Friends. I cherish them and hold them all at high regard.
A few of my friends, I can tell ANYTHING to (seriously, ANYTHING) without fear of judgement or ill repute, they are my favorite people on earth.
I have friends that fill what would otherwise be empty spaces in my life.
I have friends that make me laugh, keep me smiling.
My friends give me advice, build me up, and they tell me when I’m crazy.
Among so many other things, one of the best parts of having awesome friends is that I learn a lot from my them…..
Through a mutual friend in Florida, I got connected with a now-friend of mine who is chef-trained (score!). I tend to forget that she is chef-trained on most days that I see her because we get wrapped up in talking about life events, family, relationships, and other “deep” stuff, gossip.
The last time I saw Jordan, we rapped about gardening, the restaurant that she manages (they maintain their own garden), and the late-harvest green tomatoes that I’d recently picked. Besides making fried green tomatoes, I honestly wasn’t sure what to do with the heap of green tomatoes I’d had (and still have!!) and I shared that. I let Jordan tell me what she makes for dinner on any given night, I know she eats good.
Effortlessly, Jordan taught me something simple and useful, she taught me a new way to prepare green tomatoes, which is where this instructive recipe comes from. Here is what I learned:
Quarter the green tomatoes and douse them in olive oil. Roast them in the oven at 350 degrees for about 10ish minutes, just long enough to soften them slightly. DO NOT add salt (and pepper) prior to roasting, the salt would pull the moisture out of the tomatoes, keep those babies juicy! // Add the salt and pepper AFTER roasting. If the tomatoes aren’t already rich enough for your taste, add a small amount of barrel aged balsamic vinegar to the tomatoes after they come out of the oven.
I made a larger batch of these roasted tomatoes than I should have, I didn’t realize how rich and ambrosial the roasted greens would be. Less is more when you are serving roasted green tomatoes, and I prefer to eat them with a meal rather than independently.
As I type this out, I realize that I made a mistake last night. I SHOULD HAVE roasted the remainder of the green tomatoes I have on hand and served them with the mahi mahi and mashed potatoes I made for dinner last night. I knew my meal was missing something green but I didn’t want to leave the house, it was too chilly.
Green tomatoes are little gems as far as I’m concerned, they are hard to come by. Can you buy them at the grocery store? I don’t really think so…. If you want green tomatoes, you almost have to grow them yourself.
Thank you, Jordan, for contributing to the reduction of waste in my garden and thanks for being my friend.
When I talk about the plants that I grow in my home garden, I often talk about WHY I chose each plant. I choose tomatoes because there is nothing better than a home-grown tomato, I chose basil and cilantro because they are herbs that I use often, and I choose peppers because they grow flawlessly and add color + flavor to my garden and my kitchen.
This is my first year growing chamomile, I chose it because it smells pretty, produces lovely flowers, and has a calming effect. One of my favorite tea blends, Chamomile Citrus from Mighty Leaf may have had an influence on me being drawn to chamomile.
My chamomile plant started flowering long before I really knew how or when to harvest the buds. After my busy, travel-packed summer slowed down, I took the time to learn and was pleasantly surprised how stinking easy it is to harvest and dry the flower buds.
When the chamomile flowers are wide open, and the white petals are perky, it is the perfect time to harvest. In my photos, you can see that some of the white petals had begun to droop, at that point they are still harvestable however they won’t have as many essential oils to offer.
Plucking the fully bloomed, tiny flowers away from their stems is easy, doesn’t take much effort. I used my thumbnail to get a clean cut right at the base of the flowers, and they all popped right off. Because it’s so pleasant and calming, I sniffed each flower bud as I plucked it.
Now that I’ve begun harvest, I know that my chamomile plant will replace the plucked flowers with brand new ones to be harvested in the future.
My freshly plucked chamomile buds are sitting in a cool, dry place in my kitchen to dry out. Once dried, I will store the chamomile buds in an airtight mason jar until I’m ready to use them for tea.
I take pride in having an abundance of dried herbs from my garden in the kitchen and my meals seem to be more rewarding when home-grown ingredients are used. I look forward to sipping home-grown chamomile tea on the upcoming chilled, autumn nights.
A perfect morning for me is one where I can roll out of bed when I feel ready, step in to my flip flops after giving the pooch a quick hug, and going out in to the garden to see what happened overnight while I was asleep.
While still clothed in my pjs, I oftentimes catch myself pulling weeds before brushing my teeth, hanging herbs to dry before breakfast, and lounging in the hammock before it’s time to get ready for my workday.
One morning last week, early before temps reached unbearable warmth, I’d decided it was time to pull the radishes that had been steadily growing in the ground for about 6-7 weeks. I couldn’t get a close look at the tiny red bulbs below the surface of the soil, but I could see the greens were overgrown and flowering. Convinced that the greens were maturing much faster than the radish bulbs, I’d trimmed the overgrown steams and leaves a few times.
I should have done it sooner. I should have learned more about planting and harvesting radishes before dropping the tiny seeds in to the ground. The little package of seeds I’d received gave thorough instructions about placing each seed about 1-2 inches away from the next about 1/2 inch deep. Instead of following directions, I dumped the entire package of contents into the ground and hoped for the best.
That little package also instructed me to harvest the plants within 30 days, I paid no attention assuming I’d just know when it was time.
My very first radish crop has offered me a few vital learnings, and I am grateful. One of those learnings is to appreciate EVERY single tiny seed and to not take any of them for granted – one tiny seed can produce a beautiful, bountiful fruit on it’s own. Because I did not space my seeds apart, many of the radishes I grew were long and narrow instead of plump and round – the crowding didn’t allow enough room for growth.
If I knew then what I know now, there are a few things I would do different:
1. I would space the radish seeds 1-2 inches apart.
2. I would only plant 15-20 radish seeds at most, any more would go to waste or cause over-crowding
3. I would remove any rocks, sticks, or rubble in the ground prior to planing the radishes, which will allow them more room for growth and prevention deformation.
3. I would mark on my calendar the day my radishes were planted and the approximate day of harvest (based on the seed packets instructions)
Unfortunately, my very first radish harvest was good for nothing more than feeding the compost bin, HOWEVER I have planted more seedlings and am confident that I will harvest an edible crop this time around.
My garden. My outdoor sanctuary. I’ve blogged about it a time or two.
This gardening season has been slow and daunting thus far. Too much rain,not enough rain. Too hot, not hot enough. Unfamiliar spaces, unfamiliar plants, trial & error, all things that I’ve dealt with this year.
FINALLY, just recently, I’m making progress & I’ve got some beautiful photos to prove it. A bragging moment: my yard is the most eye-catching on the block and I’m totally flaunting it.
My new friend Pam, The Brooklyn Farm Girl interviewed me and featured my beautiful sanctuary on her blog today, I’m excited to share it with you all. Click through to read the full interview and to see more photos of my garden space!!
When I was shopping for my first home, one of my requirements is that it have some type of outdoor space. I wasn’t exactly clear on what that space needed to look like, but I knew that I needed room for a garden and it needed to feel Colorado-y. I moved here for the mountains and the outdoors, I wanted my home and my space to reflect that.
I was lucky enough to find the most amazing little cottage that has an incredibly huge front yard with space for a garden, a hammock, a fire pit, succulents, rose bushes, and room to play. For the first time in years, it occurred to me that gardening is just about planting veggies in the ground – there is so much more that goes along with it if you have the space. This year I didn’t get many veggies in the ground because the space is funky (in a good way) and I’m still learning BUT I did have an opportunity to learn all about succulents, refinish a vintage wooden bench, paint and decorate a garden shed, lounge in my hammock, and begin a collection of clay pots (some of which I’ve painted pretty colors!). I have had SO. MUCH.FUN!
I find myself spending my free time visiting cute garden stores and browsing Etsy for anything and everything that I can use to decorate my yard and my garden shed. Seriously, I’ll spend any amount of money for the cutest things! I win, because my yard is shaping up to be an amazing space to hang out. (come on over if you’d like!)
Through my browsing on Etsy, I have found the most amazing adorable garden decor, some even suitable for the indoors. I couldn’t not share. Are you ready?
Just so you know, I have partnered up with Etsy via their Affiliate program. If you purchase anything via these links, I will earn a small commission. It’s interesting that I must disclose that information because I’ve never made more than $6 via an affiliate link. Clearly, I don’t write this post because of the $$, I write it because I’m in loooove. Here are the 25 Garden Must Have Items:
If you’re going to have a cutie little garden, you might as well have a cutie little sign that draws more attention to it. If my dog could read, maybe he’d get the hint that doggie pee does not belong in the clearly-marked garden!
CERAMIC GARDEN MARKERS Speaking of markings, how adorable are these ceramic herb markers? There are two mystery items planted in my garden this year, which could have been prevented with the proper identification. (lesson learned!) MASON JAR HERB PLANTER If you lack outdoor space, consider growing some herbs indoors or on a small patio. I give a DIY tutorial on indoor herb HERE. HANGING PLANTER
After inheriting a succulent garden, I quickly learned which succulents don’t survive in the ground and must be planted in containers. I die for these adorable hanging planters, which would look amazing on my covered back patio. (I point out that it’s covered because these succulents need protection from the elements!) RUSTIC RECLAIMED APPLE Too cute for words. It’d be perfect hanging on a fence or in a garden shed (She Shed!) MAYAN HAMMOCK I actually own this hammock (in a teal color) and it is AMAZING. It was custom-made to order in Nicaragua and is very high quality (not to mention uber comfy) – the addition of this hammock transformed my outdoor space in to a brag-worthy, vacation-like type setting. I’m in love, love.
SUSPENDED HAMMOCK TABLE
I do not YET own this suspended outdoor hammock table, but I will soon. IT’S beyond NECESSARY.
FIRE PIT If you’ve got space leftover in your yard after adding a hammock, you might as well add this epic fire pit as well. I’ve got a built-in fire pit in my yard, it’s a shame I haven’t been able to put it to use this year (damn you, rain!!) COLORADO FLAG BEER COOLER
In Colorado, we REPRESENT and you should too… every opportunity you get. Plus, doesn’t every garden need a beer cooler. I mean, walking back in to the house to grab a beer can be debilitating. BUNDLED COLORFUL DRIED FLOWERS Decorate your home, decorate your garden shed, decorate your She Shed… so many uses for pretty flowers.
SUCCULENT CEMENT PLANTER Here is another for the indoor gardener – succulents ALWAYS make for beautiful centerpieces AND they’re easy to maintain, like REALLY easy.
AIR PLANT PLANTER
I just recently learned about air plants (am I late to the game) – they are the bomb! They literally grow in the air (NOT SOIL!) and only need to be spritzed with water every 2-3 days or so. For a cool factor, add a few air plants to your indoor space.
VINTAGE GARDEN TOOLS I probably wouldn’t actually use these garden tools, but I would keep them around for the cute factor. I mean, that mint green color couldn’t be prettier.
VINTAGE GARDEN TOTE I am constantly carrying toting stuff between my garden shed and my garden space, this tote would be a perfect carry-all and would lessen the need of me having to make so many trips back and forth. Plus, it’s adorable.
DIY VERTICAL GARDEN Here is another option for the indoors. There are several different designs to choose from like an owl, a tree, or a kitty cat. I’m obsessed. AND, I’m thinking these would make great gifts as well.
RAKE WALL HOOK Herbs tend to grow faster than you can use them If you’re going to grow them, you’re probably going to want a set of hooks to dry them from so you can use them all year round. I gift my closest friends dried herbs from my garden over the holidays – the gift costs me next to nothing, but it still ends up being everyone’s favorite gift.
HANDMADE BUG HOUSE I have a love/hate relationship with bugs. OK, I love them most of the time and only hate them when they’re chomping on my vegetable garden. I constantly catch myself taking photos of bees, beetles, ladybugs, and any other colorful bug that I find so I must have an obsession. I’d love to encourage the bugs to stick around with this little house because I know so many of them are beneficial to the vegetables, plants, and compost bin.
HERB GARDEN MARKERS These garden markers sell in a customizable set of 3! SCORE! I need to order 4 sets because I’m growing sage, thyme, basil, stevia, lovage, rosemary, oregano, cilantro, mint, and chamomile. The additional 2 would definitely be lavender and parsley which I don’t have planted this year (boo!!)
VINTAGE VEGETABLE GARDEN MARKERS Oh, HEY! little radishes that would look absolutely adorable in my yard. If you prefer vintage over custom, you should probably buy these veggie garden markers immediately. Because, cute.
Gardening is a new experience every year. I have gardened in an urban backyard, the city of Chicago, way out in the middle-of-nowhere Illinois, and in a few different urban settings here in Colorado. Each year and each location has offered different valuable lessons.
Last year, I put a LOT of vegetable, herbs, and flowers in the ground because I had a lot of space to work with. Most everything grew well except for the cruciferous vegetables that were plagued with aphids. I never was able to harvest any of the broccoli, cauliflower, or kale that I planted. The 13 tomato plants all thrived until one plagued with aphids. Because the tomato plants were planted close together, the aphids spread from one plant to another quicker than a forest fire on a dry day.
This year, I am gardening in a brand new space at my new house. The yard is huge but the space is not ideal for gardening – there is too much sun in most of the yard (which could scorch the plants) and too much shade in the other areas. An existing succulent garden came with the purchase of my home, which is something I had very little knowledge on – I’m still learning. There are tree stumps that are unidentified, mulch, rocks, grass, dirt – so many existing elements that I’m unfamiliar with and learning about.
In Denver, I learned that it’s typically safe to plant a garden after Mother’s Day however the crazy, uncommon rain and hail this spring have already shortened our growing season.
The day after Mother’s Day, I put a few baby starter plants in the ground, within hours they were attacked by the craziest hail storm I’d ever seen. There was no way we could have known that hail storm was coming, it caught everyone in Denver off-guard. While the little babies didn’t die, they also didn’t get any bigger. It’s been a few weeks now since they’ve been in the ground, and we’ve had more rain and hail – I’ve actually had to stand in the pouring rain to cover the plants with pots to protect them from the hail on a few occasions.
I think two of the little babies aren’t going to make it and I’m not positive the others will ever grow any bigger. (They are pictured in the two photos above this paragraph.)
While at a Foodie Fest a few weeks ago, I was given a few packets of carrot and radish seeds. I’ve never grown veggies from seeds and I decided now would be a better time than ever to give it a try. Within 2 weeks, I have radish leave sprouting (pictured below)! I’m not sure if I planted too many seeds, too little, or just the right amount, but I’ll find out soon enough!
I’ve never planted in a hanging box, but I have them available so I filled them with herbs. If there is anything in my garden that I am confident about, it’s these herbs. I look forward to the gentle breeze delivering the various herby scents in to my home through open windows this summer.
Because my baby starter plants are not doing well, I went out and purchased larger, more expensive starter plants – a few already had fruit on them! From now on, I think this is the route I’ll take considering I don’t have a greenhouse, no consistent way to protect my plants, and the unpredictable weather pattern.
I’m curious to see how the various sizes of starters I put in the ground will all thrive.
Clearly, there are succulents that can grow in the ground, and there are succulents that should remain in pots. I learned that very quickly. As you can see in these photos, one of my succulent plants has started rotting because of all the moisture and rain. I have dug it up and put it in a pot – There is a 50/50 chance it will survive and re-generate. Succulents don’t like being covered in dirt, but it’s been unavoidable with all of the rain. I go out to the garden after each thunderstorm and clean the fragile plants off. MOST of the succulents are doing ok, it’s these 2 that I’m unsure of.
While I’d like to say I’m off to a good start, reality is that it’s been rocky. However, I’m not discouraged, I’m having fun, AND I’m learning something new every day.
I woke up this morning before the sun rose and opened the blinds that shade the 8 large windows in that line the walls of my little home…. I was up because Patrick was leaving for a 6am workout, I quickly decided I would skip the 6am workout (hey! I’m on “vacation” today) to catch a few more zzzz’s.
Around 7:30 or 8am, I awoke to birds chirping, two squirrels playing in the tree, and sunshine. As I lay in my bed, I can see out of 6 of my windows. My house is situated further off the street than most of the houses on the block and as I look out each window, I see my violet bushes that are in the beginning stages of bloom. I see my evergreen tree that holds it’s own presence in the yard, and is beautifully green all year long. And, I see bare trees that are ready to fill in for the summer. My little home is my sanctuary, my resting place – when I was looking for homes to purchase I insisted that the outdoors be incorporated in to my living space, and I got just that.
Today is Earth Day, a day to celebrate the Earth and all that it provides, a day to give back to your community, a reminder that your actions affect the well-being of this planet we live on.
While I am not an enthusiast of Earth Day, I am aware of my decisions and actions and how they affect the Earth, all year long. I am not doing anything special today to celebrate the Earth, but I am in the planning stages of my garden and I’m ready to install my compost bin. I don’t have any lights on in the house, the sun provides for me. I will spend a portion of my afternoon laying in my hammock, reading a book. A book book, not an electronic book. I will lay my yoga mat down on the earth today and practice meditation.
As I write this post, my little doggy lays in the fresh mulch, soaking up the morning sunshine and observing the earth surrounding him – the elements, the birds, the squirrels, the bugs, the dewy grass. Even he understands that the earth provides for him and he pays gratitude by being present in those moments that he spends with the elements.
So, about those succulents…
In my little yard, I not only have space for a garden, but I’ve got a succulent garden as well! I didn’t plant it, the previous owners did. I’d always dreamed of having succulents but never took the time to research them and make it happen.
The succulent garden is situated right up against the house in a shaded area. Succulents don’t require much maintenance or watering, which is one of the only reasons they can be planted right against the house. You wouldn’t want to plant a thirsty garden against the house and be watering it every day – the water could damage the foundation of your home.
My belief is that this succulent garden was planted last season, either summer or fall of 2014. I have done NOTHING to the garden, yet many of the succulents are alive and thriving. I’m anxious to see if everything in the garden turns to life or if I’ll have to re-plant in some areas.
I know, I know, I know, I know. I talk about the tomatoes in my garden ALLTHETIME. I can’t help it – THERE ARE SO MANY! I’m not bragging. Or maybe I am bragging, gah – I don’t know! Today, here I am, talking about all of those tomatoes AGAIN.
I’ve been obsessing over a Pink Pesto sauce that I found at Whole Foods for quite some time. I didn’t buy it because it’s full of dairy but I check it out every time I’m at the store. No one talks about Pink Pesto, I’ve never even heard of such a thing, intrigue! I searched for a non-dairy version and quickly realized that Scarpetta is the ONLY company that makes a pink pesto. I like pink, and I like pesto, I also like being able to use ingredients fresh from my garden (brag), and I ALSO like non-dairy goods. SO I made my own version of the Pink Pesto. I don’t know how it compares to the Pink Pesto at the grocery store and quite frankly, I don’t care because my Pink Pesto is DELISH!
I made a bunch of this pesto and I froze some of it for future use. LOVE that I can do that – it’ll get me through the winter months when I’m desperate for some home-cookin but not willing to do that cooking (if you know what I’m saying!)
You too can make this pink pesto, check out the recipe:
Put all ingredients into a food processor and puree.
Serve atop a room temp or warm dish.
This pesto can be served at room temperature, atop a warm or chilled pasta dish, however I would not recommend that you heat the pesto up. It’s just not necessary. Because this pesto has so much flavor, you will enjoy it atop some good ole spaghetti/linguine noodles without the addition of anything else. It really doesn’t need anything else, although you can get creative.
Oh, and side note here: I was reading some reviews for Scarpetta’s pink pesto – it got some rave reviews but it also got some negative feedback.. People have an idea of what pesto should be like, and apparently a pink version of their beloved “pesto” goes against everything they believe a pesto should be. It’s OK. You may or may not like the idea of a PINK pesto, either way, it’s cool. Just check it out… you might actually like it.
This time last year, we were picking apples off the apple tree that grew right in the front yard. It was a luxury to have an apple tree, stemming, and producing fruit although the apples weren’t “perfect” like most of most of the apples available for purchase in the store. Our apples were disfigured and some of them were wormy – they required some “cleaning up” before being able to use them. But look, I’m not complaining.
Every year, I forget to get out to an apple orchard in late August or early September for apple picking – I always show up right at the end of apple picking season (mid-October) just in time for picking pumpkins. I love, love picking pumpkins, I’m going to go out next weekend to pick up a few, but I want the apples too! Do I need to set a reminder for myself next year??
Random: Someone once told me that if you plant the seeds from an apple, chances are it will grow in to a crab apple tree, even if the seeds came from a different variety. I guess most varieties are “clones” – it sounds like a complicated/unpredictable process to create those clones, I don’t even want to think about it or talk about it – I’ll leave it to the experts.
Back to last year: After picking the apples, coring, and cleaning them, we made several batches of apple butter. I wish I still had some – all of a sudden, I’m craving it again. I may make a 2014 batch, however it will be a small batch because I don’t have the space to can the excess AND it would have to be made with store-bought apples… which just wouldn’t be the same…. especially here in Colorado. I still haven’t figured out the best apples to buy in Colorado…. I miss Honeycrisp, we have them available here but they aren’t as great as they are in the Midwest…..
I don’t recall the Apple Butter recipe that we used last year but I found several recipes via Pinterest that caught my attention for this year:
I love all the different variations of “apple butter.” I’m especially liking the idea of the Cranberry-Apple Butter, maybe I’ll make a batch for Thanksgiving and serve it with warm biscuits! (Yes, I AM ready to start thinking about Thanksgiving.)
Which version catches YOUR attention?
Today, it rained, and rained, and then rained some more. While I was chilly and felt “wet” all day long, I was thankful that the garden got some good ole’ rain water – it seems to have a different effect on the garden than hose water does – in a good way.
My garden is still producing a variety of peppers, tomatoes, and herbs but I’m not sure how much longer it’s going to last. My tomato plants are looking pathetic, some have died off due to whiteflies. The pepper plants are still holding on strong, and the herbs are doing the same. My broccoli, kale, and cabbage are all infested with aphids. I never did figure out how to get rid of them. I will definitely have to fight harder against them next year now that I know they’ll be a problem. Sigh.
Because of the approaching end-of-season, I made sure to take some photos of the garden – they very well could be the last photos taken of the garden this year.
As you can see, I’ve still got a variety of tomatoes growing. I picked a bunch earlier in the week to make a Pink Pesto (recipe coming soon!) and another batch of Cherry Tomato Vinaigrette. I probably won’t use either one of them right away, I’m freezing them for a later date.
FINALLY, eggplants! It took this long…..
A pinot noir bell pepper and an orange jalapeño – I have no idea how I got a hold of these things – but they’re stinkin cool.
I’m hoping this rain will stimulate some growth for the weekend, I’m not quite ready for the season to end yet….
In other news, I’m looking to buy a house right now and I am adamant about finding a place with a big huge garden space – will you cross your fingers for me and wish me luck? The search has been tough, competitive, and stressful….