Sunday, July 28, 2013

How is your garden?

I have been so busy with work, late hours and traveling, I haven't had much time for anything else! But despite all the neglect, the garden still do the weeds! I lost most the garlic because I waited too long to dig it up, now it is lost in the dirt! But I got most the onions, they are pulled and curing. The potatoes are another story...I got most the Kennebec's, but I either lost the Yukon Golds to beetles or to the dirt, either way we got a decent harvest. And the eggplants never rebounded from the battle with flea beetles. 

All the lettuce bolted, but the beans and peppers are coming in strong! And the tomatoes are just starting to ripen. We even have a few volunteers that self seeded from last year...a brandywine and yellow pear that grew up in the middle of the potatoes! The squash, pumpkins, and melons are all doing well, as is the corn!

I hope you enjoy a tour of my gardens!

The Children's Garden

Jack Be Little pumpkin

Baby Boo pumpkins

Volunteer tomato plants

Pink Brandywine

Cherokee Purple



Pink Banana 

Jimmy Nardello 

Sweet Candy Apple

First pepper and bean harvest

Pumpkin Patch

Birdhouse Gourd bloom

Spaghetti Squash (hiding under the leaves)

The entire patch is buzzing with pollinators!

Musquee de Provence 

Connecticut Field

Melon Patch

The entourage...

And the bodyguard!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Sun Tea

Tea is a staple in our house year round - ice tea in the warm months and hot tea in the cold months. To some people, tea is just tea, but in our house - tea is NOT just tea, it is a way of life! I have different teas for different reasons, such as…

I like Mint Tea, sweetened with Honey after dinner, before bed. The combination of mint and honey helps me to relax and get ready for sleep.

I like Earl Grey Tea, sweetened with sugar and a splash of milk on cold mornings to take the chill off.

And the staple, Ice Tea (aka Sweet Tea) otherwise known as Table wine of the South…
Just like anything else, I have different Tea combinations for different purposes. When I make just my regular everyday Ice Tea, I use Luzianne. But, if it’s a special event I make my Mémé (grandmother’s) tea – which is a combination of Boston Tea Party Exotic Spice, Orange Pekoe, and Constant Comment Orange Spice. And that leaves my Sun Tea…I like to play around and mix it up some. Usually I’ll use Luzianne and Mint, then sometimes mix in an Orange Spice (and personal favorite either Boston Tea Party or Constant Comment) to spice it up a little.

The idea behind Sun Tea is to use the sun to heat the water, which will steep your tea bags. It’s not an instant process, takes planning and patience, but is a special treat here in the South!

So, grab yourself some tea bags and a clean, sterile container to steep them in.
*To make an individual batch try using a mason jar! Then once steeped, add sweetner, ice, and drink right out of the mason jar!

Add water and tea bags, place outside in direct sunlight until you’ve reached your desired steeping point. (You can tell by the color of the water, the darker the water, the stronger it is.) It is recommended not to leave it out longer than 4-hours.

Now, remove your tea bags, add your desired amount of sweetener, pour into a glass with ice…
Sit back, relax, and Enjoy!

*Warning- while using the suns energy to heat the water seem very energy efficient; it can also be very bad for your health if you're not careful. Since the sun won't heat the water to a boil, it won't kill off potentially harmful bacteria, and will actually have the opposite may encourage breeding. Black Tea, or other caffeinated tea will help ward off the growth of bacteria for a few hours, but herbal tea with no caffeine will not. If your tea appears thick, syrupy, or with ropy white strands throw it out. These are sure signs of bacteria.

This was shared at What I am eating, and The HomeAcre Hop!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Blackberries Galore

Our blackberries are starting to ripen, WooHoo!

The size of some of the berries are insane!

And what is blackberry pickin without some scratches from the thorns? My hands (and arms) are beat up! But, the lotion my husband gave me for Christmas, Udderly Smooth, is working miracles! Ahhh...
While I was knee deep in thorny canes our little girl, Genny, was my protector. She stood guard on the premetor of the patch to ensure I wasn't what I'm not sure! Though, I did stumble upon a hole, tunnel, or den of sorts. She sniffed it out and moved on, so I knew nothing was home!

My first goal is to make jam. Then maybe butter. Of course, I already made a cobbler!
What is your favorite thing to do with blackberries?

-Live Simpe, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Summer Pickles

My neighbor brought us some yellow squash and I had green peppers and onions from our garden. (There was also a cucumber I threw in there.) So, before everything went bad I decided to make Summer Pickles!

First, I cut everything and placed them in a dish and sprinkled with salt. I covered and let sit in the fridge overnight. 

The next morning, I heated up the vinegar and spices on the stove. Let boil. Drained the vegetables and added them to the pot. Boiled again.  Removed from heat and poured into a jar. 

Let sit a few days before eating! 

-Live Simpe, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Tomato Horn Worm

Check out this little guy! Well, he's actually not all that little...
It's a Tomato Horn Worm! Luckily we haven't had trouble with them before, so we didn't know the warning signs...though now we're educated!
A couple days ago I noticed something was eating the leaves off our Mortgage Lifter tomato plant. Stripping it bare.
This morning I noticed scat all around the base of the plant. We initially though it must be some type of small rodent. Our plan was to put top soil down tonight to get a foot print, put out a trap (just incase that would work), and set up the trail cam on the plant. But my husband didn't recognize the scat and it was driving him crazy until he finally broke down and googling "tomato eater with barrel-like scat". And what do a know...the tomato horn worm appeared! He went out and studied each branch until he found it! 
Where's Waldo? Can you find him?
 So we caught him this time, though it looks like he's eaten his fair share!
I've mixed up a pepper spray to use as a deterrent, but hopefully we won't have anymore of these guys! I used a couple tablespoons ground cayenne pepper, a few squirts dish soap, and mixed it all in a gallon water jug. Poured into spray bottle and ready hot pepper spray!

Do you have trouble with the Tomato Horn Worm? How do you combat them?

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Beach Vacation

We have a tradition each year to go to the beach with my mother-in-law, and not just any beach, always Ocracoke! We love it there, of course we go early, usually mid Spring, to beat the tourist season. This was the first year we took Genny (remember our Mountain Cur). She doesn't travel too well in the car, so it was going to be a long drive! But I had an idea, she loves to sleep in my sons bean helps calm her down. 

So we took it in the car. Worked like a charm! The first half of the trip she was in my lap, in the bean bag, but then she let me move it to the backseat!
So, one afternoon we went out to eat...and to help comfort her we put the soothing bean bag in her kennel with her....
We should have known better! But, when you have lemons, make lemonade! Saving the beans, we took old pillowcases and made her two new bean bags!
We had a wonderful time at the beach...even Genny found an activity she loved almost as much as hunting squirrels! Sniffing out sand crabs! She dug up several, then didn't know what to do! Though that experience helped in the long run. Ever since we've been back, she's been sniffing out and digging up moles and voles!

-Live Simple, Be Happy-
Magnolia Holler