Friday, June 29, 2012

Le Jardin

I decided not to harvest the tiny artichoke.
This year I have attempted to start a vegetable garden. In the High Desert where I live getting things to grow is a challenge. The soil is sandy and in many places riddled with dense clay that inhibits root growth on many less hardy plants. I have tried to grow vegetables in the past but I've always kept them in containers and pots. Sadly, I have never had any success in keeping the plants alive for long, and I have never been able to produce any fruit with the exception of one or two measly cherry tomatoes.

On the side of my house is a planter bed that sits about 2 feet high, is 4 feet wide and about 10 feet long. I bought organic garden soil to till into the dirt already in the bed. Then I watered the heck out of it. Keep in mind, this was before I planted anything. When the dirt is this dry, it doesn't absorb water but rather pools the water which slowly evaporates. It took me about a week to get the soil the way I wanted it. Every day I would use a shovel to flip the soil then soak it with water. 

Then I got around to buying some plants. Previously, I have used these handy Jiffy greenhouses to start seeds. It always started out really great but inevitably, I would fail to either water properly or plant them properly, leading to wilting death. The problem was always me-not the seeds or Jiffy pellets. Those work wonderfully! I do plan on attempting to grow from seed again and hopefully I will prevail! (Said in best Braveheart voice.) You can purchase the Jiffy greenhouses here:

So this year I decided to cheat and purchase fully grown plants. I bought 4 tomato plants, 2 strawberry plants, 1 bell pepper plant, and 2 artichoke plants. I also bought a flat of marigolds because I have been told that they are a natural way to keep pests away from your tomato plants.

As you can see in the above picture, I have an Early Girl tomato plant in the upper right corner. It already had several small tomatoes growing on it. The three plants surrounding the Early Girl are Pineapple Heirloom tomatoes. The plant in the lower right corner is the California Wonder bell pepper plant. The strawberry and artichokes did not have a special name on them, they were simply labeled, "Strawberry" and "Artichoke".

This is how my garden is laid out now. The two strawberry plants are in the left bottom and the artichoke is in the middle bottom. I have reserved the back row for possibly squash but I haven't planted anything there yet. Can you see how big my tomato plants had got? The Pineapple Heirloom had been teeny, tiny plants and now they dwarf the previously bigger Early Girl. Here is the progression of my le jardin:

I have also used Espoma Organic Plant-tone All Natural All Purpose plant food. For established plants they recommend feeding your plants about once a month during the growing season.

Here are some of the vegetables that I have harvested thus far.

When I started doing research on how much to water and general maintenance of a vegetable garden, it was not uncommon to read that one should water-or soak-your garden once a week, maybe twice a week when it is really hot. This made me LOL. Here in the High Desert, if I don't water-soak-my garden at least once a day-twice a day when it's really hot, then I have a wilted mess on my hands (this happened a couple times in the beginning). Gardening in the HD is challenging with excessive heat and low-moisture being the biggest culprits.

I am just getting started in my gardening adventures. I hope to expand my garden another 10 feet in the fall and possibly start an herb garden. So I am by NO MEANS an expert. This is just my journey into horticulture. I love going out to my garden, seeing a plump, juicy tomato ripe for picking. It gives me a thrill to know that I was able to grow it. I am also growing flowering plants but I will save those for another day.

Early Girl Tomato Plant
The Pineapple Heirloom's quickly out grew the Early Girl.
Do you have a garden? What challenges do you face where you live?

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Tomatoes Anyone?

Tomorrow I am going to post about my amateur experience gardening organically in the High Desert. I just wanted to give you a taste of what my early harvest looks like. I was so excited to pluck these beauties, practically blemish free, from MY garden. So join us tomorrow for the full post. :)

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Target REDcard Uncovered

A somewhat confusing new promotion Target is doing is called Target REDcard. Every time the cashier asked me if I wanted to save an additional 5% by opening a Target debit card I thought it was some sort of credit card and said "NO!" (Not quite that aggressively.) It wasn't until Stacy (oldest sister poppy) had it and explained to me what the card is that I actually took advantage of it. 5% wasted for so long!!!! :......(

The Target REDcard Debit Card:

Is is NOT it's own debit card. You are not applying for a credit line or a bank account. Your connecting it to YOUR bank account. Seems scary? Well, it's just as safe as using your credit card online I guess. As safe as any purchase is really.

It is similar to having a Paypal connected to your checking account. It is a secondary card that charges your primary card. 

It works just like writing a check except it is a plastic card and you assign the card a pin number. It takes two to three days to clear your account.

Why would you ever go through the trouble? Well, to save money of course! 

Every time you use the card you get 5% off purchases made online or in store. If that wasnt enough you get free shipping with no minimum purchase from their website. For example, I purchased a candlestick for $3 on clearance at saved 5% and got free shipping.

They also donate 1% of all purchases to local schools!

Now, why would Target offer these benefits for nothing in return. They don't. What they get in return is information. What type of items you buy when you buy them. Kinda creepy you say? Target has been doing it for years. In fact, most companies you shop at collect your information.  Might as well get 5% for it!!

Step 1: Fill out the application.
You can fill it out and print it from the website but cannot turn it in online.
Read the Terms and Conditions.

Step 2: Take the application to your nearest Target.
Or you can mail it in. Either way you must have a voided check for them to process. This is how they connect the account.
If you take it in to your nearest Target they will process the application for you right then and there. I have NEVER seen anyone not get approved. Maybe if you have alot of bounced checks? Who knows. They probably just want to make you feel like you are joining an exclusive club.

Step 3: You get a temporary number on a receipt that can be used immediately. Your card usually arrives within two weeks. I received mine in ten days.

The nice thing is even if you don't have a Target in your area you can still use this card online. It brings Target to you!

I love Target, most of all I am a Target clearance shopper. This has saved me quite a bit in shipping costs because of my small purchases. 

They used to offer a Target Visa card but have discontinued it at this time.

Click HERE for  more information about the information collecting they do.

Does anyone else take advantage of this program? Is anyone put off by the information sharing? 

Monday, June 25, 2012

A Special Something Inside From Anthro....

It is no secret that my absolute favorite shop is Anthropologie. This is my dream shop, the place I can go and peruse the carefully crafted decor and des Vêtements.

It is whimsy and hippy and gastronomically awesome.

There is only one teeny, tiny, infinitely small problem with Anthropologie: I can't really afford to shop there. Small detail, small detail.

I like to do what is called online dream shopping from time to time. What is that you might ask? Dream shopping is what people like me do when we have too much time on our hands and not enough mulah. Should I tell you how many items are in my dream shopping cart at Anthroplogie? I think I'll show you instead.

It is a gluttonous 28 items! 

Should I tell you how much said items total? No, no, I don't think I can bear to type it out. Here is a picture of my online cart: 

So how do I get around this? How do I make it so I can actually shop at my favorite shop without forcing my family to eat rahman noodles on a daily basis? 

Well firstly, I can only shop there occasionally. This is not a store that I turn to for all my clothing and kitchen needs. I reserve Anthropogogie for special pieces in my wardrobe and home as well as for gifts for my family and friends.

Secondly, I shop their clearance. I have only very rarely bought something full price at Anthropologie, one being my wedding dress in 2009.

Almost everything I buy is on the clearance rack. Here are two examples of the awesome deals you can find in the sale section online.

I have to say that most Anthropologie's that I have been to have pretty great clearance sections in the store but the best one, by far has to be the Anthroplogoie located on 3rd Street Promenade in Santa Monica, CA.  It has a huge clearance room, not just a closet sized one.

I bought these cute lime green Lucky Penny flats and top from the Santa Monica Anthroplogie last year. Both pieces were under $40 each, a huge discount from what they originally cost. (I bought the Ann Pratchett book online at Amazon.)

Lastly, I have signed up for the Anthropologie card. It is free and it is not a credit or charge card. It doesn't even give you a discount the way a grocery store card does. So what are the benefits of having an Anthropologie card?

1. You get updates about their sales and promotions straight to your  email.
2. You find out about their latest items-some things sale out very quickly so this is a perk if you are willing to pay full price for something.
3. Every year in your birthday month, you get an awesome discount gift card to use on any day in your birth month. How cool is that?

On July 2 I will be turning 33. Every year I look forward to receiving my Anthropologie birthday card because 1) they are so cute! and 2) I always go to Anthroplogie and buy myself something.

What a great birthday treat! Birthday's are not always the brightest, happiest times. I admit that I can be a little...dare I say...maudlin on my birthday. The Anthropologie discount birthday card is a nice little treat to do something completely selfish for yourself on your day. (And the little plastic clock on the card doubles as a cute little bracelet.)

Do you dream shop online? What are some of the stores you like to dream shop?

Friday, June 22, 2012

Thrift Store Exposé Part 1....

Sounds fancy right....exposé......

I originally wanted to put all the stores I visited in one post. As soon as I entered the first store I knew I would have to devote more time to each place. I had a rude awakening in terms of what a thrift store had to offer. What I thought was going to be an hour long trip quickly turned into 3.

So I will be doing a series. Each week I will visit one and post what I find.

Here goes.

I started with Salvation Army on Seventh Street in Victorville.

14716 Seventh Street

Victorville, CA 92395
(760) 245-5745

It is exactly as it appears...kinda shabby but really, it's a thrift store, can't be too classy! The parking lot is weird and really almost impossible to park without breaking the law. It is a one way only lot so I just suggest driving to the back parking lot and staying there. =)

They have alot going on in the parking lot. Employee's are unloading and sorting donations trucks are pulling in and dropping off more. Seems like they get alot of stuff.

They display most of their furniture outside the front entrance. There were some good pieces that could have been refinished but I felt pricing on some of them was a little high. I didn't see any furniture that really interested/inspired me.

Walking inside my first observation was that the store was small. There were three household items aisle's that were extremely close. So close that if you see a person in the aisle you just turn around and walk away. =) Umbrella strollers here only! (Note to self: buy an umbrella stroller.)

They do provide shopping carts, which is nice, but you are not allowed to put children in them, not even the front child seat. They have it all zip tied up! Not a big deal really, especially if you have aforementioned umbrella stroller or don't have kids. 

After you get past all these initial shocks it really is a nice shopping experience. Everything is clean and somewhat organized. 

The clothes are categorized by size and loosely by color. They don't have it marked but you can clearly tell where the kids, women, and men's clothes are. I didn't see any baby stuff.

Book section was pretty sad. Yep, that kid was sad about the sad book section..... (That's my nephew Atticus) He actually fell in love with a polka dot trash can but his mother denied him. Mean Mommy!

Stacy did find one book she got really excited about. (Did I mention she was with me? No? Well she was!) Maria Snyder is one of her favorite authors.

Those are my feet down there!

What we were really there to check out were the clothes. I was in the mindset of "There isn't going to be anything for me."   I was pleasantly surprised. I do think they are overpriced for most of their items. I feel like if I can get it new for the same price why am I in a Thrift store? That is where the discount days kick in.

Some of our finds. Cute! 


This Salvation Army does weekly color discounts. Every Monday two colors are chosen to be the discount colors for the week. The discount is 50% off. This week was green and orange. They post a sign by the cash register telling you what the discount colors are.

While we were there they were having an extra 25% promotion on ladies tops and handbags. I asked the cashier and she said they just periodically have extra discounts on items. I assume its because they want to move specific merchandise. Again check out the sign by the cash register.

Another worker informed me that on the weekends (Friday through Sunday) they have everything 50% off. I will have to come back on the weekend to confirm this.

Stacy overheard one of the employees giving a woman $20 off an item if she bought it that day. Maybe there is some room for haggling on the bigger items? Some people can haggle anything!

This Salvation Army does not have dressing rooms to try on clothing. I have heard some do but this one does not.

These are the only color tags we saw. 

 I have heard that the employees at this location can be rude. I didn't experience this even with all my annoying questions. The employee at the cash register even gave both my sister and I an extra 10% discount. Why? I have no idea but I like it! We each ended up spending around $21.

Stacy's finds!  
Stacy's best finds included a Maui t-shirt for her husband (it has a really cool kraken on the back), a Mickey T for her son and a horse head decoration she can't wait to spray paint.

I was mainly looking for clothes because of my serious lack of them. Happily I found some great things to add to my summer wardrobe.


My very favorite thing I found was the dress in the top right corner. It is a Target brand dress and I love it! We really liked finding the shirt that says "Find Inspiration Everywhere." It really fit the situation and made us feel like we were on the right path.

I also got a pair of shorts for my son and a t-shirt that I may re-purpose or I may just let my boyfriend have it. We shall see. All for $21!! I call that money well spent.

I cant wait to see what the next place brings!

So has anyone been to this location or any Salvation Army? What was your experience like?

Stay tuned for the next installment!

Just for fun I briefly considered buying this gem:
Yeah that's's a wooden tie. Actual wood pieces on an elastic cord. Awesome! :)

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

King Arthur Flour Zucchini Lemon Muffins

 The ingredients for Zucchini Lemon Muffins.

On a whim about 12 years ago, I bought The King Arthur FlourBaker's Companion. I've sadly only made a few of the recipes but my favorite-by far, is the Zucchini Lemon Muffins. The recipe is listed on their website.

The recipe is simple and straight forward. You don't have to be an expert baker to make these muffins. In fact, you probably have to try hard to mess them up.

The only tip I have-and this is a general rule for all muffin baking-is to NOT OVER MIX THE BATTER. Once you combine your dry and wet ingredients, mix them gently. You don't want to take out all the air that you incorporated into your wet ingredients when you mixed it. Doing so will create a heavy, dense muffin. You want to have a light, airy muffin.

I love baking! It is so relaxing and in the end I have created something that people love and show appreciation for. 

*You can buy King Arthur Flour at almost any grocery store. You do not need to go to a specialty store to find it. 

Monday, June 18, 2012

Poor = Creative

Sometimes when you really can't find the money for something you come up with your most creative ideas. Watching the show Shameless (the BBC version) started me really thinking about how to make something out of nothing.  They are the extreme end of poor. (Amazing show. Catch it on Netflix!)

We are taking our annual summer trip up to our friends in northern California soon and I realized I really have no clothes. I have never been much of a shopper for myself. I never know what I like and get very indecisive about things. The thought of clothes shopping always gives me anxiety. :)

I was inspired by a couple of fellow bloggers to take old clothes and re-purpose them. I don't really have too much in my closet to re-purpose but I decided that this would be the perfect excuse to go thrift store shopping!
WobiSobi. She has alot of vest ideas.

Trash Planet. I love her style!

We really don't have any vintage clothing stores here where we live. In fact we have a pretty bad selection of thrift stores also.  My plan for this week is to travel to each thrift store and see what I can get for what I gots.

Along with this I plan to get the down low on our local thrift stores. Which one are good, which ones are not.

Stay tuned for the results!!

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Happy Father's Day!

Happy father's day to my father, Don Rollstin. My dad raised me on music. So even though I was born in 1979 and grew up in the 80's and 90's, I grew up with a love of vinyl records, anti-Vietnam War anthems, and a conscious concern for global issues because of that.

Music is such an integral part of my life and I know it's because of my early exposure and growing up in a house that often could be heard playing a song. Listening to those songs about war also helped make me the bleeding heart liberal that I am today (probably to my dad's detriment-he is a conservative and we have had many political arguments over the years lol). How many 13 year olds sit and cry while talking to their parents about the atrocities going on in

The music made me aware at an early age that it has power: on a personal, emotional level of course; but also on a global scale. So I love you dad and thank you for making music a part of my life. :) (This song in particular I loved at a very young age and I still have a mixed tape my dad made me when I was 9 and this song is on it.)

Friday, June 15, 2012

Juicing For Better Health

Recently I watched the documentary Fat, Sick, & NearlyDead.

The premise of the movie is that juicing-by way of incorporating significantly more vegetables and fruits into your diet-can drastically improve your life. It is a great documentary on getting healthy and even though I don't have any interest as of now to juice exclusively, it did make me want to try juicing. I had never done it before. Growing up it was not unheard of to have a Pepsi for breakfast so orange juice-whether freshly squeezed or not-was not a concept I grew up with. Juicing was literally foreign to me.

I bought Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer for $99.99. I know relatively little about what makes a good juicer, um, good and the recommendations online were for juicer's well over $300. Mama just can't commit to spending that kind of money on something that is going to be occasional. Check out Jack LaLanne's Power Juicer and see for yourself.

I've had my juicer for about 3 months now and it is perfect for my needs. I have juiced about a dozen times and I've never had any clogs or problems with my machine. I can't say whether or not Jack LaLanne's Juicer would hold up to juicing EVERY meal like they do in the documentary, but for my needs it works great.

This is for the Glowing Green Juice from Kimberly Snyder'sThe Beauty Detox. The recipe is:

1 bunch of kale
3 stalks of celery
1 granny smith apple
1/2 a lemon

This juice has a very heavy kale taste. If that bother's you then add an orange to help cut the bitter taste of Kale.

My favorite juicing recipe is from the little booklet included with the Jack LeLanne's Juicer. The recipe is:

5 broccoli florets
1 pear
1 apple
1 orange
1 lemon

This is delicious and everyone who I make it for loves it! To make it more 'green' I think adding a little kale or another super vegetable would be great.

I love using my juicer as a supplement to better health, something I am very much interested in right now. I don't think I have what it takes (let alone much interest to be honest) to juice exclusively like they do in Fat, Sick, & Nearly Dead (the documentary is available on Netflix as well as a plethora of other terrific food and health documentaries). I have a fascination with those who are unhealthy turning their lives around and creating the healthy, active existence that they need to lead a happy life. And hey, if you have no idea what to get next time you're at your local Farmer's Market then pick up some greens to juice!

Have you tried juicing? If so, have any good recipes to share?

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Words with Momma

My son is now starting to say recognizable words and how to use them. He is just shy of two years old.  It's exciting and scary at the same time. Talk about having to watch my language!! (It's true, I'm a potty mouth.)

I don't really know what the timeline for speech development is and frankly I really don't care. I stopped with the charts a long time ago. Each child is different and has their own development pace.

That being said he it is really hilarious to hear him say words now and figure out their meaning.
My son saying words.
These are his words and how he says them phonetically.

Shoe                           Shewwwwwww
Socks                         Sauce
No                             Naooooooo
Rock                          Rot
Help                           Hep Hep
W                              YewYew
Down                        Dao-oon (Down apparently also means up)
Daddy                        D
Mommy                     :( He doesnt say Mommy yet. Wah!!!
Binkie                        Beee   or BeeeBeee
Juice                          Juuuu
Yes                            Yeeeaaahh.
Outside                      Sigh-e
Water                        Wah-e
Please                        Peas
Thank you                  Tain-to

He also says the dreaded "mine". Everything is now "MINE!" Mine, mine, mine. Ugh. Fingers crossed he grows out of it!

He knows most of his letters. The exceptions are J and K. For some reason he skips them and when you show him the letters he says 2 or B. He denies J & K's existence. It makes me laugh.

He doesn't say Mama. Makes me sad but I know soon enough he will be saying it so much I will wish he would have forgotten it! Mama....Mama....Mama....Mama.....

He has full on gibberish conversations and sometimes I think I will hear a word in them but it's probably just coincidence.

I have to say this is a really fun time as much as it is hair raising. Yes he has crazy fits but the look on his face when he understands something you have said is priceless. The fact that this little human is processing information and spiting the RIGHT information back out again is amazing.

The Munchkin Bathtime Letters have been extremely helpful in his learning process. He loves these things. These would be an excellent baby shower or first birthday gift. I have never seen anyone get these but I sure am going to start giving them now!

 You can find them here:
Im so excited to see what his next words will be! Or what he will come up with next because it really does seem like something new happens everyday.

So have you heard any toddler speak that has cracked you up? What was your favorite word your child has said? (I love hearing "HEP! HEP!") It really is an amazing time isn't it?

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

GIVEAWAY: A Signed Copy Of Shadow Of Night

Deborah Harkness is the author of A Discovery of Witches which was published in 2011 and is the first book in a planned trilogy.  I loved A Discovery of Witches and I have been eagerly anticipating the release of the second book, Shadow of Night. ADOW has vampires, a witch whose lineage dates back to Salem, Massachusetts, history, and an awesome love story. It truly has everything! If you haven't yet read it, I would highly recommend picking up a copy.

The second book will be released July 10, 2012 however, you have a chance to win a signed copy of Shadow of Night (not an ARC but a completed copy), an Ashmole 782 temporary tattoo, and 6 All Souls Trilogy related buttons.

To learn more about the contest and to enter, visit the link at Tales of the Ravenous Reader blog.

The contest ends July 9, 2012 so spread the word! Don't forget to follow and subscribe to our blog!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Library Book Cupcake Tutorial

Over the weekend a cousin of mine graduated with a Masters degree in Library Science and I decided to make some cupcakes. So I did some internet (and Pinterest) research and got ideas.

I love to cook and bake but I am not the best artist and I have little patience for sticky frosting, but I thought I'd give it a try. So this tutorial is meant for anyone. The end result was pretty awesome (if I say so myself) but it really is very simple to accomplish. I got the idea for the fondant book here.

I have the Michael's app downloaded on my phone so I had a 50% off coupon. I got Duff's red and white fondant and his tool kit there. I ended up with WAY too much fondant so I would suggest buying a smaller batch.

I started with a boxed cake mix that you can buy at any grocery store in Devil's Food flavor. I was too nervous about the little red, fondant books so I had no interest in messing around with a batter. Like I said, I was trying to make this as easy and simple as possible.

To start, I laid some parchment paper on my table and tore off little chunks, about an inch square, of the white fondant and pressed it with my hands into a little rectangle. *some of these pictures are not very good, it was late at night and there was no natural light.

Then I took one of the tools in my kit and pressed 'page' lines into one long side of the rectangle.

That's it. Book done. But it's naked. The book needs a cover.

Next I took abut a quarter cup of the red fondant and rolled it out to about (I don't measure, I guestimate) 1/8th inch thick. I would get about 4 'book covers' out of that amount. I just lay my white book down, and cut around it being sure to leave the 'spine' of the book un-cut. I then pushed my book over so the top of the book with it's red cover is facing up. Then I finished cutting around the book.

Next, I took another tool (really, anything that can press thin lines into the fondant will work-like a tooth pick) and press a line on the front and back of the book on either side of the 'spine' and two lines on the top of the spine and two lines on the bottom of the spine.

Voila! The red fondant book is complete! Now just make 23 more of these and your good to go (if you're making 24 cupcakes which a ready mix will do).

To finish off the cupcake, I bought (again, saving time and sanity)  whipped cream frosting from the store. I used a frosting piper to pipe it over the cupcakes. Then I placed the little red book on top.

Next, I plopped the whole cupcake inside a clean, white ruffled cupcake holder from Wilton (also bought at Michaels) just to make the cupcake look cleaner. I love the idea of using cardstock but I ran out of time so I just used the ruffled cupcake holders.

To make the little printed papers, I printed the Grimm's Fairy Tales on cardstock and then used some decorated scissors to clip out the paper. I used little scrapbook stickers to stick the card to the white ruffled part of the cupcake.

Voila again! That's it! You're all done!