Friday, July 22, 2016

Ant Invasion! (And our homemade solution)

We've been overrun by these six-legged creatures.
We get ants seasonally,
but this was the worst invasion I've ever seen
since I've lived in Florida.

They showed up about 2 weeks ago
mostly in the kitchen.
We're fairly vigilant about keeping the counters wiped down,
so we couldn't figure out what they were after.
They also hung out around the sink.

Even in the bathroom, where no food is found,
they were making themselves at home.
The third spot they seemed to like
was on our son's bedroom window sill. 
No food or water there,
but there they were, taking over. 

Since we make a conscious effort to keep the toxins out of our home,
we looked for a homemade solution
using common ingredients that would be harmful
only to the critters trying to overthrow the locals.

 First, I tried a dry mixture of borax and powdered sugar.
I left it in strategic places for a few days.
Nothing happened.
So, I researched other solutions.
This time, I added water to the same combination.

The mixture was placed in the locations 
 the ants frequented.  


At first, just to test the concoction out,
we placed it directly on the countertops.
The ants came scurrying within an hour...

and surrounded the sweet slurry.

 We also tried using it on a piece of cotton,
and it worked well.

Since we knew they were attracted,
we decided to use bottlecaps instead.
(This stuff dries after a few hours,
so it made it easier than scraping it up off the counter.)  

Although the ants were quite a nuisance for a few days,
they slowly became less noticeable. 
The idea is that they bring the solution back to the nest
and eventually, they all die off.

Now, two weeks later, there's hardly an ant to be found.
I can't tell you how impressed I am with this stuff.

We also made up a spray solution
that is more of a bug repellant,
which can be used at the first sighting of unwanted critters.

Here are the two recipes we used and their resources.
(The names are our own creations.)

Ant B Gone
1 C sugar
1/2 C water
1 T borax

Let solution sit until sugar is fully dissolved.
Place directly where ants have been seen
(we spooned it into plastic bottlecaps).
Repeat as necessary.

Ant Away
Using a small spray bottle,
fill 3/4 full with water.
Add 2 T witch hazel and
12 drops of peppermint essential oil.
Shake and spray.
Not only does this spray repel ants,
your house will smell fresh.

The next time you get unwanted visitors,
(and I'm not talking about your crazy Uncle Bert),
try one or both of these concoctions.

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Tuesday, July 19, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 142

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

Today we return to Farm School,
where we are updating some of our recent tasks
at Faye & Lynn's 7,000 square-foot container garden.

Summertime is not our peak growing season.
Due to our heat, humidity,
and an abundance of bugs,
it's a difficult time for a vegetable gardener.
Here are three crops that are faring well
so far this season.   

About a month ago,
we showed you how our pigeon peas were doing.
They germinated well and haven't needed much care.  

Four weeks later,
you can see how much they've grown.
We have spotted some leaf rollers on them,
but they seem to be holding their own.
The insects are hand-picked and sent to their doom.
Each of these plants will grow upwards of 5 feet tall,
and provide us with oodles of podded peas.
We profiled this crop here.  

Another new crop we're trying this summer
is Malabar spinach.
Here it is newly sprouting,
about 4 weeks ago. 

With ample rain, it's coming right along.
This is a new crop for us,
so we are enjoying learning about its growth habits.
I sampled some and it is quite an unusual texture.
The tender leaves were very subtle in flavor,
and almost seem to melt in your mouth.

I'm looking forward to using this food source
in a variety of ways to add more nutrition to my diet.

One summer staple that Faye & Lynn
have had consistent success with is okra.
This crop is undaunted by the scorching sun
and constant soaring temperatures.
Lynn has almost 500 okra plants growing. 

 Once this crop starts blooming,
the okra is on its way.

Being a Yankee,
I never had a yearning to add this to my plate.
Since sampling pickled okra,
I'm a believer.
I plan to have this planted in my garden
during the finicky summer days of growing.
Good to know at least something can stand the heat,
even if this gardener can't.

That's what's happening where we are.
How 'bout you?
HOP to it! 




Friday, July 15, 2016

Simple Summer Salad

I've been experimenting with some dietary changes 
to ward off chronic fatigue.
Here's a recipe that not only conserves energy
(since it's so easy to make),
but creates a fresh boost of the stuff!
It's also dairy and sugar free, and vegetarian to boot!
I use my go-to honey mustard dressing to add a zing of flavor.
(Recipe can be found by clicking below.)
A gluten-free version could be made
by simply substituting your favorite gluten-free pasta.
Allergy-friendly and delicious?
What could be better on a blazing summer day?

Simple Summer Salad
1 C elbow macaroni
1 carrot, grated
1/2 C garbanzo beans (I used canned)
1/2 C artichoke hearts
handful parsley
salt to taste
1/4 C Jami's honey mustard dressing

Cook pasta according to directions.
Drain pasta and add to a mixing bowl.
Add dressing while pasta is still warm,
that way it soaks into the noodles.
Add remaining ingredients
(at this point, you can add whatever veg or protein you like).
Stir to combine.
Refrigerate 2 hours to allow flavors to meld.
***This dressing is mayo-free,
so it is great for picnics or other outdoor feasts.

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Our Simple Homestead Blog Hop

Tuesday, July 12, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 141

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop.
This is a hop for folks who love the outdoors.
Feel free to post about anything that's going on
in your neck of the woods,
no matter the season.
(Please share only outdoor posts.)
*Grab the button above to link back to Maple Hill 101.*

On Saturday, I had an opportunity to sell my daisy totes
at the local Tractor Supply.
This is a new venue for me.
The fact that there was no fee for the booth space
made it even more appealing.
A few months ago, I had placed a small flyer on their
"Community Bulletin Board",
and someone from the store actually called me to invite me to participate.
What a thrill!

I headed out early to beat the heat and by 8:30, I was set up and ready to go.
There were about 10 other vendors there, 
selling everything from veggies to baked goods to live critters.
There was even a young FFA vendor selling a few feed sack totes of her own!

It was a good experience,
although I can't say it was a financial success.
Each time I do one of these events,
it goes a bit smoother,
and I find myself a little more comfortable in my role as vendor.
The organizer of the fair told me 
they would probably wait until autumn to do the next one.
That gives me plenty of time to make more daisy totes
(and maybe a few other designs I'm thinking about).

That's what's going on where we are.
What's happening in your world?
HOP to it!