Wednesday, June 27, 2012

How to make lavender oil

Growing lavender in my garden was always on my bucket list (I bet it has something to do with my love of Tuscany). So now that I have four beautiful bushes in my side garden, I decided to put it to good use. I already showed you how to properly dry your lavender here and now it's time to learn how to make lavender oil. 

First I cut the lavender closer to the flowers.

Then I stuffed the flowers into a medium size mason jar and pour a good quality olive oil over, until all the flowers were covered.

I let it sit for a week by a window that gets hit for few hours in the morning by sunlight. I read that if you want it done faster, you can also boil it over in a safe pot. But this worked great!

After the week, I laid gauze over a larger glass jar (i double layered it), secured it with rubber band, and poured the oil through. 

This actually needed to be done only once because the gauze caught all the flower pieces right away. But if you find some pieces in your oil, repeat the last step.

Then take a dark glass bottle and pour the oil there. Keep refrigerated for up to six weeks or you can freeze part of it to last four to six months. 

Monday, June 25, 2012

Steamed Kale

My garden is full of kale right now and since this is the first year I tried to grow this superfood, I didn't think that I will be this successful. So now I am left with so much crop that I am not sure how I will ever be able to use it all up. 

Let's start with steaming it and using it as a side dish for tonight's dinner!

If you are just like me and believe in organic gardening, you will have to properly wash the kale through and through so you don't find some unwanted protein on your plate. My garden is full of bugs, worms, and caterpillars. After washing it, cut it up, and place into a pot brushed with olive oil. 

I added some garlic salt and sesame seeds while the kale was steaming. Mix it well, sprinkle some water, and cover with lid. Steam for about 5 minutes.

I sprinkled raw parmesan cheese on top of the steamed kale and used it as a side dish for our barley and sunny side up eggs dinner. Yummy but next time I would cut off all the stems and used only the soft leaf part.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Spinach fetta cheese flat bread

I had such a taste for homemade flat bread! So here is what I came up with!

These are the ingredients for the topping:

Feta cheese
Red onion
Olive oil
Fresh spinach

To make the dough, you will need:

  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 1/4-ounce packet active dry yeast 
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil 
  • 2 1/4 cups flour 
  • 3/4 teaspoon fine salt

First mix 1 cup of warm water with sugar and yeast in a bowl. Let stand for about 5 minutes and then add olive oil, flour, and salt. Knead the mixture for a while, till you end up with a smooth dough (keep flouring it while you are kneading). Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover, and let sit for about an hour, or until it rises. Stretch the dough onto an oiled cookie sheet.

Preheat the oven for 450 degrees. Spread the hummus all over the dough.

Cover that with pre-washed spinach, cut up red onion and feta cheese

Bake it for about 20 minutes or until the crust is golden brown. 


Thursday, June 21, 2012

Fresh squeezed orange juice

Do you know the time when you bought way too many oranges? Well, that happened to me the other week. Kids wanted to pull out the juicer and make a fruit juice but I had a better idea that would keep them busy for a while ;-)

When I went to a Kane County Flea Market, I found a booth that had tons of these vintage green glass orange juicers and couldn't resist. I pulled it out, cut the oranges in half and set the kids around our dining room table. 

This is a good way to practice those fine motor skills for the little guys and they had fun doing it :-)

Now just pour it into a glass ...

and let them enjoy a glass of fresh squeezed orange juice. 

What is this template?

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day

What a cute idea my friend got from Pinterest! The original post comes from this cute blog called twogirlzstuff so we thought we could show you step by step how to make this actually happen and some "behind the scenes" shots.

This is the final product:

First you will have to get one large poster board and cut it in half. We used exacto knife to cut through the thick board.

Then take a pencil and write the letters in a font that is easy to cut out. Don't forget to leave the small lines connecting middle of the letters "d", "a", and "e". This will not be visible on your picture!

These are the finished poster boards.

Behind the scenes

Here are the kids trying to figure out how to hold the boards so that the shadow reads the right way.

This is the way to hold the poster boards - upside down and backwards.

We went to an open church parking lot in the middle of the day when the sun was high. We had the kids hold the sign high above their heads (as we found out, the shadow looks better if the kids hold the sign higher above their heads instead on top of their heads). They will have to tilt it so it shows nice and wide on the ground. 

Happy Father's Day to all the great dads out there! Hope you had a great day!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Enjoying summer

Homeschool is out so we are enjoying summer! Here we are at the Weko Beach in Michigan. Only two hour drive and we were in paradise!

We went downtown Chicago!

We also saw the Kratt brothers at the ZOO!

Hi Chris!!!

The ZOO also has Xtreme Bugs exhibit! You know we cannot pass that up!

I hope you are enjoying your summer as much as we do! (even though summer doesn't begin till the next couple of week the weather makes us feel it already started ;-)

Thursday, June 07, 2012

How to dry lavender

This is the first year I can make use of my lavender. I was so excited to be able to harvest it and hopefully create some useful things that I can share with my friends and family. First I decided to dry my lavender in order to have it ready for some further use. So how do you dry lavender? Here are the steps to help you get the best out of this fragrant flower. 

Wait till the lavender is almost in full bloom and then get ready to cut it. You will need to cut the stems long in order to ensure the proper air circulation between the drying blooms.

When you are finished cutting them, take a piece of string and wrap the stems around as close to the cut end as possible. This will open up the flower heads and help the air circulate better between the flowers. 

Then tie a knot and hang them with flowers pointing down to the floor in a dark dry place for about a month. I put them in small bunches to ensure enough air will be able to come through them.

Monday, June 04, 2012

My Garden My Sanctuary

Welcome to my garden tour! I am linking to my good friend's Garden Tour Linky Party, which is happening over here at If you wold like to see some amazing gardens, go over there and take a tour!

We have been living in our house nearly ten years now and our yard takes constant transformation. Every year new beds emerge, new plants get planted (and replanted), new animals join the crew, and some unwanted things disappear. Take a look at my side garden first.

When you pull up to our house, you can take the steps on your right to enter my garden. When we moved in, this was a big jungle of fast growing trees, bushes and tons of lily of the valley plants everywhere. It took me a while to transform it into my vision, and believe me when I say - I am still not finished. 

This is what you see when you come up the stairs. 

And this is on the other side. I am about to harvest my lavender for the first time this year! There is more of it on the other side!!!

and turn around... My side garden is long and narrow.

This is the best smell on Earth!

When you walk through the gate, you will have to pass my kids' playhouse and sandbox in order to see my husband's pride - his pond! He created it himself from scratch, using a small digger. He dug up two circular holes and he used the dirt from the holes to create the waterfall hill. Do you see my pink bird house? Every year we have some guests in there!

I love this part of the pond front! This chive plant has survived several winters in this pot outside.

This is the look with my herb garden in the front. 

And a little watering can for decoration. The hosta pot is covering the pump system.

My very talented husband decided to expand my garden so I gained two extra beds this year! You can see what's behind the fence and look at my sprouts by clicking on this link

A little corner by the chicken coop. 

This is our chicken coop.

Say hello to our girls! You can read more about them here.

And their neighbors turkey babies. You can read about their introduction to our family here.

My corn is doing ok. I just transplanted it next to the porch together with my pumpkins. I am hoping they will do well.

The blueberries seem to be thriving thanks to a great advice from Jen.

And now my porch is slowly getting decorated with the annuals and I am planning on adding some herbs as well!

I grew these from seeds! First time and it paid off! I will do more next year!

I hope you enjoyed my garden as much as I enjoy working in it! Have a great day!