Friday, June 29, 2012

My Next Garden Project

The other day when I went to Whole Foods, I saw these awesome cinder block planters. I definitely see these in my backyard gardens future. They don't look that difficult to make, I just have figure out where to put them!

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Frozen Fruit Popsicles

Have I told you lately how hot it is here in central Texas right now? No? Well let's just say it has been close to 110 degrees. In my house that means a lot of Popsicle eating. And while I love snow cones and regular old Popsicles, I would much rather something healthy going into our bodies. Thus I give you frozen fruit on a stick! Nothing special about it, but when it is super hot outside, nothing beats the heat than ice cold fruit. Simply stick the fruit on a Popsicle stick and freeze. I cut the watermelon into star shapes and added fun ribbon for a 4th of July, Americana feel, but a plain stick works just as well. Any other fruits I should try freezing on a stick?

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Red, White, and Blueberry

I have been going back and forth about having a little get together for the 4th of July. It would be a great excuse to have fun in the garden, but it is just so hot outside right now (107 degrees today!), so I am still torn. I have however thought of some cute ideas for snacks to serve if I do decide to take the plunge.

The idea that I want to share with you today is using an old picture frame and fabric to make a cute fruit serving tray. It was really as simple as putting ironed fabric cut to size in a picture frame and laying it flat. I topped it with cute little patriotic themed snack cups filled with fresh cut strawberries and blueberries. Now who wouldn't want to snack on this?!

Bacon, Cheese, and Green Onion Potatoes

Tonight I made a yummy turkey burger filled with four different colors of bell peppers, onion, and garlic, grilled and served on fresh baked ciabatta bread. It was quite yummy, but the star of the meal was the baked red potatoes topped with melted Colby jack cheese, crumbled bacon, and green onions.

To make the potatoes, I chopped up 4-5 medium sized red potatoes into approximately 1 inch pieces, drizzled them with olive oil to coat and sprinkled on some salt and pepper to taste. I then baked them in a 400 degree oven for about 30-45 minutes until they were all golden and crispy. After they were done cooking I pulled them out of the oven and covered them with slices ( about 5) of colby jack cheese, pre-made bacon crumbles, and chopped green onion, then put them back in the oven until the cheese was melted. I ate them plain, but you can serve them with a side of ketchup or sour cream. Yum!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Backyard Fun

Today was spent with Madeline and my nephew Kingston in our backyard swimming, splashing, and picking carrots.

We pulled out our blow up pool and filled it up as I watered the rest of the garden, then we played in the water, grilled hot dogs, ate fresh strawberries and blueberries, and picked our own carrots from the backyard. The kids loves picking out a carrot to uproot, clean, and eat. I swear, if you want your kid to eat vegetables, just grow them yourself. They love helping out by watering and love picking the fresh veggies to eat even more.

Overall a fun day, but I exhausted and ready for bed!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Out of Control Cukes!

My cucumber vines are going crazy and need more trellises to climb. The last few days one of my cucumber plants even started to climb up into one of our backyard trees! I love those pre-made trellises that you can get at your local hardware store, but they are always so expensive. I decided to make my own and save a little green.
My Cucumber Vines Growing up into the Trees

This trellis is 8' wide by approximately 5' high, and only cost me about $15 to make. You would pay close to $40 or more to get this much pre-made trellis at the store. Yay for saving!

I used 5' garden stakes and 1x2's to make the trellis. I nailed the 1x2's onto the four stakes just eyeballing the measurements in between. I made sure to leave about 8- 10" on the bottom of the stakes so I could then just hammer them into the ground. Now I just have to trying my cucumber vines over to the new trellises, but I don't think it will be that difficult.

Oh, and I also repurposed the two pallets I have had in my backyard into a faux trellis by leaning it against the fence and putting nails in random spots for the vines to cling to. I can't wait to see how far my cucumbers grow!

Friday, June 22, 2012

The New Bags are In!

I finally got my new bag designs in, photographed, and on my website! Yay! I think that they are amazing and can't wait for all of you to see them. There are two new laptop satchel prints that are both in a laminated cotton canvas with faux leather trim, the Red Circles and Gray Chevron, and they will retail for $89.99 each.

I also got in 5 new ipad case styles. They are padded to protect your laptop and have a small zipper pocket on the front for small accessory items. They will retail for $49.99 and come in the following prints: Mod Circles, Green Circles, Purple Moroccan, Red Circles, and Gray Chevron.

Toughts? Comments? Do you love them as much as me?

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Mixed Vegetable Grill

Here is a photo of my yummy mixed veggie kebabs from this weekend. There were green, yellow, and orange bell peppers, tomatoes from my garden, red onion, zucchini, yellow squash, and corn. I drizzled some of my Greek vinaigrette over the veggies along with a little extra olive oil and salt and pepper. Yum! And the next day I finely chopped and mixed the leftovers into tomato sauce and my meatballs for a super yummy dinner.

Monday, June 18, 2012

Greek Chicken and Quinoa Salad Pita

Now that the heat of summer is upon us here in central Texas, I have been grilling much more. It helps keep the heat of the oven/stove out of the house and it is super easy to clean up afterwards. As I said in my last post I have been trying to come up with new recipes to incorporate all my backyard goodies, and tonight's meal was no exception.

For dinner I made Greek chicken kebab and quinoa pitas. First I marinated chicken breasts in some bottled Greek salad dressing in the fridge. Then I cooked about one cup of quinoa in water until tender (about 20-25) minutes. Once the quinoa cooled, I added chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onion, mint, kalamata olives, and feta cheese and mixed in some of the salad dressing to taste. I then grilled the chicken and mixed in in the quinoa salad and served it in warm pita bread. It was super fresh and tasty!

Here are some pictures of the veggies I used from my garden along with one of the finished product before I ate it up!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Cucumber Agua Fresca

My cucumbers are coming in fast, too fast to eat them all, but I don't want to waste them. So today I made a delicious cucumber agua fresca with some of my cucumbers. It was light, tasty, and very cucumbery. Overall I say it is a success and will definitely make it again. The recipe is below:


4 cups chopped seeded cucumbers (about 4 medium)
4 cups ice cubes
1/2 cup sugar
2/3 cup fresh lime juice (2-3 large limes)
2 tsp salt

Purée or blend the chopped cucumbers in a food processor or blender until completely puréed. Strain the juice through a fine mesh sieve and make sure to remove all the juice from the pulp. If you have a juicer you could also use that to juice the cucumbers and make your work much easier.

Once you have the juice, add the rest of the ingredients and stir to combine. Let the ice melt a little to dilute the juice a bit before serving with fresh cucumber slices and a wedge of lime.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Garden Update 6-12-2012

Well, the heat is setting in here in central Texas. Yesterday the high was 101 degrees! That means I have been spending a lot of time making sure the plants are all adequately watered. In addition to the heat, the squash bugs and stink bugs have been making a meal out of my tomatoes, and i have had a few problems with both downey mildew and powdery mildew on my curcubits (read cucumbers and squash).

For the stink bugs I read somewhere that they won't eat tomatoes that are covered in oil because of the scent, so I experimented with spraying my tomatoes with olive oil Pam cooking spray. While it worked to keep the bugs away from the tomatoes I sprayed, the leaves that we're caught in the crossfire ended up getting fried in the sun after a week or so. Luckily the tomatoes were fine and ripened well and there was minimal leaf damage. While I am not sure if I would recommend using Pam for everyone's tomatoes, if you are careful to keep it away from the leaves, it might be a good organic pest control method.

Now for the Downey mildew that has affected my squash (both my zucchini and yellow crookneck) I have just had to remove the damaged leaves before it spread. So far that has worked to keep a few of my plants alive. I also lost a few yellow crookneck squash to the squash vibe borer. I cut the borer out of the vine as soon as I saw the damage on the outside, but since the plants were so small, the slit in the vibe was too much and the plants wilted and died. As for the powdery mildew, I just found that on my lemon cucumber leaves yesterday, and since it has not been rainy here at all (just very humid), I think I have been over watering them. I cut off the infected leaves and then sprayed the remaining plant leaves with a milk and water solution. I am not sure what it is in the milk that is a threat to the powdery mildew, but people swear by it. So far it is working to control the powdery mildew from spreading. I used about a 20/80 solution of milk/water and made sure to spray the leaves in direct sunlight so the solution could do it's magic. I am also supposed to respray every couple weeks to keep the cucumbers powdery mildew free. I love simple organic cures like this!

Other than that, I have been picking peppers, beans, cucumbers, and tomatoes daily with the occasional squash here and there. And today one of my potato plants was looking like it was on its last breath, so I pulled it and got two baby Yukon golds! This is my first time growing potatoes, and I can't wait to grow more!

Here are a few pictures of the garden that I snapped today while watering and harvesting along with today's haul.

How is your garden growing? Any problems or solutions you want to share?

Monday, June 11, 2012

Rosemary Chicken and Bell Pepper Panini

Tonight was a night of using up leftovers for dinner, but it turned out wonderfully delicious. Last night I made gnocchi with homemade and homegrown tomato sauce with grilled lemon rosemary chicken (marinated in lemon juice, olive oil, and fresh cut rosemary, then grilled with a little salt and pepper to taste). Tonight I took the leftover chicken, bell peppers and onion (that I used in the tomato sauce), and ciabatta bread and added fresh mozzarella and tomatoes for a yummy panini.

First I sautéed the peppers and onion until caramelized and seasoned them with salt and pepper. Then I layered all the ingredients between the bread and using my pan and a clean plate, smashed the sandwich while it was cooking. I cooked the panini until the cheese was melted and the ate it up. Well, I took this picture first, but I love hot melted cheese, so I made sure to eat this quick before it cooled.

What did you make for dinner tonight?

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Tomato Overload

Despite the stink bugs and squash bugs taking up residence in my tomato plants (I think I need to start the insecticidal soap soon), I have still been hauling in the mother load of tomatoes. Just take a look at these! I really need to pull out my canning jars to preserve some of these, but for the time being I am
giving them away to all my friends.

Tonight I made some tomato sauce with some for my rosemary chicken and gnocchi. As a side dish I had garlicky green beans, zucchini, and yellow crookneck squash ( all from my garden as well). Yay for fresh from the garden eats!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Watermelon Shark

Remember how I told you about our weekend trip to the beach, well I forgot to show you pictures of the amazing watermelon shark my friends sister, Alyson, made for the party. It was super refreshing too! I just love watermelon!

Alyson said it was super easy. She just chopped off the bottom at an angle, cut a wide slice out of the top part for the mouth, and then hollowed it out. She then used a paring knife to cut the teeth and the eyes and filled it with the cut up watermelon chunks.

It is perfect for your next summer beach or swimming party!

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