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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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? 😉

Holiday Season Wellness Goals

Confession:  I’ve been hitting the leftover Halloween candy pretty hard this week.

As we move into the holiday season, where the sweets become even more abundant and most of the vegetables are cooked in cream-of-something soup, I’ve decided to set a few goals to stay focused, healthy, and feeling well.  Now, I’m a firm believer that wellness is the sum of the good stuff we do for ourselves rather than the absence of the bad stuff.  Along the same lines, I also believe in not depriving yourself if you really want something!  The following popped up on my Facebook news feed a couple nights ago, and I laughed and felt disgusted at the same time:

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Really, Health.com?  That’s the saddest little dessert I’ve ever seen.  That’s a garnish for a dessert, in fact.  There’s no way, if someone were craving pineapple upside-down cake, that that would satisfy the craving.  I commented, “#notdessert”.  😀

But I digress.

 Therefore, my wellness goals for the holiday season are cumulative and non deprivation-based.  If you count yesterday (when I intended to write this post) and Christmas day, there are 50 days until Christmas!  

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That means that I am aiming for an average of 6 servings of produce, 30 minutes of exercise, and just one dessert daily (my dessert goal is to not exceed 5o servings.)  The beauty of the cumulative goals is that they allow flexibility:  Run for an hour one day?  Take a rest day.  Enjoy a few desserts on Thanksgiving?  Forego a sweet somewhere else in the week.  A few days of poor eating here and there won’t wreck a person; these goals will help me make sure a few days don’t turn into the whole holiday season. 🙂

After day one, these are my stats:
-Fruits & Veggies: 6
-Exercise: 1 hour
-Desserts: 1

Be good to yourselves, friends!  And for the love of all things delicious, please don’t ever eat a pineapple garnish for dessert.

Do you have any wellness goals for the holiday season?
What would you add to my three categories?

The Day I Ate Almost No Produce

Oh, Monday;  you have arrived again.  I am definitely dragging a little bit today!

As I mentioned yesterday, on Saturday morning we spent some time in the garden.  Sadly, we picked and sliced our first cantaloupe before it was fully ripe.

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So sad.

We also, sadly, had to pull out the cucumber plants.  After doing  research, we determined they had some kind of mildew that had infected the entire plant.  Not a particularly satisfying day in the garden.

As I also wrote yesterday, we then hiked the Buttermilk Trail.  Allow me to backtrack, though.  If I were to name this particular Saturday, it would be, “The Day I Ate Almost No Produce.”  It wasn’t intentional, but at the end of the day I looked back and thought, I ate horribly today.  Hah!  In this case, I define “eating horribly” as lacking nutrient-dense foods, like fruits, vegetables, and whole grains.  Here’s what the day looked like in terms of food:

Breakfast: 2 Gluten-free pancakes with honey, 2 scrambled eggs
Breakfast afterthought: Peach (Oh, I guess I should eat some fruit…)
Lunch: 3-4 oz leftover steak, GF cupcake
Dinner1/2 chicken burrito, an obscene amount of chips and salsa, 1 frozen margarita

We woke up late and had a later-than-usual breakfast.  When lunchtime rolled around, I wasn’t especially hungry (but yes, hungry enough to eat a cupcake… just not hungry enough to muscle down carrots ;-)).  I didn’t pack any snacks for the hike which never happens, but I was so full from a late breakfast and lunch that I didn’t think about it.  Fast-forward a few hours and five miles into the hike.  I. Was. Starving.  It was hot and humid, and Andrew said, “I want a margarita.”  I agreed, and we decided to drive straight to Nacho Mamas for an early dinner (like 5:30 PM) as soon as we arrived back at the car.

What do you do when you have been exercising for hours with no snacks and someone puts a basket of chips and salsa in front of you?  You eat the entire basket almost before the waitress can take your drink order, of course.

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The veggies were there;  I just didn’t touch them.

Before our dinners arrived, the two of us finished almost two baskets of chips and salsa (at least salsa is made up of veggies and I ate a lot of it?) plus our delicious frozen beverages (Andrew had two!)  As I finally cut into my burrito, the fullness started to set in, and it set in fast and hard.  After eating half, I put the silverware down, sat back from the table, and said, “Oh, I ate way too much.”  I didn’t feel particularly well for a few hours after that.

Aside from overeating in one sitting at dinner, I didn’t eat too much food throughout the day;  I just didn’t eat particularly well.  At the end of the day I thought, I’m not going to eat “perfectly” every day, and that’s okay.  I’m human.  My Sunday contained a few more vegetables. 😉

When you don’t have a “perfectly healthy” eating day, cut yourself some slack.  We’re only human!

Have you ever let yourself get too hungry and then overeaten?
How do you squeeze more produce into your day?

Ultimate Frisbee + My New Favorite Squash Recipe

I am sore this morning!  Last night we played Ultimate Frisbee with friends, and we played hard.  I’ll get to that in a minute, but first, dinner.

We enjoyed leftovers from an awesome dinner Monday night: chicken sausages with a potato, squash, and goat cheese gratin.  I used this recipe for the gratin (minus the milk and Parmesan cheese; Andrew can handle goat cheese.)

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Oh, it was delicious.  Squash by itself?  Not my favorite.  Squash with my beloved potatoes?  Oh, yes.  This recipe is a winner, for sure.

After eating, we made our way to the University of Richmond to meet the Ultimate Frisbee gang.  We went a little bit early so Andrew and a few others could play Spikeball first.  I embraced the opportunity to go for a walk through the beautiful campus.

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Ready. To. Play. 😉

Last week we had 8 people for Frisbee;  this week we had twenty.  Rather than play a crowded 10-on-10 game, we made four teams and had a mini tournament on two adjacent fields.  We each played one game (first team to score 11,) then the winners played, and the losers played.   By the end, we’d all spend about 90 minutes running pretty hard.  The teams were beautifully even in terms of abilities, so although we won our games (:-D), both were very close, and there was no time to rest.

After driving home and hobbling from the car to the house, I made my favorite workout recovery meal–a smoothie.  This cup contained frozen berries, banana, mixed greens, peanut butter, and soy milk.  While this sounds rather strange and is not my typical smoothie combination–I usually use spinach, but we have mixed greens on hand right now, and I usually forego the peanut butter, but I wanted some extra protein–it actually tasted great!  And no, I could not taste the greens. 🙂

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I love smoothies as workout recovery fuel because they contain carbohydrates, protein, and lots of vitamins, depending on what fruit you include.  Unfortunately, none of that is preventing my legs and glutes from being incredibly sore this morning. 😀

What do you eat/drink after a hard workout?
Do you ever play Ultimate Frisbee?

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?