As one of the most ubiquitous and best-loved vegetables, it’s hard to beat the taste and scent of sun-ripened tomatoes (the ones in the grocery store are usually artificially ripened) and the best way to satisfy the craving is to plant them at home! Since it’s just about that time of the year, here are a couple of tips and tricks for terrific tomatoes!
- Start with healthy plants – If growing from seed or purchasing plants from your local garden center, you want to transplant the short and stocky plants. The greater the girth of the main stem, the better! This means they’ve established a better root system and will grow much stronger after being transplanted outside.
- Sun, sun and more sun – Plant your tomatoes in the area of your garden that gets the most sun! They like about 8-10 hours a day of full sun.
- The soil – It should be well-draining and rich in organic matter. Before planting add a little compost to the soil and remember to feed the plants with a tomato fertilizer a couple of times through out the growing season.
- Wait until the perfect time to plant – Don’t get overzealous and try and stick them in the ground too early! Wait not only until after the danger of frost has passed, but until the soil temperature is 60 degrees.
- Spacing – Tomatoes like about 1.5 – 3 feet between them to ensure good air flow (prevents disease) and ample space for roots to stretch out.
- Planting the seedlings – A little trick from my dad – Bury the plant up to its lowest set of leaves when transplanting. Roots will grow along the stem and result in a stronger root system, which equals more tomatoes for you!
- Support plants – I like to use the tall cages. This helps keep the plant from sagging and the fruit from lying on the ground, which can lead to rotting. It also makes it easier to care for the plant.
- Pruning – If plants are staked, regularly pinch off the small suckers that sprout between the leafy branches and main stems. This will prevent your plant from getting too leggy and will keep the plants energy focused on producing more fruit.
In celebration of Earth Day, here are a couple of tips for being a little more “green” everyday.
- Wash clothes less often – Wait until you have a large load to run the washing machine. And then, wash with cold water. Save those bright whites until you actually have a full load.
- Plant something! – As important as it is to cut down on carbon dioxide emissions, it is equally as important to have plants to absorb it all!
- Iron less – Ironing uses an unbelievable amount of energy. To keep clothes wrinkle free, fold while still warm from the dryer. If there is something that is still a bit creased, hang in the bathroom while showering and the steam will help bring out the wrinkles.
- Avoid anti-bacterial soaps – Using these soaps ultimately leads to the development/growth of antibiotic-resistant super germs. Many of these products contain the compound triclosan, which is also used in hospitals for its bacteria-busting power. The trouble is, many scientists are worried that such widespread overuse of triclosan is likely to render it useless, as microbes may develop resistance to it, as well as possibly other similar antibiotics.
- Switch to paper-less billing – Pay utility and credit card bills online to limit the number of trees wasted on paper that you ultimately throw in the trash.
- Finally, get outside and enjoy the beautiful outdoors. Take a hike, plant a garden, walk to work – whatever it is, be proud to do your share in keeping the Earth beautiful for generations to come!
Candles should be kept in a cool, dry, dark place for longevity. Why you ask? Moisture causes the wick to be damp, making lighting more difficult. Heat can cause the candles to warp, making them not as tall and straight. And finally, light causes the colors to fade quickly.
So, I thought Chalkboard Paint was cool when it came out… I know, a little nerdy (have I mentioned I am a math wiz!), but this stuff is seriously cool. The company is Hudson Paint and not only do they make the traditional black chalkboard paint that I used to love, but now they make chalkboard paint in all the colors one’s heart could desire! From grape to periwinkle to plum, they have a variety of shades in most colors (can you tell I love purple?). The cost is $24.99 a quart, so it’s not cheap, but a quart goes a long way in talking me back to my days of Math Team. Check them out here.
Our apartment is a mess. We yanked up the carpet and refinished old hardwood floors. Then I sold our furniture, only to order a new sofa and hunt for the perfect antiques for the room – I promise to share some serious before and after pictures once it’s all complete. Right now, we’re still sitting on camping chairs while watching our new tv and eating dinner, so when I saw this silk screened dish towel from Materialistic, I just couldn’t resist. I’m exhausted, literally, exhausted and the last thing I feel like doing is cleaning.
Haute Papier clients often ask, “what inspires you?” or “How do you come up with all of these designs?”
Erin and I, like most designers, find inspiration in the things all around us. I carry a camera with me just about everywhere I go so I can quickly take a snapshot of whatever I might encounter. For example, last Sunday I found a vendor at Easter Market selling a bunch of California cases and old type. Imagine my surprise! It’s hard to track it down when you’re looking for it – let alone run into it while searching for furniture!
Which speaking of furniture, that’s from where the inspiration from this post comes. My husband and i just refinished the hardwood floors in our apartment and now I’m working on buying some new furniture and reupholstering some oldies, but goodies and I’ve always loved Amy Butler’s fabrics. I’m thinking about going with the bottom right pattern in the Nigella layout below. Aren’t these beautiful?!
Daily Candy’s Deal of the Week is one of my favorite cleaning products.
1. Because it doesn’t contain chemicals and
2. They’ve got great packaging and
3. Because Mrs. Meyer and I share the same last name!
To get the discount, enter “CLEANDEAL” at checkout.
Sharpening dull scissors is as easy as keeping aluminum foil in the house. When scissors start to cut with less than stellar results, fold a piece of foil into three layers and cut with the scissors ten times. You’ll be amazed by the instant result!
Strawberry season is definitely upon us! Last weekend we headed out to Virginia for a day of pink stained fingers while picking strawberries. We came home with over 10 pounds, some of which I turned into jam and the rest were thrown in the freezer.
Freezing strawberries is simple and saves them for later when you’re running out of time before they go bad in the fridge. The only downfall is generally speaking, strawberries that have been frozen and then thawed will not retain their original shape and texture, so they are best used as an ingredient in sauces, preserves, smoothies, or in baked goods.
Here’s how I freeze ’em…
1. Wash the berries in cold water, then pat dry.
2. Remove the stems with a sharp paring knife.
3. Place the berries nice and tight in a single layer on a baking sheet to prevent them from sticking together in one big clump after freezing. Then put them in the freezer for about an hour.
4. Remove from freezer and transfer to freezer ziplock bags. Label and date the bags then return them to the freezer.
5. The strawberries will keep for about a year if sealed in an air-tight bag.
Bon Appetit magazine this month featured the 14th Street area in their Neighborhood News…
“Designed by city planners to be a virbarnt thoroughfare, 14th Street is once again moving into the fast ane of the District’s social life. It’s true that other Mid-City nabes, namely the U-Street Corridor and Logan Circle, have been revitalized in recent years. But a new explosion of a condo and commerical developemnt and small business openings is making 14th Street one of the coolest destinations in town. Here are some of our favorite places to eat, sip and shop on 14th Street.”
Cork Wine Bar
Busboys and Poets
I also like Garden Rule, which they left off the list…