Summer’s End

Wow, where did the summer go? My intention was to focus on writing weekly. Unfortunately, travels and family reunions kept me away from the computer. And now school is about to be back in session. For me, summer always means family because it’s the only time I get to see my extended family who live on the east coast. That also means I look forward to enjoying cooler weather. However, I will say in the last few years, the hot temps seemed to follow me to the east coast. But, I will not complain because we had perfect beach weather the whole time. As for this post, I will devote it to some of the lovely plants I had the pleasure of viewing and/or partaking while at the coast.

One of my favorite plants of summer is the rosa rugosa. To me rosa rugosa and the seashore and sand dunes go hand in hand.

We took a wonderful trip to the Maine coast and Portland Head Lighthouse. A fascinating phenomenon are the cairns that people erected along the shore near the lighthouse.

The hydrangea were absolutely gorgeous. And, we enjoyed fresh blueberries picked right from the backyard.  Of course, you cannot go to Maine without eating lobster.

I am looking forward to cooler weather and more writing, more gardening.


Venison-Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

So, I just had to try this sausage stuffed zucchini boat recipe this evening. Only, I made some slight adjustments to the recipe. For those that like venison, then this recipe is for you. We love venison at our house, and a big thanks to my Hubby for keeping our freezer well stalked. Where this recipe calls for 8 ounces of hot Italian sausage, I substituted it with venison. The combination of the sweet Italian sausage and venison gives it a wonderful flavor. I actually make the most delicious meatballs combining sweet Italian sausage and venison. I will have to share that recipe one of these days. The other modifications I made involved the tomatoes and mozzarella cheese. Instead of cooking the chopped tomatoes with the stuffing mix, I placed them on top of the stuffed zucchini followed by slivers of fresh mozzarella cheese instead of shredded mozzarella.  I followed the rest of the recipe, and the results were mouth-watering. The stuffed zucchini is a meal all by itself. However, I added some roasted red skin potatoes and onions from the garden and salad to make this a very satisfying meal.

stuffed zucchini

Harvesting Lettuce Seed

Well, I finally got around to harvesting the lettuce seed from the Romaine lettuce blooms I had cut and left to dry. For anyone wanting to attempt to save seeds from your lettuce, as I have mentioned in my previous post about saving seeds, you must let the plants bolt. The lettuce blooms will eventually die and turn to a white fuzz much like a dandelion.

It can then be cut and left to dry out or mulched back into the ground as some gardeners do, allowing it to self-sow.  I found harvesting the seeds to be quite easy, but very messy as the white fluff goes everywhere. All I had to do was run my fingers through the dried out blooms and the seeds dropped, but so did the fluff. And, I found it difficult to separate the fluff from the seed. I even tried an old mesh strainer which actually helped cut down on the fuzzy stuff, but some of it still got through into the container. Lettuce seed 2

I am storing the seed in paper packets in a storage container kept in a cool dark space in the back hall.  Anyhow, I now have a good supply of lettuce seed, which if I need next season, I can use. I tossed the leftover stems back out into the garden so it will self-sow. I am looking forward to seeing how many lettuce plants appear in fall, and I have plenty of seed for future planting and for sharing.

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!

“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


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:


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.


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


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.