September 30, 2011

A Bath Bouquet

Have you ever been to a eucalyptus steam room? How about soaking your feet in lavender sea salts? It relaxes you instantly.

Now you can feel like that every time you take a shower. 

picture adapted from

Tie together fresh herbs, lavender, or Eucalyptus and hang it upside down in your shower. They will eventually dry, but should last for months and months. 

The steam from your hot shower releases the essential oils from the plants and can have numerous benefits to you! 

Try these:
Eucalyptus- You can buy this any place that sells flowers, usually it's not more than $3 for a bunch. Eucalyptus helps ease respiratory problems. Great for colds and allergies. I've had this in my shower for 3 months. It's amazing. 

Lavender- Fresh or dried. Lavender has a calming and anti-stress effect. 

Bay Leaves- Calms nerves and settles the digestive system.

Lemon Verbena- These essential oils are uplifting and motivating. Forget that coffee, take a shower with some lemon verbena hanging next to you. 

Rosemary- Studies have proven that rosemary essential oils have a unique effect on the brain. Rosemary is great for clearing your mind, and making you more alert!

Mint- Can relieve upset stomachs and respiratory problems. 

Try a mix of them together. I put together a bunch that has lavender and lemon verbena!

These make great gifts too!

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September 28, 2011

Tomato Tuesday: Saving Seeds

I don't know about you, but I am a very disorganized gardener. I plant things at random and never write down what I planted or where I got the seeds from!

I wonder what these are!

At the end of the summer, I find myself in a dilemma of favoring a certain tomato I grew, but having no idea where I got the tomato plant from.

One thing I do know, is that I usually grow heirloom tomatoes and so I simply save the seeds and can replant them next year. Hopefully no one asks me what kind of tomatoes they are!

You can save seeds from any heirloom tomatoes you grow. Why only heirloom? Read this post to find out more.

There are several ways you can save your seeds, but I have had an extremely high success rate with this method, probably a 95% success rate of the seeds germinating. So yeah, you should try it.

1. Cut your tomato in half and squeeze the seeds into a glass or jar. Do not be concerned if some of the tomatoes "guts" go into the jar as well.

2. Fill the glass with enough water so there is about an inch on top of the seeds.

2. Cover the jar with plastic wrap, poke a few holes to allow air in and out.
3. Let the jar sit for about three days. Make sure to stir or swirl the jar once per day.
4. You will know your seeds are ready because the gel like substance that surrounds the seeds is gone and the jar will smell a bit like yeast.
6. Remove as much of the water and floating "stuff" as you can with a spoon. Any seeds that are on the surface of the water can be removed as well. These seeds have gone bad.
7. Place the seeds that have sunk to the bottom of the jar onto a thick paper towel, spreading them out so they are not touching one another.
8. Let the seeds completely dry out.

9. Place them in an envelope and keep in a cool dark place until next spring! You may want to label your envelope. I might try taking my own advice.

Things to know:
1. Select tomatoes from your healthiest plant.
2. It's normal to see a bit of mold forming on the top of the water.
3. It's very important your seeds are completely dry before storing them or they will go bad.
4. This process rids the seeds of any diseases it may be carrying.

I'm already excited to plant these little seeds next spring, just don't ask me what kind of tomatoes they are! Pin It

September 22, 2011

Fall Gardening

Temperatures are dropping, and our summer gardening season is coming to an end. This sure doesn't mean you need to stop gardening.
my garden today
The first frost day in Seattle usually occurs around November 11th, so we have some time!

Won't you join me in some fall gardening? It will keep you from realizing just how short our summer was and might postpone the winter blues!

1. Clear a space in your garden.
2. Work some fresh compost or organic fertilizer in to the top layer of the dirt.

What you can plant from seed (do it quick though!)

  • Carrots
  • Lettuce
  • Mustard
  • Radishes
  • Spinach
What vegetable starts you can plant:
  • Plant any herbs except cilantro and basil.
  • Arugula
  • Beets
  • Broccoli
  • Cabbage
  • Green Onions
  • Kale
  • Peas
  • Swiss Chard
My fall vegetable starts

  • Add Mulch! I know I always say this, but it's really important! It will help keep your soil warm as temperatures drop. 
  • Be sure to really examine the starts you buy at the garden store this time of year. I have found that many of them have been sitting in those tiny containers for way too long. 
    • Examine for bugs
    • Look for rotting roots. (see photo below)
    • Check the bottom to see if the roots are pushing out of the drainage holes. This is a sign it should have already been transplanted. 

The best part of fall gardening is that there aren't as many bugs to munch on your harvest!

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September 20, 2011

Tomato Tuesday: Fried Green Tomatoes

As the summer comes to an end, and you gaze at your green tomatoes still left, try not to shed a tear. For I have the best fried green tomatoes recipe for you.

My sister-in-laws are a force to be reckoned with in the kitchen. Improv. and extremely functional taste buds, make them the best cooks I know.

my favorite sisters
Here is their recipe for fried green tomatoes:

What you will need:
1. Green tomatoes
2. Buffalo Mozzarella
3. Seasoning: Salt, pepper, Tom Douglas chicken seasoning.
4. Fresh basil leaves.
5. Eggs
6. Flour
7. Panko, or small bread crumbs.
8. Canola or vegetable oil.
9. Balsamic vinegar
10. Brown Sugar.

1. Pick your greenest tomatoes. If they have started to blush, they will be too soft.
2. Slice them -1/3"
3. Dip both sides in egg.
4. Coat both sides in flour.
5. Dip them in panko or fine bread crumbs.
6. Fry them in canola oil until brown on each side. You want the temperature of the oil to be medium.
7. Sprinkle salt and pepper and some Tom Douglas Chicken seasoning on them.
8. Remove from the pan and place on a layer of paper towels to soak up the grease.
9. Place a slice of buffalo mozarella on top (quickly so it melts a little)
10. When you are ready to serve, place a basil leave on top and drizzle with a balsamic reduction.
I followed these directions for the balsamic reduction.

To die for. 
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September 13, 2011

Tomato Tuesday: Speed up the Ripening!

I really prefer to let my tomatoes ripen on the vine for flavor, but I get so nervous that something is going to happen to them! I wish I could wrap them in some sort of armor...with a padlock. I mean I have been babying these plants for 5 months!
To harvest, or not to harvest....

As soon as your tomatoes blush, you can pick them and allow them to ripen in your home (safe and sound). To speed up the ripening process, place your tomatoes next to a banana. Banana's release ethylene gas, which helps the tomatoes to ripen!

On average, a slightly blushed tomato will ripen in 1-2 days next to a banana!

I can't believe we are getting to the end of the season! Do you still have a ton of green tomatoes? Check out the blog next Tuesday for fried green tomatoes! Pin It

September 12, 2011

Blog Plans for the Winter

I've been receiving a lot of questions on how I plan to keep my blog going this winter.

I'm moving from tips and tricks, to trial and errors.

My goal, this gloomy winter, is to maintain a garden. Eating fresh grown lettuce at Thanksgiving, roasted beets at Christmas and, dare I say,  homemade salsa on my birthday (March).

I also started a Master Gardening course today, and am so excited to share with you what I learn.

I will be experimenting with hydroponics this winter (a method of gardening that uses no soil, instead, a nutrient rich solution, water, and a pump to circulate the solution). I will also transform my current garden into a cold-weather-growing-bed.

hydroponics from

For now, I'm thanking my lucky stars that we are experiencing an Indian summer and thoughts of winter gardening are far away.

Wish me luck! Pin It

September 8, 2011

Garden Fresh: Infused Vodka

Earlier this year, I admitted that most of the food and drink "recipes" I share would be quick and easy, but gosh, I'm really stickin' to it. Kale chips, chive oil, mint ice cubes and now infused vodka all take under two minutes to prepare.

You will need:
  • Jar to infuse and keep your vodka in. Must be air tight.
  • Vodka: try your first round of experimenting with some cheaper vodka but not too cheap. I recommend Crater Lake Vodka.

  • A funnel.
  • Coffee filter or fine strainer. 
  • Herbs, citrus, vegetables, whatever you want to infuse your vodka with. 
How to do it:
1. Rinse the item you are using to infuse the vodka with. If it is fruit or a vegetable cut it up so the flavors can seep out.
2. Place the item in your jar. I recommend doing the infusing part in a mason jar. Add vodka so there is about 1/2 an inch of air at the top of the jar with the lid closed.
3.   Try not to let the contents touch any air by pushing the item down into the vodka. You never know what kind of bacteria your item is carrying, so best to let it sit in the alcohol.
4.  Tip: add some lemon juice to keep the vodka from turning brown. I didn't try this but wish I had.
5. Wait at least 2 days and then sample the vodka. If you wait too long, the flavor will become bitter, but pretty much everything will take 2-5 days. Make sure to gently shake the bottle a few times a day.
6. Once the flavor is just right, use a coffee filter or strainer to pour the vodka into another container.

I chose these flavors that were all from my garden:
1. Cucumber
2. JalapeƱo
3. Rosemary
4. Lavender

The cucumber and lavender were my favorites. Although this rosemary lemonade was quite refreshing:

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September 6, 2011

Tomato Tuesday: Too Hot For Ripening!

Summer has arrived in Seattle! This week, we will see our hottest temperatures this season. Every day will average above 80 degrees.

As you recall in this post, tomatoes need temperatures ranging from 65-75 degrees to turn red.

Temperatures the last few weeks have been perfect:

But this week, I'm worried about my green tomatoes!

The hottest time of the day for me is in the late afternoon. My tomato plants face west and get blasted by the sun as it bounces off our house. To shield my tomatoes from the heat I have placed aluminum foil over the top to keep the sun off the fruit.

My how things change. It was just a month ago that I suggested placing foil under the tomatoes to heat them up! Pin It

September 2, 2011

Easy Container Gardening: How to not kill your plants

You have everything you need to get your easy-container-garden setup, now the pressure is on! Don't kill your plants!
On no, Aphids!
Here are the basics:

  • You may want to purchase a watering can as this is the easiest option for watering.
  • You will need to water about twice per week.
  • You can put a tray under your pot as long as you do not allow water to sit in the pot. Unless you are going to be gone for a few days and it will be hot.
  • Every few days, stick your finger into the dirt as far down as it will go. If it's dry, you need to water.
  • Try to harvest your lettuce frequently, even if you aren't going to eat it. Since you are growing leaf lettuce you can pick leaves from the outside in. 
  • See this post on lettuce for more info

  • Try to not let your herbs develop flowers. You can simply pluck them off as you see them grow.
  • Snip or pinch off any leaves that are pale or brown.
  • Never harvest more than half of the plant.

  • If you are keeping your container indoors, your plants will be more susceptible to insects. You can deter them by keeping your container near a fan or an open window. Bugs don't like wind. 
  • You can also try and insecticidal soap. See this post for my recommendations.
  • If you purchased a high quality soil and mulch, you should not need to fertilize for a very long time. 
  • If you aren't sure about the quality of your soil, purchase some 5-5-5 fertilizer for "side dressing". Follow the directions on the back. 
Ok that's it! If you ever have questions, or aren't sure why your plants are dying send me an email 

Whew, 5 posts in a row this week! Happy Labor Day Weekend!

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September 1, 2011

Easy Container Gardening: Combining Herbs and Vegetables

Herbs are the easiest thing you can grow. And combining them with other vegetables in your pot, will not only look beautiful, they will repel pests!

Since this is easy container gardening, I'm sticking with the easiest.

In addition, it's late in the season, so you can start the items I suggest below, but I wouldn't venture out of what's listed. This is fall/winter gardening, people.

Your options (listed from easiest and least time consuming, to most difficult and time consuming)

Lettuce- (leaf lettuce is the easiest)
Peas- (these need a good amount of sun however)

Mint (grow this in its own container, or it will take over)

Most any of the above can be put together in your pot except the mint. Pick your favorite herbs and plant about four in one pot.
(picture from

Go ahead and plant your new balcony garden! Make sure to add lots of water after planting. If you chose cilantro, be very gentle with the roots.

Tomorrow's post will be tips on how to not kill your new plants.
: )

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