Easy and delicious summer meal

Summer gives you permission to stop trying so hard. Resign yourself to drinking all day outside. Read for pleasure. And absolutely do not stress about preparing an elaborate dinner.

 

One of our favorite go to meals is during the hot days of summer is:

Summer Chicken Wraps

Ingredients:

  • 12oz chicken breasts, cooked, cooled, and sliced into strips
  • 4 burrito- sized flour tortillas
  • ½ cup hummus
  • ½ cup shredded carrots
  • ½ cucumber, thinly sliced
  • 2 vine-ripened tomatoes, sliced and seeded
  • ¼ cup fresh basil, torn
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • Salt & pepper

Preparation:

Lay tortillas out on a clean dry surface then spread 2 Tablespoons of hummus over each tortilla. Divide carrots, cucumber, tomatoes, basil, and sliced chicken between tortillas then sprinkle with salt and pepper, roll and slice.

Summer-Chicken-Wrap_01_mini

We also love this quick  weekend snacks

Watermelon-and-Prosciutto Skewers

Ingredients

  • 5 pounds seedless baby watermelon, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces
  • 1/2 pound prosciutto, torn in half lengthwise
  • Store-bought balsamic glaze

Preparation

On 6-inch skewers, thread 3 pieces watermelon with 1/2 slice prosciutto folded between each. Generously drizzle with balsamic glaze just before serving.

watermelon-and-prosciutto-skewers

Using Plants as Natural ‘Pest’ Repellants

As summer creeps up upon us, many of us are squeezing in our first (of many) cookouts, patio parties, camping trips, and gardening chores. We’re also noticing the arrival of some uninvited guests; mosquitoes, flies and moths, to name just a few. Most of these ‘pests’ are simply annoying, but others can pose more serious threats.

Of course, the presence of insects is not only natural; it’s an essential aspect of a healthy garden. The challenge comes in managing the ‘pests’ – those biting, veggie-decimating, marching-inside-the-house sorts of pests – while doing no harm to the microcosmic health of our garden, or to ourselves, our families, pets and wildlife, and the environment as a whole.

The following are examples of plants that can help repel, or at least deter, some common pests. 

Plants that help repel mosquitoes:

  • Agastache cana (a.k.a. Mosquito Plant)
  • Rosemary
  • Basil
  • Lavender
  • Scented geraniums
  • Beebalm
  • Mint
  • Marigolds

Plants that help deter ticks:

  • Lavender
  • Garlic
  • Pennyroyal
  • Pyrethrum (type of chrysanthemum)
  • Sage
  • Eucalyptus
  • Mint

Other pest-deterring plants:

  • Rue – especially good at deterring flies, Japanese beetles, slugs, fleas, and cats
  • Wormwood  – deters a variety of insects including ticks, flies and moths
  • Mint – deters beetles, fleas, moths, mice, ants
  • Rosemary – in addition to mosquitoes, it also deters cabbage moths and carrot flies

As is always the case when making plant selections, it’s important to understand the plant’s benefits and possible hazards.

Summer is a great time to be thinking about what pest-repelling plants would work well in your landscape, especially near your outdoor living areas.

MAKING & USING DANDELION OIL

 

It’s probably a safe assumption to say that almost all of us have dandelions in our yard.  This is one of the most common “weeds” around. Sadly, dandelions are despised by most people. However, Dandelions deserve our respect and admiration! This is an amazing plant for us. The leaves, flowers, and roots of Dandelions are loaded with nutrients and natural remedy qualities that are very good for our bodies.

dandelion

Making Dandelion Oil

Harvest dandelions in the full sun of the day when the dew has dried off. They should be fully, gloriously open and dry. Simply cut the flower heads from the plant. Gather enough to fill a jar half full.

Fill the jar to 1/4 inch of the top with olive oil (really any oil will work). Remove any air bubbles with a butter knife and make sure all the blossoms are submerged under the oil. Cover the jar with a lid and place it in a sunny window for 2 weeks. Check your oil every few days, and gently shake it to encourage the flowers to release their benefits.

If you want a speedier process, you can heat the oil in a jar on the stove. Put a small pot on the stove with a few inches of water in the bottom. Then sit the glass jar of oil and flower heads in the pan and turn it on medium. Once the water heats up but not boiling, turn it off and let the jar sit in the pan of water until it cools off.

At the end of the two weeks, strain the blossoms from the oil. Compost your flowers and the infused oil is now ready to use!  Store the oil in a clean jar. The dandelion oil is now ready for use. 

Note: Dandelion can mold if left for much longer than 2 weeks in the oil.

All oil can go rancid, so please use this dandelion oil up within a year.

dandelion oil

Using Dandelion Oil

It makes a wonderful massage oil for stiff joints or tired muscles. It helps soothe dry skin too. You can add a few drops of your favorite essential oil to scent the oil, if desired.

Use it as a base oil for sore muscle ointments and creams.

Instead of plain oils, use the infused oil, as a skin soothing base for homemade body balm.

Dandelions are an amazing resource from nature, be sure to take advantage of a few to keep the body running well later.

 

You can go a step further and make dandelion salve

After the oil is strained it’s time to make the salve.

Melt 2 ounces of beeswax inside a glass measuring cup that is sitting in a pan of boiling water.

When the beeswax melts add the dandelion infused oil.

Before adding the beeswax/dandelion oil mixture to a jar, you can add about 20 drops of lavender essential oil (any essential oil).

When the salve cools it’s ready to use.

dandelion benefits

Carrot Cake

The Fate of Carrot Cake is Never Fair..

All is fair? Not when it comes to the last piece of carrot cake,
That was waiting right here for me when I was finally wide awake,
Because carrot cake tastes quite yummy in the morning or at night,
And I have little willpower when it comes to this delectable delight,
So don’t even think about calling dibs on what is no longer there,
Because the fate of the last piece of yumminess will never be fair,
If you had truly wanted it then you would have woke up before me,
And just so you know it tasted quite delish with a cup of Chai tea.

carrot cake

Sunflowers a perfect gardening project for children and beginners

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Do you enjoy the cheerfulness of sunflowers? Sunflowers are easy to grow, perfect for children or beginning gardeners and come in many varieties. Whether you want pint-sized plants for containers or giants for the garden, sunflowers come in a full range of colors: yellows, oranges, russets, ivory and bicolor. Sunflowers can be enjoyed by anybody with access to the sun, a piece of land big or small, or to a flower pot. They are good as cut flowers as they produce enough blooms for the table and last a long time in arrangements.

The sunflower (Helianthus annus) is a native plant of North America and was cultivated for food by native peoples for thousands of years. The seeds are also a favorite food of small mammals, and lots of people grow them to feed wildlife over the winter. Birds find them delicious, and no bird-lover’s haven should be without them.

Sunflowers are easy to grow by keeping the following points in mind:

— They need to be planted in full sun where they will not shade other plants.

— Plant them after the last frost.

— Seeds should be 1/2-inch deep and 6 inches apart in well-drained soil. (Children can easily do this with a ruler and a large spoon).

— Compost or other organic material added to the soil will help its growth.

— When the seedlings pop up, thin them to 1 1/2 feet apart or 1 foot for the dwarf varieties (except in containers, where they can be closer together).

— Water well after planting, and keep moist until seeds sprout but not too moist as sunflowers don’t like soggy feet. Once established, sunflowers are basically drought resistant.

There are several dwarf varieties that grow well in containers and would be good for children to plant and care for, including Teddy Bear, Music Box, Big Smile, Double Dandy, Elite Sun, Pacino and Patio.

Sunflowers will pop up out of the ground in about two weeks. If you notice any birds or other animals bothering the seedlings, you can tent a piece of chicken wire, a milk jug with the top and bottom cut off or something similar to protect them.

Many people harvest all of the sunflowers and don’t allow the birds to feed. A nice alternative for children is to cover some of the heads with cheesecloth or old pantyhose so the seeds can be roasted later and then leave the other flowers for the birds. A good activity for children would be to record which birds come to the plants and how many.

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April showers bring May flowers and allergies

Allergies of April

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Rain then rain again

hot, cold

runny eyes

itchy nose

 

Jacket on

jacket off

first sign of spring

a sneeze, a cough

 

No matter what, spring still brings

something new to enjoy

 

If you suffer from allergies and still want to garden Huffington Post has a great article: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/04/26/gardening-spring-allergies-_n_5206186.html

Create beautiful vertical gardens in your home or backyard!

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Vertical Gardens, also known as Green Walls can turn any area into a pleasant refuge that also yields tasty produce. You only need a little bit of space to grow your plants upward instead of outward. In addition, they can be made in various designs to suit your needs.

So what are the benefits of vertical gardens? Here are some of the reasons why vertical gardening is an excellent approach to growing your own produce.

1.       They’re more interesting than typical wall art.

2.       They’re a great way to hide ugly walls.

3.       They’re still uncommon enough to be a novelty.

4.       They improve air quality.

5.       They don’t take up much space.

6.       They prevent graffiti.

7.       They add interesting textures to any space.

8.       They help with noise reduction.

It’s time to start thinking vertically when it comes to your gardening projects this season.