A Good Mosquito is a Dead Mosquito

Let’s face it, I see nothing remotely positive about mosquitoes. Why they exist is beyond me. I hate them as much as they love me. However, most summers around these parts are hot and dry with very few of those bothersome creatures to torture me. I can get by on my homemade repellant, using a few essential oils (eucalyptus, lavender, citronella, and lemongrass) mixed with coconut oil, but not this year. With all the humidity we’ve been having, the mosquitoes are out in full force! It doesn’t matter what time of day I’m working in the garden, those blood-sucking spawn of Satan seem to lie in wait ready to attack. I had to breakdown and purchase a DEET repellant which I’m really not a fan of, but I see no other choice. Mosquito bites are sheer misery, and I cannot take it anymore.  And, what about treating those bites?  I’ve tried various ways to soothe the itch: baking soda paste, lidocaine crème, aloe vera gel, Vicks vapor rub, vinegar, essential oils. The list goes on. That is until I remembered about a jar of calcium bentonite clay facial powder I tried last year, Aztec Secret Indian Healing Clay.

Bentonite Clay

It is powerful stuff when mixed with apple cider vinegar. So powerful, I only used it once because the pulsating warmth I felt was a bit too much on the face. However, I thought maybe it will help my irritating bug bites. Sure enough, worked like a charm. I literally slathered the mixture (apple cider vinegar and clay powder according to directions) all over my arms and legs.

It was a little messy, and I couldn’t sit down anywhere for a bit, but thankfully it dries rather quickly. I waited for about 15 minutes tops then showered it off. Let me tell you, the relief is immediate.  I have not had to scratch a single bite. I highly recommend this healing clay. It’s amazing stuff!

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“I’m strong to the finish, ’cause I eats me Spinach”

Who doesn’t love spinach? Well, many kids for one; yours truly included. I remember hearing, “Popeye likes spinach. Just try it. You’ll like it too.” Of course, I don’t remember it being fresh sautéed spinach. As I recall, it came from a can just like Popeye ate, salty and slimy. Today, however, I love spinach. I love it so much, I started growing my own.

Spinach is such a versatile leafy green. You can eat it fresh, steamed, or sautéed. You can even make baked spinach chips the same way you make kale chips (see my recipe at the end of this article). And best of all, spinach is packed full of vitamins A, B, C, E and K as well as iron, calcium, zinc and magnesium.

This dark leafy green is a cool weather plant, so seeds can be sown in early spring and in the fall, even grown through winter, particularly if you use cold frames or row covers. During last winter, I did just that. Spinach is a cold-hardy plant that can tolerate cold snaps as low as 20 degrees, so the earlier you can plant in spring, the longer you will enjoy this nutritious green.

By the time summer heat approaches, spinach will begin to bolt. Here in the southwest, my spinach bolted in early May. I allowed it to bloom in order to harvest the seeds. It’s the first time I ever collected spinach seeds. Of course, I researched beforehand as I am learning how to save seeds from my crops. Did you know that spinach is dioecious? What does that mean? Well, basically it means that spinach produce male plants and female plants as opposed to monoecious plants that have both male (stamen) and female (pistil) flower parts on a single plant. While both individual male and female spinach plants produce flowers, as nature would have it, only the female plant will produce seeds.

spinach 2

spinach

Once the plant dies, you can start harvesting seed. I plucked them from the bed as they were dying and placed them in a paper sack to continue the drying out process. Once dried and the seeds are no longer green, it’s time to harvest the seeds.

spinach seed

spinach seed 2

It is a tedious process plucking the seed as several can be fused together. However, I was able to collect a fair amount of seed for the next planting season.

spinach seed 3

These will go into the ground come September. I look forward to another bountiful crop.

Now for that light and crispy spinach chip recipe:

Ingredients:

1 to 2 cups of spinach (depends on how much you want to make)

1 to 1 ½ TBS Olive oil (optional)

Salt and Pepper to taste

Place spinach on cookie sheet lined with parchment paper. 
Drizzle with oil and with your hands gently toss to make sure spinach leaves are 
evenly coated. 
Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Arrange leaves so they do not overlap.   
Bake at 350 degrees for about 10 minutes.

Now, if you’re really health conscious and want less fat, skip the oil. But, that’s not why I do not use oil on my spinach or kale chips. Without the oil, the spinach chips provide a lighter, airy crunch. You can still add salt and pepper to enhance flavor or substitute salt for garlic salt or any other spices you happen to enjoy. But, what I like about not using the oil is that the chips last longer. You can store them in a container to eat at a later time or crumble them over soups, baked potatoes or add to smoothies. It’s such a versatile food. That’s why I love me spinach.

So, eat you some spinach y’all!

Summer Ramblings

I love summer thunderstorms. Yesterday’s heat spurred storms with plenty of much needed rain. I enjoyed watching it blow through from the comfort of my front porch. Porch

Although the cool front that followed was short lived, the flowers seemed to revel in the sweet summer rains and cool moist air.

plantsIMG_6736

Today, I spied a lovely toadstool clinging to a wooden planter. Its elegant detail reminds me of a lady’s parasol.

toadstool 2

Vegetarian Tuesday

So, it’s Tuesday, but not just any Tuesday. While I am not a vegetarian, I sometimes think I could be as much as I love eating fresh vegetables and enjoy many vegetarian dishes. However, my love of venison, fish, and seafood of all kinds runs deep, especially when the Hubby is an avid hunter and fisherman. He keeps our freezer well stocked with venison, bass, crappie, and catfish. He truly is a meat and potatoes kind of guy. But, once in a while, he will venture out of his meat and taters comfort zone and eat my vegetarian dishes. Tonight was one of those nights he lovingly nicknamed “Vegetarian Tuesday.” I’ve learned that if I make a vegetarian dish hearty enough, I get two thumbs up from him. Rice and beans is a pretty filling meal. My version is quick and easy. Add fresh veggies from the garden, and you have a feast for a king. What makes this dish so easy is that I use organic canned beans. And, I keep a good stock of brown and white rice in the freezer. I like to mix the two on occasion, particularly since I like brown rice and the Hubby likes white rice. Mix the two, and it’s quite a tasty combo. To start this delicious dish, cook rice according to package directions. Now, canned beans by themselves are okay, but my goal is to capture the taste buds as well as fill the belly. Before cooking the beans, sauté ¼ cup chopped onions and 2 cloves of garlic in olive oil. Then, add beans to the sautéed onions and garlic. To add more flavor, I used one can of organic pinto beans and one can organic baked beans. Of course, the meal is not complete without some steamed leafy greens and roasted garden goodies to make it hearty and satisfying, not to mention, packed with protein, vitamins, and minerals. And bests of all, no complaints from the Hubby.

sautecan beansbeans

Ingredients:

2 cans beans (any kind)

¼ cup chopped onion

2 cloves garlic chopped

Olive oil to sauté onions and garlic

Roasted Veggies:

6-8 small red skin potatoes sliced in half

1 large onion or 2 small onions quartered

4-5 cloves garlic slivered

4 large carrots sliced

3/4-1  cup snow peas

3-4 beets sliced

4 banana peppers sliced in strips

2 large tomatoes quartered (or handful of cherry tomatoes whole or sliced in half)

Place vegetables in pan lined with tinfoil.

Drizzle vegetables generously with olive oil

Sprinkle with a bunch of Fresh herbs chopped (I used fresh rosemary, thyme, oregano, basil and parsley)

Salt and pepper to taste

Mix all vegetables so oil and herbs  evenly coat veggies. Cover with tinfoil.

Bake at 400 degrees for 40-45 minutes

Roasted done

 

Steam a handful of Swiss chard and beet greens until wilted

Serve with salt, pepper, and a splash of Balsamic vinegar.

greens

dinner

 

 

 

Garden Update

Today is the summer solstice, and it certainly feels that summer is upon us in the southwest. That means many of my cold weather plants are winding down. I’ve bid adieu to my lettuce and most of the kale, and the snow peas seem to be wrapping things up.  At the same time, the tomatoes are gearing up as are the green beans, cucumbers, yellow squash, cantaloupe and watermelon. I just have to mention that the monster tomato volunteer in the cantaloupe patch is covered  in grape-like green tomatoes. I surmise this volunteer is a grape tomato plant while the other volunteers have yet to produce. And, this is the first year to plant corn, and today I spied a baby ear. So far, the summer veggies are on their way to a bountiful future.

HOW TO MAKE SMOOTH STONE FLOOR MATS — DIY Gardening & Better Living

Clever and earthy. I could imagine if one wanted to make several of these, you could use them as lovely stepping stones in the garden, maybe between the garden beds.

Easy to make floor mats. Use the indoors, outdoors, doorway, bathroom and more.Supplies:Outdoor rubber mat – with holes or spaces for water to drainSmooth ocean or river stones – make sure they are porous, not slick and polished. The amount will vary on the size of the mat and can be found near rivers, oceans,…

via HOW TO MAKE SMOOTH STONE FLOOR MATS — DIY Gardening & Better Living