Tuesday, March 31, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 74

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.)
*Please link back to Maple Hill 101.*

Where in the world did March go?
We were surprised with a wonderfully cool weekend,
with temps in the low 70's during the day.
Perfect weather for our family project.

We painted our house.
It's been on the market off and on for a year,
first with 2 separate realtors,
and for the past week By Owner.
We had planned to paint it anyway,
and figured that it couldn't hurt with the recent upswing in home sales in our neighborhood. 

The transformation seems pretty significant to us.
We never really liked the gray on the house
and the black accents even less.

The subtle colors make it feel somehow more welcoming.
We're so glad we did it and
feel good knowing that whoever buys our home
won't have to paint for quite some time.
One less thing for new buyers to have to think about.

It was a glorious day to take pictures for our ad as well.
Blue sky in the background, no wind, 
the garden lookin' happy, perfect.

On Friday we'll share the new strategy for listing our home.
You know what they say,
"third time's the charm!"

What's goin' on outside where you are?
HOP on!

Friday, March 27, 2015

Kitchen Organizing Ideas

I recently went on an organizing spree.
It's something that happens every so often,
and I just feel the need to tweak some of my spaces.
This week the pantry and baking cabinets were the victims recipients of the makeovers.
That post will be coming up next week,
along with a major announcement about where we are with our house sale.
Look for a special post next Friday for more details on an idea about how we are marketing our home.
It's pretty eye-opening!

Today we wanted to share some wonderful ideas 
about getting more organized in the kitchen.
They are all practical and easy to do.
Hopefully, you'll find something here that will make your life 
just a bit easier.

This $10 find from Target got a personalized touch with a litte black paint and a favorite recipe.
Get the tutorial at Calico » 

We use crocks for our wooden spoons, whisks and spatulas
right next to the stove where they are needed.
This savvy blogger even added a recipe right to the crock!

Display your utensils with style (but avoid the wrath of falling dust), by placing chic, white pitchers inside a rustic DIY cabinet.
Get the tutorial at Knick of Time »
 Turn an old crate, a frame and some wire into a storage nook.
Adding shelves would make this a great spice rack.

When this family embraced small-space living and moved into a 150-foot camper, they got smart about organizing. A towel bar repurposed as a place to hang spoons and spatulas turns a blank wall into a useful storage spot.
See more at The Noshery »  

A repurposed towel bar and a magnetic strip
helped this family use the vertical space in their camper.

Due to their awkwardly shaped handles, lids can comandeer a cabinet. Get them out of the way by outfitting a drawer with a tension rod that holds them vertically in place.
See more at the Complete Guide to Imperfect Homemaking »

Look at this clever way of coralling pot lids using a tension rod.

Get plastic wrap and aluminum foil out of the way by stowing them in a well-hidden magazine file.
See more at The Wandmaker's Mother »

I may have to steal this idea from The Wandmaker's Mother.
We currently use one of our drawers for these items,
and I've never been entirely pleased with it.
See her terrific kitchen organization project here.

 There are so many fabulous ideas out there
to get you started on a more organized life.
We have also posted many times about organizing.
Begin with one drawer, one shelf or just one container!
You'll feel accomplished by setting smaller goals.
The good news is that it's contagious,
and soon you'll find yourself wanting to do more.
It's wonderfully rewarding.
And won't your family be impressed
when you can tell them exactly where to find things?

Happy weekend, y'all.

Here are a few of our organizing posts:

Legos, Organized
Files, Organized 
Recipes, Organized
 Closet Makeover 

Tuesdays with a Twist Featured

ABFOL One Project at a Time

This Is How We Roll Link Party Button

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Tuesday, March 24, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 73

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.)
*Please link back to Maple Hill 101.*

Remember Ginger?

We'd had a picture of a green Element on our vision board for quite some time.
She's the dream car we bought about 9 months ago.
She has been everything I thought she'd be
and I can't imagine having a better driving experience.

Big K sold his shortbed pickup truck.
He was ready for something new
and we wanted something with good gas mileage
that would fit our family's needs.
He'd been looking at cars and SUV's for about a month,
scouting the best deal so that we could pay cash and still get what we needed. 
He was getting frustrated with the lack of choices.
Last weekend, we took a road trip to Englewood,
a beach town 2 1/2 hours from our location.

It's a different way of life there.
So laid back, so serene.
What a perfect day for a boat ride,
or a road trip to find something special.

Here's our latest addition.
Yup, it's the same model, different year.
Big K was hesitant to buy another Element,
only because it seemed silly to have two of the same vehicle.
But, it works for our family.
This car was in such good shape,
(especially compared to some of them we looked at),
that we just had to bring it home.

The folks we bought it from were so kind.
Big K had been the first person to call about it.
They knew it would take us a while to get there,
and they refused to show it to any other interested parties
until we got there.  
There was even someone looking at it in the driveway
when we arrived.
But as soon as Big K saw it, he knew.
He just knew.

After completing the deal,
we still had a long trek back home so we stopped for subs.
Overall, it was a wonderful family memory.

Ginger and Kale seem very happy together.
Sometimes things just work out better than we planned.

What's going on where you are?
HOP to it!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Shrimp Scampi

Happy First Day of Spring!

  On this week's Maple Hill Hop,
we hosted a giveaway sponsored by Mary's Heirloom Seeds.
Congratulations to Deborah of The Farmer's Wife.
Please email me at naturegurl1111@gmail.com,
and we'll get your kitchen herb kit sent out to you
to get your spring kick-started!


Big K loves shrimp.
Boiled, broiled, barbecued or fried,
he'll take it any way he can get it.

I had a hankering for some garlic pasta,
so I found this recipe from Ina Garten for shrimp scampi.
Shrimp for him, pasta for me.
What's not to love?
This one has made it into our Family Recipe Book.

Shrimp Scampi
Ina Garten

3/4 lb. pasta
3 T olive oil
3 T butter (unsalted)
1 1/2 garlic, minced
salt/pepper/red pepper flakes to taste
lemon juice and zest to taste

Cook pasta according to directions.  
Add oil and butter to a large saute pan.  Saute garlic 1-2 minutes.
Add shrimp and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes.
Drain pasta, then add it to the pan.
Add lemon juice and zest and heat through.
Serves 2-4.

Mary’s Kitchen

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ABFOL One Project at a Time

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

The Maple Hill Hop 72

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.)
*Please link back to Maple Hill 101.*

With spring right around the corner,
we know that many of you are itching to get planting.
Some of us are fortunate enough to be able to grow
nearly year-round.
This season, seeds were ordered from a new company.
You may have heard of Mary's Heirloom Seeds.


Their philosophy is shared on the website:

"Mary's Heirloom Seeds is a "mom and pop" small business created out of a desire to help people become more sustainable and self-sufficient. Our customers know that we are a simple phone call or email away.  Most importantly, we are happy to share growing advice freely and include free seed packs with most orders.

I don't sell anything that I wouldn't grow in my own garden.  All of the seeds listed are un-treated, non-hybrid, open-pollinated, non-gmo, heirloom seeds.  Plants are grown using no chemicals."

 Mary's has taken the "safe seed pledge", 
which means that they will not knowingly sell
GMO seeds.

Here's what we ordered from them:

There are varieties that I've never seen anywhere else,
like the Clemson Spineless Okra.
It'll be used in our pickled okra later in the season.
A new type of eggplant is always welcome here.
We can't get enough of the stuff.

This is the first time we will be growing beans for drying.
I can't wait to see these start climbing the trellis!

It's hard to believe that these little seeds will grow a plant
that will feed us for months.

 Here's what they're gonna look like when they are ready for harvest.

"Don't judge each day by the harvest you reap but by the seeds that you plant."
-Robert Louis Stevenson

A few flower seeds were ordered as well.
It's important to attract pollinators to the garden,
to help the veggies along.
For the first time, I'll be using a butterfly mix
in a new spot that I'm transitioning to a butterfly/caterpillar area.
I can't wait to see what pops up there!
I've been wanting to plant some bee balm for a while now.
It's been said that it is one of the most beneficial plants a gardener can sow,
because it attracts hummingbirds as well as butterflies and other pollinators.
It can even be used for medicinal purposes.

What a treat to receive a package of free seeds with my order!
With winter officially gone (it's been in the mid-to-high 80's here lately),
I'm ready to get out there and plant.
The shift to using heirloom seeds is a conscious effort on my part
to keep the good stuff moving.
I'm not only supporting a small business owner who is doing it right,
but I'm keeping alive the traditions of past gardeners who worked hard
to feed their families with these same varieties.
That link to history is priceless.


Mary has graciously offered up a Kitchen Herb Set to one lucky reader.

This set includes several packs of herb seeds, coconut coir pellets and plant markers.
All you need to do is tell me your plans for this year's garden.
We'll announce the winner on Friday's post.
Good luck!


Now, let's HOP!

Back to the Basics

Friday, March 13, 2015

Harvest Time Series-Broccoli Tips

We wanted to give you a head's up about an upcoming giveaway!

Mary, from Mary's Heirloom Seeds 
will be sponsoring a giveaway on 
The Maple Hill Hop 
next Tuesday.
Be sure to stop by and enter to win a fabulous gift package.
While you're there, we hope you'll join the HOP party!
See you then!

We're starting a new series today called 
Harvest Time.

We'll feature tips on how best to reap what you sow,
so that you get the most from your veggie and herb gardens.

Today's focus is harvesting broccoli.
Here in Central Florida, this crop is started mid-fall.

By the time winter rolls around,
we are picking fully-formed heads.
If the gardener is careful and efficient,
this generous crop will reward you well.
Execution is everything.

We talked about cutting the main head at an angle here.
This allows rain or irrigation water to shed easily away from the stalk
in order to prevent disease problems.
Once the head is removed,
the opportunity for tips emerges.
If you enjoy eating broccoli,
you will have as much as you can stand!

This is one of the tips that grows from the space provided.
They are even more tender than the head.

You can see where the new tips are growing.
It's kinda like The Sorcerer's Apprentice,
they just keep making more, and more, and more.
When you cut the bigger tip off,
you want to make sure you don't disturb the new tips forming.
Again, cutting the tips off at an angle will ensure that tips keep on comin',
and prevent disease issues from occurring.  
Lynn uses a sharp pocket knife to cut across the base of the stem,
and then stops just short of going all the way through.
He then gently pulls up what's left,
allowing the leaves and new tips to continue to form.

This is one crop that just keeps giving.
Knowing techniques to help make your harvesting easier and more efficient
is what this series is all about.
We hope to continue it as the season progresses.
Enjoy your harvest!

Back to the Basics

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