Hi, garden friends! It’s been two months since my last garden update, and I have lots of pictures to show you.
My milk jug herb garden is flourishing! You might remember that I’m growing sweet basil, oregano (pictured below), parsley, sage, cilantro, and (most recently) chives. The jug planters look so cute hanging by our front door.
Also by our front door, I planted morning glories in a large container with a trellis. I’d heard mostly negative opinions regarding morning glories from some peers — apparently, gardeners hate morning glories’ tendency to spread and take over. I hope to combat that by guiding their growth with the trellis.
They grew like mad almost immediately, and I loved watching the vines climb to the top. (I’ve been interested in climbing vines ever since I saw this time-lapse video.) But last weekend, a torrential summer rainstorm decided to flood our apartment. Among all the rescue operations like wet-vacc’ing the carpets in our living room and bedroom, our landlord had to move my morning glories pot and trellis to try to seal up some cracks in the concrete outside. I was out of town, and I have a feeling they were handled less than delicately, because when I came home, the left half of the vines were shriveled and so sad.
I trimmed back the dead leaves and that helped their appearance a lot! Aside from all the stress with coming home to a flooded apartment, which my husband had to handle while I was gone, I was saddest to see those withered vines.
None of my seeded flowers have bloomed yet, but I’m looking forward to it happening soon! I also have cosmos growing, and I think I can see infant buds forming on my zinnias!
Now for some bad news. I’ve loved watching my broccoli plants grow, but they’ve also been the targets of some pretty gross pests. I naively hoped that growing my vegetables in containers would keep the garden pests at bay, but the last two days have seen my broccoli plants positively gnawed to death. Yesterday I discovered some insane little black-and-red spiders, and today I found something much worse: caterpillars.
My friend Sara linked me to an article where I quickly learned that these caterpillars are cabbage worms. And you better believe I’m going to be looking into Bactilius Thuringiensis to take these little guys out, because my broccoli plants have finally started growing heads!
(Aren’t those skeletal, chewed-up leaves just pitiful? I am so sad about it.)
My other veggies are doing fine! My spinach is growing really tall and kind of strange, but I’m letting it do its thing. I’m really excited about my tomatoes, too!
Finally, some good news. I’ve successfully harvested two of my veggies!
I haven’t eaten the beans yet — I blanched and froze them — but the carrots were delicious!
Despite these rookie-gardening setbacks, I’m still really enjoying the spring so far, and looking forward to summer!
Last Sunday, I wrote a long, self-indulgent blog post about my “garden” with lots of photos and rambling about what I’m growing. A lot has sprung up since last weekend, so I wanted to write an update.
First off — my pansy seedlings began the transition into the great outdoors, and promptly died. As you might remember, my pansies had been seeded in a 72-cell tray and placed in our basement apartment’s only window. I decided earlier this week that five weeks’ time indoors had been enough, and set the tray outside early on Monday morning with the plastic “greenhouse” cover on it to shield the fragile seedlings from errant winds.. So far, so good.
Except… Monday had record-high temperatures for our area. And when I peeked outside a couple of hours later, that greenhouse cover was drenched in condensation. I ran outside and pulled the cover off to reveal a tray full of withered, pitiful baby pansies.
I haven’t felt so terrible about something in ages. I watered the seedlings with their turkey baster, and a few of them seem to perk up slightly, but the really small ones just disappeared in the muddy soil. It was really awful, and I couldn’t revive them no matter how hard I tried, so I stuck the tray in the lower shelf of the gardening bench Chris built me.
Above: the portrait of my shame.
Luckily, I had noticed that the “oldest” seedling — the first to sprout, and the most mature — had started drooping when the tray was still indoors. It had developed its first true leaves, so I decided to move it from the tray to a separate container. I had bought a few small tin buckets at Target for $1, so I planted it in there. Its roots were desperately trying to find someplace to go in the shallow seedling tray, and I assumed that was the reason for the drooping, and it would appreciate having more room to grow.
The surviving pansy is still drooping, but its stem seems to be growing stronger. I think it’ll get tall enough to not droop soon.
Needless to say, I definitely learned how to harden off seedlings the — ahem — hard way. I’ll be growing the rest of my flowers from seed sown directly in large planters outdoors, so this won’t happen again!
Everything else is growing really well! Our extra-warm week helped my herbs to sprout ahead of schedule, and my vegetables grew bigger quickly. My sweet basil seedlings were the most surprising, sprouting only about five days after seeding!
Now I’ve just got to figure out how to thin them out. Those little buggers grew so fast, so close together!
My sage has sprouted too…
…and my parsley grew taller over the past week of bright sunshine!
My veggies went pretty nuts this week, and my carrots, broccoli, and spinach (pictured below in that order) all sprouted their first true leaves. I thinned out my spinach seedlings and planted two more carrots.
The tomato plant I bought hasn’t changed much that I can tell. But my bush green beans are starting to show some life already, too! (You can see a sprout forming right of the marker.)
After obliterating my pansy seedlings, I adopted a gorgeous hanging basket from Walmart. It’s a pretty peach variety of verbena, and it makes me super happy to see every time I pass under that awning over our front door.
The only other gardening purchase I made this week was a watering jug. I’d been using a red plastic watering jug from last summer to water my outdoor plants, and I kept it by the front door, beneath the spigot. But for some reason, that was a prime hangout spot for monstrously large spiders, and if you know any fun facts about me, they usually include a loathsome fear of spiders.
So when I fetched my watering jug one day this week and saw a revolting black spider just chilling inside, I wasted no time holding the jug a safe distance from my body and banging it on the ground to knock the spider out.
I also broke the jug.
So I was in the market for a new watering pail, and found this beauty at Walmart for $5.
Can’t beat that!
Still loving gardening, and so surprised by the way everything’s growing (except, of course, those pansies). I was thinking of posting frequentish updates, maybe on Saturdays, but my camera isn’t working so well, so we’ll have to wait and see.
Until next time, gardening friends!
It’s the first full week of April. Yesterday saw the last frost of the season. You know what that means?
GARDEN PARTY, FRIENDS!
A couple of months ago, I started dreaming about having a garden — fresh veggies, pretty flowers, and something to make me get outside and enjoy myself through spring, summer, and fall. The problem is:
I’ve never gardened before. At all. In the slightest.
Okay, “at all” may be hyperbole. I’ve bought and repotted plants a few times, but never with much success. I’ve had a small potted tree manage to die and come back to life even after I sequestered it to the back porch because I was embarrassed that it had withered, though its resurrection was a serious miracle and had nothing to do with me. Last summer I bought a hanging basket that I thought was beautiful, but I accidentally backed over it. (It was the week of my wedding, and I was planning to transport it to a friend’s house to care for it while Chris and I were gone — but I managed to do the exact opposite of that by forgetting to put it in the trunk and rolling right over it in my car.)
So yeah. Maybe “at all” isn’t such an exaggeration.
But when summer comes around, I always get that longing to grow things and prune them and care for them. I know I’m not alone in this! And I never start early enough to really invest in a garden, especially growing fresh vegetables. This time, however, I started planning in February.
We have very generous landlords and plenty of yard space around our basement apartment, but I didn’t want to do anything so ambitious as putting down a raised bed garden for veggies, though our landlords would’ve been fine with it. I settled on growing in containers, which are usually a good option for renters and/or those who only have porches or small deckspace. Also, weather in Lynchburg is insane and largely unpredictable, and the flexibility of being able to quickly bring my plants under cover is appealing. (I’ve already had to move my veggies inside twice due to unexpected snow.) So containers it was!
I did a lot of research on growing container vegetables and potting flowers, on how to grow plants from seed and which ones were better to transplant, and what plants were ideal for first-time gardeners. This is what I’ve settled on for myself:
I linked each of those to their pages on the Old Farmers Almanac website because that’s where I ended up getting a lot of helpful, insightful information when I was researching. I typed up everything, including a tentative planting calendar based on my zone (I live in Zone 7!), in a Word document and saved it on my desktop, created a Pinterest board for more ideas, and started dreaming of my garden.
I quickly determined to save money where I could with gardening. I’m starting most everything from seeds (so far I’ve only bought a tomato transplant, and that was only about $4 at Walmart), and buying the cheapest containers I can find. I learned through researching that plastic containers are best for retaining moisture and maintaining steady temperatures (as opposed to terra cotta or clay pots, which are usually prettier but also more expensive).
For my herb garden, I decided to recycle milk jugs as planters. We drink about a gallon of milk every other week, and I had five jugs ready to go after the last frost date. All they needed was to be trimmed up and have drainage holes added, and they were ready to go! You can see a video tutorial here.
I had the perfect place to hang my herb jugs — the stairs right outside our apartment door, which lead to the upper levels of the house where we live in the basement. Chris hung a wooden pole there, secured with screws, and it will be the perfect width for all six jugs when my chives are ready to be planted!
However, since I didn’t plan to have all my herbs planted and ready to hang at the time of placing the pole, I wasn’t able to keep the handles intact. I had to snip the base of the milk jug handles to slide them over the pole, and the weight of the soil-full jugs was causing them to buckle. So, I added the burlap wraps to both brace the handle in the back and keep the jugs from bulging. The burlap is added insulation and it’s pretty cute!
I planted my parsley a few weeks ago, so it’s had a head start on everything else and is so far the only one that’s sprouted.
I also saw recycled spoon markers on Pinterest and fell in love. When we moved into our apartment, the previous tenant had left a few fistfuls of silverware behind, and we’d stashed them in the kitchen just in case. Now I had a use for them! I only needed spoons, a hammer, Mod Podge and a paintbrush, some crayons, and a Sharpie to make my garden markers.
I think Chris thinks the jugs look kinda trashy, but he’s too nice to say. I already love them, and I think they’ll look great once the herbs start growing quickly!
With the exception of garlic (which I haven’t yet bought a transplant for) and tomatoes, I’m growing the rest of my veggies from seed. Carrot sprouts appeared after a few chilly weeks; the cutest little broccoli seedlings sprouted after just a week; the spinach peeked out just a week or so later. The green beans were just planted yesterday, in a big ole square plastic pot that Chris found for me at Big Lots. It didn’t have drainage holes, so I asked Chris to drill some in the base, and we totally cracked it. I hope it will be okay.
I did the best I could with my research to find the right-shaped containers for each veggie. With my carrots, I want to plant two concentric circles over time, so I can harvest regularly. (So far I only have two carrots growing.)
For broccoli and spinach I planted a row of seeds in narrow window box planters. Since the broccoli sprouted so quickly, I was able to thin the seedlings out to just three in the container. I’ll do the same with the spinach when it’s a bit hardier. Once the three veggies of each plant are harvested, I’ll plant three more, until their growing seasons end in the late fall.
I can’t express to y’all how excited I am about my veggies! I know my little container garden won’t produce much, but maybe I can expand next year after learning so much this year.
Finally, when it comes to flowers, all I can really talk about so far are my pansies! They were the very first thing I planted. I read that I would need to “stratify" the seeds before planting, and I did so, and was seriously holding my breath for a week after planting them in a seed-starting tray as I waited for green to appear. I left the tray undisturbed and covered on top of our washing machine, which is a nice, dark corner of the apartment. The first pansy seedling appeared after a week, and after that, they just kept coming!
After sprouting, I uncovered the tray and moved it to the only real window in our basement apartment. Luckily, it fit perfectly! I water the seedlings with a turkey baster so as to not disturb them too much. I love how they lean toward the sun; I have to turn the tray every other day so they don’t grow too crookedly. Most of them have their first sets of true leaves, so I’ll be moving them outdoors and planting the rest of my flowers soon!
One issue I’m running into with our apartment is that it totally faces the west. All our direct sunlight is afternoon/evening light, but I’m hoping my little plants can pull through and make that work!
I keep my seed packets in a glass container by the front door so I can consult them about watering, etc. So far, gardening is proving to be delightful! Stay tuned for more updates — I promise they won’t all be this long. :)
Chris and I watched the season 7 midseason premiere of Doctor Who last night, a day late, and I wanted to write down some of my thoughts. If you like television episode reviews, you really have to check out The A.V. Club’s TV Club. You can read their review of The Bells of Saint John here.
Through “Asylum of the Daleks" and "The Snowmen”, I’ve had my misgivings about Clara Oswin Oswald as a companion character. Sure, she’s quick, and spunky, and an intellectual challenge for the Doctor – but that’s the problem. I don’t want the Doctor to be challenged intellectually by a human. I can’t speak for Classic Who, but in the new series, human companions have served largely to provide emotional balance for this very ancient alien who has spent so much time saving humanity that he often forgets why he bothers. The companions’ purpose is to remind him.
Through the Nine and Ten years, I always say my favorite companion is Donna. She had her own very serious, very human issues to work through, and saw traveling with the Doctor as more than just a mere chance to jaunt through time and space and see wondrous things and otherwise load up on memories to think wistfully about when her time with the Doctor ended and she found herself back on Earth in the right century. Donna didn’t like herself. And that was very real. When she met the Doctor, she finally found someone who made her feel differently about who she was – she actually discovered who she could be, and rather liked what she found. So Donna’s departure from the Doctor’s side after a season of spectacular episodes was very hard for me to watch.
As for Rose and Martha, I enjoyed them both. Rose transformed from a shop girl to a savvy traveler, one who helped the Doctor through a difficult regeneration. I wasn’t crazy about his whiny longing for her once they’d parted ways, but the circumstances under which that had happened were truly heartbreaking. And Martha caught the brunt of it, which wasn’t fair, but life isn’t fair.
Eleven stuck with Amy Pond longer than I would have liked, but the show had picked up so very many new transcontinental fans throughout seasons five and six (many of whom have likely never bothered watching anything before “The Eleventh Hour”, but that’s a rant for another time) that I can see why they would be frightened of dumping the Pond era after a season, as was their tradition. I just wish it wasn’t so, because I never felt that Amy was anyone particularly special – I always wished little Amelia, a la “The Eleventh Hour" or "The Big Bang”, would appear again, because I liked her so very much. Grown-up Amy just didn’t delight me the way she did so many of my fellow fans, so her (and Rory’s) big exit felt long overdue for me when it finally came around. (I also groaned audibly when Amelia Williams’s name appeared on the cover of Summer Falls in this week’s episode.)
Now we have Clara, the newest human companion to the Doctor’s escapades. But is Clara just a human? Her various incarnations – as an unfortunate surprise-Dalek in the season premiere, and then as a too-savvy Victorian woman in the Christmas special – have kept no secrets that she very well might not be. And if that’s handled properly, and no one is pretending that she’s just an ultra-smart girl who can keep up with the Doctor, then I am totally cool with that, seriously.
So when Clara is shown in this week’s episode calling up a tech support line because she seriously can’t connect to Wi-Fi, I breathed a sigh of relief. Here, finally, is the relatable human companion from the 21st century that the Doctor is going to invite into the TARDIS/snog box, in whom I can see glimpses of myself as she travels with him and sees all the wonderful things he’s so excited to show her.
And we all know she’s going to say yes, and accept his invitation to join him in the TARDIS for a time. Because that’s the way these episodes go.
The A.V. Club
complains mentions that, for new-companion episodes, “the formula almost requires an enemy that crumbles once the Doctor gets involved”. I agree with that. It’s important for the episode’s villain to be one that the Doctor easily conquers, but not just because seeing him conquer is what persuades infatuated companions to join him on his journeying. I think the ease with which he conquers these particular monsters – think of the Nestene Consciousness in “Rose”, the Plasmavore and Judoon in “Smith and Jones”, and Ms. Foster in “Partners in Crime” – proves to the Doctor that he is powerful, and capable of awing someone brightly impressionable. It’s why he loves humans, and human women: we love to stand in awe of something bigger than we are.
The Doctor loves the reactions he gets from these companions, and yes, I know that it’s a television show, scripted so that the Doctor encounters less-horrible obstacles on the days that his human companions are in peril, but if the Doctor were real, these would be just as exciting days in his long life as they are in his companions’.
From the point that the evil is extinguished, these episodes become very regimented – almost ritualistic, in a warm, delightful way. The Doctor invites his new companion inside the TARDIS, and she is surprised that it’s bigger on the inside/smaller on the outside. The Doctor watches her reactions very carefully, and sees he’s picked the right one. She’s excited, and he gets a little embarrassed, like a boy about to propose to his girl. And he finally does it – he asks her to travel with him. And she says…
Come back tomorrow.
Oh, Clara Oswald, that’s exactly what I would’ve said to an impatient, just-slightly-smug time travelling alien.
So this “review” was less about “The Bells of Saint John” in particular, and more my thoughts on this type of episode and companions in general. Upon reflection, I think I liked it overall, rather a lot. But a lot of that has to do with Jenna-Louise Coleman’s Clara Oswald, and the way she is under no circumstances going to lose her mug of tea, even in the face of peril. Welcome aboard the TARDIS, Clara! We know you’re gonna say yes tomorrow.
I love Pinterest. I don’t think anyone is contesting my love, but I just wanted to make it clear. I love browsing beautiful pictures and collecting strange photos. My recipe box is full of meals I’ve successfully tried from Pinterest. And I so love to see the creative ways others are crafting and repurposing to make their lives beautiful or simpler.
But nothing makes me sadder than finding what could be an awesome pin, clicking on it, and being whisked away to a link that is… not the source. Especially when I’m looking for a tutorial or word-for-word recipe. I personally don’t bother repinning images without source material, because I won’t pin something that isn’t important to be able to find again.
Luckily, there is an easy way to (almost always!) find the sources of pins, and I’m so pumped to share that with you!
1. Find an amazing, useful, or otherwise life-altering pin. I saw this pretty yarn-and-felt wreath front and center on my Pinterest dashboard (above). I really rather wanted to see those other 14 DIY Summer Wreaths, and I was sincerely hoping for a tutorial, even though that wreath looked pretty straightforward. I just like tutorials, y’all.
2. Realize that the pin is improperly sourced. If you’re like me, you love clicking on Pinterest images and being taken to the source, especially with DIY projects or recipes. Please join me in clicking on pins, holding your breath, and breathing either a sigh of relief (“It linked right to the source!”) or a sigh of despair (“Why don’t people link pins properly? HOW HARD IS IT?”).
In the case of the summer wreaths, the pin directed to one of those slimy image aggregators (above). Who uses those? They don’t even make sense. They’re not pretty websites, and they encourage users to eschew the valuable source websites, and then Pinterest users pin from them, and everything gets terribly confusing. The last thing I want when I’m leisurely browsing something pleasant like DIY Summer Wreaths is confusion.
3. Drag your Pin over to Google Images. Here’s where the magic happens, dudes. Get used to keeping a Google Images tab open anytime you’re pinning, because it’ll save you so much grief.
If you already have a Google Images tab open, go back to your life-altering 15 DIY Summer Wreaths pin. Click on the image and drag it up to your tabs bar and hover over the Google Images tab — DON’T DROP THE IMAGE. The browser will flip over to the Google Images tab if you hover over it, and you can drag the image down to Search bar (above). Finally, drop that little thing right there and Google will automatically search for the image source.
If that confused the dickens out of you, Google Images has an adorable video on this feature, and a few other methods for searching by image. This is the quickest way for my browsing technique. (Heh. Only nerds have browsing techniques, y’all.)
4. Navigate Google like a pro. Google, the darling that it is, will auto-fill your search bar with what it thinks your image is. In this case, it guessed pretty accurately that my image was a felt wreath, and searched appropriately (below).
Sometimes, however, searching for a pin source can be harrowing. When I scroll down, I find that most of the results are Pinterest-related, because that image appears on hundreds, if not thousands of Pinterest boards across their database, and they’re all as ill-sourced as my original.
Here’s where more magic comes in. Use Boolean search terms to help you narrow down your Google results. This is a crazy-useful searching method to use in all aspects of your Googling. You can read all about Boolean searches here, but when I’m sourcing pins, I usually stick with “-pinterest” (sans quotation marks — those are a whole new Boolean search on their own) to eliminate Pinterest results (below).
And just for good measure, you can throw the only search terms you know in there: the title of the original pin that you’re trying to source. In this case, “15 DIY Summer Wreaths” (below).
Click that search button, and cross your fingers…
5. Evaluate your search results. Google can only do so much for you before you’ve gotta start being just the slightest bit Internet savvy. You’ll probably know your source when you see it. In this case, it was staring right at me — the link included the image, the title of the pin, and didn’t look like another dumb image aggregator! But you’ll only know for sure if you click…
6. Make sure you’re right! In this case, Google led me right to the source: a blog post compiling images of pretty summer wreaths. It was actually a jackpot, because the blogger followed all the DIY blogging etiquette rules and actually linked each image to its source!
I am so very lazy that I used Chrome’s search feature (CTRL + F) to search “felt”, and it dragged me straight down to the right entry. My hunt for a source was almost over. All I had to do was click that little “Polka Dot Afternoon” link…
7. Rejoice! Or, maybe not. I didn’t get the tutorial I was looking for, but I ended up at the source: an Etsy shop. At least I could rest easy knowing I left no stone unturned.
Besides, I already know how to make a yarn-and-felt wreath.
I hope this all made sense. Properly sourcing the pins you find on Pinterest is crucial to not only finding the information you need, but also giving credit to the hard-working bloggers and creators who put content on the Internet. If you find a great pin, but have to go on the hunt for it, make sure you repin it with the right URL!
If nothing else, at least you now know that Google can do reverse-image searches. Pretty cool, right?
Wanna know how this relates to Facebook sharing? Amanda at iambaker.net, a baker blogger I revere, recently wrote about how insufficiently sourced recipe shares are hurting bloggers. A Google Image search method can and should be used to track down the origins of recipes off Pinterest!
This has been a thoroughly Geeky Dahlia post. :)
I can’t claim to be an Academy Awards nerd. I don’t think I’ve ever watched the awards show all the way through. But this year, I’ve actually seen all nine nominees for Best Picture.
Seriously. I just finished Argo about an hour and a half ago.
Chris and I have the tail-end of the red carpet coverage on the TV right now, not really watching it, but I wanted to try to cram a blog post in with my thoughts before the Oscars began!
Best Picture nominees: Amour, Argo, Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Silver Linings Playbook, and Zero Dark Thirty
What I’m hoping will win: Argo. It was truest to the purpose of movies — it was artful, surprising, and (most of all) entertaining. I loved watching all the nominees — Django Unchained was the most fun, Zero Dark Thirty was truly effective, Les Miserables was the most… singy, Beasts of the Southern Wild was charming, Amour was beautiful and heartbreaking, Life of Pi was pretty to watch, Lincoln was educational, and Silver Linings Playbook had Jennifer Lawrence. But Argo was everything. (Though it lacked J. Lawr.)
Disclaimer for picks below: I only saw the above nine films, so I can’t make a truly educated pick. But I’ll try.
Who I’m hoping will win the award for Best Actress: Jessica Chastain for Zero Dark Thirty. She was phenomenal, and if you’ve seen it, you’ll agree. You know I love my Jennifer Lawrence, and I do believe it was her year (considering also the blockbuster The Hunger Games), but she’ll have a better performance opportunity in her future than Silver Linings Playbook. And if Quvenzhane Wallis wins, at the ripe old age of infant, I’ll riot. (But I won’t mind if it goes to Emanuelle Riva.)
Who I’m hoping will win the award of Best Actor: Hugh Jackman for Les Miserables. I know that Daniel Day Lewis is a shoo-in with Lincoln, but Hugh Jackman’s performance had me blithering at the end of Les Mis.
Who I’m hoping will win the award for Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz. Argue with me and die.
I have no opinion on the nominees for Best Supporting Actress, so you’re spared my ramblings.
Ooh, they’ve started! Seth MacFarlane is already doing his thing. Fingers crossed, y’all! (Though we’ll be taking an hour-long break at 9 o’clock for The Walking Dead… oh well!)
Happy Valentine’s Day, DIY friends! I hope you have a love-filled day ahead of you, be it romantic or friendly. I also hope you got around to making some Funfetti heart cookies of your own!
I wondered for a long while whether or not I should share this with you guys. Whether it was any of your business or not. Or whether it was simply encroaching on TMI territory.
I guess I decided it was okay, because here we are!
Today is my first Valentine’s Day as a wife! Today is also the 600th day since Chris and I made the leap from friends to I-guess-we’re-dating-now-huh? :) 600 is a nice round number. Pretty fun.
I filled up a big red gift bag with a bunch of smallish gifts for my husband, including a Kanye West vinyl record, an It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia t-shirt, and a few other things. We’re keeping it pretty simple/frugal these days.
One of those “other things” is a jar. It’s a big square-ish glass jar from Michaels. I cut out my own stencil from cardstock and painted a “label” on the front with chalkboard paint. We’ll use that label to count pennies.
Love pennies, that is.
You see, we’ve been using a penny jar since we got married. But over the last seven months, we’ve outgrown it. Time to move into a bigger jar so we can keep adding pennies.
Why pennies, you ask? Yes, we’re frugal, but we’re not counting pennies to save up to anything. At least, not exactly.
I think our inspiration came while we were watching Mad Men together before we got married.
Well, guess what, Roger Sterling? The Davidsons are going to prove you wrong.
We’ve been throwing pennies in a jar every day for the last seven months, ever since our honeymoon. Chris always remembers. Y’know.
On June 23, 2013, we’ll start taking pennies out. And the goal will be to empty that jar.
I highly suggest this “activity” to all newlyweds! It’s a fun, tangible way to “beat/set personal records” or just to motivate you to, uhh, squeeze one more penny in at the end of the day. As you can see below, our new jar has a lot of space to fill. But we’re up to that challenge!
Another method we had heard of other couples doing was to put a dollar in a savings account each time, then putting the cash toward their first anniversary activities!
I got through this whole post without saying sex. If there’s anyone who didn’t get what I was saying, we put a penny in the jar every time we make love. So.
Happy Valentine’s Day again! Love y’all!
P.S. I hope you can find it in your love-filled hearts to forgive me for my unseemly iPhone photos. Chris is using my camera for a project for grad school. Fancy pants.
P.P.S Also, please ignore my use of a kitschy chalk font above. I didn’t buy chalk yet for use on the label. Eesh.
Hi kitchen friends! It’s a week until Valentine’s Day, and I wanted to share with you the Valentines I’ll be sending to my friends and family via snail mail. They’re a cake-like cookie confection spangled with red and pink sugar.
And the dough is so easy to whip up!
This was, embarrassingly, my first time making cut-out cookies. I enlisted the help of Emilee, my faithful kitchen friend, and thank God I did. It didn’t go so well at parts. My dough was sticky, and I had no idea how much flour was okay to add, and she kept me on track with sticking the dough back in the fridge every time it got as difficult to work with as a tired toddler (protip: the stick-it-back-in-the-fridge rule doesn’t actually apply to toddlers). And we were successful!
The best part about these cookies is that the dough is made from Funfetti cake mix. If we hadn’t covered our cookies in tinted sugars, you’d be able to see the charming little red bits that make eating Funfetti cupcakes so delightful — but in a cookie! This recipe originally comes from goodenessgracious.com.
Wanna see how it’s done?
Mix together a box of dry cake mix, one stick of unsalted butter (softened), two eggs, and one teaspoon of vanilla extract.
Fun(fetti?) fact: I woke up yesterday and realized I only had a half a stick of unsalted butter in the fridge. So I went on an adventure for more, and you can see that adventure on Vine!
I used my hand mixer, but when it got nice and sticky I just used a scraper to make sure all the butter was blended in (it wasn’t).
Chill the dough in the fridge for at least two hours. Mine was in there for a good four hours, because I mixed it up before work.
Gather your decorating supplies! We had sugars and sprinkles and a heart cookie cutter for Valentine’s Day, and I brought out my flour tin to make rolling the dough out easier. You can use candies or even icing to decorate these cookies.
Roll out the ball of dough on a floured surface! The apartment Chris and I live in came furnished, so this table isn’t ours and I didn’t really trust it for direct contact with my dough, so we laid out some parchment paper.
I got my rolling pin when Chris and I were married, but I hadn’t used it before this! Honestly, though, when we started working with smaller amounts of dough toward the end, we just used our hands, and it went fine.
The very loveliest thing about heart-shaped cookie cutters is how well they fit together!
This is where we were having trouble. I learned that sprinkling flour liberally will do wonders, and since we live in a basement apartment (humid even in February), throwing the dough back in the fridge will help with stickiness!
Before baking, we poured some pink and red sugars in bowls and pressed the cookies into it. They coated best when we pressed the sugars on the cookies’ “sticky” side, the less-floured side. Emilee even dampened a paper towel and patted it against the cookies to make the sugar stick better!
Bake them for about ten minutes at 350, then cool on a wire rack! :)
This yielded about two dozen cookies for us.
Happy Valentine’s Day, kitchen friends!
Hold on to your dinner pants, friends. I’m about to blow ‘em up with my all-time favorite flavorful, cheesy side dish.
This was the first orzo dish I ever made. And I kind of haven’t stopped since.
I seriously look for reasons to make this. The ingredients are pantry/fridge staples, so I usually have them on hand. If I run out, they go in the grocery list immediately, because I need to be able to make this dish the way I need to be able to breathe.
I know it looks like rice, but orzo’s not rice. It’s a macaroni pasta, and you’ve probably seen it cooked in soups. I haven’t tried it yet, but I have this Basil Chicken Orzo Soup pinned on Pinterest, just in case I have a hankering for orzo but no Parmesan cheese on hand.
I can only seem to find orzo at Walmart — I have yet to see it in our Food Lion’s pasta section, and Target’s grocery department is seriously lacking in all areas. Last time we were at Walmart we bought three boxes, because it’s like $1.50 a box, and a box will last us at least six servings. If you go looking for it, let me know where you find it!
I usually whip up this easy side dish anytime I’m bringing out the chicken broth or Parmesan cheese for the entree anyway. Tonight, we had Parmesan Crusted Chicken, and in the past I’ve usually made it as a side for Creamy Pesto Chicken, which I’ve blogged about. But I’d make it to go alongside burgers if I didn’t mind if Chris thought I’d lost my marbles.
Let’s get to it!
Apparently I’m running low on basil, but that pretty little glass bottle has lasted me months, so I guess I can’t complain. Anyway.
Melt some butter in a sauce pan.
Saute the dry orzo over medium heat until it gets all golden brown. I’m no chef, so I have no idea what this step does, but I keep doing it because the original recipe says so. I’m sure it adds flavor. :)
Pour in the chicken broth and simmer, covered. The original recipe says to simmer for twenty minutes, but I always halve the recipe for me and Chris, and it takes under ten minutes. Keep an eye on it, and stir occasionally — you want most of the broth to be absorbed, but some should remain to melt the cheese.
When done, remove from heat and stir in the Parmesan cheese and basil; add salt and pepper to taste.
The orzo should be stringy-cheesy and smell absolutely heavenly.
That’s all it takes! I hope you can try it and love it. Like I said, I always halve the recipe for me and Chris, but the complete recipe will suit 4-6 people as a side dish.
Enjoy, kitchen friends!