April Garden Update

Spring–along with its appropriate weather–has finally arrived.  Right now I am loving watching everything come to life in our yard.

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As part of my birthday present this year, my mom gave me little figurines to make a fairy garden;  at first I was skeptical, but I gleaned some ideas from Pinterest and created this:

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Hah!  Isn’t it cute?   I visited our local greenhouse earlier this week, and they apparently have an entire section dedicated to fairy gardens, complete with mini plants and figurines.  Who knew?  Fairy gardens are a thing.  Andrew thought it was ridiculously frivolous when I showed him, but ultimately conceded that it is kind of cute, then wished the tiny lawn ornaments the best of luck against the squirrel thieves that frequent our yard. 🙂

To balance out the frivolousness of the fairy garden, we do have some very practical plants growing: our vegetables!  Lots and lots of vegetables.  We started our seeds at the beginning of March (then started some more a few weeks later), and now we have quite the greenhouse of our own.

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Here’s what we are growing:

~Tomatoes- Brandywine, Black Krim, Yellow Pear, and Sweetie (Cherry)
~Peppers- Red Bell, Yellow, Pimento, and Jalepeno
~Squash- Yellow, Zucchini, Spaghetti, and Butternut
~Tomatillos
~Eggplant
~Watermelon
~Cucumber
~Green Beans (not yet planted)
~Strawberries (already in garden from last year)
~Kale, Spinach, Lettuce, Chard (already planted in garden)

So, it looks like we’ll be able to eat this summer.

In a few weeks, once the outside temperature is more consistently warm and the plants have a little more time to grow, we will plant them in the garden, which is prepped and ready!

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Vegetable gardening season, we welcome you. 🙂

-Are you growing any vegetables this summer?
-Have you ever made a fairy garden?  Have you ever heard of a fairy garden? 😀

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Tastes of Spring

My office is closed today, and I’m watching the snow fall outside through the kitchen window…again.  I like snow, but I am ready for the warmer weather we experienced briefly this weekend.  It was quite the teaser!  We did manage to squeeze in a few spring activities, one of which I am so, so excited about: planting vegetable seeds!!

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Last year we took the “go big or go home” approach with our vegetable garden, tilling a 10-ft x 20-ft plot in the middle of our back yard, and we experienced surprisingly great success.  (You can check out last year’s garden updates starting here.)  We ate amazing, fresh produce throughout the summer, and we are still working our way through the veggies we froze by using them in soups and stir-fries.  It’s been wonderful.

This Saturday we gathered our supplies–some seeds saved from vegetables last year, some new seeds, dirt, a seed starting box, a clear storage bin to use as a makeshift greenhouse–and set up a planting station in our driveway.

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We planted:
-Brandywine Tomatoes
-“Sweetie” Cherry Tomatoes
-Black Krim Tomatoes
-Yellow Pear Tomatoes
-Bell Peppers
-Pimento Peppers
-Tomatillos
-Butternut Squash
-Spaghetti Squash
-Watermelon

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And now our guest bathroom is a greenhouse. 😉  In the seed starting box in the foreground, which has a clear plastic lid, we planted all the tomatoes and peppers.  For the others, we are experimenting with 1. bigger containers and 2. a bigger greenhouse: a clear, upside down storage container.  We put our space heater in the bathroom with the seeds to make sure they are nice and warm. 🙂

Even though our garden last year was a success, I feel so nervous about how well these little guys will do;  we are still rookies who just happened to have ideal growing conditions last summer.  We’ll have to wait and see what happens!

Sunday was even more gorgeous than Saturday.  With temperatures in the 70’s, we simply couldn’t stay inside, so we drove to the University of Richmond to play disc golf.   If you’ve never played disc golf before, I think it’s the perfect compromise activity for people like Andrew and me–it’s essentially taking a walk in a park with elements of competition and athletics. 🙂

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Also, we found a turtle:

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#
selfieswithturtles

It was an awesome way to spend a beautiful Sunday afternoon. 🙂

And now we return to our regularly scheduled winter weather.  On the upside, I took these photos this morning of a giant hawk that sometimes hangs out in our back yard…so beautiful in the snow!

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Have a great Monday, everyone!

What’s the weather like outside your window today?
-Have you ever played disc golf?  What do you think?
-Are you growing veggies this summer, and have you started the seeds?

Thursday Thoughts: Denver-Bound

Some random thoughts from the week on this cold Thursday morning:

1. It’s currently 4:53 AM.  Andrew and I are flying to Denver early today to visit his sister, Jenny!  You can follow our adventures on Instagram: #storeytime.  😀

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2. Last weekend the cold weather finally killed our pepper plants–they held out far longer than we expected.  We harvested the peppers that were still growing, and this was our haul:

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Isn’t that crazy??  We’ve already eaten some, given away a few, and stored the rest in the freezer for the winter.  Heck.  Yes.

3. Speaking of things that are at least a little bit granola, I had the strange opportunity to wear this to work one day this week:

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The pants were my mom’s in the 60’s/70’s–aren’t they awesome?  I sent my mom this picture and said, “What do you think: was I born in the wrong decade?”  and she said, “Oh, I am sure of it!”  😀

4. We made this meal this week:  jerk pork with mango salsa, garlic-sauteed green beans, and the most delicious oven-roasted potatoes.  Yum, yum, yum.

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5. This sandwich-hater has been attempting sandwiches this week, and I think I found one I can handle:

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 Dark chocolate peanut butter and banana on Ezekiel whole grain bread.  I’m still not sure about the whole bread thing, but overall this sandwich is pretty tasty. 🙂

Well, those are my random 5 AMish thoughts for today.  Have a great Thursday!

Fellow sandwich haters: are there any sandwiches that you actually do like?
Have you ever seen so many beautiful peppers in your life? 😉

Spousal Miscommunication and The Resilient Fish Tacos

Have you ever had a meal in which the individual components tasted just okay, but the combined result tasted rather fantastic?  Food synergy.  We had such a meal last night–one that was almost disastrous thanks to a spousal miscommunication (spoiler alert: it was Andrew’s fault).

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Fish tacos.  Simple.  Small pieces of fish, seasoned and baked + coleslaw + mango salsa.  I put Andrew in charge of the fish because he’s good at seasoning food, and I hate working with raw meat; I started the mango salsa, which we typically make with mango, red bell pepper, cilantro, lime juice, and a little salt–just something to sweeten the tacos.  We have a lot of tomatillos from our garden in bags in the freezer, which I thought would make a great addition to this salsa.

I mixed all the ingredients, ate a spoonful, and…

“This just does not taste great.”

“Really?

(Andrew takes a bite of the salsa and makes a funny face.)

“Yeah, that’s not good.”

“Right?  I thought the tomatillos would taste so good in this.”

“That’s just not how tomatillos usually taste… Oh.  Uh oh.”

“Uh oh, what?”

“Umm, I think you may have used unripe tomatoes.”

“Why are there unripe tomatoes in our freezer?”

“I didn’t want to waste them!”

That’s right–when we said goodbye to our tomato plants in September, Andrew couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the green tomatoes still on the branches, so he picked and froze them.  Why?  How would we use them?  Friends, I have no idea.  Unripe tomatoes and perfectly ripe tomatillos look dangerously similar, but taste very, very different.

Because couldn’t bear the thought of wasting the mangos and red peppers we’d already put in the salsa (and because I have just a touch of OCD…) I picked out all of the little green tomato pieces, rinsed what was left in a colander, and added actual tomatillos.

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<Sigh.>

The fish was a little bit dry, the salsa tasted okay, but I couldn’t get the memory of the original batch out of my head, and the coleslaw tasted like mayonnaise.  But together?  Together they tasted awesome.  Beautiful food synergy, in which the end result was greater than the sum of the individual components.  They even managed to survive a serious spousal miscommunication.

You go, fish tacos.

-Please tell me any hilarious miscommunications you’ve had with your significant other.
-Now that I know we have unripe tomatoes in my freezer, does anyone know how we can use them (if at all)?

Random Friday Thoughts

I confess that I do not have anything particularly insightful to offer on any one subject today, so instead I will share some random highlights of my week, guided by the photos on my phone. 🙂

1. On Tuesday Andrew walked in the door after work with a beautiful bouquet of tulips and said, “Happy Tuesday!  I thought you’d like these… they are fall colored!”  (Yes, they are fall colored;  never mind the fact that tulips are the quintessential spring bloom. ;-)) I love that guy.

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2. I cheered on one of the high school girls in my youth group (Gena, with whom I ran this 5K) in her cross country meet on Wednesday.  She goes to my former high school, where I used to run cross country, so going to this meet brought back a lot of memories–I even got to catch up with my old coach!  Despite the course being notoriously grueling and hilly (not all the memories were good…) Gena ran strong until the very end!  Go, girl!

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3. Garden labels:  I made them.  Using popsicle sticks, outdoor craft paint, and a hot glue gun, I created these guys this week:

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4.  My mom and her friend Bill are at the beach this week in the Outer Banks, and she sent this picture to my siblings and me:

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One summer many years ago, while we were making drip castles on the beach, a local artist approached my mom and asked if she could take our picture.  She paints everyday beach scenes, and sells the prints in a lot of beach shops.  We always look for ourselves when we see this artist’s work, and my mom found us this week!  We are a little bit famous.

5. I’m working on building up my running mileage, and yesterday I ran 7.25 miles!  I know it isn’t a long long run, but I am pleased with myself nonetheless.  My first mile was a slow 9:43, and I gradually increased speed, running the last mile in 8:44.  I’ll take it.

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That’s all the randomness I have for today 🙂

Tell me something random about your week.

Boating + An Almost Farm-to-Table Dinner

Greetings on this dark, but delightfully cool morning (at least in Richmond)!  I hope everyone had a great weekend.

We kicked ours off Friday with dinner at a nearby Thai restaurant and a movie–Red 2.  We saw the first one in the theater when we were still dating and loved it, and the sequel did not disappoint!  If you’re looking for a good suspenseful, action-packed, make-you-belly-laugh movie, I highly recommend Red 2.

On Saturday, we spent the day on the bay.  One of Andrew’s coworkers, Bruce, has a bay house (technically his mom’s) and a boat, and he invited us down for the day.

IMG_1472It was a gorgeous day–warm,with a breeze, but not hot; big fluffly clouds in the sky…

We spent most of the day in the boat, but stopped at a little island beach for a while to eat lunch and relax (you know, because riding around in a boat is so stressful ;-)).

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We also did some fishing from the boat.  Well, Bruce did some fishing (Andrew and I don’t have licenses.)  In a short amount of time, he caught five decent-sized croakers, which he cleaned and sent home with us!

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Driving home we caught this awesome sunset:

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On Sunday, after an excellent worship service at church, Andrew and I (…wait for it… this might surprise you…) worked in the garden.  😉  I weeded;  Andrew demolished a stump and tilled the soil so we could put the strawberry plants in the ground (rather than pots.)  We replanted the strawberries, and planted more green bean, broccoli, carrot, and beet seeds.  Our green beans are doing well and don’t take long to mature, and we just wanted more!  Our row of broccoli failed–one tiny head was starting to emerge just as the caterpillars destroyed the plants.  We planted the beet and carrot seeds in pots with store-bought soil.  As much as we tried to improve our ground soil, it still has lumps of clay and some rocks, which produce gnarly little underground vegetables.  (Exhibits A & B.)  We’re hoping the pots will be more of a controlled environment for them!

In sad garden news, I think we are losing our cucumber plants.  The leaves are getting yellow spots, then shriveling up and dying.

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Anyone know what that’s about?  Is it a disease?  Over/under watering?  I’m not very happy about it.

For dinner last night we enjoyed the fish from Saturday with green beans from the garden and some quinoa:

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We breaded the fish in gluten-free bread crumbs and pan-fried it (healthy, I know ;-)).  Apparently the tails are delicious, but you’ll have to ask Andrew about that.

And now, I’m off to tackle Monday.

What did you do this weekend?
What the heck is wrong with our cucumbers?

The Weekend: Family, Vegetables, and a Police Report

What a weekend!  I may need a few days to recover from the busyness.

I kicked things off Friday evening by filing my first police report after being stalked in the grocery store and parking lot.  I’ll write a full post on this either later today or tomorrow, but suffice it to say that it was a very scary experience, and I’ve been a little bit on edge ever since.

On Saturday, we held a memorial service for my grandmother, and it was all that we wanted it to be.  After the service and wonderful reception put on by the Bereavement Committee at church, family gathered back at our house.   We had a veggie tray with a lot of goods from our garden, as well green salsa that Andrew made from our tomatillos!  It was a lot of fun to show off the garden to our family members who had heard about it but never seen it.  After the weight of the day, it was so nice to relax with family, share the Grandma Tudor stories that weren’t appropriate for non-family, and laugh.

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The nieces and me before the service 🙂

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My brother and brother-in-law passed out in my living room 😀

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Andrew, Ross, and my dad in the back;  Aunt Ann, Kendall, Lauren, Whitney, and me in front (Charles behind the camera!)

On Sunday, we slept in and skipped church (I know.  Sometimes you just need to be a recluse for a day, and yesterday was one of those days for me.)  Andrew and I went for a walk, then spent a few hours working in the garden–harvesting, weeding, pruning.

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We finally harvested our beets and carrots and had a good laugh about it:

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Five tiny carrots and a toothpick, and a bunch of beets… the largest of which is roughly 1.5-inch in diameter 😀
(Side note: I just started using Instagram!  Follow me @ctstorey)

You win some, you lose some, right?  Well, what we lost in root vegetables, we are winning in squash, tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers…

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Yesterday’s harvest (minus the beets and carrots) + the crazy-tall tomato plants (those are 6-ft stakes!)

After gardening, lunch, and a few episodes of New Girl, Andrew went to the gym, and I stayed home to lift weights in the living room (again, the recluse thing.)

In the evening we went to Bonefish Grille to celebrate my mom’s birthday!  We love Bonefish.  Four of us split an order of Bang-Bang Shrimp (which I’d never had before because I always go with Andrew, and he can’t eat it… it’s delicious!) and an order of Saucy Shrimp.  (My mom’s friend Bill then ordered another Bang-Bang Shrimp for himself…before his entree. ;-))  For dinner I had the grilled scallops and shrimp with steamed broccoli and garlic whipped potatoes.  Mmm. 🙂

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We loved celebrating with my mom (and we missed you, Whitney and Charles!)

The weekend was a bit of an emotional roller coaster, but held more smiles than tears.  I was able to see so many of my favorite people all at once, and for that, it was awesome. 🙂

What did you do this weekend?
Any tips for growing full-sized carrots and beets? 😀