Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Garden Update & New Toys

I got a new toy this past week! This is my new 20" iMac. It's wonderful! 
My ibook was so full it was barely running, not to mention that it's 4 years old. 
So, to be able to complete an upcoming project I have as well as prepare for Hubby to go 
back to school, we decided to do this. The freelance project will cover a good portion 
of the cost of this, as well as a couple other upcoming projects :) I do so enjoy it already!

And along with it, I got a new ipod touch for free. I love this little guy as well! Lots of great apps to make my life easier :)

And just for fun, my breakfast. Kashi 7 grain waffles (I got some GREAT coupons for these :) topped with my homemade strawberry syrup. Unfortunately, all of the critters in my yard have been eating all the strawberries, so these are not my own. But, I did use berries that were too ripe for eating to make the syrup, so I feel pretty good about it. It's yummy!

The gardens are coming along nicely. They're really enjoying the rain we had all weekend paired with the heat of this week.

My potato forest is growing. The big ones are starting to flower! 
Hopefully I can get some more soil around them this week, I'm sure they need it!

And as you can see my rouge pumpkins are all going CRAZY! 
They're bigger than just about anything else in the gardens!

I have baby beans!

Happy Tuesday!

Monday, June 22, 2009

Menu Monday: Back on Track

So I'm finally back to menu planning, I think, I hope :)

Monday - chili (it's in the crockpot as I type...though I forgot to set it on the porch, so it's also heating up my kitchen :( )

Tuesday - meeting with a new Insurance agent after work, so it will be a late, quick dinner.
Burgers on the grill with whatever veggies I can find, including a fresh salad from the garden.

Wednesday - grilled chicken* & hopefully some new potatoes from my garden!

Thursday - pork chops with broccoli and potatoes. Today is the only day to cook inside. It's the coolest forcasted temperature of only 82, so I guess this will do. I may move this to grilled pork chops if it's too hot! Anyone got a good pork chop marinade?

Friday - cookout with friends! Grilled chicken*and veggies with a big, fresh, garden salad and birthday cake!

Saturday - Early in the day we have a wedding shower, then planning on coming home for some serious time in the backyard. It's been neglected. We'll probably end up showering and heading out somewhere for a quick bite to avoid heat and mess in he kitchen.

Sunday - hoping for some homemade pizza!

As you have noticed and I pointed out, most of our summer cooking avoids using the stove/oven. Our downstairs stays pretty cool for the most part during the summer, especially when we remember to keep it closed up during the day. However, we have a skylight in the kitchen and the stairway to upstairs is off of the kitchen. The upstairs is always hot. We have to put in a window air conditioner just so Hubby can sleep (which went in last weekend, much to my dismay). That hot air occasionally escapes downstairs. And the skylight creates a bit of greenhouse effect on the sunny days. We have AWESOME light in the kitchen and rarely have to use the overhead lighting...but it does get hot for a few months. So I avoid use of the oven, especially during daylight hours.

I have discovered a wonderful new marinade for my grilled chicken. I will be using this indefinitely I think, it's great! I don't ever measure exactly, sorry. The only downside I've seen is that using the sweet soy does open the chicken up to a little more "blackening", but I think that's also due to my inability to focus only on the cooking meat on the grill :)
  • Two parts sweet soy sauce (or soy sauce mixed with a little honey)
  • One part balsamic (or red wine) vinegar
  • about 2 t garlic powder
  • about 2 t onion powder
  • about 2 t chives
  • one part olive oil
  • (add water if you need to stretch it a bit more)

That's my plan, we'll see how I do! Stay tuned for more garden updates...and check out orgjunkie.com for more menu monday!

Thursday, June 18, 2009

Another long-lost update

The last week has been another busy one! I went on a bit of a spending spree :) I purchased a new computer, a new ipod, new running shoes and new shoes for work. Not the most frugal of times, but some things are necessary. And what's the use in being frugal if it doesn't mean you can buy things you really want every once in a while?

I just got the new computer Tuesday, so I've been busy setting it up. Hopefully it will mean more regular posts now!

Nothing much has gone on in the garden. I put up the strings and tomato supports for the trellis. The beans are beginning to flower and I need to harvest and freeze some spinach. Recently discovered that my Hubby REALLY doesn't like Spinach, so my thought of throwing it in everything haven't turned out well. I'll just freeze it and save it for myself I guess :( I also want to add it to some lunch time salads.

My goals for this weekend are to take stock of my pantry and freezer and get back into menu planning. I haven't been to the grocery for more than $20 of necessities in a few weeks, so taking stock will be helpful. I need to grill up some chicken for lunch next week. And of course I'd like to freeze the Spinach. I'd also love to go to a u-pick farm and get some berry for processing. I don't think that will happen though. We've got a graduation party on Saturday and a baptism on Sunday (on hour away), as well as it being Father's Day.

Lots going on to talk about, hopefully I can get it down on paper! (or keyboard I guess).

Thanks for not giving up on me during these weeks of lean posting!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Adventures in Procrastination

Once again I have disappointed people by not posting for way too long. Sorry. Life has been very...full lately. Not necessarily busy, but the last thing I want to do when I have a free minute is sit at the computer. Sorry. It's nothing personal, but it's what I do all day long. I enjoy a break every once in a while :)

But, I have been thinking about blogging and taking pictures! We'll play a little game of catch-up, enjoy:

More eating from the garden this week. It's still just lettuce, but it is oh-so-yummy! And this week I made my own dressing...kinda. I brought in leftover chicken and asparagus with the sauce I made for the pasta and warmed it all up. I cut the chicken up and poured some of the sauce over my little "salad". It was DELICIOUS! The asparagus was even good reheated, which I was little worried about. Yum!

Some cowardly soul at work apparently thinks collecting coffee grounds is disgusting. They left a sticky note on the this lid the week before telling me so. And this week we get "YUK" actually written on the lid. Luckily I have an extra lid. My boss told me to write on the new one a warning that if it gets tampered with we'll be going to HR, and I did. Seriously, how it more gross to collect coffee grounds in a separate bucket than to put them in the garbage can, of which you actually have to stick you hand in to use? Putting the grounds in the garbage makes the garbage give off heat and moisture, and I think THAT is gross. We are now trying to launch a PR campaign around reducing waste...if I only I had more time!

I built trellis' for my gardens this past weekend! When I have a moment and it's not pouring down rain, I will be tying strings from the poles down and maybe a few across. I need to put stakes in with the other tomatoes (in pots) too. My idea is to use the stakes and combine that with string in between the posts from the boxes and support them. Problem is I'm not completely sure that's where I want to keep the pots...so I haven't done it yet!

I also made a lot of progress on my "garbage hut", as Hubby so affectionately calls it. I still need to secure the tarp on the sides and make a latch for the door. So far it cost me $4 for the hinge and $7 for the sheet of lattice used. The tarp was free after rebate and the rest of the nails/wood were what I had on hand. I would also like to stain it to match the stairs...but Hubby thinks that would be a waste of good stain we could use somewhere else. I'll have to work on that one!

I've also become an outlaw. We decided to share garbage pickup with one of our neighbors. I will not name them to protect them, but we started a couple of weeks ago. We each only have one can a week, and neither are ever really full. So we decided to share! Problem is that on recycle pickup days there are four bins out there!!

And now for veggie updates. The beans and spinach on the left look good. I may be adding spinach leaves to my salads soon! And of course the lettuce is doing wonderfully. The other large plants there are both broccoli.

This is my pepper plant (and a weed on the right). It hasn't grown a centimeter since I transplanted it. I'm hoping it just hasn't been warm enough, but I'm starting to worry a little!

And my carrots are coming along very nicely as well. I'm hoping we get at least a few big ones in the bunch :)

The yukon gold potatoes all finally came up and are coming along nicely.

The white potatoes look like a forest! I didn't give them enough room, and I'm worried I didn't plant them deep enough. I'm thinking about building up the sides of the bed to accommodate more soil on top. I don' t know how much more I can add here without making a real mess of things!

The other SFG is going well too. You can see a tomato plant all the way to the left. They're all doing well. The garlic is still going strong. I'm really hopeful for a fall harvest. And the replanting of beans took, so that's awesome! If you look closely, you can also see some tiny heads of lettuce and carrot tops coming up. Also in this bed, I finally have melons sprouting and nasturtiums coming up! I had to replant both of those a few weeks ago.

The strawberries I don't know where to plant are still alive in their makeshift pot. There are ten plants there. I feel terrible!

And last but not least...is this maybe a grape vine? I'm pretty sure it's not, but I'd be very excited if it was!

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Harvest Time!

This morning I got my first lettuce harvest from the square foot gardens. I brought some for lunch today at work. It was very yummy :)

I made a quick salad with leftover grilled chicken breast and T.Marzetti's Garlic Italian dressing. After I use up the store-bought dressing we have, I will not be buying any more (except for ceasar, I just can't see anchovies going into something and then eat it, I can't), I will be making it. Wish me luck!

My garden goals for this week are to turn the compost piles, set up a more permanent one for yard waste and get stakes in for the beans, tomatoes and peppers. I'd also like to get some sunflowers going along the back to assist with the vines and round out my herb garden a little bit. I'm going to look through my recipes and see what I use the most of. Thyme and sage are at the top of my list to add, but I'm sure there'll be more.

Monday, June 1, 2009

Adventures in Aging

This weekend was pretty much a wash for me when it comes to gardening. My sisters Emily and Megan, a set of twins, turned 18 this past week and graduated yesterday. Saturday was their huge party and yesterday was the graduation ceremony. It was a lot of fun and I'm pretty tired from all the fun!

Megan is on the left and Emily is on the right. I can't believe they're all grown up!
Seeing them and all the other little siblings of my friends graduate this past weekend
really made me feel older. I'm really a grown up now. It's kinda scary!


I managed a few minutes of weeding this weekend, but that's about it. God provided plenty of water for us so I didn't even have to do that!

I did have a bit of a setback at work last week though. Friday, when I went to collect the coffee grounds from all three buckets, I found one bucket was empty and another had been vandalized. Someone wrote "YUK" on the lid. Very mature, right? I guess last Friday there was a sticky note that said "disgusting" and the week before that an email went out.

I'm not going to go into why I think these people are crazy. I honestly feel bad that they've become so far removed from nature that they think collecting coffee grounds in a bucket to take to my compost pile is more disgusting that throwing them in the garbage headed for the landfill. Personally, I think it's kinda gross sticking my hand in the garbage and feeling the moist heat come up off it from the grounds. I guess it's a good thing I didn't try and make it a true compost bucket! I'll just keep my little on at my desk and keep quiet about that.

However, my boss has decided we need to embark on a PR campaign for composting. I have been tasked with finding the most disgusting landfill picture I can find and all the gross statistics to go along with it.

Wish me luck and please pass along any info you can. I'll keep fighting the good fight and trying to rise above the 3rd grade politics, now that I am a verified grown-up :)
Happy Monday!