Tuesday, November 30, 2010

French Drain Complete.

A few posts back, I wrote about how we dug trenches around the perimeter of the garage to put in a French drain. We purchased a yard of blue stones from a landscaping company in our area and we picked it up to save on the $50 delivery fee.  This pile is a yard of stones.  It only cost us $35 for the whole yard and will be enough to fill 3 sides of the garage.  Since the delivery was more expensive than the product, we figured we would put in the "labor" of picking up the stones and shoveling it out of the truck when we got it home.  It was a lot of heavy lifting, and my goodness my back was sore when we finished shoveling all the stones out of the truck.  The things I do to save $50!  Hahaha!  Sometimes I wish I was less cheap frugal, but then I start to think how I could spend $50 and I just suck it up and shovel the #$%@ rocks.
Inside the trench, we put down a layer of landscape fabric to prevent dirt and mud from coming up the stones.  We also put in landscape edging on the sides to keep the rocks in place.  Then we shoveled the stones into the trench.   I took this photo so you can see the landscape fabric in the back and the edging.  We are thrilled with the way it came out. It looks amazing. This entire garage renovation was so much work, back breaking labor!  However, we learned a lot and saved so much money because we did all the labor ourselves.  Maybe I can use those savings on a spa day.

Seeds sent!

For my 200th post, I wanted to pay it forward by sharing my seeds. All the seeds were packed and sent out. If you requested seeds and haven't received them, send me an email, and I'll send it out again.  If you are interested in seeds, see my original post to see what seeds I have available.

Monday, November 29, 2010

Our indoor harvest

I harvested these habaneros on the enclosed front porch yesterday.  I mean my "greenhouse".  Haha.  I can't believe I actually extended the plant's life and we are still reaping the benefits.  I must say however that a lot of the pepper plant's leaves dropped, I don't think it liked being moved.  You can see the plant behind my hand. Though, I'm glad I dug out those plants, let's hope they survive the winter.

See what other's are harvesting on Daphne's Dandelions.
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Sunday, November 28, 2010

The Last of the Old Garage

This is what's left of the old garage. A big pile of crap!  Our poor neighbors had to look at this for a week, because we ordered a dumpster and had to wait a week for delivery.
When it got here, we moved all this garbage, once known as our dilapidated garage into the dumpster.  Unfortunately, the dumpster was too wide for our driveway so it was parked in front of our house.  Countless back and forth trips from our backyard to the dumpster and we finally filled it.  It took us from 8am-3pm with a half hour lunch break.
Boy was I tired when we were done.  Goodbye old garage.  Good riddance.

My Last Jar of Sauce

For Thanksgiving, in addition to the cheese platter, I made a large vegetable platter.  Too bad we didn't have any vegetables from the garden. That would have been great to include.  I had some clear cellophane in the house, so I wrapped it like a package.  Surprisingly, there was still a lot of this platter left at the end of the evening.
I also made a big batch of spinach dip. I followed the recipe from the back of the Knorr vegetable dry soup packet.  If you never had it, go out to the supermarket and buy it immediately.  It is the best dip ever!!
When we left Albany to return home, the hub's Aunt made us take what was left of the cheese platter home.  Which was a lot of cheese!  What does one do with a lot of cheese?  Melted sandwiches to the rescue!  I opened our last jar of homemade tomato sauce today and I was so sad about it. I knew it wasn't going to last because I only got 5 quarts out of the batch I made. :(  Next year hopefully I can grow a lot more tomatoes so I can make enough sauce to last all winter.  So tasty!
I made the melted cheese sandwiches in the sandwich maker.  I've had this nifty sandwich grilling kitchen appliance for many many years.  It's similar in nature to a "George Foreman" griller, however this was before George Foreman had his.
I usually spray or butter the surface so the sandwich comes out without sticking. Then you put sliced bread, in this case, I used a hearty oat bread. Spoon in your toppings, I used a few spoonfuls of our homemade marinara sauce and then some slices of swiss cheese and mozzarella. Then 2 more slices of bread.
It comes out like a sealed grilled cheese.  I like how it gets sealed, so that no cheese or sauce drips out.  Almost like a homemade hot pocket.  What's so nice about these sandwiches is that it's versatile, you can put almost any type of filling, grilled veggies and cheese is also a good combination.
Here's the sandwich after I've taken a few bites from it.  Gooey goodness.
For more garden to table ideas, go to Greenish Thumb.

Saturday, November 27, 2010

Trying to get the bulbs in

I just spent the last hour planting the bulbs I bought on sale. It is so cold out that I only planted half of them and then I couldn't feel my feet so I decided to finish the rest tomorrow. I can't wait until spring to see if the sale bulbs were indeed a bargain! I am especially excited for the stargazers! They are one of my favorites.  Here are the hyacinth bulbs.  They were nice and healthy!
Just to experiment, I decided to put some of the bulbs, in a potted container. I hope it blooms!  This is a mixture of daffodils, crocus, and blue grape hyacinths. 
UPDATE: I just wanted to share that I saw that Brent and Becky's bulbs are having a 50% sale on selected bulbs.  I must be nuts, because I'm actually considering buying more bulbs!  LOL.  I already planted 70 bulbs, I can't believe I'm considering more.  haha
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Black friday deals part 2

Before we were married, my husband and I lived together. For our first Christmas together I asked him for a vaccuum. When he told his dad that he got me a vaccuum for Christmas his dad said jokingly, "did she slap you?" Haha. "No" my husband said, "she was estatic". "Marry her" his dad replied. I love getting useful presents, and yeah a vaccuum is not very romantic but to me it was equivalent to a nice piece of jewelry. Haha. I hate house cleaning so anything that makes it more painless is welcomed. When we moved into this house I struggled with dragging our huge Bissell up and down our flight of stairs. So when we saw this Eureka smaller vaccuum was on sale yesterday, we pounced on it. The retail price was $69.84 but we got it for $37. Talk about bargain. My new Christmas gift to myself.
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Friday, November 26, 2010

Black friday deals part 1

Its already been a long day. For the first time ever we went out to do some black friday shopping. I am exhausted but we got some great deals. We headed straight to Lowe's at 7:30am. The hubs got a new table saw for an amazing price. Original price was $139, but we got it for $59. I see a lot of garden projects we can use this saw for. Such as next years project, my garden shed. I also want to eventually build a picnic table and pergola. Lofty goals right? Haha. I keep adding building projects to the hub's list. He doesn't mind though because it is an excuse to invest in more tools. We got some other amazing deals, more to come.
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Traffic on the NY thruway yesterday

First time blogging on my new droid phone. No I was not driving.
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Not cooking this Thanksgiving!

Last year, I hosted Thanksgiving and did all the cooking. It's probably why I don't have one single photo from last Thanksgiving! Haha. I love hosting parties, so doing all the cooking was enjoyable. This year however, we are traveling to my husband's Aunt and Uncle's house in Albany for Thanksgiving. Since it's a 3 hour drive North, I decided not to cook anything but rather to bring some easy appetizers and dessert. We order a pecan pie from Mother Mousse bakery, and I'm doing a crudite platter.  Too bad we don't have any of our own vegetables growing in the garden to add to the crudite platter.   I also wanted to do a cheese and crackers platter so I headed to Trader Joe's, where they have an amazing selection of cheese for an amazing price.
Doesn't this look awesome?  I got brie, herb goat cheese, baby swiss cheese, smoked aged gouda, Rondele garlic and herb spread, dry salami, Rosemary crackers and Multigrain / Flaxseed crackers.  All this for under $20!  Nice!
While I was there, I saw that they had new eco-tote bags. Check out the cool design! There was a sign that said that there are different bags for every area. Oooh, I want to collect one from each city that Trader Joe's is in. My sister lives outside of Chicago and she has a Trader Joe's down the street. I'm going to harass her to buy me one with a Chicago motif on it. Now, if I can talk my California friends into doing the same. Haha.  I bought 2 bags and carried my goodies home in them.
When I was there, I also was on the lookout for either flowers or a flowering plant to bring to the hub's Uncle and Aunt.  My dad wanted me to get some flowers for them, since he wouldn't see them in person.  So I picked up this gorgeous Begonia plant.  I liked it so much, I also picked one up for myself too.  I can't resist!  Happy Thanksgiving to you all!

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Keeping the guys happy!

When we were renovating the garage, I did a lot of cooking. Mostly because I wanted to keep the guys well fed so that they had the energy to work outside all day. So when I saw this Chocolate Chip Cookie recipe posted on Bo's Bowl, I knew I had to try it.  If you know my husband, he loves chocolate!  The recipe was incredibly easy, and I've never had luck with other chocolate chip cookie recipes before.  I am not a good baker, so my cookies always come out more like biscuits.  LOL. 
This recipe however, was absolutely PERFECT.  It made the most perfect cookies ever!  In my batch, I omitted the espresso powder because I don't have that in the house normally. 
I kept the cookies in this mini cake holder.  So cute.  The guys loved the cookies so much, that I ended up making 2 more of these batches before the 10 days were over.  Each batch made approximately 16 medium sized cookies.  16 cookies x 3 batches, you do the math.  Cookie monsters!  They deserved it though, they worked so hard!

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Raking So Many Leaves

You see all these trees? That sits on the left of our property. We are "fortunate" to have city owned woods right next to our backyard. It's great, because we feel like we live in the "country" if we look that way. :)
More of the patch of forest owned by the City of New York. 
These are the large trees ON our property.  We have 3 huge trees in our backyard.  Our neighbor next door has one large maple tree in her yard.  And ALL of these trees including the ones in the woods drop the leaves all over OUR yard.
And these are all the leaves that blanket our property.  I've been raking leaves for what feels like weeks!
I'm happy that we have lots of leaves for the compost, but at the same time I hate raking.  LOL.  So even though I am happy about the leaves, I still hate raking.
And raking.  And raking.  I have to keep saying to myself, this will be great for our composters.
We bought brown bags to keep the excess leaves in.
And I filled our new pallet bin we made.  I alternated leaves with composted soil and spent plants from the garden.  Here you see a Roma tomato plant.
6 full bags!  I'm excited to be using my bags of leaves throughout the growing season so that I can use them in the compost.  My husband doesn't love the idea that I want to keep bags of leaves for composting.  He wants to put the leaves in the woods.  I promised him that I won't collect 100 bags of them like EG!  Although I would love to.  :)

Fall Bulbs on Sale!

I received an email from Gardener's Supply Company the other day and in the email it said that fall bulbs were on sale and that you could save 75% on the fall bulbs.  Just look at these great prices!  (Update: their sale is over) Of course I fell for it and ordered a few bulbs.  Well, okay, maybe more than a few bulbs.  I ordered daffodils, tulips, hyacinths, stargazer lilies and a multi-pack of bulbs that include irises, more tulips, more daffodils and crocus.  When I got the package in the mail, it was like Christmas!!
 The bulbs looked really healthy and amazing!  Now to find room to plant all of these! 

Monday, November 22, 2010

Probably the Last Harvest

Yesterday, I picked a handful of snow peas. We had a big windy storm this past month and lost many of the plants which were destroyed in the storm, so we were lucky to get a handful of peas at all. Peas are easy to grow, so next year, I definitely want to plant a whole lot more. Check out Daphne Dandelions for what others are harvesting.

Here is the harvest totals for 2010. Since I don't have a scale yet, I counted each one.  (Hopefully the hubs will get me a scale for Christmas.) I kept track of the water collected from the rain barrels as well. Not bad considering we only got the barrels back in May.  Being that this was our first year gardening, I'm just impressed that we pulled anything edible out of the ground.  I can't wait until next year!

Harvested in Quantity
Radish Greens
1 bunch
4 bunch
Pole bean
Red Onions
3 small onions
Red Potato
9 small potato
White potato
3 small potato
Yukon Gold
Beet Greens
11 baby
Habanero Pepper
Bell Pepper
Snow Peas
Water – Rain Barrel
1,533 Gallons

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Eco-friendly and loving it!

Back in September, on the blog Wearer of Many Hats, she was hosting a giveaway of a wonderful custom crafted lunch bag from Glue and Glitter.  I love anything eco-friendly so I submitted my name and to my surprise, I won my very own custom created lunch bag!  Thanks Wearer of Many Hats for hosting such a great giveaway.  Becky, the talent behind Glue and Glitter contacted me and asked me what colors I liked, what patterns I liked, and what I wanted on the bag.  How cool that I could get the bag made to reflect me, so I asked her for a cat design, for my 3 cats, and florals because I love to garden.  I also said I loved brown and turquoise blue.  Here are the photos of the finished product!
Inside the lunch bag came cloth napkins, chopsticks, and a plastic food container.  Everything you need for a perfect lunch that is friendly on the Earth.
Here is the lining inside the bag, Becky let me pick out the fabric.  Since I love gardening this fabric was perfect for me.  Isn't it just gorgeous?  These would make great holiday gifts,  you can order a bag from Becky, she will make it custom to your order.  Check out Becky's Glue and Glitter website!

How to Make an Egg Cream, Brooklyn Style.

Last month, I talked about Brooklyn's best cheesecake, from Junior's. Well, they also have a pretty good egg cream.  An egg cream is made with chocolate syrup, milk and topped off with seltzer.  They say egg creams were invented in Brooklyn, although I have no idea why they call it an egg cream since there are no eggs in the drink.  I was at the supermarket and saw that they had U-bet chocolate syrup.  I was pretty excited about it, because U-bet is the chocolate syrup they use at Junior's and the syrup is made locally in Brooklyn!  I love supporting local businesses, so when I saw it at the supermarket, I had to get a bottle.
I had bought this pint jar from Junior's, written on it are the how-to directions on making a chocolate egg cream.  This glass gives you an outline on how much syrup to pour, how much milk and how much seltzer.  Update (if you can't see the glass well): The ratio is about 1 inch of syrup, 1 3/4 inch of milk, and the rest seltzer.  I've made this a couple of times, and my hubby came up with the idea of mixing the milk and syrup together first and then pour in the seltzer and stir a tiny bit.  That seemed to work the best.
Mix it up with a spoon and you get a chocolate frothy drink.  Just like how I remember it as a kid!  Delicious.

Saturday, November 20, 2010

A Kitty In the Jungle

I was watering the plants on the front enclosed porch, "the greenhouse" as Wendy called it, and Dante kitty followed me in there.  He was so mesmerized by all the plants that I moved indoors.  I bet he thought he was outside.  LOL.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Need a Turkey?

Do you need a turkey for Thanksgiving? Well apparently, they are running rampant in Staten Island. Check out this article in the Daily News.  What I found pretty funny was the title of the article.  "Turkeys terrorize residents as they roam neighborhood".  Terrorize?  Really?  I've seen wild turkeys before in upstate New York and if anything they run away from people.  However, maybe these Staten Island turkeys are bullies.  LOL.  I think it's pretty cool to have wild turkeys in the area, it's not common to see wildlife like this in these parts.  However some residents don't feel the same.  Many residents find them a nuisance.  In particular, there was one quote in the article that said,  "People think turkeys are a big joke. But when you have thousands of these filthy animals surrounding my house and pooping all over everything, it becomes a living nightmare."  I think it's pretty ironic that people call these animals "filthy" and yet they love to eat them with their mashed potatoes and gravy.  I hope the residents leave the turkeys alone.  Maybe I should round them up and bring to my yard.  Hahaha

Here is the video they had on the article.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Are these seeds?

This is a question for those seed collectors out there. I was out in the garden the other day and saw that one of the radishes had these pod like growths. I have never seen anything like this before, so I was wondering are these seeds? Have you seen this before? Do you know what it is? I bet Mr. Brown Thumb knows, he's so knowledgeable of all things seeds.
At first glance I thought it was a butterfly's chrysalis, but it's not. It's actually growing from the stalk of the radish plant.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

A Thank You Dinner

We could not have done the garage renovation without the help of the hub's dad.  Without his expert carpentry knowledge, we would not have been able to complete such a large task in just 10 days and on budget.  How do you say thank you to such great help?  Two words.  Lobster dinner! We picked up three 1 pound lobsters, one for each of us. I like to cook them in a simple steam bath in a large stock pot with lemons and herbs.  So good!
With the lobster, I also made stuffed mussels, roasted long island cheese squash, tiger shrimp wrapped with bacon and sauteed green beans from the garden.  It was a feast fit for a king!  Thanks Dad for all the hard work!
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