Monthly Archives: June 2014

Pepper is in the Air ‘Round Here

DIY pepper flakes

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I’m trying to recreate a gift. A friend of my husband’s is an avid pepper aficionado. He grows lots of varieties of peppers from seeds, cross pollinates them, saves seeds, and shares the bounty from his garden. In addition to fresh peppers, last year he gave us a spice shaker full of dehydrated pepper flakes and seeds. It was so good! All through the winter, it was a great addition to chilis, stews, and sauces.

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This year, we’re growing 8 pepper plants of our own in our backyard cedar raised vegetable boxes that we built last year. Our pepper plants are thriving! Yay! (We have red MexiBells, yellow cayenne, jumbo jalapeΓ±o, Serrano, banana peppers, and cowhorn peppers this year.)

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We’ve had short splashes of rain everyday this week, at just the right times, my garden thinks. Just yesterday, the kids spent time in our backyard playing, swinging on the tire, flipping on the monkey bars, jumping on the trampoline in the upper part of the yard out in the hot, humidity all afternoon. The air was so thick, you could almost cut it with a knife. Then, right as they came inside for dinner, we had a wonderful hour long downpour, ending about an hour before sunset. This left us the perfect window of time to pull a few weeds and harvest a basket of tomatoes, peppers, and yellow squash.

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I just LOVE that my middle daughter Abigail wanted to come out there to work in the garden with me, too!

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In addition to eating fresh peppers, using peppers for cooking, and freezing peppers, we’re having such a bumper crop of peppers, we decided to try making our own dehydrated pepper spice, like the one gifted to us last year! This is my first time attempting this project! We’re six hours into dehydrating right now (it takes 2-3 days), and our whole house is filled with the scent of peppers from the dehydrator! It’s not so intense that it burns eyes or noses or anything, but there’s definitely a noticeable pepperiness wafting throughout the house. (pepperiness? Peppery-ness? Idk. You understand… πŸ™‚ )

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The white platter is holding the peppers I’ve picked from our garden the last three days. I also purchased a few little orange colored habenero peppers from the grocery store to make our blend have extra heat for our winter chili! Love.

So far, we’ve simply cut the peppers in half lengthwise and placed in the dehydrator (skin side down.)

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It takes 2-3 days for the peppers to dehydrate fully in the dehydrator we’re using. Then we’ll crush/grind them and store them in a pretty little stainless and glass container! I’ll update/edit THIS post in 2-3 days with our results.

Until then, we’ll be here, at home, totally enveloped in the aroma of fresh peppers being dehydrated!

UPDATE!:

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Our dehydration of my garden peppers into pepper flake shaker form is a success!!! YAY!!
The peppers dehydrated for two days, then I put them into my blender. I then just used a funnel to pour them into their new container! It’s a glass and stainless container that is about the same size as a soda can! I’m soooooo pleased with the results! It has intense, fresh garden pepper flavor plus LOTS of heat! (Two trays of fresh peppers yielded my soda size shaker about 2/3 full.)

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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DIY pepper flakes

PS
Love linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
NibblesByNic ~ Wonderfully Creative Wednesdays
AnOregonCottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursdays
ADelightsomeLife ~ Home Garden Thursday
MizHelensCountryCottage ~ Full Plate Thursday
EverydayEnchanting ~ Inspiration Link Party
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin it Thursday
RattleBridgeFarms ~ Foodie Friday
my1929charmer ~ Sunday’s Best #63 ParTay

These Summer Days

I’m okay with going to bed at 8 pm. Really. I deserve it. I earn it. I’m late right now. It’ll be 9, tonight.
My days start early, are busy, and include at least one long stint of being out in hot (90*+ F) afternoon sun everyday this week.
I start by watering the veggies and roses at 5:30. Shower, start waking the 3 girls, making breakfast, fixing hair, etc.
Then, I deliver my oldest to Rock Band Camp about 45 minutes away from our house. She’s learning to play her electric guitar. Loving it!
We lunch.
Then, my middle daughter has swim and dive practice about 25 minutes away from the house. Really, y’all, I’m a taxi/shuttle service all day, all over town. She’s thriving. She’s worth the commute.
We dinner.
They settle down with books, computers, etc. I photograph my garden or update my blog or …
Btw, I haven’t forgotten to post the changes I’m making to my little sidekick’s room. Baby V. Lil’ Miss Veronica Lily, now 3.5 years old, is my constant companion. Maybe next week I’ll have time to finish sewing her bunting that we’re hanging on the ceiling with twinkle lights in her room.
Oh, and a quilt. Between activities, my oldest daughters and I are sewing a quilt. We started it last summer. It’s a lot of work. A lot of sewing. We hope to finish it THIS summer.
So, anyway, here are a few photos from this week: (yes, our girls all sure look alike! But, these are photos of three different girls, not a time lapse photo series.)

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And, on Sunday we got to hang out with my Dad and Tammy, aka Pop and Grammy. Here they are pictured with our oldest two girls at Mellow Mushroom, a pizza joint near here. Aren’t they the best looking grandparents EVER? Love them! πŸ™‚

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More blog later!
How are you spending your summer days this year?

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

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Rosemary Water

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Surrounding myself with a favorite scent, such as Rosemary, that brings back fond memories is an excellent way to make myself feel clarity, well, at peace, and carefree.

I heart Rosemary. A Lot. I heart Rosemary so much, in fact, I have planted and been raising quite a hedge of Rosemary about 15′ long along the path to our front door.

We always seem to have sprigs of Rosemary laying about in the kitchen. Every week or so, I just cut more sprigs to keep the scent in the kitchen, and as I pass by them, I run my fingertips across the Rosemary to carry the scent with me as I go.

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(Photo of book, Aromatic Herbs, by Jill Norman. Click on it to enlarge.)

When I read, I’m known to keep a sprig nearby to use as a bookmark. When I take a break from reading to tend a few chores, I’m greeted with a wonderfully invigoratingly fresh scent as I reopen my book. For me, it’s such a fresh, welcoming scent.

On that note, I thought it might also be nice make a bit of Rosemary Water for ironing . . . and freshening up linens . . . and so forth. So, let’s do that, shall we? We shall!

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I’m using distilled water, Mountain Valley Spring Water from Hot Springs, Arkansas, specifically, of course, since I’m an Arkansas girl. πŸ™‚ I’m also using Rosemary essential oil.

The cost: less than $5.00
The time: less than 2 minutes to “make” this
Directions: just add 5 drops essential oil to every 5 oz of water. Easy! Then, spritz with joy!

Note:
While fresh rosemary sprigs are beautiful in the water, they are organic and will make the water cloudy pretty quickly, so do I did it for myself only because I’m anticipating that I’ll use it all pretty quickly! Otherwise, the distilled water and essential oil lasts longer without becoming cloudy if the fresh Rosemary is omitted.

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Take care to see which things are spritz-able (is that a word?) . . . able to be spritzed . . . and those which are not.

I’m spritz-ing the lining (backside) of my draperies, under couch cushions, all around the middle of the room as I twirl singing a little too loudly, and then race out to my car and mist all around the carpet floor mats, and . . . Oh, yeah, I’m supposed to save some to spritz the ironing! (I spray the inside of garments, then iron the right side. It makes ironing a pleasure!) Then, I also spritz . . . πŸ™‚ Well, I just spritz and spritz . . . πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚

I heart Rosemary and its scent so much. You’ve seen (read) me talk about it before as I use rosemary branches as skewers for chicken, too, yes? and I have a whole board dedicated to Rosemary on Pinterest that perhaps you’ve seen?

My next feat may be to try making a Rosemary jelly! It sounds so lovely to me! (Recipe is in book, Medicinal Herbs, by Patricia Turcotte.)

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Or, I may try extracting my own Rosemary essential oil. I found instructions on eHow.

Or, as an alternative to making Rosemary water in the method described above, I may try boiling it somehow and straining it to create Rosemary Water for my laundry. We’ll see. I’ll be here, just happily playing amongst my rosemary. πŸ™‚

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
It’s raining heavily here, tonight, which makes this spray extra lovely. It seems to just linger in the humid air. Love.

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PPS
Love linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
FromMyFrontPorchToYours ~ Treasure Hunt Thursdays
ADelightsomeLife ~ Home Garden Thursday
MyRepurposedLife ~ Catch as Catch Can
my1929charmer ~ Sunday’s Best #63 ParTay

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A Story of Roses in Whiskey Barrels

We have exactly 5 rose bushes, all of which are growing in retired whiskey barrel halves.

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My Great, Great Aunt Ruby had the sweetest smelling climbing miniature roses growing beside her carport. It’s been 30 years since I remember seeing them, and they’re probably long gone, but when I close my eyes and think back, I can still smell them, like a faint vanilla with a lot of sweet apricot. Whenever I went with my Gram to visit her, they would sit in the house and talk, and I would check out the roses. My Great, Great Aunt Ruby passed away when I was elementary aged, but I remember three things well about her: her spectacular miniature roses, her long, brightly painted fingernails, and trying a piece of rum cake at her house that I was far too young to appreciate. “Yuck, rum?!” Fond memories of mine are these, even the rum cake. Love.

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My mother in law, Betty, loved her roses and grew several varieties. Sort of. She didn’t follow any sort of those rose pruning rules, feeding or watering schedule, or any such thing. She just planted a rose bush from time to time throughout the years, and if any of them grew a flower, my father in law would cut them and put them in a cup of water on the kitchen table. Upon entering the house during summer months, she never missed a beat, consistently saying two things to every guest, “Do you want a glass of tea? I have Cokes, too! … and … Did you see the roses Bobby picked for me? Aren’t they pretty! Come see!” She passed away a few years ago, and Bobby moved away soon after, so one cold Spring morning a few years ago, Mitch dug up 4 of his mother’s rose bushes and moved them here to our house. Unfortunately, with our house being on top of a hill, sitting in the shadow of Shinall Mountain, our yard is steep, and all rock below the layer of zoysia grass, we couldn’t plant them directly in the ground very well. Needing a solution for how to plant them, we bought retired Jack Daniel brand Whiskey barrel halves at Home Depot to use as planters for the roses!

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The roses had been thriving in their whiskey barrel pots, except for one. It had beautiful foliage for the last three years, but never bloomed. Then, this year… WOW! It suddenly decided to put on quite a show! See the roses from Betty are a miniature pink one that reminds me of Great, Great Aunt Ruby’s, a yellow one, a carnival one that changes from yellow to an orangish-pink, and the fourth was a mystery. Well, mystery solved. It’s a gorgeous deep dark pink that borders on being red. It’s magnificent!

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We have four rose bushes that were Betty’s and a fifth one, a pretty pink florabunda, that Abigail asked to buy at Home Depot, all growing in these beautiful, strong whiskey barrel halves. Abigail loves roses as much or more than I do. Her middle name is Rose. (All three of my girls have flower middle names. Caroline Daisy, named Caroline in honor of my Gram, Abigail Rose, and Veronica Lily.)

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Usually, we just let them live their bloom cycle in the yard and try to take the time to remove spent blooms occasionally. Today, is a new day, though. I think I’m going to start cutting the roses and enjoying the blooms indoors more frequently. Perhaps we’ll let them dry and make pretty rose garlands! We’ll see. Regardless, I can hardly wait for my husband Mitch to come home and see them sitting on the table, again. Love.

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Do you grow roses? Do you have any special rose memories or rose stories? Are there rose books you recommend for us? Please, share in comments!

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Love Linking! Check out the blog parties:
HowSweetTheSound ~ Pink Saturday
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
AnOregonCottage ~ Tuesday Garden Party
ElizabethAndCo ~ July Garden Party

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Uh, oh! Police got me!

Haha!! Keep reading. Y’all know I love buying and growing Bonnie Plants. I’ve told you before in my Kitchen Herbs and QRcodes post last year, that I am so pleased with the Bonnie plants I buy every year! Basil, peppers, tomatoes, squash, cucumbers, and more. Every year! But did you know that Bonnie Plants is a lot of fun on social media too? They are! I highly suggest following them! There are always lots of great photos, tips, and great projects, too!

Here’s what happened, today:
I posted on Instagram. I usually tag @BonniePlants in my vegetable posts, since my plants are all Bonnie, so they’re pretty used to seeing me and my antics on IG. Well, today, I was having a little fun with an iPhone photo editting app called “Halftone” that allows users to create photos that look like comic strips and BonniePlants caught me slipping from my morning duties! So fun! If I lived in Alabama where they’re headquartered, I’d totally apply for employment with Bonnie. It seems like such a fun group, plus they get to be around all the wonderful plants! Yumm! Love it!

So here are my Halftone comic photos and last is the screenshot of Instagram with @BonniePlants:

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See, BUSTED! Police got me! Hahahahaaaa!
If I go to veggie jail, I’ll just make a salad and be happy to stay!
Love it!

Your Friend and a total Bonnie Plants fan,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
Go follow Bonnie Plants on social media! Love.
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Ornament Window Valance

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When a window needs to be dressed, it doesn’t have to be fabric, right? Right! . . .and, when you enjoy sparkly, metallic ornaments, you shouldn’t reserve them exclusively for Christmas trees for only a few weeks a year, true? True!

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You and I are on the same page. We think hanging a bunch of sparkly ornaments on a curtain rod as a valance in a guest powder is a perfectly dandy form of window treatment! Yes, yes we do!

Which sort of ornaments did I choose for said valance? Well, the most fun and sparkliest ones, of course! Roses, glitter coated birds, bird cages, golden sweet pea pods with pearls of peas, crystal diamonds, and more!

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I’ll refrain from showing you photos of my porcelain sink, manufactured marble shower, and toilet in this little powder room, because well, it’s just a bathroom. However, I WILL show you the gilded mirrors on the wall above a lovely pitcher and houseplants and part of my rock and crystal collection and…

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Speaking of houseplants, I just love them so much! I have to have at least one in every room, multiples in many rooms, and even artificial ones for high shelves where watering would be difficult.

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Do you keep many houseplants? I worry that I may have a few too many at times, particularly when I find myself keeping them in large stainless pots in the kitchen that would otherwise be used to boil a chicken! Haha! With temps consistently over 90*F this time of year, who wants to heat up the kitchen by boiling a whole chicken anyway?! πŸ™‚

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Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

Love Linking! Check out the parties:
http://shabbynest.blogspot.com/2014/06/frugal-friday_19.html
ArkansasWomenBloggers ~ Sunday Link Up
SavvySouthernStyle ~ Wow Us Wednesday
EverydayEnchanting ~ Inspiration Link Party
SweetBellaRoos ~ Pin it Thursday
MyRepurposedLife ~ Catch as Catch Can
FunkyJunkInteriors ~ PJ #246

Garden + PicBlender

Here we are in my Garden.

Along the path to the front door, you’re greeted not once, but twice by statuary before reaching the door.

Saint Francis of Assisi gazes into the distance across the Rosemary as you pass.

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As you continue past the wooly lambs ears growing under the white crape myrtle, a dry creek of stones between the green box woods and junipers leads the eyes toward my maiden with her water vessel awaiting visits from songbirds.

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Welcome!

Your Friend,
Amber Hamilton Henson

If you’re curious about the behind-the-scenes creation of the water maiden statuary photo, here is a quick peek at how my finished photo was constructed:

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PPS
Love Linking to a few blog parties! Check ’em out:
Creative Country Mom ~ Home Sweet Garden Tuesdays
HowSweetTheSound ~ Pink Saturday

Fathers Day and Dollhouses and Smiles and

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Weeee!

Tomorrow is Fathers Day, and I won’t get to see my Dad tomorrow, but hopefully next weekend I’ll get to see him! I’m looking forward to it! I wish I got to see him more. Life is busy though with my 3 girls and their activities, and Dad is busy with work everyday and … you know, time just passes so quickly and before you know it, months have passed. Anyway, in honor of Father’s Day, here are a few of my favorite photos of me with my Dad when I was little! Isn’t he so handsome?! Still is!

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In other news, my youngest and I found a little treasure at an estate sale, today! I love visiting moving sales, estate sales, etc. You just never know what treasure you may find! I mainly buy glassware, but occasionally I find some sort of neat handmade trinket. That is what happened today!

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At home, we adore Dollhouses. They’re quite time consuming to build though! Whew! Trust me, I’m on my third dollhouse for my third daughter. I know!

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But, today, we found this tiny little golden-ish house that secretly doubles as a storage box and just had to buy it! Baby Veronica, 3, is thrilled with it! Clearly, it is hand constructed of natural materials. It is just too cute! We only paid $2, but I swear I think you could add a zero to that amount and then double it, and it would’ve still been a good deal. It’s just so cute! Did I already say that? That it’s cute? Well, it is!

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It has about enough room to store a pack of playing cards inside of it. I wonder what treasures she’ll store in it in throughout the years… rocks from the playground? Stamps from birthday cards received in the mail? A favorite bracelet? Ticket stubs from events she’ll attend? (An iPhone? Haha!! It fits just right!) Don’t you just adore little places to put little treasures? I do! She does, too! She’s always moving her littlest toys and costume jewelry from one box or bag to the next.

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We’re in the middle of several fun projects around here, but we don’t have them finished quite yet to show the world a finished product or write a tutorial, so until we do, I’ll just post treasures we find or garden photos or … K? K. And, a big “Happy Fathers Day” to my husband, Mitch, father of our three girls, who makes these projects possible. Love. πŸ™‚

Your Friend,
~Amber Hamilton Henson

PS
My dad is the BEST:
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This blog post is linking:
Arkansas Women Bloggers ~ Sunday Link Up

One Rose, Many Edits

I may have mentioned to you that I enjoy using iPhone photo editting apps a time or two AND that I enjoy photographing my little garden. On that note, here is one rose edited several ways. I like them all, but the last is my favorite. There is just something about GLITCH… πŸ™‚ ~Amber

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