I've been waiting to share this super easy and affordable method of starting plants from seed until the straw flowers I grew this way had bloomed, otherwise it wouldn't really be much of a success. Last week they fully opened up and now 3 beautiful blooming heads are standing straight up from 1 1/2 ft. high stems!
We started so many plants from seed this Spring and the plastic windowsill greenhouses can really start to add up. I'd seen online different cheaper alternatives and gave this one a shot! All you need to do is cut a paper towel or toilet paper roll into 1 inch tall tubes and arrange them snugly in an old spinach (or lettuce or whatever) container.
Fill each tube with soil. I also put soil in between each tube for extra installation, I'm not sure if that is necessary but it sure beat funnelling dirt into the little tubes and the seeds grew just fine. Push a seed into each tube according to their specific directions. Water with warm water and leave the lid closed for approximately 3 days, it should steam up like a sauna in there. Place the container in a warm, sunny spot inside. Watch as they germinate and start to grow!
I remember thinking at this stage how I didn't think they'd ever get big, let alone bloom!
I obviously skipped a lot of steps, and months, of this plants growth but I snapped this photo a couple weeks ago when it looked like it was near blooming.
So pretty! I have them sitting on the porch by the barbeque and the flowers are so bright I can see them when I'm nearing home on my bike after work. Little plant babies are so nice to come to, no? Anyways, I am all over budget saving strategies for absolutely anything and will definitely be starting the majority next years seeds this way!
This Sunday I completed my second sprint distance triathlon (750 m. swim, 20 km. bike, 5 km. run) and LOVED it. I took off time in the bike and run portions and remained about the same speed for the swim. I'd really wanted to shed another 30 seconds off my swim time but got stuck behind the swimmer ahead of me until the 6th lap when there was an opening to pass. It still felt like a great swim and I came out of the pool feeling strong.
^^ Husband was snapping pictures during the whole race, and timing me with his iphone - he's a great supporter! This picture was taken right as I flip turned to start the 8th length and the racer who was previously first in my lane was still hot on my tail. By the last lap I'd pulled 1/2 a lap ahead of her. ^^
^^ Good thing the swim portion wasn't any longer or I would have lost my cap! ^^
^^ And off into the rainy wind we ride! I learnt a big lesson at the start of the bike when I'd realized that after getting my bike tuned up on the weekend I'd never looked at the gears, which had been lowered to 1-1. So that part of the race was off to a slow start as I worked my way back up to higher gears. I'll remember that for next time! ^^
^^ Seriously, Husband should be a pro photographer! This picture is AWESOME. ^^
^^ I found the bike portion to be harder than the last race due to more sharp turns and abrupt hills, but still managed to take 1 minute off. I plan on working on cycling lots during the winter (I guess I'll have to break down and start using stationary bikes, I really don't like those things!) since looking at the results I realized it's definitely my weakest section in comparison to the other female racers. ^^
^^ My wobbly legs were not looking forward to the run. ^^
^^ But off they went anyways! ^^
^^ The first kilometer of the run is a mental battlefield as my leg muscles tried to adjust to running and all I was thinking to myself was "why did I sign up for another one of these??? I already crossed 'do a triathlon' off my goal list!!" and then out of no where the running coach from the college team showed up and ran with me until about the 2km point. It was exactly what I needed to pick my pace back up to 4:45 and by the time I reached the 2.5 km turn-around I was feeling good. Well, actually I wasn't really able to feel my legs at all anymore- but that was a welcome relief! Ha. ^^
^^ I sprinted into the finish and Husband snapped this picture that I love so much. Coach is behind me checking his watch and my face is beaming of sweaty relief! ^^
^^ I finished with a bronze metal in my age category, the fastest run time out of the female racers and the second fastest swim. ^^
^^ There's a picture of the results. Two of what I consider the 'pro' male racers have approached me since the race to say that there has been some kind of error with the girl who got gold's bike time. Apparently that's the kind of bike time the pro's race at, so she may have only done half the route. So who knows, maybe I should have been second. All I know is next year I want to get gold! Haha. ^^
And I am going to work my butt off to get there!
Happy Monday! No Whirlwind Weekend post today, too much happened over the weekend and the events are more than deserving of their own posts. :) I was so exhausted by last night that I went to bed at 7 pm, had to put my book down by 7:30 and slept alllll the way through until my alarm went off at 6am this morning! That's a sign of a successful weekend!
Like this past weekend, this summer sure has been one of adventure, exploration, risk taking and living. The photo above, taken while I sat by the river at camp drinking mint tea and watching the sunset, is one of my favorites. It's definitely not the muddy rubber boots and hand-me-down sweater that make it seem beautiful to me, but the fact that I can practically hear the sound of the river while I look at it. To me the sound of water flowing over rock, be it in the form of a powerful current or a trickling brook, is the sound of creation bringing glory to the power and the love of God.
But now, thus says the Lord, who created you, O Jacob,
And He who formed you, O Israel:
“Fear not, for I have redeemed you;
I have called you by your name;
You are Mine.
2 When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
And through the rivers, they shall not overflow you.
When you walk through the fire, you shall not be burned,
Nor shall the flame scorch you.
3 For I am the Lord your God,
The Holy One of Israel, your Savior"
Isaiah 43: 1-3
15 "I am the Lord, your Holy One,
The Creator of Israel, your King.”
16 Thus says the Lord, who makes a way in the sea
And a path through the mighty waters
Isaiah 43: 15-16
I first saw this pasta recipe on the cover of a magazine and have been adjusting it to fit whichever type of pasta we have on hand ever since. It's a summertime favorite of mine because it features basil picked fresh off the porch and spinach from the garden. Next month when the tomatoes and corn have ripened I should be able to make it using entirely home grown produce. Mmmm.
1) Grab a small handful of fresh basil
2) and a large handful of fresh baby spinach
3) and your cutest wooden spoons. Dad bought these for me during our trip to Arizona in 2011!
You'll also need:
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. In a medium sized bowl, stir 1 tbsp. olive oil, minced garlic and halved cherry tomatoes until the tomatoes are evenly coated. Cover a cookie sheet with parchment paper and set tomatoes skin down onto the pan. Bake for 30 minutes until fragrant and shriveled.
Cook tortellini according to it's instructions and set aside. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a large wok or frying pan then toss in the tortellini, corn, baked tomatoes, spinach and basil. Cook until everything is heated through and the basil and spinach have softened. Serve with grated parmesan cheese.
You guys, I have checked my day planner approximately 32 times today and every time I open it I am confronted with the same reality. Wrote in blue inc and highlighted is my fall semester class schedule and new work hours for 2 of my part-time jobs, just two pages away from todays date. Let me explain: one page = one week, I do realize that YOU may not check MY day planner as obsessively as I do. ;)
Could it really be that at this time 2 weeks from now I'll be sitting in my 3rd lecture of the day and that summer 2013 will really, truly be over?
^^ That's me, trying to conceal the smile on my face that can't kelp but sneak it's way out when I hear, or think, the words "back to school". I am so thankful to be studying for my Bachelor of Education. I want to be a teacher for a million and one reasons, one of them being that I'll always and forever have a first day of school. How lame. How wonderful! ^^
Tonight we've been invited over for dinner with our dear friends Ty and Kate, followed by some gardening possibly. We'll be soaking up these next 2 precious weeks of summer through dinners with friends, another triathlon (3 days away, eep!), picnics, evening runs, gardening, backpacking, camping, hiking and about 14 more green smoothie breakfasts ;)
^^Look at our garden! See how it grows! ^^
^^ A head of romaine lettuce makes a sweet bouquet, wouldn't you say? ;) ^^
^^ Having fresh lettuce has been my favorite. I've eaten more salads then ever before in my life. So far my favorite has been: spinach and romaine leaves, blueberries, strawberries, feta cheese, walnuts and a sweet poppyseed dressing. ^^
^^ My green thumbed friend and gardening teacher! Looking sunny and lovely and in her element. ^^
^^ This tomato is hogging all the energy from the whole plant haha, I bet that one fruit could make a whole bowl of salsa it's getting so huge! ^^
It's doing so well! I do hope that autumn is good to us and the frost holds off a little while longer, which I know sounds crazy considering it's still mid August - but by the end of my bikeride to work this morning I couldn't feel my fingers. We'll continue to live off of lettuce, spinach and kale; potatoes and beets; peas, corn and beans as long as God allows. I can't wait until the tomatoes and corn are ready to be added to our usual dinner rotations as well!
THAT right there, ladies and a gentlemen, is a real chocolate cake. Two layers of rich chocolatey goodness (I used this recipe from Annies-eats), with a thick chocolate mousse mid-layer, strawberries, more mousse and MORE strawberries - all encased in a cute shell of Cadbury fairtrade Dairy Milk Bubbles. And all that sweetness was to celebrate the birthday of my sweet boss, and friend!
Chocolate Whipped Cream Mousse:
Combine ingredients in metal bowl then place the bowl in the fridge to chill for 1/2 hour. Mix in food processor or with hand mixer until stiff peaks form and desired consistency is reached. Spoon onto the bottom layer of cake.
^^ Hopefully while the mousse was chilling in the fridge you made a morning cup of joe, unless you're not like me and don't go decorating cakes at 6:30 am before work. ;) Sip coffee while chopping strawberries to spread thinly ontop of the mousse. Add MORE mousse ontop of the strawberries (there is no such thing as too much chocolate) then carefully place the second cake on top, and please tell me you are fully awake by this step or you'll end up crying over a crumbled chocolate cake. ^^
Spread the rest of the mousse thickly on top of the cake and dripping down the sides in order to adhere the chocolate bars (this cake took 4 bars), then chop strawberries and pile them on top! I brought the cake to my boss in the morning, and by 10:30 am everyone gathered around to eat it, we couldn't resist but who can blame us! Without the strawberries, it would have been chocolate overload, but the addition of fresh berries made it just right.
Happy Birthday B!
^^ Husband bought me pretty flowers this week! That I stared at for a good while on Friday evening, scared that they'd be wilted when we returned from camp Sunday evening. (Have no fear, they are still lovely as ever) ^^
^^ Consider this a 'sneak peak' of posts to come in September. I did some baking early Friday evening while waiting for hubby to get home from work (I whipped up 2 batches of granola and a double batch of these granola bars in an hour- that's gotta' be a record ;) ) and can't wait to share the recipes in a new series about surviving back-to-school craziness, or whatever your busy season might be. ^^
^^ We drove out to camp Friday evening and spent the night playing games with the other leaders and hanging out around the campfire. Then Saturday morning husband and I diligently laced up and went for a 1.5 hour run over the hilly gravel roads around camp. It reminded me of our early morning runs together in New Zealand over rolling hills and sheep fields. ^^
^^ God blessed us with sunny skies Saturday afternoon so when the bus arrived full of eager teenagers we just couldn't wait to get down to the river! ^^
^^ The camp kids caught and held lots of cute frogs, but my favorite was holding my cute niece and nephew! Seriously, that bathing suit couldn't be cuter. ^^
^^ Oh, that starry sky. The first photo of the moon was taken during an evening game (the amazing race!), the second right before chapel and the third was before bed. ^^
^^ Lifting up our voices in worship at the start of chapel. ^^
^^ I swear I can still smell the campfire in my hair, hopefully my co-workers won't get a whiff! :) ^^
^^ Green, green grass and fields of wildflowers! Praise God! ^^
^^ And those piggie-tales. Oh, they kill me. ^^
^^ We headed back home while all this fun was still going on, boo! We're praying for the leaders that will be pouring out their hearts into the kids all week. I am especially praying that they have an abundance of energy, I know I crashed into bed last night! ^^
I grew up spending weeks at camp every summer and LOVED it. There are a few things I've noticed about camp:
I haven't been doing many photoshoots lately so it was an extra special treat to be asked to capture some anniversary photos for my dearest friends. Plus, they're obviously beautiful people so it was a snap! Pun intended ;) The setting was divine and it was hard to narrow down the photos but these are my very most favorites..
I think anniversary photos should totally be a thing. Husband and I got some done last year before going out for anniversary dinner, and we plan to do the same this year as well (it's 1 month and 1 day away, people! Coming up to our SECOND anniversary makes me feel so old) and come to think of it I don't think I never shared those photos on here. Which is crying shame because my best friend took them and they are lovely. Anyways.. one day it will be so special to look back on yearly anniversary photos and see how much we've changed, and I am happy to help T&K do the same!