March 22, 2012

The Birdhouse Gourd :: bottle neck style

Actually they are called Bottle-neck Gourds, but often times we see them made into bird houses... when I was young my mom would make these earthen bird houses and hang them all over our garden. Sometimes the feathered friends would take up residence and other times the gourd would serve a purpose of adding more color elements to our outdoor space. 

I loved that memory and wanted to recreate it for my daughter. When I finished painting the gourds the first thing she said was... "this blue one reminds me of grandma Nana."

The who's and what's its:
  • First plant your gourd seeds...and harvest them at the end of the year, or you can leave them to over winter right there on vine. This article explains the process of drying your gourd...
  • Then the following spring [now] I cleaned up my gourds by washing them with soap and water, this time I happen to use my Tropical Traditions bleach powder for the job, then I let them air dry in sun for about a half day or so...

  • Once the gourds were dry, I took my handy dremel tool and polished out the hole my beloved made with his one inch spade bit...

  • I also drilled small holes near the top of the gourd, and some along the bottom for drainage purposes. 
  • Then we let the creativity begin... these were painted with patio paint and acrylic's, then coated with a non-toxic sealant for weather protection.

  • Finally I will add a small perch below each hole, add my wire to the top and hopefully have them in place before vacation...

 These are great for your yard and so very easy to make! 

~ Be blessed and encouraged. ~

* Shared with Simple Lives Thursday

    March 10, 2012

    Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins

    Miss made two batches of Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins on Friday, one of which was for our Shabbat breakfast. These are her absolute favorite muffins, well possibly with the exception of chocolate chip muffins, the girl loves chocolate too.

    The Recipe: adapted from the Joy of Cooking

    2 cups Whole Wheat, freshly ground/hard white wheat
    1 tablespoon of Baking Powder
    1/2 teaspoon Real Salt
    1/4 teaspoon nutmeg
    2 large, organic, eggs
    1 cup of raw cream
    2/3 cup organic sugar
    5 tablespoons oil - olive, butter or coconut oil
    1 teaspoon [make your own] vanilla
    1 tablespoon lemon zest, freshly grated from organic lemons
    1 1/2 tablespoons poppy seeds
    1 teaspoon lemon juice

    Add all the ingredients together in a large bowl, yes...she threw them all in one bowl...and mix thoroughly. Pour the batter into your paper lined muffin tins, fill about half way full, and bake at 350 for about 15 minutes. Test muffins with a toothpick for doneness, let cool slightly before removing from the pan. Store in air tight container once completely cooled.

    Grinding your own wheat sounds like a lot of extra work, and some days is can be, but think of the alternative... besides fresh ground wheat tastes better, and from what I have studied it is healthier and more economical in the long run. We currently use The Kitchen Mill for daily use, but have a hand mill for those days when the electricity goes out and we still need flour.

    Raw cream, or real milk, is something we are very thankful for and I know that not everyone has access to this whole food, and considering the country we live in, to say this is sad is an understatement. But why raw milk? This article explains things pretty clearly. See also: Raw Milk Vs. Pasteurized Milk

    {Real} Butter is not a bad fat, it is a good one and we try to make as much as we can with the cream we skim off the top of our milk jars. Often times we have enough butter to use for the whole week, unless I desire the cream for other kitchen use, so go ahead ... eat the butter. Here is a great post on the benefits of eating butter, and other 'good fats'.

    When we choose to use the excellent things for our foods, we will delight in the taste of them. When we choose to spend our time wisely, again choosing the excellent things, our lives can be lived full of purpose and joy. As a mother, the joy came as I was watching my daughter create her favorite muffin, and being in 'her time' while in the kitchen.  

    ~tasting them was pretty joyous too!