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June 2017

Cool as a Cucumber

My garden exploded.


When I last documented, about six weeks ago, the garden looked like this: 

Mid-May, it looked like this:


Now, it looks like this:

Out of control!

Closeup – pole beans on the left and cucumbers on the right

Apparently, you’re supposed to prune and remove the weaker-looking plants to make room for the strong ones to grow.  I meant to do that, but then I got busy.  And I felt bad destroying some of the plants I had grown attached to.  Now, they’re all so intertwined that I definitely missed the window of opportunity.  I wouldn’t know where to start even if I wanted to take some out.

The first harvest was from the bush bean plants.  I’ve harvested from them twice, and they were delicious.  The pole bean plants have grown tremendously and are larger than the trellises, but they haven’t produced any actual green beans yet.

The herbs were also growing strong, and I was thrilled to snip some of my own homegrown basil to use in an appetizer for my dad’s birthday!  It was the absolute most Martha Stewart I’ve ever felt in my life.

Rachel Ray’s antipasti cups – super easy and a crowdpleaser

Then came the cucumbers.

Their leaves exploded pretty early, and I was excited to see the yellow flowers that I knew meant the cukes were close behind.  At the end of May, I was thrilled to see this little guy blooming.

Behind him were some tiny little guys that looked like those baby pickles seen in delis.  I had no idea how quickly they’d turn into monsters.

That was last Saturday, and today I harvested the rest of these:

My mom immediately asked what happened to the little guy on the right.  Here he is in action, growing up against the chicken wire that made him start curving around.

If you look closely in the pic above you can see the little spikes that grow on the outside of the cucumbers.  I had no idea this happened, but they help protect the fruit from insects.

So, now I have an insane amount of cucumbers.  Thankfully, I took a cooking class recently that included a Thai cucumber salad with peppers, carrots, onion, and an herb trio (basil, cilantro, and mint) that was to die for.  I made a big batch of it earlier this week and have been enjoying some with every lunch this week.  I also sliced some up to eat drizzled with lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkled with chili powder.  

I also snipped some parsley and dill today to make Paleomg’s herb-crusted salmon.  Ridiculously easy and delish! Here’s a quick rundown of the herbs growing in the cinder block holes around the perimeter of the garden.  I’m a little worried that the gigantic cucumber and pole bean leaves are going to shade them too much from continuing to grow, so I have another little project planned for more herbs coming up this weekend.  In the meantime, here’s what I currently have growing.









a little sage peekin’ through

There you have it!  I’ll have pics of my herb project for you soon.  In the meantime, I’ll just be here snacking on sliced cucumbers, enjoying the Thai cucumber salad, and drinking cucumber water.  Let me know if you have any recipes I need to try, and if you’re local and want to come steal some cucumber, give me a ring!

How to Spend Summer in DFW Part Two

Last summer, I created a big list of all the things I wanted to do in the DFW metroplex.  Some with kids, some date-nights, some more cultural, etc.

Then I did zero of them.

None of the things.

To be fair, we were selling a house, temporarily moving in with my parents, buying another house, and permanently moving there.  (For those keeping track at home, that’s two moves in one summer.  And “permanent” = “never moving again.ever.”)

Since then, we did manage to check out Lee Harvey’s and enjoy a little date night with our handsome pup, but the list remains otherwise still completely in “to do” mode.

This summer, things are different.  (See note about never moving again, above.)  PLUS, my stepson will be spending a lot of the summer with us, which is even better!  My last day of school was Friday, and we began typing our summer fun list as soon as I got home.

One of the biggest contributors to the list is our local library, which is walking distance from our house.  Kiddo BEGS to go to the library.  The day I brought him there to get his very own library card, you would’ve looked at his face and assumed it was Christmas morning.  I love, love, love that he loves the library.  I also love, love, love all the programs they provide over the summer.  Especially because they’re F-R-E-E!  We’re planning to check out arts-and-crafts hours, creative challenges, family STEM activities, and much more, on top of going to get tons of books as well!

Some other things we want to check out:

  • The Dallas Museum of Art has free admission and tons of fun kid-centered activities to entertain littles of all ages
  • Ride the McKinney Ave Trolley and picnic in Klyde Warren Park – I’ve taken both my kiddo and my nephew on the trolley (also free!) and they both had a blast.  It stops right in front of Klyde Warren Park, so it’s the perfect opportunity to adventure without dealing with parking.  The Park has SO MUCH to offer, and I haven’t explored any of it.  I’m pumped to check it out on a weekday, when it will hopefully be less busy.
  • Dallas Arboretum – always stunning.  The kiddo actually requested this one, so I’m happy to oblige.  It’s pricier, but always well worth the cost of admission.
  • The Sixth Floor Museum – I feel like I went here in middle school, but I truly can’t remember.  My husband is a huge history buff, and neither he nor the kiddo have been, so we’re planning to go together.


A few in Fort Worth – probably a day trip:


Screen-free (aside from a screen with the instructions for some of them) options for home:

  • Make balloon-powered lego cars 
  • Read
  • Play guitar
  • Coloring books
  • Go for a walk
  • Write a letter
  • Make cookies
  • Wash the car
  • Play with legos
  • Play a board game
  • Puzzle
  • Go to a playground
  • Make paper airplanes
  • Write a story
  • Make a comic
  • Make pasta at Lulu’s
  • Science Activities (very vague, but I found approximately eleventy-billion ideas on Pinterest to try; some are listed specifically below)
  • Alka seltzer rockets
  • Spirograph – putting a Christmas present to good use
  • Kanoodle puzzles (affiliate link) – my mom bought these for kiddo a few weeks ago as a gift, and he and I are both obsessed – it’s a wealth of two- and three-dimensional puzzles to build
  • Fidget spinner art – bless.  The teacher inside me hates this with a fiery passion, but the spinners have invaded my home, so we might as well be creative with them. 
  • Science molding kit
  • Magnet kit (both kits were presents from Lulu as well – we’re excited to check them out)
  • Make your own slushies 
  • Density experiment
  • Magnet maze 
  • Elephant toothpaste – he can’t remember where he heard about this, but he’s asked me three times in the past 36 hours if we can do this, and it was the last thing he said when I tucked him in tonight.  We’ll have to move this to the top of our priority list.  


There you have it.  Lots of fun, at all price points, in addition to the million pool parties at Lulu’s and Booya’s this summer.  Stay tuned for our official reviews!