Monday, August 19, 2013

Around the House and Gardens

My friend Beppi gave me these great pamphlets from the 40's and 50's on crocheting all those awesome doilies you see at garage sales, vintage shops and thrift stores.  Usually they're in pretty crummy condition or expensive.  With the help of the internet and tenacity I am teaching myself to crochet these crazy  feminine little things!  I am refraining from putting them on the arms and backs of the household seating.  I'm sure my husband appreciates!
 These books are in such perfect condition....but so fragile!  I have to be careful turning the pages.  I've thought about copying each pattern so I don't mess up the books.  I'd have to buy ink then....something I always forget of course until I need the printer.
 I did finish this doily.  It really is beautiful, but I brought it to Maryland and gave it to my sister NeeKee and totally forgot to take a finished pic.  Crocheting these old patterns is so much fun, and I feel like I'm channeling a little bit of what it must have been like during that time.  Pretty things were much more precious it seems.  My Mom told me my Grandmother had a friend make her a large table doily in the pineapple pattern for her table.
 So many of them.  I've started a Queen Ann's lace tablecloth since...It's coming along.....maybe pictures soon.
 We did take a little trip this is the girls walking down the path to the old Oliver homestead in Great Smokey Mountain National Park.
 There were thousands of these little butterflies everywhere!  I took this picture as we waited on the road for a stubborn bear to be removed by the rangers.
 These cute little barn swallows were timidly looking out at us.  Their mother was frantically flying around scolding us.
 When I got back the garden of course was a summer mess.....You don't want to see pics of that do you?  Here is a little of the bounty I've been picking.
 Here's some more....heirloom Cherokee corn and three different types of peppers:  Thai, Fish and Cayenne.  There's also cucumbers in the crock.  I'm hoping to make fermented pickles....we'll see!

Sunday, June 30, 2013

Raccoon, Dragon Tongue Bean, and Around the House and Gardens

This little raccoon is one of three young ones living in our area.  I haven't seen Mom Raccoon lately.  Not sure if she's decided they are ready to make it on their own or if she met some other fate.
 Here's a recent harvest.  Even more cucumbers are coming in now and oodles of peppers.  See the yellow looking beans in the center?  Those are "Dragon Tongue Beans".  This is the first year I've tried them.  Highly recommended.  They are still producing in our heat!  All of the other beans are long gone.  I'm very excited to see how long they continue to produce.  You can buy seeds to try HERE.  Those are dill seeds in the little dish.
 Herbs washed and ready to dry.
 My crepe myrtle in the front yard is lovely as usual.  All of the summer blooming trees are blooming their hearts out.
 Close up....I love the electric blossoms.  When the wind blows it looks like pink snow falling.  One area of a street in the New Orleans Bywater neighborhood is lined with them.  The street is carpeted with pink blossoms this time of year.  Surreal.
 Lovely Lovely Pride of Barbados
 My fav crepe myrtle  "Natchez"  It's branches sweep almost to the ground with heavy blossoms.
 Yep, the garden is a little rough this time of year.  Always is.  The heat takes it's toll on humans and plants alike!
 But the peppers love the heat.  They are producing like crazy.  I'm cooking with them like crazy!  This is Fish Pepper.  It is an African American heirloom.
 Crook Neck Cushaw.  A favorite pumpkin of Cajuns.
 Melons!  This is an heirloom.  I forgot the name.  I need to look it up.
 Lemon Queen Sunflower.  Pale yellow blossoms, stands about four feet tall.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

How long should cabinets last anyway?

 After 19 years and much use....I had to replace my much loved and hated cabinets.  After Katrina we painted our old cabinets and prayed they'd last five more years.  Eight years later (and much fixing and shoring up) we finally said goodbye to them.

I know 18 years for cabinets doesn't seem long.  Really, I don't think that's so long.  Cabinets should really last a lot longer...but our cabinets were very thin press board....really funky cheap cabinets.  Considering the quality...I squeezed everything I could out of them.

Thanks to my dear friend Carla, I was able to get my new lovely cabinets.  Solid wood cabinets.  Yes, I am hoping to get many more years out of these.  Time will tell the tale.  I do think they are lovely.

 Oh yeah...granite counter tops too.  I'm so paranoid that my black iron pots are going to break it...eeep!!!
 Love my new buffalo check curtains.  Yep...that's a pineapple tomato I grew on the window sill.  I mean, I grew it in the garden it's just sitting on the window sill.   It weighs 1 pound  2 ounces...yep I weighed it....can't wait to eat it.  My fav heirloom tomato.

I really love the porcelain apron sinks, but I'm afraid I'm a little to rough for them.  I love to use black iron pots and I'm scared they my chip the porcelain.  So I got a new deep stainless steel sink instead.  I think it will last a long time.
 My lovely April Cornell table cloth.  I find them frequently at T.J. Maxx.  Seriously cheaper there....$16.99. I think the round ones are $50.00 on the website.  April Cornell table cloths are the best.  They wear well and wash well and look beautiful.

OK this may give you an idea of what my cabinets and stove used to look like.  I liked it then too....but my new cabinets are really snazzy.

Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Around The House and Gardens

Egg Yolk Cherry Tomato...Sweet and seems as if the bugs ignore this tomato.  I wonder if it's because it's yellow.  
 Front Garden....The flowers are generous!
 The shell ginger is blooming like crazy this year.  I love the purple lorapetalum, variegated ginger and the orange tithonia together.  They are in the bottom right and corner.  Green, yellow, purple and orange.
 Lovely Althea
 My side garden is wild...and I love it.
 This is the first year my pineapple guava has formed excited...I will report on them.
 L.S.U. Gold fig... my current favorite!  They are large and yellow.  Very juicy and taste like honey.  The best for eating right off the tree.  I also have L.S.U. Purple, Celeste, and Brown Turkey.
 Little cantaloupes are covering the vines!

Friday, May 17, 2013

Canning Grapefruit Juice and New Kitchen Cabinets

My Mom had a bumper crop of the sweetest most delicious grapefruit this year.  More than we could possibly eat.  She shared many of them, but still had bushels of them left.  For some reason most people think they don't like grapefruit and say "No thank you".  I'm convinced it's because they've never had Louisiana tree ripened grapefruit.

My Mom wasn't sure what to do with them and was scared they were going to spoil.  So....I decided to try and can grapefruit juice.  I do love grapefruit.  I also love grapefruit juice.....but this juice really surpasses any grapefruit juice I've ever drank from a commercial canner.

So if you live in a citrus area and can get your hands on a bunch of citrus you can jar it using the following recipe.  I've only canned grapefruit and lemon.  There's never too many oranges and you can always give those away.

Canned Citrus Juice

You need:  Citrus fruit, sugar, sterilized canning jars, canning lids, and bands.  Large pot for juice and canning pot

Juice your fruit
Strain fruit through cheese cloth or clean curtain sheers
Place strained juice in large pot
Add 1/2 cup of sugar to grapefruit juice (not lemon) for each 12 pints of juice
Bring juice to just under a boil and simmer for five minutes

Fill sterilized jars 1/2 inch from top.
Wipe rims
Place warmed lids (warm  in hot water) on top
Screw bands down snugly

Place jars in pot of hot water
Jars should be covered by 1 to 2 inches of water
Bring water to a boil
Once boiling time each batch for 10 minutes
Remove from water
Allow to cool
Listen for seals to pop closed
Keep any jars that do not seal properly in Fridge and drink right away.

This is what my kitchen looks like currently.  Getting new cabinets today!  Will post pic.

Friday, May 10, 2013

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Around The House And Gardens

My husband says my garden is an authentic Eden now.  It even has it's own snake.  This snake hangs out in an abandoned bird nest in the honey suckle next to the front porch.  Not sure exactly what kind it is, but almost certain it's not poisonous.
 My roses have reached the top of the pergola and are blooming beautifully.  The brambles are also full of new buds.
 Lovely False Indigo.
 Moon Glo Iris next to a sago palm.  I lost my lorapetalums in Issac.  I planted new ones this spring.  I love the purple leaves and pink blossoms as a back drop for the variegated ginger.
 Garlic drying on the front porch.  My garlic seems to mature a bit faster than the books say they should.  I wonder if it's our warm climate.  Although we have had more cold and cool weather than usual this year.  Not any freezes though.
 I need to look in my notes as to what type of iris this is.  I just planted it last year and it has been blooming like crazy this spring.  Vibrant velvety it.
 Working on the side garden.  The Louisiana phlox is lovely.  This bed is going to get a lot of work this year.
 Flossie guarded this bag of cat food like a lion guards a kill.  Even bristling and laying back her ears when we got to close.
 Talia's fledgling asparagus patch.  We planted the seeds last spring.  She and her Grandmother have a heated competition on who can grow the best asparagus.  Talia is accusing her Granny of cheating.  Granny bought two year crowns.  Talia planted seeds.  She's not doing too bad though.

Friday, March 15, 2013

My New Greenhouse

Here's a peek inside my new greenhouse.  This is heirloom tomatoes all lined up in a row.  They're waiting for the weather to be just right.  Then, I'll put them out in the garden.  It's warm enough that I am opening the vents on the greenhouse.  Although there was a little freeze about a week ago.  That's the problem with March....unpredictable!   There usually is a few more cold days here in March.
I am very happy with the greenhouse.  I got a small know...making sure that I am going to like having a green house.  I'm happy to report.   I love my green house.  Love, love, love.
I am growing Pineapple, Cherokee, Brandywine, Cour Di Bue, Egg Yolk, and Amazon Chocolate tomatoes.  My favs are Pineapple (large, juicy, luscious and sweet) and egg yolk (small yellow (golf ball size) sweet, prolific and just keep on producing right through our heat, I also find they are more resistant to pests.) 

Shot's of the seedlings.
Large plants on the floor.
Here is how I grow my seedlings.  First I make small soil blocks (google them "soil block makers" you can buy them numerous places).  When the seeds sprout I make larger soil blocks with a indention that fits the smaller soil block.  Then I put the small soil block in the larger one.

I find this saves seeds, space and soil.
The small soil blocks are on the right the large ones on right already planted with sprouted small blocks.
A small sample of what I am still harvesting:  Carrots, cabbage, radishes, turnips, parsley, broccoli sprouts, green onion, Swiss chard, and collards.
Seeds to plant directly in the garden now (If you live in the New Orleans or Gulf Coast region):

melons (all kinds)
squash (all kinds)
beans (all kinds)
summer annuals:  morning glory, sunflowers, zinnias, marigolds
herbs:  basil, oregano, thyme, rosemary, green onion, bay, mint

Plant transplants of:

Hmmmm....I think that's it.

Don't can plant small and bush varieties in pots!