Google+  with milk and sugar blog: May 2012

Thursday, May 31, 2012

A Little Garden Update {w/ gardening}

hello folks.

Well, my garden has been growing like crazy. And I'm not even sure how. It seems like just yesterday I planted a few seeds and hoped for the best. Now I've got a jungle out there! Just water, SoCal sunshine, and a little plant food. I used EB Stone Organics Tomato & Vegetable Food and mixed it with the soil before sowing, and sprinkled a pinch in the hole for each seed. Now every week or so sprinkle a little around the base of each plant as I water.

In full disclosure, these photos were actually taken a few weeks ago. Everything is even BIGGER now. I will post some photos I took this past weekend in a few days, but wanted to show an update to give you a middle comparison step. Remember how everything looked a few weeks ago?  You can find the post here.

I added a small cucumber plant a few weeks ago (right after I first posted on my garden). This particular type of plant is supposed to do well in a container... fingers crossed.

See all that green in the top left and bottom right pictures below? That's my baby spring greens mix. It's already given us a handful of fresh salads. And the zucchini? Yep, they weren't kidding when they said they'd get huge. I still can't believe it came from a small seed.

So far only a few carrots have popped up, despite planting nearly 2 dozen seeds :(

I added some marigolds and pansies for color - plus I've heard marigolds are a natural insect repellant. Speaking of ... I've found a few snails lurking near my plants in the early hours of the morning. So far they haven't devoured much, just a few bottom leaves of my zucchini. The other bugs have been helping themselves to a small salad everyday (how rude!). 

The tomato plant has surpassed all my expectations. I've done tomatoes before, but only in containers. They've always been small, and only given a handful on tomatoes. Well this one has taken off. It started as a 6 inch tall seedling and has exploded. I had to get a larger cage to wrap around the plant for added support. I've been trimming away the sucker stems based on a tip from Life On The Balcony. Even after all that I've trimmed, it is still out of control... in a good way.

See that little baby tomato? Someday soon it will grow up and be so yummy in a caprese salad.

Do you garden? If you don't, what would you grow if you did?

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Mediterranean Garbanzo Bean Salad {w/ recipes}

hi friends. here's another "pinned it & did it" for you today.


There were a few reasons I decided to start this series. One being that Pinterest is a great way to find new projects, ideas, and recipes, but it lacks a call to action. I'm relatively new to the site, but I've already pinned 367 items (and counting). Let’s be frank. I have not tried 367 new things. Not even close. While some of the items have served as inspiration only {see my For The Home board. As much as I wish it, my house will not turn into these dream homes any time soon.}, many are things that can be done now. But like many other bloggers and pinners out there, it is much easier to say I’ll do something than actually do it. I’m trying to change this. And so this series is a way to hold me accountable to that.

Another reason to start this series: to act as an objective reviewer.  I hate to be a critic, because I know (from experience) how much hard work goes into creating/modifying recipes. But let’s face it: there are millions of recipes and projects floating around this place we call the internet and not all of them are good. Of course, they do work for some people, or else why would anyone bother putting it out there for others to use? But each of us has different tastes and preferences. It’s why I prefer recipe sites with comments. Whenever I find a new recipe, I always look to see what others said. A lot of times it is a simple adjustment that puts the finishing touch on a recipe to make it complete.

“not as much sugar”

“add more salt”

This feedback is important.

I found this recipe on Pinterest a few months ago. It is a Mediteranean chickpea salad with Kalamata olives, sun dried tomatoes, and cucumbers with a lemon/olive oil/cumin dressing. Everything sounded delicious. It’s rare for me to think a recipe like this is perfect as is. Not that I am a picky eater, but I enjoy making my own modifications to recipes. It is a way for me to be creative and experiment with new flavor combinations.

However, this time I followed the recipe to the T. Luckily they were all ingredients I had readily on hand - a lemon from my tree, fresh parsley, 2 cans of garbanzo beans, cumin, olives, sun dried tomatoes, cucumbers, olive oil, and garlic. Looking at the ingredients, it seemed like a lot of BIG flavors. It also called for a tablespoon (not teaspoon) of cumin. That's a lot of cumin. Regardless, I followed the recipe. 

The result was full of flavor, but maybe a bit too much. The ingredients were competing with each other. I left out the feta cheese, as it was optional, but still, this little salad packed a lot of punch.

The recipe suggested making it a day in advance, presumably to let the dressing marinate the vegetables. This is when it unfortunately went down hill. When I tried it the next day the flavors were much too much. 

I will try this recipe again, but there are a few alterations I will make. 

1. Skip the garlic. I don't say this often {read: ever} but in this case, it was an unnecessary flavor. 

2. Prepare and enjoy on the same day. These flavors are enough on their own, you don't need 24 hours for them to get stronger. 

3. Keep a light hand with the cumin. A tablespoon is fine, but a teaspoon or 2 would work just as well.

4. Don't use all of the dressing. Add it to the mixture slowly so that there is just enough. I used all of it and it ended up soupy. 

Hope you find my experience helpful. Here is the recipe with the changes. 

Mediterranean Garbanzo Bean Salad {serves 4}
adapted from With Style & Grace

1/4 c olive oil
1/4 c fresh lemon juice
1 t cumin (more to taste)

2 cans garbanzo beans, rinsed and drained
1 English cucumber, chopped
1/2 c fresh parsley, chopped
1/3 c drained oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, thinly sliced
1/4 c Kalamata olives
1/4 t dried crushed red pepper

1. Whisk together dressing ingredients. 
2. Combine all salad ingredients and slowly add the dressing to taste. 
3. Enjoy the same day.

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Upcycled Gift Bags {w/ crafts}

hello world.


The last few weekends have been filled with children's birthday parties. It's been quite fun actually, lots of cake, baloons, and laughing children. For my second cousin's first birthday I decided to make a personalized gift bag. I'll start by saying that am relatively new to the crafting arena. Luckily this project is very simple and easy, plus it is a "green" way to show you care.

Start with a plain gift bag. I love how Anthropologie uses high quality bags when you make a purchase. There's something about the sturdy paper and soft fabric handles that gets me every time. It's the same feeling I get when I eat out of my favorite floral print bowl and drink out of mason jars. I feel pampered.

I used simple brown paper wrapping and cut it into 2 rectangles to cover the Anthropologie logo on each side and to serve as a background for my letters. I attached it using double sided tape.

I free-handed the letters and then cut them out with an exacto knife, but you can easily use scissors. {and for more precise letters, a stencil}  

I spaced out the letters and taped them down.

The result is a simple, homemade creation.

Monday, May 21, 2012

Easy DIY Shelf {w/ style}

hello friends. how are you today? thought I'd share on a recent project from around the house.


Have you ever hit a wall when it comes to home decorating?

When we moved into our condo nearly 4 years ago, I wasn't too concerned with decorating. Don't get me wrong, I wanted to be concerned, but there were more pressing matters. Like putting up drywall, or having a kitchen.

Our DIY home renovations quickly snowballed, leaving us with our refrigerator in the living room and the microwave on the fireplace. Needless to say, it took a few months of heavy remodeling before I was ready to hang picture frames.

But once the dust settled (literally) I set about to decorate. I picked frames, hung decorative shelves and sconces, and bought wall art - all on a limited budget. I've been quite happy with our home decor over the years, and perhaps because of that, I stopped decorating. Which, in a sense is a good thing. I didn't want to keep adding more and more stuff and end up on an episode of Hoarders. But I became stagnant. Which is not a good thing. I stopped browsing through stores, flipping through magazines, looking for new decor ideas. Because, in my mind, there was no use for that. It would only make me want something I couldn't have. Oh the lies our mind tells us sometimes.

Enter the world of Pinterest and blogs. So many amazing ideas. I was inspired. Almost immediately I caught the bug. The design, change, renew, reuse, refashion bug. It's been a good thing. It's challenged me to look at things with new eyes. Instead of "this is the way things are", I now think "how could they be?" And, not to get too philosophical on you, but shouldn't we have this outlook on other things in life as well?

So... my dining room wall. It's been seriously lacking in design for the last few years. I hung some cheap wall art, a few sconces. It's been driving me crazy for the last year. But I didn't know what to do.

My overall interior design style is classic with clean lines. But lately I've been loving the juxtaposition of clean lines with a more earthy feel and some rustic pieces, a la Pottery Barn. I decided to build a shelf out of a 2x6 piece of wood, and apply the vinegar stain used in this project to make it look like reclaimed wood.

I picked out a piece of wood from one of the extras in our garage and the hubby cut and sanded it to the right size. I applied the vinegar stain using the same technique as before.

We attached them to simple brass shelf brackets and then attached it the wall. Voila!

An instant new vibe to the same space. I kept the same wall sconces and added some candles, books, and framed these prints from Vintage Printables.

I also added a mini Martinelli's apple juice bottle that I've been using as a vase to hold clippings from my garden.

Friday, May 18, 2012

Favorite Herbal Tea {w/ reviews}

good morning friends.


Thought I'd share my current favorite herbal tea, Yogi Throat Comfort. This blend of wild cherry bark, orange peel, cinnamon, cardamom, licorice {and more} is perfect. It is naturally and organically sweet, with a rich combination of flavors.

The name fits the bill - this tea is the best when I've got a sore throat, or feel like one may be coming. The tea coasts your throat (as the name says) and provides instant relief.  

Friday, May 11, 2012

Butterfly Cupcakes and a very blessed week

happy friday friends!


I made these cupcakes for my coworker's birthday this week. I love to bake! It always seems to put me in a good mood. And it was so fun to make these butterfly and sunny flower decorations.

I used a box of red velvet {PTL for cake mixes} and made my own cream cheese frosting. No matter how busy you are or how limited your time is, I think you should always use homemade frosting. It's a lesson I hope to one day teach my daughter.

Boxed cake mix plus homemade frosting still equals homemade.

The decorations are fondant, cut out with a mini cookie cutter borrowed from Steven's mom.

I thought I would link up with Molly from Urban Nester this week and share my Unfortunates and Fortunates. I'm very blessed that there were far more fortunates this week.

-Not seeing my husband very much L Our work schedules were not conducive to spending time together this week. But thank God for overtime pay J
-Cloudy gray weather at the coast. They kept saying it would warm up in the afternoon. It did not.

-Cinco de Mayo celebrations with two of my favorite ladies – chicken tacos, salad with chipotle dressing, and sangria. Yum!
-Birthday celebrations – dinners, ice cream cake, lemon meringue pie, and presents. 
-Watching my little god-son Trip and god-daughter Kaylin swing at the piñata for their birthday. And watching Kaylin run away screaming when she got silly stringed {I felt bad, but it was so cute!}. And hearing little Trip exclaim so emphatically that his “laser gun is bea-u-tiful”.  
-Getting scared by one of my high school girls jumping out of a trash can. Yes, you read right. They lured us out into the street and got the whole thing on video. It was awesome J
-Running the last 200 feet of my 4 mile walk by the beach. I felt so empowered and strong. Then I felt tired.
-Juicing! Hubby got me a juicer for my birthday. So healthy and yummy. I'll share recipes soon. 

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow?

hello world. How are you on this fine Spring day? I am doing splendid, so happy that I get to share some of the progress on one of my favorite pastimes: gardening.

A few weeks ago the hubby built me a raised garden bed in the backyard. It's the perfect size for our little outside space, and large enough to have quite the harvest come summer.

I'm still trying to get the hang of this gardening thing. I've become quite an expert at growing kitchen herbs (basil, rosemary, thyme, etc) and last summer I had some potted tomatoes and jalapenos that did very well. But now I'm transitioning to an actual garden. An in the ground, from seed packets, garden. It's kind of scary.

I sowed the seeds a few weeks ago (zuchinni, mesclun lettuce, and carrots). I was so nervous they wouldn't pop up that I planted more than I should have, with the intention of pinching any extras. I also purchased an heirloom tomato seedling and planted it at one end.

Well, it's only been a few weeks, but so far so good!

The mesclun lettuce popped up right away! Mesclun refers to the spring greens mix that are harvested young (also called baby greens). This type of lettuce is "cut and come again" meaning it will continue growing once you harvest it. I decided on mesclun lettuce after reading a post on it here. I've been told it is easy to grow, and given that I am definitely a beginner, thought it to be better safe than sorry.

The zucchini took a bit longer, but they sprouted soon after. I was so happy! I decided to make my own garden markers with left over wine corks and copper wire from this idea on Pinterest.

They've started to take off. I've heard that zucchini's will get HUGE {several feet wide} so I need to reassess my organization of them, considering that all of my seeds sprouted.

The carrots are taking a bit longer, but I've been told this is to be expected. There are a few green sprouts in the area I planted the seeds, but they rather look like weeds. I'll just have to be patient and wait to see which are carrots and which are not.

Anyone have any experience they'd like to share? I'd love to hear your tips or tricks on how to have a green thumb. Please tell me, how does your garden grow?

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Overnight Oatmeal

good morning friends.

Are you a morning or a night person? I'm not quite either. I wish I was a morning person, but truth be told it is a struggle to get out of bed at 6am for work each day. You'd also be hard pressed to find me up after eleven on a week night. I guess I just need my full 8 hours.

Despite not being the classic "morning person", I do enjoy the early hours of the day. And although I'd prefer them all to be like Saturday morning - where I can sleep until I naturally wake up and lounge around until I feel ready to actually get up and start my day - I try to make the most of my weekday early mornings. Which includes eating a good breakfast.

I found this recipe idea on Pinterest a few weeks ago. The website has several different flavor combinations all based off a simple combination: oats, milk, chia seeds, and Greek yogurt.

I had fresh blueberries, but no real maple syrup (as suggested in the recipe), so I substituted with brown sugar. I also added flax seed for some added healthy goodness.

The result was wonderful! A super easy, make it the night before, breakfast. It is perfect for rushed mornings and lazy ones alike. Plus, I'll admit that I am totally on the mason jar bandwagon. How cute are they? Not only is this recipe healthy and delicious, it is adorable!

A couple notes from my experience:
  • the recipe said to put the lid on and shake the jar to combine the main ingredients, but I didn't. In fact I think it would be messier and much more difficult that way. Instead I just used a spoon to mix the ingredients.
  • I added a bit more oatmeal and yogurt to fill up the jar
  • recipes are great guidelines, but as with my philosophy for nearly all recipes, they are just that: guidelines. By all means add and subtract ingredients and do what you want to make it your own. 
  • I also tried the raspberry and vanilla combination but ate it before I could snap any pictures. The recipe called for raspberries, raspberry jam, and vanilla. I went jamless but it was still great. I mashed the raspberries throughout the mixture so the flavor was in every bite - no sweetener needed!  

Blueberry and Brown Sugar Overnight Oatmeal {serves 1}
adapted from The Yummy Life

1/3 c uncooked old fashioned oats
1/3 c milk
1/4 c Greek yogurt
1-2 t chia seeds
1 t flax seeds
2 t brown sugar (to taste)
1/4 c fresh blueberries

1. Combine oats, milk, yogurt, seeds, and brown sugar in a half pint mason jar. Carefully stir to incorporate all ingredients.

2. Add fresh blueberries and gently mix so that jar is full.

3. Refrigerate overnight or up to 2 days.

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