This Spring my friend Sharon gave me 2 spice racks she was no longer using just about the time I was ready to organize my spice cupboard!  I love how clean and neat they look.  They can stand on a counter top but I decided they’d be perfect on the inside of the cupboard door.  Removing all the spice jars and spice tins from the shelves would make room for other things and less crowded cupboards are easier to maintain.

First I tried my old spice bottles and tins in the rack.

I originally had these spice jars in my cupboard
I originally had these spice jars in my cupboard

Wire spice rack
Wire spice rack

Even though the jars fit they were hard to get out.  I had a few simple jars from Cost Plus that fit perfectly so decided to go get 10 more at only .99 a piece.

I wanted to change to this type jar instead
I wanted to change to this type jar instead

Then made some labels for the jars.

Made labels with a label maker
Made labels with a label maker
Hammer and drill

Next got out the hammer and drill and made some holes and fastened the racks to the inside of the cupboard.  Thankfully I didn’t have to redo any in which I’m not always so lucky. 😮 (By the way, I recommend buying your own in-house hammer and drill so you don’t have to wait for your husband or a handyman to do simple the jobs – no waiting for them to have time or no arguing over which way to do it!)

Love the new clean look
Love the new clean look

Took awhile to get used to opening the cupboard with the racks on the other side.  But love the new clean look!  Thank you Sharon! :-)

Marjoram from planting to harvest

The journey of an herb – something I’ve been watching and learning over the last few years – I guess that would be decade.  I’ve decided the best bet for the Kelly house is outdoor herb pots – or big wooden barrels – since they keep the herbs contained and manageable.  I’ve tried planting herbs in raised beds, but certain ones, like Marjoram and Mint, tend to be invasive so better to take over a pot rather than a whole bed!

Since pictures tell the story best, I will let them to tell most of the story but being the wordy one that I am, I’ll add a few paragraphs too.

So, here’s what’s been happening so far with my herbs in 2015:

Pots Restained
Re-stained and ready to go

First, Stan re-stained the barrels and raised beds to look warm and fresh. Went to the local garden store for new herbs and flowers, although as you can see the Chives have wintered over again. Since they don’t stray from their corner in the raised bed, they get to stay there!

For pots this year I chose Rosemary, Oregano, Basil, Cilantro, Parsley and Marjoram since that’s what I use the most.  Last year I grew Lemon Thyme which ended up too lemony for me.  This year when looking for Thyme I didn’t see any that wasn’t Lemon so opted out.  In fact, I still have dried Thyme from last year which is still amazingly potent, and lemony, for cooking anyway.  I’m sure if there was once anything medicinal within, that has faded by now.  I’ve also experimented with Mint which is lovely and fragrant, but takes over the whole pot so also opted out with that one this year.  However, when I decide to explore tea and lemonade drinking a bit more, I will definitely return to mint because of its many benefits.  I envision a row of barrels.  But one step at a time.

Marjoram, Rosemary and Cilantro (by itself in the shallow pot on the right) – and Snapdragons for color!
June Herbs
Oregano, Parsley and Basil
Growing, growing – looks like the Cilantro is getting too leggy
Rosemary is off to a slow start but it’s always the one that lasts till winter!
Bringing the outside in - by the stove
Bringing the outside in – by the stove

Speaking of steps, once the herbs grow a bit, I like to cut some to bring into the kitchen so it’s handy for cooking.  My pots are on the patio and by the raised bed, so out of site out of mind.  I can see where small pots for the kitchen year round would be a good idea and may give that a go this year. We novices tend to use what it is at our fingertips.  But till then my little cuttings will do.  As Summer progresses with an abundance from the herb pots I cut a huge bunches for my mini-prep processor (mine is a Cuisinart), then let them dry a bit before I fill my spice jars.  This weekend I cut back my notoriously overgrown potted Marjoram and have filled an entire jar.  I wish I could share the fragrance that filled my kitchen with you but the internet hasn’t figured that one out yet.  It actually tastes and smells a lot like Oregano, coming from the same family and all, but a bit sweeter yet definitely stronger.  It’s great with egg dishes and soups!

Anyway, Lately in the morning I’ve been dicing up colorful peppers – red, green and yellow, sometimes, orange, throwing them into a skillet with about a tablespoon of olive oil, adding freshly dried oregano or marjoram and my dried parsley.  You can use fresh too, of course, but the flavors are even stronger so it depends on how much you like; then add 2 large eggs, preferably organic cage-free, freshly ground salt and pepper, cover and cook a bit; and then sprinkle feta cheese, diced garden tomato and fresh basil, cook a bit more while toasting one half of an English muffin. (You can scramble too, but I’ve been loving the sunny side up version these days.) Plate and serve with hot coffee and enjoy on the back patio.

I’d love to hear about what you like to grow and what you are learning along the way!

Wire spice rack - world market
My friend Sharon gave me 2 of these spice racks!

Next post – my new spice racks and spice jar organization project!

Bringing the Outside In!

Here’s a video of harvesting my mums and herbs just for fun! A follow up to my last post on gardening which you can view here if you haven’t read it already.

Latest gardening news: Besides cutting back the perennials and cleaning up the beds, I’m just about to plant some bulbs around the Kelly House. I’ve got my bulbs, bulp planter, and bag of bulb booster but it’s raining today. Dang. I hope it doesn’t freeze this week so I can get them in the ground in time. Guess you’ll have to come back next Spring to find out so to be continued I hope!!

Garden Mine

My Vegi Sign

[I wrote a song called Garden Mine in 1990 and have fine tuned it over the years. Scroll down to the end of this post for a flip video of my most recent version!]

One of my pasttimes between and in and around the music is gardening of some type. That’s another way of saying when I’m being a slacker on getting giggage I at least have something to do with my hands! 

This year I read up again on Herbs and decided to do an herb pot next to our vegetable planter. Last year we planted the herbs in the vegi planter and they sort of took over. So, this time I decided to give them a pot of their own. However, the Basil is now taking over the Rosemary and Cilantro so I should have given them each a separate pot. But that would be way too much in the way of herbs for a small household such as ours.

In planting this year I was inspired to make my own plant signs since I couldn’t find any to my liking in the shops. I liked the type of signs that Edwards Greenhouse uses and when I inquired they told me they had to make their own signs because they too couldnt find what they wanted. So I took their advise and did the same by buying miniature black boards at the craft store along with acrylic paints. Above is the Vegetable sign (I used a stencil and acrylic paint and precut wood); and below is my herb sign in the herbpot.

My HerbPot complete with tweeting bird
As you can see the Basil is already taking over the pot which also is a home to Rosemary and Cilantro!
Big Boxwood Basil
A close up of the Herb sign and DragonFly marker.:
Herb sign in DragonFly holder
My little ornamental tweeting bird which doubles as a prop in my Garden Mine video!
Little Bird
Here’s my Tomato sign. The Tomato is next to the Marjoram that came back in full force from last year!
Tomato plant and sign
Couldn’t resist filling in with a Shasta Daisy and a few Marigolds beside the Pepper plants. I made a Pepper marker as well:
Daisies and Marigolds fill in
Stan planted this planter box a few years ago and it works really well for the amount of vegetables we need. In years past we’ve had much bigger gardens with too large of a harvest, so we are trying to reign ourselves in as we grow in practicality and wisdom!
Our patio planter full of pansies. The snail planter can hold a small plant or a candle which I keep meaning to get around to filling!
Patio planters
This is the beginning of our backyard project that we are ‘fixin’ to do’ hopefully THIS year. Stage one will be to line the fences with a long rock wall planter. So, this mum planter is temporary. Stan built it recently to hold our overgrowing mums that we moved from the Vegi planter before we filled in with pepper and tomota plants. (I planted the mums there in Autumn last year because the ground was too hard outside of the planter.)
a temporary Mums planter
Other growing things – we have a plum tree:
Plum Tree
Metal sun sculpture in side garden early Spring:
Little Garden Sun
May as well throw in a few views of the backyard before the project so we have accurate before and after pictures.
Long view of backyard
backyard patio before the redo

Stan plans to build a porch cover, hopefully this year!

I wrote a song called Garden Mine in 1990 and have fine tuned it over the years. Here’s a flip vid of my most recent version!