Vermont, barns, spring

Springtime in Vermont

Spring comes slowly to Vermont. We often have snow in April but this year we’ve had much warmer weather. I’m anxious to get out in the garden but we’re still having temperatures well below freezing at night. I have planted some lettuce, spinach and parsley and as soon as we get the composted manure all spread and tilled in I will be planting my peas. Hopefully this weekend! I thought I would share some pictures of what my garden looks like here in Vermont in mid-April.

The forsythia is in full bloom. I really wanted to get a picture of the bright yellow Goldfinches in the forsythia but they are just too skittish.

spring flower, garden

Forsythia in full bloom

Remember all those bulbs I planted in the fall? Well they all seem to be coming up and many of them are in bloom. I love daffodils.

bulbs, spring flowers, home frontbulbs, spring flowers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The blueberry bushes are mulched with some pine mulch we got delivered for free from Henderson’s. They were cutting some pines just down the street and were happy to deliver it.

mulch, bushes, blueberries

Mulched Blueberry bushes

The strawberries that I mulched in the fall survived the winter and are coming along well.

berries, strawberries

Sparkle Strawberries

Lupines are coming up everywhere. They are another favorite of mine.

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Lupines

Soon I’ll be cooking with rhubarb. Five plants all bursting out of the ground.

vegetable gardening

Rhubarb

My oregano is up as are my chives.

herbs, homegrown

Chives

herbs, homegrown

Oregano

The garlic that I planted in the fall is also doing well.

bulbs, vegetable garden

Garlic

General view of the garden to the chicken palace.Vermont garden, spring, Vermont

Inside things are doing well. My geranium, which I overwintered indoors, is in full bloom and ready to be moved outside for the summer.

overwintering, house plants

Geraniums

The vegetable seedlings are also doing well, the tomatoes seem to grow more robust every day!

seed starting, seedlings

Vegetable seedlings

Hope you’ve enjoyed my pictures of my garden progress here in Vermont.
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Microwave

I try to stay on top of my microwave and when I heat things up I usually use a cover of some sort. However sometimes I end up with a dirty microwave in need of cleaning! I found this method of cleaning my microwave to be very easy. It’s a simple as microwaving a cup of water for about three minutes. You may have to do it a little longer, depending on your microwave. When it’s done, the inside of your microwave should be nice and steamy. Let sit and cool for a few minutes before opening the door. Then just wipe the inside off with a rag and you will easily wipe away all the grime. If it doesn’t work the first time repeat until the inside of the microwave is clean and shiny.

If you want this to smell nice you can add all sorts of things to the water before you boil it. Place inside a four cup microwavable container that contains 1 cup of water a chopped up lemon, lime or orange. You can also add several tablespoons of vinegar.

microwave cleaning

Water and an orange

If the window is greasy you can clean it with a mixture of half vinegar and half water and then dry. End result – a clean microwave without using chemicals!

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A clean microwave.

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I realize our goal is to eat as close to the land as possible and should really avoid boxed mixes, however once in awhile I do use a boxed cake mix. My Lemon Poppy Seed Muffins are one example and this delicious cake is another. I found this recipe years ago in the Nantucket newspaper. I’ve been making it ever since and it’s always a hit. One of these days I’ll modify the recipe to have the whole thing be from scratch but it the meantime I will continue to use the recipe as is.

Nantucket, prudent living, cake

Nantucket Welcome Cake ingredients

4 eggs
¾ cup oil
¾ cup apricot nectar (if you can find the small cans they are just right)
3 tsp almond extract
1 package yellow cake mix
¾ cup powdered sugar
1 lemon (the juice and the rind)

Beat the eggs, oil, apricot nectar and almond extract into the cake mix using an electric beater. Beat for about three minutes or until all the lumps are gone. Pour into a lightly greased and floured tube pan. Bake at 350 degrees for 45-50 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Mix together powdered sugar, lemon juice and lemon zest. Remove cake from pan and while still warm glaze the top with the powdered sugar-lemon mix.

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Nantucket Welcome Cake

 

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You’ve set up your pantry and it is now well stocked. How do you keep track of what food you have on hand?  It’s important to know what you have in your pantry so you don’t end up with food that is not going to be eaten. There are many different forms available online for taking a pantry inventory. Here are several links: FaithProvisions.com, HiddenHermit’s blog, and OrganizedHome.com . Frugal-Families.com offers a download for your pantry that is divided up into sections such as dry goods, canned goods, etc. This should help you get started and help you to realize that taking an inventory for your pantry is not difficult, it just takes some time.

The first step in taking an inventory is to set aside some time to do a complete job. Print out or create an inventory sheet. It can be as simple as taking a blank sheet of paper and separating it into categories for the types of food you find in your pantry; such as canned goods, grains, baking supplies, pasta etc.

Working a section at a time, empty a shelf, and pull out everything single thing.

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Remove all items from your pantry.

Take your list and start filling it out. As you go along check the expiration dates and remove expired items. Also remove those items which you will never eat, perhaps you purchased the item for a specific recipe, which you never made, or it’s something you don’t really like.

Once everything is removed and you’ve tossed the expired items and have a pile of items to donate, clean off the shelves. When you put everything back in the pantry you want to put things way on clean shelves.

pantry, inventory

Clean shelves

Put everything back as neatly as possible, keeping like items with like. For example, all your oils in one spot and your spices in another. If you keep your inventory in a handy place you can use it as a reference when you are going grocery shopping and for planning your future meals. Knowing what you have on hand makes it easier to plan meals and helps you to make the best possible use of what you do have in the pantry.

I try to make the time to do an inventory several times a year. It gives me the opportunity to stay on tip of what I have and make the best use of my purchases. In the spring I do an inventory so I’ll know what I need to can during the summer harvest from the garden. As we head into the fall I will complete another inventory to give me an idea of what I have managed to store for the winter.

For those of you who have read Prudent Living’s recent online magazine this recipe may be familiar to you. I am really trying to get away from purchased cleaning products and decided I should try this bug spray as well. Much better for you than a commercial bug spray!

The recipe seemed easy enough:

6-8 ounce spray bottle
Witch hazel
Lemongrass essential oil
Geranium essential oil
Citronella essential oil
Small funnel

homemade bug spray, chemical free

Bug spray ingredients.

You may have your own source for essential oils, I purchase mine from MountainRoseHerbs.com. Their prices seem good and remember essential oils go a long way as you usually only need a few drops.

Insert the funnel into your spray bottle and fill the bottle with witch hazel. Leave about one inch of headspace.

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Witch Hazel

Then add approximately 25 drops of each of citronella essential oil and lemongrass essential oil, plus approximately 15 drops of geranium essential oil.

essential oils, lemongrass, geranium, citronella

Essential Oils

Remove the funnel and replace with the sprayer cap, shake the bottle and it is now ready to use!

Lisa Barthuly, who is a special correspondent for Prudent Living Magazine provided these solutions.

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