Author Archives: Sarah

If I was wearing a necklace, does it still count as gardening?

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I have two types of clothes. I have classy-I-could-teach-a-class-in-this type of clothes; and I have what I affectionately term “garden grunge” clothes, not fit for Walmart.

I felt like my plain gray shirt needed some snazzing up, so I put on a necklace.

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I was really just going to do some light gardening, hopefully burning off my toast with apple butter.

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I took some rich, crumbly compost and top-dressed my sugar snaps. I hope these have a growth spurt soon. They are awfully scrawny. I’m going to start another batch this month and see how they compare.

I also wedged in some cabbage collards and Bibb lettuce transplants.

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Nothing too terribly strenuous, but it was nice to get outside and play in the dirt a bit. This is probably the most dressed up I’ve been for gardening.

Well, unless you count the times I’ve been seen in my church clothes dragging a hose around Sunday afternoons.

What about you? Do you get dressed up to visit your vegetables?

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I Need a Sleep Debt Consolidation Specialist

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Christmas break has been awesome. My husband has been off work for about 2 weeks, and it has been raining so much in the Panhandle that we have just been relaxing and enjoying each other’s company so much. I have stayed up way too late. We had such a happy Christmas. I hope you were able to spend time with your loved ones too.

This rain has been persistent. Good for relaxing, but I just wish that I had plowed under half of my yard; scattered half a pound of turnip, mustard, kale, and radish seeds, and let these nine days of rain water them. They’d probably be half grown by now.

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I have to be content, though, with harvesting a few sugar snap peas and some mustard greens. Planting those peas in September has worked out well so far. They got tossed into a stir fry last night. Yummy! The cosmos you see in the background is actually a second generation flower from seeds I planted last spring. I think all the plants are confused.

New Year’s Day I plan to make some blackeye peas and collard greens.  Happy New Year, everyone!

Crock-Pot Pumpkin Butter

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If you want a homemade base for making pumpkin spice lattes, this is it.

It starts with homemade pumpkin puree ( visit my easy tutorial to learn how to make your own).

Ingredients:

3 cups of pumpkin puree

1/2 cup light brown sugar

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon nutmeg

a few sprinkles of ginger

 

Stir all ingredients in Crock-Pot and cook on high for 2 hours, stirring occasionally.

Do not can this pumpkin butter.

I could go through all the reasons why not, but those have been covered exhaustively in the comments in Marisa’s post over on Food in Jars. It really made me laugh. Here’s my version. ๐Ÿ™‚

Commenter: What about if I add a gallon of orange juice? Would that make it acidic enough?

Marisa: No.

Commenter: But my Grandma canned it and we never got sick.

Marisa: The answer is still no.

Commenter: What about if I canned it for 6 hours??? Could I do that? And added a quart of battery acid?

She is so reserved in her responses, but I can only imagine how it tested her patience. Go on over, check it out!

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This pumpkin butter of course has its carbohydrate applications, but it also makes an amazing Pumpkin Spice Latte! Have you ever had a real PSL?

I’ll share my method of making a $5 drink at home; red cup, or no red cup. ๐Ÿ™‚

Soon. For now though, enjoy turning those mammoth pumpkin patch pumpkins into something yummy.

Where were you at 2 AM?

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Where you out Black Friday shopping? Or were you at home in your jammies, sleeping?

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I added some gifts to a cart, but it was a virtual cart online. The thought of the crowds and buying frenzy gives me the heebie-jeebies.

This morning I looked at my fall decorations and thought about putting up the Christmas decorations. I was just about to head out to the shed to get a bin, when I stopped.

It just felt wrong to put up Christmas decorations now.  The air conditioner was running, I was wearing short sleeves, and it just felt wrong to get the Christmas decorations out so close to the end of the glorious fall holiday weekend.

I turned the Christmas music off.

We love Thanksgiving and fall. I’m in no hurry to get out the Christmas decorations. The fall decorations will probably come down this weekend, and Christmas decorations will probably go up on Monday. That’s soon enough for me.

What about you? Are your Christmas decorations up already? Did you find any great deals? What did I miss out on last night?

A Day for Making Pies

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It is just not Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie. Even if someone else makes a pie for dessert, I usually make sure that I have another one for me later. Today’s list: salted caramel pecan pie, mixed berry pie, and pumpkin cheesecake. My father in-law is a certified executive chef, and he’s doing the turkey and many of the sides.

First, I made homemade ginger snaps using the recipe on the McCormick site. I baked some of them a few extra minutes to get them crunchy.

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They were used to make the crust for the pumpkin cheesecake. So good!

Then I made pie crust for the other pies.

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Scraps were not wasted; I used my cute Wilton cutters to make little shapes. After a bit of egg wash and sugar, they were baked for a bit on some foil. Cute garnish, don’t ya think?

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So maybe I spent way to much time on this crust. It is just going to be eaten, I know, but isn’t it pretty?

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I’m looking forward to trying this tomorrow. My original plan was to put the pie crust leaves around this border, but I may do something fancy on the cheesecake tomorrow.

I hope you have a happy Thanksgiving! Let us not forget our God, to Whom we owe everything. If you are able to be near a wonderful family, do not take that for granted. Many are so far from their loved ones on this special day.

Hug your loved ones close, thank God for His provision, and enjoy the day!

I’m Still Planting Seeds!

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I poked some seeds into the ground Tuesday, and the turnips are already popping up from the ground!

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I put a few ‘French Breakfast’ radish seeds in this evening; maybe I’ll have radishes by Christmas?

There’s lots more that you can plant now; you can visit here for more crops.

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I was on a roll, so I planted some snapdragons, alyssum, pak choi, and cilantro. We’ll see how the flowers do; I would really like to save some moolah there.

It’s so nice to have homemade compost handy for starting seeds- what a money saver!

It’s not too late to start a garden- the weather is beautiful for planting!

Playing in the Dirt

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It’s fun to play outside for a bit, isn’t it?

Fun to be outside past 9 am and not dripping sweat off your nose.

I’m a little late getting my garlic in, but it’s in now. I usually try to put it in around Halloween. The garlic-vampire connection helps me remember when to plant it.

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Technically, you’re not supposed to plant garlic from the grocery store, but since when do gardeners follow all the gardening rules? I’ve done pretty well the past couple of years doing it this way, and it’s quite cheap too.

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I snipped the last of the basil. It is now a lush green bouquet by my kitchen sink. I’ll have to think of something worthy of it, or maybe I’ll let it root in water (similar to Torenia) and have it become a coddled houseplant on the windowsill.

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Leif has been enjoying having his humans outside with him. Chasing a tennis ball is fun in the fall.

He wasn’t really interested in the second batch of mustard greens or turnips that I planted. Thankfully, he’s past the digging lots of holes phase. Well, kind of. I also planted some Bloomsdale spinach. I haven’t had much success with it in the past, but maybe this will be the year for it.

How’s your garden? Have you been able to get outside and play lately?

Apple Pie Jam with Toasted Walnuts

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I wanted a jam that would recreate the taste of an apple pie, only in spreadable form. In this jam, there are small, soft chunks of apple in a sweet jam base, and toasted walnuts to add just a hint of crunch.

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This recipe is adapted from the Ball Book’s Apple Pie in a Jar.

Ingredients:
6 cups peeled chopped apples
4 cups sugar
1 cup water
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 box pectin
1.5 tsp pumpkin pie spice
3/4 cup chopped walnuts

Makes approximately 7 half pints

Toast the walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat until they are slightly browned. Set aside to cool.

Measure the 4 cups of sugar into a bowl so it can be added all at once.

Place the chopped apples in a large pot with the water. Cook over medium heat until they start to soften, but do not cook them down to mush. This will take about 8 minutes, so if you work quickly, you can get the canner on the stove, the jars washed, and the lids in a pan to simmer in between the occasional stirrings. ๐Ÿ™‚

You should see me in the kitchen when I’m canning something with pectin- I’m running around like a crazy lady and unless your arm just fell off you’ll just have to wait until the jars are in the canner!

So anyway, once the apples are softened, stir in the pectin and boil for 1 minute. Stir frequently.

If your jars are not hot (I put mine in the canner), get them in the hot water ASAP!

Add the sugar all at once, bring to a rapid lava boil, and stir for one minute.

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Now remove from the heat, stir in the spice and toasted walnuts, then ladle into the hot jars. You need 1/4 inch headspace for these.

Process for 10 minutes.

Enjoy on a hot buttered biscuit or a soft croissant!! Yum!

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You could even use this jam as a filling for tiny pies. Wouldn’t that be cute?

I Think I’m Done, Folks

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I’m down to the last box of apples.

I’ve been canning my way through 160 pounds of apples, and I’m just about done.

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I am officially out of half pint jars, and I have just a few pint jars left.

I think I’m done canning, though. I may do something novel, like actually bake something with fresh apples, like an apple crisp or an apple pie.

I think I’m going to have to wait a few days, though. I’m kind of appled out. So, unless one of you creative people can think of something that I should do with these last few apples, I think I’m putting the canner away for a while.

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In other news, the apple pie jam turned out fantastic! I’ll share that recipe with you in just a bit. I canned six pints of it last night, and some very special people may be seeing them around Christmas time.

So, what should I do with these last few apples??

Four Reasons to Start a Fall Garden in North Florida

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Fall is truly here. We have been enjoying very beautiful days, crisp mornings, and cool evenings. Did you know this is also a great time to garden? There are four great reasons to get started on your garden now.

1. Cooler Weather- I think we can all agree; gardening is much more pleasant without high temps and heavy humidity.
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2. Fewer Pests- The fall garden is not plagued by hordes of caterpillars, borers, or even ย powdery mildew. Even the mosquito population seems to be diminished.

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3. Less Weeding- During the summer, the weeds keep pace with the vegetables, then overtake them in a blinding fury mid-July. During the fall, usually what you plant is what you grow, with minimal weeding, especially if you mulch.

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4. Less Work!! All of these advantages add up to less work overall. If you think you don’t like gardening, give fall gardening a try. For some, this is actually their favorite gardening season.

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Scatter some turnip seeds, poke a few kale starts in the ground, and enjoy gardening this fall!

Those bags are just some of my harvest from last year’s fall garden!