Friday, January 31, 2014

What I Accomplished in January

It is hard to believe January is already over. I had a lot of fun beginning new things. This month I started a blog. I was not sure if I would really enjoy this, but I am and I think it is helping me with my diet.

I started collecting pins on Pinterest.  I now have 507 pins.  I am going to use these pins to help design the garden and use them for ideas to decorate and improve the house.

I made laundry soap, which was a big success. I am interested in how long the soap will last that I made.   I made the lotion bars, which I will be making more of those and that was a success.  I have started to crochet and this is addicting.  I love crochet!  I made a seed box, which is something I have been thinking of doing for a couple of years and I am so glad that I did.  I am also happy about the weight loss so far.  I lost 4.8 pounds for the month of January. I am motivated and I have started exercising, so all in all, January was a great month.  Thank you for following so far and see you in February! 

My First Crocheted Dishrags

I have been watching videos and practicing how to crochet and I have finished 2 dishrags. The first one I was not happy with how the border turned out
. I washed some dishes and wiped the cabinets with it. I thought it worked really great and my daughter liked it. I put it through the washing machine and it came out fine. I let it dry flat. 

The second dishrag came out better and the border was nicer, but still not perfect. These were made with the half double crochet stitch and the border was single crochet.

I am going to practice more this month. I have not decided what my next project will be. I really enjoyed the half double crochet stitch and enjoyed making these dishrags.
I have practiced the single crochet, the double crochet, half double crochet, and treble crochet. I am hooked on crochet!

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Fourth Week Weigh In

I weighed on Wednesday and I stayed the same.  I have not really been trying.  I started exercising more, but it seems I have to cut out meat and butter to lose weight.  I was upset a little about not losing, so Wednesday I followed the Eat to Live diet plan.  I weighed this morning and was down 1.8.  I will post next Wednesday what happened. 

Friday, January 24, 2014

Planning The Garden

I have my seeds organized now and I have online seeds in shopping carts about ready to purchase.  I tried a lot of new seeds last year and some I will try again. I have some things that come back each year. I have rhubarb, asparagus, strawberries, a lot of different types of flowers and herbs.
I planted garlic in the fall, so I have that to look forward to. We have had raised beds and then built the soil up and moved the boxes to start raised beds in new areas. I have not decided exactly were I am going to put all of this, but so far this is what I will plant:

Ailsa Craig - I grew last year and my favorite.
Jaune Paille Des Vertus  - something new.
I am looking for purple onions, and probably will pick up at the store here.

Extra Dwarf Pak Choy - I never planted bok-choy before, but I am going to plant a lot this year.

Detroit Dark Red - Have had good luck with.
Chioggia - I really like these.
Bull's Blood - Tried last year and did not grow very big, but in the fall were very, very sweet. I think it was where I planted them, so I am going to give these another try.

Red Romaine Lettuce. I really like and the rabbit's favorite.
Black Seeded Simpson - Always a good lettuce to have.
Bibb - It is okay. I have a lot of seed, so I will plant more.
Parris Island - I like this a lot.
Baby Romaine - I like this.
Buttercrunch - This might be my favorite.
Farmer's Market Blend - My daughter's favorite.

Bloomsdale Longstanding Spinach - Very good.

Ruby Wallace's Old Time White- I grew these last year and I really like them.
National Pickling - I have had good luck with these.
Straight Eight - I always have these and they might be my favorite.
Lemon Cucumbers - Everybody likes these and easy to grow.

Jade - The BEST bush bean.
Rocodor - Something new to try. I like yellow beans. These sound like they are easy to grow.

Cobra - The BEST pole bean.
Trionfo Violetto- These are purple and they are nice beans.
Mountaineer White Half Runner - I planted these last year and they are good. I have a lot of seed left or I would not plant them again. I like the Cobra so much better.
Greenway Asparagus Bean - Saw these in the store last fall on sale and they look fun.

Bullnose pepper - Something new.
Golden California Wonder- Seem to grow the best for me.
Lipstick - I planted last year and have seed left, so I will give them another try.
Albino Bullnose - I tried last year and have seed left. They were small and the taste was okay.
Chili Garden Salsa - I have seed left from last year. They really did not taste any different than my other peppers.
I will probably pick up a couple of different pepper plants at the farmer's market to try.

Genovese.- Very good.
Dark Purple Opal - Very good.
Sweet Basil - Very good.
Cinnamon Basil - Very good and does smell like cinnamon.
Summerlong - Very good.

Slo-Bolt - Very good. I also have cilantro reseeding in several areas of the garden each year.

Berlicum - I have these seeds from last year and I will go ahead and plant them. I never planted these before.

Giant of Italy. - Something new. I have never planted parsley before.


Cocozella- My favorite zucchini.
Early Prolific Straightneck Very good.
Max's Gold - Very good. I have seed left from last year.
Yellow Crookneck My favorite yellow.
Dark Green Zucchini - Always good.
I will probably have a lot of volunteer squash plants and I usually let them grow.

Bright Lights - Good.
Fordhook Giant - Good.
Rhubarb Red - Good.

I can take or leave Swiss chard, but the rabbits like it.

Delicious Heirloom- New. My friend Ellie had great success with these last year.

Pink Brandywine - I have a package of free seeds and Brandywine is my favorite.
I tried a lot of early varieties last year and I did not really think they were anything special. I will pick up a few at the farmer's market. I started my tomatoes too early and then something went wrong and most of them died, so I started more and they were started a little bit late.

Purple Top White Globe - Planted last year and have seed left.

Sungold - My son really likes these.
Super Sweet 100 - My favorite.
Sweet Baby Girl - I have seed left and they were good.
Risentraube - I have seed left and they were good.

Italian Lacinato - My favorite.
Blue Dwarf Scotch - It might be the rabbit's favorite.
Russian Red - Seems to last longer in the cold weather.

Red Giant - The rabbit's like and I like.
Southern Giant Curled - I have seed left from last year.

Mammoth Megaton - Seed from last year.
Late Flat Dutch - Seed from last year.
Brunswick - Seed from last year.
Jersey Wakefield - New seed, but I have grown these from plants bought from the store. 
A few years ago, I was going to call myself the Cabbage Lady. I had great success with cabbage a few years and then the last 2 years I have had no luck at all. I either plant to late or slugs get them. I love cabbage, so I will give it another try.


Casper.- New seed, but I had bought a white eggplant plant from the farmer's market and I really liked the taste.
 Black Beauty - Very good.
Long Purple - I have seed. They taste good, but I did not like the shape of them, but I had a ton of them, so I will probably grow again.
I will probably buy a different plant at the farmer's market to try if I do not see some purple eggplant seed in the store.

Little Marvel - I planted these last spring and the package said 2 feet tall. They grew over 3 feet tall and feel over. I did not have them supported. I bought more seed last year, but I never replanted, so I will plant this spring and have support for them this time.
Little Marvel Peas
I usually try broccoli and I have had good luck and bad, but I do not have enough room to really use for this and also winter squash. I am not going to plant pumpkins either this year because of room. I am still trying to decide about potatoes - what kind - where - how much - and sweet potatoes I may try again.

It is going to be a lot of work, but I can't wait to get started.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Lotion Bars

I have been reading about lotion bars and have seen pictures of them on Pinterest and they look so easy to make, so I decided to make some.  I never put lotion on because of the chemicals and strong smells, but sometimes I will use a non-scented type, but I do not like the way my skin feels.  My husband has really dry skin on his hands.  He wears lotion all the time.  The kind of job he has, he has to wash his hands a lot, and in cold weather that makes it worse. 
My daughter wears all kinds of lotion, perfume, makeup and I worry about her becoming sensitive to chemicals in the future like I did.  I used to love to wear perfume and use lotions.  Now, I cannot even have a box of laundry detergent sit in the house if it has a scent to it. Unscented lotion bars just seemed to be too good to pass up, so my daughter and I made a few today. 

What Is Needed:
Measuring cup.
Olive oil.
Coconut oil.
A mold to pour the lotion into.

I had some beeswax that I had bought for my son's wood sealant. 
Wax melting
We melted the wax the same as we did with the wood sealant project.  After it melted I checked and there was 1/2 cup of melted wax. 
Wax and oil
The recipe I was following said to use equal parts of beeswax, coconut oil and olive, oil.  We poured 1/2 cup of olive oil and 1/2 cup of coconut oil into the hot wax and stirred until it was all blended and melted.  We poured it into a muffin pan.
We had enough to make 5. We took them out of the molds after waiting a few hours.

I put some on my hands and my hands feel really soft.  I am going to use some on my feet as well.  My husband said he likes the lotion bar.
He is going to take one to work and put next to the sink.  I would like to make white bars.  I am not sure why.  I guess they just look pretty to me.  I am not sure why these did not come out white. 
We will try several different recipes until I find the one we like the best.  I am sure my daughter wants to make scented lotion bars.  I would rather have square bars or smaller round ones.
I have decided to put some in metal tins and that way my husband can carry it to work and it might work for carrying one in your purse. 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Third Week Weigh In

I weighed this morning and I stayed the same.  I did not exercise and I did not really try to lose.  I was careful what I ate.  Today, I started one of the Walk Away the Pounds tapes that I have.  I went 1 mile, and it takes 15 minutes.  I lifted weights too.  I am going to try harder this week and cut back on fat and meat and add more vegetables.  I am down still 3.4 for the month. 

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Organizing My Seeds

I have read a few articles lately about people organizing their garden seeds. I have just started ordering mine and after trying to look through all my seeds and finding out how unorganized everything was, I decided to design a seed box for myself.
My old boxes of seeds. 

I went to the store and found a clear plastic box that was $1.50
and shaped the size of a shoebox. I took all my seeds out and put them in piles - Basil - Broccoli - Cabbage - Carrots, etc. I had some large size index cards and I cut them so that they would fit in the box and allow the lid to close.
Sorted the seeds on the table. 
I have some large sacks of beans and peas that would not fit in the box and I am planning on planting them this year, so I just put them in a box for now. I also have 2 cans of nitro packed seeds from 1998. I have used some of the in the last 2 years. I will try some of them again this year. They were buried in the garage and I forgot that I had them or I would have used them years ago. 
Seeds put in the box. 

I have some other seeds that I did not want in the box right now. I am not going to plant melons for awhile or winter squash. I also had a lot of older seeds that I do not want to use, so I put those in a coffee can for now.

I found a picture of some hollyhocks on my computer and put it in Word and added the words My Seed Box, printed it out, cut it out, and taped it to the lid. All done and so much nicer than what I had before.


What is left. 

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Beeswax Polish And Sealant

My son is making tree branch buttons.  We have been looking at recipes for making a polish and sealant for wood products.  I have seen different recipes using either olive oil or coconut oil with the beeswax.  I used coconut oil and I will make another jar later with olive oil.  I read that it can give the wood a tint of green that some people really like and I thought it was nice too. 

I put about 1 ounce of beeswax in a glass measuring cup and put that in a pan of water to let the wax melt.  After the wax melted, I looked to see how much was in the cup and it was less than 1/4 cup.

The recipe said to use 1 part beeswax and 3 parts either coconut oil or olive oil or 1/4 cup of beeswax and add 3/4 cup of oil. 

I filled the measuring cup with the coconut oil to make it 3:1 and let it blend and made sure the wax was melted and then poured it in the jar.

The polish after it hardened.

This was very easy to make. 

Making Laundry Soap

I made liquid laundry soap in the past, but I didn't like it, so I have not been interested in making it again.  My friend Ellie made some of the liquid laundry soap and really likes it and her granddaughter has been making the powdered laundry soap and she is pleased with her soap, so I decided to give it another try.

I went to the store Friday and I bought the ingredients.
Washing soda - $3.24
Borax - $3.97
Zote bar soap 0.97 each.  I bought 2 pink and 1 white, so that would be $2.91
Total $10.12.

I used all of the washing soda, the 3 bars of Zote and almost all of the Borax.  I decided to make both kinds and give this a good try this time.
Zote soap after being ground up in the food processor. 
The powdered soap was easy.  My daughter and I used the food processor and ground the soap.  I used 2 bars of the pink Zote, 4 cups of Washing Soda and 4 cups of Borax.  You use 2 tablespoons in a load of clothes.  I have a little over 7 pounds of powdered soap.  I was worried that the smell would be too strong.  I cannot be around perfume and strong smells.  This has a clean smell that is very faint.  The soap I buy at the store has no smell, which that is why I bought it, but a faint scent would be nice.  I think the clothes are softer than the clothes washed in my other store bought soap.  My friend said that the clothes she hangs in the house are softer.I can't wait to hang clothes on the line outside. 
The final powdered soap using pink Zote. 

The liquid soap takes longer, but it was not hard to do.  I got a big pot and put in the 1 bar of white Zote that was all ground up.  I put 2 quarts of water in and had the stove on simmer.
White Zote melting on stove. 
I think it took maybe an hour to melt the soap.  It was getting thicker and kind of gelled.  I used a hand immersion blender to make sure I had all of the soap pieces melted.  You do not have to do this.  I then added another 2 quarts of water and 2 cups of Washing Soda and 2 cups of Borax.  I mixed it and poured it in a 5 gallon bucket.  My friend did not add the Borax and Washing Soda to her melted soap on the stove.  She put her powder in the bucket and then poured the melted soap in the bucket. 
The liquid soap the next day. 
Either way will work.  I saw a lot of different recipes.  I just wanted to make sure I mixed it really well since I did not like the soap I had make years ago.  I added water and you can see in the picture how much I put in there.  I probably should have put a little more water. I also added a cup of white vinegar to this.  I let it sit overnight.  
The liquid soap. 
Saturday morning I stirred the bucket of soap and poured it into the jars.  I washed my really dirty jacket I wear to do chores and I really think it is cleaner than it has been in a long time.  I used 1/2 cup since my jacket was so dirty.  I have read to use 1/4 cup per load in the washer, but other places said to use 1/2 cup. I am pleased with the liquid soap.  I am just not sure which one I like the best yet.  I do like how easy it is to make the powdered soap.  

I am not sure how long this will last.  I use 2 boxes of laundry soap a month and sometimes more.  The brand of soap that I buy can cost around $11 on sale and if not on sale up to $13.  If I only buy 2 boxes a month that is $22 a month.  I made all this soap for only $10.12.  I would guess this will last at least 4 months or longer.  In 4 months I would have spent $88 with the store bought soap.

I will decide if I like the liquid or the powder soap the best. My daughter and I both noticed that the bar of white Zote seemed to be softer than the pink and was easier to cut to put in the food processor.  The pink is prettier.  The powdered soap has a stronger smell, but that probably is because I used 2 bars and the liquid only has 1 bar.

The next time I might make powdered using the white Zote instead of the pink and see if there is a difference.  This was really easy and so far very much worth the effort. 

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Second Week Weigh In

I lost 0.8 for the week and now down 3.4 for the month.  I have been outside more since the weather is in the 40s with sunshine.  I really have not been eating healthier.  I have been watching portion sizes.  I weigh daily and a few days ago I had lost more, but I think that I was not drinking enough water and was dehydrated a little.  When that happens, I will drink more water and then gain a pound or more.  It seems to take a couple of days to recover from that.  I try to remember to drink enough water.  I believe that is very important in weight loss. 

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Odds And Ends

I took new pictures of some of the rabbits outside.  The ground was thawing and they had easy digging.

Hot Shot digging
I think they want to help till the garden for me.  I almost feel that I am late in starting the garden, but I know I do this every year and start things too early, but I am going to start ordering seeds.

I have Ailsa Craig and Jaune Paille Des Vertus onion seeds in a shopping basket.  I will try to finish my order this weekend.  I am looking for a purple onion to try.  I did plant Ailsa Craig last year and the flavor was wonderful Jaune Paille Des Vertus will be a new one.

I will have to thin the herb garden this spring and the flowers.  I am running out of room and this year I may have to have a yard sale.

The Herb Garden By The House:
Sage, lavender, chives, oregano, thyme,
Apple mint
apple mint, chocolate mint, spearmint, pineapple mint, orange mint, summer lemonade, peppermint and a few flowers are in there. I know there is a big daisy plant right in the front that was so tall it fell over last year.

The Flowers In Front:
Roses, hollyhocks, coneflowers, bee balm, Valerian, Joe Pye, Campanula, Columbine, Delphinium, Foxglove, Peony, Lupine, Lilly, Daisy, and there are more. This is going to take a lot of work this sprint.  I do not have any pictures because there were so many weeds.  I hope to do better this year.  I want to put a lot of mulch down.  

Monday, January 13, 2014

She Could Make Perfect Pie Crust

My daughter commented a few weeks ago that she could not make her pie crust edges look pretty. I asked why and then I remembered my mother. My mother was blind.
Actually, both of my parents were blind. My mother went blind when she was around 23, so she had seen pie crust and knew what it looked like. She married my dad when she was 39. They raised 2 children. The more I think about it, it was pretty amazing. My parents were rebels. They were independent thinkers. We were raised on raw milk. We were never vaccinated. They were nonconformists and their family members were not happy at all. My parents had to go against their wishes and advice to even get married.

The pie crust conversation made me think about what people can and cannot do. I hate change, so I get stuck in routines that go nowhere after awhile. With 2014 getting ready to start, I started thinking about how I could change the garden, make changes in my health, and improve how I spend my time. My daughter and her friend were thinking of craft ideas to make and sell, and around this time, my brother told my son that it was time he should learn how to handle tools. Several years ago, I read an article about making buttons out of tree branches and I wanted to do it, but I never got around to it. I showed my son the article and he thought it was a great idea and he had some money saved, so my husband and I took him shopping for the tools he needed. He is now making buttons.

I told my children that if their grandmother who was blind could make pie crust then they could make craft items or anything else they wanted. I then thought about myself. I tell myself that I can not knit, sew, crochet, draw, paint or do anything crafty. I have knitting needles and crochet hooks, and I even took a knitting class when I was in school. We bought my daughter a sewing machine and I have never used it. When I first started homeschooling I had thought of making craft items to sell and I had a sewing machine. I made a quilt for my daughter's doll. My husband made a bed for her doll. I made sheets and a pillow for the bed. All this fell by the wayside after I started medical transcription.

I decided I am going to crochet and start using the sewing machine to make things for the house. My daughter's blog is about a lot of the same things that I am talking about, and we are planning to make our house homey and cute this year.
We do not watch TV in our house, but we have old movies and my husband loves to relax in the evening watching a movie, but I always feel I am wasting time because I am a medical transcriptionist and I make money on how much I produce, so I feel like I should be making money instead of relaxing and watching a movie, but now that I am learning to crochet, I feel productive and I really enjoy this.

Read my page about my parents and what they accomplished even though they were blind.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Weigh In For The Week

I weighed today and I am down 2.6 pounds since last Wednesday. I am not posting my real weight on this blog right now. I may later. I will post what I gain and what I loose. I lost this week by just eating less.  I really had no plan and I have been more active. I want to start an exercise routine. Another goal for 2014 is time management and to get to bed earlier.  

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

What Happened In The Garden 2013

Last year was a pretty good year. We did not have very good luck with the tomatoes. I started eggplant from seed and they did really well. 
This year Andy and I want to give the plants more room so that it will be easier to get the weeds out. We have too many weeds.
We have put a lot of horse manure and cow manure in the garden for several years. We are hoping that with the rabbit manure compost the weeds will not be as bad.

We had a lot of squash and green beans last year. I will be making my seed selections for next year soon. I have a lot of seed catalogs, but I like to look at the seeds on line, but the catalogs are sure pretty.
We had a huge squash plant that was a volunteer. It came up right in the middle of the garden and I let it grow. We would have probably had enough squash from just that one plant.

The rabbit manure compost was spread on the garden in the fall of 2012. I am not positive that it was what made things grow so big or not, but it will be interesting to find out. We have a blue climbing rose that had never bloomed until last year. I planted it in 2010. The next year I thought it died.
The kids were accidentally mowing it down.  In the spring of 2012 it was alive and I put a lot of compost on it and protected it from the lawnmower. I found out it only blooms on old wood, so I was waiting for it in 2013. It grew huge and it bloomed. I can't wait to see what it will do this year. A lot of the plants were extra large, so we are hoping that it was the rabbit manure compost.
The rhubarb was really nice. We had so much that we were letting the neighbor cut some too. The blackberries may be out of control. We usually do have a lot of pole beans, so I can't really say it was the compost.
I planted peas for the first time in years and the package said they were going to be about 2 feet tall and they were over 3. I was not planning on that and they fell over. We still had a lot of peas, but not what we should have had. I will be ready for them this year.

Nourishing Food And A Happy Home

I try hard to make meals that taste good and that are also nutritious, but sometimes I am in a hurry and it does not turn out the way I want. One of my goals for 2014 is to make a monthly meal planner.
I want to use the garden produce to make sure we are eating healthier.  We need to eat raw food and salads made from fresh garden produce and it does taste so much better. 

I need to lose weight and I have found out that by cutting fat I lose weight fast, but my family will still need to enjoy their meals. My son loves apple jelly and I have not made any for several years.
It takes effort, but it is so much better when you make it yourself. 

Welcome To Mary's Place

This is my first blog post and I would like to invite you to follow with me as I write about my garden, composting, rabbits, and trying to improve a little house and a little yard, and to be content where I am at.