Pinteresting Veggies.

Written June 19, 2013

It’s pretty safe to say that I am obsessed with Pinterest.

But, if loving Pinterest is wrong, I don’t want to be right.

It’s is so handy and I actually use it… a lot.

Like look at this great wreath I made for the Fourth of July last week.
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It is based on this image I found on Pinterest that links to:http://www.allthingsthrifty.com/2011/07/red-white-and-blue-wreath-idea.html
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It was a great resource when building and decorating our new house.

We used this room as inspiration for our master bedroom.
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The photo came from: http://ashleeraubachphotography.blogspot.jp/2011/04/alison-royer-interior-designer-belmont.html

I love our beautiful master bedroom. It is the perfect combination of romantic and relaxing.
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I also loved this idea to save counter space and use planter baskets for produce.
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I got my planters from Hobby Lobby. These are from http://www.store.willowhouse.com/

It works great in our house as fresh fruits and veggies are the norm.
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Last year we hosted a Baby-Que, inspired by something I saw on Pinterest, for one of Adam’s fraternity brothers and his wife when they were expecting this first son. I made these fun labels for the barbeque sauce to stick with the Baby-Que theme.
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The mild sauce was called “Mild Child Sauce.” The hot barbeque sauce said, “Oh Baby! That’s Hot Sauce!” And then we got a super-hot sauce that we called “Screaming Hot Temper Tantrum Sauce!”

I am always looking for new ways to work out so that I don’t get bored. Pinterest is full of links to health magazines or youtube videos. Like this one for your arms by Tracy Anderson.

It is awesome because it doesn’t require any equipment. Consider yourself warned, it’s only eight minutes but it’s killer!

My new favorite thing to do is Barre workouts and Pinterest is full of them. I just use a kitchen chair to serve as my “barre” so I can do them at home. I love a work out that doesn’t require shoes!

… I told you I use it a lot. 🙂

But what I love most about Pinterest the recipes and how it has introduced me to so many new food blogs. Before Pinterest, I would Google things like “Chicken Recipes” or “Party Dips” and have to sort through all kinds of links. Now I have pin boards full of recipes or I can visit a cooking blog that I have learned to love.

Some of my favorite cooking blogs that I have found on Pinterest are the following:

SkinnyTaste.com: She includes all the nutritional information for her recipes, including Weight Watcher’s points. I have made a ton of meals from this site. The Asian recipes are all phenomenal and she loves spicy stuff!
http://www.takingonmagazines.com/: This woman makes recipes from popular cooking magazines and cook books, reviews them and lets you know if something should be changed. It’s really nice because she also describes the process. It helps to know what you are getting into!
(Speaking of magazines, Food and Wine, Bon Appetit, Real Simple and Cooking Light are also the home some of my favorite Pinterest recipes.)
iowagirleats.com/:I literally feel like I am friends with Kristin, the author of this site, because I am on it at least once a week. Like me, she is a young wife in the Midwest. She posts great recipes, stories from her worldwide travels (I hope to use some of her Napa tips soon as I am dying to go.), and running workouts (I-unfortunately- don’t use these… remember, I like workouts that don’t require shoes.).

I came across a Spinach and Risotto recipe from iowagirleats.com on Pinterest just as the spinach and the basil in the garden were ready for a harvest.
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Tomatoes also play a starring role in this recipe, but ours are nowhere near ready so I had to opt for some on the vine tomatoes at the grocery. (Grown in a greenhouse in Canada… I cannot wait for my real garden tomatoes.)

Kristin posted this risotto in February, because risotto is known to be a heavy, creamy dish. Perfect for a winter night. But, with all my basil and spinach ready to go, and the fact that it looked delicious, I figured it could be great any time of year.

My mom used to make risotto from time to time, so I knew that it can be a tedious process. She would often have me or one of my siblings posted up at the stove top stirring the rice as she would swing by every five minutes or so and pour in more broth as we stood spinning a spatula around and around.

Kristin suggests you get a TV show going on your iPad. I suggest you have a wine bottle within arm’s reach because you will be there for a bit.

It took me about 45 minutes to completely cook the rice. I actually used Chicken Broth that we had in the freezer made from skinnytaste.com. Another one of my favorite blogs listed above.

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Adam loves to make this broth in the crock pot. He says it is the most flavorful broth ever and it’s true. Plus, it beats buying broth at the store that is jam-packed full of sodium. (Culinary Side note: In simplest terms, broth is just from chicken meat; stock is from bones and meat.)

Spinning risotto, just like in my childhood!

Spinning risotto, just like in my childhood!

As I added the last scoop of broth, I also put in the spinach and basil. When we harvested the spinach and basil we were sure to snip the plant close to the stem. We use a pair of garden shears.

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Adam washed and dried the spinach and basil. The recipe called for torn basil and I could smell the enchanting smell of basil the instant he tore through the first piece. Both of us gushed in unison. A smell so distinct that it brings back memories of summers and delicious meals of your past. You can’t beat it.

Beautiful Basil

Beautiful Basil

Garden veggies added to the risotto.

Garden veggies added to the risotto.

We sat down to our meal couldn’t stop talking about how great it was. And what was really great was that most of the ingredients were things that we typically have at the house, especially in the summer these days.

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And what was really, really great about this dish was the leftovers for lunch the next day.

Link to iowagirleats.com Spinach and Basil Risotto: http://iowagirleats.com/2013/02/18/tomato-basil-spinach-risotto/
Link to skinnytaste.com Chicken Broth from the Crock Pot: http://www.skinnytaste.com/2010/02/homemade-chicken-stock-from-your-crock.html

PS- Follow me on Pinterest! http://pinterest.com/vaclaire13/boards/
I love to put notes on the recipes I make so you can see recipes that work well and pass on those that don’t.
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Oh, Deer.

Written June 17, 2013.

So, remember how I wrote about the huge, beautiful heads of lettuce just a few days ago? Remember that photo of all the green heads of romaine?

Here’s are a photo to remind you:

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Yeah, it now looks like this:

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Not Pretty.

They were attacked by a deer overnight. They ate the Caesar Lettuce Heads, the Romaine Lettuce Heads, Strawberries and even my cute, yellow squash.

I was so upset. So, I started asking our family and friends how to combat this animal.

Adam joked that he could shoot it, but he didn’t want to make that news for poaching deer. Yeah, that wouldn’t be good. No thanks.

One of his friends joked we could “accidently” hit it with a car. I have done that before on an icy road, without a doubt by accident. It’s scary and expensive. No thanks.

I didn’t want to hurt this deer; I just wanted him to get out of my garden.

A neighbor, after a couple of beers, suggested using pinwheels. Pinwheels?! That seemed a little far-fetched and possibly alcohol infused (…?), but I guess at this point it wouldn’t hurt to try.

The next day, my sister-in-laws and I were relaxing at Adam’s parent’s home for Father’s Day. She was reading a home magazine that happened to have tips in keeping deer away from gardens.

The first tip was to construct a fence at least 10 feet high. This one made me laugh. Um, no.

The next was to use human hair. This one made me gag. Um, no.

The next was to get stakes and tie on plastic ribbon on it. The ribbon blows in the wind creating noise. This one got me thinking. Maybe creating sound like a pinwheel?

The next idea was to use repellent sprays. I was kind of wary about sprays as I wanted to try to keep this garden as natural as possible. Aimee, Adam’s oldest sister worked at a nursery in high school, said that they used to spray a repellent to keep deer away. She said it stunk, but it worked. The repellent wasn’t sprayed right onto the plants, just around the border.

So, today I hit the stores. I could not find pinwheels anywhere. I was shocked. I figured with the Fourth of July just around the corner I would be able to find at least some patriotic pinwheels. (I knew they might have looked silly. But if it worked, I was fine with the silliness.)

In defeat, I went to a garden supply store to look at the repellents.

There I found Liquid Fence, an eco-friendly spray that would not harm animals. The ingredients listed mainly eggs and garlic, just like some of the sprays listed in the magazine. This scent is unattractive to deer and rabbits, keeping them away from gardens and landscaping.

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I figured at this point it was worth a shot. I purchased the bottle and sprayed it around the perimeter of the garden. I did get a whiff of the spray at one point, and PHEW! It did stink.

But, so far, it works!

(I still plan to stock up on pinwheels if I ever see them.) 🙂

“Lettuce” Eat Well.

Written June 12, 2013

When I returned home from Virginia I found that I had a totally different garden.  Thanks to the care of my lovely husband, the plants were so much bigger, fuller, and flowering to show that produce was coming.

Adam tending our growing, green garden.

Adam tending our growing, green garden.

Peas were climbing.

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The cabbage was huge and full of color.

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The carrots and green onions finally looked like they were doing well.

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The tomatoes were so full and looked strong in their cages.

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Zucchini’s were budding and I even had a cute, little squash growing!

Yayyy!

Yayyy!

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Even the chicks had grown up!  No longer little, fluffy adolescents, but now resembling real chickens.  Their feet were so different; they were huge!

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But the biggest change had been in the lettuce.  It was big, beautifully green, and ready to harvest.

Trio of Greens!

Trio of Greens!

That night we opted for some fresh romaine on the side of dinner.  I snipped one of the largest heads of lettuce close to the base but not directly on the ground.  Cut here, the lettuce will continue to grow so that we can use romaine from this head again.  To cut the lettuce, I actually used shears that I received at a flower arranging class at West Elm.  (Tons of fun and really informative!  I can keep fresh flowers in my house going for nearly two weeks now.  Check out your store.  They typically do events once a month or so.)

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Once I had enough for Adam and me, I headed inside.  There I rinsed each head very well in the sink, tore the leaves into bite sized pieces and tossed them into the salad spinner.

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I placed a couple handfuls of the romaine in bowls and topped it with a chopped tomato, a little crumbled feta, and a splash of balsamic dressing.

It was the perfect complement to our steaks.

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As we took our first bites of the homegrown lettuce, Adam exclaimed, “It taste like lettuce!”  I laughed.  Umm, yeah?  “I just was nervous.  We have never done this.”

True.

But, not only did it “taste like lettuce,” it had a fabulous flavor.  And knowing that it came straight out of our yard and had never been in contact with any chemicals or processing made it even better.

My First Local “Foode” Review

Written June 4, 2013

The first week of June, my work took me to Fredericksburg, Virginia for training.  Like any good foodie, the first thing I do is look up good local restaurants.  (Before hotel and flights, obvi.)  I added “locally sourced” to my searches and quickly came across Foode, right in downtown Fredericksburg.  It has a menu that changes every week with food comes from the Virginia region.  In fact, the website stated that 85-95% of the food served is from local farms or merchants.  The website also had a simple, rustic look that was beautiful.

And, let’s be honest, the name couldn’t be more perfect.  Foode for the foodie?  Sold.

I made plans with a sorority sister who recently moved to Washington, DC and she made the hour long drive south to meet me for dinner with her boyfriend, Mike.  (Thanks, Katie!)

My cab driver had never heard of the restaurant so we slowly crept up the main street in quaint, historic part of town.  We pulled up and the entrance looked like an alley.  Thank goodness, a simple green sign marked the restaurant, or we would have missed it.  Katie and Mike were already there and she texted to tell me she had already gotten a table.

I walked through the threshold to find it was, in fact, an alley.  A really neat alley.  An alley of exposed brick, lined with live edge wooden tables and an open ceiling decorated with colorful, open umbrellas.  I joined Katie and Mike and they told me that there were tables on the inside, but they like this area better.  I didn’t fight it.  The space was so fun and it was a really nice night.

Colorful umbrella's made for fun, unique décor at Foode in Fredericksburg.

Colorful umbrella’s made for fun, unique décor at Foode in Fredericksburg.

Katie passed me a menu.  It was one page front and back.  The front was all the food options and the back showcased all the beverage choices.  Katie and Mike were already enjoying bottled IPA’s and the waitress was quick to see what I would like to drink.  I was still taking in the atmosphere and greeting Katie and Mike that I didn’t even have a chance to look, so I just asked for a glass of white wine.  She quickly returned with DMZ Chardonnay in a mason jar.  The mason jar matched the one already on the table which held a bouquet of basil, in place of the traditional floral centerpiece.

Cheers!

Cheers!

Making an entrée decision was impossible.  Everything sounded excellent.  I was drawn to shrimp and grits, but it seemed too heavy for the warm evening.  Same with the spring risotto, even though it sounded amazing with spring veggies like peas and asparagus.  Mike decided on the whole free range chicken, while Katie and I both opted for the grass fed beef burger.

Mike went inside to place our order, as food orders were not taken through the waitresses, while Katie and I caught up about her new job and life in the District.

Soon our food arrived.  My towering burger was complete with a zingy, seasoned aioli, pub chips for a crunch and homemade pickles was paired with thick cut fries.  The burgers came to us in small cast iron skillets lined with parchment paper, continuing with the rustic look.  I laughed at the lack of actual vegetable on my “plate.”  Here I was at a local restaurant, that receives products from local growers everyday (in fact, they even thank these local farmers and artisans at the end of their menu) and I wasn’t even eating one green item.  Oops.  Oh, well.  You only live once, right?!

As we ate I looked around the alley at the other full tables.  A couple, with their dog in tow, next to us who was splitting a few delicious looking appetizers, including the warm pimento cheese toast, over a bottle wine from Charlottesville, the home of University of Virginia. (Side note: UVA is my namesake.  My parents met there while in business school.  Not to mention, it was where my grandparents spent many years of their retirement.  So, good old C-Ville has a special place in my heart.)

On the other side of us was a family with young children.  I glanced at the menu and it looked like they had a great kids menu complete with traditional kid favorites like natural grilled cheese or hot dog.  This family was done with dinner and had moved on warm, homemade cookies complete with a tall glass of organic milk.

The inner kid in me thought that sounded like an amazing way to finish off the meal, but before I could make my ten-year-old request, Mike asked if we wanted check out the Capitol Ale House.  He said they are known for having a great selection of beers.  I learned that my dear friend Katie, who I used to go to with all my questions about wine, is now my girl to go to about beer too.  (In my opinion, everyone needs a friend like this.)

There, Mike and Katie helped me pick out a great wheat beer from Virginia as my beer palate has not gone much beyond Blue Moon.  They told me that there are a lot of brewery’s developing in the area and they were having a blast trying all the new and different beers.  Katie even had an app on her phone called “Untapped” to track all the different brews she has tried.

We finished our beers and decided to call it a night, even though it was still a little early.  I had to be ready for meetings beginning at five the next morning and Katie and Mike had an hour drive back to DC.  I headed back to my hotel satisfied, happy to have been able to catch up with a good friend, and with half of my wonderful burger left over to be lunch the following day.

Foode Quick Facts:

1006 C/D Caroline Street

Fredericksburg, VA 22401

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No need to tip.  The staff asks that you just have a good time.

In addition to dinner, Foode also serves lunch and brunch.  The brunch on Saturday and Sunday sounds amazing.  Lots of free range egg options.  They are closed on Monday’s.

Many of the shops and Civil War tourist destinations in historic Fredericksburg close around five or six on week nights, so plan your visit accordingly.  So, get there early and work up an appetite while you shop.

If you would like to see what local producers Foode has vendor relationships with they are listed on their website.

Enjoy!  This is a great place with an awesome atmosphere and magnificent food.

Got Shrooms?

Written on May 30, 2013.

The following are a few things I had never heard of until I moved to Indiana for college.  (Mind you, I lived in OHIO.  Not exactly an exotic, foreign land…)

–        Home-style meals like Chicken and Noodles, Fried Tenderloin and biscuits and gravy.  This may have been more because of my health conscious mother.  But, my friends weren’t eating these things either.  Either way, I still had no clue these stick to your ribs, country favorite’s existed.

–        The Colts.  Not even kidding.  Every Sunday, everyone in my dorm wrote “COLTS” on their dry erase boards on their room doors.  I remember wondering if it was a weird acronym for club or something.  I had to ask my RA.  Again, I came from Ohio.  Central Ohio.  College Football was all that mattered.

–        A Hoosier.  Still not really sure what that one is.  Clearly, I went to the school in northern Indiana.  Not the one in the sourthern part of the state.  Perhaps you know of that school…?!

–        U-Turns. These I had heard of, but never had done one.  My freshman year roommate, an Indiana native, did one the first time I was in the car with her.  As we were whipping around I was frantically looking for cops and thinking she was the most reckless driver ever.  But, they are legal here.  And so convenient.

–        Morels and mushroom hunting.  Mushroom hunting for one, just sounds ridiculous.  But it’s a thing.  A super competitive, intense thing.  Morels are a  wild growing mushroom that are actually considered a delicacy.

Between the notoriety morels and mushroom hunting receives each spring throughout the state (radio stations actually have contests to see who can find the largest mushroom) to Barbara Kingsolver’s, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle account of this spring vegetable, I knew I had to try them.

Morels grow naturally in the woods very well throughout Indiana in the spring.  (Morels actually grow in most regions of the country, outside the deserts and very warm areas in the south.  The Great Lake region of the Midwest is known to be a highly popular area of morel growth from April to mid-June.)

Adam has friends who enjoy mushroom hunting.  He even would show me pictures that came across his Facebook Newsfeed when people posted the finds from their hunt.  I really wanted to try them.

But, spring was crazy.  There were weddings, a lot going on at work, both my siblings had college and high school graduations and we were putting our own garden together, so mushroom hunting never happened.

Not that I was that disappointed.  Woods and me?  We don’t mix that well.  Plus, there was a sign outside an Amish farm stand not too far from work said that they had morels.  I figured I would just swing by there.

That was until a peer mentioned how she spent $48 on a pound of morels there.

Fifty bucks? Seriously?  I was going to HAVE to find time to hunt next year.

A few days later I was driving on the west side of Indianapolis and passed a farm stand with a sign saying that they have had morels for $18 a half pound.  A deal in comparison to the morels closer to home, so I stopped.

I went back to the fridge full of little cartons full of cap shaped mushrooms of all sizes.  The looked like coral or honeycomb.  I wasn’t really sure what I was looking for, but I figured I should make sure they were free of any mold of decay just like any other produce.

I checked out and got back in my car.  As I drove away I glanced down at the little clear carton and kicked myself for not asking where they came from.

Once home I looked up the Animal, Vegetable, Miracle website to find the morel recipe that the book recommends.  (I rented the book from the library around Christmastime.  Highly recommend.  Very eye opening and a great thing to read if you want to get started in growing your own food or just want to try to be a little more self-sufficient.)  The recipe was for Asparagus and Morel Bread Pudding.

Another thing I had never been exposed to: Bread Pudding.

And I really had no interest.  Bread pudding is one of those two-word foods that doesn’t sound like they should go together thus, as a child, I was pretty sure these were items that should not been eaten.  See also: sour cream, sweet potato, or blue cheese.  (I am getting better at this.  In fact, thanks to “Cheese Day” in Home Ec during the sixth grade, I found a LOVE for strong cheeses, including blue cheese.  Everyone else thought I was nuts.  “She likes that moldy cheese?!”  I am sure it did wonders for my popularity.)

So, that was a big “no” for the bread pudding.  Plus, I really wanted to experience what the morels really taste like.  Not have them masked by a lot of other ingredients.  So, with Google as my guide, I looked up morel recipes.

There were a ton.  Recipes that included chicken or adding the morels to pasta.  Recipes for soup and different ways to deep fry them.  I opted for a super simple recipe of just sautéing the morels with some butter and salt and pepper.

The first order of business was to clean the morels.  You don’t want to wash them, but you do want to brush them off and then soak them in salted water for about fifteen minutes.  It was at this step I read that one should not be alarmed if bugs or other debris, like dirt, comes out of the mushroom and is floating in the water.

Umm? Greeeat.

Because of this, I changed the water about ten minutes in.  Didn’t want to take any chances!

Next I cut the morels in half, lengthwise, and laid them on paper towels until they were dry and didn’t leave any wet marks on the towels.

Then I added the mushrooms to four tablespoons of melted butter in a skillet over medium heat.

The morels cooked quickly as I pushed them gently around with a spatula.

Adam came in with chicken off the grill and we plated the food, after he commented on how great the kitchen smelled.

The sautéed morels received rave review that night.  They were rich and meaty.  Adam said that he was going to have to go hunting next year.  (… Especially after I told him how much they sold for.)

I am looking forward to it because I would gladly do this recipe again.

…. Or maybe I will get adventurous, fight my childhood food-fear and make bread pudding.

Interviewing: Tips from the Other Side

I love to help conduct interviews. My company often asks for help from across the front lines for interviews. It is neat to hear about other people’s experiences. Not to mention, one day out of the office, talking to people I have never met before helps energize me.

Here are a few tips I have picked up from my experiences and from conversations with others who conduct interviews often.

Appearance isn’t everything… but it is something.

It may seem like Interviewing 101, but present yourself well. This means, more likely than not, wear a suit. Even if you are in college and just looking for an internship. (The exception to this is if you are interviewing for a specific industry, like fashion or design.)

I know they are expensive. It’s worth it. Make sure it fits. This will make you feel so much more confident. Many stores, such as Nordstrom, have complimentary hemming. It’s also something you can typically have done at the dry cleaners for a small charge.

Speaking of dry cleaning. It’s another “do” and it’s, again, worth it.

I have a girl friend who had been interviewing all spring before graduation. All of these interviews were out of town so her suit was constantly going in and out of duffel bags or sitting in the backseat of her car. One afternoon she was wrapping up an interview in Chicago and the male (!) interviewer asked if he could give her some advice. Of course she said sure. He told her that her she needed to get an iron or take her suit to the cleaners because it was so wrinkled.

She was mortified. My stomach did a pity flip flop when she told me. She didn’t get the job. But, she learned. The twenty dollars it would take to clean and press her suit could mean so much more than cover and four cocktails at the bar. It could mean a career. (She is now employed by a great company where she is able to get her dry cleaning done and have -top shelf- cocktails too. See! Growing up can be fun!)

Don’t Sell Yourself Short

A few months ago I was interviewing a recent college graduate. She was green, but we all start somewhere. I was trying to get her to tell me about a time when she had to go above and beyond to repair a negative situation with a client or customer.

She struggled. She said she didn’t have any experience. All she had done was wait tables. Wait tables?! Unless she lives in Pleasantville, she has had to encounter a customer who had a negative experience. She didn’t see waiting tables as a learning experience. It’s a huge learning experience.

Tell Stories

When I was a senior in college I interviewed with a major hotel company. There were about six people from the company conducting the interviews in the basement of hospitality building on campus. They were mainly alumni from the university working for the company across the region all lead by the national recruiting director.

Guess who I got to interview with?

Yep. The recruiting director.

I thought it was a pretty basic, typical interview. That was until he asked how I work with a diverse group of people. I had just come back from an internship in southern California where I managed about fifty people that came from many different backgrounds, but majority were Hispanic.

I could have said, “I think I am pretty kind and tolerant. I don’t judge. I value everyone’s background and opinions…” Yadda, yadda… But, to illustrate how well I managed this group of people, a group that was very different from me, and how much they embraced me I told him about a day we all had a few minutes to spare before lunch service. We were discussing meals we like to make at home. Tamales came up and I chimed in. I had never had a tamale and really didn’t even know what a tamale was. Each lady said they made “the BEST tamales” or their mother’s had the best recipe for tamales.

The next day, I received about seven Tupperware boxes full of tamales.

The recruiter lit up.

We finished the interview and as he walked me out he said, “Man, I love that tamale story.”

In the next few months I was invited to other interviews and a college senior conference hosted by the company. Every time that recruiter saw me he said, “It’s Claire, the tamale girl!”

So not only did he remember my interview; he remembered my name. This story opened a huge door with this company and enabled me to make a great relationship.

Do Your Homework

Dear God, please, know who you are interviewing with.

I was interviewing a man in his late twenties with a representative from human resources. We asked him why he wanted to make a career change. He proceeded to tell us that he didn’t like the company that had just acquired a contract at his current employer.

Guess what? We were that company.

Uh, oops?

We have been blessed with Google. Use it.

So, what’s in our Garden?

Written May 28, 2013.

Strawberries– Adam’s favorite. They probably won’t be that great until next year as they are a spring plant. However, the deer beg to differ. They seem to like the big strawberry leaves coming out of the ground. We are lucky there have not been more casualties with the other plants around the strawberry bed thanks to their hoofs and appetites. And, the deer are very lucky that it is not deer season, or else they would be seeing more casualties on their end thanks to my shot gun bearing, camouflage wearing husband.

Please note the deer tracks.

Please note the deer tracks.

Spinach– We could eat spinach every night. We were able to transplant eight spinach plants that we started from seeds. We bought eight more from the store that had been started and transplanted them into the ground.

Caesar, Iceberg and other Lettuces

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Cabbage and red cabbage– These plants are doing so well. They were one of the first plants we transplanted into the ground.

Broccoli– Another hardy plant that is thriving.

Zucchini and Squash– Since transplanting these plants have never looked 100%. Their leaves have gone from green to yellow and back to green again. I really hope these plants take off because I love zucchini and squash on the grill. Adam’s also a huge fan of chocolate zucchini cake. Yes, I am that sneaky wife who hides veggies in dessert. Just wait ‘til we have kids.

Peas and green beans– We tried to grow green beans a couple years ago and maybe got one serving out of our plants because it was so dry. Hoping for some better luck- and weather- this year.

Carrots– We planted these straight into the ground and have not seen anything happen since. I really hope there is some magic going on under ground…

Green onions– These were planted right into the ground and look great. I am so happy because this is the best addition to any stir-fry or Mexican dish.

Cucumbers and pickle cucumbers– This is my favorite vegetable. I cannot wait to see how they do. So far, it’s not bad, but that deer has made some close calls with his feet.

Peppers– Currently, we only have sweet and poblanos. Great, yes. But, I need jalapenos. For salsa, chili, appetizers, etc. etc! When I purchased the large amount of seeds at the home and garden store back in early April on packet was sucked under the conveyer belt. At that point, I probably had fifty seed packets so I wasn’t even going to try to begin to figure out which one was missing. But, it was my beloved jalapenos.

Tomatoes– The definition of summer in my book. We have roma’s, cherry, better boys, and best boys. I love a good, August tomato. With all these tomato plants we hope to give canning a good try. (… Things I have never done before. I am already a little nervous.)

Herbs:

All the herbs are in their own planters as herbs have a way of taking over if they are not contained.
We have basil, oregano, thyme, parsley, cilantro, and rosemary.

Potting soil really brings out the color in my mani.

Potting soil really brings out the color in my mani.

I am sad because the rosemary is not growing like I wish I would. Rosemary is one of my favorite herbs. It is great for chicken, vegetables like carrots or asparagus, and even makes good kabob skewers for some extra favor.

I planted a tomato plant with the basil because I read that, if planted together, they help fight off bugs. So, it’s an experiment.

The parsley and cilantro did great in the starter kits, but I must have sent them into a little shock when they were transplanted into larger planters. The cilantro started to turn a little pinkish purple, which I read was a sign of stress. I am hoping they get used to their new homes. I would think they would have loved the extra root-room. But, as always, you learn something new every day.

My stressed out cilantro.  Any one else have ideas on why it's turning red?

My stressed out cilantro. Any one else have ideas on why it’s turning red?

Oh, and I can’t forget our chickens! We have twelve birds that made the move to their beautiful coop that Adam built in late May. The coop is about eight feet by eight feet with a little door so the chickens can roam in about a thirty foot long fenced in area. We still are not 100% sure how many egg layers we will have as they won’t lay eggs until October or November. At this point we are pretty sure we have about four boys. They are getting little crown combs on the top of their heads. And definitely have a stronger, more seeming to be testosterone fueled demeanor.

It's a boy...?

It’s a boy…?

I never thought I would say this, but we LOVE the chickens. They are a lot of fun to watch and have been pretty simple to take care of.

Adam could watch the birds for hours.

Adam could watch the birds for hours.

In fact, we love everything about this garden. We were afraid when planning it that we might be getting in over our heads. But, so far (knock on wood), it’s been enjoyable work and it’s really neat to see things change every day. Most nights, Adam and I catch up over a beer or a glass of wine as we walk through the garden. Sure beats sitting in front of the TV!

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