overwintering geraniums, plants, gardening

You can enjoy your geranium all winter.

Did you know that you could keep your geranium alive over the winter and enjoy it again in the spring? Geraniums can be grown indoors easily as long as you give them proper care and keep them in the right conditions. Before the first frost cut your plant back to half of its original size. Check it over to make sure it is free of disease and insects. Then dig up your plant and repot into a container using potting soil. Place your geranium in a cool location with plenty of direct sunlight. Water plants well after transplanting and as needed so the plant does not dry out.geranium, houseplants, overwintering plants

geranium, house plants, gardening

Your geranium can say healthy all winter.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

As winter progresses you may need to pinch the plant to promote branching and prevent weak growth. Plants kept in containers over the winter are typically larger than most geraniums you can buy in the spring. This allows you to have a head start on growth and blooms for next year’s garden!

pinching, new growth, geranium

Pinch your geranium to promote new growth.

You can also overwinter geraniums in a dormant stage. They actually have the ability to survive for most of the winter without soil! I have not tried overwintering geraniums this way but after reading about it I may have to try it next year. To overwinter without soil dig up the entire plant before the first frost. Shake the dirt from the roots and place the plants inside an open paper bag or hang them upside down from the rafters in a cool, dark place for the winter. Several times during the winter, take the plants out of the bags and soak the roots in water for 1-2 hours. Check the plants over for any damage. Although the leaves will fall off the stems should remain firm and solid. In the spring pot the geraniums in a suitable container. Place the plants in a sunny window to promote growth. It may take several weeks before you see the new growth.

Are you still looking for a simple gift idea? Perhaps you plan to be entertaining and want your house to smell wonderful. Here is a simple recipe for a delightful smelling potpourri. In preparation for this recipe I have been drying orange peels for the last week, our counter has a rather large pile of dried orange peels waiting to be put to use! With our wood stove going they dry out in just a matter of days. I think my husband will be glad that I’m finally going to put them to good use!

oranges, peels. potpourri

Dried orange peels.

In a large bowl mix about 1 cup of dried orange peels, 6-8 cinnamon sticks, 2 Tbsp whole cloves and 2 Tbsp whole allspice. Store the ingredients in an airtight container or if you are planning on giving it away, place it in a colorful holiday plastic bag.

cloves, spices, pantry, potpourri

Dried cloves.

cinnamon sticks, potpourri

Buy your cinnamon sticks in bulk.

whole allspice, spices, potpourri

Whole allspice.

spices, potpourri, gifts

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl.

Be sure to include a tag with instructions: Simmer one tablespoon potpourri plus 1/2 cup water in a small pot or potpourri warmer. I found a very small crock pot at a yard sale that is perfect for simmering the ingredients. As the water heats your house will be filled with the smell of the holidays.

gift bag, home made, gift, potpourri

Enclose the potpourri in a pretty gift bag.

potpourri, home made, gifts

Be sure to include a tag with the directions!

Around the holidays I’m always trying to fit in meals that are healthy and low fat. I guess I’m trying to balance out the over indulgence that often occurs! One of my favorite recipes is actually an adaptation of a Weight Watchers recipe, which I found years ago. If I didn’t mention that it was Weight Watchers you would never know! It’s a simple Turkey Lasagna that is easy to put together, freezes well and is actually good for you. Not to mention that it is delicious and every time I’ve served it folks have enjoyed it!

Turkey Lasagna

2 tsp olive oil
10 ounces of ground turkey
1 onion, chopped
one 28 oz can whole tomatoes, coarsely chopped
one 6oz can tomato paste
¼ cup grated Parmesan cheese
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp sugar
12 no boil lasagna noodles
2 cups nonfat cottage cheese
1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Preheat your oven to 350. In a large nonstick pan heat the olive oil. Add the ground turkey and onion. Cook until the turkey is browned and the onion is softened, about 5 minutes.

ground turkey, onion, lasagna, healthy eating

Brown the ground turkey and onion.

Add the tomatoes, tomato paste, Parmesan cheese, basil, oregano and sugar and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered until the flavors are blended, about 5 minutes.

lasagna, prudent living

Add tomato paste and tomatoes to ground turkey mixture.

Spoon about 1/3 of the sauce in the bottom of a 13 x 9” baking pan; top with 3 of the lasagna noodles, spread with half of the cottage cheese and top with 3 more noodles. Repeat the layering once more, ending with the sauce. Sprinkle the mozzarella cheese evenly on top.

lasagna, turkey lasagna

Layer the sauce, noodles and cheese.

Bake, covered for one hour; uncover and bake until cooked through and golden, about 10 minutes longer. Let stand 10 minutes before serving.

lasagna, low fat

Turkey Lasagna ready to eat.

oats, prudent pantry, prudent livingOats are a staple that everyone should have in their pantry! They have so many uses, as a hot cereal on a cold winter morning, for making bread, baking cookies or even making granola. You can use rolled oats as a meat extender in meat loaves. Oat flour makes rich thickeners for soups, gravies and stews. Oat flour will also add nutrition to your breads, muffins, crackers and desserts. Did you know that you can use 25% oat flour in making bread and the natural vitamin E in oats will help keep your breads from going stale so quickly? It also has numerous health benefits such as lowering your cholesterol due to its soluble fiber content. Oats are also rich in the B vitamins, contain the anti-oxidant vitamin E and oats are mineral rich as well. Oats contain high levels of complex carbohydrates, which have been linked to reducing the risk of cancer and the better control of diabetes. Oatmeal is ground oat groats, it can also be ground oats, steel-cut oats, crushed oats or rolled oats. The process of heating produces a nutty flavor to the oats.

Perhaps you are familiar with instant oatmeal, which is precooked and dried, usually with a sweetener, and flavoring added. You can eat oats uncooked as in muesli or cooked as in porridge.  It only takes about 10-15 minutes to cook regular rolled oats. Quick rolled oats, being thinner, cook much quicker in 2-3 minutes.  The instant rolled oats are the least nutritious, you should think seriously about using them in your every day cooking habits. However you decide to eat oats you should definitely have some on hand.

oats, oatmeal

Oats are a wonderful pantry staple.

Oats are much like barley with a hard outer shell that must be removed before it’s ready to eat. If you want to purchase oats you usually purchase them already hulled. Because of the antioxidants in oats, they are a good storing grain. For best storage conditions, pack them in airtight containers and store them in a cool place.

I use oats in many recipes. Here is a simple muffin recipe that I adapted from a recipe found on the epicurous.com website.

Oatmeal Muffins

1 cup old-fashioned rolled oats
1 cup buttermilk
1 large egg, beaten lightly
1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar
1 stick (1/2 cup) unsalted butter, melted and cooled
1 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 cup dried cranberries

buttermilk, oatmeal, muffins

Let oatmeal and buttermilk sit for one hour.

In a large bowl, combine oats and buttermilk and let stand 1 hour. Preheat oven to 400°F and butter twelve 1/2-cup muffin tins. Add egg, sugar and butter to oat mixture, stirring until just combined. Into another large bowl, sift together flour, salt, baking powder, and baking soda and add to oat mixture, stirring until just combined. Fold in dried cranberries. Divide batter evenly among prepared muffin tins. Bake muffins in middle of oven until golden and a tester comes out clean, about 20 minutes. Makes a dozen muffins.

muffins, cranberry oatmeal

Divide batter evenly into muffin tin

These muffins are delicious warm from the oven!

cranberry oatmeal muffins, home cooking

Warm muffins right from the oven, delicious!

muffins, homemade, cranberry oatmeal

Muffins right out of the oven.

 

forcing bulbs, indoor flowers

I love flowers!

Before Thanksgiving I wrote a post on forcing bulbs. I set up several containers of bulbs and placed them in a cool spot while we went away. Was I ever surprised when we got home and I saw all the green shoots coming up out of the bulbs! The bulbs were so healthy they had a huge root mass at the bottom of each bulb and were nearly forcing themselves out of the container!

Narcissus, paperwhites, indoor flowers

In full bloom and very tall!

I brought them upstairs and kept them watered. In what seemed a very short time I was rewarded by beautiful blooms.

paperwhites, indoor flowers, forcing bulbs

They needed support to keep from falling over.

Our kitchen has had a profusion of blooms for the last week. They were such a success I’m thinking of going back to the garden center and seeing if they have any bulbs left. I could start some more to enjoy in late January or early February!

Narcissus, paperwhites, indoor flowers

Incredible tall flowers!

 

flowers, forcing bulbs

I love flowers!

Narcissus, christmas lights

Narcissus and Christmas lights.

 

Funny the things you grow up with and the things you don’t. In my house growing up I don’t ever remember my mother making any sort of Chex Mix at Christmas, she made other things such as delicious Christmas cookies which we loved to decorate. In the collection of recipes my mother-in-law gave me when I was to be married was a recipe for “Snax Mix” which I think I have made every year since I received it! It is so much a tradition in our family that my daughter says it isn’t Christmas without the Snax Mix! I usually make several batches and give them away to friends and neighbors.

One of the containers I use to package up this Snax Mix is coffee cans. I collect them over the year and even have my mom saving them for me. I wrap a piece of wrapping paper around the can, put a bow on the top and it’s an instant Christmassy package. Very easy and very inexpensive!

coffee cans, inexpensive gift container

Coffee cans transformed!

coffee cans, gift wrap, prudent living

Wrapping paper can transform an ordinary coffee can.

Here is the recipe for Snax Mix. I’ve changed it ever so slightly to add more cereal, I figure adding more cereal without increasing the butter mix means it’s less fattening!

dried cereal, snack mix, munchies

Cereals are placed in a large roasting pan.

 

pretzels, dried cereal, snack mix

All ingredients combined.

Snax Mix

½ lb butter (2 sticks)
2 Tbsp Worcestershire sauce
1 tsp celery salt
1 tsp onion salt
½ tsp garlic salt
4 cups popped corn (1/2 cup un-popped popcorn)
2 cups unsalted nuts
4 cups cheerios
3 cups rice chex
3 cups corn chex
2 cups wheat chex
2 cups bite size-shredded wheat
Pretzel sticks
Mini bagel chips (optional)

Melt butter over low heat and add Worcestershire, celery salt, onion salt and garlic salt. Stir until combined. Place the popcorn, nuts, cereals, pretzels and mini bagel chips in a large roasting pan and pour the butter mix over; stir to make sure everything is coated. Bake 2 hours at 250 degrees, stirring every so often. Let cool and keep in an airtight container. I insert a plastic bag in the cleaned coffee can and then fill with the snax mix.

coffee can wrapped, gift idea

Snax mix in coffee can ready for gifting.

snack mix, gift ideas

The finished product, ready for snacking!

 

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