Well, Hello There!


Wow! I see my last post here was April 2008, and its now January 2011. What in the world happened?! Feels like I lost some years there. Sort of. We’ve been living life here, for sure. But with my husband’s very demanding duties as First Sergeant, and ultimate deployment, my son and I dropped to just keeping up with the basics and blogging is one of those things that had to go. Thankfully, husband has returned safely and is looking toward retiring from the military and starting new adventures that are yet to be determined. We are still recovering and adjusting – husband is still First Sergeant a little while longer, and that is still pretty demanding. Thankfully it is not quite as bad as it was before and we are learning to be a family again. I’m still just keeping up with the basics most days, but very much desire to come out of that mode and start living abundantly again. Hopefully that can include blogging again as I have sure missed being here. Happy New Year!


Not Quite What I was Aiming For

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But I think it still counts as progress. My husband was home for dinner yesterday and it was still light out when we finished. So, we took a tour of the side yard where the garden will live some day. Unfortunately he nixed any grand ideas I had for actually beginning that garden this year. But all is not lost.

Along the fence line around the side yard the previous owner had a flower garden. It had been taken over with weeds during the housing transition, most of which we have pulled out.  There are still some plants here and there – three Rose of Sharons and some others we can’t identify. My husband said he would move one of the Rose of Sharons and tasked me to clear the corner where we want the compost. That means I have to identify those things and figure out what to do with them.

In the meantime, there is plenty of space to plant some veggies, where we have cleared the weeds out. So, I have every intention of doing just that this weekend. Now, I just have to decide what to plant.

It’s Time, It’s Time!


Actually, here in Texas, I’m already behind the curve. But I’m just itching to get out there and start digging and planting. So, since I got to go to the library by myself today, I browsed through the gardening books. It’s looking like this will be a “me, myself, and I” project – well, me & the kid – so I felt I needed some help. I’ve never done the from scratch part. Right now, where the garden will be, is lawn, grass. Yeah, I don’t know what to do with that. My husband always does that part. But, since he’s completely consumed with work and March is over this week, I have to get in there and figure out how to get started. I found a nice stack of books that look like they will be helpful.

The one I started looking at this evening is absolutely hilarious. I am literally laughing out loud while I read. It’s The 20 Minute Vegetable Gardener (Gourmet Gardening for the Rest of Us) by Tom Christopher & Marty Asher. Check out the “Pledge of Allegiance” (minus the explanations):

  1. The 20-minute gardener makes every minute count by growing high-impact crops.
  2. The 20-minute fruit and vegetable gardener gauges success not by the size of the crop but by the amount of pleasure it delivers.
  3. The 20-minute fruit or vegetable must offer a significant improvement over the store-bought alternative.
  4. Twenty-minute gardeners don’t fight Nature (they know who will win that battle).
  5. Twenty-minute gardeners plant in rows only when planning to harvest by tractor.
  6. Twenty-minute gardeners nurture their dirt.
  7. Twenty-minute gardeners don’t weed. . . they never let weeds into their gardens.
  8. The 20-minute gardener never applies anything to his garden that he would be afraid to get on his hands.
  9. The 20-minute gardener can do this because she rarely has to confront bugs.
  10. The 20-minute gardener recognizes that the hose is his most important gardening tool, and so wields it with the care it deserves.
  11. Mellow gardeners grow better-tasting vegetables.

I can’t wait (rubbing hands together in anticipation).

Here’s a list of the other books I checked out that look helpful, but I haven’t begun to read yet:

  • Dirt Cheap Gardening – Hundreds of Ways to Save Money in Your Gardenby Rhonda Massingham Hart
  • Texas Gardening – Vegetablesby Dr. Sam Cotner
  • Gardening with Children by Beth Richardson
  • The Budget Gardener – Twice the Garden for Half the Priceby Maureen Gilmer
  • An Illustrated Guide to Organic Gardening – How to Garden in Harmony with Nature by the Editors of Sunset Books

One should be able to find similar books in the local library, if not these. Definately look for the 20-minute gardener. That looks to be a fun read, and tremendously helpful to little ‘ol me. While I’m on the subject, I picked up another wonderful book from Paperback Swap on Herb Gardening: Herbal Remedy Gardens – 38 Plans for Your Health & Well-Being by Dorie Byers. So many ideas and so little time (not to mention budget). None-the-less, I hope to be able to report some progress this time next week. Happy digging in your little plot of the world!

A Little Reminder

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Many have said that when you set a new course for yourself that requires major changes it is important to make a list of your reasons for setting the course in the first place. Then, when you find yourself feeling discouraged or losing your motivation, you can review the list and thus re-energize your cause. I suppose I should follow this advice as I find myself losing motivation at times, or getting discouraged at how difficult it can be to maintain a healthy lifestyle. But, alas, that rejuvenating reminder usually comes along in one form or other. Tonight, I am reminded why I purchase pasture-raised, all grass, all the time, beef: USDA Orders Nation’s Largest Beef Recall. Although much of the meat has already been consumed, I hope this raises the awareness of the general public of the issues regarding factory farming.

Happy New Year!

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Here we are well into the first day of 2008. I have my black-eyed peas cooking on the stove. Yup, I remembered this year. But as I looked back at the recipe I posted this time last year, I realized I have two different recipes for Hoppin’ John. The one I’m making as I type came from an old Southern Living cook book (1981). I’m going to post the recipe as it appears in the book. But I did not use the quick-soak method the recipe suggests. I soaked the black-eyed peas the NT way, 12-24 hours with 2 tbsp whey added to the water. Without further ado:

  • 2 cups dried black-eyed peas
  • 1/2 lb ham
  • 2 quarts water
  • 1 cup uncooked regular rice (I use brown rice)
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 2 teaspoons butter
  • 1/2 to 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning (I used 1/2 tsp basil and 1/2 tsp oregano)
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper

Sort and wash peas; place in a heavy saucepan. Cover with water, and bring to a boil; cook 2 minutes. Remove from heat. Cover and let soak 1 hour; drain.

Combine ham and 2 quarts water in a large Dutch oven. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 15 minutes. Add peas; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 45 minutes. Add remaining ingredients; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer an additional 30 minutes or until black-eyed peas are done.

Remove ham; cut into small pieces. Stir ham into pea mixture. Yield: 10 to 12 servings.

One other thing I did differently than the recipe above: I sauteed the onion and celery in the 2 tsp. butter until just tender, then added that mixture to the peas after their 45 minute simmer. I used a couple of ham shank pieces for the ham, so will have to remove the bones when everything is done. And, the brown rice will likely require 10-15 minutes longer than the 30 minutes allotted in the recipe.

Whatever it is you may eat or do this New Year’s Day, I wish you a wonderful year. Happy New Year!

Thanksgiving Highlights

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I thought I would post pictures of the dishes I mentioned here for Thanksgiving:

Everything turned out wonderful. My son was very proud of the pumpkin pie made from the pumpkins he grew (we have more pumpkin in the freezer for future use). I used the Pumpkin Pie recipe from Nourishing Traditions. The Green Bean Casserole was wonderful. I will definitely make that again. We’re finishing up the Hawaiian Sweet Potatoes tonight. From the turkey carcass, I made a wonderful soup that we will enjoy many more times. Most of all, we enjoyed good times with my in-laws and some new friends. I hope each of you enjoyed a special weekend with friends and family as well.

Uala Maoli

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I found my recipe for Hawaiian Sweet Potato Casserole. I post it here in case anyone is searching for something a little different to complement their Thanksgiving dinner. It came from Hawaiian Cookbook by Roanna and Gene Schindler – given to me as a birthday gift from my sweet husband in 1991. 🙂

  • 6 large sweet potatoes (2 1/2 pounds), parboiled and peeled OR 1 40 oz can
  • 6 tablespoons butter
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 6 bananas, sliced
  • 1 cup brown sugar mixed with 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 can (16oz) crushed pineapple
  • 1 cup pineapple juice mixed with 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 2 tablespoons honey

Slice sweet potatoes 1/2 inch thick. Grease a heatproof casserole dish with a little butter (or coconut oil). Arrange in alternate layers starting with the sweet potatoes dotted with butter and salt, then the bananas sprinkled with brown sugar, and then the crushed pineapple. End with the sweet potatoes or the crushed pineapple. Combine the pineapple & lemon juices and honey and pour over mixture. Bake in 350 F preheated oven for 40 minutes, or until browned on top. Serves 6-8.

Kamailio (alternate suggestions):

This I have not tried. “If you like the refreshing taste of ginger root, mince and add it to the pineapple juice. Or use orange juice in place of pineapple juice. . . The recipe can be prepared in advance and refrigerated for 2 days or frozen. Shorten baking time to 25 minutes. Reheat in oven at 300 F until hot.”

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