World’s Best Snickerdoodles Recipe

Snickerdoodles

Photo by Jim Winstead under CC BY 2.0

Who doesn’t love snickerdoodles? Well, someone who has never had them. I am a cinnamon lo-o-o-o-o-ver and I grew up on this recipe.  I never miss a chance to get a snickerdoodle – but I never have found one that tastes as good as the family recipe. I think it is two things that make them great – the cream of tartar that is a must in a good snickerdoodle recipe and the mixture of sugar and cinnamon that the cookies are rolled in.

I never knew why cream of tartar was such a magic ingredient of a great snickerdoodle until I started this post and looked up the ingredient.  According to Allrecipes.com, cream of tartar separates a tangy, chewy snickerdoodle from just a plain ole sugar cookie rolled in cinnamon. The acid in cream of tartar gives those yummy cookies their distinctive tangy flavor and it prevents sugar in the cookie dough from crystallizing into crunchiness, giving snickerdoodles that wonderful chewy texture.

Many snickerdoodle recipes have cream of tartar, but I have never seen one that had the same ratio of cinnamon and sugar to roll the dough in. Most are heavy on sugar with just a touch of cinnamon, but this recipe has a 1:1 ratio. Heavy on the cinammon – so incredibly yummy.

So here is the recipe that my grandmother got in a March 23, 1958 San Antonio Express-News article. The recipe was from Mrs. M.L.T. of Kelly AFB. Thank you wherever you are!

Ingredients:

Cream
2 sticks of butter
1 -1/2 C sugar

Add
2 eggs and mix well

Sift and add, blending well
2-3/4 C flour
2 t. cream of tartar
1/2 t. salt
1 t. baking soda

Roll dough into balls the size of a walnut and roll each ball into a mixture of 2 T. each of cinnamon and sugar.

Place an inch apart on ungreased cookie sheet and bake for 10 minutes at 400 degrees.  (Center will still be a little soft when you remove it from the oven.)

Yields about 7 dozen cookies.

Let me know how you like these wonderfully addictive cookies!!!!

 

DIY Dirt-y Underwear Soil Analysis

Soil Analysis Heading

Now, who says gardening can’t be fun – when you can use cotton boxers to diagnose the nutrients in your soil?  The Soil Conservation Council of Canada is conducting a fun campaign.  They are asking you to “plant” a pair of 100% men’s cotton underwear in the ground about six inches and leave them for two months. When you dig them up – the results will help you to analyze the health of up your soil.  Say what?  Yes, according to Anthony Bly, SDSU Extension Soils Field Specialist, science makes this work.  Why? Well, soil microorganisms require carbon to survive. Apparently, cotton briefs contain high quantities of yummy carbon that soil microorganisms love to gobble up.

When the briefs (wonder why just men’s briefs work?) are dug up, the level of decomposition can tell you how how many organisms have been eating the briefs.  The more they have eaten, the healthier your soil is.

Several extension services have conducted this experiment.  South Dakota State University Extension and Clemson and North Carolina Extension have more detailed data on their results, if you want to study the science in detail.

To conduct this experiment yourself, you will need a new pair of 100% white cotton briefs, a shovel and a marker flag. The steps are simple:

  1. First, dig a narrow trench about six inches deep
  2. Bury the underwear in the trench, leaving a little bit of the waistband out to mark the location
  3. Mark the place with a flag so you can easily find it
  4. Leave briefs buried about two months
  5. Dig up carefully and determine level of decomposition

OK – seriously, who isn’t going to go out a get a pair of briefs and try this?  If you do the experiment, be sure to let me know how it goes!!!!

THE BEST nail brush for gardeners: Beauty 360 Dual-Sided Nail Brush

Let’s face it – gardeners have dirty fingernails at all times of the night or day.  And, we need to clean them before presenting to the public. If you haven’t looked for fingernail brushes lately, you might be surprised to find they can be difficult to locate.  The bristles on the nail brushes that I could find were weak and would not hold up to multiple times daily deep scrubbing.

Then, I found the ultimate, excellent perfect gardener nail brush at CVS for only $3.60.  I got two!!!!

What makes them perfect?  The Beauty 360 Dual Sided Nail Brush has a regular nail brush on one side that is full and has stiff – but not too stiff – bristles that are great for scrubbing the dirt off your hands. They have held up to extremely vigorous use and showed little wear.

Nailbrush Front

But the magic part of this baby is the other side. On the other side you will find a perfect tool for cleaning all that wonderful dirt out from under your fingernails.  It has a single row of bristles that lay almost flat against the brush handle. You just slide the bristles under your fingernails and scrub away. I was dubious whether this would work or not – but it works like gangbusters!

Nailbrush Other Side
So – if you are a gardener – or work outside and get your nails dirty, then this is the perfect nail brush for you. Buy one for every sink – you won’t be sorry.

DIY Potting Bench in an Hour for Under $5

Potting Bench Header

As I am sure almost everyone out there knows from experience, it is hard to keep going when your back hurts. And even if you force yourself to keep going, at the end of the day it is hard to have a smile on your face and even harder to sleep. So, I am hugely in favor of creating work spaces that are back savers. If that can be done quickly and at little cost, then that is even better.

After one sleepless, painful evening following one full day of bending over transplanting, I had a greenhouse full of beautiful plants and the determination to not do that again. As it was in the spring, with loads more plants to transplant, I needed a quick (and painfree) solution.

So – you guessed it – I headed to my pile of pallets. As you know, I use those babies for everything.  Such a beautiful solution for so many things. I found a pallet that was (dimensions here).  Wow – that would be awesome space for a potting bench, I decided.  The slats were nicely spaced apart so pots could be set on it. No adjustments or additions to the slates needed.

The Pallet for the Potting Bench
Making the bench was easy as pie. I cut four 2×4 boards 32″ long. Then I used two 3- 1/2 star-headed screws to attach each leg at the corner. From previous work on greenhouse benches, I knew I had to attach a cross brace on the legs to stabilize the bench and I did so using scraps I had in my lumber pile.  I wanted to make things even easier, and since I made the potting bench lickety split, I decided to make a smaller one to put pots and supplies on. Now I can plant and transplant and work with plants all day long and my back is happy.

Potting bench
While this bench is in a temporary location, it will find a permanent home when things slow down. I will probably seal it so that it lasts longer, but for now, I am loving every sitting down moment with the plants and my potting bench.

I had spare 2x4s that I used for the legs, but if you had to buy the wood, it would cost around $5.00-10.00 depending on the type that you get.  The screws are about a dime each.  I used 16, so that would have been a total cost of $ 1.60 for the bench. Even if  you had to buy the screws and the 2×4 lumber, the cost of the potting bench would be less that $10.00. What a back saving deal that would be!!!

I hope this encourages you to come up with solutions that will make your life more enjoyable and your gardening less painful. You don’t have to build something complicated, expensive and time consuming. Problem solving can be as simple as slapping four legs on a pallet for a new potting bench. If you want to take the time to paint it – then by all means, do so. But, look for solutions that will allow you to re-use and re-cyle. It makes for a better life, better world.  Let me know what exciting solutions you have come up with re-using and re-cycling. And, if you make a potting bench, let me know how much you love it!

As always, be sure to use pallets that are safe for you and your environment. If you are not sure how to make sure your pallets are safe, this post is short and very clear.  In a nutshell, look for pallets that have the “HT,” heat-treated label.

BookBub for Free Books

Digital BooksI am an avid reader. In fact, I have trouble going to sleep at night without first reading at least a few pages from my latest novel. When I decided we had to downsize stuff in the home, sadly, many books were donated or given to friends. At that point, I started reading books on my phone. This accomplished at least two things. I had a very small footprint for books in my smaller house and I knew where my phone was every night.

At first, I got free books at a variety of different spots offering free books – but had trouble finding stuff I wanted to read. So, I enrolled in Kindle Unlimited and discovered I could find plenty to read from little known or unknown authors – much of which was really quite enjoyable. But, it still cost money.

Then, I happened upon BookBub from I know not where. Curious, I signed up. Now I get free books all the time. You have got to see this site to believe the deals you will get – for free.  Once you sign up, you tell them what you are interested in and they find deals for you all over the net.  You get daily emails with preview of books based on your interests. The books are high quality from well-known authors and they are very inexpensive – ranging from 99 cents to $2.99. But almost every day, they have one or two books for free. The books that cost money are a great value. For example, the digital version of The Bitterbynde Trilogy listed for $19.99, and was available through Bookbub for only $2.99. I made a commitment to myself that I would only get the free books.  Except for one time before I made the commitment and one time that I clicked on the wrong button, I have only downloaded free books.

So – how does Bookbub work? According to the site:

BookBub is a free service that helps millions of readers discover great deals on acclaimed ebooks while providing publishers and authors with a way to drive sales and find new fans. Members receive a personalized daily email alerting them to the best free and deeply discounted titles matching their interests as selected by our editorial team. BookBub works with all major ebook retailers and devices, and is the industry’s leading ebook price promotion service.

I have more books than I can possibly finish in several years and get more everyday, with a small book footprint in my house to boot. Personally, I like to read fiction before falling asleep – but they have plenty of non-fiction to choose from as well.

If you like to read – and I really hope you do, you cannot go wrong signing up at BookBub today.