Double Decker French Toast

Needing an easy breakfast that tastes amazing? You've got to try this! It's super easy to make, and absolutely delicious. You can match it with your favorite jam or jelly or just cream cheese.


Ingredients:

Cream Cheese
Jam or Jelly of your choice
2 slices of bread
2 eggs beaten
Splash of cream
10 drops liquid stevia 


Directions:

Heat pan over medium heat, beat eggs in a plate or bowl big enough to dip the bread into, add the cream, and stevia beat until combined. Once the pan is hot dip bread into the egg mixture and place it into the pan. Cook until golden on both sides. Spread cream cheese over one piece of french toast, top that lightly with jam or jelly, place the second piece of french toast on top. Swipe a bit more cream cheese on top and a dab of jam. 

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Plow & Hearth's Wicker Swing Review + Giveaway

Spring has come early here in Tennessee so we have spent the last few weeks getting the yard in shape, we've been mulching, planting and sprouting seeds like crazy but it is all worth it! The yard is looking amazing and will burst into full bloom any day now. In the meantime, we are pulling our furniture back out into the yard to create some cozy seating areas. This is one of my favorite projects, it's so fun to make each section of the garden inviting and ready to entertain in. From our patio with the big cowboy grill and butterfly benches to our deck with its comfortable dining area each section has, it's own purpose and style. 



Plow and Hearth helped us get this area of the yard ready to hang out with friends on sunny afternoons or on lazy mornings when the chores are done. We were so excited to get this beautiful resin wicker swing in the mail the other day! Of course, it arrived on the one day it rained this week and the UPS driver left it in the driveway so after a quick move to the porch we were able to unbox it [watch it here]. It was super easy to assemble, we just pulled it out of the box attached the chains and hooked it up. 




We wanted this area to have that sweet southern lazy summer feel so we added some galvanized buckets filled with flowers and white roses.


This swing is so comfortable even without a cushion (we plan on adding one soon!) and goes perfectly with the rest of our wicker furniture. I love the way it looks in our yard.



We absolutely love this swing, it's what our yard has always needed and this is the perfect fit. We couldn't be happier with this product, it's really well made, looks great and super easy to clean the leaves and cedar needles off of.




We are so excited to team up with Plow & Hearth to giveaway a $250 gift card so you can bring some of these cozy looks and refresh your own yard! Enter Here!


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How To Thin Peaches

It's funny as the year begins and we edge toward warmer weather it easy to get everything done in the orchard and garden but as we hit the end of April and beginning of May (at least here in Tennessee) it seems like EVERYTHING requires something done to it, and it all has to be done at the same time. It's exhausting but so fulfilling! Somewhere between mulching, pulling weeds, repairing raised beds, making more raised beds, planting seeds, spraying trees so they don't develop fungus and bugs don't descend on the fruit, tending to roses, transplanting into the garden, cleaning coops, supervising ducklings swims -the cutest job EVER you can watch HERE- and a thousand other things we finally got around to thining peaches, I know it goes against everything in you to pluck those baby peaches off the tree after all of the work you put in.


Our peach trees are covered in fruit this year and they look fabulous! In fact, it's the best they have ever looked, we took a lot of time to prune, fertilize and spray our trees with liquid copper, organic natural dormant sprays and organic natural fungicides and insecticides the last two years (we'll be writing about that and sharing our recipes and spray lineup soon) and we are seeing the fruit -pun intended- of our labor.


Why Thin Peaches?


Peaches like most stone fruit have a habit of producing more fruit than it can keep up with, which will make the fruit stay small and damage the health of the tree it takes a year or more for the tree to recover (some don't ever). When you thin out the fruit it keeps the tree from being overwhelmed and helps balance out the fertility of the trees for yearly harvests. It also keeps the branches from breaking under the weight of the fruit. It also helps to keep the flesh of the fruit looking healthy, it gives them more access to sunshine and allows them to dry faster.


When To Thin Peaches

Most fruit trees thin themselves to some degree on their own, but almost all stone fruit including nectarines and peaches will need to be thinned. Generally, plan on thining your trees one month after your trees are in full bloom or when your fruit is between 3/4" and 1" in size. If you live in warmer climates like we do this could be as early as April but if you live up in Northern states it will be as late as June. You don't want to do it when the fruit is too small because it can cause split pit in mature fruit. But if you wait until the fruit is bigger then 1" the tree's resources have already been taxed by the extra load.


How To Thin Peaches

Experts sources suggest that you thin fruit to a minimum of  3"-8" between fruit, we went with 5" for ours because they are covered in fruit. We also went ahead and removed any from the crook of branches that would likely break the branch. We thin our fruit by hand with the help of a ladder, simply measuring by palm length between fruit, and then pinch the stem of the fruit we wish to remove with our thumb (you can also gently twist them). If you find clumps of fruit go with the biggest, and remove any that are damaged or show signs of bugs. Favor the ones toward the trunk opposed to the tip of the branch where it is more likely to break off.  Another quicker but much less accurate way to do this would be striking the branch with a stick to knock fruit off.


Snag your free copy of our book Back To Our Roots filled with tips, advice, on gardening and raising animals and wholesome recipes HERE.

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How To Make Wild Violet Syrup

Our violets have bloomed in all of their purple-blue glory! I love watching them wash over the orchard, it's so beautiful. We've spent hours picking them lately for syrups, bread and to be dried into tea. We wanted to share one of our favorite violet recipes in case you have a bunch that you don't know what to do with. 

Make sure you know what wild violets look like and don't confuse them with African violets, the ones that are safe to eat have heart-shaped jagged leaves and purple flowers although they can come in many shades and even white. They grow in zones 3-9 in shady places. Wild Violets are full of vitamin A & C (they contain more vitamin C by weight than oranges) and other vitamins and minerals. 


Violets can be made into jelly, syrup, tea, violet vinegar, candied flowers, you can even freeze them in ice cubes to jazz up your drink.

What you will need:

Quart canning jar
Measuring cup
Lids
Fine strainer
Small Pan
Wisk
Lemon Juice
Wild Violets

Recipe:

1 cup of wild violets
2 cups of boiling water
1 cup white sugar
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Step 1: 

Pick the violets, remove stems, leaves and as much of the greens as you can. Wash them gently and let them dry.


Step 2:

Fill canning jar with 1 cup of flowers, meanwhile, boil water. Pour water over flowers, you will begin to see the color bleed into the water.


Step 3:

Cover the jars and allow to steep for 24 hours.



Step 4:

Strain the contents through a fine strainer, into a bowl or large measuring cup. You can discard flowers, you can throw them away or simply compost them like we do. 


Step 5: 

Add lemon juice to the strained liquid, a drop or to at a time.


Step 6:

Place liquid in a pan and add sugar, bring to a boil, whisk until sugar dissolves. Remove from heat and pour into a clean sterilized jar with a lid. Store in refrigerator.



Watch the video we made of the whole process


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Parasitic Relationships

As we roll into Joshua 9 we find the Israelites in an encounter with travelers supposedly from a distant land begging for friendship. As we continue to read we discover the truth is these travelers are really from a neighboring city, but they've put together this grand ruse of packing dry moldy bread and putting on worn out clothes so it looks like they've been traveling a long way when in reality they are the neighbors. Scripture tells us that the Israelites sampled their supplies but didn't seek the Lord's will, and instead of seeing these travelers for what they are, they are taken in. They had all the right answers, they knew the right phrases to earn their trust and so the Israelites swear a treaty with them despite the fact the Lord told them to drive all the people in the land of Canaan out.


As we look back on chapter 8 the Israelites have just won a major victory, the chapter ended with Joshua holding his javelin out, and the victory is the Lord's, He gives them the city and they follow all of His directions. Joshua's erecting an altar to the Lord and reads the laws of Moses to all the people and yet as we make our way through this chapter I'm struck by verse 14 The Israelites sampled their provisions but did not inquire of the Lord. What happened between the chapters? Joshua was so in tune, so tight with God so why did he not stop and seek God in this decision also? Isn't it interesting, that at our high point, when everything has been going great, in the wake of a victory that our focus can shift? It's while we are riding out the high of the victory that we can stumble. And then the Israelites discover who these travelers really are... How often the people in our life, the people we thought we knew reveal their true colors and leave us reeling in confusion and disappointment.


The Gibeonites had heard about Joshua's victories, Like Rahab they'd heard that the Lord had promised them this land, they'd seen city after city fall, instead of going to war with their neighbor's against Joshua they want to join him, but secretly unlike Rahab. They didn't want to serve God, they didn't want to be a part of what He was doing because they loved Him they just wanted what they could get out of it. They decided they wanted in on the action, they wanted to be part of that crowd and the protection it promised, they wanted to live off of the coattails of what God was doing. Everyone has heard of the Israelites and their God, maybe they wanted a little of that fame. Instead of coming honestly, they set out to trick and manipulate the Israelites and their God, but instead of coming to God the Israelite's simply blundered in blindly making decisions. God saw through the deception, He could have told them if they'd only asked.


How many of us have has some friendships like this? You thought they were real, but it turned out it was all an act. You thought they wanted to be your friend, to be apart of what God was doing but it turned out they wanted what they could get out of the relationship and so they became like a parasite feeding off of you, sapping the time and energy and resources out of you. Jealous of your attention, and demanding of you until you were so busy trying to satisfy their ravishing appetite that your ministry, your calling, your relationship with God begins to suffer for it and it became a burden you just couldn't get out from under.

I can't help but think of Rahab's heartfelt plea in chapter 2 verse 12-13 “swear to me by the Lord that you will spare the lives of my family and those who belong to me because I have shown kindness to you," such a different approach. Relationships built on lies and manipulations will never be successful, they will only lead to exhaustion and disappointment.


We have to be careful who we let into our inner circle, who we allow in the position to hold our arms up, who we let into our war room to see our plans and our dreams and speak into our lives. We have to guard what God is doing so people can't come in and drown the fire because they feel threatened by what He is doing. We have to guard our friendships so that the people who just want the fame of what God is doing, they want to be known for hanging out where God is moving but they don't want to actually be involved don't sap away our strength and become a dead weight that we are dragging around.

We find in Joshua the perfect example of a parasitic relationship, as the Gibeonites are faced with battle they immediately call for Joshua to come and save them. Gibeon is an important city in the area and all of its men were good fighters but they still make him bring his army and fight their battle. In fact, they sound like whining children manipulating to get their way in verse 6 begging for Joshua's time, energy and resources.


We need friends who will tell us the truth in love, that will hold our arms up when they won't get anything out of it, who will see what God is doing and encourage our hearts, who will be an ally when the battle does come and will fight it with us and storm heaven's gates on our behalf. We need the kind of friends that are the same in the dark as they are when the spotlight is on. We need to seek the Lord in every friendship, every relationship. We need relationships that are a tandem pull toward the Lord, not us dragging them with us.


Spring Farmhouse Living Room

Spring has been around for a while and we are edging toward summer feels with each passing day, so we wanted to put together a new look in our living room. Something with a nod toward summer while still keeping all the spring touches in place. For this look, we went with a really simple fireplace look and lots of flowers around the room. 




For the mantel, we kept it really simple with a framed picture in the center, an antique cocoa urn filled with cotton and a cute chicken figurine. On the other side, we repurposed some garden decor and a crystal cross. We place the smaller garden decor piece on a white crock and wrapped a bit of greenery around it. Along the front of the mantel, we hung a simple egg garland [Find the tutorial here] and an adorable welcome to our nest sign in the center of the mantel.




We dress set our smaller galvanized chicken feeder with small nests, little plants, and a rooster figurine. We wanted to keep the decor really low so that it doesn't block people sitting on the couches view. I love how it pulls some of the colors of the table up into the decor on top.






On the side table, we placed our purple garden globe and a vase of fresh lilacs and an antique candy bowl to brighten up the table. 


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