Monday, March 24, 2014

Operation Green Thumb 2014

It has certainly been a while since I've had time to post (or something to post about), but now that I'm beginning my 2014 garden, I figure I should start documenting the process!!

We moved into our new home in November and time has just been flying by! We were so fortunate to find a gorgeous move-in ready place. There are some little projects we'd like to do, but nothing major, thankfully!!!

My priority for this season is the vegetable garden. I have a great corner of the yard that gets a lot of sun and can easily (hopefully!) be fenced off to keep the dogs out.

I started a compost bin and it's looking pretty great, as far as decomposition goes!! It's just a large plastic bin with a clip on lid and I had my wonderful husband drill a bunch of small holes in the sides and bottom for aeration. It's about halfway full with a mixture of dead leaves, eggshells, coffee grounds, torn newspapers, and fruit and veggie scraps. Thanks to Krystal for saving me a bunch of her scraps!! I can't wait for it all to break down so I can add in the fresh compost to my soil.

The soil here is pretty tough to deal with. Muddy, wet, red clay!! Soooo, I haven't quite figured out how to clear out the garden beds yet... Stay tuned on that. For now, I've started some seeds in a mini plastic greenhouse indoors. I picked up a variety of organic Burpee seeds from Home Depot, and will probably order some more online. I've started out with: green onions, basil, cilantro, green beans, butter lettuce, zucchini, carrots, broccoli, roma tomatoes, spinach, sweet peppers, nasturtiums, morning glories, and sunflowers. I just noticed the broccoli and morning glories beginning to sprout this morning!! It's the little things.

I'd say this garden is off to a decent start... Hopefully it will be a successful season! I will be sharing photos and more updates soon! Thanks for reading.

Meghan :)

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Back to School!

Finally! I have a few spare moments to myself! The boys went back to school this week and I am so excited. It's nice to begin a new routine, even though it's rather stressful to coordinate schedules for four people.
It has been a crazy summer around here, which is why my last post was sometime in June (!!!). I began a new job in a trendy downtown restaurant. I love it, but the shifts are much longer than my last job, so it is very tiring. We also adopted a little (now huge) puppy when our local shelter busted a puppy mill in town and took in over 100 animals! He is so sweet, but needs puppy finishing school for sure.
We've also had intense record breaking rainfall here in Upstate SC!  Go figure--our first summer in the South and we have a muddy jungle of a backyard. I should be thankful we don't live in a flood-prone section of town, but it has caused a lot of issues in my garden and weeds are out of control. And needless to say, mosquitos are also out of control. Yuck.
Speaking of "yuck," I celebrated my 30th birthday last month. It wasn't as bad as I thought it would be, but I don't enjoy telling people "I'm thirty."  Yuck.  My husband and sister threw a great party (in the rain, of course), so that made it awesome, especially since I was bummed couldn't celebrate with my best friends from NJ.
We also had visits from my mom, mother-in-law, brother, and my godmother decided to move to SC from CA! All wonderful, but hectic!!
While Mom was visiting, hubby and I escaped for a mini-vacay to Atlanta. We had a blast going to two Phish shows and doing the touristy thing at the Georgia Aquarium and World of Coca Cola. It was my first time to ATL, and I can't wait to go back. Jay was also sweet enough to take me to CB2 before we headed home. I have been getting the catalog and shopping online for the past few years, but the actual store was so awesome!! I would move into the showroom if I could.
All that's missing from this summer is a beach road trip. Hopefully we'll squeeze at least an overnight in before the official end of the season. It's definitely been hard for this Jersey Shore girl to go all this time without sandy toes and the smell of salt water. Ahhhh I really do miss it!!!
And finally, after a successful month of going wheat/gluten free during June, I've decided to try to go without wheat for good. I went back to a regular diet in July and although it was nice to try new beers and indulge in some cookies, it is just not worth it to feel sick afterwards. I am always searching for new recipes and trying out some of my own creations, so feel free to share any tips or ideas!!

Thanks for reading!
-meghan :)

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Ready for Summer Red Sangria

Hello!  Summer is finally here!  Well not officially, but temps here in Greenville, SC have been hovering between 80 and 90, so I'm down with that.  One of my favorite things about Summer is sitting out in the yard (mosquito free--hollaaa!!) with some tunes playing and a nice glass (let's be honest--a pitcher) of cold sangria in hand.  I even picked up some great outside drink holder stakes from Target!

I'm so lucky to have a Trader Joe's right in town, so needless to say, I stock up on "Two ($2.99) Buck Chuck" every now and then.  I have also been on a Shiraz kick.  I'm not a wine expert by any means, I've just been enjoying the flavor lately.  It might help that T.J.'s has a very classy box o' Shiraz for $9.99...  Anyhoo, here we go with my super easy, make-it-your-own sangria recipe:

  • Begin with some sliced fruit-- a small orange, lemon, and some strawberries will do.  Make sure to wash your fruit before slicing!! 

  • Toss the fruit in your pitcher (if using a large dispenser for a par-tayyy, just double everything)
  • Pour the wine over the fruit, so it begins marinating right away. 
  • Add about 1/2 cup of pineapple coconut rum (or liquor of your choice--most traditional red sangrias use a few ounces of brandy)
  • Top it off with about 3/4 cup of orange juice (pineapple juice works great, too!) and a splash of fruity seltzer for a little fizz. 
  • Stir it up gently, and serve over ice...umbrellas optional!  Enjoy!

That's it--so easy, right?  I get tons of compliments on this every time we host guests.  There is never a drop leftover.  Oh, and just a reminder, be careful opening your seltzer bottle.  Mine exploded alllllllllllll over me and my living room while I was making this batch.  Whoops!  
What are your favorite sangria additions? I'm always looking for new ideas! 

Thanks for reading and Enjoy!!

--meghan :)

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Wheat free June.

Hello there!
If you follow me on Facebook, then you are probably already aware that my husband, Jay, and I have committed to going wheat-free for the month of June.  It seemed like a good time to do something somewhat drastic, since there are so many great fruits and veggies in season now anyway! Personally, I needed a good challenge to commit to.  I always find myself saying "we should eat healthier," but what does that really mean? For me, it usually means starting out the day with sensible meals and ending with a pizza and beers at midnight! Wellllll NOT this time.  We've gone cold-turkey on wheat products and I'm very pleased to report, so far, so good!  I have had no uncomfortable tummy feelings over the past week and I have found myself eating until just full, not stuffed.  I also gave up artificial sweeteners, mainly diet sodas.  I am certain this change is very positive for us and I am excited about going on with it!!
Here is a recipe for a pretty amazing wheat-free dinner I put together the other night.  (Jay grilled.  I guess I can't take all the credit.)

Cilantro Grilled Chicken

  • Season two chicken breasts with salt and pepper in a baking dish (will need to be covered to marinate)
  • Top each piece with a teaspoon of crushed garlic 
  • Add a handful of torn cilantro leaves to each piece
  • Squeeze a few lime wedges over the dish
  • Top each with about 1/4 cup of plain Greek yogurt
  • Use a fork to poke some holes in the chicken so it soaks up all the flavors
  • Marinate in the fridge at least 2 hours
  • Grill to perfection!
  • I added a drizzle of delicious organic honey on top before serving ....mmmmmmm!!!

Baked Curry Sweet Potato Fries

  • Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees
  • We had the worlds largest sweet potato, so I just used one and it was more than enough for two servings...
  • Cut the sweet potato into small fry-size pieces
  • Soak in a bowl of salted water for about 20 minutes (not a necessary step, but I find it helps them to crisp up a little more in the oven)
  • Spray a baking tray with Pam (or drizzle a little olive oil to prevent sticking)
  • Spread out the "fries" in an even layer
  • Sprinkle with sea salt and ground pepper and yellow curry powder to taste
  • Spray (or drizzle) a little more oil over the top
  • Bake 15-20 minutes, or until crisp to your liking (my electric oven has a mind of it's own and sometimes bakes extremely fast)
We enjoyed this dinner with a fresh cilantro garnish, a drizzle of honey, and some Woodchuck Hard Cider.  Freakin amazing meal.  Who even needs wheat??
Let me know what you think!!!

--meghan :)

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Summer Strawberry Spinach Salad

Summer Strawberry Spinach Salad

If you're like me, you're always looking for some ways to make a healthy, but not boring meal.  With good intentions, I always buy basic salad ingredients like romaine, spinach, tomatoes, cucumbers, etc, but I have a hard time making it exciting enough to actually want to eat it all as a meal.  This week, I bought a bunch of strawberries and some baby spinach at Trader Joe's , not necessarily planning to combine them... Until now!  Don't we all want to at least start out the week eating well?  With my husband, Jay, coming home from work for lunch today, I decided to throw this sweet salad together.

Approximately 4 cups of baby spinach and chopped romaine
8 sliced strawberries
1 small green apple, cored and cut into thin slices
About 1/4 cup sliced cinnamon and spice almonds (see below)

I layered the lettuce, spinach,  fruit, and almonds in a bowl and waited to add dressing or other toppings   until we had it on our separate plates (I wanted to add vinaigrette and bleu cheese to mine--Jay gags at the thought of those).

 Cinnamon and Spice Almonds:
Pre-heat the oven (I used my toaster oven) to 300 degrees
Spread out approximately 1/4 - 1/2 cup sliced almonds on a baking sheet
Sprinkle with a mixture of cinnamon and sugar (I used a grinder mixture I got at Trader Joe's)
Add a sprinkle of cayenne pepper, to taste.
Spray with a light coat of cooking spray (optional)
Bake for about 10 minutes until the almonds start to brown just a bit
Toss a few on your salad, and ENJOY!!

As you can see, I added some bleu cheese crumbles, a drizzle of low-fat balsamic dressing, and a few blackberries to my salad.  It was delicious!!  I can't wait to make this again!  It would make a great dinner salad with grilled salmon or chicken...yum.   Let me know what you think!!!

--Meghan :)

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Cinco de Mayo

Happy Cinco de Mayo!
In honor of the holiday (which I googled and found out it is much more celebrated here in the US than it is in Mexico, go figure),  I thought it would only be appropriate to share a festive drink with you.  This isn't my creation, in fact, I first had it yesterday at a new Mexican restaurant downtown, called Gringo's.  (yummmm!!) They call it a "Loaded Corona."  I call it pure brilliance.  These days I am all about tasty drinks without the fuss.  Don't get me wrong, I love mixing martinis and blending margaritas, but the prep and clean-up are a pain in my hiney! Anyhoo, this drink is fabulously simple.  You don't even need a glass.
Loaded Corona-
Step 1: open your Corona (or Corona Light)
Step 2: take a nice swig of cold Mexican beer goodness
Step 3: pour in about an ounce (or more, or less, depending on your preference) of citrus flavored vodka (we used Svedka)
Step 4: add a lime wedge
Step 5: drink (responsibly!)


Friday, May 3, 2013

first things first...

Hello! Welcome to "Kind of a Big Diehl."  I'm Meghan and this is my first time ever posting a blog, so please bear with me as I figure this out.
Let me tell you a little about myself... I'm 29, married to my high school sweetheart, Jay, and together we have two crazy boys, Michael and Liam. We have a big, dumb, yellow lab named Rutherford.  He is 10, a grumpasaurus, and my best good friend.  We also have a cat named Wilson.  I tolerate him, at best.
I'm a Jersey girl, born and raised at the Jersey Shore.  I recently moved with my family to the gorgeous town of Greenville, SC, and we are settling into Southern life quite nicely so far.
Interior design has always been my passion.  I studied that and hospitality in college, so be prepared for some creative goodness.  I am always re-imagining all the rooms in my house, and pretty much every place I visit for that matter! I also love making food and festive drinks and can't wait to share my ideas!
I decided to start blogging to chronicle my day to day life.  Mostly as a diary for my family and myself, but also as a way to connect with old and new friends on different subjects.  I am looking forward to feedback, so please, share, and be nice, but don't be shy!
And to quote my favorite Adam Sandler movie, Billy Madison, "Alright, here goes nothin!"