Places to Party

Tuesday, June 25, 2013



What a wonderful word.

Nature's original tree ornaments!

The first harvest of the year is upon us and it is a bit unexpected. Typically strawberries are the first thing I get off my little farm, but this year the cherry tree has exploded in wonderful little cherries.

Last year my little tree didn't even produce enough to make a pie but as you can see, this is not last year!

The view from my front window.

I have one sour cherry tree that I have in my front yard. I love it because not only is it very ornamental, it produces beautiful sour cherries that are fantastic in pies, delicious as a syrup on pancakes or ice cream, an excellent add in for homemade cough syrup and a powerful aid to help with arthritis. This year I plan on making all of these things and more depending on how many cherries we get.


This is what we got for just an hour of picking. As you can see my tree is not very large. I recently read in one of my gardening books that a typical cherry tree can typically produce up to 40 lbs of cherries. I'm thinking of getting a second one so I can barter with the local farm market for things I don't grow.


From tree to table in less than
two hours.

In my next blog I'll show you what I'm doing with these cherries to get as much as I can out them and put away food for my family. We'll also talk about the Homefront Strategy as I put it into practice for my own family. I hope to inspire you to do the same. A trip to your local pick-your-own is not only a great family experience, it also helps to fill your larder. Take an inventory of what your family enjoys eatting and what they may be willing to try.

When you make your own ingredients, you can have a gourmet meal
that costs pennies!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Cat TV

Time for a true confession....

I'm going to get you.. "Ma-a-a-a-a-a "
As cute as they are, as fun as they are to watch, I feed the birds not for the sake of the birds but rather for the amusement of my furry children.. the cats. My cats are housecats so the closest they come to "hunting" is typically when Mr. Mittens swats off a spool of thread off the table and proceeds to make a force field of almost invisible and uncrossable means. So for the amusement of my three balls of fluff (i.e. our Lords and Masters) I set out a feeder where they can threaten to their hearts content, any who would dare to come close to their domain.

The birds for their role, simply ignore the cats. They fully know that there is no real danger regardless of how much it is threatened... and there are threats. The "Ma-a-a-a-a-a " sounds that I've only heard the cats make when they are "talking to the birds". Today I'm going to give you a simple receipt for making homemade hummingbird nectar.

We've all seen the bright red, not found in nature hummingbird nectar found in the stores. The reality is that we can make the same thing at home without the artificial dye. Essentially it is a simple syrup so what you don't feed the birds, you could always mix in your drink... just saying. It is almost embarrassing how simple this is to make...

Simple Homemade Hummingbird Nectar

1 part sugar
4 parts water

A part can be anything you want it to be as long as you are consistent.

In this case, I used a 1/4 cup measure so it worked out to be, 1/4 cup sugar to 1 cup water.

Pour your sugar and water into a saucepan and heat until sugar is dissolved, stirring frequently.

Take off the burner and allow to cool.

Fill your feeder and let the hummingbirds
know you are open for business!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Spring Cleaning 2, Detox: Taking One's Bitters

The phrase, "Taking One's Bitters" has come to mean facing up to a result which really wasn't the positive outcome you'd been  hoping for. But the concept of taking one's bitters was a reality for our great, great grandparents. After long winters of salted and canned food, the need to detox and prepare the body for spring and summer was a common desire. Certain herbs were taken in the belief that they helped to flush the body of toxins and "sludge" that had built up after a season of processed food and a somewhat sedimentary lifestyle. These herbs were, in general, bitter and ill tasting but were believed to clean out the system. Today, most of these herbs are available in any healthfood store and now, in most grocery stores.

Anytime I feel sluggish or nasty, I pull out one of these herbal teas to drink and after a few days, generally feel pretty good. Again, I'm not a doctor so take at your own risk, but I've never had a problem  with any tea. A secondary note if you are going to drink more tea gleaned from experience: let your tea cool down a bit and sip it with a straw. Weird? Maybe. Tea has tannins and WILL yellow your teeth. White strips will help to counteract that but white strip (peroxide) DOESN'T WORK ON CAPS OR DENTAL WORK. Trust me, I've recently replaced a cap.

Anyway, below is an immunity tea receipe that I have from a herbal medicine course I took in 1995. If you take any medication, again, check with your doctor before using herbs. They are medicine and what many medicines are made from. You need to know how they will interact with anything you are taking. A part is any measurement you desire as long as you are consistent. 1/2 cup is 1 part throughout, or 1/4 cup is 1 part throughout.. whatever you deem the quantity you want to make:


4 parts Pau d'arco (bark)
2 parts Echinacea (root)
1/2 part Goldenseal (root)
1 part Burdock (root)
1/2 part each: dried orange (peel), cinnamon (bark), licorice (root)

Use 4 to 6 tablespoons to a quart.

Bring a quart of cold water and herbs to a simmer, covered. Let simmer for 20 minutes. Strain. Add honey if bitter.