Sunday, March 31, 2013

in like a lion, out like a lion

After a couple warm days with melting snow and feeling like spring is right around the corner we are back to heating the greenhouse at least for the overnight tonight and probably tomorrow night.  The temperatures are dropping and the wind is howling.  By dawn tomorrow morning they are predicting 0 degree windchills.   

Today was Easter and greenhouse greens made it to Mom and Dad's for the family celebration.  Before leaving for town I harvested some of four or five different crops for a pretty bowl with different textures and colors.  I also delivered Asha's salad bar to town so that Lisa can take it home with her for Asha.  It will be fun to hear if she likes it.  I also sent a pot of kale for Lisa who says she is eating kale everyday.   On Wednesday Nikole's salad bowls will be heading to the big city and Cait has had a salad from her planter of greens that went with to college.  She reports that her greens got their first spring rain. 

I have been spending some time with the seedlings for the spring garden.  The impatiens that had the oops were rearranged so that there were only one seedling in a cell.  The are still pretty tiny and I tried to weigh the effects of moving them when they are tiny and fragile or to let them get bigger with their roots even more intertwined.  They seem to be doing okay, so hopefully I made the right decision.  They are pretty cute--tiny plants maybe 1/4 to 1/2 inch tall with two perfectly round leaves. 

The marigolds are about an inch tall with four leaves.  I have been pretty disappointed with the germination but I am thinking that a few more might be coming so perhaps it will be better.  The ones that have come so far are looking pretty good. 

Still nothing with the bee balm.  I have moved it off the propagation mat wondering if it was too warm.  I hate to give up on it too quickly so I guess I will give it a little more time. 

The first tomato seeds that were planted were transplanted to bigger containers today.  These are the tomatoes that are to be in containers to provide the early tomatoes.  The largest seedlings are about two inches tall and are starting to get a little fuzz on the stems.  There are several different varieties.  It will be fun to see how they do.

No new pictures this time.  Here are a couple pictures that were shared on Facebook a couple days ago of Nikole's salad bowl.

Monday, March 25, 2013

greenhouse update and a recipe

Last week was great.  It was good to have Caitlin home on spring break. We were still having cold weather but it looks promising for some snow melt and sunny days in the coming week.  Before she left to visit the rest of the family we transplanted a variety of greens for her to take back with her to Kansas.  They will be loving the earlier spring and she can probably have them outside.  She also took back a planter of kale to take to Kansas as well.  We did a quick harvest of some of the greens and she brought some to her siblings to share.  It will give me a chance to see how they regrow.  Should be enough for a salad to share at Easter. 

While Cait was home we tried our hand at kale chips.  We used this recipe and thought they were pretty good.  We had them eaten before I thought to take a picture.

Tuscan Kale Chips

Preheat oven to 250 degrees.  Wash and dry kale leaves.  With the bigger leaves we trimmed the leaf from the ribs and stem.  With the small baby leaves we left the rib and stem.  Drizzle the kale with small amount of olive oil and toss to coat.  Sprinkle with small amount of salt.  Place in a single layer on a parchment lined baking sheet.  Bake for 30 minutes or until dry.  
Although not suggested in the online recipes we consulted, we added some finely grated Parmesan cheese to the first batch as we pulled them out of the oven.  For the second batch we added the Parmesan cheese as we put them in the oven.  Both ways turned out tasty. 

We made a small batch and ate them all as they came out of the oven so I cannot attest to how well they will do in prolonged storage.  They are very delicate.

Greenhouse Update

greens sampler

When the seeds were ordered from Johnny's we had selected some greens seeds for the summer garden but also for the winter greenhouse next season.  I selected a dozen varieties that we have not grown yet and planted a few so that we could test them out to see what they have from growth habits and how they taste.  Those seedlings have now been transplanted into larger containers.  Over ten days I have transplanted each variety into one of the new white tubs so we can also test out how the tubs will work.  So far they are looking great.  I started transplanting the largest seedlings first so of course they are also farthest along in the new tubs.  


tomato seedlings

I have two batches of tomatoes started.  The earlier bunch were intended to go into pots and would leave the greenhouse in their final home ready to flower and produce fruit.  The second batch is intended to be ready to transplant into their final home in the ground.  We are hoping to get the jump on the season.  The first batch are up and one to two inches tall.  They seem to be moving slowly but have survived the chilly nights and cloudy days.  Perhaps the forecast of sunny days will inspire them.  The second batch which was planted later has mixed results so far.  The paste style seems to be doing the best.  They were planted two weeks ago so I am concerned.

Asparagus (L) marigolds (C) tomatoes (R)

flower seedlings

I planted marigold, bee balm and impatiens but only about half of the marigolds are up and a few of the impatiens.  They were planted on the ninth so if they don't come soon I will be concerned about them as well.  

I think I need to do a little research on heat mat temperatures. 

Nikole's salad bowl
a close up
Asha's salad bar

I have also built a couple more pallet tables and have started planning the summer garden spaces.  We will have a new garden space this year which I have named the corn field which will provide space for sweet corn, pumpkins, squashes and melons.  I can't wait.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013


What a way to greet Spring!!  And so glad that Caitlin was home.  Now we know that when she dreams of baby goats they are not far behind. This little sweetie belongs to Cache-Cache and both mom and baby so far are doing great. 

Sunday, March 10, 2013

another collection

Twenty years ago my mom started a collection of Christmas dishes for me and every year she added to the collection.  

Some years there were place settings,

 some years there were serving pieces,

nesting storage bowls with covers

salt and peppers

and some years there were fun accent pieces. 
cookie jars


cookies and milk for Santa

pitcher and candy dishes

The pattern is Happy Holidays by Nikko.
I like the swirled edges on the plates.  I like that each of the pieces has the same Christmas tree on it with the teddy bear and the star on top.

But what I like most are the collector plates.

Beginning in 1993 the Happy Holidays pattern produced a dated collector plate. They all had the same tree.  The first year the tree was the same as the place setting tree.

First Edition

Sometimes the scene was an indoor one 

Rockin Around the Christmas Tree

and sometimes the scene was an outdoor one. 
Frosty the Snowman
White Christmas

Always the plates were named for a favorite Christmas carol. 

And then something happened in 2009.  

There was a shortage of plates and we were unable to get one that year.
And so the decision needed to be made.  Do we skip that year and have a hole in the 'complete set' hoping to be able to find one later on?  Or do we stop where we are?  When 2010 rolled around I decided to stop with the plates that I have.  Sixteen is quite a few.  Added to the 12 place settings that I have I could serve 28 people which is much more than I have room for in my little house.  I used to display them on the wall and 16 is even a lot to find room to display.  

I still look every once in a while to see if there is one out there for sale online knowing that if I found 2009 those that came after would be easier to find and I could fill out my set.  Nikko also has another set of Christmas dishes called Christmastime which is an octagonal shaped stoneware with the exact same design on the collector plate and I have thought occasionally about getting the 2009 plate in that pattern but it wouldn't be the same. 

And it is fine.  There are still pieces that I need to fill out my set.  More salad plates, more bread plates and more glasses.  And oh the cute serving pieces and accent pieces--new ones every year.  I will be okay.

Here are the dishes waiting to be put away.  I gather them all together and then using a ladder tuck them away in the uppermost cupboards above my sink.  Until next year.

Thanks Mom for the not so small fortune that you have invested in these favorite dishes over the years, usually it was my favorite present under your tree.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

rainy day in the greenhouse

Today was predicted to rain and then snow and I spent the rainy part of it in the greenhouse.  I picked some greens for a salad and planted some seeds for the summer garden.
These are the greens I picked for a salad: simpson lettuce, kale, red romaine and green romaine.  I ended up dressing it with a little homemade balsamic vinaigrette and some chicken salad.  It was pretty tasty.

Here is some of the red romaine.
The Simpson lettuce.
These are the tomato seedlings that were planted on February 24th.

These are Nikole's clay pots.  The are planted with kale in the center. The red colored plant is red romaine and then clockwise from the red romaine is Simpson lettuce, green romaine, spinach, butter head and green grand rapids.
This is the greens sampler that was planted  February 22 so we could try the greens that we will be growing next winter.  Some are starting to get their first sets of true leaves.

Pictured here are the flowers that are seeded sitting on the warming mat.  They are impatiens, bee balm and marigolds.

Images from Johnny's seed catalog:

                 Accent Mystic Mix (F1)              Panorama Red Shades               Queen Sophia
                Impatiens accent mystic mix          Bee balm Panorama red shades            Marigold Queen Sophia                                                                 

Monday, March 4, 2013

kale update and a new project

The kale plants continue to grow.  Here is another picture of the kale plants.  These are the biggest ones but the others are all growing as well and are not too far behind.  I am thinking that they will be big enough for a some type of a kale dish for Easter.

I also have another project that I have started.  Not all of the plants that we plan to grow in the winter can grow in a gutter planter.  Some just need more room for their roots to spread out.   I have been on the lookout for something suitable and found a possibility at Wal-Mart the other day.   Mom and I purchased a couple to give then a try before investing in a bunch of them.  They had lots of the qualities I was looking for: sturdy, nice depth, molded handles so they would easy to move and for a nice price.  

This is one of the containers.  It is actually meant to be a tray that fits inside of a bigger container but it is sold separately.  I like it because two will fit perfectly on our pallet tables.  I planted an assortment of baby greens in it and am calling it a salad bar for Asha.  My niece Kaylee has a small tortoise named Asha and she feeds it greens. Asha is only a few inches long right now and I am thinking that she can just set Asha in the container and let her graze from the different plants.  

Here is a picture that Kaylee took of Asha and I swiped from facebook.

Isn't (s)he cute?

Saturday, March 2, 2013

i collect...

rolling pins.  
I collect rolling pins.

These are my antique rolling pins.  I keep them corralled in a crock in my kitchen.  Along side of the crock is the rolling pin that i most often use--a French pin. 

 Missing from this picture is my lefse pin.   It is actually with the rest of the lefse making equipment at my Mom's.  I usually use the lefse pin for rolling sugar cookies.  My sister, Lisa, does the rolling of the lefse for my generation as she can get them nice and round and thin and I cannot. 
I am pleased to say that my daughter Nikole has taken up the mantle of lefse making for the next generation.  She does a nice job and I am very proud of her.

This is a rolling pin carved from Italian olive wood.
It was brought from Italy by my daughter, Caitlin, who spent a semester in Orvieto. There was a wonderful group of shops selling the wares of local artists. 

Here are a couple pictures of the shop where this treasure came from.

A few years ago I found these cute rolling pin ornaments

and ever since at Christmastime they have graced a tree in my kitchen

This year i found some that were slightly bigger 

so i added garland on the chrome rack surrounding my stove in order to display these as well.