Thursday, February 26, 2009

Beans, Beans the miracle fruit.....

No really I am an adult, honest. There are just some things that stay with us from childhood.

Today I want you to consider this little trick in your upcoming garden.
Beans, just a plain old sack of red beans from the grocery store, about a buck.

I planted some winter squash one year and then after they were up about a 6 inches I worked in a sack of beans into the soil. I did not intend to eat them, I just wanted them to cover ground to keep weeds out and improve the soil. It works and if you want to eat them, great, they are not as tasty as a blue lake bean but you can eat them.
When my kids want to plant something during the year, and my son does this alot. He plants apple seeds, peach pits, avocado seeds you name it. He even gets into my "real seeds" and that can get expensive, so I give him a handful of red beans or pinto beans and off he goes to plant them. It keeps him busy and out of my good garden seeds.

Have a great day

Monday, February 23, 2009

Menu Plan Monday Feb 23

Open fridge, quick glance, whatcha got in here? Make menu. I am a quick glance chef eh?
The fridge is full of leftovers, hubby out of town, so I will freeze what I can and make use of the rest. All dinners served with side vegetable and salad.

Monday: Chicken, bacon and cheese casserole
Tuesday: Taco's
Wednesday: Homemade Chicken Soup
Thursday: Grilled Cheese and Tomato soup
Friday: Asian Beef with noodles
Saturday: Leftovers
Sunday: Pizza at Evans request as it is his Birthday!!!

Bento's: Dig and wing it!! Can you tell I am a bit impatient this morning, neck is out off to the chiropractor this am.

Saturday, February 21, 2009

I have been bitten!

Garden Fever is here. Yesterday we had our first falling of wet spring snow...perfect for me to go stomp out lines where I want the additional raised beds, plus the conversion of the last traditional style garden space into raised beds.
I have been perusing seed catalogs and making my lists, mapping out the garden and such. This is the time for doing that ladies and gentleman, for zone 4. I am not a seeder. I rarely start my own seeds, I have poor lighting and quite frankly the cats are a nuisance with playing in them, walking on them and sleeping on them!! My 6 year old does have some chia growing that they leave alone. Way back when I worked for a greenhouse here in town, a few customers would pre order what they needed for spring in the way of planting.
I have 2 compost areas.
#1. A mix of straw, leaves, some chopped garden residue and fairly fresh manure we piled up last fall and let sit through the winter. This will go into my existing beds and new beds.
#2. A tumbler filling up with vegetable waste etc from the kitchen over the winter. Its not cooked down as we freeze hard here, well below -20. It is just a place to put the scraps for now.

I garden in this way and have been for 8 years....and its how Edward C Smith proposes you do it. Mr. Smith has just put it into book form. The Vegetable Bible. Dick Raymond is another garden guru that I thoroughly enjoy as well.
Wide rows, my minimum row width is 3 feet.
Organic, as much as possible. I have never had an infestation of any sort in my garden. I also take advantage of "companion planting" to let nature do it for me. I have had infestations of aphids in my Snowball Lilac...I just watch it, for them spreading...aphids bring lady bugs and last year we had lots of ladybugs. The snowball lilac is sacrificial and I would rather they go there than in my garden. I do wish a toad would come take up residence. We had one years ago and it scared the beejeezus out of me when he scurried through the lettuce so darn fast I thought it was a snake and I started hacking like crazy with the escaped, left me clutching my heart when he hopped out. I think he said "see ya later you crazy old bat, I will go where my services are needed" or the cats got him. I shall prescribe to "build it and they will come"...a toad house that is!
Raised beds....this is hands down one of the reasons I garden as much as I do. Its easier, you are not wasting time watering, weeding, rototilling the paths in between. My paths happen to be gravel. I like it neat and clean. The gravel also absorbs heat. In fact 90% of my garden is raised beds with gravel all around. Photobucket
Deep soil, a good mix of topsoil, compost and sand.
Mulch....mulch like a banshee come just before the hottest part of the summer...all my beds get mulched with leaves, straw, hay or dried grass clippings. Conserves water and keeps those roots cool.
Water: I have always hand watered my garden, its time consuming so this year I want soaker hoses or design a system that allows for watering at the flick of a switch. I will free up my time for maintaining my garden and enjoying it. So if you have a few raised beds, hand watering is fine. I am more than doubling the garden so its time for a system.

Wrap up any projects left, you too gals, get your houses in order so we can go outside and play in the dirt!!!

Thursday, February 19, 2009

Interview Time.

By the fabulous and talented Kit Heathcock of Food and Family. Kit lives in South Africa, I stumbled upon her blog researching recipes for rusks of all things. I love her recipes and tales of cooking, baking and family, her photography of flowers is astounding and the Chakra florals...totally classy.
So on to the interview.

1. De-cluttering seems to be your major mission at the moment. What got you inspired to start and how long has it taken you so far?

It started about 2 years ago when I took on extra children in my home, with three of my own and a very busy mother and wife, I was overwhelmed with "stuff" and trying to find what I needed when I needed it. I come from a long line of "pack-rats", so I say its genetic, really its learned behavior.It felt like the upkeep of my home was taking over my life. One day after an epiphany with Karen Kingston's tutelage of not wanting to live that way anymore, I just started boxing up stuff I did not use, need or love. If I can inspire others to live well with less stuff then that is all the better.

2. You said you are a self-taught painter … how did you get going and where does your inspiration come from? Any tips for an aspiring painter?

I did take high school art classes, my mentor was my junior year Art teacher. My dad is a sculptor. Most of my inspiration comes from nature itself. Our world is full of color, think of a sunset. Vibrant, rich and passionate.I grew up on a ranch and horses are my main subject. I am branching out a bit.

Advice for Aspiring painters? Never give up, keep painting and paint from your heart, allow yourself to break the rules, let it flow from within, ignore those that say "it should be this way or that way" it your way. I feel everyone posses a unique artistic quality . We were born without the ability to read or write, yet we can do those, why not painting? Somewhere along the road we or others either convinced ourselves we could not do it,or were not good enough at it. Believe in your self, and to heck with what others think it should be or look like. it helps to turn down the volume of our own self critic as well.

3. What brought you to South Africa? What are your best memories of your visit?

My husbands job (helicoptor engineer as you call them) brought us to S.A. I had the opportunity to go with Dr. Grobler on a rhino rescue mission outside of Sabie Sands G.R.....actually touching the rhino seemed a surreal experience. So many great memories and an amazing visit. Our hosts were most gracious. When I arrived home and when asked about the trip, it took me awhile to formulate an answer for them, and ended up talking non stop. It is definately a place one must visit to "get it". There is so much to experience!!

4. What’s your idea of the perfect Saturday night in? Friends and family over for grilling or as you call brai. Visiting, laughing, enjoying each others company and eating good food.

5. If money was no object where in the world would you love to travel to and why?

Africa was number one so I will move down the list. Ireland. I would not only want to just travel there but experience living there for at least a year with my family. I am not sure if it comes from the notion of the romanticised version of Ireland or the fact my husband is part Irish. I just feel an inner draw or connection, yet it is unexplainable, completely ironic as I am zero parts Irish, 2 parts Norwegian. Castles and the history, the landscape is fascinating.

So now I would like to extend the invitation to interview my readers here at Keep It Simple Cowgirl, send me an email at I will post the interview here, you post the interview on your blog, extend the invitation to interview your readers and do the same thing.

Oh Happy Day, Oh Happy Da aa ay!!

Lots of Love

Simple Cowgirl

Wednesday, February 18, 2009

It's an Ichiban Kan Christmas


YEAH! Looky at what I got in the mail today!!! I have been anticipating this package. I already have eggs in the moulds, soy sauce piggies are good to go, the rest organized and put away!! I am making Almond Chicken tonight so it is divine timing. I will try out the rice moulds after this evenings meal. My "adopted" mom is here as well covering open positions at her work, and phoned earlier to rave about her bento. "Its just so cute"...Cute might be a bit overboard, however she did express mucho appreciation. I think she is just basking in the moment that someone else made her lunch.
I received my Laptop Lunch boxes yesterday as well, so those are taking trial runs via daughter and my mom. Reviews on them at a later time.


How big is your But?......(click me)

There, I said it!
Anyone that knows me, knows I get right to the point, no sense in beating around the bush. So how big is your but? No, not that butt, your "but" that is used in everyday life other than keeping your frame erect. The "but" that is used over and over again is a quasi-pseudo attempt to make an excuse for not doing what it is that you could be doing.
Click on the header and go visit with The Millionaire Mommy Next Door and she will enlighten you with her point of view regarding your "but". Once you get through it, its my hope that you will become aware of inserting the "but" word into your daily speech pattern, which in turn shows up in your daily life as a huge ole stinkin obstacle that we place right in front of the progress we wish to achieve.

Okay why is it I cannot get the italics off? No worries, I gotta keep typing so as not to lose my train of thought.

Other words to ponder when used in everyday language and the correct replacement word(s).

Should-guilt based, replace with could
Have to-guilt based, replace with "I am, I will, I chose" etc. For example "I have to go to so and so's for dinner"..."I am going to so and so's for dinner".
Right and wrong indicate a moral judgement, it's no wonder when someone tells us "you are wrong, you did that wrong, she is right, you are wrong" it feels like a personal attack.

Play with the words a bit, come up with your own examples, and take notice of the tone of them and the response of your inner self when you are speaking them. Fascinating yes?

It is that simple!!

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

A different point of view...

Chameleon we found at the Skukuza rest camp~Kruger Park

Can be the best thing when you get stuck. I recently enjoyed a great conversation with my brother. When he gets into declutter mode he uses this formula Need It, Nice to Have It, Dont Need It. I guess the coin of phrase can be 2 Needs and a Nice.

For example we need soap, but do we really need 5 different kinds of body wash in the shower at the same time? We need towels, but do we need 42 of them cluttering up the linen closet. That formula can be applied to EVERYTHING in our lives. This is especially helpful for those digging out their living spaces consumed with stuff and for those shooting for the debt free way of living.

Almost 2 years ago I was invited to an astrology reading for the year. This lady is one of those that does birth charts, and can tell you everything about planets and constellations, alignment, retrograde and so forth. The information that stuck with me was coming that fall Virgo was doing the "hokey pokey" with whatever, but the underlying message was "Downsizing". We would be seeing more folks selling their big houses for smaller ones, getting rid of "stuff" they didn't need. We would see Corporations and business doing the same thing. Simplifying. I see a new career popping up all over the place...professional organizer. There is a drive to get it together, and do it effeciently. Why? In our current economy it only makes sense. Do we work to live or live to work?

While I was in S. Africa a lady asked me this question "Why is it that Americans do not travel just to travel, I see they travel for work, weddings,reunions, funerals, graduations and stuff like that (this would be us) but why not just go for the sake of experiencing a new place?" This was starting to sound like back in the day but do you remember "The Family Vacation". I had to think about that for a bit, okay it forced me to think about it alot. It must become a priority, it must become something we diligantly save and plan for not one of those line items that gets shoved to the bottom of the list when there "might" be money left over. Think of the vacations one could have when they are not paying off credit cards! I know alot of Americans are in a pinch right now and vacations are not top priority, survival is. Some are facing layoffs, foreclosure, repo's and the list goes on. Why and how did we, meaning Amerca in general, get ourselves into this mess? It makes perfect sense to downsize, live well below your means, pay off debt, free ourselves completely from debt, take stock of your true needs, live a good simple life, save money for where it really counts, take your kids to at least 3 National Parks before they leave the nest, relish in faith, family and friends. Is it really that simple, or did someone switch my regular prescription lenses for rose colored ones?

Keep It Simple

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Menu Plan Monday February 16th

All dinners are served with a vegetable side and salad.

Monday: Baked Chicken
Tuesday: Crock Pot Roast
Wednesday: Almond Chicken
Thursday: Lasagna
Friday: Beef Stew
Saturday: My birthday surprise from Mom
Sunday: Leftovers

Bento Brainstorm: Meatballs, fruit salad, yogurt,barbeque wings, pretzels and cheese, chicken roll ups, sticky rice stars, leftover lasagna and beef stew.

Yay! Its Presidents day, and you know who is on the Penny dontcha....good ole Abe Lincoln. I think he could possible be one of the most famous and well like Presidents of all time. Not only did he work for abolishing slavery, lil bits and pieces of his legacy still weave through our daily lives. For example " A penny saved is a penny earned", "Honest Abe" and ironic how when I see a Lincoln Continental (my hubby had a 70' something baby blue one as a fixer upper back in the day, boy did he love that ole boat) I think of Abe then I think of the penny!

Have a Fabulous Week, I hope you had a wonderful Valentines Weekend.

28 day challenge..mid month

Carpets shampooed-check
furniture (sofa,chair,loveseat) shampooed-check
extra floor rugs shampooed-check
Pink Shabby chalkboard for Ava-check
Entryway decluttered and scrubbed top to bottom-check
toys decluttered-check (my kids are getting good at this)
old recliner freecycled!!

I detoured from my list, see how easy that is for me to do!! The shampooing extended to all of the living room, it really needed it! I have no regrets though, I feel I am getting alot accomplished. This week is the 2 big rehab painting projects...a hope chest and a dresser and sewing slip covers for the island chairs. I also have company coming for 4 days this week so I will limit it to 3 tackles. We will celebrate my birthday on Saturday and I changed my mind from a brass singing bowl to a boot scraper/brush! The mud this Spring is insane!!

Friday, February 13, 2009

More Handmade Valentines



I hope ya'll have a great weekend, filled with love!!

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Salma Hayek breastfeeding in Africa (click here) that's a laptop lunch!!

It just adds up.

Milk filled breasts + Starving Child = Positive Outcome

Its pretty damn easy to figure this one out.

Keeping it Simple

Rolled Sugar Cookies


It has been a 12 year quest to find the "perfect rolled sugar cookie" recipe. I finally found it and I want to share it with ya'll. It has replaced my sour cream sugar cookie recipe, simply because there is no shortening in it!! It was eh okay and they didnt come to life until you frosted them. However THESE melt in your mouth with out frosting. yummy.

1 1/2 c. butter
2 c. sugar
4 eggs
1 tsp. vanilla
1 tsp. almond extract
2 tsp baking powder
5 c. flour
1 tsp salt

Beat the sugar and butter till creamy, add 1 egg at a time while that is mixing then the flavorings and your dry ingredients. Scoop up all the dough and wrap in Saran wrap, chill for one hour or overnight. Roll out between a 1/4 and 1/2 inch thick ness, bake at 350 for 10 minutes.

Cool on pan a bit, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely, I let mine stay out on the racks a few hours to get the bottoms dry, as these are moist.

I am a sucker for a handmade valentine!!

hearts Pictures, Images and Photos

Peace Out
Girl Scout

Monday, February 9, 2009

A few knock outs...

2I did say I would post some pix (aka proof) that I have been keeping the commitment.

I have 4 of these chalkboards to do, I cut some doors down I salvaged years ago....1 down , 1 in progress. I still need to attach a "cup" style drawer pull, upside down to hold the chalk.

Used for bento bags, and gifts as well, and you can really reuse them over and over and over.

Bohemian Wool shoulder bag.
I just wung it, ya know. It has a personality of its own indeed.

The main floor bathroom....this used to have airplane border and it was time for a fresh up. I found this one at Lowes for 50 cents.

That is about it for pix, just one of those days where PB and I were not jiving. I did get the curtains done in the kids's room, the basement had new carpet rolled out and boy what a difference. My back felt that last night. I listed 10 items on craigslist. Sold the upright freezer, sent the harvest gold fridge to the salvage. Car is all nice and clean, my plants are thriving in their new digs. I still have not figured out where to hang all my extra art work that I dug out of the studio closet. That was easier than I was mostly stuff I just hid in there for the time being (naughty naughty), and all I had to do was go put it away.

I did get some fabric 13 yds of it to dress up some shelving units downstairs, looking at the stuff on the shelves is just not restful to the eyes. We fashioned some "make shift" walls with the shelving units to create an extra sleeping space for guests with the extra queen bed after we replaced it with the King. I never set out to be a seamstress in life, but it is a handy skill to have that sewing.

Have a great Week ladies, sorry no menu posted, well its meat and what else. I am fully stocked and prepped in the kitchen so coming up with something should not be hard at all.


Thursday, February 5, 2009

Its Thursday already???

I went and crossed off a few things on my Challenge list. I will be totally honest here. I might have bit off more than I can chew. I will be washing the car and detailing the inside for one of my challenges. This time of year it gets really bad. Hauling hay in a minivan is just crazy! What the hell was I thinking......oh I will get that vaccumed 2 months later..*blush* I need a few supplies as well that I did not find over the weekend. All is well and it does feel good to get a few things done that I have been putting off. The bed, oh my word!! The bed is wonderful. We were going to wait until our tax return was here, we had the cash and our backs were killing us. It was time. A decent comfortable bed is an investment. We spend almost a third of our lives there, so make it count.
I hope your challenges/tackles are coming along well. So it off to goodwill to donate and source, grocery store and the car wash

Have a wonderful day.

Ps....Daylight savings time is coming very soon....March 8th....I dont think I remember it being that soon in the year...just an odd tidbit I would throw out there.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

28 Day Challenge

I have my list of challenges ready for this month. I will post pictures end of week. I have been brainstorming larger projects with smaller projects so if I am falling behind with other areas of management I can quickly catch up, by choosing something that may take an hour instead of 4.

What is on your list of challenges? This is mine, I knocked a few of these things out over the weekend, pictures end of week.

bento bags and gift bags-done
curtains for kids room-done and guest room
elastic in daughters jammies-done
slip covers for island chairs

large shabby chalkboard-done
small shabby chalkboard-done
shabby dresser
Hope chest rehab
Poppy inspired painting
Walls going to basement
Stain wood stairs to basement

basement-1/2 done
master closet-my side done
garage sale side of garage-done
move carpet to basement-done
organize studio closet-done
Move beds for new beds-done

hang guest room blinds
source bathroom mirror-done
source King bed-done
closet door replacement
household notebook
hang art work-still stumped
repot houseplants-done
shampoo carpets-done
Tax prep
Valentines Treats for school-done
supplies for 3 birthdays end of month

Time to get crackin!!!

Monday, February 2, 2009

Menu plan Monday February 2

All dinners served with a side veggie and salad. We have a bit of leftover tidbits after the super bowl party. This will be an easy week.

Pot Roast and potatoes
Baked Chicken

Bento Brainstorm:
potstickers, fruit salads, ham sandwich,
hummus and pitas, veggie sticks, sunflower seeds
cheese and crackers, teddy grahams, spaghetti in
thermos, rice and krab stars. she has milk at school.