Thursday, June 23, 2011

Garden Journal

... I promise this is not going to turn into a garden blog. It just happens to be what we've been doing a lot of around here. Browsing through the depths of the internet one day, I ran across the idea of a garden journal that is put together in a 3 ring binder with different sorts of sleeves. I had some baseball card holders I found at the dollar store that would be perfect to hold little plant tags. This way when something works, or doesn't work (like my basil
Source: via Renae on Pinterest
starts), I have a place to put all that information. You could include garden layouts, seed packets, whatever you want. Since I'm new to all this gardening stuff, I need a little help remembering all the details. For example, I had a couple plants out front in the window boxes last year that did great but this spring I couldn't remember what they were called and wasted a bunch of time wandering around plant stores looking for it.
This is what I've put together so far. Today I'm going to add another baseball card holder to keep track of all my failed plants. 
I taped the little plant tags to note cards, when you remove it from the sleeve you can still read all the help directions on the back. On the cards, I've tried to include information on where I've planted it, what time of year and how many we got. So far it's been fun! Kind of like making a really useful scrapbook :) I also drew up a (not to scale) map of our garden, to remember what is where and later in the summer we could add notes if certain plants should be moved next year or given more space, to plant more/less.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Monday, June 20, 2011

Black Beans & Rice with a Twist

In honor of "Meatless Mondays" I'm going to share a really easy recipe with you. Joe and I end up eating rice and beans about once a week purely due to convenience. It's quick, easy, cheap and fairly healthy too. By the way, I'm not a good cook (Joe wears that hat at our house), so if I can make this, then anyone can.

The usual -
1 can of black beans - we use Trader Joe's Cuban Style black beans
Cooked brown rice
Salsa Fresco - we get the giant tub at Costco, but you could make it by hand or whatever

The twist -
2 ears of corn on the cob - grilled and cut off the cob
Chili Lime sauce: to make whisk together
 - 3 T mayo
 - juice of 1/2 of small lime
 - 1/8 tsp salt
 - 1/4 tsp chili powder
 - dash black pepper

Mix it all together and eat up! Sorry, no pictures, it was gone too quick!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Garden Update Part 2

New porch organizer from Pottery Barn, on clearence for $39.99. Its perfect for our little porch. Enough space for a few shoes on bottom and all my cute gardening stuff on top, even a few little gnomes! We don't have space for one of those awesome potting benches you see online everywhere, so this works great, plus it doesn't block the cat window.

Old tomato planters from last year, just got the lavender plant at Costco last week. The other one has yet another mint plant, this one is called mint julep. The one up front is apple mint. 

Two more mint plants in the planter out back, I'll have to ask Joe, this one might be Spanish mint I can't remember.
Lastly, a little tepee we set up for our tomatillo plants out back. We got cages for the tomatoes but those are kinda pricey. Probably won't do that again if they fall apart, will just try making some by hand next time and see how that goes.
Well, Jackson's whining, off to feed our adopted cat.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011


Upcycling is a new and improved version of recycling, its the bigger, cooler, older brother. According to wikipedia, upcycling "is the process of converting waste materials or useless products into new materials or products of better quality or a higher environmental value." Those of you who know me well, know that I'm not a die-hard environmentalist or tree hugging hippee. However, my time in Seattle has changed me (hopefully for the better). What I used to throw into the garbage, I now sometimes give a 2nd look and think, hey, I could make something cool with that. Don't worry, I'm not making modern art with banana peels and eggshells, those go into the composter. 
Enough chit chat, a few weeks ago, I spied some wood grain contact paper at Freddie's, and while I think it would look pretty dated and hideous in a drawer, it definitely looked like it would have some potential in other areas, I just wasn't sure what. Then I realized (a few weeks later), it would be perfect for making this empty cookie tin I have sitting around avoiding the garbage, into a s'mores fixin' box.
All full of yumminess!!
Then sitting empty, waiting for me to decide its fate ;)
All ready for summer and some mallow roasts!

Last, a quote from "Sandlot" to explain exactly what a s'more is.
Ham: Hey, Smalls, you wanna s'more? 
Smalls: Some more of what? 
Ham: No, do you wanna s'more?
Smalls: I haven't had anything yet, so how can I have some more of nothing?
Ham: You're killing me Smalls! These are s'more's stuff! Alright now pay attention. First you take the graham, you stick the chocolate on the graham. Then you roast the 'mallow. When the 'mallows flaming... you stick it on the chocolate. Then cover with the other end. Then you scarf. Kind of messy, but good!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Golden Gardens

We just got back from a quick trip to Seattle. Despite being short, it was a fun trip. Saturday evening we hung out with Joe's folks. Also, got to see Peter, Hannah and a bunch of friends at Pete's little graduation get-together at their place. On Sunday, we picked up my new bike! Joe found me a Trek Fuel EX8 on, I'm pretty excited about it! I've never had a full suspension bike before and it fits way better than my last bike. Anyways, enough about that. Sunday, I also got to hang out with Jenn, we got some coffee and squeezed in a walk around Greenlake. Picked up a pina colada cupcake, some new scrapbooking paper and baker's twine at U-Village - I got six different colors!! I love that stuff, I actually love all kinds of twine. (Someday, when I'm rich (lol), I'm going to have a whole spool of every color and it will be awesome!) After getting stuffed with Indian food at the Bengal Tiger, we decided to go for another walk. We went to Golden Gardens and walked on the beach. Davidde and Joe taught me how to skip rocks! It was so fun! Then today before taking off, we went to Trader Joes's to stock up ;) It will be awesome when the Spokane location finally opens up, I miss that place!

Garden updates and crafty stuff later this week!

Thursday, June 09, 2011

Garden Update

Watch out... this might get a little long! Several weeks ago, we rented a rototiller for an hour, its so nice having a hardware store right down the block. We tilled up that area in the back that has been empty since the major yard makeover last summer. Lets start from the beginning... It initially looked like this before we got the backhoe out last year - the weed mountain!
Then as you may remember, Joe and my dad took the skidster to the backyard (and parts of the front) and leveled everything. We had already removed the existing brick patio and flagstone walkway that was sunk into the ground and covered with grass. Joe and my parents had also spent an entire day riping out 20+ gangly arborvitaes that were overgrown and blocking out all light. And the old chain link fence that was kind of in the middle of the yard, also came out (seriously, why not around the edge of the yard?)
Back to the present, this is what it has been looking like for the last few months.
Joe manhandling the rototiller. While he did that, I loosened the dirt around the edges with a shovel, we didn't want to tear up the sprinkler system Joe just finished fixing last summer. I also put up the little fence that goes around the edge (which was free, left in a pile of garbage by the last owners). I'm hoping that will prevent me knocking over one of the sprinkler heads again with the car (oops). Then I also picked out the big rocks and roots that were everywhere.
Lastly, we moved the old window boxes out back, we're using to those to grow herbs. This way, we can grow tons of mint but it won't overthrow the entire garden. Bonus - the old boxes don't have to go to the landfill. :)
Next up... new planters, veggies and porch organization.

Wednesday, June 08, 2011

Laundry Soap Update

After making that huge batch of laundry soap, and figuring out the difference in cost per load of laundry, I started wondering how much money I would actually save per month or per year. So for the month of May I counted how many loads of laundry we actually did. (I know, I'm a nerd). Anyways.... total of 12 loads x .20 cents = $2.40 in savings per month or $28.80 per year. So not a huge amount but all the little stuff does add up. Anyone else have interesting ways they like to save their hard earned cash?

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Outdoor Lanterns

It seems like months ago since I first started making these lanterns... it probably was. I decided that I need lids on them if they were going to stay outside during the summer and not fill up with water and grow mosquitoes. Ick. I finally found enough lids, but the mismatched pickle jar lids and gold canning rings were kinda uggo. It finally stopped raining long enough spray paint those babies. I used a color I had on hand, light aquaish. And they happily match my shell back chair perfectly! Love it when that happens!
Now, back to garage sale organizing...

New Tricks

They say old dogs can't learn new tricks... I can't really speak to that. Malcolm on the other hand, is finally figuring out a few things around here. He has finally learned how to use his kitty window, which is great since he no longer whines incessantly when he wants to go out. It took him awhile to understand he could open it by himself. 

The other thing he has learned recently is how to climb the hawthorne tree,which is kind of cute and funny (because it's short and would be easy to get him down if he got stuck). Hopefully, this doesn't translate into climbing bigger, taller trees soon (fingers crossed)!

In other news, summer is finally trying to get started here, we've been getting lots of yard work done, garden post coming soon. We're gearing up for a garage sale at my folk's this weekend. Yesterday, I got "fitted" for a bike and Joe's been looking for a good deal for me, hoping to get a lot of single track riding in this summer. 

Saturday, June 04, 2011

Farm Chicks Show

I finally got to check out the Farm Chicks Show this year! It was down at the Interstate Fairgrounds, going on today and tomorrow. It was really cool, I got some great stuff and there is so much inspiration there it's almost overwhelming! Serena even signed my book "The Farm Chicks in the Kitchen"!

A few pictures of some of the booths there

 And a few pictures of some of the loot I brought home :)

Hope everyone is having a good weekend!!

Thursday, June 02, 2011

Part 2

Joey trying it out. Seeing what it's all about. Seriously, if it was warmer I might try sleeping out there :)

Wednesday, June 01, 2011

Dreams Do Come True... occasionally

I've been dreaming of a porch swing for years, but we haven't had a porch, not even a little one. Now, we have a porch but its not big enough for a porch swing. So I started dreaming about a hammock, one of the neighbors a couple blocks down has one and it looks like the perfect way to spend a lazy day! So I pondered that for a while but don't really a good spot for one. Needless to say, one day as I was wasting time looking at stuff online, I learned of the hammock swing. Pure genius! Only has to be hung by one spot, so no perfect tree spacing required or awkward looking hammock stands. Also won't get blown over like a stand alone swing has the potential too. I found one on for a reasonable price, it even ended up being on sale, score! When it got here, we tried to give it a test drive in the living room, but it's just not quite the same with people trying to hold you up :) (Picture courtesy of Jenn's blog.) Joe hung it up for me yesterday and its super comfy and great for relaxing after a long day at work. So long .....ZZzzzzzz