Monday, February 22, 2010

fake mousse yummy thing

i have no idea what this is called and unfortunately i don't have a photo of it, but trust me when i say it is a bowl of delicious goodness. it is a dessert, kind of like a mousse, but fruity and so easy as to be cheating. has anyone made this and know what it is called? i got the recipe from a girlfriend, who referred to it as "that jello-pudding-fruit yummy thing."

1 package vanilla cook-and-serve pudding mix
1 package sugar-free fruit jell-o (flavor is your choice)
1 tub light cool-whip
chopped or sliced fruit

the pudding mix and jell-o packages need to be the same size. if you use a small package of each, you would use the small (8 oz.) tub of cool-whip. if you use a large package of pudding and jall-o, you would use the larger (16 oz.) tub of cool whip. i used one 12 oz. package of frozen berries when i made this with the large packages of pudding and jell-o, but i think in the future i'd use two. there was not enough fruit in it. you can also use canned fruit, but be sure to drain it first.

substitute water for milk (amount is according to pudding mix) and bring to a boil. stir in the pudding mix and the jell-o mix, remove from heat, and allow to cool but not set. fold in cool-whip, and then fold in fruit. chill.

i made mine with mixed berries and raspberry jell-o; i had it originally with strawberry jell-o and sliced strawberries. my girlfriend makes hers usually with lime jell-o and canned pineapple. it really is fabulous. i can't stop eating it.

Thursday, February 18, 2010

my very own farm box!

one of the things on my 2010 to-do list was fill the planter box with dirt and plant a garden. well, it's finally happened! okay, the garden itself is not planted, but everything is ready to go for it and it WILL be planted in a couple weeks.

i decided to do square foot gardening because i had read that the garden stays virtually weed-free and that you can get a LOT of produce out of a small space. i did my garden on the cheap, though. you can spend a lot of money through that website, but i am not a devoted follower so i didn't. i filled the planter box with a mixture of compost, a few bags of garden soil picked up on the cheap from our local nursery, and some free sandy dirt that i found on craigslist.

then it was time to make my squares. according to mel, the grid is what makes square foot gardening work. i think it helps to keep you visually and mentally organized. i used household string and a staple gun to make my grid. i plan to plant two squares of swiss chard, two squares of bell peppers, two squares of zucchini, and two squares of indeterminate tomatoes across the back. in the front squares, i have planned a square of regular parsley, a square of italian parsley, two squares of basil, a square of thyme, a square of chives, and two squares of carrots.

i started my plants from seed. i bought a humidity dome (cheap) and some peat pellets. carrots, zucchini, and peppers will be sown directly into the soil, but everything else was started in here. i also started some roma tomatoes, to go in a large pot on our patio. romas make a bush instead of a vine, so they will be nicer in the pot than in the bed crowding out other plants, and they will look pretty when they are caged.

i also needed a trellis for the peppers, tomatoes, and zucchini. i was going to buy some, but my father suggested building one would be cheaper. for about $6 in lumber, this is what i built.

i used 2x2 furring strips for the main vertical pieces, and 1x2 furring strips for the cross-brace and side braces. then i cut small notches on the outside every 12 inches, and wrapped garden wire around the vertical pieces, in the notches. the trellis does not go all the way across the box because i only need it for six squares (two each of tomatoes, peppers, and zucchini) and also because it would block the guest bedroom window.

see those little rectangles in the front of my box? those are my labels! originally i wanted to use large popsicle sticks or wooden tongue depressors, but the craft store was out of them. these are 2x3-inch wooden rectangles that i found in the wooden craft aisle of the craft store. they were 29c each and i only needed eight (seven for here and one for my pot of romas). i wrote the names of the plants on them with a permanent marker and then tacked them on with the staple gun. i think they will be easy to pry off next year. the one for the romas i will glue to a skewer or something so it can be stuck in the dirt of the pot.

in a couple of weeks my seedlings will be ready to be hardened off and planted in the box, and then i will have to start the long impatient wait until i can harvest. i have been learning a lot about gardening, more than i ever thought was possible!

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

2010 to-do list: in progress

i have been a bad blogger lately. i'm sorry. often i feel that there is not much interesting going on around here. we have been getting our farm boxes, and i love them still. and i am trying to make some very positive changes in my life.

one of the biggest changes i am trying to make is to be more disciplined. since that is kind of a vague goal, i defined it somewhat in my 2010 to-do list (aka new year's resolutions). specifically, i said i wanted to create and maintain a household management schedule and plan meals weekly and keep our grocery bill down. (i know "down" sounds kind of nebulous too, but trust me, there is a dollar amount attached to it as well.) so far i have been succeeding at both though i am hesitant to cross them off the list as "done" just yet. it's still early in the year.

my household management schedule was pretty simple. i am basically an overgrown five-year-old, and i like getting gold stars when i do things. so i made myself a chore chart and broke it down by day. this is what my week looks like:

monday: indoor chores
- wash sheets
- sweep tile
- mop tile
- vacuum
- clean toilets
- clean bathroom sinks
- clean upstairs shower (the others get used very rarely)
- dust
- bring in garbage cans
- water plants

tuesday: outdoor chores
- mow lawns
- trim roses
- pull weeds
- edge lawns
- sweep front porch
- sweep garage
- spa chemicals

- laundry
- iron brian's work shirts
- menu-planning/grocery list
- pick up csa box

- grocery shopping

it became a lot more manageable when i realized that "running" the house is really just a lot of little tiny chores. cleaning the house is this huge big thing and where do you even start, but how long does scrubbing a toilet really take. i pull a bucketful of weeds each week, and they stay under control and i don't break my back. this way i also have three days "off" at the end of the week, when my chores are all done, though lately i've been doing my grocery shopping on wednesdays while we're out getting the csa box, so i've been getting four off days, which came in handy when the lawn was too wet to mow last tuesday.

getting the csa box is also forcing me to be more disciplined. we are eating healthier and i am forced to plan meals and shop with a grocery list, which is keeping our grocery bill down. it's still not under my target budget, but i'm working on that. i feel guilty letting all that good food go to waste (although we have gotten butternut squash four weeks in a row and while i like it, i'm getting kind of tired of it), so i have to plan for it. otherwise what would i have done with the turnips that were in last week's box, because we don't eat turnips on a regular basis. i have to plan for something to do with them.

so that is how i am doing on my new year's resolutions, so far. one of my other resolutions, to plant a garden, is coming along quite nicely and i will have pictures to share soon. i'm pretty excited about it. how are your new year's resolutions panning out?