Monthly Archives: June 2012

First Harvest

Late June and I have just harvested my garden for the first time.  I am a little later than usual, but thanks to some roving neighborhood deer I had to start my garden a second time.  Darned Deer……

Today I went out and picked the first of my peas (Oregon Sugar Pod II).  This year, rather than setting up the netting I usually use for my peas I tried using tall garden stakes as ‘pea spikes’.  As you can see, it seems to be working quite well.

Use these stakes as ‘pea sticks’ to provide support to your growing plants.

I don’t know if you can tell from the photo, but I have VERY sandy soil.  To help improve soil structure I add large amounts of compost in the spring and readily through the summer as well.

Backyard composting, make your own ‘black gold’.

Now that I have completed my first harvest I have to decide what to do with my ‘haul’.  Those of you who are gardeners know that that first harvest is generally not the best, I am looking forward to WAY more fresh from the garden peas as the weeks go on but in the mean time this is what I have to work with.

    One of my good friends made a quinoa dish with bacon and snap peas when we visited one afternoon.  It was DELICIOUS, even my kids and my ‘the only protein is meat’ hubby said it was ‘okay’ (although he did take seconds).

Bacon-Quinoa-Snap Pea Salad with Honey Lime Dressing (courtesy of Nobel Pig)

Serves 4-5
4 strips of thick-cut smoked bacon, diced
1/2 pound sugar snap peas
1-1/2 cups quinoa, dry
2 cups chicken stock or broth
1/3 cup pepitas (green pumpkin seeds)
2 teaspoons black sesame seeds
1/2 teaspoon extra virgin olive oil
1/4 teaspoon kosher salt

Juice of 1 lime
3 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon honey
2 cloves of garlic, crushed through garlic press
1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

  • Over medium heat, fry bacon until crisp. Drain on paper towels and set aside.
  • Bring a large pot of salted water to a rolling boil.  Blanch peas for one minute in water.  Remove and immediately plunge into a bowl of ice water.  This will stop the cooking process and allow the peas to keep their beautiful green color.  Remove from ice water after two minutes, and place peas on paper towels to dry. Cut the peas into 1″ pieces.
  • In another pot, bring 2 cups chicken stock or broth to a boil.  Add quinoa and stir.  Cover and cook over low heat until all the stock has evaporated and the quinoa is tender, about 15 minutes.  Uncover and fluff the quinoa, then transfer to another bowl so it can cool to room temperature.

I regretfully had to use the photo from the recipe site because the salad was gone too quickly to get a nice picture.  When I made this recipe I did not have the pepitas or the black sesame seeds (and my friend didn’t either).  I don’t think the recipe missed anything without those two ingredients.

Those of you who have not tried quinoa before (click here for more information about this wonder food) , I really enjoy it but my family is on the fence.  Each time I make it (or my friend serves it) they eat a little bit more.  I hope you enjoy this refreshing summer salad as much as my family does.



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July 2012 Mystery Kit

Blue skies, bright yellow sun.  Summer is the time to enjoy the outdoors and everything it has to offer.  Create a project using the contents of this kit and post a photo for your chance to win.  Visit HomeandGardenWelcome to purchase your kit today!

Additional recommended supplies:

Adirondack Alcohol Blending Solution
Adirondack Alcohol Ink Applicator Replacement Felt
Inkssentials Ink Blending Tool


Contest begins NOW!!  For contest details visit the ‘Mystery Kit Contest‘ page.  Entries due by 12 Midnight, EST  Tuesday July 31, 2012.  Voting begins August 5th 2012 and continues through August 12th 2012.  Winner will be announced August 14th, 2012.  Happy Crafting!

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Wedding Card Box for Mr. & Mrs. Gingles

My cousin’s new wife asked me to make a card box for their wedding and I (reluctantly although don’t tell her!  lol) said I would.  And then she told me the colors……Royal Blue and Shiny Red.  Yep, had to make those work together somehow but not sure what I’d do so I started collecting supplies.

Some of the supplies used to create the card box.

All the supplies used to create this card box and more are available at Home and Garden  I used the DCWV Latte Paper Stack, Cooredinations black magic cardstock, glimmer mist spray, distress inks, glitter embossing power and many other products I found in my craft kit.

Once I collected the supplies I was going to use I started to fold, glue, decorate and otherwise manipulate the papers.  After some time playing this is what I came up with.

Work in progress

I had the royal blue part but I was thrown adding ‘shiny red’ to the card box.  For starters I added some red ribbon along the edge of the the box lid.  Then I began searching for other ways to incorporate red.  I found a stamp set that had a key and decided to add a stylized key plate to the box.  I used a piece of black cooredinations paper with a red core and stamped an image on the back.  I then embossed the area I stamped on the back.  Once the embossing was done I was left with an image on the front of the paper that had the negative areas of the stamp in relief.  I trimmed the piece out, sanded it to reveal the red core then added a liberal coat of Inkssentials Glossy Accents to add shine.  While drying I embeded a black ‘keyhole’ into my key plate then used brads to attach it at the corners as though they were screws.

The key tag and the key plate

Part of the tassel that acted as a handle to open the box.

Now, what good is a key plate without a key?  I used shrink plastic to stamp a key image and a saying in black staz-on ink.  I then stamped a pattern on the back of the shrink plastic to add a little depth.  After shrinking using my heat gun I added glitter embossing powder to the back to add a subtle shimmer.  Once cooled I used red floss to make a tassel the key was connected to that acted as the handle to open the card box.

Finally I added a monogram accent to the front of the box with the date of their wedding and their initials.  When all was said and done this is what the finished project looked like.  I was happy with the results, and the bride and groom were thrilled as well.

The completed card box.

I hope this project inspires you to try an ‘out of the box’ project next time you feel the urge to create.

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by | June 23, 2012 · 12:15 PM

Bread baked in a charcoal smoker????

It is summer time, and for those of you like me – air conditioning is not a luxury available.  So, when it is 90° F and 90% humidity turning on the oven is NOT an option.  Unfortunately that means for a family that goes through 2-4 loaves of bread in a week we must rely on the neighborhood market.  Doing so gives us 2 choices – cheap sandwich bread with no flavor or expensive, whole wheat locally baked bread that costs an arm and a leg.  Being that I am truly attached to both my arms and legs and I don’t like the cheap bread I was left looking for a solution, and I found it in the back of the shed.

Brinkmann Charcoal Smoker&Grill

After contemplating a trip to the store for ANOTHER loaf of bread I decided to haul out the smoker and give it a try.   From past experience with the smoker I knew it would take a while for it to be ready to ‘bake’.  Before I began my bread dough I lit my charcoal.  This gave it a chance to get burnt down nicely creating the steady, even heating we all look for in our ovens.

Once my charcoal was lit I mixed up one of my favorite bread recipes.  I cheated this time by using my bread machine to make the dough.  Normally I’d make several loaves at one time and I’d use my stand mixer to do so.  Being that this was an experiment I decided to just make one loaf.

Honey Wheat Sandwich Bread

1 egg +enough water to equal 1 1/4 C
3 Tbsp Oil
1/4 Honey
2 tsp Salt
2 C Whole Wheat Flour
2 C Bread Flour
2 tsp Rapid Rise or Bread Machine Yeast
Add in that order to your bread machine or mixing bowl and continue as you would with any other bread.

While my bread was rising I move on to preparing my ‘oven’.  As fate would have it, my pizza stone fit perfectly on the grill rack.  I decided to use that to help stabilize the heat in the smoker while the bread baked.  I did add the water pan in my smoker because in a traditional oven a little humidity can help create a wonderful crust.  With that line of thinking I added the water pan and filled it with HOT water (adding cold water will absorb a lot of heat that you want captured in your ‘oven’) then placed my pizza stone on the grill rack.  Don’t have a pizza stone?  Add a few bricks or patio blocks.  They will do the same thing by trapping the heat as it is produced and releasing it slowly.

Prepare your smoker before you start your bread dough.

Place a pizza stone on your grill rack to stabilize the temperature in your smoker.

After an hour on the smoker I checked how the bread was coming.

After the rising, shaping and proofing your bread dough place it on the pizza stone in your smoker, cover it up and LEAVE IT ALONE!!!  Remember, every time you lift the lid on your smoker you lose valuable heat.  Because my recipe called for baking at 350°F for 30-35 minutes I decided to start at 1 hour of baking time.  In case you didn’t know it, the ‘ideal’ temp for smoking meat is about 250°F.

After an hour I checked the progress of my bread.  I was looking nice but the top had just split and was a little under cooked in the center.  I put the lid on and left it again for another 30 minutes.

When the time was up I removed the loaf from the smoker and pulled it out of the bread pan.  Due to time constraints I broke the cardinal bread cutting rule – I cut it within minutes of pulling it out of the oven!!!  I know, grandmothers all around the world are shaking their fingers at me.

The final loaf, out of the pan.

Slices beautifully (even though it is so hot it burns my hands!).

The bread did have just a hint of smokey flavor.  It adds a nice element to a PB&J sandwich, and nicely complements ham and cheese or salami.  I am waiting for a trip to the market to make a sandwich with fresh mozzarella, tomato, basil and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar.


Filed under Grilling and Barbecues

What the heck is Nut Sedge

You go to bed at night after an evening in your green carpet lawn.  Proud of the perfect manicured turf you rest easily knowing you have the best lawn in the neighborhood.  Then you wake up the next morning to a nightmare.  Your perfect, even green lawn has been invaded by a yellow grassy looking weed that you’ve seen in patches of your neighbor’s yard.  You try your normal turf grass weed control products but this ‘grass’ seems to thrive on herbicides.  You have nutsedge.

Yellow nutsedge growing in turf.

Nutsedge is an invasive grass-like weed that is very difficult to control.  Although it looks like a grass it is in a different plant family all together.  More closely related papyrus plants we remember learning about in world history this weed is one tough nut to crack (pun intended)

Sedges are grass-like plants that generally grow in marshy areas and are found along sandy dunes bordering on oceans, lakes and rivers.  These plants help stabilize soils preventing erosion and provide a food source for wildlife.  These plants spread primarily through underground tubers that are only able to sprout when the naturally occurring waxy outer coating is washed off by rain and ground water.  Once this coat is washed off the sedge is able to sprout from the new tuber creating another plant.  Each plant is capable of sprouting at least 3 times per each tuber, and the tubers are present and ready to grow by the time the plant is visible on the surface.  All these characteristics are important to keep in mind when battling this tough weed.

If sedges are better suited to beach and marshy areas why is it growing in my yard?  Because our turf cultivation methods often create a great environment for these plants to grow.  The removal of thatch from our lawns and aeration opens the soil surface up to sunlight, increasing the chance for sedges to thrive.  Our regular watering helps quickly wash the waxy covering away and our fertilizers help keep these buggers growing happy and healthy.

So I just need to resign myself to having this ugly yellow weed in my lawn.  All my hard work seems to be for nothing, my beautiful carpet thick lawn is being invaded and there is nothing I can do.  Not quite.  Nutsedge is a difficult weed to control but using a little bit of know how, some elbow grease and persistence you can be rid of this invasive  plant.

Control of Nutsedge

As with almost anything else prevention is the best way to control nutsedge.  Don’t wait until you are over run with these weeds to start doing something about it.

If you have just a few plants in an otherwise healthy lawn your best route is to hand pull the weeds.  These plants can grow back very easily from rhizomes and tubers left behind when the weed is pulled.  Knowing this you must be diligent continuing to remove the plants from your lawn.  This is a huge commitment, and is really only applicable if you have just a handful of these invaders creeping into your lawn.  If you have a large area of nutsedge in your lawn you may find yourself pulling your own hair out with just as much effect as pulling the plants.

When a large patch of turf has been invaded by nutsedge give SedgeHammer a try.

SedgeHammer Herbicide to control Nutsedge

SedgeHammer is a selective herbicide designed to kill the entire plant, right down to the rhizomes and and tubers.  The more common herbicides will only kill the main plant, allowing the tubers to grow replacing the parent plant.  By the time the new plant is susceptible to the herbicides the tubers are ready to replace the dead and dying plants once again.  This vicious cycle is enough to drive any turf aficionado to replacing their lawn with stone.

SedgeHammer works differently.  SedgeHammer kills not only the plant, but the product also kills the tubers preventing resprouting.  Following the application guidelines SedgeHammer is a safe product to use on your lawns, not harming children or pets who play in the area.

Here are a few hints as to help you win the nutsedge battle, and to help with the application of any lawn products:

Apply your herbicide in late spring/early summer when the weeds are actively growing and make sure the soil is well moistened before applying.  Applying fertilizer a few days before using your herbicide can be beneficial, also.  All these practices ensure you have a healthy, robustly growing plant to kill.  Think of it like feeding a teenaged boy, the faster they are growing the more they are going to absorb along the line of nutrients, and herbicides as well.  Herbicides are most effective on the parts of the plant that are actively undergoing cell division.  A heavy feeding, fast growing plant has the most cell division happening at any given time, therefore is more susceptible to the effects of the herbicides.

By making sure your soil is adequately moistened before applying any herbicide you are doing a few things.  If the soil is moist you will see less run off of the product you are applying.  This helps your pocket book as well as the environment.  The more product used by plants the less will be left to leech into the ground water, and the less you will need to apply every time you use the product.

When you are preparing to apply the product do not cut the the grass for the few days before and a few days after applying the product.  By cutting the grass/weeds you are giving them quite a shock.  Think of yourself trying to continue a normal conversation in the event you cut your finger or stub your toe.  That brief shock stops you in your tracks and cutting does the same for a plant.  By keeping the plant intact a few days before and after applying your herbicide you are ensuring that during the time immediate to administering the product the plants will absorb and use the chemicals quickly, allowing for a quick kill.

Finally, when you are applying the product use a non-ionic surfactant.  A what?  Yep, a non-ionic surfactant.  What the heck is that?  Surfactants break down waxy/oily coating on the leaves of plants.  You want a non-ionic product so it does not combine or alter the way your herbicide works.  Okay, now you know what it is.  Where do you find it?  That is easy, dish soap!  Yep, plain old hand washing dish soap.  Make sure you read the label.  Avoid using anything that says detergent, antibacterial or softening on the label.  Another thing to try – baby shampoo or soap flakes dissolved in water.  These surfactants will help ensure more of the product is absorbed by the leaves.

Keep in mind that even following the label and putting in place these guidelines for applying your herbicides it may take several weeks to completely eradicate the nutsedge.  Be persist ant and vigilant and you can rid your yard of this evasive invader.

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Quilling – the New Old Art Form

If you look around the internet you will see a new resurgence in the popularity of quilling.  I decided to look in to the art form of quilling, its history and the reasons behind its popularity.

The History of Quilling

Quilling, also called paper filigree, first emerged as an art from during the Renaissance period.  Nuns and Monks in France and Italy used strips of coiled paper to decorate religious items and book covers.  They would trim the gilded edges from books and roll them into coils and shape them to mimic the look of ironwork scrolling.


Photos from The Art of Quilling, Vintage Quilled Lady’s Jewellery Box

In the 18th Century quilling became an art form practiced by ‘ladies of leisure’, or the upper class women of the time.  It’s popularity in Europe spread to the US Colonies where women combined quilled artwork with other forms of art such as painting and embroidery.

Modern Day Quilling

While the basics of quilling have not changed over time, the art of quilling has. The tools, papers and adhesives crafters and artists have available today have opened the door to new techniques and designs not possible years ago.  Papers are more vibrant than ever before, there are tools available to make fringing easier and books and patterns to help learn the art of quilling and develop your skill.

photo from Seens From the Backs Of My Eyelids

No longer is quilling reserved for the upper class.  People of all types enjoy quilling today.  It doesn’t matter who you are or where you live, the supplies and tools you need to complete your first quilled project are readily available.

Check out some of these basic necessities available at www.HomeandGardenWelcome.comHappy Quilling!

DD627024  Snowflakes Quilling Kit   

         DD628684   3 Piece Quilling Set     

DD628277  Lake City Crafts Quilling Book


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Father’s Day Gift Ideas

Here in the United States we celebrate Father’s Day the third Sunday in June.  I say lets challenge that idea and celebrate Dad (or Grand Dad) all year long!  Our Dads are so important to us, yet it is so hard to find time to spend with him.  Here are some gift ideas that Dad will love, and you can enjoy together.

For the Fisherman

If the Dad in your life believes in the saying ‘A bad day fishing beats a good day working.’  a fish graph is a great gift idea.  Check out these models to help ensure that Dad does not have to suffer a bad day fishing again.

Hummingbird 718 Mono Fishing System     Hummingbird 581 1 w/GPS

For the History Buff

Does the Dad in your life love finding hidden treasures?  How about getting him a metal detector.  Imagine finding old coins, farm implements, tools, keys or maybe even jewelry.  Once those treasures are uncovered you can look together to find the story behind the objects.  A learning exercise and physical exercise all in one!

Lone Star Metal Detector

For the Gardener

Whether he is growing prized pumpkins or cultivating rare roses how about get Dad something to help achieve his goal.  Through composting or water collecting together you can learn about how Dad cares for his garden while learning a little about conservation and ecology.

  Rainwizard 50 gallon Oak Barrel     TerraCotta Composter 50 gallon

For the Grill Master

If Dad is the ruler of the backyard grill why not get him some tools that can expand his grilling horizons.  Maybe he’d even be willing to share a few of his secrets with you while you watched him work his grillin’ magic!

  Non-stick Rib Rack                 Brinkman Smoke n’ Grill

For the Birdwatcher

For the Dad who loves his feather friends almost as much as his own children how about a gift that you can help share in his passion.  Whether it is showing you all the birds who have visited his feeders lately or the newest way to keep those darned squirrels away, get him something with his winged wonders in mind.

The Efforless DIx feeder       Audubon 5mp Birdcam

Whatever you decide to get Dad for Father’s Day, if it is something you can enjoy together it will be a gift he will always cherish.

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June Mystery Kit

This is the June 2012 Mystery Kit available at Home and Garden Welcome.

Birds are singing, flowers are blooming, Spring Has Sprung! Use the elements in this kit to create a one-of-a-kind project showing off your talents!

Suggested tools:
Acrylic mounting blocks (6×6, 2×2, 1×6, 3×3)
Assorted inks and paints

For details about this contest visit the Mystery Craft Contest Rules page.

Kit includes:
Wire Writer & Jewelry Jig Kit
Inkadinkado Cling Stamps, Insect Amalgam
Green Stack Recycled Chipboard Embellishment Box
Flower Soft, 30ml-Spring Mix

I’ve posted this so you have an idea of what MAY be included in a Mystery Kit.  You are free to create and submit projects with this kit, however you will not be eligible to win.  The July 2012 Mystery Kit will be available soon!

Happy Crafting,



Filed under Artistic Expression

Are you overwhelmed with ink choices?

Are you overwhelmed at the different assortment of inks available from Why would you use alcohol ink over pigment ink? Chalk ink over dye ink? Included is a brief description of the different inks on the market, and where you can use them.

Alcohol Inks- Alcohol inks are relatively new to the market, but they are so much fun to play with! They are only effective on non absorbent surfaces. Things like glass slides, acrylic chips, metallic accents, vellum and glossy paper. Just a note on the paper – photo paper will NOT work well. The film is designed to absorb the inks so you will not be able to manipulate the alcohol ink on the surface of the paper. To use glossy paper you must make sure it has a clay based glossy surface (most your glossy scrapbook papers will) so you get the results you desire.

Watch Tim Holtz demo how to create great backgrounds and new techniques.  Once you are comfortable use them on picture frames, candles, key rings, or anything else that catches your eye!

Dye Inks- Dye inks are available both in traditional stamp pads and liquid reinkers.  They are quick drying vibrant colors most often used for traditional rubber stamping artwork.  Dye inks are water soluble.  This feature can be used to produce great techniques, or could result in utter disappointment if you are unprepared for the running that can occur.  Dye inks can be used as a substitute for watercolor paints when adding detail to an image, either load the brush right from the corner of the ink pad or press the lid into the pad and pick up a little ink from the lid.  Thin with water and paint away!

Chalk Inks – Chalk inks are the drier sibling of dye inks.  They can be little more vibrant and less likely to run or smear as dye inks can.  They don’t work as well as dye inks for watercoloring your stamped images or backgrounds, but they are wonderful tools for distressing your photos or papers.  The pigments in the chalk inks are saturated enough that they will show nicely, even on the mid-tone papers.  They also dry quickly so you don’t have to worry about smudging or having your art work run if you are going to use a water based technique later in your project.

Pigment and Watermark Inks – Pigment and watermark inks are the heavy-lifters of the ink world.  They are heavier bodied inks that show up even on the darkest cardstock and stay wet for a long time making them the perfect medium for embossing, flocking or applying some of the glitter/floral/shimmer products on the market.  Pigment inks can be a little tricky at first.  Because the ink is heavier and it does stay wet for so long you must be very careful not to smear the ink.  When you are stamping your image make sure you have a nice amount of padding (either on the stamp block or under your work surface) and use gentle even pressure so you don’t shift your stamp while making the image.  Additionally – be patient!  These inks take a long time to dry so if you close your card, or stack your pages together before the ink is completely dry you are asking for smudges.  Even with the difficulties inherent to pigment inks they are a definite must for anyone who likes the look of embossed images, resist techniques or wants light colored images on dark card stock.

Hopefully this bit of information is helpful when you are trying to select the perfect medium for your next project.  Use the code 10ink  to get 10% off your next ink purchase at   Happy inking!

~  Nikki

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by | June 1, 2012 · 7:16 AM