August 31, 2011

Wordless Wednesday




This is an Heirloom Rainbow Tomato in my hand,

Or should I say covering my hand!

They taste yummy!




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August 30, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Seeds!

As my tomatoes are coming in, I've been taking one or two from each vine and setting them aside for harvesting seeds. I'm normally really good at labeling things, in fact I have post-it's pretty much everywhere with lists on them to keep organized. Only this time around I completely forgot to label my seeds that I harvested!
 Ha, oops on me! I know pretty much which they are anyways, but it's still a good idea mainly if you plan on sharing your seeds to label things.

Right now I have three jars full of seeds which are my heirloom ones. They are the hardest to find so I make sure I harvest them each year.  You can read about harvesting tomatoe seeds here, and don't forget to label them!!

I have even started saving flower seeds from the wild patch flowers my girls planted.
 The pods normally fall off to the ground, splitting open letting the seeds spread by themselves, but since I want to plant more next year in a different place without having to buy seeds I need to collect them fast.
 These are California Poppies, bright orange flowers.
After the flower petals fall off a long pod starts to fill with seeds and it'll drop to the ground. They can be about 3-4inches long.  

I wait until it starts look a little dry at the tips, before picking them and seal them into bags or an envelope. It'll dry by itself and you'll have many seeds to use.  
 Poppies are easy to grow, and bring a lot of color to your yard, all you need to do is remember to water them :)

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August 28, 2011

Weekend Project- Homemade Bath Salts

Bath salts are easy to do. You can make them from different things, natural salts, sea salts , which I love the most,kosher salt and Epsom salts. You dont' really need coloring, that's a little extra but you need to decide which scents you'd like to work with. If you have an herb garden you can even make your own Herbal Bath salt combo, by just using what you have on hand. Rosemary , lavender, even some flower petals will make a beautiful batch of bath salts.


 My Lavender Bath Salt

This is a basic recipe I found, with this you get the idea of what needs to be used and how much. From here you can mix it up with the salts you want and or scents.

Ingredients
1 cup Epsom salt
1/2 rock salt or kosher salt
3-5 drops coloring *optional* (use a soap/candle coloring )
3-5 drops of essential oil
Directions

Stir all the ingredients together until well mixed. An easy and less messy way to do this is put it in a ziplock bag and or even container. Seal it up and shake or massage it till the coloring looks the way you want. I added only 2 drops at a time, mixing red and purple to make the slight lavender color. Using only 2 drops of the lavender essential oil . Some oils and scents are stronger than others so I encourage you to start small and let it sit before adding more. If the finished batch does come off two strong, mix in more salt to even it out. If it needs more add one drop at a time.

I like adding moisturizing oils as well (you can find them at the store) I mix a batch of vanilla essential oil and moisturizing oils to the salts, which is my favorite.  I'm not crazy with colors, in fact I can really care less about adding them. If you were making these for gifts, then they'd be a great addition.

There you have it, a simple quick, fun gift giving project!




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August 27, 2011

My Memories Review & Giveaway! *Closed*


My Memories Suite is a fun digital scrapbooking software to create some scrapbook memories our of your all time favorite pictures. You don’t have to know how to put together a scrapbook or even know how to make a template in order to enjoy this program, infact you don’t even need to know how to edit pictures or use a photo program to enjoy My Memories Suite!


My Memories Suite is easy to download and easy to use. Once you installed it on to your computer it opens up and right away helps you create the first album. It’s as simple as dragging a photo, embellishment and or background to the blank page. You can pick from hundreds of scrap kits on MyMemories.com where there’s a great list of free kits, and also other add on’s, like word art, cluster frames and more.
Here's one I did for a friend, with some word art in it,

You can search for any thing to add to your page from either left and or right side. The best that I have come to love is something most probably wouldn’t care about, but since I use PSE strictly for scrap booking I have hundreds of scrap kits on my computer already.  I’m always looking for more though, which I've now found all over the MyMemories.com site :) They list new Kits/packs as well which is always updating with more to choose from.
Never dull indeed! :)

I’ve been doing digital scrap booking for over two years with kits or packs found online. I love putting things together and making pages and or tags to remember some of the best days of my life. I am a strictly Photoshop elements kind of girl when I do the scrap booking, so when trying out My Memories Suite I was already well in the knowledge of how things should operate. It’s like going from a manual camera to a automatic, only with perks in this case. Again, you don’t have to have any knowledge or any former use of a photo program to be able to use this, it really is simple and fun to use. These are a few that I created for some friends using scrapbook software .
 




 The last program I happened to try out for scrapbooking wouldn’t allow me to use outside kits. As in, you had to buy their kits, had to use them their way. Not only that you couldn’t open the page in any other program so you had to save it, and figure out through a dozen steps out to open it up or use it outside the program. Not fun.

With My Memories Suite, you can easily open any other scrap kit/pack, this is very important to me. I want to be able to use any and all scrap kits I find even ones I make myself within MyMemories. It's easy, and gives you so much more room to be creative.
 You can also share your pages, and album after creating .  There’s several different ways to share, one including exporting it to a JPEG file, which makes it so you can, let’s say upload to Facebook, share on Google +, send by email, save to your computers background, or make it your phones wallpaper. It’s very easy all around to use.  You can even make a movie, add music and all by the click of a few buttons. Everything is pretty clear, big clear buttons, easy directions, and no limit on what you can put together.

If you ever want something simple, fun and creative to put your favorite family photo’s together this is for you. You simply click, select, move, rotate and or re-size objects to your liking and you are on your way to creating a finish scrapbook page. I highly recommend this, you can create some Photo DVD’s for Grandparents, or family friends or even put together a yearbook from the kids school year pictures!

Here's a great video to show you how it works.



As a special for all of my readers from MyMemories.com, My Side Of Life has it's very own coupon code that provides a $10 discount off the purchase of the My Memories Suite Scrapbook software and a $10 coupon for the MyMemories.com store - $20 value!) Use the Code - STMMMS91391


Winner is #15 picked by Random.org    Congrats to the Winner Linette!!!
Thanks for entering :)

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Good Luck to All, you'll love this program!


**Disclosure- I received MyMemories Suite program in order to write an honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write an positive review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.*  

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August 26, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday - Pineapple Upside-Down Cake

I love Pineapple Upside Down Cake! It's sweet, it's warm, it's so yummy. If you dont' have fresh pineapple, shame on you, just kidding. You can use the canned slices, but a freshly cut pineapple really brings a sweet taste to this cake.


Ingredients

2 Tablespoons butter
1/3 cup packed brown sugar
1 8-ounce can pineapple slices, drained (if using fresh use 7 slices)
Maraschino cherries, either halved or whole for each pineapple slice
1 1/3 cups flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 teaspoons baking powder
2/3 cups milk
1/4 cup butter, softened
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla

Directions

Melt the 2 tablespoons butter in the 9 and a half inch round cake pan in the oven for just a few minutes. Stir in brown sugar and 1 tablespoon water together till it coats the bottom of the pan. Arrange pineapple and cherries in the pan and set aside.
Stir together flour, sugar, baking powder. Add milk, the 1/4 cup butter, egg, and vanilla. Beat until combined , then beat another minute. I do this by fork, so I just beat until it's all mixed together. Spoon batter over fruit in the prepared pan.
Bake in the 350F Over for 30-35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean. Cool for about 5 minutes on a rack before inverting it onto a plate. Serve warm.



 Enjoy!


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August 24, 2011

Safer Brand Review- Organic Gardening



You all know by now that I like things homegrown and homemade. I've worked hard to grow my garden each year, work hard to keep my family healthy. Gardening though, isn't easy, and  when you have pests, diseases or other intruders that can ruin your harvest whether it be vegetables, fruits, and or flower beds it's that much harder.

I  always use something homemade to help with the problem, which I've always shared with you, from the beer pans for slugs, to sprinkling pepper to keep ants away. It doesn't always work, or at least it doesn't completely get rid of problem.  I'm very picky about what I use in my garden, so when I had the opportunity to review some products from Safer Brand, I was more than Thrilled!

  
Safer Brand, is a company that helps gardeners like me and others who are hard at work keeping their gardens organic.

Safer Brands, Bug Patrol, my new number one bug killer, a soap insecticide.  It kills over 40 damaging insects such as beetles, aphids, ticks, scales, white flies, mosquito's, chinch bugs and many others.
 White flies infected my squash two years ago, which can be found on the underneath of leaves. You won't see them unless you turn the leaves over and or happen to bump the plant and see a bunch of white flies fly off. This has been my number one killer to plants in the summer. You have to pull the entire plant before they infect the entire garden.

White flies suck the life out of plants, and they multiply like crazy, so once a plant is infested with them you either get rid of the flies, or just simply pull the plant. I've used soap to control them , but I'm not superwoman here I miss some, and that's all it takes.  The Safer Brand Bug Patrol Soap Insecticide has taken care of my worries on white flies. Made with Pyrethrin  (plant based)  potassium salts of fatty acid, there's no harsh chemicals. It worked more effectively than the soap I've used in the past.

The Garden Fungicide by Safer Brand is safe on Flowers, Fruit and Vegetables, killing up to 45 kinds of bugs, and helps prevent black spots, mildew and leaf spots on plants. Sulfur based, the Fungicide is ideal for organic rose care and even tomato's. Perfect for vegetable gardening. It's helped clear up some white powdery mildew on some of my wild rose bushes. They get so big so fast and that's when I see the white patches appear. It's like someone dusted a bunch of leaves with baby powder, only it's harmful to the plant. You need to deal with it before it spreads even more. Using the Fungicide helped clear up the bad patches, and I use it whenever I spot the first signs of it. Works like a charm, a lot easier than rubbing and wiping each leaf down.

The Safer Garden Dust, I hadn't had a chance to use yet. The Bug Patrol got rid of the Aphids and the White files my most common troubles.
The Garden Dust kills over 20 leaf eating worms and caterpillars which can take over gardens, yards and fruit trees. We don't really have a problem with worms (knock on wood ) ,I've only had troubles with Tomato Fruit worms (so gross) when I lived in NC as well as other thick, fat worms that sneak up out of no where while picking vegetables. If you've ever had a chance to come across a Tomato Fruit worm you know what I"m talking about, and how disgusting it is to find your prize tomatoes infested with them. They are thick green worms that get to be about 4 inches long, which you have to hand pick off the plants.  Unless that is , if they already wormed a hole into the tomato, in that case you can kiss that tomato goodbye. The worms feed on the stems, leaves and the fruit, trust me you hate them just as much as I do. First sign of these things I'll be sprinkling the Garden Dust as directed.

You can find more information on the Safer Brand website , with gardening tips, and a solution center to help find what you need for your garden and all the products.

 I will keep you updated on how well the Safer Brand is being used in my garden. We're in the peak of the summer garden right now, and I have the fall garden well under way as well.  So far, I've gotten ride of white flies from five plants and haven't seen Rust on my Roses, or a patch of leaf eating Aphids since using the brand! Thank Goodness for that, and here's hoping those Tomato Fruit Worms stay far away from me!

*Disclosure- I received the products mentioned above from Safer Brand  in order to write an honest review. No monetary compensation was received for this post. I did not have to write an positive review, Any and all opinions are and will always be my own.*

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August 23, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Perfect Timing, Dried Herbs from NY

 My sister Melissa grows alot of herbs in NY and while I do my own herbs as well, the neighbor(s) cats' , Mr. Nutters, and well my kids just love to mess them up. While my kids don't do it on purpose, the cat and squirrel do. I'm sure of it, in fact I've seen both of them waltz in my garden, look around and dig away at my herbs as if they are just waiting for me to see it. It's an everyday batter. The only thing they leave alone is my basil , lavender, or rosemary.

On with the perfect timing of Herbs, my sister sent me four of her own today all the way from NY. One of which is dill and will be used tonight for the fish I am cooking for tonight as well as biscuits to go along with it.

Another was Lemon basil will also be used to make a Lemon Basil Aioli . It's funny because I just used up the last of my Lemon Basil. I just planted a new batch a few weeks ago, but they are hardly near ready to pick! As I said, perfect timing :)
Use With fresh chives or if you don't want the chives use fresh dill it becomes a great tasting dip and or sauce to use with fish. My kids even eat this with fish sticks. I use a small amount for myself in which I add hot sauce to as well, change the sauce up how ever you like! I don't always use sour cream though, either way I think it's a great sauce.

Lemon Basil Aioli
2/3 cup mayonnaise
1/3 cup sour cream
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice
3 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Mix all the ingredients together and let chill for at least 30 minutes. Use up within 2 days.

Any herb gardeners out there? What are you growing?

Big thanks to my sister for sending these herbs my way, I will be sending some seeds back to you in a few weeks! :)



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August 22, 2011

My Scarlet Runner Beans


This was the first year for me to plant these beans, which grow in cooler weather more than hot. Oddly enough we've had a fairly cool summer. The beans have been producing as fast I can pick them and we've been enjoying them since Early July. They have a much thicker pod than any other bean I've planted which made it tricky to figure out how to cook.They were very tough, and I hate wasting things, but no one liked the pod to eat. 

 The reason behind me picking this heirloom bean was,  due to the space I had in my garden,and the bright red flowers which attracted more bees, and butterflies. My purpose was bringing more pollinators into my garden as well as bringing a crop that will be enough for our family of six. These beans if you keep picking them will contunie to flower and bring more throughout a season. It's just a matter of tending, and caring to get the most out of them. They haven't let me down, so they have won a place for next years garden.

The first harvest of beans boiled for a few hours along with Mustard greens. They were delicious but not a winner by far they needed something else. Over the weekend I picked another bundle of beans to be cooked. This time I cooked them in the pod itself, and they were amazing! So much better than cooking them outside the pod itself. It took two and a half hours, for these large beans to be tender and I love the taste. Of course they taste like a bean, but they also have a little sweetness to it. My kids adored them, so the next harvest will be left on the vine to dry, so I'll have seeds to plant.

 There's two ways you can save the seeds, one, leave the bean pods on the vine to dry completely. They would turn yellow, and then white and dried up looking. Or you can pick the pods, leave them somewhere to completely dry. You should be able to rattle them if the beans inside are dry.

They happen to be amazingly pretty too :)




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August 21, 2011

Weekend Project- A Pocket for my phones

My new adventure, is trying my hand at sewing. Though I knew already it's not going to be something I'm doing everyday, it's nice to refresh and try new things. I've done a few projects, tiny stuff, then several jean purses, one for each of my girls and one that I totally screwed up is used to hold sewing things I need at hand.

My Sewing space is limited,

As you can see I share it with the vegetables!


I made little phone holders for both my phones. Both are touch phones, so my youngest daughter just loves to touch the screen whenever it lights up. She's called people out of the blue, answered the phone, started songs, posted things on Facebook, deleted emails, written emails. Not a good thing if you ask me. I may store it out of the way, but when it lights up, she sees it and goes for it. This way, in the little pocket,  she can't see it light up, or mess with the screen.  



I'm not the best at sewing, won't ever be, but hey, I made a pocket for my phone :) I think it's cute, even though I messed up the top flap. I couldn't sew it inside out like I had the purse and the bottom of this pocket as it was started to tear the stitches out. So I just sewed it as is, it's not like my phone will complain, so it doesn't matter to me. Just another practice project for me!


Happy Sunday Everyone!

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August 19, 2011

Sweet Treat Friday- Sweet Tomatoes

It's been a super busy week here with school starting, I haven't really had all the time to do the every day things. We geared up to early bedtimes, getting up early and out the door on time. It's been a huge adjustment to the two younger kids still stuck at home, which is why I haven't been posting anything new really.

Next week I'll have new recipes, and a new sweet treat of course, plus new projects as well. This week there's no new sweet treat recipe, but I do have something sweet to share! My Sweet 100's .

 They are smaller than Cherry Tomatoes and oh so sweet. I love picking them fresh from the vine, warmed by the sun. If you've never had a Sweet 100 keep an eye out for the seeds if you have a garden or look them up at the local Farmer's market. Never seen them at the store but once I planted them a couple years ago, I've never stopped planting them. Very addicting that's for sure, and true to their name, they come in by the hundreds.
 Sweeten up any salad, side dish, or just have them as a snack, you'll love them! One of my favorite ways to eat these are with sweet corn and bell peppers when I make Sauteed Corn, instead of chopping the tomatoes I just toss the Sweet Tomatoes in to warm them up.

Enjoy and have a wonderful weekend!
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August 18, 2011

Mystery Biscuit

The mystery is in the ingredients. To some not much of a mystery at all as it's been known to be a great addition to cakes to add moisture. Mayonnaise! If you don't like Mayo you still need to try this, as it is a surprisingly easy yet delicious biscuit.
My kids adore them, I add different things depending on what we're eating. If fish is for dinner, I add a little lemon and dill, the biscuit becomes a perfect side kick for any fish. My kids will even put the fish in the biscuit to make a little sandwich, they just love these things. I've added minced up peppers or pepper flakes, tomatoes, chives, even some cheese to switch these up, never fails!
 Get the kids to help you make these you can spoon them into muffin tins as well or just drop them by tablespoon on a greased baking sheet. (grease the muffin tin as well)


Ingredients

2 cups flour
1 tablespoon baking powder
1 teaspoon salt
1/4 cup mayonnaise
1 cup milk
1 teaspoon sugar

Directions

Preheat the oven to 375F
 In a large bowl combine the flour, baking powder, and salt. Blend in the mayonnaise, milk and sugar until batter is mixed and creamy. Drop by tablespoons on the baking sheet or into the muffin tins (2/3 full) Bake until golden brown, 18-20 minutes. Makes about 12 biscuits


I like making these when I don't have much time. Can easily measure the ingredients out, hand it off to the kids and they can mix it up by themselves before either spooning the dough into the tins, or dropping them on the sheet. It's a great way to get them involved and yet out of my way at the very same time!
 They don't keep very well, so you should eat them within 2 days of making them.

Enjoy!
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August 17, 2011

Wordless Wednesday



My Tomatoes are coming in by the dozen : )


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August 16, 2011

Did you Know Tuesday- Fall Garden

I'm late posting today. It's been rather busy with school starting tomorrow and vacation chaos. I've mentioned before how now is the time to plant for the fall garden. You need to check your planting zone, to see what's good to plant around your area, each is different.

I directly sowed in lettuce with a few other greens, mustard greens carrots, peas, beans and broccoli. These are the Mustard Greens.

You can sow mustard greens indoors every ten days to ensure a complete summer and fall harvest each week. With the weather switching up so much at the beginning of spring, I lost alot , but was able to have a full summer long of the greens. Now  that these seeds took, I'll have it throughout the fall and start of winter. You can do this with just about any other green that matures fast, with mustard greens it's 35-50 days or so, depending on the variety you get.

Our weather here in Northern California allows me to get in a longer late planting season, so peas which need the heat are alright. They were started nearly two weeks ago, and are about six inches high. Along with the greens, and carrots I put in more chives, which pretty much take care of themselves. It really isn't that late to plant for the fall, or at least for my area it isn't.

Check out the local Nursery for any plants they may have to plant around this time , it may be too late to be directly sowing seeds for some things.(seed packs also say whether they can be directly sowed outdoors, or start in doors) A good way to see if it's good to plant to use for fall harvest is look on the back of the seed packet. Most have two things you need to look for, first look for it's weather compatibility. Some will say, they thrive in heat, others will say they need a cooler environment, so you need to take that into consideration.
    The second thing to look for is the Maturity date. If it's 60 days and under, you can probably plant it now. Things like pumpkins, take 90-110 days, so consider these not a good idea. Check the coverage of your yard or area you will use to plant in, match it up with the needed sun for the seeds and mark the days to harvest. I honestly don't do anything else other than this when ever I plant. I keep track of the weather and soil health, so I know when a good time to plant is year round. It can be that simple, it's the caring and tending that follows that's the hardest work. Just don't give up, and you'd be surprised at how much you can grow!

What's growing around your house right now? Anyone starting a fall garden?

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August 15, 2011

Weekend Recap- A Whole lot of stuff

School starts in two days, count them two whole short days. Yippie! It's been a crazy fun summer even if we did have one of those horrible no good vacations. I did get some pictures with a borrowed camera from the trip,  this is one on one of our stops to air the kids out. We live in Wine Country, but I never get tired of looking at the beautiful vineyards!


This weekend besides all the car sickness, and vacation let downs, we were up to our eyeballs in projects. I'm making soap, which I'll post about later on down the line. The garden needed extra attention this weekend, bugs have taken over so I had to go through handpick snails, and then dampen all the bugs with a soap/water solution. I also planted some things for fall harvest, greens mostly plus beans and peas.  If the waether stays where it is, I will have a good season before winter!

 My Husband is building me a pantry. Surprise, surprise, I've given him another project. :)  Our kitchen is small and while I would just love a pantry or china cabinet, something all fancy like inside, we have no room for it. So we made a compromise, I won't ask for the china cabinet again, and he'll build me what I need until we get a bigger house there is more room for the cabinet.
 It'll hold four pull our drawers, and we're working on an idea for a lock. The idea behind this was, I have canning supplies as well as other kitchen items that are not in one place. Since we have so Little room many things end up getting broken, so this way I can not only put the items away, they can be locked so the kids cannot mess with them. It'll go right next to our freezer out on the porch. Perfect solution!

What projects are going on at your house?




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