Tuesday, December 29, 2009

Sunn Spotting

A few weeks ago the hubbs and I stopped by a grocery store in the next town and saw this amazing contraption Really, is this not the coolest little car you've ever seen?!?
A one-seater with a top speed of 25mph. Totally customizable!
Solar powered with the batteries at the very front of the vehicleYou can find out more about these here.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Dinner and Vanilla Extract

Last night Jami fried up some deer back strap (something like a pork tenderloin) that he or his dad harvested. If you fix this, be sure to get all of the white parts off, it's really tough.

While he was busy making dinner, I got busy making the vanilla extract.

Bottles ready for a hot bath.

I have a small pressure cooker that I do all of my canning in. You don't have to have the big guns to can!

All of the directions I found said to use kitchen scissors to cut the beans. I found a razor knife to be much, much easier.

This is what happens when you have hard water (and a silly husband!).

But, with a little vinegar it's good as gold!

All labled and ready to go! I really like how this turned out.

I'm off now until Monday! I hope you all have the loveliest Christmas possible!!!

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

The Yule Meal

I hope everyone had a Blessed Yule and it was as relaxing as my night was! We came home to a beautiful sunset.....and Jami got to use his new present to grill the best Large Mouth Bass I have ever tasted! This is just before going on the grill. It was caught in our back pond and is seasoned with lots of basil, and a pinch each of cayenne pepper and Lawry's Seasoned Salt.

Of course we had to have cheese grits with it!! A good 'ole SaGaNoFla Yule feast!

The makings for a big 'ole weight gain!

Things have been pretty busy around the Old Homestead here lately between the normal routine and getting ready for Christmas. I really haven't felt like battling the crowds and the traffic to find that "perfect" store bought piece of crap that just so happened to be marketed right. Plus I flat out don't have the money to spend. So the hubbs and I put our heads together to figure out something the two of us could make in a one size fits all. Cookies!! Everybody loves fresh, home baked cookies, right? I haven't sat down and figured out the exact price of each, but considering that we had a lot of the ingredients stock piled in the pantry, it's not very much. I paid $1 per tin at the Dollar Tree and spent somewhere around $30 at the grocery store (hitting sales, of course!). We're expecting to get 1 1/2 - 2 dozen mixed cookies in each tin. The adults (16) have a slightly larger tin than the kids (only 2). We've been making the batter, balling up the dough, and freezing it so the baking will go smooth sailing. We're also making vanilla extract for the ladies of the family. Our bottles just came in yesterday, so we'll be getting on top of that tonight!

We're making at least one batch of each cookie, most of them making between 3 and 4 dozen cookies per batch.

The List:
Pecan Pie Cookies
Tie-Dye Sugar Cookies
Chocolate Hazelnut Thins
Oreo Cookies (not the store bought!)
Chocolate Crackle
Oreo Balls (doesn't require baking!)
Shortbread Thumbprint with blackberry jelly (homemade from the back yard!)

These are the ingredients for the Hazelnut thins. Nutella is soooo good!!
For our coffee lover friends I'm making chocolate covered coffee beans that are peppermint flavored and am toying with making them Fudgy Cappuccino cookies, but we'll see how time is going. I'll try to get some recipes posted of some of these soon.

My little helper complete with his pet beer!

My friend came over Sunday night to make some cookies of her own. We did the tie-dye sugar cookies, which was good since I wanted to try them first! It took a little while to do them, but they turned out great!

Cookies Cooling

This one was my favorite!
We finished up at about 11:30 that night with more than a couple of glasses of rum and coke... all in all it was a good night!

Monday, December 7, 2009

Monkey Bread

Have I mentioned that I LOVE cinnamon?!?!

What you'll need:
  • 4 cans biscuits
  • 1/4 cup margarine
  • 2 cups sugar, divided
  • 4 teaspoons cinnamon, divided

Add 2 teaspoons cinnamon to 1 cup sugar. Cut each biscuit into 4 pieces. Place cinnamon-sugar in a bag; place biscuit pieces in the bag and shake until well coated. Dump into a Bundt pan. Melt margarine; add 1 cup sugar and 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Mix until well blended; pour over biscuits. Bake 30-35 minutes at 350* or until browned.

These are soooo delicious!!

Conch Chi Chi's

What you'll need:
  • Pineapple juice
  • Coco Lopez (Creme of coconut)
  • Kahlua
  • Vodka

Into blender put: 1 shot pineapple juice, 1 shot coconut creme, 1/2 shot Kahlua, 1/2 shot vodka. Blend until smooth.


Well, dang.... my mouth is already watering!!

What you'll need:
  • Vodka vanilla vodka is best
  • Kahlua
  • Bailey's Irish Creme
  • Half & Half
  • Chocolate Syrup
  • Reddi Whip

Into blender put: 1 shot vodka, 1 shot Kahlua, 2 shots Bailey's, splash of half and half, 1 cup ice. Blend until smooth. Make designs on inside of a glass with the chocolate syrup. Pour in drink. Top with whipped cream and drizzle with syrup. Top with a cherry or strawberry.

Just what I've always wanted!

If I'm looking for a sure fire way to relax, piddling with plants works like a charm. My favorite job ever was working for a local plant nursery. I never dreaded having to get out of my cozy bed to work in the hot summer sun or to freeze my tushie off in the Winter. Never did I tire of waiting on customers with endless questions. "I don't know what it's called, but I saw it in the mall parking lot." "Can you tell me what this is growing on my beloved roses?" "I'm no good at this, could you make a list of things that would work in my yard?" No question ever went without a good answer. It felt good sharing plant knowledge with people. I'd have to say that I learned more at the nursery than I did at any other job, possibly all of them combined. If I'm riding with someone, my eyes are constantly darting from yard to yard naming off the plants in my head. This is an excellent way to keep everything fresh and even to learn new plants!
I would love nothing more than to be able to pack up my things at this job and run back to the nursery! The sad thing is, that unless something miraculous happens in the plant world, I would never be able to survive on the wages that they pay. So, thanks to my daddy (whom I'm pretty well convinced is the best dad in the entire world) I now have that favorite job right outside my backdoor!!
I somehow neglected to take a picture of the outside, so this is from the manufacturers website!

She's slightly used (about 6 months worth) by my cousin's ex-wife (another plant enthusiast!). My dad and I have been trying to get this off of him for somewhere around a year and dad finally scored with an extremely reasonable trade! It's bigger than this picture makes it look with it being 12' deep and 10' wide. I'm not too sure on the height of it, but I'm 5'0" and can barely reach to hang a pot from the rafters! The outside is made of fiberglass that will have to be replaced over the years. The frame itself is constructed of galvanized steel which, to put it in Jami's words, will be there longer than we want it to :)
This is the inside of the green house, taken standing just outside the door. You can see how well the frame was built and the old plant hanging gives you a little perspective of the height of the structure. The built in selves are about a foot deep and go around both sides and the back. They're covered with wood which is OK for now, but when they're reading to go I think I'll cover it with something like chicken wire to allow the water to flow from the pots easier. I can also add a fan in the little square on the top middle of the back wall for more air flow if needed during our hot summers. Jami's dad was nice enough to haul in some clay/dirt and level the ground underneath. Since it doesn't have a floor in it, he also brought some old conveyor belt to put down so I won't be in the mud. He's such a nice pa-in-law; he also plowed the garden for me!

Looking out of the door you can see the bed liners we repurposed as bottom shelves. The footers on this thing have it raised up about 5" from the ground so there's an air flow around the entire bottom of it. By placing the pieces of bed liner from tailgates it totally blocks the air and makes for some mighty fine shelving.... even if it doesn't look the prettiest. For the front and rear open spots, we've temporarily placed boards to block wind. Of course I've already been told about 5 times that they will rot away in no time, but they're from an old deck that a friend tore down so I really don't give a flip if they do or not! I've got plenty more stashed out back! You can also see where it's wired up (the horizontal line running from by the door to the window). It's got the switch for the heat lamp (you can see that in the previous picture) and an electrical socket with a water proof cover.

This is looking to the other side of the door. You can see the gap I was talking about very well. This side also has wood blocking the wind for now because I have my pots sitting in the corner and a shelving unit with cover for my fertilizers and such in front of them. The black hose is a soaker hose that will probably come down since it doesn't allow for optimum watering. I don't suggest watering your potted plants this way (putting down a soaker hose in a flower bed is great, though) because not all of your plants are going to need the same amount of water at the same time. It's best to get a watering wand and water your plants as needed.

We moved in the outdoor plants this past Saturday as our first real cold weather came in that night (yea, the first frost for us was in December this year and it got down to 32*.... very chilly for us!!). I checked the temperature around 10am and it was holding a steady 70* inside the building! I'll definitely be planting some seeds early this year!!