Friday, June 18, 2010

Strawberries

I wrote an article for the Spencer Magnet that was published last week about serving and preserving strawberries. I love strawberries, and I enjoy looking for new recipes. There are some great ideas in the article. (I'm especially looking forward to trying the stuffed strawberries - yum!)

When I was growing up, my parents canned and preserved all kinds of foods, so my thoughts during the summer turn to ways to preserve the harvest. Here are a few resources I've found for preserving strawberries:

I also like to find new things to do with strawberries. I've mentioned my strawberry cake recipe before. I searched online for strawberry cake recipes until I found one I liked, then I tweaked it and used a strawberry cream cheese icing I'd found with a different cake recipe. We also like strawberry pie, and have had two in the past few weeks. I had my first strawberry pie when I was nine years old and visiting my mom's aunt. It was a revelation.

What are some of your favorite things to do with strawberries?


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edited to add: I do actually own each of the books that I mentioned (except the Ball book and the Better Homes and Gardens, which I have out-of-print editions of). I use them all, and find them to be good resources. Clicking on these links does not cost you anymore than if you didn't, but it is an easy way to support this site. Thank you.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Lavender and hydrangeas

Today is the first cool-ish day we have had in over a week. I am enjoying the breeze and the fact that the air doesn't feel like I'm breathing underwater.

I have two huge lavender plants in my front yard. I love the color they add, and the wonderful smell. This year, I finally decided that it was time to actually use them for something. This afternoon I picked a big bunch to dry or use fresh in the kitchen. I can't even tell by looking that I picked any, and I suspect that more will grow because I picked some.

I have a Storey Country Wisdom booklet called Growing & Using Lavender by Patti Barrett that has a lot of useful information and recipes, but my inspiration today comes from the May/June issue of Hobby Farm Home that I found a the local Tractor Supply Company last night. (My subscription started several weeks ago with the July/August issue.) The Storey booklet contains a sugar cookie recipe using lavender sugar that I want to try, but now I also feel the pull of Lavender-almond meringues and White Chocolate-lavender cheesecake from Hobby Farm Homes.

My flower obsession started today when my husband brought me a bouquet of black-eyed susans (rudbekia) that we grow to attract goldfinches. I am currently taking a break from deadheading my hydrangeas. I hope that they will continue to produce the huge blue blooms if I take off the wilted ones. They were a big part of our wedding nine years ago, and I love having that reminder just outside my back door.

What flowers are you enjoying these days?

Thursday, June 10, 2010

Prayer Blankets - an article for the Spencer Magnet

At the last sewing group meeting I went to a few weeks ago, I noticed that several ladies were working on the same project. I asked a few questions and learned that they were making prayer blankets for terminally ill and seriously parishioners at their church. I thought it was so cool that I wrote an article about prayer blankets for the Spencer Magnet, my local paper. (Follow the link for the inspiring story.)

I also thought I'd try to make one for a friend who is sick right now too. I don't know that the colors are really "her," but I think she'll appreciate the sentiment anyway. I'll be sure to post photos once she receives it. (I don't want to post pictures in case she reads my blog.)

What do you like to do to cheer up your friends?

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Quilting and Gardening

We have been busy in our garden lately. We finally had the opportunity to get our garden beds laid out, and we've put in seeds and the plants that we've grown from seed. It is so cool to watch a seed grow from this tiny, seemingly inconsequential thing to a plant, with leaves and everything. And, eventually, there will be food in my backyard. We've already been eating kale and lettuce that we're grown. We're hoping we get some broccoli soon.

In addition to gardening, I have also spent a lot of time lately getting to know other people in my community. I've lived in this house for five years, but barely knew anyone outside my neighborhood. I thought I had mentioned before that I joined our county's homemakers club that is sponsored by the county extension office, but I can't find any post about it. Anyway, I was only going to the sewing group part of the club (there are nine different homemakers clubs with various themes), but decided about a month ago to start going to some of the other meetings.

So in the past month, I have attended at least five meetings, and I love getting to know the women at these clubs. I have been welcomed and made to feel like a member of the group. When I run into women I've already met, they hug me and tell me they're happy I came. They make me feel like I belong.

This morning, my daughter and I went to the quilt guild. There were about twenty women there and I had only met three of them. Abigail usually displays quite a bit of stranger anxiety when we're with people we don't know well or don't see often, and today was no exception. She sat in my lap with her head on my shoulder for forty-five minutes, until I decided it was time to go to the local library for their summer reading kick-off. They were having a puppet show, and since Abigail has never seen one, I thought she would enjoy it.

When we got there, the show had already started and the room was dark. The city mouse and country mouse kept sneezing and flying off stage as they screamed. Within a few minutes, she was asking to leave. I told her if we left then we were going back to the quilt guild, and she said she wanted to go.

When we got back to the extension office, she started making friends. Abigail got her doctor kit out of her backpack, and started going around the table giving the ladies shots and pretend suckers. She checked heartbeats and ears. She patted ladies on the cheek and rubbed their arms. I am so thrilled that she is starting to feel comfortable with the homemakers group too.

After the quilt guild we came home for lunch and I put Abigail down for a nap. After her daddy got home from work, I left again to try out the gardening association which is also part of the homemakers club.

I had planned to take her with me, but she decided she wanted to spend time with her daddy instead. This turned out to be a good thing, since the garden club actually had a lecture on a member's back patio. I'm not sure that my girl could have stayed still through the whole thing. I loved seeing the gardens and getting ideas for my own. I was even sent home with a couple of new plants - a Japanese iris and a yarrow.

How is your garden doing? Or do you have other spring-time activities that you enjoy?