gardening

Starting Seeds

When I count my blessings, one that I think of often is the fact that my daughter shares a lot of the same interests as me. I know it may not always be like this, but I’ll enjoy it for as long as it lasts. Whether we’re cooking, crafting, painting, or, in this case, gardening, she is right by my side. The best sidekick I could ever ask for.

This past weekend, we spent some time outside, planting some seeds in trays to start inside, until it’s safe for us to plant them outside. The best part about living in the South is that spring comes pretty early!!

I tend to get a little overzealous, and start gardening a little too early every year.  So I limited us to some hardier crops – mainly spinach and lettuces (arugula is my favorite!). My daughter insisted on planting some flower seeds, so we did that as well…probably too early, but we’ll see!! We repurposed a bottle holder and filled it with organic seed starter mix.  We then dampened the mix a little.

 

Then we dropped in our seeds, covering them with a tiny bit of soil,  and labeled our rows.

It’s so much fun to watch the seeds sprout, and such a good lesson for the kiddos too. I’m putting my daughter in charge of watering this year (responsibility!) Hopefully it will also open her mind up a little to eating a few more greens. We’ll see….

 

Pantry Decor

DIY Pantry Decor

As lame as it may sound, one of the rooms I was most excited about when we were building our home was the open, walk-in pantry.

DIY Pantry Decor
Storage

I love to cook and so the idea of having space to store all of the random ingredients I have on hand was particularly exciting to me. While I’ve got most of it set up the way I want, there is a large blank wall that had yet to be decorated.

“Living Wall”

I swear the pantry has the best light of any room in the house (I’ll often shoot in there). The light made me think that a kind of “living wall” might work perfectly. Since I’m not ready to commit to a full-out wall of plants, I decided to start small with a few wall planters. I wanted to frame them to make them seem more like “arty”.  I picked up these simple frames from the thrift shop (50 cents each!!) and spray painted them in silver. The planters are from IKEA, but they no longer carry them. They can be ordered here, on Amazon.

DIY Pantry Decor
DIY Pantry Decor
Signage
I’ve had the Provisions sign for a while, a DIY from my pre-blog days. Maybe with the new herb decor (parsley, chives and basil, to be specific), I’ll change it to something like “Herboriste” (but maybe something a little less cliche!) If you’re interested in a how-to on this type of sign, check out this post.
DIY Pantry Decor

 

DIY Pantry Decor

Meyer Lemon Simple Syrup

I am officially a citrus farmer. I just harvested 4 good-sized lemons from my Meyer lemon tree! This is my second attempt at citrus farming, so I’m pretty excited that I finally had some success. Since so many of my favorite cocktails contain lemon juice and simple syrup, I knew right away that I wanted to make a simple syrup with my harvest.

These syrup walks the line between acidic and sweet. I love it and am so looking forward to trying it in a Bee’s Knees, a Cherry Gin Sour, and even the Vermont 75. This would be another awesome holiday gift for neighbors and friends (regardless of whether you grow the lemons yourself or buy them from the store!!)


Ingredients 

2 large Meyer lemons
1 cup of sugar
1 cup of water

Directions

Cut peels off lemons, being careful to avoid the white pith.

Juice the lemons when finished.

Pour water into small saucepan with the peel, add in sugar and lemon juice.

Bring to a simmer, stirring to dissolve sugar. Simmer for about 10 minutes, then turn off heat. Allow to cool for about 30 minutes, and then pour into jar or glass bottle.

Stay tuned for a new cocktail recipe this Friday using this magical syrup …

Simple Syrups: Ideas for Making, Storing & Gifting

I am a wee bit obsessive about simple syrups. Lately my husband and I have gotten pretty serious about mixology … it’s one of the few hobbies that we share (opposites attract, right??). It’s so fun to experiment with different flavor combinations – fruits, herbs, bitters, etc. Plus it allows me to use a lot of the herbs I have growing in my garden.  

Simple syrup has to be one of the easiest things to make. Seriously, boxed mac & cheese has more steps than simple syrup does. You simply put equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and heat until dissolved. There are countless ways to add flavors to the syrup, and I’ve included two variations below, one with lavender and the other with mint. I’ve also had great success with thyme and rosemary.

Simple Syrup Variations

Lavender-Infused Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water
4 sprigs of lavender

Mint-Infused Simple Syrup

1 cup sugar

1 cup water
12 mint leaves

I’ll keep my simple syrup in the fridge for 2-3 weeks. To extend the life, I’ll usually try to freeze some of the batch in ice cube trays, using a small leaf from the infused flavor source to identify the type of syrup I’m freezing. Note that the simple syrup cubes will not get as hard as ice cubes because of the sugar content. 

Simple syrups make great gifts too. It’s homemade, unique and will be appreciated by any cocktail lover. I typically use mason jars to store and gift, with a chalkboard top for labeling and some twine and herbs for decoration.