Containers for my Flowers

The weather has finally started warming up and we’ve had a few beautiful days lately so I think it is time to get started on the containers for my front porch. I love coming home to beautiful flowers after a long day of work or getting back from running errands.

This year I wanted a more rustic look so I’ve purchased several metal pails in different sizes to use as my flower planters.

In order to use these pails as planters I carefully drilled holes into the bottom of them. This is to ensure that the water can drain easily so that my plants don’t become water logged.

After I drilled the holes I fill the bottom of each bucket with about 2 inches of gravel so that the dirt won’t clog the holes in the bottom up.

I also purchased the type of potting soil that is supposed to help with watering issues. Supposedly you can’t over or under water with it, but we’ll see.

When I go out of town for vacation I have some water cones to put into each plant so that they won’t wilt or die while I am away.

I have found an idea that I want to try out sometime:

The above photo was discovered on Flikr and is by Valerie Everett

I just need to figure out how to make and attach the hooks those buckets have, but are they not absolutely beautiful? I think this would look charming hanging along my porch railing.

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Indoor Container Garden

container garden

container garden (Photo credit: lynn dombrowski)

I mentioned container gardening in one of my first blogs. Today I came across a blog that has some excellent information about container gardening indoors: Container Gardening Indoors for Veggies.

Container gardening inside is a great way to supplement your food budget with small vegetables, herbs, and some fruits. If you live in an area that doesn’t have a lot of space outside then this method will be great for you to try. It is also a good method to help grow crops during colder months since you can keep your plants warm inside.

First, pick out your containers. There are a lot of options. Your options include polyethylene plastic bags, clay pots, plastic pots, metallic pots/buckets, milk jugs, ice cream containers, bushel baskets, barrels, and planter boxes.

The container that you have chosen needs to have good drainage (drill holes in the bottom if you need to) and must be able to hold soil without spilling, it also needs to support the plants as they grow bigger, and should not contain any chemicals that are toxic to your plants or to yourself.

Vegetables: The best vegetables for indoor container gardening are ones that take up minimal space. Examples: carrots, lettuce, radishes, or crops that bear fruits over a period of time like peppers and tomatoes.

Be sure to have a place for your plants to get the proper amount of sunlight that they require. The amount of sunlight your home receives through windows will determine what types of plants you can grow.

Potting Soil: choose a lightweight potting mix for a vegetable container garden.

Be sure to keep your plants watered correctly. Do not under or over water.

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Sealing my Driveway over the Summer

Despite some health issues, I’ve been trying to get caught up on home maintenance tasks. Luckily, I have a great guy in my life who is very helpful when it comes to these sorts of things. The two of us just finished up sealing our driveway last week.

Honestly, that particular maintenance task was not on my to-do list, I happened to stumble across a pin that led to a blog with tips on sealing your driveway, and boy did ours need it. The tips are great, easy to follow and they even gently remind you that the longer you leave cracks unattended in your driveway the quicker it will wear out. I went out and checked my driveway cracks, well, there were quite a few…oops.

So I got out of the house, visited a local hardware store and purchased all the supplies I needed: push broom, shop vac, bucket w/soap and water in it, stiff bristle brush, crack sealer, putty knife,  some sort of barricade, plastic to cover nearby plants, and sealant. Then hubby and I got to work. 

If you are thinking of sealing your driveway, you should read up on the blog that I used for hubby and I to get started on our own sealing project:

Summer Project: Seal a Driveway

 
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Basic information on Kerosene Heater Wick

There are many things that you need to know about kerosene heater wicks. Some of which will help the life of your wick and really just some need to know information about safety.

To clean burn a kerosene heater, take the heater to a well ventilated place. Outside the house is best, but a garage with no flammable materials will work as well. Turn the heater on and allow it to run completely out of fuel. After the heater cools, brush any remaining carbon deposits from the wick. If you have a fiber-glass wick it will feel softer after this process. You only want to do this with a fiber-glass wick NOT a cotton wick.

To maintain a top operating cotton wick. Roll your wick up so that you can see the top of it clearly and remove any uneven or brittle ends carefully with a pair of scissors. This only works for cotton wicks, NOT fiber-glass.

It is recommend by the American Lung Association, US Environmental Protection Agency and the US Consumer Product Safety Commission the you change your wick yearly. If it is used frequently, or you are using a low quality of kerosene, you may need to change your wick more often.

It would seem that I collect instruction booklets. I have them for products I don’t even own anymore, but I do recommend that you keep the instructions to your heater and follow the instructions. The correct wick type will be listed in the manual.

There is information on your kerosene heater to help you find the wick that you need, but you need to know the brand. Lots of heaters have the model as a name not number. For example, you may have the Aladdin Temprite 15, the brand is Aladdin and the model is Temprite 15 or you may have an Aloha and you would need the serial number or lot number which you would find on a plate that is riveted to the side or back of the heater. It may look something like 423900.JY747S and your model number would be JY747S. The reason you need this information is because there are many different sizes, lengths, with cut outs, with pins and some are the whole unit or only the top that burns.

Here are some basic reasons you would want to change you heater wick: · if you purchase the heater second hand · if it has been more then a year since you last used it · if you are having problems getting it to burn

If you are having problems with it not wanting to burn I would start with getting rid of the fuel that you are using. Kerosene does have a tendency of going bad and tends to collect moisture. As a reminder to everyone, if you are going keep you kerosene in a red or blue gas container it is always smart to take a sharpie and write, “K-1” on the side so you never mix the contents of the container. Large selection of products for the home, farm and outdoors.

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Hot Shot Cattle Prod – A Review and thoughts on the use of a Hot Shot Cattle Prod

My husband owns a 250 acre farm where we primarily raise beef cattle. A few times a year we buy, sell or move cattle. Handling these large beasts requires good fences, a livestock chute and plenty of farm hands.

Due to their nature cattle are resistant to being handled or moved about. We have used canes, sticks or most anything we can find to drive the cattle but the handiest item we have to work with the cattle is a cattle prod.

As the manufacturer states “These livestock prods offer the easiest, most humane method of handling livestock. Strong enough to move the most stubborn animals yet does them no harm.” The also allow for a measure of safety since we don’t have to get close with the cattle.

Our preferred live stock prod is the Hot Shot SS36 Cattle Prod. Economical and effective this model gives a good “shock” and we so liked this model we purchased several of them.

We also like and use the Hot Shot Power Mite. This handy little cattle prod allows my husband to work in close with the cattle in tight areas.

Regardless of the type of cattle prod you choose please remember that they are only for use on livestock. They should never be used on dogs, cats or any other type of household pet. It goes without saying to never use them on humans. They are a tool, not a toy and injury can result if used improperly.

Large selection of products for the home, farm and outdoors.

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Sharing Recipes

I’ve come across and tried a wonderful little recipe from cookistry.blogspot.com. The recipe? Spiced-up Country Style Pork Ribs. They were delicious and so very tender and cooked up easily in my pressure cooker.

Spiced-Up Country-Style Pork Ribs
The granulated dried peppers I used were ancho, New Mexico, pasilla, and guajillo

Photo from Cookistry

3-4 pieces of country-style pork ribs
1/2 cup granulated dried peppers (I used 1/8 cup of each of the four)
Salt, to taste

Place the ribs in the pressure cooker. Add water to cover. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Seal and cook on high for 20 minutes.

Meanwhile, hear 2 cups of water to boiling. Turn off the heat and add the peppers. Let the peppers soak while the pork cooks.

When the the pressure cooker time is up, release the pressure and remove the lid. Skim off the scum from the top of the cooking liquid, and remove enough liquid so it’s about halfway up the pork.

Pass the pepper mixture through a fine strainer. Discard the seeds and skin in the strainer and add the pepper puree to the pot with the pork. Stir. Taste for seasoning and add salt, as needed. At this point, the pork is fully cooked, but it’s still tough.

Put the lid on the cooker and set to slow cook. Cook for 4 hours, or until the meat is tender. Serve with some of the cooking liquid – it makes a nice sauce.

Like any braised meat, this is better the next day. It’s great served with rice or you can break it up a bit and make tacos.

For more delicious recipes visit Cookistry’s blog.

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Recipe Blog worth Bookmarking

I have come across a blog that just made me drool all over my keyboard. We love delicious food has pictures and recipes for the best looking foods I think I have ever seen. I have definitely bookmarked this site and it is just so yummy that I felt the need to share it with you!

Here’s one of their pictures:

See what I mean about making your mouth water? I have definitely found a new favorite blog!

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You Can Lose Weight Doing Chores!

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Image via Wikipedia

I just cannot believe how much this warm weather and all this rain has caused the grass in my yard to grow. Nature never ceases to amaze me. My grass was almost too long for my reel mower to cut through it this past weekend. Which brings me to the actual reason that I am posting today:

Spring, summer, and fall are my favorite months, not only because of the warm weather and my small container garden on the back patio. But because I shed all my winter pounds by making the little things count. I go on long walks down my street and since I have a small yard I use one of those retro lawn mowers (ya know the ones without a motor) to mow my yard. Talk about a work out, the first few times I mow every year I can feel it in my muscles. Luckily my yard is only .25 acres (minus the space my house, patio, and driveway take up) and is relatively flat. So I can get away with using one of these mowers to tackle my yard. I hate the sound of a lawn mower that has a loud motor and even more I hate wearing ear plugs, so using a reel mower is a win win for me personally.

Also, especially if it is a dry season, I save my bathtub water to water my plants with. Since my bathtub is on the 2nd floor this gets a lot of steps into my routine, and helps build my calves. And on an even better note it saves water. I do own a water hose and a sprinkler, but why waste water, particularly when it is already low?

If I have extra fruits and vegetables from my garden I pile them up in the basket on my bicycle in the fall and I ride through my neighborhood visiting neighbors and leaving them lovely edible gifts.

In the winter I usually quilt and catch up on the soaps. So the weight tends to start to creep on me. So if I’m feeling especially sluggish I will take my laundry out of the dryer and put it up one piece at a time (laundry room on main floor, wardrobe on 2nd). It’s the little things that add up to help you get in plenty of exercise. Trust me every calorie you burn counts.

There are so many little things that people can do other than just going to the gym (I personally hate working out in front of other people) that will help them to get into shape. And if your yard is the right size for a reel mower, you help save money on gas, and save the environment a little bit too.

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Steak cooked on Cast Iron

Cast-iron

Cast-iron (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My family has always used cast iron cookware and being a longtime fan of Lodge cast iron cookware myself, I am always trying out new recipes in my cast iron pieces. I thought I would share one of those recipes with you.

Now you can choose to use any other brand of cast iron you want to, but I find that Lodge Logic is the best and the most recommended brand on the market today. There are many reasons I like Lodge cast iron but the one reason that I think we all can relate to is the fact that Lodge cast iron pieces are made in the USA. I don’t know about you but I like to support our great country and now days it is hard to find items that are actually made here in the USA. Okay, I will get off my soapbox and get to the recipe. For this recipe I used the Lodge round grill pan that measures 11 ¼” in diameter, is 2” in depth and weighs about 7 pounds. This Lodge cast iron grill pan is more than your ordinary grill pan. It makes grilling indoors taste like you grilled outdoors yet you did so in the comfort of your warm and cozy home. It holds two medium sized steaks just perfect. With its ribbed bottom, you can put those “grilling stripes” on your steaks just like your favorite restaurants do. And, with the ribbed bottom you are keeping your food out of the fat drippings so that you do not retain that added fat content which in turn means you are eating healthier meats.

Getting Started:
Being that I work full time and have two very energetic kids as well as a very spoiled husband, I always purchase my Lodge cast iron pieces seasoned and ready to use. This saves me a lot of time and in this day and time, I can use all the extra time I can get. But, if you choose to purchase your cast iron cookware in the original finish, seasoning your skillet is fairly easy.

Seasoning Skillet:
All you need to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash your piece in hot, soapy water (mild detergent, never use harsh detergents on cast iron) and scrub it with a stiff brush. Rinse and dry it thoroughly. Coat all of the interior and exterior surfaces with melted solid vegetable shortening or vegetable oil. Now place the cookware upside down on the middle oven rack, (put aluminum foil on the lower rack to catch any drippings). Bake for 1 hour and then turn the oven off leaving the cookware in the oven until it cools. When you have finished seasoning your cast iron cookware it might look slightly brown but that is okay. Now you are ready to start using your Lodge cast iron cookware.

Now to get ready to cook those steaks: First, I always marinate my steaks for at least 30 minutes before cooking them. To do this, get yourself a plastic container with a lid and lay the steaks in it side by side so that the marinade can get to all areas of the steaks. In a small bowl mix the marinade ingredients well and then pour over the steaks. Cover the container with the lid and place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. While these are marinating you will have time to fix those side dishes you want to serve with your steaks.
Marinade:

¼ cup A-1 Steak Sauce
4 Tbsp. Texas Pete
4 Tbsp. Chicago Steak Seasoning
¼ cup water

Mix all ingredients until well blended and pour over steaks. This makes enough marinade for 2 medium sized steaks. (I prefer using New York Strips or Ribeye steaks).
Cooking the steaks: I always spray my cast iron skillet with cooking spray as an extra precaution against my food sticking. Turn your stove on medium to start and place your cast iron grilling pan on the stove to heat. Depending on your stove, this usually takes about 2-3 minutes for the grilling pan to get hot and be ready to cook in. Now add your steaks and pour the marinade over them to coat them while you are cooking. Turn your stove to medium/low and let the steaks cook until done to your liking. My husband and I like our steaks well done so I usually let them cook for about 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the steaks. You may want to cover your grill pan with a lid or splatter screen to prevent the marinade from splattering onto you or your stove while cooking. Once the steaks have finished cooking remove them from the pan and place on a serving tray. With the ribbing in the bottom of the Lodge grill pans; your steaks look like they were purchased from an upscale restaurant when you actually did it yourself for half the cost.

Now that you have thoroughly enjoyed those delicious steaks (I am certain that you will), it is time for that dreaded clean up. Actually, cleaning your Lodge cast iron cookware is not so bad. Just place your pan in hot, soapy water (once again, mild detergents only) and scrub with a stiff brush. Do not use harsh detergents, as it will remove the seasoning from the pan. Never put a hot cast iron pan in cold water because this can cause the pan to warp or crack. Towel dry your pan thoroughly and store in a cool, dry place. If your pan has a lid, place a folded paper towel between the lid and the pan so as to allow the air to circulate between the two pieces. If your cast iron pieces begin to rust do not fret; simply scrub with a stiff brush and season them again.
Happy cooking and I hope you enjoyed this recipe!

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Cast Iron Cooking with Steaks

Pan

Image via Wikipedia

My family has always used cast iron cookware and Being a longtime fan of Lodge cast iron cookware myself, I am always trying out new recipes in my cast iron pieces and I thought I would share one with you. Now you can choose to use any other brand of cast iron you want to but I find that Lodge is the best and the most recommended brand on the market today. There are many reasons I like Lodge cast iron but the one reason that I think we all can relate to is the fact that Lodge cast iron pieces are made in the USA. I don’t know about you but I like to support our great country and now days it is hard to find items that are actually made here in the USA. Okay, I will get off my soapbox and get to the recipe. For this recipe I used the Lodge round grill pan that measures 11 ¼” in diameter, is 2” in depth and weighs about 7 pounds. This Lodge cast iron grill pan is more than your ordinary grill pan. It makes grilling indoors taste like you grilled outdoors yet you did so in the comfort of your warm and cozy home. It holds two medium sized steaks just perfect. With its ribbed bottom, you can put those “grilling stripes” on your steaks just like your favorite restaurants do. And, with the ribbed bottom you are keeping your food out of the fat drippings so that you do not retain that added fat content which in turn means you are eating healthier meats.
Getting Started:
Being that I work full time and have two very energetic kids as well as a very spoiled husband, I always purchase my Lodge cast iron pieces seasoned and ready to use. This saves me a lot of time and in this day and time, I can use all the extra time I can get. But, if you choose to purchase your cast iron cookware in the original finish, seasoning your skillet is fairly easy.
Seasoning Skillet:
All you need to do is preheat your oven to 350 degrees. Wash your piece in hot, soapy water (mild detergent, never use harsh detergents on cast iron) and scrub it with a stiff brush. Rinse and dry it thoroughly. Coat all of the interior and exterior surfaces with melted solid vegetable shortening or vegetable oil. Now place the cookware upside down on the middle oven rack, (put aluminum foil on the lower rack to catch any drippings). Bake for 1 hour and then turn the oven off leaving the cookware in the oven until it cools. When you have finished seasoning your cast iron cookware it might look slightly brown but that is okay. Now you are ready to start using your Lodge cast iron cookware.
Now to get ready to cook those steaks: First, I always marinate my steaks for at least 30 minutes before cooking them. To do this, get yourself a plastic container with a lid and lay the steaks in it side by side so that the marinade can get to all areas of the steaks. In a small bowl mix the marinade ingredients well and then pour over the steaks. Cover the container with the lid and place in the refrigerator for 30-60 minutes. While these are marinating you will have time to fix those side dishes you want to serve with your steaks.
Marinade:
¼ cup A-1 Steak Sauce
4 Tbsp. Texas Pete
4 Tbsp. Chicago Steak Seasoning
¼ cup water
Mix all ingredients until well blended and pour over steaks. This makes enough marinade for 2 medium sized steaks. (I use New York Strips or Ribeye steaks).
Cooking the steaks:
I always spray my cast iron skillets with Pam cooking spray as an extra precaution against sticking. Turn your stove on medium to start and place your cast iron grilling pan on the stove to heat. Depending on your stove, this usually takes about 2-3 minutes for the grilling pan to get hot and be ready to cook in. Now add your steaks and pour the marinade over them to coat them while you are cooking. Turn your stove to medium/low and let the steaks cook until done to your liking. My husband and I like our steaks well done so I usually let them cook for about 20-30 minutes depending on the thickness of the steaks. You may want to cover your grill pan with a lid or splatter screen to prevent the marinade from splattering onto you or your stove while cooking. Once the steaks have finished cooking remove them from the pan and place on a serving tray. With the ribbing in the bottom of the Lodge grill pans; your steaks look like they were purchased from an upscale restaurant when you actually did it yourself for half the cost.
Now that you have thoroughly enjoyed those delicious steaks (I am positive that you will), it’s time for that dreaded clean up. Actually, cleaning your Lodge cast iron cookware is not so bad. Just place your pan in hot, soapy water (once again, mild detergents only) and scrub with a stiff brush. Do not use harsh detergents, as it will remove the seasoning from the pan. Never put a hot cast iron pan in cold water because this can cause the pan to warp or crack. Towel dry your pan thoroughly and store in a cool, dry place. If your pan has a lid, place a folded paper towel between the lid and the pan so as to allow the air to circulate between the two pieces. If your cast iron pieces begin to rust do not fret; simply scrub with a stiff brush and season them again.
Happy cooking and I hope you enjoyed this recipe!
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