The Life of a Pepper Farmer

I thought I would share my first experience with growing peppers here in Wisconsin. I remember gardening when I was growing up. My parents had a garden every year, and we kids would help. Now, though, both red and yellow peppers have gotten so expensive in the stores!

Last April I found a great local nursery called Stuarts in Oshkosh. Towards the end of the month, they had their red pepper seedlings in stock. The people there were really helpful, and we bought 4 red pepper plants and some fertilized soil. We wanted to use buckets, so we wouldn’t have to dig up the lawn.

With some thoughts and recommendations from Stuarts, we went to Lowe’s and got 4 big buckets. We drilled holes in the bottom, partly filled them with Styrofoam peanuts (for drainage), and added dirt. What with moving here last year, we had plenty of the peanuts! Next, we put one seedlings in each bucket.

I was out there watering faithfully, starting in the Spring, and moving into the summer. Not much happened. But then, very slowly, they started to grow. One was pretty slow, and we weren’t sure how it would work out. It was fun seeing Mother Nature do her work, and sure enough, the slow one did catch up, as you’ll see in the pictures.

Here are 3 collage’s showing the whole adventure, from the beginning until harvest. If you click on each image you can see how much they grew along the way. We ended up having 12 red peppers, with each plant growing three full-size peppers. It was a lot of fun, and I’m planning on doing it each year. Enjoy!

peppers,garden,landscaping

peppers,garden,landscaping

peppers,garden,landscaping

Hope you enjoyed seeing them. They are delicious and a bit sweeter then the ones you get at the store!

Merry Christmas & Happy New Year ~ 2015

We wanted to take a minute to wish all our friends and followers a Merry Christmas and a wish for a healthy and successful new year. This sure has been a busy and exciting year for us. We celebrated our 10th Anniversary in February, even though it was among a lot of boxes. Seriously: a LOT of boxes! At the beginning of the year, we were packing away towards our April move. Then the move itself was huge, being out-of-state after 25 years in one place.

We wanted to learn a whole new area, and most importantly, to finding all the fishing spots. We love to BBQ, but it was a lot more difficult in Batavia, in the apartment. This year was all about the grilling! We made up for lost time, going all out on the hamburgers, hot dogs, steaks, and Ribs! Oh, and chicken, of course. Oh wait — and the Korean bulgogi, Chinese char siu, and of course, Mexican fajitas.

We needed new drapes, and couldn’t find them. The windows are weird, being around a half a mile wide, and they’re not patio doors. So we needed something around 72 inches. We could find 63 or 84 inches, but at last, J.C. Penney’s came through for us, with 72-inch long drapes.

And let’s not forget the lawnmower we needed, going from an apartment to a half-acre lawn, and the snow blower for the Wisconsin winters. (“Yer gonna want one of them 6 horse blowers, ya know, not one of them little ones. Ya know.”) Then there was registering the vehicles, getting unpacked, buying some other furniture, getting rid of stuff we didn’t need; the list goes on and on.

Because of all this, we decided to start a new tradition: a memory tree at Christmas time. We’d hoped to find some little ornaments that would remind us of things we did, but couldn’t find them. I guess they don’t celebrate Christmas in China, so they don’t make as many unusual ornaments. Solution? We would make our own. As we go along, each ornament will remind us of what we did in a particular year.

Below is our Christmas tree, and a couple of the ornaments. Next post, I’ll show how we did it; it’s pretty easy, and a lot of fun. Not to mention, a lot less expensive than commercial ornaments. Click to enlarge any picture.

christmas tree,holiday,new year,ornamnets

Next is a picture I took at the Outlet Mall in Oshkosh with their holiday decorations

christmas tree, ornaments,holiday,shopping
Here is one of our memory ornaments showing our 10th anniversary.

christmas tree, ornaments,holiday
We found this little house ornament that we love!

christmas tree, ornaments,holiday

Lastly we visited the Oshkosh Celebrations of Lights. It was wonderful!

christmas. lights,holidays
Have a great Christmas and New Year!

Kathy and Craig

Giving Thanks~Thanksgiving Coloring Page~Holidays

Can’t believe that November has rolled in already. All the holidays are coming up but for the two of us it’s more about the time together. We are thankful everyday and not just the one time of year. We have a lot to be thankful this year. We are so glad that we will be able to move next Spring and also thankful for the vacation we were able to take this year. We are at the stage where we are starting to pack things and also get rid of things that we haven’t used in a long time. We are so looking forward to this!

Below is a ship that I thought would be great for kids to color.
thanksgiving ship,coloring

I made it as a PDF file and if you print it in black and white then you can color in the rest. The link is below.
E__Christmas pics_j-thanksgivingship

One thing that we love about the holidays is the food. We tend to like to get Prime Rib for Thanksgiving. Since we don’t have it often it feels like a real treat. Here is a example of one.
prime rib,holiday,thanksgiving dinner

I love this picture of a old-fashioned Thanksgiving in days of old.
thanksgiving,family,holiday

Lastly I wish all my followers and friends a Wonderful Thanksgiving. Enjoy the day and don’t eat too much 🙂
happy thanksgiving,autumn leaves

March Madness and in the Kitchen Pressure is Building

signal flags,spelling,nautical We are barely into March but orders are on the slow side. We tend to pick up in April as the wedding season nears and people order banners for their wedding. One thing that we have found lately is that getting some things that we need for the business is getting challenging. We use Steam-A-Seam on some of our flags. It washes well and lasts for a long time. The company that use to make the paper for them has closed so they are looking for a new supplier. It’s the trickle down effect. Also we use split rings in our vertical banners as seen in this picture We use 16mm rings and those are also getting harder to find. They are trying to carry more of the smaller rings. When we find them we stock up!

signal flag,banner,vertical, nautical,home decor

signal flags,spelling,nautical

IL seems to be coming slowly into Spring this year. We are getting some 40 degree days and so some of the snow is starting to melt. The big thing this month is lots of telephone calls from politicians asking us to vote for them on the 18th of this month in the primary. They promise the world but not holding my breath.

signal flags,spelling,nauticalOur main project lately is going through our tackle boxes and looking at updating with new fishing gear. We need to get some fishing line and we are looking at some lures for the coming season. Normally weather permitting we go out in April sometime and through October. I find it so relaxing and really miss it when Winter is here. In this section in the future will post pics of some of our catches.  Here is one we are looking at from Power Team Lures- Swinging Hammer

signal flags,spelling,nautical,kitchen

In the Kitchen this month I wanted to highlight a new way of cooking for us. Neither one of us have had a lot of experience with Pressure Cooking before this. We experimented with a old pressure cooker and found some of the food to be delicious and extra moist. The other benefit is that it takes a 1/4 of the time to cook. As a example if you have a meat that would normally take an hour it can be done in 15 minutes. One thing you want to make sure of is that you get a Pressure Cooker and not a Pressure Canner. They are really different. We bought a Fagor Rapid Express- 8 qt as shown in the picture below.

fagor, pressure cooker,cooking

It gets really high reviews with good reason. We really love it. Here is a link to Bed, Bath and Beyond where we got ours. We used the 20% coupon we got in the mail for extra savings.

Miss Vickie has a recipe site for Pressure Cookers- http://missvickie.com/

Lastly the Fagor site has this recipe that we have tried and so delicious- Baby Back Ribs

Since we don’t like hot or spicy back ribs, This recipe makes its own sweet and sour sauce. On the page, it says “Beef” spareribs. In the cookbook it refers to “Lean spareribs.”. Since I’ve never heard of sweet and sour Beef ribs we automatically used pork. Recipe Link

That’s all for this month and visit us at IB Designs, USA

February – It’s Freezing Outside but Warm in the Kitchen!

signal flags,spelling,nautical

 

 

Not a whole lot new this February as it tends to be a slow time for us. We are getting some orders but generally slow. One thing that is relatively new is a few months ago we opened a merchant account and now except both Visa and MasterCard. When we first started back in 2005 we used PayPal and then Google Checkout for quite awhile. We are pleased how well this is working.

signal flags,spelling,nautical

Life in IL has sure been cold this year. We haven’t even hit 32 F for the last few weeks. The majority of our temps have been below zero during the night and highs in the teens during the day. We have also got quite a bit of snow as seen in the picture below. This was actually about a month ago and the piles are higher now.

snow,cold

signal flags,spelling,nautical

 

 

One project that worked out well is our Proofing Box that Craig made. With the cold temps that we have had and trying to make bread it’s been a challenge. This solves a lot of problems. Based on this article we created our own version. We searched and found a bin that was big enough that it would hold both the bucket that I use and also half sheets for when we rise bread. We bought at Menard’s a Programmable Thermostat the Win 100 made by Lux. We are seeing that we really don’t need all the different days since we are using it for bread. It is accurate and lets you know what the temp is inside the box. Also has a plug in as you can see in the pic. We are using a 40 watt bulb. We bought at Ace Hardware the housing for the light bulb socket. Below is a montage of what it looks like. It sure is helping!

bread, proofing box,diy

signal flags,spelling,nautical,kitchen

In the kitchen we have found a really great recipe for Yeast Doughnuts from Alton Brown.  They are delicious. Since it’s just the 2 of us after the first rise we cut out the doughnuts and then freeze all but a couple of them which we fry. What we have found that works well is if you know you want doughnuts the next day take a couple out of the freezer and put them in the fridge. A few hours before you want to fry them put them on a plate on the counter to bring to room temperture. They really puff up when you put them in the oil. Sorry no pics since we ate them 🙂

That’s all for this month and visit us at IB Designs, USA

Happy Thanksgiving ~ 2013 & Recipe

This year has sure gone by fast. Hard to believe that Thanksgiving is only a week away. It is also a good time to reflect. I am thankful to all our customers and those that have followed my blog. I really appreciate it. Happy Thanksgiving from our home to yours from IB Designs, USA

thanksgiving,signal flags,nautical,navy

This is one of my favorite recipe and the taste is delicious.

Cranberry Walnut Relish

1 lb fresh cranberries
2 c sugar
1 c chopped English walnuts
1 c orange marmalade
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbs)
I also added one 11 oz can of mandarin oranges, chopped

Wash and drain cranberries. Mix with sugar. Place in a shallow baking pan(I used a Pyrex 9 x 13). Cover with foil. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Toast walnuts for 12 min. Add marmalade and juice to cranberry mixture. Add chopped oranges. Stir in nuts. Place in container. Chill before serving.

cranberry relish,thanksgiving,holidaycranberry relish,thanksgiving,holiday

It’s a Candy Cane Christmas & Holiday Recipes

elves,sewing,holiday, orders,signal flags

We have been busy little elves and working on lots of orders during this busy time. While we work we enjoy listening to music and listened quite a bit to internet radio. No matter what station we put on it seemed they kept playing the same songs and the same people. We then decided to use Media Player and put our whole collection on there especially the Christmas songs. We have been listening to song that we loved back in the 60’s,70’s….etc.

One CD is called Homemade Christmas and has some really funny songs. Yingle Bells, Santa got caught in the Chimney and Candy Cane Christmas. Really glad that we can create our own playlist while we are working away and lets us listen to a variety of artists and listening to songs that we haven’t heard in awhile.
candy canes,recipe,family,homemade,christmas

Although I haven’t made this I thought I would post a picture of Homemade Candy Canes that you can make. Just click on the link for the recipe. It would be a great project for the whole family to enjoy.

chocolate peanut butter balls,candy,holidays,treats

Another recipe that I have made and tastes delicious is Peanut Butter Balls. If you love Reese’s this recipe is for you.

Chocolate-Covered Peanut Butter Balls

Ingredients:

1 (1 lb) box powdered sugar
1 (16 oz) jar creamy peanut butter
1 stick butter, melted
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 (13 oz each) bags of chocolate chips

Cooking Steps:

1.    Mix the powdered sugar, butter, vanilla extract and peanut butter together until creamy (try not to taste too much along the way).

2.    Melt both bags of chocolate chips in microwave.

3.    Roll mix into small (or large) balls.

4.    Dip the balls into the melted chocolate and place on a cookie sheet.

5.    Put cookie sheet in freezer for about 1 hour,

6.    After the chocolate balls harden, put them, in the fridge until served. Enjoy!!

cranberry walnut recipe,holiday cooking,cranberries

Last recipe is Cranberry Walnut Relish. This is delicious.

Cranberry Walnut Relish

1 lb fresh cranberries
2 c sugar
1 c chopped English walnuts
1 c orange marmalade
Juice of 1 lemon (about 3 Tbs)
I also added one 11 oz can of mandarin oranges, chopped

Wash and drain cranberries. Mix with sugar. Place in a shallow baking pan (I used a Pyrex 9 x 13). Cover with foil. Cook at 350 degrees for 1 hour. Toast walnuts for 12 min. Add marmalade and juice to cranberry mixture. Add chopped oranges. Stir in nuts. Place in container. Chill before serving.

Below is one of our vertical signal flag banner that spells JOY! Wishing you Joy this Christmas season. IB Designs, USA

signal flag banner, joy,christmas,holiday,vertical banner