RECIPE: Easy Summer Berry Fruit Salad

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This fruit salad couldn't be any faster to make-and you can vary the fruit based on what you have in the fridge you may want to get rid of. Of course, in season fruit is always best-so try your local farmer's markets for what is ripe and fresh. I have whipped this salad up for many a special breakfast. You can have it by itself, on yogurt with granola, or as a great waffle or pancake topping with whipped cream. If you have left overs, save some for the evening where you can use it to top some vanilla ice cream and drizzle a little Limoncello over it for dessert. Now THAT'S good eating.

Summer Berry Fruit Salad

Ingredients:

2 kiwis, peeled and sliced
2 pints strawberries, hulled and sliced
1 cup seedless, dark purple grapes, halved
1/2 cup blueberries, cleaned and picked through
Juice of 1/2 lemon
3 Tbsp orange juice
1 Tbsp floral honey (such as wildflower, orange blossom, etc.)
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla

Directions:

Mix fruit in a bowl. In a measuring cup, add your juices. Mix in the honey and vanilla, and allow the honey to dissolve for a few minutes, mixing occasionally. Add juice to the berries and toss. Let sit for 5-10 minutes to let the fruits macerate, then serve. Chill leftovers for ice cream!

RECIPE: Maple Almond Coconut Spiced Granola

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I know there are great store-bought granolas out there. But when you make some from scratch, you understand why it is worth the effort. The flavors are just deeper and the texture crunchier. You can also customize it the way you want. The following recipe is a great "base" for you to add what you like more of-or even what you want to get rid of in your cupboard. Granola can be kept in an air-tight container for a week or so. You can use it as a cereal, over yogurt, on fruit, on ice cream or even as part of a strudel topping for various cakes and muffins. Give it a try one morning and have everyone wake up to wonderful smells coming out of the oven, and a delicious treat to boot.

Honey Almond Coconut Spiced Granola

Ingredients:

Nonstick spray
3 cups old fashioned oats
1 cup almond slices
3/4 cup shredded sweetened coconut
1/3 cup sesame seeds
1/4 cup shelled pumpkin seeds (you can use salted if you wish)
4 Tbsp. honey
2 Tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup canola oil
4 Tbsp. warm water
7 Tbsp light brown sugar
1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp. salt
1/2 cup golden raisins
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1 tsp. vanilla extract

Directions:


Preheat oven to 250˚. Lightly spray a rimmed baking sheet lined with aluminum foil with nonstick spray. In a large bowl, mix the oats, almonds, coconut, seeds, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Set aside. In a saucepan over medium heat, whisk honey, sugar, water, maple syrup, oil and vanilla until simmering and well combined. Pour over the oat mixture and mix well. Transfer to prepared baking sheet, making an even layer with a spoon but still keeping as many "clumps" as possible. Bake until evenly browned, about an hour and a half. Stir occasionally and gently, trying to keep clump texture. If you stir too often and aggressively, the granola will be more granular. Let cool. If you want to serve it quickly, cool them outside if you can. As they cool, break up big clumps with your hand and over the granola around gently.



Once cooled, pour granola in an air tight container. Mix in the dried fruit and enjoy!



CRAFT: Make a Fly-Fishing Lanyard for the Outdoorsman in your Life

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This was a father's day request for my fly-fisherman husband for Father's day. When he showed me examples in the Orvis catalog, I thought it was a little odd, but after I understood what this was for, I thought it was pretty cool! Sometimes, the vests fishermen wear get hot and heavy, and if you are fishing where the rest of your gear is nearby, you only need to bring your essentials on the water. That is what this lanyard is for. A guy can clip on measuring tape, pliers, compasses, and stick extra flies on the foam rollers. They can maneuver better in the water because of how light this lanyard is versus a full-on vest. My husband wanted our daughter and I to make him one so it would mean more to him-and we complied (even with some Best Dad beads to sweeten the deal!)

It was very easy to make. Here is what you need:



waxed cotton cord (craft jewelry aisle)
various beads with larger holes in the middle (craft jewelry aisle)
lanyard clips (craft jewelry aisle)
large key ring clasps (craft jewelry aisle)
small foam hair rollers, plastic insert removed

First, measure your length, giving a little more to tie it together when you are done. Cut your foam rollers in half with scissors. Start putting on beads, and every 3-5 beads put a clip, lanyard or a foam roller.

Place things evenly for balance and design. The beads are there to separate out the lanyards & clips, giving room to whatever gets clipped on there, so keep that in mind as you place your beads.

Intermittently slip on a foam roller, and do this evenly as well. You only need 2-4 of these on the lanyard.

The key chain clips need a small jump ring placed on the key ring part, then slipped onto the necklace. Otherwise the ring will be too large and the beads won't hold it in place.

I urge you to be creative! Use different kinds of beads, or even fish themed beads to make the gift more special. Or if it is from a child like ours, plan to use alphabet beads on it for a special message. Plan to know where to place them as you build out the necklace so they are placed in the right spot.

When done, tie the end. I have seen some where you can put 3-4 foam rollers in a row towards the back of the neck so the cord does not cut into the skin or become abrasive on a hot day. Something to think about-

Happy Fishing!



RECIPE: Homemade Lemonade "Easy-Peasy Lemon Squeezy!"

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My daughter LOVES lemons. Even when she was very little, she wanted to suck on lemon wedges. I have become very adept at making fresh lemonade, even if it is one glassful on the fly for a hot, cranky child. It is really not that hard and real lemon juice is full of great health benefits. I urge you to skip the powdered stuff and make a batch for your family. A little extra time spent on a Saturday and you can have a pitcherful all week (well, maybe, if it lasts that long!). Now for the big pitcher I heat the water and dissolve the sugar into a simple syrup before adding the juice. You don't have to do it that way, and in fact a single cup for my daughter I just throw together quickly. But for bigger batches, the flavor and texture of the lemonade is better if you do take the syrup step.

Easy, Fresh Lemonade
Roughly 2 quarts (see below for one cup ratio)

Ingredients:
8 cups water
12 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice (about 3 large lemons)
24 Tbsp. sugar
1 Tsp. salt


First measure your cold water and put in your pitcher. Then, take half of the water and pour in a small saucepan. Over medium heat, simmer the water and add the sugar and salt. Simmer the water until all the sugar is dissolved into a simple syrup. Let cool slightly and then add back into the pitcher.





Next, squeeze lemons to extract the juice. We have a hand crank juicer that works great and captures seeds and such. Kids love getting involved here, so let them do some of the labor! It makes for a fun activity and they will enjoy the "fruits" of their labor. (ha ha, couldn't resist.)





Measure out your lemon juice, and I would squeeze a little more than the recipe asks for because you might want to adjust tartness once you taste. All lemons have different strengths so be ready for an extra couple of doses of lemon juice to kick things up should you need it.




Pour juice into the sugar water and taste. Adjust for more tartness, and serve over ice cubes. You might want to garnish with a mint sprig from the garden! Yum!

Here is the ratio for a quick one cup lemonade for your little monkey:

1 cup cold water
1 1/2 Tbsp. lemon juice (usually about 1/2 a large lemon)
a pinch of salt
3 Tbsp. of sugar (or less)

Mix it up in a cup, add a couple ice cubes, and VOILA-amazing Mom strikes again!

GARDENING: Early Summer Garden To-Do List

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My previous post on my spring gardening to do list was such a success, I thought I would share my summer maintenance schedule as well. Early summer brings many fresh blooms in the garden which means a lot of food and watering. It is also a good time to plant, move and "train". As things come in you may realize that certain plants are taking over and they may need to be split next spring, or you may need to move smaller plants before or after they flower, or train rambling climbers that are getting "wily".

Below is my maintenance schedule based on what I have in the garden and my cold zone in the Midwest. Warmer climates are different-so keep that in mind. But this may be a good starting point for you and you can then customize it more for your specific garden needs.


Maintain:

- Rubber band greenery left from your spring bulbs to keep them from covering early summer plants coming up. Gather, bend down and mush in a clump, and pop a rubber band on the bunch. Keeps them tidy as they die back.
- Water (1 " a week should do, more in hot weather)
- Weed, weed, weed (pulling smaller weeds is easier than big, so be efficient and get out there often.)
- Dead head annuals regularly, or else they "go to seed" and will slow down blooming.
- Spot fertilize (I use PREEN, a food and weed preventer, just to save time. It works great!)
- Feed roses once a week around there base with a granular mix that you can work into the dirt (I use a Bayer rose care mix that includes disease prevention, too)
- After rhododendrons and azaleas have bloomed, fertilize.
- Use MirAcid on acid loving plants such as hydrangeas, azaleas, rhododendrons, Japanese maples and evergreens)
- Snip off dying flowers on rhododendrons, being careful not to cut off the next year's flower bud forming at their base.
- Stake heavy or long plants with twine and bamboo stakes to help them grow straight and give them extra support in wind and storms.
- Train new growth on climbers, and prune any limbs that are not being cooperative. If you are training grapes, cut excess limbs that aren't bearing fruit so the plant can focus it's energy on the budding grapes. Tie off and train against arbor or trellis.
- Dead head your perennials to prolong blooms.
- Feed ferns with a Jerry Baker tonic (5 gallons water, 1/2 cup milk, 1/2 Tbsp Epsom Salt. Mix and feed your ferns!)
- Fertilize lawn and put down grub control and weed control.
- Mulch roses lightly to help maintain moisture during the coming hot months.
- Either collect compost from your pile or buy some good stuff and spread it evenly around plants.
- Pinch chrysanthemums and asters to encourage compact growth.
- Prune evergreen hedges.
- Sprinkle Epsom Salt all over the yard, especially greenery and the lawn. Doing this every two weeks is not a bad idea.
- Use some of Jerry Baker's tonics to help feed and care for areas of your garden v.s. using chemicals like "All Purpose Summer Green-Up Tonic" every three weeks.

Jerry Baker's All Purpose Green-Up Tonic


1 can beer

1 cup ammonia

1 cup dish soap

1/2 cup liquid lawn food

1/2 cup corn syrup


Mix in a hose sprayer and spray your whole yard!
http://www.jerrybaker.net/garden/homepage.aspx

Prevent
:

- Put down slug prevention as you need. (My father uses the beer method, but I have found Ortho EcoSense slug control to really help.)
- Put down grub control and weed control all over
.
- Watch for molds and other parasites and treat accordingly.
- A great disease control tonic from Jerry Baker is one I use on occasion:

Jerry Baker Disease Control Tonic

1 can beer
1 can coca cola
1/2 cup dish soap
1/2 cup antiseptic mouthwash
1/4 tsp. instant tea granules

Mix and put in your hose sprayer-go over your whole yard. Wait 30 minutes, then spray with a general fungicide medication for good measure.
http://www.jerrybaker.net/garden/homepage.aspx







Build:

- Don't dig and move trees or shrubs just yet.
- Divide bearded Irises and replant after blooming.
- Plant perennials and annuals in your beds and containers! HAVE FUN!
- Sow perennial seeds for blooming next year.
- Get some projects started, and enjoy the outcomes the rest of the summer and for years to come!
Project Ideas:
- Build a water feature. A container pond is a very easy weekend project. I will be posting a video in a couple days to show you how! Or if you are ambitious, build a big pond!
- Create garden paths with stepping stones and pea gravel.
- Put down nice edging along your beds.
- Put down pavers to create sitting areas and walkways, or to create an area for a fire pit.






Fruits and Vegetables (This can get in depth based on what you have in the ground, but this is a rough overview):

- Support tomatoes with stakes, trellis or cages.
- Feed with fertilizer and disease prevention.
- Prune certain tomato plants (Like the vining types-remove all the suckers and leaves under the first flower all the way down to the bottom. Vining types are most cherry types, Big Boy, Beef Master, Early Girl, and most heirloom varieties).
- Support beans, cucumbers and other climbing/trailing fruits and vegetables.

HOME: Health, Beauty and Home Uses for Chamomile

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A month or so ago, I posted about a great tonic from Jerry Baker that worked wonders on white powder mildew on plants. The active ingredient was chamomile. I began thinking this week as I tallied how often I use chamomile for various things, and came to the conclusion that chamomile is a pretty amazing little flower. I grow chamomile off the deck in a window box. The seeds sow themselves, so they have come back yearly. I use the flowers to dry and make tea with, like my Nonna did in Italy. Roman chamomile grows wild in the Italian hills, and many Italians harvest it for home remedy teas. I grew up as a child being given chamomile tea when we had the flu or had stomach upset. My mother also recommended it during the "time of the month" to ease discomfort. I noticed even a very gentle, powdered version for babies when in Italy with my baby daughter. All you needed to add is spring water to it in a bottle and it helped to relieve a baby's stomach upset. I bought a couple boxes to bring back to America (you can't find it here) and I found it did help soothe my daughter if she was gassy or crampy. We now call it "tummy tea" for her, and if she has stomach aches, a small cup of that makes her feel better. I also brew a small sauce pan's worth every 4 months to do a facial steam. I put a towel over my head over the steam and let the steam clean out my pours for 5 minute increments. As you can see, chamomile is a mighty tea in our home. After doing a little research, I discovered why all these remedies were tied to chamomile since the middle ages! Chamomile, at it's heart, is an anti-inflammatory, among other things.


SO it seems that whether you ingest it or use it topically, it calms, soothes and brings inflammation down. It also has calming substances that act in various parts of the brain to relieve stress and anxiety, allowing muscles to relax. This explains it's uses as a "before bed", calming tea.

Here is a laundry list I compiled from various sources to give you ideas on how you, too, can use chamomile to heal things more naturally:

Health and Beauty:

-as a tea, used for lumbago, rheumatic problems and rashes
-as a salve, used for hemorrhoids and wounds
-as a vapor, used to alleviate cold symptoms or asthma (Inhaling a strong infusion helps clear up phlegm because it reduces inflammation in mucous tissue, or even two or three drops of essential oil in warm water left in a room overnight helps bad nasal mucus while sleeping)
-relieve restlessness, teething problems, and colic in children
-relieve allergies, much as an antihistamine would
-aid in digestion when taken as a tea after meals
-relieve morning sickness during pregnancy
-speed healing of skin ulcers, wounds, or minor burns such as sunburns
-soothe skin rashes, including eczema (Used as a lotion or added in oil form to a cool bath, chamomile may ease the itching of eczema and other rashes and reduces skin inflammation. or Five drops of essential oil added to ¼ cup witch hazel is good for eczema or any other skin condition.)
-reduce inflammation and facilitate bowel movement without acting directly as a purgative
-be used as a wash or compress for skin problems and inflammations, including inflammations of mucous tissue
-promote general relaxation and relieve stress
-control insomnia
-add a strong infusion to baby's bath to encourage sleep
-help to relieve nausea, heartburn, and stress-related flatulence
-may also be useful in the treatment of inflammatory bowel conditions such as Crohn's disease, gastritis and ulcerative colitis
-may also speed healing and prevent bacterial infection.
-treat eye inflammation and infection. (Cooled chamomile tea bag can be used in a compress to help soothe tired, irritated eyes and it may even help treat conjunctivitis. Five to ten drops of tincture added to warm water makes a good bath for conjunctivitis. )
-heal mouth sores and prevent gum disease. (A chamomile mouthwash or tea bag compresses may help soothe mouth inflammations and keep gums healthy.)
-soothes sore feet and muscles (Makes a relaxing bath or foot-bath)
-known to lighten fair hair and bring out it's highlights (Make a rinse by simmering 2 teaspoons dried flowers in 8 ounces of water for 15 minutes.)
-makes a great hand soak and will soften and whiten the skin as well

In the Garden:

-gardeners have also been known to utilize the plant as a liquid feed and as a tonic which is effective at stopping a number of plant diseases, such as powdery white mildew (http://www.urbandomesticdiva.com/2010/04/gardening-chamomile-against-white.html)
-the essential oil from the German Chamomile also is effective at controlling mites
-a strong infusion on growing seedlings to prevent the soil fungal disease called "damping off"
-planting it in areas of your garden benefit other plants, and even can be grown on walkways and in between pavers and can be mowed regularly, like grass

In the Home:

-makes nice mild scented potpourri (dry flowers face down and place in a bowl
-great moth repellent-make sachets out of dried chamomile flowers to put in you closets and sweater drawer
-makes a great room refresher. Make a decoction (strong tea) of chamomile and lavender strain and cool. Then pour into a spray bottle and keep handy for daily room revitalization! Great for the bedroom or baby's room.
Credits:http://www.frontiercoop.comhttp://www.aroma-essence.com http://www.gardenguides.comhttp://www.superbherbs.net http://www.herbwisdom.com
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