Garden To Table Goodness

I have been meaning to follow up with the Let Your Garden Grow post for a while now. Veggies are happening!! So SO many veggies. I’ve actually considered opening an zucchini stand next to the neighborhood kids’ lemonade stand….but I don’t want to steal their thunder. Although the garden has had some ups and downs, as expected, it is flourishing for the most part.

There are a few lessons I have learned along the way that only a plant could teach me (and Google when the plant won’t divulge).

  • Patience is a virtue – anyone who knows me knows that I am not necessarily the most patient person. (Those of you thinking “understatement of the century” just hush)
  • Don’t cast off something as dead, even though it may look it. My tomato plant has looked AWFUL for the past month, but still keeps giving me yellow pear tomatoes. In return, I’ll keep watering it as its reward.
  • Never trust an automated watering system. The zucchini are wilting due to lack of water. The cucumbers are sickly due to too much water. The green beans are exploding due to the right amount of water. It’s like Goldilocks, but with plants and water. Yeah, ok, that was a stretch.
  • Do NOT plant Fall veggies in the Summer. They will not do well. RIP arugula. (On the other hand, my kale and spinach are rocking it!)
  • If your neighboring community garden beds are full of rotting veggies due to lack of picking, it’s a free for all. It drives me nuts that people decide to plant and grow all this food and then let it go to waste. That’s where I come in to happily harvest those veggies for them, and either take them home, to my restaurant for use, or to the Food Bank. There are too many people who do not have food to let all of that go to waste. *Soapbox moment of the day brought to you by neglectful, lazy plant parents*
  • Carrots are deceiving. They may look ready to pick, but the joke’s on you when you pull up a tiny root instead. This goes for turnips and radishes as well. Sneaky bastards.
  • Vine plants will choke out anything else around them. Beware.
  • I LOVE the feeling of picking my dinner, or lunch, or what have you. I have a hate-hate relationship with the grocery store. Going out to the garden or out my front door to pick fresh ingredients beats it all. It’s such a good feeling to know what you’re eating, how it was grown, and where exactly it’s coming from. For me, that’s exciting.
  • I’m proud of this first garden attempt. It has gone well for the most part and has been overwhelmingly rewarding.

Here are a few things I have harvested:

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Green beans, zucchini, yellow squash, peppers, wax beans, tomatoes of all shapes and sizes, cucumbers, eggplant, turnips, carrots, snap peas, green onion, broccoli, spinach, kale, lettuce, and radishes.

My kind of ‘grocery shopping.’

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Lip Dressing

Most people know that Colorado is the epitome of a dry climate. Sure, it’s pretty, has a lot to offer, and is mostly the best place ever -I may be slightly biased-, but it also feels like there are tiny minions all over your body, sticking microscopic straws into your pores and sucking out whatever moisture that you may have previously had feebly clinging for life, leaving you skin to rival that of a cracked, dry desert floor. Pretty, huh. We-or at least I- go through copious amounts of lotion here to counter the moisture-sucking minion attacks.

You think that’s bad, not only do the minions drain the water from your skin, but your lips take a beating as well. Not only to they attack with their moisture-depriving straws, they then run over them with mini sandpapers for that added sexy chapped effect. Hail all chap sticks! I’m never caught without mine and usually have at least 2 on my person: pockets, purse, car. I might be slightly addicted. I am in love with a particular peppermint beeswax one that is extremely popular…but it can also be expensive, especially with the frequency that I tend to lose mine -I’m convinced the minions ban together for ‘mission impossibles’ to steal and destroy them-. I’m fairly certain I keep them in business just by myself. So, being the creative person that I’m-not-really-but-pretend-really-hard-to-be-and-am-trying-to-convince-others, I decided to make my own.

The recipe I used was inspired by this blog, but I plan to change mine up a little in the future.

The materials: chap stick tubes (or you can use containers), shea butter, coconut oil, beeswax, lanolin, and whatever oils you’d like to ‘flavor’ it. For my first batch, I used peppermint and rosemary. I also have lavender, almond, orange, and tea tree oil for future chap stick endeavors. The recipe I went off of said it makes about 40 tubes of chap stick. Mine only made about 30. That should last me for at least 2 months or so… I found all my materials on Amazon.

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Melt 2oz of beeswax in a pot on the stove on low heat.

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Measure out 3oz of coconut oil, 3/4oz shea butter, and 1/4oz lanolin. Some people don’t like lanolin, which I suppose is ok, so just make sure to use additional everything else to make up for it if you opt to leave it out. You want about 4oz of liquid total. You want to have twice as much oil as you do beeswax, so feel free to experiment away!

Add everything else in to the melted beeswax to melt down as well.

Add in essential oils. I did about twice the amount of peppermint oil as rosemary oil. I did about 30ish drops peppermint oil and 15ish drops of rosemary oil. I’m excited to experiment with my other oils soon!

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After it’s all melted, and the flavor is right for you, pour into chap stick tubes or containers. If you use tubes, pour carefully (it comes out fast); you’ll probably have a few casualties — it doesn’t take much for them to tip over. The melty chap stick mixture is super fun to clean up off of counter tops and stoves.

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Let it cool and solidify.

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If you want to be extra pretend crafty, like me, you can create labels to put on your chap stick tubes. I decided on the name “Lip Dressing” for my chap sticks -note creative flair- because it’s fun, and, well, I was eating a salad at the time so the idea just kind of came to me.

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And thus, Peppermint Lip Dressing was born! TA-DA!

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Don’t act like you’re not impressed…

Begin at the beginning

That’s how most things start, right? Step 1 to Step umpteenth. And most people are able to follow these steps, i.e. instructions/directions/recipes, with maybe one hiccup here and there.

And then there’s me.

I’ve never strived to be Suzy homemaker and have tenaciously turned my nose up at cooking, needlework, arts & crafts, and basic home remedies. Which, up til now, is probably a good thing. I am a certifiable klutz -if such certification existed- and have a knack for breaking, burning and/or somehow ingeniously and unthinkably destroying things, despite trying to follow instructions. Growing up, my parents would always tell me that I could probably burn water if I tried. I believe it.

At 25 years old, though, I think it’s time to turn over a new leaf and give these previously shunned skills a go. I am surrounded by talented people in many of these areas, and would like to join this club of sorts. Perhaps by knitting an impressive pair of socks, or pleasing taste buds with and ever-so-decadent strudel, they will welcome me with open arms and we can share tips and tricks of mod podge and homemade dog clothes while sipping a refreshing sangria –which I made myself-.

I enjoy trying new things –win, lose, or crash and burn– and can hopefully hone in on some of these skills…or try and fail miserably at the deserved entertainment of everyone else. In addition to the wonderfully talented individuals I have just so happened to surround myself with, Pinterest is a continued evil reminder of the innate skills that the Talent Fairy forgot to bless me with, and instead gave me an extra dose of ungainliness. Well played, Talent Fairy.

Commence rebuttal process.

This is going to be the documentation of my attempts to branch out and awaken my inner Martha Stewart, and then some. I’m guessing there will be a lot of wine involved…for reward purposes…or condoling purposes…or just for fun. Critiques, advice, suggestions, short cuts, tips, and jests are all welcomed, and encouraged.

Fingers crossed there will be minimal damage to my house. And myself.

Enjoy!

“Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end: then stop.”  -Lewis Carroll