Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Green Thumbing

Weeding is a drag.  As Sweet Brown says, "Ain't nobody got time for that!".

I've always had a pretty good green thumb with growing flowers from seeds.  Hence, having a vegetable garden was always something I've wanted to try, even more now that it saves on groceries and is truly "organic".  But until now we've lacked the space to plant a garden, and more so, I've not built up enough of a willpower to go through the hassle of shovels, pulling weeds, bugs...

Yeup.  I want the benefits of my own veggies for little sweat.  Call it lazy, call it reality, but I'm taking "know thyself" to heart and taking baby steps in my first attempt at food production.

I decided to start with planters.  I'm all for control, and planters on my porch give me that.  No prep work of tilling the ground, and no danger of weeds or veggie-eating deer either.  My kind of dipping-the-toes-in-the-water gardening.

This summer I chose to grow lettuce, green beans, and parsley.  I now kind of wish I had also tried corn, but I'll just have to add it to my repertoire next spring.


My lettuce grew fast!  It took only 2 days after planting that I saw this:

I don't remember ever seeing something I've grown from seed take any less than a week to appear - color me amazed. 

Here's the lettuce now, approx 2 months later.  All I ever did was water the sprouts each evening.  That's it.  Super easy.  We've been having some tasty salads from this zero-effort batch.

Green Beans

The green beans also shot up relatively fast - just a few days after the lettuce appeared.

A few days further along:


I did move the green beans to the side of the house so that I can eventually tie them to poles, so I will have to do a little work to prep an area and plant them once they're too big for their containers.  But, after the ease of the lettuce, I can stand to do a little work to keep these bean plants growing.  Baby steps...


The parsley has been growing on my kitchen window.  I found out that with herbs, they want lots of sun, and don't like to be too moist.  It's best to mist them every few days, but otherwise leave them be.  So far these guys have been growing with little help as well.

Hoping to have green beans and parsley in another month or less!

Next year I'd like to try corn, strawberries, blueberries, and zucchini.  ...We'll see how ambitious I'm feeling by next spring.

Shared on Farmgirl Friday

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Treasure Hunting - April thru June

As mentioned in the previous post, things have been changing around the house these past few months in more ways than just curtains.

Accessories have been multiplying and giving some much-needed character to the rooms, colors for the dining room have been (and still are) being debated, and we've been resisting buying everything at Restoration Hardware (tell me we're not the only ones).

We've been buying things with the strategy of not getting an item just because it's on sale, or will "do the trick for now", but buying only when it's something we both love and is within our budgeted means.  This way we are investing our money in items we know will last for more than just a season.  So far we're well under-budget, and really happy with how the rooms are beginning to reflect our styles.

Shall we tour?

Living Room

1. Ikea Pillow - $13.  2. Home Goods Globe - $25.  3. Home Goods Vintage Suitcase - $20 (great for storing items you want to hide).  4. Home Goods Mirror - $30.

Bonus: I went to a "fill a bag for $5" book sale, where I found a lot of neat antique books to use for decorating the living room's built-in shelves.

Here's a pic of the living room now:

To Do:

- get art on the walls
- replace media/tv console
- make doors for the lower bookcases
- get an area rug that fits the space and has the colors we want
- get pillows that accent the rug's colors
- get at least one extra sitting chair
- redo coffee table
- get side table/s

Laundry Room 

I don't believe I've shown the laundry room since the day we moved in.  Let's correct that.

Here's the move-in pic:

...I just have to highlight the little guy below.  Isn't he so cute?!

I can't help but smirk whenever I see the lil fella.  We found him at Ikea for $5.00.  He's been handy on the clothesline, especially for hanging things that normally take up a lot of space on a straight line, such as socks.

To Do:

- get art on the walls
- have shelving or cabinets above washer/dryer


Kicking off the 'street cafe' theme that a canvas painting I'd gotten at the Christmas Tree Store inspired me with awhile ago, I found these two letter signs from Home Goods to go over the pantry and microwave for a total of $25.

To Do:

- build island cart


Karl and I always had bedspreads growing up, and when married.  Our original bedspread is now 5+ years old and looks it too, so we decided it was time to refresh our bedding.

We looked into duvets, which we grew to like during our trip to Ireland, where they seemed to be used for the bedding in every place we stayed.  They were very comfortable and plush, but didn't make you feel overheated.

(Anyone interested, this article gives some examples of the benefits of duvets)

For us, the deciding factor for going with a duvet was the ease of washing one compared to a bedspread: just remove the cover from the duvet and wash it.  When you need to wash the duvet, it fits into the washer much easier than our bedspread ever did.  I don't know why, but it does.

We got the duvet and this summer-y cover (see the cover here) from Target:

In this post from May, I made a few organizational improvements to our bedroom closet that has made a huge difference.

That organizational bug that I caught carried over for the duration of the month of May, with me cleaning out our garage (we'd just stashed a bunch of stuff there when we moved and not sorted it since), and my sewing room in the attic is now a functional space.  I think Karl caught the bug as well, as he voluntarily organized his work-space in the attic.

While Karl was away for a business trip, I also took the liberty to organize his side of the office (and he has since kept it very clean - go Karl!).

I didn't touch his desk because after nearly 6 years of marriage, I know better than to meddle with stuff on his desk.  ;-P  But it still looks much better, huh?

Lastly we had a yardsale in June.  We made some extra bucks, and with that cash we treated ourselves to a showing of the new Star Trek movie (it was awesome btw).

Busy busy busy!  Now to sew those bedroom curtains....


Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Curtain Progress

It's been awhile since I've done an update about what we've been up to for making this house a home.  Lots has been happening that I'll be highlighting in another post, but for now, see our headway on something that is as exciting as it gets!  Curtains!

Yes, I'm being sarcastic.

But it is a nice change from seeing bland walls.

As you may remember, we're furnishing and decorating our first home on a $5,000 budget.  So far we've been doing very well with staying on course.   One way has been to sew my own curtains.  I made curtains for the dining room a few months ago that came out pretty well (if I do say so myself).  Since then I've also sewn curtains for the office, bathroom, and will be doing our bedroom soon.  I was planning to do the same for our living room, but one day I was at Home Goods and...I couldn't resist.

Home Goods had a curtain section with an assortment of very nice quality materials that came in packs of 2-panels for $20-30.  Seeing they were that great of a price, I dug in!

You can see in the pic above the two different materials that caught my eye: one of a grayish-brown for $25 (burlap-ee), another that was a wheat color and had been returned, therefore only $12 (yellow-ee).  I bought both to try each in the room.

I hung one panel from each pack on the window (yellow-ee on left, burlap-ee on right).  It took me less than 10 seconds to confirm to myself the clear winner.

But first, here's a "before" of the living room with no curtains (this pic is also pre-rug - I was excited to hang the curtains and forgot to take the pix right before - sorry!) :

Now with!

Burlap it is!

Love. It.  I still am amazed at how easily something like curtains can transform a room.

Next up was the office, where I'd settled on getting something with stripes.  I went to a fabric outlet and scored a yard of a navy & white striped material for $2!  Here's the before pic: (Warning for neat freaks: avert thine eyes from Karl's pile of stuff on his desk)

A little over an hour later I'd sewn these bad boys and hung them up.

Note to self: Get bigger corkboard.  It's not working.

Geek moment: As I was putting these curtains up, they reminded me of the character Urahara from Bleach.  Methinks I shall now be referring to this room as the "Urahara".


While at the fabric outlet I also got 5 yards of a nice blue material for making curtains for the 2 windows in the bedroom (total of $13!).  We'll see if I will feel productive enough to do them this weekend.

Altogether, the cost of curtains for these three rooms has been:

Office:               2.00
Bedroom:        13.00
Living Room:  25.00

Grand Total: $40.00

Getting to have curtains for 3 rooms (or you can also spin it as curtains for 5 windows) for only $40 is my kind of deal!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Chicken Sliders with Herb Buns (GF/DF)

Being now July and the 4th around the corner, summer picnics are in full swing!  I've been perusing ideas (and pinning - what did we do before pinterest?) for light dinners on hot days, things to make for picnics...the usual fare for this time of year. I'd had this recipe pinned several months back, so when I came across some grass-fed ground chicken one day at one of my usual stores, I nabbed that pack.

Recipe inspiration came from the blog Multiply Delicious, where Heather, a holistic naturalist, concocts paleo meals (direct recipe link here).  She has a lot of mouth-watering recipes to try out; many of them are also gluten free.

When making these, I made some modifications and substitutions based on preference (I'm not a coconut fan, can't have tomatoes, don't like using eggs if I can help it, didn't have bacon on-hand...).  Do likewise, as that's the beauty of recipes.  :)

- Chicken Sliders -

You'll Need:

- 1 lb ground chicken
- dash of salt & pepper
- chopped celery (approx 1 stalk)
- 1/2 tsp celery salt
- (optional) 2 slices of cooked bacon, chopped

Ideas for Toppings:
- baby spinach, tomatoes, cheese, bacon, ranch or sour cream & dill dressing...

* makes approx 8-10 patties

To Start:
- in a bowl, add all ingredients and mix together
- h
eat a nonstick pan over medium high heat
- form mixture into small patties and place on the pan - grill the patties for a few minutes on each side until golden brown and they are cooked through/juices run clear 

- Herb Buns -  

You'll Need:

- 1 & 1/4 cup brown rice flour
- 1/4 cup tapioca flour
- 1 & 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 1 tbsp rosemary or dill
- 1 tbsp honey
- 3 tbsps ground flaxseeds soaked in 9 tbsps of semi-hot water for approx 6 minutes
- dash of salt
- 3/4 cup water

* makes approx dozen buns

Prep: Heat oven to 350 F

- mix all ingredients except for the water together in a bowl (with a spoon, not a mixer)
- slowly add the water while mixing - add only as much water as needed to get everything evenly mixed
- dish the mixture into muffin tins
- bake for about 10-12 minutes or until golden brown (& they don't stick with the toothpick test)
- to serve with the sliders, slice a herb muffin in half, and voila!

These sliders were definite winners for both Karl and I.  Surprisingly, despite their mini size, they're quite filling.  Even Karl, the bottomless pit, was full after 4 of them!


Shared on simplysugarandglutenfree, vegetarianmama, jillshomeremedies, and wholeintentions.  Thanks!

FEATURED ON: glutenfreehomemaker and allergyfreecookery.  Thanks!

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