Green Thumb: Mason Jar Herb Planters

Spring is slowly but surely creeping around the corner.  (I say that despite the fact that I bought a new down coat yesterday- because I was cold, not because of the price).   The one thing I am most excited about when it comes to warm weather is building our garden.  Although Mike is the brains in the backyard – last year I made a request that I am thrilled about- Mason Jar Herb Planters.

I saw them all over pinterest and thought it was a cool look and a reasonable project.

You may know by now that I love to cook – and having fresh herbs outside your door makes a world of difference in your summer dishes.

We decided to go with some of our fav’s:  Basil, Parsley, Lavender, Oregano, Thyme, and Chives.

IMG_3513It is very simple.

  • We bought Ball Wide Mouth 1/2 Gallon Canning Jars.
  • Flip the Jar upside down and use a diamond drill bit to cut 3 pencil size holes for maximum drainage (Wear protective eye-wear!) .
  • Add a variety of stones.  Do not go crazy on how nice the stones look – eventually the soil will cover them to the point where you can not see them.  These stones will allow for water to trickle through the bottom of the feeder.  This way your plants do not drown.
  • Add potting soil.
  • Add seedlings of your choice!

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We also bought pipe clamps and drilled them into our fence.  This way they are out of the way of the dog, they reach a sunny place in the yard, but they are not permanently fixed if we need to move them to shade.

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This year we have started early enough to attempt planting straight from the seed!

Wish us luck!

 

Mommy’s Little Firecracker: an update on nesting

Lance and I spent some of this Saturday and Sunday putting together our crib, and it’s finally finished!  We were so excited until we tried to put the storage drawer in the bottom and it didn’t fit!  We are going to have to complain to the company.  Anyway, with this little guy’s tiny room, we’re happy with just the essentials.  Here’s what we have done so far to get the nursery ready:

1. Painted the walls, baseboards and doors.

2. Put the crib together.

3. Bought a changing table/dresser from craigslist for $100 and polished the scratches out

4. Cleaned-up a borrowed glider which needed a good scrubbing (thanks sissy!)

5. Inserted a borrowed crib mattress.

6. Washed all of little guys clothes, most of which we got for free from some hometown neighbors!

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I would still like to add window treatments, toy storage, bedding, and a rug but these things will come with time.  I also asked my nieces and nephews to create some art for his room and can’t wait to hang it when I get it!  Read more about our Garry Landreth inspired nursery here!

Now I know I owe everyone an update on my preparation for a Yard Sale from my story called Just Put a Sticker on it!  Here’s how it’s going.

1. My start and end dates were not realistic.  I just started my third trimester, and getting all the things together for a yard sale in just one weekend isn’t possible.  I have been slowly but surely going through closets and clutter spots and asking my husband to take things downstairs as I put them aside.  Example:  Today while I was mopping the floor in the nursery, I pulled everything out of the closet and went through things to give away such as old picture frames, and a few wedding presents I haven’t used and never will.

Here's my stock pile in the basement.  So far, I have some old furniture, picture frames, albums, craft tools, old dishes, coffee table and hopefully clothes, furniture and kitchen gadgets, soon!

Here’s my stock pile in the basement. So far, I have some old furniture, vases, picture frames, albums, craft tools, old dishes, coffee table and hopefully clothes, more furniture and kitchen gadgets, soon!  The water jug isn’t for sale, I just can’t lift it out of the way!

2. I’m not sure if I want to “Put a Sticker on it.”  I think I might just leave everything without a price sticker and when someone asks how much something is, I will ask them what they want to pay.  After all, it’s not like I am going to keep it if they don’t want it, right?

3. My best friend Meagan is going to do the yard sale with me at her house, and we picked April 18.  That gives me one weekend after Easter weekend to get the remaining things together and get my husband to let go of some things.  My line will be, “Don’t you want to sell these things so we can have some extra money for the baby?”

4. I’m going to start looking for spots online to communicate about the yard sale!  to start, then I will try to post some community calendars and Facebook groups.

5. Finally, I am going to get a few neon signs and markers and advertise the old-fashioned way!

“A Prayer for the Momma with Full Hands”-Scissortail Silk

All mothers have been there, that moment when you feel completely inapt as a mother. That moment when you feel guilty for raising your voice or taking a second to yourself. That moment when you sit on the floor and cry when your little one just won’t listen. We have all have had those days where we watch the clock waiting for bedtime so that we can hit the restart button and try for a better day tomorrow.

On days like this I rely heavily on a prayer from the blog Scissortail Silk called “A Prayer for the Momma with Full Hands.”

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It puts everything back into perspective.  We are not alone in this; this is what parenthood is, it’s a partnership not only with your spouse or partner but with whatever higher power you believe in.  They will lead you and guide you.  It’s not easy, or pretty or always fun, but if you are lucky enough to be a mom it is so worth it!  Even on the worst days, my girls are my greatest accomplishment and I could not imagine a more perfect, crazy, messy life.

One Dress: Two Ways

Spring Fever - Work Wear

The Final Countdown

This baby train is moving towards the station with only two shorts weeks left.  Where have the past 9 months gone?!?! With Baby M getting ready to arrive any day, I decided to put together a list of all the little things that I prepared before the big day.

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1. Pack your hospital bag-  There certainly isn’t shortage of lists to use when trying to decide what to pack in your hospital bag.  This one was my personal favorite, but I also asked for suggestions from experienced moms who have already perfected the art of packing a complete hospital bag.

2. Charge your camera-  This one is almost too easy….but make sure your camera is charged.  Oh, and don’t forget to empty those memory cards!  Chances are you’ll be taking a lot of pictures to document the few days you spend in the hospital.

3. Create a birth plan-  This one was actually recommended to us by our OBGYN and during the childbirth class we took a few weeks ago.  The hospital where I plan to deliver Baby M provided us with a 1-page form, but more detailed documents can be found online.

4. Finalize plans for pet(s)-  When the time comes for us to go to the hospital, we wanted the dogs to go somewhere where they felt safe and comfortable.  To some, this may mean taking your dogs to a “doogie daycare”, but for us, our dogs love to spend time at my parents’ house.  We lovingly refer to it as a “dog-cation.”   Endless treats, a huge backyard, and uninterrupted naps – can life get any better?

5. Stock the freezer- I’ve spent the past few weeks preparing several freezer meals that can be easily reheated when we return from the hospital.  My three favorites can be found here, here, and here.

6. Wash baby clothing/prep the nursery-  I’m not going to sit here and claim that everything is 100% done in the nursery, but I feel pretty darn good about the progress we’ve made.  Yes, the curtains still need to be ironed, and yes, we still don’t have closet doors, but I feel a sense of ease knowing that the crib is ready, the changing table is stocked, and baby bottles are washed and ready to use.

7. Finalize your work plans-  This one was a HUGE undertaking for me.  I spent countless hours typing page after page of substitute plans for my upcoming absence.  I just wanted to make sure everything is absolutely perfect for my kiddos while I’m away on maternity leave.

8. Rest, relax, and recharge— or try too!  To be honest, this has been the hardest thing for me to accomplish on this list.  But, little by little, I’m working to find the time to give my body the rest it needs (prenatal messages, manicures/pedicures, extra naps…check, check, check!)  After all, when the baby arrives, I have a feeling I’ll be wishing for a few extra minutes of peace and quiet on the couch or lounging in bed!

“Mommy Club” members – do you have any suggestions and/or ideas of things to do within the last few weeks of your pregnancy?

8 Kitchen Gadgets I can NOT live without!

Cooking is by far one of my favorite hobbies.  My mother started me young.  She told me I once said, “When I grow up I want to be a chef, an author, and an artist … so I think I will just write and illustrate my own cookbooks!”  Actually I think it was more like “I can make a cook book and draw the pictures in it too.”

I think a lot of people can relate to the satisfaction one finds while cooking.  It combines so many senses and for me has become a source of meditation.  Whether you love to create a new recipe,  a new flavor, or a beautiful presentation – no one can deny the thrill of compliments on a plate well done.

No matter what degree your love for cooking may be – the reality is  this is a hobby that takes a LOT of time.   I am often in search of any possible short cut – but without sacrificing the results!

All of these gold mine finds were purchased off of Amazon.  For products we found we needed on our own : Our criteria was simple:  Prime Eligible and the cheapest of the 4-5 Star customer rating.  If we fell in love with a product but were not happy with the price we would refer to an Amazon price checking and price history tracking site called camelcamelcamel.com .

Another large influence was from watching the show America’s Test Kitchen.   Those who are prime eligible – you must watch!  This show is brilliant!  They spend days testing recipes and products and share the most successful outcomes in at home chef language with scientific support for why it works.  I have found a new love for eggs because they have taught us out to perfect them.  I have found the best chefs knife and Green kitchen cleaners- and with out the professional chef price point!  Check out all of their professionally tested equipment reviews here! I will notate the America’s Test Kitchen products with a * – so that way you don’t ONLY have to take my word for it 😉

Here are 8 kitchen gadgets I have found over the past year that have saved the day on several occasions!

1. Salad Spinner :

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I went with the Prepworks from Progressive International SALL-6 Salad Spinner with Handle.  This little guy holds 2.5 quarts – I might wish I splurged on a 5 quart barrel for how often I use it- but either way, it is worth every penny of the $14.95 we paid!  We eat salad daily, and it is just not enjoyable when your lettuce is weighted down with excess water.  Or when your dressing falls to the bottom of the bowl in a wet and muddled puddle!  There is no other efficient way to do it – and for under $20.00 we have used this 4 our of 7 days a week since we bought it.  Note; not dishwasher safe :/  Our bowls are slightly morphed (but still usable!) after a few too many hot water baths.

2. Garlic Press :

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WHY, WHY did I EVER bother mincing tiny itty bitty pieces of garlic leaving my hands to reek of the offensive garlic odor for days after the meal?  Garlic Press = Problem solved.  YOU DON’T EVEN HAVE TO PEEL IT!  Hellloooo … just get it: Prepworks from Progressive International GIGP-93 Aluminum Garlic Press with Non-Stick Coating for $9.19 on Amazon.com

3. Oil Mister *

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I did not even know this was a thing?  Thank you A.T.K.!  Why buy cooking spray when you have olive oil already?  Well because when you pour it in the pan – it is too heavy a layer.  Now this is refillable (aka REUSABLE), add your preferred oil, and you get a thin and even layer.  You will save tons of money in the long run with this $10.53 Norpro Stainless Sprayer Mister .  Bonus – this is dishwasher safe.  You could even use this to infuse oils as the picture shows!

4. Thermometer

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It is actually scary that we let ourselves play with the temperature of our meats with faulty and dated meat thermometers.  Did I think that flicking the dial of my water logged thermometer would give me a MORE accurate read or less accurate but more hurried?  Stupid, this is my health we are talking about.  After watching A.T.K. – we started our search, but we were not ready to commit to their $100 suggestion.  In the end we fell for the $24.99 Lavatools Thermowand.  Reads in just seconds.  Plus- it comes in the ultra cute Mint color.

5. Knife Sharpener *

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Everyone should know the power of a sharp knife.  It is hard to find a reasonably priced and worth while knife ( I would like to say we did, and I will tell you about it shortly).  BUT if you have a set that you are happy with, and simply need to touch the blade periodically you can do so with the $8.85 AccuSharp 001 Knife Sharpener.  Bonus: this duals as a TOOL sharpener as well.

6. Mandolin Slicer

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We eat salad ALL the time.  Or at least some form of vegetable with most of our meals.  Michael is willing to down a bowl – no joke – of JUST greens.  I on the other hand am a women; so I make things complex and have a picky palate – duh 😉  I like to add tomatoes, a cucumbers, carrots, cheese, radishes, and whatever other fresh vegetable I can to my salads.  HAND chopping all of that?  Forget it, takes too long.  Finally we gave in and bought this OXO Good Grips Complete Grate and Slicer Set for around $29.00.  I love doing my veggies on the quick, thin, and consistent straight blade, my carrots on the course grater, and cheeses on the fine grater.   Bonus Julienne Blade if you are feeling fancy.  It all conveniently slides into the container with measuring marks.   I LOVE THIS THING SO MUCH!

7. 8″ Chef Knife *

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I never knew what a relief a sharp knife is.  I once had a roommate who was a professional chef – he had it all when it came to the kitchen.  Using his knife was like a special treat.  How it would just glide through anything was remarkable.  I literally did not know their were knives this great out there.  It made me enjoy cooking more- I was not struggling to make a cut or a dice.  Even after moving on, I still was not ready for the splurge of a chef knife.  But after being convinced by America’s Test Kitchen, and watching after CamelCamelCamel – we have finally met the love our kitchen lives.  Now going for only $33.00 you can get the perfect priced perfect chef knife: Victorinox Fibrox 8″ Chefs Knife.  You will not be sorry if you make this purchase TODAY. How can you not trust the makers of the original Swiss Army knife!

8. Nutribullet

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Anyone who knows me knows my obsession!  I LOVE YOU NUTRIBULLET!  When my roommate moved out to his own little flat, it was only weeks before I had to have my own nutribullet.  This thing is just amazing.  The blade cuts and crushes ice flawlessly.  The smoothies I make in this machine are perfect and complete in seconds.  Not to mention the motion of the blade is emulsifying … which means I can cream soups in this beast as well.  The pack also comes with a milling blade – I can make seeds into powders and nuts into butters.  If you don’t LOVE eating greens – this is a great way to sneak them into your diet with out even tasting them!  Check out my post on how smoothies have helped me get through the days!  It is all thanks to my nutribullet.  This one is by far the splurge on the list – but watch the price tracker sites and you might find a price that you are more than pleased with.  I got mine for around $75.00.

Okay my fellow kitchen Diva’s and Duder’s  – I want to hear about what gadgets make for a better cooking experience?  Share the wealth !

 

Podcasts: mobile knowledge

I am a 29-year-old woman with the tech-savviness of a 70 year old.  I HATE most technology, but something I am quite fond of are podcasts!  I went from listening to audiobooks in the car to listening to podcasts.

My first and most favorite podcast is Serial.  This podcast recounts a murder mystery in 1999, in Baltimore.  What interesting is that this particular case and the work done on the case has resulted in an appeal. I highly recommend listening to Serial.

Every Monday, I download the newest episode of This American Life.  I can cry, laugh, smile, and learn something new all on my way to work.  The topics are broad; ranging from racism, and teen pregnancy to the story of a family deer that was the star in a school play.  They’re always interesting and fun.

I recently started enjoying Invisibilia which stars two of the writers from This American Life, talking about the invisible forces that control human behavior, ideas, beliefs, assumptions and emotions.  My most favorite episode was about a blind man who used sonar to see.

I also really enjoy The Moth, which is a series of short stories told by people who have experienced them first-hand, and NPR Food.  What are some of your favorite Podcasts to listen to, and what would you recommend I listen to?

3 New York Finds!

This past weekend Rachel (of 5andwhine) and our bestie Niki decided to take a trip to the Big Apple!  We had so much fun having the ultimate girls weekend. Of course we had planned lined up from dancing to eating and shopping. I really miss livin in LA and having the big city accessibility to get practically anything I want at my doorstep. Now that we are east coasters again we can have that same experience again well minus the driving 6 hours to get there. Here were my top three favorite things we did over the weekend. These were placed I never got to see/do.

1. Chicago on Broadway- I have a soft spot in my heart for any musical. In high school I participated in all the shows. Jennifer Neetles was an amazing Roxie!

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2. BirchBox in Soho – The ever popular gift subscription brought to life in their brick and mortar location.  Set in between the narrow yet beautiful streets of Soho.  We got to build our own BirchBox for 15 bucks!! I have yet to try all of the products so check back for an update later.  I would highly recommend strolling through here on your next trip.

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3.  Last but not least hanging with my girls!  We so rarely get to take these girls trips to reconnect with one another. I was away for so long and although now I miss my friends on the west coast badly it feels good to be home.  This pic is from Chicago.

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