Knit Your Own Sweatshirt Sweater

Filed under: DIY — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:12 am on Friday, March 22, 2013

Knit Your Own Sweatshirt Sweater with this free pattern. Pocket optional.

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5 Flowers For Beneficial Insects

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:57 am on Thursday, March 21, 2013

I’ve talked about beneficial insects on here, first in Predatory Insects In The Garden and Five More Beneficial Insects. These are insects like ladybugs, wasps, and bees that pollinate your flowers or eat bugs that feast on your plants, like aphids.

I’ve witnessed first hand how attracting the “good” bugs that eat the “bad” bugs is the best thing you can do for in your garden. It’s pest control without any work, chemicals, or stress. But how do you attract these beneficial bugs? Simple: grow plants that provide a habitat they prefer, and they will show up.

It never ceases to amaze me: plant it and they will come. For example, I had never seen a tiger swallowtail butterfly in my yard, then all of a sudden they were flying around my yard on a regular bases. It turned out it was because I planted leaf fennel, which the tiger swallowtail caterpillars eat. Just growing the plant was enough for the butterfly to show up (and no, I don’t mind if these beautiful caterpillars eat some of my fennel).

5 Flowers That Attract Beneficial Insects:

* Yarrow. Another thing I’ve seen first hand is that yarrow attracts ladybugs and hoverflies, and is said to bring in lacewing wasps as well. What’s more, these yellow (or white or pink) flowers are pretty and easy to take care of–they’re one of the few plants to survive almost near neglect in my front yard. On top of that, they improve soil quality.


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* Clover. Some gardeners let clover take over entire lawns, preferring it to grass. Others use clover as a cover crop or green manure because it adds nutrients to the soil. On top of being easy, friendly-looking, and a soil enhancer, clover attracts lots of beneficial insects, including tachinid fly, parasitic wasps, ladybugs, and bees.


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* Nasturtium. This gorgeous flower looks great in the garden. They tend to get aphids–bad!–but they also attract ladybugs and bees–good! They repel cucumber beetles, which makes them great companions to cucumber plants. The flowers taste great and are a lovely addition to salads.


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* The Parsley Family.
This includes dill, carrots, fennel, coriander, Queen Anne’s Lace (poisonous), hemlock (poisonous), and of course, parsley. According to Cornell University, bugs like their “umbrella-shaped clusters of small 5-petaled flowers.” Chances are you have some of these plants in your garden already–I know I do.


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* Daisy-Like Flowers. Cornell University also says that beneficial insects like “flower heads that are actually made up of many small flowers growing together. Many flowers are composed of rays around a disk-like center. Many well-known ornamental flowers including marigolds, dahlias, daisies, asters, cosmos, calendula, coreopsis, tansy, yarrow, zinnia, and sunflowers are in this family.”

Personally, I’m growing yarrow, nasturtium, sunflowers, and cosmos this year, so I should be all set on insects, beneficially speaking.

Lemon Sorbet

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:46 am on Wednesday, March 20, 2013

As part of my 2013 lemon plan, I made lemon sorbet. It’s kind of like a lemonade icee. The recipe couldn’t be simpler. Here it is:

Lemon Sorbet

    1 c water
    1 c sugar
    1 c fresh lemon juice
    1 Tbs lemon zest


Directions:

Put sugar and water in a pan and bring to a boil until the sugar is dissolved. Add the lemon and zest to the syrup. Cool completely. Pour mixture into an ice cream machine and freeze according to manfacturer’s instructions. Enjoy!

Homemade Cookie Press

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:57 am on Tuesday, March 19, 2013

I kind of like this homemade cookie press and its appropriate bragging rights. $17

My 2013 Garden Plan

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:16 am on Monday, March 18, 2013

My garden this year is going to be a little crazy.

Remember how last year I had to scale back my garden because I was pregnant? That was hard on me. Now I get to make up for it by having a huge garden.

Also now that I do have a child, I have more incentive than ever to plant healthy, fresh food.

And, finally, we are investing in raised beds to thwart my ongoing vole problem, and naturally I’m going to want to try them out.

Here’s what I’m planting this year.

Plants that I’ll put in after the frost date (April 15):

    Tomatoes–Three types: Early Girl to get an early crop, Brandywine for sweetness, and Beefsteaks for impressive size and flavor.

    Cucumbers–Probably Lemon Cucumbers, but I am also open to Armenian Cucumbers.

    Zucchini

    Butternut Squash–Savvy Jr.’s favorite squash so far. I’m growing from seeds I harvested myself.

    Crane Melon-A local, very sweet cantaloupe. I’m growing from seeds I harvested myself.

    Boule d’Or Melon–I couldn’t resist these seeds: “Very sweet, pale green flesh is just marvelous. Yellow and loosely netted, a very beautiful melon. This was one of our top melons in our 2003 trials, truly incredible! It was listed in Vilmorin’s book The Vegetable Garden in 1885, but is very rare now. An all-time favorite and a dream for market growers.”

    Apple Melons–A melon you eat like an apple. These are an experiment since they require a lot of heat. I may put them in after May 1.

    Bell Peppers–So far I have green bells started from seed I harvested myself. I’ll probably do purple and red bells too.

    Jalapeño –I find that one Jalapeño plant is plenty.

Root Plants:

    Potatoes–Already started using this new method. So far, so good.

    Beets–One of my favorites because you can eat the roots and the greens.

    Fennel bulbs

    Carrots

    Radishes

Beans/Peas:

    Kentucky Green Beans–Mr. Savvy’s favorite.

    French Green Beans–My favorite.

    English Peas–Another Mr. Savvy favorite


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    Blue Podded Peas–I already have some of these seeds, so why not?

    Scarlet Runner Beans–This is the first year I’m growing these. They put off showy scarlet flowers and produce a black (I think?) bean. From Wikipedia: “The beans are used in Greek cuisine under the names gígantes and eléfantes which are more than twice as large as regular beans, taste slightly sweeter, and are favored for baking. … The flower is known as a favourite of Hummingbirds.”


Onion Plants:

    Leeks–I’m trying to grow these from seed this year.

    Garlic–I already started these in the fall and they seem to be going along pretty well so far.

Greens:

    Chard

    Spinach

    Lettuce–I have endive, mesclun, and radicchio seeds.


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    Arugula–This crop is half over, already. My arugula self-seeded as usual, and I’ve been eating the leaves for the last two weeks.


Perennials:

    Asparagus / Strawberries–These are supposed to be good companion plants, so I transplanted them together in the same bed. So far so good–the strawberries look happy and I have harvested three asparagus spears already.

    Artichokes–I moved these from a hot place where they were unhappy to another part of the bed. I saw one last weekend in partial shade and it looked like it was thriving, so I’m trying these plants with less direct sun. We’ll see how they do.

    Respberries–Since putting in my raspberries three years ago, they have produced exactly one berry. This year might be their last chance to do something.


Flowers:


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    Yarrow

    Sunflowers

    Nasturtium


Herbs:

    Basil

    Parsley

    Cilantro

    Thyme

    Savory

    Marjoram

Plants I’m Still Considering:


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    Okra–My friend gave me some seeds, but I’m skeptical they will do well in our climate.

    Corn–I love corn, but it’s so cheap to buy and takes up a lot of space.

    Jerusalem Artichokes–Because they can be invasive, I need to set up a separate container for them, and may not have the time or will to do so.


What are you growing this year?

Three Green Cocktails

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:06 am on Friday, March 15, 2013

If you want a break from beer on St. Patrick’s Day, here are three green cocktails I know are tasty, because I made them up!

Irish Spring Cocktail. Celery, mint, lime, and gin.


Green Tea and Ginger Cocktail.
The name says it all.

Basil Mojito. Basil, rum, and lime.

Have a great weekend!

A Brief History of 7 Baby Basics

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 9:13 am on Thursday, March 14, 2013

The baby monitor came out of the Lindbergh baby kidnapping in the 1930s.

Henri Nestlé, as in Nestlé chocolate, came up with the first baby food.

The first disposable diaper “consisted of two parts: a strip of inexpensive, cellulose-based gauze as an absorbing pad, and a nylon outer shell that held the pad in place, made from an old parachute.”

Read about this and lots of other interesting facts in A Brief History of 7 Baby Basics.

Gumball Machine Fish Tank

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:03 am on Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Here’s one I’ve never thought of before: turn a gumball machine into a fish tank. Cute.

Buying Bulk Canned Foods at Costco

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:46 am on Tuesday, March 12, 2013

The Frugal Find has a great post on saving money by buying bulk canned foods at Costco. I do this too, and can vouch for the savings.

The idea is that instead of buying individual-sized servings, like 4 ounce fruit cups, you buy a giant 106 ounce can of the fruit for much cheaper and divide into freezer-safe containers for when you’re ready to use them.

For example, a can of pears costs $4.59 for 106 ounces, or $.04/oz. The fruit cups cost $.50 per 4-ounce-portion, or $.12.5 /oz. Buying the large can of pears costs 75% less, and all you have to do is spend 5 minutes dividing the pears up into smaller portions.

I’ve been doing this with beans lately, and estimate they are even cheaper than buying dried beans and cooking them myself. Tomatoes are a good deal too, although not as good as planting your own, of course.

Spaghetti Squash Boat

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:55 am on Monday, March 11, 2013

Stuffed vegetables can often go wrong, but I can now vouch that this recipe for Spaghetti Squash Boats is not only delicious, but the cleverest use of spaghetti squash I’ve seen.

Spaghetti squash is a squash that, when cooked, comes apart in ribbons like spaghetti noodles. I don’t normally like it, but putting the sauce and cheese in the center made it into a great meal, and a low calorie one too.

It’s also cheap. I used homemade turkey sausage instead of ground turkey, which brought the price of the dish way down. I estimate I made dinner for two for $2.65.

Click here for the recipe.

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