A Garden in a Pop Bottle, a 30 Day Challenge and Getting the Word out About my Work

Pop Bottle Greenhouse

Last Sunday I started a few basil seeds in my new mini ecosystem thingy which I mentioned in my last blog post. The idea is to use two 2-liter pop bottles to make an enclosed mini greenhouse. I planted and watered the seeds in on Sunday and placed the bottle on a warm radiator and by Wednesday tiny seedlings were popping up. Cool! So far this system is working great. I will continue to give updates and experiment with other seeds to see how they fare in this kind of environment.

popbottlegardenpopbottlegarden2

30 Day Challenge

A few months ago I challenged myself, my husband and my son to a 30 day challenge. We would not eat out, get take-out or go through the drive-thru for an entire month. Yeah. This was tough for us. I love to cook but by the time I get home some nights I have seen too much food and too many dishes and I would rather just order a pizza for dinner. This kind of eat out lifestyle had left me feeling very mediocre. I used to be the wife that would have a great meal on the table every night for my family. It was always balanced with a protein, a carb and two veggies.

After opening my bakery in 2010 and leaving my desk job as a legal secretary our home meals were rushed, quick and downright, yes, mediocre at best. After working a 12 hour day standing on my feet, I had no desire to stand even a second longer making dinner. My husband doesn’t cook but he is the best at ordering take-out.

Now that my self-employed career was done and I had a full time job again I was itching to get my mojo back when it came to cooking. We were spending a ton of money eating out and why should we eat out when my husband would say my cooking was better! What really got me into this challenge was having dinner at a local BBQ joint and it cost me over $85 for three of us to eat! Not cool! I knew I could do better and I knew it would be a lot cheaper if I cooked for us at home.

Now this was a self-imposed 30 day challenge. I came up with the idea myself so I made my own rules.

Here were my rules:

1. No eating out at a restaurant, ordering take-out from a restaurant or going through the fast food drive-thru.

2. No eating out at all including not just dinner but breakfast and lunch too.

3. No coffee out or fancy drinks like Lattes, Mochas or Frappes. Yes that meant no Starbucks, Dunkin Donuts, Tim Hortons or local coffee shops. We own three coffee machines so we would make our coffee from home.

4. Meals had to be made at home. They don’t have to be made from scratch either. I don’t care if you want to eat a bowl of cereal for dinner, just make it at home.

5. Farmers markets and grocery stores are your friends and should be your daily inspiration. If you have room to grow a veggie garden than all the better. Can’t get much healthier or more inexpensive than growing it yourself.

6. The only exceptions would be school lunches. (At only $1.40 a lunch I couldn’t pack a lunch less expensive than that) and if we had already planned a dinner out a month in advance we could still honor our previous commitment and go out that night.

I have to say we really enjoyed our month cooking at home. My son enjoying cooking with me. Our garden was still alive so we could harvest lettuce, carrots, swiss chard, cabbage and herbs. Working at the store was helpful because I was already there and I made myself stay and shop so there was no excuse for not wanted to go to the store. I also got my love for cooking back. I really missed it.

I did slip a couple of times. I was summoned to jury duty that month and it was pretty tough to bring a bag lunch even though I did stash some fruit and granola bars in my purse. Also once, we went to Subway on a night where I was completely wiped out and we figured that was the cheapest, healthiest way to enjoy a night out.

I might have to do the challenge again. I really didn’t like paying $30 for a small pizza and 12 wings yesterday. Would you try a 30 day challenge like this?

doug food

A meal our 13 year old made us

nanna

Naan flatbread pizza

My Work

Work at the store gets very slow this time of year. After the hustle and bustle of the holidays people tend to hibernate after December. Here in Western, NY we have been plagued by many snow storms including our November super-storm which brought national attention to southern Buffalo.

After such a slow week last week I decided to jump-start people and get them in the spring and summer event planning mood with a few pictures on my Facebook page. I posted 5 different categories of goods that would be perfect for baby and wedding showers, custom cut-outs, character cakes and small weddings.

If you have an event coming up in the spring or summer of this year it is best to start getting your thoughts together now while it’s quiet. Bakeries love to hear from people well in-advance of an upcoming event. This gives them enough time to order or hand make special decorations for a cake if needed and gives the person hosting the event the peace of mind that their wishes will be met correctly and their event will be perfect. What kind of event are you planning for the summer? -MM

tetrault cake anniv

50th Wedding Anniversary Cake

Advertisements

I Needed a Little “Garden Time”

workbench1

I was in a winter blues kind of mood yesterday. I was looking through my order book from 2014, before I took my job at the grocery store. Taxes have to be done to finish up closing my business books and I saw all of the people I had baked something for in March and I was kind of sad it was over. I needed something to get me out of my mood so I turned off the computer and got my grungies on and went in my basement to tackle cleaning off my potting workbench. 

I love gardening. It isn’t work for me. It is relaxation and creativity and a way for me to connect with myself and my surroundings. I feel at peace even if I am shoveling 50 lbs of topsoil or turning my compost pile.workbench2

In the winter I like to plan and dream of my spring garden. I get my seed catalogs out as soon as the new year arrives. I pour over them looking at what’s new for the season. Sometimes I order and other times I have seeds left over from last year.

This year I have a ton of seeds left over from 2014. Working at a grocery store has it’s perks and one day this last fall, I went to sit at the break table for lunch and there were two big boxes of seeds for us employees to take for FREE!

Apparently the grower didn’t want the packets back because they were last year’s seeds and it wasn’t worth it for them to pick them up. So management left a note on the boxes to take any that we wanted. SCORE!workbench3

I grabbed the carrots, beets and lettuce and let me tell you those lettuce packs were gigantic! We are going to be eating a lot of salads this summer and so is the rest of my family for that matter. Ha!

garden3

So I cleaned the heck out of my workbench which I love dearly. My grandfather built the workbench into the basement room with the most windows in it so he could start his seedlings in the sunniest spot in the house. It always makes me feel better when I work on it. Today was just cleaning, but I did plant a bit of basil in my new homemade ecosystem thingy that I will show you in another post if it works properly.

Iworkbench4 also got a nice chat in with my geraniums that I re-potted and brought in before our famous November snow storm. One day it was 50 and the next we had three feet of snow. Screwy NY weather. I re-potted 9 geraniums at the last possible second before they got hit with frost and brought them inside. They love it when there is a sunny day and the light streams in warming them.

I had a wonderful afternoon with my plants and fresh dirt and sunshine. Even on a cold wintery day it definitely chased my winter blues away. – MM