It ain't easy being green...thumbed.

Last week we were outside with Murph-dog when I happened to look down and notice the sore state of our herbs we potted last spring. They looked REAL pathetic. I have been pretty neglectful of these little plants, having left them outside for most of the winter so far, so I wasn't really shocked at how bad they looked. While not very surprised, it did make me a little sad. I decided to see if I could revive them. First, I brought in the chives, trimmed them down pretty short, cleaned out all the leaves and random debris, and gave them a good watering.

After a week, this is what we ended up with:

These little guys bounced back like champs! Seeing how quickly they grew back inspired me to see if I could revive the other herbs that were still pretty sad-looking. I re-potted the parsley and rosemary and brought them inside and put them in front of the window next to the chives. Here is what they look like now:

When I repotted the parsley, the soil was pretty much a frozen brick; however, there was some new growth so I thought there may be a chance. I cleaned them up real quick and added some more potting mix.

And here is the rosemary. Yes, I know it looks more like the dried kind you buy in the bottle than a live plant, but hopefully a little TLC is all it needs.

I was also pretty determined to do a better job at my indoor greenhouse than I did last year. Like I said, I'm pretty lazy at the gardening. I have a "set it and forget it" mentality with things like this that I know require more attention than a silly rotisserie chicken machine. Oops!

We stopped by Home Depot this morning and got two new Jiffy Greenhouses and a few other seed packets.

I also used some of the leftovers from last year's attempt, but when I went to plant the tomato and oregano seeds, those packets were empty. Back to Home Depot! How many times have we said that phrase...way too many, I assure you. Those will have to go in greenhouse #2.

Here's one greenhouse after I applied the correct amount of water to allow the peat pellets to expand.

Tiny little basil seeds.
Pepper seeds ready to be covered.

My jalapenos, bell peppers, and basil.

According to the packets it will take around 2 weeks for them to germinate and start growing into little baby plants.

I also picked up this magazine, Starting from Seed from the folks at Fine Gardening.

I can definitely use all the help I can get. I WILL have a fantastic garden this year!
A few things I learned so far:
  • Not all plants need to be started inside in a greenhouse. Some of them (like cilantro and green onions) need to be started in the ground after the last frost. So here in Nashville that means sometime around April or May.
  • Seeds need a humid environment to germinate.
  • How cool is that eggshell container! What a clever idea!
  • Starting plants from seeds is way more cost efficient than buying mature plants from the store. One packet of seeds can yield up to 20 or more plants for LESS than what it would cost to buy only one mature plant.
  • I have a lot more to learn!
From here there are several things we need to do to get a garden ready. We have learned that fill dirt was used in our backyard, so other than "growing" things like glass and old car parts that like to come out of the dirt in our yard, we probably can't grow much else back there. We are probably going to have to plant our baby plants in a container garden rather than directly in the ground. While we were outside today we took measurements of our backyard space so we can plan out material costs and keep in budget. Stay tuned!

images provided by yours truly. :)


Will you be my V-A-L-E-N-T-I-N-E...

Happy Valentine's Day! I have to admit, I am a converted former V-day cynic. I would be in constant eye-roll mode as soon as the pink and red stuff hit the store shelves right after the new year hit every year. Until last year. Last year, Billy and I had our first Valentine's Day together and this year was our first as a married couple. Here's what I woke up to this morning:

And there was a sweet little card on my nightstand, too! As for my gift for BG, I'm goofy and like to make people things. So, I put together a little basket for him, including a calendar, a little coupon book, and the I Love You, Man DVD. This movie cracks us up...BIG TIME!

I also made what turned out to be the most funky looking heart-shaped sugar cookies ever made in the history of the world. I am clearly not good with the whole cookie-cutting thing. Do I stick to just "blob" cookies (cookies that you just put a blob of dough on the pan and let the oven do its thing) or keep working on it? We'll see...

I managed to arrange them artfully enough to hide the wonkiness. They were pretty tasty though. As for the calendar, I totally have to give credit where it's due. I got the idea from Young House Love's post Calendar Girl (& Boy). This was an idea that John put together for Sherry with some of their funny inside jokes, and I thought it was such a cute idea that I just had to do it. There's no possible way I could've figured out how to whip out a calendar like that, so it was a great thing for me that they posted the template. Billy just went nuts over it!! So thanks to John and Sherry for such a cute idea that was super cheap ($0!!) and one that we can enjoy all year long!

Today has been really great though. We've just been hanging around on the couch watching the Olympics and taking advantage of the cold, gloomy weather outside. We managed to venture out to grab a coffee and we'll have to figure out how to peel ourselves off the couch to get our daily workout in, but I'm sooooo not looking forward to that. Ugh!

And by the way...every day I come home from work and find the couch cushion in front of the window squished on one side and now I know why. I think Murphy has found himself a little perch...

Happy Valentine's and Go Team USA!



No, I'm not about to go on a rant about Charles Darwin. I'm talking about personal evolution. Today Billy and I ran to Costco around lunch to see if they had this month's book club book: The Girls from Ames by Jeffrey Zaslow. They didn't. On our way to get a hotdog, I just happened to look at the price of that Canon EOS Rebel Xsi DSLR camera I've been salivating over for a while. It was $150 MORE than the last time I saw it.


Insert Homer Simpson's drooly sound here...

Not gonna lie, I kinda pouted for a minute. Just days ago Billy and I were talking about maybe treating ourselves to a few things if we did, in fact, get a bonus at work. This was on the short list. Until now.

As I was drowning my sorrows in my hotdog, I had an epiphany. A little voice inside my head said "Well, maybe I don't really need it right now." Holy crap. What was that? I just grew up.

That took me to what I learned in the most recent Dave Ramsey lesson from this weekend: Buyer Beware, more specifically the segment called Power Over Purchases. When making major purchases--which these days is anything over $100 for us--Dave Ramsey recommends you go through these 5 little steps:

  1. Wait over night. Get over the high of a significant purchase. If you go back and it's not there anymore or not on sale anymore, that might be God's way of saying NO! You don't need that camera/puppy/Coach purse...
  2. Carefully consider your buying motives. No amount of stuff will make you happy. Don’t let your stuff get you! Is it a need or a want? WANT. Next...
  3. Never buy anything you don’t understand. I will admit that I know way more about photography than I did 6 months ago. I guess I was justifying it by saying Well, I can't REALLY learn if I don't have anything to learn on, right? WRONG. I still have a perfectly awesome point-and-shoot that I still haven't mastered.
  4. Consider the opportunity cost on your money. What opportunity are you giving up by spending that money or saving that money? We would be giving up the opportunity to become $600+ closer to being debt-free. In my book, that's a lot more valuable.
  5. Seek the counsel of your spouse. What does Billy think? "You don't need it right now anyway, really." Sigh.
I'm not really sure what to do next. Obviously, I won't be buying a camera. I've tossed around the idea of putting $50 away every month until I have enough to buy it but the idea of paying COLD HARD CASH for it is a lot sweeter. I may even get a better deal.

Time to go work off that hotdog.


Pork it over...

My DVR is pretty full of cooking shows, mainly those by Giada DeLaurentiis and Ina Garten. Something about their shows relaxes me and I'll often plop down on the couch and watch a show or two to unwind. During one of those instances, Giada was whipping up a tasty pork recipe so I decided I'd print out that recipe and try it. Billy and I had a large package of pork chops in the freezer and we wanted to try a new way to cook them and boy were we pleased with this recipe!! I served it with whipped potatoes and it was delish!

Recipe from Giada DeLaurentiis

1/4 c olive oil
4 boneless (2-inch-thick) pork chops (about 2 pounds total)
3/4 tsp salt, plus more for seasoning meat
3/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper, plus more for seasoning meat
2 fennel bulbs with fronds, thinly sliced (about 2 cups)
2 large shallots, thinly sliced
1/3 c chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley, plus 1/3 c
1/2 c white wine
1 (28 oz) can diced tomatoes, with juices
1/2 lemon, zested
2 tbs capers

In a large, heavy skillet heat the olive oil over high heat. Season the pork chops with salt and pepper. Add teh pork to the pan and brown on both sides, about 4 minutes each side. Remove the pork from the pan, cover loosely with foil, and set aside.

Add the fennel, shallots, and 1/3 c parsley to the pan and cook over medium heat until beginning to brown, about 5 minutes. Add the wine. Using a wooden spoon, scrape the brown bits off the bottom of the pan. Add the tomatoes and stir. Add the pork back into the pan, nestling the chops between the fennel and tomatoes so they are mostly submerged in the pan juices. Cook until the fennel is tender and the pork is done, about 12 to 15 minutes.

Place the pork on a serving dish. To finish the sauce, add the lemon zest, remaining 1/3 cup parsley, capers, and 3/4 tsp each of salt and pepper. Stir to combine. Spoon over the pork chops and serve immediately.

We also tried Pork Chops Stuffed with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach, also from Giada. They were super yummy! If your pork chops are really thick like ours were, stick them in the oven for a bit to finish cooking them so you won't burn the outside or any of the stuffing. The pork turned out perfectly and the stuffing was so creamy and flavorful. Mmmm!



What's been going on...

So here we are, a little more than a month into 2010, and I thought I would take a minute to grade myself on how well I've been doing on all those ambitious resolutions...

P90X: Billy and I are starting week 6 today. I have to admit I missed a few (really, only 3!) workouts when I was in Houston last week visiting my mom, but I jumped right back into it. It actually felt a little weird to not work out! I'm so proud of Billy: he can do SEVERAL pull-ups while I'm still hanging around at a half pull-up. I know, I'm lame. I can definitely see a change in my body and I feel great! We're totally finishing this time!

Dave Ramsey: Definitely doing some good things here. I really enjoy listening to the lessons. Not only is he funny but he makes you look at your money in a whole new way. We have successfully completely Baby Step #1 of having our Emergency Fund, and it was a good thing we had that too. Every winter our electric bill seems to be a bit on the ridiculous side, and this was one of those times. Had we not had our Emergency Fund to dip into, we would have been hurtin' this month. Now we just replenish what we borrowed from it and keep truckin' on Baby Step #2: getting out of debt.

Church: Haven't found one and haven't gone. Fail.
Healthy Marriage: There are some books I want to read and we definitely want to go see our Pre-marital counselor for a "check up" at some point, but over all things are great!
Trying new recipes: We are doing pretty good in this department. We've made our own bread and it was delicious! I've also tried out some recipes that I printed off of FoodNetwork.com. I'll post about those soon...you should try them because they were fantastic!
Eat locally: Fail on this one too...but that's not totally my fault. We will start on the Farmer's Markets in the spring, promise!
Keeping reading: I finished The Help and it was fantastic! I was actually sad when I finished. I haven't picked up the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle book again yet but that's because I decided to read To Kill A Mockingbird again. I know I read it in school at some point, but when I read it this time I just loved it. I finished it this morning. Our next book club book is The Girls from Ames, and my brother's girlfriend gave me her copy of American Wife. So we're ok here.
Learn to sew: Nope.
Take more pictures: Still figuring out my camera, but I definitely have been taking more pictures. And I have my eye on a Canon Rebel that we may treat ourselves to if we get a bonus at work. Yay!
Wake up earlier: Ha!
Housekeeping: Oy.

I'm definitely going to keep up with these for the rest of the year. And try to learn to knit. And blog more. See what I do to myself? That can't be healthy...