Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #171 & a Giveaway!

Hello to all and welcome. Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop seems to always be a little more exciting when there is a giveaway! Wouldn’t you agree?? Deb and I really love the wonderful artwork of Sarah Hudock of Lighthearted Art. AND Sarah is also a farmgirl sister! She is obviously talented, but also is a chicken keeper, gardener and more.

Her artwork is hand-painted in watercolor, gouache, and sometimes acrylic paint, and she loves to digitally play with her work as well. Her paintings are sometimes wholly hand-painted, and sometimes done with a combination of digital effects and scans of odd materials she finds visually interesting. She’s a girl living her dream, sharing her HEART and her ART with the world and us!  ” I am the luckiest person in the world “, says Sarah.

This week,Sarah is generously giving away one of her darling tin signs, titled:  Blessings ( see top photo ) This sign is beautiful enough to hang inside your home and yet durable enough to weather the elements and hang outdoors on your chicken coop or next to your front door. Sign measures 11.25″ x 11.25″. The corners are rounded and holes are already drilled for easy hanging.

See Deb’s blog this week for more on Sarah and also keep you eyes open for an article in MaryJanesFarm Magazine where we will learn more about here. And visit Sarah’s website to see more of her whimsical chicken art.

Do you want to know how to enter? It is easy:

1. Simply leave a comment here on my blog or over at Dandelion House.

2. Head over to Sarah’s Facebook page and give her a new like.

I know you will enter this contest right away.  When you are done, don’t forget to come back for Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

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We would love to see what you are up to this week. Visit Deb also over at Dandelion House. I never tire at looking at her gorgeous photos-right now so many of colorful blooms! While Deb has been making eye popping with color bouquets, I have been bringing in the harvest and have been sharing lots of photos and recipes. So stop by and say hi to both of us!

What are you up to farmgirl??? Share on our hop so we can be inspired. We thank you for joining in!

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart- MaryJane Butters

Indulging (and preserving) the Harvest Part 2

The harvest continues to come in. I am by no means an expert at canning. This is only my 3rd year doing this, but I do love it. Last weekend we canned 60 pounds of San Marzanos and Granderos (both Roma tomatoes). We also had some tomatillos that I used for salsa.

My kitchen corner was a busy place. It is a little crowded in that space for this task, but I made it work. I am excited about our kitchen remodel which will gain me about 80 inches of counter space! I will be in heaven.

Busy Kitchen

Tools of the trade:

Canning Tools

I was super excited to use the Weck Jars that Rachael gifted me at Christmas. They were the first to go in the water bath!

Four Jars

Making the salsa was delightful and colorful. Look at that.

Salsa

I have not grown tomatillas before but we love them. I am really excited to be canning some Salsa Verde for future use!

Tomatillo Salsa

All in all for my first day canning of the season the takeaway was pretty and much larger than last year. Tomatoes, tomato jam, two kinds of salsa and dried tomatoes all await a winter day for opening and eating.

Jars of Tomatoes

The big news is that although this is the most I have ever canned before there is so much more waiting. I have been with my mom since 9/10 as she had surgery (she is recouping nicely) and hubby has been sending me pictures. Our green beans are so full and heavy that they totally took out the trellis from weight! He rebuilt it for the little guys. Our cucumbers I understand are waiting to be pickled and we have “1000’s of tomatoes” waiting for a canning jar. He told me that he went and bought several flats of ball jars that are waiting in the kitchen for me!

Can you say Christmas presents???

How’s your harvest and preserving coming along? Done or in the middle like me?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #170

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Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! I am nothing but a “red head” this week– a little pun meaning that I have only tomatoes on my brain! They are everywhere and I am so excited. A weekend of canning starts today.IMG_20140903_111032462

I am learning continually about gardening and I make a lot of mistakes along the way.  The biggest lesson I am learning however is that my garden is forgiving. If I miss something, they just keep at it. They don’t hold a grudge when I neglect them due to travel or work for a few days. Just like our dog, they are welcoming and show me much in the way of growth and color and even smiles when I return. I may have messes to clean up along the way, but they continue to show me love. Check out my post on the harvest I received this week after a week of beating myself up over my absence in the garden.

I cannot let this week’s hop go by without acknowledging our farmgirl sister Heidi’s pain in loosing her beloved doe Lily last week. So many of us were on the journey with her in “cyberspace” and felt and shared her pain. Our sisterhood is really remarkable that way. We share highs with each other here, but also the lows and challenges. Let’s continue to send Heidi hugs across the miles and also share those hugs with others that need them.

What about you? What are you up to this week? This life is a continual set of lessons learned. What are you learning this week?

OK let’s get hopping and sharing! Be sure to visit Deb too over at Dandelion House!! They are celebrating a birthday this week at her house (and such cute pictures of the birthday boy!)

Thanks for joining us and sharing.

 

Indulging in the Harvest

After I shared my harvest with you last week, it was time to start indulging in it. Yes, I mean EATING it! One of the things I love about gardening is the harvest and the taste of freshly picked veggies. When you grow your own you can grow your favorites so everything you pick is your favorite! With 52 pounds of tomatoes, 20+ pounds of summer squash, green beans and more, we have been feasting.

The first thing I had to do was do something with all those lovely tomatoes. We were heading over to my mom’s in Ohio and I had promised dinner. It seemed a “no brainer” to do tomato something with pasta. I made a slow cooker sauce based on this recipe from Food Renegade.

Sauce in Crockpot

I took liberty and made a few tweaks of my own. I added a tsp. of fennel, deleted the tarragon and used a bunch of thyme tied up with string (that I discarded). The sauce was so lovely that I did not blend it with my immersion blender and instead left it in its final state. We tossed over pasta added fresh, ribbon cut basil from the garden and it was heaven! It was so great that when I came home and made some more.  I froze 4 pints in ziploc bags for future feasting in cooler days.

Next came the squash. I have lots of squash and I am thrilled about that. I love it and will keep on loving it.  This recipe is for yellow summer squash but you really could make it with whatever is your favorite.

Squash Quiche

For the crust, I asked hubby to make me a crust since he is the baker. He added fresh thyme to the crust since thyme is used in the filling.  You could also use a store bought crust (that is a crime in our house according to my hubby so I won’t) or make your own favorite crust to use. We pre-baked the crust about 15 minutes and let it cool.

The recipe is easy!

  • Melt 1 Tbl of butter and 1 Tbl of olive oil in a pan to medium heat
  • Add 1.5 lbs of squash cut into 1/4 in. rounds. Add fresh thyme (I added a lot; you can add to taste) and let everything saute until squash softens.
  • In the meantime, whisk 6 eggs, 1 C of 1/2 and 1/2 (or cream), 3/4 tsp. salt, 1/4 tsp. pepper and 1/4 tsp hot pepper sauce (of your choosing).
  • By now the squash should be done.  Remove from heat and cool a bit.  You don’t want it to cook the eggs on contact.
  • Arrange squash over the bottom of crust. Add sliced fresh mozzarella (about 6 oz) or grated mozzarella if you prefer.  I prefer sliced fresh, but that is a personal choice. Pour the egg mixture over (you may have a bit left). Put the quiche dish on a cookie sheeet (in case of run over) and bake until golden- about 35 minutes at 350. Let it cool for 15 minutes.

OK this is so good, that I am making it again this week.

Another over the top meal was our Heirloom Tomato Pie from Food Network and a side of Green Beans. We used slicers and freshly picked green beans (these were the first of the season and there are tons more to follow).

green beans

slicers

 

When hubby made the crust for the quiche, it made two, so I did not follow the crust on this recipe, but used his instead. I also substituted the manchego cheese for asiago (only because that is what I had).  I also added fresh basil– one because we have ALOT of it and two because I love it.

It was fun to prepare and the bottom layer filling makes it stand out over any other tomato tart I have made.

Tomato Tart Prep

We simply steamed the green beans and oh it was great!

Tart and Beans

Tomato Tart

 

Now you probably have guessed that this did not use all of our first harvest, but it was a start and nightly we are cooking it. We stuffed the greens into a swordfish steak along with some tomatoes and feta and that was supreme. (I forgot to take a picture in my excitement).

Next up was a day of canning and drying.  That is another blog for another day.

Happy unleashing your harvest!

FGU

 

 

My Green Babies are BURSTING with Color!

It is so good to be “back.” I have been away from my personal computer and away from my garden :-( for a couple of weeks.  Travels to see the grandbaby were SO fun, but my garden was ignored during that time. When we returned our life was full of hustle and bustle since we are in the midst of a remodel. By 7 a.m. the crew is at the house, banging away and looking for direction from us so that keeps me up at the house rather than back in the gardens. AND rain has stopped me in my tracks when I have been able to carve a bit of time out.

Confession– I had not done anything in my gardens since 8/17.  Confession– I was in a panic over that! I KNEW that everything would be eaten (remember those army worms I discovered on my last outing?). If not eaten then strangled from the crab grass! If not eaten or strangled then slumped over from too much rain or not enough. My mind was a terrible place to visit. I was sad about my neglect, worried about what I would find and pretty much paralyzed to hop in Ms. Tupelo and have a discovery run up there.

BUT as I loaded up Ms. Tupelo yesterday morning I felt my spirit lifting.  AND yes the grass was out of control and super long. But as we made it up our hill to the gardens, a wonderful sight was before me. The gardens were BURSTING!

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There were beets, green beans, squash, tomatoes, peppers, pumpkins, cucumbers, peas, chard and basil. I could not believe it! WOW! They did just fine without me (lesson learned).

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The beans had broken the trellis from their weight. The squash had grown over my rope so I had to reset it.

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There were so many tomatoes, that even after I filled a homer bucket with 30 pounds of them it appeared that I had not picked anything!

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After I picked the goodness, I sat in the back of Ms. Tupelo and wrote my thoughts for a bit. One thought is that no matter how long it has been since I have been outside gardening, the joy of being out there and seeing the goodness that is happening, far outweighs the stuff that is negative. And yes, along with all the goodness, I discovered that my cucumbers have mosaic virus. I filled a homer bucket with that also!

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The grass may be long, but that is a sign of good things–we are still getting rain, the ground is fertile and I found myself thinking of all the nitrogen my plants must be getting with all that green between rows. I want to add an under cover crop in my gardens next spring, but nature has just done it for me this year. The beets, soybeans and green beans do not seem to mind at all to share their turf.

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So, what did I harvest yesterday you may ask? (Even if you are not asking, I am DYING to show you!)

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Isn’t that the best ever?????? All this I grew from seed.  Sorry to be busting with pride but this is my first time starting stuff from seed and not buying starter plants.  I am such the proud mama here! Look at the smile and blue skies…

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And my little flower bed gave me some love yesterday also.

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IMG_20140903_113502280When I came in, I made me a great big tomato and basil sandwich! Oh my goodness, can you just taste this? It was so good, I even skipped the cheese!

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Today, I am heading over to visit my mom and dad.  I will be sharing the goodness with them in the form of bags of produce and a crock pot of fresh tomato sauce that cooked overnight in the crock pot.

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 So my garden is bursting and so am I! I hope you simply burst with delight over something today too!

Happy Unleashing (and bursting!)

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #169

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Welcome to our Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop! Deb is up to here eyeballs in gorgeous flowers!  You must head over to see her beautiful arrangements and for ideas on DIY Flower Arranging!

I am going to be canning this weekend! I am very excited about that. It is the first of the season. It has been hot here and we have hundreds of tomatoes just screaming to be used. It seems that while we were gone they just took off.  A few are struggling, but most are very happy! Our beans are climbing, our squash is out of control (in a good way) and we have a lot of green action.

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Last week’s share from The Red Feedsack, had a yummy looking salsa recipe for canning.  I am suspecting that some of my tomatoes will end up in that! And she uses yellow pear tomatoes also, which I love and we have thousands of them.  Those little critters really go at it!

Salsa from The Red Feedsack

What are you up to? Wrapping up your garden and canning? Starting a fall garden? Just beginning to reap your harvest? Flower arranging like Deb? Or maybe you have some fun happenings in your kitchen or barn. Whatever you are up to we invite you to share!

Have a happy Labor Day weekend in your neck of the woods!

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop # 168

Welcome to Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!  I am a wee bit late this week!  Travels for me and computer glitches for Deb delayed us but our farmgirl spirit never wavered, just curves in life kept us from blogging.  Deb’s flowers are so gorgeous; be sure to hop over to see her bloomin’ colors!

I have been in heaven this week as we are visiting the grandbabies.  Mimi and Papa are having an awesome time with Arlo-he is smiling, cooing and loves playing peek a boo- we played for an hour on Friday night while we babysat! Heaven is definitely spending time with your grandbaby!

Papa and Arlo

 

Mimi bottle

 

Seeing Laura and Adam settling into being a mommy and daddy is shear joy. Another bonus of our trip was celebrating Laura’s birthday last night with a great meal and of course Arlo. AND today we are heading further south to visit our youngest!  We are actually in the car as I am writing this blog–the ease of technology when it is working right!

BUT Arlo is not the only grandbaby getting attention.  We have several puppies that are “grand doggies” and we are doggy sitting for daughter Rachael and hubby while they are on an awesome vacation in Oregon. This is Lilly, representing all three pups that we are enjoying as well.

Lilly in door

 

In my blogging absence, I have still been reading your updates on FB and blogs.  We hope you join in the blog hop this weekend and during the upcoming week and share what you are up to.  I will be traveling back home next week and will get back into “normal” (whatever that means!).

So, join in and visit Deb too and say hi! Have a wonderful weekend and week!

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You don’t have to live on a farm to join this hop!

 Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart~ MaryJaneButters

 This is a blog hop!

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #167

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Our blog hop took a little break — Deb was at the beach and I unplugged from my laptop ALL DAY LONG to play in the veggie gardens. That was the best day ever being out there with all the green babies all day.

I am amazed at how cool and comfortable it has been this summer.  It is August 8th and the mornings and evenings feel like fall.  I have pulled out some long sleeves to start and end the days and have open windows more than I ever have in the summer.

A challenge though is all those green tomatoes!  Tomatoes like it hot to turn red and while my 50 something body loves the cooler temps, my young green babies would prefer it warmer.  With that in mind, I am hoping for some hot days to come! Look at all that green!

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green tomatoes

But over at Deb’s it is colorful!  She shares some beauties with us over at  Dandelion House! Be sure to visit!

We are READY to blog hop and see what ya’ll are up to. Let’s get it going!

What’s blooming your way???

Please include the Farmgirl Friday button ( or link back here ) in your post and remember to share this hop with all of your blogging friends! We are so glad you are here!
You don’t have to live on a farm to join this hop!

 Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart~ MaryJaneButters

 

 

Ms. Tupelo

Ms T Garden

From practically the first day that we moved here and ESPECIALLY once I started gardening, I have longed for a vehicle to assist me. I love our Kubota, but hooking up a little trailer and loading it up each time to garden is a time sucker frankly! And if hubby is bush hogging, I can’t use the Kubota. If I am cutting grass and hubby wants to haul something he cannot. Once we got bees and started adding boxes, hauling out gallons of water and sugar bags along with smokers and gear, we agreed that sooner rather than later was the answer!

While I was out of town enjoying our new grandbaby, hubby found a Kubota Diesel RTV on eBay of all things.  It was from a dealer that has great ratings on eBay and he is in the tractor biz and has a couple stores dealing in them.  After placing a pretty low bid and email communications with the owner, hubby felt like this was a great deal for us. Our bid was low though and we had a couple of days to wait and frankly with my obsession with the grand baby, I forgot about it.

The hour came and we won the bid! So exciting! I could not wait to see this wonderful orange vehicle. “Where do we pick it up and when?” was my question. And that was the challenge. It was in southern Georgia.  Now you might recall that grandbaby was born outside of Atlanta, so unless you are familiar with Georgia, you might think that is perfect! But the location of our new family member and our new equipment were 6 hours apart from one another. :-)

It was too good to not figure out though, so instead of flying home as planned, hubby drove down to Atlanta. ( I am lucky that I was to fly SW Airlines, because I have a full refund to use on another flight.) He arrived on Saturday and Sunday we headed down to pick up a trailer to haul her and our new orange buddy. We arrived late on Sunday and the guy was so nice; he met us late and we finalized everything.  An added bonus was the fact that he used to work for UHaul and hooked our new RTV up for us on our rented car trailer.

Ms T Haul

As we drove to our hotel for the night, I shared with hubby that I wanted to name her. I did not want to just call her the Kubota (already taken) or the RTV or the little car or the whatever. She and I were going to spend a lot of time together and I felt names were more appropriate for our budding relationship.

We were in southern, hot, humid Georgia where Tupelo grows readily. We were headed to Asheville for an overnight where Tupelo Honey is a great restaurant. We had just gotten our bees so honey is on our brain and hearts. So it seemed like a natural fit for our new orange friend to be called Ms. Tupelo.

It fits her great as she is sweet, sweet, sweet. She is a work horse just like a little bee and Ms. Tupelo has such a nice, polite feel to it that it seems a great fit around the flowers and veggies.

Ms. T

I got letters last week at TSC and made if official. Isn’t this great?

Ms T

So do you name your equipment? I cannot be the only one here. Confessions please. :-)

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

 

 

 

 

Just Nice Folks

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We had an experience that no one wants- a broken down truck in the middle of no where, in the pouring down rain, early in the morning before church.  What started as a panicked “what are we going to do?” turned into a testament to the niceness of people.

After sitting with the truck for several minutes, it was obvious it wasn’t going to start. AND we did not have a clue what was wrong with it; after all we had just had it serviced from hood to tail.

We decided to call AAA.  We have a membership and towing is free within 3 miles. That’s all well and good, but in small towns nothing is open on Sunday. When asked “where are we towing you to?” we answered “we have no idea.” We hoped that in the 90 minute wait we could find a place open on a Sunday. Our church is 60 minutes from us, so towing us home was not really an option–that would be one expensive tow!

We are pretty new here and we don’t know many folks yet at church, but hubby had been to a men’s retreat and met some nice men, so he hunted in his cell phone for a number to call.  He came upon one and called their home. It was early and his wife answered. Hubby explained our predicament and our objective. We didn’t need them to come and get us or anything but we wondered if ANYTHING was open that we could tow our car into for a look.

She was the first highlight and testament to niceness.  She hung up and started hunting. She called and called around to places she knew of.  How nice is that? Unfortunately no one was.

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We thanked her sincerely for her time and trying and looked at each other. Hummmm…what’s plan b?

About that time our tow came.  Big ol’ dude came walking up to the car in the rain and said “what’s up and where are you getting towed to?” We must have looked like we just fell off the turnip truck as we said “we don’t know and we don’t know.”

He took pity on us and said “try to start your car.”. Hubby did and he said “you got air in a line, open the hood.” We did as instructed and he pushed on something and air released. Truck still a no go however. He said “you need starter fluid; you got some?”. To which we answered, “no you don’t use that on a diesel.” He grinned and said “oh yeah you can.” I’ll go up the road to the gas station and find you some.”

Wow, OK! We will wait here… (where would we go?) We had hope.

But when he returned, he couldn’t find anything open either. He said “let’s go to Walmart-get in the tow truck.” We hopped in, he connected up our truck for the tow and off the three of us went to Walmart to buy the starter fluid. We were still concerned about using it on a diesel, but we had to put our trust in him. We had nothing else at the moment!

The dude let off our truck, waited around while we made the purchase and then used it himself on our truck to get it going! WOW again.  And the charge was “zero.” He had towed us within the three miles, and wasn’t going to charge us for us other efforts.  We gave him a nice tip and told him to go get a good breakfast somewhere. We did the same and then went to late church mass.  We found ourselves in disbelief over our misfortune in the early hours but our fortune in such nice folks.

I know there are nice people everywhere, but it seems to me that in a small town you just run into it more. There is more of a “help your neighbor” feel. Like the man that stopped by our house one day to help get our tractor out of a ditch. Or another time when our tractor was stuck up to it’s belly in mud and a farmer down the way brought by heavy tow straps for us to use and said he’d pick them up on another day when he drove by.  We did not know any of these folks, but they saw a need and stopped to lend a hand.

I love it here in small town USA. I love all the niceties that I encounter in seemingly hopeless situations. How about you? What’s something that someone, you did not know, did you for you lately? How did it make you feel?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU