Our family always had fresh herbs growing up: in pots along the porch or the pool deck, or the sidebed outside the lanai. The difference between fresh and dried herbs is night and day and these potent little babies can make a dish entirely on their own. Few things taste better at the dinner table than a big bowl of tiny red creamer potatoes soaked in melted butter and diced fresh rosemary and chives.
Our past year in the apartment was torture for me for many reasons; one of them being my inability to have my own herb garden. I attempted raising indoor potted herbs but it was always a failure. We had few windows and no window sills making the natural light required for photosynthesis hard to achieve. I quickly gave up.
Since we moved in to the new place, I have been hesitant to plant anything in the ground till we have drawn up our landscaping plan. Our goal is to get the curbing in and the fence up before planting our garden. BUT I couldn’t wait any longer for my herbs! Now that I had a REAL kitchen again and my desire to cook returned, having fresh herbs available was imperative.
I have seen numerous versions of stacked-pot arrangements over the past year for flowers, herbs, and also succulents. Besides not wanting to create a permanent herb bed at the time, I also wanted a portable arrangement that I could bring indoors as Florida whether is so unpredictable. I need to be able to bring my herbs indoors to protect from the occasional frosts, frequent scorching sun, and the often days of drowning rain.
I chose to use plastic pots in order for them to be light enough for me to lift them (filled with bricks and dirt) easily back and forth into my home. Trying to do this with terracotta would be more eye-catching, but not portable.
I also used the following supplies:
- 3 plastic pots in the following sizes: 16-inch, 10-inch, 6-inch
- 3 curbing bricks (any bricks will do as long as when stacked, they remain 2-3 inches below the rim of the largest pot)
- hand trowel
- sphagnum peat moss
- potting soil
- desired herbs; I used basil, dill, parsely, thyme, rosemary, oregano, chives, and spearmint
The first step was to stack the bricks in the base pot. I did this to provide stability to the pots which would sit atop, I did not want them sinking over time into the bottom pot. The rocks also serve a dual purpose by reducing the amount of potting soil needed to fill the large base.
I then filled the bottom pot with 2 parts potting soil and 1 part sphagnum peat moss. The peat moss is optional, but I like to use it in my potted plants as it helps to retain the moisture and nutrients in the soil which potted plants are quickly deprived of. I filled the pot up till the top of the brick stack. Before filling the remainder of the pot, I place the next tiered pot on top of the brick stack. I will then fill the soil to the brim, hiding the bricks and the base of the second tier.
Make sure to periodically punch down the soil. When first potting, the soil and peat moss are light and fluffy, but over time the will settle and you don’t want to see the bricks or the base of the second pot. This can be avoided by punching and packing the soil in.
Again I filled the second pot with 2 parts soil and 1 part peat moss.
Because the top pot is so small and light even when filled with soil, it does not need the support the second pot did; it can simply be placed on top of the second tier and lightly pressed down into the dirt to ground it for stability.
Now that everything is assembled, the planting can begin! The plants are going to be root-bound when you purchase them, so make sure to tear some roots free so that they can better incorporate into their new home.
I purposely planted the climbing herbs on the bottom tier so that when they expand and crawl, they will hang over the side of the pot rather than doing the same and smothering the herbs underneath if planted on the higher tiers. This also allows the taller growing herbs such at the chives and basil to grow erect unobstructed.
Colt approved of this outdoor project as it gave him plenty of time to roam and find mischief the backyard.
And look what a little miracle grow, sunshine, and 2-3 three weeks can do!
I was recently inspired by an image on Pinterest using metallic painted coffee beans for vase filler. I had just bought some holiday floral at Joann’s (it is all currently 50% until Christmas and there is an additonal 20% total purchase coupon circulating!) and I wanted to incorporate these beautiful beans for my dining table centerpiece.
Well, since Zac and I are not coffee drinkers and therefore not familiar with the price of coffee beans, my hypothesis that they were more expensive than I would like was correct; $12/lb at Walmart! No thanks! Maybe for a smaller vase which would require less beans, I could rationalize that price, but these large vases left over from my wedding would have taken at least a pound and a half each. So I spent the next 20 min wandering around Walmart in aimless circles trying to think of an alternative. Maybe wooden beads? or Rice?
Leaving Walmart feeling a little frustrated that my project was being put on hold, I told Zac my plight when he got home from work. In less than 30 seconds that brilliant boy solved my query! He simply suggested, “Why not use beans?” BEANS! Of course! They are coffee’s cheaper cousin and would serve as the closest substitute. I knew I loved that boy….
I decided to go with pinto. When measuring them out in the vases to figure how many I would need to paint, I seriously considered not painting them as they were naturally beautiful on their own. I would definitely consider using them in their raw form for another holiday or occasion.
After measuring how many beans I would require, I layed them out on a double-width of wax paper as I was trying to minimize the spill-over from the spray paint on the concrete pad (that I just cleaned).
After thinly spreading them out, I applied a light layer of spray paint to the beans. Then I allowed them to dry for 15 min before gently rolling them over with my hands and applying another coat. I repeated this process four or five times. There were a handful or two of beans which may not have been completely coated, but I did not care enough nor have the time to hand-pick out all the undercoated beans. I didn’t mind the variation in some of them to peek through as I thought they were beautiful pre-paint.
After about 30 min for the beans to dry (I was impatient, as usual!) I loaded them up with my winter stems in the vases.
I figured the total cost for these centerpieces, using existing vases, was:
- $4.00 for pinto beans
- $10.00 for floral stems
- $5.00 for spray paint (which I also already had too!)
I think they turned out quite nice! What do you think??
Of all the cookies in the world, there are two I can call my absolute, positively, 100%, without-a-doubt, undeniably, my favorite. The first being Peanut Butter Kiss cookies and the second being Laura Bush’s Cowboy Cookies. It is all those delicious cookies out there wrapped up in one BIG, glorious mouthful. Oatmeal, chocolate-chip, coconut, and pecan goodness.
The story goes like this: During the 2000 presidential election campaign, the soon-to-be first lady submitted the recipe to a Family Circle cookie bake-off. These cookies are the size of TEXAS – literally. You drop them by the 1/4 cup full. Seriously.
I don’t know why I hadn’t made them for Zac since we have been married, but I have had a craving for them recently and surprised him yesterday afternoon when he got home from work. Unfortunately, we cannot eat 3 dozen Cookie Monster giant size cookies all on our own so we are going to have to share with my family. I forgot how many SUPER-BIG cookies this makes. (Next time I will half the recipe or freeze half the dough.) I suppose it will serve as payment for them puppy-sitting for us while we camp this weekend.
This recipe is too good not to share!
Laura Bush Cowboy Cookies (36 GIANT cookies)
3 cups flour
1 tbs. backing powder
1 tbs. baking soda
1 tbs. cinnamon
1 tsp. salt
1 1/2 cups butter @ room temp
1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
1 1/2 cups packed brown sugar
1 tbs vanilla
3 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
3 cups rolled oats
2 cups sweetened coconut
2 cups chopped pecans
1. Preheat oven to 350 F
2. Mix flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt and cinnamon
3. Beat butter 1 minute until creamy. Gradually add sugar and beat additional 2 minutes
4. Add eggs one at a time and then add vanilla
5. Stir in flour mixture gradually
6. Stir in oats, chocolate-chips, coconut and nuts
7. Drop 1/4 cup full of dough. Bake 15-18 minutes or until edges are brown