More Gardening Success

I’ve had many gardens. Each year I learn something new. Each year is better than the one before.

This year was an experiment with the new climate, change in length of growing season, etc. and just when I about dubbed it the least successful of all gardens to date, something wonderful happened….

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I have tired several times to grow sweet corn. Each time without much success.  My prior attempts were all in Nebraska, and always ended with the same problem…wind!

The wind would blow the corn stalks over, pinching them near the bottom, cutting off their ability to produce to their full potential (even after standing them back up and staking them so as not to be blown over again). As a result I ended up with very small, very sad cobs of corn.

When I planted the garden this year I thought, “what the heck, I should just give it another go”. And, despite my neighbor trying to discourage me and dampen my spirits (“this isn’t the corn state, you know, we’ve tried, you won’t be able to grow corn here”) I have managed to grow beautiful, delicious sweet corn!!

What’s your favorite of the garden’s gifts?

I do believe Fall weather is upon us and the garden will soon be wrapping up for the season. I think this was the fastest summer of my life!

Wishing you all a beautiful weekend and will see you back here next week.
H


Wedding Details: To Ring or Not To Ring?

How do you feel about your significant other not wearing a wedding band?

When J and I got engaged, he was adamant from the very beginning that he didn’t want a wedding band. I blew that idea off initially, thinking I could get him to warm to it over time.

I was wrong. He continued to hold firm in not wanting a wedding band. He hates things on his hands, can’t wear it for work, and wouldn’t be likely to wear it…ever.

At first, this got under my skin, but then it occurred to me: I could buy him a wedding band, he would likely not wear it, and it would be something we could fight about. Great way to start a marriage, huh?

So…I decided to do something a tad (or a LOT) NOT traditional — I didn’t buy him a wedding band. Instead, I bought him an expensive, and awesome watch:

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While it may not be the pleasure of everyone, it seemed a reasonable compromise that J and I could both live with.

And, for the ceremony…because I didn’t think “with this watch…” an option that wouldn’t confuse the masses, we borrowed the ring his grandfather wore:

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I was more than happy to have a wedding band to go with my gorgeous engagement ring, however, the engagement ring didn’t come with a matching band.

Not to worry…I found this band, with the help of one of my bridesmaids,  that goes nicely with the ring, can be worn alone, and didn’t cost the fortune that having a band made to fit the engagement ring  exactly would have (and having a band like this would mean not being able to wear alone).

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Have you, or do you know someone, who has deviated from the ‘traditional’ exchange of rings? I’m curious to know…what did you <they> do?


A New Plan

Well, we made it though the wedding, returned home, got into the swing of a continued busy summer and then something dreadful happened….I got on the scale and learned I had gained 7 lbs since the wedding!!

Not cool.

So, maybe 7 lbs isn’t anything to lose a lot of sleep over. On the other hand, it happened in just over 2 months & could be the beginning of a very slippery slope.

A very slippery slope that I need to get off of….and quickly!!

Though I possessed (and still do) less than one ounce of motivation to REALLY do anything about it, I put together, & have been forcing myself to follow through with, a new workout plan.

Every day is a battle as I’d so much rather drink wine and eat Doritos while sitting in front of the TV in the evening.

In addition to the walks I take on my breaks at work, I’m throwing at least 3 days of cardio into the mix as well as a 30-day plank and squat challenge.

The link to the squat challenge is here. I’ve been doing it for a couple weeks now and have been pleasantly surprised that it leaves me just the right amount of sore…and able to complete the task again the following day.

And, here is the picture for the plank challenge:

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I got this from a friend and it is totally do-able as well…right amount of sore to follow & ability to continue on to the next day. A couple things I’m doing differently, though. For one I am doing the plank in full push-up position and doing one on each side as well. So, where a day may say “30 seconds” that means I’m really doing a minute and a half…30 seconds for the standard plank, and 30 seconds for each side.

If you’re going to do the planks, though, please do them right or don’t even bother wasting the effort. Tuck that rear-end in!! (I laugh in my head as I picture my personal trainer friend demonstrating for me the “super ass-up” planks some of her clients try to squeeze by with…that drive her to near insanity).

Soooo….So far, so good.

Are you staying motivated with your health and fitness goals as we head in to fall — far away from bikini season (unless you are like me and taking a tropical vacation for your honeymoon in Dec) and full speed into Comfort Food, Hoodies, and Sweat Pants season??


Garden Check-In

Hard to believe that we are in to our second week of Sept, and that Fall is fast approaching.

I know, I shudder at the thought myself. Can we rewind to July 1st please??

How are things going in your garden?

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My gardening experience this year is bitter sweet. I’m thrilled with the production that has kept us eating fresh and healthy for a while now.

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I am disappointed, though, that we aren’t getting enough at one time to ‘put up’ for winter eats. Next year I will need to tackle in a whole different way.

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I may be headed to the Farmers Market one weekend soon to stock up on tomatoes. I just don’t know if I can stomach NOT making that delicious homemade pasta sauce I experimented with…and loved…last year.

For now I will be overly thankful for what we’ve gotten…but I’m curious to know…how are your gardens coming along? How do they compare to past years?


Giant Pumpkins

My mother-in-law and her husband are growing giant pumpkins.

Growing giant pumpkins takes a LOT of space:

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And, they apparently require a LOT of work. The vines have to be buried, and one must pay attention not to let more than a couple pumpkins per plant to develop. They also need shade, otherwise they may split open:

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I think they’re pretty cool!

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Those pictured here are nearing 400 pounds!! There are some other pumpkins which are smaller…bigger than your average big pumpkin, but small when compared to these big boys!

So…my question is this: what does one do with a pumpkin that will weigh well over 400 pounds by the end of the growing season??


Wedding Details: Reception Decor

I grew up in a small town. The same small town where the wedding was held. In this small town there are few places to hold a wedding reception, and only one if you are planning on more than 80-100 people…a metal building at the fair grounds.

This didn’t deter us from hosting an elegant affair! Let me tell you a little story about how a metal building gets transformed into a gorgeous reception hall.

Actually, how about I let the pictures speak for themselves…

This is what we began working with. A simple metal building (and a trailer full of supplies):

Building Before

Here’s what we ended up with:

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It took a team of us 38+ hours, over not quite 3 days, to pull this together. Pretty impressive, huh?

This is what’s possible when you have an idea in your head, you put a plan together, and have a wonderful team of family and friends who can execute.

A night which will not be forgotten is an understatement.

Hope you all have a fabulous week – Happy Monday!
H


Dill Memories

Last evening I made a recipe I found on Pinterest (you can link to it by clicking here). Not only did this sauce have incredible flavor, but it brought back memories from my young childhood.

When I was young I would help my grandmother can dill pickles. I would sit on the counter and drop a clove of garlic into the jars as well as a sprig of dill.

While I’ve always held that memory close to my heart, last night while making this recipe (which also called for fresh dill) I found myself right back in my grandmothers kitchen – eating the cucumbers about as fast as she could stuff them into jars, to later become pickles.

This meal was satisfying on so many levels…I urge you to try…

Finely chop an onion, 2 cloves of garlic and 1/2 a pound of mushrooms.
Add to a pan with 2 tbsp of extra virgin olive oil, saute until soft.
**This next step I didn’t do while cooking, but will the next time around**Once the veggies are cooked, add 1-2 tbsp flour to the pan and cook for a bit.
Add 1/2 cup chicken stock, 1 1/2 cups heavy cream, and 2-3 tbsp fresh dill – finely chopped.
Add salt and pepper to taste.

I then poured this sauce over Quinoa Pasta (they make that now, it’s really exciting) and mixed in some cooked shrimp.

photo(30)Aside from the fact that the sauce was real thin (hence the reason for the flour, a thickening agent) this dish was super yummy.

Dill pairs well with seafood so any fish would be incredible with this sauce over the top, and if you’re not a fan of seafood chicken would be great too.

Do you have any other recipes that use fresh dill? I’d love to take another tip down memory lane…


2013 Garden

Hard to believe that it’s August already and I have yet to share my 2013 garden with you.

Of course, I gave updates as we were ‘prepping’ the garden in the Spring . It was QUITE a process.

After we ran all the dirt through a screen to remove the rocks, we added a truckload of compost and tilled everything in real well. Then, I got to planting.

Here’s a look at the garden, taken a week or so ago:

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Isn’t it the most amazing space?? AND there’s a drip system for the garden that runs off our sprinkler system. Hello being able to leave town and not have to worry about having someone come over to water!!

So…the garden breakdown is as follows:
Tomatoes (8 plants)
Broccoli (4 plants)
Sweet Corn (1 row)
Green Bell Pepper (2 plants)
Red Bell Pepper (1 plant)
Mystery Pepper  – Complements of J, I have no idea what it is (1 plant)
Green Beans (1 row)
Onions (2 rows)
Spinach (2 small rows)
Lettuce (1 small row)
Cucumber (2 plants)
Watermelon (1 plant)
Cantaloupe (1 plant)
Pumpkin (2 plants)
Strawberries (4 plants)
Blackberries (3 plants)
Zucchini (1 plant)
Squash (1 plant)

There is SO much going on and I am totally in love with this space!

Next summer we will put up a greenhouse over part (probably half) of the garden so I can get on top of things earlier in the season. Hard to believe that I just picked the first ripe tomato on Monday (August 5th) when last summer I had a ripe one on the vine by late May!

How are everyone else’s gardens coming along? Ready to start canning/freezing/preparing for winter??


Pesto

My basil plants went crazy:

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So I made pesto.

Here’s how:

-trim and wash the basil leaves (1 cup, packed)
-add it to the food processor with 1 large clove of garlic,  1/4 cup almonds, 2/3 cup grated parmesan cheese (my recipe here is doubled, I had a LOT of basil):

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Let the food processor roll until everything is chopped up and combined:

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Then, turn the food processor back on and begin to add extra virgin olive oil until you reach the desired consistency (about 1/2 cup):

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Finally, add salt and pepper to taste and you are ready to eat…or put in the fridge for later in the week, or put in the freezer in smaller portions to be eaten at another time.

This is such a dynamic sauce, it can be used for so many dishes…tossed with warm pasta, coat chicken, shrimp or fish prior to grilling or baking, in place of other condiments for a panini…and the list goes on and on and on…

Enjoy!


Wedding Details: Hair & Make-Up

I mentioned, months and months and months ago, (click here to read that post) how excited I was that my childhood friend was coming from Georgia to do my wedding hair and make-up.

When I think about how generous she is, how great it was to see her (and finally meet her little boy), and how amazing she made me look for my big day it brings tears to my eyes.

Here Cayla and I are right before the ceremony, when she stopped back by before my walk down the aisle to touch up my hair and make-up and the girls’ hair as well:

photo(19)She couldn’t be more adorable if she tried, seriously.

So, here’s the thing: though she did an amazing job with my hair and make-up we did a horrible job of getting pictures. I skipped the trial that she offered to do the day before the wedding. I was still trying to tie up loose ends with decorating and verging on exhaustion. She said the trial was more for me than for her; that she doesn’t typically work with brides who just trust her to do her thing. I totally trusted her…so we skipped it.

Then, the morning before the wedding I was so relaxed (seriously, no nerves and just goin’ with the flow) that I was piddling around longer than I should have been…eating breakfast, chatting with the girls, etc. …and we came right down to the wire with getting finished up and getting me to the church on time (seriously, I went screamin’ out of there so fast that I forgot my engagement ring, and my mother…oops). Needless to say, we didn’t snap any up-close pictures of her work and I’m so disappointed because she definitely needed them for her portfolio.

Anyway, I did my best to crop and zoom in on some other pictures to give you an idea of how it all came together…but they aren’t great pictures…so bare with me:

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And for an up close look at the make-up:

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I love this shot of my girlfriend, Kari, and I.  Talk about being pampered, I didn’t even have to put on my own jewelry!

A special thank you, again, to my dear friend Cayla. I can’t imagine my day without you having been part of it, and I know for sure that no one could have done a better job.

 


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