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Friday, July 26, 2013

Gardening and Saving Green

I was asked to help host our annual neighborhood women's dinner this year and to share tips about gardening or a success story with our attendees. I think I've finally come up with something besides "we just buy them, put them in the ground and they grow..." Really my extremely green thumbed husband does the maintenance of the garden, I get to deal with the harvest. And I HATE weeding--so that's why we have a bunch of kids :).

My Advice on Gardening:

You can start small-like a container and fill it with whatever you like--herbs, flowers, veggies, etc.No weeding, low maintenance and a likely chance of success to get your green thumb going. 

Take a risk and try something new--we've learned the hard way that even though we can grow onions, our garden real estate is better used to grow other things. We have also had great success with new things like radishes, spinach and lettuce.

Expand your garden each season so you don't become overwhelmed--don't eat the "elephant" all at once. If you want to grow more than one type of veggie or flower, it's perfectly acceptable to tackle one part of the yard at a time. Baby steps lead to big success in many things.

My Money Saving Advice:

Buy on sale--seeds usually go on sale at the beginning and end of each growing season. At our local IFA seeds sell for 10 cents during their March spring sale. For my 10 cent package of lettuce I have harvested 12 bunches (big bunches) of green lettuce. I also bought radishes and have harvested over 100 individual radishes from my 10 cent packet. This is a cheap, great way to try new things.

Also many growers offer buy one get one coupons or lower the prices on veggie starts at the beginning of the year. Since many plants have to be planted within a specific time frame the stores have to move the product quickly.

Plant perennials. There are so many beautiful flowers and colorful ground covers that add colors other than green to your yard. Perennials come back year after year--so you only have to plant and spend once. The great thing is in the spring and fall you can split the flower and roots and transplant it to another part of the yard. I am lucky enough to have a Dad with a green thumb and he's kindly gifted many starts to my yard over the years. No cost, easy process and your yard will be full and beautiful. Bluebells, daisies, ice plant, verbena, ivy, tiger lilies, Easter lilies, Iris and most other perennials will split and become a new plant. Click Here for a quick tutorial.

Annuals are a quick way to add extra vibrant color for one season. The sale rules apply here too. Buy in bulk when you can--flats of flowers are often cheaper than individual cups. Set a budget because these can add up fast!

Happy Gardening!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Delicious Beef Stew

I am always looking for an easy Sunday afternoon recipe. This one fits the bill perfectly. It reminds me of my sweet grandma and the smells I remember as a kid during those big family dinners. Take the work and worry out of Sunday dinner with this delicious idea.

Delicious Beef Stew
5 carrots, cut into large chunks--I leave the skins on, but you don't have to
1 pkg of fresh mushrooms, sliced OR 1 can of mushrooms
1 pkg.Onion Soup mix
1/2 tsp garlic powder
2 c. cubed beef--I use stew meat, but a cut up steak or small London Broil would work fine
1-2 Tbsp. Worcester Sauce
1/2 c. beef broth
2 tbsp. olive oil
salt & pepper to taste

1 recipe of your favorite mashed potatoes--yes instant ones work great

In a Dutch Oven (or frying pan if you don't have a D.O.) brown the meat in the olive oil. If using a Dutch Oven, add the rest of the ingredients to the meat, and cook at 200 deg. for 6-7 hours. Check stew about 3 hours into the cooking time and add 1/2 c. of beef broth or water if stew looks dry. When the stew is done use the drippings and drain them into a sauce pan, add instant brown gravy and water to make a delicious sauce.  Serve gravy and stew over mashed potatoes.

Crock Pot: You can also use this idea and brown the meat, add it to a crock pot with the rest of the ingredients. Cook on low 6-8 hours.

Variations: You can add cut up turnips, radishes, onions or potatoes to this dish too.Keep in mind that you may need to use 3/4 to 1 c. of liquid (beef broth or water) instead of the 1/2 c. called for above. Don't be afraid to experiment and make this the way YOU want it.

This makes Sundays more relaxing and more delicious.

Monday, July 15, 2013

Mexican Street Salad

Our garden has given us all kinds of good things. I am really trying to eat fresh this year--feeding my family fresh foods, in their basic forms--but with a bit of flare, cuz you know I can't stand boring!
Here's my take on the Mexican Street Salad. Enjoy!

Mexican Street Salad
5 cups lettuce, torn
1 tomato, chopped
2-3 green onions, diced
1 avocado, sliced into chunks
1 c. corn, drained or fresh, cooked and cut off cob
1 c. black beans, drained
4-5 radishes, sliced or diced
½ c. cilantro, chopped
½ a lime –squeeze this over the salad after its mixed together, to prevent browning on veggies.
Mix all ingredients together and serve as a salad, or add taco meat/chicken/shredded beef and spoon into tortillas. Serve with dressing if desired (see below)

Garden Green dressing
1 sm. Container of plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup chopped cilantro
2 green onions, roughly chopped
½ green jalapeno, remove seeds to cut heat
3 tomatillos, roughly chopped, skins removed
½ c. olive oil
½ tsp. salt
1 tbsp. honey
¼ c. fresh lime juice
Blend everything together in a blender on high, until becomes creamy. Store in Mason or other glass jar for up to 7 days in fridge.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Summer Sale ELF

Today ELF (Eyes, Lips, Face) has a great sale! 50% off site wide for their 9th Anniversary sale. I love these products and they are affordable at regular price, but a steal on this sale. Shipping starts at $6.95, but think about stocking up for birthdays, Christmas or just have a stock on hand.

Visit this link to get started!

~Happy Shopping and Saving!