With just a few supplies from the home improvement store you can make your own DIY Seed Grow Light Stand- saving you hundreds of dollars!
This year we wanted to upgrade to a larger space for our seedlings to grow. In the past, we had a large shelf with grow lights, but with the garden getting bigger this year, that means we need more space to grow seedlings. We began to look at premade grow carts from all the garden suppliers and were shocked by how much their grow carts cost. They were anywhere from $700-$1300.. and sometimes more! Not being ok with spending that much money on a growing system that we knew we could make for a lot less, we set off to our local home improvement store to make our own!
You’ll need 3 main supplies to make your own Seedling Grow Light Stand.
Delicious Vegetarian Chili made in 45 minutes that even meat eaters will love!
Last (last) weekend we had some pretty amazing canned chili for lunch on the land. The chili was filling, tasty with great spices and had that very important texture that ground meat gives in dishes. The thing is though, this was vegetarian chili. After I exclaimed for the 20th time how great this chili was (everyone agreed – vegetarians and meat eaters) I then made it my goal to make similar style homemade chili. This 45 Minute Vegetarian Chili recipe was born!
(By the way – Caroline’s is the best canned Vegetarian chili ever. If you need some cans to take camping or to stock up your pantry, definietely try it!)
The chili is made up vegetables: tomatoes, bell pepper, corn, carrot, jalapeno and diced green chilies. Now comes the beans: black and kidney beans. There’s plenty of spices: garlic, bay leaf, cumin, oregano, chili powder salt and pepper. We’re going to give it that texture that ground meat gives it with meatless crumbles. If you’re a meat eater and you’re thinking “yuck” you better check yourself because these are good (I promise!). It has the same texture consistency of meat while being tasty. I recommend using Neat or Morningstar brands for crumbles. Matthew (husband) is a meat and potatoes guy. His dream meal is a pot roast with mashed potatoes and he even says how good this recipe is, so you can trust me (and him).
Delivery of our first shipping container to build our tiny house in Upstate New York! This post shows pricing and delivery info.
We’ve been so busy Upstate over the last few months! This weekend we put down the wood for the garden boxes, but before I get there, I have to backup a few months because I have a few posts to catch up on. If you aren’t following long, Matthew and I bought land in Upstate NY where we’re building a weekend getaway.
First up – the first shipping container arrived!
You might have read in the original post but Matthew and I have dreams of building a shipping container vacation home one day. A shipping container home is literally a home made out of recycled shipping containers. Shipping containers travel around the world by ocean delivering all sorts of things. You can buy them used, or one use, and they come wind and water tight so they are pretty strong and long lasting. Shipping containers are a great option in building something environmentally sustainable as you’ll be reusing. A bonus is that they look pretty cool. If you’ve never seen a shipping container home or are confused by what I’m talking about, click here to check out photos. Beautiful, aren’t they?
What’s the ultimate goal? We’re not sure. Will the future home be made out of shipping containers or will it just have that aesthetic? We’re not sure, but we wanted to start the wheels turning in the shipping container direction. Since we just have land, and we’re building the garden, we needed safe storage for tools, wood and other supplies. It made sense to us to start thinking about getting a shipping container as it could be #1 container for our future Upstate home, while acting as a sturdy storage container in the meantime. If we decide we don’t want to do a shipping container home, it will probably end up as extra cool guest house one day. So either way, we’ll be giving this container a new life to live.
We stated talking about shipping containers a while ago and I’ve been pricing them for about a year. Your best bet is buying them off a shipping container company who has direct ties to the ports, since they’ll literally be coming off the ocean, on to a flatbed truck and then delivered to wherever you are. I priced around with a few different companies and was surprised to see prices were all so different. I’m glad I did my price check because we ended up saving thousands of dollars. Also, I learned that prices of shipping containers literally change from week to week depending on how many they have at the ports. With that said, availability also changes depending on what size you want. Shipping containers come in all sizes, with the most popular models being 20 or 40 feet long (they’re 8 feet wide). We wanted a 40 foot container, but we also wanted a high ceiling container, so we were looking for a 40 foot high cube container which is 9.6 feet tall. Tall containers aren’t as easy to find, but they also aren’t hard. Most likely a popular port will have some high containers, or they’ll be easy enough to track down. We also went the route of getting a used container instead of getting a brand new one to save even a few more thousand dollars. We were worried we were going to regret getting a used one, but in the end it all worked out and I wouldn’t have done it differently. The container looks more worn than a brand new one, but once it’s fixed up inside and outside, I’m not sure if justifies the extra money if you’re on a budget. We bought our container off modalART which was a good choice. If you’re looking for a container, I’d recommend them. We’ll definitely use them again if we buy a few more (ultimate goal is to have a 2-3 story container house). They were easy to work with, as well as recommending us trusted trailer delivery services. Shipping containers are huge and they’re made out of steel, so you’re going to need a trailer to deliver them. Keep this in mind when budgeting as this is a significant cost. It cost $1100 to deliver the container from the port in Newark NJ to Upstate NY. If you’re going to buying a few containers, then it’s that price x container as you need a truck per container.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CeraVeSkincare #CollectiveBias
It’s not often that you love a entire line of products, but that’s how I feel about CeraVe. Usually with beauty products I’ll fall in love with one product from a brand, and then move on to another brand for the rest of my needs, but CeraVe in one sweep wins for my favorite cleanser, moisturizer, night time cream and SPF.
Birthday Cake, Fruity Cereal, Cookie Dough, Molten Chocolate, S’mores and more – these are my favorite macarons!
When I first tasted Dana’s Bakery Macarons it was love at first… well, taste. My first one was Fruity Cereal and it tasted and smelled just like Fruity Pebbles, but in tasty macaron form. Because taste testing is very important I had to try a second, it was Cookie Dough. I remember muttering “Oh My God” a few times afterwards because it was perfect. From there, I was hooked.
Look at how gorgeous the Birthday Cake macaron is with that beautiful dust of glitter. It’s like a Birthday party in space!
This Mexican Arugula Corn Salad recipe is sponsored by Earthbound Farm. Recipe and opinions on taste are my own!
I’m about to say something I never thought would be typed. Are you ready?
I love this salad.
There’s something about this Mexican flavored Arugula Corn Salad that leaves me seeing hearts in my eyes. The olive oil/lime juice dressing that coats the arugula greens, tomatoes and corn leaves me craving this salad for lunch and dinner. I love Mexican flavored dishes, so the lime, cumin and (small) dash of red pepper flakes gives this such a burst of flavor making this a exciting salad!
With the weather turning to Spring and Summer (it was 70 degrees this weekend!) I’m taking a step back from hot soups for lunch and instead am craving something fresh and crunchy. What’s growing in the garden dictates our meals, so I’m looking forward to picking our fresh vegetables, dicing them up and having a big bowl of salad for lunch. And what’s even better is there no time waiting for lunch or dinner to be heated, this Mexican Arugula Corn Salad is made within minutes.
Here’s a video that shows just how easy it is to make this salad!
Sometimes you don’t want to make a dozen of cookies. This delicious Single Serving Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie will save the day (and your waistline!).
These cookies include two of my favorite ingredients: peanut butter and chocolate. It will take you less than two minutes to gather all the ingredients and then you’ll throw it into your oven for 10 minutes. This recipe is perfect for a toaster oven, as there’s no reason to heat up your big oven for just one cookie. Wait until the cookie turns golden brown, then take it out of the oven and let it cool for a few minutes.
This is a sponsored post written by me on behalf of Meow Mix®. All opinions are 100% mine./em>
*This interview is true. Nothing has been fabricated. FiFi Bofinkles really told me these statements And yes, I use a kitchen tool as a microphone. We are very professional here at BFG.*
Hey FiFi Bofinkles. You are looking good today. Can I get your thoughts on some new food?
“Thanks Mom. Did you mention food”?
Oh I did. I wanted to get FiFi Bofinkles opinion on Meow Mix® Heart Healthy + Oral Care food because she’s kind of a food expert. She’s spent her last 15 years eating lots of food, and then asking for more food. She’s spent those years bullying cats to be the first one at the bowls (and the last). There’s not a can of food or a treat that FiFi Bofinkles doesn’t like. Ok, she doesn’t like lemons. She wanted me to tell you that.
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #CerealAnytime #CollectiveBias
You’ll never buy store bought granola bars again once you make these Rainbow Crunch Chocolate Chip Granola Cereal Bars! They’re easy to make and you only need a few basic ingredients. They’re perfect for afternoon snacks for kids or adults!
We live in a granola bar loving household. If you open up the cabinet you’ll see boxes of them, all bought in bulk, because it’s a bad day if you run out of granola bars. One thing I don’t like though is the prices of granola bars. For a pack of 8, it’s usually $5, and those granola bars are tiny. Loving to make my own food if at all possible, and love to save money, I decided to start making my own granola bars. It’s easy, and I bet you have all the ingredients already in your pantry! Plus you can easily customize them to include ingredients that you like. You get to pick the cereal, if you want chocolate chips or not (of course), throw in the option of dried berries or nuts or whatever else you want.
These Rainbow Crunch Chocolate Chip Granola Bars are delicious. So delicious that after I made a batch earlier this week I’m already being asked to make another. We eat these bars for quick breakfast on the go, but also afternoon snacks. They’re a good snack that fills you up between lunch and dinner. For my bars I used Berry Colossal Crunch cereal to add crunch, but also to add color. The bright colored pieces of cereal give these granola bars a rainbow effect which is perfect for kids, but is also great for adults who have a inner kid in them and always picks the rainbow cereal at the kitchen table.
This is a sponsored recipe post written by me on behalf of Minute® Rice. This Corn and Tomato Rice Salad is perfect for dinner, picnics and potlucks. With it’s Mexican inspired flavor it’ll be a hit with everyone! And even better, it’s ready in 15 minutes!
I’m in love with this rice salad. I took a version of this recipe to a potluck last week and I’m proud to say it was the first dish that was empty. This is a great fresh ingredient recipe that lightens up dinner. You can serve it as a side dish or a main dish, preferably served alongside some fresh bread. What I especially love about it is that due to the lime juice, crushed red pepper flakes and cilantro it has a Mexican flavor added to it. Anyone else love Mexican flavored everything? This salad is so good you could even fill up a burrito with it and call it dinner.
And because I love fresh recipes that are quick to make, this salad is ready to serve in 15 minutes.
The main ingredient is Minute® Whole Grain Brown Rice so you’ll have great-tasting fluffy rice in just 10 minutes. Brown Rice is a nutritious option as it has similar nutritional values to regular long cooking brown rice, but it’s done in 1/4 the time. I love brown rice because of it’s versatility – you can use in cheesy casseroles or light lunch options. One tip to get the tastiest brown rice is instead of boiling in water, try vegetable broth.
The Spring 2016 seeds are planted! Broccoli, Cauliflower, Brussels Sprouts, Collards, Bok Choy, Cabbage, Kale and Onions seeds are all popping through the soil! Come and cheer them on!
We’ve been busy on the weekends getting the Upstate garden ready. This weekend we put lots of hard work in, and next weekend will be even more harder. The good thing is a day of Upstate work equals a week’s worth of workouts (research done by me). I’m going to have such strong muscles one day.
While we’re busy doing manual labor, there’s labor going on here, but the plant kind. The seeds were planted, and they burst through the soil at record speeds. We built a new grow light cart his year (DIY coming soon!) and it’s been majorly effective. In the past we’ve had to wait about a week for our broccoli and bok choy seeds to come up, but this year within 2 days they already broke through the soil and were waving hello. As usual, we planted double seeds in each pot, and as usual every seed came up. It’s always the difficult choice of killing a seedling, or doubling your garden. We have garden parent guilt syndrome (aka GPGS) so we usually can’t kill the extra seedlings. Matthew is like “You cut them” and I’m like “No way! You do it!” and then noone does it. Just today we were planning on getting rid (that sounds awful) of the double plants, but we decided to “hold off”. That means we’ll never do it.
We always grow our vegetables from seeds. Not only is it worth it to watch them grow from seed to vegetable bearing plant, but it’s much more economical. A pack of seeds averages on $2-$5 and that can sometimes get you up to a few hundred plants! A baby plant at a nursery usually costs a few bucks (if not more with heirloom) and you don’t even know if it’s going to survive, so you can see how much money you save. Since we started growing the rooftop garden we’ve learned that it’s important to have good quality seeds, ones with high germination rate and successful growing. Johnny’s Seeds are our go to seed company. We’ve been buying off them for years and have never been disappointed. We have a list we usually stick with every year from growing experience, but occasionally we try something new (lots of new pumpkin varieties this Fall!).
When you get a email invite to a private event that Michelle Obama and the White House are hosting for Let’s Move, you accept it. Well your heart skips a beat, you accept it and then you try to figure out what shoes you’re going to wear. It goes in order like that. That’s what happened last week.
Last week, I made the trip to Washington DC to attend a event to have a conversation on the health of our nation’s children. Let’s Move (started by Michelle Obama in 2010) is a group initiative to encourage healthier food in schools, better food labeling and more physical activity for children. Gardening goes hand in hand with this initiative as it’s important to grow your own. Growing your own vegetables promotes healthy eating, but it also informs you where your food comes from and the process of plant life. If more families were to start their own gardens, they would eat fresh vegetables more often, along with creating family activities to build/maintain and to learn about gardening. I’d say I was one of the few non parents at the event, but I don’t think you need to be a parent to understand why eating healthy matters and to encourage it. Since we started the garden on the roof years ago my own eating habits have greatly improved. I love vegetables now. Sometimes for dinner I just have vegetables, years ago that would have never happened. With the experience of growing the garden I learned so much about nature and the planting process. If you haven’t planted a little itty bitty seed and watched it grow into a full on broccoli plant, you haven’t lived. Even at 32 years old, I’m still excited and amazed when I see a few ounces worth of seeds can turn into hundreds of pounds of vegetables. Before having the garden I didn’t even know where so many vegetables came from. I know it was a plant, but I didn’t know what the plant looked like, how long it took to grew, growing conditions and more. Growing your own makes you respect vegetables a whole lot more. Can I get some respect for vegetables? Amen. And lastly, because of these vegetables I learned how to cook. I almost think it should be a required class in schools now to learn how to cook. If we all cooked at home, think of the impact it would have on obesity, overall health and factory farming. If you follow this blog then you probably already know the joy and satisfaction one gets when presenting a meal to their family that is home cooked. I wish everyone could experience this!
Do you love tea parties? Me too. They just feel special. You’re with your friends, you get to eat yummy pastries and vegetable dishes, you use floral China plates and cups and if you’re feeling bold you wear a fancy hat. It just feels magical.
In this post I’m going to show you how to throw a tea brunch party! We’ll cover food, decorations, tableware, music and more to make it the perfect party!
Tableware: When your friends arrive you want to wow them! Tableware is one of the keys to making a beautiful display. You’ll need plates, cups, kettles, napkins, spoon and serving plates for larger dishes. You’ll also need a dessert rack which when placed in the center of the table makes everyone smile! For my tea party, I went the traditional route of floral mix matched patterns. And even though it might look like a expensive setup, it’s not! Can you believe my plates that look like fancy China are actually paper plates? Amazing, I know!
I hope my cats don’t read this and think I’m disrespecting them. Cause I’m not. It’s just a question I often wonder…. How can my beautiful angelic little furry cats be so stinky sometimes?
If you have cats you probably know the situation. Everything will be perfect at home. It’s a great day. You’re on your computer winding down, a cup of tea in one hand, when suddenly the smell hits. You glance around the room. Then you hear it. Scratches in the little box. Scuffle of paws on the ground. Then you see a cat burst out of the litter box, throwing litter everywhere. They run away, leaving you in the now stinky area of the house. Suddenly all the cats are now teamed up, glancing at you, making it feel like you caused the smell.
Meatless Cheesy Taco Casserole – yum! By substituting black beans and corn for ground meat, we can make a delicious Meatless Cheesy Taco Casserole that will become a family favorite!
Hi everyone – I hope you’re having a great week! I’m typing this post from the glamorous back row of a Boltbus that’s traveling back to NYC from Washington DC (more about that next week! I went to the White House! OMGZ.) I’m sorry it’s been a little quiet around here but with building the garden on the land, R+R work, writing/shooting, and some travel (for work) this week has been tough. I also have to go to the accountant for my taxes tomorrow so this week is super rough. 😉 I ate 2 donuts today. I feel so guilty.
This Meatless Cheesy Taco Casserole is one of our favorite dinner recipes. It’s one of those dishes that you don’t get sick of having multiple times a week (we love it that much). Since going vegetarian, I’ve had to figure out how to change my recipes and that’s what I did for this casserole. Instead of ground beef, I’m adding in black beans and frozen corn. Mix that with some elbow macaroni, fresh tomatoes, green peppers, tomato soup, taco seasoning mix and taco cheese and you have the perfect weeknight meal! I don’t want to call this recipe healthy, because it does have the word “cheesy” in the title, but the recipe only calls for 3/4 cups of cheese and if you want you can even add less. My husband who still eats meat (but hardly does because I’m the chef of the house) loves this meal and doesn’t miss the ground beef at all! You know it’s a winner when he requests Meatless Cheesy Taco Casserole every week!
So without further ado…here’s our favorite taco casserole!
I love brownies. I love frosting. I love sprinkles. These Vanilla Brownies with Vanilla Glaze Frosting are perfect because they check off each of those categories!
I should warn you now, these brownies are dangerously good. I can’t tell you how many brownie bites I ate because you would have this image of me being a brownie monster in your head and none of you think that. Right? Oh goodness, I’m glad I’m right (thanks for making me feel better). I love a brownie that is ooey gooey, with some frosting on top. And this frosting is gorgeous. It’s my new go to frosting for… well, everything. It sets perfect and has a shine to it. I’ve always had a problem making a frosting that was thick enough to set without dripping off the sides of brownies, cakes and donuts. But this one is a keeper. Expect to see it often in the next few months in different forms because I have a bunch of donut recipes in my head that need this frosting!
This shop has been compensated by Collective Bias, Inc. and its advertiser. All opinions are mine alone. #YesYouCan #CollectiveBias
You’ll never throw away leftover spaghetti again once you make this Leftover Spaghetti Skillet with Tomatoes and Green Peppers! It’s so easy to bring your spaghetti back to life!
Spaghetti is a tricky. I don’t mean the process of making it, that’s usually easy. The tricky part is figuring out how much spaghetti you have to make. Have you ever asked your loved ones “How hungry are you?” in hopes they will tell you precisely how hungry they are so you make the exact amount of food. Usually the answer is “Sorta hungry” or “Very hungry” which both aren’t that helpful. So into the boiling pot goes the entire box of spaghetti. 9 out of 10 times, there will be spaghetti left, which then goes into a glass storage container into the refrigerator until someone decides they want to eat leftover spaghetti. Many times, I’m afraid to admit, noone wants to eat that leftover spaghetti and it goes bad. I hate wasting food. It’s the worst. So I set out on how to bring leftover spaghetti back to life, so it wouldn’t go to waste anymore!
Hack to bring leftover spaghetti back to life:
Put 2 cups of water in a large skillet. Bring to a boil. Add leftover spaghetti and cook 30 seconds. Drain water. Serve!
Now you’re all done and ready to make this delicious Leftover Spaghetti Skillet with Tomatoes and Green Peppers!
This dish is quick and easy (it takes 5 minutes to make). It’s full of Hunt’s diced tomatoes and fresh green peppers which makes it great for a vegetable filled Winter or Summer meal. Sometimes in the Winter we can get dragged down by heavy casseroles or soups, but this dish is the opposite of that. Along with the vegetables, this spaghetti is coated in olive oil and Parmesan cheese which makes you feel like you’re eating a Summer time meal!
Remember I posted about the garden shivers on Monday? That feeling you get when you’re so excited about the upcoming garden season, you shake from happiness? Yeah. I got the garden shivers bad. I’m so excited.. I just can’t hide it.. I’m about to lose my mind and plant way too much corn!
The garden season is always exciting, but this year it has a new excitement to it as it has so many unknowns. As many of you know, Matthew and I will be starting a larger garden Upstate this year, on our new land project. To go from growing on our rooftop in Brooklyn to growing in the real ground Upstate, there’s going to be changes and surprises. To begin with, our garden season is going to get shorter. Usually we’d start planting our seeds indoors in January but we won’t be planting them until next week as the last day of frost is May 31st in our new zone of 5A. (by the way, I found this really helpful site that lists growing seasons by zone). From there, the garden season lasts “safely” until the last freeze free date which is October 1st. We’ll try extending it as long as we can! The big change here is size. Our garden just got a whole lot bigger with the land. That means we can grow more vegetables and try new things. It also means figuring out what can grow best in this zone, along with our rocky clay soil (I’m getting a soil test done right now – will post about results!). I’m also ready for heart break. There’s going to be heart break. Animals. Weather. Diseases. A gardener has to be prepared for a few garden tears. But a gardener also has to dream big in my opinion. That makes it so much more fun and exciting.
Knowing that we have to get our seeds planted soon, and being affected by the garden shivers at a very high rate, we sat down this week to plan the garden. This is not 100% firm as things change once you are in the garden space, but it’s pretty close to what we’ll do.
Yes, it’s the last day of February and I’m giving you a watermelon recipe because I like to go against the blog rules of only putting recipes on your site that are “in season”. To be honest, watermelon can always be in season if you freeze your Summer watermelons. If you ever have a watermelon that you think you can’t eat completely, don’t let it go to waste! Just chop it up, or turn it into watermelon juice, throw in the freezer and you’ll have it for months to enjoy! That way it can be Winter and you can enjoy this Hot Watermelon Soup!
(This is watermelon juice that I freeze. I just throw chunks of watermelon in the blender and then measure 2 cups into a freezer bag).
This Watermelon Soup makes me happy because I just want to grab my sunhat and a shovel and run to the garden. I have been getting the garden shivers lately. You know the garden shivers, right? It’s when you’re so excited for the garden season that every time you think about what you’re going to grow you just start to shake with excitement. I’m not a doctor but I will confirm that garden shivers are not dangerous at all, instead they cause happiness. When I eat this Watermelon Soup, either in the Summer or the Winter, it makes me think of the garden and all the great memories that come along with it (not to mention the power of saying “I grew this!”). So I like to consider it a happy soup!
Let’s just get to the point. This is the best cat bed/cat cave ever. Seriously. I don’t usually proclaim things “the best” but we’ve never had a cat bed that’s performed this well with all of our cats. Every single one immediately went to sleep in this bed, as well as lounged and wrestled for it. We only have one bed, and I think I need 3 now because there’s a waiting line outside of it. I feel like one cat will stay in there for as long as they can until they either have to eat, or another cat tries to be brave and fight them for it.