Mar 9, 2017

New Raised Garden Beds

So you know how I like to garden, right? It's a sickness really. One of the things I've missed about our old house was our established garden and established herbs. Sob! I'm still a bit tender about that loss. 

When we were looking at houses I knew I would need space to garden. I guess it wasn't so much a deal breaker as good schools and two bathrooms. But it was always a consideration. We also wanted to make sure there was yard space for play too. And this house/yard delivered big time. We even got a pool as a bonus! 

Anyways, my February goal was to get our gardens up and running so that I could get my herbs started early. (Most herbs can be started before your first frost date, FYI.) I wanted to do higher raised beds here. I've always liked the look of wood ones so that's what I started planning on. I looked at the ready-made kits and do to what I wanted to do (2 8'x4' beds) it would be about $300 before tax. When I priced out treated wood it would be over $200 and then tax.  

I really love the look of wood raised beds. But the problem with wood is that it rots. And I don't really want to go to all the trouble and expense to build the beds only to have to replace them a few years down the road. 

My mom suggested we price out cinder blocks and we did. They came in at $100, with tax. So yeah, that's what we went with. While not the most aesthetically pleasing, they are durable, inexpensive and will last us until we are tired of the beds. 

Here we are in process.  It took us two trips to the Lowe's to get all that we needed. 

Before dirt we removed the top layer of grass and put down a bunch of cardboard as a barrier. The cardboard will breakdown and enrich the soil over time. 

We called Yardworks, a local company we have used previously, and they delivered three yards of dirt the next day. 

I thought Charlie would love this, but he was mostly freaked out. Oh well... 

He helped with dirt distribution though.  Based on calculations 3 yards should have been the perfect amount,  but we had a ton leftover. We're slowly adding more as the dirt settles and will put some in other places too. 

I planted parsley and spinach seeds right away. I also started my pepper seeds inside. Is it already garden season?! Yay! 

Next up: fruit bushes! The City of Germantown had a fruit sale last Friday which we took advantage of. After redoing the shed last fall I had planned to plant some berry bushes around it.  I'm glad I waited as we got some good deals.  I'll do another post on this later when I have pictures. 

So, what kind of garden beds do you have? In the ground? Wood? Cinder blocks? Pots? 

Mar 8, 2017

Cooking Class at The Pasta Maker

This past Sunday I was lucky enough attend a sauce making class with my parents at The Pasta Maker here in Germantown. We have known the chef for nearly ten years now. Bryan and I really loved one of his first restaurants here in the Memphis area while we were dating. So much so that we had our wedding reception there. It was amazing. 

Chef Michele opened The Pasta Maker within the last six months and on Sundays he teaches classes. 

The class we took was sauce making. He taught us how to make three mother sauces and then some variations and implementations from there. 

First we chopped! 

We got to go back in the kitchen and watched as he cooked. He was great at showing us what each stage looked like and often we got to taste to tell the differences. 

The class lasted pretty much all afternoon and then we got to sit down, drink some wine and enjoy the fruits of our mostly his labor. I had a few leftovers to take home to my boys. 

They approved. While he did not give us written recipes or instructions, Mom and I took copious notes. I'm pretty excited to get in the kitchen in the next week or so to start making his sauces! 

If you have the opportunity or inclination to take a class there, GO!!!! It is so much fun and you will learn a bunch, even if you are a seasoned home cook. 

They are also open for dinner most nights and lunch on Thursdays. Go and eat if you don't want to learn to cook yourself. 

Mar 1, 2017

Coloring on Paper

My mom got Charlie a child-sized table and chairs for Christmas. We put it in his room and keep paper and chunky crayons out at all times. Charlie has gotten really into "color on paper" which sounds more like color purple. I spent about a week correcting him until I realized he was saying paper and not purple. Don't get me wrong, he still hasn't learned all his colors, but at least I now know what he's really saying. Whoops.

He usually wakes up and wants to color. Whenever we are upstairs he wants to color. It's so sweet and I enjoy sitting with him and coloring.

I need to start researching other art projects we can take on at this time.  About six months ago I got out some paint to try to finger paint with him, but he was NOT into it. He doesn't like getting his hands dirty so finger paint is probably out.

If you have any good ideas for art projects for two year olds, please let me know!!! 

Feb 28, 2017

February Life Lately

The new Deli Mexicana opened near us! 

Watching TV.

Charlie was under the weather. Such a sweet little boy all curled up with my phone and a blanket. 

Center of music class, just taking it all in. 

Sometimes we sit on the potty. 


Bryan had his mom bring me flowers on valentines day! 

The guest room is mostly done. Still needs a lamp shade, crown molding, and for someone to paint the window. Getting there. 

Double fisting it. 

Bryan trying to teach Charlie how to jump. 

Getting a haircut. 

I thought the light was so pretty, but then he had a fit over something stupid. 

Sweet friends. 

Learning something new. 

Charlie has been sick these last few days. This was from Sunday morning when the boys snoozed together for two hours. 

Feb 21, 2017

Run Fast, Eat Slow: A Cookbook Review

Run Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for AthletesRun Fast. Eat Slow.: Nourishing Recipes for Athletes by Shalane Flanagan
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I picked up this cookbook on a whim when browsing through the new releases section of the library. I am not a competitive runner, but my husband is/was (ran in high school and college, does a few races still). While I'm not sure it will actually make you run faster, we both loved the recipes I made from this book. They were healthy, nourishing, and satisfying without leaving us feeling heavy and slow.

Here's what I tried:

Swiss Muesli Bowl, p. 46 - a type of overnight oats. It wasn't my favorite recipe for overnight oats I've ever eaten, but good.
Root Lovers' Winter Salad, p 84 - great meal. I served this to friends with roasted pork tenderloin. A great side dish, but would also be fine on its own.
Wild West Rice Salad, p 90 - Good side dish. Really loved the edamame with it.
Recovery Quinoa Salad, p 99 - delicious salad I ate for lunch many days.
Hearty Minestrone with spicy sausage and beans, p 107 - this was the first recipe I made from this book and it was outstanding. I really loved this recipe and would absolutely make it again.
High Altitude Bison Meatballs with Simple Marinara p 121, 171 - Substituted beef as bison is not readily available in the South. Great family dinner. I didn't even mind the kale in the meatballs. No one even noticed!
Shalane's Breakfast-Meets-Dinner Bowl, p 128 - good weeknight meal. Easy to make it your or your family's own.
Fish Tacos with Mango-Avocado Salsa, p 136 - delicious. Especially the salsa. My husband forfeited his share of seconds because he knew how much I loved that salsa.
Spicy Black Beans, p 162 - I can't do spicy so I left out the chipotle pepper and it was just fine. Enough flavor to keep it interesting. I was able to use the whole pot in various recipes throughout the week.
Lemon Miso Dressing, p 168 - this is REALLY lemon-y. If you love lemons, it's awesome for you. It was a bit too strong for us, though. Just cut back on the lemon juice.
Apple Cider Vinaigrett, p 173 - good
Coffee- Vanilla Peanut Butter, p 205 - this was the only recipe I had an issue with and I think it was my own doing. My peanut butter is more of a crumble than butter-like. Maybe I didn't let it blend enough in the food processor, or my peanuts were too dry to start with. However, it was still delicious. I put it in a zip-lock bag and keep it in the fridge. When we need a pick-me-up we'll get a spoonful or two.

I have plans to make the pecan butter chocolate truffles this afternoon before I return it to the library.

I really enjoyed this cookbook and if I see it on sale some place I will be sure to grab it. If you are looking for healthy, yet satisfying meals this book has some great options.

View all my reviews

Feb 16, 2017

Master Bathroom: Phase 1

The master bath is one of those things that has bothered me about the new house since we first saw it.  Purple walls, avocado green counters and accessories, boring beige floor, square white tiles in the shower. Ugh. It's a mess. 

And while I still feel very lucky to even have a master bathroom, it was very much a bummer. 

One of my goals for the year was to work on the bathroom in the month of January. We do not have the budget for a full reno, so taking my cues from Young House Love, I thought a Phase 1 redo would help me live with it for the time being. Lord knows when we'll be able to do the full reno. 

First order of business: Tearing out the avocado green accessories: the toothbrush holder, soap holder, and toilet paper holder. A previous owner took out the towel bar at some point and left it poorly patched.  I also switched out the towel rack that was there and installed an Ikea double hanging towel rod. 

For patching I decided to try these things. I don't even know what they are called. But I will say, they were a poor choice for this project. I think they work well on smaller holes (like an outlet I covered in the guest bedroom), but on larger ones where you need the 6" or 8" patches it takes a LOT of work to get it to look okay. 

Even Charlie got in on the action. 

Last week I entered in the Chris Loves Julia makeover with Lowe's. I highly doubt I'll get chosen, but these photos I used do make it look rough. HA! 

I spent all day Saturday priming and painting and by the end of the day got the light fixtures and pictures hung. I did some more trimming on Monday to have it finished. 

The bathroom is sort of done for now, but I want to buy some white towels and mats to make it a little bit more complete.  Will do a separate post for the "After" pictures. 

Photos by Charlie

Charlie's developed a bit of a phone addiction. I've made the unfortunate choice to allow him to play with my phone on occasion and now he can't stop.  He's constantly asking for it. It's actually a bit of a problem. 

Lately he's gotten into playing with the camera and taking pictures. I'm constantly deleting photos by the dozens. But every once in a while I'll keep one. Here's a few lately that I've kept. 

If you ever want to be convicted of your resting bitchy face, let your toddler take pictures of you. Yikes! The one above was after being convicted of how my face looked as I'm changing diapers. It's usually not good. Since those first changing table pictures I've made a habit of trying to be happier and fun when changing diapers. 

Poor Charlie and Bryan see this view probably too often. Side note: great book. 

Bryan and I both loved this one. Maybe we have a budding photographer on our hands?