Friday, February 13, 2015

Thank God for Pinterest!

My daughter texted these photos of her last-minute Valentine's Day cards on her phone last night. She rushed to the store for last minute Valentines which she had forgotten early in the week. She meant to get some items earlier, but as all modern-day Moms know, sometimes you just get busy and things slip by.

That is where Pinterest comes in. She found these Pinterest cards to download and print on her home printer and they were perfect for her boys to take to school this morning for Valentine's Day.

I must admit, Valentine's Day was much simpler in the past when all you had to do was grab a little package of cards at the grocery store or pick up some heart-shaped candies. Sometimes we even made cookies to take to school.

That is not an option anymore with all the diet and other restrictions. Only store-bought and approved school items are allowed.

That is why most of the suggested items are pencils and bagged candies.

I thought my daughter did such a great job and had this done in no time.

Her text in all caps, THANK GOD FOR PINTEREST!

I agree.

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Sausage and cabbage a low-carb treat

A couple of weeks ago I saw this recipe for kielbasa and cabbage on Pinterest. The photo above, is the original recipe for Kielbasa and Cabbage from Very Culinary. I showed my husband and we cooked it the very next day. I didn't follow their recipe. I just used kielbasa and cabbage. Those two ingredient and nothing else. I thought the kielbasa would have plenty of salt, fat, and flavor. I was right. It was very good.

My husband thought it had a little too much flavor for him and we made it again this week with smoked sausage. It was milder and still was packed with flavor. Above is the photo found via Pinterest on from an October recipe. Their recipe uses smoked sausage and my finished dish looked a little more like this. This recipe is a more spiced up version using a number of ingredients, and I'm sure it is really good. I just again used the sausage and cabbage. No other ingredients at all in just one pan. Easy, quick, tasty.

My house did smell a bit like cabbage but the sausage elevated the aroma and it really did smell great.

It also was gluten-free and low in carbs, which is exactly what I need to get past the weight I gained over the holidays.

Tuesday, January 13, 2015


There are many things a gardener can do at this time each year, besides sitting by the fire dreaming of spring. I'm not knocking sitting by the fire--or dreaming of spring, but with the heirloom seed craze spreading throughout the gardening world, a seed swap seems like a grand idea.

I actually went to a seed swap last week at the meeting of our local Down to Earth Organic Gardening Club. As I expected, I swapped my seeds--many of them heirloom tomatoes with my fellow gardeners for other heirloom seeds of several varieties.

I just had to have these High Mowing Sacred Basil seeds. After a bit of research, I found that these seeds are from the High Mowing Seed Company. They have large leaves and were evidently worshipped at one time. While I clearly am not going to worship my basil, I do find basil a delightful herb to use when cooking. It's my favorite herb, in fact. So far I have loved Genovese basil but I think there is room in my herb cabinet for Sacred Basil.

I also picked up some brown cotton seeds. The grower said you can just plant them without removing the cotton and yes, this looks dirty but it grows this color. They grow it to attract bees and I think I would like to attract bees, too. It is worth a try.

Lettuce. There is nothing like fresh lettuce picked from the garden an used straight-away in a big wonderful salad. Red lettuce if my favorite and I enjoy trying this variety, then saving the seeds for even more lettuce during the year.

I know I will enjoy the Bok Choy but what really caught my eye was running okra. I have never seen okra growing on a vine. I will certainly try it because we just can't grow enough okra in my family!

I was happy to come home with these Seminole squash, also called Seminole pumpkin. These pumpkins are featured in Baker's Heirloom Seeds. They are supposed to be very good with a deep colored flesh and they are supposed to be resistant to many bugs. I love winter squash and pumpkins so I think this will be a great variety of squash to try. It originated in the everglades and I think that is interesting. It might just love our hot, humid summers. It's an heirloom so I know I need to separate it from my other squash so that next year my Seminoles won't exhibit strange growing behaviors.

The only heirloom tomatoes I found were these Stump of the World Pink Heirloom tomatoes. They are supposed to be large pink heirlooms and good slicers. They shouldn't grow as large as Brandywines.

The last one is Tatsoi, Brassica narinosa or Brassica rapa var. rosularis. I love Bok Choy and this is a mini Bok Choy. I think it will be a pretty salad green.

I do have a huge pile of seeds, new and leftover and right now I am dreaming of seed starting. It's that time again!!

Monday, January 5, 2015

Blooms in winter and all year round

I once knew a man who would go out for a walk every morning and returned with a flower for his wife he found along his way, presenting it to her after she woke. He said that there is something blooming almost the whole year through, if you take the time to look.

One day he looked everywhere but couldn't find a bloom anywhere. After his walk, he created a small, simple flower using crayon, paper, and scissor, then presented it to her when she woke. He said that of all the flowers he brought her, this was her favorite and it was still fastened to her bedside lampshade. It is a beautiful story and according to his wife it is a true one.

I was very impressed by this story and often think that there is often a bloom out there if we take the time to look for it.

With this in mind, I was visiting my Mother the other day and as I was about to leave, she suggested I go out and pick some Camellias from her tree beside her house to make a nice bouquet for New Year's Day. As I approached the tree I saw just how beautiful they were. I quickly picked a bunch for myself and for my mother and dressed up her sitting room and my New Year's Eve and Day table with beautiful blossoms.

They are so lovely that I decided that propagating one for my yard from her bush was a MUST.

Though I don't think I will ever have anyone bringing me flowers each day, I will work hard to fill my yard outside with flowers, plants, and shrubs that can bloom all year round so I will have something to grace my table and entryway, maybe not as lovely as these camellias and maybe not every day, but as often as possible. That is my New Year's goal.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Baking for Santa--and my family

The past few days I have been baking to get a jump on the holidays and I am having a bit of trouble keeping sneaky fingers out of the cookie jar. The goal is to cook early and freeze items to have in a couple of weeks.

I started with cookies and made some to eat and some to freeze. That went pretty well but I only was able to freeze about half of them. Then I moved on to cinnamon rolls. I baked some for the freezer and some for our new neighbors. It was a great thought, but the neighbors weren't at home and we wound up giving some to family members and then the rest of them are almost gone. Not a great start.

I know it CAN be done since my Mother did it every Christmas when we were growing up. At Christmas, an abundant supply of cookies, candies, and cakes did seem to magically appear. This was because Mother had been baking and stashing them away in the freezer and refrigerator while we were at school. We did bake a few things, but most things she prepared when we were unaware of her incredible baking that was going on while we were away. We didn't really get to sample items made for Christmas. I now think this was probably by design to make sure she didn't have to bake perpetually from Thanksgiving until Christmas Eve.

Starting tomorrow, I will just have to have to take a firm stand with the goodies I am preparing. Rather than sharing them, I will have to slap away the hands from the cooling rack where the cookies are waiting to be packaged and frozen. I will say in my best "food Nazi" tone-- "No cookies for you!" before I stash them away in plastic and store them in the freezer for the next week or two.

My family will be glad I did, especially with the gluten-free cookies I am baking. There are times I realize my Mother had some cunningly ingenious ideas.

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

What can I get for a dollar?

A couple of days ago I went to the Dollar Store. I must admit it is one of my favorite places. Every year about this time I go there to get some cute items that include Christmas bags, a few ornaments and paper goods, Christmas cards, and to see what else they might offer. 

This year we have a new, local store that is laid out very effectively. They keep their seasonal items mostly up front and then have seasonal items in aisle displays, which keep you moving throughout the store. The exciting thing is that every item is just a dollar. Though some of the items can be cheaply made, many of the items are surprisingly nice and that is why I love shopping there.

I found some very nice bows, 3 for $1, that look really nice on my packages.

I often buy candy canes but since I could only find yellow and blue ones, I opted for these plastic ones that came in a package of 6--also $1.

I had never seen these doves before. I always have a few cardinals but the doves give the right message. Of course the cost is $1.

I also like to add some silk poinsettias to my tree and these were in bunches of five. I don't know if they are a better value than those at the craft store and were a bit small but I was there, so I picked up a few and had 15 little ornaments for my tree.

I also purchased Christmas cards which are a major bargain. Each package of 15 or more are just $1 and a package of money holders, $1 for 8.

I do realize that most things sold there are made in China but that is true for most discount stores. I don't usually buy foods there, though they do stock packaged and frozen foods. My problem with the food is that there is less in each package than in the grocery stores. It might pay you to shop there if you figured out the price per item, but I think some items were about the same a grocery prices and I have concerns about the freshness.

Good items to buy: Reading glasses, table covers and party supplies, small cheap toys and puzzles, buckets, cleaning supplies and tools, foil cooking pans, cooking utensils, sometimes craft items, little baskets for giveaways, inexpensive Christmas stockings and cute stocking stuffers.

Go there. I think you will like it.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Smoothies--a holiday indulgence

Around this time of year I try very hard to eat a little better so that I don't have to lose quite so much weight in the New Year. It is a constant struggle but the thing is making choices that are healthy.

One of the choices we make is to exercise and then have a green smoothie instead of breakfast. Below is one of our favorite recipes.

Does it help? I can't really say. I usually lose focus a couple of times during the holiday season but it makes me feel better to at least try. The smoothies are good, too--so good we are talking about making it a habit year-round. We think of it as an indulgence that tastes good and is good for us, too.

Veggie–Berry Smoothie 

This is our favorite smoothie recipe. It has a little bit of everything and is very tasty. 

1/2 banana 1/2 apple, cored 1/2 orange, remove orange outer peel by thinly peeling, leaving the white pith and the seeds 1 cup raw kale 1/2 carrot 1/4 cup frozen blueberries 3 to 4 frozen strawberries 4 ice cubes 1/2 cup water Add all ingredients to a high-powered blender. Use the tamper tool to push down ingredients into the blade. Blend until smooth and pour into a glass using a silicone spatula. You will need to use a straw with this smoothie to get all of the nutritious and yummy goodness from the bottom of the glass.