Archive for June, 2016

What to Do With All Those Tomatoes

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tips and Advice

If you are gardening in the summer, chances are you have at least one tomato plant. They seem to yield more tomatoes than you can eat before they go bad. Here is an idea for what to do when you have too many tomatoes.

Below is a recipe for an easy meatballs entrée. The sauce can also be made separately and frozen for use during the winter! The good news is that this recipe is cooked using a slow cooker, therefore your house will not heat up from using the stove.

Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time:  3 hours in a  slow cooker!

What You Will Need:

Slow Cooker

Ripe Tomatoes (10-15 can fit into most crock pots)

A bag of frozen meatballs

5 Leaves Fresh Basil

¼-1/2 Stalk Fresh Rosemary

2 Tbsp. Butter

2 Tbsp. Olive Oil

1 Tsp. Salt

1 Tsp. Black Pepper

1 Clove Garlic

½ Tsp. Lemon Juice

What to Do:

Chop or dice the tomatoes up. We prefer to cut them up into chunks, instead of dicing them. Peel and dice the garlic clove. Chop the basil.

Turn the crock pot on low. Add the olive oil and butter to the crock pot first.

Next add the basil and rosemary. Stir mixture. Then add the diced tomatoes and garlic.

Add the salt and pepper and stir well.

*Let the sauce cook for two hours on low.

Once the sauce has reduced down, it is a good time to add the frozen meat balls. Let the meatballs cook for an hour and then serve! Don’t forget to remove the rosemary before serving.

 

 

Composting Tips

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Environmental

Composting is a great way to nurture your garden as well as use food items that would normally be thrown out. This is an easy way to keep your garden healthy, naturally. By composting regularly you have to water and fertilize your garden less. Find out the tips and tricks to pulling this gardening task.

Things to Compost:

Fruit rinds (citrus and melon)

Banana peels

Coffee grounds

Egg shells

Rotten fruit and vegetables

Tea bags

Shredded paper and news paper

Grass clippings

Fireplace ashes

Tips:

Get a composting pail. These can be purchased at your local home improvement store, in the gardening section. Choose one that has a lid on it. Compost can get smelly and attract fruit flies.

Keep the composting pail in a convenient location. On a patio or porch is a good place since fruit flies will find it. Turn the material inside when it starts to smell and attract flies. Add water to the compost if it has been dry. Keep compost moist. Avoid adding too much water, you do not want it to be completely damp.

Chop up fruits, veggies and the rinds so they can decompose faster. Wash out egg shells before adding them to the compost.

Turning the compost is needed every couple of days. This adds oxygen to the pile; which is needed by microorganisms to break down the material. Use a pitch fork to properly turn the material. When adding organic material make sure to mix it in with the rest of the compost by turning it using the pitch fork. Add compost to your garden about once a week. 

Fourth of July Treats

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Holiday

This sweet treat for the Fourth of July holiday is festive and very easy to make! It is also cool and refreshing, not to mention it is relatively healthy. Find out how to make a festive treat that celebrates our Independence Day!

What You Will Need:

Martini glasses (or you can use clear plastic cups for kiddos)

Cherry flavored Jell-O

Cool Whip (or your favorite whipped cream)

Fresh Blueberries

Directions:

Follow the instructions on the box to make the Jell-O. Place glasses on a pan. Fill the glasses 1/3 of the way full. Place in the refrigerator for designated time required for Jell-O to set.

Once the Jell-O has set, add the Cool Whip to the top of the Jell-O. Make sure to leave enough space for blueberries. Essentially each three layers should take up 1/3 of the glass.

After the Cool Whip has been added, next gently place blueberries on top. Place tray of glasses back in the refrigerator until you are ready to serve.

When serving add a spoon and a festive American flag! 

How Should I Arrange Pictures on My Wall?

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Design and Decorating

Family portraits hung on the wall are a great way to display the best memories to those visiting your home.  Beautiful paintings, dramatic photos, or printed words can pull together the decorations in a room.  But the task of hanging pictures on a wall can be an intimidating process.  Spacing, balancing and aligning these items can seem like impossible hurdles, but here are a few tricks that will make picture hanging and arranging much easier.

Use a large piece of paper.  Butcher paper is ideal for this project, but any large piece of paper (or combination of papers) will do.  Leftover pieces of wrapping paper are easy to use, but make sure to use the undecorated side (patterns may be distracting for this task).

Cut the paper to the size of the wall you will be working on. 

Lay the paper flat on the floor.  Arrange the pictures on the paper and take your time arranging them.  This is an easy way to measure, align and space the pictures evenly, or to rearrange them several times.  Once the pictures are just right, take a quick picture of the arrangement in order to remember the correct order.  This will help later on!

Without moving the frames, outline each picture gently on the paper.  Flip each item over to find the hanging point (the point or points that will be in contact with the nail or hook on the wall).  Measure from the top of the picture to this point and mark this on the paper template. 

Hang the paper on the wall, making sure to place it at the right height for the pictures.  Use the template to align nails – just drive the nail through the paper into the wall.  Once all nails are placed, tear the paper away to reveal perfectly placed hanging hardware!

Use the photo you took earlier in the project to remind you of the placement of your pictures.  Step back and admire the amazing arrangement on your wall without the stress of a single misplaced nail!

Dawn Dish Soap: A Safer Alternative to Pesticides

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Environmental

When growing your own garden of fruits and vegetables that you intend on eating, it is best to use an organic way to kill insects. The biggest reason most people plant gardens is to eat cleaner and know what exactly is in their food. Having to spray a chemical pesticide on your fruits and veggies, makes you wonder why you didn’t just go to the grocery store. Worry no more, making this solution is safe on plants and still considered organic. Find out how to make your own pest control solution, that is safe to eat and cheaper than a store bought pesticide.

What You Need:

Pure Dawn Dish Soap (do not use the kinds with any degreaser, bleach, perfumes or dyes)

Vegetable Oil

Water

Spray Bottle

Directions:

Make a mixture of 2 ½ Tbsp. of Dawn dish soap and 2 ½ Tbsp. of vegetable oil. Whisk the mixture in with one gallon of water. Place liquid into a spray bottle. The dish soap suffocates the soft insects and the oil keeps the solution on the plant longer.

It is important to make the solution you need for one application. The solution will not work if you leave it and use it again for a later application.

Generously spray directly onto plants. Make sure and apply the solution on a day where there is no chance of rain and only when the temperature is less than 90 degrees. The plants leaves will burn if this is sprayed on them in 90 degree or above.

This can be done as needed and should be done when you see insects on the plants or in the garden. This solution kills soft bugs, like caterpillars. Apply the application once a week until you see the bugs are gone. If they come back continue to use the spray.

If you wish to make a smaller amount add 1 Tbsp. of the pure dish soap and 1 Tbsp. of vegetable oil to 8 Oz. of water and add that mixture to a spray bottle.  

Fun and Free Toddler Activity

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Family

This activity is loads of fun for toddlers and even older children. It encompasses finding a hidden treasure and unwrapping a gift at the same time.

Basically a surprise egg is a plastic egg that has a little toy or trinket inside. It is also wrapped in aluminum foil. Start by finding a little fun toy to hide inside a plastic Easter egg. Once the toy is inside wrap the egg in aluminum foil.  Kids seems to love unwrapping the egg the most. It brings them joy just like unwrapping a gift. Younger kids enjoy unwrapping gifts more than getting a new present.

This activity is so fun and exciting for toddlers. Began to wrap other items in foil. Try wrapping snack items that they can later eat, like apples, bananas and oranges. The excitement is seeing the shape and uncovering what is inside. You can wrap all sorts of things around the house. Other items kids like to unwrap are little toys that that they already own. They also enjoy unwrapping several layers. Once they remove a layer of foil (if they doesn’t shred it) save it to reuse later.

Make sure and be involved and present during this activity. Be there to witness the excitement and ask your toddler questions like “What shape is the surprise?”, “What do you think is in there?”. They love for you to be involved and they love to show you what was uncovered. Make sure while supervising that they do not chew or eat on the foil!

This activity is fun because of the creativity when looking for little things to wrap and deciding what trinkets to hide in the plastic eggs. This can also be done by wrapping things in wrapping paper. Toys that have become tired or boring can have new life if you wrap them and let your little one discover it all over again!

Bad Eating Habits to Kick

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Hints, Tips and Advice

It is no secret that eating better provides you with a healthier body and life. There are many mistakes that most people tend to make. Kicking these bad habits is easy if you remain aware of what you are putting into your body.

We as Americans tend to consume more salt than is necessary. Start by cutting back how much you season your food a little at a time. This will satisfy your flavor need and if done consistently, will continue to cut more salt out of your diet each day. The key to this tool is cutting back slowly. Gradually cut back on the amount of salt you put into meals and cut back the amount of salt you sprinkle on your plate. Other ways to flavor savory food is to use lemon juice. Lemon juice is especially good for flavoring veggies like squash and spinach as well as flavoring fish and seafood.

Cut back on meals containing red meat. Limit your red meat intake to two meals a week. Instead eat more white meat like chicken and fish. Be careful not to eat too much fish, however. Try and limit your fish meals to two a week and the rest can be chicken and vegetable based. Instead of making lasagna with red meat, use ground turkey or veggies that can replace the meat, such as eggplant.

Cut back on your sugar intake as well. Sugar is not needed in your body. However, there is sugar in most of the processed foods you consume. Cut back on sugar that is used to flavor drinks and food, the same way as previously stated for cutting back on salt, slowly and gradually. When you feel your sweet tooth taking over, keep a piece of fruit on hand. The sugar in natural fruit is much better for your body than cane sugar or sweeteners.

Read the labels on food you are considering purchasing at the grocery store. Especially look at how many grams of sugar are in one serving size and how many milligrams of salt are in a serving size.

Starting with small changes in your diet, you can make a big change in your overall health!

Savory Sautéed Spinach

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Tips and Advice

Spinach is one of the healthiest green vegetables. This recipe is so healthy, it can be fed to your family once or more a week. It is easy, requires no preparation and only takes about five minutes to prepare.

What You Will Need:

5 oz. Bag of Spinach

Lemon Juice (from an actual lemon or from concentrate)

Garlic Salt

Coconut Oil

Directions:

In a large sauce pan, add one tablespoon of coconut oil.Make sure the bottom of the pan is coated well, to ensure the spinach doesn’t burn.

Place two to three large handfuls of spinach into the saucepan. It seems like a lot but the spinach actually reduces down quite a bit. The heat should be on low to medium heat.

Sprinkle on a teaspoon of garlic salt. We prefer to use Lawry’s brand.

Add a few drops of lemon. If you are using real lemon feel free to use an entire halve. If you are using concentrated lemon drops, only use three to four drops. The concentrate is very strong.

Cook on low heat to medium heat. Once the pan heats up, it only takes about a minute or two to cook. Using tongs, mix the leafy spinach so that the lemon juice and garlic salt mix well. Use the tongs to keep the spinach moving. You don’t want the spinach to sit for too long in the pan. It can burn in a matter of seconds.

Once the spinach is reduced down to a juicy green sauté, serve immediately. It only takes a few minutes to cool down. When cooking this side, cook all other elements of the meal first. Then the last five minutes, sauté the spinach!

How to Properly Care for and Prune a Tomato Plant

Written by creatingyourspace on . Posted in Outdoor

Tomato plants are a perfect choice for any produce or salad garden. They are easy to care for and produce a good amount of fruit all through the season. Find out how to care for and properly prune your plant that will yield the best results.

Once a week add crushed up egg shells around the base of the plant. This will keep beetles and other bugs from eating the leaves. However this does not keep caterpillars away. They must be treated separately, on a daily basis. These insects not only eat the leaves, but they also eat the tomatoes. Simply spraying the plant with an insect soap killer will not keep the caterpillars away either. If you can, check the plant in the morning and afternoon for caterpillars. When you see them, spray them directly with either a store bought soap killer or make your own.

Making your own soap killer is healthier for both you and the plant. It is made up of only two ingredients rather than containing the many chemicals found in store-bought soap killer. To make your own, add 1 tablespoon of plain dish soap to 8 ounces of water. Mix well and pour contents into a spray bottle.

Water your tomato plant about every two to three days during the summer. Keep in mind how often it has rained along with the amount of rain when determining how much to water the tomatoes. The goal is to soak the soil about six to eight inches in the ground. Water the roots only and make sure you water the plant slowly. Watering the entire plant wastes water and can spread disease.

Prune branches that are damaged or dying. Be very careful not to over prune. It should be done by using clean garden shears. You will want to make a clean, fast cut that is close to the main stem. Make sure not to cut any branches that have buds or are producing fruit. Prune branches that are laying on the soil because they will rot. All leaves on the plant are using the sun and water to provide valuable nutrients to the fruit that it produces.

If you follow these simple tips with your tomato plants this summer, you should have a happy plant providing you delicious summer tomatoes!