When we moved to NYC years ago it was a pretty stressful process. At the time we were living in Pittsburgh and knew that we weren’t going to renew our lease. That meant we had to get a apartment in NYC while living in Pittsburgh so we could move out of Pittsburgh and into our new home right away. We tried doing this while living in Pittsburgh online and it was pretty tough as whenever we wanted something… it was gone already. That happens often here in NYC.
So right before we had to move from Pittsburgh we took a few days trip to Brooklyn and sublet someone else’s apartment. During the next few days we made multiple appointments to look at apartments, 3 to be exact. The last one was a hit and it’s where we currently live. It’s true, we’ve never lived anyone else in NYC but here, as this place is so perfect for us. We got really lucky finding such a perfect home that allowed us to live, work and grow our kitty family. Right after we signed the lease here in Brooklyn, then we drove back to Pittsburgh, packed up our Uhaul (Essy meowing in the front seat) and made the drive to our new city.
What would have made it much more easier and stress free is if we could have rented out a apartment for a few months while we looked for a new home (although I still want to end up here we did!). That would mean no rushing to find that perfect place, while starting to settle down with all the new obstacles that the city brings.
Ditch The Space is a new website that can help you with that. Want to move to NYC immediately but don’t want to rush to find the perfect home? Or maybe you just want to live in NYC for a few months? This is the perfect service for you. Ditch the Space allows you to connect to people who want to sublet out their home (and office space) for short term rentals. With the rental you often get incentives as well such as furniture included, electronics, discounts, free gym memberships and more to make it easier with the change.
I visited the website and gave a search for what I wanted. I was quickly able to find a place that offered 1200 square feet with a big back yard, perfect for growing some veggies in my visit!
How does it work? You search DitchTheSpace.com to find the perfect home for you based on price, location, size, features and time left on the space. Then you’ll contact users who are ditching their space, view it and move in. This is helpful for brokers and real estate agents as well. They offer a Premium Service for brokers and property managers.
Maybe you’re on the opposite side of this where you have a apartment in NYC but want to ditch it. Maybe you got married, maybe you’re moving out of NYC, maybe you’re just sick of your current home, but unfortunately you are probably tied down to your lease. Ditch the Space charges a small fee (as low as $4.99) to list a space. What you do is sign up on the website, and upload photos and videos to show people looking for a space. People will contact you, then you arrange a time to show them the space or provide more details if they request it. If it works out then you can negotiate the terms and fill your space with a tenant while you move out. Their Ditch Is Your Gain.
Hi, my name is Goblin, I am really sweet and soft and I’d like to be your friend.
Many of you know that we had a 4 cat family for a very long time, there was Essy Francis, Xanadu Pluto, FiFi Bofinkles and Brother Bear. During the last few months we increasingly discussed getting a 5th cat because we knew Essy was getting older. Taking care of a senior cat though is very hard work so we decided to hold off and just see where the future would lead us. When Essy died in January, we were pretty distraught and heart broken. I have to be honest with you and say every few days I will turn my head and think I see her walking towards me or laying on the table. I will walk in the door, see a shadow on our table and immediately think it’s her, but then it will hit me that she’s gone. A few days ago I defrosted some turkey in the freezer and immediately I thought “Where is Essy?”. Essy is very special to us, and holds a giant space in our hearts that won’t ever be replaced, and we’re always going to recall Essy memories with fondness.
A few weeks ago, we were pondering the idea of adding a 4th cat into the family. Some time went by with Essy and we know the cats were sad about it too, so we wanted to bring some energy back into our home to start the next generation of the Meowza Family. The ages of our cats are 13 (FiFi Bofinkles), 7 (Xanadu) and 4 (Brother). We wanted a kitten, someone that could get the gang back on their toes. Xanadu is a Siamese cat who is extremely (!) active, intelligent and constantly wants to play. FiFi Bofinkles and Xanadu are both girls and just straight out, they don’t like each other, at all. They both fight for my attention and sometimes it becomes a hair pulling type of fight. Brother Bear, who is a sweet and gentle giant will occasionally play with Xanadu but for the most part he’s pretty relaxed and calm. For this reason we decided we were going to get a boy, a brother for Brother you might say. Girls are all drama, you know? 😉
We also really wanted a Maine Coon or a Persian. We both have a love for the extra furry, and I won’t bore you with a long story but the 3rd cat was supposed to be a Persian, but then Bofinkles and Brother won our hearts, so we never got one. Brother is a Maine Coon and we love his attitude and soft personality. He’s a real big guy, made of muscle (honestly, feel his stomach, it’s insane, he works out) who could easily be the boss of the family but instead is a real sweet heart who’s scared of thunder and has a soft spot for sleeping in my underwear drawer. So we set out looking online to adopt a furry critter, we scoured Craigslist and Shelters. Then we came across this beautiful Gray Persian boy kitten. We contacted the owners and they said we could stop by the next day to see him, so I asked for their address. They never responded. I was heart broken, this wasn’t happening. Then I contacted them again the following day and they told me the kitten was already adopted, I was really heart broken. Then the next day I saw the listing was still up online so because I’m crazy I contacted them again and she said she thought I was talking about another kitten and he was available, and if we wanted him, we could come that same day to get him. Matthew and I hugged, we shouted, we threw Xanadu in the air (she loved it) and then thought “What did we just do?”.
So we made our way to Queens to meet this little gray guy. I had the kitty carrier all ready to go!
As soon we we met him, it was a done deal. This gray guy was ours. On the way home I sat with him in the back seat and talked to him like a baby while he thought to himself “Who is this crazy woman?”.
When we got home we took him into the bathroom to slowly introduce him to the other cats and his new home. When he came out of the carrier he was slightly timid, and afraid of anyone over the height of 5 feet.
But with some cheek rubs he quickly started to warm up with us. This was just a few minutes after and he’s already purring in my arms.
The cats all knew something was up. I opened the bathroom door and Brother Bear was already on duty wondering what was happening on the other side of the door.
Almost immediately this new kitten and Brother got along. As soon as they met, this new baby kitten walked up to Brother and tried to kiss him. For the next few days the new kitten would be Brother Bear’s shadow. I’m pretty certain he either thought Brother was his father or wanted to just be his best friend because wherever Brother Bear was the kitten was nearby watching. And if Brother got up, the new guy would be right alongside of him still begging for kisses.
A few days in we wanted to start him off to become comfortable with us caring for him. We learned with Xanadu that if you teach them things from when they are a baby, they will be more acceptable of it. We got Xanadu when she was 3 months old and are now able to cut her nails with one hand while she yawns of boredom. We wanted the same type of attitude for this kitten. With being a persian, he needs quite a bit of grooming and upkeep and unfortunately at his prior home he didn’t get it. He was a bit stinnky and had quite a bunch of mats. So we decided to do something we never did before, give a cat a real bath. I’m talking in the sink, water, shampoo, a sprayer and lots of squeals (mostly from me). When we first put in into the sink he was not pleased by this and for the first few minutes we were pretty sure this was not going to work out. Water was splashing everywhere, I already had to take off my slippers and Matthew’s sweatshirt was wet. But after we kept slowly introducing him to the water, we were able to get him settled to handle his first bath. I would not say he enjoyed it (haha) but he accepted it had to be done. So we got him wet, shampooed him, rinsed him, cleaned his ears, cleaned his eyes and squeezed all the water out of his massive tail when we were done. Also, I should note we clipped his nails prior to his first bath, something I’d recommend to prevent bleeding to death. By the way, nail clipping is not easy on a super furry kitty. I spend 12 minutes trying to find the nails and 2 seconds clipping.
After the bath, we had to get him dry and brush out those mats, so we sat him down on a few towels and used a hair dryer on a low setting to dry him. I was pretty shocked and amazed he was this trusting just a few days in. Also, he’s not scared of any loud sounds, so a blow dryer doesn’t do anything to him. He’s pretty much not scared of anything, which is a great and horrible thing at the same time. 😉
At this time he didn’t have a name. We were calling him Little Guy, Gray Guy and Little Brother. Then one day we called him “Goblin” and it was just a match with his personality. A few weeks later we both agree it’s a perfect fit. His official nickname is Sweety Man, also called Sweety or Mister Sweets. He’s a real sweetheart, so he’s often called this too. Does your cat have multiple names too?
Here’s some things we learned about Goblin over the next few weeks.
He’s got one heck of a furry belly.
And his tail is even more fluffier and is larger than his actual body. His tail is also a dust collector.
Which means he has to be brushed daily. During this time he lays there and doesn’t move, hoping it will be over as soon as possible.
I can’t get any work done when Goblin is nearby. I tell him he’s gorgeous a million times a day and kiss him all much to his response of “Mom..”.
He’s extremely mischievous, don’t let his sweety man look fool you. He’s 5 months old so he’s interested in everything.
Mischievous like pulling giant stuffed toys under a table and then pretend it wasn’t him. Note: I saw him on the chair a few minutes later trying to push the stuffed Rhino’s head under the chair. He reminds us alot of Xanadu in figuring things out quickly.
Speaking of Xanadu, she was very unsure of him the first few days. Whenever any new cat has been introduced to the family Xanadu doesn’t like them for at least 3 days straight and will ignore them at all costs, including not leaving her spot unless you pick her up. During the first few days she would find him on things that were “hers” which displeased her. Goblin pretty much fell in love with thinking Xanadu could be his playmate as he would watch her do laps and do wild 360 spin jumps. Then he would attempt to do these things and fail miserably. Weeks later, Xanadu has found her match. Goblin will chase her all over, and he’s starting to pick up speed. When he is able to jump as high as her, then she is in very big trouble. We like to say that Goblin was sent here by Essy to tease and torment Xanadu. When we adopted Xanadu she was 3 months old and bugged Essy all the time. It’s nice to see Xanadu getting a touch of this with a new kitten, but now she’s on the opposite side. At night they play nonstop and repeat the same things over and over and over and over and…
And Brother? Well Goblin is still in love with him. Goblin desperately wants Brother to clean him, or at least let him nestle on his belly. Here’s the problem. Goblin is 4 pounds. Brother is 14 pounds. Goblin doesn’t understand the weight difference and doesn’t fear anything. That means he will walk up to Brother, stick his head under Brother Bear’s chin for Brother Bear to love him. Brother Bear will then put his mouth around Goblin’s neck. They are in the stage of wrestling now, where Goblin will attempt to push Brother around and Brother Bear just pulls him down with one little tap. Then they will repeat this because Goblin still thinks he can win. Eventually Brother Bear becomes fed up and will retreat to a blanket to sleep while Goblin begs to be taken down one more time. This weekend we saw them wrestle multiple times in a row all while holding our breath. Goblin is definitely trying to stand his ground and show that he’s strong too (lol) but during the stare down Brother Bear made one move and Goblin flinched. Brother Bear 1, Goblin 0. It’ll be interesting to see what happens when Goblin gets bigger.
Where there’s a Brother, there’s a Goblin. Brother caved the box in immediately and Goblin was so happy to be in the box when it happened.
Goblin begging Brother to wrestle him.
Most of the time Goblin will just show up where Brother is sleeping and try to hang out with him.
I like to think of this as their band cover image if they ever started a band.
And Bofinkles doesn’t really care about him to be honest. She will hiss if he comes close, but she will do that to Xanadu too. The only things that matter to Bofinkles are food, kisses, food, food and me. Nothing else really interests her. I will say she puts up with him more than Xanadu but don’t expect best friend necklaces to be exchanged.
He loves to sleep during the afternoon. He will stay in the upside down position from about 11AM-5PM, then he will wake up with so much energy you’ll get tired from just watching him.
Eyes open, but not time to wake up yet.
Once he wakes up, he will look for someone to play with, preferably Xanadu. Goblin has a wild meow which can be described as a soft squeak that is very quick. I am hoping this meow stays forever as it’s adorable. Once he wakes up, he will start squeaking to find someone. Eventually he might find Xanadu which upsets and excites her all at once. Xanadu is the known boss Deputy of the family, but I think Goblin could be trained to be a Deputy Sheriff in time. Here they are playing the very exciting game of let’s look at each other over the bag and then one of us will run by, the other one will be stunned and run after and then we can repeat this until someone becomes bored or it’s time to eat.
Goblin is starting to learn how pretty he is. I find him looking in the mirror in the bathroom at least once a day. He likes so place his face against the mirror and just admire himself.
He really likes boxes, of course. He also really likes jumping on boxes but because he’s a Persian and a kitten, his jumping ability is slightly limited but that doesn’t stop him in thinking he can do it and then falling gracefully (or usually not gracefully).
If he sees one of our arms out, he will immediately place his head on it and fall asleep. Like I said, he’s a real sweet heart.
He loves being near us and will often push his way into our arms or legs demading you rub his face all over. He also is really into belly rubs. As soon as you touch him he will purr, very loudly. If he sees your hands coming towards him, he will begin to purr. He’s a real cuddle bug. He gets so excited when you wake up either during the night or in the morning. I woke up in the middle of the night last night, he ran into the bathroom after me (with his squeak), then he followed me back to bed, jumped on the bed and then I played with him in the dark for 15 minutes. Every single morning when I wake up, he will appear under the bathroom sink with a big “Good Morning, let’s play!”.
His tail will do what it wants too.
My photo table has basically become his new bed. That means he will squeeze between whatever props he wants, knocking most of them on the floor.
When I have to take pictures for recipes he will show up right away in front of the camera.
As soon as the lights are turned on, Goblin will be there ready for his picture. That means that pretty much all my recipe photos will have a furry tail in them from now on, sorry!
That’s Goblin! We’re so happy he’s now part of our Meowza family. We really couldn’t have asked for a better fit. He’s a real sweet heart who is playful and loving and is a great brother to Xanadu, Brother and Bofinkles. We really love him, welcome to the family Sweety Man!
Have you found yourself recently shouting at a man you didn’t know “KILL HIM” or “DIE!”? No? Oh. Well let’s change that.
A few weeks ago we found ourselves in a Medieval Castle wearing crowns enjoying jousting while eating meat with our bare hands. If this doesn’t sound like the most fun ever, then I think you should change your definition of fun.
Medieval Times is a 11th century dinner theater restaurant. Their motto is “Step back in time with epic battles, jousting tournaments, royal feasts, knights and romance.”. There’s 9 of them located across the United States and Canada, and we happen to have one nearby in New Jersey. Matthew and I have never been to a Medieval Times before so we were both pretty pumped. Actually I should say we were never inside of a Medieval Times Castle but once Matthew in his teenage years stopped at this same one (!) when he drove from Ohio to New York City and took a picture of the castle in the parking lot. So you can say we have been excited for over a decade. Originally I planned on taking us to this for our anniversary (what doesn’t say I love you more than a royal feast?), but unfortunately a snow storm happened and a knight from the castle called me to tell me the castle would be closed that night. Bummer. So once the snow storm was gone, we made our way there the following week.
You will spot the Medieval castle a few roads away. At that time, no matter what your age, you will shout “I SEE THE CASTLE”.
Speaking of age, there’s people who visit Medieval Times from all ages. There’s plenty of young kids there, yes, but there’s also plenty of adults and couples there on date night. In fact I know some adults who rented party buses to Medieval Times. These are the types of friends we all need. I would say there’s equal adults to kids ratio, but I might even lean to say there was more adults than kids there on that night. It doesn’t really matter, we all want to see knights joust.
When you arrive you receive your table row which is where you will sit. I upgraded us to a Royalty package so we sat in the first row. Honestly though, there is no bad seat in the castle. Also you’ll see it says “black and white section”. That means we will be rooting for the black and white knight! *CHEERS*.
Then of course we had to have our picture taken immediately as king and queen. There’s a option to spend a few bucks and dress up in costumes if you’d like to. I wonder if they would let us bring our own costumes next time because we have plenty of knight helmets and cloaks at home.
I just want to show you the adorable ladies room. All night long you will be referred to as “My Lady” if you are a lady or “My Lord” if you are a man. I would love to be referred to as “My Lady” for the rest of my life, please.
So once you’re in the castle, you’ll be seated by your waiter, either a Wench or a Serf. Ours was a young guy and he was just the nicest. Then you’ll be told your Bill of Fare. You will receive EVERYTHING off to the right. I have to say, I was kind of blown away by how good the food was. I was unsure of how it would be, but it was so delicious! I can see why people come here a few times, because if I could I would just order that Tomato Bisque soup over and over and over again. Also want to note that if you are a vegetarian, you’re ok. Your Serf will ask you, so just tell them and you’re good to go.. but it’s not as much fun.. more about that later.
This guy was the host through the night, of course he had fabulous long hair. The majority of everyone had amazing long beautiful hair in Medieval Times. He will introduce the King and Princess and walk us through the medieval tournament, featuring horse dressage, a variety of skill games, and jousting.
When the show begins each knight for each section will be introduced. You will cheer your knight like he is your brother and heckle all the others like they are a enemy. I have to say right up front, our knight didn’t have long hair. I should have known this was a bad omen from the beginning.
Here are all the knights lined up, receiving applause from the audience while being told about the tournament.
At this time your soup will arrive to start the feast. Here’s the best part, there are no utensils here; everyone eats with their bare hands! I have to just tell you how much fun this is for a night. Don’t think about it, just dive in. All the food is pretty finger friendly, and things like soup have a handle, but it’s really fun! If you are vegetarian I believe they give you lasagna for your main course instead of meat, but with that comes A FORK! The horror. I say be brave and make them take your fork away and eat it with your hands! Now about this Tomato Bisque soup, it was amazing. Nothing else to say, but I wanted 10x the amount. Matthew doesn’t like tomato soup and afterwards he asked me if I could make this tomato bisque soup.. so it’s that good.
I’m having lots of fun! They give you a crown to wear and a flag to wave. Often I found myself with roasted chicken in one hand, flag in another, yelling things like “KILL HIM!” or “MAKE HIM DIE!”. Just have fun, this is a adventure, yell things that you never would. Get out all your frustrations. You will find that everyone is yelling ridiculous things. I had a man a few rows behind me who kept yelling “YOU SUCK KNIGHT!”. It was beautiful. Be proud of your knight, root for him!
This is the face of fun.
Then your castle bread will come which is just Texas Toast really. It’s delicious because when isn’t garlic bread? Just gobble it up.
Here’s your roasted chicken and oh boy this was good! Just pick it up and start biting away.
It’s so moist and juicy, you will love every minute of it. (For those really scared, they do give you warm wet napkins after the show).
Then comes your BBQ Square Rib, delicious too. By the end of the show, you will only want to eat with your hands for the rest of your life.
And your herb roasted potato is next. The way they serve the food s is your serf/wench will just go row by row with a big container, throwing each person one item on their plate. They are pretty good on timing to know when the next food item should come out, everything is warm too.
While I was feasting, knights were going through different events in front of me. For a large section of the tournament they do roll down nets in front of the audience to both prevent dirt to be kicked up by the horses onto your food, and also to prevent a sword from cutting off your arm. The swords are real, you will see sparks fly off them. To be a knight, you actually need to train, first starting off as a squire and then working your way up. I read a article that discussed that if a knight becomes sick, they will find another in the country and fly them out for the show, so it’s a select group of trained knights.
Watching knights joust while eating my chicken to the bone? It doesn’t get more romantic than this on date night!
Then the jousting will turn serious! Helmets will be put on! Men will be dramatically thrown off horses!
It will turn dark and dangerous, where only one knight will win. I think by this time in the picture my knight was already defeated (possibly first, I blocked it out in my mind as I was so distraught) so I decided to root for the blue knight because look at how amazing him and the horse looks? Nearly all their 400 horses are raised at their 241 acre Medieval Times’ Chapel Creek Ranch in Sanger, Texas. Per their website: “Training begins early. As weanlings, Medieval Times horses are introduced to lead ropes and halters. Saddles come at age 2. Long reins and simple exercises such as lunging follow. At age 3, the horses move to their new homes — one of our nine North American Castles — where they learn advanced-level dressage from a master horse trainer. Then life as a pampered performer begins. After a few years in the spotlight, the Medieval Times horses move back to the Chapel Creek Ranch. In the serene setting, we make sure our horses live out their lives in royal treatment.” From what I read online from multiple articles it seems like the horses are taken care of with utmost priority, so just want to throw that in there as a animal lover.
GO BLUE KNIGHT/HORSE! The blue knight didn’t win. Unfortunately the red knight won which caused our section to boo and yell things that I wont’ repeat here.
I don’t want to spoil the plot, but this will happen too. You just have to go and find out why.
Before it ends you will be treated to dessert, a apple pastry, which like everything else, was delicious.
This was really fun and I recommend that if you are near one, or ever visit a city that has a Medieval Times, you should go too!
Have you ever been to a Medieval Times? Tell me about it!
There’s no beating around the bush, the title says it all.. we planted our tomato seeds! There’s lots of “firsts” of the season but this is always one that really pushes along the garden season to appear closer.
So on Saturday night, March 22, the tomato seeds were planted! High 5’s all around. Last year, they were planted on March 14 but we decided to push it back a week as we sometimes feel they grow too big inside before we can transplant outside, so this adds a few days of cushion.
What seeds were planted?
Tomatoes – Beef, Roma, Cherry
This is the first year growing Jalapeno peppers so hoping for good results so I can make this mac and cheese and cornbread all summer long.
I took a few pictures below that documents planting our seeds. We usually always do this late at night, around 11PM so there’s no pretty natural light, sorry.
First we start off with potting mix in our cups. We really love using the Self-Watering Seed Starting Kits that Burpee sells.
The we gather our seeds, here are all the tomatoes and peppers.
Then we plot out what seeds are going where in the tray. This is where you have to decide how many plants you’ll grow. For tomatoes, we’ll grow 4 roma tomato plants, 3 cherry tomato plants and 2 beef tomato plants.
And because we’re super professional, we use a Sharpie Marker to make the holes to put our seeds into.
Then the moment of excitement comes, the first seed goes in. It’s always amazing to think about how this little seeds grows into one big plant.
How this turns into a 7 foot tall plant full of delicious vegetables is magic.
After the seeds go in, then we cover them up.
Our tomato and pepper seeds will grow under lights until they move outside in a few weeks. We put the plastic on top to keep the moisture locked in. When the seedlings emerge, then we’ll remove the plastic sheet.
Do you grow your tomatoes from seed?
Tell me what you’re most excited about growing!
It’s Spring, right? I mean technically it is and we’ve had a few days where it feels like it. Ok, I mean today is a day where it doesn’t feel like it, but soon it will really be Spring. You believe me right? Ignore the snow in your yard if it’s there, let’s not think of that!
To get in the Spring mood, I wanted to share some of my favorite accessories for Spring.
Here are my 3 favorite accessory categories for the season:
Umbrellas – April showers bring May flowers, so let’s get ready for a rainy month.
Sunglasses – I’m obsessed with sunnies!
Bookbags- Let’s get out of the house and go on some trips!
First, let’s talk umbrellas!
You’ll see many umbrellas on the sidewalks when it’s raining but usually it’s a crown of dark colors. Why not stand out from the crowd and make your day brighter by making your umbrella a pastel color or fun design? I really love transparent ones too, great for not walking into people on the sidewalk! 😉
I found the items on Fab.com which if you don’t know about is awesome for shopping! I still swoon at the rainbow leather rug I got there last year, but that’s another story!
I have a cat umbrella that always cheers me up!
Wouldn’t this heart umbrella just steal your heart during a rainstorm?
Next up, sunglasses! I’m obsessed with them! I like them colorful, I like them big, I like them with designs, I love them all!
Want to know a quick story? I went to Disney World a few years ago (best place on Earth) and fell in love with sunglasses I bought there. They were cheap plastic but there was just something about them that sung to my heart. Imagine the tears when my sunglasses broke one day! So I set off on trying to find them online but came up empty! Then my friend Erin told me she was headed to Disney World and would find them for me again, and she did! I was one happy girl when I was able to wear my Mickey glasses again!
Aren’t the flowers on this pair beautiful? Pastel floral sunglasses? Yes, please!
And last but not least, the item I love most of all, a bookbag! I don’t use purses often, I’m more of a bookbag kind of girl. It has lots of benefits including more storage (I always carry my laptop and more in this), I can lug groceries inside of it on my back and I’m less likely to leave it places. It has become a permanent fixture with me when I leave the house. I use a soft white Baggu bag which has held up over the years, and I made minor adjustments by adding some neon to the string and adding my pom pom balls which people just love to talk about!
Here’s some bags for Spring, ranging from luxurious to something you’d take on a picnic hike. I really love the floral print one too, I think I need to add it my Spring wardrobe! The red bag in the bottom left is from Baggu. I have a bunch of Baggu grocery bags that I use every single day as well, they hold up great!
Tell me, what’s your must have Spring accessory item?
Do you love pastels and colors or prefer classic black and white?
I love it!
I also love the comments that the Chicken and Broccoli recipe gets. Nothing makes me happier seeing a new comment that someone made it for dinner and loved it. It makes my Chinese Takeout loving heart so happy!
So after I completed the Chicken and Broccoli recipe I had one more on my “Must Master” list. That was General Tso’s Chicken. How do they make it so good? How does the sauce stay on so well? How do you keep the chicken crispy with the sauce? How do you get a hint of spice? I must have tried to make this dish a million times (ok not that much, but you get the idea) and every time it just didn’t turn out right. Then finally I got it! It was a beautiful moment. I cheered, I cried, I ate it, I made it again and ate more. I love this General Tso’s Chicken! Finally… you can have the takeout version at home! No wok required!
On Saturday last week it was nearly 60 degrees so knowing it was going to get cold again later that week we knew we had to make our way to the garden and take advantage of the temperature to make it a Spring garden clean up day. Gardening cleanup usually takes a few days, and usually it’s here or there as “warm” days show up occasionally. When they do, you have to take advantage of them! Even though it was 60 degrees, it was extremely windy on the roof (very windy! I chased lids and plastic across the roof multiple times while yelling at them to “stop” but they never listen.) so I had still had to wear a winter coat and hat! One of these days I’ll be able to ditch the coat…
(By the way, how awesome is it to have a World Trade Center and NYC skyline view in your garden?)
So on to the first day of garden clean up. Today we had a few goals:
1. Clean up the 3 4×4 wooden boxes. We were worried they were going to be frozen and unable to shovel but thankfully they weren’t. We wanted to take all the soil out, replace the sponges underneath, cover the insides with plastic, turn the soil and add compost. I’ll talk about all that below. DONE.
2. Clean up multiple containers that had plants in it that needed to be yanked out. Also in these containers the plastic on top needed to be removed. DONE.
3. Take off the greenhouses, clean out the plants, get some harvest. NOT DONE, TOO WINDY.
4. Clean up a neighbor’s garden who tried, failed, and then moved out… all while leaving their garden and trash on the roof. Don’t be that person. I will cuss you under my breath while I pull all your trash across the roof. I will also be extremely upset when said trash breaks open and I have to clean it up half way across the roof. DONE.
Here’s the before:
Here’s the after. Small visible changes, but yet big jobs that had to be done.
We have 3 4×4 boxes that we grow peas, beans, carrots and spinach in. We started with these boxes many years ago before we started using sub irrigated containers, let’s say they were a learning process. These boxes use potting soil, but we need to replenish them every single year to get them healthy. Also to be completely honest the containers kick the boxes butts in terms of better growing because they do such a better job at locking in the moisture, while these boxes tend to dry out. We have grown corn in them in the past and the results were always a bit lackluster due to the soil drying out in the hot months of July and August. To attempt to improve the growth in these boxes we decided to line them with plastic to help the moisture. To do this though, we need to get to the bottom of the boxes.. one at a time.
While the boxes were empty this was a great time to also change the sponges that we put under the boxes. These protect the building’s roof so the boxes don’t leave marks or damage it. These are just basic sponges, I think they’re $4 for 3 at Home Depot.
Then we lined the boxes with plastic. We cut out a few strips and staple it to the boxes side. The plastic is loose as water can still get through the bottom to drain accordingly. It sure gets hot on the roof so I’m really hoping this plastic helps these boxes.
Then we fill each box half way with the soil. We don’t use soil for any of our containers, instead they are filled with potting mix, but since we have accumulated so much soil due to these 3 boxes we have to use it… because where else are we going to put this soil?
To make it better than just regular ol soil, then we put a nice healthy layer of compost on top that was breaking down all winter. Look at this beautiful brown compost! Can I just tell you how great it smells (honestly)? So Earthy.
It’s also pretty awesome to see the steam come off of compost when you dump it out. The sight of steam rising from a compost pile sure makes me a happy girl. It’s the small things in life… 🙂
Then we continue to fill each box to the near top with soil. After we finish one, then it’s on to the next one. If you’re doing this on a roof or some place you might not want to get that dirty, you’ll need some containers to shovel the soil into while emptying out.
All boxes ready to go! Almost time for those sugar snap peas to get planted!
The other big job we had was removing some of the old kale and broccoli plants from these 4 containers here. These containers will be used for new veggies in the Spring so their old plants were pulled out. It’s hard work. I almost threw my back out about 8 times.
It’s pretty amazing to see the roots on these kale plants when pulled up. Container gardening is awesome!
What else is awesome and super wild? Some of the kale plants had new kale growth at the bottom. Somehow the plants made it through this winter and still wanted to stick around for Spring!
Here’s some container suggestions too since I’ve received some comments asking what type of containers we use. One big recommendation is to pay the extra 1 or 2 bucks to get stronger containers. These are often labeled “Tough” or “Strong” or “Roughneck”. More specifically we use these ones and these ones. Why? Winter is brutal and if you have super cheap plastic containers, they are going to crack at first touch. I’m talking you are going to lightly touch the handle and it will fall apart. These tough ones last season after season, so definitely invest in some sturdy ones as it will save you money quickly!
This is one of the Roughneck variety that comes in multiple sizes, we have 2 different sized ones depending on how many plants we grow.
And this is one of the Tough ones. Sometimes during Winter you can even find these on sale for 7 bucks. I love these ones because they come with yellow lids that the containers can actually sit in. Then during the winter if you don’t use them, you can just use the lid to close them up. These hold up so well.
This is a cheap container as you can tell as the handle just broke off completely.
Have you started to get ready for Spring or are you still covered in Snow?
What’s next on your Garden calendar?
CRISPY chicken made with RANCH dip and baked in the oven! This easy Crispy Baked Ranch Chicken recipe only needs a few ingredients and makes a healthy dinner! Serve with a salad or some fresh vegetables on the side! I love making this recipe with chicken breasts and drumsticks so my entire family is happy!
This chicken is:
Baked – I always prefer this method!
Crispy – Thanks to some bread crumbs, it has a great crunch to it.
Moist – The meat is still juicy inside!
Flavorful – Thanks to marinating in Buffalo Ranch Dip this chicken is bursting in flavor boldness.
And even better, I made this with assorted pieces, drumsticks and breasts, so everyone was happy at the dinner table. I’m a drumstick kinda girl, Matthew is a breast kinda boy (too easy, going to ignore) so when we both get our chicken of choice then it’s a happy night.
It’s such a simple meal to make, one that I’ll definitely keep coming back to for dinner time. I hope you enjoy!
One of my fondest memories as a kid was Pizza Hut.
Remember Pizza Hut’s BOOK IT program where they talked students into reading as a activity in return for free pizza? If there’s one way to get kids into reading, it’s pizza. I’m totally serious. When I found out the more reading I did meant more pizza, I turned into a library monster. One of my life achievements is winning my city’s Winter Reading Contest. I received a picture in the newspaper with my gold medal in one hand, a book in another. Sounds pretty cool, right? Well it was because it meant pizza!
Oh, our furry critters, they’re just so special to us.
Our beloved feisty FiFi Bofinkles is feeling under the weather right now and it’s breaking my heart. When our pets are sick we just want to take care of them. We want to tell them to tell us what hurts, if they know what caused it, and they really need to eat because it’s important. Most of the time they just stare at you.
Here’s how it went down:
Saturday night around 8PM: FiFi Bofinkles threw up. It was clear liquid and I didn’t think much of it as cats throw up.
Saturday night: She went into the litter box, peed and then got out of there quick. This was a big warning sign as 1) Bofinkles is a crazy litter box cleaner, she leaves no litter piece untouched. 2) I was in the shower and she always stays in the bathroom with me.
Saturday late night: I came into the bedroom and she was already in her sleeping spot right above my pillow. This was the biggest warning sign to me as Bofinkles never comes to bed before me, ever. I lay down and then a few minutes later she will walk into the bedroom, I’ll call her name, she’ll lick my hand, jump up, push my Kindle out of my hand and then demand 8 thousand kisses before finally laying down.
When I finally came to sleep I nuzzled up to her ready for our nightly bedtime kisses, but she didn’t react. I rubbed behind her neck where she loves it and always does a big stretch for me to then get her belly, but she didn’t react. I called Matthew in right away and told him she didn’t seem right. He said she seemed fine, I told him she wasn’t fine and that she never ever ignores me. It’s pretty amazing how close we are that I picked up her feeling sick so quickly. It’s like she knew all the signs to give me and I was there to receive them. Then we noticed she kept opening and closing her mouth, licking her lips, whipping her tail. Matthew then agreed that she definitely was not ok. We laid with her and I begun to worry about her, like a cat Mom does. As many of you guys know, we lost Essy almost 2 months to the day so I began to quickly fear for the worse even though it was uncalled for. It was just the way she was moving her mouth was what Essy did when she was saying goodbye to us, and it just all hit me so hard. We slept that night, with me cuddled up to her, getting not much sleep as I constantly woke up, rubbed up and checked on her.
Sunday morning came and Bofinkles was still the same. The last time anyone saw her eating was Friday night so it was a full 24 hours without food or water. I called the Vet as soon as they opened. They said they had no open appointments but I could walk in, there would probably just be a wait. Ok, that’s fine, off into a cab I went with Bofinkles.
Have you heard the sounds of a cat mixed with cab dispatching? It’s quite a remix.
So we got to the vet and as soon as we arrived a vet nurse came out to help. No wait, you aren’t no nurse…..
Also want to note here that Bofinkles did not hiss at this cat, she only hisses at her sister Xanadu. 🙂
I only had to wait about 30 minutes which was nice, even though the vet office was popping with sick walk-ins that morning. After a quick examination (she never likes the temperature part) they couldn’t really spot anything physically wrong with her. I did notice she was a few ounces lighter than a few months ago though and the vet commented she seemed a bit light in the back (bodacious Bofinkles glares in response). Bofinkles was dehydrated though so they did give her IV fluids and just to be blunt, she was pissed off. Her Southern Belle (she’s from the South) attitude really shined here, growls and hisses and everything we love about her.
Because Bofinkles is 13 years old they then ran a series of blood and urine tests on her, which meant more pointy things in her body, which again, did not please her. Her test results would be back in 24 hours. This series of tests is a Senior Screening and checks things like Blood Count, White Blood Cells, Red Blood Cells, Kidney and Liver values, blood sugar, URI inflammation, Cancerous cells, etc. You know, all the most terrifying things.
RESULTS: AS I WAS WRITING THIS POST HER VET CALLED, ALL THINGS LOOK GREAT AND NORMAL. THANK GOODNESS! *KISSES BOFINKLES A MILLION TIMES*
Which leaves us with… what is wrong with her?
It’s now been 48 hours with no food or water. I have tried to tempt her with every type of food and treat possible. Her favorite sandwich, a bowl of noodles, cheese, every type of soft food she loves, greenie treats, etc… all a failure. She seems to want to sniff the food now, but won’t eat it. I have a tea cup full of water and a plate of bread crumbs (a favorite) next to her, just in case she gets hungry. The vet is leaving me a appetite stimulant to pick up from the office later today.
Then the Vet asked me if we had a kitten, which big news that I didn’t announce yet, WE DO. His name is Goblin and he is glorious but more about that later. She said that perhaps his fecal matter could have caused Bofinkles to be sick which would be a reason why she had very wet stool this morning, but then I reminded the vet that we took the kitten to them last week for a check up exam and fecal test and everything came back negative. So she suggested I bring a fecal sample of every single cat in, which is just going to be a adventure to get. I guess I’ll be on bathroom duty for the next 24 hours.
I set up a little Bohemian blanket spot for Bofinkles and me to lay, but every time I leave I find Brother Bear checking on her. He’s just the sweetest boy ever, honestly.
A positive is that this afternoon she seems more responsive to talking to her. If I call her name, she will look, if I kiss her she will raise her head. She also appeared down by my desk, so I put her on my lap and there she gave me a handful of sweet head butt kisses which is what we do together and that basically warmed my heart with happiness.
So right now she lays behind my laptop, that’s her spot. I’m hoping by the end of the night we can get some food in her… wish her luck!
I’ll be sure to keep you guys updated on her, I just want a healthy Bofinkles back!
I think it’s Spring…
I think it’s Spring…
I think it’s Spring..
Ok totally not Spring. On Thursday it was freezing out, I was shivering while walking to the store! The sunshine is pretty mean to tease me with it’s rays and hopes of garden green while throwing miserable coldness to freeze off my ears.
Example of Not Spring, me in layers. What part of my body always is the coldest? My thighs freeze first, but that’s a whole other story.
But there’s hope at the end of the Winter rainbow, do you see Spring? Do you see it? Look for the green grass, the bushy vegetables, look for me waving my arms at you!
And even more Spring hope? Taking a walk to the other side of our loft to check out our seedlings.
All of our seeds have come up, there’s a quiet a variety of veggies happening here.
Matthew always gets most excited for the onions. I’m always stuck taking these onions apart which is a timely process but I do it out of love for the onions.. and Matthew.
And there’s the beloved broccoli and cauliflower, two of my favorite vegetables to grow (don’t tell the others). I am craving fresh broccoli from the roof, so the time where I can cut it and throw it right in my basket cannot come soon enough!
Want to see how little they were just 3 weeks ago? I love seeing them grow!
And the kale? It’s totally ready. Kale is always ready.
Some of you guy have commented that you don’t grow from seeds and you just buy the plant at your local nursery, but if you really want to save money (think about it: 1 tomato plant: $4.00, one pack of tomato seeds that last you multiple years and can grow you 50 plants: $2.00) you should try to grow from seeds. Besides the economical value, you will feel like a total garden mother (or father) when you see these seedlings pop through your potting mix. And when they grow big and strong and you cut them off the plant and eat them for dinner, you will feel totally awesome and totally horrible because you just ate your child. Oh, the circle of life.
Tips for growing from seeds:
Plan! Read the back of the seed packet to figure out your calendar you definitely need to plan ahead of time. It always feels silly for us to start seedlings in January when it’s snowing, but once you do it a few times you’ll have your calendar dates ready to go every single year.
We use a quality potting mix. Our entire garden is almost completely container based so knowing that you need to use potting mix for containers, you need to start your seedlings out the same way. That way when you transplant the seedling from indoors to your big container (to get big and strong!) the potting mix already matches. You want to make sure your potting mix is also environmentally safe as you will be digesting these veggies, so a potting mix like this is great for herbs and vegetables to grow.
Afraid of over watering? Then get a self watering seedling kit (they are sold at your local garden/home store right near the potting mix and seeds). This kit will help keep the right amount of moisture so you water just right.
Adjust your growing lights as the seedlings begin to get taller. When they’re starting out your light will be fairly close to them, but as they grow, you will have to raise the light. Don’t raise the light too tall as you don’t want your seedlings to get leggy and be begging for light.
Want to get your seedlings ready for the wind? Put a fan on them. This will get them prepped for the windy weather (especially like we get on the roof!)
If you’re keeping up to date with my Seed Calendar you’ll see that we have some upcoming dates:
Sugar Snap Peas will be planted directly into the garden soon.
Tomatoes and Pepper seeds will be planted inside in a few weeks.
And then after that we really start to move outside with transplanting. With the cold weather we’ve been having this year it appears all the dates will be moved back a week or two.
Also, I’ve been busy organizing the recipe section on Brooklyn Farm Girl and made a new section specifically for Garden recipes. Anything I make with our garden harvest is featured here, from pumpkins to strawberries to spinach and of course plenty of tomato sauce recipes.
First thing I’m going to make with our garden broccoli after throwing in many pieces straight into my mouth? My Chinese Takeout Chicken and Broccoli has become a BFG reader favorite so I’m happy to see so many of you have tried and loved it!
There’s not a day that goes by that I don’t wish I had a donut. Are you that way too?
I have a bit of a sweet tooth that I’ve always battled, basically my eyes tell me to eat all sugar treats in front of me. Most recently I broke open a bag of Halloween Oreos that I have been saving. Do you want to know what is the most depressing thing about these delicious cookies? They’re 100 calories, a cookie. My heart breaks just thinking about that. These cookies are so good I’d like to eat 6, not 1. And then there’s my middle of the night chocolate kisses I have been eating. I found a bag of kisses in the back of my cabinet and suddenly I feel like I need to eat multiple ones when I wake up during the night. Do you hear someone opening a plastic bag at 4AM in the morning? Don’t worry, it’s just me, standing in the dark, eating kisses, while cats circle me because they think it’s time to play. Then with chocolate melting in my mouth, I make my way back to bed. Horrible, aren’t I? Do you have a sweet right now that you are misbehaving with?
What else do I love? These peanut butter donuts with vanilla frosting. I had it in my head I wanted to start baking more with peanut butter so these sweets were made. I’m so happy I made this choice, the peanut butter is a great addition and it sure makes a filling donut. These would be pretty perfect for breakfast too. Start out your day with a donut, talk about a reason to wake up in the morning!
I am a member of the Collective Bias® Social Fabric® Community. This shop has been compensated as part of a social shopper amplification for Collective Bias and its advertiser.
So here’s the situation. You were really busy with work this week, time got the best of you, your schedule got changed a few times, and you’re about to kick back for the weekend. Suddenly you realize it’s St. Patrick’s Day weekend which means that party that you totally agreed to bring a snack to a few weeks ago is happening. You look on Pinterest and although those custom shamrock glitter icing cookies look great, you’re feeling a bit exhausted and now overwhelmed. Take a deep breath, I got some Duane Reade seasonal ideas for you.
Let’s make it easy green for St. Patrick’s Day.
Not everything has to be complex or require a bunch of special ingredients for the holidays. In fact I stopped by my local Duane Reade and picked up multiple things that are totally in the St. Patrick’s Day spirit without any work needed.
I haven’t had Rolo’s since I was a kid so picking up a bag made me feel pretty nostalgic quickly. What do these caramels in milk chocolate look like in their wrapper? Little pieces of gold! What leprechaun can resist some treasure at the end of the rainbow? Put these out on your table and watch people come collect their milk chocolate gold.
Need other candy options? The candy aisle has so many green gummy ideas too!
This is such a easy trick! Get some chip dip, like this French Onion Dip, and throw a few squirts of green food dye (a little goes a long way) in it.
Mix it around a little bit and you’ll be left with a festive green chip dip that everyone loves! Arrange a bunch of different potato chips around the dip and let people dip away! This is also a great idea for a small personal snack tray.
Other Ideas thanks to #DRStPattys and #CollectiveBias:
Want a festive dinner for St. Patrick’s Day? Easy. Instead of making your regular pasta, substitute spinach pasta for it. This will give you a nice looking green dinner dish.
Need a dessert? Get some Lime gelatin and create personal size cups of it, or be even more creative and get a clover mold to pour it into.
Want a green drink? Grab some Lemon Lime sparkling water. I love Nice! variety of lemon lime as it’s 0 calories and delicious.
Hot and Sour Udon Noodle Soup is a delicious Chinese soup ready in less than 15 minutes!
I made this soup a few nights ago and I loved every bit of it, especially how long it takes to make. Want some delicious Chinese soup in less than 15 minutes? Done. You just throw in your soft doughy udon noodles, your vegetables (want more vegetables? pile them in!), your broth and some seasoning and your soup is done.
Can we also talk about how delicious udon noodles are? I found this pack of noodles in my local grocery and immediately knew they were destined to be in a soup.
1 1⁄3 cups snow peasends trimmed and cut (can also use frozen peas)
1can baby corn
1bunch chopped bok choy
3green onionswhite and green parts coarsely chopped
1⁄4 cup low-sodium soy sauce
1⁄4 cup rice wine vinegar
2 1⁄2 teaspoon sesame oil
freshly ground black pepper to taste
In a large pot, combine vegetable stock, snow peas, baby corn, bok choy, green onions, soy sauce, vinegar, sesame oil and black pepper to taste. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until vegetables are tender.
Add noodles. Increase heat to medium and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer, uncovered, for 5 minutes or until noodles are tender.
For a more heartier soup you can add broccoli florets, bamboo shoots, water chestnuts or 1 inch cubes of tofu. Add this when you add the bok choy.
Last week at Penn Station commuters got a bit of a surprise when on their daily commute they were treated to some Life is good Coffee! And if you keep reading, 2 lucky blog readers are going to get a coffee treat too!
Life is good is a clothing company that has one goal: Spread Optimism. Don’t you just love that, and don’t you think we all can do a better job of spreading some positivity? I’ve written about this before but honestly just the smallest action can really turn someone’s day from bad to good. I’ve been in one of those depressing moods then someone on the street or the subway says or does something (as simple as holding open a door) and suddenly I’m feeling better. Optimism can do that for you.
Life is good just teamed up with Smucker’s to bring some yumminess to your morning time coffee. Not only is the coffee fairly delicious, but Life is good is helping out kids in the process as it donates 10% of it’s profits to helping children in need.
Life is good Coffee comes in five flavors:
Light Hearted, a light roast ground coffee
Happy Medium, a medium roast ground coffee
Dark & Daring, a dark roast ground coffee
S’more to Love, a s’more flavored ground coffee
Banana Bread Bliss, a banana bread flavored ground coffee
I can tell you that the S’more to Love will change your life. You’ll thank me later. I wish you could smell this, you would faint, but then I would help you back up, and you’d be ok. See, I’m full of sunshine and support!
Because you guys rule, 2 of you are going to win a pretty amazing Life is good prize package that includes:
1 coffee mug
5 bags of Coffee
1 woman’s shirt (it’s so soft!)
1 men’s shirt
Post a comment saying hi or any other positive thoughts you have! Cat discussion is totally always positive.
Winners must be US based.
Contest ends March 16th, 2014.
It’s March, that means soon it will be April, and then after that it’s pure green garden season.
Need some inspiration? I got you covered. Recently I was asked to review Judy Condon’s book “Simply Country Gardens”. The book is 500 color photographs from 21 family homes in Georgia, North Carolina, Illinois, Ohio, Connecticut, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, Maine, Pennsylvania, New York and Maryland.
The book really is a true “picture book” as from beginning to end it’s full of collages on every page from the gardens. In the back of the book you can find little blurbs on each family and more about their green yards and farmhouses.
The houses are beautiful, the gardens are lush, they scream “Simply Country” down to every single ornament you’ll see (you’ll see many decorations!).
I do wish there would have been at least one urban landscape garden featured. I know the book is titled “Simply Country Gardens” but that doesn’t mean there aren’t gardens in the country that are using urban gardening techniques. Also I would have loved to seen some more vegetables growing along side these gardens. Being a urban gardener, I’m more into practical functionality than ornamental decorations, so it’s nice sometimes to be able to see something a little different as I could be inspired to take some of these country ideas and then put a big city spin on it. I’m hoping in Judy’s next book she will branch out into Urban Gardens. Speaking of… stop on over Judy!
So tell me, did you get any inspiration from these gardens? Let me know your ideas!
Lucky Charms Martini recipe using Lucky Charms cereal. You’re going to love this sweet drink recipe!
Lucky Charms Martini
Lucky Charms is my childhood. Do you have a cereal that is like that?
To get in the spirit of St. Patrick’s Day and to show some yummy green love, why not use Lucky Charms to make something not expected, like a Rainbow Martini?
This is a adult Martini here, but why not be creative and make a juice martini for the kids? Little Sally can have a orange juice with marshmallows crushed on the cup lid while Mom boozes it up along side her on a Monday afternoon. Cheers.
Do you love Chop Suey in the can? I’m totally guilty of loving it. I’m also totally guilty of eating that sauce by the spoonful. Goodness, it’s delicious.
If you love it you can probably agree that it’s not the most healthy for you. Low in calories, sure, but not exactly the best homemade ingredients that a dinner can offer you, so I set out to make a homemade version of La Choy’s Chop Suey.