How To Plant a Vegetable Garden

One of my best memories from childhood was our vegetable garden. There was nothing better than having a plate of fresh vegetables at the dinner table throughout the summer. I am so excited to now share this past time with my children.

Since I have been pregnant for the past few years it’s been hard for me to keep up with my vegetable garden. This is what I’ve gone through this year to get it prepared. This is how to plant a garden that grows like its on steroids.

  •  First, I had to weed my crazy garden. This is what happens when you are busy having babies. You get weeds from hell! It took me over a week and six garbage bags full of weeds to get my garden ready. Hard work pays off I promise!

  • At the beginning of planting season, which will be after your first frost, you’ll need to till up your soil. Over time that dirt settles and gets very hard. This gives it life again.  There are plenty of choices of tillers out there. I purchased a tiller that can be plugged in so I didn’t have to worry about filling it with gasoline and it was less expensive.

  •  After I till the dirt, I get a rake and level it out. Looks so much better doesn’t it?

  • Now for the huge secret:  Mushroom Dirt!
  • I didn’t know about this until about four years ago. This is the secret to making your plants grow like crazy! You can purchase this at Lowes but it’s more expensive. If you can find a farm that will charge you by truck load or per scoop it’s much cheaper. Look at how much darker and richer this dirt looks. It’s magic dirt!

Bigs was in charge of the wheelbarrow. It’s fun to get the kids involved in gardening. It makes them feel helpful and they get to see how things can grow from nothing to something amazing!

Now It’s Time To Plant!

My experience with potted plants is they’re never well watered when I purchase them so this is what I do when I’m ready to plant.

  • I fill a five gallon bucket with water. I hold the plant just under the water. You’ll see bubbles coming out of the dirt of the plant. I hold it under just until the bubbles stop coming out.  This gets the dirt nice and saturated.

  • Dig a hole slightly larger than the plant.
  • Take the plant out of the plastic container and gently separate the roots of the plant.

  •  Place the plant in the hole and press the dirt around the plant.
  • Warning: Mushroom dirt can run a little hot. If you see that the bottom leaves of your plants are getting a little burned you can sprinkle a thin layer of mulch right around the bottom of the plant. I have only had to do this one year.

Don’t Forget Plant Support

This was a great tip I picked up for any plant that vines out, especially cucumbers.

  • If you are short on space in your vegetable garden you can buy a cattle panel. I purchased mine at Lowe’s. You can also find them at farm stores if you have one. They come 16 foot in length. We cut the panel in half with bolt cutters. Since we didn’t need both we shared with a friend.
  • We then took two plant hooks and pressed them firmly into the ground and angle our cattle panel on it’s end.
  • Why is this great for my cucumbers? As the cucumbers grow and vine, I train them to attach and grow up the panel. This accomplishes two things: 1. I don’t take up space in my garden for a plant that needs the vining room. 2. As the cucumber vine grows up the panel, the cucumbers are easily visible for plucking.

This is a close up of the plant hooks supporting the cattle panel.

  •  Don’t forget to support your tomatoes when you plant them. If you wait until they are big it is extremely difficult to support them without damaging the plant. Our supports for the tomatoes actually came as a triangle. We took them apart and made them square to gain some extra space for the tomato plants to grow.

I hope this post has encouraged you to plant your own vegetable garden. I will post updates on my vegetable garden progress.

What I have planted this year: basil, cucumbers, zucchini, yellow squash, and tomatoes (lots of tomatoes).

What are some of your favorite things to plant in your vegetable garden?

 

Top Ten things you must stock in your kitchen

  1. Garlic: If I run out of garlic I feel naked in the kitchen. We use garlic in almost everything. Yes, in a pinch, you can use garlic powder but fresh garlic is preferable.
  2. Kosher salt and fresh ground pepper: I know it’s actually two things but I feel they go hand in hand.
  3. Extra Virgin Olive Oil: This is another thing we can’t live without. We cook everything with olive oil. We use it to sauté, make sauces, dressings, and well pretty much everything in our kitchen gets touched with EVOO.
  4. Onion: Ok, I am not a fresh cut onion gal. I am even shocked that I am at the point of including it on this list. If you feel as opposed to onions as I did, really give them a try. When an onion is cooked down in a dish it adds such depth of flavor. I think you can almost do an injustice to some sauces without it.
  5. Broth: Go for the low sodium Chicken or Beef broth. I have substituted one for the other in a pinch. If you were to have just one, go for the chicken broth. If you feel like you have extra time (hahaha) and want to make your own, go right ahead. If I do happen to save chicken stock it gets shoved to the back of the fridge never to be seen or heard from again.
  6. Lemon and lime: Yes, I did it again with two things. I’ll just call this the citrus category. I learned something recently about lemons and through practice have found it to be true. Don’t forget about the zest of the lemon. There is more flavor in that zest than the juice. The zest can really enhance your dish.
  7. Tomatoes: Personally, I love tomatoes. I could eat them like a piece of fruit. There is nothing like a real garden tomato. Tomatoes are great to cook down for spaghetti sauce and stew. I usually have fresh and the no sodium, whole, canned Roma tomatoes.
  8. Wine Ok, maybe this should have been at the top of the list, haha. Red and white go well in quite a few dishes. Anytime I make stews or braised meat I always include red. Sometimes I even throw it into spaghetti sauce. White wine can be used in chicken dishes and some fish dishes as well. Let’s be real, the best part is you get to drink it while you are cooking. Can’t beat that.
  9. Fresh herbs: I was going to put specific ones but I know everyone has their favorite. My three are fresh basil, thyme, and oregano. I can’t live without basil in the summer. I use Oregano in spaghetti sauce and even to sprinkle on a sandwich. Thyme is great with chicken. One thing I did discover about Rosemary recently is that I only prefer it roasted in the oven or sautéed in oil so it gets crunchy. Try this if you think plain rosemary is to overwhelming. Have your favorite on hand.
  10. Cheese: Not the shredded cheese but actual blocks of good cheese. Our new favorite is Parmesagn/Reggiano

Sticky Fingers

So, I was feeling brave. I was going to attempt to take both babies shopping. It’s quite exhausting hauling two 24 pounds babies in and out of the car. Yes, they weigh the same. Even more frustrating is trying to maneuver a double stroller around the racks. It’s not always easy fitting through the doors either.

Our shopping trip started off at Target. That place will be my financial down fall. We successfully managed to do returns, which I usually try to do without the two babies in tow. We did great and even managed to grab a couple goodies. You see what I’m saying, cha ching! We made it out unscathed.

I’m feeling pretty good, feeling even more brave. Maybe we could head to the mall. So, more returns for Children’s Place. We had a close call at Children’s Place with a near melt down from both Bigs and Lil. The only way to solve this is trying to look at clothes with one hand and continuously push and pull the stroller in place with the other. Yes, we are quite an amusing site. Since they seemingly calmed down, I had an obvious lapse in judgement and decided to push my luck.

Maybe, just maybe, I could run in and out of Victoria’s Secret. I really need a new bathing suit. I’ve not had a nice suit in a couple years being pregnant. If I had a hot suit then maybe I would feel like the old me again. You know, instead of the Mom who never gets out of her work out clothes, and that’s not because I’m working out! The girls also need extra support these days with breastfeeding, and I thought Victoria’s Secret would be the best choice for that situation. I quickly realized there weren’t many options at Victoria’s Secret. I really don’t need the 2 inches of padding…I would then look like Dolly Parton. Ok, now we have officially hit our limit. Lil has informed me that she is no longer falling for the pushing and pulling the stroller in place.

On our way to the mall exit, I spot a very colorful Maxi dress in the front window of a store. Well, I couldn’t pass that up could I. Obviously, I was still in my dumb fog and thought I could run in, grab it, pay, and then get the hell out of dodge.

I speedily wheeled my Bjorn through the entrance when I hear a beep, beep, beep. What the …? I look around and nope, only me. I looked at the store associate and said, well I guess that was me. With a puzzled and fascinated look she was glancing back and forth between me and Bigs. She then said, well he’s got something in his hands. What! I head around to the front of the stroller, and sure enough Bigs, now a.k.a sticky fingers was holding something teal. What in the world is that!?! Yes, you guessed it, Bigs had snagged a teal bathing suit bottom from Victoria’s Secret. Guess he thought I would look good in teal. Funnily enough, No alarm went off upon exit of the Victoria’s Secret store.

I hurriedly ran my crying babies, double stroller booty to the opposite end of the mall to return the stolen merchandise. I repeatedly apologized to the high school age associate for my son nabbing a teal bikini bottom… and chewing off the tag.

Bigs will now be known as Sticky Fingers and will not be going in to VS with me ever again.

What the what?

So, just picture this…In my mommy brain haze, I’m trying to type an important email. I’m trying to type the phrase “getting all my ducks in a row.” I never realized what a difficult saying that was to type when your brain isn’t functioning at full capacity. There I am, just happily clicking away and hmmm what did I just type? What the what….I replaced the D with an F in ducks! Woooaaaa nelly, back that thing up! That’s not what I meant. Ok, well the F is by the D. Alright, crisis averted…start again. Click, click, click. What in the world! That’s not what I meant either. Ok, now I’ve replaced the the U in ducks with an I! That isn’t where I was going with this email. This saying sucks. Literally it does, because I could have typed that too.

From now on, I will never try to type ducks in a row ever again. Well, after this post that is!

Let it be her Daddy’s big head!

As I rocked my sweet girl to sleep tonight, I looked at her precious face and just wanted to cry. Why…why does such a little person have so many health problems. Adults should be the only ones that have to deal with health issues. It’s not really fair for her to have all this on her plate.

Friday she gets an ultrasound on her head. Lil’s doctor became a bit more concerned last visit since her head size has continually gotten larger. She was always above the curve but following it…until now.

I don’t feel that anything is wrong. As a mother you always think you will know. Unfortunately, I never expected her diagnosis at four days old or the Asthma diagnosis last week. She’s to small, to innocent…give her a break. She is developmentally where she should be at this point. That is something we were scared we would never be able to say.
Children are so innocent and so trusting. I wish I could wave my mommy magic wand and make her problems go away! Oh, how I wish I could. No more doctors and diagnosis.

Please, just let it be her Daddy’s big head.
Please…

Exhaustion

Exhaustion… every mom who’s reading this probably just took a deep breath in and exhaled deeply. No one knows exhaustion better than a mother. Men, well…I don’t think they really have a clue.

My husband was gone on an overnight trip for work. He had to drive a couple hours each way. Bigs and Lil both had colds and were teething. Yes, we had a blast at our house with 5 hours of sleep. My husband came home from his trip and uttered this unbelievable statement, “I’m so exhausted from driving and entertaining!” Yes, you absolutely read that correctly. He had a two hour drive, an evening of entertaining (which included a 7 course meal), a junior suite (cough, cough, peace and quiet), and drove two hours home the next day. The most absurd thing was that he couldn’t understand why I looked at him as if he was insane.

Are you kidding me?

There is one more thing us moms know about being tired. You think to yourself, there is no way in the world I can ever be more tired than this. The universe then decides to mock you! Hence, the next night in our household. Bigs woke up screaming at 2am. What makes this worse is his room is right above ours and you can hear everything. I comforted him and put him back down to only have him start screaming again.

No one knows exhaustion like a mom

I then promptly sent my husband back up who was supposed to sleep with him in the extra bed. He comes back half hour later. He had put the awake Bigs back in his crib. I was then awake until after 5:30am when I fell asleep on the couch. You see, the universe decided to be cruel and apparently give Bigs an extra dose of energy. The child kicked his crib, did the running man, and pointed at the camera and laughed. This was all while my exhausted entertaining husband lay beside me and snored. How do we do it? How do we manage to function some days?

Short Ribs

Thin Short Ribs

Snow falling, fire going, and short ribs cooking away in the oven. To me, there is nothing better on a cold day than braised meat or stew. If you’ve never tried short ribs, I highly recommend them! My husband and I love to cook. For me, it’s a much harder task to accomplish with two babies needing attention.

First, I highly suggest a dutch oven. Yes, you can spend a couple hundred dollars and more. I chose to try a cheaper version at Sams club and so far it’s paid off. The use of the dutch oven is a pretty easy way to infuse a lot of flavor into meat or poultry.

So, this is what you need. If you don’t have the exact ingredients it’s OK, I’ve put the alternatives I’ve used.

TIP: I always add red wine to red meat. You can’t go wrong.

Ingredients:

  1. Kosher Salt and ground pepper
  2. 5 diced garlic cloves (depends on size)
  3. Tomatoes (8 Roma or 2 regular, whichever you prefer)
  4. 1/2 to 1 diced yellow onion (up to you)
  5. 2 cups of beef or chicken stock
  6. 1-2 cups of Red Wine (I prefer Cabernet Sauvignon, but I have used others in a pinch)
  7. I also crisped up a little Prosciutto to put on top but it’s not needed

Directions:

    1. Place your rack on the lowest level in oven and preheat to 350.
    2. Season short ribs on both sides with salt and pepper. Cover bottom of dutch oven with olive oil.
    3. On medium-high heat sear off short ribs on all sides. Remove to a plate. Put in diced onions and cook down for a couple minutes. Add garlic to the pot and cook for just a minute to infuse the flavor. Pour in a cup of wine…or more! Use a wooden spoon to scrape up the brown goodness on the bottom of pan. Place in short ribs, tomatoes, and your stock. Cover and place in the oven. For the thin short ribs that I used you can cook for a couple hours. If you use the thick short ribs I’d cook for 2 1/2 hours.

I served the short ribs with mashed potatoes and snap peas. The short ribs were also paired with 337 Cabernet Sauvignon 2010.

Yummy!

Thirty two months

Thirty two months straight, that’s my number at the moment.

That’s how many months I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding! I am as shocked as you are. Let me tell you, my belly button will never be the same. I am amazed at how fast the time has gone. Everyone told me to enjoy the babies while they were small. Probably, like everyone else, I thought that I did. I am now looking at a 19 month old and 6 month old. It makes me sad how fast it’s gone.

That’s how many months I have either been pregnant or breastfeeding!

As mothers, we need some alone time, or “me” time. Honestly, I haven’t had much of that. I don’t have much breathing room. Being a stay at home mom is extremely rewarding. I wouldn’t trade it. There are also those moments when you just need to get away. When your child decides to do everything they’re not supposed to and give you that look…what are you going to do about it.

It’s amazing what we are capable of, mothers that is. Day in and day out we show up. We can’t call in sick. We have the toughest and the most rewarding job in the world.

So, this is my girls night out. The Sticky Mom blog is now my way of sharing all the joy, frustration, and tears. This is my way to exhale.