Thursday, October 11, 2018

Saving Zinnia Seeds

This summer and now in autumn we've been enjoying the colorful, abundant Zinnia blossoms in our gardens.  Shades of pink, yellow, orange and white blossoms were admired day after day.  Now that October is here it is only a matter of time when a frost will end the Zinnia season!  It has not happened yet, but that is in the near future.

For that reason I've been snipping off the colorful blossoms to save.  Then, they are dried.  Cut down tissue boxes make great storage boxes for the blossoms to dry out.

Looking at the first box of my collected colorful blossoms, I noticed that there were no white ones.  Another trip to the garden and a few more blossoms were snipped- this time only white ones.

The flowers are now dried, so next week the seeds will be harvested from the dried blossoms.   To do this:  Pull the dried petals off the flower and "tear drop" shaped seeds will be found.  These are the seeds to plant for next year.  I will store them in a labelled sealed envelope.  Next spring they will be planted in our gardens. 

This has become a tradition with me- saving the Zinnia seeds.  After saving and then planting the saved seeds for about 5 years, the flower blossoms will become smaller.  That is my clue to purchase new seed packets to plant the next year.  Then, the saving and replanting starts again.

Happy Gardening!

Sunday, September 30, 2018

Sights in Autumn!

Pumpkins, pumpkins everywhere!
Yesterday was a beautiful autumn day!  Today is too!  The end of September is here, so it's the perfect time for the annual visit to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow (MA) for the bushel of Butternut Squash.  Nothing like purchasing the delicious orange veggie direct from the farm where it is grown.  It's a tradition to take the short drive and make the purchase.

The greenhouses are filled with assortments of pumpkins, too.

Inside a greenhouse.

Sights of  the Fall season are everywhere.

Another collection!
The cornstalks show us that the fresh native corn season has - ended.

More decorations for Autumn!

The bushel of Butternut is now in our garage.  It just would not be autumn if we did not make this purchase.  A few at a time the squash will be prepped.  The mashed yummy vegetable will be placed in freezer bags to enjoy during the other months of the year.  There's always a special place for it on our Thanksgiving Day dinner table.

Is Butternut Squash Bread in my future, maybe, also??  Sure is! 

These are some of the sights of Autumn in Massachusetts!


Sunday, September 23, 2018

Freezing Green Pepper Strips

Last September when fresh local Green Peppers were available to purchase at roadside stands or in the grocery stores, I did not purchase any to freeze.  Every year I do, but it just never happened.  Oh, did I ever miss them this past winter whenever a recipe called for chopped Green Pepper!  I always like to freeze the pepper strips and use them in entrees whenever that veggie is an ingredient in a recipe.  No, I don't like to purchase that veggie in the cold winter months.  They just never look that good in the grocery stores.  Because I did not have them, it seemed that I needed them!  Well, this past week I took some action!  The first 5 Green Peppers were purchased/ prepped and found their way into our freezer.  Three days later 5 more were purchased and 5 more little bags of pepper strips were prepped and frozen.    

It's quite a simple process.  After cutting the Peppers into strips, the strips are placed in sandwich bags and then in a large freezer bag.  Whenever one package is needed, it is at my fingertips.

* * * For me 1 fresh Green Pepper = 1 little sandwich bag of ready to use Green Pepper strips.

Freezing Green Pepper Strips
  1.  The Green Peppers are rinsed under cool running water.
  2.  Then, dried.
  3.  Using a cutting board, the tops are cut off and discarded.
  4.  Then, cut the Green Peppers into large pieces.  Discard seeds and inner pulp.
  5.  Cut the large pieces into strips.
  6.  Place Pepper strips into sandwich bags and close.
  7.  The filled/ closed bags are placed in a Gallon sized freezer bag, labelled and sealed.
  8.  Store in the freezer. 
Reaching into my freezer and taking out a bag of Green Pepper strips to use will be a great find this coming winter!  Ten bags should be enough.  This is definitely the time of year to purchase the fresh local Peppers to freeze.  If you have the opportunity to do this, it is worth the small effort!


    Tuesday, September 18, 2018


    What a great surprise!  The Monarch Butterfly returned to visit our Zinnias in our side garden.  It challenged me to take a photo as it circled around me.  Then, it landed!  Snap!!!


    Wednesday, August 29, 2018

    Thinking Back!

    Today, just remembering an earlier view of our backyard.  It sure does look

                                            R E F R E S H I N G!!!


    Monday, August 20, 2018

    ~ Peach Freezer Jam ~

    Peach Freezer Jam
    After enjoying a great week at the Cape (Cape Cod) it's time to finish preparing the Freezer Jams to enjoy during the other months of the year.  Now, it is peach season!  The local crop is so sweet, juicy and just plain yummy.  This past Thursday at our Farmers' Market, I purchased enough of this fresh fruit to make a batch of Peach Freezer Jam and also more that we could enjoy now.

    They were not quite ripe, so 3 peaches were placed inside a brown paper lunch bag and the top closed.  In 2 days they riped, so the fresh peaches were placed in the fridge.

    Ripening Peaches
    (File Photo)
    Yesterday, 7  peaches were used to prepare the delicious jam!  The sugar, lemon juice and Certo (liquid pectin) were all placed in their places on my kitchen counter.  The mixing bowls, spoons and measuring cups were added, along with the clean containers & lids.  I was getting down to business!  It was time to prepare the Peach Freezer Jam!!

    After rinsing the peaches under cool water, the skins were removed.  It is easier to remove the skins if you place each peach in a pot of simmering water for about 60 seconds.  A slotted spoon comes in handy here to place it in the water and also to remove it.  Let the peaches cool a little on a plate lined with a paper towel.

    Use a sharp knife and peel the skin.  Cut peach into slices.  Then, it's mashing time!  Mash the slices (a few at a time) with a (potato) masher.  Measure out needed amount and add to the required sugar in a large bowl.  Then, I was on my way to follow the rest of the directions that are included in the package of Certo.

    ~My Hints~  are handy to read!

    Freezer Jam is just so delicious!  I am not a fan of commercial brands.  While growing up, my mom, sister & I always prepared jam the "cook over the stove" method.  For years now, I've been making Freezer Jams.  Yes, they are that good!!

    ***After following the directions, exactly (that are located in the Certo box) the jam containers then sit undisturbed for 24 hours.  After that time they are placed in the freezer.

    Yes, I was daydreaming about the surf crashing on the shore two weeks ago at Nauset Light Beach while making jam yesterday.  We did see seals swimming at Nauset Beach, Coast Guard Beach and Nauset Light Beach.  It has been the summer of sharks looking for seals in the waters at the Cape.

    Nauset Light Beach
    at the Cape
    (Cape Cod)
    My Peach Freezer Jam is now in our large freezer.  We'll enjoy it along with the Strawberry & Blueberry Jams in the coming year.  Hopefully, again, there is enough to last until next June!


    Saturday, August 18, 2018


    This month has brought hot days, rainfall and also vacation.  A garden of Zinnias always welcomes us when we drive up our driveway.  These colorful flowers were planted from seed in May.  It's a beautiful sight!


    Wednesday, July 25, 2018

    Freezing Blueberries & Jam

    Local Blueberries!
    The local Blueberries are now available!  That was the signal to me to get busy!  I purchase this yummy sweet fruit and then clean/ freeze the berries to place in Ziploc Freezer bags and we enjoy them in the coming months.  After going through each pint of berries, they are triple washed and then drained.  Packing them away and then placing the labelled bags on "their" shelf in our large freezer.

    No, not all of the berries are frozen.  There's still snacking going on and also Blueberry Freezer Jam was prepared.  Each of 3 batches was prepared separately.  After the 24 hour time period, the containers of Jam were also placed in the freezer.  Looking back, I've been preparing Freezer Jam for probably 40 years.  For me it sure is a LOT easier than stirring the mixture over a hot stove on a HHH summer day.  Easy works so well.  This jam is just so yummy!

    CERTO is the liquid fruit pectin that I use.  The preparation directions are located inside each box.

    The key things to remember here:
    • Use clean utensils, containers.
    • Prepare each batch separately.
    • Have ALL ingredients ready to use.
    • Follow Directions EXACTLY.
    This year I discovered that I had a medley of freezer containers to use.  It was time to place "freezer containers" on my grocery list!

    Blueberry Freezer Jam
     Homemade Jam is just the best!!!  Fortunately for us, this year we did not run out of our supply before the first of the new Freezer Jams (Strawberry) was prepared in June.

    Do you freeze the local fruit in the summer?  Do you prepare Freezer Jams?


    Saturday, July 14, 2018


    First there was one.
    Now, there are some!!!
    Summer is here
    and the colorful Zinnias are blossoming!!!


    Thursday, July 5, 2018

    ~View of Flowers~

    Oh, has it been hot!!  Walking outside reminds me of entering a greenhouse in the late spring.  The warm moisty air always seems to c-l-i-n-g.  No, I do not make a habit of walking into greenhouses.  Well, this hot moisty air has been enjoyed by the annuals and perennials that always add color to our yard!

    Colorful Petunias!

    The bright lavender Petunias are bursting with color!!

    Budding Zinnias

    The Zinnia seeds sprouted.  Before we knew it, many sets of leaves were visible.  Now, the buds are forming!

    Front Garden
    The Daylilies are beginning to blossom!  First, there were three.  Next there were four!  Tomorrow there will be so many more!!

    The summer flowers are enjoying this 6 day heat wave!  The weekend looks cooler!!

    Enjoying the view!

    Wednesday, July 4, 2018

    July 4, 2018

    Have a Happy
    Safe 4th of July!!!


    Thursday, June 28, 2018


    It's the end of June!  It's summertime! FREE FUN FRIDAYS in Massachusetts are back!  It's the 10th anniversary!  The Highland Street Foundation generously gives all of us- living in Massachusetts, vacationing in MA or for visitors just traveling through- the opportunity to visit interesting places for FREE!

    Starting this Friday, June 29 there will be 10 specific venues available to visit- no charge.  It changes every week!  Every Friday up to and including August 31 families and friends can learn something new- while having FuN!  That's 10 Fridays this summer!  They are located in Western, Central and Eastern MA.  Yes, including the Cape (Cape Cod). 

    Are you interested???  Here is the Schedule this summer.

    Do you have a question???  FAQ

    Here is more information about the venues.

    There are so many interesting places to visit!  Some include:

    Springfield Museums
    Old Sturbridge Village

    The Mount- Edith Wharton's Home
    This summer when school is not in session, take the opportunity to visit 1, 2 or more of these great places.  It is for visitors of ALL ages.  Remember that there are 10 specific venues to visit on 10 specific Fridays.

    Have FuN!

    Saturday, June 23, 2018

    Strawberry Freezer Jam

    ~Strawberry Freezer Jam~
    Sweet juicy local Strawberries are just the best!  They also make a wonderful flavorful jam!  For a few decades now, I've been preparing Freezer Jams when the fresh local fruit is available.  This week 3 batches of Strawberry Freezer Jam found its spot on our dining room table to "do its thing" for the required 24 hour period.  My kitchen had this production line set up.  The strawberries had already been prepared. 

    My fave containers to use are the Ziploc 1 cup containers.  The circular ones that Ziploc no longer sells.  So, during the year after we've enjoy a container of jam, each container is carefully washed/ dried & stored away for future Freezer Jams.

    One day this week was Strawberry Freezer Jam Day!  The strawberries, sugar, Certo (liquid pectin) and Lemon Juice were placed on the counter- ready to use.  The Directions are located inside each box of Certo.

    While preparing this Jam follow directions exactly!  I always reread the Directions and also reread my Helpful Hints.  One batch is prepared at a time!

    We had been enjoying the very last container of Freezer Jam- Peach - that was prepared last year.  What great timing for our local strawberry season!  Now, our freezer has a new supply.

    Do you prepare Freezer Jams?
    They are so much tastier than the commercial brands of jams!


    Wednesday, June 20, 2018

    Freezing Strawberries

    Local Fresh Strawberries
    It's Strawberry Season!!!

    Now!!!  The time of year when we can drive out to a local roadside stand and purchase a quart/ quarts of the sweet, juicy, red, local strawberries.  This week was the week to drive out to Meadowbrook Farm in East Longmeadow and purchase a flat + 2 quarts of these tasty local berries.  No, there is no way we are devouring them all at once.  The strawberries were prepared for the freezer and then frozen.  There were other plans for 3 of the quarts.  During the remaining months of the year a bag needs only to be defrosted to enjoy as a topping on Belgian Waffles, Oatmeal Pancakes or on ice cream. 

    Living in MA where this fruit does not grow year round, I like to freeze the local berries in June.  The quarts purchased during the winter/ colder months in our grocery stores are not very tasty. 

    Packaging the Strawberries!
    Freezing the strawberries is an easy process.  Well worth the time, too, if you enjoy eating the local tasty fruit during the winter months. 

    There is always a little "strawberry snacking" going on after the bags are placed in the freezer.  Some berries are saved out to enjoy now!  Yum!  While preparing the fruit, my kitchen has the aroma of a strawberry field.

    Freezing Strawberries
    1. Working with a quart at a time, the tops are cut off. 
    2. Then, the strawberries are triple rinsed in cold water.
    3. Drain.
    4. Slice each strawberry in half or thirds and measure out 2 and 1/2 Cups to place in a Ziploc Quart sized Freezer Bag.  
    5. I prefer to add about 1 Tablespoon Sugar to each Ziploc Bag before freezing.
    6. Move the Sugar/ Strawberries around in the bag to dissolve the Sugar.
    7. Close, label & date each bag.  Then, place in your freezer.
    8. Defrost in fridge when needed.
    This year the Strawberries are so sweet & so juicy!  What a delicious local fruit!  We need to make a return trip and purchase a few more quarts.

    Do you also freeze the local fruit??



    Saturday, June 9, 2018

    ~Raisin Rice Crispies Treats~

    Raisin Rice Crispies Treats
    So many times I have purchased a bag of marshmallows.  So many times I have plans to make a batch of Raisin Rice Crispies Treats.  But, so many times I was not quick enough and my DH had opened the bag and started snacking on those yummy white puffs and soon they were gone!  Well, this week I was quick enough!  Woohoo!  This is a snack that we have enjoyed for so many years and I make occasionally! 
    • They are so easy to make. 
    • However, read the directions first.
    • The key is to work quickly!  :)
    • After cutting into bars, store in fridge.  
    • Before eating, microwave a bar for 7- 9 seconds to warm slightly!
     Raisin Rice Crispies Treats

    4 Tablespoons Butter/ Margarine 
    1 (10 ounce) package Marshmallows
    5 and 1/2 Cups Rice Krispies cereal
    1 Cup Raisins

    1.  In a large pot (6 quart pot) melt 4 Tablespoons Margarine/ Butter over Low heat.
    2.  Add in 1 bag (10 ounces) Marshmallows, stirring until completely melted.
    3.  Turn off heat.
    4.  Add in 3 Cups Rice Krispies cereal, stir quickly.
    5.  Add in 1 Cup Raisins, stir quickly.
    6.  Then, add 2 and 1/2 Cups more Rice Krispies cereal, stir again.
    7.  Place the mixture (will be sticky) into a 9" x 15" glass baking dish (sprayed with PAM).  Press down lightly with the bottom of the measuring cup.  
    8.  Cover with plastic wrap & place in fridge for 1 hour.
    9.  Cut into bars, place in covered container & store in fridge until serving. 
    These are definitely a treat!!

      Tuesday, May 29, 2018

      Spring in New England!!

      Just walking around our home outdoors beautiful colors change when we go around the corner.  The pink Peonies are just bursting with fragrance.  The flowers are heavy, so the stems are staked- ready for any rain that may fall. 

      Turning around 180°, the Purple Irises come in view.  The first buds opened this morning!  There are so many more that will add color to our yard this week.

      The lavender Chives are going a bit wild!!  The delicate flowers always add color to our back perennial garden.

      Glancing to the right- the Variegated Iris!  It has flowered again this year!!

      On our deck 3 potted Citronella (Mosquito) Plants are very helpful- all summer.  The Vinca adds a bit of color to the pot. 

      Spring is a great and beautiful time of year!!