"It is the sweet, simple things of life which are the real ones after all." -Laura Ingalls Wilder

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

A very happy sight

This morning while checking out and watering my plants I came across a sight that almost brought tears to my eyes. There, hidden beneath the large leaves of my tomato plant are some little baby tiny green tomatoes!

It may not seem like much for some but after twenty-three years of watching my father toil in his garden and enjoying all the fantastic vegetables it's finally my own two hands that helped something to grow. I'm not just his helper anymore but a woman who can do it all on her own. At this moment, staring at these two little tiny fruits of my labors all I can say is, "Thanks a bunch, Dad". For stoking the embers in me that started a passionate fire, for all the knowledge you've bestowed in me, and for the faith you've always had that I can do anything I set my mind to.

Even if all I want to do is to grow a couple tomatoes.

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Friday, April 22, 2011

Strawberry jam and other projects

I am a terrible, awful, no good, very bad blogger. Oftentimes I find little things getting in the way of sitting down and writing here. I'm trying to make myself take some time to write here, mostly because I feel I do have some good things to say (here and there, anyway).

Last weekend my friend Nicole and I went down to the Farmer's Market (ah, I love Saturdays!) and I bought a whole load of strawberries to make jam. We toiled the afternoon away washing, cutting, cooking, boiling, etc and now I have these beauties on my canning shelf ;

Sorry about the picture quality, my camera battery is dead and gosh darn it I was posting something today! So lo' and behold; a crappy cellphone picture! I am a big ol' sucker for those gingham caps and the dark red yumminess inside the jars as well. Last year my strawberry jam didn't set and I had to reprocess everything. Thankfully this year it turned out perfect! I even had some left over after eight jars that I put in the fridge and have since been smearing on my morning toast. Delicious!

I've also finished two crochet projects, which I'm proud of. I'm getting much better at reading and figuring out patterns. Ever since my mom came down and we crocheted socks I've gotten way more comfortable with a hook. Trying something really difficult when you're still a beginner makes you feel that you can tackle almost anything!

Here is my first project, a beer cap hot pad ;

It was pretty easy and I just sat in front of the TV watching Buffy knocking each one out. The only part that was tedious was sewing them all together. The reason I wanted to do this pattern is that it was very reminiscent of a hot pad my grandmother had that was made of beer caps and shaped like a bunch of grapes.

Next I made a cute little shell stitch baby hat for my friend who is expecting ;

I really like crocheting baby sized things because they come together really quickly. I still have over half a skein left of this yarn so I'm looking for a baby bootie pattern to use the rest up.

Now I'm working on Lion Brand's Acorn Shrug which, although a larger project, uses just one stitch and is simply folded and sewn to make arm holes when finished. I'm hoping to wear it to my husband's homecoming to wear over a small strapped sundress. Well, now that I have "official" homecoming dates I need something to keep me from jumping up and down with glee.

I've also had a lot of success with my container gardening! I can't wait for the lettuces to get big enough to pick and eat and for the other plants to start bearing fruit.

From the top down I have a patio tomato planted with Purple Ruffles basil, mesclun mix, bush beans, Black Krim tomatoes, basil, garlic chives, marjoram, and bush cucumbers. Not pictured is my sweet pepper mix which just wouldn't fit. Oh, and that's Sookie the infamous weenie dog looking upon her jungle with that, "I want a bite", look in her eye. As you can see things are coming along nicely in the gardening department.

Anywho, I hope you guys enjoyed seeing some of the reasons I've been lost to the blog-o-sphere lately. Plus I think these are some of the first (albeit crappy) pictures I've put on here! Woo-hoo!

I hope you all have a fantastic weekend!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Friday, April 15, 2011

Milspouse Friday Fill In #37...and ten things I love!

It's been a couple weeks now since I've done this (sorry!) but thankfully I'm around this week to join in on the fun. As always, thank you to Wife of a Sailor for taking the time to post these every week.

1. With PCS moves happening every few years, do you take the time to paint and decorate your home? submitted by Life as Mrs. JPT
Honestly, I haven't been a military wife long enough to experience a PCS move! I still think I'd take the time to at least decorate. My mom always inspires me to make things homey and comfy and I don't think I could come "home" to somewhere that didn't feel like home.

2. If you could live in any home on a television series, what would it be? submitted by Standing By Him
That 70s show! I love all the retro awesomeness of that house.
3. What inspired you to start your blog? submitted by Pink Combat Boots
I had spent time blogging for the Jane Wayne Gear blogger brigade and just forgot how much I liked it. It's my own little place to rant and rave! None of my friends care about alpacas or green cleaning products or other random things like that so it's nice to have somewhere to talk about it.
4. What is the weirdest thing you’ve ever seen on base? submitted by Adventures in Life
I don't think I've seen anything to be called "weird" on base. I've seen some deer (I'm from Maine, that's way normal) and a loggerhead turtle nest on the beach (normal for North Carolina).

5. Which historical figure (politician, writer, artist, scientist, actor, etc…) would you like to have dinner with? submitted by Army of Two
Wow, that's a tough one! I think it'd be a toss up between Henry David Thoreau and F. Scott Fitzgerald. With Thoreau I could have a deep philosophical conversation about life and happiness where Fitzgerald could talk to me all about the Jazz Age and his love life with Zelda Sayre. Both enjoyable topics!

I've also been tagged to participate in "10 things I love". It'll be hard to narrow it down to ten, but here goes!

10 Things I Love
The rules are as follows:
1 - State who tagged you; withlovelydia
2 - State ten things you love!

1.) Mr. Marine
2.) Sookie the amazing weenie dog
3.) Peppermint tea
4.) Fresh baked bread
5.) Digging in the dirt
6.) Nature and all the lovely things that live in it
7.) Good books!!!!!
8.) My mom and dad (and the rest of my family too, I suppose)
9.) Learning new skills
10.) My dad's homemade hard cider

I could go on and on...there are so many things I love!

3 - Tag ten other people and notify them through a comment
(I'm going to break the rules and do 3, because I don't have that many blogger buddies!)

1.) Cait at Libby Loves to Write
2.) Cheyenne at Always & Forever Maupin
3.) Mrs. M at Diapers, Dogs & Deployments

Thanks to everyone for reading! It seems like this is a post where you learn a lot about me...hopefully you liked what you read. ;)

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Eating Locally

Springtime means birds singing, sunshine, the beginning of gardening season and my personal favorite, the start of the farmer's market! My local farmer's market opened this past weekend to my extreme delight. Growing up in New England I'm not used to April being a great time for local veggies and fruits but down South the season starts with a bang. In season right now are strawberries, kale, and other green leafy veggies. I picked up some kale, strawberries, a basil plant, eggs, and a rabbit (processed, of course).

Some may ask, "Why pay three dollars for a bunch of kale or a dozen eggs when you can get it cheaper at the grocery store?". I will get right on my soapbox and ask back, "Haven't you watched the NEWS? Because I don't like E. Coli!". All joking aside, I am a huge advocate of eating locally. You can ask the person who grew your food personally about their product. You are supporting your local economy. As a consumer, you vote with each dollar you spend and if you spend your money on local produce and don't accept the mediocre, shipped thousand of miles, pesticide soaked and genetically modified crap at the grocery store you are saying you won't stand for that. I understand with the cost of food rising people are trying to cut wherever they can to get by but I strongly urge to go without in other places (does anyone really NEED soda?) to make sure you feed your family the best produce physically possible.

If you're unaware of a farmer's market in your community try searching online. That's how I found mine! If you really can't any farmer's markets in your area, try looking for local CSAs. Community supported agriculture is great for you and great for farmers. How a CSA works is that a farmer offers "shares" to the public. By purchasing a "share" or membership you then receive a box of seasonal produce (and sometimes other farm products) each week from the farmer. There are other versions of CSAs which you can read about and also search for CSAs in your area on the Local Harvest website as well as the information I've already provided.

I can say how great it is for you and the environment all day long to eat locally but if you've never had a garden fresh tomato and you get one from the farmer's market or a CSA you'll never turn back. I guarantee it. Grocery store tomatoes don't live up to them at all. I hope everyone has found this information helpful and I hope I've convinced you to at least look for a farmer's market in your area!

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie

Wednesday, April 6, 2011

A little of this, a little of that

Basically, I'm cheap. My mom taught me my percentages in the clearance section of every store. As I mentioned in my last post I love to just throw things together for dinner. Oftentimes because of that I can open my fridge and look at what's left and build a meal around it. This helps keep my food costs down as well as reduce my food waste. There is nothing in the world I hate more than seeing myself, or someone else, have to throw something away because it went bad before it could be used. First of all because it's a WASTE OF MONEY but secondly because it's a waste of resources. To think of the energy that went into growing and shipping the spinach that is now wilted and getting tossed makes me feel so terrible. So, tonight I am trying to avoid waste and create a tasty meal...here goes!

I have found;
a 1/3 of a can of diced tomatoes sitting in a plastic container in the back of my fridge
day old home baked bread
leftover Parmesan and  Mozzarella cheeses from making lasagna
a tube of pre-chopped basil (this stuff is pretty cool, might I add)

Are you thinking what I'm thinking...oh yeah, BRUSCETTA! Mmm mmm....

Preheat the oven to 350. Cut bread in 1/2 inch slices. Cut the top off of a clove of garlic and rub each slice of bread generously with it then drizzle on some olive oil. Toast the bread in the oven for about 5-8 minutes, keeping an eye on it to ensure your fire alarm doesn't go off.

Meanwhile, mix together the diced tomatoes, Italian seasoning to taste (I also added red pepper flakes because I love them),  and about a tablespoon of balsamic vinegar.

Once the toasted bread is out of the oven spread on some pre-chopped basil (or just add basil leaves to the diced tomato mixture, totally up to you and what you have on hand). Spoon on some of the tomato mixture, then sprinkle on the cheeses. Return to the oven and bake until the cheese is melted.

You can eat this alone for dinner or serve with salad greens.

Easy, delicious, cheap! My favorite kind of food. How about you? Do you often clean out your fridge with a certain dish? What is the weirdest combination of leftovers you've ever served?

Until next time,

xoxo Stacie