Saturday, March 30, 2013

DIY All Purpose Cleaner

In winter we eat lots of oranges and so I am left with lots of orange skin. I dry some of it for my immunity tea, but I also use some to make home made all purpose cleaner. And here is how :-)

Peel the orange and stuff the peels into a glass jar. Then pour vinegar over it till it's all covered.

Let it sit for about week and a half (if you leave i longer the skin starts getting brown and icky).

Then pour through a strainer into a spray bottle and use on all kinds of surfaces. I love that it's gentle and smells of oranges. Doesn't vinegar just clean anything? I am a fan! 

Original idea came from: Doityourself

Thursday, March 28, 2013

Treasured Thursdays - Party time

Happy birthday to me! My daughter thinks I have birthday just about once a week... but how can you say otherwise, when she prepares such a cute looking party?

Monday, March 25, 2013

My grandma's bunt cake

My grandma's favorite recipe for a real Czech bunt cake. It is very easy to prepare. Enjoy!

What you will need:
2 cups of all purpose flour
1 cup of granulated sugar
1 cup of milk
1/2 cup of vegetable oil
2 eggs
1 vanilla sugar
4 teaspoons of baking powder
1 tablespoon of cocoa 

Preheat oven for 350 degrees. Mix all the ingredients except for the cocoa.

Grease and flour your bunt cake pan (I use butter and wheat flour).

Pour most of the batter into the greased pan.

Put the cocoa into the rest of the batter and mix it. Pour it into the pan over the yellow batter.

Now place it into the oven for 45 minutes but check after 35 minutes just in case your oven is working harder than mine :-) And voila!

Bon Apetit!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Starting seeds indoors - the progress

What has been happening in my grow house for the past two weeks? Here is an update. 
The seeds sprouted nicely. I usually place 2 seeds per hole just in case one doesn't sprout and that sometimes actually happens. Here you can see my tomatoes. It is time to take one of them out.

Some people use scissors and cut one of the seedlings, so they don't damage the roots of the one they are keeping in. But because I plant in a very loose soil I didn't find it a problem to pull them out without any struggle. This a photo after.

How do I choose which one to eliminate? It is not necessarily the smaller looking one. If you take  a look at your plants, choose the one that looks stronger to you, the one that is almost developing second leaves, not the one that is taller. Taller is not necessarily better. You can use your motherly instinct and you won't mess up.

These are broccoli and brussel sprout plants. You might think that they look good but actually they are becoming a bit leggy and I don't like that. See, your seedlings are suppose to be short, grow their stems wide, and develop new sets of leaves. What is happening here is that the seedlings are looking for more light and are trying to reach it. In that case they are not developing the right way. Rather they are growing their stems long and thin. What I have to do is raise my boxes closer to the light. I will do that and include a separate post about what happened. Hope it helps!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Broken refrigerator

How do you like my new fridge? I had to live like this for the past two days... I was sure the food would be eaten overnight by some neighborhood animal... All I have to say is thank God that it is still cold outside and most of all thank God for my skillful husband! This post is really dedicated to him. He is such a money savior when it comes to our household. If something breaks, he takes it apart and actually knows how to put it back together ;-) And in the middle of all that work he manages to fix absolutely everything! This time it was our 10 year old fridge that broke and I was sure that we will need to buy a new one. But not on his watch! He figured it out, ordered $8 part and that thing is running better than ever. So thank you, honey, for all that you do around here and for all the money we don't have to spend extra!

And today the heating broke :-( Can't wait for my handy husband to get back home from work, till then it's sweaters and jackets.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Treasured Thursdays - kitchen memories

I love when my kids help me in the kitchen. It causes a great mess but even greater memories! Today my daughter helped me bread chicken breast and we made chicken nuggets from scratch for dinner. And the bonus is when they make something, they can't wait to eat it!

Friday, March 08, 2013

Starting seeds indoors - sowing the seeds

In my previous posts, you found out what supplies I use and what plants to start inside and which ones would be just fine to start outside. Now let's take a look at the process of sowing the seeds.

First of all you need to wet your organic soil mixture. I put it in the bucket, pour lukewarm water over it, and mix it with my hand. Don't soak it completely, you just want a moist soil to start your seeds in. Then fill up your pots with the soil but do not press it in tightly. This will assure a good air and water flow for the roots, which will have easier time traveling through the soil as they grow. Make two inch deep holes in each pot using your finger, each on the opposite side of the pot and place the seeds in.

It is very handy to have helpers that will label the pots for you. I have two of those so it's easy to get that task done ;-) We use popsicle sticks for the bigger pots and I write directly on the yogurt cups with sharpie marker. (oops sorry for the blurry picture I didn't notice...)

It's time to cover the seeds with a little bit of soil and mist them with water using clean spray bottle. This is very gentle on your seeds and they will not float to the surface. Use this spray bottle on a mist setting anytime you would like to water your seed.

Cover the bins and place them in your green house. I place my green house by the back porch door so the seeds get some extra light and warmth (the door is facing east so the light hits it for most of the morning).

The first year we started our seeds inside, we used this seed starting kit but I found it to be way too small for the roots. they didn't have enough space to grow and get strong enough to be replanted. they took a long time to adjust to the garden and some of them didn't even make it.

And as you see in the picture (from 2 years ago) I would start cucumbers as well as squash inside. From my previous post you know that that is waste of your time and space. I am glad I made those mistakes for you and now you can learn from me and do it right the first time ;-)

Thursday, March 07, 2013

Treasured Thursdays

I just treasure these moments!

Wednesday, March 06, 2013

Starting seeds indoors - choosing your plants

You learned what supplies I use and now it's time to pick what plants to start inside and which ones will be just fine to start directly outdoors. I will let you in on my secrets ;-)
No, really - all this have been tried and messed up and also successfully done by me personally. 

I will start with those you can and should start inside in your green house.
I started tomatoes, peppers, and eggplants inside, 8 weeks before the last spring frost date for our area. From my experience these need to be nice and big to successfully transplant into your soil. I start the seeds in the bigger pots (you saw them in my previous post). 

I also start some of my Spring veggies inside although I learned last year that you don't really have to. I tried to start them inside and then start them also out in the soil (when the ground warmed up a bit). It turned out that there was no difference in crop. When it was time to transplant the inside plants outside, the ones sowed outside just started to peak out of the ground. But by the time the transplants got adjusted and their roots stopped freaking out from all the space they had to deal with, the outside plants caught up to them and all was on the same track. This year I only started kale and brussel sprouts inside. You can also start broccoli if you would like to grow that. I am also starting those 8 weeks before the last frost date but these will be going into ground in about 4 weeks.

And now let's move on to the "outsiders". What do I sow straight into the ground? Almost everything else. To name my favorites from the Spring veggies: lettuce, spinach, kale, cabbage, leek, onion, garlic, cauliflower, and radishes. I am yet to try kohlrabi this year.

From Summer veggies these are the ones good to start straight in the ground: cucumbers, zucchini, all types of squash, pumpkin, corn, all types of beans, beets, carrots, and melons

I am linking this with:

Friday, March 01, 2013

Starting seeds indoors - The supplies

Look what I am doing today! Yup, it's the time of the year when I get that exciting feeling that spring is just around the corner! It is 8 weeks before the last frost here in Midwest and I am pulling out my seed planting supplies. 

I will walk you through my process of planting seeds indoors - it is easy and effective!

The 2 main supplies you see above are deep see through plastic bins that hold the pots and the pots. I got these bins and lids in IKEA and the pots came from Walmart. The reasons I use these bins are two - to hold my water to help me keep the plants moist; and to give the seeds extra green house effect because they are deep enough for me to cover them with the lid and keep the warmth and moisture inside. I am planing on investing into actual plastic pots so that I can reuse them every year, however I didn't find good price in the stores so I will have to browse the internet. These will have to do for this year. (These are the pots you can plant directly into the ground with your small plant.)  I also use yogurt cups for veggies I transplant into my garden earlier in the season such as kale, brussel sprouts, or broccoli. The only thing you have to do is drill drainage holes into the bottom of a yogurt cup. Don't forget to purchase organic seed starting soil mix for a good quality produce.

Another thing I learned is very essential for successful seed starting is to have a green house. Last year was the first time I tried it and it worked wonders! This is the one I purchased and it only cost around $20 in season! I put it up with the kids and I will take it down for easy storage in May.

This is how it looks when put together - perfect size for the porch door in our small dinning room. Now hubby will just install the grow lights for me and I am good to go. 

Please tune in over the weekend for a step by step guide how to effectively plant your seeds, and also what plants to start indoors and which ones are just fine to start outdoors.