Monday, June 28, 2010

Garden Tags

Since we are planting mostly seeds this year, and since the garden plan is so elaborate, I wanted a nice way to identify the crops. I had some scrapbook journal tags that had not been used and had sat in a drawer for a long time, and so decided to sacrifice them to the garden (they weren't really my colors anyway). I put the name of the plant on one side, and the particular variety name on the other. Some were covered in Contact paper, and some in clear packing tape. I feel that the tape worked better, but a good deal of watering and sunshine will be the deciding factor. Yes, I know these will fade, but they work until the seedlings come up and start to identify themselves!

And when those tags are run through, I made my own. Last year's calendar had some wonderful textured paper of a heavier weight.
1. Trace the shape of the tag on the numeral side of the calendar.
2. Write the particular name of plant on that side.
3. Write the name of the crop in large letters on the other side. Cover over with tape or contact paper, and punch a hole and put a string through it.

These can also easily be done using the empty seed packet (if you opened it nicely).

These flap in the breeze, making me wonder if they will do double duty to deter rabbits, seed-stealing birds, and peacocks? No, better not count on it. It is best to plant enough for everyone!
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Monday, June 21, 2010

First Day of Summer

Summer Day

Summer Day

Giclee Print

Baugniet, Charles

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The weather finally looked at the calendar and realized it could give us some warmer sunshine around here! On the first day of summer, there was not a drop of rain and one could garden nearly all day.

I would like to call my reader's attention to the website "the Play Dress" which looks just the thing for those busy mothers who have not the time or the inclination to sew, but whose daughters would love to have a cool, soft and feminine summer dress.

For those times this summer when it is too hot to be indoors, keep this paper doll site in mind. I always liked the Gingham Girls!

Saturday, June 19, 2010

Modified Maze Garden Plans

Formal Gardens, Chateau of Villandry, Indre Et Loire, Loire Valley, France, Europe

Formal Gardens, Chateau of Villandry, Indre Et Loire, Loire Valley, France, Europe

Photographic Print

De Manne, J P

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The above picture is so fascinating! I especially like the heart.
The grass started growing so quickly in our garden maze, and the ground was so tough, that we have had to pull up all the stakes and have the garden re-plowed. Days of hard work in measuring gone in a few minutes! But since we have to re-do most of it, I decided it was a good time to simplify the design. Perhaps it won't take as long as the last one did.
Wider paths and more space will be in the new design. The "blank" spaces in the middle of each quarter are where the tall sprinklers will be set up. The thin beds around the circle will perhaps be flowers! And flowers in the middle, of course.

So far, around the edges, we have planted pumpkin, squash, beans, peas, and lettuce.

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Maze Garden

Above: The Plan for a vegetable garden. The light greed color represents the vegetable beds, and the dark green the paths.
With a lot of assistance and hard work, you see the execution of the plan below, in string and stakes, on what was freshly plowed ground.
The rain came down and the grass came up, so what a job we have to do to get the beds ready again for planting!
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Friday, June 11, 2010

Home made tortillas

The Dinner Horn
The Dinner Horn Art Print
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Home-made tortillas are very easy, and are without the unwanted ingredients (such as the harmful hydrogenated and partially-hydrogenated oils and aluminum baking powders).

I adapted this recipe from a Sunset cookbook. I usually fool and fuss with recipes until I have adjusted them quite a bit. In this recipe, I added one ingredient not listed- olive oil, and took away some of the salt. This recipe is VERY GOOD with whole-wheat flour, and if you use whole wheat flour I found the olive oil helps out with the elasticity and flavor.

You will need:
Baking Powder (try Rumford's Aluminum-free)
Warm Water
Olive Oil

Rolling pin (the heavier it is, the faster your work goes)
Two towels
Plastic Bag

To three cups of flour, add 2 tsp. baking powder and 1/4 tsp salt (use more if you like). Mix these together, and then add 3/4 cup warm water and 1/4 cup olive oil.
Knead the dough until smooth.
Divide into large walnut-sized balls and let rest under plastic wrap 15 minutes. I just invert a bowl over the top of the plate. The recipe states it makes a dozen balls, but I make mine slightly smaller, which is just right for little people's plates. I have also made them extra large.
After the dough has rested, flatten on and roll out thin. You may have to dust a bit with flour if you use whole-wheat; in my experience it stuck more than white flour. Ideally you will turn this little ball of dough into a perfect circle, but don't feel bad if your circles are a little wobbly-looking; they will be delicious all the same.
Stretch the dough a bit as you turn it. Now comes the fast part, and a couple of assistants are really handy: two people rolling dough and one person cooking the tortillas on the skillet.
Have the skillet heated to medium, and put your very thin tortilla in. It should blister and bubble like above. Turn it over with a spatula as soon as it does this, and press down on the other side. Cook a couple minutes, then flip it over and cook it again on the other side. I noticed the pan seems to cook them faster and faster, as it heats, so that by the end of the batch it only takes about 30 seconds per side to cook them.
When the tortilla is done, place it between towels, and then in a plastic bag to steam.
Here is a finished stack. Everyone loves to make burritos with these!

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

A Gift

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This soft crocheted throw was sent to me recently. It was made by a woman who decided to use her last years to bless others with colorful blankets to cheer up their stark hospital beds. This woman used her talent, even when nearly blind, to make 500 of these throws! And one found its way to me. It is a gift that "keeps on giving." And because my family knows the story behind it,  it reminds us that we can use our hands, talents, and our spare time, to cheer others.

Saturday, June 5, 2010

Printable Street of Houses

Here is a free print-out for you- pardon the pencil smudges!

(click to enlarge, then go to "file" and "print." Best printed on cardstock)
These little houses are designed to be colored and cut around, but not apart. Bend the area between the houses, and the row of houses will stand on their own.

These are not authentically drawn Victorian or Queen Anne styles, but they are close (they are actually the little-known LilyBeth style). I have colored them in two ways with pastel colored pencils:
The cheerful pink cottage in the middle belongs to a very romantically minded homemaker, who loves her lace curtains and collecting tea cups. However, her garden needs a bit of care; all the rabbits in the neighborhood thrive there and pester her sedate neighbors in the green house on the left (where everything is in tip-top-shape). The big house on the right belongs to a cheerful family, who would also rather not have rabbits in their garden. But no one says anything, because they would rather get along and swap tea sandwich recipes.
This second set is actually using colors specified for "Victorian" type houses, from the book "Turn-of-the-Century Houses, Cottages and Villas" from Shoppell's Catalogs. In this reprint of house plans from the 1880's to the 1900's, I have not yet found a blue house, curiously enough.

Here are some of the combinations listed in the book for late Victorian house colors:
Colonial yellow with white trim
Buff with dark bronze-green and mahogany brown trim
Dark green with red and drab trim (sort of a beige)
Oiled shingles with cream trim, roof in oiled shingles as well
Cream with red trim and dark red roof shingles
Brown with maroon
Tan with red trim and roof
Yellow with silver shingles and white trim
Green with dark green trim, red shingles
Olive with dark green and bright red

I'll admit, some of these combinations do not appeal to me, and I like to see the new colors we have today to paint houses with:) And, with all the wonderful spectrum of colors available to us to use, I never like to see a gray house with black shingles!

Try using crayons or art markers for brighter colors. You can even glitter them for Christmas!

Thank you for your interest in The Pleasant Times Printable Street of Houses! It is free for you to print! If you found it useful to you, please consider giving a donation to help fund my craft room:)

Friday, June 4, 2010

Tea Times

The tea table fascinates me. There is a new tea party on it every week! It is hard to refrain myself from snapping a photo of it each time it is ready for the next one.

In the above instance, several different items were brought to add to the tea table by the guests (like a pot-luck). Transferring the pre-cut vegetables from a grocery-store plastic container, to a pretty dish, makes it seem like it was a planned part of the menu. Home-canned pears and peaches were put in pretty glass dishes, and the sliced cheese was set on a small pedestal dish. My first (and perhaps last) Ballymaloe chocolate almond cake is hiding back there somewhere.

Find pretty glass dishes on pedestals at the thrift store; if you are lucky you may even find another tea-cup to add to your collection while you are there. Serving ordinary things in extra-special looking dishes takes them out of the "every-day" realm into your Tea Party realm!
Above: An Almond-encrusted Welsh cake was sweetened with dried fruits, not sugar, for a diabetic guest.

Sometimes the tea table is full of a large variety of tasty treats; sometimes it is a very simple affair.
Here we had a birthday tea party with just one tea treat-- a cake!

But the cake was so good, why would we need anything else?

Kitchen Tip:
When you cut up veggies for a platter such as above, as long as you are standing there washing, peeling and cutting, make a LOT. Then use the extra as a delicious fajita-style dinner in the evening.

With chicken (thinly sliced- try to sear it) and onions, stir-fry the cut up carrots, bell peppers & broccoli (cut in thin slices).  Cauli is good too! Add spices according to your liking, and serve in warm tortillas & sprinkle with cheese. When you have most of your veggies sliced up far ahead of time, it makes dinner a whole lot easier!

Sometimes I slice up veggies and make a dip for a light family lunch. Adding sliced sausage & cheese makes it quite filling.

Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Fashionable Flannel From a Famous Friend:)

Rebecca (of Baker Lane fame) made this oh-so-cozy "Beautiful Dreamer" nightgown, and sent it to me as a surprise. As usual, it was top-of-the line perfect sewing! Since our weather has been rather cool this spring, I am ever so thankful for it!
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