Archive | January, 2017

Garden-Fresh Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles

28 Jan

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I recently cracked open a jar of homemade strawberry jelly and haven’t stopped fantasizing about making and canning jelly and jam this summer. This quickly led to binge-watching How To videos on YouTube to brush up on my technique since I haven’t canned anything since I was a kid, and a new pregnancy low when I segued from jelly making/canning videos, to pickle-making videos. Which I watched as I ate a bowl of pickles

Needless to say, I’ve bookmarked the video tutorial that guided me through the process of making my own fresh garlic dill refrigerator pickles and am dying to test this technique out this summer. For safekeeping, here is the recipe that inspired me:

Garden-Fresh Garlic Dill Refrigerator Pickles
2 pounds Fresh Pickling Cucumbers
1 1/2 cups Apple Cider Vinegar (unfiltered)
1 1/2 cups Water
2 tablespoons Pink Himalayan Salt or Pickling Salt
Garlic Cloves, peeled (2 per jar)
Fresh Dill, large bunch
1/4 teaspoon Crushed Red Pepper
1 teaspoon Dill Seed
1/2 teaspoon Black Peppercorns

Exploring the Consignment Business

24 Jan

The other day I popped into one of my favorite consignment shops over near our old apartment in Newton Corner and picked up what amounted to hundreds of dollars worth of clothes for Emilia, myself, and the new baby, in addition to a few toys. I snagged a pair of maternity leggings for just $8 but looked them up online to see that they retail for $120. And the $15 pink Land’s End jacket that I scooped up for Emilia (picture below) retails for $75. Such great deals!

I practically floated out of the shop, ecstatic with my finds. It got me thinking about a dream I’ve toyed with for years about opening a consignment shop of my own. I chatted with Brian about it after and he guessed that I’d probably be able to swing it with a $10K business loan. He also pointed out that the owner’s son had been in the shop with her while we’d been shopping which is really appealing since I’ve really enjoyed the flexibility to balance work and family since becoming self-employed three years ago.

In an effort to explore this goal a bit further, I’m giving myself one month to research and learn as much as I can about the consignment business and getting a business started. It’s scary but exciting at the same time. Depending how my research goes, I may post updates here to the blog as I dive in.

Stay tuned!

Garden Update: Our 2017 Garden Priority List

20 Jan

SONY DSCvia Confessions of a Serial DIYer here

When we moved into our new home at the height of summer in New England, it was easy to prioritize our “outside” projects over the “inside” ones. This largely meant that I focused on our yard and garden while we remained barely unpacked throughout the summer and fall. As I planted astilbe, bee balm and hydrangea in the sweltering heat of July, I imagined us barreling through all those lingering projects that weigh-on new home owners come winter, while blizzards raged outside. Things like freshening up the trim paint and updating light fixtures. The little tweaks you make to transform a house into a home.

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Thanks to a mild fall, I was out in the garden until nearly mid-October, then the race to Christmas started. My attention was diverted from home projects in favor of baking and wrapping and decorating the house for our first Christmas (squee!) but I was sure after the holidays, we’d tackle our list of “inside” To Dos.

However, now that Christmas is over and we’ve enjoyed a few more days of mild temps in the 60’s I’ve found my focus shifting back to the garden again. I even bought vegetable seeds and recruited a friend’s handy husband to help us build the cold frame pictured above so I can start them outside a bit sooner than I’d normally be able to direct sow for our Plant Hardiness Zone, which is 6b. (To find your zone, visit the USDA website and just input your zip code.)

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Since I have a tendency to dream away hours envisioning possibilities instead of ticking off to dos, I put together a Garden Priority List for the next few months. Our ultimate goal is be able to enjoy a beautifully manicured backyard this summer which we weren’t quite able to do last season.

Our 2017 Spring/Summer Garden Priority List

– Stump and tree removal in the backyard
– Deal with the chipmunks
– Remove two shrubs under kitchen window
– Level the backyard
– Redo and build-out the patio
– Build-up berms along the back perimeter
– Seed the lawn
– Start our vegetable garden
– Plant privacy trees and shrubs on back perimeter
– Install side yard arbor and gate; plant clematis and roses
– Purchase lounge chair seating
– Find the perfect hammock
– Find a swing set for Emilia
– Install front window boxes

We sat out in the yard, don’t get me wrong. But we were in such a frenzy to get plants into the ground so they’d have time to get established that the lawn wasn’t a priority so it was depressingly crispy and brown by the end of July.  In our defense, it was the hottest year on record and nearly every town around us had a mandatory water ban so it was easy to let the lawn go. Also, half of it was covered in invasive Lily of the Valley and ivy that we needed to combat without chemicals which was the other challenge we attempted to tackle last summer with a rototiller.

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Our prioritized list should help us tackle some of the major, foundational items we need to do in order to be able to really enjoy our backyard and outdoor space this summer. Come June, when Baby #2 arrives, I can’t imagine we’ll have too much free time to spend on the list above so we have a very busy spring ahead of us. Still, I hadn’t been feeling very inspired to move in a specific direction as far as designing our backyard landscape until I discovered the backyard makeover by Christy of Confessions of a Serial DIYer. Most of the pictures featured in this post are from her gorgeous yard makeover and have inspired what is beginning to take shape in my mind as our future backyard.

I actually put in a lot of similar plantings last summer just to establish them until we had a better idea of our garden design, but after seeing Christy’s layout, berms and a curved perimeter are on my mind in addition to tracking down some beautiful lanterns, a nice swing set and a beautiful hammock to relax on all summer.

I’m so excited to get started now that I have a concrete vision! Stay tuned for updates.