Monthly Archives: November 2009

Christmas Gifts to Make (with Christmas Label Download)


Each year at Christmas time I enjoy making a few things for friends. Many times it’s cookies, but after experimenting with so many lotions and potions this past year, I thought it would be nice to group them all together (with a new label, of course!) into one place. In this thrift store found basket that I lined with a red cloth napkin, I placed a jar of my August made applesauce, a jar of home made hand lotion, a tin of homemade deodorant and a bottle of baking soda hair rinse. All easy and thrift things you can make in your kitchen.

The hand lotion and applesauce are bottled up exactly as I previously wrote about. The hair rinse is a ratio of 1 tablespoon baking soda to 1 cup of water. You can read about how I use baking soda to wash my hair. And the deodorant is the same recipe as I posted, but I split the recipe in half and poured it into these adorable 2 ounce tins from Mountain Rose Herbs.

It’s my guess that you already have olive oil, baking soda and cornstarch (and applesauce or other summer canned goodness) in your kitchen, so the only other ingredients you need will be listed below. I roughly estimate that if you buy all the listed ingredients it should cost about $28 and you can get about 6 batches of deodorant and 15 batches of lotion from them. My guess is that if you made about 6 baskets, it would cost you less than $5 per basket. Not bad for such a cute gift!


The label design is inspired by my love of all things Scandinavian at Christmas time. I just love the simple white and red and that folksy cross stitching is so sweet. On the Christmas Label Download Page there are two sized labels, one for wide mouth canning jars and one for small mouth jars. Print them out at full size (Adobe Reader tends to shrink things slightly, so double check in your print window that it doesn’t reduce your file.) on Avery Sticker Project Paper. Cut them out and you are ready to adorn your gifts. Enjoy!


Filed under Holidays, In the Kitchen, Recipes

Winter Squash for the Holidays


With Thanksgiving just a few days away, I thought it might be a good time to show you some of the new winter squashes we grew this past year. This bowl full is sitting on our coffee table, it’s the perfect seasonal decoration and it reminds me of the good fortune we have to grow such beautiful, nourishing food.

The squash on top is new to us this year. It’s called a Shishigatani or Toonas Makino from Baker Creek. It wasn’t the most productive plant, we only got two small squash, but isn’t it interesting looking? It’s a rare variety from Japan, that supposedly when eaten in the hottest part of summer, prevents paralysis. And really, who doesn’t want to prevent paralysis? We haven’t tried eating it yet so I’ll get back to you on how it tastes.

The long neck squash just below that, I wrote about before, however I had showed a picture of it while it was still green and on the vine. This also is a new one to us from Baker Creek, an Italian variety called Zucchino Rampicante. I highly recommend growing this one next year! The great part about this is that it can be eaten green as a summer squash or you can let it mature into a winter squash, plus the vine is fairly productive and easy to grow.

Below that are a few acorn squashes which we try and grow every year. Who can resist a stuffed, roasted acorn squash? Not I, I say.


Above is a photo of dinner starting to be made with our first ever grown parsnip. This fellow decided to grow two legs. I have to say, I was not a big fan of how it turned out roasted, but I’m willing to give it another chance, we still have some growing outside.


We also tried our luck with Blue Hubbards too. I can’t boast that it was a very prolific crop, we only got one per vine and they didn’t get as big as advertised, but they are worth a try next year too. Remember our growing season this year was a little wonky. Nothing grew exactly as it should have. We did however, buy an enormous one at the Tolay Fall Festival in October that is sitting on our mantle. Early Thursday morning we’ll cut it up and roast it for our Thanksgiving meal.

The Tolay Fall Festival by the way is a must visit for anyone who lives even remotely close to Sonoma County, this was our first year going and we spent hours upon hours there, it is most certainly worth the drive. Mark it on your calendars to visit next October.

Are you serving winter squash with your Thanksgiving meal?


Filed under just picked, notes for next year

Pear Tree Blooming in November

Yes, I really did just take this picture yesterday morning. Yes, it is November and yes it’s been below 30 degrees at night the past couple of nights. So why in the world is our pear tree full of blooms? We did have a string of cold days in October followed by warm, even hot days which I think it what did it. I can’t seem to find anything online that talks about what happens when fruit trees bloom in autumn. Will this mean that we won’t have much fruit next summer? Will it bloom again in spring? One snippet I found said that trees that are damaged during summer sometimes bloom in autumn, however we haven’t even so much as given the poor tree a sideways glance, let alone damage it. I suppose only time will tell. I’ll report again next spring on how our poor pear tree is doing.

Has anyone else had their fruit trees bloom in autumn?

Just for proof of frost, the next photo in my camera, after the pear tree shot was taken was this one. See? Frosty!


Filed under Fruit Trees

Sonoma’s First Frost – Spot on

Hello There Friends! My goodness it’s been a long time since I’ve posted anything! I apologize about that, but sometimes you just need a good blog break, don’t you? I hope to be back with some sort of regularity.

A few months ago when Scott & I taught our winter gardening class with Rebecca at the Sonoma Garden Park, she mentioned that the first frost date for Sonoma was set at November 15th. Usually those dates are just a guideline, but this year, it was spot on. When I woke up yesterday, November 15th, the thermometer was below 30 degrees and the grass was lightly blanketed with white frost. A late morning walk outside showed the evidence, the patty pan squash was toast, the basil was brown and our pumpkin plant was as flat as a pancake.

Winter gardening has official begun!


Filed under Life in Sonoma