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Thankful That I Enjoy Cooking Now

Thankfulthat I Enjoy Cooking Now

For most of my life I was intimidated by cooking because it seemed so complicated to make a meal worth eating and tasted good. So many pots and pans and other kitchen gadgets to use and I didn’t know what I was doing. Which pot was the correct one? Which utensil was correct? How did you use this gadget or that? Plus, it seemed to take me FOREVER to cook a single dinner.

For years, I have had a couple of key meals that I knew how to make and they tasted great like my chicken paprikash. Pasta was a weekly, sometimes more than once a week, staple meal in my house because it was easy and you really can’t fail at it. Add that to my breakfast for dinner like pancakes or eggs with a side meat. That was 2 simple meals that were fast and edible. The rest of the time we would eat out… we have kept our local pizza and chinese places busy for many years now.

Since I barely ate through my pregnancy with Evie because of my hyperemesis gravidarum, I wanted to eat everything in sight after I gave birth. The thing was, I no longer wanted to eat the quick meals that I was used to cooking everday. I wanted foods with more flavor. I wanted the meals that they cook on my favorite cooking show… The Chew!

All of the cooking shows that Danyella and I watch make cooking look soooo easy! So, I decided it was time to get out of my comfort zone and start cooking real meals. I have come up with some really delicious chicken and pork meals like my Mushroom Pork Chops  and Baked Lemon Chicken Printable Recipe . 

My Instant Pot has made it so easy to make delicious meals without getting completely overwhelmed. I love to experiment with different veggies and flavors. I can’t wait until my herb garden grows so I can start adding fresh herbs rather than dried herbs to my dishes. Plus, once we have our veggies grow over the Summer, I can incorporate even more fresh veggies into our meals.

Not only have we been able to put the take out menus away (ok we eat out about once every 2 weeks because somedays its just easier to let someone else cook!) but we have saved money because it costs us less to eat in then out. I try to cook at least 5 times a week with one night for leftovers (I hate wasting the food) and one free night where I don’t cook (aka find a box of cereal and be happy!).  I hope that I can continue to enjoy cooking and learn new skills to make delicious meals for my friends and family.

Drop a link to your favorite recipes for me to try in the comments below!

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Gardening Essentials to Buy at the Dollar Store

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When you are living on a budget but want to expand your garden, then you need to go to the Dollar Store! Over the past couple of years, I have seen the Dollar Store expand their garden supplies from tiny pots and watering cans to decent sized pots, watering cans with the longer spout, seeds, tools, gloves and even small bags of soil! This is where I needed to be shopping to get my garden going for this year.

The must have that I picked up first was the watering can with the narrow spout. I prefer this kind of spout for my small indoor pots because I can control the water flow. To buy this type at Walmart or Lowe’s will run you at least $10.

Next, I picked up some pots for my seedlings. The ones I picked up are 6″ pots which after I am done with transplanting my seedlings to bigger pots, I will use these pots to transplant my herbs. There were bigger pots that I plan on picking up this week once I have my garden plans set. At Home Depot, a 6″ pot starts at $2  so you can basically get one free at the Dollar Store.

Then, I found a hanging basket and liner which will be great for the wild flower seeds that I purchased as well. I love the look of a hanging baskets on porches to bring out the colors of a house. What I don’t like is the price at Walmart starting at $8 for a small one. I can’t wait to watch my flowers bloom in my new hanging basket!

Other things that you can find to get your garden started is gardening tools like a shovel and rake, gardening gloves and kneeling pads. I have all of these from previous years of gardening so I didn’t need to buy them this year but it is a great resource for someone just starting on their green thumb journey or someone needing to replace their tools.

Last week, I talked about the variety of seeds that you can buy at the dollar store. Out of convenience, I picked up seed packets for carrots and lettuce at Walmart which were $1.49 and $1.69 each so I could have picked up a third packet if I bought them at the Dollar Store! If you want to read my post about starting from seeds here is the post: Plant Seeds to Save The Earth

The only thing that I did not purchase at the Dollar Store was my soil. Since I will be doing my gardening from pots, I prefer to use Miracle Grow potting soil because it has the added nutrients my plants will need.

I can’t wait to continue to journal my garden as the season continues! Fill me in on some of your gardening tips below!

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Plant Seeds to Save Earth and Money

25 Poppasome Tokens of Appreciation

Its Earth Day and what better way to celebrate than by starting a garden! An added bonus to starting a garden is the money you save by growing your own herbs, vegetables and fruits.

For most of my life, I have loved flowers and gardens but was plagued with a black thumb. Any living plant I tried to grow, failed and died pretty quickly. Either, I forgot to water or I over watered and killed the plants.Even with the consistent failing at growing plants, I kept on trying over and over again.

Through much perseverance, I have turned my black thumb into a green thumb. Last year, I planted cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce, Bok choy, beans and squash. Also, I planted so many beautiful flowers. The cucumbers, some of the peppers, bok choy and squash were bought and planted as seedling plants. The tomatoes, rest of the peppers, lettuce and beans were started as seeds.

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Starting the plants as seeds was a first time thing for me and I didn’t realize how fast and how many of seedlings grow from these tiny seeds. I ended up with SOOOOOO many tomato and pepper plants that we couldn’t keep up with all of them. Danyella was in her glory to be able to go pick and eat her tomatoes whenever she wanted all summer long.

I did have some failures like my bok choy and squash. I didn’t know that squash needed some help with their fruition in order to grow. Plus, I didn’t know that bok choy would bolt so quickly and I couldn’t keep up with it.

This year, thanks to Target, Walmart and the Dollar store, I have expanded my list of plants which I am starting all from seeds. At Walmart and Target, I found herbs in little tins that come with the seeds and starter pellets. The great thing about these kits is that the herbs can continue to grow indoors in these tins, all year-long. Now, I can cook with fresh herbs like Thyme, Basil, Cilantro, Oregano and Sage!

I bought seeds like tomato, snap peas, and beans plus the seed starting trays at the dollar store. These are great because you only need them for a short period of time. I bought the seed starter pellets for $4 at Walmart and have lots of seedlings already started. I have leftover seeds from last year and need to buy a few more types of seeds for this year.

Instead of buying tons of trays, I am recycling egg cartons, milk containers and things to start my seeds or make into pots. This not only saves me money but saves the Earth from more trash to be collected in a trash dump.

My challenge this year is going to be to make my garden grow all in pots. I am fearful of planting a garden in the yard because we share it with the unruly neighbors whose kids don’t have any respect for other people’s property. Living on the second floor, I have lots of outdoor steps leading up to our door to utilize with pots. I plan on using every space possible to grow my garden and save money this summer with our fresh veggies and trying a strawberry plant for the first time this year!

Total for seeds, pellets and eventually soil for my pots will still cost less than going to the store and buying these fruits and veggies at the store.

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Are you ready to start a garden today?

 

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Vegetables of My Labor

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After months of starting some of these plants from just seeds and other plants from baby plants (not sure what the technically term is), it has been amazing to see the vegetables and flowers growing into beautiful creations. Don’t get me wrong, things have not been perfect with my plants but to see just some stuff be edible is an exciting accomplishment for me.

We have been able to enjoy butter lettuce for salads, cucumbers with ranch dressing which the baby is loving, red and yellow (orange) cherry tomatoes and beans. Well to be honest Danyella is the one enjoying the tomatoes and beans because I am not a real fan of eating them raw. We have so many tomatoes ready to just ripen but the cucumbers are starting to grow fewer. We are still waiting for our squash for grow bigger and the peppers to start growing bigger. Just seeing these vegetables grow and be edible has been the biggest accomplishment I have had in so long.Photo Aug 01, 2 18 20 PM

On the down side, I have had to start many of my herbs over again because I let them basically drown because I bought the cute ceramic pots from Targer. The thing with the adorable pots that I didn’t realize was they had no holes to drain which was crucial when trying not to kill your plants. So I have started the herbs over from seeds and waiting for them to sprout up. I got rid of my bok choy because it was growing faster then I could use it and honestly I just got bored with it.

It is so funny, in the past, I would never even realize people had any type of garden in their yards but now I see them everywhere. I am so inspired to plant more for the fall, which I am researching what I can plant to produce for the fall. The ideas I have for next year are already in the works too!

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From Seeds to Seedlings

I didn’t realize that I would fall in love with gardening but I am beyond in love… I am obsessed. Eveyday, twice (ok more like 4-5) times a day I go out just to see how much my seeds have grown. The pure excitement and joy I feel when I see a seed sprouting is like seeing your childd2cefa593222c793bc3b6e3c0597b238

 

accomplish something they worked so hard at acheiving successfully.

Yes, I know I sound crazy but I have learned that green thumbs are a little crazy when it comes to their plants! Each one is like a new child sprouting up and begininning
their growth process. I have watched some of my seeds die off which I think is because I don’t know everything about each type of plant to properly maintain them… aka my bean plants that are falling over instead of growing up.  Thankfully, I have a friend that has been coaching me through my gardening experience to help me properly care for my plants.

I have added to my plants by purchasing seedlings from a local greenhouse. Alot of the local youth clubs and sports teams have fundraisers with the local greenhouses for people to purchase plants at a discounted rate. My friend and I split the veggie plants, plus I purched 3 Gerbera Daises and 32 flower plants. I picked an array of purples, red and white flowers. I can’t tell yo
u the different names because its a foreign language to me but I do have the stakes to help me record how to care for them.

Since we are unsure of whether we are staying in our current house or not this summer, I have decided to pot all my plants. My friend had said to get large bins, drill holes in the bottom of them and plant in them so they are portable. I love this idea and can’t wait to decorate these bins.

My goal for this week is to get a journal to write down what happens with my seedlings and to start a chart of the care each plant needs so that I can avoid killing anymore of my plants. Below are pictures of the plants that I took from seeds to seedlings. I am so proud of my accomplishment so far!
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Black Thumb Gardening

Let me start by saying that my black thumb is as dark as 134bb3cd2a59eb88ece0655b7a0116a2black garbage bag my dead plants end up in after I kill them. I have always had a love for flowers, especially roses and lillies (that is where my daughter’s got their middle names) but every attempt to keep a plant alive has been met with an untimely demise caused by my inability to grow anything!

A few years ago, my youngest Danyella and I, purchased tomato and pepper plants that we replanted into pots for our second floor apartment deck. We successfully grew a few tomatoes and peppers that Danyella happily enjoyed eating after she picked them. There may only have been a few veggies that came off those plants but it was a huge success for a black thumb like me.

This year, since we are in a house with a yard, Danyella requested that we grow a garden full of different veggies. I would love to say that I was excited about this when she first asked about it but the fear of failing at growing this garden is huge because I don’t want to disappoint my child. It seems like all the planets alined with Danyella’s request because every store is selling starting kits with mini pots, seeds and the disc thing that becomes the dirt. Most of the kits that I have purchased for $1 were from Target because they have a whole little gardening section in their $1 bins (no idea what they really call them but the area where all the products are $5 and under). For Danyella’s birthday, I bought her forget me nots, pansies, strawberries, cucumbers and tomato seed kits. Since then I have purchased lavendar, mint and basil seeds plus a couple of adorable planters and marking sticks. Add that to the Rose bush my boyfriend bought me for Valentine’s Day (another story for another day), succulents I bought at the Philadelphia Flower Show and the Calla Lily plant that Danyella received on her birthday and we have lots of plants to try to keep alive!

In New Jersey, it is still very cold at night (averages in the 30s) and warms to 50-60 degrees during the day. We are getting alot of rain this past week (after a 2 foot snow storm March 14th!) which is drenching the ground. Since the weather is so up and down, I did some research and asked friends that grow plants before I started the process of starting to make my pots. The past couple of days, I have started our little pots of seeds and are keeping them in boxes and baskets so I can transport them outside when the whether is nice.

I have a tendancy to either forget to water the plants or over water them so this is going to be finding a balance and doing more research on how to keep our plants alive. I am very excited and nervous to try and make this garden grow to feed my daughter’s curiosity and tummy. I’ll keep you all updated on our garden endeavor and please feel free to leave me any tips for my black thumb to maybe turned a green tinged gray.