Index of Thoughts

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Straw Bale Garden

One thing that I have really been missing since we moved from Montrose, CO back to Telluride, CO is my garden.  I had the most wonderful garden in Montrose and spent so many hours there.  Getting my hands in the dirt keeps me grounded and is so needed for my soul.  I'm finally feeling a little more settled in our new house even though we still have quite the punch list. Although, that's how it goes since we are Do-It-Yourself-ers.  We are already planning our master bathroom remodel!

This spring we decided that we were going to have our garden!  I worked hard in our perennial garden pulling weeds and planting perennials based on their hardiness in this alpine region.  I planted lavender, coral bells, delphinium, black-eyed susan, hosta, lupine, sedum, plus some other miscellaneous fillers/ground covers.  I also planted some apple and peach trees and grapes.

I installed a drip irrigation system on a timer from our hose to make sure things got watered.  It is so dry here and the sun can beat down anything that isn't thoroughly watered on a regular basis.  Plus, we were going on vacation this summer and wanted everything to be easy as possible for our house sitter.  Otherwise, I would be wasting money in the ground without it.  It cost me around $300 for 4 zones.  Not too bad.

And finally, we yo-yoed about how to do a vegetable garden here.  We have a few limitations at this altitude (around 7000 ft.).  After careful thought and research on time, resources and money, we decided on a straw bale garden.  I didn't want to spend a lot of money on a raised garden only to have it fail.  We bought 18 bales of straw at the Nucla Co-op, 50 lbs. bag urea (Nitrogen), and 50 lb bag of 10-10-10 fertilizer.  We also bought stakes and fencing to make sure all the critters didn't eat everything up.  In March, I started seeds in the house.  I did a lot of different things so this year we could test out what grew best here.

Why we picked a straw bale garden:

- inexpensive ($4 bale)
- straw bales can be on top of any surface
- not very labor intensive
- it's super cool

Some down sides:

- you might only be able to use for one season
- you will have a big pile of mulch/compost material after the garden
- root veggies don't work in the straw
- watering is critical due to drying out fast
- grass grows in bales from seeds in the straw and mushrooms

How to start your own Straw Bale Garden

There are plenty of websites explaining all the ins and outs of straw bale gardening which I recommend that you research.  This just explains how we did it and what worked for us.

  1. We placed 18 bales in the shape of a U with 6 bales on each side. You want to have the straw bale face up on the side with the ends of the straw. Pick a nice sunny spot.
  2. We followed this procedure for putting Nitrogen, water and fertilizer on our bales to condition them to be ready to plant.  You start to break down/decompose the bale. We started this at the beginning of May.  The procedure says about 2 weeks but ours took about 3 weeks probably because it was still pretty chilly here.
  3. We transplanted our seedlings into the bales.  Some transplants didn't harden well and others did great.  I would definitely do these from transplant again: tomatoes, cauliflower, peppers, strawberries, leek. All the others, I will plant from seed in the bale: herbs, beans, lettuce, kale, chard, cucumber, melons.  I planted potatoes in columns with straw but they didn't make it this year.  I plan next year to plant in ground around the bales - beets, carrots, radishes, potatoes, onion and garlic. 
  4. We got anywhere from 4-6 plants per bale.
  5. I set up the irrigation in the garden and it was worth every penny and the time.  I highly recommend it.  It's so easy to do!!
  6. I planted the veggies with quite a bit of soil pep on top of the straw bale.  It helped it take root and it helped it retain moisture.  I also set up stakes and twine for my beans and tomatoes.  I let my melons and cucumbers cascade off the bale.  
  7. After planting I used Fox Farm Microbrew Fertilizer to help feed my plants.  I also had to use some granular slug and earwig insecticide because they were consuming whole plants overnight.
  8. I bought a big frost cloth so I can prolong my garden from the early frosts here and also to use next year to extend the spring season.  
  9. Gardening makes me a happy girl!  I am crossing my fingers for a second season of planting in these bales.  

Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Skinny Mug Muffin Recipe

After Spring Break is typically my New Year time.  It's so much easier to lose that stubborn extra 5-10 lbs that you acquired over the winter.  Low carbs and sugar and minimal meat has always been my go-to for shedding those pounds.

I'm loving this easy and flexible recipe to make in the morning for breakfast.

Jorge Cruise's Skinny Mug Muffin (with my variations)

1/4 cup ground flax
1 tsp baking powder
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp coconut oil
1 egg
1 tsp stevia
10 blueberries (optional: substitute with other berries, nuts or a couple of dark chocolate chips)

Mix in a coffee mug and microwave for 1 minute.

Turned out pretty good for a quick breakfast.  You can also pop it out of the mug pretty easy to take with you.

Saturday, February 25, 2017

"Slow" Living Comeback

  I've been thinking a lot about the "before me".  The Me before I moved back to Telluride.  I did a lot of fun things in Montrose that I was super passionate about.  First and foremost it revolved around food and kids.  Since that time, my life went on a different path - still a great one but just not that one.  I have also taken this time to homeschool my kids for a year and be present and available to them while working on Me.  As a wife and mama, having a well-established & lucrative career is not easy.  For the ones that have achieved it -Kudos!  But in my experience when a career path that I have ventured on starts really succeeding then my home life starts really lacking which then has brought me to always choosing my family first.  I haven't learned how to juggle both successfully.

Ginger Magnolia Catering: my catering company in Montrose, CO 

Which brings me back to FOOD.  SLOW.  KIDS.  TEACHING.

I've been listening to what the universe keeps placing in front of me.  Ever heard of the Slow Food Movement?  It's an organization that encourages people to get back to the way food was handled in the classic era instead of the modern one.  I have always been a huge supporter of it.  I feel like the large food industry is not the way of the future for a healthy lifestyle.  Localizing your food to your region is the way of the future.  It is not easy to fully embrace this lifestyle the way things are set up.  But on the western slope and in a lot of other communities it is alive and well and flourishing! *sidenote: Please support your local farmer's markets and their vendors!!  

I feel like most people want to support this and know this is the way it should be.  But I also feel that so many people that I encounter say that:

1. They don't know how.
2. They can't afford it.
3. They can afford it and will pay for it.

In all 3 of these scenarios, there is an underlining theme.  Most people don't know how to live or cook "slow".  It is something that I am constantly striving for, teaching myself, learning from others and life is definitely always reminding me to do so.  There is a missing piece to achieving Simple Living. Who is teaching it?  Did you take Home Ec?  Did your family teach you?  Chances are you will say no. Plus, is it even offered at school any more?  And the other piece is being grounded.  I have found that when I am stressed, sick, moving houses, not exercising, eating processed foods - it is really hard to keep yourself grounded which makes it really hard to live intentionally. But it is one of those things that go hand in hand.  If you don't live "slow" then you aren't grounded and vice versa.

I am ready to get back in the saddle to my first love and passion.  Food and teaching.  I don't know it all but I have found the montessori principle to be true that when you teach others that you actually learn and receive much more.

I want my community to know how to:

Canning and Preserving Food
Natural Fermentation
Baking from Scratch
Fundamentals of cooking
Baking Bread
Sewing 101
Learning How Did They Make That (soap, candles, etc..)
Visit local crafters/artisans to learn
Making Ice Cream
Making Your Own Condiments
Make Your Own Laundry Detergent
...there are so many arts to learn

  These things are our heritage.  These things are important.  They are getting lost.  Our children's menus are limited to chicken nuggets, grilled cheese and macaroni & cheese.  Ewwww!!  Why can't restaurants offer kid portions of their regular menu?  

Kids Cooking Class: Make your own Pasta

  Maybe baking bread or sewing isn't your thing or you can afford for someone to do it for you.  But, the knowing how is always a good thing.  That way when you visit your local farmer's market, you know exactly "How", ask educated questions and can fully appreciate the time, effort & love that is put into the food you consume.  If you ingest good energy then you put forward good energy.  

I organized a Kid's Baking Competition for a School Fundraiser
  But even more important, you have to educate and teach your child the same.  I see so many families that eat well but their kids only eat chicken nuggets, fries and yogurt.  Kids will eat healthy if you make it taste good, and it's colorful.  I was the lunch lady for 3 years at my children's school and I had quite a few picky eaters that I turned into healthy eaters who became curious and interested in their food.  I remember one kid that said that they didn't eat pesto because it is green.  Well, we made the pesto from scratch.  Then, cooked the penne pasta, grilled some chicken and roasted some veggies.  We mixed it all together and he tried it.  He said that he LOVED pesto!  I had a roommate in college that said that she had never had carrot cake because who would eat a cake with carrots.  I made one and she was obsessed and disappointed that she had never been offered one in the past.  Another adult friend grew up with TV dinners and was a picky eater too.  I encouraged him to try new things - he fell in love with making his own guacamole and eating fresh fruits like kiwi and even grapes.  To me, this is so sad but also so wonderful to have opened up their palates.  I have read that unless there is an allergy, most foods have to be reintroduced to children at least 100 times. 

School Lunch: Veggie Quesadilla, Salsa, Cucumber & Mandarin Orange Salad, Avocado, Milk or Water

How can you incorporate living slower and simpler in your life?  How can you help support this movement in your community?  In what ways do you keep yourself grounded?  What knowledge can you teach and pass down?   How can you encourage putting in foods with good energy in your body and your families' body?  We are lucky to have so many resources out there that can help you.  I want to help teach you and your family how to do these things that we cherish but haven't forgotten to do for ourselves.  

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

The Before & After ME

Has something so BIG happened to you that you aren't the same person even down to your cells?

Most people that I know have that pivotal moment.  It can range from something joyful like a big trip at an impressional age or a particular time in your life or having kids or it can be something horrific like a betrayal or the death of a loved one.

You're never left the same person nor do you really want to be!

But, occasionally I catch myself grieving the "Before Me" especially when I see photos around that pivotal time in my life and remember what it was like to be her.  I miss her steadfast bravery, her naivety, her sheer stubbornness, her carefree indifference to the world around her, her lackadaisical way of life, so many more freedoms.  

You cannot rewrite the past. You move forward with an open heart.

I have come to respect and honor the "After Me".   She is much more compassionate.  She is more careful and knowledgeable of the heart, more giving without expectations, more communicative.  She listens to her gut and sets boundaries.  She nurtures herself first!

It's part of growing up.  Suffering is a part of the journey.  Experiences is also a part of the journey.  I was watching a movie recently that said something along the lines of you aren't really an adult yet until you get your heart broken.  It is so true.  The yin and the yang of life.

Learning to also honor and embrace the dark parts because they are essential to the light.

Loving the before and after ME and rephrasing in my head to rejoice for every experience that God has given me.

Weekly Clean Eating Menu #1

It is time to get my butt back in gear.

We bought a house.  We remodeled it.  I labored. I drank. I ate. I drank. I ate. Holidays came. Holidays went. I drank. I ate.

And now, my pants are too tight!  Yikes.

Two weeks in to cleaner eating now.  I also am a religious Myfitnesspal app user.  It's a food diary that is so easy to use and it helps me stay accountable! It also shows your nutrient level so I can tweak my day if say my calcium or potassium level is low or my sodium is too high.  I am also getting counseled by my friend, Whitney Tucker (give her a follow on Instagram @tuckerandbabe).  She is helping me lead a healthier lifestyle and keeping me on track with wellness for myself and my family.  She is a wonderful resource and I highly recommend her helping you too!

Here's my recipe links for this week's menu.

Light Chinese Chicken Cabbage Salad

Skinny Loaded Chili Cheese Fries

Roast Beef Sandwich With Herbed Goat Cheese, Crispy Zucchini And Sweet Potato Chips And Watermelon Radishes (I'm using elk to make my roast beef)

Gobi Aloo Wrap - Cauliflower Potato, Toasted Red Lentil hummus, Pickled Onion Wrap

Mexi Chopped Salad with Avocado Dressing (I added spinach, kale, and red leaf lettuce)

Kale Stuffed Salmon

Zucchini Noodle Shrimp

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Girlfriends in the Kitchen - Butter Chicken, Vegetable Stew and Baked Ziti

When I lived in Montrose, I created a group of my girlfriends called Girlfriends in the Kitchen.  It was a fun collection of my friends at a time when we all had little ones and babies.  We would meet one to two times a month and create a meal or two to take home.  I have many blog posts with recipes on here from then.  I adored that time with my friends!  There's just something about a group of mamas making a meal together that nourishes the soul.

Since I moved back to Telluride, it has been an awesome thing but I have so missed my tribe.  I decided that I am pretty settled in now and feeling more grounded.  So, I decided to start cooking with my new tribe of ladies and today was the first day.

We made Baked Ziti, Butter Chicken (Makhani) and Vegetable Stew and as promised here are our recipes:

Baked Ziti

1 pound dry ziti pasta
1 onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 (26 ounce) jar marina sauce
1 cup sour cream
1 cup ricotta cheese
6 ounces mozzarella cheese, shredded
2 tablespoons grated Parmesan cheese

Bring a large pot of lightly salted water to a boil. Add ziti pasta, and cook until al dente, about 10 minutes; drain.
In a large skillet, brown onion and ground beef over medium heat. Add marina sauce, and simmer 15 minutes. Then add the ziti, ricotta and mozzarella cheeses and sour cream.  Stir together.
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F (175 degrees C). Butter a 9x13 inch baking dish. Put mixture in dish. Top with grated Parmesan cheese.

Bake for 30 minutes in the preheated oven, or until cheeses are melted.

Butter Chicken

2 pounds chopped chicken, skinned and boneless (I combine breast and thigh)
4-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
8 cloves chopped garlic
1 cup almond meal
½ cup water
1 1/2 cups plain yogurt (fat, low-fat, or non-fat)
2 teaspoons red chili powder
1 teaspoon ground cloves
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
2 teaspoons garam masala
8 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed in mortar and pestle
1 tablespoons salt
5 medium tomatoes, chopped
1 large onions, thinly sliced
8 tablespoons ghee or unsalted butter (1 stick)
½ cup heavy cream or half and half
½ - 1 cup fresh cilantro, chopped

Turn empty slow cooker to high while you prep to heat it up.
Wash and cut chicken into chunks. Don’t cut it too small or it will dry out while cooking.  Set aside in a bowl.  Add all the ingredients except the cilantro into the crockpot and stir.
Turn slow cooker on low and cook for 6 hours.
After cooking, add the cilantro and stir.
Optional: Top with chopped onions and green chilies. Serve with Basmati rice or thick naan.

Vegetable Stew

1 med chopped onions
2 ribs chopped celery
2 medium chopped carrots
2 cups cut green beans
1½ tablespoon finely chopped garlic
5 cups vegetable broth
2 large cut up potatoes ( I leave the skin on)
¼ cup tomato paste
1 tablespoon oregano
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons finely chopped fresh rosemary
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
1 tablespoon soy sauce
Ground black pepper to taste

Heat your crockpot up. Then add all the ingredients. Cook on low for 6 hours.

Friday, July 29, 2016

A farewell toast to Marmie Lingerie

Well, it's here.  The last day of my adventure in lingerie.  It is definitely a bittersweet goodbye.  I have thoroughly enjoyed so many aspects of this business.  I have met and become friends with so many amazing women in my community.  It has allowed me to help empower so many women which is the whole reason I started Marmie.

I began Marmie with a need to do something for just me.  Marmie is an old southern term for mother. It was a name chosen to honor all the mothers including myself.  I just began it as a homemade business.  I needed something else other than kids and chores.  As I blossomed with self-confidence and learning to chose things to make myself grounded and fulfilled, it led me to really want to help others do the same.  Lingerie just fit the bill.

Now, after 2 years in the retail biz in a small resort town, it was a good decision to focus back on why I even started Marmie.  "Mother" comes first and having a family with 3 small children makes a retail business very difficult especially one that is just starting out.  I give big kudos to all the Telluride locals who work so hard and have so many long days during the busy time and the months with no sales.  That's why it is so important to support local businesses!!

Those of you who have known me a long time, will know that I will definitely not be sitting still.  I am really looking forward to switching gears and helping expand my husband's business who will be moving into my space with his wood flooring. And you know that I'm a lover of handmade & local small businesses so you can expect to see my Pop-Up Markets in the future.  I will always have my blog which is such a nice, soft place to come back to.

As far as my children, I will have more space for them and myself.  Honestly, I am a bit unsettled feeling about it all.  I had decided to homeschool my younger two but I haven't done anything to move forward with withdrawing them from school.  I have been a bit torn about it all.  This will be the first time in almost 12 years that I won't have a child at home with me (if I don't homeschool).  It is an easy transition for some women but I am a little sad about it.  And now that I am on the brink of my last day at Marmie Lingerie and getting so close for school to start, it feels like the future is wide open, and I am a nervously excited about the possibility of holding that open space for myself.

So here's to (raise your glasses) pretty lingerie, to fabulous women, to amazing bodies in all their glorious shapes, to all the working mamas, to unknown futures, to happily ever afters, to self-employment, to you and to me.  Thanks for this incredible ride!

Looking forward to what's to come...

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