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Thursday, July 15, 2010

Garden Bloggers' Bloom Day - July 2010

Welcome to July 2010! Similar to last year, our vegetable garden is where most the bloom action is taking place.
The Sugar Pie Pumpkins are just starting to flower. I planted them six weeks later this year so I don't harvest another bumper crop in August.

The Burpless Cucumber has been blooming continuously for the last couple of weeks. I even harvested two cucumbers the other day.

These Autumn Beauty sunflowers are the crowning glory of the garden. The first ones just opened up last week and there are several more almost open.

Lastly, we have these lovely Chrysanthemums blooming out back. They are nestled in a patch of mint and seem to be doing well.

Crock Pot Baked Beans

On the 4th of July we had a barbecue and I made some vegetarian baked beans. I wanted to avoid the oven since it was 100+ degrees that day. I found this recipe, which I used an inspiration for these beans.


1 head garlic, roughly chopped
1 red onion, diced
1 pound white beans, pre-soaked
1 wax pepper, diced
2 inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated
5 tablespoons dark brown sugar
1-2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
1-2 tablespoons honey
3 bay leaves
1 teaspoon smoked paprika
1 teaspoon ground mustard
1 teaspoon thyme
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1 teaspoon ground cumin


  1. Using a larger size crock pot (~ 5 quarts), add all the above ingredients and mix well.
  2. Add enough water to cover the beans plus about 1 inch
  3. Set the crock pot on LOW and cook for 6-8 hours or until tender.
  4. Check to make sure there is enough water, if they look dry, add some more.

These beans were a nice side dish for our 4th of July meal and made a tasty lunch for me the rest of the week.

Wednesday, July 14, 2010

Clothespin Apron

We don't use a dryer for our clothes. We hang them on an umbrella clothesline (2 in fact!). One of the challenges I have faced when hanging the laundry is trying to line up the clothes with the pins that are already on the line. Of course, I am trying to maximize the clothesline utilization so this is a critical activity. After nearly 2 years of this method, I decided to make a clothespin apron.

Using the leg from an old pair of jeans and some leftover curtain fabric, I created this apron. It is similar to the half-apron design I made a couple of years ago. My apron is based on the one featured here. I have been using it for about 2 weeks and so far it has worked out well. It should also make the clothespins last longer since they are not exposed to the elements 100% of the time.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Homemade Automatic Chicken Waterer

We have improved on our original design to create an automated chicken waterer. It could also be used for dogs and cats too! We were able to purchase all the necessary parts at our local hardware store (Home Depot in this case).

Parts needed
  1. Toilet fill valve
  2. Universal toilet connector kit (has several size adaptors including 1/2")
  3. 1/2" FIP (female pipe) to 3/4" FH (female hose) swivel hose adaptor
  4. 1/2" brass pipe nipple
  5. Plastic pot or bucket at desired height for drinking
  6. Teflon plumbing tape


  1. Drill a hole in the bottom of the plastic pot using a 1" Speedbor drill bit.
  2. Insert the toilet fill valve through the hole. Attach the plastic nut that comes with the valve on the outside of the pot.
  3. Attach the Universal connector kit to the valve using the 1/2" adaptor. (see Figure 1)
  4. Apply Teflon tape to both ends of the brass nipple (male to male).
  5. At the other end of the connector kit, insert the taped nipple (to prevent leaking)
  6. Lastly, attach the 1/2" to 3/4" female pipe to hose thread adaptor. (see Figure 2)

Figure 1

Figure 2

Since the hose is coming out the bottom of the pot, we dug a small hole in the ground to allow space for the hose to lay flat. We also used some bricks to help level the pot. Screw your garden hose onto the end of the waterer and turn it on. It should fill to the height set on the valve. As the water level lowers, the valve will automatically engage and refill the pot.

Our First Squash

This little beauty has been ready to pick for several days. I finally remembered to grab a knife from the kitchen on my way out to the garden. It is recommended that squash be cut at the stems instead of just pulling it off the vine. This is my first time growing this type of scalloped squash called "Peter Pan." I am not sure what I am going to do with it, so for now it will be sitting on our counter looking cute.

Cinnamon French Toast

On Saturday, I made French Toast for breakfast. I has been ages since I have made it, but it turned out just as easy and tasty as I remembered.

sliced bread (whole wheat store bought)

1. Beat the eggs with a splash of milk in a bowl. I used 3 eggs and about 1/2 cup milk.
2. Add a generous amount of cinnamon. I put so much in that I had to stir a lot to mix it in.
3. Place a slice of bread in the egg/milk/cinnamon mixture until it is moistened. Flip over and repeat on the other side.
4. Set the coated slice of bread in a heated frying pan. I used a mist of olive oil spray on mine to keep it from sticking.
5. After cooking one side for a minute or two, flip the bread and cook the other.
6. Repeat the process until the egg/milk/cinnamon mixture is used up.

This recipe yielded 6 slices of French Toast using these quantities of eggs and milk. I spread some Smart Balance, sprinkled with powdered sugar, drizzled with maple syrup, and served. Yum!!

Saturday, July 3, 2010

Green Eggs and White Eggs

Today, both of the California White chickens laid their first eggs at only 18 weeks and 4 days old. Compared to the larger greenish eggs that Brown Chicken lays, they are the cutest little white eggs. We are hoping that they will get bigger once the chickens start laying regularly. They also still need some training on where to lay, but overall we are quite pleased.
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