7.26.2012

Check(list) this!

For the past few years, I have relied heavily on this little baby:

RIP my beloved grocery checklist... you changed my life.

Honestly.  A good grocery checklist will change your freakin' life!  It's organized, categorized, and seriously cuts down my preparation and shopping time.  When you have two toddlers in tow, you know that anything aiding in a quick shopping trip is essential!!!

So just imagine my horror when I ran to Target to purchase another checklist and THEY WERE OUT!  And we're not just talking "out of stock."  We are talking "dis-freakin'-continued"!!!  I thought I was going to die.  I did an emergency 9-1-1 to the husband and we had a little breakdown together.  For the next 45 minutes, I wandered up and down every single aisle in my Target store, double-checking to make sure they hadn't "misplaced" my beloved checklist with the toilet paper.  They hadn't.  My trusty staple was gone.

So what's a girl to do?  Well, this one came home and hopped on Google and Pinterest to see what I could track down.  Almost everything I found was sub-par.  I had several requirements:

1.  It needed to be half-sheet size (to fit in an upcoming binder-project.)
2.  It had to be aesthetically pleasing.
3.  It had to actually include foods we shop for (seriously, folks... who includes "shrimp cocktail" as a staple grocery list item?!?)

This one came close:

"All Out of List" (Knock Knock)

But, alas, I was looking for a little something more "refined"... and maybe with some flowers.  So guess what mama found?  Jackpot!  Cutest grocery checklist EVER!!!

My beautiful new staple... courtesy of Ellinée!

And the best part?  It's a free printable!!!!!!  (Can you hear me squealing yet?)  Here are the stats:

1.  The pdf is actually side-by-side lists... so it's half-sheet sized!
2.  Can it get any cuter?  Beyond perfect for this little garden girl.
3.  It has spaces for staples like hummus, raisins, pita bread, berries and pears!  
4.  It also includes a friendly reminder to buy myself some flowers... perfection.

Well let's just say I am in heaven and loving my new grocery list.  The hubby and I can finally rest tonight.  The grocery list trauma is over.

xo, k

PS.  Emily also includes instructions on how to use padding compound to create an actual grocery list pad.  I didn't even know you could do this at home!  This may be a slippery slope, folks.  Just saying.  

7.19.2012

The desk is coming! The desk is coming!

UPS says my new desk will arrive by end of day tomorrow!  Yahoo!!!  So I guess you're wondering what I'm getting, huh?  Since I have the patience of a 3 year old, I won't keep you waiting.  Here she is...

West Elm's Parsons desk... well, sort of.

OK.  So I'm not exactly getting the Parsons desk.  I'm getting the knock-off from Overstock.com (here).  Mama's got a budget, you know?  From what I can tell from all the reviews is that it doesn't have the high-gloss finish, but I actually prefer that.  The Expedit bookcases from Ikea aren't glossy so I think it will work!

Speaking of budget, since the Captain decided his days of stroller-riding are over, I sold our BOB Duallie to fund the office makeover.  Nice, right?  I'm going to see if I can do it all for $350.  But just in case I'm a bit short, I'm also selling a desk and a few other pieces that just don't work in our house.  It's part of my whole effort to de-clutter our life.  Why hold on to excess when I can use the money to help our family live a better, more organized life?

If there is anything extra in the budget, here are some little office accessories I've been eyeballing:

Who doesn't need Like/Dislike stamps? ($12.99 at Jailbreak Collective)

Hanging Garden Notepad ($8.00 via Rifle Paper Co.)

Oh, hello!  Cute little brass frog ($36.00 via High Street Market)

That's it for now, friends!

xo, k

Spring Peas... and the first Wednesday Weigh-In!

I got home from work super late on Saturday night to find this:

Noooooooo!

So sad!!!  Our almost 7 foot tall peas had collapsed and just about taken the support with them.  I guess it was about time.  I had seen yellowing and wilting on several vines, but I didn't want to face reality... fresh peas are so darn good!  But, alas, further inspection revealed that many of the vines were starting to die back and I couldn't find any more flowers.  So I did what any self-respecting gardener would do.  I bit the bullet, yanked those babies out of the ground and harvested until my little fingers were green!  45 minutes later, this is what I had:

That's 6lbs 10oz of peas, baby!!!  Oh, and more collards.

While I was super bummed that my glorious pea season had ended, the incredible yield made up for it!  I was also particularly pumped to actually use my Chinese market basket!  I'd been harvesting about of pound of food at a time... certainly not enough to necessitate a giant basket, but this was a whole different situation.  It was finally time to break out the biggie!!!  FYI, this beauty was picked up at the Northwest Flower and Garden Show two years ago.  I can't remember the name of the company, but the shop owner travels to China yearly and purchases old market baskets.  He brings them back, repairs any damage and then sells them at the show.  I've seen him every year for the past four years and he always sells out!  Keep an eye out if you go!

Anyway, my huge haul got me thinking... I need to start posting the harvest weight!  Granted, I'm working with a city lot, but I've packed a lot in and it's really fun to see how it all pans out.  So here it goes... 

2012 Harvest by Weight:

Lettuce: 3lbs 11 oz

Parsley/Herbs: 1lb 1oz (this is super hard... I pick so many little sprigs here and there.  I'll try to keep up as best I can.)

Sugar Snap Peas: 11lbs 1oz

Strawberries: 16 (These only ripen one or two at a time so they are gobbled up quicker than can be documented.  Oh those little fingers... Sigh.)

Collard Greens: 4lbs 12oz 

Scallions: 3oz

Broccoli: 5 oz

Carrots: 4oz

Yearly Total:  21 lbs 5oz  

Not bad for a small city plot!  Just goes to show you don't need massive acreage to provide ample fruits and veggies for your family.

How about you?  Have you weighed your harvests?  Care to join in the weekly weigh-in?

xo, k

7.17.2012

The Inspired Calendar

I'm making some great headway in the office and uncovering all sorts of treasures!  Among my office treasures, is this sweet calendar (please pardon the iPhone photos):



My amazing sister-in-law made this out of old airplane ticket paper!  NO JOKE!  She found the unused paper at Scrap (in Portland, OR) and probably meditated on it for a month.  Then it most likely came to her in a dream and she woke mumbling "Paper... calendar... owls..."  I'm sure my brother is used to it.  Anyway, she created super cute tear-off calendars that include monthly reminders (also tear-off and wallet sized!) to enjoy the season and be kind to yourself.  The girl is a genius, I tell you!

If you've never been to scrap, it's basically a treasure trove for those of us who like to find and create.  Everything in this store was at one point going to be thrown into our waste system, but thanks to Scrap, happy little artists and creative-types have found Nirvana instead.  :)   

So if you need me on Sunday, July 22nd, I will not be available.  I will be driving with the windows rolled down and the radio turned up... singing my little heart out!

xo, k

7.14.2012

Judy Tompkins's Garden...

Today my dear friend gifted me a little pot of hollyhocks (this same friend once single-handedly ripped up her entire front yard and filled it with wildflowers... but that's a story for another day.)  Naturally, I can't help but dream of cottage gardens when thinking of hollyhocks and their gentle yet statuesque form.  And when I think of cottage gardens, the one that comes most readily to mind is that of landscape designer Judy Tompkins.  I must have snipped these tear sheets years ago!  While I am enamored at what she has done with her own space, I really think it is a reflection of who she is as a designer and woman.  At age 60, she invented herself as a landscape designer... educating herself and following her strong instincts.  Her plantings are a mix of what the topography leads her to plant as well as what she wants to see displayed inside the home.  So rarely do I think of what I want to display in arrangements inside the home, but what a wonderful way to look at the garden!  Not just a space to be enjoyed while outside, but as an opportunity to decorate one's home with nature's beauty.  So without further ado, a few favorite snippets from Judy Tompins's home...

Such an unexpected use of flagstone to create a grass pathway!

Loving the deep "Black Parrot" tulips mixed with white bleeding hearts in black vases...

Another dramatic arrangement in black pottery... once again displaying her love of the tulip.

Tompkins and her cat, Diver, under her romantic wisteria...

For more pictures of her beautiful home and the full story, jump on over here.

Happy gardening, friends!

xo, k

7.12.2012

Raspberry Jam? You betcha!

If you've been following along, you know I took the kids berry-picking on the 4th of July.  I have to admit, I was worried beyond belief that we'd get out there and the kids would run crazy and I'd come home empty handed.  Funny enough, the opposite thing happened.  The boys were happy as little clams running up and down the aisles... stuffing their faces with ripe, juicy raspberries!  It was AWESOME!

Bubby (in my hat) and the Captain enjoying the fruits of their our labor. 

Mental Note:  Next time bring boots.

For the next few days, we feasted on berries, talked about where we could plant our own raspberry patch (we have the spot picked out!) and, of course, I looked up raspberry jam recipes.  So without further ado... Raspberry Jam!

My gorgeous raspberry jam!  Yeehaw!

Honestly, this jam is soooo good, it should be illegal!  I probably shouldn't admit this, but I licked the spoon, the empty saucepan... it was incredible.  So get out there, pick some berries and get to jamming!

Old-Fashioned Raspberry Jam
{adapted from The Complete Book of Year-Round Small-Batch Preserving via Epicurious}

4 C. granulated sugar
4 C. raspberries

1.  Place sugar in an ovenproof shallow pan and warm in 250 F oven for 15 minutes (warm sugar dissolves better.)

2.  Place berries in a large stainless steel or enamel saucepan.  Bring to a full boil over high heat, mashing berries with a potato masher as they heat.  Boil hard for 1 minute, stirring constantly.

3.  Add warm sugar, return to boil and boil until mixture will form a gel, about 5-7 minutes

4.  Ladle into sterilized jars and process as directed.

Here are my additions/alterations:

5 C. granulated sugar
5 C. raspberries (mashed)
1 T. lemon juice

I pre-mashed my raspberries and then ladled 2 cups into a strainer so that I could reduce the amount of seeds in the jam.  I then brought the mashed berries to a boil, added the lemon juice (I like a tart raspberry jam) and then proceeded with adding the warmed sugar.)  Once the mixture formed a gel, I poured the jam into my small canning jars, leaving 1/4" head space.  I then processed the cans in a water bath for 10 minutes (make sure to check your elevation for proper processing time.)

Enjoy!

xo, k

7.10.2012

Assembling...

One Expedit down, one to go! Watching Hoarders to keep the motivation strong...

Smooches kids! Mama's got work to do.

xo, k

7.09.2012

Office Inspiration

Hey Kids!

It's a bit late for uploading all my photos so that's going to wait until tomorrow, but I want to talk about something else tonight.  I've reached a sort of "critical mass" in the office arena and I'm looking for a little re-do.  All I know right now is that it will include a massive influx of storage... because I need it!  I am a mess!  I've spent so much energy on re-doing the house, tending to the garden and making sure we have adequate toy storage, but what about me?  Well, I'm a total book junkie, magazine hoarder and I only have one bookcase in the office.  So basically that makes the office one hot mess.

The thing about a messy office is that it makes the nerve center of the house a train wreck.  We all know the havoc that is created when the office areas of our life are a mess... we become disorganized, paperwork takes over the house, we cannot effectively run our family business and thus disorder reigns.  So I'm putting my foot down!  I'm collecting my inspiring images from the binder and beyond and I'm making a shopping list.  Here is what is solidified:

Martha Stewart's Flagstone

Ikea's Expedit... two of these fit across the far end of the room (lengthwise) with just six inches to spare.  Trust me, those six inches will be used!

The third item that is all but sealed is the desk.  I found an inexpensive white Parsons desk that I am particularly in love with.  There is something so satisfying about a clean, white workspace, you know?  Anyway, I'm not shutting the door on other options, but clean and bright workspace is a must.

So want to know what's currently inspiring me?  If you aren't already following me on Pinterest, here are a few snippets from my office board... 

Eclectic, clean-lined storage solutions, pops of red floral and linen drapes... totally me. (via)

A bit symmetrical for my taste, but Dang!  This lady uses every last little bit of storage space... and I love it! (via)

Well look at you, little Ikea Expedit.  Aren't you all grown up?!?  Four 4x2 pieces stacked to the ceiling and all dressed up with a federalist mirror.  (via)

That's it for today... just tackling it one day at a time and probably stacking my plate waaaaay too full.  But that's life, right?  

xo, k

7.03.2012

July Garden Tour!

Hey Kids!

Well, we are long overdue for a garden tour.  There is soooo much going on, I can hardly keep up!  After posting my May garden photos, I was feeling a bit down because my Walla Walla sweet onions were yellowing and just plain not doing that great.  So I headed down to my trusty garden center and talked over some options.  Turns out, onions are super heavy feeders and I think I was lacking nitrogen in the soil.  In any event, I decided to use some organic fertilizer on the garden and HOLY COW!  I'll just go ahead and let the photos speak for themselves...

May 12th... onions lookin' pretty puny and the lettuce was quite yellow.

June 30th... HOLY COW!

So just in case you are wondering what kind of crack I fed my garden, here's the story.  I started out with Espoma's Plant Tone.  It's a monthly fertilizer that needs to be worked into the top layer of the soil.  As my veggies were still pretty small, it wasn't a big deal.  But let me tell you... I saw results within days!  Honestly, my lettuce immediately turned a vibrant shade of green and shot up at least an inch in the first three days.  It was truly amazing!

As the month came to a close, I realized that I needed something that was a bit easier to apply because my garden chores are starting to multiply (yahoo!)  So even though the results were incredible, I looked for something I could "sprinkle and go."  I talked to a few employees over at Swanson's (one of my favorite places on earth) and there was nothing but rave reviews for Dr. Earth's organic fertilizer.  So I grabbed a big bag, crossed my fingers and checked out.  I got home, sprinkled the new fertilizer over all my plants and waited.  Let's just say that my peas are at least 7 feet high, the collards are so big I may have to move them and my leeks are almost the size of my thumb!  I am one happy lady!

So without further ado, let the garden tour commence...

A closer look at the North garden bed... home to Walla Wall and red onions, celery, cucumbers, collards, leeks, two types of beets and one half of the sugar snap pea teepee!

Show stopping Morris Heading collard greens!  These babies are getting a weeee bit big.  I may dig them up and resituate them in the pumpkin patch.

Can we talk about these beautiful babies?!?  Each year I am blown away by the taste of fresh sugar snap peas.  The Captain and his buddies have been feasting off the plant almost daily!

The Southern bed... featuring the other half of the snap pea teepee, carrots, lettuce, more Walla Walla sweet onions, more collard greens, broccoli and bush beans.

The top of one of my lettuces... just about to go to seed.

Do you see the baby broccoli?!?  It's so cute!!!

Sweet little carrot tops (baby carrots in front, long nantes in back)

The potato pit we dug was lined with compost and we have slowly added more soil as the potatoes have grown.  We now have a potato mound!  The green bean teepee is coming along nicely too!

Sweet little tendril climbing up one of the poles.

See that funny looking one in the center toward the back?  It's a Rainier strawberry and it finally ripened today... we promptly ate it up.  YUM!


Mystery strawberry variety that is producing pea-sized strawberries that taste like HEAVEN!  Anyone want to take a guess at what exactly it is?


One of my stupice tomatoes.  This thing is incredible!  We have had the worst weather and it is just growing like a rockstar and is starting to flower!  I'm keeping a close eye on this one... it may be a true keeper.

One of my Cherokee purple tomatoes... underplanted with basil (you can see the little leaves in the top left corner).

A sweetie tomato underplanted with basil and green onions.  I've had great success in past years growing this tomato from seed.  I'll be excited to see what happens this year!

I hope you've enjoyed the tour!  Now I'm off to bed because tomorrow the boys and I are going berry picking.  Nothing says 4th of July quite like fresh picked berries!

xo, k