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12 May
2010
Posted in: food, home, Made It
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Made it: White Bean and Tuna Salad

white bean and tuna salad - everyday food magazine may 2010New obsession: White bean and tuna salad from the May 2010 issue of Everyday Food magazine. It’s simple and quick. One of those “ready in 15” meals that actually works. Plus, it’s easy to halve for 2 people and great as leftovers (as long as you keep the spinach and bean/tuna mixture separate).

I couldn’t find it on the Martha site but these two recipes are somewhat similar: Tuna and White Bean Salad and Bean, Red Onion, and Parsley Salad.

A perfect summer dinner. Thank you, Martha’s minions!

10 Jun
2009

How To: Make Tomato Ladders from the IKEA Salvia Trellis

Ladder or cage? The great debate. I have been obsessing over the idea of using tomato ladders rather than cages this year. I’ve heard they’re great for smaller spaces (like raised beds) because they help the plant grow up rather than out.

I had my eye on these beautiful red tomato ladders from Gardener’s Supply, but at $50 for a set of three, I’d be out $100 just on tomato supports!  While it’s not my main purpose for gardening, I do like the idea that I’m saving money by growing food in my backyard. So, for now the red steel ladders will wait on my wishlist.

I knew I couldn’t use the flimsy $1.99 variety either…last year I had to triage with bamboo, twine and pieces of a trellis – it got pretty ugly. Insert my seemingly endless supply of IKEA Salvia trellises, which I bought on clearance last year for $3. I copied the concept of a tomato ladder using pieces of the trellis. Each ladder uses six Salvia trellis squares (there are nine squares in a pack).

How To:

  1. Hook together three pieces of the trellis with the middle piece on the “outside.” This is one side of the trellis.
  2. Attach the lower and middle pieces of the other side by slipping them through the square part of the first side and interlocking them. Repeat with the top piece.
  3. Use zip ties to hook the middle vertical sections together. This helps strengthen the ladder since the top and bottom corners of the trellis are loose.
  4. Insert the lower angled pieces into the ground and drive small stakes or pins into the ground to anchor the ladder.

There you have it – a thick, steel tomato ladder for $10 each (or $2 in my case). All that’s missing is the cheery color. The good news is that it matches the trellis we already made for the sweat peas. So what do you think of my IKEA hack?  Have you made anything with the IKEA Salvia trellis?

1 Jun
2009

We Dig It

The plants and seeds made it into the ground two weeks ago and we just can’t contain our excitement. So much so that we forgot to write about the process. But we did document it with photos.  Here’s what we ended up planting: roma tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, grape tomatoes, green onions, summer squash, radishes, jalapeno, green peppers, yellow peppers, basil, cilantro, parsley, cucumber, beets, buttercrunch lettuce, arugula, snow peas, and sweet peas!  The following are pictures of one of the three planter boxes.

Week 0: Planted peas, beets, tomatoes, arugula, butter lettuce

Week 1: Sweet peas, beets, and arugula germinated!

Week 2: Sweet peas and arugula growing like crazy!

We edited the original container garden plan slightly to allow for the peas to grow in a north – south line and make the most of the space. As you can see in the above pics, the pea trellis is pretty tall and we’re hoping a wild wind doesn’t take it down (fingers crossed).

Our latest gardening dilemma is how often and how much to water.  We are currently watering every other day, by putting the hose into each box for about 2 – 3 minutes.

Original Plan:

24 May
2009

How To: Build a Container Garden

Oh, contain yourself! My garden plan for this year consists of three 4×4′ raised bed containers, which means I needed to build two more boxes. Here’s my simple “how to” for building raised garden beds.

Supply List (for each 4×4′ box)
2×6 boards* – 40 feet total (if you have to load them in your car you’ll want five 8-foot pieces, or you could cut them in the store)
4×4 post* – 6 or 8 feet long
48 3-inch or 3.5-inch nails (or screws)

* Most people recommend using cedar or redwood but I happened to have a bunch of lumber sitting around so I used plain old 2×6s – probably fir. True, they won’t last as long and they’re already a little beat up, but free is a pretty good price! Any wood will work as long as it’s not treated.

Tools
Tape Measure
Power saw (I used a circular saw, but a table saw would be ideal)
Hammer
Shovel

How To:

  1. Get out your tape measure and mark cut lines every 48 inches on your 2×6 boards. I recommend leaving about 1/16″ for the cut or measuring after each cut.
  2. Power saw time – make the cuts so you end up with 10 pieces that are 48 inches long.
  3. Measure and cut your 4×4 post so you end up with four 16-inch pieces.
  4. Set two of the posts parallel on the ground, four feet apart and lay two of the 2×6 boards across them, even with the top.
  5. Nail two nails into the end of each board. Repeat with the second set of posts and two more 2×6s.
  6. Turn your new contraptions upside-down and position them parallel on the ground, four feet apart. Place one of your remaining 2×6s between them and nail it in place. Repeat with another 2×6 and then with the other side.
  7. Grab a friend and flip your box over!
  8. Nail the last two 2×6s to the top of your box to be used as benches or “knee rests.” I think it gives it a nice, finished look without spending time making precise diagonal cuts for an “all the way around” border.
  9. Dig four holes in the ground for the corner posts.
  10. Position your box and make sure it is level before filling in the holes.

Now all you need to do is fill your new container garden with dirt and get planting!

14 May
2009

Cecilia, you’re breaking my heart…

What to do when it’s raining and you can’t garden? Find cute botanical prints for a project! After several years of sharing my mornings with the group of neighborhood children and parents who stand in my front yard waiting for the school bus, I’ve decided I need curtains. (The greater issue of how to get them off my lawn will be solved at another time.) There are two 40-inch wide windows above my corner sink that face the street. Love the setup, but not the view.

I’ve seen a bundle of cute bright and LARGE botanical prints recently. It’s a fresh take on “old lady” botanicals.

My first wish was the Serafina shade from Pottery Barn (before I saw the $100 price tag). Too much for something I might ruin with a wild dish washing session. It’s also a little too red for my kitchen.

Then there’s the new Cecilia fabric line from IKEA I’ve been gawking at. There are several different patterns – all involving flowers, nuts or birds. My favorite is the Cecilia pink and orange print.

While not quite the bright look I’m going for, there’s something I initially liked about this large print Damask panel curtain from Target. It seems too trendy though… and after looking at it for a few seconds I decided it reminded me of some note cards I had a few years ago. A true sign the Damask trend is on it’s way out.

Back to the curtains. I purchased the Cecilia fabric and decided to create a simple cafe curtain for the perfect combination of privacy and light. I said “No thanks” to Martha Stewart’s detail-less post on creating a simple cafe curtain, and went my own route. It wasn’t too difficult to measure and sketch out a pattern idea. After sewing a set of curtains for each window, I realized the kitchen door looked lonely and made a matching set for the window.

I love the way they turned out. Perfect for spring and so easy I’ll be able to replicate them when I get tired of the print or find a new fabric I want to try.

One of my finished cafe curtains