How To Make Your Own Adorable Ladybug House!

How To Make Your Own Adorable Ladybug House!

March 31, 2017

   ‘How To Make Your Own Adorable Ladybug House!’  We clearly needed (yucky aphids!) and we finally did find a “Ladybug House”, I am happy to share the end result!  There are all kinds of ways to personalize and make these from so many different things.

   On a shopping trip to the local craft store, I found this little house!  I had been looking for a bird house that was built so that I could pry the front off of the house and use the remainder for a ladybug house.  

   Well, in the end, it wasn’t necessary but you can clearly see how you could easily make your own ladybug house by doing just that!  You would have to find a birdhouse constructed so you could remove the face of it, or if you are handy, make your own.

   If your home is more modern, you might even choose a more graphic or geometric item to use for your Ladybug house.  A circular metal ring with bamboo sticks cut to fit and glued inside of it would accomplish the same thing.   Just adding a bunch of bamboo pieces in a myriad of items would create a cozy home for the little bugs.  They just need pieces of bamboo or pine cones to make inviting homes.

    A homeowner with a beach or cottage home might consider an entirely different look for their garden.  Our home is really neither of those, it’s a bit more traditional. Although I can appreciate each of those styles, ultimately I chose to decorate this little ladybug house so it blends into nature.

    At first, I considered painting this one with vibrant colors.  Loving the works of Mary Engelbreit and MacKenzie-Childs, the thought of painting black and white geometric patterns with brightly painted flowers came to mind.   However, after considering where it was going to be placed, I decided something a little more understated would be more pleasing to my eye.

     So, wanting to leave this outside and ensuring it would last for a few years, the first step was painting it with an outdoor primer.  That meant removing the screen from the front and removing the pine cones.   The little hook was also removed from the door.

    In our collection of spray paint, there was no spray primer for wood but there was a can of automobile primer.  I googled whether or not that would work for my project.  Score!  No need to run to the store.  

Since the bamboo was glued in place, it was just masked off with paper and tape. A few light coats of paint and the whole thing was primed in a light gray color.

After that dried,  I began to add the pea gravel to the front of the house using a waterproof wood glue, Titebond III. 

 I tried to keep the pebbles relatively straight along the edges and took into consideration that the door needed to open and close.

 Yes, the door should open, so it was opened and shut, over and over, as the pebbles were glued in place, making sure none of the pebbles were in the way.

   Did you know that you can actually make little patches of pebbles that can then be glued onto your project?  Applying the wood glue to a sheet of plastic wrap and arranging the pebbles on top of it, you can create a little ’tile’ of pebbles.

You can make these little tiles and allow them to dry for a few minutes.   Then the plastic wrap can be gently pulled away.  

Apply a little glue to the house and lay the ’tile’ on it.  This was really handy when applying the pebbles up under the eaves.  It would have been much more tedious!

    Using the tiles along the edges, made it easier, too.  Using a straight edge, the pebbles were pushed gently into a straight line and allowed to dry a little.  Then the tile was glued neatly along the edge of the little house.  Isn’t this looking great?

   After gluing pebbles to both sides and around three sides of the door, I painted any area that I thought might not be covered with pebbles or pine cone petals. (Remember, the screen needed to be stapled back.  Later, more pebbles would be glued around that area.) I was really liking the dove gray color of the primer and I decided to duplicate that color with some blue chalk paint mixed with a little black.

   The chalk paint was allowed to dry and then a couple of coats of outdoor polyurethane were painted on those areas.  (A little poly on the staples should keep them from rusting, too.)

   After the polyurethane was dried, the pine cones were placed back in the house and the metal screen was stapled back in place.  Then, tiny pebbles were glued all around the screen.  At this point, I’m thinking I will leave rocks off of the door. What do you think?  I like that little pop of gray…

    Then, pine cone petals were glued along the front edge of the roof and allowed to dry.  It was necessary for this to be done with the house back laying flat on the table.  The petals were gently sliding down in the glue when it was upright.

    Starting at the bottom edge, the pine cone petals were glued to the roof.  Isn’t this adorable?

    Although this is a ‘ladybug house’, it would be easy to decorate a birdhouse or a fairy house using this same technique.  Has this inspired you?  

   Amazon has a lot of ladybug houses at different price points.  Some are featured below.   (This link is an affiliate link. This means that we earn a small percentage of any sales generated from these links. This helps to support this website​.)

 

  Did you know that you can actually order ladybugs?  My plan is to order some ladybugs from here shortly.  The reviews were very good.  They also tell how to release them for best results.  (This link is an affiliate link. This means that we earn a small percentage of any sales generated from these links. This helps to support this website​.)

  In the answered questions for this seller,  it addressed whether these were the Asian beetles.  (That was also something I wanted to know!)  There are other sellers you can investigate and choose, too.

   Their answer was that these ladybugs are not the Asian beetle.  They are a common North American species, Hippodamia convergens.  The Asian beetles actually kill our native beneficial insects, including the ladybug.

   In order to keep them around your garden,  you will need to make sure there are a water source and food for them, aka nasty bugs like aphids that attack your flowers.  Obviously, you won’t want to spray for bugs when the bees or ladybugs are present.   To encourage them to stay, they suggest releasing them at night, when it’s cooler, and making sure there are water drops on the grass or plants.  If they are released during the heat of the day, chances are they will fly away to one of your neighbors!

    Hope this inspires you to create or decorate your own little house!  Now, you know ‘How To Make Your Own Adorable Ladybug House!’

 

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You’ll Love This Easy Cajun-Shrimp In Foil Packets!

You’ll Love This Easy Cajun-Shrimp In Foil Packets!

You’ll Love This Easy Cajun-Shrimp In Foil Packets!

March 21, 2017

  You’ll Love This Easy Cajun-Shrimp In Foil Packets!  Remember a couple of weeks ago when I made the shrimp with flavored rice in the aluminum foil pouches?  Well, the grandkids were coming over after school and I needed something quick and easy for dinner last night.  I thought of trying the same technique with a different flavor, Cajun, to be exact.

    After finding this frozen jumbo shrimp in a bag at Sam’s Club, a quick meal in minutes is even easier!  (I do love shrimp!)

    The frozen shrimp will thaw in a bowl of cold water in no time.  It’s a resealable bag.  So, you can remove what you need, seal it up, and return to the freezer.  Perfect!   If you have fresh shrimp on hand, lucky you!  Here in Kentucky, that is not a luxury.

   Anyway, I didn’t have Cajun seasoning.  You don’t either?  Easy fix, just make your own! 

          Cajun Spice Seasoning

2 tsp. Salt

2 tsp. Garlic Powder

2-1/2 tsp. Paprika

1 tsp. Black Pepper

1 tsp. Onion Powder

1 tsp. Cayenne Pepper

1-1/4 tsp. Dried Oregano

1-1/4 tsp. Dried Thyme

1/2 tsp. Red Pepper Flakes

  Measure into a bowl and mix well.  Store any leftover in a sealed container.

    I’m relatively sure that mixing these up at home will be less expensive than buying a jar at the grocery.  You can also control what goes into it.

Easy Cajun Shrimp In Foil Packets

1 – 1/2 pounds large Shrimp, peeled and deveined

1 pkg. Andouille Sausage

4 – half ears of Corn on the Cob

1 lb. Baby Red Potatoes 

4 tsp. Cajun Seasoning

Olive Oil

Kosher Salt and Black Pepper, season to taste

chopped Fresh Parsley

Preheat the oven to 425°

Cut 4 sheets of 18″ heavy duty aluminum foil into squares.

 Divide the shrimp, Andouille sausage, baby potatoes, and the ears of corn equally and place them in the center of each of the pieces of foil.

Sprinkle 1 tsp of Cajun Seasoning over each pile of the meat and vegetables.   Add salt and pepper to taste.

 

Generously, drizzle olive oil over the top of the shrimp, sausage, potatoes, corn, and seasonings.   Gently, toss everything together to combine.

Try to keep the ingredients in a single layer before sealing into a packet, so it will cook more evenly.

 Fold the sides of the foil up and seal.  

Then, fold each end up and seal making a packet.

Bake in the preheated 425° oven for about 15 -20 minutes.

 Garnish with chopped fresh parsley, lemon, and serve immediately.

   After Aidan had finished his homework, he helped me cut the sausage, divvy up the meat and vegetables, and place those on the foil pieces.  We had a mini-lesson on tablespoon and teaspoon equivalents.  That boy is pretty sharp.

 

  We were both taken with how easy this was to put together and when we opened the packages right out of the oven, the smell released from those packets was so good!

 

   Yeah, everybody enjoyed this simple Cajun-shrimp dish!   The kids said it was a little spicy but they liked it.  We did serve them both milk to help counter the heat.  

    If you like shrimp, too, You’ll Love This Easy Cajun-Style Shrimp in Foil Packets!

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Easy St. Patrick’s Day Dessert Idea

Easy St. Patrick’s Day Dessert Idea

Easy St. Patrick’s Day Dessert Idea

March 19, 2017

   This Easy St. Patrick’s Day Dessert Idea was born out of desperation for a quick and easy dessert to impress the grandkids!  Isn’t it funny that a simple box of lime green Jell-O and a few extra ingredients could impress some adorable grandkids?

   When the grandkids come over, I like to have something special for them.  It doesn’t always happen but hopefully, they fondly remember the times it does.  Doesn’t everyone love these little mini dessert glasses?

    I wanted a green dessert for St. Patrick’s Day, and of course, lime Jell-O came to mind.  A bowl full of lime Jell-O just was not festive enough.  Pistachio pudding was in the pantry but I decided to use some Cool-Whip.   The thought was to add some green food coloring to make the Cool-Whip a pastel green color, too.

    When I opened the cabinet, I noticed the Creme de Menthe.  Hmmm…  Wonder how some mint flavoring in the Cool Whip would taste?  A plan was born.   This is the resulting recipe.

St. Patrick’s Day Mini Dessert

1 – 6-ounce pkg. of Jell-O Lime Gelatin

2 cups Boiling Water

1 – 1/2 cups Cold Water

1 tsp. Creme de Menthe

1 – 8-ounce container Cool Whip

Green food coloring

1/2 tsp. Vanilla extract

   Dissolve the gelatin in the boiling water.  Stir until the gelatin is completely dissolved.  Add the 1 – 1/2 cups of cold water to the gelatin mixture and stir well.

   Remove one cup of the liquid gelatin and add one teaspoon of the Creme de Menthe to the one cup of gelatin.  (You could add more, if you like, or completely omit this.)  Refrigerate the cup of gelatin until it is thickened but not set.

    Pour the remaining gelatin into an 8″ X 8″ baking pan lined with non-stick aluminum foil.  (It will be much easier to lift out the set gelatin.)

    Chill this until the gelatin is firm.  (In the fridge, it wasn’t firming up fast enough for me.  So, I placed it in the freezer for a few more minutes.)

    When it was firm enough to cut with a knife and hold its shape, the aluminum foil was lifted out of the pan.  A sharp knife was used to cut the gelatin into little cubes.

 

   Place 1/2 of the 8-ounce tub of Cool-Whip in a mixing bowl, and by hand, beat in the one cup of thickened gelatin.  It will be a pale mint color.  Add a few drops of green food coloring to make it a little brighter, if you like.

    Spoon the Cool-Whip gelatin mixture into 8 – mini dessert dishes.  Chill, while the gelatin in the square pan is firming.

 *  I found the perfect set-up for chilling these!  This plastic refrigerator bin, which I found at the Tuesday Morning store, is perfect for this.  Notice, in the bottom I placed two silicone potholders.  The glasses have a tendency to slide on most trays.  The silicone holds them perfectly and the edges of the plastic bin are high enough to contain them nicely!

 

   Divide the Jell-O cubes between the eight dessert dishes, placing them on top of the Cool-Whip gelatin mixture.  At this point, you will begin to see how pretty these really are!

   Add 1/2 tsp. of Vanilla to the remaining topping.  It freshens it up a bit and tastes a little less store-bought.  Top each of the desserts with a dollop of the whipped topping.  I used a pastry bag, fitted with a large round tip, to do this.

    The little glass dessert dishes were, as always, a hit!   Although we have several different styles of these little dishes, the round mini cocktail dishes reminded me of the Leprechaun’s pot of gold.  The little chocolate-filled gold coins I had picked up at Hobby Lobby were the perfect added touch.

     Isn’t it funny to see a brawny man with these petite dishes and the tiny spoons?  I have to admit, it really amuses me to see the dichotomy!  Is it just me or do you get a kick out of that, too?

    Although they really liked the Irish stew, the Sophie and Aidan couldn’t wait to have dessert!  They both loved it and Aidan kept saying, “I really like these little dishes, too.”

    Imagine all of the fruit flavors that could be substituted for this little recipe!  They look so festive!   Yes, I will use this again with a different flavor.  This little ‘Easy St. Patrick’s Day Dessert Idea’ was really light, fresh, and tasty!  

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St. Patrick’s Day Food – Irish Stew

St. Patrick’s Day Food – Irish Stew

St. Patrick’s Day Food – Irish Stew

March 18, 2017

     St. Patrick’s Day Food – Irish Stew, to celebrate with the grandkids, was the inspiration for this post.  My first thought, for whatever reason, was Irish stew.  I’ve never had it and never made it.  So, I did a little research on Pinterest, of course.

 

   The recipe I found had a key Irish ingredient in it, namely, Guinness stout beer. Overall the ingredients for the stew sounded pretty good but I noticed in the comments that people had to cook the stew for two hours and the beef was still kind of tough.  

    On another site, the people were saying they cooked their stew for four, six, and eight hours!  That is insane!  Some offered up suggestions to how to tenderize the meat from pressure cooking to laying it on onions!  I am not sure what that does exactly, but if you use these recipes, the total cooking time will be 1-hour and the meat will be fork tender.

    Several people said they couldn’t thicken the stew.  The flavor was good but it was too liquid.  

   That gave me the idea to use the basic technique for the beef stew I regularly make but change several of the ingredients to make it more Irish.   The family loves the beef stew recipe I have used for over forty-five years.  Each of the kids has copied it for their own recipe arsenal. 

   My expectation was that I might run into a little dissension.  I ran this by Dave.  Well, let’s just say he was not really on board but, undaunted, my plan went forward.

    So, I knew if flour was used to dredge the meat in before browning it on all sides, the flour would thicken the stew.  The flour would also seal in moisture keeping the meat from being tough.  It also helps to brown the meat.  You do want a hot pan and I add extra olive oil, as needed, to keep it from burning.

 

   A few things, which will make it easier on you and assure success, is to have all of the meat ready and dredged in the flour before turning on the heat.  Have the tomato can open, the garlic minced, and the onions chopped.  Have the beer and the wine opened and ready to measure.

    Adding tomatoes instead of just tomato paste, like in some of these recipes, during the first stage of cooking, would also help to tenderize the beef pieces.  The acid in the tomatoes helps break down the fibers in the meat and tenderize it.

    I also cut down on the liquids in the stew.  Isn’t that a no-brainer?  You want a thicker broth, cut back on the liquids.   More beef was added, too.  We are meat eaters here.

    So, there you go.  If you consistently have tough beef try either of these two recipes.  Although, this recipe called for Guinness Stout beer, nobody here drinks that beer so I substituted the beer we had on hand.  I don’t drink beer but I did have a glass of the Cabernet with the stew and it was pretty fine.

    Anyway, this was the resulting recipe and it was definitely a hit.  Note that the total cooking time is one hour!

    I tasted the broth after adding everything but the vegetables.  Oh, my!  I knew this was going to be good!

   Irish Stew

2 lbs. beef stewing meat (or chuck roast)

1/2 cup flour

olive oil

1 large onion, chopped

6 large garlic cloves, minced

1 – 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes

3 tsp. salt

1/4 tsp. pepper

1 cup Beer

1 cup Cabernet Sauvignon

1 tsp. dried thyme

1 Tblsp. Worcestershire

2 bay leaves

2 cups of carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2″ pieces

5 cups of baby potatoes*, cut in half or quartered  (You want the pieces about the same size.)

Chopped fresh parsley

   **Cut beef into 1″ – 2″ pieces.  Dust lightly with flour.

   Heat oil in a dutch oven.  (When the meat is added, you want that sizzle.)   Add beef gradually and brown on all sides, remove to a plate or platter.  (Don’t overcrowd the pan, you won’t brown the meat, you’ll be steaming it!  Brown it in batches.) 

 

    Saute onions in drippings, (add more olive oil if needed,) until soft.

    Add the minced garlic and saute just until you smell the garlic.

    Add the browned beef back to the pan, the can of tomatoes, beer, wine, thyme, Worcestershire, bay leaves, salt, and pepper.

   Bring to a boil.  Lower heat, cover and simmer for 35 minutes.

 

   Add the carrots and potatoes.   Bring back to a boil.  Cover the pan and turn down to simmer for 25 minutes more.

   Serve in bowls and sprinkle with chopped fresh parsley.

 *  I love these baby potatoes and buy a big bag of them from Sam’s Club.  They don’t need to be peeled and we get the extra vitamins in the peel.  You can substitute whatever kind of potatoes you have.

 ** If you buy stewing beef at Sam’s Club, the pieces are usually made up of pieces of steak and roast.  It is good quality.

    Since I didn’t use the Guinness, maybe this wasn’t so Irish, but did I ever get accolades from the family?  The girls actually said they thought they might even like this recipe better!

 

    I think it is a keeper, too.  Dave says he still likes the other recipe better.  Go figure!  Gotta love that man.

    Isn’t the deep color of the broth, just gorgeous?  Yep, it makes a pretty presentation!

   If you try this, please share on MyHumbleHomeandGarden’s  Facebook page!  

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   St. Patrick’s Day Food – Irish Stew…  I think we will enjoy this year round!

 

 

   

 

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Easy Meatballs In A Light Tomato Sauce

Easy Meatballs In A Light Tomato Sauce

Easy Meatballs In A Light Tomato Sauce

March 15, 2017

 

   This recipe for easy meatballs in a light tomato sauce was found in a cookbook one night, long ago, when ground beef was going to be the protein of the day.  I did not want to make a heavy tomato sauce with meatballs and spaghetti.

     Meatloaf did not sound good and a Mexican dish did not sound particularly appetizing either.  Searching through cookbooks for something new and different, I found this recipe.  Since then, it has become one of my favorite ways to use ground beef.

    This is such an easy recipe to make.  Breadcrumbs, an egg, salt, pepper, and a little bit of water are added to the ground meat and mixed well.  Then, meatballs are shaped and browned in a skillet.  Next, they are removed and placed on a plate.

     The vegetables are cut and added to the drippings in the pan.  They are cooked for five minutes.  Then, white wine, basil, and the tomatoes with juice are stirred into the vegetable mixture.

   The vegetables are cooked for a few minutes until crisp-tender.  The fresh vegetables cooked this way are really delicious.  (I don’t like them overcooked.)

    Then the meatballs are returned to the skillet.  The mixture is brought up to a boil.  The stove is turned down to a simmer and the skillet is covered with a lid.

   Then, the mixture is simmered for about 15 minutes or until the meat is done.

    These meatballs are tender and juicy.  The fresh breadcrumbs added to the ground beef gives them a nice texture and the added breadcrumbs with the extra water make the meatballs so moist!  

     I usually use canned petite diced tomatoes, unless it is summer and we have fresh garden grown tomatoes.   Most of the tomatoes from the store are not as flavorful and are mushy.  The canned tomatoes are picked and canned at the optimum time and will still have a better flavor than those from the grocery.

     In an earlier post, I wrote about how I tested two different kinds of canned tomatoes on a whim.  Boy, was I surprised!  The ‘Hunt’s’ brand tomatoes were so much better tasting, in my opinion!  Who would have thought there would be such a difference from one brand to another?  You might want to try this for yourself! Clearly, that has affected my choice of canned tomatoes.

   If you want to use fresh ripe tomatoes, just peel them and dice them before adding to the recipe.  A little water or chicken broth can be added to thin the sauce if it seems too thick.

 

   My family likes this over thin spaghetti, which cooks in 6-minutes, but it would be good over rice, too.  Add some fresh parsley on top of each serving.  I know it seems a little strange to me, but lemon zest sprinkled on top of each serving adds a little tang to this dish and really brightens the flavor.  I highly recommend trying it, at least once.

   So, if you are looking for something a little different for a  ground beef recipe, try this recipe for Easy Meatballs in A Light Tomato Sauce.

 

 

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