1
Strawberries Showing Signs of Spring
2
Fresh Spinach Cupcakes
3
Spring Onion Planting
4
WOWZA Baked Beans + Bacon
5
Tea for Cats
6
Lunch Time – Cilantro shrimp and Edamame Beans
7
Bofinkles on the Telephone
8
Sugar Snap Peas Are Planted!
9
Tomato Seed Planting
10
Start of Garden Season 2013!
11
Irish Potato Candy
12
Presprouting Peas
13
Removing a Carpet Is Hard Work
14
Seedlings Update – 1 Month
15
2013 Garden Has Begun!
16
Garden 2013 Planning
17
Happy 2013!
18
San Francisco
19
Twinings London
20
Road Trip to the Flea Market

Strawberries Showing Signs of Spring

Although some people cover their strawberries up in the winter, we don’t.  We don’t feel like it affects the berries either way so we just let them be their natural selves and collect the snow on top of them.
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Here’s all the strawberry buckets now with their crisp leaves.  Each bucket has 3-4 strawberry plants, aged from 1 year to 3 years.  There’s about 40 strawberry plants here total.
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We started to see signs of green spring in the younger plants…
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And then finally some green in the older plants this past week.
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Hopefully I will have some plump berries in my hands in a few months.  They truly are the sweetest strawberries I have tasted!
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If are you thinking about growing strawberries, I would definitely recommend trying the bucket method.  We’ve had great results.  I talk more about growing strawberries in this video (starts around 0:35).

Fresh Spinach Cupcakes

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet.  You won’t believe how good these are!

Now before you go reading the title and thinking I’m crazy, I just want to make it clear that I’m a genuine cupcake lover.  I’ve been known to go to Crumbs, get the biggest cupcake in the display with vanilla frosting, rainbow sprinkles and eat it up in a couple bites.  I’ve been known to go  back for seconds.  I love sweets, I love cupcakes.  So when I found a recipe a few months ago saying  I could make cupcakes with fresh spinach and it would taste amazing, I didn’t quite believe it.  Even while making these and mixing the spinach in, I still was worried.  Really, I could make cupcakes full of spinach and it was going to be good? Really? Well folks.. I have the verdict..

YES YOU CAN.

THESE CUPCAKES ARE AMAZING.

WE ARE TALKING  “OMG THESE ARE MADE WITH SPINACH?! WHAT? ARE YOU LYING TO ME? NO IM NOT. “

They will probably change your life.

I have had a post-it note on my desk since June to post the recipe and finally today, I am!

Rejoice! Bake these cupcakes.  They will change your life.  I’m totally serious
These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!

Fresh Spinach Cupcakes

These cupcakes will change your life.

Ingredients

  • 1 cup of applesauce
  • 4-5 cups fresh raw spinach
  • box of store bought yellow cake mix
  • icing and sprinkles

Instructions

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Line your cupcake tins with baking cups.
  3. Puree the applesauce and spinach in a food processor.
  4. Put cake mix in a bowl, then add your spinach puree to it.
  5. Beat with mixer until it’s combined evenly.
  6. Fill up your cupcake baking cups.
  7. Bake for 20 minutes, put a toothpick to make sure it comes out clean.
  8. Let cool, decorate with icing and sprinkles.
  9. EAT THEM. ALL OF THEM.

Recipe Notes

I used spinach picked from our garden - if you can pick it fresh, please do!

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
These are all your ingredients for the cupcakes.  Can it get simpler?

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Puree spinach and apple sauce.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
It will look like this.  Very green.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Add your puree with your cake mix.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Mix it up.  It will look light green now.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Add to your baking cups… into the oven it goes.  Can you believe we’re making spinach cupcakes?

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Out it comes, exactly how you imagined!

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Aren’t they beautiful plain?

 

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
I put my icing in a plastic bag so I can pretend I’m a pro cake decorator when I put the icing on them.



Look at these beautiful cupcakes.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Now add your sprinkles..

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
There you go, you just made spinach cupcakes.  I know, it’s amazing.

These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!
Now try one. I KNOW, IT’S AMAZING.  Life changed, right?
These Vanilla Frosting Cupcakes made with fresh spinach is a sneaky way to include vegetables in your kids diet. You won't believe how good these are!

 

Spring Onion Planting

Today we did alot of work in the garden which I will break up into separate posts.  This one will be dedicated to the enemy I love, onions.  What does this mean? I don’t eat onions – I cry if they are in my food. I am that person who takes very long in line because I request everything be made without onions, and if they ignore my request, then I will send it back.  I will pick the onions out of salsa even if it means it will take 20 minutes and everyone will be done eating already.  I don’t like the smell of onions, I pout and moan when I have to make something with onions for Matthew.  But with that said, I am the garden mother of these onions so I cherish and worship them.  No, I won’t eat them, but I want them to grow big and strong.    Even though it’s the one thing in the garden that I will not eat, somehow I am always stuck sorting and planting them every year.  Matthew calls me the “onion whisperer” because he says I am good at the meticulous job of picking all the onion seedlings apart.  Man, I hate that job.  It’s the worst.  And let me tell you something, even if they are onion babies right now, they smell of onions.  I totally overreact too. I will sit on the ground with those onion seedlings, crying, pretending I can’t breathe, holding my nose (which really makes it worse because I have onions on my fingers). It’s tough work, but it’s all for the love of one of my children, the onions.
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First, let’s look at the box where all the new onions will be planted in.  These onions off to the left have been there for a few months over winter, and they look like they are bouncing back so we are going to leave them and see.
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Speaking of onions that made it over winter – will you check out this box of onions that are looking amazing? Matthew had fears they wouldn’t survive, but I told him to keep some hope in these onions, and look at them! Look at them!
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No bulbs were spotted (yet) but they are looking strong.  They’re all about 1 foot high.  When they get bulbs I am going to do the happy onion dance.  They deserve it.
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Back to the onions we planted today.  Here are all our onion seedlings.  Each little soil cup has a bunch of onion seedlings in it – anywhere from 5 to 8.
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Then comes the fun (not fun at all) part of sorting these onion seedlings out, one at a time.  While holding each one delicately you try to untangle all the roots.
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This take some time, but I have worked out a system of shaking them so they come loose pretty quickly.  Onion whisperer I am.
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The seedlings already have pretty intense roots going on.  Each seedling grew into a big onion last year and produced a bulb larger than a baseball.  Matthew said they were delicious. We are hoping for similar results this year!
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So now they’re all planted. There’s 38 onions here, not counting the ones in another box.  We’ll check back on them in a few months…

WOWZA Baked Beans + Bacon

Two weekends ago Matthew made these amazing baked beans.  I’m going to give credit where it’s due, these were the hit of the picnic.  I was in love with them, so much so that I made him save some here for me to eat later.  So when I came home from the picnic after eating too many beans, I immediately sat down and continued to eat more beans.  They are so amazing!
The original recipe comes from here.  Matthew said he followed the ingredients and instructions pretty spot on.
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Lots of onions and green peppers in this. I was worried because I don’t like onions.  Boy, was I wrong!

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BBQ Sauce + Apple Cider Vinegar.  I was worried because I don’t like apple cider vinegar. Boy, was I wrong!

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Glorious bacon. Bacon is one of the best foods, ever.

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Mix the beans and peppers/onions together…

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Then the BBQ Sauce mixture..

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You need a big pan, just a warning.

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I needed to taste test. It’s very important.  Or something.

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Then pour into pans/pots that you can bake.   This makes quite alot of beans..

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Then put the glorious bacon on top. You can either bake this right away, or we let it sit in the fridge over night and baked it the following day.

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ENJOY!

Tea for Cats

My good pals William and Lia brought us back us back some goodies from Japan (aka, my dream destination).  In this bag of goodies were a couple satchels of this cat tea.  Not being able to read Japanese, I wondered, is this tea for a cat? Is it for me? Is it for both of us? What is this?  I mean there’s a cat on the front who looks like they are drinking some tea – really? What kind of tea is this?
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So a quick text sent to my friend Saya who is from Japan confirmed this is in fact tea for your cat.  Not any type of tea – this is CATNIP TEA.  I know, take a second to think about this..
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So I opened up the package and inside was just one tea bag – very catnip smelling by the way. How catnip smelling? FiFi Bofinkles showed up to smell it.  Then I confirmed with Saya the amount of water (16 ounces), temperature (hot or cold would work) and then I made it.
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I used 8 ounces cold, 8 ounces warm water. I let it cool down to room temperature.
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You can see it turned a slight yellow/green color while steeping.  Omg guys, I’m steeping tea for my cats.  I question my sanity.
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Then I put it into a bowl because I thought a tea cup might cross the line for me….
And I waited.
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FiFi Bofinkles showed up first.  She wasn’t interested.  She knew the smell but in liquid form? Not having it. She moved away to a food bowl and ate instead.
The real girl I was waiting for was Essy.  Essy is catnip obsessed, I’m sure some would say she needs to rehabilitated or needs a detox.  Girl likes her nip.  She’s 19.. she does what she wants.
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I left the bowl for a few minutes and Matthew called out “Is Essy ok?”  I walked over and Essy was laying on the ground rolling around, rubbing her paws into her cheeks.  “She’s all wet” Matthew said feeling her face.  ESSY HAS A TEA FACE.  That sneaky girl.  So Essy was really feeling the magic of the catnip tea.  She was doing her stretches and rolling movements when she’s under the influence.  Then I played with her and she bit my finger because she probably thought it was a dinosaur.   She felt good.
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I waited until she went back to the tea and she did.  Where she then slid her cheeks all over the bowl, inside the bowl, dipped her chin.  Basically she bobbed for tea.   After rubbing her cheeks in the tea some more, she just stood there and stared at her Dora the Explorer plate.  I wish I could know what was going through her head during those 36 minutes of non movement.  Was Dora talking to her?  Was she plotting to hurt Dora? Was she living in a animated rainbow? Who knows.
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20 minutes later, she was still here.  I rubbed her face and she was soaked.  I’m pretty sure she just put her head in it, so in fear of Essy drowning in catnip tea, I removed it.  The tea bowl was full of Essy fur.

If you can get this, I would try it.  I have a few more teabags that I will let Brother and Xanadu try.  Just watch out for Essy!

Lunch Time – Cilantro shrimp and Edamame Beans

Say hello to my new favorite lunch and hopefully yours too! This is low in calories but high in flavor.
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Cilantro shrimp and Edamame Beans

Servings 1

Ingredients

  • 1/4 pound shrimp peeled
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic minced
  • salt + pepper
  • 1/8 cup chopped cilantro
  • 1/2 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1/2 cup frozen edamame

Instructions

  1. Defrost Shrimp.
  2. Chop up Cilantro.
  3. Mince garlic.
  4. Pour olive oil in your pan on medium heat. Heat up until hot.
  5. Add your shrimp to the heated oil and heat up for about 3 minutes.
  6. Add salt/pepper.
  7. Flip each shrimp over to get the other side.
  8. Add minced garlic.
  9. Heat these up for another 2 minutes.
  10. Move your shrimp to a plate.
  11. Add your lime juice. Since lime is intense I like to add 1/8 tsp and keep building up by adding a little bit more at a time.
  12. Add your cilantro on top.
  13. Then toss everything all around.
  14. Add your edamame on the side, or mix together with shrimp.

To Cook Edamame

  1. Edamame are young soybeans. The beans are young and green when they are picked, so they are soft when you eat them. To make them just simply bring water to boil, add your beans and some salt and then continue to boil for 5 minutes. Drain and serve. I don’t even put anything on top of them, they’re that good by themselves.

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Ok, yes, I don’t mind if I do…

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Bofinkles on the Telephone

This is a tale of FiFi Bofinkles and the telephone.  As soon as I get on the telephone, Bofinkles jumps on my  lap.  Bofinkles doesn’t understand I’m on the telephone, she think it means “Bofinkles Time”.
Example from  today:
Me on the telphone “Hey, how are you doing?” and continues conversation…
Bofinkles sprints over, jumps on my lap “What Mom? Do you need me”?”
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Bofinkles: “Hey, I’m talking to you.  Do you need me, do you?”
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Bofinkles: “Ok, I am getting closer to you.  I will jump on your shoulder.  Are you talking to me?”
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Bofinkles: “Why aren’t you responding to me standing here, looking at you? Maybe if I pretend I fell asleep while you were talking to me you would notice..”
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Bofinkles: “PLEASE JUST RUB MY CHEEKS! PLEASE!”
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Bofinkles: “Ok, so about that conversation we were having.  How are you?”
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Bofinkles: “Omg, are you ignoring me again?  What If I just fall down..?”
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Bofinkles: “Just look at me.  Please!”
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Sugar Snap Peas Are Planted!

The sugar snap peas are this years first plants to be covered up by soil in the garden.  Yesterday, while shivering in the cold sunlight, we took our pre-sprouted peas and planted them.  It is still cold out, so even though growth might be slow in the beginning for them to emerge, hopefully we will see them big and strong soon.
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This year we are changing things up and are growing them not up the fence, but instead around our gazebo like trellis.
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Here are the peas that we pre-sprouted.
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Nature, isn’t it amazing?  If you haven’t tried presprouting, give it a shot.
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Holes are made with our fingers, then peas are inserted in.
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This year we are trying this pea booster – hopefully it works well.
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So that gets sprinkled in each hole…
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Then we do a little song and dance involving lots of cheering and the words “love” and “grow big” before covering them up with soil.
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Then we get some water that was collected from the rain.. Can I tell you how freezing I am in this picture? My hands felt as red as the water container.
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Then each pea spot gets watered.

Now we wait… hope to see you soon sugar snap peas!

Tomato Seed Planting

Last year we planted the tomatoes and green peppers seeds on March 1.  This year we planted them March 14 (yesterday).  Time is running by quickly here at the moment, and thankfully we realized this 2 weeks late and not 1 month, 2 weeks late.  So yesterday we got out the supplies and planted our tomatoes for the year.  You know the usual characters:
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There’s the roma, sweet aroma, beef, cherry tomatoes.  Then there’s the green bell peppers.
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See the container to the left? ?That’s Burpee’s eco friendly self watering cell seed starting system.  It’s magical. We thought it might have been a gimmick when we bought the bigger cell version for our other seedlings, but those seedlings in it have grown so much bigger than the other seeds not in a self watering system. If you can find this, get it.  It’s great.
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Beautiful soil, get your hands dirty.  I love the feeling.
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I know I say it ALL the time, but these 2 little sees will turn into full blown tomato plants. It amazes me every single time.
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We also are getting the sugar snap peas ready by presprouting them inside.  This always works better for us than planting them directly in the soil as we are never quite sure if they all are growing to sprout or not, and if they don’t you are left with a few that need to be replanted.  With presprouting, you are guaranteed to know they all will grow into plants.   I did a post on presprouting sugar snap peas if you want to read it.
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I would like to give a shot out to my gardening helper, Xanadu Pluto, who climbed into the seed starter box…
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But realized she couldn’t fit all the way and just stayed like this. No shame.  <3

Start of Garden Season 2013!

Today felt like the official start of the garden season.  It was 50 degrees out, we were shoveling soil, taking care of seedlings, building boxes.  I was complaining that my  back hurt.  It’s just like old times, meaning every single year we’ve had our rooftop garden.   Our main goal today was to get the greenhouses rebuilt and if time permitted build a new box to replace one that was falling apart. Not only did we get all that done, but we were able to remove the soil from all the boxes to turn it over and feed it compost.  Woo!  I won’t be able to move tomorrow.
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It was sunny and nice out today.  Since there is so  much empty space on our roof we are able to have lots of room to build.
Garden 2013: commence greenhouse rebuild
First up was the long greenhouse that had some holes in the plastic, so the plastic was ripped off.
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And then replaced.
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Woo! I’m excited too. Greenhouse is built.  The broccoli and cauliflower will probably hang out in here soon enough.
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Then it was the smaller greenhouse.  In this picture it’s off to the left and it was destroyed by the wind.  It had a few holes in it, then suddenly the wind just ripped it apart.
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So we covered that up with some new plastic..
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Then it was all set to protect when the seedlings go under it…
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Speaking of seedlings.  Say hello to them! I will do another post focused on them. :D)
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Then it was time to replace this box.  This has been with us since the beginning of the garden and it’s seen it’s last days.
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So I hulked up and shoveled all the soil out of this box.  My heavens, there is alot of soil in one box!
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Box is now all empty.. time to take it apart.
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Before we put the new box down we built we put sponges down.  This will protect the roof so the wood won’t lay on it.
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New box all filled back up now! High 5. I’m exhausted.
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Then we had to empty every single box to turn over the soil.  This is such hard work.  I almost took a nap.
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This is Mr. Pumpkin who has been with us since October.  He’s finally saying goodbye and needs to be released back into the soil.  We will miss you Pumpkin man who has brought me so much joy every single day seeing him in the kitchen
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So I did the sad honors of cutting him open so we could compost him.
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Isn’t the inside of a pumpkin amazing?
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While Matthew was smashing the pumpkin up I pretended to be the pumpkin and said things in my pumpkin voice such as “Oh don’t hurt me”, “OOO that feels good”, “hehehe that tickles”.  I amuse myself.
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I saved some pumpkins from him.  I will try to grow these.  I like keeping it in the family if possible.
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Then we brought over the compost that has been working it’s magic all winter.
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Oh delicious compost soil that the garden loves.  This will cause big strong plants!
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We worked hard this afternoon.  So hard that by 5PM I already had my Fuel Points goal!
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Excited for the new year of growing..  Happy gardening!

Irish Potato Candy

Irish potato candy is a favorite where I’m from in the coal mines of Pennsylvania.  There used to be a candy store in the mall that sold these that I would crave every time we walked by.  The candy has the sweet smell of cinnamon.  They are best serve chilled, and when you take a bite you will taste the sweetness mixed in with coconut.  Irish potato candy is a magical experience to eat.  As a kid I used to actually think they were made of potatoes, but boy was I wrong.  There is nothing healthy about these, warning.  But they are very good, so have one or two for dessert.  If you make these there is a strong chance you will declare your love for me, so give them a try.

These are easy to make – there is no cooking, just chilling involved.  There is also some mixing involved so you will have some bowls to clean (preferred to clean by mouth first).
Why are they called potato candy?  Because they look like little cute potatoes!  These would be extra cute to make for St Patrick’s Day!
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Hey little beautiful spud.
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And when you take a bite…. just wait!
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Irish Potato Candy

Ingredients

  • 1/4 cup butter softened
  • 8 ounce cream cheese
  • 4 cups confectioners powdered sugar
  • 2 1/2 cups flaked sweetened coconut
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • few tablespoons of ground cinnamon to roll them in

Instructions

  1. Beat your softened butter and cream cheese together with a mixer until it’s smooth.
  2. Add your powdered sugar and vanilla. Keep beating until this is smooth.
  3. Mix in the coconut, with a spoon or your hands.
  4. Roll into potato shapes with your hands. I like to keep them about 2 inches big.
  5. Roll in cinnamon to make them brown.
  6. Place on wax paper lined cookie sheet and chill for a few hours in the refrigerator.
  7. Store in a container in refrigerator.
  8. ENJOY!

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Simple ingredients.
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Mix your butter and cream cheese.  It’s a little hard to do, use power.
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Then mix  in vanilla and powdered sugar. Then take a beater and lick it clean.
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Add your coconut.
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Mix it with your hands.  You are going to get dirty.  Totally ok.
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Roll in cinnamon.  Add more as you need it. You will only need 2-3 tablespoons.
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Put your little potatoes on wax paper and chill.
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YUM!

Presprouting Peas

Presprouting is great to do for peas.  By doing this you’re promised that your seeds won’t rot before they sprout under the soil (due to cold temperatures).  It also guarantees that you won’t be wasting your time planting some seeds that might not even sprout at all causing you to wait and fall back in the garden season schedule.

Directions:
Take your pea seeds and dip them in some water to get them wet.
Then take a paper towel and wet it.  Put your peas in the middle of the paper towel and wrap up, like a envelope.
Put in a plastic bag with the top corner vented a little bit.
Leave sit for a few days, soon enough they will sprout. 🙂

Here they are dry:
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In the moist paper towel all wrapped up:
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Sealed up for a few days:
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When you take them out, magic!
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They sprouted!

Then plant them as you regularly would.

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Removing a Carpet Is Hard Work

I am sitting here with a heating pad on my back that wraps all the way around my chest.  I can’t bend down.  This body was not built for manual labor, no way.  Today we continued our series of renovations and removed a carpet we glued down years ago.  Many years later we would regret this when we wanted to remove it.    We are moving things around in our loft, the farmhouse table is going to be in the kitchen area which excites me beyond belief. This hideous carpet has been bugging me for years, so I have been waiting anxiously to get rid of it.   I already bought a new area rug to put in its place but it doesn’t arrive for a few weeks – I can’t wait for it!
Quick process:
This was before we removed the carpet.  We did put the cats away, don’t worry.
Here the cats know something is going on and are spending as much on the carpet as they can. I believe Brother Bear thought this entire carpet was his new area.
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Adhesive remover put all over..
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Carpet all scraped up:
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Area all sanded:
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Area all clean now:
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Didn’t that look easy?
Yeah right.
Full process:

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Seedlings Update – 1 Month

So it has been a full month since many of the Spring seeds were planted.  How are they doing? Well I’m glad you asked.  I have been waiting to do a post on this.  I have been very anxious.  I would like to post every time they grow a centimeter but I know that probably isn’t very exciting to you.  So I wanted a whole month.  I really keep things riveting here!   Here they are today…!
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But let’s go on a journey.. back to January 2013 to watch the progress… On January 15, the first one decided to pop up and greet us: WP_20130115_009
Then on January 16, more of it’s friends came out to play..
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On January 24, we had alot of growth action that already happened in the 12 days since they were planted:
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Then on January 28, the onions decided to start growing quick.
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Check out this amazing guy, isn’t he beautiful? It’s New Zealand spinach.
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Then on February 6, we had to pick favorites.  This is always so hard.  I don’t do it, I make Matthew while I sob loudly on the floor yelling “IT ISNT FAIR”. WP_20130206_051
Check out the broccoli roots! They are already growing out of their cups…
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And this is yesterday.  Hey  spinach and kale – how are you guys doing? Kale, man I’m excited to see you!
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Onions, I won’t eat you, but I’m very happy to see you looking so well.
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Everyone this is cauliflower.  Cauliflower this is everyone.  Say hello!
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Broccoli – you beautiful people.
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So everything came up….. so now we just keep watering and giving hugs.
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This was taken a few minutes ago.  I almost fell off a chair, but I’m ok. The onions and cauliflower are so big they are in the light.  Good luck guys.  Also note the fan to the right that we put up in mid January.  This keeps it windy so they aren’t shocked when they hit the roof.  It also makes them very strong as they are growing wind muscles (my term, not technical).
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How’s your seedlings?

2013 Garden Has Begun!

The subject is very exciting – the 2013 garden has begun! Seeds have been planted for broccoli, cauliflower, onions, kale, spinach, cabbage, lettuce, brussels sprouts tonight.
Broccoli – 8 plants, hopefully as lovely as last year,  stay away aphids.
Cauliflower – 8 plants (2 different kinds – hybrid, giant of naples), hopefully as delicious as last year, stay away aphids.
Onions – hopefully as lovely as last year, this was matthews pride and joy last year.
Kale – hopefully will be monsters like last year, stay away white flies.
Spinach – i lied in this post, we are growing it again this year.  we have 2 different kinds – hybrid, new zealand.
Cabbage – never grew, please be successful so I can make halupkies.
Lettuce – never grew from seed, please be successful.
Brussels sprouts – never grew, please be successful because I  love you so much
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So there it is – what the Spring garden looks like so far.  Sugar snap peas and carrots will be planted directly into the soil on the roof sometime in late February, early March.  Whew!  Lots of greens, very excited.
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I know I say it every year but it always amazes me that this little seed can turn into this big guy. Man, nature is amazing, I can’t even understand how it does what it does.  Thank you life. Thank you world.  Thank you to the plant gods that I love dearly and sing and dance to in the garden circling our plants, showering them with love and hopeful dreams of becoming big and strong.  I respect you nature.  You are A+ in my book. I give you so little and you give me so much.  Please love me back.
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This is seedling box 1 of 2.  There’s alot of things going on.  I graphed everything out and wrote everything down but somehow a cabbage will get mixed up in the lettuce section and cause me anxiety for a week.  It always happens. I swear they come to life at night and move around.
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Shout out to the best helpers in the world too, Brother Bear and Xanadu Pluto.  Xanadu just wanted a pencil I was writing with while Brother wanted every single seed packet.  We could not find the cauliflower seed pack anywhere, turns out Brother Bear laid on it and it was completely hidden under his belly.  He was also very fascinated with the Brussels sprouts.  What a guy.
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This year we also got a new grow light system going on.   This used to be the old set up.  It was one small 24×12 shelf with 3 6500 CFL bulbs.
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This is the new system.  It’s a 48×12 shelf with 4 4ft 6500 fluorescent bulbs.   We looked at premade kits on all the garden websites but they are so overpriced.  $200 for 2 bulbs and a light fixture? You out of your mind. So we went to Home Depot and bought our own supplies.  This setup cost about $70.  *High Five*

Have you started anything with your Spring Garden yet?  While at Home Depot we were overly excited to see they have a full selection of seeds, trays and supplies all ready to go.  Last year I don’t think they got their seeds until March.  I hope I had something to do with it as I constantly went there every single day pleading for potting mix. The garden section manager eventually just gave me his business card so I could call him for updates.  I felt both cool and pathetic.
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Happy garden planning!

Garden 2013 Planning

You know why I love having a garden? Because it’s January, feels like 22 degrees out and I can look in my freezer, grab some frozen soy beans I preserved a few months ago and have fresh edamame in a few minutes. It feels like summer now! Minus the 3 pairs of socks I have on and that I’m sitting in front of a heater.
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In just a few weeks the 2013 garden will be started.  We will start plotting the outline, and then seeds will be started inside.  This year we’re going to move some of the boxes around, try a few new vegetables, not grow some and continue to glare at the person who constantly shuts off our hose in the laundry room.

Here is a table on what we’re hoping to grow this year..
Yes Will Grow: The usuals, vegetables we have grown before.
New First Time: New vegetables we want to try growing.
No Won’t Grow: Grew them, but decided not to this year.

YES Will GrowNEW First Time NO Won’t Grow
BroccoliBrussels SproutsRed Beans
CauliflowerLettuceSpinach (maybe)
OnionsPickling CucumbersPotatoes (maybe)
KaleFlowers
Sugar Snap Peas
Carrots
Tomatoes
Green Peppers
Corn
Green Beans
Pumpkins
Watermelon
Soy Beans
Strawberries

The yes column is pretty self explanatory.    These are the usual cast of characters and have grown successfully on the roof.
New this year we’d like to try Brussels Sprouts, lettuce and pickling cucumbers from seed.  Last year we had lettuce but it wasn’t from seed.  Also, we had success last year with regular cucumbers but I want pickling cukes so we will try Kirby cucumbers. I’m obsessed with Brussels Sprouts so that is understandable.
There are a few plants that we have grown but most likely won’t grow this year.  The red beans grew amazing and looked like tentacles, but we would rather green beans.  The spinach was successful as well but besides cupcakes we really don’t eat it.  Lastly, our luck with potatoes has been good and bad.  Some years they grow great, some years the heat kills them.  For the amount of soil they need, and how cheap they are to actually buy in the store (compared to the price of seed potatoes) it might be most economical to just not grow them this year (even though this breaks my heart).  Also this year I really don’t want to grow flowers unless they’re Rhododendrons or varieties like this.  Growing flowers just doesn’t excite me as much as growing a pumpkin.

What’s your garden look like for 2013?

Happy 2013!

Welcome the year 2013!
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Although I will promise you I will be writing the year 2012 on everything until at least July. I don’t make resolutions per say, but here’s a few things I look forward to, and hope to push in the next 12 months.

I turn 30 this year, and it’s totally ok.  You know when you’re young and you think 25 is old, and then you turn 25 and you glare at your self in it’s youth.  That’s how I feel about 30. 30 isn’t old.  30 is still young.  Will I say this at 40? We’ll see.  But I welcome 30, even though I’m very curious what the next decade will bring in life events.
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Continue to take care of myself.  This year during June I started working out regularly for the first time in my life.  Now it’s January 1st and not only did I lose multiple sizes in clothing and currently 17 pounds, but I feel great.  I realized before how much I was just sitting at my computer and not being active.  I started to feel tired and not motivated.  Now with the help of monitoring myself everyday and knowing when I need to get up and move, it’s made me feel alot better about myself and become aware of what I need.  I also  learned how to eat better this year without starving myself.   You can still eat that piece of fudge, go for it, but it’s about learning when to stop.  This is hard when the fudge is so good, but once you learn to control yourself, it becomes quite simple to just “stop”.  I’m proud of myself for finally learning to take care of my body and I hope this continues.  One thing I want to give credit to is the Nike Fuel Band.  I received this a few months ago and I have to say it’s been very helpful with reaching my daily goal.  Sometimes you don’t quite realize how inactive you are being, and then you look at your fuel band at 8:00PM and realized you haven’t moved much at all.  Each day I need to get to 3,000 fuel points.  If I look at it at night and I’m not close to it, I will either get up and exercise (usually either running or dancing – I find dancing is a powerful workout) or take a long walk.  Do I need to get a carton of eggs? Ok, well instead of going to the grocery store a few feet away, let’s walk to one 2 miles away.  The fuel band really helps encourage to have a daily game with yourself.   If you need to get motivated, I really can’t say enough good things about it.  If you get one, be sure to add me to your friends, you can motivate each other on this and a little push sometimes really helps.
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Take more fashion risks.  Have you always wanted that shiny purse box but wasn’t sure what to wear it with?  Figure it out.  You don’t need to pair it with a sparkly dress, just wear it with your grandma winter coat.  You can wear anything, don’t be afraid.  I just got this bag and I’m in love with it.  If a little thing like a shiny bag will make me happy, then I’m going to accept that smile.
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Stop and tell someone you love them. Make sure that person you actually love or that might be weird for a stranger on the street.  Have pets? Tell them you love them.  Pets need time out of every single day for your devotion.  They become good critters because you are a good critter friend.  Let them know how special they are to you.
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February will be the month of Matthew and my 10 year Anniversary. Who knew that 10 years ago when we first met in a college dorm in Pittsburgh that eventually we would have everything we have today, because we did it together.  It’s a good feeling to realize you created what you have. Be proud of it and keep working towards better.
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Keep exploring the new.  Stay ahead of the curve, learn new things, push yourself, don’t be afraid of the unknown.  Doing the same thing is boring, don’t fall into that trap.   If you learn one thing, learn 2 more and then put them all together.  Who knows, it could be something amazing, but you don’t know unless you try.  Changes don’t come overnight, be patient.  If you’re proud of what you’re doing, then you’re doing great. It will come.
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See more. I live in one of the greatest cities in the world but don’t take advantage of it as much as I can.  Make sure to see a show before it ends. Want to try that taco place? Do it. Go to a park and do nothing.   Show NYC how much I love it.
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Get a washer and dryer.   Make my dream come true.
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San Francisco

I was in San Francisco a few days ago.  I was only there for about 19 hours so I didn’t get to see much, but wanted to share the experience.  This was my first time on the West Coast, it’s so sunny in California – how do you guys see?
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This is how I travel.  It’s really the necessities.
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Watching live TV 35,000 feet up in the air is probably one of the most exciting moments of my life.  Sadly the Nets lost and I had a Knicks fan next to me.
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I had IN-N-OUT for the first time.  I thought it was very cheap, but taste wise it was just ok. (I’m sorry!)
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The next morning I met one of my best cat friends Melody for a very early breakfast.  Melody moved to San Francisco a few months ago and I have missed her so much.  She was nice enough to meet me very early for french toast.  We talked about cats the entire time.
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This is us.   What a beautiful pose she made!
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San Francisco.  It’s very bright.  That’s my suitcase too.  It’s very bright.
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I did not pay to use this, instead I just took a picture of it.
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I had Mexican, a chicken taco and chicken tortilla soup.  The taco was great but I still think this recipe for tortilla soup is the best.
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Me and Miss Golden Gate Bridge.  I also said hi to the Pacific Ocean and Alcatraz from a distance.
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I don’t usually get to see palm trees.
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Then I flew home on a red eye.  Note how much Virgin America looks like a night club.
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But it’s ok because I can order unlimited “free” Mighty Leaf tea from my screen at any time I want. I love it!

Twinings London

If you know me then you know I am tea obsessed.  If you come over, I will serve you tea.  If you see me, I am probably drinking tea. I dream of tea at night, dark english breakfast tea.  I have started lovely friendships with tea exchanges.  It all started as a young girl where everyday before school my mother would make me toast and tea.  Let’s not discuss if this is ok for a 8 year old to have, but I fell in love with it immediately.  So when we were in London, Twinings headquarters was my number one spot.  When I went in I told the employees how excited I was and I’m not sure if I freaked them out or they thought I was sweet. Either way, they did throw some free samples my way.  If you’re ever in London, go here.  Go have afternoon tea too.  Drink tea all day.  It’s totally ok!
Let’s go in!
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Magical fairy land..
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Of tea! Every kind!
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Bags, loose, pots – have your pick…
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I happily skipped down the aisles filling up my bag with tea.  Matthew asked me “Really, you need that much?”
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Why, yes I do!
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Matthew doesn’t like tea, I’m not sure how this relationship has survived this.  One day I talked him into having tea with me and I thought I would serve him a dessert tea, something chocolate and mint, it would be delightful and he would fall in love with tea! Then we would go on daily tea dates!  Unfortunately Matthew burned his lips on the hot tea and cried.  So I drank his tea. He never has tried it again.  He was curious on the smells though…
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What a fun time!
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Some of my loot!  I would highly recommend the Queen’s Jubilee tea
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Road Trip to the Flea Market

Yesterday we rented a car and drove to Columbus, New Jersey to go to one of the biggest flea markets I’ve ever been to.  Besides the usual inside booths, the outside was filled with never ending rows of people selling their junk and treasures.  It seemed everytime we rounded a corner thinking it was done, there was another field filled with tables and items to root through.  Going to flea markets was a big thing in my childhood, we would go to the local one every Sunday and some other ones during the week.  Right before vacation every year we would even set up our own stand and sell to make some extra money.  I was always the kid selling the RL Stine Goosebumps books who was not going to give you a deal because did you have any idea how good these books were?  I remember sometimes my parents would leave me alone at the stand and I would have to sell tables worth of their goods.  Folks would come up to me asking how much my parents items cost or questions about them.  I would glance up from my Nintendo Gameboy and shrug, 50 cents for that kitchen table, sure take it.  But those RL Stines – no deal is being made.

It was a fun journey.  We found some items that we wanted, and some that we didn’t really need but had to buy.  Road trips are always supposed to be filled with eating horribly, so there was some treats to be had along the way too.

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This was at a rest stop along the way.  My sunglasses were just found broken in my bag but I decided to wear them anyways.
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For breakfast we split a Cinnabon.   I also got tea, they didn’t even ask me what kind of tea I wanted out of 20 options.  Instead they just gave me a Lipton tea bag and told me to take it over to the hot water station.  I was not in New York anymore.
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There we arrived! This picture was taken at the end of the day, at the beginning, there was cars to be found everywhere.  We had to park very far away which was good because of the amount of fudge I would soon eat.
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Once inside the flea we came across a store that sold almost every game you could think of.  We love board games so we just stood and stare in amazement.  Two games I didn’t see: Ask Zandar, a classic in my opinion, and Candy Land Lotto which was my childhood favorite.
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I found what I believe is the best pie dish ever.  This gem here cost me $5 and was sold by a very stylish older woman who I had to promise I would take good care of this for her.   It’s one of those things that you know you’ll always love and will always make you smile.  I’m in love with it.  I’m pretty sure it was made for me.
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We bought 2 baseball gloves.  Matthew has brought up the idea of going to the park and catching baseballs for years so at $10 for 2 gloves, we found this to be a great deal.  The guy who sold them (who I believe is Joseph Galm’s father?) was very nice and gave me encouraging words that I could participate in this sport and not get hurt.   The baseball though.. that’s another story.
We were trying to find a cheap baseball after buying the gloves.  Matthew thought he saw some earlier in the day so we went back to these stands but couldn’t find any.  Eventually we came across one baseball that had signatures all over – who was it signed by? Babe Ruth? Little League team? No idea.  The booth belonged to a older man who when he saw us popped out of his pickup truck.  “How much for this?” Matthew asked him.  “One dollar” the man said.  Now it’ gets tricky.  Matthew shook his head and put the ball down.  Matthew thought $1 was too much.  I wasn’t sure what to do so just looked at Matthew to the older man and back and forth again. Then the older gentleman started to yell at Matthew “OH! ONE DOLLAR TOO MUCH FOR THIS MAN HERE! CAN YOU BELIEVE THIS. ONE DOLLAR, TOO MUCH MONEY”.  Then I grabbed Matthew’s arm and tried to push us away.  We walked off as the man continued to yell at us down the rows “ONE DOLLAR IS TOO MUCH FOR THIS MAN THERE.  ONE DOLLAR. ONE DOLLAR”.  By that time I was crying with laughter.   Eventually we found this baseball.. and paid $2.50 for it.
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After the stress of the baseball man, we needed lunch.  We got a pepperoni pizza pretzel roll from the Amish market stand.  It was delicious.
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Matthew got this winter coat at a military store that also sold guns.  Would you like to see someone awkwardly standing in a store while her other half poses in front of a mirror with a complete wall full of guns behind her? That was me.
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I needed a piece of fudge, so I got some chocolate peanut butter. I love fudge so much. It’s dangerous.  It’s delicious.  This was amazing.  I asked for a quarter pound, but the 8 year old (seriously) who rang me out said it was a bit over.  Ok, I guess, pull my arm, I will eat half a pound of fudge instead.  Ok, Ok.
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Do you know Whoopie pies?  This is a childhood favorite from always visiting the Amish markets.  The Amish know how to make their pies.  These can be described as one of the sweetest pastries you will ever eat.  It’s full of cream with a cake like top and bottom.  I got this pack of chocolate, pumpkin and oatmeal.  I took it to a debate party we were attending later that night and basically whoopied everyone else, we were in a sugar comatose. I made a horrible choice of this morning eating a piece of a leftover pie, now my day is moving very slowly.  I’m going to eat broccoli for the rest of the day.
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Also bought from the Amish, the best sour dough bread ever.  The smell of it – oh god.  I also got organic freshly ground peanut butter. I never had fresh peanut butter, I don’t think I can go back to the stuff in the jar now. I wanted a jar of red raspberry jam as it’s a favorite. I bought this thinking it was local freshly made, then when I got home i realized it said “Made in Ohio”.  I was fooled!
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On the way home we stopped in a Cracker Barrel to have a early dinner.   I never ate in a Cracker Barrel, only heard about their large portions.  I got a baked potato, a side order of mac and cheese and a cup of cabbage stew. I ate about 25% of it.  Matthew said he was disappointed in my ability to finish a full American meal like this, but there was no way.  How can potatoes grow that big?
Anyways, to my surprise Cracker Barrel has a gift store full of cute  holiday items!  What a great idea, after I finish dinner with a full belly, have me walk past Christmas trees decorated with my favorite people: snowmen.  Just give me one of everything, I need to go to the car and lie down.  I got these Snowmen Christmas ornaments, and Peppermint Bark because it’s a favorite.  We are ready for Christmas.  It’s October 12th. Bring it on!

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