Monday, April 29, 2013

Succulent Table Arrangement

I have been wanting to do a succulent arrangement to put on the table on the deck.  I love the colors and textures of succulents and them seem pretty hard to kill (except if you overwater them).  So I stopped at the "home improvement place" and picked out 9 of my favorite succulents and a bag of cactus mix potting soil. 

I stuck with the arrangement motto that you need a "thriller, filler and a spiller". 

Pick a well draining bowl or container.
Fill it with cactus mix soil.
Then start adding the plants. 

I started by already having a plan laid out in mind.  I like to use the tallest plant in the center for my "thriller", then do my "fillers" opposite each other based on color and leaf shape.  Then I went back with the "spillers" and put them on the outer edge so they would grow out and hang down.  

Then I went back and added a few pebbles to provide extra support and cover any bare spots. 

I think it turned out beautifully.  Hopefully they will be happy outside all summer (Lord knows we never get much rain anyways) and this fall I'll bring it inside to live as a houseplant. 



Sunday, April 28, 2013

Photo Book for Mother's Day

Shutterfly offers exclusive layouts and designs so you can make your book just the way you want.

For months now I have been gathering and photographing my grandmother's old recipes in order to preserve them. 

At Christmastime, I helped her bake her "Christmas candy" which took three people, 8 hours and even more patience.  She told me all the tips, tricks and techniques {there are many} for making a good batch of Divinity down to the best weather conditions for baking.  We had a great time and now I have committed some of her best recipes and a few pictures from Christmas 2012 into print in this picture book.  A few of my favorite recipes: strawberry freezer jam, cheeseball and apple pie have already been featured on my recipes link and on my canning page.

I purchased two copies and I intend to give my mother one and keep one for myself {after showing it off to my grandmother, of course}.

I can't wait until it comes in and I can show it off to everyone!

Friday, April 26, 2013

Homemade Iced Coffee

With warmer weather in the forecast it is time that I transitioned my morning wake-me-up to something that won't get me sweating before 8 a.m.   Since it gets very hot here in the summer I prefer iced coffee when temps rise about 80F.  This usually happens May through September! 

My iced coffee recipe is super easy and only requires three things: coffee, ice and creamer.

  1. Make coffee using half the normal amount of water, use your regular amount of coffee grounds.
  2. Fill the decanter up with ice so the coffee will be further diluted and chilled.
  3. Add more ice to your thermos/mason jar.
  4. If desired, add your usual amount of creamer.
  5. Pour in coffee, mix well and you are ready to face your day.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

Propagating Jasmine

My dad asked me to propagate some jasmine for him.  It had been planted on the arbor of a house they bought a couple of years ago and since I had not heard of yellow flowered jasmine I was not completely confident in his ID of it.  The vines are numerous, evergreen, cold hardy and drough-tolerant, oh and they smell like heaven.  First I wanted to identify it to be sure.

I looked on several websites and confirmed that it was Carolina Jasmine. Other species have white flowers and are less winter hardy so I am pretty sure that the Carolina yellow vining species is what we have growing here in Zone 7. 

  • First I got out my rooting hormone powder. 
  • Then I removed the petals and leaves from the bottom 2/3 of an 8 inch cutting of NEW vine. 
  • The older woody stems will not root as easily as the flexible new growth. 
  • Then I wet a few inches at the base of the plant and dipped it into the rooting powder. 
  • Here is where the controls for my scientific experiment come in.  What can I say I will always be a science nerd!
I decided to use three different mediums and placements for planting the propagations.
  1. I used water with a bit of rooting hormone powder mixed in and placed the vase out of the way on the kitchen counter.  
  2. I used a soil starting mixture and put my container in the greenhouse.  
  3. I used regular potting mix and placed it in a sunny spot on the windowsill. 
I expect to see some new roots in 4-6 weeks, I will update you then.

Which method do YOU think will work best?

Monday, April 8, 2013

3 Minute Consult: Vertigo in Women

Springtime is upon us, pollen is in the air wreaking havoc on those of us with allergies.  Another common ailment I have been noticing with increasing frequency is vertigo in young, middle and older aged women.  Today I wanted to share some of what I have found and add my own thoughts.

Vertigo attacks occur more frequently in women and can increase with age.  It is a subtype of 'dizziness' categorized by a whirling, spinning sensation.  It affects the vestibular system (inner ear) through altering fluid balance. 

The main type of peripheral vertigo is benign paroxysmal positional vertigo.  Symptoms of BPPV include nausea, vomitting, fullness, pain or ringing of the ears, and imbalance.  It is due to calcium carbonate crystals in the inner ear becoming unbalanced.  The crystals can be realigned by a medical professional through the Epley maneuver.  However, crystals can shift again and it would have to be performed again.

This is much more common than central vertigo which is caused by injury occuring in the brain or brainstem ie. stroke, trauma, tumors, multiple sclerosis, migraine headaches and many others.

Since most people experience mild, yet persistent symptoms most folks just treat symptoms as they occur.  The drug of choice for vertigo is meclizine (brand: Antivert).  It is technically an antihistamine like Benadryl or Claritin, but it its claim to fame is its anticholinergic properties.  Meaning it is really, really, really DRYING of all secretions.  Think dry mouth, dry eyes, dry EARS!  It is believed that by decreasing the fluid in the inner ear meclizine renders some benefit.  It also has the added benefit of decreasing nausea and not so great for daytime, but great at night side effect of drowsiness.

So just to be prepared if you notice your vertigo symptoms occur more frequently during certain times of the year or under certain stressors you can pre-medicate to prevent symtoms.  Chlorpheniramine would be a great choice to provide anticholinergic effects without being as sedating as meclizine and is also a great antihistamine.  So if you have seasonal allergies you could also follow this advice for preventing allergy symptoms before they start!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Organic Salad Greens Farm to Table

I had tried to grow lettuce in my raised garden bed in the past, unfortunately without any success.  When my husband bought me a small greenhouse last year I was excited to try extending our growing season so in early February we set it up. 

The lettuce seedlings I had been growing in starter pots was the first to get transplanted out there.  I also transplanted some and sowed some of the same lettuce seeds into the raised garden.  So that I could compare the results, my results surprised me!

Lettuce seedlings started mid January

This is the lettuce not long after transplanting in mid February
I did not keep very good records :(  Whoops!

The lettuce at the end of March, ready for harvest

Greenhouse to table in about 6 weeks
No pesticides, herbicides or fungicides 
Totally organic, even the soil!
What would this salad be worth in the grocery store, I wonder?

Another of the lettuce mix just after transplanting

The lettuce mix today.  It made a beautiful bouquet, but if I had planted it further apart it would have had more room to grow.

The reason I cannot show you the pictures of the seedlings and transplants that I set out in the garden is simple, because the seeds I sewed in the garden never germinated (probably too cold, wet, etc.) and the chickens ate the transplanted lettuce.  Whoops again...

So I have decided that greenhouse lettuce is the way to go.  I think that next year I will try growing out in it more during the winter and sewing seedlings and transplants every two weeks or so for a continued harvest.  That is what makes gardening such fun, there is ALWAYS something new to try!

Monday, April 1, 2013

Grandma's Apple Pie

I was really craving apple pie the other day so I decided to make one using my grandma's recipe.  It was delicious!

  • 6 cups thinly sliced apples (about 4 large)
  • 3/4 cups sugar
  • 2 tablespoons flour
  • 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon butter

Combine all ingredients in a large mixing bowl.  Let sit 1 hour to soak.

Spoon mixture into prepared pie crust.  Top with second crust, cut slits in the top.

Bake at 425F for 35-40 minutes or until apples are tender and crust is brown.