July 30, 2011

Today...

Posted by Laura and Kristin

Today...Is the day before Kristin's birthday

Today...Laura made Kristin a birthday breakfast

Today...We made a facebook page

Today...We "PEC'ed"


homemade zucchini bread

pepper, onion and cheese frittata

Kristin's birthday present - beer bread recipe with all necessary ingredients plus some
(thank you, Alissa, for the recipe)

"PECing" with coffee and music

self portrait

July 29, 2011

How to: Make Lavender Vinegar Spray

Posted by Kristin

I mentioned back in this June post that I love using this spray. I've gotten a few requests on how to make it so here it goes...

I started using it about 6 months ago when I finally decided to forgo all the nasty smelling cleaners out there. Both lavender and vinegar naturally have antibacterial properties so they can be used instead of harsh chemicals. I use this spray to clean my counters, bath room, and pretty much any other surface.

A little disclaimer: since this is a DIY project, I'm not guaranteeing that the proportions of ingredients I'm using are going to kill 100% of all bacteria but it does a good enough job for me.


Start out by getting an empty one of these:





Next grab some of this (it can be any brand of white vinegar) and pour about 2 cups into the spray bottle:







Next add 2 cups of water to the spray bottle:





Then add about 15-20 drops of  yummy spelling lavender essential oil  to the spray bottle:





And add the juice from 1 fresh squeezed lemon (about 3 tbsp):



Then shake, shake, shake....



And clean with one of these:


I love using microfiber cloths because they collect everything (dust, grime, crumbs...you name it) and you can throw them in the wash when you're done.


For a bucket load of really great homemade cleaning recipes check out this post on one of our favorite blogs, Young House Love.

Do any of you use a spray like this already or some other homemade cleaner?

July 27, 2011

Kale, Beans and Rice

Posted by Laura

This summer's farm share has been good to our stomachs and to our health. One green that I'm becoming familiar with is kale. Did you know...that many food and nutritional experts consider kale to be THE most nutritional vegetable in the WORLD! Move over spinach, kale is coming into my kitchen strong. Check out some nutritional specs here.

I was given the gist of this recipe by my vegan friend Jenna (from our vicariously vegan series). Technically, this vegan kale recipe is also gluten-free, lactose-free and nut-free (say that five times fast). This is a recipe that can easily be modified, but this is how I made it.



Ingredients:
-Fresh Kale, lots of it (roughly 10 leaves)
-1 Can of White Beans, Drained (I chose garbanzo beans)
-2 Cups of Your Favorite Rice (I'm a sucker for white rice)
-1 Onion, Chopped (I used green onions from the farm)
-1 Tablespoon Olive Oil
-2 Cloves of Fresh Garlic, Minced (I got some from my mother-in-law's garden)
-Salt and Pepper










Directions:
-Cook rice according to the instructions on package, set aside
-Sauté garlic and onion in olive oil until browned
-Add chopped kale to pan (I chopped mine up with my kitchen scissors while adding it to the pan)

kale will shrink in size when cooked
-Add salt and pepper-Sauté kale for approximately 4 minutes. You do not want it to cook it much longer than that because you want to preserve the nutrients (note: your kale will shrink about half it's size when cooked)
-Add drained beans and cook for another minute or two to warm up the beans and combine the flavors
-Serve over rice and enjoy!

I must admit that I am not very good at taking
food pictures, but this meal was de-licious

July 25, 2011

Flowers and Joint Compound....What?

Posted by Kristin

To start things off you must know a few things about me and my dad:

We have a pretty rad relationship if I do say so myself. He taught me all he knows and more about landscape design and construction. Check out some of his handywork here:







He also taught me to have a good, sharp sense of humor. Its the only way I survived working with him and 3 other guys landscaping for 5 years. Quick comebacks saved me from being eaten alive with sarcasm. Plus, any guy who can wear overalls and not be driving a tractor has got to have a good sense of humor...

Here's the whole clan: up top my sister Catie, me, and my mom Lynn.
Down below my dad Walt (Wally to some) and my brother Jon.



He also introduced me countless good beers and taught me all about what makes it good beer (appearance, aroma, mouth feel, taste, finish.....we're not obsessed or anything, I swear). It's even more entertaining sharing a beer while playing Catchphrase at family holidays (note the two pint glasses in the right hand corner). Leeeeeeeeet's just say he doesn't always understand the rules...

This is a common occurrence where he is saying the word instead of describing it.....
other than this he's a pretty sharp guy.



And finally we also share this major hobby (him on skis, me on my board):

photo courtesy of www.sugarbush.com

I mean seriously....the views, the snow, the terrain...

photo courtesy of www.sugarbush.com


Who wouldn't love this?





So if you're getting bored of hearing about me and my dad....never fear, the reason for all of this (and the mention of joint compound) is coming...

Yesterday, after a trip to my parents house to work on our subaru, Mike brought me these from my dad:



I guess my Dad really likes the motto go big or go home, cause this is about the biggest bouquet of flowers I've ever gotten!  And to give them to me in a joint compound bucket.....ahh if you only knew my dad, that's such a Wally thing to do (his reasoning was so that I could make lots of little bouquets throughout my house. Good thinking Dad).

So because this bouquet is from my parents house, it contains some of my most favorite and reliable perennial flowers (I learned many of them from doing landscaping with my dad).  Now the real reason of this post is emerging...you see?



Let's start out with Echinacea also known as Coneflower.


Echinacea is a tough, reliable and long blooming perennial in a slew of shades that range from purple-ish-pink to bright orange to white. They're tough as nails in poor soil and heat, are native to the U.S., bloom heavily from July to August, and make great cut flowers.




Next up is Heliopsis or False Sunflower.

These tall ladies get up to 4' and also bloom steadily from July to August. They're low maintenance, aside from occasionally needing staking, and look great in the back border of a cutting garden.




Another great flower is Monarda aka Bee Balm.

These are another native perennial and look just faaaabulous planted in large drifts.  They join the others in blooming in July and August and get up to 3 feet tall.




Joining the gang is one of the cheeriest flowers on God's green earth...Daisies! These ones in particular are more formally known as the Shasta Daisy or Leucanthemum.


They put on their show all summer long, especially with faithful deadheading (e.g. cutting off spent flowers). They are also tough ladies who can withstand hot, dry gardens, don't need much care, and come in a number of varieties ranging from 18"-36" high. Their bright white color also makes them stand out in the evening so they're great next to a patio or porch where you'll see them while you do some chillaxing.




This one may fool some of you. Its actually the flower from a Hosta. Now I'd bet dollars to doughnuts that you know what a Hosta is but you just don't know you know...




This my friends is a Hosta. You see them everywhere....you're front yard, Walmart, gas stations and even schmaaancy people's gardens.They come in all sorts of colors and some are even variegated (a technical term for foliage with lighter stripes or spotting on it).

photo courtesy of http://www.gardening-tips-perennials.com/hosta.html

And here's what they look like in flower.

photo courtesy of http://drzewaikrzewyozdobne.home.pl/Hosta.php
Hostas are really reliable perennials that work well in shade and some sun (just read the tags) and provide interest all season even when they're not flowering. They're super low maintenance, don't have many pest problems, and they're a good back drop for their more showy friends seen above.




And last but not least, I have to include one of the best smelling perennials out there: Fairy Candles, or Cimicifuga (for those non-Latin speaking people out there say it like "sim-mit-cha-fu-ga"), or Bugbane..so many names. I couldn't get a good close up but its the white spikes of flowers in the picture below.



Here's a better shot of the flowers and foliage.

photo courtesy of http://www.homeopathyandmore.com

photo courtesy of http://www.henriettesherbal.com

There's even burgundy varieties which really pop with the contrast of the white flowers and darker foliage.

photo courtesy of http://www.bgperennials.com
Cimicifuga prefers shade to dappled sun and looks stellar in the back of a border. The foliage gets up to 2' tall and the flowers reach up to 4' tall. The fragrance is what sets them apart for me though....really sweet almost like Queen Anne's Lace (another native perennial). These guys also look great next to plants with variegated foliage.



So there you have it...a few of my favorite perennials, all of them fairly low maintenance and quite the show stoppers. What are some of your favorite garden additions?

July 23, 2011

How To: Make Pillows out of Napkins

Posted by Kristin

I don't know about you all but every so often I get an itch to switch things up a bit in the decor department. Mostly it coincides with the changing seasons but sometimes its just inspired by a really good find. Such is the case with these babies:




These happy summer napkins were found late one night at Target while Laura and I were on a mad hunt for items to use in Jennifer's office redo. For only 4 beans I got these two large square napkins (they're folded in half in the picture above). My living has been feeling a bit of the beigh blahhhhs lately so I took Laura's advice and snagged them while I could ( I won't tell you about how I was so wrapped up in buying curtain hooks for Jennifer's office that I nearly walked out of the store with out paying for these..woops!). 

Check out this serious lack of exciting color in my living room:




Big comfy pillows good for lounging on while watching the West Wing: check (you know you'd vote for Jed Bartlet for president, come on...). Big comfy pillows good for adding color and interest to an already neutral room: not. so. much.

So after 2 months of looking at the napkins sitting in my dining room, I finally borrowed Jennifer's new sewing machine (it works like a charm) and whipped up some covers. My goal was to make slip covers for new pillows that I could easily wash when I needed to. Let's just say that Mike and I have a small obsession with watching movies while we eat so its not uncommon to hear "woops! there goes the french fry" or "dang it! i lost another pea.". So washing pillows that get laid on this hard used this much is critical for messy folk like us (you're smiling at that one, aren't ya?).

First I started out by looking for the insert pillows. They can be expensive if they're new so I scouted out Good Will for a few weeks and found these ugggly guys for $1 each.




Just check out this awesome woven detail, fringe and all!




After washing them thoroughly, I cut off all the exterior knitted covers to reveal these gold colored winners underneath. Man, these pillows just get better and better the more layers you peel off!



Next I cut and ironed all my fabric pieces. I used some white fabric I had lying around (a flat white sheet to be exact) and cut a white square panel to go behind the napkins (so the lovely gold color didn't show through) and pinned them together.



After that, I cut two rectangular pieces to be the back of the pillow case and hemmed the side that would be the opening along back of the pillow. When the two sides get overlapped they cover the back of the pillow but create a pocket so the pillow can still come out.




Then I sewed it all together with the "good sides" facing each other. Sorry for any blurry photos- I had just finished using the string trimmer in my garden and that combined with 100 degree heat made my hands a bit shaky.




And after a bit of stuffing and arranging, I had two bright and cheery pillows holding down the fort in my living room (I may have added a few more accessories too...).



Here's a close up of the the front and back sides:





And a close up of the new pillows chillin' with there homies:






And just to really make you drool....a final show down of before and after:







Have you guys ever used anything unconventional to make pillows? Or anything else? Let the idea sharing begin!

July 21, 2011

How To: Cut a Watermelon, Efficiently

Posted by Laura

To me, summertime means stuffing your face with as much watermelon as humanly possible. My husband happens to be an avid watermelon eater and has been known to eat an entire watermelon in one sitting. Therefore, it seems to disappear quickly around here so I feel like I am constantly cutting watermelon.

I just learned this efficient way to chop chop (note: you will need a very sharp knife to make this work). You may all be saying "yea Laura, this is so 2010", but to me it's new and I'm pretty excited about it.

1. Cut both ends off the watermelon and stand it up on one end.

2. "Shave" off the rind.



3. Chop into cubes and enjoy!


Ahhhh, I no longer sulk when I buy a watermelon. This method is so much better than the cut into triangles and slice the watermelon off each piece method. Enjoy!