Tuesday, July 29, 2014

The Maple Hill Hop 41

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop,
where we share our outdoor posts.

The weather here in Central Florida
has been downright scary lately.

We've had storms that rattle the windows.

Thankfully, no damage has been done in our area,
and no one has been hurt.
Lightning strikes have been reported in the news a lot lately.
Florida is the lightning strike capital of the world.

We are so grateful for having shelter from the storms.
And I can't complain about what the rains
have done for the garden.

gloriosa daisies


native salvia

crawlin' with cats!

Here's hoping you're getting just the dose of rain you need
to help your garden grow.
What's happening where you are?
HOP to it!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Thrifty Thursday-Stumped?

Our yard waste truck comes once a week
to pick up any garden debris folks may have to dispose of.
At some point, we hope to be able to compost most of our yard waste.

On a bike ride one morning, 
I found a few of these stumps in front of a neighbor's house.
Destined for the garbage truck,
they looked just too good to pass up.
I knew I could do something with them.

I toted two of them home and added them to the garden.
They make the perfect perches for shallow bird baths.

Enjoy them, birdies!

Do you enjoy repurposing things in your garden?


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

The Maple Hill Hop 40

Maple Hill Hop

Welcome to 
The Maple Hill Hop,
where we share posts about the outdoors!
What in the world is happening outside where you are?

This past weekend we decided to visit some yard sales
in nearby Lake Wales.
It's too hot to do much outdoors here in summertime,
but we got out early.

Wouldn't you know, the first one we found had plants for sale.
This guy had some of the most unique plants.
He showed me the extensive landscaping he'd done
on this little cottage.
He and his mom have quite the green thumb.
We chatted about gardening for a good, long time.

On another block close by,
we spied this chicken sign in someone's yard.
It represents this homeowner supporting the recent
"backyard chicken initiative" program we talked about here.
Go, chickens!

On our rounds, we stopped by Struthers,
to load up on local honey.
It's used to make my new favorite drink, honey lemonade.
Nothin' like it.

We enjoy supporting our local honey supplier.

No treasures were found,
but it was great gettin' out there
and spending time together.

What have you been doing outside?

Friday, July 18, 2014

Real Simple Mac-N-Cheese

On occasion, I enjoy reading the magazine,
Real Simple,
as I have a passion for organization.
Their motivating organizing articles 
and streamlining techniques for household tasks
fill my heart with joy.  Really.
The same simplified philosophy is evident in their recipes.

Their cookbook was ordered from the library,
and we've been enjoying a few of the simple recipes.
This one's a keeper.

***One exciting note-if you're at all familiar with past recipes posted here, you know that I usually have to substitute dairy milk with rice or almond milk.
It's recently been discovered that I can indeed tolerate cow's milk,
so I have been savoring all things dairy!
(Yes, this includes loads of chocolate ice cream!)

Macaroni and Cheese
(Real Simple Meals Made Easy)
1 lb. elbow macaroni (any type will do)
5 T unsalted butter
1/2 C  flour
6 C whole milk
3 1/2 C grated Cheddar cheese
3 t kosher salt (*see note)
1 C dry bread crumbs
1/4 C fresh flat-leafed parsley, finely chopped
1/4 C olive oil
1/4 t pepper

Cook macaroni according to package directions.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large saucepan over medium heat.
Slowly, add flour and cook, stirring constantly for 3 minutes.
Add milk in steady stream and cook 7 minutes.
Add Cheddar and 2 t of the salt, and cook 5 minutes, then remove from heat.

Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Grease a large casserole with additional butter and place cooked noodles inside.
Pour cheese sauce over macaroni.
In a small jar, mix together parsley, breadcrumbs, oil, pepper and remaining salt.
Sprinkle over casserole.
Bake uncovered, about 25 minutes.

*Note:  We found the recipe a bit salty, 
so next time we will reduce the salt to 1 1/2 t total.


ABFOL One Project at a Time

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Fire-Starting Fatwood

Have you ever heard of Fatwood?
I hadn't either until my farmer friend Lynn told me about it.
This past weekend, when I was working with him,
he explained a little bit about it.

This is Fatwood.
It is wood that comes from the trunk of a dead pine tree.
Once the tree dies, the resin saturates the trunk,
which is what makes it burn so easily.

This long-leaf pine, dead for years, toppled recently
during a fierce windstorm.

Other types of pines can also provide Fatwood.
It can be found anywhere older conifers have been living.
Hunters, hikers and nature lovers have spotted it all over the country.

Lynn showed me how he divides the pieces into
manageable shims for burning.

Using the top of one of the logs,
he places the wedge flat, and slices portions off,
working in a circular direction.

Each slice is then trimmed into stakes about 1-inch thick.

A few of these on a camping trip would be more than ample
for all of your fire starting needs.
This stuff burns quickly and lasts a good, long time.

Bonfire, anyone? 

We were first introduced to this fantastic resource here.
You can read more about Fatwood here

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