laid off and learning to love it… my journey from corporate sprinter to life marathoner

sahm: garden therapy, part 3 – pesto love 08/09/2009

Filed under: Activities,Garden,Saving Money — ccatet @ 1:47 pm

a few weeks ago, i cut my first crop of basil… keep in mind that i would have probably reaped 2 or more crops by now if not for the homemade insecticide fiasco, but let’s not relive that nightmare!

DSC_0122trimming the basil took no time at all, but i lingered over the task as the smell is truly heavenly. the kids only sleep for around 2 hours so i couldn’t hang out too long! once inside, i rinsed the basil and threw it into the food processor along with a few other ingredients and whipped up some pesto. we had no immediate plans for the pesto, so i froze everything. i had a full ice cube tray of pesto… yet i secretly wondered if we’d ever eat it?

low and behold, the time came upon us. last night, i decided to make pasta, salad and french bread with baked pesto & parmesan on top.

DSC_0124not to be outdone, my brother delivered homemade tomato sauce – 14 cups – just before i started cooking! i am grateful for the sauce as it will last us until winter, but seriously, what does he feed his garden???

i added a cube of pesto and ground turkey to the simmering sauce, baked the bread, then cut the bread up to broil the pesto and parmesan on top.

i have to say that the pesto bread plus the homemade sauce (with added pesto) were      FA-BU-LOUS.

so far this gardening thing is not so bad, now i am just waiting on our zucchini. it’s been almost 3 months since i planted that monstrosity and only have one small zucchini to show for it. the full plant is seriously taking over the dirt pit! everyone keeps saying it looks good and healthy and they will come – i guess i just have to wait and see…


sahm: garden therapy, part 2 07/09/2009

Filed under: Activities,Garden — ccatet @ 7:24 am

the garden is doing better than originally expected! however, the current theme song is probably something along the lines of Against All Odds (Phil Collins)… so no celebrating yet. the basil is coming in nicely and i am planning to try my hand at pesto next week. also, there is hope for the zucchini plant but no actual fruit as of press time. i suppose we can just mooch off of my brother if we want more zucchini… his garden is ridiculous.

here are some photos i took yesterday… first, the basil:



second, the zucchini plant with the basil:

basil, zucchini & pinwheels

basil, zucchini & pinwheels

third, a picture of the amount of space we have to expand the garden next year… hmmmm. not sure i am that ambitious (nor do i think my son will willingly give up his dirt pit real estate)!

full garden

full garden

i can’t help but think about my numbers for this venture. for myself and the other analysts out there, i am batting .500 right now. i started with 8 basil plants and 2 zucchini plants, however only 4 basil and one zucchini plant remains. i still haven’t thrown any fertilizer or additional dollars at the garden. i am really not sure i like it that much to invest in it – yet.

i am remaining open-minded though. the garden is nice to look at and it’s peaceful to take a few minutes every morning or evening to water the plants (as long as my son is not around because when he is, i end up soaked!)

honestly, i want to pick the basil and see what happens next. i am hoping we’ll all have the experience of picking our own fruit from the garden and eating it.

talk to me next week when we try to make homemade pesto. perhaps when we can actually eat and taste something we grew, i will sing a happy tune… a little I Can See Clearly Now (Jimmy Cliff) would be really nice.


garden therapy, part 1 06/17/2009

Filed under: Activities,Garden,Saving Money — ccatet @ 2:08 pm

this spring, when thinking of fun things for my kids and i to do around the house, i toyed with the idea of a garden. i was rightfully apprehensive – black thumbs tend to run in our family. plus, my experience with pruning is legendary throughout the neighborhood: i went out one day to “trim back” this cute little tree at our last house and left a bloody stump in my wake. i think i went OCD on that poor tree.

to make matters worse, i like results and fast. i know for a fact that i cannot speed up this gardening process — was i setting mysef up for misery, frustration and failure?

in hopes of conquering the negative energy and turning over a new leaf, i researched ways to introduce the subject to a toddler and include him in the process. with him watching, i was pretty sure there was no way i could mutilate a plant. i looked up rookie-proof vegetables and landed on zucchini and basil.

we grabbed a small plot on the end of my son’s dirt pit and roped it off (ok, it’s yarn – but you get the point).  we turned over the soil and checked the consistency: not too much clay, rocks or sand… i was optimistic. we got the organic zucchini seeds for free from a friend whose sister is well connected in the world of organic seeds… i didn’t even know such a world existed until now.

around the same time, i spotted some nice looking basil at the farmer’s market in town. i asked what i thought were decent questions of the farmer about light, water, soil, etc.. and walked away feeling good about my $3 purchase and more educated. after the last frost, my son helped me plant the seeds and the basil. it took about 3 minutes total. it was a bit of a let down after all the prep work… but i am new at this, so what do i know?

we watered daily. we made sure weeds did not invade. we trimmed back the basil and “thinned out” the zucchini. did i mention i am learning new terms in this process?

here is how we’re doing so far…we planted 2 zucchini plants. one is looking good, the other looks a bit more charlie brown-ish. we’re hoping the good one thrives! as for the basil, things are not looking promising. we had some bugs attacking the leaves so i made a homemade insecticide. unfortunately for me, combined with too much sun, this recipe fries out your leaves. way to go, rookie.

if you haven’t figured it out yet, i am curious by nature and for once in my life have a little bit of time to learn more. i took a few moments during naptime this weekend to read online about how to trim back the burned out leaves in attempt to continue the polination and growth of the buds.

a few days ago, while the kids napped, i headed out back to try to salvage the basil. i meant to take about 2 minutes and blow through the task and move onto other things reserved for naptime… but something happened. as i sat there plucking and trimming, the sweet smell of basil took over. i had never smelled something so potent in my own hands – that i grew – in my own garden. i slowed down. i took my time with each plant… looking closely and giving them each a little undivided attention.

i ended up sitting there for almost 15 minutes without knowing it. i won’t lie to you: some of the basil plants are goners, but a few of them may flourish. only time will tell.

when i finished, i came back inside refreshed and with a little bounce in my step. slowing down and smelling the basil drastically improved my outlook on the whole gardening experience. i am again optimistic and hopeful that with a little extra love, our charlie brown plants will prosper.

so far, the costs associated with this venture are at $3. i have not been in therapy but i hear it costs a lot more.