Hearts, Roses and Cheese (?)

Happy Valentine’s Day!

Isn’t this a beautiful cheese board? It is hickory and smooth as can be. The best part is that my hubby made this for me yesterday and surprised me with this lovely Valentine’s gift! Last evening we started our Valentine’s celebration munching on a lovely appetizer with the board center stage. I simply LOVE it!

I love Valentine’s Day, but at the same time have no expectations as to what hubby has to do for it, OR expectations as to what I should do. Throughout the many Valentine’s Days we have spent together, not one has been like the other.

Two years ago, I received all of the “traditional” gifts. Diamond earrings, chocolates, roses, wine and a great lunch out. It was a beautiful day and a wonderful celebration as my hubby splurged in this way.

BUT it was no more fantastic than last year! We had a very busy year and in February it just wasn’t “in the cards” to go lavish. Hubby instead shared his love and appreciation by creating two awesome, hand drawn cards. The pics that showed what he loved and appreciated about me are still on our refrigerator and I adore looking at them still.

Eight years ago I was gifted with red velvet cakes shaped like a heart! You can bet I enjoyed that one!

I guess my point is that some years there are no gifts or simple gifts. Some years the gifts are extravagant. Simple and extravagant are also relative, dependent upon other life happenings. The handmade card or the simple “Happy Valentine’s Day” greeting can feel extremely loving and caring if done with a sincere heart.

Whether you are enjoying traveling solo for business, cuddling in your warm home with a partner and a dog, tending to chickens on your farm OR spending it in a million other ways living your life today….

I sincerely and lovingly with each of you a Happy Valentine’s Day!

Hearts,

FGU

Black-eyed Pea Stuffed Squash

stuffed acorn squash

Don’t you love mixing flavors and textures in food? I do! If you don’t this recipe may not be for you, BUT it is delicious, so you might want to give your taste buds a new experience with this one!

It takes about an hour from start to finish. Most of that time is while the squash is baking, so don’t let the time scare you. This is super simple to make!

Preheat over to 400 degrees.

What do you need?

  • 2 acorn squashes, halved crosswise and seeded (this would work with other squash -spaghetti, delicata, etc.)
  • 2 Tbl olive oil (divide this in half)
  • A little salt (to taste)
  • 1 C of cooked black-eyed peas (I start with dry, so I cook them first; if you use canned, just open and drain them)
  • 1 C of cooked farro (you could use another grain; maybe you have leftover brown rice or barley in the fridge)
  • 1 C finely chopped red bell pepper (or another color if you prefer)
  • 1 Tbl fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp sherry vinegar
  • 1/2 tsp smoked paprika
  • 1/2 tsp freshly cracked pepper
  • 1 – 2 oz. of goat cheese, crumbled (optional) OR grated parmesan
  • Fresh chopped flat leaf parsley (amount is up to you!)

Line a baking dish with foil for easier clean up. Place squash halves in the lined dish cut sides up, and brush with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil. Add a little salt and pepper. Bake for 45 minutes or until you can pierce with a fork. This will vary on size so start checking on them around 30 minutes.

While they are baking, get going on the filling. Saute the pepper in a skillet over medium heat until it starts to soften. Add the black-eyed peas and the farro and mix. Add the thyme, sherry vinegar, smoked paprika and pepper. Let them all cook in the skillet for several minutes. The smell will be amazing because of the smoked paprika!

When the squash are done, fill each half with some of the filling. Drizzle a bit of the remaining olive oil on. Add the goat cheese or parmesan cheese if you are using it. Add some more cracked black pepper.

Pop them back in the over for 10 – 15 minutes.

Remove and add fresh parsley.

Enjoy!

A Little Spring in Winter

Garden Books

It has been an unpredictable ride so far this winter with weather. One morning we took our dogs out at 7 am and it was 47 degrees; the next morning- same time, same place, it was windchill of 9 degrees! I don’t know if I should be in a t-shirt or bundled up in multiple sweaters. How about you?

I know some of you have consistently colder or warmer temperatures than I do currently. But no matter where you are, those of us who have visions of gardening in upcoming months, are busily leafing through seed catalogs and gardening books. To look and dream while turning the pages encourages the mind and heart to believe that spring will arrive in the future! I love January and looking at my garden plan and adjusting based on what worked last year, what needs to be tweaked and maybe planning something new to plant this year.

My plan is simple and uses excel. I track everything from seed inventory, ordering seeds, starting seeds and planting seeds in my garden. You can see by the tabs at the bottom I also track varieties that I have, companion plants, what I harvest and can and more. Every year I pull the one up from the previous year and adjust. January is a fun time to pull this out!

But there is nothing like going through the catalogs right? I have more seed packs than I can count (literally), but there is always another tomato or squash that I must have!

tomato page from catalog

How about you? Do you have favorite catalogs or gardening books that you just have to look at in January?

Happy Unleashing (that gardener in you in January!)

FGU

Thanksgiving on Ice

I love Thanksgiving! How about you? Family, friends, food… what is wrong with any of that?

For 7 years we have tried to get the daughters, partners, kids and my parents here all at the same time. Needless to say that has been challenging to say the least. BUT finally it happened! We arranged for everyone to be here the weekend before Thanksgiving. It would be a short visit, but all would be here. We were excited preparing, shopping, planning what to cook and bake and then….

ICE STORM! No POWER!

 

 

 

 

 

Now on Thursday morning, it was beautiful. By 830 our power was out and it was simply a short inconvenience. It was the day we were going to bake and clean but if it was on by 4pm we would be good. Afterall, we weren’t getting my mom and dad until Friday afternoon and then others would follow in on Saturday morning.

By dark we had flashlights and thought it would be on during the night sometime. Prior to bed we got the ETA from our energy company that it would be Sunday night before we would see power.

So I cried and panicked. I was so sad that this was the first time all together in years and we would be in the dark and have to change our menu. I was concerned for my parents being in a cold house and wandering in the dark.

Then hubby, as hubby does, says to me “I have a plan!” So we got a hotel room for my parents at night and hooked up our generator to get us a light hooked up. With a gas stove and grill and a little shifting in menus, we were in business! (and a headlamp never hurts!)

 

 

 

 

 

We added some fun rules to kick things off on a positive note!

 

 

 

 

 

Everyone arrived and we had a spectacular time! We picked up many pizzas from Marion’s in Dayton Ohio which is a favorite of all!

 

 

 

 

 

And who cares about power when you have a tractor with a scoop, a culvert to explore and gingerbread houses to make?

 

 

 

 

 

We took rides and played in the mud…

 

 

 

 

 

We had a wonderful time! When the power was restored, we cheered but also felt a little melancholy that our little adventure had ended. As a matter of fact, that evening, we sat in the sunroom with lights off and laughed and talked and laughed and talked. There may have been singing and dancing involved as well. 🙂

It was a great reminder of what Thanksgiving is about– family, love and laughter!

Hope your Thanksgiving was full of great memories and love!

Happy Unleashing,

FGU

Deck Prettiness

I don’t know about you, but I cannot see my gardens from my house. They are situated in the back of the property and the land is elevated where they are. Unless I am back there I simply cannot see the wonderful things that are growing.

Because of that, I like to have pots on the deck and flowers from the garden in the house. That way I can see things growing even if I am not back by the gardens.

Here are a few pretty things I get to see all the time from here. Rosemary, sage, cilantro, lemon thyme, orange mint and petunias are gathered together right outside the kitchen door and window.

Outside the sun room we have chives, marjoram and more petunias.

Around the corner a bit of basil, parsley and more pink petunias!

On the other side of the sun room and in the corner of the deck lives more rosemary, mint and parsley.

Currently inside I have some beautiful flowers that I cut from our bee mix and some hydrangeas and flowering oregano.

Outside the front door on the porch I have two pots filled with lavender, rosemary, thyme and eucalyptus.

What pretty things are growing near you?

Happy Unleashing!

FGU

 

Einkorn Wheat Berry Salad

What’s better than simple, yummy and good for you? I love when I can stir up something at the beginning of the week and have it for lunch during the week. This Einkorn Wheat Berry Salad is the perfect ticket for this!

If you are not familiar with this grain here’s a shot of my box:

You can use this like rice, add it to soup or salad. It doesn’t get mushy so it works in a lot of situations. It is an old grain (12,000 + years old!) and a 1/4 Cup packs 9 grams of protein with 0 grams of Sugar. In my book that is a lot of bang!

For the salad cook 1 C of Einkorn Wheat Berries in 3 C of water for about 30 minutes. Be sure to check the directions for this on your box if your brand is different than mine. Drain and let cool.

In a bowl start dumping– 1 diced cucumber, 1/4 C Vidalia onion (or use green onions), 1/4 C Cilantro, 3 oz feta cheese, 3 Tbl Olive Oil and 1 Tbl Golden Balsamic. Add the wheat berries when they are cool. Mix it all up and store in the fridge until lunchtime!

The great thing about salads like this is flexibility! Don’t like cilantro then use parsley! No Golden Balsamic in the pantry then grab red wine vinegar or another favorite. Goat cheese could go in for the feta. AND tomatoes would be fabulous in here but they are not in season yet at our house so we are still waiting on that addition because I won’t buy them at the store now that I have grown my own.

If you cannot find the Einkorn Wheat Berries at your store, you can get them on Amazon because well Amazon has everything!

Enjoy!

FGU

Old Boots to New Purse!

Last Christmas hubby got me new boots. My cowgirl boots were, well let’s say, well used! They were not comfy anymore and I was definitely in need of some new ones! I was thrilled to get a new pair.

I had suggested a few times that we toss my old ones; they were too rough to donate and not up for wear any more. But every time hubby went to take our trash, the boots remained. Several weeks later they disappeared and I assumed they were in boot heaven.

Fast forward to Valentine’s Day. I unknowingly was opening a big surprise inside a present from hubby at my daughter’s house.

Imagine my shock and happiness as I opened the box and saw a beautiful purse and then realized that I was looking at my boots!

I kept saying how can this be? How did you do this? These are my boots!

Turns out he had been working with the lovely ladies at Stagecoach Bags.  Hubby contacted them (Vicki, Debra and Gayle) after seeing an ad in MaryJanesFarm Magazine. He had rescued the boots from the trash bin and sent them to their workshop that they lovingly call the “Spa.”  My old boots entered their “Boot Camp.”

They cut and condition all the leather. They send options for inside fabric and accents.

They then create a name for the bag and create an authenticity card for a keepsake.

Hubby loved working with this company. Their tagline is “Our Booots Have a New Way of Walkin'” They love doing what they do and it shows!

Look at the final product!!

Please check out their website and consider a gift for you or someone close in the future from them. The purse is gorgeous but so special because of its history. That makes it an heirloom! I get compliments on it where ever I go.

Thank you Hubby, Vicki, Debra and Gayle!

Happy Unleashing those old boots!

FGU

Weekend Grilled Sandwich(es)

There is nothing like a great sandwich. Since we don’t eat a lot of meat we do not make sandwiches often. This weekend however we feasted on sandwiches more than once and they were fantastic and yes vegetarian!

This is heaven on a cloud of ciabatta. Yes a cloud…

I think some folks think ciabatta is heavy, but when baked right it is light, airy and just feels like a cloud when you press it. Hubby made the ciabatta using the recipe from “The Italian Baker” and it was magnifico! If you don’t have a baker in the house buy a good quality ciabatta for this sandwich.

Let’s make it!

Heat your grill to hot! I grill at a very high temp – 600 – 700 degrees. Heat to where you are comfortable.

  • Slice zucchini and/or yellow squash lengthwise about 1/4″ thick.
  • Slice a red pepper into pieces. I cut my pepper into 5 nice pieces that would lay on the sandwich after grilling.
  • Drizzle with olive oil, salt and pepper.
  • Toss on the grill (I use a grill pan with small holes so I don’t lose anything in the process).
  • Grill for a few minutes on each side.

Towards the end of grilling cut the ciabatta lengthwise to open it up. There were only two of us eating so we cut the size of the bread appropriately for 2 sandwiches. Brush the bread with a little olive oil and pop on the grill for a couple minutes on each side.

Assemble!

  • Spread fresh (if you have it) or store bought pesto on the ciabatta.
  • Layer the veggies
  • Add a bit of sliced purple onion
  • A slice or two (or more, don’t be shy) of fresh mozzarella takes the sandwich over the top so get cheesy!

We served this with Italian Potato Salad – which is basically red potatoes with balsamic, olive oil and a bunch of fresh herbs. It was sooooo yummy!

We dined outside with a good red wine and believe me when I say it was GREAT!

Notice I did not give amounts on any of the ingredients. Since it is a sandwich it is up to you! Use whatever you think is reasonable for whoever is indulging (then add a little) 🙂

The next night we made paninis with the ciabatta on our griddle and added grilled large portobello mushrooms, red peppers, chipotle mayo and swiss.  Hubby made baked beans and it was again a feast. We were so excited to eat another sandwich, that I forgot to take a picture!

And what would a weekend be without a good breakfast sandwich? Eggs, peppers, mushrooms, pesto, avocado and mozzarella on the ciabatta. Many of these ingredients were left from the evening sandwiches and it was a great way to not waste!

Enjoy and happy unleashing with sandwiches! What are your favorites?

FGU

Life Happens

It has been so long since I have sat to blog. But as they say “Life Happens.”

March, April and May brought a variety of things that life brings– family connections, travel, laughter, death, illness, sadness, joy, upheaval, and well just a feeling for many weeks that things were out of my control.

I guess deep down I know things are out of my control. I know there is a higher power, that I choose to call God, that is in control of my life. I also know I have choices and so do others. And sometimes choices and simply life brings a feeling of being out of control.

I am back home now after several weeks of coming and going. The peace here at home is welcome and refreshing. I also acknowledge that doesn’t make everything simply “go away.”

But it does mean I am trying to get back on schedule, look forward and regain some control on those things that are within it.

With that being said, I am happy to be back blogging. I have some yummy food blogs to share, a little day trip to share, a special gift that I received to share, and of course my green babies and gardening happenings!

So hang with me as I get back into it. I have missed you and we will chat again soon.

Until then smell the flowers along the way.

Sunflowers in South Georgia

 

 

 

 

 

 

Happy Unleashing life today!

FGU

Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop #243

Welcome to the Farmgirl Friday Blog Hop!

It doesn’t matter whether you are a first timer or visit weekly; I am glad you stopped by! This is a great place to share what you are up to and to brag a little.

I am always inspired by what is shared here. I loved the quiet, peaceful post from Mid-Life Blogger last week, Be Still. She found herself without electricity and truly made the most of the day in stillness and enjoyment of her surroundings. I think we all need a “Be Still” day every once in awhile. Thank you for sharing!

And we had pretzels and refinishing and multiple entries on chickens and eggs and yummy goodies and well just so lots of good stuff to look at. Thank you to all that participate. You make Fridays so much fun!

So let’s do it shall we? Time to hop!

Share a post about what your inner and outer farmgirl is doing and feeling this week. Brag on yourself and your skills! Share what being a farmgirl means to you; you don’t have to live on a farm to be a farmgirl! 😉

Farmgirl is a Condition of the Heart -MaryJaneButters