PB & Banana Rollups ~ Not just for kids!

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I must admit, ever since I was a wee tot, I have always loved peanut butter and banana sandwiches.  There couldn’t be a better match made in the culinary world than these 2 plain ingredients in my opinion.  With this slight spin on the traditional sammie, kids will be even more enamored by them, not to mention, they are easier and less messier for kids to eat without the banana slices falling out.

This is also where you can sneak in some good, whole-grain goodness into without them knowing.


1 ripe Banana
2 Tbsp Peanut Butter (any variety, whatever you usually use)
1 Whole-Grain Tortilla (6″ size)


Spread the peanut butter onto the tortilla like this:

DSC06388If your bananas are really large like mine was, use 3/4′s of it and place it in the middle of the tortilla with the pointed end at the one edge of the tortilla like this:

DSC06390Fold up the bottom of the tortilla over the cut end of the banana, then wrap the one side over the top of the banana.  The peanut butter is sticky enough to hold the tortilla in place.

DSC06391Overlap the other side of the tortilla over the banana and voila! instant sandwich with less filling bread and more banana and peanut butter goodness!

DSC06393These are also perfect for picnics or day trips as they are so easy to put together and they travel well too (not to mention no crumbs littering the car!).

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My Garden’s First Haircut…

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Surprisingly, after only a mere couple weeks of warm weather, parts of my garden needed a good sheering off.  Like sheep at the end of winter.  My resident Sage plant below was totally over-crowding my newly planted Tomatillos and due to the instant 30C heat in our neck of the woods, promptly started flowering…something it usually saves itself for in July.


So I took a few of the flowers and put them in a vase in the living room – the leaves give off that nice ‘sage-y’ smell and they really do look good as a cut flower arrangement.  I think I will let it go to flower again just for the grogeous little purple blooms, which resemble little snapdragon flowers.

DSC06386DSC06385My Cilantro (above) has already ‘bolted’.  This being a term used in gardening to denote that the plant is done generating wide-surface leaves and it is now warm/hot enough for it to start sending out flowers for seed production.  Cilantro is famous for it.  I was so frustrated last year with the one plant I had that mid-way through the season I dug it up and pitched it and bought a new, young plant, only to have the same thing happen by mid-August.

This year I think I am on my way to outsmarting the Cilantro.  I have 3 pots at various stages of growth now.  Every 2 weeks, I have been planting a new batch of seeds.  So by the time the oldest plant starts to bolt, the next one in line is perfect for salsas….and so forth…HA! Take that Cilantro! I think you have met your match in the garden this year…


My Leaf Lettuce (red and green) is almost ready to pick for ‘baby greens’ in a salad and I also planted some ‘Spicy Leaf Mix’ (below) that I trimmed a bowl full yesterday for salad last night with pizza for dinner.  Dee-lish and nothing like fresh-picked from the garden salad.

DSC06369Not to be outdone, my garlic (below) is standing tall and guarding the garden space against Vampires…that is if there were any around… I haven’t seen any, so I guess they are doing their job.  I will have to wait until later in the summer though for garlic harvesting, it is way too early at the moment.

DSC06371I will also be cutting and drying my lavender soon.  I fill little sachet pouches with them and place them in my dresser drawers so that every time you open a drawer, you get a lovely whiff of lavender.


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A Weekend of Firsts….

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What are your momentous Firsts?  I am not talking about the usual First Kiss, First Beer (and corresponding First Hangover), First Child or First Divorce…. Rather, what are the things you have never done or thought you would have never done in your life?  But somehow ended up doing anyway, much to your own surprise.

So many things I had never had ANY inclination or urge to do….happened to me for the FIRST time this past weekend.

It all started with my dear husband, the love of my life, my best friend,  whom I was ready to take and have a frontal lobotomy performed after his suggested idea  that we reshingle our cottage roof….BY OURSELVES.

Yes….two people, 50+ reshingling a roof with absolutely ZERO knowledge of how it is done, were going to attempt it for the very FIRST time.  Talk about lunacy….where are the men in white coats when you need them….

I need to back up for a second, lest my daughter and her sweetheart of a husband get even more peeved at me after they TOLD us ….no, they DEMANDED us to let them know when we were going to do the job and therefore WANTED to be here to HELP…but alas, dear husband is stubborn and doesn’t want son-in-law falling off a roof and breaking his spine into little bits and then they have to move into our home cause he can’t work anymore….ok, that is reaching for sure, but a valid fear none-the-less….(sorry to Laura and Scott for not telling you when we were going to do this.)

Ok, on with the saga….Now the internet is a wonderful thing.  You can find out instructions on just about anything, from what to feed orphaned chipmunk babies to making your own space suit, or in our case, how to reshingle a roof.

So, with a stack of instructions printed out, materials ordered and delivered and plenty of beer on hand (for consuming AFTER we get off the roof for the day, I have set forth  very clear-cut rules ~ NO drinking and climbing onto roofs PERIOD), we set out for an outdoor construction adventure in cottage country.

 Here is the cottage roof before…plenty OLD and ratty looking and when the bump out for the bathroom on the right side was done many moons ago, the then owner just shingled the new part and left the old.  So nothing matched and it was pretty awful looking.


So my very FIRST of many FIRSTS this weekend, was to actually climb a very scary looking ladder (looks scary to me, hubs says it is the BEST ladder in the world though) and then step ONTO a roof.  Yes, little ‘ol me, the person who knows quite a bit about houses in the real estate world, was actually UP on a roof. 


Let me tell you, it is the weirdest feeling being up so high with  nothing to hang onto or prevent you from falling off the edge.   You learn to behave like a mountain goat, placing each foot carefully and always maintain your balance (hence my NO BEER rule until off the roof at the end of the day).

So that was two FIRSTS done literally within the same minute of my life, going UP the scary ladder and ONTO the roof…. THEN, spending 4 days of a GLORIOUS, sunny, LONG weekend on a hot roof, in hot weather, trying not to look at all the people zipping by in their speedy boats towing float-tubes full of screeching and laughing people all over the lake…oh yes, I’d much rather be roofing a cottage than boating…for sure….

My next FIRST was using a hammer and nailing shingles in, and yes, while I have actually used a hammer before,  it  always came with a ‘you use a hammer like a girl’ saying as my dear husband is so fond of mentioning (and apparently I climb a ladder ‘like a girl’  and ‘throw like a girl’ too…pfft..whatever!), so he showed me how to hold the roofing nails (so I don’t clobber my thumbs/fingers) and pound it through the shingle.  After 4 days, my aim is actually starting to get better, as this is something I need to work on for future reference (like pounding  nails through his skull when he mentions we should do the roof at home by ourselves too).

I do have to give major kudos to hubby though for all the grunt work…and let me tell you, there is plenty of grunt work in shingling a roof.  The shingles come nicely stacked on a pallet delivered to the driveway, but due to the terrain/lay of the land, there is no way they could be placed on the cottage roof like they do for ‘city houses’.  He handbombed 28 bundles of shingles up onto the roof over the 4 days.  These things weigh in the neighbourhood of 85+ lbs each and he would sling them over his shoulder and hike them up the ladder.  I tried dragging one into the shade on Sunday – HA! I barely managed to drag one 20 feet across the grass before I let it go, panting and cursing.  How the heck does he DO THAT?!

It doesn’t matter though, all I know is I am NOT going to even attempt to lift one of those things up to the roof.  I am a girl after all… with a pretty manicure that I was desperately trying to keep looking nice inside the tar and goop covered work gloves I was wearing.

Speaking of goop…that was my next FIRST… I have never used a caulking gun before (see? many, many new things I did this weekend), these things are a definite challenge and you need a steady hand for control.  I have the steady hand part (my trim painting is legendary if I do say so myself), but trying to control the rate of flow of this black, goopy, stick to everything but the roof crap was really pissing me off.  Until hubs showed me the release handle on the caulking gun, if you don’t release the pressure, the stuff just keeps oozing out when you are not using it, like a possessed tube of toothpaste.

I finally mastered the caulking gun, the hammer (somewhat) and was motoring along nailing in shingles and trimming around the flashing all the while following orders from the boss pretty good,  which is highly unusual for me.

I did have three major casualties of the entire weekend though.  Silly me thought roofing was just a matter of stripping off the old and installing the new….. NOBODY told me how DIRTY of a job it actually IS (nor the amount of sweat one person can produce in an 8 hour period).  I ruined a pair of running shoes (my favourite pair), and totally trashed my most fav jean capri shorts and a t-shirt from Mexico…. there is so much tar and goop on them that they are un-cleanable and were pitched into the trash after Day 4 was complete.

See? Totally trashed…..black goop everywhere… DSC06340

Oh that was another FIRST…wearing the same, disgustingly dirty clothes for 4 days straight.  It was a huge relief to get out of them at the end of each day (and hang them outside the cottage) but they were just horrid to put back on the next day.  I am far too cheap to trash 4 sets of clothes so wore the same thing every day (ick, ick, double ick!)

So now I get to go shopping for replacements, which I am looking forward to…did I mention the t-shirt came from Mexico? (BIG GRIN)

After 4 days of soreness and exhaustion, we finally finished.  I for one am NEVER going to be signing up for a project of this scale ever again.  Son-in-law is more than happy to help and I will gladly hand my hammer and caulking gun over to him.

I can proudly say “Been there – Done that – THREW OUT THE T-SHIRT”.

There…doesn’t this look much better?


This really does give you a whole new respect and appreciaton for the guys who do roofs for a living….. from now on, I will not balk at a $5,000 roofing quote and gladly hand over a cheque.

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How to Make Home~Made Vegetable Stock

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It is actually a really simple procedure which results in having your own great tasting, NO sodium stock on hand in the freezer to be used in soups, stews, risottos, fish/seafood dishes, etc.

I like to make my home-made stock right before grocery day.  I take all those odds and ends of veggies in the fridge that have been sitting around a day or two too long…you know, those carrots that look dried up, or the celery that is going limp, onions, radishes, even the peppers (any kind) that are now getting shriveled and wrinkly, or a smattering of broccoli, not too much though.  Just don’t throw any potatoes in as they are too starchy for stock making.

Get a large cookie sheet and cover with foil, then spray with spray Cooking Spray.  Spread all your veggies onto the cookie sheet like so….


Then roast in the oven at 375°F for about 30-40 minutes. So they look like this (below)


Remove them from the cookie sheet and place them all in a large stock pot.


Add 10 cups water and bring to a boil.  Simmer, covered, for about an hour.  Let cool.

Strain through cheesecloth.  If you have a composter, toss your spent veggies there instead of the garbage pail.


*Optional Step ~ put the stock back in the pot.  Reduce the stock to intensify the flavour by simmering uncovered over medium-low heat for about 30 minutes.  Let cool again.


I use small Ziploc® bags and pour 2 cups into each one.  Zip them closed, lay them down on a cookie sheet and freeze.  Then stack in the freezer.

Whenever you need some veggie stock, take one out of the freezer, place it in a bowl, open the baggie and zap in the microwave until it starts to melt.  Then use in whatever recipe calls for Veggie Stock.

Simple. Tasty.  Good for You Goodness.

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My Publishing Debut….

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I know what you are thinking, she already ‘debuted’ a couple weeks ago…she must be losing it…But stick with me, this is different…this is for REAL publishing in a REAL magazine! 

Being a Realtor® here in Canada, we have access to some pretty awesome publications that are available to us and one of my favourites is REM – Real Estate Magazine (Canada’s premier business publication for the real estate industry, and yes, I took that from their site).

It is published once a month and when it comes in, I grab my cuppa tea and head over to the comfy couch to take it all in, cover to cover.  There are a couple of long-standing columnists that I look forward to reading as well as there are numerous articles and trends  that keep me abreast of what is happening in the real estate industry from coast to coast.   

Well, a few months back, after going through February’s issue and seeing a ‘cooking’ columnist (and it was about this time that I was developing this web/blog site) I thought, I can not be the ONLY Realtor® out there that enjoys gardening, there had to be others that would perhaps appreciate my trial and error attempts and small victories in my garden patch.

So with a leap of faith, I pitched the idea of ‘The Real Estate Gardener’ to the Editor and I was genuinely shocked that they indeed liked the idea! So after I picked myself up off the floor, I got started on editing the article I first sent in (apparently I had to whittle it down to 800 words….800 words! sheesh, do you realize how little that actually is?!) so it would fit into the space they were alotting me.

So, without further ado, here is the link to my publishing debut of ‘The Real Estate Gardener’ in REM Magazine…I hope you like it…


The magazine is put out in paper and an on-line format, so now I must get busy getting a couple months ahead on articles to send in…. I am so flippin excited!!! and just so you know…this blog post to the very end is 347 words.



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And the winner is….

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Happy Tuesday folks!  First, I want to thank all you great and kind people who entered for a chance to win either an Apron or a Clothespin Bag in my Site Launch/Giveaway Contest. 

I have had some really positive feedback from so many people and I look forward to writing and updating this blog pretty much daily…and henceforth, that you all still appreciate my ramblings!

So without further delay, shall we get on with the draw for a winner?!


tap…tap…tap…..(those are your fingers on the desk right?)


And the WINNER IS:

Betty Bartusevicius!

Betty, you shall be receiving an email from me this morning asking which of the La Gitana Creations you would prefer and then I will get it out to you.

Thank you again for all the support and I hope to see you following along in my Homesteading Endeavours!



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Steamed at Your Garbanzos?

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My usual method of preparing garbanzo beans (aka Chickpeas) is to re-hydrate them overnight in a bowl of water, and then cook the crud out of them the next day for hours on end…but this morning I was putting away my rice cooker/veggie steamer (I like to let it air-dry overnight after washing it) when I had a brain wave… (or a brain fart if it turned out badly)…I thought… why not cook the garbanzos in the steamer?!
Seemed logical enough to me.
This way, you don’t have to baby-sit the pot with stirring and have your stove running for over an hour (I have a gas stove and do not like to leave burners on and leave the room) while repeatedly filling up the pot with boiling water from the kettle.
So what did I have to lose? Other than a batch of beans? So experimentation was in order…
I filled up the reservoir to the brim and set the timer for 75 minutes (max time on my Black & Decker model), after 45 minutes, I checked them, nope, not done yet so I topped up the water and let it run the full 75 minutes.  ‘Ding!’! …. I went down to the kitchen to check again, nope, still not done, so topped up water again and let run for another 30 minutes….

‘Ding!’…. went down… and. they. were. DONE.  PERFECTLY!

NO watched pot on the stove, NO Stirring necessary, NO boil-overs, NO adding boiling water to a pot as it evaporates, and NO scummy pot to wash afterwards.

What a BONUS.
Oh…and the ‘shells’ of the garbanzos stay intact and adhered to the bean…nothing more frustrating than trying to get empty shells out of a pot full of cooked beans!
I imagine this will work for just about any dried and re-hydrated  bean, so I will be testing this out on Black Beans and Pinto Beans very soon.
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The History of Aprons…

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I don’t think our kids know what an apron is…
Old Apron Pattern Pic1
The principal use of Grandma’s apron was to protect the dress underneath because she only had a few. It was also because it was easier to wash aprons than dresses and aprons used less material. But along with that, it served as a potholder for removing hot pans from the oven.
It was wonderful for drying children’s tears, and on occasion was even used for cleaning out dirty ears.
From the chicken coop, the apron was used for carrying eggs, fussy chicks, and sometimes half-hatched eggs to be finished in the warming oven.
When company came, those aprons were ideal hiding places for shy kids..
And when the weather was cold grandma wrapped it around her arms.
Those big old aprons wiped many a perspiring brow, bent over the hot wood stove.
Chips and kindling wood were brought into the kitchen in that apron.
From the garden, it carried all sorts of vegetables. After the peas had been shelled, it carried out the hulls.
In the fall, the apron was used to bring in apples that had fallen from the trees.
When unexpected company drove up the road, it was surprising how much furniture that old apron could dust in a matter of seconds.
When dinner was ready, Grandma walked out onto the porch, waved her apron, and the men folks knew it was time to come in from the fields to dinner.
It will be a long time before someone invents something that will replace that ‘old-time apron’ that served so many purposes.
Grandma used to set her hot baked apple pies on the window sill to cool. Her granddaughters set theirs on the window sill to thaw.
They would go crazy now trying to figure out how many germs were on that apron.
I don’t think I ever caught anything from an apron – but love…
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Shock and Awe….Is Bad for Plants…

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Yes, it is quite easy to ‘Shock’ your plants in preparation for their final place in the garden.  There is a transition period whereby you slowly ease your plants into the great outdoors a little at a time to get them used to the harshness of the world.

When plants spend time in your sunny window in the early spring or under grow lights, they are shielded from the burning rays of the sun that can scorch their delicate leaves and stress the plant.

To acclimatize them to the outdoors, start by taking your plants outside to a shady spot, shielded from the wind for about an hour or so on the first day.  Ideally, the outdoor temps should be at least 15C or above.  The next day, let them spend about 2 hours.  Gradually, over the course of 1-2 weeks, keep them outside longer and longer until they are ready to spend the night outside (temperatures allowing).  Keep an eye on them though during this transitional time so they do not get caught up in an early spring storm….as did happen to me yesterday.

I was out running errands and before I left, I placed all my charges out under the large patio umbrella we have and the skies were blue, sunny, with a few puffy’s floating on by.  That apparently did not last long….soon I realized the skies had become cloudier and darker and the wind had picked up…damn I thought, storm is brewing.

Sure enough, next thing I know, I am in a raging torrent of rain and wind (the car radio had reports of hail in the next city over) and I was frantically trying to finish my errands to get home to ‘rescue’ my babies (yes, you too will soon think of your seedlings as your babies).

I get home and for the most part, they were ok, a little wet, but the umbrella and the shielded location in the backyard kept the wind from tossing them around….except for one tomatillo plant.  It obviously was in the wrong spot as the top half of the plant had snapped off…and with it…5 flowers that were on it.  Double Damn.

I left the pot in the living room.  Maybe, just maybe, it will recover on its own with new shoots.  I hope.


This is why you always plant way more seeds than you need, to account for life’s little tragedies.

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Mother’s Day Gift ~ Lavender Sachet Pillow

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What Mom wouldn’t want one of these gorgeous little pillows in her lingerie drawer? Filled with dried lavender flowers, it is the perfect scent that is neither too strong nor too subtle.

DSC04448All you need is some leftover fabric and dried lavender flowers (found at Craft Shops or grow and dry your own).

Take a 7″ x 13″ piece of fabric, fold in half (lengthwise, wrong sides together), stitch 2 of the 3 seams  with a 1/2″ seam allowance.  Turn right side out, stuff with dried flowers and then fold in the seam allowance of the last opening and slip-stitch closed.  Top-stitch 3/8″ all the way around the pillow making sure not to catch any of the lavender inside (push it towards the middle of the pillow).

Guaranteed to make Mom smile on Mother’s Day (or perhaps forgive you for whatever it is you have done wrong today).

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