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Posts from ‘April, 2009’

My Gardener

Did you know that I have a live-in gardener? It's true. His name is Rob and he has done a wonderful job of transforming our yard into a beautiful place in the almost-five years we have lived here. He has planted flowers, dug beds, mulched, hauled rocks, and done a myriad of other garden-related tasks to improve the terrain. The following pictures will showcase some of his handywork.

Just outside the front door are some beautiful Irises.

picture of Iris

Out by the mailbox are some very fragrant Dianthus.

picture of Dianthus

In the flower box that Rob built are some pansies. Our pansies didn't do much this winter but have bloomed their little heads off this spring.

picture of Pansies

Around on the shady side of the house are some Lenten Roses. We have several kinds with different foliage and colors of flowers. This variety produced an abundance of blooms. They were new to our yard this year.

picture of Lentenroses

Around back on the side of our storage shed is Carolina Jasmine.

picture of Carolinajasmine

This rose bush was one grown from a start from a former neighbor's house.

picture of Rose

Here are some Sugar Snap Pea blossoms.

picture of Peablossoms

This week I finished stitching up a little padded cover for the metal bench on our porch.

picture of Bench

I had mentioned in a recent post that we have been working on getting our guest room in shape for guests this spring. Megan and Drew visited recently (as you may recall 🙂 ) and this coming week we are receiving guests from Germany. We found this dresser at a consignment shop last weekend and have it in place in their room so they can stow a few of their things while they are here. We are hoping it will be a pleasant experience for all of us. I'll keep you posted!

picture of Dresser


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Carl Sandburg’s House

One of our very favorite area places to visit is the Carl Sandburg house in Flat Rock, North Carolina. We first started going up there when our children were little and Rob and I still try to visit once or twice a year. The drive from our house only takes about thirty minutes and it's a very pretty drive just about any time of the year.

The Sandburgs moved to this property from Michigan in 1945.When Mr. Sandburg died in 1967 his wife sold the property to the state of North Carolina to be used as a national park site. It looks like the family just left for the afternoon. It is very interesting to see a family home that looks like it was frozen in time in the 1950's.

When you get to the property and park your car you have a nice walk up to the house itself. You can purchase tickets for a tour through the house with one of the park rangers. We have done this many times and always learn some new facts from the different guides.

You can also go into the basement area and watch a short film about the Sandburgs for free and visit in the small bookstore/gift shop. It contains mostly books about nature, the mountains, Sandburg's writings, and information about goats.

The goats are featured because One reason the Sandburgs moved to this property was to provide a better climate for Mrs. Sandburg's prize-winning goat herd. After you tour the house you can continue on behind the house and see some of the resident goats. They keep a small herd of dairy goats who are descendants of Mrs. Sandburg's herd. We love to go up in the spring when the baby goats arrive--usually in mid-April.

We visited last week while Megan and Drew were here and were able to see a two week old Toggenburg goat named Bella and two little Nubian goats (not yet named) who were only two days old! The little ones were wearing dog sweaters to keep warm.

picture of Bellagoat

Our favorite "little kid" enjoyed petting and playing with the other "kids".

picture of Drewbabygoats

It doesn't cost anything to park or visit the property, including the goat barn. The only cost is to take the house tour. There are also bathroom facilities, a small picnic area, and a nice hiking trail up to the top of Glassy Mountain. If you have never visited or if it has been a while, I really hope you will consider a trip soon.


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Black Bean Mexican Pizza

While Megan was here last week I asked her if there was anything she wanted me to cook for her and she mentioned Black Bean Pizza. It was a recipe I had not yet posted, so I thought I would add it now. It had been a while since I had made it and we all enjoyed eating it. It's sort of like refried beans on a pizza crust.

picture of Blackbeanmexicanpizza

Black Bean Mexican Pizza

1 pizza crust, baked 7-10 mins. (here's a basic recipe)
1 15 oz. can black beans, drained and rinsed (could also use pinto beans)
3-5 Tbsps. salsa
2 Tbsps. chopped fresh parsley or cilantro
1 tsp. cumin
dash of ground ginger
1/2 tsp. salt
1 clove garlic, minced
2 cups grated Mexican blend cheese (or any yellow cheese)
2 oz. sliced ripe olives
1/2 cup diced green peppers
additional salsa and sour cream, and chopped tomatoes for garnish

In food processor combine beans, salsa, parsley, garlic, and spices and process until smooth. Spread this over the crust. Top with cheese, olives, and green peppers. Bake at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes or until golden brown. Serve with additional salsa, sour cream and chopped tomatoes. Serves about 4 as a main dish.

I hope you will try this for a new twist on pizza.


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Ode to an olive

We love olives in our house. I know some people are not very fond on them, but we really like them – both the green ones and the black ones. My children find it quite amusing that, as a child, I used to get a can of black olives every year for my birthday! I guess it’s because I was the only one in my family who liked the black ones. Rob learned to eat black olives after we were married. We eat olives plain, on pizza, in salads, and I recently started putting them in my deviled eggs to add a new twist to an old favorite.

picture of Oliveeggs

A couple of years ago I ran across a recipe for an olive salad that was eaten on Mufaletta sandwiches down in Louisiana. I have made the sandwiches a couple of times, but we really enjoy this olive salad on many types of sandwiches as well as in tuna salad or even on a pizza.

picture of Olivespread

If you love olives you will have to give it a try. It keeps well in the refrigerator for several weeks.

Olive Salad

1 Tbsp. olive brine
1 10 oz. jar sliced green salad olives, drained
2 cloves garlic, minced or pressed
1/4 cup onion, finely chopped
1 stalk celery, finely chopped
1 tsp. dried oregano
2 tsps. capers (optional, but good)
1 Tbsp. olive oil
1 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
pepper to taste

Combine in food processor bowl: garlic, onion, celery, olive brine, olive oil, oregano, and vinegar. Pulse until the mixture is finely chopped but not mush. Add the sliced salad olives and the capers and pulse a couple of times until the olives look chopped rather than sliced. Place in a jar or other container and refrigerate. This will keep for several weeks and is delicious on hot or cold sandwiches.

This is the first recipe I ever used capers in. They have a unique taste and texture that I have grown to like. Capers are the buds of a small shrub that are pickled. They are often used as a seasoning in Italian cooking. They can be found in the grocery store near the pickles and a small jar will cost you about one dollar. I use a small infant feeding spoon to spoon them out of the jar.

picture of Capers

We are using lots of small spoons and forks this week since our grandson, Drew is here for a visit. He had a somewhat sleepless night Monday night, so Megan and I took him to the doctor Tuesday morning, suspecting that he might have an ear infection. We discovered that his eardrum must have burst after his plane flight. He was pretty miserable. He is now on his very first antibiotic and pediatric Motrin and has been sleeping quite well. Hopefully his little ear will feel better very soon. Here is a picture of him during a happy moment.

picture of Drewbunny


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Festive Salad

Festive Salad

Posted by Becka on 09 Apr 2009 at 9:47 pm | One comment so far

Several years ago when I was up in Michigan visiting Megan, the parents of her first graders organized a pot luck supper in her classroom so they could all get to know each other better. One of the women brought this delicious salad which has become one of our favorites. The ingredients are readily available pretty much year round enabling you to make a colorful salad even in the dead of winter.

picture of Festivesalad

Festive Salad

1/2 cup sugar
1/3 cup cider vinegar
2 Tbsps. finely chopped onion
1/2 tsp. salt
2 Tbsps. lemon juice
2/3 cup vegetable oil
2 Tbsps. poppy seed

Combine the sugar, vinegar, onion, salt, and lemon juice and blend together in a blender. While it is whirring gradually add the vegetable oil and then the poppy seeds. (Note: I only use about 1/3 of this dressing for a batch of the salad. The rest can be stored in the refrigerator for the next time or for use on other salads.)

10 cups Romaine lettuce, washed and chopped or torn
1 red apple, cored and chopped
1 pear, cored and chopped (I coat the apple and pear with a little dressing to keep them from turning brown)
1 cup shredded Swiss cheese
6 oz. dried cranberries or dried cherries
1 cup chopped cashews

Place the lettuce and cranberries in salad bowl. Add the apple, pear, cheese, cashews and dressing at the last minute before serving. Be prepared to give out the recipe!

We are very excited that our daughter Megan and grandson Drew are flying down to visit us this Saturday.

For Easter Megan is going to put together this dessert which she has posted on her blog. It is also on the cover of the latest Kraft Food and Family magazine if you have access to it.

I’m going to try to paste the recipe in here for those who can’t access Megan’s blog.

Layered Strawberry Cheesecake Bowl
Posted on 2009 under Cheesecake, Desserts

If you think cheesecakes are too boring, then why not mix it up a little bit with some fresh fruit, pudding, and a whole lot of fun in a bowl, and you got yourself a delicious and fun snack on the go!

Here’s what you need to make this fun and delicious Cheesecake Bowl.
3 cups sliced fresh strawberries
3 Tbsp. sugar
2 pkg. (8 oz. each) PHILADELPHIA Neufchatel Cheese, softened
1-1/2 cups cold milk
1 pkg. (3.4 oz.) JELL-O Vanilla Flavor Instant Pudding
2 cups thawed COOL WHIP LITE Whipped Topping, divided
2 cups frozen pound cake cubes (1 inch)
1 square BAKER’S Semi-Sweet Chocolate

COMBINE berries and sugar; refrigerate until ready to use. Beat Neufchatel cheese with mixer until creamy. Gradually beat in milk. Add dry pudding mix; mix well. Whisk in 1-1/2 cups COOL WHIP.

SPOON half the Neufchatel cheese mixture into 2-1/2-qt. bowl. Top with layers of cake, berries and remaining Neufchatel cheese mixture. Refrigerate 4 hours.

MELT chocolate; drizzle over trifle. Top with remaining COOL WHIP.

Have a wonderful Easter as you contemplate the Lord’s sacrifice for us.


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