Trying out gardening

So i wouldn’t ever claim to be a gardener.  I love seeing other people’s garden, and I love learning about what someone has planted in their garden.  I also love the idea of having a garden.  However, I move so much, about every six months, that is up until January.  This is the longest I think I’ve held an address in about 9 years. So, it’s only natural as the weather starts to turn to summer, that I want to try my hand at gardening, thankfully the husband, is also keen to have a go.

Here is a snapshot as to how our attempt is coming along. We’re not sure how much success we’ll have, but we’ve had a lot of fun so far, and some challenges, and also we’re learning a lot.

the wild of our gardens, complete with our cat that loves to stalk through it

the wild of our gardens, complete with our cat that loves to stalk through it

another thrilling look at a overgrown garden bed

another thrilling look at a overgrown garden bed

 

After all the hard work of weeding.

After all the hard work of weeding

After all the hard work of weeding the fun part began.  With a fresh canvas, we were able to start thinking about what it would look like.  We got some local sheep manure and mixed it with some soil from the garden centre and also started to do a weekly  watering with blood and bone.

I got ridiculously excited about all the different possibilities of what to plant, and thankfully, my husband was there to be a tether back to reality.

So we went with sweet 100’s tomatoes and basil as its companion plant. We also planted parsley, roly poly carrots, marigolds (or calendula), chillis for a bit of fun, capsicums (or bell peppers), cucumbers and coriander.

check out our burgeoning garden, once we decided what to plant.

check out our burgeoning garden, once we decided what to plant.

and directly across, the other garden bed.

and directly across, the other garden bed.

We also purchased a gorgeous bucket of lettuces, it already has four heads of lettuce planted in it, and you just pick it as needed. We went a bit crazy, so we left it alone for two weeks and its cranking again.

Still to plant, some catnip and sage.

I’ve loved the experience so far of gardening (with the exception of the slightly achey joints), its been amazing, how many lovely people have offered us sound advice and even gifted us with plants to start with. It’s so satisfying to see the unkempt garden made over and I’ve even enjoyed the investigative part of gardening, our basil was just being chomped through, and we finally figured out it was the hungry caterpillar.

However I think the best part has been trying out a new activity with my husband.  We both have a few activities that we do separately, and we have a few that we do together.

Taking an interest in the garden has been fun to do together.  As mentioned early, he’s been really great at grounding me with what we can achieve, considering our garden space isn’t the largest, however he’s also been awesome in having fun with what we plant. We aren’t big chilli eaters, but we both thought it would be fun to try out something a bit different, and agreed that they’d look fantastic too.  We’re sure we can find plenty of people to share our chilli’s with. It’s proved to be an activity that we both can get outside and enjoy together and it’s been fun planning and discussing the garden too. I’ve been able to be creative with what we’re planting and how to plant.  The husband didn’t know anything about companion planting, but it was something I was interested in trying out.

While the motivation to start gardening has been different for both us, it’s given us something new to do together, and that has made the process really worth it. Now let’s hope we get a few little something somethings from the garden.

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Wanderlust Auckland

Recently added to the Wanderlust Auckland experience is the one day Yoga in the City event next year in March, held at Western Springs Park. 

My understanding is that there is going to be a big four day Wanderlust in NZ for 2015, and may be in the Taupo region, who knows.

I really enjoy yoga, but attending something like this is a bit out of my comfort zone; so of course, I’m trying to lean into the idea of attending.

At the very least, it couldn’t be a bad experience and at the very best it could be a very fascinating one.

Check out this video from the creators of Wanderlust as they talk about their NYC in the city event.

how do you eat?

check out the zig zag

check out the zig zag

My call is to eat well most of the time and treat myself sometimes and enjoy it all. Pretty much that means try to make the right choice most of the time, and on occassion where I eat the cupcake, I don’t suffer the guilt from it.

Apparently the way I eat can be described as a zig zag. I didn’t know it was what I was doing, but then I read about it from Dr. Libby Weaver, and I’ll let her explain it. Here’s what Dr. Libby has to say about it:

“The concept of ‘zig vs zag’ is a helpful one as the weekend approaches.

A ‘zig’ meal is made up of nutrient-dense foods, real foods and no alcohol. While for a ‘zag’ meal, little if any consideration is given to the nutrient value of what you are eating. It is more about the company you are in, being playful and relaxing. Zags are part of a healthy and sustainable lifestyle. Usually I would guide someone to zag once a week, or 3 to 5 out of their 35 eating occasions in a week.

If you know you are going to your office party, that doesn’t mean the whole day is a right off, yet so many people approach their life or health in this way! Having the office party in the evening is even more reason to eat a nutritious breakfast and lunch, following up with nutrient-dense food choices the next day. You enjoy the zag but when you live mostly as a zig, the zag takes very little toll on your overall level of well-being.”

3 to 5 out of 35 eating occasions in a week. I had never really thought about how many times I would eat in a week. But this really helped break it down for me and made it so much more realistic to eat well and made me feel better, because it confirmed to me that I was eating well.

When I’m in charge of my own meals, I do my best to eat right. However, when I’m out with friends, visiting family or even when I’m at work, I’m more flexible and indulge (my favourite indulgence while I’m at work, is a cookie from moustache. These cookies are seriously addictive, but at the same time I can only eat like 1 every a month, it’s just too rich in flavor for me)

Cookbooks

Cookbooks I’m drawing inspiration from reguarly or cooking straight out of.

It’s all good check it out here

While this book has been skewered, I really don’t get why. Overall it promotes a whole food diet. Less with the packaged trash and more with whole foods that we all know is the best way to eat. No book is perfect, and yes this books makes me roll my eyes and giggle a bit, but that’s happening at the non recipe stuff. The recipes though, you can’t really fault them. I’ve tried a handful, stir fried brow rice with nori and black sesame, red smoothie, all three beet salad suggestions, black and guacamole tacos, plus some others and I keep coming up with winners. My favourite part though, is her basic recipes section.  She has amazing recipes to make your own pickled jalapenos, Lee’s Sriracha, roasted tomato and chipotle salsa

The real food chef check it out here

Dr. Libby Weaver is all kinds of awesome. I was lucky enough for this book to be given to me as a gift, and it really just keeps on giving. Again, I’ve tried a handful of recipes brain balls, roasted vegetable frittata muffins, banana, berry, coconut smoothie, nut butter muffins, chocolate seed balls, pad thai chicken (and a tofu version), and I just adore the dressings and condiment section. The recipes have yet to fail me. Dr. Libby has a new book that has recently come out, The Real Food Kitchen, and I’m number one on the wait list for the book at the library, and I’m super excited to borrow it!

The spunky coconut dairy-free ice cream – check it out here

The top most review of this book on good reads wrote something to the effect that she preferred the book, Vegan a la mode. It’s funny because I borrowed that book and this book from the library at the same time. I returned Vegan a la mode without any interest in any of the recipes, however during my loan period from the library, I went ahead and ordered the Spunky book for myself. It was exactly what I was after. I absolutely love the book. I had bought an ice cream maker and it had sat in the house for at least a month without any use. As soon as I read this book, I was completely inspired and before too long, I was whipping up my own ice cream. I’ve had the ice cream maker packed away for winter, however, it’s coming out next weekend! Hurrah!

Cornucopia – check it out here

I don’t know why exactly, but this is a cookbook that I usually break out in winter and usually on a Sunday.  It’s a wonderful book, choc full of recipes that always fill me up, in that way you want a winter meal to fill you.  I’m not sure if that makes any sense, but you should have a read.

Make: Pasta with creamy Avocado sauce

IMG_1730In case you haven’t noticed, I’m not really a photographer, I’ll just keep practicing and hopefully I’ll get better.

I don’t normally eat pasta, but my husband loves it so we’ve compromised and pasta appears on the menu maybe twice a month, and the second compromise for us has been that at least once, he’d like it not to be whole wheat.  So here it is.  The compromise dinner, pasta and its not even wholewheat.

What makes this pasta so frickin’ awesome is the sauce.  It’s a non-cream based creamy sauce, that even my husband can dig.  

Fettuccine with avocado cream sauce

Fettuccine, enough for two people in our case

Spinach,  a big bunch
Sundried tomatoes cut into strips
Optional toasted pine nuts or roasted unsalted cashews. I also am known to throw in some courgettes or brocolli too, really I just add whatever I like. If the husband were to make it for just himself, I have a feeling that he’d add some roast chicken.
Sauce:
1 avocado
a handful of mixed fresh herbs, you can use whatever you like, I chose mint and basil
2-3 tablespoons of plain yogurt
1/4 of a lemon, or more depending on your personal taste
1 large clove of garlic or more if you like or less 
salt and pepper to taste
Oil – choose your favourite kind, I like a mild flavoured oil with this dish, so I use rice bran oil
optional – sometimes I add about 1/8 teaspoon chilli flakes 
 
Sautee your spinach, set aside. 
 
For the sauce, chuck all the ingredients, except the oil, into your food processor, and turn it on.  Add the oil slowly through the spout. Again, you probably will need to scrape down the sides, and keep tasting the sauce, to see if you like the flavour.  Set it aside once you reach your desired consistency.  
 
Boil your pasta. Once its done, strain it and add your spinach, sundried tomatoes (and anything else you opted to add) and sauce.  Give it a good toss and serve.
 
Top with fresh grated parmesan if you like and cracked pepper.  

 We’ve made this a few times, and the only advice I can give you is: this is a dish best eaten fresh. I wouldn’t suggest it for leftovers. 

Remember this recipe makes enough sauce for two people, so if you want to make it for more people, make sure you make a bigger batch.

Dig in and enjoy.

Make: Chocolate pudding

super simple chocolate pudding

super simple chocolate pudding

So this is one of my favourite recipes. It’s super simple to make and incredibly fast. Best part about it, its delicious and you don’t feel guilty enjoying it – because it’s free of all that junk that is bad for you.

So you’re going to need your blender for this one. You could do it in a food processor, but I don’t know if the pudding will have that silky smooth finish. Well at least my food processor isn’t powerful enough.

Chocolate Pudding

Fresh coconut meat from 2 coconuts

1.5 to 2.5 tablespoons of cocoa (I used dutch processed)

1/4 cup of cashews

2-4 tablespoons of honey

water or milk (I used almond milk)

You can change the flavour of your chocolate pudding by adding some cinnamon, chilli powder, powdered ginger or lavender to it. I would start with about 1/4 teaspoon of any of the options and gradually add more to suit your taste.

I started by putting 1/3 a cup of almond milk into the blender with all of the ingredients. Turn on your blender and let her spin. You’ll notice if the blender is doing its thing or not. If it isn’t, it’s time to add more milk. In the end I think I ended up with nearly 1 cup of almond milk and I had to add more cocoa and honey (that’s why I’ve suggested a range of measurements for them).

You want to blend it until it’s silky smooth. You may need to stop the blender a few times and scrape down the sides. It should be like a consistency of a thick smoothie. You can eat right then or put it into the fridge to set.

Optional toppings for your pudding, if you feel inclined; any berry (we had strawberries with ours), crushed peanuts, shredded coconut, sliced bananas, kiwi fruit, pretty much whatever you love to have with chocolate. My husband’s suggestion is a drizzle of maple syrup. Of course you could just have simply as is, it’s pretty delicious on its own.

If you try it, let me know what you think. Enjoy!