Thought for the Day: Keep Climbing

keep climbing

The Art of Food: Simple Pasta Salad

I’m busy.  Always busy.  So therefore, it seems I never have time to make any fancy meals or dishes unless I’m preparing for a party.  To my women readers, don’t get jealous please, my husband also does most of the cooking for dinner.  (He likes it!)

That being said, I do like to make some things, and I especially love fresh food.  Good food, doesn’t always have to be complicated to make, nor does it always have to take a ton of time. So today I share with you how to make a simple pasta salad that is extremely healthy and very tasty.

The key is FRESH HERBS and lots of vegetables!

You can experiment with adding a variety of herbs. For my salad I went out to my herb garden and picked fresh sprigs of globe basil ( a little spicier than traditional basil), oregano, a bit of thyme and some big leaves of thai basil (strong licorice flavor).  There are so many possibilities to add though: cilantro, dill, parsley and a variety of others will all slightly change the flavor of the dish.

To keep things healthy I use Barilla Plus pasta ( it’s the stuff that comes in a yellow box) as an alternative to regular pasta.  It tastes so good and has a bunch of healthy ingredients like flaxseed, semolina, and legumes and packs a lot more protein than your average pasta (and it doesn’t have the “gritty” texture like other healthy pastas have) then I dice up a bunch of veggies and toss them in with olive oil, a little lemon juice, garlic and pepper!

Ingredients and simple instructions:

*Cook half a box of Barilla Plus Pasta, any variety, per instructions on box (usually 7-10 minutes), rinse then put in a bowl

*Herbs:
Add fresh cut Globe Basil, Thai Basil, Thyme, Oregano (or add your own favorites)

*Vegetables:
Add
1/4 green pepper, diced
1/4 red pepper diced
1 carrot diced
1 stalk of celery, diced
(I also recommend broccoli)

*Toss together with olive oil to coat.
*Add 1-2 t. of lemon juice
*Add fresh grated garlic or 1 t. of garlic powder
*Salt and pepper to taste.

Add a sprig of herbs on top for presentation.

It’s simple, fresh, quick, and low calorie while still tasty!

An experiment in suburban gardening

I live near the national park.  We have gorgeous Spruce and Cedar trees where we live, that are absolutely lovely.  We also have lots of wildlife that sometimes comes to visit.  I’ve seen plenty of deer, an occasional raccoon and even a fox trot through the back yard.  Of course these things mean a traditional garden in the back yard is a bit difficult.  There’s an awful lot of shade and anything that grew would most likely be eaten by critters.  I had an aha! moment after reading an article on urban gardening this fall though.  If New Yorkers could grow gardens on roof top patios, why couldn’t I on my little second level deck outside of our bedroom and office.  It would have a lot more sun, and basically be critter proof!

So several planters, seedlings, and bags of organic dirt dragged up an entire flight of stairs later I had a garden.  Now I know, expert gardeners will say I have way too many plants, and they’re way too close together.  We basically bought enough plants for a small farm I think!  But, this really was just an experiment.   Live and learn.  I’m not sure I expected them to actually grow as well and as big as they did!

It looks like we will have a nice little crop of plants to enjoy in a few months.

Definitely need more, and bigger planters next year.  The plan is to put hanging baskets all the way around as well.

A cayenne pepper, the first vegetable of the summer is on it’s way!

We had a little visitor.  Correct me if wrong, but I believe it’s a katydid.  Hopefully it keeps the munching to a minimum.

We’re going to have a ton of tomatoes.  Pasta anyone?

Collectors Series Feature, and Earring Giveaway

Today I’m featured on the rikrak studio blog as part of her “collectors series”. You can take a peek at one of my hobbies (and my husband’s hobbies), which is collecting bonsai pots and *attempting* to grow some bonsai trees. You can see some photos of the collection and read my interview that went along with the feature.

In addition to the collectors series, the rikrak studio blog is also hosting a giveaway, and I am donating a pair of my twig earrings to one lucky winner, so go check out the rules for the contest and get your entry in!

the rikrak studio

Friday Etsy Favorites: Succulents Galore

It’s Friday, so it’s time to share an Etsy favorite with you. Now, many people shop Etsy for jewelry, clothing and even vintage decor, but there are live plants to be found as well! This winter I managed to snag not one but TWO gorgeous vintage terrariums for an absolutely fabulous price and I’ve been thinking about how to fill them. Succulents Galore has been tagged in my Etsy favorites since there are tons of succulent plants to chose from, in various quantities, sizes and varieties. There’s even items that would be perfect for wedding or party gifts. The only difficulty with this shop would be choosing! So my question is, what should I get?

Collection of 12 Succulent Plants, $36 from Succulents Galore

A Collection of 6 Succulent plants in pots wrapped in natural ribbon, $25

Bring on Spring

This Spring my husband and I have decided we definitely need to check out every nook and cranny of our local Metroparks. There’s so many beautiful hidden wonders nearby. We came across this lovely scene the other weekend walking the trails at the F.A. Sieberling Nature Realm in the Summit County Metroparks. Check it out if you’re local. In 2009-2010 they added a bunch of “green” features, so it’s a lovely, modern, eco-friendly facility.

May 6th is National Public Gardens Day

Now that the warmer weather is almost here, it’s almost time for National Public Gardens Day on May 6th, 2011. I’m hoping to get out with my camera and get a few great shots. Time for a little visual inspiration. May the Spring weather finally be in full force then! You can visit a local public garden for free too through a partnership between the American Public Gardens Association and Better Homes and Gardens. Visit BHG.com/freegarden for details or to sign up.