Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Save Summer in a Jar

The cucumbers are starting to come in, so I decided to try my hand at making dill pickles.  It's been at least 30 years since I've attempted to make pickles.  These were so easy and fun to make, but the real test is in the taste, and these are BETTER than store bought pickles.
This year I only planted small cucumbers that you can use for pickling,  but they are great for salads too.  I like them much better than the larger cucumbers because they are more crunchy and are just the amount of cucumber I need for a salad. 
No leftovers ~ no waste.
Another plus was having fresh dill from the garden, along with dill seeds, especially since I could not find them in the grocery store.
The best part of preserving food is seeing the jars all lined up when you are finished.  It gives me a great sense of satisfaction. . .
. . . especially in the middle of winter.

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Simple Elegance

I was trying to find something to put on my outdoor table without spending any money.  Something I already had around the house that I could find a new use for.  Annual flowers don't work as I haven't found one yet that my chickens don't love to eat.
While in the garden the other day, I noticed my dill had grown so tall and floppy, and was laying on the ground. 
Since it's flower heads are so beautiful, I decided it would 
make a beautiful centerpiece for the table.
So, I took three clear canning jars and filled them with cut dill flowers, and what 
a simple and elegant centerpiece they made.
Maybe I should have used my aqua canning jars since the clear ones blend in so much with the glass table top, but for now, this will do.
I love the chartreuse color of not only the wrought 
iron furniture, but of the dill heads.
Such exquisite beauty.
I didn't have time to set a pretty table since it started to rain, but maybe when I do, I will change to the aqua jars and use my aqua and chartreuse melamine dishes.  Until then, I will just enjoy them as they are and smile every time I see them.
Hope you're enjoying some summer dining.
Linking with
French Country Cottage  for Feathered Nest Friday

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Hankering for Hot Dogs

Do you ever get a hankering for hot dogs?
Now hot dogs aren't my favorite food, but every once in awhile, I just love a good hot dog.  I always enjoy them at baseball or football games.  There is just something about sports and 
hot dogs that go together.
My daughter had a dinner party the other night and served veggie burgers and hot dogs.  There were tons of hot dogs left over and since she is a vegetarian, guess who is 
eating all the hot dogs?
Me, of course.  And the funny thing is, I am absolutely loving them.  
It doesn't take much to dress up a hot dog since they are already a party animal ~ a cute paper wrapper and condiments is all it needs.  I like mine smothered in mustard, ketchup, and relish.
And of course, a nice cold jar of mint strawberry lemonade goes perfectly with hot dogs.
Now if only I had a bag of chips and a piece of cake . . .
 life would be perfect. 
How do you like your hot dogs?

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Dinner with Myself

Do you ever eat alone? 
 My 25-year old daughter lives with me, but when she is out with friends, I eat alone.  Not complaining, mind you, I'm used to eating alone.  
Usually when alone, I eat on the run, grabbing a bite here and there while working on a project, or while watching TV.  I rarely set myself a place at the table if it is just me.
But not tonight.  It was a perfectly glorious day ~ you know, the kind that you want to savor and never want to end.
So, even though I was just having leftovers (delicious fish tacos), I set myself a place at the table on the deck, and drank in the beauty of a meal enjoyed outside.  

It's these times of slowing down that I realize how blessed I am, and how wonderful life can be.  Listening to the birds sing and the locusts in the trees was far better than any man made music.  The chickens were roaming around the yard chattering to themselves and the dog was sitting under my chair, waiting for any leftovers.  In this moment, all was right in the world.

Sitting at the table made me realize how much beauty is all around me . . . beauty I hardly notice when I'm intently working on a project and eating on the run.

And because it was too pretty to go inside, as darkness fell, I sat on the porch and savored the gift of a glorious day.

So here's to eating alone . . . slowing down . . . and setting a pretty table.  These are the kind of days that summer memories are made of . . . the kind that warm you on a cold winter day.
An afterthought:
I was reading my devotions this morning and came across these verses in Psalm 103: 1-2.
"Bless the Lord, O my soul:  and all that is within me, bless his holy name.
Bless the Lord, O my soul, and forget not all his benefits:"
David goes on to list his benefits in the rest of the chapter.  These verses and my dinner alone, remind me that sometimes you have to slow down to remember all your blessings and benefits ~ something I plan to do more often. 
Linking with
French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday
The Charm of Home for Home Sweet Home
Between Naps on the Porch  for Tablescape Thursday

Monday, July 7, 2014

Swiss Zucchini Bake

My zucchini plants are monstrous this year.  Never have they been this big and stately, 
coming right over the sides of the raised bed.
Even the blooms seem larger to me than normal.
The zucchini are starting to come on and I'm trying to pick them before they 
become baseball bat size, which seems to happen when you're not looking.
It isn't long before zucchini are overwhelming you and you can't use them up 
or give them away fast enough.  
Here is a great recipe for using those extra zucchini and a summer favorite here.  I made this casserole for my parents once, and thereafter, my Dad had my Mother making it 
for him every week.
Swiss Zucchini Bake
3 ~ 4 cups thinly sliced zucchini
1 onion, sliced
1/4 cup butter
2 eggs, beaten
1/4 cup milk
1 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. pepper
1/2 tsp. dry mustard
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese 
(I sometimes use Pepper Jack cheese if I want to add a "kick" 
to the casserole, or a combination of both cheeses)
Saute sliced zucchini and onion in melted butter until tender. Be generous with these amounts because they do shrink down as you saute them.
 Place in shallow 1-1/2 quart baking dish.
Combine eggs, milk, salt, pepper, dry mustard and 1/2 of the cheese.  Pour over sauteed vegetables and gently mix in.  Top with remaining shredded cheese.
Bake at 375 degrees for 20 minutes or until firm.  
Serves 6 ~ 8
Gather round.  This casserole is headed for a family get together tonight and will be going fast.  Kids won't usually try this if they know it is zucchini, but quite often end up 
liking it when they do.
Linking with
StoneGable for The Scoop
A Stroll Thru Life for Inspire Me Tuesday
French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday
The Charm of Home for Home Sweet Home

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Industrial Cart Makeover

When my daughter moved back home last summer, along with 
her came a lot of her furniture.
 She bought this pale mint green industrial cart at a flea market several years ago and she used it to hold her TV and cable boxes in her apartment living room.   At my house, for lack of room, it went out on the screened in porch where it collected odds and ends.
Well, she was away this weekend, so after I finished painting the house shutters black, I decided to slap a few coats of black paint on her cart.  I love how it turned out.
(In case you're wondering, I did ask her permission to paint it while she was gone.)
It sits right beside the screen door going out onto the deck.  It will get wet when the rain and snow are blowing, but that will just bring back it's rusty charm that I covered up with the black paint.
Over it hangs an ornate child's headboard I found at a flea market that I painted bright pea green several years ago and added knobs to it for hanging.
Ornate headboards of any width with fancy knobs or hooks along the bottom make great wall art, especially in an area where you need to hang things.
I couldn't resist putting a tray on it and pretending company was coming for desert.
The cart will now give me extra space for food when having dinner on the porch, or since it has wheels on it, I can roll it out onto the deck and use it as a serving cart.
It has an extra shelf and compartments underneath that I'm sure 
I'll find uses for with time.
When my daughter called from out of town, I told her I painted the cart and had fallen in love with it.  I offered to trade it for the wing back chair I reupholstered this winter, which she was wanting me to give her.
I think we are both happy with the trade, but then she hasn't seen the  cart yet, so hopefully she won't change her mind.
Hopefully you're having a wonderful holiday weekend.  We're finally having some absolutely perfect summer weather, which does not include rain.
Linking with
Between Naps on the Porch for Metamorphosis Monday
StoneGable for The Scoop
A Strol Thru Life for Inspire Me Tuesday
The Charm of Home  for Home Sweet Home
French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday
French Country Cottage for Feathered Nest Friday

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Leaps and Bounds

My garden is growing by leaps and bounds with all the rain we've had this summer.  Everything is lush and green.
 The lettuces and kale have totally filled in the
 garden bed and are making delicious salads.
The blossoms on the zucchini plants promise good things to come.
And thanks to netting over the plants, the tomatoes 
and begonias have not experienced any hen-pecking.
The dill flowers are exquisitely delicate and beautiful.  I just wish my cucumbers were ready so I could try my hand at dill pickles.
Meanwhile, the white hydrangeas have helped themselves to a seat on the bench . . .
. . . and the purple clemetis is hanging out with the picket fence.
And sadly, my cement chicken marks the spot where my beautiful Maggie lays, who left me right before Easter.
  Even more sad is now I have to bury my beloved Sally next to her. My silly Sally . . . gardening will never be the same without you following me around and keeping me company.
 It is a hard thing to lose my darling girls who have been the sweetest pets and companions.
Linking with
Elizabeth and Co. Garden Party 
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