Monthly Archives: April 2011

Use or Lose It! Part 1-Early Herbs

It’s early spring in the gardening world and right now, as long a you don’t have cold frame crops, you are likely only going to be getting greens and herbs. In my garden I have lettuce, spinach and kale on the greens side and then TONS of herb. I’m going to talk about herbs because they’re a little more difficult to find uses for. I mean, with greens you can make a salad any old day.

Get ready for some serious gardening talk!

I’m going to start out with a photo of my herb garden. Everything in my garden is either a perennial or a re-seed so I’ll explain how that works. I labeled my garden because there isn’t really a view of it that makes everything clear.

Excuse all the debris, we had a crazy storm and I have Silver Maple in my front yard that poops all the time with leaves, seeds, flower and even branches. Right before the storm we had some crazy wind and a big branch bounced off our roof and freaked the dog, the baby and me out. I jumped, the dog barked, and the baby cried.

Anyway, my garden is about twelve feet long and two feet wide I pretty much cram as much as I can in there. I’m going to first talk about how to plant your garden and get the most out of it.

Planting Your Herb Garden

First you want to be sure your soil is the proper consistency. Most herbs love a soil with good drainage so if you have any clay or ‘heavy’ soil you’ll want to add potting soil, sand or mix in compost with a lot of leaves to loosen things up.

Aside from your first year of gardening (which you should plant in the spring), I highly recommend planting your herbs in the fall if you’re in zone six. The first year of my herb garden I planted everything in the spring and then the next spring I only had to plant herbs like basil, that will never make it through the winter because so many of my herbs wintered well, or went to seed and came up on it’s own.  If you look at the photo of my garden you’ll notice a spot that says ‘empty space for basil’, that is the only herb I’ll be planting this year since everything else was either wintered easily or reseeded.

Here is a cilantro plant that wintered for me. Which means it lived all throughout the winter, without dying or really growing.

As soon as the weather starts getting warmer and wetter it has a massive growth spurt and gets huge and harvestable almost immediately. The next photo is a cilantro plant that grew from seed planted this year.

I like to have a few rotations going so that I plant seeds while one rotation is just hitting maturity. That way when the mature rotation goes to seed and is no longer edible, the second rotation is ready to harvest. You can plant these seeds in the fall to get a head start too.

Here are some other plants that wintered well for me this year.

 

French Sorrel

 

Very tart and great in juices or salads.

 

Chives

 

Good in sauces, salsas, mashed potatoes, soups and more! Very versatile and winters GREAT. Comes back with doubled size and is harvestable almost as soon as the weather turns.

 

French Tarragon

 

Has the licorice flavor and is wonderful in marinades and glazes. This was the first time it wintered for me so I’d say it’s relatively hardy here in zone six. It came back several times the size though!

 

Sage

 

Sage is great for stuffing, obviously, and you can add it to any savory herb rub or mix. This plant is four years old and HUGE.

 

Fennel

 

Fennel is wonderful in marinades also but it’s mild enough to add to salads and dips too.

So those are the herbs that I’ve got going right now. This is the first year that I’ve had so many come back. I can’t WAIT to get basil but I have to be patient! A couple more weeks…..

Next week I’ll be featuring greens but I’ll be taking photos of the salads, juices and other foods to show you how they’re made.

Hopefully this has been a little helpful to you. And until next time, this has been part 1 of Use it or Lose it!

EDIT: I’m so sorry that I didn’t get this out yesterday but we randomly decided to visit my family and didn’t get home til late!

Almost There!

I can tell you one thing, I am not so good at this calorie thing, as I always find, time and time again. I took photos of EVERYTHING I ate today, minus an apple, so that you all could see how much flipping food is in two thousand calories. I am aiming safely at two thousand because even though all the calculators out there say it should be several hundred more, I just don’t think I can handle that and two thousand is a good starting point.

Let’s jump right in at breakfast. This morning I had no appetite, as usual, and it took me a couple hours to get up the stomach to make breakfast. Around 9:30 I hunkered down and made the darned thing.

 

Blackberry oats with peanut butter

 

It was delicious of course and added up to be 351 calories total. A little bit of a disappointment since I was hoping for more like 500 or something.

I never did manage a mid morning snack since breakfast was in my mid morning so we’ll move on to lunch.

 

Homegrown salad topped with the rice salad I made the other day

 

I added hotsauce, which lamely doesn’t add many calories. Which means that this only added up to 610 calories.

For my snack I had an apple…..which went unphotographed. I then did 60 minutes of yoga and refueled with a smoothie.

 

Orange and blackberry smoothie

 

Just three oranges, a handful of blackberries and a dab of honey. Add ice and water and you have got yourself some foamy deliciousness…..but low calorie, ringing in at only 197.

Next up, dinner. This is the last day before grocery day so I wanted to use up all the remnants in the fridge. I had a pepper, a couple carrots, some lo mein noodles and a partial onion. Well, it doesn’t take a genius to put that one together.

 

Ginger Vegetable Lo Mein

 

Still, my portion might not have been big enough because after all was said and done it only added up to 385.

Well, if you can do math you can see that only adds up to 1611. For a woman who moderately exercises this might be enough. But for a woman who moderately exercises and nearly exclusively nurses her seven month old it is NOT enough. No, not nearly. I needed a few hundred more and so I made another bowl of oats….because I have no imagination some days.

 

Chocolate oatmeal with peanut butter

 

Just added some cocoa powder and BOOM, rich and bold, creamy oatmeal. This brought my total to 1951, close enough for me.

I had a great day today, so much better than the past couple days even though they were still wonderful days, I just had some sort of hormonal issue. I don’t know if it was the food, or just the fact that I actively decided to take it easier. I spent the whole day playing with Avery, doing yoga, and washing dishes. We had such a fun time! Although later in the day, lately, he has been hitting a wall around four or five where he acts agitated and is only happy if I’m holding him. Today he was acting so tired I tried to get him to nap but he wouldn’t fall asleep and finally I just held him and he drifted off in my arms. Even though I’m all about sleep training I find these rare moments heart melting. He usually doesn’t like to relax like that in my arms.

He slept there for over thirty minutes. It was glorious for both of us. He got a third nap and I got cuddle time!

So on all counts, including the two calls to animal control, today was much less stressful. Someday rat dogs won’t rule this town, but I’m not going to worry about it.  I mean, that’s WHY we have animal control right?

So tomorrow I’ll battle for calories again. It might be a harder battle to win because all I did was yoga today and it’s not as intense as I have been working out and I didn’t take a walk either. My calorie burning was lower than usual. Tomorrow I’m back to the harder core stuff.

Thanks for all the encouragements and ideas from my last couple posts. I really appreciate all the input and it helps SO MUCH!

 

Adjusting

I’m good, I’m alright, I’m great. Seriously. I’m just adjusting to a few things.

For some reason I’m having a little trouble adjusting to my new rigorous work out regime. Not actually doing the routine, but fueling for it I’ve been doing forty-five minutes or so of rather intensive cardio-strength training with an addition to long walks daily. I do my work out in the morning while Avery is napping and then we walk later in the day. The walks range from two to three hours long. I love them because we live in a small town environment, completely contained by a big city so I can walk anywhere in my town and see people I know, run errands or just enjoy the familiar streets. I try to keep a fast pace and do fifteen to eighteen minute miles but we make stops and get side tracked all the time which extends the time a lot. Sometimes we’re out the entire afternoon.

My problem is that around four or five I crash. Keeping up the house, taking care of the baby and being this active is really messing with my energy levels. Sometimes the smallest things, like dandelion epidemics and neighbor dogs affect my liveliness and even attitude because I’m just out of juice.

I think my main issue is, and always has been, food intake. I forget to eat during the day all the time because I’m just too busy doing other things to even think of it and that means I sometimes only  remember once I settle down at night….the absolute worst time to eat for my system.

I’m nursing a lot, exercising a lot and living the life of an active young woman, I need to fuel properly. I have no idea how much I’m supposed to be eating, probably more than two thousand calories but on any given day I struggle to even get fifteen hundred.  I know that Avery eats probably more than 500 calories of my milk per day and some days I burn up to 600 on working out too. That doesn’t leave me very much to operate on.

So, what is the solution? Well, I need to eat small amounts throughout the day. Duh, I know, but easier said than done. I’m not much of an appetite person to start with but working out definitely takes whatever appetite I have and throws it out the window. My joy in food comes from planning it and THEN eating but if I have no drive to plan it I simply don’t even think about it, at all, all day. I’m good with rules in my life so my rule will be to eat six small meals per day. I pretty much don’t have any set pace of eating or set times I eat as of right now. Up until recently I never missed breakfast so even if I didn’t eat right, or eat anything, the rest of the day I knew that at least I had that foundation but now I don’t even keep up with breakfast. Coffee is about the only constant in my diet right now. Coffee and juice. haha. Random combo. Neither are solid though and I DO need some solid in there.

After my work out today, before my walk I made a wonderful orange juice. I just didn’t feel like a green juice today and was craving something vibrantly orange.

Vibrant Orange Juice

  • 6 carrots
  • 2 oranges
  • 1 green apple

It was insanely refreshing since it was in the upper 80′s today and brightly sunny causing the indoor work out to REALLY make me sweat. A while later I decided I needed to eat real food so I made some ‘tacos’.

I know, you can barely see the shells. These are hardly traditional tacos. Instead of meat or beans I made them with a base of the rice salad I put together last night and then added lettuce (from my parent’s garden), onions, sour cream and TONS of cilantro from my garden.

They were delicious. This was my only meal for the day unfortunately. I’m going to pretend it was very heavy……..

So you can see I need to work on things in this joint. Some days I eat lots at night and I need to stop that and even things out better. I need energy to run after this little pumpkin who is ALL over the place. We finally whipped out the play pen for when I needed to do anything with my back turned to him (like dishes, laundry, etc) because we can’t leave him even for a second unattended and the bassinet can’t contain him anymore since he started pulling himself up!

Don’t worry, he’s not really walking around or anything. I stood him up for this photo because it looked so cute when he was peeking over the top:)

So enough talk about meltdowns over stupid dogs and not sleepy babies (despite another episode today), I’m going to be cheerful always, no matter what……at least I’m going to do my very best and you all can pray for me.

 

Turning Hate to Love

I’m not usually much of a hater. I’ve got a great life and I’m not afraid to love it, and nearly everything in it, but as a gardener, I do have one constant struggle and it goes by the happy, sunny name of dandelion. It’s hard for me not to hate them when they pop up every where, are resilient to weather, and difficult to remove. I vented on twitter earlier today and someone responded to me on facebook saying I should put the dandelion greens in my green smoothies and shared this link. I had already had my green smoothie this morning with spinach and blackberries…

And since I was  out of bananas I thought that perhaps I should just go out and pick them anyway and makes something else out of them, a salad, juice, steamed, who knows? Greens are an integral part of my diet and I wasn’t worried about finding a way to use them.

So I got out into the warm sunshine, letting it kiss my skin and I affectively castrated at least one third of the the dandelions in our yard……and harvested their good leaves.

I won’t lie, taking their fertility was liberating. Now, I feel like my hubby would probably not want me to talk about the next part of my day, due to the power of google and our tumultuous relationship with our neighbors, but it so contributed to my glass of wine and chocolate ice cream later in the day that I simply feel that I can’t leave it out.

Okay, so our neighbors have a ridiculous number of tiny rat dogs that yip and yap all day long in their yard. Their backyard faces the side of our house from front to back so when I’m working in my garden or yard they run along the fence where ever I am and bark incessantly. Over time they have accumulated more and more of these chihuahua’s and other such teeny, yappy varieties and lately they have been escaping their yard and invading our property. I was already fully annoyed by the non stop, high pitched sound that when all of a sudden I looked up only to find a snarling little bundle of energy barking at me from about three feet away I had really had it. So I chased the dog out of the yard but as soon as I turned back around it came catapulting towards me again. ARGH! The neighbors didn’t seem to be around so I had no one to appeal about this little invader. I couldn’t keep it’s loud but tiny presence away from me. Now, I have only once considered calling animal control to my defense against them but this time I didn’t have second thoughts. They have double the legal limit of animals allowed in our city AND they can’t contain them. It seems that every other day we have a rat epidemic in our yard, stressing out our dog. So I called animal control and then made my green juice with my yard kill.

Dandelion Blood

  • 3 cups dandelion greens
  • 1 lime
  • 2 oranges
  • 3 carrots

It was surprisingly delicious. Dandelions DO have a purpose in this world, and it’s to nourish my body. hehe. I had another particularly butt kicking work out so a green smoothie and green juice seemed like a great refuel, fuel balance.

The story doesn’t end here though, because later in the day after a rather frustrating episode of Avery acting tired, me trying to put him to bed, him not going to sleep, me trying everything to either wake him up or get him sleepy and him trying to do the opposite of anything I try, I finally got him to settle down and I went into the backyard to work on a drawer for the kitchen when a big cat ran into the yard. Lady, our comparably well behaved cocker spaniel, went crazy and just as I was about to jump up and save the cat a strange kid came running into my backyard to retrieve it. I wouldn’t really have minded the trespass if he would have just left but instead the unknown adolescent just stood there, staring at me. I was like ‘hi’. He didn’t answer. It was awkward.

At that moment my child decides that five minutes of calm is enough for him and I left the silent teen and his feline standing there while I rescued my son from his seemingly tortuous crib.

It was fully uncool. So Avery spent three full hours in that ‘limbo’ between tired and sleep and combined with the out of control animal issues I was WORN OUT.

I did still manage to whip up a quick dinner filled with herbs from my garden and that made me feel a little better. Shane told me his lunch (creamy sausage pasta, whipped up of mostly left overs) and dinner were both homeruns and very tasty. That ALSO made me feel better.

Herbed Rice Salad

  • 2 cups cooked basmati rice
  • 2 roma tomatoes
  • 1/2 red onion
  • 1/4 cup green olives
  • 1/4 cup black olives
  • chives
  • oregano
  • cilantro
  • parsley
  • 1/8 cup balsamic vinegar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 2 Tblsp mustard
  • garlic powder
  • salt

Mix it up. Season to taste and add the amount of herbs that you’re comfortable with. I put TONS of chives and just small bunches of each of the other herbs.

After I made dinner I started Avery’s night time routine a little early. He just wasn’t okay with being up any longer. I’ll be honest with you, I added a few extra drops of lavender oil to his bath. I wanted him relaxed and ready for sleep! It worked, and he konked out. Shane had to leave for his City Council meeting just before bed time so once Avery was down I settled into the couch and let all my weariness melt away as I enjoyed this…

Don’t judge me. Shane bought this ice cream for me a few days ago and we have slowly been working our way through it and I have enjoyed every bite. Thank you Shane for being a caring husband, a girl needs a little chocolate loving every now and then.

I’ll leave you with these photos of Avery. I myself ponder how he can be so cute and such a little pain all at once.

He loves looking out the window. We talk about all the things outside and if I say something funny, he looks at me funny.

I forgive him for everything, simply because I love him too much to hold his silly behavior against him:) Besides, he’s perfect 99% of the time.

Well, that was roughly my day in a nutshell. I hope tomorrow is totally uneventful.

 

Best Kind of Tired

I’m wiped out right now because I did so much today! It’s amazing the level of productivity one can reach on a sunny day like today. The perfect weather for taking a nice walk with a friend…and Avery of course. I love walking in the sunshine, especially when it’s pretty warm, though wasn’t hot, but around 60 degrees. But that’s not all, once we got back we got our butt’s kicked with a workout video. Ouchie mama. I’d only done that one once before and it really got us sweating!

Monday is also laundry day which means I had laundry going too! I LOVE having a specific day dedicated to laundry. It makes things so simple. I wash, I dry, I fold, I put away and it’s done. All at once. I really do feel productive even if the only thing I get done is all the laundry so that’s a bonus.

After I got a couple loads washed, Avery woke up from a nap and I gave him his food meal for the day. It was a simple mix of broccoli, oatmeal and a dash of honey to bring them together.

It was actually quite tasty if I do say so myself. He ate almost the whole bowl, and loved almost every bite (there are alway a couple where he makes an appalled face at me for feeding him whatever it is I’m giving him).

Also, I have a little garden update for you. My peas are sprouted and growing so well!

Soon they’ll be crawling up the trellis and blooming…..I love gardening. It is so uplifting. My lettuce is ALMOST harvestable, which is desperately exciting!

Anyway, aside from laundry and working out, I did well on keeping Avery’s potty training up to par. Some days, like Sundays, we can’t keep up very much because of church, family, and such events but today we made up for it. He had a great time. Obviously.

He’s the best, cutest kid to spend time with. Who wouldn’t love him to be their constant companion? I love my job.

I also finished another drawer in the kitchen…stripped, sanded and painted. Drying outside right now. Can’t wait to finish this kitchen! I love the bright yellow.

Of course, I made dinner too. A potato, broccoli, onion and bacon skillet.

My only regret was not putting more bacon on it. My family’s bacon of course. I’m glad I don’t live with them anymore because I couldn’t enjoy this bacon if I would have known the pigs better. I met them, and that’s all I could handle while still eating them. Oh goodness, I’m going to make myself vegan again if I keep having these thoughts.

Now I am going to go get a bottle of red wine and play wii with my husband. I swear, I have the best life imaginable. I’m not joking.

« Older Entries Recent Entries »