Friday, July 29, 2011


Until a couple years ago, it never occurred to me that you could make pickles at home. I think I just assumed they were another wonder brought about by the industrial revolution. Brilliant, I know.

Then, Ben's uncle Mike brought some fantastic dill pickles to a family gathering. Oh. my. goodness. So yummy. So, I figured if Mike could do it, I could too!

Last year, I decided to grow some cucumbers and dill and give it a go. Well, the cucumbers were a colossal failure. Not a single cuke emerged. I have this horrible habit of planting seeds way too close to each other so the plants strangle each other and nothing survives. How fascinating.

This year, I expanded the garden and spaced things much better. For the most part at least. The mesclun is a thick mess. But that's beside the point. My cucumbers are growing like crazy!

I also grew some tall beautiful dill. Sometimes I think I plant dill and basil just so I can walk to the garden and smell their wonderful fragrances. 

The pickle recipe is really quite simple. You make a hot syrup by boiling vinegar, sugar, salt, mustard seed and celery seed.

It will look something like this.

Pour the syrup over sliced cucumbers.

I sliced the cucumbers using this handy dandy slicer thingy that I found in the kitchen drawer. I have no idea where it came from but it makes the pickles look fancy shmancy.

Throw in a sliced onion or two and a few dill heads.

Put a lid on it and stick it in the fridge for 3 days to let the pickle magic happen. After three days, open up and enjoy! So easy to make and quite tasty.

Thursday, July 21, 2011

You Can Try It

Somewhere along the journey from my childhood to being a full-fledged adult, I stopped trying new things. Life became routine. I was eating the same food week after week, wearing the same clothes day after day - seriously, i have about 15 identical v-neck sweaters - watching the same mindless TV in my DVR night after night, and basically doing the same things over and over again. I was in a rut and in desperate need of a hobby.

It was then that I began to wonder - when do we lose that childlike curiosity that leaves us dirty, sticky and loving every minute of it? When do we become so afraid of failure that it cripples our ability to try new things? And why do we become so stubborn in our ways that we think we know it all and others couldn't possibly be as smart or capable as we think we are?

A few months back, I was trying to set up a new printer. I was exasperated beyond measure when I couldn't find the right cable to connect the printer and the laptop. I was sure that the cord provided wouldn't fit and spent hours searching the house for the right cord. I was at my wit's end and angry that the right cord wasn't included.

Then my wonderful husband walked in the door, took one look at my sorry self and asked if he could see if the provided cord would fit. "You can try it," I whined, confident he wouldn't get anywhere. Then he turned the cord around and plugged it in using the other end. 

I was flabbergasted. The answer to my problem was in my hand the whole time. I had wasted so much time and energy because I failed to try.

That frustrating moment was an important lesson for me. In all things, we must try. And if we can't figure it out, we must try harder. Often we will succeed, and add another skill to our repertoire. Even more often, we will fail, and yet there is a lesson to be learned from our mistakes. For me, it is often a lesson in humility.

The last few months, I have been making an effort to try new things - cooking, gardening, painting, sewing, baking. Most projects have been small - others have been a little more epic. This blog is a journal of those successes and failures.

Now it is important to note that I am not an overly crafty person. I don't have a craft table or room with spools of ribbon and jars of sequins. All of my craft supplies can fit in one tub in my basement. Most of my projects originate out of necessity or frugality, not out of creativity. 

I am also not an accomplished cook. I enjoy cooking, but I cling fiercely to recipes. I do love to bake cakes, and love a good fondant adventure.

I am not handy. I've never met a screw I couldn't strip, or a simple project I couldn't complicate. Our home improvement projects drag on forever until we call in help. 

I am not a natural green thumb. I have a vegetable garden in the backyard, but it is certainly a trial and error system. 

So, for the less-than-crafty, less-than-gourmet, or black-thumbed among us, I hope this blog will give you some inspiration and courage to try new things. I will do my best to provide easy to follow directions to guide you on your way. 

Because if I can do it, I am certain that you could too.