Archive for June, 2011

Natural Household Insect Repellent

Posted on June 27th, 2011 by Tonia 13 Comments

It’s that time of year when a seemingly innocent piece of fruit left uncovered on the kitchen counter can create a massive bug frenzy in the house. Fruit flies and ants galore. We’re fighting back in several ways:

1. The fruit bowl on the counter has been temporarily laid-off. All fruit is safely in the refrigerator, until colder weather permits their freedom again.

2. Spraying kitchen surfaces with white vinegar. Scout ants lead their colony to a food source through scented trails. Vinegar destroys that trail. This does not kill the ants, but diminishes their efforts. And it leaves the counters clean and disinfected.

3. Sprinkling cinnamon at bug-entry-points. The french doors that go from our living room out to the back yard let a lot of beautiful sunlight into the house. And ants. But ants can’t stand cinnamon- they do anything to avoid it. Ever since I put a dish of it by the doors, I haven’t seen any ants!

Left to right: borax and sugar, ground cinnamon


4. Baiting them with borax and sugar. The sugar will attract the bugs, and the borax will kill them via dehydration. Mix 1 cup of powdered sugar with 2 tablespoons of borax; place in shallow dishes, and put them where the bugs are {but keep them out of reach of pets and children!}

There’s no need for pesticides and poisons- these methods are doing the trick for us. Although, I do miss my cheerful fruit bowl. Here’s another great household use for borax.

Completely unrelated to bugs: there has been a recent influx of new readers {some of you came over from Becoming Minimalist} and I want to say welcome! Thank you for leaving comments- it has been a lot of fun to click through and visit all of your blogs as well. My morning blog-reading routine is taking a little longer these days, but you all have such interesting things to say! Thank you and welcome.

summer reading

Posted on June 24th, 2011 by Tonia 17 Comments

A few facts about me: 1) I am a bookworm. (2) Especially in the summer. (3) We live within walking distance to the library. (4) I just finished this book.

It was so good, I am sad that I reached the end! I savored the last few pages for days. What should I read next? What are you reading this summer?

Nothing beats a cold beverage, a shady spot outside, and a gripping novel.

Have a great weekend!

First Summer Salad

Posted on June 22nd, 2011 by Tonia 10 Comments

Today we harvested salad greens from our garden for the first time this summer. They were so tender, so alive, and tasted like rain.

It has been raining here for days, and we are really starting to miss the sunshine. To lift our spirits a little, I made the most summery meal I could think of: Cherry-chipotle BBQ chicken sandwiches with homemade buns, corn on the cob, salad, and refreshing glasses of chocolate-mint water. Everything on the plate was delicious, but the dark green salad was definitely the “lagniappe”.

I used this recipe for the buns, and they turned out fantastic. Crusty on the outside, soft on the inside, golden, and yeasty. I made them a little smaller than the recipe recommends, and I ended up with 12 instead of 8. They were the perfect size this way, if you ask me.

For the BBQ chicken, I didn’t have a recipe. I had a bottle of this ridiculously good sauce, and a whole chicken from a farm nearby. It’s not often that we use “condiments”. Usually we make things like BBQ sauce, ketchup, and salad dressing from scratch {to avoid high fructose corn syrup and other gross ingredients that tend to be in condiments.} But this particular BBQ sauce happens to be really tasty, so we break our rule for it.

I cut up the chicken, put it {bones, skin, fat and all} into a dutch oven, and poured almost the whole jar of sauce over it. It cooked on the stovetop on very low heat for about four hours. I started pulling the meat off the bones at that point, removing the bits of skin and bones from the pot and leaving only the juicy, shredded meat. It cooked for about one more hour then, just enough time for me to get the corn and salad prepared.

The buns came out of the oven, the meat went on the buns, extra sauce went on the meat, the corn got a healthy slathering of butter, we tossed a few leafs of chocolate-mint {from our garden} into our water glasses, and the greens were tossed with oil, balsamic vinegar, crushed walnuts, and shredded parmesan cheese. Done! Such an easy dinner. So flavorful, summery, and satisfying.

Vegetables, including leafy greens, actually lose about 80% of their nutritional value after only about a week out of the ground. If we’re eating veggies that are being transported to us from far away, by the time they reach us we’re maybe getting 10-20% of the vitamins and enzymes that veggie had to offer. Just another reason why having a garden is so rewarding and worthwhile!

I tasted the sunshine and rain and life in our greens tonight…they were hugely different, more delicious, than anything we have ever gotten at the store. What a wonderful reward for all our hard work tilling, planting, watering, and weeding.

Summer Solstice

Posted on June 21st, 2011 by Tonia 5 Comments

“Summer afternoon, summer afternoon; to me those have always been the two most beautiful words in the English language.” -Henry James

Happy Summer Solstice!

The longest day of the year. Midsommer, if you’re Swedish. A day to celebrate the gifts of the season…

Food from the ground.

Flowers, butterflies, sunshine.

Dinner on the porch in the warm evening air.

Lilacs that make the whole house smell heavenly.

Tiny apples starting to grow on the trees.

And the BIGGEST FREAKIN’ POPPIES I HAVE EVER SEEN IN MY LIFE growing up by the cottage!

Enjoy it! Because it’s all downhill from here, folks! Winter will be upon us again in no time. How are you spending the solstice?