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Why Read a Fiction Series on Gardening?

As I mentioned a few posts back, I recently found a guest post I’d written at the request of someone who then never followed up. If they posted it out there without my knowledge, then mea culpa. I can’t remember who it was and don’t feel like sifting through old emails. 🙂

Why Read a Fiction Series on Gardening?

Let’s face it, there are a lot of good gardening books out in the world for both adults and children. Why would anybody want to read a​ fiction​ series?

There are several reasons. First, fiction is very capable of teaching things. Both truth and facts can be contained in a piece of fiction. Think historical fiction if you have any doubt.

Additionally, fiction has the capability of asking a lot of “what if” questions, much like scientific hypothesis, but about more than just science. Fiction can easily pose questions about social justice, responsibility, politics, and the like.

Fiction can prick at your emotions, making you happy or sad or angry. Unlike nonfiction, fiction will probably leave more questions unanswered than answered.

My series, the Seed Savers series, is a fiction series set in a future where gardening is illegal and real food unknown or unattainable by a majority of the population. The story unfolds with three children (ages 7-12) who have been given a seed from an older woman in their community. They don’t yet know what a seed is or its relationship to food, but they are determined to find out. The first book contains quite a lot of gardening instruction as the children begin to learn this forgotten skill.

The Seed Savers books are listed as ages 10 and up, but it really depends on a child’s reading ability. Some as young as 7 have read at least the first couple of books. The last two books are a little “older” in feel, and focus more on political themes.

Children who enjoy the outdoors and especially gardening are sure to identify with the main characters, Clare, Dante, and Lily.

Seed Savers-Treasure, the first in the series, has been used in schools with sustainability and gardening units, in after-school and/or community gardening programs, read in book clubs, and families–especially on farms or who garden–have enjoyed reading Seed Savers together.

So why read a fiction story about gardening? Why not! If you love thoughtful fiction and have often thought it would be nice to find a novel dedicated to food and gardening, look no further–Seed Savers is for you! (Or possibly a great gift for someone you know.)

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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3 More Days…(Series Ebook Sale)

Hi there. I hope your Thanksgiving was great and that your Christmas plans are buzzing right along!

In case you don’t receive my newsletter or subscribe to any of my social media, I wanted to let you know that all five Seed Savers books are half-price until Friday, December 4. This only happens once or twice a year, so grab ’em now!

If you’re new to the series, this is a good introduction, or here.

The books are also available in paperback. There’s still time to order author-signed books for Christmas (directly from me)! The best deal is to order a complete set for just $60 (plus postage.) Just hit the contact button and send me an email. 🙂

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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When Life Gives You Eggs…Make a Dutch Baby

So I’ve been meaning to post my dutch baby recipe for YEARS. In fact, before I started this post, I searched my website to make sure I hadn’t already blogged about it. I LOVE this dutch baby recipe. Over the years I’ve taken scores of photos of my babies, and now I’m finally posting! (Okay, update . . . I found this in my “draft” file, meaning even when I wrote it I didn’t post!!! The hens are not delivering as many eggs now in the dead of winter, but this recipe still rocks!)

We currently have four hens. This is our third “batch.” The first two times we got three hens, but something always went awry (one would be mean, or one would be a rooster) and we’d soon end up with two. In our last case, we had a rooster chick and then another hen died suddenly before she was 2 years old, leaving us with a solo, lonely chicken. So this time, I started with four to be safe.

Well, you guessed it, all four have grown into wonderful, egg-laying hens. So besides selling eggs to our neighbor, my favorite go-to egg recipe is the following Dutch Baby.

I got the original recipe out of a newspaper years ago and it has two variations, one sweet, one not. I almost exclusively make the sweet one. I suppose because it is so EASY and I always have the ingredients. For the sauce part I usually use plum syrup or jam and frozen blueberries, just because I have those items on hand.

It’s quick, it’s easy, and it’s yummy!

Sweet Dutch Baby with Blueberry Topping

  • 1 cup whole milk
  • 4 large eggs
  • 2 tsp vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 1 cup flour
  • 2 Tb butter
  • 1 Tb sugar
  • frozen blueberries
  • jam or syrup

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Whisk together the milk, eggs, vanilla, and salt. (I don’t necessarily use whole milk.) Vigorously whisk in the flour until mostly smooth. You can let it sit with a few small lumps while you prepare the pan and then rewhisk out the lumps. Brown the butter in a heavy-bottom 10-inch skillet (I use cast iron). Rewhisk your mixture and then pour it into the skillet. Transfer to oven and bake until puffed and golden, 15 to 17 minutes. Without removing Dutch Baby from the oven, sprinkle with the sugar and turn oven to broil. Broil until very puffy and golden brown a couple of minutes longer.

To make the sauce I just add blueberries to whatever fruit syrup or jam I have in a small saucepan and cook it until the berries are hot.

Enjoy!!!

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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It’s Been Too Long

So it’s been a long time since I last posted. August, in fact. To be fair, it’s been a strange year.

I posted quite frequently when the pandemic first hit. But sometime during August, Covid hit here and then everything changed. One of our adult children caught it and decided to move back in with us. Our household (a quiet, 2 person, 2 cat household) was suddenly in flux.

And then came the wildfires of September. I actually started a post during that time but it never made it out of the draft file. Our daughter and her boyfriend had just arrived from out of state and we’d had a camping trip planned for months . . . enter the “century” windstorm that hit during our first night of camping. Mix that with the already burning (“contained”) fires and the next thing you know we were evacuated. You get the picture.

So here it is nearly Thanksgiving and it’s time for me to get going again. Try to get back to writing, resuscitate my social media presence, put together a Thanksgiving dinner on my own . . .

But wait

There’s more.

I’m also starting a new job next week!

I’m hoping I’ll still be able to do all the aforementioned things. The job is half-time, so it’s not out of the question.

In the meantime, I found a post in my draft that I hadn’t published, plus one I prepared as a guest post that the owner of the blog who requested it never followed up on . . . so that’s a good start.

Until then, I hope you’ve all been well and thanks for stopping by!

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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My Guest Appearance on the Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener Radio Show

Earlier this month I had the wonderful opportunity to be interviewed by Joey and Holly Baird of the Wisconsin Vegetable Gardener Radio Show.

To hear the interview (and so much more) go here. I am in segment three.

These are the questions they asked:

1. This is the first time we’ve interviewed a fiction writer, where does your passion for writing come from?

2. Tell us about your book series and where did your inspiration come from?

3. You like to motivate social change for young adults, why is that important?

4. How has going from farm life to city life benefitted you?

5. You are the member of your local seed bank, what is a seed bank and why would someone want to join one?

6. How can we find out more about you and your books?

Other great topics covered on this episode were:

Not all weeds are bad weeds in your garden, pressure canning rights and wrongs, and in segment four Joey and Holly answer garden questions! Check it out!

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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A Story of Squash (Zucchini, that is)

As most of you know who follow my blog, I have only a tiny backyard garden. But sometimes I grow things in my parent’s garden. They are farmers. 

It seems the spaghetti squash seeds I planted out there were both spaghetti squash and zucchini! So I am the proud owner of a very prolific zucchini plant. And since I only get out to the farm once a week, I always find some too large zucchinis. If you are also the proud owner of a zucchini plant, you know the drill.

Here are some of my favorite ways to eat zucchini:

Marinated Veggie Sandwich : This sandwich is unbelievably good! It was a little complicated this time because I made the sun-dried tomato pesto and the ciabatta bread (ciabatta bread is very time-consuming to make and I didn’t know that going in!)

For the record, I didn’t have goat cheese or arugula, but it’s A SANDWICH, so improvise! I’m not the best at grilling, but YUM! Even the leftover zucchini that I’d grilled was great a few days later in something else I made.

Zoodles! There are many great zoodle recipes out there. Here is one I have saved on Pinterest, but I improvised, using fried tofu, for a meatless dinner. I recommend setting the cut zoodles between paper towels before cooking and then don’t overcook! You can use a lot of zucchini this way.

I also really love just sauting sliced zucchini with garlic and seasonings as a nice side, but this won’t use up as much squash and is best with the smaller sizes.

If I can’t use the zucchini fresh (i.e. there is just too much!), I usually shred it and freeze it and later on I make zucchini bread or zucchini brownies. Make sure you have a brownie recipe with enough chocolate! Not all zucchini brownie recipes are created equal. 🙂 And besides the traditional dark zucchini bread, I’ve recently made a lemon flavored zucchini bread–yum.

My sister recently told me about using zucchini in a curry sauce so I will be trying that soon!

What’s your favorite way to eat zucchini?

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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Summer Busy-ness

Oh dear, a look at the date and I see it’s been three weeks since I’ve posted! Honestly, I write a post in my head weekly, sometimes daily; I even take the photos! But then I never get to it.

I’m a morning person. For the last month we’ve had hot, sunny weather. By the time I finish watering, harvesting from the garden, etc., my inspiration to sit at the computer and blog is gone. There, that’s my excuse. But guess what? It’s raining!!! I don’t have to water!!! Relief.

So here is a catch-up of what I’ve been doing in photos, and maybe I’ll be back soon with more words. But we all need a break sometimes, right? 🙂

A chocolate martini!? What?!
Saving the harvest
Too much basil!
My brother has plums!
Update on the compost pile!
Complimentary picture of Piper–my how she’s grown!

I hope all is well in your neck of the woods.

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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2 Book Reviews & A Camping Trip

Our Lovely Spot

My husband and I went camping last week for three nights. It wasn’t easy, because this is the first time he’s needed to be on oxygen. It was a forest service campground without electricity. We camp with a tiny teardrop trailer which is one step above a tent. Despite the extra prep, I ended up glad we went.

The weather was also cooler than we prefer. Since I couldn’t spend much time in the water and turned lazy on my plans to hike, I got a lot of reading done. I finished a read-through edit of my WIP, finished reading a novel I started months ago (When Elephants Fly), and then quickly read the “spare” I’d thrown in, a tiny little book that had lingered unread on my shelves for who knows how long (The Lilies of the Field).

I promised myself I’d write at least short reviews for each, though now almost a week has passed.

When Elephants Fly by Nancy Richardson Fischer caught my attention because the main character has a history of mental illness in her family (her mother) and she has a “life plan” to do things to avoid triggers. I was disappointed that this turned out to be less of the theme than the adventure involving saving a baby elephant. I also think there was enough substance to the book that we could have done without the side romance, but since it’s a YA book, I suppose the pressure was there to have romance. I’d give it 3 or 4 stars, but I didn’t love it. The writing sort of bugged me, and I generally won’t read anything written in first person present tense, but I make a few exceptions. For me it’s a very annoying verb tense to read at length. (I know it’s popular, so let’s hope that changes soon.) I’m sure it would have helped if I’d read the book straight through in a few days rather than being one of those that gets set down for too long in between.

The spare book I threw in “just in case” was terrific! The Lilies of the Field by William E. Barrett is an older book, and only seven chapters long. The movie starring Sidney Poitier is probably more well-known. I’ve most likely seen the movie, but if I have, I didn’t remember, so nothing was spoiled.

It’s a well-told, well-written tale about a man recently out of the Army traveling across the West, taking on handyman jobs as he goes. He ends up helping some nuns. I don’t really want to say any more about the plot. Homer (the man) is a Black man and the nuns are German who don’t speak English. They have fled communist Germany. They live in an area of mostly Mexican immigrants. In my opinion, Barrett does a good job of subtly speaking to the issues of the different backgrounds and the inequities they’ve all faced. The story is also about faith, as alluded to in the title, taken from a Bible verse about faith:

Who of you by worrying can add a single hour to his life? And why do you worry about clothes? Consider how the lilies of the field grow: They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his glory was adorned like one of these.

I really liked it! And such a quick read. Five stars.

All in all, it was a good trip. The campground was busy, but it was the kind of campground where you have your own space. I didn’t see a mask or hear a news story for four days and that was worth it. When I set my chair up in front of the river and just watched it and listened to it, I knew that even if it was too cold to swim, it was enough just to be there in front of the water.

Peace.

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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How Does Your Garden Grow Garden Update June 2020

I snapped a few shots of my garden last week and I’m sure it’s gone ahead and kept on growing, but here’s how it looked then. How is your garden growing?

And now a peek at mine…

cabbage

The cabbage is doing very well, heading up earlier than usual. I read an article saying cabbage really loved being next to rhubarb and it certainly seems like it!

broccoli

The broccoli isn’t as big as I’d like, but it’s not too bad. I tried adding more nutrients today to see if I could make it get bigger.

Purple beans

The bush beans are just getting started, while the pole beans along the fence are struggling for space since the “volunteer” nasturtiums took over due to having to plant the beans about three times!

Walla Walla sweet onions

Looks like a banner year for onions. Wish I would have been able to snag some storage onions but I didn’t want to buy a bag with 100 bulbs (I don’t have the space) and I couldn’t find anyone to split with me.

Crazy snow peas

The peas are just way too tall. I don’t know why they do that. My sister’s peas also reached for the sky. But they are putting out some fine pea pods which we’ve been enjoying in stir-fry.

And then of course there are the berries. Yum!

The basil is finally starting to look good after a little cold damage and the tomato and pepper plants are looking fine. The cucumbers also look promising, but once more the melons don’t seem to be growing well. I’ll do another update later one.

How about you? What are your successes or disappointments? Please share in the comments below.

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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Anniversary & July 4th Celebration Sale

Woohoo! Today is the one year anniversary of the debut of Seed Savers-Unbroken, fifth and final book in the award-winning Seed Savers series.

Seed Savers is a futuristic scifi series for ages 10 and up set in the United States at a time when gardening is illegal and most people don’t know about “real food.” Additionally, the media is tightly controlled by the Big Brother government.

“If you are looking for a series that can help YA readers understand all the control the government can have over it’s citizenry, this is an amazing example.”

To celebrate the release “birthday,” Unbroken will be marked down (ebook only) to $2.99! ADDITIONALLY, because the entire book takes place THE WEEK LEADING UP TO INDEPENDENCE DAY, the sale lasts through July 4th. Get the book now and read as if in real time. 🙂

Sandra Smith is the author of the awesome and award-winning middle grade/YA series, Seed Savers. Visit her Facebook and Pinterest pages. Follow her on Twitter. Sign up for the newsletter!

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