Thursday, May 31, 2012

Into the Compost

Are you a composter? We have been avidly composting our kitchen and yard waste since we moved into our place. It's a great way to reduce unnecessary garbage that goes to the dump and also help you to create nutrient rich soil for your garden and potted plants. I have memories of the coffee tin that my grandmother kept at her kitchen sink filled with egg shells, coffee grounds, and discarded peels. Here is a great link about the ins and outs of composting if you are interested. Each summer we have enough compost to add to the soil in our vegetable gardens. My husband uses a mix of one part compost, one part vermiculite, and one part peat moss. It's a spongy super soil.

And in other gardening news, here is a photo update of the lettuce portion of our garden. It has really taken off! As for the tomatoes, one plant didn't make it and another one was struggling but seems to have pulled through. And because I couldn't resist, I bought two more plants. But this is it...I swear. How is your garden coming along?

Wednesday, May 30, 2012


The closest that I ever came to achieving the bangle bracelet look was when I wore about one hundred jelly bracelets on both of my arms. I've always been envious of those able to wear a ton of bangles on their arms and not be annoyed with all the banging. I find them to be bothersome when I'm going about my day but I like the way it looks. 

These two bracelets were both gifts. I wear them all the time. Particularly the smaller one because it's the perfect shape and size. My father-in-law is currently living in Tai Pei and made it for me for Christmas at an outdoor market. It's small and simple and seems to go with everything. Plus it feels pretty special to me too.  How do you accessorize those arms?

Monday, May 28, 2012

Thank You

This is the biggest flag that I've ever seen at a person's home and I hope it expresses the gratitude that you veterans and soldiers deserve. Happy and healthy holiday to everyone!

Friday, May 25, 2012

On the Table: Orzo Salad

If you haven't already heard, lunch can be my nemesis. It's either heated up left overs or I'm scrambling to put something decent together at the last minute. I certainly have my good days though, when lunch is a breeze and I'm full and happy. But yesterday I had a peanut butter sandwich at 10:30 and then a bowl of chips at 2:00, that was not my best effort. So today is a fresh start and I made enough for tomorrow too! 

1 cup of Orzo pasta
1 diced red pepper
2 cloves of minced garlic
8 chopped olives
1 cup of frozen peas
Grated Parmesan
1 Tbsp dried dill
Salt & Pepper
Balsamic vinaigrette 

Bring a pot of salted water to a boil. Add your orzo and cook for 7-9 minutes (or whatever the box instructs). While the pasta is cooking chop up all of your vegetables and put in a large bowl. Drain the pasta and add it to the bowl. Add your salad dressing while hot and mix in dill, salt and pepper as needed. Top with grated parmesan and stir. Put the whole thing in the refrigerator until cool. Then serve. This dish is so simple and tasty, it's crazy. It would be a perfect side to bring along to your Memorial Day picnics! Enjoy your weekend friends, and also remember to honor those that have served our country. 

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Painted Gift Bag

I've had this muslin gift bag hanging around in my gift wrap drawer for years. I've never used it because of the logo on the front but have kept it because it's the perfect size to gift a nice bottle of wine in. So today I decided to make it a bit more useful.

Acrylic paint
Sponge stencil brush
Painter's tape
Paint brush

Fold a few pieces of newspaper and fit inside the bag to protect the side you are not painting. First I used painter's tape to create a straight lined box to cover the logo on the bag. Using a paint brush, paint the inside of the taped off section. Once this part is dry I used two colors of paint and the sponge brush to create the polka dots.

Get your friend a nice bottle of wine and stick inside to give away. This project is so very simple but really gives your gift that extra love-filled touch to make the gesture even more special. I'm tempted to go ahead and get those smaller bags I linked to also because they are so sweet!

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

On the Table: Strawberry Salad

Saturday was another trip to the Farmer's Market and the winning purchase by far were the fresh strawberries!

It was a beautiful day and that makes for a crowded market so we put the boy in the carrier to make maneuvering the crowds a bit easier.

The line was for berries was at least 15-20 people deep but everyone was patient and nice. Which meant they were all rewarded with quarts of locally grown berries for a pretty decent price.

Just look at these beauties! Strawberries come in a close second only to the beloved banana for the babe so he was pleased. For about a minute I had hopes of making some delicious dessert with these but we just couldn't wait. Oliver ate about half of them on his own by Monday! Here's a tasty lunch recipe that I wanted to share with you now.

Roasted almonds
Red onion (not pictured above, but I love the combo)

Chop up all of the ingredients and arrange on a plate or bowl. I like to try and make a salad look as fancy as they do at restaurants. It makes things seem more interesting. Toss with a simple balsamic vinaigrette and you have lunch ready in minutes! This spring salad is also great to bring along to a BBQ to have on the side of your main dish. Hope you enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Tomato Planting Day

I got some pretty interesting advice about planting tomatoes last Friday. As I mentioned last week, I went to a plant sale at the Rockefeller Greenhouse. My mother and I got some pretty awesome deals on plants. I went with all vegetables, she picked up some flowers for a planter in their yard. The people working the sale were really friendly and full of information about the plants that I picked out. In the past, we've had some issues with overcrowding our vegetable garden among other things but not this year. It's going to be perfect, fingers crossed.

The gentleman selling all of these tomato plants gave me some advice that I'd like to pass on. Do your plants tend to get a little top heavy? Mine too. He sold each plant in a styrofoam cup, with a stake and a twist tie that was about six inches up each plant, give or take. He told me to plant each plant as deep as that twist tie to ensure a good root system and better plant stability. I will still probably need some stakes but he promised that tomatoes love to be planted deep and would thrive like this.

So I had to dig a hole that was about ten inches or so deep to get those babies in and they are about two feet apart. Cut off any limbs that are going to end up covered in dirt right before you plant them. I got three varieties called Cosmonaught Volkov (that has been winning awards, said the gardener), Sungold, and Stupice (which he said was his all time favorite). I also planted a Borage plant to attract bees to help with pollination and to hopefully help get more fruit.

All the while my little fella was there "helping" me get the plants in. And by helping I mean stealing my trowel and running away to take care of his own projects. He was very interested in what I was doing and would graciously let me borrow the shovel very briefly. I talked him through what we were doing and he would listen closely and then snatch the shovel back. After all, that driveway did need scraping. So here's my advice to keep all parties entertained, make sure that you have enough tools for each gardener that way you can all get your work done. Happy planting!

Friday, May 18, 2012

Things to do in Beautiful Cleveland.

The Rockefeller Park Greenhouse is a free city greenhouse that is dedicated to educating and fostering Cleveland's gardening community. This weekend is their Plant Sale, it started yesterday and will continue through Saturday from 10-4. I hope to find some great deals on  annuals, perennials, vegetables, and more. Stop by to find something to add a little more charm to your space.

This weekend is the 43rd annual Hessler Street Fair in University Circle, it's a free community art and music festival that runs from 11am until dusk on Saturday and Sunday. The event is family-friendly and will have have lots of entertainment and people watching. There are always lots of vendors selling handmade jewelry, bags, and clothing so come prepared to browse and maybe pick up a little something for yourself too! Enjoy the food and stay for some local music.

I'm really excited to attend this final event because I've never made it there before. The 2012 Cleveland Asian Festival is this Saturday and Sunday from 11am-7pm on Asia Plaza and E. 30th. This free family-friendly event features authentic Asian food, performing artists, and lots of children's activities. You can find the schedule of events here, I'm really looking forward to the Japanese drumming and I think our little guy will definitely love to see some dancers and the dragons too.

Happy weekend Cleveland, I'm so glad there is some much to do! And the weather should be perfect on Saturday, get yourselves out there and enjoy it!

Images: Hessler//Asian Festival

Thursday, May 17, 2012

I got an email a few weeks ago that made me sad. One of my first Etsy purchases was from Yee-Haw Industries. I ordered some very cool mini holiday cards as well as some jumbo postcards. They have decided to close up shop for good and part ways. I know I was certainly not keeping them in business but I sure did love their work. 

These are two of my purchases from them that we keep permanently displayed in the house.
I wish them the best of luck with all their future endeavors. And please remember to support local artists and businesses. They are what makes life unique and interesting!

Top Image.

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

I was very busy last weekend working on projects that I've been wanting to try out. The allure of ombré dyeing has had my interest for awhile now, so I figured the best way to test it out was with some shirts for the babe. I figured that was the safest first attempt since he'll wear them no matter what without complaining. I say this because while I followed the instructions exactly as they are on the Rit website, the dye solution wasn't perfect so I'd recommend a different product. Live and learn. Anyway, it was fun!

A bucket or container that holds 3 gallons
1 cup of salt
A hanger or dowel rod for dipping
Onesies, or whatever you'd like to dye
Rubber gloves

Follow the interactions on your dye to make up the solution. The onesie should be damp to begin, wring out excess water. 

I used a hanger to dip my onesies. 

Submerge about one-third of the shirt into the dye for 10-15 minutes, moving it up and down to create a blended line. It's nice to have someone there to talk to yo while you are holding this because otherwise you might get a little bored while your arm gets tired.

Submerge the shirt deeper into the dye for about 5-7 minutes, moving it up and down. Then with rubber gloves on, put the remainder of the shirt into the dye for about 2-3 minutes. Squeeze out the excess dye and run under cool water until the water runs clear. 


Wear BOTH gloves to avoid this situation. 


Hang to dry with the darkest color down so that the dye doesn't run onto the lighter part. The next day, I threw the shirts into the wash for a quick rinse and spin cycle to remove any excess dye before wearing. They aren't perfect but I think they are pretty fun! This blue color really looks good on Oliver. Little Man wore his new shirt with pride and felt pretty cool showing of his biceps at the the playground!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

My Second Mother's Day

We had an all around great weekend! The weather was amazing and I just love it when we can get out of the house and do things together. We went to the farmer's market, did lots of yard work, and strolled around the neighborhood. This shot is in front of the Joy mural right off of Lee Road. We took a photo there last year too, so I think it may become a tradition. It certainly sums up our 15 months with Oliver (even if he isn't really smiling here.)

Saturday night we headed out to see the Avett Brothers at Nautica, now called Jacob's Pavillion, and had dinner first at Market Garden Brewery. There were lots of friends to see and the music was amazing.

On Sunday, we spent lots of time outside at the park and in the yard. Now that our patio furniture is out we will be eating outside which is so nice. We finally got to use that cool high chair seat that attaches to the table. He loved it, and had fun dangling his feet.

Here's one final shot of a little goose family that we saw on our walk at Horseshoe Lake. Mothers of all kinds were enjoying their kids. I hope that you all had a good weekend too! Stayed tuned tomorrow for another fun craft project!

Monday, May 14, 2012

Origami Lantern Lights

When I was in the third grade, our family friends hosted an exchange student from Japan. She was in high school and I thought she was probably the coolest person ever. She taught me some origami and I have retained the skill of making a paper crane all these years, some of the other things have escaped my mind over time. We continued to be pen pals for years after she left and I know she is still very close with the family she lived with.

This project was inspired by my love of paper crafts and also from a post I found here. I saw these string lights and thought, I can make those! Well, it turned out to be quite time consuming and messy. I would totally be on board with making just one giant light, but lots of little strings balls was too much. So when I saw this on Pinterest, I thought that I'd better get some origami paper and get started!

A string of Christmas lights, opt for a shorter strand so you don't have make 100!
Origami paper

Here is a great instructional video that can walk you right through the simple steps of making the paper balloon. Her instructions are really easy to follow.

I even enlisted the help of my darling husband, who made one and said his hands were too big for this project. But he hung in there and really liked the part when you blow up the balloon. Once you've made your balloons, you will see that each one has a little hole on top. Simply slide the light into the hole. String them up, and have a party!

Have a very happy Monday, friends!

Friday, May 11, 2012

Into the Yard

The sun was shining bright, the babe was napping, so I took to the backyard. We have had some success with vegetable gardening in the past, now that we finally found the sunny spot in our shady plot of land. The beds needed some tilling but they were in fairly good shape because we actually took take of them pretty well last fall by removing the debris and turning the soil.

I usually do not garden in my teal pants but I was in a hurry since I never know how long he'll sleep.

I planted two kinds of lettuce and some arugula.

The winter was so mild that I never pulled out the kale, it's nearly shoulder high and blooming.

My favorite flower bed/herb garden is at the foot of our back stairs. My husband created this little plot for me and I love to see it when I walk out of the back door. The chives are blooming and going crazy as usual. We also have mint, oregano, thyme, rosemary, and to my disbelief, cilantro! It went to seed last summer and actually came back, it's kind of all over the place but it's there so I'm counting it. I can't wait to get the tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers in. After several years of trial and error I think we have a solid plan to have a successful victory garden this year. What do you plant in yours?

P.S. If you live in the Cleveland area and are looking for some inspiration check out the Woodview Hope Garden! It's a generous and impressive garden that donates their harvest to a local food bank. 

Thursday, May 10, 2012

On The Table: Sandwiches Are Beautiful

My husband eats a turkey sandwich for lunch almost everyday. I ate them too when I was a meat eater but I have to say that I was never really a fan. That's not what I wanted when I opened my lunchbox, my lunchbox with my initials on it I might add. But not all sandwiches are created equally. Nothing is better than a fancy pants sandwich made by someone else. It's not unlikely that we end up with a regular old grilled cheese on the fly around here, but today is different. I was inspired by this one the other day but didn't have all the ingredients. So today I bring you The Queso Fresco Griller

I used 4 slices of an Italian loaf that was a little on the firmer side although a multigrain is usually what I have on hand
1/2 avocado
Handful of spinach
Crumbled queso fresco

Slice or crumble the queso fresco and put on two of the slices. Cut the avocado in half and slice while still in the skin, then scoop it out with a spoon. Stack sliced avocado on top of cheese and add the spinach on top of that. Then add a little more cheese to make sure the sandwich sticks together nicely. Melt a pat of butter in a pan over medium heat and cook the sandwich on each side until golden brown. This cheese isn't super gooey so I did need to cover it with a lid to make sure it melted nicely. Cut diagonally and enjoy!

I sure hope this brightens up your day. It did the trick for us!

Wednesday, May 9, 2012

A Cleveland Sunday


On Sunday, my husband packed a picnic and took us down to the beach at Wendy Park. The sun was shining and the wind was a bit chilly but it was such a nice family adventure.


There were lots of dogs and kites for little man to bark at and point to. He didn't seem to mind that the wind was so chilly. He kicked off his shoes and let the grass tickle his toes.

We watched a man suit up and take off on his sailboard. He jumped right in and was just a speck in the distance within in minutes. He really knew how to use the wind to his advantage, unlike me who was wrapped up in a table cloth to keep warm. 

I of course stuck my toes in the lake just to test out the temperature and it really wasn't as cold as I thought it'd be. There were lots of boats to check out at the marina and we even ran into some friends down there. It was a beautiful day. Thanks for getting me out of the house, babe.