Fresh Friday – Last 10 on Pinterest

Some recent Pins that have made me happy, inspired me, or just piqued my interest:

Soft Glazed Pumpkin Sugar Cookies…um, these look amazing and I’m sure I’ll be making these at some point this Fall. Plus, I usually end up with a half can of pumpkin puree, so it’s a perfect use!
31 Bits has their new 2014 Fall and Winter Collection! Paper bead fashion that saves lives – awesome!
John Piper
I am such a nerd….I don’t like to consider myself a grammar nazi, though. 🙂
American Bellflower – wildflower throughout many of the parks in southwest Ohio and across the nation
I have read so much Elisabeth Elliot stuff over the years. She was a fabulous lady!
Honey and Olive Oil Zucchini Muffins – also with maple syrup. Have I told you I made these??!?! And they are amazing?!?!?!?! Yes!! – by Pinch of Yum
another Pinch of Yum recipe – Beef Biryani. I am going to have to try to make my own Indian food at some point. It’s just getting to be too much. Plus, the Huz can’t handle the bones in the stuff we got at the restaurant.
Halloween Mason jar craziness!
Candle Lampshade Craft – Good Housekeeping

You are welcome to find me on Pinterest. There is a quick button to the right of this post, just under the Instagram feed.

See you there!

Fresh Friday – Flower Edition (DIY Seed Packets)

I had a big patch in my new garden bed out back that I didn’t really know what all to do with. I wanted flowers, pretty and EASY flowers, which would take over the space without much effort from me. I bought a pack of Cosmos seeds because I’ve never grown them before. They’re also annuals, so I figured that if things didn’t pan out this season, I could switch it up to something new next year. Unless they become the “morning glories” of The House.

Back story: I don’t think I would ever willingly grow morning glories, unless I had a big swath of fencing that I wanted covered up, FOREVER. They are beautiful and I think they are lovely flowers. The Japanese call them Asa Gao, which translates to “morning face.” So sweet! Mom grew them all along the fencing of our tiny apartment back yard one year. They continued to run amok. When the end of the season came, we cut down the dead foliage and dragged it through the grass outside our apartment and out to the dumpster. The next year, you could see a line of morning glories growing in the grass straight from our back gate to the dumpster. It was so funny, but just a reminder of how pervasive the flowers are.

Anyway, my Cosmos turned out beautiful this year!

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They are majorly prolific. By the time I figured out that I could probably harvest the seeds to share with others, mine had probably dropped more than enough seeds to come back next year…with bells on. The seeds are super-easy to tell when to harvest. The petals fall off, the center draws together straight out from the stem and the seeds form. Once they are ready, the center pops out like a ball on top of the stem, almost like a dandelion head, but the seeds are much longer.

I grabbed a baggy and went out to pluck the heads of the ones which were ready to bring inside and sift through the chaff and seeds.

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The seeds look a bit goofy to me, but it makes them easy to identify. When we got married, sunflowers were our primary flower. I bought a bunch of different types of seeds and made packets for them out of wedding magazine pages. I had A LOT of fun putting them together, and designing a cover for them too. I thought I’d go ahead and do the same with these, but use an old nature magazine for the paper.

IMG_20140807_19310720140808_125942_1If you would like to find the template I used for my seed packets, here is the website for you:

http://www.finegardening.com/make-your-own-seed-packets

I’m pretty sure I didn’t print it out, because it was kind of a waste of paper (the packet was too big for the paper I was using). I tore out my page, folded it in half short-wise and cut along the crease. Then I used the remaining pieces as their own seed packet, so I could get two packets for each page. I freehanded cutting the tabs and used a glue stick to seal the folded edges, leaving one end still open. This makes a mostly standardized size which then gives me the dimensions for my labels. You wouldn’t have to print a full cover label like I do, but instead make just a strip label with the necessary info on it. I just like to add pictures and make it fun.

Also, we don’t have a color printer, so don’t feel like you have to print out a black and white and hastily color the picture with marker like me. haha

Here is the finished product:

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I’m not very good at growing veggies, but people at our church are and each week, at least one member is bringing in some produce from their garden to share with the rest of the congregation. These flowers are such a treat that I am glad to be able to share these with the church and other friends.

Have you ever done a seed share? What’s your favorite thing to grow in a garden?

Fresh Friday – Parks Edition (8/8/14)

I have a goal to visit all the nearby state (Ohio) and county parks by the end of the year. I’ve been to several of the Butler County parks, but I haven’t explored too many north of there, particularly in Warren County, where we live.

I’m also a huge fan of lists. They help me organize my thoughts, and while I may not get to all of these by the end of the year, it’s a goal to get me outside and to learn more about the part of Ohio I moved to when we got married.

So here is the list of the parks for Warren County, Ohio:

Bowman Park

County Park
50 acres – 200 Corwin Ave, Waynesville, OH 45068
http://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/parks-list/bowman.htm

Caesar Creek

State Park
3741 acres – 8570 E St Rt 73, Waynesville, OH 45068
http://parks.ohiodnr.gov/caesarcreek

Caesar Creek Gorge

State Nature Preserve
483 acres – 4080 Corwin Rd, Oregonia, OH 45054
http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/caesarcreekgorge

Clint Fultz Park

County park
30 acres – 6102 Corwin Ace, Corwin, OH 45068
http://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/parks_list/clint_fultz.htm

Fort Ancient

Ohio Historical Society
764 acres – 6123 St Rt 350, Oregonia, OH 45054
http://fortancient.org

Gulley Park & Trails

County Park
119 acres 0 2168 Middleboro Rd, Clarksville, OH 45113
http://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/parks_list/gulley.html

Hall Creek Woods

State Nature Preserve
278 acres 0 3232 Morrow-Mason-Millgrove Rd, Morrow, OH 45152
http://naturepreserves.ohiodnr.gov/hallcreekwoods

Hisey Park

County Park
158 acres – 5443 Middletown Rd, Corwin, OH 45068
http://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/parks_list/hisey.htm

Landen Deerfield Park

County Park
95 acres – 2258 W St Rt 22/3, Maineville, OH 45039
http://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/parks_list/landen_deerfield.htm

Mathers Mill Nature Preserve

County Preserve
42 acres – 5349 Wilmington Rd, Oregonia, OH 45054
http://www.co.warren.oh.us/parks/parks_list/mathers.htm

Now, Warren county aside, Matt and I decided to go exploring another nearby park this past week. It had been a long time for him and a first time for me to visit the Germantown MetroPark. We didn’t spend a ton of time there, but we enjoyed what we did see. I am looking forward to going back another time and trying out one of the other paths. We walked only part of the orange trail and then drove up to where the scenic overlook is – um, majorly disappointing, but I was spoiled on all the scenic overlooks up in Michigan at Sleeping Bear Dunes National Park (I’ll work on getting those posts up soon enough). I think that, even with conservation and such, I would either trim down the trees in that spot, OR build the platform higher. The Five Rivers Metroparks are all about the Greater Dayton area. I’m going to have to go check them out as well at some point. But I am going to focus first on the list above. Yep, I’m going to be good and stick to one plan. 😀

Germantown MetroPark

Five Rivers Metroparks
7101 Conservancy Road, Germantown, Ohio 45327
http://www.metroparks.org/parks/germantown/

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American Bellflower

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We dubbed this the fire tree. It looks like a flame.

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Isn’t he handsome?

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Germantown Dam on Twin Creek

Fresh Friday – Foodie Edition (8/1/14)

I’ve been lax in my blogging of late.  All I’ve been posting lately is the Bible Verse Calendar, which is great, but once a month posting is not a good habit for a blog. So, I thought that with the start of a new month, I would start a new habit. I’m calling it Fresh Friday. I was going to go with Foodie Friday, but then I thought, “What if I want to talk about flowers sometime and I want to have a Flower Friday?!” Well, I guess I could…Maybe I could switcharoo it every few weeks or so. Throw in a Fun Friday too, here and there. Hmm…. (This is a perfect insight to the conversation I’ve been having for the last, oh, 17 hours inside my head. You’re welcome.)

I think Fresh Friday would encapsulate all the things I could want to share on any given Friday. Anything that doesn’t fit in, I can just make up a whole new category and squeeze it in there. Right? Isn’t that what the internet is for? Making up things?! So, here we go. The first edition of Fresh Friday!

Fresh Friday – Foodie Edition

We had some friends over last weekend and the menu was a bit of a challenge because of food allergies and intolerances. But, hey, I have a bunch of those too, and mine are just random, so I “challenge accepted!” it and here’s what we came up with. The food turned out yummy. You know all those fears that really intensely healthy foods will probably be bland and dissatisfying (or maybe I’m still a decade behind)? There are a couple websites that are working to change that opinion and from my experience with them, it is working!

My sister turned me on to this site. She and her husband have been trying to eat Paleo for a while. They succeeded for a bit and then, well, you know, unhealthy eating happens sometimes. But the idea is that you remove all grains from your diet, all processed foods, and just go with meat, fruits, veggies and nuts. The basic concept is that our bodies weren’t designed for processed foods. Our bodies were designed to eat what we could grow and raise in our own yards. I, myself, would have a hard time getting grains out of my diet, but I think the primary issue seems to be that there are too many grains in our diet. We overdo them quite a bit. And the whole GMO grain bit, that can be a bit of a challenge, but there are some great products out there from farmers striving to use pure grains not tainted or “enhanced.” Here’s a great page to look at: Paleo 101. I’ll tell you, though, my sister looked amazing as she was going through this diet lifestyle change. Really amazing! It’s a whole reprogramming on your idea of food.

I have been perusing this blog a lot recently. Added it to my Bloglovin’ app feed too and enjoying the posts therein. Definitely recommend checking it out.

Allrecipes.com might be old news in the internet foodie world, but they still are my go-to place for great recipes! I usually find myself reading the other user comments for tweaks and adjustments that they have made. Also, the reviews bit is wonderful. Nothing like seeing what looks like it could be a great recipe (to this untrained eye) only to find out that 25 other people tried it and lost their pan and stirring spoon because of it. (That’s an inside story with my family…my other sister tried to make something and left out a crucial ingredient, turning the “something” into concrete and completely unsalvageable. It’s a testament to how important even the little ingredients can be, especially in baking!)

So, here are the recipes we came up with:

Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice – Pinch of Yum

Have you heard of pureed cauliflower as an alfredo sauce yet? I’ve had some friends try it and they loved it so I was willing to try this recipe out. The garlic went right along with the rest of our meal. I had to tweak the recipe a little for some needs, but I think that it you follow it to a T, it would be 10 times better! Also, we had a bunch left over, makes a great next day lunch.

Fried Okra – AllRecipes

Super yummy! I made this with olive oil and gluten-free cornmeal. Turned out really good. The first time I made it, the meal kept falling off. But it was my second time frying okra myself and I think it’ll be a regular appearance in this house. I think my next cajun attempt will be jambalaya or gumbo…with sausage and chicken. Oh yum!

And the main course!

Coconut-Buttermilk Southwestern Grilled Chicken – PaleoLeap

Ok, so it’s a very easy marinade and takes no time on the grill at all. So, so, sooooo good! So flavorful too! I let the marinade sit for a full day and the meat was so juicy and full of flavor. Very definitely recommend this recipe and the other marinades on this website. Also, if you try to pin this recipe, for some nutter reason, the link was reported for inappropriate content, so Pinterest won’t let it through. Instead save the website to your favorites and come back for regular visits.

Direct Links:

Creamy Cauliflower Garlic Rice – http://pinchofyum.com/creamy-cauliflower-garlic-rice

Fried Okra – http://allrecipes.com/Recipe/Fried-Okra/

Coconut-Buttermilk Southwestern Grilled Chicken – http://paleoleap.com/coconut-buttermilk-southwestern-grilled-chicken/

Enjoy!!

Kogushi!

So, I’m on the train I usually take to Ayaragi but this time, I’m staying on it all the way to Kogushi.  I’m glad for this kind of adventure.  It is 10 stops from Shimonoseki.  An elderly couple sat down with me in my little box seating area.  The lady is watching me write in my journal…but I know she doesn’t understand any of it…that’s nice.  The train has just taken off and the couple begin speaking loudly to each other in surprise…it’s going in the wrong direction…uh oh.  I tell them the next few stops and they realize they got on the wrong train.  Now that we’re at Hatabu-eki, they are getting off to catch the train in the other direction. 🙂

  They were sweet.  I think I might be on the wrong side of the train for the great scenery, but hopefully someone will get up on the other side and I can steal their seat before someone else does.  The next station is Ayaragi, then Yasuoka, then 4 stations I don’t know, then Kogushi.  I have no idea what I’ll do when I get there, but it will be a fun adventure.  Last night was the Kameyama Festival.  It was fun, lots of fireworks again…an hour’s worth of them.  I met up with Mika, Ruthia, Ami, and a few others.  Now the train is going beyond Ayaragi, uncharted territory for me.  🙂  Somebody put doll heads on sticks in that farm to serve as scarecrows.  I wish I had a picture of that.  Ok, I think I got the better end of the scenery after all…all the rice fields, farmland, and mountains are on my side…and the other side is, what, ocean!

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I just stepped off the train and managed to ask someone for a good restaurant.  I’m comfortable with udon, so that’s what I’m eating.  🙂  It’s really quaint here.  My udon has raw egg in it…but it’s tasty.  There was a lady who sat with me on the train after the elderly couple got off and was telling me how little there was in Kogushi.  She kept telling me that I should stay at the Kawatana-onsen station, or go on to Takibe so that I could take a bus to Tsunoshima.  It was so pretty on the way here, the mountains and rice fields and then suddenly there was the ocean on the left. So beautiful.  The lady I sat with has a friend in Seattle so we discussed how far things are in the US. 🙂  She was super-nice and said my Japanese was great for just being here since April.  Well, I’m done eating, so I’m off to check out that beautiful beach I saw just over yonder.

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I’m super-hot and super-sweaty!!  I’m really glad I did this.  I wanted some time out and doing stuff, but by myself.  I walked all along the shoreline for maybe a half a mile.  I tried to catch some crabs, to no avail, and went inside of a temple.  I have some great pictures of the scenery.  I love going to random places that no one else really sees much beauty or purpose in.  Maybe I have a feeling of ownership with it, because not too many other people can claim an affection for it.  I walked the shoreline one way and only saw a handful of people, and then walked back through the town to the station.  The fact that it is a stifling heat might have something to do with it, and my resulting sunburn is a testimony to that truth.  But it’s such a small and quiet country/sea side town.  I love it!

About halfway between Kogushi and Shimo is another bay/beach.  It looks lovely…I’m going to go there too.  And someday…soooooooooomeday, I will climb one of those mountains! 🙂

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