CSA Box #3

Before I share the goodies I got yesterday at the Farmers Market, I have to give serious kudos to the guys at the booth for making me this beautiful bouquet. As part of my CSA, I pick up a very large bouquet along with my fruits/veggies. This week, they didn’t have my flowers ready so they built one for me on the spot. Gorgeous!

CSA Flowers

CSA Flowers

  CSA Flowers

Ok, now on to the food…

 CSA Fruits & Veggies

Lettuce, Spinach, Kale, Snap Peas, Strawberries…

 Carrots, Sage, Avocados, Cabbage. Lemons

Carrots, Avocados, Sage, and Lemons…

 Lemons and Sage

…Cabbage and turnips.

 Lemons, Sage, Turnips, Cabbage

There were a lot of good basics this week, lemons, lettuce, spinach, avocados, and berries. I love that the wild cards are the fresh sage and turnips. I have a butternut squash in the pantry that I think will go well with the sage, perhaps in a risotto. I think some fish tacos are in order for that cabbage, but I’m not sure what to do with turnips. Any suggestions?

I LOVE fresh sage, it’s makes a lovely little bouquet near by sink while think of ways to use.

 Fresh Sage Bouquet

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It’s Official – Some Exciting News

So let me walk you through a little history before I share some exciting news.

In late 2007, I started training for my first Marathon, Rock n Roll San Diego. I got into the best shape of my life and was sticking to training/eating right. A few weeks prior to the race, I was out doing my long run, 20 miles, but things didn’t go very well. I had started out later then I should have, and the weather warmed up to hotter than I expected. Thankfully I had brought a credit card with me so I could buy water along the way, it probably averted a trip to the ER for heat stroke. The high temps and a lot of unexpected hills forced me to walk when I got to about mile 10. That’s when the blisters kicked in, all over both feet, and at some point I pulled a muscle in the arch of my left foot. Between the heat, blisters, and general body pain, I limped home those last few miles holding back tears. It was only then that I realized that I also had severe sunburns on my back and shoulders.

So yeah, things didn’t go well, and I still wasn’t healed up enough a few weeks later to run the marathon.

It ended up being okay, because instead of running a marathon in 2008, I brought home this little guy! (yes, that’s a cast on his tiny broken leg)

Chocolate Lab Puppy in a Cast

Who would later grow up to be this, not so little guy…

Chocolate Lab

Then things in my life kind of fell apart. However, I found out that I won an entry into the 2009 Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Due to all the crap going on in my life at that time I was excited but dubious. I didn’t train nearly as hard or eat as well as I should have; however, it was an AMAZING experience. It was my first Half Marathon and my only goal was to finish without being swept.

Nike Women's Half Marathon 2009

I did finish in just over 3 hours, and paired the race with a road trip up the California coast which made for an incredible vacation. My parents drove up to San Francisco to watch me run, and my mom told me that next time she wanted to do the race with me.

We have entered the drawing every year since.  No Luck.

17 Mile Drive, Carmel, CA

So here we are in 2012 and I haven’t been running much, by choice. However, we still entered the race drawing in the hopes that we would get in.

Imagine my surprise when I found an email in my inbox this morning welcoming me to the race in October!

NWM_header

 

Holy Crap!

So my exciting news is that my mom and I will be participating in the Nike Half Marathon in San Francisco on 10/14/2012. She will be training to walk the course, and since she walks at the speed of lightning, I’ll be training to jog alongside her. I am ridiculously excited about this, and we’ve already started planning a fun girls weekend this fall.

Adding Veggies to Macaroni & Cheese

I have a confession.

I wanted to eat Macaroni and Cheese for dinner tonight. That’s it, just Mac and Cheese. I didn’t want any little green veggies filling up the plate, I just wanted some old fashioned comfort food…from a box (I’ve never made homemade Mac & Cheese, that just seems too dangerous). I wanted to eat a dinner of boxed Kraft Mac and Cheese.

This is not a fact I’m proud of…

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Cups_1

However, I am proud of these, because I have three veggies shoved in those little suckers!

I decided that I could justify eating Macaroni and Cheese if I found a way to add some veggies. I also thought it would be a good time to try making Mac and Cheese cups, since that would help with portion control.

  Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Cups_4

As my base I used the Kraft Home-style 4 cheese blend kit. It comes with everything to make the Macaroni and Cheese. While the pasta was cooking, I steamed some broccoli and spinach, then chopped it into small pieces. I set this aside to add later. After the pasta was cooked, I mixed the cheese with some butter and milk, then I added 1/2 cup of Pumpkin puree.

Yes, I said pumpkin.

After the pumpkin was incorporated into the cheese, I folded in the pasta, spinach, and broccoli. Using an ice cream scoop I spooned the pasta mix into a greased muffin pan, and topped each cup with a little shredded cheddar and the breadcrumb mix from the Kraft kit. Baked at 350 degrees for 7 minutes.

Pumpkin Macaroni and Cheese Cups_5

Verdict: They were pretty darn good. I’m honestly not a fan of the Kraft Home-style kits, but this turned out pretty well. There was a slight pumpkin flavor, but not too strong, and the Spinach/Broccoli were so finely chopped that I didn’t taste them. There were also filling, I only ate 2 (which is unusual for me and Mac & Cheese).

I won’t lie to myself and say it was healthy simply because I incorporated some veggies; however, it has potential. I think next time I’ll try a homemade Macaroni recipe to lighten the overall calories, then I’m thinking butternut squash instead of pumpkin. Oh the possibilities…

 

What are your favorite Mac & Cheese mix-ins? I have a few other ideas floating around my head…like white cheddar and pesto…

 

*Funny Fact – That’s arugula on the plate in the first picture and without thinking I too a huge bite. It was like a mouthful of pepper weeds, just awful. I meant to mix it with some spinach and totally forgot. Oh well, it looked good in the picture at least.

Everyday Is Earth Day

It shouldn’t come as much of a surprise that I have a thing for this great planet we live on. Over the past few months, I’ve been taking steps to be more environmentally conscious in all aspects of my life and while I’m only one person, I think it makes a difference. This blog has opened up some great opportunities to talk with others about how they have taken action to change their lives, as I’m trying to do. Most of the people tell me they have trouble finding their purpose, but they want to make a difference in the world.

I know I’m getting cheesy deep, bear with me.

I think we all want to leave our mark to some degree and while some of us may choose careers/paths that do just that, others of us (me included) feel a little invisible in this big bad world. However, making deliberate eco options over the past few months has shown me one thing, I am actually making a difference for the world. Granted it may be a difference in my immediate surroundings, but it’s still a difference. Every time I recycle, I’m keeping my junk out of landfills. Every time I use my new eco showerhead,  I’m reducing my water usage. My favorite so far as been joining the CSA, which gives me the warm and fuzzies for supporting local organic agriculture.

My point is, you don’t have to change the world today or even do something big…Just Do Something. Because when you add it all up, it’s making a pretty damn big difference.

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I want to see what you are doing for this great planet of ours so I’ve partnered with Dear Creatives for a link party! Special thanks to our lovely hostess over at Dear Creatives for this great idea! The party will be open until May 3rd so feel free to stop back here anytime to share your posts.

In honor of Earth Day link-up your posts that are:

  • Earth Day
  • Green
  • Green Crafts
  • Green Tips
  • Mother Earth
  • Nature
  • Organic
  • Recycle 
  • Re-Purpose
  • Recipes with Organic Ingredients

It would be nice if you:

  1. follow hostess
  2. tweet or share after entering!

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I’m Feeling Inspired – Back To School

I started school again last week which has been both a challenge (given the day job) and so much fun (to be doing something I love). It has also brought back all those old memories. I used to love the start of school. The anticipation of what could be, the school shopping, etc. I may be a nerd, but I always loved cracking open a new notebook and taking notes. The joy always wore off after the first week or so, but I loved the start…EVERY time.

Back to school Notebooks

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Back to School Printable

 

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Monocle Stationery Notebooks

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Very cool use of rulers! I’m thinking this would be a great use of vintage rulers you can find at flea markets.

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Eco Challenge – Solar Light Lanterns

This ended up being one of the simplest projects, but it has had such a great effect. Over Christmas last year, I picked up a few boxes of Solar Christmas Lights from Target. (You can still buy them online, in stores they also had a smaller string of 25 bulbs). They were more expensive, but worth it since I wasn’t using any additional electricity in the home thus, not increasing my electric bill. Plus they have a built in timer, meaning they only go on at dusk.

I tucked them away because I wasn’t sure what to do with them. I knew that I wanted to use them in the yard since I only have one outlet outside anyway, but I wasn’t sure how. That is…until I saw HomeGoods had restocked their garden section.

I found these lanterns for a great deal, and the finish is black rust so even when it rains, they won’t be damaged. The lights will be fine in rain as well, but the sensor should not be kept in a place where it will be submerged or in standing water.

Solar Light Lanterns_6

Here comes the seriously easy part…shove the lights in the lantern.

Yep, that’s it.

I kept the solar sensor outside the lantern and wedged it between the wall and the potting bench. It’s able to absorb plenty of light, but I’m able to block it from view with some plants. Once dusk hits, they automatically turn on.

Solar Light Lanterns_5

There are beautiful! I seriously LOVE these. I wish I could show you how great they look at night, but I wasn’t able to get a good picture. The greatest thing is that you can tuck them all over the yard and not worry about extension cords, outlets, timers, wasted electricity, etc.

I even wrapped a strand around the potted cypress trees I have on either side of the French doors.

Solar Light Lanterns_4

Such amazing ambiance for the cost of the lights and some sunshine!

CSA Box #2

I’m still working on catching up on the posts from last week and I couldn’t pass up sharing the most recent CSA box. I’m constantly amazed by how different this food tastes over the stuff in the grocery store. I guess I didn’t really know what ‘fresh’ tasted like.

I ate all those strawberries within minutes of taking this picture, delicious.

CSA Box 2_1

Oh and purple carrots…VERY cool!

CSA Box 2_2

The snap peas were great in a stir fry and the avocados have taken a few days to ripen, but I ate the first one today. Like buttah! (sorry, couldn’t help myself).

CSA Box 2_3

The zucchini is turning into a Chocolate Zucchini cake tonight, I’ll let you know how it turns out. I’m also thinking of trying this recipe with the chard, looks pretty good.

CSA Box 2_4

I pick up my CSA box every 2 weeks, and while this food lasts longer than that in the grocery store, it still spoils quickly. I’ve been looking for a way to keep it edible just a bit longer. I heard about ‘green bags’ but reviews online didn’t look good. So I’ve picked two methods to try with my next box, I purchased a dehydrator which I hope to use for fruit and berries. I also bought a handheld vacusaver and wide mouth attachment so I can try this out. I can’t wait to try both and I’ll let you know how they work out.

I was tempted to change to the smaller box and pick up each week, but all the good stuff I want seems to only come in the regular size box. Any tips/tricks out there to keep fruits/veggies fresh longer?

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Linking To: In Her Chucks

DIY: Vertical Gardening

I cannot tell you how great it felt to wake up this morning and know I didn’t have to work. I woke up without an alarm clock, took my mom’s beagles out for a short walk then took Baxter out for a really long walk. I think he’s feeling a little jealous lately since I’ve been paying so much attention to the beagles. Nothing a little walk couldn’t fix. In fact the relaxation continued right up until work exploded and I was sucked back in. Ugh. All I wanted was one little day, but whatever.

While out walking the dogs, I toyed around with the idea of starting a dog walking business. Can I make a living doing that?

I’m avoiding my work computer for a moment and finally wanted to share a very cool outdoor project with you. When I moved in to this house, the entire backyard was paved with exception of a little space next to the side fences.  I planted a few things that require little attention, but it just looked so…blah!

Vertical Gardening_1

I wanted to bring some height to this side of the yard, but didn’t have enough space to plant any trees. I was also hoping to find a solution that would give me space for herbs/veggies. So I bought some rebar and a few pots…

I purchased a 6 foot piece of 1/2” rebar for about $8. I pushed it into the ground about a foot so the end piece would stand about 5 feet tall.

Vertical Gardening_2

Using a rubber mallet, I pounded a small upside down pot into the ground to help stabilize the bar. Packing the dirt around that bottom pot made the whole piece very sturdy.

Vertical Gardening_3

Then it was just the matter of threading and filling the pots up the bar. I used a few azalea pots on the bottom and smaller pots on top.

Vertical Gardening_4

Vertical Gardening_5

I found out quickly that you need to fill the pots as you go, if you stack them empty, they will collapse into each other as you add more.

Vertical Gardening_6

Once I built the entire tower, I started adding plants. I figure some of these will die simply because it takes a little practice to figure out the right watering for the placement/sun/pot type. So far, they’re doing pretty well, but I’ll be swapping a few out shortly.

Vertical Gardening_7 

Vertical Gardening_14

In fact, I was so pleased with the outcome, I built a second tower along the same wall. The rebar shows on the first one at the top, so I hope to find a plant that will grow over it, but I was able to push the second bar further into the ground, so it is hidden in the top pot.

Vertical Gardening_11

Vertical Gardening_12

Now I just need to wrangle those wandering rosemary plants and clean things up a little. Oh, and buy some more pots, because I have one more spot that could use a pot tower as well. This area will be eventually blocked by the outdoor seating so the tower will be great for adding some height behind the chairs.

Vertical Gardening_13

Project Cost Breakdown (per tower):

6 foot piece of 1/2” rebar (Lowes) = $8

4 Azalea Pots (Lowes) = $9 

5 Small Pots (Lowes) = $8

1 Bag of Potting Soil (Lowes) = $5

Total Project Cost: $30

New Roommates

Guess who I have staying with me for the next week?

These two cuties! Yes, he does sit on his sister from time to time…she loves him anyway. Although I’m pretty sure her eyes are screaming ‘Help ME!’ in this picture.

Beagle Roommates

These are my parents pups and they’ll be staying with me while the parentals are off enjoying the paradise that is Maui. I’m jealous. So needless to say, I have my hands full with 3 dogs, work, and starting school. I wasn’t expecting to take a break from blogging over the past few days, but life (as it often does) just got in the way. In an effort to regain my sanity, I’ve taken Thursday/Friday off from work this week so I plan on catching up a bit over the next few days.

I owe quite a few people email responses as well as comment responses, I promise those will be coming over the next few days as well!

Eco Challenge – Get Rid of the Bugs

Ok, so nothing glamorous here…I need to talk bugs. Every year around this time I begrudgingly welcome these little flying critters into my home. I believe they are fruit flies and they drive me crazy. There are incredibly hard to catch and downright gross. I swear if you get one little bug in the house they will multiple within minutes (ok, not really, but it seems like it).

In the past I’ve tried various removal methods. Swatting them is useless, they are too small and too fast. I had some luck with catching them by whacking them with a towel, but I was only killing one here and there. The best option I found in the past was to spray them with cleanser since you can catch them mid air. However, I end up with a whole house that smelled like Lysol, and since I’m spraying it into the air…much of it ended up in my lungs. So, no more Lysol for me.

A little Googling and Pinterest hunting gave me the instructions on making a homemade Fruit Fly trap. I had everything on hand so I made up two right away. I put one on in the kitchen and one upstairs to catch any that seem to make their way up there. Those little suckers like to fly everywhere!

 

Eco_Fruit Fly Trap

All it took was an empty Mason Jar, a piece of computer paper shaped into a funnel, some apple cider vinegar, a piece of banana, and painters tape (or masking tape). Once you catch a few little bugs, you can set the jar in the freezer for a few minutes which will kill the flies and then set it back out on the counter. I have had these going for about a week and they are working great. Granted I still have a few that seem to keep making little fruit fly babies, but the numbers are dwindling. In fact they congregate to the jar so well, and are no longer travelling around the house, that I’ve been able to eliminate the trap from upstairs.

So yeah, I have fruit flies. They suck…but I’m thrilled that I found a way to get rid of them with safe ingredients from around the house.