While the ground was still frozen (or, just cold-- I do live in the South), and the leaves were just emerging buds on the trees, I was dreaming of gardens and a back deck that would make our rental house truly feel like a home. For those of you who have read previous posts, you know Cliff and I embarked on a massive project to remove English Ivy in the backyard and lay the groundwork -- pun intended -- for projects in the future.
In an effort to save some money, I thought starting an herb garden would be a fun way to make the back deck beautiful, and serve a purpose. Using some gift cards to Home Depot, we invested in everything from lavender to oregano, and chives to lemon balm. I can't tell you how much fun we had watching the herbs grow, and they even got to the point I could barely keep up with them!
I feel like a proud mama; as we enter November, the herbs are still giving me their all, and I want to make sure their service doesn't go unnoticed. I'll try to bring a few indoors and am going to divide some of the larger bunches and put them in the ground before we have our first frost. But, the majority will be dried so I can use them throughout the winter for meals.
I found tips online for drying herbs with a microwave -- tons of fun! This is how I've been saving my herbs, and think you should check it out: http://www.seriouseats.com/2015/03/use-the-microwave-to-dry-your-herbs-for-long-lasting-intense-flavor.html.
Note: You don't have to use a mortar and pestle to grind the herbs after they've dried. I successfully used the bottom of a water glass (it must be flat) to achieve the same results.
Save some money and use old spice jars from herbs you bought at the grocery store. I set aside glass jars when they are empty and add the dried herbs from my garden to re-use the container. It may not save tons of money, but every little bit helps! <3
A critical requirement to achieving a balanced lifestyle is discovering recipes that make comfort food a little lighter without sacrificing flavor. This recipe from Well Plated was a win for us. Butternut squash is a weakness of mine (get ready for some major butternut influence as the fall unfolds!) and I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the addition of the cranberries. As suggested in the blog, we used dried cranberries that were low in added sugars.
Click the link to get the recipe and add it to your weeknight menu!
Current Obsession - Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life by Anne Lamott
I've laughed, I've turned pages with anxiety, and even reached my hand out to "high five" the thin air...all thanks to Anne Lamott's wit and genuine thought. She is a sharp writer and this book is not only a quick read, but one that will motivate you to dig deep and take better stock of the world around you. For example, she discusses yellow post-it notes and how she uses those to capture ideas, or how different sounds and smells will evoke emotions and memories that had previously been suppressed. She's the kind of writer that demands great respect, yet still seems approachable. Would you be my friend, Anne Lamott?
If you need a good read, or recommendation for book club, please give this a try. It has a little something for everyone!
Until next time, I hope you enjoy your #hearthhealthhappiness!