I’ve been in garden-mode (along with work, family, and social-mode) this past month which has been keeping me quite busy despite our rainy chilly days. I started my first compost bin at the beginning of this month and things are getting pretty compost-y in there! I also started my herb and vegetable seeds a few weeks ago in egg crates and I’m happy to report that I have my first sprouts! If you’re interested in doing the same, stay tuned to the end for my quick How-To.
Several years ago I jumped head first into container gardening and shared my experiences with it here on the blog. This year I jump head first into the real thing. I’ve got plenty of space to do it outdoors and I’m going big with it. I’m going at this venture a little more experienced and educated to ensure that all my plants survive and there’s plenty of space for them to grow. I’ve planned for a 25ft by 25ft garden that will be a nice space to get my hands dirty in, unwind (with wine) after work, and provide a lot of my own ingredients and meals.
But boy, do I have my work cut out for me! Finish tilling, add fencing, restore a bench that will be inside of the garden, secure an archway for my cucumbers and green beans to grow on, add stepping stones, build a vertical pallet planter for the herbs, and get myself a solid pair of rain boots. Haha I destroyed my Chuck Taylors with mud while attempting to till soil in the rain. I also need to learn how to preserve, can, and pickle some of the items I’m growing. I hate seeing things go to waste and I want to be able to enjoy items from my garden even through the winter.
Over the next few weeks I’ll start to share some of my DIY projects that are apart of the garden, as well as any tips and tricks I pick up. I’m not an expert so I can only share my personal experiences, but I highly encourage you to try starting your own garden.. even if it’s just basil in a pot on your kitchen windowsill.. It’s still a rewarding experience. Feel free to share any of your own tips and experiences that you have so we can all learn from one another.
What are you growing in your garden this year?
Egg Crate Seed Starters
Egg crates (the biodegradable type – NOT styrofoam)
Seed starter potting soil
Cut your egg crates in half and save the top as a tray for the bottom. Poke a whole in the bottom of each pod for drainage.
Fill almost to the top with potting soil, lightly pat down, leaving a little room to add your seeds and more soil. Avoid packing the soil in or your seeds may have a tough time germinating and taking root through the tough soil. Plant seeds according to the amount and depth recommended on the back of the package and cover with a bit more soil. Label each pod with masking tape to make it easy to remember what’s what.
Mist each pod with water and you’re done! Continue to care for them based on package instructions.
Also, there’s not much need to place a tray underneath the egg carton and it’s lid tray because you shouldn’t be watering heavily enough for water to drain out. Just keep the soil… moist (my least favorite word).
Finding a simple, healthy, and delicious meal to cook every night can sometimes feel like a challenge. I’m hoping to make things easier for you with this Lemon Ginger Chicken and Mushroom Stir Fry that only takes 20 minutes to make! Zesty citrusy glazed chicken with shiitake mushrooms and snap peas make for a simple and yet hearty mix with lots of fresh flavor. Head to Dream A Little Bigger for my recipe!
If you grew up in Iowa then you’ve no doubt visited the Amana Colonies and all the lovely little shops throughout Amana. I went once as a kid and remember the famous giant rocking chair, watched someone weave a basket, and loaded up on a bag of cool colored stones. Not exactly Disneyworld or anything too exciting, but an experience nonetheless.
I decided to visit again now that I’m older and can nerd out and appreciate things like woodworking, cutlery, craft beer, pickled things, and canning. We left with tons of delicious snacks and about 7 jars of pickled goods and salsa, which brings me to the inspiration for this recipe. I had a jar of avocado tomatillo salsa that was as addicting as it was hot and I quickly regretted not grabbing 3-4 more jars of it. Not wanting to do the 2 hour drive AGAIN so soon, I opted for making my own version which was just as tasty!
Fresh tomatillos and creamy avocados blended in with cilantro, lime juice, garlic, and of course the spicy heat from a serrano pepper make for a beautifully bold green salsa that’s simple to make.. so when you devour the first batch in a day or two (or in an hour or two) you can make another!
Like any recipe or project, you always set out with the best intentions, think your ingredients through, and follow the proper steps. Then somewhere along the way, something goes terribly wrong and you wind up with curdled milk mojitos instead of a nice refreshing summer cocktail. Here’s how my disaster drink unfolded..
Clearly the weather is all over the place here in the Midwest because yesterday I was outside digging the beginnings of my garden in a lightweight flannel and now it’s in the 30’s and we’re anticipating snow over the next few days! Regardless of the weather I find myself always craving this soup, but it’s really perfect for those extra chilly days! This was an adaptation of my slow cooker chicken tortilla soup, but a much speedier version at just 30 minutes. It’s hearty, robust, and full of color with fresh vegetables, juicy chicken, and fragrant cilantro. I kept it lightened up (calorie wise) by using milk and only a small amount of heavy cream for the cream base and it makes a huge batch which is great for having leftovers for lunch the next day!
After a five day battle with a nasty cold I’m happy to report that with the help of a steady stream of Dayquil, NyQuil, and Sudafed.. I’m back to good health!
The last time I checked in, we were talking about some of the goals that I’m working on for this year, like getting out of debt, horseback riding, and being more active in general so here’s a quick update on them:
I’m still horseback riding once a week, learning new skills, patterns, and techniques, and I’ll actually be even more involved with them this spring volunteering for an adult special needs program and trail rides. I’ll admit that I felt a little silly when a young girl, about 7 years old and half my size, came walking into the barn for her lesson after me and she was going to be riding the same horse I was on. I’m guessing she’s a far more advanced rider than I am, but the feeling of fulfillment I get after riding and being around horses far overshadows any embarrassment I have about being “too old” for horseback riding lessons.
My financial goals: I didn’t quite reach my savings goal, but I did make it at least halfway there by setting aside $500 and I have a mere $150 left to pay towards my last debt, but credit cards are completely paid off! I haven’t had more than just a few dollars in my savings account since about six years ago, so while $500 seems minimal to some, this is HUGE for me. Now that I’m not tossing money at pointless interest, I can actual save large chunks of it each paycheck. I’ve set some lofty financial goals for 2018 that involve two major vacations AND buying a home. It’s going to require discipline, hard work, and getting some additional streams of revenue rolling, but it at least feels attainable now that I’m out of the hole.
I feel that I have a solid grip on those goals so I’m about to circle 4-5 more off of my 2017 list and I can’t wait to share them with you!
Oh and as you can see, Punk is also working away on her one goal of living the best life ever.
In between tackling my list I’ve been working a lot and trying to keep balance by spending time with friends and family, which hasn’t left a lot of room for blogging. I kept beating myself up over the fact that I wasn’t following my regular schedule of recipes, drinks, and projects, but then I realized that my life schedule looks nothing like it used to. I needed to forgive myself and allow some time for the blog to evolve and grow as well. I’m still trying to work out a schedule that allows me a bit more personal time to share more content because this is a big part of me too. It deserves time and attention just like any other area of my life.
What do you struggle to balance in your life and how are you overcoming it? What’s next on your goal list for 2017?
I must be dreaming of summer already because I made this summery sweet cocktail using homemade infused lemon thyme vodka, honey, and a bit of bubbly champagne! Head to Dream A Little Bigger for the recipe!
While grocery shopping the other day I realized two things: 1. I needed a drink. 2. I needed a vacation. Seeing as that a vacation requires a bit more planning and money, I opted for the drink instead. I was torn between making a mojito or a moscow mule, so I sort of combined the two!
I started by infusing the silver rum with a habanero for some heat and used a Habanero Mango Spice Rub from Salt Lake Spice Co. to line the rim which really brought out that pepper flavor. Muddled mint and fresh squeezed lemon juice added a refreshing and almost summery twist, and finally some bold spicy flavors from Sailor Jerry Rum and ginger beer brought it all together for this crisp mojito-mule fusion.