Tuesday, April 26, 2016

Easy rock wall transforms front yard for pennies

Last year after we remodeled the house we now live in, the yard was in just as big of a mess as the interior of the house.

 After going over budget on the house, I knew I needed to keep the landscaping costs to a minimum. There were already several trees and shrubs in the front yard, but they were raised higher than the future lawn. I needed some sort of retaining wall, plus I wanted to set them apart with a border. I came up with a stone wall using left over hand-sized rocks that I found around the yard.
I simply tetrised the stones in rows on top of each other creating a functional border between my lawn and the shrubs. And I had lots of fun doing it.

This spring my last-year's work paid off and I love to look at this corner of my yard.

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Creative Way to Carry Compost

This week's post will be a little different in that I'm not posting about someTHING I've created, rather it's a creative way to do something to make it easier.

In the back yard of the house we gutted and totally renovated last year, we have a large garden space at the bottom of a hill that leads to a stream and wooded area below. The soil is very heavy clay and I knew I needed to add A LOT of compost before I planted anything this year. Problem was, the hill is too steep for our pick up truck--among other concerns about using it to haul compost to the garden. We tried one trip with the wheel barrow, but it was hard to control the load down the steep hill. (It is much steeper than it looks). And to push the empty wheel barrow back up was even harder. So I had an idea.

We shoveled compost from the truck onto a tarp and then pulled the tarp down the hill. Gravity helped in this case rather than hindered.

Then we just pulled the tarp over like we were folding a piece of bread for half a sandwich and it deposited the compost in neat little piles in my garden.

Dragging the empty tarp back up the hill was a breeze.

Tuesday, April 12, 2016

Cream of Asparagus Soup--new recipe from my kitchen just in time for Asparagus Season

This time of year one of my favorite vegetables finally becomes affordable: Asparagus. My daughter loves cream of Asparagus soup, but I've found all of the recipes are too heavy on the cream, thus calories. My husband, on the other hand, doesn't care for cream of asparagus soup because it "only has two ingredients, cream and asparagus." So this year I came up with my own tasty version of the soup to appease both of the picky eaters at my house. The addition of shrimp gives it a feel and taste of a lobster bisque.

Easy, Lite, Cream of Asparagus and Shrimp Soup

1 medium onion, finely chopped (aprox. 1 cup)
2 tablespoons olive oil

Saute together for 5 min, or until the onions start to caramelize then add:

2 tablespoons butter 
3 tablespoons flour
2 tablespoons grated carrot
2 tablespoons finely chopped sweet red pepper

Cook together for one minute then add:

4 teaspoons chicken boulion paste
2 cups of water

Mix and cook together until mixture thickens, then add:

3 cups 2% milk
2 cups chopped asparagus
1 teaspoon coriander
black pepper to taste.

Bring to a boil, stirring occasionally, then add:

1 cup diced raw shrimp (about 8-9 jumbo) 

Continue to cook for about one or two minutes, or until shrimp barely turns pink.

Ladle into bowls and sprinkle with cayenne pepper.
(For a thicker soup, increase butter and flour by 1 more tablespoon each)

Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Existence, A Book About a Boy's Search For God

Existence now available

To continue with my re-dedication to my blog and my new found interest in Pinterest, I'm showcasing my latest book, Existence. It is a YA teen novel that I self-published a few years ago under the title, The Big Debate, but has been picked up by Trifecta Books, along with two more books in the Quantum Faith Effect series that will come out later this year. The three book series is about a young boy in his search for God as he tries to find his place in a new school. It is intertwined with history, mystery, and a splash of teen romance. Existence is now available as an E-book on Amazon, and on April 15 will be available in print,

What if a book really could take you into another world? 

A strange girl … 
A creepy teacher … 
A cool invention … 
And the hardest question anyone has ever been asked. 

Josh Sawyer’s big mouth usually gets him in trouble, but when his high school debate coach challenges him to prove the existence of God, Josh uses the things he learns at the feet of such amazing people as Joan of Arc, William Tyndale, and George Washington to prove his point . . . and ultimately to solve a murder. 

Book Review from the original release (I was unable to contact this reviewer to see if they would be willing to repost their review for the revised version):

I have to say that this story is a bit off the normal for me. Even with that I enjoyed the story. I have to say that I was not expecting the religious aspect of this book, that was a big surprise to me.

Josh is a loud mouth! Obnoxious would be one word people would use to describe him. Precocious would be another. I prefer the later. I enjoyed the historical aspect of the book. Reading about Joan of Arc and George Washington to name just a few made the book that much more enjoyable in my mind.

This is a mystery of sorts. Josh needs to discover the truth behind the murder. I have to say I really enjoyed the characters in this book. And the "strange girl" I loved her! The book does drag at a few points but I think that all in all the book was well written and it did keep me turning the pages to find out what happens next.

I would recommend this book to anyone who likes a fun mystery. I give this book 4.5 stars for the storyline and character creation.

Monday, April 4, 2016

Pinterest has my Interest

Over the past year or so I have created a multitude of projects. I've had so much fun creating them. Then I stumbled onto Pinterest, signing up without realizing that I had. All of a sudden I had some followers. So I've decided to do something about it, especially since the name of my blog is Frankly Creative. Over the next few months I plan on posting my most favorite projects and then connecting them to Pinterest. These creative projects range anywhere from novels, to stonework, to upholstery. Hopefully, someone might be inspired by them and desire to make a similar creation for themselves.

To start out my pinning I'll share one of my favorite things to make for breakfast.

Homemade Whole Wheat Waffles with Homemade Honey Vanilla Yogurt

 Here is a repost from an earlier entry in my blog on how to make the yogurt. Enjoy

Earlier this month I made 6 gallons of my honey vanilla yogurt for a dear friend, Ilona Hunsaker--actually it was for her son's wedding open house she had in her gorgeous back yard. She served make-your-own yogurt parfaits. They were a big hit and many of those attending asked her for the recipe for the yogurt. \

I'm posting it here on my blog because I thought it would be the easiest way for me to share it with them. (Also because I have posted these instructions before and I just had to go into my archives and retrieve them. I found that I have changed the recipe a bit since I first posted this, so I have updated them for this post).

It's healthy, tasty, and easy. You just need a candy thermometer, a good sauce pan, an oven that can maintain a temperature of 100 degrees, and the following ingredients:

8 cups of fresh milk
2/3 cup powdered milk
2 tablespoon cornstarch
2 teaspoon unflavored gelatin (1/2 envelope)
2 scant teaspoon instant pectin

Mix together in a heavy sauce pan with a wire whisk.
Turn the burner to low-medium low and let the milk slowly rise in temperature up to 170 degrees, but DO NOT let the milk come to a boil. Stir occasionally to prevent a film sticking to the bottom of the pan.

When the milk mixture reaches 170, remove from heat and stir in:
3/4 to 1 cup honey
1 teaspoon vanilla

When the mixture reaches a temperature between 112 and 108, add:
1/2 cup of yogurt starter. (Use plain or vanilla. You can reserve a 1/2 cup from your previous batch of yogurt).

Mix well with wire whisk. Strain and pour into containers. I like to use Pyrex bowls that come with lids, but I have found that used yogurt containers work, as long as they have snap on lids.

Put the lids on the containers and place in a pre-heated 100 degree oven for 8 to 10 hours. Turn off the heat and let remain in the oven for another 1 to 6 hours, depending on how strong you want the yogurt flavor.

Refrigerate and enjoy.