Thursday, March 24, 2011

Vegetable Gardening 101

Today I spoke to a group of women from my church who were attending a class on Landscape Design.  My friend Mary Pat was teaching the class and many of the women were interested in vegetable gardening so she asked me to come and share some of what I know from experience in my own garden.  I feel like a real amateur but was willing to share what I've learned along the way. 

Several years ago I read the book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver and it changed my life.  Not every aspect, but at least how I viewed the possibilities of getting more serious about gardening.  This author and her family for one year grew or raised their own foods only supplementing those things also grown or raised by local neighbors.  Depending on my memory I believe they limited this to a 100 mile radius of their Virginia farm.

Here's a link to a post  Recession Garden in Photos  where I took photos of the process of starting Square Foot Gardening at the very beginning.... a very good place to start with filling the beds with soil.    The recipe for the soil mixture we used was found in another great book All New Square Foot Gardening, Grow More in Less Space! by Mel Bartholemew.  This book takes you step-by-step and shows how to make this method of gardening work for you in the space you have available.

This will be our third year of gardening using this method and it does get easier past the first year of building the boxes and filling them.   The soil line does become compacted and falls below the top of the boxes after a long winter dormancy,  so in spring we mix another batch and fill up to the top, re-string the boxes and plant. 

If you follow my blog and garden yourself, please comment so I can follow your progress if you have blog.  We can share ideas and learn from one another. 

Here's my list of what I'll be growing this year in my garden:
Lettuce, Red-leaf, Romaine, Arugula, and other mixed greens
Sugarsnap Peas
Peppers:  Green, Ancho, Poblano, Jalapeno
Squash-Yellow and Zucchini
Swiss Chard
Tomatoes:  Brandywine, Purple Cherokee, Sweet 100s, Yellow, Black Krim
Yellow Watermelon

Here's to happy gardening and big harvests all summer long and into fall. 

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Kickapoo Joy Juice

My dad, who was a Southern Baptist preacher was also at one time an English teacher and loved vocabulary.  He and his college buddies made up funny words, told jokes and used code words just to get a big laugh.  So when I was riding in the car with Dad and he would see some ole' guy stumbling down the street he'd say, "Looks like he's been hittin' the ole' Kickapoo Joy Juice.  This was code for booze, moonshine, lick-er; forbidden in our church and our home.

I love to make smoothies in the morning for breakfast and since they make me like the Eveready Bunny and I can go and go and go all day with tons of energy I've begun calling them my Kickapoo Joy Juice.  It kicks my b*tt and takes names and fills me with joy.  Seriously, I can't even say it without smiling.  You try it.

Yep, my kids think I'm wacko, and a bit scary when I drink this stuff.  But hey, it's payback time for all those late nights of their craziness when they'd had too much Mountain Dew to drink and were bouncin' off the wall.  It's my turn.  ....;-)

Here's this morning's Kickapoo Joy Juice.  Watch out world, here I come!

1 banana
1 peach
1 pear
1/2 cup 2% fat Greek yogurt (Trader Joe's)
1 cup unsweetened Almond Drink (Did you know there's a law that says they can't call it "milk"?)
3 Tbsp. Agave Syrup (I've also used honey or maple syrup)
1 Tbsp. Flax Seeds
2 scoops Berry Flavored Super Green Drink powder (Trader Joe's version of barley grass, spirulina, etc)
2 scoops Psyllium Seed Husks (basically fiber, and again I buy this at Trader Joe's)
Ice, optional

Blend on high until you can tell the flax seeds have been broken up a bit. Those little hulls can't break down in your body so you need to grind them up a bit. 

I like to drink it right away, otherwise the longer it sits the more the psyllium husk absorbs and makes the mixture as thick as thin pudding.  So, don't get distracted by laundry or the kids cuz you'll need a spoon to eat it if it sits too long.

Try it and go conquer the world. 

Friday, July 2, 2010

Airport Ribs

Don't know if I've ever posted this recipe on my blog so here goes. 

First the story behind the name. 
Many years ago my husband was flying in from somewhere and I decided to have a big rack of ribs waiting to feast on when he arrrived home.  I planned and organized the whole day  so the ribs would go into the oven right before heading out the door to pick him up at the airport.   The table was set, the potato salad chilling, and the baked beans were hot. 

As I circled and circled the airport arrivals, slowing down as I looked for his face, I realized his flight must have been delayed.  This was before cell phones folks; do you even remember what life was like back then?

Since I had all the kidlets in the car, the last thing I wanted to do was park, drag them all inside to look at the arrival screens.  So I headed home which is only 15 minutes away to call and check on the flight.  Yep, I confirmed its delay, and an hour later headed back to the airport to retrieve my husband. 

Driving to the airport take two.   "Oh, no the ribs!  They're still in the oven!,"  I shrieked.  Oh well, they could be burnt beyond belief, but there was nothing I could do about it until I got back home. 

Scooping up the hubs I headed back home to find the most delicious, tender, juicy, scrumptious ribs I'd ever had in my life.  Remember I grew up in Oklahoma and have lived and feasted all over the US from California to Nashville.  I've tried other recipes to no avail.  They're just complicated and time wasting.  Seriously the whole family loves my ribs and requests "Airport Ribs" for birthday dinners and July holidays.  I make them the same way everytime and they're always DE-LISH. 

Make 'em soon!

Airport Ribs

What you'll need: 
  • Several racks of baby back ribs
  • Salt and Pepper
  • Your favorite BBQ sauce
  • A grill
  • An oven

Salt and pepper the ribs on both sides.  Grill briefly just for nice grill marks and flavor. Don't worry if they're not fully cooked, just 10-15 minutes is all you need on the grill.

Bring them inside and place on cookie sheets, or some kind of baking pan with sides to hold the yummy sauce.  Sauce those ribs.  Cover with non-stick foil and place in a low oven 275-300 degrees for at least 3 hours.  Enjoy! 

Let me know if you try them and send reports from those you served. 


"Farming looks mighty easy when your plow is a pencil and you're a thousand miles from the cornfield."
Dwight D. Eisenhower, 34th U.S. President, 1890-1969

Wednesday, April 28, 2010

Vintage wedding

March and April were busy months for DellaBlooms and Gifts and I want to share some of the details about the events I flowered. Back in January or February I spoke with a lovely young woman I've known for many years about her dreams for her wedding day. She came with her mother one cold afternoon for tea and scones to look at flowers and talk about the future wedding in March.

When I say she's lovely.... I mean it in every way. She's intelligent, creative, delicate, polite, sincere, feminine and loves the Lord Jesus Christ. Yep, lovely describes her to a T and I was not surprised she was drawn to a soft palate of muted colors including mauve, sage green, and teal and loved texture. Right up my alley.

My photos don't do the flowers or the event justice. I'm looking forward to seeing the photos taken by the very talented photographer, Rebekah J. Murray.
Cake Credit: SugarBakers Cakes

Her ideas for the reception tables were to honor the families of both bride and groom by framing old photos and displaying them amongst vintage memorbilia and milk glass vases of flowers of the day. Again, all the things I love.
One afternoon in early spring she came to my house so I could show her some of my vintage loverlies like my grandmother's hats, a child-sized sewing machine, an old typewriter, and a slew of embroidered hankies. I wanted her to eliminate all she did not want to use, but there was nothing eliminated. She wanted to use it all along with some things she'd also collected.

Photo credit above: Jenna Cole

So, not only did I already think she was a lovely young woman whom I'd known since she was a teen, but now she loved the things I loved and wanted to use them in her wedding. This on top of allowing me to do her flowers was almost too much. Gosh I love my job.
Congratulations Michelle and Dan! Thanks for letting me be part of your special day.

Friday, March 12, 2010

St. Patrick's Day is coming

To be prepared for celebrating the work God did through an amazing person of Irish descent, why not bake a loaf of Irish Soda Bread. Here's a recipe I posted last year.

And the Wolf Tones will sing a tune for you while you bake your bread. Make sure you turn off my music player at the end of this page before playing the song.

Erin Go Bragh!

Who was St. Patrick?

Tuesday, January 5, 2010

In Honor of Florence

Today is the anniversary of my grandmother Florence Belle Cunningham Carter Sharp's birthday. The photo above was taken in approximately 1910 so it's 100 years old today. If she were alive today she'd be 110. I don't know why that's important for me to calculate, but she was an incredible woman whom I loved dearly, and she lived 96 incredible years.
This photo was taken at her last birthday celebration here on earth at my mother's home in Virginia. Grandma came to live with mom the last few years of her life and we enjoyed having tea parties for Grandma's special day each year.

Grandma loved getting dressed up for church on Sundays and here she is with me and my brother Jim on Mother's Day in 1963 outside her lovely brick home in Oklahoma City. She was quite a looker and loved her costume jewelry, hats, gloves, shoes and purse to go with each outfit.

Here she is outside the White House Cafe on Robinson Ave. in the Capitol Hill area of Oklahoma City. She bought this cafe in 1954 and loved her "regulars." Those were the folks who came into the cafe on a regular basis, like Sarge the jeweler, and the big guy from Oklahoma Tire and Supply, the Maytag man, the barber, and folks from Oklahoma National Bank. Employees of local stores like John A. Brown, C. R. Anthony's, Emmer Brothers, Langstons, Jack and Jill's. Then there were all the folks from her local church, Capitol Hill Baptist, and the most memorable to me was Wee-Wo, the newspaperman. Burgers at Grandma's cafe filled the whole plate from my perspective, and the pie case was mouth-watering with the peach, mystery, and chocolate cream pies tempting customers right at eye level on the counter. The beef tips were to die for but not before you had a Ne-Hi Strawberry Soda to whet your whistle. Grandma put her heart, body and soul into making the Cafe, or "Carter's" as it was well known, a comforting respite where you could get down-home cooking at a fair price, and a lovely lady wearing an apron and jewelry with her crisp uniform to greet you with a smile.

Before buying the Cafe, Grandma gave her all to helping her husband raise three children while working happily at home baking, cooking, cleaning, gardening, sewing, butchering, etc. Grandpa had a milk route in which he and his sons transported milk from the farmers to the dairy. She did all she could to support their efforts back at the homefront.

In Titus 2:4-5 Paul tells Titus that an older woman should be spending her time " teaching the younger women to be loving wives and mothers, temperate, chaste, and kind, busy at home, respecting the authority of their own husbands." Grandma did this not with her words in a preachy way, but with the kind words she spoke to everyone and the way she lived. She served all those around her, never complained, gossiped, or begrudged the work before her.

Grandpa died when I was five years old, and many years later Grandma married again at age 70 and that marriage was a happy one until her husband Bill died 10 years later.

I can't honor her here on this blog in words and photos to adequately give you a picture of who she was to so many friends and family members, so I'll end with saying, " I love you Grandma and I miss you and want to honor you by remembering you today."