Cooking at Hibiscus House for the New Year!


Do you have what you need to cook for New Year's Eve or Day?

We have certain traditions here in the South and I like to follow through with them like my parents and grandparents did. The menu would have to consist of fresh greens preferable collards!  The dried blackeye peas would need to be soaked and you must have a few other ingredients to cook these vegetables with as well.  That would be a little bit of salt pork or fatback, some bacon or hog jowl sliced, or a ham hock.  You must of course have a piping hot pan of cornbread! Hey, if you're like us you may just want to put on a pot of rice to go along with all of it!

Are you ready for 2022?  It's time we get ready!  

It Is Christmas! Merry Christmas!

The tree isn't straightened up yet or decorated
It is still a very beautiful tree
Chuck put it up this year while I baked
Tonight's post is just of lights because I love them!
Merry Christmas to you all!

Homemade Tomato Sauce Using Ball Harvest Pro Sauce Maker and Ball Water Bath Canner

July canning with these Ball appliances.  Found in the post drafts so hey, why not get it out and available for next year's canning/preserving information.  *Plus this blog is a journal for me as well and I know I'll find it helpful.  I hope you do too.

Christmas is almost here and I'm excited but also looking forward to the new year and growing season!  

The love of preserving has been inherited from my wonderful family members for generations.  I'm really glad and it doesn't hurt to be as self-sufficient as possible.  If it saves money in the long run and provides for your family it's all the better.

Baked Chili Cheese Dip Quick & Easy For Beginners As Well

Sharing today a very easy recipe (if you can call it that) it is quick and filling.  The combination is easy enough to layer with mostly canned ingredients.  

Sometimes it is fun to eat a little comfort food (may not be the healthiest) that is pretty tasty. Throw in some purchased chips (not making homemade anything today why spoil the easy?) and pig out!
Did I say that?  Why, yes I did!

Christmas Over The Years At Hibiscus House


Today I'm sharing a little Christmas from the Archives.  I've yet to decorate hopefully this will be my motivation.  

Believe it or not, I've been gardening planting roses, moving shrubs.  It has been a busy time outside.  I've wanted to make some changes in that way for a few years so it has been a welcome job.

Well, Let's get on with the Christmas over the years post.  I'm glad you're here! Friends, some of you may re-visit your memories while we're here.

New Strawberry Patch 2021

Look at these little plants peeking through the net bags!  They can't wait to be planted!  I pre-ordered three varieties of plugs from Ison's:  Camarosa, Sweet Charlie, and of course Chandler. 

The Cottles first planted Sweet Charlie on some family land then later on the Chandler was the variety of choice. I do believe they grew some of the Camarosa as well. Working the fields for many years I've become known locally as 'The Strawberry Lady'.  That's fine with me because I do love strawberries!

Mama always said I should put my garden in this spot I'm now clearing.  It took a few years mama and many strawberry-loving critters later but I'm finally doing just that!  

We were so excited putting this in until lots of pictures were taken.  

Oh be sure to scroll down to the end to see what happened afterward!  We gasped, laughed, and thanked God we weren't out there when 'this thing' happened!

Popcorn Tree Full Of Popcorn!


Not really popcorn of course but it sure looks like it could be.  The nickname is appropriate.  You may remember this tree recently in the spring blooms attracted so many bees, butterflies, and birds.  Then in the fall, the colors were so pretty.  The leaves have now fallen and the tree stands alone with the wonderful popcorn-looking pods.  

I may just have to add a few to a Christmas wreath or two!  I'm sharing a few pictures today of this simple but interesting tree.

It is actually called Chinese Tallow and is quite invasive along the swamps and lakes in South Carolina. I'm not advising you to grow them because of that fact. However, I do hang onto this one because it came from my mama's tree and it has sentimental value. Having said all of that, it is a fun tree to watch.

Peaceful Eastern Bluebirds On A November Day


The bluebirds are such a delight to watch.  They come yearly to build their nests in the nest boxes we provide out here for them.  I declare it seems the babies come back when older and have their young here as well.  They seem very familiar with our place. Either way, they're such loving birds.



No matter how many times I bake a turkey I forget the cooking times for them.

Are you all together on that one and already know?

Just in case you are like me or are new to Turkey Cooking

This post will be easy to get to for

The Turkey Cooking Time Chart!

Fall Colors Around The House


I know this year the leaves are so beautiful leading up to the house

Mama always loved the seasons all of them

I am a Spring and Summer kind of lady but you know what?

These colors are winning me over I now love Fall too!
The sky is so deep blue and that is how it looked too!

Today's post is about the colors 

Thanksgiving is coming soon!

Broccoli Cauliflower Casserole Topped With Homemade Garlic Bread Croutons

We have on hand in our home broccoli and cauliflower quite often.  We do eat them steamed a lot but there are times when a hot casserole hits the spot.

You may remember that I recently was on a whole wheat bread baking kick.  I froze several loaves and they've become very handy.  I've used some slices in French Onion Soup and on this occasion I toasted cubes with a little garlic salt and drizzle of olive oil.  Great croutons and also topper for this casserole.  It was so delicious hot out of the oven.

It's Past Time!

Hey Everybody!  Nope, not the time change, and who likes that anyway?  It is past time for some 'Southern Sayings and Traditions'

I'll start the intro with one my Grandma always said. "Y'all get on down and come on in!"  If in a hurry she'd yell: "GET DOWN AND COMEON IN!"  She yelled it lovingly of course!

Where did she get that from?  I have an idea it came from the horse and buggy days.  Yep, she lived in those days.  Maybe just maybe it meant to get on down from that buggy/wagon and come on in.  I'll bet it did.

I think the front porch is a great place to talk about 'Southern Sayings'

Fresh Green Beans, Yellow Potatoes and Smoked Ham In Instant Pot


Today I'm making a quick filling meal in a pot.  Who loves the green bean potatoes together?  I think most of us do and when adding a little leftover baked smoked ham it is so delicious. I've had some pretty smoked baked ham slices in the freezer since the last ham I baked.  I needed to get that used and out of the freezer, it was taking up some much needed space. 

I'm ordering most foods online lately and the organic vegetables from Misfits are so very good.  My potatoes, onions, and fresh tiny delicious green beans came from them.

One note in this current environment where we have so many food items recalled they are a gift to have for sure.  I'm speaking of the onions I just received in my last shipment.  They are statewide grown in the US and safe from the latest Mexican grown onion recall scare!

Back on topic now today I'm sharing how to cook this mixture in my Instant Pot. A meal in a pot within an hour.  How good is that?

The Popcorn Tree

The true name for this tree is the Chinese Tallow.  (Triadica Sebifera).  This tree native to Asia. was first brought into this country by Ben Franklin!  Who knew?  Not me. 

Ben Franklin wrote a letter in 1772 to Noble Wimberly Jones of the Georgia Colony. In the letter he wrote, "I send also a few seeds of the Chinese Tallow Tree, which will I believe grow and thrive with you. Tis a most useful plant."

Mama had one of these trees and we always loved to watch the bees, birds, and butterflies enjoy it, but the main attraction was to see the popcorn!  That's what she/we called it anyway.  It does look like popcorn doesn't it?  

So, Mama's tree had a baby to pop up beneath it.  Gwen and I dug and dug to remove it.  Finally, we did get it up with a good root. I brought it home planted it here and that's the story behind this beauty.  It now has much sentimental value to me since Mama is now gone. I don't want to cut it down even though there are reasons I probably should.

To get right down to it this tree is invasive to South Carolina and has many bad traits which I'll share with you today.  Well, the good and the bad I'll share.

Product Book Review: The Prepper's Guide To Surviving PANDEMICS, BIOTERRORISM, AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE By William W. Forgey, MD

I know, I know we are all so tired of hearing about this mess and wish/pray to God it would go away but it is still here.  We all have to deal with it in our own way.  

Doc Forgey is a very knowledgeable man and I could go on and on with his affiliations/organizations but you can read some of them here if you wish.  

It amazes me how some can do so much in their lifetime.  He definitely is one that amazes me in this way! He not only has done but continues to do many things.

Today I'm reviewing his latest book The Prepper's Guide To Surviving PANDEMICS, BIOTERRORISM, AND INFECTIOUS DISEASE.  This book covers so much ground in a little space that it too is amazing. Hit the link to see more about it and the chapters included in the book.

I like the fact that he discusses what he knows.  He does so with facts and not taking any one side.  He states things fairly. You be the judge with the information given as we all should be. Information on any subject is a good thing to have in any circumstance.  

New Pressure and Water Bath Canners

Do you can?  I still do!  
Today's topic is canning in the new electric appliances.
Join me as I show the products purchased this year for my home canning.

You can't beat the traditional Presto Home Canner.  I've had one for many years but sometimes you have to try and use other methods.

New Products:  Ball Electric Water Ball Canner, Presto Digital Canner, Instant Pot Max for canning.

One Pound Loaf Bread Made In The Zojirushi Mini Breadmaker


Do you love the smell of fresh bread baking?  Oh my goodness I do!  Today I'm sharing a small breadmaker bread that I've adapted from a King Arthur recipe.  I like their white sandwich bread recipe but this week I've added some  King Arthur Whole Wheat flour to the mixture and I love this light-textured wheat bread! 

Sharing the recipe that I tweaked slightly by adding half whole wheat to half all-purpose flour to the mixture.  Recipe and links in the post.

This N' That September

How fast time flies!  It always amazes me how quickly the days and months pass. 

I've been busy trying to go through lots of things that take up space in this downsized home.  You know, that's not always easy for a self-proclaimed collector (hoarder).  I, personally keep things forever and rarely break or tear anything up.  That can be good and bad.

I see as I go through things how overly blessed we are.  Over the years since moving here, we've given away to family and friends. Donated thousands and thousands of items to those in need.  I'm seeing that we have more as I clear heading in the same directions.

Today's post is a sampling of what has been happening here at Hibiscus House.

Peppermint Sticks Balsam


I found the seeds for these beauties called Peppermint Sticks Balsam from Baker Creek Heirloom Seeds. They can also be found at Select Seeds   They are tender annuals and go from seed to plants in 10-12 weeks.

They are a rare seed to find date back to pre 1828.  Certainly an Heirloom a constant seed in Victorian catalogs that almost disappeared.

They are edible plants and a good source of Calcium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C. The leaves can be cooked into curries and various other recipes.

The color is Candy-Apple Red, (which I love and was the color on Uncle Jr's race car) and white. 

They are so pretty and we've been enjoying them so much.  Sharing in pictures with you today. 

Fig Preserves

I don't know about you but Fig Preserves bring back memories of my Grandmama Cora.  She could make such a delicious hand-rolled homemade biscuit, preserves, and jams you ever put into your mouth.  

As kids, we knew she'd always have a biscuit baked baking or in the process of making when you went to see her.  We knew the large walk-in pantry would be filled with good things to put into that biscuit for sure!  

Heck, we've been known to poke a hole in one of those biscuits and fill it with a homemade pickle be it a bread & butter or dill at times. They were so good!

Her Fig Preserves would melt in your mouth for sure. I didn't get her recipe only remember her cooking things down with sugar to preserve.

Thank goodness for old and new canning books for the information they contain.  

Sunday Chicken Day 2021 New Chickens

 Beautiful eggs in my Willie Nelson cap Johnny gave me

Carly gave me an egg collecting apron and it does come in handy but on this day I just walked out there without it. The cap came in handy! 

 This year we've been blessed with a few chickens, my sister hatched.  Well even though it was a half and half bunch that hatched.  It is still a blessing.  You may say what does that mean?  Half roosters and half pullets.  The odds are usually worse than that so thankful for the new four egg layers!

Since Sunday is chicken day I'm sharing them with you today.

New Picket Fence

Hey, y'all!  I was so happy to have the picket fence sections replaced.  Yes, I know we must be rich right?  The cost of lumber these days makes one jump not step back!  But, this has been a long time coming.  We had to make a decision about the thing. Were we going to let it fall down one picket at a time or were we finally going to replace it? 

This was done in July.  We are letting it dry out before priming and painting.  I can't wait to see the finished project.  For now, it is a work in progress.

Making Strawberry Jam with Ball FreshTech Jam & Jelly Maker Misfits Fruits and Denali Canning Lids

If you know me you already know I love strawberries. Today I'm talking about what you can do if you love jam the season is over in your area and you haven't made jam!  

I've found a number of ways to do things from home.  It is truly amazing what you can do from home these days. 

Today making jam when you've missed the strawberry picking time and for the first time in years have no strawberry jam! 

Zinnias Butterflies Bees Lots Of Pollinators


Zinnias are such simple colorful easily grown annual flowers.  They are such bloomers that we sometimes tend to walk right by and ignore them. They really are beautiful.

I'm amazed at how many butterflies, bees, and other insects really love them.  

Okay, even the Japanese beetles love them.  I so wish to rid the garden of them but on this day I let them stay hoping they'd stay away from my rose blooms while enjoying what the Zinnias have to offer them. 

Sharing the flowers with other little creatures who enjoy them.

Hummingbirds We Love Them


Chuck and I have really been enjoying the early mornings and late afternoons sitting on the porch watching the wildlife.  Carly gave him this pretty colorful feeder for Father's Day. We and the birds have been enjoying it.

I've heard as people become older they have a love of birds and gardening.  I hate to burst that bubble or train of thought but some of us are born with a love of birds and gardening. I am one of them, are you?

Mama and Grandmama always loved the birds so growing up we learned to love them too.  If you feed them they will come.  I love to hear the quick dive-bombing buzzing sounds they make as they come in to feed.  They seem to have no fear even if I'm gardening right below the feeders. 

Today I'm sharing my little unprofessional along with some great PBS videos on Hummingbirds.

Tomato Talk

It does my heart good to be with the little ones and I'm so glad they are on summer break.  This one thinks I'm a farmer and that is a sweet hoot!  What fun to share growing things with them.  Today we are having a show and tell about growing tomatoes.

Product Review: Viking Professional Performance for Your Home

I've had this set of pots since the end of January and thought it was 'High Time' I did a review on them.  Viking has been around for almost 40 years.  Now I cook almost non-stop so my cookware needs to handle a beating for sure.  Here is my review of the product.

A Quick Garden Tour

Good Morning! I hope your day is off to a good start! Oh, how I love this time of year when things are growing and blooming.  Don't you?  

The colors are out of this world!  Let's take a garden walk.  

The Shady Past Of The Family Four O'Clocks


The Four O'clocks
Hummingbirds love them!

I like this pot.  It isn't that old but has a time-worn character but the plant inside the pot has a history behind it! The four o'clocks I moved here from my old home recently have quite shall we say a shady history behind them. (I'm not talking about sunlight either)...

Memorial Day 2021

KIA killed in action MIA missing in action

They lost their lives in battle and are heroes one and all!

All never to come back home or see their families again. 

We should never forget their sacrifice. 

This weekend while we enjoy the time stop think be thankful and remember the sacrifices made by so many that gave us the freedom to enjoy these days. 

May we all stand tall and respect our country and our flag.  The flag isn't just a piece of cloth it is a symbol of a country that we should all be proud of.  Don't let their ultimate sacrifices be in vain.

Stand tall be proud and thankful.  Do the best you can do to make it a better place.

Our country seems to be in turmoil created turmoil if you ask me. Pray for all.  We are a spoiled nation of misguided individuals that have sadly lost their way.  Pray for guidance, peace, and God's will for our world.

Enjoy the time the days and activities those too are things they fought for.



Tractor Supply Producer's Pride Sentinel Coop Product Review

Today's post is a Product Review of a Tractor Supply chicken coop.  Having raised chickens off and on (mostly on) for over twenty years no expert but definitely have a few tips on the subject.  I'll get right to the review.  

Early Spring Strawberry Patch And The Dog That Loves It!


Ahh, finally a strawberry patch that has survived a year in this location!  But wait this one loves to pick and eat the crop daily!  What in the world?  I guess he figured he helped Catie and me plant them they are part his too.  His part must be the entire crop!  Who knows?

Today posting early April strawberries!

Slick Honored With NASCAR Joe Gibbs Racing Throwback Color Scheme On The Denny Hamlin Car This Sunday May 9th Darlington Goodyear 400!

The entire Johnson Family is so proud to have Slick honored in this way.  He would be so proud and I can see that big grin on his face right now!  He always had a smile on his face and this would have made him so happy!  It is very touching and we are all truly thankful!

Joe Gibbs Racing ~~~ Denny Hamlin ~~~ Sponsor Sport Clips Haircuts ~~~ car will have Slick's Color Scheme in Honor of His Memory.

You can see the car this Sunday May 9th.  It will be at the Darlington Raceway for the Goodyear 400.  You can also watch on Fox Sports 3:30 PM EST.

Join us here as the family and others talk about this...

Brown Rice


I've made this with chicken livers and actually, it is very good but today I'm making some with sausage.  I hope you enjoy this simple quick and easy recipe that is filled with vegetables.

Sam Kweskin WWII Soldier War-Time Artist Post-War Atlas Marvel Artist A Life Lived To The Fullest!

Hi all!  Today's post is about a man I met through my search for daddy's WWII Army unit. This will be one of many posts no doubt because a man with such talents can't be covered in just one. 

Sam was a soldier, an artist who had a post-war art career that spanned many companies including  Atlas which later became Marvel.  I mean the man worked with Stan Lee!  They were both lucky to have worked with each other. Sam was also known by his pen name Irv Wesley.

2021 Early Spring Sour Weed Gumball Tree Tour With My Gardening Sidekick Our Dachshund Oskar

Lots and lots of what we call Sour weed are now seen in the fields that surround the house. I know it is a weed but look at how beautiful it is.  The farmers will come around soon to amend the soil for planting but for now, we'll enjoy looking at it.

If you would like to know the names of this weed that we call sour weed around here I'll share a little information:
It is called:  Rumex acetosella but known as red sorrel, sheep's sorrel, field sorrel, and sour weed which is what we around here call it. 

Join me for a walk with Oskar as we catch the views on the property this second day of spring March 2021.

Yellow Jessamine aka Carolina Jasmine, Carolina Jessamine,

Our South Carolina Official State Flower!  What a fantastic display it was this year!  It was out in all of its glory blooming more throughout the pine and maple trees here.  In fact, it was quite a flower show!  More so than in the years past.

The Yellow or Carolina Jessamine/Jasmine ((Gelsemium Simpervirens) became our state flower on March 14, 1924.  A little bit of history for you there.  Some call it Jessomine some Jassmine both are acceptable if you want to you can read more about it here

I'm guilty of taking certain things for granted. Sometimes something so prolific and natural to an area is ignored. 

These pictures were taken on March 29th.  I'm so glad we live in the country and have trees and natural things blooming to enjoy.  I for one intend to enjoy them even more.  

Blueberry Plants and Their Care


I like blueberries, some in the family love them!

Blueberry Inspiration

Last year I put out two new varieties and am excited to see what they will produce!

I know it takes time but that doesn't make it any easier to wait for these plump bites of deliciousness.

 Let's talk blueberries.

At Home More? Cooking More? Stocking Pantry More? Tips From An Almost Lifelong Homemaker

Do you have one designated space that serves as pantry storage?  When we built Hibiscus House I turned a small laundry room into a laundry-Pantry combo. It is small but serves the purpose.

We are all spending more time at home these days and more people are cooking. Today's post is all about stocking the pantry for quick hands-on ingredients that you personally will use for your household.

Once you figure out what you use and run out of the most then you'll know what you need to stock up on.  Even if you're new to cooking you will soon learn what you have to keep shopping for to replenish.

Easy Spanish Rice

Are you tired hungry and do you want something quick, inexpensive and fairly easy to fix?  

This is a recipe I threw together recently.  It smelled so good cooking and was very flavorful!  

Experienced cooks, as well as Beginner cooks on the stove or with experience cooking with pressure pots, can fix this.  

Add a salad or vegetable of your choice and your meal is ready!

Enough talking let's get to the recipe now!

We Serve A Risen Savior


    • Mark 16:1-4: "When the Sabbath was over, Mary Magdalene, Mary the mother of James, and Salome bought spices so that they might go to anoint Jesus’ body. Very early on the first day of the week, just after sunrise, they were on their way to the tomb and they asked each other, 'Who will roll the stone away from the entrance of the tomb?' But when they looked up, they saw that the stone, which was very large, had been rolled away."

    • Jerusalem Tomb of the Garden

    • Mark 16:5-7: "As they entered the tomb, they saw a young man dressed in a white robe sitting on the right side, and they were alarmed. 'Don't be alarmed,' he said. 'You are looking for Jesus the Nazarene, who was crucified. He has risen! He is not here. See the place where they laid him. But go, tell his disciples and Peter, "He is going ahead of you into Galilee. There you will see him, just as he told you."

Fried Chicken Southern Style


My Simple Southern Fried Chicken Recipe

I've been told that I make the best fried chicken ever by many people.  My face is blushing and I am smiling.  That is quite a compliment.  

People that have been in my life for years have told me when seeing me again, "I can't get your fried chicken out of my mind, and it's been 30 years"!  

Yep, I've been told that by many.  The funny thing is I don't make a batter, I don't use egg, I use flour and a few seasonings that's it. 

Today is Palm Sunday, What Does That Mean To Us?

Palm Sunday is the Sunday before Easter that begins the Holy Week. It is the day that we remember and celebrate the day Jesus entered Jerusalem as Savior and King. As Jesus rode a donkey into the town of Jerusalem a large crowd gathered and laid palm branches and their cloaks across the road, giving Jesus royal treatment. The hundreds of people shouted "Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest heaven!"   Jesus' Triumphal Entry Into Jerusalem

Matthew 21: 1-9

1. Now when they drew near Jerusalem, and came to Bethphage, at the Mount of Olives, then Jesus sent two disciples, 2 saying to them, "Go into the village opposite you, and immediately you will find a donkey tied and a colt with her.  Loose them and bring them to Me. 3 And if anyone says anything to you, you shall say, 'The Lord has need of them,' and immediately he will send them."