Re-Purposed Outdoor Brick Fireplace

It’s a fact –  I need more planting space in order to meet my 2017 Gardening Goals.

With that being said I got inspired this week to do something with our unsightly old outdoor fireplace. About 15 years ago an apple tree fell on it during a storm and crushed most of the left side. I would have taken the whole thing out but the right side of it has an electrical outlet on it and I didn’t want to mess with having to remove the power line and to tell you the truth it comes in handy when I need to plug in power tools and Christmas lights.

Without a lot of funds and a need for more planting space I decided to gather all of the old bricks that were scattered around the yard and turn them into a potato planting bed.

Potatoes need a deep planting bed. As they grow they need to be continuously buried in order for them to form lots of underground potatoes.

Check out the before and after pics. I even threw in a couple of short videos.


After a couple of hours of work and lots of back filling of a combination of soil and sawdust it was ready to plant. I even planted a few flowers at the base of it. The only cost was the seed potatoes. Everything else I had.

This is a pretty good sized space. I am excited to see how the potatoes do in their new home. As the seedlings start to sprout I will add a few more layers of bricks and more soil until they reach the top of the bed.

I don’t plan on mortaring in the bricks. Right now it is a semi-permanent bed and I plan on keeping it that way.

2017 Gardening Goals: Plant Potatoes– Check!

I’ll keep you updated on this project. Let me know what you think! -MM

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Gardening and Preserving Goals Update June 5th 2017

It’s been a busy few weeks without a lot of time for updating. I did get my entire garden planted but of course I have run out of room. I thought my husband Scott would just shake his head at me but he surprised me instead by saying “where should we dig new beds?”

I am not sure I can handle more space to fill but I am thinking about it

Below is my goal list for preserving and gardening. Everything in bold is what I have accomplished so far. The only thing I have preserved is 2 batches of Dandelion Jelly and I see I forgot to add that to my goal list!

HERBS

  1. Garlic 
  2. Chives
  3. Aloe Vera
  4. Dill
  5. Artemisia
  6. Calendula
  7. Chamomile
  8. Cilantro
  9. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  10. Sweet Woodruff
  11. Lavender
  12. Lemon Balm
  13. Mint
  14. Catnip
  15. Basil
  16. Oregano
  17. Parsley
  18. Anise
  19. Rosemary
  20. Sage
  21. Dandelion
  22. Thyme
  23. Nasturtium
  24. Valerian

CROPS

  1. Asparagus
  2. Strawberries
  3. Raspberries
  4. Blackberries
  5. Cherries Sweet
  6. Cherries Sour
  7. Pears
  8. Peaches
  9. Grapes
  10. Rhubarb
  11. Sweet Peppers
  12. Banana Peppers
  13. Eggplant
  14. Onions
  15. Shallots
  16. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  17. Snap Bean Pole
  18. Peas
  19. Spinach
  20. Lettuce
  21. Cabbage
  22. Swiss Chard
  23. Beets
  24. Radish
  25. Carrots
  26. Cucumbers
  27. Pumpkins
  28. Gourds
  29. Winter Squash
  30. Zucchini
  31. Yellow Squash
  32. Cantaloupes
  33. Water Melon
  34. Sunflowers
  35. Tomatoes
  36. Celery
  37. Broccoli
  38. Potatoes
  39. Yellow Tomatoes
  40. Paste Tomatoes

PRESERVES

  1. Strawberry Jam
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Black Raspberry Jam
  4. Red Raspberry Jam
  5. Peach Jam
  6. Pear Jelly
  7. Apple Jelly
  8. Honeyed Yellow Tomato Butter
  9. Canned Cherries in Syrup
  10. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sweet
  11. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sour
  12. Basil Banana Pepper Jelly
  13. Apple Sauce
  14. Grape Juice
  15. Pear Juice
  16. Tart Cherry Juice
  17. Pickled Beets
  18. Canned Beets
  19. Vegetable Stock
  20. Vegetable Soup
  21. Tomato Sauce
  22. Blackberry, Red Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Cordials
  23. Chili Sauce (Two different kinds)
  24. Bread and Butter Pickles
  25. Frozen Corn
  26. Frozen Peppers
  27. Frozen Beet Greens/Chard
  28. Red Root Relish
  29. Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
  30.  Dilly Deans
  31. Pickled Hot Peppers
  32. Sweet Crisp Pickles
  33.  Crushed Tomatoes
  34. Whole Tomatoes Packed in Water
  35.  Canned Green Beans
  36. Frozen Peas
  37. Frozen Winter Squash and some stored whole
  38. Chili
  39. Stuffed Hot Peppers
  40. Stuffed Sweet Peppers

Garlic


Shallots




I named my rooster “Cluck” he guards the garden from vicious predators.

I guess that’s it for now. Have to wait for Mother Nature to work her magic!

See you next time. -MM

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

My Gardening and Preserving Goals 2017


Each year I try to garden with a goal in mind. My goal is always to produce and preserve as much food as we need to get us through the winter and to help me spend as little as possible at the grocery store.

Last year I had some pretty lofty goals and fell completely flat on my face. It was a horrible growing season in 2016. Heat and drought took it’s toll on the garden and a late frost killed all of the blossoms on the fruit trees. I have never seen anything like it really.

I revisited my goals from last year and chopped some of the harder to reach goals out.

Here is a list of my family’s 2017 Gardening and Preserving Goals.

Herbs:

  1. Garlic
  2. Chives
  3. Aloe Vera
  4. Dill
  5. Artemisia
  6. Calendula
  7. Chamomile
  8. Cilantro
  9. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  10. Sweet Woodruff
  11. Lavender
  12. Lemon Balm
  13. Mint
  14. Catnip
  15. Basil
  16. Oregano
  17. Parsley
  18. Anise
  19. Rosemary
  20. Sage
  21. Dandelion
  22. Thyme
  23. Nasturtium
  24. Valerian

Crops:

  1. Asparagus
  2. Strawberries
  3. Raspberries
  4. Blackberries
  5. Cherries Sweet
  6. Cherries Sour
  7. Pears
  8. Peaches
  9. Grapes
  10. Rhubarb
  11. Sweet Peppers
  12. Banana Peppers
  13. Eggplant
  14. Onions
  15. Shallots
  16. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  17. Snap Bean Pole
  18. Peas
  19. Spinach
  20. Lettuce
  21. Cabbage
  22. Swiss Chard
  23. Beets
  24. Radish
  25. Carrots
  26. Cucumbers
  27. Pumpkins
  28. Gourds
  29. Winter Squash
  30. Zucchini
  31. Yellow Squash
  32. Cantaloupes
  33. Water Melon
  34. Sunflowers
  35. Tomatoes
  36. Celery
  37. Broccoli
  38. Potatoes
  39. Yellow Tomatoes
  40. Paste Tomatoes

wp-image-1321768642jpg.jpeg

Preserving:

  1. Strawberry Jam
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Black Raspberry Jam
  4. Red Raspberry Jam
  5. Peach Jam
  6. Pear Jelly
  7. Apple Jelly
  8. Honeyed Yellow Tomato Butter
  9. Canned Cherries in Syrup
  10. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sweet
  11. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sour
  12. Basil Banana Pepper Jelly
  13. Apple Sauce
  14. Grape Juice
  15. Pear Juice
  16. Tart Cherry Juice
  17. Pickled Beets
  18. Canned Beets
  19. Vegetable Stock
  20. Vegetable Soup
  21. Tomato Sauce
  22. Blackberry, Red Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Cordials
  23. Chili Sauce (Two different kinds)
  24. Bread and Butter Pickles
  25. Frozen Corn
  26. Frozen Peppers
  27. Frozen Beet Greens/Chard
  28. Red Root Relish
  29. Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
  30.  Dilly Deans
  31. Pickled Hot Peppers
  32. Sweet Crisp Pickles
  33.  Crushed Tomatoes
  34. Whole Tomatoes Packed in Water
  35.  Canned Green Beans
  36. Frozen Peas
  37. Frozen Winter Squash and some stored whole
  38. Chili
  39. Stuffed Hot Peppers
  40. Stuffed Sweet Peppers

 

So far, we are already doing mighty fine with our 2017 gardening goals and we have had plenty of rain too. Yippee!

This last weekend we added 3 more raised veggie beds which brings my planting area to about 200 sq. ft. of space to work with. Yippee! Thank you Mr. Ripley for working so hard. (He said it was my Mother’s Day present).

To date we have planted carrots, peas, radish, and lettuce but much more will be planted by the end of this week.


How will I keep track of all of this? My journal. And lists. LOTS of lists. Should be interesting! Wish me luck and I will keep you updated. -MM

 

 

 

My Gardening and Preserving Goals for 2016

In past years when it comes to my gardening and preserving goals I tend to just wing it. Whatever canning recipe sounds good I’ll try. Whatever new plant or seed looks colorful and fun I’ll grow it. Unfortunately this leaves me by the end of the growing season with canned goods I will never use and produce that’s not very practical for our needs.pretty cabbages

This year I want to have a plan in place to eliminate the guess work. In a journal I have written a carefully researched list of herbs that I want grow for their medicinal and culinary purposes. I have also thoughtfully picked out the veggies/fruits I will need for the preserving recipes I want to try and I have listed the goods I want to get preserved

This is a VERY high achieving list. I am realistic in saying I probably will not do all of this this year but it is a goal of mine and now I will have a place to look for inspiration when I need motivation.

Okey Doke! Here we go!

I spent a while researching these herbs, plants and flowers and what they are used for. Many make good companion plants to certain veggies in the garden so I will most likely add those plants to the garden beds to enrich the soil and to aid its companion buddy.

  1. Yarrow (can be invasive so it will have it’s own bed)
  2. Anise Hyssop
  3. Garlic
  4. Chives (Companion for Carrots) (I grow now)
  5. Aloe Vera
  6. Lemon Verbena
  7. Dill
  8. Chervil
  9. Horseradish Companion for Potatoes)
  10. Artemisia
  11. Tarragon (Companion for Eggplant and Peppers)
  12. Borage
  13. Calendula
  14. Caraway (Companion for Peas)
  15. Bachelor Button
  16. Chamomile  (Companion for Cabbages and Onions)
  17. Cilantro
  18. Lemongrass
  19. Dianthus Clove Pink
  20. Purple Cone Flower (Echinacea)
  21. Fennel
  22. Sweet Woodruff
  23. Lavender (I grow now)
  24. Lemon Balm (I grow now)
  25. Mint (I grow now)
  26. Catnip (grows wild around here)
  27. Basil (annual that I start from seed)
  28. Oregano
  29. Parsley (I grow now)
  30. Anise
  31. Purslane (Grows wild here and considered a weed)
  32. Rosemary
  33. Sage (I grow now)
  34. Dandelion (Also a common weed)
  35. Thyme
  36. Nasturtium
  37. Valerian
  38. Violet (Grows wild here)
  39. Pansy
  40. Eucalyptus

wpid-20150824_180737.jpg

For our vegetable garden I selected plants  based on what I needed for my canning recipes and what I would use fresh.

  1. Asparagus (will not produce until year 3)
  2. Strawberries (will produce better the second year)
  3. Rhubarb (will plant this year and harvest will begin next year)
  4. Corn
  5. Popcorn
  6. Sweet Peppers
  7. Banana Peppers
  8. Eggplant
  9. Onions (My #1 priority every year for storage)
  10. Snap Bean Bush – Purple, yellow and green
  11. Snap Bean Pole
  12. Dry Beans
  13. Peas
  14. Spinach
  15. Lettuce
  16. Cabbage
  17. Swiss Chard
  18. Beets
  19. Radish
  20. Carrots
  21. Cucumbers
  22. Pumpkins
  23. Gourds
  24. Winter Squash
  25. Zucchini
  26. Yellow Squash
  27. Cantaloupes
  28. Water Melon
  29. Sunflowers
  30. Tomatoes
  31. Celery
  32. Broccoli
  33. Potatoes
  34. Jalapenos
  35. Yellow Tomatoes
  36. Paste Tomatoeswpid-20151014_132108.jpg

And finally the preserving list. It’s even longer than the other two. I know, I know. It’s a lofty goal but it’s something I will try my best at accomplishing. And if I get it all done we won’t have to go to the grocery store until Spring. (Just kidding).

  1. Strawberry Jam
  2. Grape Jelly
  3. Black Raspberry Jam
  4. Red Raspberry Jam
  5. Blackberry Jam
  6. Cherry Jam
  7. Peach Jam
  8. Pear Jelly
  9. Apple Jelly
  10. Honeyed Yellow Tomato Butter
  11. Canned Cherries in Syrup
  12. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sweet
  13. Canned Cherry Pie Filling Sour
  14. Basil Banana Pepper Jelly
  15. Apples in Syrup
  16. Grape Juice
  17. Pear Juice
  18. Tart Cherry Juice
  19. Pickled Beets
  20. Canned Beets
  21. Vegetable Stock
  22. Vegetable Soup
  23. Tomato Sauce
  24. Blackberry, Red Raspberry, Peach, Cherry Cordials
  25. Chili Sauce (Two different kinds)
  26. Bread and Butter Pickles
  27. Frozen Corn
  28. Frozen Peppers
  29. Frozen Beet Greens/Chard
  30. Make my own pectin out of green apples
  31. Sweet Pickle Relish
  32. Dill Pickle Relish
  33. Red Root Relish
  34. Ketchup
  35. Red Hot Sauce
  36. BBQ Sauce
  37. Lemon Sage Wine Mustard
  38. Dilly Deans
  39. Pickled Roasted Red Peppers
  40. Pickled Hot Peppers
  41. Spiced Red Cabbage
  42. Sweet Crisp Pickles
  43. Crushed Tomatoes
  44. Whole Tomatoes Packed in Water
  45. Canned Green Beans
  46. Frozen Peas
  47. Frozen Winter Squash and some stored whole
  48. Chili
  49. Pear Juice
  50. Tart Cherry Juice

wpid-20151014_080650.jpg

I will also be drying the herbs and many fruits and veggies in our 2 dehydrators.

What I haven’t mentioned is that we have 3 apple, 2 sweet cherry, 1 sour cherry, 2 pear, 2 peach and 1 apricot (1 died) and a hazelnut (1 of these died also). Plus blackberry, red raspberry, black raspberry, and blueberry bushes.

fruit1

So these are the goals. Am I missing anything? Am I nuts? We will find out! -MM

 

A New DIY Project and 12 Goals for 2015 Update

A New DIY Project

DIY2

We have a 1950s style house with LOTS of paneling. Little by little I have been painting the entire house as opposed to ripping out all of the paneling which can get messy.

I was itching to do a small project yesterday. I have been slowly working on my kitchen for the past three years, painting a section of it at a time. I decided that the shelves above my kitchen desk needed a makeover.

DIY3

We had some leftover paint from our living room project so I decided to use the same paint we used on the bookcases in that room. I choose a medium gray color for the living room bookcases because not only is it soft and comforting but it hides the dust!

After spending an hour or so scraping the old blue painters tape off that I had left on there since the last project (Note to self: don’t do that again!) and clearing the shelves of all of the junk on them and cleaning them and removing any of the screws and hooks attached to them, I got down to business.

DIY1

With three shelves, sides, tops and bottoms I got a first coat on everything. Then my shoulder ached so I figured that was enough for one day.

I plan on digging a few pieces of my Granny’s Milk Glass  out of the attic to display them on one of the shelves. Hopefully that will give me incentive to keep the shelves clean and organized.

I will post pics when the project is finished. What kind of projects are you working on right now?

12 Goals for 2015 Update

 Week Three

1. Renovate our only bathroom and replace the window in our son’s bedroom.

I am still in the “finding a contractor and getting a good quote” stage of my bathroom reno but rest assured we will have a new bathroom by the end of the year come heck or high water!

I did get our son’s window replaced in his bedroom last week though. Yippee! It was an old single paned window with a storm that was not pretty, especially with the big hole in it from a roll of quarters flying into it one day. (Gee I wonder how that happened?) It took all of an hour and a half to get the old window out and the new one in and at a cost of $396.00 including labor and tax I say that was pretty good!

2. Catch-up on and read my favorite daily blog – “Feed Your Family for $100 a Month” by Mavis Butterfield. Also catch-up on and read a really great e-magazine “From Scratch”.

Mavis Butterfield’s blog is a daily blog and if I don’t read it at least once a week to catch-up I tend to get way behind. I am so behind in fact that I am currently reading October blog posts from her. So I have a little catching up to do. I have gotten about 15 read this last week so I might get caught up by March. Maybe.

From Scratch is a bi-monthly e-magazine and currently I am 3 months behind. I guess I have some reading to do there too.

I could just delete all of the emails and start from scratch (no pun intended) but I would really miss out on some great information as well as deals that both publications offer.

3. Journal Daily

So far I am only one day behind and that is amazing for a person who has never consistently written in a journal. I will keep you updated.

4. Pay off one of our two credit cards

At first my goal was to pay off both of our credit cards but after thinking about it I knew I would struggle to pay off one much less two. I called the credit card company for my Old Navy Card (the one with the highest interest) and they would not budge on the interest rate. So I have a different plan and we will see how that goes in the coming months.

5. Organize our attic

I haven’t done anything yet

6. Exercise 3 times a week

So far I haven’t exercised yet this week but after painting yesterday I might just count that!

7. Read one book a month

ken follett

The book I am reading right now is Fall of Giants, by Ken Follett. It is an epic novel set during WWI. It sweeps over Russia, Germany, England and the US with a set of characters in each country. I have been listening to it on CD because it is such a long novel. With my schedule there are some books I would never get read if it weren’t recorded on CD. This book is a whopping 24 CDs long which is exactly why I chose it. I am on CD 15 and I have had it since before Christmas. I hope the library will let me renew it for a third time! What are you reading at the moment?

8. Send out birthday and anniversary cards each month

I have always wanted to be like my mom and mother-in-law in the way they have always been so good about sending cards out to everyone on their birthdays. So far in my life have failed miserably at it. I decided that this year would be different. I would get organized!

I have taken two different steps to make sure I get birthday and anniversary cards out to people in a timely manner.

One: I subscribed to Hallmark E-Cards. I set up an account online and for a small yearly fee you can input all of the recipients’ names with birth dates and when you would like the e-cards to be delivered. You can choose from many different styles and gender specific cards. The recipients receive a notification via email that they have a card to open. It was easy and affordable! Here is a link to their site https://www.hallmarkecards.com/ 

Two: I ordered a mess of paper cards from CURRENT Catalog. Our church used to use Current as a fundraiser when we were young and it has been years since I have ordered from them. I found them again on-line and I ordered a variety of cards. Some I ordered were for kids, some were for men, some for women, some for old and some for young. I purchased 48 cards for less than $35 including shipping and tax. Not bad! Current also carries wrapping paper and stationary and all kinds of other  fun stuff. Check out www.currentcatalog.com for more info.current catalog

I have January birthdays ready to go now I need to work on February’s.

9. Make copies of my Granny’s recipes and give a copy to each of our family members.

So far I have done nothing towards this goal but the year is young.

10. Digitize my Dad’s family’s photos and make photo books and give CD copies to each of our family members

I own and live in my dad’s parents’ house. In the attic are the family photos from my dad’s side of the family packed neatly away by his mother, my grandmother. Both sets of my grandparents have been gone for quite a long time now. I have really wanted to go through all of my family’s photos from both sides to digitize them. Since my dad’s family photos are in my attic I decided I would start on his side first. So far the photos I have found have started with photos from the 1940s during WWII.

On my day off which is Wednesday I have been taking batches of photos down to my local Walgreens to scan them and put them on a CD. I have to admit I had never done this before but it only took once to have someone guide me through the process and now I am a pro at it.

Last week I spent an hour and a half scanning in 36 photos and cropping and saving them.

Here are a couple of the photos I scanned.

2767003327670009

My dad is the one with the puss on his face in the photo on the left. He is turning 70 this year.

The CD has a 36 photo capacity and costs $5.99. After I scan in my photos and input my payment info the CD is ready to be picked up in less than two hours. You can also make prints of these photos and there are lots of other options. It’s a great gift idea at an affordable price.

It is so much fun to work on this project. I will show you some more photos as I progress with my project.

11. YouTube/Blog at least once a week

Originally I wanted to create YouTube videos of baking and cooking and canning but I am a little scared after my one and only attempt to make a video. For now I think I will just stick with getting the hang of blogging. I hope to post on Wednesday and Sundays but will have to see how that goes.

12. Read the Bible from cover to cover with my husband

I have never read the Bible from cover to cover. There are quite a few of my church family that have read it more than once so I figured this was the year I was finally ready to receive the words of the Bible and I wanted to do it with my husband.

I downloaded a book to my Kindle to help guide us in achieving this goal.

The Bible Challenge, Read the Bible in a Year, gives you a daily schedule of readings along with a short devotional and questions pertaining to the text you have read.

We really like our nightly readings. Instead of waiting until bedtime, we read right after dinner, at the dining room table, otherwise we get sleepy and tend to want to stop. My husband and I read aloud to each other sharing the reading. It has sparked some interesting conversations between us!

I feel good about my progress on my 2015 goals. Do you have goals? What are they and how are you doing on them? – MMR