Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 6.13.17 (a.k.a. The Goji Edition)

Every year I try to grow something new and different in the Creamer Garden because, let's face it, zucchini gets boring after a while!  Last year, on a whim, I purchased a goji berry plant.


I thought it would be a pretty ornamental in the garden, but I really had no idea how to use the berries.  You never hear of a 'goji berry pie' or a 'goji berry cobbler'...and now I know why!
They really don't taste sweet like you'd think a berry would be.  They taste like a sweet bell pepper and are hollow inside except for several tiny seeds.  To me, they seem more closely related to peppers than berries.


These plants also spread and multiply like crazy!
I've had three more plants pop up in this same garden bed several feet from the original plant.  I thought I'd transplant the extras so I dug them up by the root and gave them a new home.  Despite lots of watering and TLC, it appeared that my transplants died.  I just left them where they were and I'll be darned if a week later they both sprouted new growth AND berries!
Even if you have a "brown thumb," 
you can grow goji berries!


I'm still not sure what to do with all these berries!
Right now I'm drying them and using them in salads, sauces, soups, and they make the most lovely tea (with a little lemon!).
I definitely want to incorporate them into our diets 
more and more due to their amazing super food properties.



If you're interested in growing your own goji berries, 
I got mine HERE.

Now if anyone has that recipe for goji berry pie....


Thursday, June 8, 2017

Strawberry Fig Jam

When I was a child, we had a huge fig tree in our backyard.
I remember back then eating strawberry fig jam,
and I remember it was delicious!


My folks passed away.
I moved far, far away.
Life happened.
I never even thought of that strawberry fig jam again until about ten years ago when we moved to our current house.  Back then, we had a huge fig tree just like the one from my childhood home.  Memories came rushing back and I made my first batch of jam that summer with my own figs.

It tasted like home.


That fig tree was destroyed when we had some work done on our house.  I was devastated but planted another one as soon as I could.  It died, so I planted another one.  
It died, too.
Turns out I don't have such a green thumb 
when it comes to fig trees!


Today I was gifted with a box of beautifully ripe, sweet figs 
from an even sweeter friend.

Can you guess what I did with them?


STRAWBERRY FIG JAM

6 cups of mashed figs
4 cups sugar
2 boxes of strawberry jello

Clean and cut the tops off of your figs.  Mash to your desired consistency and measure out 6 cups.  Combine figs, sugar, and jello in a large pot.  Bring mixture to a boil and cook for 5 minutes, stirring constantly.  Pack into sterile jars and process per your preference.

Note:  I had 8 full cups of mashed figs and used the same amount of sugar and jello.  It came out to exactly 12 half pints
and tasted just as good!




Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Monster Cookies


We are hosting Daniel's baseball team at our 
neighborhood pool tomorrow.
They were the 12 year old LEAGUE CHAMPIONS,
so they're kind of a big deal!


I wanted to make a big batch of cookies
and figured these boys needed one
BEAST of a cookie!

So behold the
MONSTER COOKIE:


This recipe makes a lot!
(about 6 dozen)
And you can add in whatever you want 
to please your hungry crowd.

In a big bowl, combine:
           3 eggs                      4 1/2 cups rolled oats
1 cup sugar                  2 tsp. vanilla
1 T. honey                    2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 cup brown sugar
1 stick of room temp. butter
1 1/2 cup crunchy peanut butter

Next, your add ins:
1 cup semi sweet chocolate chips
1 cup peanut butter chips
1 11.4 oz bag of M&M's


You can add whatever you like to the basic recipe:
White chocolate, dried fruits, coconut,
toffee or butterscotch bits, chopped nuts...
Just try to keep it to 2-3 cups of mix ins.



They will definitely bring out the monster in you...
the COOKIE MONSTER!


Saturday, June 3, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 6.3.17 (a.k.a The Tomato Edition)

The garden is lush, green, and growing like crazy 
due to all the rain we've been having!

 
The one thing I've been having to keep my eye on are the tomatoes.  Too much rain can be bad for them.


Too much water can cause these guys to split.
You can see the rings around the top 
of my Cherokee Purple tomatoes where they've busted a bit from all the rain.  It doesn't affect the taste, just makes them a little less "pretty."


The kids wait all spring and into the summer 
for batches of my home made salsa.
Me, I like them sliced with cucumbers, salt, and vinegar.


The birds and squirrels like them straight from the vine, 
so I've been picking them while they're still a bit green. 
Our new puppy seems to like them as well.  I find him in the garden beds a little more often than I like. 
We also have lots of rain in the forecast so I'm hoping between all of the critters and pups that I can get a harvest soon.
  
The boys have their tortilla chips ready and waiting!

Passing along my recipes for summer tomatoes:
My garden fresh SALSA recipe
My garden fresh TOMATO SAUCE recipe

Enjoy!

Sunday, May 28, 2017

Sunday Afternoon


 

A gorgeous Sunday afternoon with a little soap and water.


Even big brothers want to play!


To make super bubble solution:

6 cups of water
2 cups of dish soap
1 cup of corn syrup
A segment of yarn or cotton cord tied in a loop



Friday, May 26, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 5.26.17 (a.k.a The Sunflower Edition)

Every year since we've moved here,
I've given a kid or two a packet of sunflower seeds 
and told them to plant them.
This year was a little different.
Mary Grace went WILD with the seeds!


It seemed like every time we'd visit the store, 
we'd have to get another packet of seeds.


Mary Grace has obviously been very busy!
Sunflowers are popping up in the most delightful places
and their sunny faces make me so happy.


The bees are loving them,
which means my vegetable garden is loving them, too.


As a matter of fact,
due to Mary Grace's planting enthusiasm,
I've discovered that sunflowers make excellent supports for growing cucumber vines!


And drying sunflower heads make beautiful table decorations.


I want to be like the sunflowers.
Even on the darkest of days,
I will stand tall and find the sunlight!


Wishing you the sunniest of days!
See you next week.
#CreamerGarden


Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Summer Salad

I make this salad allllllll summer long.  
I usually make one big batch and just keep adding whatever garden vegetables I get to the brine as the jar becomes empty. 
 It's delicious, refreshing, and super healthy....
It's my garden fresh Summer Salad!

For two quarts start with:
About four cucumbers          Four cloves of garlic
         One red onion                       Celery and Mustard Seeds
One bell pepper                     White vinegar
Sea Salt or Kosher Salt

Feel free to adjust this basic recipe to your taste.  
Sometimes I like it more spicy so I'll just add 
red pepper flakes or fresh peppers.


Chop onion and bell pepper into thin strips then crush the garlic with the blade of your knife.  Cut cukes into bite sized pieces.


Put two cloves of garlic into each of your jars
then put a teaspoon each of mustard seed and celery seed 
into the jars.  
Add one heaping teaspoon of salt.
Some variations of this recipe also call for adding sugar.  
I'm trying to cut sugar from my diet so I don't add any.  
Honestly, I don't think it needs it,
but suit it to your taste.

(Someone doesn't like the smell of garlic....She can't be my kid!)

Next, layer the vegetables in the jars.
You can use anything!
Tomatoes, green beans, summer squash, zucchini,
okra, carrots...literally anything!


Pour a cup of white vinegar into each jar and fill with distilled water.  Secure the lid tightly and give a good shake to mix the ingredients and dissolve the salt.  
I leave these on my counter all day (about 12 hours) and shake them often during the day.  
After that, pop them in the fridge and enjoy!
As we eat them down and the jars empty, I just add more cut veggies to the brine.  


Enjoy on hamburgers, sandwiches, grilled meats, 
or just straight out of the jar!
Just enjoy these delicious flavors of summer
while they last.

Friday, May 19, 2017

This week in the garden 5.19.17

The garden is just getting started!
It always seems like I get such a late start planting, 
maybe it's because I've been caught by several late season freezes and had to start all over from scratch.  
But I think we are done with the cool weather for now 
and I am SO ready to get some dirt under my nails!


 I moved my garden back a bit on our property because my raised beds were riddled with weeds.  So I got a fresh start this year with all new soil and two new boxes (the other ones were rotted away).  These boxes are planted to the max with green beans, all sorts of peppers, spaghetti squash, okra, zucchini, and yellow squash.  
The newer boxes contain garlic and a medicinal herb garden as well as some luffa and bird house gourd vines....
I call them my "Hobby Boxes".


This is a little garden on the side of the yard.  
As you can see, the boards on one need to be replaced
(a good project for one of the boys this weekend!).  
They hold tomatillos, tomatoes, cucumbers, and a whole slew of sunflowers.  I had given Mary Grace several packets of sunflower seeds to plant around the yard....they all ended up in MY garden!
It's ok, they're one of my favorite flowers and they attract lots of bees and ladybugs.


Speaking of Miss Mary, she loves spending time in the garden!
She loves nothing better than to pick ripe tomatoes and cucumbers.  Our morning ritual is to check our plants, water, and have a morning chat while watching the hummingbirds at the feeders.
I wouldn't trade this time for anything else in the world,
I know all too soon that it won't be "cool" 
to hang out with mom so much
(or she'll discover the joys of sleeping late!)


With the garden getting underway, I had just enough of a harvest this week for a batch of "green sauce" 
and two quarts of garlic dill pickles.


So much goodness lies in the garden!

My motto this summer is:
MORE gardening,
LESS drama!

I'll meet you back here next week with another 
#CreamerGarden update!
Check out my the hashtag on Instagram

Sunday, May 14, 2017

Happy Mother's Day!



So blessed to be their mama!
Happy Mother's Day to all the amazing mothers out there,
especially all the strong women who influenced me 
over my life time.

I'm off to take a NAP....it's all I want for Mother's Day!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Spring Sewing

I don't think I've sat down at my sewing machine 
in well over a year!
I've either been working too much or just flat out exhausted.
But when I saw this adorable dress pattern by Oliver + S, it was just the inspiration I needed to get back to sewing for my sweet girl.


It is a pretty quick sew and there are lots of ways to 
customize it for your little Princess.
It's sweet, modest, and perfectly girly!  
As a matter of fact, I used this pattern for Mary Grace's Easter dress (she picked the bunny fabric herself!).


And while The Garden Party Dress is completely fabulous, 
Mary Grace needed something simple and light 
for the hot Texas summer coming up.  That's when I found 
which was a free pattern download from Craftsy....and I'm a sucker for just about any free pattern!


This pattern is so easy and quick that I sewed these four dresses 
in one afternoon 
(about 20 minutes each!).

And while you'd think that six new dresses would be enough,
you'd be wrong.
I had to make a few of these precious
from Oliver + S
(also a free pattern!)


These little skirts have been a staple in Mary Grace's summer wardrobe for years because this girl 
would just as soon put on a skirt as a pair of shorts!


And after raising four boys,
it does this mama good to finally have a girly-girl she can sew for!