Tuesday, February 23, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 121

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.*


The weather has been quite conducive to gardening.
Over the past week or so,
I've been able to tackle a couple of chores.
Here's an update on our 2016 winter garden: 

The lemon grass had nearly taken over this section of the back bed.
Since I'm not too worried about a freeze coming through,
it seemed like a good time to give them a little haircut.

From Tina Turner to Don King in a flash.
This has become a favorite plant as it is so easy to care for
and smells divine!
Sometimes I trim a few leaves and throw them on the grass
just before Big K is gonna mow the lawn.

The trimmings are being used as a natural mulch
where we recently took out some of the saltbush trees.

With the lemon grass cut back,
it allowed me to see the growth habit of the beach sunflower.
I just love the way it formed a curved border with no help from me.
In fact, I aim to continue the border around the front side of the bed,
so that the entire area is edged with this magnificent creeper. 

 Carrots were harvested from the veggie bed.
There are some mighty unique shapes to these sweet things.
Look for an upcoming post entitled "The Carrot Chronicles".

 We've been able to add some home-grown lettuce, kale, 
snap peas and broccoli greens to our meals.
It sure is nice shopping in your own backyard!

The Dino kale is especially savored when the leaves are young and tender.
Just last year was the first time I tried it,
and I am a fan for life.

The parsley is coming back strong!
I hope that means that we'll have oodles  
of black swallowtail caterpillars come springtime.
Until then, it is picked by the bunches, chopped,
and placed in the freezer for use all year round. 

I just noticed this past weekend that there are tomatoes on these Brandywine plants.
What a treat if they actually grow to picking size.
I've not had much luck with tomatoes, but never say never!
Here we grow tomatoes in the fall and winter,
as our summers are much too hot and humid for them to do well.

This is the first time in the 10 years that we've lived here,
that we've had sunflowers in the winter.
Crazy, huh?

Most of these are volunteers that sprout up 
when the bird feed is displaced.
We welcome them, one and all.

Each morning the bird shard feeders are filled
and we are able to watch our fine feathered friends
enjoying their first meal of the day.

That's what's happening in our backyard.
What's going on outside where you are?
HOP to it!



Thursday, February 18, 2016

Thrifty Thursday-Hair Today, Gone Tomorrow

We're all about keepin' it simple around here.
Once in a while, it's fun to shake things up a bit.
Still keeping things simple, but with a twist.


This stuff would never make it into our food pantry.
Along with living simply, we make a concerted effort to scratch cook and eat real,
so Kool-Aid doesn't even make the short list.
I did hear about using it to safely dye hair 
and I thought I'd try it.
Keep in mind that I've never dyed my hair in my life.
Adding chemicals to my skin never appealed to me,
although I know most folks don't give it a thought.
This seemed like a safe way to give it a go.

The method is easy.
Heat the Kool-Aid in water and then place locks in.
My hair had been braided, so it made it easier to maneuver.
After about 10 minutes, 
I removed the braids from the mixture
and let it dry.
Placing the "treated" hair in a shower cap or plastic wrap is helpful,
as well as draping an old towel over your shoulders to keep clothes clean.
Later it was washed in the sink to take some of the Kool-Aid out (it can be sticky).

It turned out much redder than I had thought.
I have dark hair, so I wasn't even sure it would take
but it did.  
The surprising thing is, I love it!
It's gone through several washings 
and it still looks pretty bright.
This was a fun experiment
and I will most likely do it again.
It's safe, easy and thrifty!
Hmmm...what shade should I try next?

FGF Logo

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 120

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.*


Although our "Farm School" posts ended a while back,
I've still been frequenting the farm to help out each weekend.
It's been a wonderful experience,
and there's still so much to learn.
Here are a few snippets from my visit last Sunday.

The weather's been less than predictable here,
pretty much like everywhere else in the country.
This peat had gotten downright swampy.
(Peat is one of the ingredients that Lynn uses in his special soil mix.)

So he placed it in these pots to be dried by the sun.
Notice how they are tilted to get the best exposure.
Every so often he'd turn the peat over with a cultivator.

Why not let Mother Nature do some of the work?

Lynn wanted to show me how to properly identify a coral snake.
Have no fear, it's dead.
He found this fellow slithering among the pots in part of the garden.
Its head was promptly taken off so that it could cause no harm.
These snakes are just plain deadly.
One bite can kill within hours.

The coloring is similar to the King snake, which is harmless.
The King snake's snout is red but has a similar ring pattern.

The snout of the coral snake is black.
This rhyme can be used to remember the difference:
"Red touches yellow, you're a dead fellow."

The best way to deal with them is to see them before they see you.
Here's another "Lynnovation".
He has a pipe with a piece of nylon twine inside.
The end of the twine is looped around within the pipe.
The other end can be pulled up after the loop is placed on the neck of the snake.

Eh, voila!
You can pick that puppy up so he can't hurt anyone.

We had some free time,
so Faye took me for a field trip across the street.
She drove me around her neighbor's house in the golf cart
and we checked out his vintage trailer.
Isn't it just adorable?

He recently sold his larger Airstream 
to downsize to something more practical for he and his wife.
It was a good move.
Faye and I just love our field trips!

What's been going on outside where you are?
HOP on!



Friday, February 12, 2016

Valentine Verse

I recently took on the challenge of penning a poem
for each significant holiday.

I'm enjoying stretching my wings a bit.

by daisy

Roses are red,
Daisies are white.
Will you be my valentine
On this special night?

I'll offer you biscuits,
I'll offer you grits.
I'll give you red cherries
Without any pits.

Your tank will be filled
With two-dollar gas.
I'll stuff every freezer 
With large-mouthed bass.

Your house will be cleaned
From the roof to the floor.
I'll launder your uniforms
Need I say more?

We'll visit the ocean,
We'll go to the hills.
I promise to make sure
And pay all the bills.

What else can I do
To please you, my pet?
On second thought,
You don't deserve me just yet.

Have a sweetheart of a weekend, y'all!

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

The Maple Hill Hop 119

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,
we took a trip back to Apollo Beach to visit the manatees.
They return to this area each year when the weather turns colder.
The waters around the power plant are warmer,
so it is here that they choose to spend some of their time.
Sister is visiting and some close friends joined us.
It was a memorable field trip.

Our visit in 2013
Here's the Center as it looked on our last trip.
That was a beautiful, sunny day.

This year's trek was a bit different.
The weather was cold and wet.
We were ill-prepared for the weather,
but we made the best of it.

We weren't disappointed.
There must have been at least 100 manatees 
enjoying the warm waters.


This is similar to what we saw this time around.
Folks must have heard they were in the area because there were quite a few human visitors.


The center has an education building where guests can learn more about these fascinating creatures. 
It was a great place to tuck in during the rain.
There is even a webcam that can give you a bird's eye view!
On sunnier days, it's a fabulous hangout to study nature
in their extensive butterfly gardens.
Even when the weather doesn't cooperate, 
it's a great place to explore.

What have you been up to outside?
Let's HOP!