For the first time in weeks I managed to get myself up and moving early (not at 7 am like I wanted, but a girl has to start somewhere). By 9 am I’d watered the flowers, run to Dunkin Donuts to get my hubby’s free birthday drink (with no DDs in Afghanistan, I had to use the coupon for him), completed my physical therapy stretches, and was hard at work.
Although the summer season is my busiest time of the year when it comes to my project load, I had a strange lull in my schedule at noon, so I headed down to the kitchen. Last night I mixed up a batch of muffins that I needed to bake. Since I was going to turn on the oven anyway, I thought I might as well try out my husband’s idea of making shortcakes now and freezing them so we won’t have to use the oven in the summer. While the muffins were cooling and the shortcakes were baking (drastically different oven temps prevented them from being cooked at the same time, unfortunately), I juiced my final California lemons and put together a sparkling mint lemonade to enjoy with lunch. The lemonade and muffin were quite tasty. What an excellent way to spend my 25 minute mini break!
Sparkling Mint Lemonade
• Juice lemons, pour about 1/4 cup of the juice into a large glass
• Add 1 tsp sugar (or a 1/2 tsp depending on how tart you like your lemonade) to the glass and stir
• Tear up 5–10 mint leaves and stir them into the lemon/sugar concoction
• Fill cup with ice and top with sparkling water
When adding the water, leave a bit of room to taste your drink in case it needs more lemon or sugar before filling the glass completely.
Stir and enjoy!
I spent some time yesterday weeding and planting some additional rhubarb and flowers in containers around the raised beds. Everything seem to be growing nicely now that the weather has been warm(er) and wet the past week. All of the plots are much greener than they were on Week 6.
It’s particularly good to see that the cucumber and green bean plants are starting to take off and that the sugar snap peas are flowering. If we are lucky enough to have a few more unseasonably cool weeks, I may actually get a decent sugar snap pea harvest. Although I try every summer, as soon as the peas begin to grow the weather tends to take a turn for the ridiculously hot and the plants die.
The splash of color that the flowers are starting to add will be a nice addition this summer. Hopefully the Nasturtiums in the first plot don’t completely overrun the cilantro and leeks!
As a (very) picky eater in my childhood, I know it amazes my parents that I go out of my way to eat vegetables on a fairly regular basis. While I love being able to buy veggies from the vendors at Eastern Market on the weekends, it’s also nice to have the option for vegetable delivery on the weeks that I may not have a chance to visit the market.
In the past we have been members of a CSA (community supported agriculture), but the commitment of paying for May through October in advance as well as having to figure out the pick up just wasn’t working out for us anymore. Last summer when we knew we were going to be gone for more than a month, we decided we couldn’t participate. Why pay for veggies you can’t eat?
Then we stumbled upon the Green Grocer which offers a variety of fruit and vegetable options — all local, all organic, and a mixed box that is part organic and part not — in a number of sizes that can be ordered on demand. It’s perfect! Once or twice a month, depending on travel and what’s in the box, I place an order. I typically go for the small organic box.
This week the veggie fairy left me red leaf lettuce, red potatoes, corn, blueberries, green beans, cucumbers, grapefruit, and vidalia onions. What I love (apart from the fact it comes to the door) is that you can swap out items. While I have gotten a lot better there are still some things I do not want (squash and mushrooms) and some things I can’t have (melon), so I am able to customize the box to be just items I know I will eat. You can also add additional veggies, herbs, and a wide range of other products to the order, but I usually stick with what’s included.
Now my fridge is stocked with healthy options and I can plan my menu for the coming week. I have to say that with all those potatoes I’m glad the weather has cooled off quite a bit so I will be able to cook them. Maybe someone will invite me over for a Memorial Day BBQ — I can bring the potato salad!
As you know I don’t care too much for cooking, but I do like to be healthy (most of the time). While I have my moments of weakness when it comes to indulging food cravings, I certainly don’t have enough disposable income to dine out for every meal, so I’ve tried to have dinners at home most nights while my husband has been in Afghanistan.
Most of the time I plan a menu for a week or so, shop for the items I’ll need for those meals (or build the menu based around what was delivered in my box of veggies) and go from there. In a month I’ll have my personal chef back (yay!), but this week I have been swamped with work and in an all around food funk. I am hungry, but nothing really sounds good enough to put in the effort to make or to go out and buy. It hasn’t helped that my fridge had gotten down to some lemons, a little bit of pomegranate juice, and some tortillas from February that I haven’t gotten around to tossing out yet. (Frighteningly they still look okay…)
Thankfully there is still food in the freezer (thank honey!) so earlier this week I pulled out a container with one portion of chili and topped it with an avocado, low fat sour cream, and green onions with a few (okay a lot) of tortilla chips on the side. The weather was a little toasty for chili, but since the prep work involved defrosting the chili, putting it in a pan to warm up, and cutting up some avocado I powered through.
This morning I ran to the store and picked up some hummus, Greek yogurt (I’m getting cucumbers tomorrow with my veggie delivery so I thought tzatziki would be a good easy dish for my near future), and fresh tortillas. Hopefully having actual food in the fridge will help me get back to cooking at least a few days a week.
On Saturday a fabulous friend came over to help me organize my office closet and, by accident, also cleaned up my “little room” aka our craft room aka a room that has traditionally been filled with lots of random stuff since we bought our house.
A few years back my in-laws helped us paint the room. Now that it has been cleaned out (again) it’s ready for sewing, painting, and any other craft project that may strike my fancy. I just hope I can find the time to take advantage of the space now that it is ready for action.
The office also benefited greatly from the weekend makeover. I went through multiple old file folders full of pay stubs, receipts, and other miscellaneous documents from the early 2000s while my friend organized all the random things in the closet — luggage, wrapping paper, and keepsakes. Not only are all of those things much tidier, the closet had enough space left over for us to add in the small filing cabinet that had previously been kept in the craft room.
There are still a few piles to go through before I can consider the office seriously cleaned up, but considering I can now see the majority of the floor in the little room and my recycling and garbage cans are full and ready for pick up, I’d say it was a highly productive weekend!
With all of the travel I’ve done in 2013, it took awhile to find the time to beautify the front porch. Although I wanted to plant flowers in March to brighten things up, I knew that it wouldn’t be worth it since I was going to be gone for almost all of April.
After getting back from California in early May, I went to the local hardware store the next morning, bought a bunch of flowers, and got to planting (and the less fun task of cleaning up the clutter on the front porch). Now each time I go in or out of the front door the bright pinks, deep purples, and clean white of the flowers make me smile. I’m particularly loving the flowers on the Fuschia plants that are starting to bloom — they are gorgeous!
My control over the front porch hasn’t yet extended to our small front yard, which is totally out of control, but at least the Salvia in the very front is pretty and (hopefully) hiding the runaway rosemary, sage, and weeds that are behind it at least a little bit. One project at a time…
I have lots of ridiculous nicknames for my husband and for the most part I have no idea where any of them came from. But he does love muffins so “muffin” has become part of a handful of those silly nicknames (since it’s his birthday I promise I won’t totally embarrass him by posting the long list).
Speaking of which — happy birthday honey! Neither of us is excited about spending his special day so many miles apart, but thankfully it won’t be too much longer before we can have a belated celebration back in DC. I hope that his 32nd year will be full of adventure and excitement (and that I will get to be a part of more of it than his 31st!).
* The picture is from someone’s birthday a couple of years ago. My hubby is the shirtless one. And if he has things his way, he’s probably shirtless again this year.