Friday, September 30, 2011

Fall is here!

The start of fall is often marked with fun festivals and fairs. Snoop around your area for fun fall activities that are easy on the wallet such as pick-your-own apples, pumpkin patches, corn mazes, and farm tours. This is also the time of year for craft shows and church bazaars. These are great for getting ideas for your own Christmas projects!

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Get a grip

Are you canning apple butter or the last of your tomatoes this fall? Try using a pair of gardening gloves! They are perfect for gripping hot jars to screw on lids and for pulling the hot jars from the canner. Just be sure to have a pair for kitchen use only- no planting mums for these gloves!

Monday, September 26, 2011

Easy Meal Planner

A friend recently shared this website with me and since it was so helpful, I am obliged to share it with you! (For those of you who are ahead of the curve and already know about this, just humor me!) If you are organizing meals for someone who has suffered an illness, surgery, had a baby, etc. then is the site for you. The site allows you to create and customize an online sign-up sheet for the recipient with important details such as phone numbers, driving directions, and food allergies. It also allows everyone included to share what they will be bringing so there are no repeat meals. The site is user-friendly and includes sample schedules, menus, recipes, and tips. The best part of all is that it is completely free!

Friday, September 23, 2011

Lavender Stalks Part 2

I've discovered yet another use for those leftover dried lavender stems! Place a bundle or two into your oven and turn to 200* for a fantastic air freshener. After less than 10 minutes, my house was filled with a fresh lavender fragrance. Ahhh... my nose has found peace!

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

Paint Colors

After painting a room, dip a stir stick in the paint and let it dry. Write the name of the paint color on the stick, drill a hole in the end, and hang on a metal ring. Your paint colors are now portable! The next time you need to accesorize a room, look no further than your neatly organized paint samples. Take them with you to the fabric store or furniture store for a quick reference.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Christmas Gift Ideas For Kids

If you're like me, you have no idea what to tell the grandparents when they ask what the kids want for Christmas. Cheap plastic toys? Clothes? DVDs? Whether you are looking for ideas to give your child or someone else's, look no further than: They offer high quality, educational toys with a convenient search tool that allows you to search based on the child's age and gender. Too easy! Even if you'd rather look for a better deal elsewhere, is a great starting point to gather ideas.

Friday, September 16, 2011

Uses for Lemon Curd

I forgot to include how to use your lemon curd! Here are a few ideas in case there is any left...
  • Use as a filling between cake layers
  • Fill mini tart shells and top with fruit
  • Mix with whipped cream or Cool Whip to top strawberry shortcake or other fruity desserts
  • Use as a dip or spread for scones, animal crackers, graham crackers, or cookies
  • Top gingerbread with it- the flavors are perfect together!
  • Spread onto pancakes or to fill crepes
  • Add to cream cheese for a fruit dip
  • Thin with water and use to glaze a cake
  • Swirl into a cheesecake

Lemon Curd

Smooth, creamy, lucious lemon curd. It is truly a delight for the senses! And expensive. A small jar of lemon curd at the grocery store will set you back about $4. Not only will this homemade version only cost around $1 per jar, but the taste and texture will knock the socks off of the store-bought variety. This recipe delivers a creamier consistency and spot-on fresh lemon flavor which causes its gelatinous and sometimes bitter grocery store cousin to pale in comparison. It makes a great gift too! Pair with homemade gingerbread or gingersnaps for the perfect holiday treat.


  • 8 whole Lemons
  • 2-½ cups Granulated White Sugar
  • 2 cups (4 Sticks) Butter Or Margarine
  • 8 whole Large Eggs, Beaten


  • Finely grate the zest of the lemons into a medium saucepan.
  • Squeeze juice from the lemons. (You should have around 1 1/2 cups of juice.)
  • Add lemon juice to the saucepan, along with the sugar.
  • Cut butter into small pieces and add to the pan.
  • Set the pan over low heat, and stir until the butter has melted and the sugar has dissolved.
  • Strain eggs through a fine-mesh sieve into the lemon mixture. (I used a wire colander) 
  • Cook for 15 minutes, stirring constantly.
  • As the mixture begins to steam, it will thicken, take on a creamy consistency, and coat the back of a spoon.
  • When lemon curd is thick and creamy, remove from the heat.
  • Fill hot *sterilized jars with the lemon curd to within 1/8 inch of rims. Wipe rims clean and top with hot lids. Screw bands onto the jars until finger tight.
  • Place jars in dutch oven or large pot and add water til' just covered. Leave them for ten minutes at a slow bubble(212°F / 100°C). Remove jars immediately and set upright on a clean towel, or wooden surface, away from drafts. Let jars sit undisturbed for 12 hours. Check for proper seals. Label the jars and store in a cool, dry place for up to a year.
Makes 7 half-pint jars.

*To sterilize jars, place clean jars into your oven for 10 minutes at 250*. Sterilize lids by covering with water in a saucepan and simmering on the stovetop for 10 minutes.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011


If you're finished drying the lavender blooms from your garden, don't throw away the stalks. The oil found inside of the stalks make flammable (and wonderfully scented) fire-starters! Tie them with ribbon or twine and give to a friend with a fireplace. Pair with a pie iron or s'mores ingredients and skewers for a fun gift.

Monday, September 12, 2011

Cover Crops

Don't leave your garden exposed to the elements this winter. Let a cover crop work for you all winter by increasing organic matter, providing weed control, increasing soil microorganisms, reducing soil erosion, and serving as a habitat for beneficial insects. Remember to till your cover crop under before it blooms! If you live in Virginia, plant cover crops anytime between Sept. 30-Nov. 10. Don't live in Virginia? Check out these helpful cover crop charts for your hardiness zone:

For winter cover crops try:
  • crimson clover
  • red clover
  • white clover
  • hairy vetch
  • cereal grains (including rye, wheat, or barley).
*The clovers should be planted 30 to 45 days prior to the first frost.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Think before you toss!

The next time something breaks, think twice before you throw it out. A quick email or better yet, phone call, to the company might yield big results. A friend recently shared that a washer broke on their neighbor's Moen kitchen sink. He called the company to order a new washer (which would have cost only a few dollars). The representative told him that Moen stood by the quality of their products and promptly sent him a brand new sink! I gave a pair of Keen sandals to my husband for Christmas. The shoes recently began coming apart around the straps, so I called the company. After filling out an online warrenty form, they sent an email to me with a promotional code worth $90 to spend on a new pair of Keens on their website. They did this even though the receipt I emailed reflected the sale price of $63 that I originally paid for the shoes! This wonderful customer service will win my business every time, so not only am I happy, but the company will enjoy repeat business from me in the future. Everyone wins! So don't be shy about letting a company know if their product breaks. It may be worth your time and theirs.

Monday, September 5, 2011

Take the sting out

I met a commercial bee-keeper recently and asked her what the secret was to healing a bee sting. I was skeptical when she said to put honey on the sting. After our daughter suffered two yellow-jacket stings on her finger last week, I was able to put it to the test. I promise I didn't let her know how excited I was to try this trick! We weren't home, so by the time we arrived her finger had swollen to twice its normal size. Less than a minute after putting a few drops of honey onto the affected area, the stinging (and crying) stopped, and within an hour, the swelling was gone! So next time you suffer a sting, try honey. It really works!

Thursday, September 1, 2011

Pencil it in

For you gardeners out there, a little thinking ahead can go a long way. Before your fall calender fills up, take the time to add garden-related tasks. By putting them on your calender now, not only will you remember to do the tasks, but you won't have to keep looking up what to plant and when! For example, for October I'll have:
  • plant bulbs
  • plant spinach and lettuce in cold frame
  • make apple butter
  • plant cover crop in garden
  • plant strawberries
  • store potted plant containers in garage
Putting your area frost date on your calender will help you to remember when to take plants inside too. I don't know about you, but I can use all the help that I can get!