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Thursday, March 28, 2013


I have a very dear friend that has been crocheting and knitting for a very long time.
Many years ago, when I was a newlywed, I attempted to teach myself
how to knit and crochet.  Needless to say, I gave up.

Then thirteen years ago I met Lisa and she "infected" me with "yarnitis".
It took me a while, but I started back playing with yarn again.
She spins her own wool and I wanted to learn how to do that.
I have yet to learn how to spin wool correctly.

In my sewing room, I have a dresser with nine drawers.
Five of those drawers are filled with yarn that friends have given me.
So much yarn and not enough time to do projects that are floating in my head.

A couple of days ago I decided I want to make an afghan for a Christmas present.
I have several books and I found my project from this book.
One of the stitches that I learned to do is the popcorn stitch.
I'm pretty happy with the way it is turning out.

 Here's the beginning's of the afghan

Up close shot of the afghan with the popcorn stitch.

Thanks Lisa for encouraging me to not give up on knitting and crocheting.
I'm loving it!

Saturday, March 23, 2013


It has been a while since I made homemade bread.
So this morning, I decided to make some bread.
I've been making healthier bread with more grains
than just making the regular white bread.
So here's the recipe I used.

2 cups warm water (110 degrees F)
2 cups whole wheat flour
1 tablespoon active dry yeast
1 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup honey
1/3 cup vegetable oil
4 to 5 cups all purpose flour

Dissolve the yeast in the warm water.  Add honey and stir will.  Mix in the whole wheat flour, salt, and vegetable oil.  Work the all-purpose flour in gradually.  Turn the dough out onto a lightly floured surface and knead for at least 10 to 15 minutes.  (I used my KitchenAid Mixer for the kneading).  When the dough is smooth and elastic, place it in a well oiled bowl.  Turn it several times in the bowl to coat the surface of the dough, and cover with a damp cloth.  Let it rise in a warm place until doubled in bulk, about 45 minutes.

Punch down the dough and shape it into two loaves, and place into two well greased 9 x 5 inch loaf pans.  Allow the dough to rise until it is 1 to 1 1/2 inches above the pans.

Bake at 375 degrees F for 25 to 30 minutes.

Your kitchen is going to smell heavenly!  

Friday, March 22, 2013


According to the calendar, it's supposed to be Spring.
Unfortunately, the weather here in central Indiana
does not want to cooperate since the forecast
for this weekend is 6 to 10 inches of snow.

This too shall end and warmer weather will be right around the corner
With that in mind, I'm sharing with you
an article from Hobby Farms about using
natural fertilizers and not chemicals.

10 Natural Fertilizers to Improve Crop Production - Photo by Rachael Brugger (

These 10 fertilizers come from natural sources and can help improve the fertility of your soil and the nutrition of your crops. Before you add a fertilizer—natural or otherwise—to your garden bed, it's advised that you have your soil tested for nutrient levels and pH.

It's especially important to know the pH level before adding phosphorous fertilizers because phosphorous is only available at a fairly limited pH range. Adding more phosphorous to an area with the wrong pH will tie up the nutrient in the soil and not make it available to the plants. Not too mention, excessive nutrients can add to run-off problems and create pollution issues.

If you're an organic farmer, be sure the fertilizer brands you use are on the Organic Materials Review Institute's approved materials list. However, for home gardeners or small-scale farmers who aren't certified organic but want to use only natural fertilizers, all of the following fertilizers are considered organic, even if the particular brand you use isn't on the list.

1. Fish emulsion and hydrolyzed liquid fish
Processing fish or fish byproducts with heat or acid treatments creates fish emulsion. Fish emulsion is generally a pretty stinky fertilizer, but it's a good source of all three macronutrients—nitrogen, phosphorus and potassium—with an N-P-K (nitrogen-phosphorus-potassium) ratio of 5-2-2.
Hydrolyzed liquid fish fertilizers are created using enzymes rather than heat. The resulting product is not smelly and retains more trace nutrients and vitamins. The average N-P-K ratio for hydrolyzed fish fertilizers is 4-2-2.

2. Bone meal
A byproduct of slaughtering facilities, bone meal is created through the steam processing and pulverization of animal bones. Bone meal is an excellent high-phosphorus fertilizer with an average N-P-K ratio of 3-15-0. The phosphorous in bone meal takes a few months to become available to plants via microbial processes in the soil. It also contains calcium, another essential plant nutrient. Phosphorous is most available in soil with pH between 6.0 and 7.0, so be sure to test and adjust soil pH if necessary.

3. Compost
Both commercially produced compost and homemade compost benefit soil by adding organic matter, providing food for beneficial microbial life, increasing the soil's water-holding capacity and gradually releasing plant nutrients. Composts made with high amounts of manure or biosolids (sewage sludge) may be high in salts and can burn plants, but composts made with primarily plant residues do not generally contain troublesome amounts of salt. A typical N-P-K ratio for compost is 2-1-1, though its exact nutritional content depends on many factors. Compost that smells like ammonia or is not yet fully decomposed should be allowed to finish breaking down to avoid damaging plants. Compost also contains many micronutrients essential for plant growth.

4. Manure
The nutrient content of manure is dependent on many factors, including its age, source and the presence of bedding materials. Because of potential pathogen exposure, raw manure should be avoided. Manure should be a minimum of 180 days old or fully composted before it's added to growing areas. In addition to containing macronutrients, manure is also a great source of several trace nutrients essential for plant growth.
Most cattle and horse manures have an average N-P-K ratio of 1-0.5-0.5 while poultry manures tend to be better high-nitrogen fertilizers (3-1-1 on average). The nutrients in manure are not immediately available to plants and can take up to several years to be released by soil microbes. In general, about half of the total nitrogen is available the first year, with the rest being released slowly over several subsequent seasons. Manure is also an excellent source of organic matter but can contain weed seeds.

5. Rock phosphate
A mineral rock powder, rock phosphate is an excellent source of phosphorous, with an N-P-K ratio of 0-2-0. The phosphorous contained in rock phosphate becomes more available the second year after application, and phosphorous is most available within the soil when the pH ranges between 6.0 and 7.0. Be sure to test soil pH before adding rock phosphate. It is also a good source of calcium.

6. Cottonseed meal
Cottonseed meal is a high-nitrogen fertilizer with an average N-P-K ratio of 6-0.4-1.5. It takes several months to be processed by soil microbes and broken down so that it can release the nutrients it contains. Organic farmers should seek out organic cottonseed meal because cotton is often a genetically modified crop and many pesticides are used during its growth.

7. Alfalfa meal
With an average N-P-K ratio of 2-1-2, alfalfa meal provides plants not only with these macronutrients but also many trace nutrients. It takes one to four months to be broken down by the soil microbes and for the nutrients to become available.

8. Blood meal
A byproduct of slaughtering facilities, blood meal is a very high-nitrogen fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio of 12-0-0. Because of its high ammonia content, inappropriate use or over-fertilizing could cause burned foliage.

9. Feather meal
Although it takes four months or longer to break down and release its nutrients, feather meal is a great high-nitrogen fertilizer with an N-P-K ratio between 7-0-0 and 12-0-0. It is a byproduct of poultry processing.

10. Liquid kelp
Although the amounts of nitrogen, phosphorous and potassium contained in liquid kelp are minimal, it is high in essential trace nutrients as well as plant growth hormones that accelerate plant growth and improve flowering. Liquid kelp is created through the cold processing of this ocean plant. It is mixed with water and applied to plants both as a soil drench and a foliar spray. The nutrients it contains are available immediately for plant use.

About the Author: Jessica Walliser, horticulturist and co-host of KDKA radio's "The Organic Gardeners" in Pittsburgh, is the author of several gardening books, including Grow Organic (St. Lynn's Press, 2007) and Good Bug Bad Bug (St. Lynn's Press, 2008). Visit her blog “Dirt on Gardening” to follow her gardening adventures and learn gardening tips and tricks.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


Spring is supposed to be here but the weather here 
is cold, cloudy and just yucky.
But I know that soon enough the weather
will get better and the grass will be green,
trees will have their leaves,
flowers will be blooming,
and the weeds will be out for another 
season of making life hard for gardeners.

The following link will help 
identify 35 different types of weeds
and how you can get rid of them.


6 Tips To Eliminate Weeds In Your Garden!

Weeds. The enemy of gardeners the world around! They are responsible for choking the life from vegetable and flower gardens, while stealing life-giving nutrients away from our plants. Weeds are also the reason many gardeners throw their hands up by mid-summer and call it a year.

It simply doesn't have to be that way. In fact, some of the most time-consuming chores we have been led to believe help with gardening and weeds - are actually the main culprit to creating more! Simply by eliminating those weed promoting practices, and replacing with a few time and labor saving methods - you can all but eliminate the issue of weeds in your garden.

We spend no more than 10 minutes a day handling all of the chores in our garden - including weeding - and that's not a misprint! The first step is realizing that eliminating weeds in a garden is a process and not a one time thing. But don't let that scare you - the process is simple and leads to a productive and beautiful garden in a fraction of the time.

Here are six ways we keep our garden weed free - and fun to be and work in!

TIP 1: Eliminate Bare Soil From Your Garden And Beds
Bare soil is at the root of most weed problems. Bare soil is an open invitation for blowing weed seeds to become established. By using mulches and protecting the soil, you can cut the potential for future weeds dramatically! We use a combination of mulches in our garden space to keep it covered. Straw and shredded leaf mulch in the walking rows, and a 2 to 3 inch mulching of compost right around our plants.
Just remember - open space is an open invitation for weeds and soil erosion 

TIP 2: Resist the Urge to Dig and Till Your Soil:
This is the biggest time-saving AND weed saving tip we can give. Stop tilling the garden! In the time it takes a person to till between the rows of a garden the same size as ours, we have finished our 10 minute gardening work day, grilled out for dinner and are sitting on the patio enjoying a cool beverage! And while working that extra time tilling - that person also just replanted tens of thousands of weed seeds that will germinate in the coming weeks.

Tilling simply takes all of the weed seeds that are laying on the surface, where they may never germinate, and plants them into the soil. Tilling over time also can destroy your soil's structure, but when it comes to weeds - it's a prime reason gardeners have to spend so much time trying to eliminate them. It takes time, gas, and is a never-ending chore. Instead - heavily mulch your rows with grass clippings, straw, or shredded leaves - they keep weeds to a minimum and help add vital nutrients to the soil as they break down.
We believe in this one so much we actually have an entire post dedicated to it: Why Not To Use A Rototiller.

TIP 3: Don't Over Hoe Your Row
Here's another long time garden chore that used to take hours in the garden - and should take only minutes. Using a hoe to loosen the surface soil around the base and root zone of your plant is a great weekly practice. It provides air to the plant's base and allows nutrients and water to more easily reach the root structure. But that is the extent of what is needed - just a 3 to 5" light hoeing of the perimeter soil around the base of each plant. Leave all of the other space in your planting rows alone and simply mulch it! Over-hoeing creates the same issue as tilling - planting above ground weeds seeds back into the earth. All you need is a light hoeing immediately around the plants - it saves tons of time and labor, and eliminates replanting weed seeds.

TIP 4 : Start Practicing The Art Of Cover Crops:
Start cover cropping this fall. Cover crops really help eliminate weeds over time by protecting your bare soil over the late fall, winter and early spring months. They have obvious benefits to helping your soils vitality, but they also help to form a barrier for blowing seeds to enter and lay in wait. After a season or two of cover crops - you will be amazed how little weeds actually even appear in your garden. You can find more about cover crops here : Cover Crops In Your Garden.

Tip 5 : Keeping The Weeds Out Of Walking Rows:
Keeping weeds out of the walking rows between your plants is just as important to the health of your garden as it is the look. The answer - Mulch - Mulch and more Mulch! We use whatever we have on hand. Straw and shredded leaves work great to create a thick 3 to 5" covering between our planting rows. From time to time a few weeds will start to pop up - and we simply pull them on our daily trips through the garden. If they become thicker - we simply take the weed eater through the garden and mow them down to the grown and reapply a few more inches of mulch. It immediately looks great again and stays that way for weeks. It's so much quicker and better than tilling up that soil between your rows!

TIP 6: Practice The 10 Minute-A-Day Philosophy
I think there are a lot of skeptics when we say we spend only 5 to 10 minutes a day in the garden for maintenance. However, that is one of the biggest secrets to maintaining a weed free garden - actually spending that time in the garden each day! This may sound a bit crazy, but 10 minutes of daily work is not the same as spending 70 minutes once a week in the garden.

In fact, there is a huge difference between the two. If you let the garden go for more than a day or two - weeds and the problems they bring multiply and magnify. Roots get deeper, spread and multiply, and suddenly you feel overwhelmed. What takes 10 minutes one day can suddenly take 4 to 8 hours when it has been neglected for a week or two. And guess what? It's not fun anymore at that point.

We head into the garden every day and walk the rows. If we see a weed around a plant, we pull it as we go. Usually, once a week we will spend the time hoeing the area only around the plants - once again - the process just takes 10 minutes to do the entire garden. Another day, we spend the time putting down some extra compost mulch around the plants or straw or shredded leaves in the paths. That's it.
So there you have it - how we keep our weeds and workload to a minimum. And remember the reason most of us garden in the first place - to eat healthier and get a little exercise. This is a perfect 10 minute workout every day!


Bird-feeding Basics

Attract birds to your yard with the right feeder and seeds.

Garden Wildlife - Bird-feeding Basics
Feeding wild birds is one of the easiest ways to experience the natural world right outside your door. But because there are almost as many bird-feeding options as species that visit feeders, it’s not surprising that novices can be overwhelmed by the many choices at birding shops and on Web sites. The good news is that it’s easier than it seems to get started.
If you want to begin feeding birds in your garden, you have two main choices to make: what type of feeder to purchase and what type of food to offer. Fortunately, there are foolproof options in both of these categories.
First, decide which feeder to purchase. The simplest feeder is a tube feeder. As its name implies, it’s a tube of durable plastic or glass with multiple feeding ports and perches along its sides. Tube feeders come in a range of sizes, colors, and styles that will fit into any yard or garden. Inexpensive models are easy to find. They’re also easy to keep clean.
Next, choose the type of food. Among the many food options available, black-oil sunflower seed is the clear choice if you’re not sure which birds you’ll be attracting. This small, black seed is available at birding specialty stores, pet shops, grocery stores, and discount stores. The most common feeder birds—including cardinals, juncos, chickadees, finches, jays, titmice, nuthatches, and woodpeckers—are sure to be attracted to a tube feeder stocked with these high-fat, high-protein seeds. Be patient, though, because it might take a few weeks for birds to discover and use your feeders.
Put the bird feeder in a safe place. Hang the tube feeder from a shepherd’s hook, not a tree branch. Placing feeders in trees, or too close to them, gives squirrels easier access. Make sure your feeder is about 10 to 12 feet from trees or dense shrubs. This distance is close enough to vegetation to provide cover for birds if a predator (such as a cat) shows up, and far enough away to make sure predators don’t have a convenient hiding place from which to pounce.
Maintain seed and feeders properly. Store your seed in a cool, dry place to prevent mold. A metal trash bin works well and is also rodent-proof. Every couple of weeks, empty out your feeder and wash it with soap, a scrub brush, and hot water. This will remove any seed shells, mold, bird droppings, and other disease-causing elements and will ensure that your avian friends have a clean place to enjoy a meal.
I have one warning, though: Bird feeding is addictive. Once you start, it’s hard not to become obsessed with keeping your feeders filled, experimenting with specialty feeders, and keeping lists of species that show up in your yard. But it’s a safe bet that the birds won’t mind your obsession one bit.

Plant a bird buffet. Bird feeders are a fun way to attract birds to your garden, but they serve only as a supplement to the foods birds rely on in nature. To provide for birds in the most natural way, feed them the way Mother Nature does—through your landscape. Here are some of the best bird plants available for the garden. Ask your local nursery for species native to your area.

• American cranberry bush (Viburnum trilobum,  Zones 2 to 7)
• Annual sunflower (Helianthus annuus)
• Bayberry (Myrica pensylvanica, Zones 3 to 6)
• Black-eyed Susan (Rudbeckia hirta, Zones 3 to 7)
• Clove currant (Ribes odoratum, Zones 5 to 8)
• Common juniper (Juniperus communis, Zones 2 to 6)
• Elderberry (Sambucus canadensis, Zones 4 to 9)
• Hackberry (Celtis laevigata, Zones 5 to 9)
• Limber pine (Pinus flexilis, Zones 3 to 7)
• Oak (Quercus spp., Zones 3 to 9)
• Oregon grapeholly (Mahonia aquifolium, Zones 5 to 9)
• Purple coneflower (Echinacea purpurea, Zones 3 to 9)
• Red osier dogwood (Cornus stolonifera, Zones 3 to 8)
• Shadblow (Amelanchier canadensis, Zones 3 to 7)
• Tupelo (Nyssa sylvatica, Zones 4 to 9)
• Virginia creeper (Parthenocissus quinquefolia, Zones 4 to 9)

David Mizejewski is the author of Attracting Birds, Butterflies, and Other Backyard Wildlife (Creative Homeowner, 2004), the host of Animal Planet’s “Backyard Habitat,” and a naturalist with the National Wildlife Federation.

Saturday, March 16, 2013


I found the recipe for this cake on the internet,
and I just had to make it.
This cake is absolutely delicious and my husband loved it.

There are a couple of things I learned about making this cake.
Make sure that you grease your pan really well
or the cake is going to get stuck in the bundt pan.
For the second cake I lined the bundt pan with aluminum foil
and I used softened butter to grease the foil that covered the pan.
It was great because the cake came out easier and I didn't have to wash the pan.

Prep time: 20 Min. Cook time: 90 Min. Serves: 14 

6 (1.55-ounce) milk-chocolate bars (such as Hershey's)
3 cups of chocolate syrup (such as Hershey's)
1 cup butter
2 cups sugar
4 eggs
2 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 cup buttermilk
2 tsp. vanilla extract
4 large dove chocolate bars

1. Preheat oven to 300. Grease and flour a tube pan or two Bundt pans; set aside.
2. In the top of a double boiler over hot (but not boiling)water, combine candy bars (6) and syrup (1 1/2c) Stir until melted and set aside.
3. In a large mixing bowl, beat butter and sugar at medium speed with an electric mixer until fluffy. Add eggs one at a time, beating well after each addition. Add melted chocolate, beating well.
4. In another bowl, sift together flour and baking soda.
5. Add dry ingredients alternately with buttermilk to sugar mixture, beating well after each addition. Add vanilla.
6. Pour batter into prepared pan(s).
7. Bake for 1 1/2 hours. Cool in pan for 10 minutes. Invert onto wire rack. Serve warm with whipped cream or ice cream.

I take the four dove bars and another 1 1/2 c syrup and repeat step 2. After the cake is COMPLETELY cooled, I take this warm mixture and top over cake.