Category Archives: Terra Cotta Farm Empire

A grisly scene

Things got pretty ugly in the end.

The terra cotta balcony farm is now officially a graveyard.

All through the spring and summer, I watered and pruned and picked. I fussed and fretted. Through tornadoes and hurricanes and thunderstorms, I guarded them anxiously. When nights got chilly, I dragged all seven pots in to my apartment and nestled them on a towel in front of an eastern window; so grateful, I imagined they were, to awaken to rays of sun instead of crystals of frost.

The day that we finally lost the tomato plant…that was a sad day. The last of the underdeveloped little fruits shriveled and dropped to the dirt, and the plant’s jaundiced leaves finally turned from sallow yellow to toasty brown. I yanked the plant out by its crusty stems and placed it, roots first, into my kitchen trash can.

With the tomatoes, I admit, I failed.

But the rest of the venture was relatively successful until about a month ago.

At some point, I suppose I just stopped caring. Diligent daily waterings became thrice – and then twice – weekly. Winds whipped around the building and I averted my eyes from the sliding glass door, choosing not to see the little peppers clinging desperately to their stems. Nighttime freezes came once again, but this time I tucked myself into my warm bed, leaving the tender basil leaves to face the frosty dawn on their own.

I know. I know. They’re just plants.

This isn’t nearly as bad as the time that I left my poor pet lizard for dead, banishing his tank to the basement as I traipsed off to college one sunny August – only to discover that he was still very much alive when my mom forced me to deal with what was supposed to be a postmortem cleanup of his terrarium when I returned for winter break. Kramer, his name was. God, I felt horrible.

(In my own defense, Kramer had an annoying habit of burying himself in the sand for days on end, and at the time of my departure I hadn’t seen him in a couple of weeks and totally assumed he was dead. So my intentions, while highly immature, weren’t exactly murderous: I simply hoped that my mom would clean that shit up if I just left it there.)

(Yeah, I realize that doesn’t make it all that much better.)

Anyway. The balcony plants are done for, their demise accelerated by my purposeful neglect over the last few weeks. And I know they wouldn’t have made it much longer anyway, but I’m still plagued with a faint guilt that I didn’t try my very best to help them make it to their natural end.

But at least I learned a few things from the experience. Next year’s terra cotta balcony farm will be bigger and better. On the hollow stems of this year’s crop, I pledge to:

1) Choose smaller species and/or bigger containers. This was definitely my number one mistake in choosing and potting my plants. According to the guy at the nursery, a too-tiny pot was almost certainly responsible for the fall of the tomatoes: the pot didn’t have enough soil to hold an appropriate amount of water for the plant, and the thing literally died of thirst, even though I watered it constantly.

(Also, I probably shouldn’t have chosen big beefsteak tomatoes to grow in a tiny clay pot. Grape tomatoes or little romas would have been a better choice. In retrospect: DUH.)

2) Keep the bush trimmed nice and short. Many of my plants (particularly the basil and the oregano) got really “leggy” over the course of the season, probably from me trimming them infrequently and/or poorly. In the end, my basil plant actually looked like a little basil palm tree: its stems got really long and reedy and the leaves got smaller and smaller until they looked like little basil fronds atop these freakish stem-trunks:

Kinda neat looking, but not very good for seasoning my pasta sauce.

3) Be a little impractical. They may not be edible, but flowers are nice too. After the tomato plant bit the dust, I replaced it with this random pink and white flower plant that was on clearance at the nursery. It was lovely to look at, attracted pretty butterflies, didn’t need to be picked or trimmed and was seemingly ambivalent about its watering schedule. Win.

So thank you, plant class of 2011, for being my guinea pigs. I know it sounds ridiculous, but until this summer I had never successfully nurtured anything involving soil and water before, and I learned a lot from the experience. And even though the tomatoes were a bust, it was wonderful to have loads of fresh mint (for mojitos!) and fresh sage (for frying in butter!) any time I wanted.

And also, little plants: I’m sorry I’ve let your tawny corpses sit out on the balcony for nearly a month now, basking impotently in the late-autumn sunshine. One of these days, I’ll summon the energy to give you a proper burial.

(Or maybe I’ll just wait for my mom to come visit.)

The one that bit the dust

Well, it was bound to happen eventually.

Look!  A perfect little pepper! But, um…what happened to the leaves?

After weeks of nursing a pea-sized green ball on that tender stem, almost overnight my Sweet Cherry Pepper plant issued this adorable red sphere.

And then promptly shed all of its leaves.  Except for the bottom one.  As if the effort of producing that little ball of fire took everything out of the plant and it just needed to be done.

So dramatic.

I’m pretty sure that wasn’t supposed to happen.  Or was it?  It does look like tiny leaflets are growing on the top stems, filling the barren branches with soft little buds.  Maybe it will come back to life?

In any case, I’m kind of fascinated.  Who knew that container gardening was so full of grand theatrics and suspense!  You got me, Sweet Cherry Pepper plant. I’m watching with bated breath.

And since I’ve had some inquiries (okay, one) from readers (okay, my mom) about how the rest of the Terra Cotta Balcony Farm Empire is doing, here ya go:

Plant: Basil | Status: Thriving

Pesto, anyone?  Even with bi-weekly haircuts, I cannot believe how quickly this thing grows.  Just when I think I’ve finally gone and overdone it, cutting it down to a point of no return, it grows back with twice as many leaves.

I love this plant.

Plant: Mucho Nacho Green Pepper | Status: Juicy

This guy is just about ready to be plucked!  I’ve watched it grow over the last couple of weeks – and, similar to the Sweet Cherry pepper plant, its leaves have gone a little yellow.  But they haven’t fallen off.  And there are a couple of tiny blossoms on another stem that look like they might morph into pepperlets, so I’m going with healthy on this one.

Plant: Sage | Status: Gorgeous

It’s a shame that sage is more of a fall/winter herb, because it seems to love the heat!  I’ve been plucking these perfect fuzzy leaves and drying them in small batches for future use.  But they’re amazing fresh, too.

Also in this pot: Oregano and Thyme, both of which seem to be doing fine, but which I don’t find many occasions to use.  I’ve been trimming down the Oregano and drying it.  At this rate, we will have enough dried oregano to last until 2027.

Plant: Mint | Status: Don’t call it a comeback

Confession: About a month ago, we had a party which involved Mojitos and I absolutely annihilated this plant.  The cocktails were awesome, so it seemed like a worthwhile endeavor.  And I may have been a little under the rum at the time.

But back it comes!  The leaves are smaller,  but they’re abundant.  And I’ve noticed some bigger mint fronds popping up in the last week.  This guy is gonna be just fine. Lesson: Herbs are resilient and will continue to love you even after you give them a humiliating buzz-cut in the name of impressing your friends.

This is probably not a lesson I should take into eventual parenthood.  Probably.

Plant: Rosemary | Status: Bushy and nonchalant

In the world of domesticated herbs, rosemary is your stoner friend who just sits in the corner of the wraparound sofa and goes along with whatever everyone else wants to do.  This plant never gives me any attitude.  Water?  Sure, dude. No water? Right on! Trim?  No trim?  Sun? Shade? It’s all good, yo.

Imma just sit here and grow my shit.  Don’t worry about me.  Got any Doritos?

Rosemary is awesome.

Plant: Tomato | Status: Small and mediocre, but that’s probably my fault

The plant itself seems to be doing fine, and four blushing tomatoes are currently making their way from orange to red.  But…these tomatoes are tiny.  In retrospect, I guess it was probably a bad idea to try to cultivate giant fruits in a small clay pot.  Next year, I’ll do grapes or romas.

But I did actually eat the first one that ripened!  And?  It was okay.  On par with your average grocery store tomato.

I diced it up and added it to a lovely little avocado-based, southwestern-style pasta salad I made last weekend:

Recipe: Creamy Avocado Orzo Salad [semi-original recipe, inspired by this pasta salad from The Food In My Beard]

There are beans in there, so this could totally be a main dish.  I made it as a hearty side.  If you love pasta salad but hate mayonnaise, give this recipe a try! (Personally, I love mayonnaise, but I’m always for avocado anything.  And I don’t discriminate when it comes to creamy pasta!)

I would like to say that the amazing Terra Cotta Balcony Farm Empire tomato made the dish, but sadly, it was just sort of there.  Oh well.  You can’t win ’em all. This is my first time attempting to cultivate plant life, and it’s going in the WIN column for the fact that it was edible – even if it was mediocre.

Fingers crossed that my pepper plant bounces back after its mysterious and dramatic leaf shedding!

And if not? Oh well…at least it was a good show.

THIS Friday

Heya!  Happy Friday afternoon!  I have to work this weekend so it feels a little more like Sunday afternoon to me.  But I had the day off today and managed to be a complete waste of space, so I can’t complain too much.

Here’s a sampling of the random garbage orbiting my brain today:

1) THIS tomato…which might be edible soon!  (Maybe?)

Whoa.  I’m still blown away that an actual fruit has managed to grow and ripen under my care.  And this guy is one of four!  (The others are smaller and still green.)  I wish it were a little bit bigger (it’s tennis-ball sized; the guy at the nursery said they’d be softball-sized) but given the hot weather we’ve had, I have to say I’m pleased with the state of the Balcony Terra Cotta Farm Empire.

For reals: nothing has perished yet!  Nothing! I’m nine for nine on the life toll and everything is thriving.  My two hot pepper plants are even starting to grow baby peppers – although their leaves are looking a little jaundiced this week.  The rosemary plant has quickly grown in to a rosemary bush.

Oh, and remember my neighbor?  The one with the kick-ass plants that I was super jealous of when I first got this cracked-out idea about building a container garden?

Heheh.  Better luck next year, Mr. Fancyplants.

2) THIS article…from GrubStreet: “Sloshed: Maybe We Should Be Judging Wines by Their Labels”

Hilarious.  And a very important body of research.  Thank you, Matthew Latkiewicz.  (And shout out to Halah for the heads up on that one!)

3) THIS lazy cat...who is, in this case, symbolic.

In spite of the hellishly hot weather, I haven’t once awoken in the morning hours to go out and run.

In spite of the fact that I’ve had to run in the afternoon/evening, I’ve somehow made it happen.  Every day this week but one.

It’s a whole different ballgame when you only have to plod around for 30-40 minutes and you don’t give a hoot about your pace.

At some point, of course, I’m going to have to start getting up so I can get some longer stuff in, but for now?  It’s really comforting to know that I *can* go out there and plod around when the heat index is in the triple digits.  That, although it may be uncomfortable, it won’t kill me.

And as the picture indicates, this heat wave has clearly taken its toll on the felines.  In spite of the fact that they live their entire lives in a comfortable 72-degree air-conditioned bubble, all they do is lay around like a couple of drama queens.  The scene  above has greeted me every single morning this week.  So hot.  Cannot function before 10 AM.  Moar food plz. What a life.

4) THIS book…which was really good.

Bad Dog (A Love Story) by Martin Kihn

I took this to the beach with me, expecting a ripped-off Marley And Me to tear through on a lounge chair while sipping a daquiri.

Instead, I found a well-written and occasionally dark memoir on addiction and recovery.  With a background plot (light and funny) about training a boisterous and naughty Bernese Mountain Dog.  I enjoyed it far more than I expected to.

And the are also some fascinating portraits (caricatures?) of the dog-obedience-training world in there, too.  Clearly, I’m more of a cat person (dear neighbors, please stop your dogs from peeing in the elevator) but I found it fascinating.

I wish I could send this copy along to one of you, but then the Wake County Public Library would hunt me down.  It’s definitely worth a check-out though!

5) THIS beer…which is currently being used as a bribe for me to clean my apartment when I’m done with this post.

Uh…I’ll let you know how that works out.

I picked up this Bison Brewing Organic Honey Basil beer earlier this week.  And then I saw it on Daily Beer Review this morning and got even more excited about it!

And…it’s delicious.  For me, this is a perfect drinking beer.  DBR Rob says that he wishes it were a little less sweet, but I think the level of honey is just right. The basil flavor is definitely noticeable but not overpowering.  It would be like if you took a Pale Ale, mellowed it out a bit, and added a little sweetness and herb-ness.  At 6.0% ABV, this beer will let you know it’s there, but it won’t knock you on your ass.

Bottom Line: Get it.  At $9 for a four-pack (at Whole Foods), it’s not the cheapest beer in the world, but for the unique flavor alone it’s worth the cash.

Alright, off to do that cleaning (riiiiiight) and then on to the workin’ weekend. But since it’s not here yet, I have a little movie date tonight with the hubs.  We’re going to see X-MEN or whatever that movie is.  I’ve seen the previews with the little lady that turns blue.  I hope it’s good.  And that I can stay awake.

What are you up to this weekend?

Nurture and nature

Our little family is growing!

Just a few more months!

TOMATOES!  Um, what did you think I was talking about?

Today, I expanded my terracotta farm empire and add a couple of more pots to my little balcony container garden.  It was an impulsive decision.  I had pulled into the shopping center that happens to house my local nursery, intending to turn around to go to a gas station, when inspiration struck.

In addition to a “Better Boy” indeterminate tomato plant, I also adopted two little spitfires: “Sweet Cherry” red peppers and “Mucho Nacho” green peppers.

The tomato plant will allegedly yield 1-lb tomatoes, and the peppers are purportedly rather foolproof.  I guess we shall see?  I fear that I may be getting a little too cocky about the whole gardening thing.

Also, did you know there is an actual town called Farmville?  It is in Southern Virginia.

(Discovering this was the highlight of the drive from Raleigh to Charlottesville last weekend.  I wonder if they ask their neighbors to help out with farm work!)

In other news, I know I have been complaining about this a lot lately, but the little green inchworms that hang from the trees are completely out of control right now.  I got back from my morning run today and was quite literally plastered with bright green worm corpses.  (Which were accompanied by a wiggly little beetle in my hair, which I discovered an hour later.  Um.  Ew.)

Then, cleaning my apartment this afternoon, I found these in the windowsill.  (Warning, dead bug pics ahead.)

I do believe that thing on the right is what that thing on the left morphs in to.  Gross.  Fascinating, but gross.

Today’s EAT: This afternoon, as I was munching some of my favorite Food Should Taste Good Multi-grain Tortilla Chips, I was struck by an simple idea on the back of the package:

Fruit+ brie + chips?  Sounds like gourmet nacho night to me!

One trip to the grocery store later, I was topping those chips with granny smith apples and red onions (both very thinly sliced) and, of course, creamy chunks of brie.

This only needed to bake for a few minutes to soften the cheese.  Topped with a drizzle of honey and some fresh rosemary.  It may sound like an appetizer, but pair it with a salad and I call it dinner!

Today’s DRINK: Creamy brie needs a nice white wine.

At $12, I splurged a little on this McManis Chardonnay.  And it’s a decent bottle.  Very much on the sweet side and strong citrus and green apple flavors.  As it happened, it paired quite well with the creamy brie and tart apples, but it’s definitely on the fruitier site for a Chard.

Today’s RUN: Double up!  I headed out for 3.4 easy miles this morning and another 4.4 easy this evening.  (I had planned to do 6-7 tonight with some track repeats, but heard thunder when I was a couple of miles out on my warm-up and booked it home instead.  I’m a huge pussy about running in weather that might involve bolts of electricity.)

Hopefully I’ll be able to make up the miles later this week.  I really would like to be doing 50+/week for the rest of April and the early part of May!

Today’s QUESTION: Anyone have tomato and/or jalapeno growing advice? Um…I’m pretty sure that it would’ve been basil manslaughter around here a couple of weeks ago without your guys’ fantastic advice.  I have no idea what I’m doing.  So I’m all ears.

PEE ESS: Check out the hilarious giveaway going on over at AngryRunner.  You can even win a ridiculously useless prize donated by meeee!

Updates on things you didn’t ask about

Sometimes I sit in a dark room by myself and visualize an image of my blog’s gmail inbox, overflowing with fan mail, sponsorship offers, and heartfelt requests for further information on the things I’ve posted about in the past.

“Please,” the emails hearken.  “You simply must elaborate on that one tempo run you did last January.  It was absolutely riveting and we want more.  And while you’re at it, please post more about your cats!”

And then I remind myself that the only people reaching out in droves are those nice people in Africa who just need a way to get their multi-million-dollar wire transfers executed.  And also, people with Viagra to sell.

But even though you didn’t ask, I’m going to give you a nice fat update on a bunch of random crap in my life.  Hold your applause until the end, please.

(1) On race recovery and March mileage.

On Friday, I finally had a great easy run at a respectable pace during which I didn’t feel like I was dragging ass.  Hallelujah.  I guess there really is something to that one-recovery-day-per-mile-raced rule, eh?

Monthly heap of navel-gazing and self-punishment-inducing data:

A few brief observations:

  • March looks awful on paper, but I keep reminding myself that I had a solid half-marathon race effort in there, complete with a mini-taper week and a mini-recovery week, both of which are hitting the mileage and the pace numbers.  So be it.  Totally worth it.
  • Buuuuut…I need to stop taking so many damn rest days.  I’m not taking them because I need them – I’m taking them because I’m lazy.  74% of days trained?  Ouch.
  • I need to just run more overall.  And, like, faster.  Der.

And in case you wanted even more running data, here are last week’s stats:

M – OFF
Tu – 6 easy (53:45, 8:55 pace)
W – AM 4.5 easy (40:00, 8:59 pace), PM 5.1 easy (43:35, 8:32 pace)
Th – 10.1 easy (1:28:19, 8:45 pace)
F – 5 easy (41:25, 8:16 pace)
Sa – OFF
Su – 10.3 easy w/hubs (1:49:00, 10:38 pace)

Total: 41 miles.  Coming this week: the return of speedwork.  Rawr.

(2) On TEH HUBZ and his half marathon training.

Less than a week until Charlottesville Half!  We went together on his last long run this morning, just over 10 miles.

Remember when I made up that training plan for him?  Well, that hasn’t really gone as planned.  But I think he’s going to be fine on race day.  We’ll take it out at a very mellow pace.  We’re just looking to cross the line in one piece on Saturday.  And have an excuse to subsequently consume wildly irresponsible amounts of food and alcohol with our Cville friends.

Should be a good time all around.

(3) On Project Herbicide.

I think things are going okay so far?

I’ve been inspecting them daily, half expecting to see REDRUM etched in to terra cotta, but so far everyone seems to be doing okay.  Mint is absolutely exploding and Basil and Oregano have each grown to about three times their respective baby heights!  Sage and Thyme seem to be growing more slowly, but still looking healthy (and tasting delicious; I cooked with a bit of each last night).  Rosemary doesn’t appear to be going much of anything except not dying, and I’m satisfied with that.

A few of the Basil leaves are looking a little weird though.

Anyone have any ideas?  I haven’t forgotten to water it, and Basil sleeps inside at night (in a nice window with plenty of morning sunshine) so I don’t think it’s from the cold.  WTF, Basil?

Anyway, the fact that these plants haven’t thrown themselves off of the balcony edge in a desperate mass-suicide attempt is better than I expected, so I’m calling it a win for now.

(4) On embracing technology.

I’m loving my new iPhone so hard, I can’t believe I waited as long as I did to get one.  Completely.  Addicted.

Or, as a certain someone who shares a bed with me might have muttered at 2:00 AM last night, “Can’t you put that thing down and go to sleep?”  And the answer is that no, I cannotSorry.

I’ve also finally discovered how to work the camera thingy that takes a picture from the front of the phone!

Now I feel like a REAL blogger!  I can take random pictures of myself in my bathroom!

You’re welcome.

(Now I need to work on my duck face.)

(5) On silly bandwagons.

Yup.

Everyone: “You look stupid.”  Me: “Whatever.  You’re stupid.”

Because I’m mature like that, I’m not one to knock something until I’ve tried it.  (Well, except for pickles.  I will ignorantly hate them forever.)

I basically got these Vibrams for free at REI combining the current 20%-off promotion with my “dividend” from last year.  So look for me rollin’ around the grocery store in these ridiculous things.  I’ve only done a tiny bit of running in them so far.  I’ll post more about that later, after I’ve had them a bit longer.

(6) On religious and cultural tyranny.

Did you know that liquor stores are closed on Sundays here?  Dumbest idea ever.

Yes, I know that it’s the “lord’s day” and a biblical day of rest and all of that.  But, for serious, it is also Sunday Funday!  Who says you can’t “rest” by the pool with a margarita?  Jay-sizzle would totes be down.

Well, lucky for me, I’m the beer-drinkin’ sort anyway.  So I picked up a six-pack of Magic Hat’s Spring Seasonal:

Nothing particularly memorable about MH’s Vinyl Lager.  I was honestly expecting something a little lighter and crisper.  As it is, though, it’s a decent medium-bodied reddish lager.  Not offensive, and certainly I’ll enjoy the rest of the pack at some point, but I wouldn’t go out of my way to procure it again.  5.1% ABV.

(7) On cooking more.

Off to the kitchen to get crackin’ on some homemade grass-fed beef burgers with avocado-mango-mint salsa.  Nothing too fancy, but burgers-and-beer on a Sunday night sounds like a great way to wind down the weekend to me.

Hasta Monday, y’all!

The club can’t even handle me

That’s why I’m in pajamas on my couch on this fine Friday night.  Out of respect for the club.  I wouldn’t want to overwhelm it.

Instead, I spent most of my Friday night cleaning my apartment.

Really, I prefer to tidy my home after dark.  This allows me to remain happily in denial about its actual state of cleanliness.

For dinner, I ate cheese. Specifically, this super-simple, three-ingredient Caprese Dip from How Sweet It Is, as recommended by Rachel.

Holy moly, was it so easy and so good.

I started things off by plucking a few leaves from my scrappy little basil plants.

It’s true.  I haven’t killed them yet. I know; I’m shocked, too!  This is a first for me.  Eating something that I grew myself, that is.  It only took me thirty years of eating things grown by other people to master agriculture on its most basic level.

Mock me if you will, but it’s kind of thrilling.  Although I’m probably going to get a big head about it and try to plant rows of corn on my little balcony.  Or something.

Mixed together the cheese, chopped seeded tomato, and basil.  Tried to resist eating it by the spoonful.  (I used regular shredded mozz instead of fresh and it was just fine.)

Lacking a proper ramekin or small baking dish, I lined my trusty cupcake pan with silicone baking cups and baked away, shortening the bake time to ten minutes on account of the smaller diameter.

I ended up with lovely globs of browned cheese that slid easily out of the baking cups.

With an Italian chicken sausage and a hunk of baguette for a balanced meal.  (Balanced if carbs and cheese are considered food groups, anyway.)

Cleaning, cheese dinner, and the rest of last night’s marginal bottle of cheap Chardonnay?  If you hadn’t already guessed, I’m ridin’ solo tonight.

(But O HAI STALKERS AND ROBBERS: I haz protection.  You’ll have to get through two fierce felines to get to me.  And also the doorman downstairs.  Be sure to ask him about his Angry Birds score as you walk by.)

Alright, back to watching Pretty Woman on TNT.  In my cat-hair-covered pajama pants and oversized race tee.

Yeah…the club is really shedding a tear over the loss of me right now.

Killing thyme

Sipping wine with the hubs on our tiny balcony this past weekend, I had the opportunity to make an observation.

Namely: that most of our neighbors seem to have things growing on their tiny balconies.  And I don’t mean mold.  Flowers.  Plants.  Shrubs. Things that need to be watered and…well, watered.  I guess that’s all you really have to do with most flora.  I mean…right?  Remind me of why they are so intimidating?

“We should get some plants to put out here,” I remarked casually to the hubs, swirling the wine in my glass.  He paused, mid-sip, and looked at me like I’d just grown an extra nose.

“Um.  I don’t see that ending well.”

“But look!” I pressed.  “Those plants inside, the ones that I got last fall.  They’re still alive.”  It was true.  The snake plants are indeed still alive.  I mean, they are essentially cacti that only need to be watered like once a month, but still.  Alive is alive!

Well.  Perhaps I’ve grown overconfident in my abilities, but today I bit the bullet.  I made an investment.  I purchased a set of terra cotta planters and a host of tender young herblings.

And as soon as I unloaded them, I realized that I’d probably just wasted $50.

Because…the poor little things.  They’ve hardly had a chance at life.  And here they find themselves at the mercy of my dubious botanical abilities.  In the square pot: we’ve got mint.  The round pot on the top: rosemary.  And buddied up in the round pot on the bottom: oregano, thyme and sage.  (I can only hope that particular pot doesn’t become a mass grave.)

And then we’ve got the basil.

Sissy-footed little basil.  Apparently it needs to be “taken in at night” for the next few weeks because it can’t handle the cold. According to the guy at the garden store.

I’m not sure he realized that the cold would be least of this little guy’s problems.  Wait until it meets the cat.  Or the oops-I-forgot-to-water-you-for-three-weeks.

Yikes.

When you buy plants, apparently you also must buy dirt.  I didn’t realize that I needed to pay for something that coats most of the earth’s terrestrial surface,  but…okay.

$15 worth of Organic Dirt.  Packaged in a tidy plastic bag.  Pretty sure I’m going to have some left over.  (Anyone want to come over and make Organic Mud Pies?  To fling on to those neighboring balconies with their thriving container gardens?)

Anyway.  Tomorrow is planting day.  Is there a green thumb under that glove – or will this be the hand that rocks the cradle straight into the grave?

Only time will tell.

Today’s EAT: I wanted to make fish tacos for dinner.  And I really thought I had a pack of corn tortillas in the freezer somewhere.  Turns out, not so much.

Improvisation: a massive flour tortilla, cut in to chunks and baked in a muffin tin to create crispy “cups.”

This worked out quite well!  I stuffed each cup with battered and fried mahi mahi chunks…

….and then topped them with avocado and grapefruit salsa and greek yogurt.

A little messy to eat, but totally tasty!  And no, you don’t have to fry the fish.  I fried it because I like fried things and by my rough mental math, the whole dish seemed to be rather lacking in calories so I figured I had some leeway.  But it would be almost as great with grilled fish, or shrimp, or chicken, or tofu, or whatever the hell else you want to put in there.

Recipe: Mahi Taco Cups with Pink Grapefruit Salsa (original)

Today’s DRINK: I’d been hanging on to this Great Divide Fresh Hop Pale Ale for a few weeks now.  It seemed like it would go well with my citrus-y dinner, so I finally popped it open tonight!

I loved it.  It was…well, fresh.  While I feel like some pale ales can get a little cloying and flowery (*cough*SierraNevada*cough*), this Fresh Hop had none of that.  It was light and refreshing.  Definitely some strong citrus flavors in there too, which complimented dinner nicely.

Today’s RUN: An easy 7 miler.  Yesterday ended up being an impromptu rest day, so I tacked a couple of extra miles on to today’s run.   Now it’s all downhill until Shamrock, mileage-wise.  Five days to go!

Today’s QUESTION: Um…anyone have any tips on growing sage, thyme or oregano?

With the basil, I know not to let it get frost exposure (I’ve got it all tucked in for the night indoors!)

And the guy at the nursery said that mint is basically indestructible (“mint would take over the world if it could,” I believe were his exact words.)

Rosemary is basically a pine tree in shrub form so I’m not too worried about it.

But the others…they just seem so tender and destructible!  I’ll take any advice I can get to avoid accidental herbicide.