How to Relax for Free


One thing that’s really been helping me relax and get well has been so simple (and free!) – just getting outdoors, taking in the fresh Carolina air, and enjoying the natural beauty all around me.


I haven’t been interested in doing much over the last couple sick days (in face, I’ve barely left the house), but I did try to take a couple minutes here and there to just go in my backyard and check out how the plants are doing.


I’ve enjoyed seeing how the herbs my mom gave me are doing.


Watching how herbs from last year that I thought would die during the winter have come back full force.


Checking out how the plants I’ve not placed around the yard are doing. I hope they like their new home!

(my mom told me that my dad liked to plant the little blue flowers for his mom)


These two strawberry plants are awaiting a project this weekend. I’m hoping to find some strawberry pots for them.


But most of the plants I purchased with my mom at the farmers market are now in the ground and hopefully spreading their roots.


We have a lot of shady areas in the back yard, which makes plant buying a little more difficult. I love how the pink leaves on this plant bring in color without flowers.


My squash seeds are really growing now! I’m hoping to have squash I can actually eat in 2-4 weeks.


I’m hoping this baby lavender plant does well – there are a few lavender recipes I’ve been wanting to try!


And look here – future banana peppers!


My square foot garden – oh how I’m loving watching you grow and grow.


These tiny flower buds are forming on the tomato plants. I’m hoping for cherry and green zebra tomatoes in 1-3 weeks!


My tri-color green beans are coming right along. Only a couple of the seeds didn’t sprout, so I planted new ones. They’ll be up in no time.


A gorgeous lemon thyme.


And tarragon! We’ll see how everything does where I put it. *fingers crossed*

Sometimes, it’s so easy to get caught up in every day life and forget to pay attention to little details. But, there’s something so peaceful in just being outside, feeling wind blowing around you, hearing birds chirp. I’m really enjoying watching my plants grow and take shape…seeing flowers bud and bloom…watching seedlings develop fruits. Every day, I see a little something different. ;)

But, you don’t need your own garden or yard to take in nature. Go for a walk, look at your neighbors plants (the ones in public view, not the ones in their back yard! lol), notice the details in a single flower, visit a park. Get thee outdoors, breathe in that wonderful, fresh air, and get omm with nature.

How do you relax for free?

Get Well Eats


I’ve been under the weather still for the last couple days. *sad face* Thusly, my eats have been pretty boring. Here are some of the things I’ve been noshing on…


oatmeal…with that raw cacao I picked up awhile back!


Earthfare turkey burger, steamed broccoli, and onion rings (can ya tell hubby made dinner? lol)


A TCL staple – fried cage-free egg with rye bagel


Mom’s Get Well Soup (chicken and rice) and lots of hot tea.


Did I mention my Mom’s Get Well soup?


Oh and here’s a photo of the plants my mom and I picked up this weekend – lots of herbs and pretty plants.


And I’ve been working on a little something-something in the kitchen. Any guesses what it is?

What’s the one thing you eat over and over again when you’re sick? I think I eat my Mom’s Get Well Soup more than anything. You?

Blow Your Mind Potatoes


Hubby and I have stumbled onto something delicious. No, we didn’t invent it…we just realized how delicious it is and how much we want to make it…all…summer…long!


It started with our grilled dinner. We considered eating out at a local restaurant to enjoy the lovely evening weather by dining al fresco. But, ultimately, we talked each other into eating at home. It helped that we stopped by the grocery store and picked up some local filet.


While the filet was fantastic (juicy and melt in your mouth), the potatoes were the big surprise. I thought the idea of grilled potatoes sounded good, but I had no idea they’d taste so scrumptious. We basically made this recipe. It’s easy and tasty. Try it!


How about a quick garden update?


The green bean seeds are sprouting right up! Almost all are poking out of the ground now, but I will replace the ones that didn’t with new seeds. They catch up fast!


The banana pepper plant seems pretty happy in the garden, frolicking with marigolds.


I even spy the potential makings of a future pepper!


And are those squash seedlings I see sprouting?! Let’s hope so!


By the way, while hubby grilled our fanastic dinner, I was busy baking in the kitchen. I had a road trip planned to visit a sister office for half the week, so I did what any normal person would do and baked.

I made chocolate chip cookies…


…and homemade banana bread.


I made this recipe subbing whole wheat flour for the spelt.


As for the roadtrip..


There was hardly anyone in the office! I think I only gave out a couple slices to my teammates before handing the rest to a teammate with a large team under him. I hope they enjoyed the bread! I thought it came out pretty tasty!

As for my trip…things didn’t go as planned, so I ended up cancelling my hotel reservations. The bad news? I didn’t get accomplished what I had planned.

The good news?! I made it to Zumba! Woohoo! I was really sad about missing my Monday class, but I ended up making it anyways. I was late, but I was there.


After Zumba, I surprised hubby by ringing the doorbell instead of just unlocking the door. I figured that would be more unexpected. He and Bailey were really happy to see me home early.


I just whipped up a quick TCL-style noodle stir fry for dinner with edamame, peas, onion, garlic, and udon noodles with a simple soy sauce.


Reader question #1: I’m going to be bathing suit shopping very soon. Any recommendations for me?

Reader question #2: What’s your favorite way to eat potatoes?

Regaining my Garden + Considering a CSA


Saturday started off a bit groggily thanks to only 2 hours of slumber from the super fun royal wedding celebration day.


But, it also started off with total deliciousness thanks to brunch at the Flying Biscuit.


Hubby and I decided to try the brie appetizer.


It wasn’t exactly what I expected. I’ve had brie wrapped in puff pastry and baked before, but this one was doused with a sweet, creamy sauce and topped with raspberry sauce and peaches. It was pretty good, but I like my pastry flaky and dry. It’s a texture thing. ;)


Hubby and I also split the High Flyer breakfast. Can you believe this photo shows a half portion!?


After brunch, hubby and I swung by the farmers market. We decided to not get any veggies since I’m going out of town this coming week, but I did pick up one thing – a sweet banana pepper seedling!


We have one square left in our square foot garden, and this banana pepper will fit perfectly.

We also took a moment to talk to our vendor about possibly signing up for a CSA. I’ve never done a CSA before, but I have done the home-delivery of organic produce. We did ok with the delivery, but it was sometimes challenging cooking with the veggies we were less familiar with or cooking them at all during our busiest weeks. Of course, I also actually liked the challenge of cooking with unfamiliar ingredients and having a reason to eat in. :) So, we’re still thinking about the CSA.


I planted the seedling as soon as I got home.


And while I was in the garden, I plucked some swiss chard leaves for lunch.


We don’t have much in the fridge right now, so I just pan-fried some Canadian bacon, re-baked a rye bagel, and sauteed the swiss chard.


Have you ever had garden-fresh swiss chard? It’s unbelievable! Try it!


After running some errands in house, it was time to get ready for a couple special events!

Reader question: What do you think about CSAs? Any tips or words of advice?

Seedy Surprise


I hope everyone is off to a fantastic week so far!


After my fabulous oatmeal breakfast, I re-heated some of the veggie lentil soup I made in a big batch on Sunday for lunch.


I know a lot of people don’t like to do soups for meals, but I adore them. My only stipulation is that I must have some sort of carb with it, preferably in the form of whole grain toast with a dab of real butter. Crackers are ok, but not nearly as satisfying to me. I need something I can really chew on. For this particular meal, I re-baked a frozen Twisted Sista bagel and it was perfection!




I went to a fabulous Zumba class Monday night. I didn’t teach, but I really love going to classes of fellow instructors. I always learn a lot and have a great time.

My favorite songs of the class were:

  • Forget You
  • Party People
  • El Truco


Hubby had dinner ready when I got home – kosher, all-natural hot dogs on whole wheat buns, steamed broccoli, corn, and vegetarian baked beans.


And remember those seedlings I planted on Earth Day? I decided to try my hand at planting some seeds, too….lazy-gardener style. ;) Most of these packets said to start the seeds indoors, but I stuck them straight in the ground. We’ll see how that strategy works.

Veggie seeds planted:

  • jewel-toned beets
  • tri-color green beans
  • pattypan squash
  • tri-color squash/zucchini

I planted the beets and beans in my square foot garden, along with the seedlings. I actually planted these same beets last year and though they sprouted ok, they soon disappeared after. I think some critters in the yard got to them. I also planted these green beans last year, although late in the season, and actually managed to get a few to eat. This year, I’m starting the beans earlier, and I’m going to try watering them more. I don’t think I watered the garden enough last year, which led to lower yields.

The squash…sigh. The squash. If you know anything about square foot gardens, then you know that they’re not exactly conducive to growing squash. Most plants in a square foot garden grown in 1 square foot. I believe most squash plants grow to 2-3 feet in diameter. Now, I’ve seen diagrams for squash grown up a netting fixed to the back of the Square foot garden, but I already have tomatoes for my “tall plants,” and I don’t have another box for more. So…I actually don’t have a place for squash. I do however have this odd circle area in the middle of the yard that blooms with daffodils and tulips in the spring. Since those have already bloomed, I planted a couple squash seeds in that circle area to see if anything comes up. Did I mention the circle area consisted mostly of red, Carolina clay? Yea…should be interesting.

It will be a real surprise to see anything actually growing outside of the square foot garden, but I’m hopeful.


I also planted a couple herb seeds (Italian parsley and tarragon) and some spreading petunias. Just like the other seeds, I didn’t start them indoors. I stuck them straight into a couple pots and other areas outside of the house.

*crossing fingers, but not holding breath*

So what do you think? Will any of the seeds grow? Perhaps I should take bets. Over or under? lol :P

The Chic House Early Spring Garden + Yard – 2011


The weather has been stunning in the beautiful hills of the Carolinas.

I wanted to share some photos with you of all the natural beauty currently surrounding The Chic House.

IMG_9599.jpg IMG_9629.jpg IMG_9606.jpg IMG_9590.jpg IMG_9588.jpg IMG_9618.jpg IMG_9613.jpg IMG_9626.jpg IMG_9628.jpg IMG_9631.jpg

I’m astonished by all the amazing plants popping out of the ground this time of year.

Be sure to check out my Facebook page for more exclusive photos (click).

Have a great day everyone!

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