Monday, September 28, 2015

She Plants Things: Fall Flowers 101

Bring out the felt hats 'cause it's fall, folks! A new study just released says the trendiest place to wear a felt hat is at a local greenhouse — it has a 64 percent success rate of obtaining compliments from other plant-enthusiasts. (OK so that might not be true, but it probably is.) So, of course I had to throw on the floppy hat and take a trip to buy some new plants.

For some reason, I never cared about plants in college. Maybe they weren't allowed among the candles-on-candlewarmers that nested our cement-walled rooms. Or maybe my school's clocktower was so great that it consumed any extra space in my mind that could have been filled with flowers. Currently, I find them to be a pleasant addition to my living space. Anyway, who even knows what they like in college? I'm a grown-up now, and grown-ups like plants. (Right, mom?)

Over the course of the time I've lived in an apartment, I've had my fair share of succulents (see proof here, here, and head over to my Instagram to see my favorite birthday present from my sweet roomie). Succulents are great because they're pretty low-maintenance, and basically, once you figure out how to take care of one, you can apply the same method to a billion other types of succulents. Since fall is here (#PSL), I wanted to expand my knowledge to some other types of seasonal plants, so let the learning begin.

In my mind, if any one flower defines early-fall, it's a giant pot of mums. Interestingly enough, I learned from The Old Farmer's Almanac that you're actually supposed to plant them in the spring. Who knew?? For me, that's no big deal because I don't have a yard, so these babies aren't going to be planted anyway. For a small investment, though, they'll make my porch an even more enjoyable location for eating fancy cheeses and watching sunsets.

Other fun facts about mums: I haven't bought a pot for this one yet. Any ideas? I'm veering away from the standard terra-cotta for this one because I'd rather see the orange flowers "pop" more on a contrasting color.

Actual fun facts about mums:
- The correct term for these flowers is "Chrysanthemum," which is a 7th grade spelling word.
- They are originally found in Asia and northeastern Europe
- The first mums in America date back to 1884.

I also bought some kale, mostly because I thought it was pretty and wondered if you can eat it. (Honesty hour.) (It's the purpley-cabbage-looking one if you didn't know.)

So to answer the question I just Googled, ("can you eat ornamental kale"), I present the answer from "Ornamental cabbage and kale are in the same species, Brassica oleracea, as edible cabbages and kale. They are the result of hybridizing and, although they are still edible, they aren’t as tasty and tender as their cousins."

So, someone who writes for thinks kale tastes good. Huh.

For the mums and kale both, I'll water them when the top 1 inch of soil starts to dry, unless I forget and accidentally kill them.

Let me know if you bought fall plants, have kept them alive, didn't buy fall plants because you think they're dumb and/or like eating kale! I'm going to go eat some pizza!

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Red, White, and Blueberries

Let me guess, you’re going to a 4th of July party with a bunch of hipsters who can’t eat anything yummy (read: burgers and brats), and you have no idea what to bring. Problem solved!*

*Note: Problem not solved if your hipster friends are doing Whole 30 as this summer treat is full of dairy. Problem only solved if your crew likes yogurt in mason jars. 

The main reason I think this would be a good party treat is because it’s so easy to make and super customizable. I made these parfaits look patriotic for the 4th, but you could use virtually any ingredients to make them fit your preferences. (See this post I did on a less healthy caramel apple parfait.) 

Patriotic Parfait Recipe
- Blueberries
- Strawberries
- Greek Yogurt (I used Chobani Vanilla Blended)
- Almond Slivers, Granola
- Honey to taste

It feels silly to even call this a recipe because it’s so easy-breezy. But in case you couldn’t figure it out on your own, I layered the ingredients in the mason jar, beginning with the greek yogurt. I added the blueberries next, and another layer of yogurt then I put strawberries on the top (obviously I should have put the blueberries on the top considering this post is called “Red, White, and Blueberries — oops). On the very top, I drizzled honey and added a few almond slivers.

So really this #shelearnsthings is about meal-planning because I’m so excited to have these yogurts to take to work this week! It takes me a while to warm up to the idea of breakfast in the morning, so I kinda have to force myself to eat something small first thing. (Does breakfast make anybody else nauseous, or is it just me?) My roommate, Merry, takes parfaits similar to these to work weekly and she really likes making (and eating) them. So, I’m accepting her influence and making room for more mason jars in the fridge! Speaking of the fridge, they should last several days when properly refrigerated.

Let me know if you make parfaits for patriotism! I'm going to eat mine now. America!

Thursday, June 25, 2015

10 Tips for Saying Thank You

Writing notes of gratitude may be a lost art, but perhaps due to Jimmy Fallon, thank you notes are coming back in style. Here's 10 tips for how to properly appreciate someone:

1. Be sincere: Even if your Aunt Irene gifted you a cat sweater you totally hate (although I'm not sure why anybody would hate a cat sweater), try to give your gratitude honestly. E.g., you should say something like "this sweater is sure to keep me warm over the winter!" (fact) rather than "I've never loved anything more!" (lie).

2. Be timely: Timeliness is important when writing thank you's because it often reflects sincerity. A too-late thank you could look like an afterthought, and you wouldn't want that! Ideally, send thank you's no later than 2 days after the gift was given or event was experienced. (Oops, I guess I'd better start writing some..)

3. Be specific: Specificity is one of the cardinal rules of thank you cards. You'll want to name exactly what you're giving gratitude for, and even feel free to mention why you're giving thanks. I had a set of fill-in-the-blank thank you notes as a child, and they were good for this. "Thank you for the __________; I like it because __________." Sounds silly, but people like to hear why you enjoyed the gift and how you'll use it!

4. Find a cute card: Self explanatory. Re: That cute card, use a notecard instead of a letter. This takes a lot of pressure off you because notecards can fit approx. 5 sentences as opposed to the 15 or so you could fit on a letter. Chances are, you don't have a novel-worth of things to say in your thank you note, so keep it short and sweet. 

5. Thanking somebody for a tangible gift: Send a picture! Snapping a photo really adds a nice touch to the note. I have a family friend who is so kind to often send me gift cards for my birthday or Christmas. I also have a tendency to save gift cards for a "rainy day," if you will, so I try to send a handwritten note and follow up with a picture text when I buy my new dress/candle/wallet/whatever!

6. Thanking somebody for an intangible gift: An interview is a good example of this. One of my friends sends a handwritten thank you note after any job interview she has, and I'm pretty sure she's gotten every job she's ever applied for. Another example is if somebody hosted you in their home, saying thanks may be implied, but writing it will make the host feel extra-special. 

7. Appreciate presence more than presents: This should be a goal in life, whether or not you receive a tangible gift. Be grateful for the people who surround you. If they're giving you a reason to thank them, they probably care about you, so challenge yourself to appreciate the sender more than what was sent (even if they sent you, like, a billion dollars). 

8. Write using your hands, with pen on paper: It's 2015, so digital thank you's are passable (any thank you is better than none), but you'll get bonus points for a handwritten note. Everybody loves to receive snail mail (as long as it isn't from MasterCard), and you'll look like the nicest person ever.

9. When in doubt, say thanks: "Should I send a 'thank you' to Susie for babysitting my pet lizard?" Yes. "Do I need to send a note to Sam saying thanks for letting me cheat off his math homework?" Yes.

10. When appropriate, thank the person in public: This probably goes more for intangibles than anything else, but sometimes it is nice to publicly recognize people for what they've done for you. Your friend probably won't toot his or her own horn, so toot it for 'em!

Dear people who read this blog post,

Thank you for taking the time to read this. It made me feel special. I included a few photos in the post; I hope you'll accept my gratitude.