax for a more solid finish.

I use 2 forks to dip the candies in the chocolate while the double boiler is over low heat on the stove, and lift each one onto the papered cookie sheet.  I just turn out a tray full of candy onto a dinner plate before dipping, and turn the waxed paper upside down on the cookie sheet so its clean.  After dipping, place the candies back on the cookie sheet.  

I get approx. 70 candies from this recipe.  This time I got 69.  Here they are ready to chill in the fridge.  When hardened, you can put them in air-tight containers and store in the fridge to eat as you like.
If you prefer, during Holidays, you can sprinkle with colored sugars.  Red for Valentine's Day and red and green for Christmas.  Blue for Hanukkah.  Many pretty colors for Easter.  Other times you can sprinkle with confectioner's sugar placed in a small tea strainer and tapped over the candy. 
If you feel the need for nuts, you can press a few over the top into the candy just as they come out of the dipping chocolate.  I usually use broken walnuts for this so they aren't too big.
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I was out this afternoon cutting back tall grass which I placed in a bag to dry out.  I will use this as my mulch for my pots this year since I won't be buying straw.  I know I'll need more but have time before my plants arrive from Territorial Seed, so I'll just cut more on another day.
Watered my lettuce today since the sun came out nice and bright and it didn't rain any more today, just stayed overcast this morning.

Have a nice day.

Thursday, May 11, 2017

To Diffuse Plant Sunshine.

I have African Violets on my windowsill.  Knowing how they are sensitive to too much sunshine, I had to figure out how to care for them.  I chose netting and a tension rod in my window.
The tension rod slips in between the window nicely and I can set it lower or higher according to the length of the netting.
I bought a yard of white netting, doubled it over the tension rod, and that is what will diffuse the hot sunlight between the sun and my plants.  African violets do well in lesser light.  Even though this is a southeast window, it gets pretty warm in this window.

They have already gone thru one flush of flowers and now that they've been cut back, they are starting to re-blossom for more color.

I was a bit hungry for something sweet last nite so I made a batch of chocolate chip cookies.  I buy the package cookies, but add walnuts and more choc. chips to my recipe.  I love nutsand chocolate.
I always bake them on parchment paper because I love softer cookies, not crisp ones.   Parchment keeps their bottoms from overcooking as well.  I enjoyed my snack last nite.

Have a good day.

Wednesday, May 10, 2017

Leafy Lettuce is Transplanted Outdoors Today

I got my leafy lettuce transplanted outdoors today.  I only have 6 of them because of the number of pots I happen to have available.  I also sowed some radish seeds between the lettuces.
These are the only two containers for lettuce that I have right now.  I will grow them as 'cut and come again' crops.  When they get bigger, I will cut them down to about an inch from the bottom and eat the harvest.  Then they can regrow big again.  I've done this up to four times a season with leafy lettuce and it always works just fine.  By then it gets too warm and the lettuce goes to seed.  With this method, though, I get quite a few meals this way.

A closer look at the small pot with only 2 lettuces in it.  There's just enough room for them to grow another several inches and then I can enjoy them in a salad.

I sowed French Dressing radishes in the rectangular pot and Cherry Belles in the round pot.  I will do the same when my tomato plants arrive and I get them transplanted.

It feels good to know I can still 'garden' in my apartment complex.  I'm loving it here more and more all the time.  Next week my air conditioner will get put in by maintenance for the season which is needed here.  It gets quite warm I noticed last fall when I moved in here. 

Have a nice day.

Monday, May 8, 2017

Early FLowers In Bloom

Its early May here in Maine and still we only have a few flowers blooming.  The daffodils and now the tulips are waving their pretty heads.
In our plot we have them in red and yellow so far.   Some are still in buds so I don't know if they will be different.

Our Daffies range from yellow, to yellow and whites, to white like these above.  Its always nice to see the early flowers knowing that the color range of more blossoms are in the near future.

I planned to get out and buy some more things necessary for my container gardening efforts for this year but by the time I got myself fed, showered and dressed, the rains began.  From the forecast it looks like rain here for the next 3 days.  It won't be til Thursday before I can get out to the gardening centers.  They are all outdoors so rain defeats my shopping efforts this week.  I guess that means sewing for me the next few days.  I am still in the middle of a couple of wall hangings so I won't necessarily be idle.
I can also get on YouTube and watch some of my favorite channels.  I enjoy watching several of the homesteading families in their endeavors to make a good life for themselves full of good food and activities, teaching their children respect for animals and giving them chores they enjoy.  Its a good life.
Have a good day.

Thursday, May 4, 2017

Easy and Quick Skillet Lasagna

This was my second attempt with this recipe and it worked out fine.  The first time was much too thick so I had to tweak it a bit.

Ingredients:
2 Tablespoons Olive Oil
2 Cloves Garlic, chopped
1 LB.  80% or 85% Ground Beef
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper Flakes
Salt and Pepper to taste
8 Oven-ready (or partially-boiled regular) Lasagna Noodles
One 28-oz can Tomato Sauce
2 Cups Water
Seasonings to taste like Oregano, Italian Seasoning, or whatever you prefer for flavor.
1/3 to 1 Cup of Shredded Cheese that you like.
(The amount of cheese depends on how well you like cheese in your lasagna).

Procedure:
In a large skillet add oil and the chopped garlic.  Cook together for a minute.  Add the ground beef, break up into small pieces and brown till cooked thru.  Drain the excess oil from the pan, leaving the ground beef.

You will need 8 lasagna noodles.  Oven-ready makes it easier.  No boiling needed beforehand.  If you don't have oven-ready, par-boil 8 noodles til nearly done.
Break up the noodles into approx. 2-inch pieces and add to the skillet atop the beef.

These are oven-ready so easy to break up.   Smaller bits are fine so don't worry about them.

Pour your can of sauce and 2 cups water over the noodles.  Add any seasonings you prefer, including the crushed red pepper flakes, salt and pepper.
Cover the skillet and allow to cook on vigorous simmer for about 20 mins. or until the noodles are tender.  Stir the contents occasionally so it doesn't stick or burn on the bottom.
Don't worry about the liquid.  The sauce will thicken quite a bit so it won't be too soupy when its done.

While that's happening, shred or grate your cheese.  I prefer sharp cheddar but not too much.  I love some cheeses, but not smothering my noodles and beef, so I only add 1/3 Cup of shredded sharp cheddar to my skillet.

When the noodles are tender, sprinkle the shredded cheese over the top of the skillet's contents. Remove the skillet from heat.  Cover it and set aside.

Having an electric range, I set my skillet on another burner and cover it.

In 3-5 minutes covered, your cheese will melt over the top of your lasagna. 
Serve immediately or set aside and serve a bit later.  You can save this in the refrigerator in a covered container and reheat on another day.  Its very good as leftovers.

I had leftovers for lunch today.  I just reheated some on a plate for 1 1/ 2 mins. in the microwave, added a bit more salt and pepper to my taste, and I was quite content.

Have a good day.