Sunday, May 27, 2012

Junque Yard - oh happy day!

Yesterday I got to go to my favorite local garden center, Milaeger's. I almost wish it was a national chain so that you all could experience the goodness that comes from them, but at the same time, I haz a happy that it's mine. ALL. MINE! Muahahahaha...

It's a small family owned nursery with 2 locations both close to me. In the spring and early summer when they put out their plants, I get all giddy and stuff.

I went yesterday afternoon, because I couldn't make it to the local farmer's market in the morning. It was pouring, and my back was hurting too badly to make that trip. At least at Milaeger's I can lean on a cart.

Anyway, my budget was $20-30, and I was looking for some of the less common food plants that I like to grow, that I don't have seed for. For $29, this is what I picked up:

a Stevia plant. If you've ever chewed a leaf, you'd be surprised how sweet it is.  Stevia is the herb from which Truvia comes from. It's an herb found in South America that has been used to sweeten things with no extra calories. I bought 2 last year, but due to having hand surgery last fall, I wasn't able to pick and dehydrate the leaves like I wanted to.  I fully intend on doing that this year.

a chocolate mint plant. Why by mint when it's it's so invasive you ask? Well, chocolate mint smells wonderful. And I grow it in containers so that it doesn't invade the rest of my gardens. I honestly don't do much with it, except sniff it. It makes me happy.

a Pineapple Sage plant. It really does smell like pineapples.  I bought one last year, and put it in a pot, but it didn't last very long. I'm determined to keep one this year. It said it's a perennial, but hardy only in zones 8-10, so I can't keep it out in the herb garden, but I'm hoping to keep it alive and bring it into the house come fall.

A yellow bell pepper and a purple bell pepper plant.  My bell seedlings are taking forever to show some growth. And most of them didn't even sprout this year. I think seeds are too old. Besides, most of my bell peppers are green to red...and I luuurve the purple (or chocolate) bells. They have a unique taste. They yellows just taste great, and since red, orange and yellow peppers are so blinking expensive in the stores, I'm hoping to get a good crop of them so that I can freeze and dehydrate some.

Another patchouli plant. I bought one for my mom last year, and amazingly, it's still alive (we really abuse our indoor plants by forgetting to water them regularly). But it's sparse, and I wanted to add another one and help it bush out. I think it will benefit from a summer outside.  If you like the smell of patchouli, get one of these plants, they actually smell great, and are not overpowering like patchouli oil is.

One banana pepper plant, because the 'nana seeds I started didn't propegate well. I'll have to pick up some more so that I can do my usual pickling of banana peppers. They are so good, we put them on almost everything. Especially pizza. I've even got my mother liking them. HA!  :)

And lastly, I got a sugar snap pea, because I didn't start any earlier. I'm hoping it's not too warm, and I get a few snap peas. I love them long time.

We also got a 5lb bag of Yukon Gold seed potatoes. I can't wait to get those in the ground to start them a-growing. Yum!  We did red potatoes last year, and still have some left over. They've sprouted, so we will probably plant some of those too.

I just don't know where we are gonna put all this stuff!  Such a problem to have, right?

Sunday, May 20, 2012

More Junque stuffs

I was playing with instagram today, and here's some photos I took:

this is Muffett, sunning herself.

Rainbow Swiss Chard and baby Spinach. Yum!

Strawberries are coming!!

this is a rogue iris. I didn't plant it, but it popped up this year.  My mom thinks a squirrel planted it for me.  Surprise!

My Columbine is blooming like mad. However, all the flowers point down, and look like death flowers.  Does anyone know if this is normal for them? it's the 2nd year the flowers are doing this.  But when you lift them up, they are actually very pretty with little yellow centers.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Junque Yard - BUNNIES!

  What a weird week here at the mini-micro-ranch.  We have finally had more sun, and less rain, and so we have started removing the straw mulch and weeding the raised bed gardens. DaHubster has done the lion's share of that as he's home in the afternoons.  One day last week, he and our dog were outside weeding, when the dog started sniffing very interestedly at a patch of garden that hadn't had the mulch removed yet.  He noticed that she would sniff at the pile of straw, and then noticed the straw would bounce and move. Not sure what he'd find, he gently removed some of the straw on the top to find a rabbit nest, or warren, with baby bunnies inside all peering up at him.

He put our dog in the house, and recovered the warren. She would chase them if they ran, and think they were would great chew toys.  He showed me when I got home from work. They were so cute! We couldn't figure out how many there were in there, and we toyed with the idea of chasing them out of the gard (the mom had picked the smack dab-in-the-middle of our long bed for her babies).  

The next day, he was out there weeding again, and noticed a bad smell, he was worried that they had been caught and eaten, so he looked inside the nest. there was movement, but at least one of them had definitely passed away.  We wondered if he should remove the dead one, but we ultimately decided to leave them alone, and hope that the mother would come and remove the live ones or the dead one herself.

The day after, we checked the next again, and it was completely empty, so we figured they had found other accommodations.

Then we started seeing the babies around the yard. They would pop up here and there.  They apparently were of the age to leave the nest, but they were so small! I managed to take a couple of pics of them when we found them hiding in the grass or something. I think at one point we counted 3 of them.

One night I was out late, and I heard something large out in the yard, and I had a feeling that it was something that was hungry for baby bunny. The next morning, we found what was left.

That day we have fun with the remaining  bunnies.  We didn't hassle them, but they were friendly enough to come close to use. I will admit that I petted one on it's widdle head.

Slowly over the week, though we have seen them less and less. I fear one got shut into a neighbors garage. We haven't seen them for a few days now. I'm hoping they are hiding in the tall grass, growing bigger. They were so cute.

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Musings from the Junque Pile with a little Junque Food thrown in.

Nothing much happened in the gardens this past weekend. It was stormy and rainy and just blech-y.  I was hoping to get my tomatoes and peppers outside and into their warm and comfy wall-o-waters, but it was not meant to be.

Instead, I cleaned up after animals (you can't have 3 cats and a dog and have no smells in the house, I don't care who you are), did a mountain of laundry (that I still have yet to fold), and the hubster and I took turns shaving and trimming the dog (I swear she's part wookie, and smells like one too).

Sunday I concentrated on cooking for the week. I made an awesome pot of refried beans there's no frying don on them, so I don't know why they are called that, except it sounds much better than "Mushed Pinto Beans."  They were totally NOM. I say that, and I don't even like pinto beans. Or much of any bean-y type thing, for that matter. Except Green Beans, and even those can get bean-y if left on the vine too long. Trust me, I know.

But I digress....

I made 2 loaves of bread.  I wanted to make it handmade instead of in the bread machine. I guess I felt the need to knead, if ya know what I mean.  I used a 1/2 combo of whole wheat flour and white flour, with a few teaspoons full of flax seed.  I also covered it in sesame seeds while baking.  The loaves weren't as fluffy as I'd have liked them to be, but I don't think they are super dense either. I'll find out tomorrow when I make myself a sandwich, or toast.

I also made beef tacos for dinner. Seemed fitting, since I'd made the beans.  I love tacos in any form. Fish Tacos - have I shared that recipe with you guys? If not, I will...totally a great recipe, and quick and simple.

Back on track...

I also made a bowl of Tuna salad for lunches.

We are also defrosting a set of pork chops and I just had DaHubster get some hot dog buns, so pretty much all the dinners, with leftovers for lunches are all set this week.

I feel pretty darn good about that.

Not bad for a crappy rainy weekend.

And if you are still with me...I give you: KITTY CAM! Live kittens, go watch!

Monday, May 7, 2012

The Junque Yard - seedlings!

Well, these little guys are not out in the yard yet. But they have been sitting in my computer room window with a light hanging over them for a good 12 hours a day.  We have 2 types of tomatoes (Rutgers and Romas), and 2 types of peppers.  Of the two, the Rutgers, are outgrowing the Romas by quite a bit, and there’s one pepper plant that didn’t take off at all. But I’m just jazzed that I was able to get seedlings started early this year, for once.  I never do, and then end up buying starts from the Farmer’s Market.  But I have all these seeds, and gosh darn it, there is no reason for me not to. 

These guys are about 6 weeks old.  They will soon go out into the raised beds and covered in Wall o Waters.

Oh? You’ve never heard of Wall o Waters???  They are the COOLEST way to get warm weather plants outside and into the garden early. 

I heard about Wall-o-Waters from my favorite magazine Backwoods Home Magazine . I know I've mentioned them before, but they have great articles for people who are looking to go the old time ways, like the Hubster and I am.

I was trying to find an accurate link for them to show you guys, but there are 2 sites with similar URLs and I can't tell which one is the original Wall-o-Water people.  We ourselves bought ours from a local home center store, but II know Amazon sells them (if you buy them from clicking this link, you'll give me a little boost, and I would greatly appreciate it. 

Saturday, May 5, 2012

Musings from the Junque Pile - another spring cleaning project down.

I have a cabinet that houses half of my spices, and all of my plastic lids.  Before yesterday, I would have been too embarrassed to show you this cabinet, which is above the stove.  This is where we keep our lunch containers that we take to work every day, and you know what happens, lids get lost or the one lid that doesn’t fit any container suddenly multiplies like rabbits overnight.

I found some sort of rack-thing as Salvation Army for $2.00. I had no idea what it was, but I knew I could use it for something. It looks like two ginormous napkin holders that are also conjoined twins. I had visions of painting it a funky color and putting it up on the wall to hold necklaces or rings of keys, or something like that.

But when I was looking for a bigger container to put the ever procreating plastic lids in, and this rack popped into my brain. I just knew it would work, and VIOLA!  Instant lid holder! 

I can actually see what lids I have at a glance. I love it! Even my mother liked it, and that's saying something. She's about 6 inches shorter than I am, and this cabinet is above our stove.  She hated getting on the step stool in order to find a matching lid to a container. Now she can see what she  needs much easier, even if she still has to use the stool to get it (heh).

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Junque Food - Banana Bread with a twist!

We have a TON of dehydrated bananas that are sitting on our food shelves, for the simple reason that DaHusband-Man went crazy and bought several dozen bunches of, specifically for dehydrating and storing.

Actually, that's not entirely true.  We love banana chips, and figured that they were the same as dehydrated chips. 

come to find out, banana chips are deep fried, usually in coconut or palm oil. Not exactly healthy for you.

So we have all these jars of banana chips, that are CHEWY as all get out. We tried lots of things to make them palatable. We did the lemon wash so they wouldn't completely turn brown during dehydration.  We sprinkled cinnamon on them (He liked those, I didn't).  We were figuring it was a bust for the snacking dept, but they were something that could sit on our shelves, and we'd have them if we needed. 

So they sat.

For a year. and then another year. 

Until I couldn't stand it anymore, and decided to try to re-hydrate a few of them. I was in the mood for banana bread, but I didn't have any fresh (or over-ripe) on hand.

So I took a loose cup full of them and ran just enough water to cover them. and I let them sit for about an hour.  They soaked up the water, and were instant banana mush. Perfect for bread!

Banana Bread - this is the exact same recipe I used, but I found it already typed in Food and Garden Dailies. Thank you for saving me the time typing from out of my cookbook!
(Better Homes & Gardens, I got it in 1988)

In a large mixing bowl combine:
     1 cup all purpose flour
     2/3 cup sugar
     2 tsp baking powder
    1/2 tsp baking soda
    1/4 tsp salt

Add to the bowl and mix:

     1 cup mashed bananas (2-3 medium)
     1/3 cup shortening, margarine, or butter
     2 TB milk

Add to the bowl and mix:

     3/4 cup flour
     2 eggs

Stir in:

     1/4 cup chopped nuts
I actually skipped the nuts, but put in a cup of butterscotch chips....'cause that's how I roll.

Pour batter into a greased 8 x 4 x 2" loaf pan.  Bake in a 350 degree oven for 55-60 minutes or until a toothpick inserted near the center comes out clean.  Cool for 10 minutes on a wire rack.  Remove from pan and cool thoroughly on a wire rack.  Makes one loaf (16 slices).

Oh my.  it was good.  The only reason that I knew this bread was made with dehydrated bananas was that the bread had SUPER BANANA FLAVOR (complete with echo).

It was definitely a success, and now I know I can make banana bread anytime I want. We have tons of banana chips just waiting.....

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Musings from the Junque Pile - The Great No-Poo Experiment - Finale

This is the final wrap up from The Great No-Poo Experiment started by me, Vino, and JayBee.  We did it together, because we all have different hair types, and we all are tired of spending so much money on commercial hair care product, and we'd all read how baking soda and vinegar will make your hair soft, clean, and more manageable without using chemicals that no one can pronounce.

First up, Vino:
I’ve continued my routine of BS, about twice a week.   I love it.
What little shampoo I have on hand will be used only if I have a major build-up of gunk in my hair.
Or after a night of mud wrestling, maybe……
For the most part, just a thorough rinsing every other day seems to be enough for me.
I use the ACV rinse only when I use the BS.  
I’ve been doing sulfate free conditioners when needed, as I still battle the frizzies.
Olive oil and coconut oils are my friends.  A little dab’ll do ya!!    I use them as needed as well.
In summary, I’m a fan.
I’ll be a no-pooer from now on.   Me likey.
One less thing to purchase.  
Up next is JayBee, who details more of her No-Poo experiment on her own blog:

So nothing much has changed for me since the last update. I did make the decision to go back to conditioner. I was never able to replicate the correct ACV:water ratio for me. I loved what the BC rinse was doing for my scalp and hair and I wanted to continue with that, but the ACV rinse was driving me batty.
Then I realized… It’s not all or nothing.
So I found a mild natural conditioner for a reasonable price.
I’ve been in love with my hair ever since.
I still use ACV when doing my weekly dandruff rinse and I have seen a great improvement in my scalp –I’m not sure if it’s only the ACV or the use of that and the BC rinse. Either way I love it.
I don’t know if I mentioned it here or on my blog, but I spoke with my mom about considering going ‘poo-free. She has had a very severe case of psoriasis for years now. It is so bad that she’s opted to keep a shaved head because the heat her hair kept was causing severe discomfort to her. Well she is making progress in that area and is trying to keep her hair, the only thing is that her skin is so delicate that traditional shampoos are too harsh on her and the special shampoos cost a more than she can afford on a regular basis and still offer little help.
So far she is a fan. She is able to keep her hair clean –which helps minimize the reaction and discomfort.
So the verdict for my mom and I: thumbs way up.
And finally, Me:

I've been doing this for over 3 weeks now. I am to the point where I can go 3-4 days without out "washing" my hair. This is a major feat, because my scalp was so overproducing oils (called sebum) from shampooing that I had to wash every day in order not to look greasy, scratch my scalp until I bleed (yes, that happened), and have my hair hold it's style.

My scalp is WAAAAAAAAY less itchy, and the only time I've seen dandruff is when I missed a spot when rinsing the baking soda out of my hair.

I've also switched from using a brush to using combs, and see far less breakage, and the new hair growing out at my root line I can tell is stronger. The reason I mention this is because my hair used to be so "knotty" I hated using combs and only used brushes. Now, I haven't touched a brush for almost a month, and I don't get knots anymore.

My only "complaints" (if you can call them that), are that the ends appear to be fizzy, but I'm sure that if I ever get my behind to the salon for a trim regularly, that problem will cease to exist.

I am also still using hair spray to get my hair styled. But I have to use far less spray that I used to, so that's another savings right there. But I need to find a better hair spray, because sometimes when I rinse in hot water, the ends of my hair feel "gummy" and I'm sure that's just residual hairspray, not anything connected to the No-Poo.

All in all, I am happy with No-Poo, and so is DaHubster. He uses BS instead of shampoo now, too, and loves it.

I might need to buy stock in Arm & Hammer.

There you have it folks, 3 more satisfied No-Poo customers.  Actually, make that 5, counting my hubby, and JayBee's Mom.

I think it says a lot that so many of us, with different ages, backgrounds, and hair types can try something that's not mainstream, and be happy with the results.

Don't you?