2012 Leftover Turkey Pot Pie

by Sunday, December 02, 2012
Last year's impromptu Leftover Turkey Pot Pie was such a success, I looked forward to trying a different version of it this year. Chris wanted peas and potatoes, I compromised and did add frozen peas and used cream of potato soup. That's the other change--last year I didn't have fresh mushrooms, but this year I bought some baby portobellos especially for the recipe experiment, so the cream of potato took the place of the cream of mushroom I used last year. I also added some cheddar, which pretty much makes Chris' day any day of the week. This took a few more steps than last year, so not as "easy" as last year, but it was still really easy. Here ya go!

4 Tbsp butter
1 sweet onion, diced
1 large carrot cut into 1/4" half rounds
2 stalks celery, cut into 1/4" slices
4 oz baby portobello mushrooms (or mushrooms of choice)
8 oz frozen peas
1 can cream of potato soup + 1/2 can water
2 Tbsp flour
salt and pepper to taste 
2 cups leftover turkey, shredded
1 cup cheddar, shredded
1 package of Pillsbury pie crust
1 egg for brushing top of crust

Pre-heat oven to 450 degrees
Melt butter in a sautee pan over medium heat.
Cook onion for about 5 minutes.
Throw in celery, carrots, and mushrooms and cook for 5 more minutes.
Add peas, cream of potato soup, water and flour.  Season with sale and pepper.
(I didn't add any herbs, but if you wish to add any now would be the time.)
Simmer for 8-10 minutes to thicken, stirring occasionally to blend everything well.
Remove from heat, add turkey and blend in.
Line pie pan with first half of crust.
Fill with turkey/veggie mix.
Top with cheddar, then top with second half of crust pinching edges closed.
Poke some holes in the top, brush with egg.
Cover edges with foil, bake for 20 minutes. The remove foil and back for 15-20 more minutes until bubbly and browned. Let rest for 5 minutes. Cut and serve.

Penne with Sausage in Rose Sauce

by Monday, November 12, 2012
Okay, here is another partly-improvised recipe from yours truly. I tried to use ingredients we had that needed using, including some Isernios Mild Italian Sausages (LOVE!) and the last of the tomatoes from our garden which had ripened on the window sill. Knowing Chris hates tomatoes, I had to find a way to incorporate them without being too tomato-y, so I decided on a rose sauce.

Penne with Sausage in Rose Sauce 
Serves 2, ~20 minutes

2 cups penne pasta
2 large Italian sausages*, casing removed and broken up (or 1/2 lb ground sausage)
3 small Roma tomatoes, seeded and chopped**
1/2 onion, diced
1/4 cup cream
3 cloves garlic, minced 1 tsp crushed red pepper flakes*
1-2 tsp Italian seasoning blend
2 pinches of fresh parsley, optional
salt, pepper

 * I tend to prefer mild Italian sausage and then spice as I like. If you like hotter, you can get hot Italian sausage and/or use more ground red pepper 

** If you are one of those people who LIKES tomatoes, chop an additional Roma and toss in with sauce during final step, or use as garnish on top.

  1. Start water boiling, salt, add pasta when it begins to roil. Cook al dente while continuing with below steps. 
  2. Heat olive oil in large pan over medium heat 
  3. Add sausage to pan and cook until no longer pink ~8 minutes. 
  4. Add onions and garlic and cook until onions are translucent ~6-8 minutes. 
  5. Using an immersion blender or Magic Bullet type device, put tomatoes and red pepper flakes into cream and blend until tomatoes are blended to your liking. Careful not to over-blend and turn cream into butter, but a thickening of the cream during this step is a bonus, IMO as it shortens reduction time in the pan.
  6. Pour cream into pan with sausage/onion/garlic; add Italian seasoning, salt, and pepper to taste; heat through. If you feel the cream needs more reduction, give it a few minutes on a low simmer to thicken.
  7. Drain pasta, put pasta in pan with sausage and sauce and toss to coat.
  8. Divide between two pasta bowls, garnish with tomato and/or a pinch of parsley, and enjoy!
Other optional suggestions:
Diced green or red pepper adds color and flavor. Add with just before step 3 and allow to cook a minute before adding sausage to pan.
Some people can't stand a pasta without parmesan. Go ahead, throw some in or on this dish as you like. I didn't see the need, but I understand if you do!

Spicy Butternut Squash Soup

by Thursday, November 08, 2012
I just improvised an amazingly delicious fall soup using ingredients I had around the house. Yes, I almost always have a butternut squash around the house this time of  year. It keeps a good long time and I love cooking with butternut squash (My fave other than soups? Jaime Oliver's butternut squash muffins with lemon sour cream frosting. OH YUM!). Anyhoot, I knew I wanted to use our garam masala with whatever I was making, so here is my recipe that turned out STELLAR if I do say so myself!

1 medium-large butternut squash
5 medium carrots, 1"+ chunks
1 large yellow onion, rough chop
2-3 cloves garlic, small chop
1 can chicken stock* (~15 oz)
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 Tbsp garam masala
1 stick butter, sliced into individual Tbsp pats
olive oil
salt and pepper
*you could sub veg stock if you want a fully vegetarian soup, of course

Preparing the Butternut Squash
Preheat oven to 400 degrees
Carefully slice butternut squash down center lengthwise. Poke a few holes with a knife or fork along the now cut surface of the thickest part of the squash halves.
Place each half face-up on a cookie sheet covered with foil.
Sprinkle each half generously with pepper, salt.
Divide half of the butter pats between the two slices, reserving the rest of the butter for later. Dot pieces along the top surface of each half of the squash.
Finish by sprinkling the brown sugar over the top of both squash halves.
Put cookie sheet with squash halves in oven and set timer for 45 minutes

Adding Carrots
Now roughly slice carrots into 1"+ thick chunks.
Toss in a Tbsp of olive oil, sprinkle with salt
After the squash has been in the oven for 15 minutes, add the carrots to the pan and let cook the rest of the 30 minutes.
Don't worry if butter and/or brown sugar get on the carrots--that's a Good Thing.

When the timer goes off, give your veggies a poke with a fork and make sure they are soft. You don't want them mushy, per se, but soft enough to mash with a fork without too much effort. If they need more time, do it in 5 minute increments and keep checking back.

When done remove from oven and let cool enough to handle. Then scoop the squash from its skin (or peel the skin away from the squash, whatever works), and put in a bowl with carrots, mash roughly together with fork and hold to the side while you work on onions and garlic (they don't need to be mashed up much, just muddled together).

While the Squash and Carrots are Cooking
Roughly chop the onion and add to a large pan or stock pot over medium heat with olive oil. Cook until translucent.
Roughly small-chop garlic, add to pan along with remaining butter when the onions are translucent.  Cook another 3-5 minutes until garlic scent begins to release.

Bring it together
Add squash/carrot mash to pan and mix together with spatula.
Sprinkle garam masala over the top and incorporate.
Put all into a blender, or blend with hand-blender in the pot, with the can of chicken stock. If you want it a little thicker, don't use your entire can (I used about 3/4 of my can for the thickness I wanted--just add a little at a time until you reach desired thickness).

If you plan to eat it right away, heat a little longer to finish incorporating all the elements. Otherwise, transfer to your preferred storage container and put in fridge. Just spoon up desired amount into a pan and heat over medium heat until desired temp.

For dinner, 5-minute butter-sage chicken alongside this bowl of deliciousness would be a great accompaniment...which is just what I am doing tonight!

Daily Gratitude #7 - Four More Years

by Wednesday, November 07, 2012
Daily Gratitude #7 - I am thankful Obama is still our President. I don't think he is the end all be all, I don't think every step we have made is above reproach. But overall I believe everything has been in the right direction, and I pledge to continue to try and "lean forward" to continue the good works, and improve our country for EVERYONE.

Daily Gratitude #6 - Tears

by Tuesday, November 06, 2012
Daily Gratitude #6 - I say that I hate that I cry at everything, and to a point that's true. But it is also a source of gratitude that my family and mentors raised me to be an empathetic human being who can acutely feel emotion, happy or sad, and express it in such an undeniable way.

Daily Gratitude # 5 - Furkids

by Monday, November 05, 2012

Daily Gratitude #5 - I am grateful for sweet puppies. My dogs are such a source of joy for me, and getting to be their steward is a gift. I hope they can somehow feel how much I adore them.

Daily Gratitude #4 - Technology

by Sunday, November 04, 2012
Gratitude #4 - I am grateful for technology! Wow, what an age we live in, right? I love that when I want to know something about my world, I can have it at my fingertips in moments. As a big old nerd meets geek, this thrills me to no end.

Daily Gratitude #3 - My Brain!

by Saturday, November 03, 2012
Daily Gratitude #3 - I am grateful for my brain. I am grateful for the capacity to reason, consider, dream... I love that my brain was trained (by my family, my teachers, my friends) to be used as a tool for good work in my life, and that those elders and colleagues encouraged me to question any "truth" I was given to find the answers for myself. Never has the value of this cognitive power been more clear that in this election, where I sadly see so many accept what they are given without questioning or reasoning. Thank you brain, and thank you all the examples set by my betters as I have grown up to know to use this invaluable tool.

Daily Gratitude #2 - Work

by Friday, November 02, 2012
I am thankful for my work, which affords me flexibility so my creativity can flow at a more natural pace for me. I know this is a rare and precious perk of working for yourself, and that is why I am so grateful for it.

November Daily Gratitude #1

by Thursday, November 01, 2012

Ah! November Daily Gratitude starts today. Post something you are thankful for every day in November.

I am thankful for sweet warm puppy fur between my fingers.

My Recipe for Fresh Basil Pesto

by Saturday, October 27, 2012
 I love to eat basil, so I grow a lot of basil in the garden. I am considering expanding still more next year--I cook with it, I make basil-lemonade with it, and I just love rubbing my fingers in it and sniff the amazing scent all day. Mmm.  Winter comes wet and cold here in Seattle, which basil hates, so when the end of the harvest comes, it's time to make use of what's left before it yellows and withers.  Make a big old batch of pesto and freeze it!  This recipe is for one batch, but an end-of-season harvest can easily make up 2-4 batches, depending on how much you grew. I made two batches this year, simply doubling the recipe.

2 cups packed basil leaves
1/3 cup pine nuts
4 medium garlic cloves, minced (I may even have put in 5...)
1/2 cup extra virgin olive oil
1/2 cup grated parmesan
1 dash each salt and ground black pepper

Using a food processor, I pulse together the basil and pine nuts. Then pulse in the garlic. Keep processor running as you drizzle in the olive oil, stopping to scrape sides as needed. Then add in the parmesan, and finally your dash of salt and pepper.

I portioned it out into 2 Tbsp scoops in "individual size" disposable Glad containers and freeze it. 2 Tbsp is what I typically use for two servings of pasta, for Chris and I, so they are just right. Some people do this in ice cube trays--I don't own any ice cube trays, but if I ever get some I might do it that way.

The Importance of a Carry-On

by Saturday, September 08, 2012
As a kid who great up the daughter of a commercial pilot, we flew standby all my life. That meant often times you would be waiting for a seat on a plane, and you would get "bumped"--meaning people with more seniority or paying passengers took the seat you would have gotten had it been empty. But your luggage still goes on that flight without you. And sometimes you got bumped for a day or two. I remember one harrowing time in Honolulu where we got bumped for a few days, and all our luggage was safely back home in Seattle by then of course...and Mom had for once not packed an overnight bag for all of us kids. Sleeping in our undies was no big deal in Hawaii, but would have been another story had it been a colder locale.

So the importance of a day bag or carry-on was instilled in my early on, and I still think it is a vital practice every traveler should make a habit of. In your carry on should be the minimum you would need to get by for the next 24 hours. So that includes change of undies, something to sleep in, and some basic toiletries. I also include a change of clothes, a book or some other entertainment (like my iPad), and in the case of going to a sunny vacation, my swimsuit. That last one is a definite MUST now since our bags didn't follow us on our honeymoon to Jamaica, and I didn't pack the swimsuit in our carry-on since it wasn't part of my "vital list". Our swimsuits were in the suitcase, it took a few days before they arrived, and we ended up buying gift-shop swimsuits ($$$!!) to tide us over.

I will also note that a bit of care goes into choosing my travel outfits for the same reason. I wear something that is comfortable and modest--I have slept on too many airport chairs or floors in my life, so if I am wearing a dress, I have leggings under them. In fact, my favorite travel outfit is a jersey dress with crop-leggings and some low-heeled walking sandals. And a sweater either on or in my carry-on. This is something comfortable to wear for long periods, I can hoof it all over the place without too much fatigue, can sit or lay in positions without being immodest, can be easily washed and dried in a hotel laundry or sink if I get stuck overnight and feel a need to refresh my outfit, I can take off the leggings if it gets too hot, put on the sweater if I get too cold, and can dress it up** or down depending on where I am going or what I am doing (**I also pack any favorite jewelry in my carry-on, because I don't want them walking off when going through security, or having my heart broken if the whole suitcase gets lost--my favorite necklaces and bracelets are in my possession at all times during air travel! So that means I have "dress up" options should I get stuck without my main luggage for a day or two.)

Hubby has a similar combination with dressy jeans (yes there is such a thing) or slacks, and a graphic tee under a button up shirt, his Fluevog Super-Angels (dressy-casual shoes with very comfortable walking soles). He can button the overshirt up and tuck it in for nicer stuff/colder weather or airports, just wear the tee to dress down/for warmer weather, etc.

A carry-on/day bag with a few essentials doesn't take up too much room, and gives you options if your regular suitcase is delayed for any reason. I'd suggest that if you feel stressed about your luggage arriving late, then a small, thoughtfully packed carry-on my be the peace of mind you are seeking!

Some Plus Size Fashion Sources

by Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Movie Dreams - Jason Bateman, space alien

by Friday, July 06, 2012
I had this elaborate movie-dream (I dream movie scripts all the time), where people are at an outdoor concert and they see the sky light up with what looks like dozens and dozens of sonic booms high in the atmosphere. They are marveling at all this, when a space ship (kinda Millenium Falcon-ish looking, but smaller) lands under a bridge nearby. When they show up, the ship has turned into an 80's suburban. The father, played by Jason Bateman, gets out and explains they are from another planet and addresses the crowd saying, "But what if the term 'aliens' and 'spaceship' were removed from the language, and we just had a family of refugees who need a safe home?"

He has a wife and two children--a son of about 6 and a daughter of 13. Turns out they got to choose what form they wanted within reason. The father chose Jason Bateman from television (room for a "Jason Bateman playing himself meets his alien doppleganger later in the series). One witness quips that if they all choose Jason Bateman as their human form that would be fiiiine with her. The son really is 6, but the daughter is 16 and a cheerleader and gymnast back home. She chose to be younger so she could have more years to get better competitively (this not only tells us a lot about her character right from the pilot episode, but opens up a story-line later about who is alien and not--like having to prove you are not on steroids--and how that effects competitive playing rules. Will aliens even be allowed to join?).

So we learn that the race of people from the other planet are not so much more evolved or peaceful than us and just rallied together to visit the stars. It was an act of desperation as their planet  was dying that they pulled together just in time to save a lucky few hundred thousand of their people to escape. There are still wars between cultures in their world, which didn't stop just because they came to Earth. But it is not easy to see who is who culturally any more, because not only was that not the root of their bigotry, but they all chose new appearances--white could be Hispanic, Asian could be Black, no one necessarily looks the same so one can't just draw stark lines like "white, black, Latino, Asian" and be unapologetically bigoted. But somehow THEY can tell which is which (smell, like phermones? something subtle in the eyes? don't know...).

Their continued issues of in-fighting become a real issue later, with Earth-dwellers completely confounded as to how they can be so bigoted against someone who seems to look and act JUST like them (which opens up storylines of race discrimination and how ridiculous it is to be bigoted, especially just based on pre-conceived notions when seeing someone's skin color or appearance). Perhaps some stories involving the refugees creating their own camps in which they bring their cultural families together (like an apartment building on Earth where everyone is Russian, because they wanted to live near other Russians), and the twist is that they are all different cultures physically (in an Earth sense), but they know they are all the same inside (see what I did there? Kind of reverse racism?)

And of course the usual issues of where to put all these new members of Earth society, when our resources are already stretched. Their technology and science being integrated with ours. Their comedic reactions to some of our seemingly primitive ways. Politicians/political concerns about governance/laws with these new people. Integrating socially... you get the idea.

And then I woke up.

Spaghetti Squash Bake with Chanterelles and Parmesan

by Saturday, June 23, 2012
1 spaghetti squash 2.5-3lbs
1 lb chanterelles
5 Tbsp butter
3 garlic cloves, minced
3/4 cup cream + 1/4 cup milk (or 1 cup 1/2 n 1/2)
1/4 cup grated parmesan
salt and pepper

You can prepare the spaghetti squash ahead of time if you like.   There are two methods that work great:
Microwave method: 
Poke the skin of the squash a dozen times, place in a microwave safe dish.  Microwave 6 minutes, then using a hot mitt, flip over and microwave another 6 minutes. Make sure when you push on the skin that it is squishy. If it doesn't give under your prodding, microwave a minute at a time until you get the result you need.

Oven method:
Line baking dish or pan with foil. Poke squash a dozen times, place in dish.  Cook in oven at 375 until it is lightly browned on portions of the skin and is squishy when prodded (again, use a hot mitt!).

You can cool for a few minutes and place in the fridge to wait until you need it, or simply let it rest and cool until you can handle it and then finish prepping it.

Preheat the oven to 375F. Butter a shallow baking dish, like a Pyrex dish.

While squash is baking/cooking, clean the chanterelles with a brush or rinse and toss gently. Slice them into small pieces as you melt half of the butter in a large saute pan. Add the mushrooms and cook over medium heat until tender, about 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper, then add the garlic and half-and-half. Adjust the heat to simmer the liquid gently for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

When the squash is done, cut in half, coop out the seeds and discard, then scoop the strands of spaghetti squash into a serving bowl. Toss the strands with the rest of the butter and season with salt and pepper. Top with the mushroom mixture, then give it a good shaving of Parmesan cheese over the top.

Return to the oven until heated through and the top is crisped and browned in places, 15 - 20 minutes. Serve hot.

Tipping in America - Where Your Tip Goes

by Saturday, June 23, 2012
I posted this on my Livejournal ages ago (Aug 2007), and in coming across it today, I decided to pop it on over here on my Adventures blog. It was obviously when I was mid-planning a Disney trip, and refers to discussions on a forum I am a part of. But it applies to serving staff in any restaurant in the US:

So there is a small faction of people on one of the Disney discussion boards I belong to who say they don't tip much. Basically, the biggest argument is "my family saved a long time for this special dinner, and we don't think we should have to pay more than that", and other people who argue that "I don't believe I should have to pay the server's wages. The restaurant should pay them a fair wage...so I don't tip 15%. I throw a few bucks."

It gets my blood boiling.

Vertical Pallet Garden Project

by Monday, April 30, 2012
I haven't been writing over here as often as I used to. I have been writing a lot for my Deep Roots Dance blog, and also developed and am writing for NWBellydance.com, aall while working on the re-design of MyCatHatesYou.com (coming soon), and filming and editing a video project Shit Tribal Bellydancers Say and a Kickstarter campaign for Helene Eriksen. Whew! It's been a good kind of busy. Add to that the not-so-good stuff keeping me busy, including my brother being hospitalized in Oklahoma for nearly 6 weeks and succumbing to his illness last week, and hubby being diagnosed with cancer and now undergoing chemotherapy to kick its ass (which you can read about at yet ANOTHER blog of ours)...well...one is bound to not spend as much time on her "pleasure blog" (woah, that sounded really wrong, but you know what I mean!).

Over the weekend, as an attempt to get physical and busy to let my mind be at ease, I tackled a spontaneous project--a vertical pallet garden!  That is a garden made from shipping pallets which can then be propped up vertically. We had have long wanted a solution to better use the sunlight that hits the north section of our yard (southern exposure, FTW!), and increasing our snow pea plant crop this year meant we needed a better solution for climbing crops as well. This project seemed to solve both, and I happened to have a couple pallets, so bam!

I looked up many different tutorials, and as the project developed, my plan evolved (as it often does). At the end of this page, there are a list of some of the tutorials which inspired my design, none of which did I use in their entirety, but will help you on your way.

My goal was to use as much of the resources we already had on hand. Chris suggested we buy more wood and build little planting boxes into the whole thing. Not a bad idea frankly, but to me it kind of defeated the purpose of making this rustic, recycled pallet garden. With that amount of work and resources, we might as well just build a planter "bookshelf"and when we were done, a full 50-60% of the project would have had to be other wood to make that a reality. So I adapted my own version, taking into account materials we already had, and a design cobbled from other tutorials and the ever-evolving plan as I went along.

Step 1 - Procure Pallet

This was the easy step for us. We sod our front yard as part of our landscaping makeover last summer. I saved the pallets in hopes that I would find a worthy project for them. Our pallets are a "single face" (top image and right). This means there are  2X4's as the main portion, and the slats are only attached to one side. Some pallets have the slats on both the top and bottom--a "double face" (bottom image)

If you can get a double face pallet for your project, that would be ideal. For us with single face pallets, it meant we had to put some slats along the back to for our intended purpose.

Also note that different pallets will have varied spacing between the slats. Ours felt too narrow to plant in it "as is" for the plants we wanted to plant. If we were making only an herb garden, or perhaps more decorative like rows of succulents or other small interesting plants, then the above tutorials and the pallet without alteration would have worked out great for us.  But we had other plans in mind...

Our pallets were really rough. They were splintery and some of the wood pieces were clearly rejected scrap with splits and knots. You may find you get very nice pallets with smooth wood. We liked the rustic look just fine, but newer ones will look...well...newer. They will also take stain or paint better, if that is part of your plan.

IMPORTANT: Make sure your pallet is heat treated and not chemically treated. Sometimes the wood has "HT" embossed into the wood. Those are Good Pallets. Also, particularly if you are planting edibles in your garden, pallets which transported plants or other innocuous matter is more desirable. Avoid anything that looks like it has been carrying chemicals, paints, etc, as they may be contaminated and could leach into your soil. Hitting up a Home Depot or Lowes for pallets can be a good place to start. Appliance stores also often have lots of pallets they want to get rid of, and carried cardboard boxes with stoves in them--pretty safe bet they will work for your needs.

Step 2 - Adapt Pallet As Needed

We removed two slats from the top edge (this would be where our climbing peas will grow), and then every other slat after that. As you will see in the finished images, our two pallets, though from the same company and shipment date, had a different number of slats on it. We were actually pleased that they were a little different, so they look even more rustic and not so "matchy" when finished.You can see one of the pallets here on the right, with every other slat removed it had two slats left at the bottom. Its cousin by comparison was left with one slat at the bottom.

It was kind of a huge pain to get the slats off our pallets, as they were nailed together firmly, and then left all winter in the rain and snow, so they had rusted. While most of the project I did on my own, this was one area where I needed Chris' brawn to step in and save the day.  In pulling out the slats we needed to remove and attach to the back, some of the slats split. A few were still usable with a little splitting, but we had to scrounge up some scrap 1X4 wood from an old fence we took apart years ago (hoarding works!), which we cut up and used to replace those slats that were unusable. All this to say if you remove slats to make larger planting nooks, if you have room to do so, save that wood for other projects! You never know when they will come in handy!

As for our removed slats, we flipped the pallet around and attached them on the back side of the pallet with wood screws, evenly aligned with the front slats, making our own "double face" pallet from its own pieces. Voila!

For the uprights for the pea trellis portion, I bought a couple 1X4 furring strips at Lowes (about $1.50 apiece), which I cut in half and attached to the back with the wood screws. To the right you see the pallet set up ready to be painted.

See the sad little "trellis" we had for the peas on the back right? That's gone now!

Step 3 - Adorn If Desired

I kind of liked the look of the raw pallets as they were. But by adding the furring strip uprights for the pea trellis in a different wood, it didn't please my eye. Besides, I had wanted to bring some more vibrant color into the garden, so I decided I wanted to paint them some contemporary colors. There are lots of inspiration out there for painting. them. lovely. colors. or staining. them. I had a rough idea when I went to the store what colors I was seeking, and Lowes just happened to have a central stack of Valspar Exterior spray paint in some of the colors I had in mind. Good work, Lowes.

I chose spray paint intentionally, as I wanted the wood grain to still show through. Kind of more like a milk paint effect. If you want a more saturated, slick finish, then I recommend painting with a brush or roller instead. It took one whole can to get just the exposed faces of one pallet to the point I wanted it. So if you were trying to get a more opaque finish, or paint every surface, you will need more than one can.



Step 4 - Make Dirt Hammocks

We had big wide gaps between our slats, so we weren't doing the project as most people seem to--simply wrapping the back with landscape fabric and pressing the soil firmly into the pallet, blocking the gaps with plants.  So I made a modification that suited our needs.

On the first pallet, I wrapped the back with landscaping fabric and stapled it in place generously.  Having a good strong high-grade staple gun will help with this. Not craft staple guns with itty bitty staples, friends, but a decent stapling tool with 3/8" staples. This image is not mine, but shows how one person did it. I didn't want my landscape fabric to show anywhere on the front, so I made a point to staple it as best I could while keeping it on the back of the project. Lots of staples and grumbling as I tried to keep the fabric taut and staple firmly. We had a couple rolls of really really strong landscaping fabric we had used to line our doggie bathroom area of the yard, so we didn't have to double it up as some projects call for. YMMV.  We skipped this step on the second pallet because we weren't "stuffing" the pallet as some tutorials call for. Since we had little dirt pockets, it wasn't necessary.

Then I took rectangles of the landscaping fabric and stapled them so they made a little hammock for dirt to sit in--a U-shape which attaches between the front and back slats. Staples can be hidden in various ways, but once your plants grow out you won't see them anyway, so decide for yourself if this is important to you.

Here is how I did mine.

Cut your landscaping fabric so it is twice the depth of the hammock/pocket you want, with at least an inch extra for folding over your fabric. For width, note how much wider the rectangles are than the gap they are filling? That is so they will overlap inside preventing soil from slipping out. A couple inches wider than the gap width is a safe bet.

I laid the landscaping fabric along the front slat with the side I wanted to show on the outside facing out. I stapled along the top edge, attaching it to the slat.This is so that the fabric will overlap in their little sling, helping prevent soil from running out when you water it.
I then flipped the landscape fabric over toward the back, tucking the little hammock down into the gap. This will cover your staples on the front edge of your soil pocket.  Turn the back edge under a half inch and staple all along it, anchoring it to the back slat. Those staples will show for now, but not that much and once the plants are put in they won't show at all. (Aside: isn't it neat how the wood grain shows through the paint, like milk paint? I like the effect.)

Along either side your fabric overlaps to form the sides of the pocket. When you tuck it together, it should be kind of like when you're making the bed (hospital corners). Fold the top edge down and staple it in place. You can also reach down into the pocket and staple it in a few more places to really secured the fabric and keep any soil from slipping out, but I wasn't worried about this. Once the full weight of the soil is pressed up against it, I feel it will hold it well shut.

When you're done, Fill the pocket with potting soil, and you will have a series of little plant hammocks just waiting to be planted!

Step 4.5 - Chicken Wire For the Pea Trellis

I wrapped the uprights with chicken wire (which we also had on hand from another project) and stapled in place on the back, for the snap peas to climb. If you don't have uprights or trellis plans, this step is not needed.

Step 5 - Plant Stuff!

I had already picked out some strawberry and spinach starts to plant, in addition to the snap peas we already had, which you can kind of see in the green garden on the right.  Since the one pallet had the extra slat, I pressed some sweet alyssum into the space for color and to block the gap, since we didn't do a little hammock in that bottom space.  We are deciding what to put in the other spaces, PLUS we have a whole second one to finish up which has more peas and beans just waiting to go in.  Chris loves the results so much, he was already asking if we could run out and get a couple more pallets and make two more, paint them in two more colors, and line them up along the back hedge there to grow even more in them!

I look forward to them growing in a bit more and seeing how they flesh out overall. BTW, this image was taken today, during a bit of a windstorm. The white all over the deck and lawn is apple blossoms from the huge apple tree which hangs over our yard from the east. I can't go out and finish the second pallet garden until things warm up and stop blowing around.

I also wanted to note that right now, those are just leaning up against the back hedge. Our plan is to make legs by running a bolt through the 2X4's and attaching legs which allow it to be adjusted to stand more upright or lean back more as we like.

Here is a complete slideshow of the work we have done so far.

References and Inspiration

Great photo walkthrough--lots of other tutorials refer back to this one, in fact.

More good pictures and walkthrough.

This has a practical suggestion to back the entire piece with plywood, then plant through landscape fabric to avoid soil loss

This one is made to attach to a wall, which is not necessary, but is an option

These colorful ones inspired me to use vibrant colors on our gardens.

A RIDICULOUS number of awesome ideas for reclaimed pallets. Indoors, outdoors, furniture, art, you name it! http://diycraftyprojects.com/2012/03/70-pallet-craft-projects-collection-2.html 70+ Additional reclaimed pallet project ideas!

Gardening is a Subversive Act!

by Thursday, January 05, 2012


On this blog I share my personal posts about cooking and knitting, travel and other musings; while I will blog about dance-specific topics over on the Deep Roots Dance blog:

I hope you will enjoy both my sites. Thanks for visiting!
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