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Helen's Mulberry Lane Farm Journal

September 12, 2011

I jokingly mentioned to Beka and Rachel a few weeks back that I should start a column telling you readers about all the weird uses we have for things around here. 'Beka replied that we should call it "We Use This For That." So here is the first one!

We Use This For That

Idea One:

Tying tomatoes up to our garden fences requires some kind of ties. Why do we bother to tie them? We like to keep the tomatoes off of the ground, so they don't get buggy. Gerald needs to run the waterer between the rows, as well. It is also so much easier to navigate the rows when I'm in a hurry to pick tomatoes for waiting customers. The tomato plants seem to produce more fruit when they are tied. But, I digress. We have tried so many different types of ties over the years. Baler twine, velcro, even knee hi hose! Gerald had the idea this year of using electrical cable ties. Ah.....sweet success! We purchased 4" cable ties which work for outdoor use. One can get about 1,000 ties for about $10 or so. Lowe's, Menards or Home Depot carry them in large packages. Gerald had each person in house be responsible for a certain section of tomatoes to tie every few days. With three 150 foot tomatoe rows, that is a lot of tying! At the end of the season, the ties are snipped off and thrown away.

Idea 2:

Seems like I can never find my small oil can when I need it. Squeaking doors, squeaking rocking chairs and my hair cutting shears often need a spot of oil. I just grab a can of vegetable oil spray (like Pam Spray) and give it a shot. Works every time!

Idea 3:

It is time to touch up various dents and dings on the walls in the house. After finding the spackle I went around the house filling the spots. One of the reasons I love dry wall is that repairs are so easy to make! Too weary to run out to the garage to find the scraper, I just found my flat egg/cookie lifter spatula thingy and used it to scrape the spackle off of the walls. Just what I needed and it washed up just fine. Now, if I can just find the right paint can for the different colored rooms!

Tomato Recipe

Our tomato crop is still supplying us with bushels of beautiful tomatoes on a daily basis. We have had an amazing crop this year! Don't wait too much longer to drop by and get some. The nights are cooling off giving us warning that the frost is coming.

I've been serving so many of you wonderful customers today! (Thanks you so much for supporting our local, organic produce stand!) It has been very busy and now I'm hungry and felt like, well, tomatoes! I'm sitting here munching on my latest kitchen creation. It has been so long since I last wrote to you, I just had to take a quick minute, between bites, to tell you about what I'm eating.

Somewhere, I don't remember where, I saw this recipe with tomatoes, white beans and peppers. I changed the recipe so much, I figured I had better give it a new name.


Helen's Super Fast, Super Easy and Super Healthy Tomato and Bean Salad


3 Tablespoons canola or olive oil or whatever salad oil you have
1 Tablespoon red wine vinegar or just plain white vinegar
1 (15 ounce) already cooked garbanzo beans (chick peas) or black beans rinsed and drained
3 medium juicy ripe tomatoes*, thinly sliced and chopped; put all the juice in too
1 medium onion*, thinly sliced (leave out if you don't like onions, like me.)
1 thinly chopped green pepper* (optional)
garlic powder, salt and freshly ground pepper to taste


In a bowl, combine oil and vinegar. Add beans; toss to coat. (I put in half chick peas and half black beans.) Throw in tomatoes, onions and even a green pepper. Sprinkle, to taste, with garlic powder, salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover and refrigerate for at least one hour, and toss just before serving. If you are like me, don't wait an hour but eat immediately.

Back to School!

For homeschooling families like ourselves, back to school means, well, back to work. Where did the summer go? Sigh.

I don't know about you, but I need all the time savers I can get when it comes to homeschooling! We are getting a good response from our sites:

Dr. Aardsma's Math Drill

Dr. Aardsma's Spelling Drill

These online tools help parents with the daily math and spelling flash card drills. My kids use them too and as a result we have some great spellers in our family that also have excellent recall on their basic math facts, helping them transition smoothly into algebra, advanced math and calculus.

After trying different math curriculum over the years, we have returned to Saxon Math for our children. But, oh, the dreary marking and re-marking of their daily math lessons. After using so many different colored pencils for each set of marking, I couldn't read the sheets anymore!

Gerald suggested he create an online Saxon Math checker or corrector that the kids could put the answers in and see for themselves whether it was right or wrong. If it is right, they move on to the next question. If is it wrong they try again. Great idea!

Ta! Dah! Dr. Aardsma's Math Checker is born and ready for use just in time to start school! What a relief. My daily marking is about 90% reduced! The kids can work faster on their lessons since they don't have to wait for me to get to their marking and I can use my time more effectively as their teacher, laundress, cook, bottle washer, errand runner, etc.

If you use Saxon Math, check it out! Try our FREE 30 day trial!

Dr. Aardsma's Math Checker


* We carry all of these ingredients right here at Mulberry Lane Farm. Available while supplies last.

P.S. To thank you for reading all the way to the bottom of my journal :) we are offering FREE drills to first time registrants! A $16.95 value! Simply e-mail me at with "Free Drill Sept. 2011 Offer" in the subject line. You will receive a FREE one year registration to Dr. Aardsma's Math Drill or Dr. Aardsma's Spelling Drill. One registration per family. Offer ends this coming Saturday, September 17th, 2011 midnight. Tell a friend!


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