Category Archives: Gardening

Household Greenery, Using What You Have

For years I’ve seen the hint in magazines and books about growing herbs and things on the kitchen windowsill, but they usually instruct one to purchase all kinds of things, like an already growing plant (have you seen the price of the potted herbs at the grocery store?). And all the special starting pots and fertilizer, etc. Not my way of doing things, so for years I didn’t even try it.

Houseplants don’t fare well in my care, so I quit buying them years ago. However, I still like them and decided to try and see what I could do with … well, with nothing fancy.

So I got to thinking about what I could do with what I already had; for instance that sack of old seed packets in the closet. (Even when I buy good quality seeds, my good intentions don’t always get me very far – like into the garden plot. But I’m too cheap to throw them away, because one never knows. Maybe they’ll grow even if they’re old. Well, they did!)

Obviously nothing was purchased for this little experiment. An empty tuna can, green beans can, a few old book pages, and some white glue. And thankfully, some leftover, good quality potting soil. Oh, yes, and lettuce seeds that were at least 5 years old.

While I honestly don’t recommend searching for outdated seeds, why not use them if they’re just sitting around?

Very pleased I was with the results!

Except that the can with the plant in it looked a little naked so I covered it with book page paper also.

Be sure to hammer a few nail holes into the taller can so it can drain.

What I learned from this step was to not cover the whole can down to the bottom with the paper. This puts it into the water line and it wicks up and stains the paper.

Voila! Edible houseplants! For free!

Update: For outdoor ideas of a similar nature, go to this post on Make Mine Beautiful. Polly is a professional and shares tons of ideas.

This post is linked to:

Food on Fridays @ annkroeker

Frugal Friday@ Life as Mom


Filed under Book Page Projects, Free, Gardening, Home, Making Do, Thrift, Thrift, Using What You Have


From the closeup photo in the new banner above, one might think we have huge peaches. You may have even heard that everything grows bigger in Texas.

Well, the peaches on our tree don’t grow bigger – they’re pretty small.

But, oh how I have hope!

After several years of late freezes and goat damage, we have real live fruit on our tree!

Fresh peaches are so wonderful; they don’t have any resemblance to store-bought ones – unless they’re local, of course.

When we lived in Oklahoma, we would drive down to Porter and buy them from the orchards.

In Texas, there’s nothing like a Parker County peach. And boy, you have to get over there fast. One year the crop was so slim that we didn’t get any. Another year, the orchard was only letting people have a set amount.

I like to get 1/2 bushel, or a whole one if I have help putting them up for the freezer. We eat a ton of them fresh, make ice cream (absolutely incredible), eat them with heavy cream or make cobblers.

Then through the year, I ration them out to myself (Joe doesn’t like eating them plain so I’m really just putting them up for myself or the cobblers or ice cream. There are actually about 3 jars left in the freezer and I think they’ll last me until next month when the crop is in.

Speaking of ice cream, Joe made some Banana Ice Cream on Sunday when our family was here. Only Liam, Joe and I ended up eating it, so there was plenty left over for the freezer. There are only 2 servings remaining.

Good thing we’ll be in Grapevine today so we can pick up more cream. Sam’s has it in quarts for a whole lot less than the grocery store. And since this is ice cream weather (they’re predicting record high temperatures this week), I want to have plenty on hand.

I could hardly believe how good that Banana Ice Cream was. When I complimented Joe on how good it was, he told me the reason…he used the whole quart in it! I’ve always used about a cup or two, but never the whole carton. He said that was why it scooped so easily after being in our really cold freezer.

All I know is that we’ll be making Chocolate Walnut this afternoon and I can hardly wait.

After all the surgery, my taste buds are back to normal.



Filed under Cooking, Family, Gardening, Local Shopping, Made in the U.S.A., Oklahoma, Shopping, Texas

Pot Pourri Starter

Doesn’t pot pourri add something beautiful to a room? It’s more than simply the smell, it’s the look of it, too. All those lovely flowers and fragrances. However, I don’t like paying for the good stuff so I usually make my own. Besides, it’s something nice to do with all those rose petals, etc. that will be falling next spring and summer.

Now, in the winter is a good time to start on a new year’s fragrant bowl. Citrus fruit is in season and this is a good use for all of that usually discarded rind.

This morning when I peeled an orange, I tried to leave the rind in pieces as large as possible. Using a small cookie cutter, I pressed it into the rind to cut out little hearts. As you can see, I used a plastic one, which I don’t recommend, because it’s difficult to use, especially since this orange had really thick skin. A small metal one would’ve been better but I couldn’t find one in a generic shape that wouldn’t look Chrismasy next summer. However, I did employ the rolling pin to distribute the pressure and got a better cut that way. (That sounds like a physics problem. That’s about all I know concderning that subject. When Joe went back to school and got his degree in physics, people would ask me just exactly what that was. Really, I don’t know but my stock answer is that it’s the mathematics of how things work, like pressure, light, etc. Now if they had asked me about literature or history we could’ve had a longer conversation.)

Inserting the cloves

After getting the shapes trimmed (use kitchen shears or cheap scissors, it’s easier than a knife), I used a chop stick to poke holes for inserting the cloves. A large nail will work just fine, too. The hole at the top of each shaped piece is a little larger so I could hang one from a ribbon on a garland. You don’t have to use cloves, but they do add a lot of oomph to the smell. A few stars of anise thrown into the mix later on is nice, too.

All of the rind can be used, even the ragged bits. Just slice then into little pieces or cut them with the scissors.

All of the citrus bits are now sitting in a baking pan under our wood stove to dry. That’s not necessary, and you certainly won’t want to install a wood stove just to save on pot pourri, but it’s a good place for drying things. It doesn’t get hot to the touch, just a constant warm. When we were in England, my friend Julie, taught an art class and she used her hot water closet to dry papier mache. Just use what you have. In the past, I’ve just put the ingredients straight into the bowl and let them dry that way.

So this is the starter. You can add whatever you have or whatever you like to it. There are lots of pot pourri recipes in some of my books, but they were awfully intimidating and terribly expensive. They called for several ingredients which are not in my kitchen and probably not on the shelves of our local store.

What I’ll put in mine: the cinnamon sticks I got on sale at Wal-Mart for .20, petals from all the flowers that come around (either cut flowers or wildflowers), a few rose leaves for something different, a few drops of oil of cinnamon (from the spice section at the grocery), a little bit of essential oil and some dried orange or grapefruit slices. They look so pretty in the bowl.

This post linked to:
Food on Fridays @ annkroeker


Filed under Cozy, Crafts, Free, Gardening, Thrift, Using What You Have


Sidewalk, Dallas Arboretum

Sidewalk, Dallas Arboretum

These photos were taken by our daughter-in-law when we went to the Dallas Arboretum last October. The pumpkin photo in my banner was taken then, also.

Us at the Dallas Arboretum Oct 08

Pumpkin house, Dallas Arboretum

Pumpkin house, Dallas Arboretum

From the photos on their website it looks like they’ve changed the displays slightly from last year’s.

We’re hoping to take our grandsons. Maybe we’ll stop at the Root Beer Saloon (Saturdays and Sundays through November 1). Certainly we’ll go to the playhouse exhibit. There are 14 playhouses based on children’s books, such as One Fish, Red Fish, Two Fish, Blue Fish, Alice in Wonderland, Treasure Island, etc. This exhibit will run through December 31.

A Harvest Tea is offered from September 19th to November 25th 2009. Reservations only. $35.00 per person. Ouch. But at least it’s a meal (high tea) and not just an afternoon tea. I don’t think we’ll be taking the boys to this one. This sounds like a grandma and drag-grandpa-along event.

Leave a comment

Filed under Autumn, Events & Museums, Gardening, Texas

Madame Alfred Carriere

Madame Alfred Carriere

My husband took this photograph of a rose growing by our front porch. He entered it in the art contest where he works and won 1st prize. It’s a lovely flower and has a wonderful fragrance.

Leave a comment

Filed under Gardening