Category Archives: DIY

Floral Granny Square Blanket

I used to nanny for my cousins’ baby girl. We used to have so much fun together and I know those memories will always be special to me. Sadly they just moved away. Before they left I gave Harper a first birthday gift, this floral granny square blanket.

I used Lion Brand Baby’s First yarn in Honey Bee, Cotton Ball, Twinkle Toes, Fairy Tale, Beanstalk and Sea Sprite and an N hook. The free chart and pattern are below.

Using Yarn A make a magic loop.
Round 1 – Chain 3 (counts as 1 dc), 11 dc into loop, ss into the top of the beginning ch-3 to join. [12 dc] Fasten off.
Round 2 – Join Yan B in any dc. *ch 3, 5 dc into next dc, chain 3, ss into each of the next 2 dc; repeat from * twice more ch 3, 5 dc into next dc, ch 3, slip stitch into next dc [4 5-dc groups, 8 ch-3] Fasten off.
Round 3 – Join Yarn C in the center dc of any 5-dc group, ch 3 (counts as dc), 4 dc into the same dc, ch 3, skip 2 dc and ch-3, dc into the space between 2 dc of round 1 (below 2 ss of Round 2), ch 3, skip ch-3 and 2 dc, *5 dc into the next dc, ch 3, skip 2 dc and ch-3, dc into the space between 2 dc of Round 1 (below 2 ss of Round 2), ch 3, skip ch-3 and 2 dc; repeat from * twice more, ss to the top of the beginning ch-3 to join. [4 5-dc groups, 4 dc, 8 ch-3 spaces] Fasten off.
Round 4 – Working into the back loops only, join Yarn D in the first dc of any 5-dc group, *skip the next dc, 7 dc into the next dc, skip the next dc, ss into the next dc, skip ch-3, 7 dc into the next dc, skip ch-3, ss into the next dc; repeat from * 3 more times. Fasten off.
Round 5 – Working into the back loops only, join Yarn E in the 4th dc of any corner 7-dc group, ch 3 (counts as one dc), 4 dc into same dc, *dc into next 2 dc, ch 3, dc into 3rd dc of the next 7-dc group, dc into next 2 dc, ch 3, dc into 2nd double crochet of the next corner 7-dc groups, dc into next dc, 5 dc into next dc; repeat from * twice more, dc into next 2-dc, ch 3, dc into next 2 dc, ch 3, dc into 2nd dc of the next 7-dc group, dc into next dc, ss to top of ch-3 to join. Fasten off.
Make as many granny squares as your project requires (I made 20). I also did a Round 6 in Yarn E making single crochets all the way around with 5 in the corner to really square it up. I attached the square by single crocheting through the back loop only.

DIY Yoga Mat Tote

I’ve been going a little yarn crazy recently. In the past month I finished two baby blankets, a full-sized blanket, a dog sweater, two hats, three ear warmers, two pairs of bunny slippers, and two yoga mat totes. I suppose the falling leaves, the cooler weather and the cinnamon scent in the air put me in a cozy, crafty mood.

This is a guide for you to make a yoga mat tote for yourself. I also sell them on Etsy if you are not familiar with crochet or don’t have the time.

I made one for myself…

…and one for my roommate, Alyssa…

We recently started going to yoga classes together so it’s only fitting that we have matching totes.


  • G-hook
  • Worsted Weight (4) Yarn
  • Yarn Needle


  • Double Crochet
  • Slip Stitch
  • Chain Stitch
  • Single Crochet
Note: after every round do another round of slip stitches to help the tote bag keep it’s shape and give it a bit more strength.


Slip knot, then chain 40. Fasten off. Tie on pompoms if desired

Round Base
Slip knot then chain 4, join to first chain with a slip stitch.
Round 1 – Chain 3 (counts as one double crochet), 19 dc into center of loop. ss into top of chain 3. You should have a total of 20 stitches.
Round 2 – Chain 3, *2 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next stitch, repeat from * ss into top of chain 3. You should have 30 stitches.
Round 3 – Chain 3, *2 dc into next stitch, 1 dc into next stitch, repeat from * ss into top of chain 3. You should have 45 stitches.
Round 4 – Chain 1, 1 single crochet into each stitch, ss into top of chain 1.
Tote Body
Round 5-28 – Chain 3, 1 dc into each stitch, ss into top of chain 3.
Round 29 – Chain 1, 1 sc into each stitch, ss into top of chain 1.
Round 30 – Chain 3, *dc2tog, dc into the next stitch, repeat from * ss into top of chain 3. You should have 30 stitches.
Round 31 – We want your drawstring to be on the opposite side of the bag from the seam. Hold the center of your draw string against the top of the previous rounds seam and do the following round around the drawstring (as if you are crocheting over ends). Chain 3, 1 dc into each of the next 13 stitches. When you reach the 14th stitch stop crocheting around the drawstring and dc into the next four stitches. On the 18th stitch pick up the drawstring from the opposite end and start crocheting around it again, dc into the next 12 stitches. Ss into the top of the chain 3 for a total of 30 dc around.
Round 32 and 33 – Chain 3, 1 dc into each stitch, ss into top of chain 3.
Slip knot, chain 62, *turn work, sc into 2nd chain from hook, sc into each stitch until the end* chain 1. Repeat between the *s for 4 or 5 rows, sew onto tote along the seam at about the 8th round and the 26th round.
For mine I was using up a bunch of yarn from my sc blanket. I was also figuring out the pattern. By the time I made Alyssa’s I had perfected the design (which I am sharing with you here). I recommend using one color for the rounds 1-8 and for rounds 26-33 and for the strap for a more cohesive design. Of course I always encourage taking creative liberty. That’s one of the many reasons DIY rocks, you can make it exactly fit your style and needs. Enjoy!

Just say no . . . to canned beans

It’s Food Fun Friday, and after you read this post you will seriously be kicking yourself that you haven’t been cooking your own beans in the slow cooker all along.

3 Reasons to buy dried beans over canned beans:

    1. Money – You can get three cans worth of beans from a single bag of dried beans. Taking that into consideration it’s cheaper in the long run.
    2. Health – Canned beans have a ton of sodium in them. All that extra salt is unnecessary and unhealthy. Dried beans on the other hand are simply beans, not other ingredients (except the occasional pebble, which you should refrain from eating as a rule of thumb)
    3. Environment – buying in bulk is better for the environment because there is less packaging and therefore less waste.

    Are you convinced yet? If not, perhaps the ease of the process will help… To the tutorial!

    Empty the beans onto a flat surface and remove any bad looking beans, pebbles etc. Pour into a colander and rinse with warm water. Add beans to your slow-cooker.

    For every pound (2 cups) of beans add 6 cups of water.

    Leave to cook on high for 4 hours or on low for 8 hours. There will still be water in the cooker even when they are done. They should be tender.

    Remove from slow-cooker either by draining in a colander or with a slotted spoon. Store in an airtight container. This makes about three cans of beans, but don’t worry about the quantity, if needed beans are freezable.

    This tutorial applies to all kinds of beans. We don’t discriminate here on Maggie’s Mind Mumbles.

    Keep your eyes peeled for Fall-is-here stew using these chickpeas/garbanzo beans!;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000005217789;pid=22431432;usg=AFHzDLt0QF9b-R5ptitaJYKF54Xtoe-3qg;;pubid=575791;price=%2459.99;title=Cuisinart+PSC-350+3.5-…;merc=OfficeMax;;width=95;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=679340;usg=AFHzDLsIDE27ugMR6CZkSEH30GRT24r1pA;;pubid=575791;price=%2421.00;title=Over-the-Sink+Collapsi…;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000024781945;pid=sku5274693;usg=AFHzDLvrJZagJsY84i0ieB1-d8H2ZDjs9g;;pubid=575791;price=%2419.97;title=Rubbermaid+Easy+Find+L…;merc=Sam%27s+Club;;width=85;height=85

    Questions? Comments? Leave them below.

    Slow-cooker Apple Butter

    In my plum cake post I talked about the plums my grandmother gave me. Well, the same day she gave me a dozen apples. I knew I needed to make something with the apples to use them up before they went bad. Enter: Apple Butter

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    I started by gathering my supplies: washed apples, bowl for peels, peeler. And found a comfortable place with a nice view: my porch at my outdoor table.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    It took about an hour to peel all the apples… (Julia Child never had this kind of problem peeling apples… then again Julia Child probably had an apple peeler)

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    I turned it into a bit of a game; here’s my longest peel (the whole apple without breaking) I am an apple peeling champ!

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    Then I cored and cubed the apples and added them to the crock-pot and gathered the remaining ingredients.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    Next, I added 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup brown sugar, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon and 1/4 teaspoon allspice (next time I will probably use less sugar because it turned out very sweet since the apples add their own sweetness).

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter
    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    Then I left it for 10 hours and checked it.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    It was still pretty liquid-y so I gave it a couple (2) more hours until it was mostly all evaporated. I put it all in the blender to blend it smooth.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    And poured it into jars… I froze the little one and left the big one in the fridge.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    It tastes wonderful by the spoonful but a few suggestions: added to plain yogurt and mixed with granola, mixed with boiling water for apple cider or spread on toast.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple ButterMaggie's Mind Mumbles//: Slow-Cooker Apple Butter

    You can make most fruit butters this way. I’d like to try pumpkin butter this fall.;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=1154783;usg=AFHzDLsHgqB1mBFwb95v_E3vUel6SY4ndg;;pubid=575791;price=%2456.99;title=Crock-Pot+6-Qt.+Cook+A…;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028505128;pid=TMK4366;usg=AFHzDLt6DUaMQhjvh0gwhb-i8YnehfvLMw;;pubid=575791;price=%2412.98;title=%22Extraordinary+Apple+P…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000024781945;pid=216079;usg=AFHzDLunczpSvw8crm6tzu4upfG9iYNPTQ;;pubid=575791;price=%2418.86;title=Ball+Regular+Mouth+Jar…;merc=Sam%27s+Club;;width=85;height=85

    How have you used apple butter? What other fruit butters have you tried?

    Crispy-Outside, Soft-Inside Baked Tofu Cubes in Stir-Fry

    Here’s a story for you, the other day I went to the grocery store for a block of tofu and some yogurt. I went to the yogurt section (which by the way, I am convinced they move everything around before I arrive just to confuse me) and picked out a tub. A strange sight uncovered itself as I approached the tofu display: a large group of people clustered around curiously eyeing the suspicious white blocks of soy bean curd.
    I have never seen so many people looking at tofu. Here in Fort Collins most people pass by without batting an eye. Not today, it was tofu awareness day and I missed the memo. I excused myself through the ten or so people, checked prices, and grabbed a block of firm for $2.99.
    As I started to walk away one woman called after me, “Excuse me but, we’ve just been discussing and, how do you cook that?”
    Feeling like Martha Stewart must every day of her life, I walked back and told them.
    I said, “You can cut it into any shape and size pieces you like, slabs or cubes, whatever. Most people I know fry these in oil in a pan, which works just fine, but I personally have another technique…”
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    I went on to describe the following procedure, which results in crispy on the outside, soft on the inside, restaurant-like tofu cubes. In this method, the tofu is baked and not fry you can cut back on some (minimal amounts of) fat. I used the tofu I bought in a stir-fry.
    Cut the tofu into slabs, cubes of your preferred size. If you want to get real crazy, pull out some cookie cutters. Nothing says fun like star-shaped tofu!

    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    Lay a cloth towel on the counter (NOT terrycloth, unless you enjoy bits of fuzz in your food). Arrange the tofu cubes on the towel in a single layer. Cover with a second cloth (again, I cannot emphasize enough, NOT terrycloth). I used a single cloth folded in half because I only had one clean.

    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    Place a flat surface, like a cutting board, over the towel. Then put something heavy on the cutting board. Leave for 20 minutes. (Or skip all that nonsense and buy a tofu press).
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    While you wait cut up some veggies (yes I did make a yin-yang out of my peas and carrots). Use any combination of veggies you like. I’d recommend broccoli, carrots, snow peas, soybeans, water chestnuts, onions, bamboo shoots, bell peppers, corn, zucchini or other squash, tomatoes, mushrooms and potatoes. Really any vegetable is great. That’s the beauty of a stir-fry: you can use whatever is in your refrigerator or pantry at the time.
    Mix your sauce: I made a simple sauce of water, soy sauce, rice vinegar, sugar and cornstarch. This is another great thing about stir-fries, you can use whatever sauce you want. There are infinite combinations of sauces and vegetables.
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
    After 20 minutes spray a baking sheet with cooking oil (I love my misto) and line the tofu cubes on the baking sheet. Set to the side.
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    Start cooking some rice, or noodles according to the package directions. Heat some oil in a large pan or wok over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium and add some minced garlic and red pepper flakes. After about thirty seconds add your veggies and stir.
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    Turn your oven to broil and place the baking sheet in the oven for 5 minutes. The cubes like to jump around (sometimes off the sheet!)
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
    Continue stirring veggies (Don’t forget to check on your rice or noodles!)
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    Remove the baking sheet of tofu from the oven and flip the cubes over to cook the other side for 5 minutes.

    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies
    Add the sauce to the veggies; keep stirring. When the tofu is done add the cubes to the stir-fry (if you can stop yourself from eating them all straight off the pan).
    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies

    Serve with rice. 🙂

    cooking tofu, stir-fry, veggies;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000102709;pid=10787;usg=AFHzDLvkMLoWQcK6QxgdoY48TgvLhp78KQ;;pubid=575791;price=%2484.94;title=Lodge+Pro-Logic+Cast+I…;merc=Chefs+Catalog;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028007181;pid=TRBS075;usg=AFHzDLuaqfozttGGy1YC9MNJgvSND0X4nA;;pubid=575791;price=%2419.14;title=Tribest+SB12+Tofu+Make…;merc=UnbeatableSale;;width=82;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=658613;usg=AFHzDLvvnvjK5808MZxDbUW13TXGh-mNlg;;pubid=575791;price=%2422.98;title=Food+Network+Baking+Sheet;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85

    40 Real Food Kitchen Essentials

    As I am a poor college student, many of these tools and appliances are still but a dream. However, I have compiled a list of everything I either use currently or know would be useful to me in my quest to eat only real food.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: 40 Real Food Kitchen Essentials


    ziploc, food storage, lunch

    Ziploc Divided Lunchbox
    This is great for taking lunches to work or school. Cheap, comes in a pack of 2, and it doesn’t leak at least not between compartments. I bought mine from King Soopers but I’m sure is available at many stores.

    $6.78 on Amazon
    to go coffee cup

    Ceramic Coffee Mug
    It’s tempting to stop for coffee in the morning (especially now that there is a drive-thru starbucks on my way to school). I see these all over local coffee shops in all kinds of patterns. Save money AND no waste.

    $11.90 on Amazon

    thermos, soup

    Thermos Jar
    I will admit that I actually did buy this thermos jar with the Hello Kitty print. It’s awesome for taking oatmeal on days I get to school early, or when I want soup for lunch. Definitely worth it if you like a variety for lunches.

    $15.99 on Amazon

    popsicles, homemade, molds

    Popsicle Molds
    I love frozen treats but most store-bought are packed with sugar. I like to make smoothies and pour them into the molds for healthy popsicles (what a concept). I bought some very like these at a party store.

    $6.40 on Amazon
    colorful mixing bowls, food preparation

    Melamine Mixing Bowls
    My wonderful Aunt bought me a set of mixing bowls for a birthday present. They are somewhat like these: colorful, nesting and come with lids. I love them because I can use them for storage too (double-duty is a college girls best friend).

    $33.45 on Amazon;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=969415;usg=AFHzDLtxaT4WSxzgiKPfYAYf7BCeFL-u5g;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200
    High Quality Pots and Pans
    Something I really want, but can’t justify the price tag when I have a set that cook just fine. These are very expensive but I bet they cook beautifully. Plan: gradually add a new pan as the old ones wear out.

    $239.99 at Kohl’s;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=390906;usg=AFHzDLuYVSY-YBZMp0OvOi6q5rn60A0BTw;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    High Quality Knives
    Another item on my wish list: knives. Chopping is a big part of cooking from scratch and higher quality knives last a lot longer. Keep them sharp with a sharpener.

    $179.99 at Kohl’s

    stainless steel measuring cups, cooking, food preparation

    Stainless Steel Measuring Cups and Spoons
    I have used five sets of measuring cups and spoons since I’ve been living on my own and it is so annoying when the painted measurement rubs off. Stainless steel sets usually have the measurement stamped into the metal and are more durable than their plastic counterpart.

    $7.15 on Amazon;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=UHW1025_7254832;usg=AFHzDLsAv2LDcw7bdrl7oKAcLgkcJlk-Lg;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    Cast-Iron Skillet
    My fabulous grandmother bought one of these for me for a birthday gift. Sometimes a slightly high-maintenance addition to my kitchen, still one I could never live without. Don’t forget to season it! (Also BAM! cuz mine is from Emeril)

    $32.99 on Wayfair;dcadv=3632184;sz=200×200;lid=41000000028007181;pid=LEFM2951;usg=AFHzDLvbF-mk0LtDRxcfB4DWQwnMpB31WA;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    The newest addition to my kitchen, and I’m so excited about it! Fill with your favorite cooking oil and use in place of cooking spray (cut out all those nasty propellants). I bought this one at a local cooking store for $9.99. There were many options to choose from.

    $18.86 on Boncui;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=CNX1443;usg=AFHzDLuki71NdyzJED3lFj6RjQvQgedZ4A;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200
    Mesh Strainer

    I bought this when I tried making almond milk last spring. Now I use it in place of a juicer (tried using a real juicer for a while but found it to be too messy and hard to save the pulp for making crackers). Also useful for making chicken or vegetable stock.

    $17.99 on Wayfair;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=CFB1011;usg=AFHzDLuI8nFurkrSHyREjR4hiKqKz7v9UA;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    Ice Cube Tray With Lid
    I use these for obvious things like freezing water (I don’t have a fancy refrigerator that makes ice cubes), but also for freezing small portions of pesto, chicken or vegetable stock, leftover wine, fresh herbs (for use in the winter), applesauce, and marinara sauce. The lids make it less messy.

    $5.52 on Wayfair;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=EKC1095;usg=AFHzDLvmubLbRLoXnGSSz0whT3qD_Vk-yA;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    Apple Slicer/Corer
    A basic kitchen essential. I usually prefer to just slice apples with a knife since this doesn’t remove all the seeds usually but when I’m in a hurry this is perfect for quick jobs.

    $9.99 on Wayfair;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=779637;usg=AFHzDLsUSouJn_1RJrtiVZl0h0saYUxqVw;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    Another basic kitchen tool, but one I use often. Just the thing for scrambled eggs, pancakes and mixing sauces, Don’t find yourself without one. (Before I bought one of these I just used a fork).

    $19.95 on Sur la Table

    An obvious addition to any kitchen that wants to protect their counters (I DO want my security deposit back). There is controversy over wooden versus plastic cutting boards, after some research I found that it really doesn’t matter (I have one of each). Just find one that doesn’t warp or stain.

    $18.32 on Amazon;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=1006576;usg=AFHzDLuMtNRF_8-rsAkXcH5AuBDXpYaw2A;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    An additional basic kitchen need ladles can be used for serving a million different dishes. Before I bought mine (which came in a set of spoons), serving dinner was a much messier task.

    $13.00 on Sur la Table;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=399135;usg=AFHzDLuxlMikmOvkPnfe9O3dfjTmtqlW2A;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    Spoons (Wooden and Plastic)
    One more kitchen basic. I have three of each (possibly a bit excessive but it happens when you combine kitchens with someone else). Wooden spoons sometimes stain so I only use them when cooking pasta or stirring dry ingredients.

    $15.99 at Kohl’s;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=1022052;usg=AFHzDLsp1BhsRWUbIbHJegPW8BG2Wz0nsQ;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200
    Rolling PinA somewhat recent addition to my kitchen, I use this mostly for pie crusts (we love pie!) but it’s also essential during Christmas cookie season. I bought mine at target and there are so many varieties that it’s best to just find what works for you.

    $17.00 on Sur la Table

    tortilla press, sur la table

    Tortilla Press
    I’ve been told that tortilla making is easy, especially when you own one of these presses. I don’t yet own one but it is another item that you can find on my wish list.

    $19.99 on Sur la table;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=901314;usg=AFHzDLtiXhO_gtv48AdpkxalEDhJilSuvA;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200
    Tortilla Warmer

    Not just for Mexican restaurants anymore this tortilla warmer is perfect to keep homemade tortillas warm and fresh. (Not yet owned, on my wishlist).

    $9.95 at Sur la Table

    ceramic, mortar and pestle

    Mortar and Pestle

    I was so excited when I bought my little mortar and pestle at a spice store. I use it for crushing both dried and fresh herbs.

    $9.31 on Amazon

    tofu press

    Tofu Press
    I had no idea these were so pricey. If you have to cash they’re exceptionally useful when preparing restaurant worthy tofu (tofu tips to be published soon). Two cutting boards works well for me currently.

    $41.95 on Amazon

    salad dressing bottle, measurements, homemade

    Salad Dressing Bottle
    This is the best for making salad dressings at home. I don’t have one because we’re using up our vast stores of store-bought salad dressing (for some reason we buy one almost every time we go to the store).

    $6.74 on Amazon

    tea-rex, tea strainer

    Tea Ball
    I just have a regular old mesh tea ball, but the TEA-rex makes me laugh. I love these for loose-leaf teas you can buy at most tea shops (or collect herbs in the wild).

    $9.98 on Amazon

    Food Processor
    This is another recent addition to my kitchen (thanks to my grandma). I’m so excited to finally have one because I’ve been noticing a definite need for one. Salsa, pesto, hummus, and a million other things… here I come!

    $159.00 at Sur la Table;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=22417;usg=AFHzDLsC8yEPN09LmKzoUo46hDVfIjhJng;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200
    Mini Chopper

    I’ve had this for quite a while. It’s awesome for shopping ginger, garlic, or small batches of anything I would use the large food processor for.

    $59.99 at Kohl’s;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=1154783;usg=AFHzDLsHgqB1mBFwb95v_E3vUel6SY4ndg;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200

    I am still amazed by (and learning about) all the things you can do with a Crock-pot. I love mine for days I know I’ll be home late. What a great feeling to come home and dinner is already prepared.

    $59.99 at Kohl’s
    george foreman grill

    George Foreman Grill
    I am a huge fan of grilled cheese so I love this appliance. Mostly I use it to make sandwiches more interesting but we have tried burgers and chicken on it with success. I actually found mine at a garage sale.

    $32.95 on Amazon;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=724443;usg=AFHzDLufEnIv39rY6TzHMiQXRwZTJ-ta2A;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200
    Ice Cream Maker
    There are not words to describe how badly I want one of these. After trying home-made ice cream on one of my ranch visits last summer I just don’t enjoy the taste of ice cream from the box (as much) anymore. Plus you can control the amount of sweetener and the flavor you add. One day I will have you my pretty.

    $59.95 on Sur la Table

    Bread Maker
    My boyfriend’s father has a bread-maker and he makes the BEST bread in the world. I would like to give bread-making a try and this model has caught my eye. My friend bought a bread-maker on Craig’s list for $5.00 (that actually works) so that’s probably where I’ll start looking.

    $141.99 on Wayfair

    waffle iron

    Waffle Iron
    Try as I might, I can’t live without waffles. I don’t like Belgium waffles though. It took me a very long time to find a non-Belgium waffle maker, but I love it very much!

    $40 at JC Penny

    Probably my most used appliance (at least before I got the food processor) because it did double-duty. I love smoothies in the morning so for me this is essential.

    $29.99 at Target;sz=200×200;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=760407;usg=AFHzDLstDsTAldF4CQ-OZdG5g589iTOPzA;;pubid=575791;;width=200;height=200
    Food Dehydrator
    One more item on my to-buy list, a dehydrator seems extremely useful to me. I plan to use it for backpacking food, homemade fruit leather and homemade jerky and I’m sure I could come up with a few other ideas.

    $99.99 at Kohl’s

    Books and Movies:

    omnivore's dilemna, michael pollan, book cover

    by Michael Pollan

    in defense of food, michael polla, book cover

    by Michael Pollan

    food rules, michael pollan, book cover

    by Michael Pollan

    food inc., documentary, movie cover

    a Documentary

    quick-fix vegetarian, robin robertson, book cover, cookbook

    By Robin Robertson

    ancient grains for modern meals, maria speck, book cover, cookbook

    By Maria Speck

    my father's daughter, gwenyth paltrow, book cover, cookbook

    By Gwyneth Paltrow

    the future of food, documentary, movie cover

    a Documentary

    fast-food nations, eric schlosser, book cover, documentary

    by Eric Schlosser

    Heart Friendship Bracelet

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Heart Pattern Friendship Bracelet

    When I was an adorable, little, red-headed girl, with fat cheeks, and freckles in numbers rivaling stars in the sky (okay I still look like that 😉 ) I was a Girl Scout. I went to Girl Scout day camp and Girl Scout overnight camp and Girl Scout meetings (and I sold Girl Scout cookies!). While I learned many the great things they teach you in Girl Scouts, one thing I will probably never be able to forget is how to make friendship bracelets. That muscle memory stuff is great isn’t it, especially considering friendship bracelets are now sold in store (what?) for $15 (what?!).

    So, since we all know just how much I love making things myself I will go through the mantra again:

    1. you get to choose your own preference…
    2. you spend less money… and
    3. you form a deeper connection with the things you own because you crafted it with your own two hands.

    This tutorial walks you through the steps of making a friendship bracelet with a heart pattern. Enjoy!

    To start you need to cut your strings. Pick two colors. Hold your arms straight out perpendicular to your body, from fingertip to fingertip is how long your string should be. Cut four strands, two for each color. Fold the string in half take the fold and make a knot close to the end. This loop will be used to clasp the bracelet, so make it small but big enough that a knot can go through.

    embroidery floss, heart pattern, friendship bracelet

    Tape your strings down to a flat surface (or if your old school  safety pin then to your jeans), so that it is tightly secured. Order your strings the same as in the image above. Whichever color is on the outside will be the color of your hearts. Number the position of the strings from left to right 1-8.

    Now, I would like to explain the knot… There is the going left knot and the going right knot.

    *Tip: The illustrations below show on top both knots going forward and below that one knot going forward and one going backward. I noticed that two of my heart strings got more use than the other two. When you are knotting one pink around another, you can switch the dominant strings using the bottom illustration knot.

    embroidery floss, heart pattern, friendship bracelet

    To go right take the string in the number one position, lay it over the second string take it back under the second string and pull it through the loop.

    embroidery floss, heart pattern, friendship bracelet

    Going left is the same process as going right; only you wrap the eighth string around the seventh string in the opposite direction.

    Each time you make a knot you will do this knot twice.

    embroidery floss, heart pattern, friendship bracelet

    1. Like I said you will have your string laid out in the order shown.

    2. Take string 1 and knot it twice around string 2 then string 3 and finally 4. Then, take string 8 and knot it around string 7, string 6 and finally string 5. Finally knot the middle strings together (going left or right, it doesn’t matter)

    3. Follow the same steps as above for the next row with the second color.

    4. Now take the second string and knot it going left around the first string and the seventh string going right around the eighth.

    5. Fill in the space by taking the second string and knotting it (going right) around strings 3 and 4 and the seventh string (going left) around strings 6 and 5.

    6. Now again take the second string and knot it going left around the first string and the seventh string going right around the eighth.

    7. Fill in the space again by taking the second string and knotting it (going right) around strings 3 and 4 and the seventh string (going left) around strings 6 and 5.

    8. Knot string 1 and 2-4 (going right) and string 8 around 7-5 (going left). This is step 1 again completing the heart.

    9. Repeat step 2-8 until the bracelet is the length you like (I usually do about 52 rows).

    Now that you know the basic you can do many patterns. Try one on the friendship bracelet website.

    “Make new Friends but keep the old, one is silver and the other’s gold. A circle’s round, it has no end. That’s how long I want to be your friend.”;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028007181;pid=NMG30413;usg=AFHzDLtD2UgUSrjSE2Oo8UYrylzNx6DMGw;;pubid=575791;price=%2415.13;title=Iris+353255+Embroidery…;merc=FuntoyMall;;width=80;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=1118818;usg=AFHzDLvKUQLe7F3Ao8C98O4WrJwnDdMpkw;;pubid=575791;price=%2419.79;title=Klutz+Friendship+Brace…;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028007181;pid=NMG4991;usg=AFHzDLsTLKkI1Nxf8bRzkiosBaWOmcvizA;;pubid=575791;price=%2421.45;title=Crorey+Creations+MYFBM…;merc=FuntoyMall;;width=92;height=85

    Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade

    As you probably know by now I love summertime and I have a lot of favorite things about summer. It’ll be at least four more posts before I stop saying THIS is my favorite thing about summer so bear with me. I love going to Starbucks in the summer for a grande passion tea lemonade with one pump; it’s a guilty pleasure. But I don’t love the price that could very easily empty my bank account.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//:  Make it at Home - Starbucks Passion Tea Lemonade

    SO I asked them what tea they use in their passion tea lemonade and they told me (It’s Tazo the Starbucks tea brand and they actually sell it at the store).

    You can get this kind that’s iced tea ready (make a bunch at once and store it in the pitcher in the fridge). Or they sell a box of individual servings (make it one cup at a time). At Target it was $4.95 (same as a box at Starbucks) but in an online search I found it for a little cheaper.

    After drinking it a little I realized it was very similar to the Celestial Seasonings tea I bought at the factory for $2.85.

    Anyway, to make the Starbucks version of the delicious pink drink is quite simple. Make the tea according to the package, juice some lemons, add a little of your preferred sweetener (if you like it sweetened), chill in the fridge, enjoy!;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=LEC1320;usg=AFHzDLtqYHWqTZi1yzxfgOm8-5oeW-zmyw;;pubid=575791;price=%2429.98;title=%222-Quart+Pitcher+in+Ch…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=SAE1069;usg=AFHzDLt1OeSK1_9HyrKIONRxJuhMvP6SZA;;pubid=575791;price=%2411.89;title=%22Extra+Large+Travel+Cup%22;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028007181;pid=BNGLA12880;usg=AFHzDLs_swRig8euWw0wlxL4yuCvB39yNg;;pubid=575791;price=%2423.30;title=Tazo+Tea+25791-3pack+T…;;;width=85;height=85

    Origami Gift Box

    (function(d){ var f = d.getElementsByTagName(‘SCRIPT’)[0], p = d.createElement(‘SCRIPT’); p.type = ‘text/javascript’; p.setAttribute(‘data-pin-hover’, true); p.async = true; p.src = ‘//’; f.parentNode.insertBefore(p, f); }(document));

    Origami box, paper, gift box, recycled magazine

    We all know that giftwrap can be expensive. I don’t want to spend as much (or more) on the paper, bag, and bow as I did on what’s inside. In the past I have been known to make the wrapping as much a part of the gift as what’s inside by using a purse, basket or tote bag. I also like to “be green,” so to speak and recycle old newspaper and magazines as wrapping paper. This is a tutorial on making gift boxes from magazine pages.

    Origami box, paper, gift box, recycled magazine

    What you’ll need:

    • Scissors
    • Paper
    • Ruler
    • Glue-stick (optional)

    Origami box, paper, gift box, recycled magazine

    1. Find some paper with a pretty design. The paper must be a perfect square, cut off extra length to make it a square. I used a magazine page (doubled up with a second page glued to the back for sturdiness). Pay attention to what is at the center of the square when cutting, this will be the top of the box.

    2. Place the pretty side face down. Fold the square on the diagonal in half, both ways.

    3. With the pretty side down fold each corner into the center to make a small square.

    4. Unfold two opposite corners. Taking the edges that are still folded down, fold again lining the edge up with the tip of the corner. Do this for the opposite side. Then fold down the other two corners and repeat.

    5. Unfold all folds. Find the creases of the small square at the very center of your paper. Lightly draw the outline on the not pretty side of your paper to make sure you don’t over cut in the next step.

    6. Cut in from the edge of the paper along the creases as shown in image 6 above. Don’t over cut.

    7. Fold along all crease on the sides with tabs (triangles) as shown.

    8. Fold the final two edges over the tabs and press down to “stick.”

    9. True origami doesn’t need glue but since this is a gift I didn’t want the sides to pop up so I glue down the corners. You can also cut out a small square of pretty paper that fits in the box and glue that over the corners. You can see that I did that in the image below.

    Origami box, paper, gift box, recycled magazine

    If you want to make a box with a lid the lid paper needs to be slightly larger than the bottom. My box is about 2 1/4” when completed. The bottom was 6” and the top was 6 1/4”. If you want a bigger box (about 4 1/4″) use 12” for the top and 11 1/2” for the bottom; for a smaller box (about 1 3/4″) use 5” for the top and 4 13/16” for the bottom.

    If you forget how to do proportions here is a link to a calculator.

    Plug in 2.25 (the size of my completed box) on the top of the fraction to the left and 6 (the size of the bottom paper) on the bottom of the fraction on the left.

    Plug in the size you want your box to be on the top of the fraction on the left. The equation will return the size you should cut your bottom piece.

    Then plug in 6 and 6.25 on the fraction on the left and whatever number you got back from the previous step. Now the equation will tell you how big to cut the top piece.

    Or you could just guess… testing on scratch paper never hurt anyone.

    Origami box, paper, gift box, recycled magazine;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000024781945;pid=106162;usg=AFHzDLsSpFLdA1QtlKnGs2qZ5iYFLaPl0Q;;pubid=575791;price=%241.66;title=Westcott+See-Through+A…;merc=Sam%27s+Club;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028505128;pid=UHQ1432;usg=AFHzDLuAPC_y-uwp8aAC_VCSM1xhv-UzJg;;pubid=575791;price=%247.55;title=%22Origami+Paper+Multi-S…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000024781945;pid=184164;usg=AFHzDLsHWsSMNlozWFQJWwWQvRrLv94qQQ;;pubid=575791;price=%243.27;title=Student+Scissors-7+lon…;merc=Sam%27s+Club;;width=85;height=85

    Edamame Hummus

    Hummus is one of the best things in life, and adding a few soybeans can only help. The first time I had edamame hummus was my freshman year at CSU. There was always some hummus at the salad bar and very rarely they served edamame hummus. Those were good days, but now I make it at home whenever I want.

    Gather your ingredients: some edamame hummus recipes use only soybeans and no chickpeas, but I love chickpeas so I use both, tahini is optional but tastes yummy (I didn’t have any), ¼ cup water, lemon zest and juice, smashed garlic, salt, cumin, coriander and olive oil.

    Boil the edamame (fun fact: edamame is actually the Japanese word for soybeans in the shell, when you buy shelled soybeans they’re actually called, “mukimame”) according to package directions. Drain and add to a blender or food processor.

    Add the drained chickpeas to the blender or food processor.

    I’ve never figured out if it’s easier to zest first and juice after or vice versa. I juice first. Roll the lemon on the counter to loosen the juices before cutting it in half and juicing it.

    Then add the water, lemon zest and juice and olive oil (I used 2 tablespoons olive oil and 1 tablespoon sesame oil to add a little of that sesame flavor since I didn’t have tahini)… Followed by the tahini (if using) garlic, salt, cumin, and coriander.

    Pulse the blender or food processor until smooth. Add more water if mixture is too thick; add more soy beans if it’s too runny. Taste test and adjust spices to preference.

    Serve with vegetables, pita chips, pretzels, or whatever you fancy. This stuff is blended gold my friends. 🙂 AND now you have another dip to serve at your next St. Patrick’s Day party (besides guacamole I mean). Yay!;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=588541;usg=AFHzDLvv9OrP4hwULGW-_510Fp41WxIsDA;;pubid=575791;price=%24159.00;title=Cuisinart+Brushed+Stai…;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=590067;usg=AFHzDLu3P5gYZGF3_C0j9mzuRJwuyGtdVQ;;pubid=575791;price=%2429.95;title=DeLonghi+Electric+Citr…;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=236448;usg=AFHzDLsQHMjXSnwHl15gmCQLSeXeA3cTUw;;pubid=575791;price=%2429.00;title=OXO+Smooth+Edge+Can+Op…;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85

    Total Time: 15 minutes Difficulty: Easy Yield: 1 ¼ cup


    • 1 ½ cup frozen shelled green soybeans
    • 1 can drained chickpeas
    • ¼ cup tahini (optional)
    • ¼ cup water
    • ½ teaspoon freshly grated lemon zest
    • 1 lemon (about 3 tablespoons), juiced
    • 1 clove garlic, smashed
    • ¾ teaspoon kosher salt
    • ¾ teaspoon ground cumin
    • ¼ teaspoon ground coriander
    • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

    Suggested serving: Sliced cucumbers, celery, olives, and pita

    Boil the beans in salted water for 4 to 5 minutes, or microwave, covered, for 2 to 3 minutes. In a food processor, puree the edamame, tahini, water, lemon zest and juice, garlic, salt, cumin, and coriander until smooth. With the motor running, slowly drizzle in 2 tablespoons of the olive oil and mix until absorbed. Transfer to a small bowl, stir in the parsley and drizzle with remaining oil. Serve with the suggested vegetables, or refrigerate, covered, up to 1 week (this time is very finicky, check for signs of spoilage such as ingredient separation, off taste or smell and slimy appearance).

    Fruit by the (almost) Foot

    As a kid I was a huge fan of fruit gummies like Fruit by the Foot, Fruit Roll-Ups and Fruit Gushers (though I very rarely received them at home). Now, that I’m an adult (sorta) I have had a few cravings for them.

    If you take a look at a box of strawberry flavored Fruit By the Foot by Betty Crocker you might see these ingredients:

    From the name you would assume there’d be a lot of fruit in it but actually you find it’s just sugar and preservatives. It’s number four on a list of 9 Kid Foods to Avoid created by Time.

    Here is a recipe for fruit leather from Out of the Box Food. Tastes delicious, not too difficult to make, and you can adjust the amount of sweetener, the flavor, and the size to suit your fancy. I am seriously in love with homemade stuff!

    I got mixed berries because… berries. Other fruit combinations can be found at the end of this post. I used agave nectar because it doesn’t add much flavor but honey or maple syrup can be used as well (or none of the above).

    Start by cutting the two sheets of parchment paper to fit the cookie sheets. Rub some butter on the paper so the rolls will peel off easily and set them aside. I’m not sure how necessary the greasing step is but I am afraid to test these without it.

    Add all ingredients to the blender (not the butter, like I said it’s for greasing).

    Then blend the heck outta those fruits!

    At this point you could strain the puree to remove the seeds (there are soooo many seeds). I didn’t because I like to keep things simple and don’t like washing dishes… These are life-changing decisions, my friends. Divide the puree evenly between the two cookie sheets and spread thin with a rubber spatula.

    This is my third time making these and I elected to use the sun to dry them in order to save energy. I was worried about bugs and stuff but then I decided to not worry about bugs and stuff. If you do worry about bugs, heat the oven to 150 °F (or as low as yours goes) and place the two cookie sheets in the oven as it is heating up. If your oven has a convection setting this would be an excellent occasion to use it. If you’re lucky enough to have one this recipe is perfect for a dehydrator. My oven only goes to 170 °F so the first time I made these I let the oven heat up all the way gave it five minutes and turned it off. After 20 minutes I’d turn it on again. It was very tedious but it worked. The second time I made these I forgot to alternate heating times and the rolls got super crispy around the edges, and pretty much all over, which made me angry.

    When the rolls aren’t wet any longer take them out of the oven (or bring them inside). Wait for them to cool, which doesn’t take long, and cut into whatever size and shape you want. I leave the parchment paper on the rolls as I roll them up so it’s on the outside (like a real fruit by the foot). Store in an airtight container. As far as I can tell they last forever if you don’t eat them all at once.

    Somewhat of a high maintenance recipe since you really have to be around the whole time they are drying (unless you use the sun and are not worried about bugs or wind, then you can just leave them out all day). One idea is to make these and refrigerate the puree until just after dinner. Turn the oven on until bedtime and turn it off when you go to sleep.

    Yellow: 1 fresh mango, 7 oz dried apricots, the juice of one orange
    Purple:  20 oz frozen mixed berries and 1 fresh banana
    Green: Kiwi, mango and mint leaves
    Blue: Blueberries and grape juice
    Red: Strawberries and banana

    Spices to try: Allspice, cinnamon, cloves, coriander, ginger, mace, mint, basil, extracts, citrus juices and peels, nutmeg or pumpkin pie spice. Use sparingly, start with 1/8 teaspoon for each 2 cups of pureé.;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=760407;usg=AFHzDLstDsTAldF4CQ-OZdG5g589iTOPzA;;pubid=575791;price=%2494.98;title=Nesco+American+Harvest…;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=316059;usg=AFHzDLtWXjSu_qudhl5yU52PZbsvGGoR6g;;pubid=575791;price=%2429.95;title=Chicago+Metallic+Comme…;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000024781945;pid=sku4824419;usg=AFHzDLvMQH_sdB-waDvRVZDkXvUpAssX0w;;pubid=575791;price=%24119.98;title=Ninja+Kitchen+System+-…;merc=Sam%27s+Club;;width=85;height=85

    MAKES: 12, 2” x 14” rolls
    TIME: Preparation – 10 minutes, Drying – 5 to 7 hours with convection oven; 8 to 10 hours with standard oven; more if drying by sun. Also depends on thickness of puree.


    • 20 oz. frozen fruit
    • ¼ cup agave nectar, honey, or maple syrup (can use less or omit completely)
    • Butter for greasing


    Cut parchment paper to fit on two cookie sheets with raised edges. Grease parchment paper with butter. Defrost berries and add to blender with sweetener. Blend until smooth. Divide puree between cookie sheets, spread thin with a spatula. Heat oven to 150 °F (my oven only goes down to 170 °F so I watch them carefully so they don’t burn). Another option is to leave rolls out in the sun to dry. Or better yet, use a dehydrator. When fruit is dry remove the cookie sheets from the oven. When cool cut into 2” strips, roll tightly and store in air-tight container.

    What flavor combinations have you tried?

    Zucchini Bread – Homemade Style

    One thing I forgot to mention in Summer Lovin’ post last week is all the fresh produce from my mom’s garden. I probably forgot since I don’t live there much in the summer anymore, but my childhood is full of baby carrots covered in dirt, tomatoes that I can only describe as nature’s candy, and zucchini bread (or at least those are the things I loved the most from her garden).

    I wanted to make zucchini bread but my mom warned me that many of the recipes contain a lot of oil. After a lot of research and some improvisation I think I’ve concocted perhaps the perfect recipe. You be the judge.

    Start by preheating the oven and preparing an 8-inch loaf pan (I got to use my Misto!).

    Grate zucchini(s); you can peel them before hand, I personally like the peel in the bread so I don’t. I used the largest grate size on my 4-sided cheese-grater. You can use the smallest side (or an attachment on your food processor)… it really depends on preference.

    Mix together flour, salt, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon and nutmeg in a medium bowl.

    Doesn’t that just look sooooo appetizing? Whisk together egg, oil, applesauce, yogurt, honey, and vanilla in a larger second bowl. The honey is from the bee hive on some land my Range Club manages just north of Fort Collins… Yay local stuff!

    Add flour mixture to the larger bowl and stir until well combined.

    Fold in grated zucchini.

    Pour batter into prepared pan and bake until risen, deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean – 50 to 60 minutes.;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=1357;usg=AFHzDLvYqmU0L787UkolqH2WwTVJ2miJtA;;pubid=575791;price=%2412.94;title=Chicago+Metallic%C2%AE+Prof…;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=1159620;usg=AFHzDLuVqtqoWG-V3J27-OIGdDDYxa4n_w;;pubid=575791;price=%2414.98;title=Oneida+Precise+Slice+B…;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028505128;pid=RES1172;usg=AFHzDLupJAGWTBhIGHBd53dhhrsmEOadxA;;pubid=575791;price=%2427.80;title=%22Calypso+Basics+Melami…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85

    Cool in pan on wire rack for 30 minutes, then remove from pan and continue cooling on rack.


    • Cooking spray
    • 1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
    • 1/2 teaspoon salt
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
    • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
    • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
    • 1/2 teaspoon freshly grated nutmeg
    • 1 egg
    • 1/4 cup oil
    • 1/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
    • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain yogurt
    • 1/2 cup honey
    • 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
    • 1 cup grated zucchini


    Preheat oven to 325 °F. Spray an 8-inch loaf pan with cooking spray and set aside. In a medium bowl, combine flour, salt, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon and nutmeg. In a separate larger bowl, whisk together egg, oil, applesauce, yogurt, honey and vanilla. Add the flour mixture and stir until well combined. Fold in zucchini, then transfer batter to prepared pan and bake until risen, deep golden brown and a toothpick inserted in the middle comes out clean – 50 to 60 minutes. Cool in pan on rack for 30 minutes, remove bread from pan and continue cooling on rack.

    Restaurant-Style Salsa at Home

    Salsa is a big deal in my world and I am very picky about it. I hate chunks (except in fresh pico de gallo) and I love cilantro… a lot of cilantro… like the whole bunch, and it’s gotta be spicy. I’ve tried many a jar of salsa in my life (all 22 years of it) and I keep coming back to homemade (which is good since I’m all about homemade everything now). It tastes better, you get to choose your preferences, it’s super simple (if you have a food processor or blender), it’s cheaper and you can make as much (or as little) as you want!

    I see no downside.

    Three tomatoes (Reid used half of one of these tomatoes for breakfast without knowing they were for the salsa, it’ll be interesting to see how I will peel this one), one onion, one jalepeño pepper, one (two small) Fresno chile (from my garden), two cloves of garlic, lime juice (it’s best fresh but I didn’t have one), salt, cumin, cilantro

    Peel the tomatoes by placing them in boiling water for a few minutes then and submerging them in ice water. Skins practically fall off. It’s okay to skip this step, there will just be some skins in the salsa but that’s really not noticeable.

    Dice half an onion and chop the tomatoes. Add the onion and tomato to the food processor.

    Mince the garlic and cut up the peppers; keep the seeds, you’re tough and can handle it. Then add the garlic and peppers to the food processor.

    Add ¼ teaspoon salt, ¼ teaspoon ground cumin and about three tablespoons lime juice.

    Now, add ½ to 1 cup cilantro. I seriously love cilantro. If you don’t like cilantro much use less (but I will mock you).

    AND pulse, pulse, pulse… a couple more times, and a couple more, about 10 to 15 times oughta do it. I like NO chunks. If you like chunkier salsa… pulse less.

    Be sure to taste test and alter seasonings/add more cilantro. Then if you can avoid the temptation of gobbling it all up right then, cover it and put it in the refrigerator for about an hour so the flavors can fuse and stuff.

    Doesn’t that just look awful? I’ll take one for the team and eat it all. You owe me one. (Those tortilla chips are La Favorita brand, ingredients: ground yellow corn, water, soybean oil, salt, trace of lime. Not bad.)

    Prep Time: 20 minutes Difficulty: Easy Servings: 12


    • 3 Medium Tomatoes
    • 2 whole Jalepeño peppers
    • ¼ cup Chopped Onion
    • 2 Clove Garlic
    • ¼ teaspoon Salt
    • ¼ teaspoon Ground Cumin
    • ½ cup Cilantro (more!)
    • ½ whole Lime Juice


    Peel tomatoes. Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor. Pulse until salsa is the consistency you like. Test flavor; adjust spices. Refrigerate for at least an hour. Serve with tortilla chips, nachos, tacos, quesadillas, burritos, fajitas, eggs, etc.;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=588541;usg=AFHzDLvv9OrP4hwULGW-_510Fp41WxIsDA;;pubid=575791;price=%24159.00;title=Cuisinart+Brushed+Stai…;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=621041;usg=AFHzDLuA7hwHKiBrjTFRHm0R5cLigYwf_Q;;pubid=575791;price=%2414.98;title=Art+And+Cook+Chrome+Dr…;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=909267;usg=AFHzDLtdXv84VKVfzXMrhKLGGYSnnm1spQ;;pubid=575791;price=%248.94;title=Sur+La+Table+Tomato+Corer;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85

    I’ve made this salsa from The Pioneer Woman many times. With my new “real food” kick I shied away from using canned tomatoes because they contained calcium chloride. At the store I had no idea what this was so I bought fresh tomatoes and peppers (and had some from my garden). After doing some research (and remembering my chemistry… duh!) I’ve learned that calcium chloride is basically harmless (and is found in most milk products in higher concentrations than a can of tomatoes). The more you know…

    However, I am very pleased with the results using fresh tomatoes so really it’s a moot point.

    Solving the Magic Cube: Helpful Steps and Tips

    The Rubik’s cube was invented by Ernő Rubik in 1974, taking inspiration from smoothed pebbles in the Danube River, in order to help explain three-dimensional geometry. I started doing the Rubik’s cube when I was in Germany in 2007. I was on a four or five hour train ride to Berlin from Oldenburg and had time to kill. A friend of mine could do it so she gave me a few hints to start me on my way. My fastest time is 53 seconds (which is a far cry from the world record) but it’s been ages since I had the ability to work it that fast. Recently, I only pull the cube out on occasion to impress people at parties or just to exercise my brain. Now I’m ready to lay some knowledge down for you to pick up.

    Stage 1: The Terminology

    Middle Pieces

    The middle pieces never move.  The cube will always appear the same when solved because the blue side will never touch the green side, the white side will never touch the yellow side and the red side will never touch the orange side (See Figure 1).

    Figure 1. The middle pieces are indicated with red white and blue. These pieces never move.

    Edge Pieces

    The Edge pieces are the 12 pieces that form the sides of each square on each side.  They have two colors and you can move these pieces (See Figure 2).

    Figure 2. The edge piece is indicated by red and blue. There are 12 of these moving pieces.

    Corner Pieces

    The corner pieces are the 8 pieces that form the corners of the square on each side.  They have three colors and you can move these pieces (See Figure 3).

    Figure 3. The corner piece is indicated by the red, blue and white. There are eight of these moving pieces.

    Up, Down, Right, Left, Front, Back and Inverted Turns

    For the sake of leaving confusion out of the equation the Up side will always refer to the white side, and the Down side will be yellow.  Up and Down can also be commands for turning the Up or Down side, respectively.  Right, Left, Front and Back refer to the side the user turns.  There will be no color associated with right, left, front or back because this changes as we progress.  All turns should be assumed to be clockwise unless indicated by an “i,” which represents an inverted turn or a counterclockwise turn. All turns indicated are a quarter of a full turn unless otherwise stated.  A full turn returns the side to its original position; a half turn rotates the side 90 degrees.

    Middle Row

    The middle row will always refer to the band of non-Up, non-Down side colors: blue, red, green, and orange.  It is the collection of edge and middle pieces in the middle of the Rubik’s cube (See Figure 4).

    Figure 4. The middle row is this band of edge and middle pieces.


    This is where the piece belongs in relationship to the cube.  For example the orange/green/white corner piece belongs in the corner where the orange green and white sides of the cube meet (See Figure 5).  Therefore a piece can be in the correct position.  This also refers to whether or not the colors are correctly aligned based on the colors of the middle pieces, which again don’t move (See Figure 6).  Therefore, the colors can be in the correct position as well.

    Figure 5. This piece is in the correct position.

    Figure 6. These colors are in the correct position.

    Other Helpful Information

    Specific examples will be used throughout this post in order to better explain the concept.  Because the Rubik’s cube is so dynamic, the one you are working on will most likely appear completely different from the one discussed.  The point is to see the pattern presented here, focus on the end result and don’t get bogged down with details.

    Stage 2: The Completion

    Step 1 – Solving the Down Cross

    The first two steps are the most important and the most difficult things you must do to solve the Rubik’s Cube.  Start by solving the Down cross.  As stated before in the Terminology section, the Down side always refers to the yellow side and the middle piece will never move from its current location.

    Take your Rubik’s Cube and hold it so the side with the yellow square in the center (the Down side) is facing up.  Locate on the cube all of the other edge pieces with yellow on them (ignore the yellow corner pieces for now).  Find the orange and yellow edge piece and turn the sides until the piece is on the edge of the orange and white sides.  Turn the Up side (the White side) one quarter turn, invert turn the left side and turn the right side.  Now invert-turn the orange side.  If you have followed the instructions, the yellow/orange edge piece should be lined up on the yellow/orange side (See Figure 7).

    Figure 7. The yellow/orange edge piece is in the yellow/orange position.

    For the rest of the edge pieces, you will have to use these steps, logic and reason to keep the yellow/orange edge piece in its place and solve for the other three edge pieces.  The end product should look something like Figure 8.

    Figure 8. The Down cross is complete. The edge pieces are in the correct position.

    Step 2 – Filling in the Corners

    Now hold your completed Down cross so it faces up.  Locate the yellow corner pieces.  Find the yellow/red/blue piece and line it up on the cube so that it is in the white/blue/red corner position (See Diagram 1).

    If the yellow side of the corner piece is on the blue side of the cube, i-turn the Up side, i-turn the right side, turn the Up side, turn the right side (See Diagram 1).

    Diagram 1. This shows the sequence necessary to solve for the corners on the Down side with the yellow side of the yellow/red/blue corner piece starting on the blue side of the cube.

    If the yellow side of the corner piece is on the red side of the cube, turn the Up side, turn the Left side, i-turn the Up side, i-turn the Left side (See Diagram 2).

    Diagram 2. This shows the sequence necessary to solve for the corners on the Down side with the yellow side of the yellow/red/blue corner piece starting on the red side of the cube.

    If the yellow side of the corner piece is on the white side of the cube, you must manipulate the cube so that it is in one of the above positions.  Continue following these steps and manipulating the cube until the other three yellow corner pieces are solved and the Down side is complete (See Figure 9).

    Figure 9. The Down side is complete. Notice the “T” shape on all sides of the cube.

    Step 3 – Working Out the Middle Row

    The next thing to do is to solve for the four edge pieces in the middle row.  Hold the cube so that the Up side faces up and locate the four-listed edge pieces.  Start by finding the red/blue edge piece.

    If the red side of the edge piece is on the Up side of the cube, line up the blue side of the edge piece with the blue side of the cube.  Hold the cube so that the red side is facing you, i-turn Up, i-turn Front, turn Up, turn Front, turn Up, turn Right, i-turn Up, i-turn Right (See Diagram 3).

    Diagram 3. This shows the sequence necessary to complete the middle row with the red side of the edge piece on the Up side of the cube as a starting point.

    If the blue side of the edge piece is on the Up side of the cube, line up the red side of the edge piece with the red side of the cube.  Hold the cube so that the red side is facing you, turn Up, turn Right, i-turn Up, i-turn Right, i-turn Up, i-turn Front, turn Up, turn Front (See Diagram 4)

    Diagram 4. This shows the sequence necessary to complete the middle row with the blue side of the edge piece on the Up side of the cube as a starting point.

    If the blue side of the edge piece is on the red side of the cube and the red side of the edge piece is on the blue side of the cube (in other words the edge piece is in the right position on the middle row but the colors are wrong) then perform either of the above maneuvers to free the piece.  Then line it up according to the above instructions and follow the method again.

    Find the rest of the middle row pieces and do the above maneuvers to complete the middle row until your cube looks like Figure 10.

    Figure 10. The middle row is complete.

    Step 4 – Solving the Up Cross

    If your cube looks like Figure 11, hold the cube so that the Up side is up and in the same position as it is in Figure 11.  Turn Front, turn Right, turn Up, i-turn right, i-turn Up, i-turn front (See Diagram 5).

    Figure 11. This shows one starting position for solving the Up cross.

    If your cube looks like Figure 12, hold the cube so that the Up side is up and in the same position as it is in Figure 12.  Turn Front, turn Right, turn Up, i-turn right, i-turn Up, i-turn front (See Diagram 5).

    Figure 12. This shows one starting position for solving the Up cross.

    Diagram 5. This shows the sequence necessary to complete the Up cross starting with any position.

    Once your cube has an Up cross you will have to position the edge pieces so that the colors line up with the correct side.  To do this line up the Up side so that only one color is in the correct position.  This will not work if more than one color is in the correct position (if all four edge pieces and colors are already in the correct position skip to step 5).

    Hold the cube so that the correctly aligned color is facing you (See Figure 13).  Turn Up, turn Right, turn Up, i-turn Right, turn Up, turn Right, turn Up, turn Up, i-turn Right (See Diagram 6).  Then repeat this sequence until all colors in the Up cross line up with the corresponding side and your cube looks like Figure 14.

    Figure 13. This shows the correct way to hold the Rubik’s cube before finishing the Up cross.

    Diagram 6. This shows the sequence necessary to complete the Up cross. Every other turn is a clockwise Up side turn with the last showing two turns. The Right side turns alternate between clockwise and counterclockwise starting with clockwise.

    Figure 14. This shows the completed Up cross with all colors and pieces in the correct positions.

    Step 5 – Positioning the Corners

    Look at all the Up side corner pieces.  Decide if any of the corner pieces are in the correct position.  If no pieces are in the correct position hold the cube so the Up side is up; it doesn’t matter which side faces you.  Turn Up, turn Right, i-turn Up, i-turn Left, turn Up, i-turn Right, i-turn Up, turn Left (See Diagram 7).

    Diagram 7. This shows the sequence necessary to position the corners properly. The outcome shown in the diagram is not the only outcome possible, there are many outcomes.

    Re-evaluate the cube.  Are any of the corner pieces in the correct position?  If none are, repeat the above sequence until at least one corner piece is in the correct position.

    When one corner piece is in the correct position hold the cube so that Up side is up and the piece that is in the correct position is in the lower right hand corner of the cube (See Figure 15 ).  Repeat the above sequence.  Check to see if all the corner pieces are in the correct positions.  Do the sequence until they all are.

    Figure 15. This shows the correct position for a corner piece and the way to hold the cube before positioning the remaining three corner pieces.

    Step 6 – The Big Finish

    Look at the Up side and the corner pieces.  Are any of the colors of the corner pieces in the correct position?

    If none are it does not matter how you hold the cube to do this sequence.  If one of the corner pieces does have it’s colors in the correct position start by holding the cube with the Up side facing up and that piece in the lower right hand corner of the Up side (See Figure 16).

    Figure 16. This shows the proper way to hold the cube before completing the cube if one corner piece has the colors in the correct position.

    There are two ways for two corner pieces to appear on the cube with the colors in the correct position.  The first way is shown in Figure 17 and should be held as Figure 17 appears.

    Figure 17. This shows the correct way to hold a Rubik’s cube before finishing the cube when two corner pieces have the colors in the proper position in the shown arrangement.

    The second is shown in Figure 18 and should be held as Figure 18 appears.

    Figure 18. This shows the correct way to hold a Rubik’s cube before finishing the cube when the corner pieces have the colors in the proper position in the shown arrangement.

    This final step is easy to get lost in, so PAY ATTENTION to the colors.

    Start by turning the Up side.  This is the sequence: i-turn Right, i-turn Down, turn Right, turn Down (See Diagram 8).  Repeat this sequence until the white edge piece and the white corner piece line up and they are on the Up side of the cube.

    Diagram 8. This shows the sequence necessary to complete the Rubik’s cube. This particular sequence is sometimes repeated a number of times, other times only one time will be necessary.

    Then turn the Up side again and repeat the above method until the Up side is completed.  If everything worked out nicely your cube may need a few turns to get the rows lined up, but it should be complete and look like Figure 19.

    Figure 19. This shows a solved Rubik’s cube. All color sides are completed.

    Stage 3:  The Tips and Techniques

    Seeing the Big Picture

    Solving a Rubik’s Cube is about noticing patterns and learning how to manipulate the changing sides so that the result is what you want.  You will never solve the same Rubik’s cube twice.  It may be the same device but the colors will never be scrambled in the same order.  Finally, keeping track of which step you’re on and knowing how to go back to where you made the mistake is key.  Pay attention to the way the cube changes when you turn a side.

    Decreasing Your Time

    There are many ways to decrease your time.  The best way is to practice; the more you do the cube the more likely you are to be able to solve it and to solve it fast.  Also when you practice you learn about the dynamics of the cube, how it changes, why certain maneuvers work, etc.  The more you know about the cube the more likely you will be able to skip steps or do more than one step at a time.

    Alternative Method

    The above method is meant for beginners.  Once you have been playing around with the cube for a while you begin to discover new ways to complete it.  The following way does not go into as much detail as the above method because it is meant for those who are familiar with the movements of the cube.

    Start by solving the orange/green/yellow 2x2x2 cube.  Then solve the red/green/orange/yellow 3x2x2 box.  Then add the blue side until you have a 3x3x2 box.  Finish by solving the white side in the same way you would solve in the beginner’s method.

    Other fun ideas include solving the cube with flowers on each side like in Figure 20, and mixing up one cube and trying to match it using another cube.

    Figure 20. This represents one of many other fun ways to solve the Rubik’s cube.

    50 (or so) Date Ideas

    Date night ideas, popsicle stick jar

    We are BORED! Bored out of our minds. Bored with ourselves, bored with our stuff, bored with our house, bored with our day-to-day lives. Just plain bored. It’s about time to spice things up around here. We want more time with each other, more time without stuff, more time away from the house, more excitement and creativity. I found an idea on Pinterest (regretfully I forgot to pin it and have no link) to fill a jar with popsicles sticks each with a date idea written on it. We went ahead and gave it a try.

    First we gathered our supplies:

    Date night ideas, popsicle stick jar 
    multi-colored popsicle sticks, thin point Sharpies, two plastic bags (one for new ideas and one for used ideas), and sustenance

    We assigned the colors of the popsicle sticks as follows:

    • Red = Things to do at home
    • Yellow = Free things
    • Green = $
    • Blue = $$$

    We then started brainstorming ideas and writing them down, some examples are listed here:

    • Go to the local art museum
    • Take a brewery tour
    • Write a novel
    • Buy coloring books and color in them
    • Make a home video
    • Rent a hotel room for the night
    • etc.

    Originally we were going to use bags but I found this jar in my cabinet so the new ideas were placed in it when completed (used ideas still go in a little bag).

    Date night ideas, popsicle stick jar

    We didn’t fill in all of the popsicle sticks so we made one that says simple “Make new popsicle sticks.”;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000028007181;pid=NMG51146;usg=AFHzDLu0fWE6lbFbnherRIsbuZEI9JV8Hw;;pubid=575791;price=%246.30;title=American+Classics+Corp…;merc=FuntoyMall;;width=59;height=85;dcadv=3632184;sz=180×150;lid=41000000024781945;pid=216079;usg=AFHzDLunczpSvw8crm6tzu4upfG9iYNPTQ;;pubid=575791;price=%2418.86;title=Ball+Regular+Mouth+Jar…;merc=Sam%27s+Club;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000005217789;pid=10000722;usg=AFHzDLtszl_Za14lFVHJlQH7fyW8uWZtuw;;pubid=575791;price=%248.28;title=Sharpie+Fine+Point+Per…;merc=OfficeMax;;width=95;height=85

    For ideas for your own popsicle stick dates follow the links below.

    What are some of your great date-night ideas?

    Small Space Gardening on a Budget

    My Grandpa bought me a book called In a Japanese Garden by Charmaine Aserappa with original woodcuts by Akiko Maomura for my birthday. It is full of short phrases about each component of a Japanese garden and a corresponding image (woodcut).  At the end there is a description of Japanese gardens and what they mean, “not merely decorative, but meticulously designed and maintained as meditative spaces for contemplation, refreshment and reflection.” I hope I can find both refreshment and order in my garden space.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget

    If you’ve read my other posts you may know that this summer my biggest project has been my balcony garden. It all began with the Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1 and Part 2. While the gutter garden was certainly the most intensive of my projects this summer, it was not the only one.  You may remember this flower tower mentioned in this post; let me tell you how I made my version.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget My Version


    • Decreasing sizes of pots – you can use any number of pots I used four (they should have holes in the bottom).  I got the three terra cotta pots from Michael’s for fairly cheap (sale + coupons) and the big plastic pot from WalMart for about $7 bucks and I didn’t need to buy a water collection dish because it has it’s own draining mechanism built it.
    • Long metal rod – I used one of those threaded rods they have at Home Depot. I will be the first to admit that I have no idea what it’s actually for but it was cheaper than buying rebar (and I didn’t have to cut it).
    • Plants – I lucked out because the King Soopers had a big sale on flowers (10 4-packs for $10) I also bought the potato vines for about $2.50 because I love the way they look. Any annuals will do, you could even plant edible plants or herbs.
    • Soil – I used some with water beads since it’s been so dry, but any kind will do.

    You start by filling the base pot half-full with soil. Stick the rod in the center, slide the next pot down the rod.  Fill that pot halfway with soil and repeat the process with the remaining pots. If the rod sticks out the top, simply add more soil between pots. Then plant your flowers or what have you as you normally would. Simple right?

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget “Be the bud. Prepare to blossom.”

    The remaining flowers are planted in flowerpots around the railings.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget “Be the gardener. Create order.”

    I also mentioned that I wanted to plant tomatoes and peppers in pots. I used water walls to increase their growing season. Here are my results.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget I used fallen branches as support (free vs. not free… I choose free)
    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a BudgetThis is the third ripe tomato so far.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget My First Pepper

    My strawberry plant is in a hanging basket. It’s been doing well, only the birds keep getting the fruit before I do. I would mind more if they weren’t so dang cute and didn’t sing such pretty songs to me while I drink my tea in the morning.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget

    I also ended up planting peas from seed using this tutorial. They started out growing like mad; I harvested two bowls of peas in their peak. However, it turns out container gardening is quite difficult.  I think I over-watered them causing their roots to run out of oxygen and rot, finally they started dying off. I’m too embarrassed to share the picture. On the bright side there is some re-growth now that the soil has dried out a bit.

    The final addition to my farm was sort of last minute. I had an extra pot and some carrot seeds so I planted them in the pot. I’ve never heard of this being done and this is crazy (but here’s my number, so call me maybe). Anyway we’ll see how it turns out; all I have at the moment is greens. I did a thinning last week so hopefully the carrots start being carrots.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget My watering can is in the front (isn’t it cute?). The carrots are in the terra cotta pot just behind the watering can.

    As for this project, I couldn’t figure out a way to stabilize it. I think the best way would be to drive the rebar deep into the ground.  Well I don’t have ground, I have concrete and a wooden railing.  I scratched that project but my grandmother found these cute colorful pots at the dollar store.  She bought a bunch and I am using them for herbs (I realize now this is better because I can bring them inside this winter). P.S. Notice the tomato on the window sill through the window. 🙂

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget 

    From left to right: dill, cilantro (used to be cilantro), spearmint, lemon balm, oregano, basil, spring onions
    They sit on my air conditioner

    “Be the seasons. Welcome change.”

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a BudgetRosemary Bush

    I wanted a way to enjoy my space so I have been keeping my eyes open for a small-ish patio set.  This bistro set caught my eye at Home Depot. At that point I told my parents about it and guess what I got for my birthday? Well see for yourself.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget
    It didn’t come with the cushions, those were a separate gift from my grandparents.

    You can see the grill in the background; Reid has wanted a grill since, as long as I’ve known him (and we just celebrated our 3 year anniversary last week). We found this charcoal grill at a flea market in south (SOUTH) Fort Collins for $12.  One night he was grilling as the sun was setting and it started getting too dark for him to see. He used his camping headlamp that night but the next day he went out and got a strand of lights to hang from the ceiling. Now it feels like an outdoor café.

    “Be the moth. Seek the light.
    Be the lantern. Guide the lost.”

    We also found two wind chimes (and I made a third)

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Small Space Gardening on a Budget “Be the wind chime. Let the breeze blow through you. Turn the storms into song.”

    Now that all the hard work is done I have had the chance to relax in and enjoy the space. We eat dinner at our café, I read books in the morning with my breakfast and tea, and I tend and water the plants (the best part of container gardening is that there are no weeds, only insect pests). Though it took most of my savings to set it up I have no regrets about the rewarding outcome. My first real experience with gardening has overall been successful, maybe not bountiful, but successful none-the-less.

    Leave a comment; I need all the advice I can get. What are your best gardening tips?

    Hanging Gutter Garden Part 2: Putting it Together

    I know it has been over 3 months since Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1: Adventures in Home Depot. But I do have excuses. One excuse is that I lost my camera battery charger and I could not take pictures of my progress, another is that I’m lazy. But, just before the backpacking extravaganza (and after losing Reid’s camera in the Canyonlands) I broke down and purchased a new (expensive) charger (with LED charging screen and European outlet adapter).

    Now that I have the means to take picture I figured it was about time to share my patio garden with you lovely people.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden

    As I said in this post, I wanted to create the hanging gutter garden like this one.

    For mine I didn’t have the fancy pants hardware (or the fancy pants bank account). I used the gutter given to me by the gutter guys (A story told here). I also purchased a plastic gutter for $5 at Resource 2000, where they sell salvaged construction materials.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The finished product – metal gutter

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden Bottom Level = Lettuce

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden Middle Level = Radishes (recently harvested and replanted)

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden Top Level = Spinach (recently replanted due to struggling first crop)

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The finished product – plastic gutter

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden All Levels = salad mix (sprouting)

    The materials:

    • 1 gutter cut into three equal parts (process is almost identical no matter the material, I tried with both plastic and metal gutters)
    • 6 gutter caps – the plastic ones are quite nice and can be purchased at Home Depot, Metal are also nice but mine had to be bent to fit the gutter, which was quite a process.
    • 2 hooks – I chose some that screw into a drilled hole
    • 16’ of 1/8” steel cable cut into 6 equal lengths (or as much as you’ll need to fill your space, gutters should be at least 18” apart to allow adequate sun exposure and plant growth) – I bought this kit at walmart because I was there buying pots and it was the only cable they had. The kit actually came in handy as the clips (though not exactly what I was looking for) worked perfectly. As I worked I realized I needed 32” of cable for both my gutter gardens so I ended up having to go to Home Depot for a yard of steel cable.
    • 12 clips – 6 came in the kit mentioned above and there was another pack nearby without 3 clips (no cable) so I bought two of these packs.
    • 2 thimbles – these came in the kit mentioned above but they are also sold alone

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden
    Above = clips, Below = thimble,
    • Wire Cutters – sharpened
    • Electric drill – with attachments for drilling holes large enough for the steel wire to go through and for tightening nuts on the clips

    Step 1. Cut the gutters
    The gutter man who gave it to me cut the metal gutter in uneven thirds; my dad then cut into equal length pieces. I sawed the plastic gutter into (almost) equal thirds (I did it all by myself thank you).

    Step 2. Drill holes
    My dad helped me drill two holes, large enough for the steel cable to fit through, across from each other on each end, and one hole at the center of the base on each end (6 holes per gutter section).

    Step 3. Fit the end caps
    This part was quite complicated for the metal gutter. The plastic gutter was simple, the caps fit perfectly. My Metal Gutter was not the exact shape of the cap. My dad used pliers to shape the end of the gutter to fit into the cap and a rubber mallet to force it in where it wasn’t exactly perfect. He did this for each of the 6 end caps and I am so grateful for that. If you buy your gutter where you buy your end cap this shouldn’t be a problem for you, mine came from different sources.

    Step 4. Cut steel cable into 6 36” sections
    We definitely over estimated the amount of steel cable to use. My dad and I were not at my apartment during the building process so we wanted to give ourselves some extra. You might not need so much extra slack when building your gutter garden. Be careful when cutting the wire, it tend to fray; very sharp wire cutters can help prevent fraying.

    Step 5. Thread the steel cable
    With one end shorter than the other thread the cable through the two holes at the top of the gutter. This can be quite difficult if the cable has frayed. Also be prepared to be poked with sharp metal; gloves are probably a good idea at this point.

    Step 6. Secure the cable
    Loosen the nuts on the clip and thread both ends of the cable through the clip. Pull the clip down on the cable where its not pulling to much but is tight. Finagle the cable so the short end only pokes out of the clip about an inch and tighten the nuts on the clip, a little on each nut so it tightens evenly. Repeat this process (step 5 and 6) for each gutter on each end (a total of 6 times)

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden

    The Metal Gutter

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden

    The Plastic Gutter

    Step 7. Connect the pieces
    Starting with the gutter section you want at the base of your garden thread the long end of the cable through the hole in the base of the middle gutter section. Attach a clip around this single end of cable and tighten. Make sure the clip is at the length you want. Do this on both ends, keeping the gutter level. Do the same thing with the middle gutter and the top gutter. Leave the top gutter for now.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The Metal Gutter

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden The Plastic Gutter

    Step 8. Hanging the dang thing
    This was another complicated step. The whole contraption is very heavy, awkward and dynamic. This stage was obviously done at my apartment with my boyfriends help to replace my dad. There is most definitely a better way than how we did this but I am the queen of doing things in the most complicated way. We measured the distance between cables, drilled holes for the screw hook and screwed them in. Then we hauled the apparatus up a step stool and one of our kitchen chairs between the two of us. I stabilized my end as he threaded a clip onto the cable then a thimble around the hook and tightened it. We kept the thing slightly above the railing so that when we screwed it down it would be tight. Mind you this took many, many, many, many, MANY tries because there were so many pieces to hold steady at a precise place, but we finally got it and 3 months later it looks fantastic.

    Side note: The method above details how we hung the metal gutters. For the plastic gutters we screwed the bottom gutter onto the railing first, but we couldn’t get it tight enough at the top and it looks like it’s leaning forward since the hooks at the top and the screws at the base are not directly vertical. Therefore we developed the method above, which was also difficult but returned better results.

    Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Hanging Gutter Garden 
    The Hook in the Ceiling

    These gutters dry out VERY fast, especially in an arid climate like Colorado. I have struggled with wilting, browning, and flat out dying plants in these gutters since planting. I have discovered that on hot days I must water them twice: once in the morning and once in the evening, in order to keep them healthy. Someone in a more humid environment might not experience these problems.;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=XST1283_6080424;usg=AFHzDLvQdXVR8eTZh3ufQCSOzp12qcSE_w;;pubid=575791;price=%2415.98;title=%22Garden+Soil+Flowers+V…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=VOM1011;usg=AFHzDLvNqlbzKPnUZniGTSAeQLPUPLvZ7A;;pubid=575791;price=%2463.00;title=%22Conic+Jardiniere+Fang…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=IMX2340;usg=AFHzDLvbMm74nk113_yjQgoqlG31Z9ZUqg;;pubid=575791;price=%2458.99;title=%22Tauba+Large+Oval+Wate…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85

    How did you like this post? Are you interested in making a gutter garden? Do you have questions about my process? Leave a comment.

    Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1: Adventures in Home Depot

    So, I live in a second floor apartment and really want to grow my own food this summer (and also have pretty flowers).  That said, I have many projects planned to make our outside space more livable (we have a beautiful corner balcony with lots of room)

    I plan to:

    • Make this container structure for pretty flowers
    • Plant tomatoes and peppers in pots
    • Make this pot tower for herbs
    • and make a hanging gutter garden like this

    I have all the supplies for the first three; I just need to wait until it is time to start planting.  The gutter garden is going to be the biggest project and I was planning to use my free time between class and work today to get a good solid start on it.  This is the story of why that didn’t happen.

    Planning ahead, which is completely out of character in the first place, meant that this morning I loaded up the website with the instructions for my hanging garden onto my kindle fire.  My thought process was was if there is no Internet in Home Depot I can still see what materials I need.  I did not however think about measuring my banister to ceiling distance or anything practical like that.

    After class I drove down to Home Depot.  I went straight to the garden center because I knew I needed potting soil.  Then I headed over to the building supplies section.

    Either everyone in home depot (including the people who don’t work there) are really friendly or I looked really lost and out of place because on the way to the opposite end of the store I was stopped multiple times, “Do you need help finding something miss?”

    home depot, shopping cart, flower pot, potting soil, customer, employee
    Me, scooting along through Home Depot amongst a sea of helpful employees and customers

    To most I replied, “No thank you, I’m fine.”  But when I couldn’t find the gutters I finally said, “Yes where do you keep rain gutters?”

    “Excuse me?”

    “Rain gutters, like the kind you put on your house to divert the flow of rain.”

    Strange look… “Well, they’re right down this aisle here about halfway.”

    “Thank you!” Big smile.

    I began comparing prices and picked the cheapest one: 10’ of plastic gutter for $4.89.  And the ends came in two packs with rubber around the edges for extra sealing power.  Now, 10’ is a lot of feet and when I started driving my cart around the store with that hugeness sticking off both ends of the cart I got even more stares than before.  Then it started sliding off the front end and I just barely catch it.

    “Careful there miss!”  One employee called to me, “Are you finding what you need?”

    “I’m looking for 1/8” steel cable.”

    “Just down here, how much do you need.  I can cut it for you.”

    My mind goes blank.  Thought process: How much do I need?  I didn’t measure.  You’re an idiot!  To the employee: “I don’t know how much I need.”

    “Well that will be tricky for measuring, won’t it?”  Gives me a smile.  “Let me know if you figure it out.”  Leaves.

    I pull out my Kindle, thinking maybe I can estimate based on what they used.  Internet doesn’t work, “We cannot load your page please check that you have access to internet connection.”  Eff you kindle fire.  So much for planning ahead.

    I stand there staring at the roll of steel cable (like that’ll help me figure out the distance between my banister and balcony ceiling).  I decide to just make a return trip after measuring and I move down the aisle to where they keep hooks and things.  There are too many choices!  What do I even need?  I start running through options of how to hang this thing, when a man walks over.

    question mark, confusion, too many options

    “What are you doing with that gutter?”  He asks.

    “I’m making a gutter garden, I live in an apartment with a patio so I don’t have anyplace to grow things.”

    “Oh how nice.  My friend is doing that with her old gutters, she had plastic ones like this that got ravaged in a hailstorm.  You might want to look at the metal ones; they’re much more durable.”

    “Oh thank you so much,” I say, “I didn’t even think about that.”

    “Oh yeah and the plastic ones get cracked and dried.  Just be careful with the metal, so you don’t cut yourself.  I built a shed, and last weekend I installed metal gutters on it, my hands are still recovering.”

    “Thanks again, I’m going to go check them out.”  Heads back to gutter aisle.  Metal gutters, metal gutters.  There are silver and white… white are twice as expensive?!  Why because they are white?  Oh they are bigger.  I think I want bigger, holds more soil and roots.  No, no, I don’t think I can do this today.  Puts all gutters back.

    I went home empty-handed (at least without supplies for this project because I totes bought potting soil and a cute blue pot)

    Anyway, on the way home, on the street I live on, I saw one man cutting some gutters, another spray painting some, and another man with his dog on a leash standing and talking to them.  I look in the rearview mirror.  Could it be?  Do I really have this luck?  Truck says Express Gutter Installation.  I screeched my car to a halt and walked over to the man with his dog.

    express gutter installation, heavenly chorus, gutter garden
    A sign from the garden gods

    “Excuse me is this your house?”

    “Yes.”  Strange look.

    “Are you replacing the gutters?”

    “Yes.” Stranger look.

    “What are you doing with the old gutters?”

    The man who was spray painting says, “You don’t want those, they’re broken and cracked.”

    “Well I might, I’m just making a planter. They don’t need to function as gutters.”  I say.

    The homeowner says, “Well you are welcome to take a look.”

    They are quite broken but they’d probably work and they’re free.  I’m prepared to tell them I’ll take them when the spray painter tells me I can have one of their new ones.

    “Really?”  Eyes light up like stars.

    Gutter cutter says, “Would you like me to cut it for you?”

    “Yes in thirds would be great.”  I say, not believing my luck.

    So, he cuts the gutters (not in perfect thirds; but I’m willing to overlook that for the low, low cost of free).

    I say, “Thank you so much!  I think this is fate, I just came from Home Depot.”

    Spray painter says, “Yeah, gutters can get pretty expensive.”

    The homeowner says, “That’ll be $20.”  My heart sinks for a split second before he laughs off his joke.

    “Thanks again!”  I say, awkwardly carrying my new gutters to my car.

    The garden gods are smiling at me today!

    Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the other supplies to make the hanging gutter garden so I will just have to wait for the weekend to continue with this project.  Stay tuned for more building adventures, until next time!

    ***Update*** The project is complete and there is a blog post to prove it.;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=VOM1009;usg=AFHzDLuXYXcJUSCrHNjKrFgdMSZbYBe9eQ;;pubid=575791;price=%2448.00;title=%22Cuenco+Fang+Round+Flo…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000373657;pid=703777;usg=AFHzDLt9v6wMYSWaFxWmUNYVI–YhKVj-A;;pubid=575791;price=%2424.95;title=Microplane+Herb+Mill;merc=Sur+La+Table;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000028505128;pid=XST1276_6080418;usg=AFHzDLsh1bCcnb4JGDN5T3AbqJzFlP8p0g;;pubid=575791;price=%2412.98;title=%22Mg+Organic+Choice+Gar…;merc=Wayfair;;width=85;height=85

    What garden projects are you working on for this summer?

    Homemade Tagalongs

    …(or as they’re known elsewhere Peanut Butter Patties)

    Suite Pea's Kitchen showcased by Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Homemade Tagalongs

    As you know I love to use Pinterest.  I’ve mentioned that I actually use a few of the things I pin.  One (mentioned yesterday) is fitness, another is recipes.  As usual, I was perusing the Pinterest community and discovered this little beauty of a recipe for Tagalongs from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.  I have been saving it for a special occasion, but finally yesterday I couldn’t wait any longer.  I had to try me some Tagalongs – homemade style.  So I got out all my baking gear and began.

    When I bake usually I like to listen to some good music but yesterday I already had my Pandora set to the preset “Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout Station” (I was getting my 5-4-3-2-1 on) so I just left it (that’s funny because it’s not good music… get it?) It was quite fun dancing to this type of music and I highly recommend it for future baking projects.

    Anyway, Tagalongs

    tagalongs, girl scout cookies, peanut butter, chocolate
    Image Credit: Little Brownie Bakers
    This is what Tagalongs look like from the box

    Now, normally I would not wish to take away from the Girl Scouts and their one major fundraiser they have all year; after all I was one once.  However $4.00 for a box of cookies is a bit pricey for a college student who needs to buy real food.  The only problem is I absolutely love Tagalongs.  I used to keep the box in my room so greedy hands belonging to my sister and parents would not defile my tasty bits of heaven.  I weighed it in my head in front of that little table the girls had set up outside of King Soopers grocery store: do I want to spend my $4.00 on some cookies or something more nutritious.  Now, I no longer have to shed out precious cash for happiness and the recipe makes enough that I don’t mind sharing.

    tagalongs, peanut butter, chocolate, cookie, homemade, girl scout cookies
    Image Credit: Christina of Suite Pea’s Kitchen
    Her’s look way better than mine…
    Chocolate is super messy”

    This recipe on the Sweet Pea’s Kitchen blog is fantastic.  It took FOREVER to make (possibly due to all the dancing) but let me tell you something, it is totally worth it.  These cookies are delicious and they taste a bazillion times better than the boxed variety.

    So I really wanted to do a step-by-step post of my progress while baking (complete with the proper dance move technique for each task) but, alas, my camera charger is nowhere to be found.  Without pictures I feel this post would be a bit bland so I’ll just stick with my fantabulous review of this recipe and let you read the step-by-step on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.

    My only edits:  I added about a tablespoon of water to the chocolate to spread it a bit further and to make it more liquidy.  The peanut butter filling is REALLY sweet so next time I will probably add less sugar.  My batch only made two dozen (the recipe says 3 dozen) which leads me to believe I made the cookies too big.  This is probably true because with the filling and the chocolate it is very rich and hard to finish just one cookie.  Definitely a death-by-chocolate type of dessert, but yummers!

    Happy Baking!;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000102709;pid=94662;usg=AFHzDLukJORG9VLZZaaOClWh3M-R1kVJPg;;pubid=575791;price=%2434.95;title=CHEFS+Stainless-Steel+…;merc=Chefs+Catalog;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=765442;usg=AFHzDLuibF4kEk2R__f04J_5kH-CnxYing;;pubid=575791;price=%2439.99;title=Oneida+Cupcake+Carrier…;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85;sz=180×150;ord=timestamp?;lid=41000000000342669;pid=658613;usg=AFHzDLvvnvjK5808MZxDbUW13TXGh-mNlg;;pubid=575791;price=%2422.98;title=Food+Network+Baking+Sheet;merc=Kohl%27s;;width=85;height=85

    Would you prefer the boxed variety or these homemade delicacies?  How do you get your bake on?  Care to share a recipe I should try?