The Bright Front Door

The porch and front door area of our home needed an overhaul and that’s just what I’ve been working on.

We had our last paint job on the home about eight years ago when we first moved in. Let me tell you the “smurf” look doesn’t look well on a home and that’s exactly how our house was painted. Bright blue with bright white trim. All I can say is no, no, no…don’t ever do that to your home. We picked out a neutral shade of light gray and kept it the same color this year. Even though we had our home painted back then, we never did anything with the front door and it would starting to look mighty shabby.

P1010385 The stain is starting to wear off and it just looks bad. Really bad. I had a inclination to paint the front door some bright color that complements the rest of the house and so off to the hardware store my husband and I went.

There are so many different options for exterior paint. Just getting through them all can make your head hurt.  Not only is there special paint for doors and trim now, some come in premixed colors or you can choose your own color and have it mixed in to a base color.

We had a lot of ideas of colors but basically after watching some interesting videos on YouTube for front door painting we narrowed it down to – bright blue, bright red, or a satin maroon color. Our home has a lot of red brick in it and I really wanted to door to pop, so we ended up going with the blue and I absolutely love the way it has turned out.

I never really figured out what type of material the door is made from, but I think it might be some sort of processed wood. It’s definitely not metal, but the paint we bought works on pretty much anything.

P1010410 Rust-Oleum Painters’ Touch in blue.

Because we have a dog and cat that might think it’s okay to make a run for it while the door would be open, my husband thought it would just be better to take it off of it’s hinges and put up a make-shift door until I was done with it. He ended up stapling a large piece of tarp in the doorway and then put a large trash can next to it so Brownie wouldn’t be able to push through it, but it was fine. (Brownie didn’t even notice the door was missing.)

P1010387 Once the horses were on another tarp and the door was in place we painted a thin coat of primer on it, let it try and then started out on the blue paint. It was love at first sight. We ended up putting on two full coats of paint, then after it had been hung back up and rested for a bit I put on another light coat. 

P1010395 What a difference – wow!! We had our parents over for dinner later that night and they all loved it.

I’m so happy we choose blue~Bam

Fresh Tomato and Mozzarella Salad

We’ve had a good turn out of Sun Sugar tomatoes and basil in our raised garden this summer and I made this delicious, healthy salad with them and I thought I would share this recipe.

20150728_191730 Simple, healthy ingredients.

1/2 cup Sun Sugar tomatoes – sliced in half

1/2 cup Mozzarella Pearls (I used BelGioioso)

1 Tbsp Olive Oil

1/2 Tbsp Balsamic Vinegar (I like a minimal amount of vinegar in my dressings – feel free to add more to taste)

1 Tbsp fresh Basil – sliced chiffonade style (rolled tightly and thinly sliced)

salt and pepper to taste

20150728_193223 A delicious, healthy, quick salad to take to work for lunch and as an added bonus it’s gluten free. I don’t have celiac disease so I’m not overly concerned with eating gluten, however, I do believe I feel less sluggish when I eat less gluten. Loved it!!!

For different variations – I’ve add fresh sliced cucumber, or a packet of Mediterranean tuna (it’s one of my favorites).

Enjoy the freshness of summer~Bam.

Summer Flowers

I love having flowers in my front yard, especially right by our front door. I thought I’d share some of my favorites. 

P1010376 I have a huge mum, yellow coreopsis and some random snap dragons right at the front door. I love coreopsis – I have had these for about six years now and they bloom all summer long. Mine has tiny little yellow flowers, but they come in several different colors. I think yellow flowers are just so cheerful. My mum is huge – I planted it last fall and it’s just taken over the front but it’s so pretty. I wish it hadn’t bloomed so early though. I like mums to bloom in the fall.

P1010390 Aren’t these so pretty? They’re so delicate.

P1010389 My yellow snap dragons are mixed in with the yellow coreopsis.

P1010379 P1010378 Here on the other side of my coreopsis I have these pretty bright purple snap dragons. These even have some white and a wee little bit of yellow mixed in the very middle.

P1010380 P1010384 Further out at the front of my drive way I have two shades of pink snap dragons. They’re just so pretty.

P1010392 These cute little daisies I planted on the other side of my coreopsis at the end of the walkway. My sister-in-law gave these to me this year for Mother’s Day, and I love the color of these. They are a delicate, light pink shade. So pretty.

P1010383  P1010381 And lastly, my Surprise Lily’s. I just love these flowers. They come in up huge leaves early spring, then they die off and I just cut them down to the ground and a few months later these beautiful, delicate pink and yellow flowers pop up. (hence the name) They are also called Resurrection Lily’s.

As I’ve gotten older I have purposefully chosen flowers and bulbs that grow easy, and are very low maintenance. I don’t want to have to do a lot of work to make my yard look nice. I love having lots of color by my front door. I just couldn’t imagine a yard with nothing but evergreens, and thankfully I don’t have to.

Enjoy some summer color~Bam.

Raised Garden Update #2

It’s the middle of summer and we’ve had a lot of rain. Rain, rain and more rain. I think if someone built an underground pipeline from the Midwest to California they would never have a drought problem again, that’s how much rain we’ve had here.

The garden is doing okay, but still not as great as I would have liked. The lettuce kind of shriveled out, and we’ve gotten very little peppers out of the garden this year. There just wasn’t enough hot weather and sunshine to match the amount of rain we had early on. As always, the weather plays an important part in how good things grow or don’t grow. The plants that do well with a lot of rain -tomatoes, okra, green beans have done really well. The root vegetables I have planted have done well too because the garden bed drains from the bottom and so far that’s been working out well.

We’ve had some dry weather the last couple of weeks but still not really a lot of full on sunshine.

20141013_180641 These are the only peppers I’ve gotten – two medium green peppers and one Jalapeño, so sad.

20150728_192539  On the other hand, our carrots have done better than last years. I just love pulling the carrots out of the dirt. They smell wonderful and are so sweet right out of the garden.

20150816_084123 This is our first year to grow okra…I had no idea okra was so easy to grow. I’m definitely going to be adding more okra to next years garden.

20150816_083725 The tomatoes are growing really well too.

20150816_083740 Unfortunately, some critter has decided to eat them. I haven’t been able to figure out what’s getting to them – squirrels or more than likely a racoon, but it’s driving me nuts. It’s gotten two of my Heirloom tomatoes already.

I would love to have comments from any other raised bed gardeners, to see what I can improve on for next year.

Still enjoying the garden~Bam

Raised Garden 2015 – update

Well, as I’ve said before this is a work in progress, but here’s what it looks like now.

P1010355 It looks nice and full but looks can be deceiving….right in the middle it seems like nothing is growing very good. I suspect it’s because in the very beginning my husband didn’t realize I’d already planted seeds and then laid some extra pots in the dirt and kind of rearranged what was underneath the dirt – but I could be completely wrong and it’s something else.

P1010357 The peas are looking good…I’ve already started pulling the fat ones off and putting them in the freezer for later this year.

P1010356 We’ve planted Kentucky Wonder pole beans two years in a row now and they’ve been exceptional. I fresh froze them last year and fixed some for Christmas Eve dinner, and they were delicious. In my opinion they are a good hardy bean with full flavor even after being frozen for half a year.

P1010364 I planted the carrots in the exact same square as last years carrots (right next to the peas) and they’ve done really well this year again. I’ll be fresh freezing these too, for Christmas Eve dinner again.

P1010366 P1010365 Kale and lettuce. I planted these next to each other. I planted both of them in two squares each, but, for some reason only one square has done well the other kale didn’t come up at all and the other lettuce is up but not as “happy” (kind of started late and not as full).

P1010359 This is the second year I’ve planted “Sun Sugar” tomatoes also, and I just love these little guys. They are the prettiest color of yellow-orange, very sweet and perfect for eating raw in a salad, with cottage cheese, in a Caprese salad, or just as a little snack on their own. So healthy and deliciously juicy.

P1010368 Yay for radishes…Love these little guys too.

P1010363 P1010362 The Rosemary and Lemon Verbena are doing fantastic. I love fresh Rosemary, it has such a hardy flavor. I especially like it with baked chicken. My Lemon Verbena has really filled out too, It was one little stem when I first planted it.

P1010361 And lastly, but worth a mention, my Chive head, ha ha ha. I love a little whimsy and this would be it. They’re really frail right now but, in a few more weeks they’ll be a great addition to add to a fresh salad.

Happy Gardening~Bam

Lemon Rosemary Scones

I love, love, love lemon. It’s just one of those flavors I really love.

We have fresh Rosemary and Lemon Verbena growing in the back yard in some pots and I thought wouldn’t it be great to bake something with them. Here’s what I came up with.

Lemon Rosemary Scones

It’s an easy recipe. I basically mixed all of the dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in a smaller bowl and then they get mixed together. No stand mixer needed, it’s all done by hand.

P1010343

Flour, sugar, baking powder and salt, lemon zest, fresh rosemary, lemon verbena. Mix it around just a bit with a fork.

P1010344

Add cold butter, that’s been diced into small pieces.

P1010348

Take a hand held pastry blender and blend away until you have a fine crumb mixture.

P1010346

Add the wet ingredients – egg, vanilla, heavy cream, and fresh lemon juice.

P1010349

P1010350 Mix it until it forms a ball and then roll it out on a lightly floured surface.

P1010353

Bake at until they are a light golden brown.

P1010354

Here you have it…Lemon Rosemary scone with Lemon Chiffon tea. A perfect pair for an afternoon of relaxing.

Recipe: Preheat your oven to 350degrees.

In a large bowl mix:

  • 1 3/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 3 T. sugar
  • 2 1/2 t. baking powder
  • 1/2 t. salt
  • 1 T. fresh chopped Rosemary
  • 1 T. fresh chopped lemon verbena
  • 1/3 cup very cold butter – diced into small pieces

In a smaller bowl mix:

  • 1 egg- beaten
  • 1 t. vanilla
  • 5 T. heavy cream (may need more to get the texture you want)
  • 1 T. fresh lemon juice

Mix the liquid ingredients into the dry and then place the dough on a lightly floured surface and knead about ten times until the dough is smooth.

Roll out the dough to about 1/3″ to 1/4″ thickness and then either make a circle and cut into pie shape or use a biscuit cutter and make biscuit shapes.

This had the perfect dry, flaky texture of a scone. Perfect for dipping in hot tea or coffee with very mild flavors of lemon and rosemary.

Enjoy~Bam

Square Foot Garden 2015

It’s been a few weeks since we actually planted the garden and I’ve been, over all, very happy with it. One thing does upset me though, and that is that some of our seeds didn’t take. I find this quite disturbing considering they came from the same packets and they were new seeds. We didn’t use left over seeds from last year.

In last year’s garden we only planted one square foot of green beans, one square foot of peas and one square foot of carrots. We didn’t really have very good luck with the peas last year, so this year I planted more peas hoping we would have enough to freeze and have them at least a couple of times this coming winter. Unfortunately, my thumbs don’t seem to be green enough to grow very many peas. We do have more than last year but really they just aren’t doing very good again.

I’m beginning to believe there is more science to growing a square foot garden than just planting seeds and watering them. Actually, I know there is a lot of science that goes into gardening.

I planned the garden out a little differently this year, considering last year’s garden and what worked well and what didn’t, and I came up with this.

P1010338 We planted more green beans, peas, carrots, lettuce and added kale and beets to this years garden. We still planted some radish, bell peppers, jalapeno and the usual herbs like parsley, cilantro, thyme, oregano and even some onions and leeks. I didn’t plant as many tomato plants this year because they just seem to take over the other half of the garden last year, even with trimming them.

P1010335 P1010337 We had the garden covered with a tarp over the winter, held down with some bricks. After uncovering it we raked through the dirt to fluff it up, and added a couple more bags of organic dirt to lift it up a bit and add fresh nutrients.

P1010336 Most of the herbs are already potted. I like potted herbs, rather than seeds just because we can start using them sooner. Waiting for seedlings to produce grown herbs can take a little longer than what I’m willing to wait and we can get a good supply of organic herbs from our local nursery.

P1010339 P1010340 Ahhh, the garden looks so nice and neat (for now). I love these little copper tags. I used them last year and they’re in perfect shape still.

P1010341 This year I planted some additional herbs in these pots, Rosemary, chives and Lemon Verbena (I absolutely LOVE lemon verbena).

I’ll write a post to update you in the next week.

Happy gardening~Bam