Hazelnut Delight

One of the few nuts that grows here naturally, is enjoyed by our family, and forms shrubs rather than a single, tall tree: hazelnuts. Also known by the less catchy “filbert,” the hazelnut bushes will form thickets if allowed. They thrive in the saturated ground here. I planted some rather spindly specimens last year. They never really grew, and presumably spent last summer putting down roots. Then the winter killed them. Then—quelle surprise—in late spring they put out some blooms, and now have fully leafed out! Not dead after all. The songbirds seem to like them, too. For the gardener … Continue reading Hazelnut Delight

Did you panic-buy dried beans? Here’s what to do with them

Here are some ways to use them: Traditional cooking. Soak overnight, slow cook. There are good recipes online. But a few pounds of dried beans goes a looooong way. Grow bean sprouts. Yes, these are the same as fresh sprouts you would get at a sandwich shop or add to a noodle soup. Takes a few days, and provides a fresh crunchy green vegetable full of micronutrients. Incidentally, you would want to use food grade seeds for any sprouts; commercial garden seeds are often treated with substances to prevent spoilage and enhance germination. Alternate source of greens. I would not … Continue reading Did you panic-buy dried beans? Here’s what to do with them

Foraged: Hickory Nuts

In our area, wild hickory trees are abundant. Like many nut trees, the harvest seems to be somewhat cyclical, with a bumper crop every 2-3 years and more modest crops in between. Unlike many other such trees, hickory trees simply drop all the hickories in autumn. We picked them up a handful at a time over the last few months. They have an outer shell that starts out green, then slowly turns dark brown. When there were several dozen, we used the workbench vise to crack the outer shell and remove it. Next we subjected all the hickories to the … Continue reading Foraged: Hickory Nuts

Christmas Captures

This year, the only spending we chose to do for decorations was the purchase of two small, live potted spruce trees. The plan is to enjoy them this year, and with a little luck, keep them alive through future years! Otherwise, it was fun getting the pieces from the past few years out of the attic. I have so much respect for all the parents out there who do things like Elf on the Shelf… Especially and specifically, Elf on the Shelf. I cannot imagine ever having the patience or energy for that particular tradition. Hopefully I’m not the only … Continue reading Christmas Captures

Wildfire Scenario

Finally, the kids are staying in bed. Finally, the dishes are washed and put away. Finally, the tired adults go down the hall. Stan takes off his glasses. Mary sets her alarm and puts the phone down. The night is quiet. First one cell phone buzzes, then the other. Mary silences her phone. Stan’s phone keeps buzzing and he knocks it off the nightstand in the dark. On the floor it is much louder and he groggily picks it up. “Hello?… Phil? What’s going on? …Yes, we’re all fine here… What? No, I don’t think that’s near us… Geez, Phil, … Continue reading Wildfire Scenario

Indoor Clothesline

Easy project. I bought two different versions of this on Amazon, and ended up keeping both. If we ever move, I would certainly consider an outdoor clothesline or hanger. Not all neighborhoods allow outdoor clotheslines. Also, some climates are very humid and rainy in the summer. We use air conditioning and the indoor air stays quite dry for that reason. This particular project also helps the house stay cooler in summer because I am not running the dryer.  Then we are also not paying for the electricity to run the dryer. Both lines are retractable. So easy. Would you hang … Continue reading Indoor Clothesline

Growing Catnip

Catnip is in the mint family, but is NOT invasive like peppermint. It makes a small, hardy shrub that shows up fairly early in the springtime. It is perennial. The pet supply store is full of various toys, cat condos, and scratchers featuring dried catnip. Not all cats like catnip. Our cat does, but he is really interested in the catnip itself rather than the fancy accessories. If your cat is habitually unimpressed, or pointedly chooses your significant other over you, then this could be your new secret weapon. My cat loves it. I love to bring in a sprig … Continue reading Growing Catnip

Plenty of Peppermint!

Last year, I planted mint in my garden. ROOKIE MISTAKE. This plant spreads via long, stringy underground rhizomes. It grows like a weed. Super invasive. One of the first tasks this spring was eradicating the mint before it takes over. I picked a few of these rhizomes and put them in pots. I want mint. I just want it to be contained. As an invasive plant, it is perfect for containers. Mint is sturdy. Ripping these plants out and turning the whole area over, I have still been seeing one or two sprouts come up every few days. Mulch mulch … Continue reading Plenty of Peppermint!

Tinder and Kindling

Less of a project, more of a habit. This post is NOT in reference to the dating app, although that could be interesting. To start a fire: If you have a wood burning fireplace like me, or you just appreciate the fun of a campfire or backyard fire pit, here are a few free ideas for fire starters. Lintbox. Save lint from the clothes dryer and stuff it into an old Kleenex box. I did this growing up. We don’t really buy boxes of tissues very often but this idea gets one more use out of two useless things. (Reduce, … Continue reading Tinder and Kindling