Tuesday, October 31, 2017

Homemade Red Pepper Flakes

This summer we grew jalapeno peppers
from starts we bought from friends at the farmers' market.
As we don't use many peppers in our food,
I knew that these were destined for something else.
After reading how to easily make red pepper flakes
on the Old World Gardens blog, 
I decided to give it a go.

The peppers were picked, washed
and the ends were trimmed.

 They were then placed (as is) on a cookie sheet 
lined with parchment paper.
I've read that it's important to line the surface
so that the heat doesn't get imbedded into the pan.
I use parchment for most of my oven-based cooking,
so we always have it around.
The peppers were left in the oven most of the day
(at least 7 hours) at 170 degrees.
This dries them out slowly.
If you have a dehydrator, that would work too.

 The food processor does a great job of pulverizing the peppers.

The jar is kept right next to the stove top.
One of my favorite dishes in which to use these 
is my mom's homemade gravy (tomato sauce).
It was one of the first recipes I shared here on the blog.
You can find that recipe here.
I'm so glad I tried this 
and I will be sure to grow more peppers next summer
so that I can make enough to share!

Friday, October 27, 2017

Garden Friday-Catawba Extension Center Demonstration Garden

Since moving to North Carolina,
I've been taking part in the Advanced Gardener Series.
It's similar to the Master Gardener Series,
but fewer hours are required and it's a bit less hands-on.
The Master Gardener classes are always scheduled during daytime hours,
preventing me from participating,
so I was glad to hear about this alternative.
and this Garden Friday finds us visiting their demonstration garden
in Newton.

The demonstration garden acts a classroom
for those learning about horticulture.  
With raised beds and a greenhouse,
students can participate in a variety of gardening tasks.

Flowers entice pollinators to pay a visit to the garden as well.
The pathways between beds are ample enough
to allow for pedestrians and wheelbarrows.

The location of the garden is ideal,
with full sun bathing it throughout the morning hours.

Several varieties of berries could be found.
Each crop bears a sign to identify what's growing in the beds.

In mid-October, when I toured the garden,
the berries were ready for sampling.

The greenhouse was bursting with tomato plants.

I noticed both yellow and red cherry tomatoes still hanging on the vines.

Elsewhere in the garden,  
peppers just waiting to be picked looked vibrant and healthy.

The asparagus bed looked like it had given its all.
Not to worry, a fresh crop will surely appear in springtime.

A large compost area is tucked into a corner of the garden.

This "wall" of rosemary was just stunning!
The wonderful fragrance always reminds me of my momma,
who loved adding it to all kinds of yummy dishes.

What a beautiful place for newbie gardeners to hone their craft.
It will be fun to visit it again and again
with the changing seasons
and see what transformations take place.

No doubt this garden will have its share of companions.

Thursday, October 26, 2017


I love organizing spaces.
It really comforts me to know that 
everything is in its designated place
and that we can find what we need at a moment's notice.
We've been in this house since June,
and it has been a labor of love
to organize our pared down belongings.

We purged almost all of our music CDs and many of our movies.
We just found that they weren't getting that much use
and we donated them to a local thrift store back in Winter Haven.
This is what remains of our collection.
Although we don't often watch movies,
when the weather is gloomy and we just want to hunker down for the afternoon,
it's one of the best ways to spend some family time.
So, it became necessary to get these things organized.

Enter a dreamy enamelware cabinet.
I had been on the lookout for something like this.
I had found some, but they were either too big or too pricey.
This one called my name as soon as I laid eyes on it.

 The top was in beautiful condition,
but the inside needed a little love.
I took some baking soda and went over the shelves with a damp rag.

It did a great job of erasing the rust that lingered there.
I can't tell you how much I have been enjoying this gorgeous relic.
It seemed like the perfect solution for our DVD storage.

At first, the disks were simply housed there,
but I knew I wanted to tidy it up a bit
and make it easier to find things quickly.

 I found these bins on Amazon
and they were the perfect fit.
Four of them fit on the top shelf
and housed most of our movies.

 I created labels for A-L and M-Z as well as
a separate bin for holiday movies and kid-friendly films.

 We have a couple of big box sets that don't fit in those bins,
so they were placed on the bottom shelf.
Also here are blank DVDs, as well as C's music CDs.
The bins were a bit pricier than I expected,
so I only bought one set.
I plan to keep my eye out in case they go on sale,
because they are fairly heavy-duty and really are perfect in this application.

In the two drawers we placed all of our Wii components.
I love having it all out of sight
and yet readily accessible.

The cabinet takes up much less space than the trunk we had there before.
The bonus is that it also now stores all of our movies and music.
In a room where almost all of the furniture is new and modern,
this beauty adds vintage charm.

The streamlined look really appeals to me.
The room is small-ish, so having space around the furniture helps it look bigger.
I'm so glad I was in that thrift store the day I found this cabinet.
I guess I'll have to go back and see what else they've got!

Other organizing posts:
Finally File Storage
Manuals, Organized
Recipes, Organized
Legos, Organized

Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Going Local-Red Wolf Farm

Over the weekend,
we made a trip to Red Wolf Farm in Maiden,
which is about 15 minutes from our home.

Each weekend in October, the 123-acre farm is open to the public
for their fall festival.
The day was gorgeous, with temps in the 70's 
and beautiful blue skies.
Sister was able to join us for the experience.

With Halloween looming,
we knew this would be the perfect place to pick up a pumpkin
for jack-o-lantern carving.
Small pumpkins were only $2, while the larger ones were $4.

There were some unexpected surprises on the property.
Wouldn't this tepee make the best play area for kids?

We started off our adventure by walking the corn maze.
There are two different mazes available,
one for adults and one for kids.
The maze created for kids had shorter crops growing,
so that parents could still see their lil' darlins' while standing on the sidelines.
So clever.

This was the first time any of us had participated in a corn maze,
and we enjoyed it thoroughly.
Big K set out in front to lead the way.
He never hardly ever gets lost.

There were many twists and turns,
but eventually we made it back to civilization,
without the need for a GPS, 
thank you very much!

There was something for every age group.
These lil' farmers had a great time on their John Deere tractors.
Ah, brings back good memories 
of when C was a young whippersnapper.

We took a hayride all around the property.
There was also a petting zoo,
horse rides, and a large bounce house area.
All of the individual activities are included 
in the admission price of only $8.50 per person.

On our way out,
we decided to pick up a few pumpkins.
Funny how I blend right in to my surroundings here, huh?

C and Big K found some just the right size for carving.
The smaller gourds will be used on the front porch.
I'd like to carve holes in them and light them up like luminaries.
We've carved pumpkins since before C was born.
It's one tradition I hope we continue for a long time.

Friday, October 20, 2017

Garden Friday

Last Garden Friday I mentioned that the shallots I ordered from Sow True Seed
should be here shortly.
They arrived the same day.
What a thrill to receive this little package in the mailbox.

I had ordered some veg seeds a few months back
and at that time, included shallots on my order.
The fall veggies have since been planted,
but the shallots are shipped when the time is right for planting in your area.
The order comes complete with instructions on how to plant,
in case you've never sown this particular crop.
(The sheet says garlic, but the method is the same for shallots.)

I've grown shallots before, so I'm looking forward to enjoying the practice again.
They really are quite easy to cultivate.

Shallots from my 2013 garden

Hopefully, the ones I plant here in NC 
will do as well as in my 2013 Florida garden. 

2013 harvest

You can read about my experience here.

They were spaced about 4 inches apart in this tub.
There are drainage holes in the bottom.
The root system is shallow,
so this plastic tub should hold them nicely.

The seeds are planted about 2" beneath the soil.
They should sit on their root end
and have the pointy side looking straight up.
Don't worry about the papery outside,
just bury the whole kit-and-kaboodle.
Water in well, and wait for the show!

I also took the time to plant some garlic.
It is one crop that I use pretty much daily in my cooking.
Since I hadn't ordered ahead of time,
I simply purchased a few bulbs from the grocery store.

Each bulb was broken up into individual cloves,
which then get placed into the soil, pointy side up,
just as the shallots before them.
I'm so glad I got these in the ground in October.
Less time to wait for all that goodness!

2013 garlic

One other task completed last weekend 
was to add some lettuce seed to the sides of the straw bales.
The body of the bales is fairly accessible, 
since it is constantly breaking down (as it is supposed to),
so I merely made a hole in the side with my hand trowel.

Some soil was added and then the seeds were sown.
This is the first time I've grown in straw bales,
so I am not sure what to expect.
It's fun to experiment and if it doesn't work,
it only cost me a few seeds.
I'm hoping though, that the lettuce will embellish the sides of the bales
and add some interest as well as offer another spot in which to harvest.

The weather has been picture perfect.
For the first time in years,
it feels like autumn.
Cool mornings,
pleasant days with tons of sunshine
and being blessed enough to be able to enjoy all of it.
Life is good.

May the blessings that have found me 
make their way to you.