Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 1

urban gardening It’s finally time for the big backyard reveal! I know, I know, it’s already halfway through summer and I’m just getting this up here. I blame…..the fact that we’ve been enjoying the yard so much, I almost forgot to take pictures??! Does that work as a valid excuse? Excuses or not, the backyard pictures (part one) are finally here!

I wanted to start by first sharing our garden and all the veggies we’ve been busy growing (yup, we’re #28goingon60). One of the biggest reasons why Mr. RC and I wanted outdoor space was specifically so we could have some home-grown produce. I grew up in a family of gardeners and home-grown produce was a part of every summer meal. Of course, when I was younger, the only reason you would find me in the garden was by force (weeding was on my chore list) or because I was sneaking a veggie snack. Of course, now that I’m older (and wiser) I realize how much I missed the simplicity of fresh picked tomatoes and lettuce for a supper salad, or picking a few green beans to snack on, so, despite everyone telling us that a garden in Brooklyn would never work, we decided we would make it work (we’re such #gardennerds). Currently we have 4 types of tomatoes, 4 types of peppers, peas, beans, swiss chard, radishes, carrots, beets, lettuce, chives, parsley, basil, sage, dill, rosemary, cucumbers, yellow and green summer squash, and a grape plant. Below are a few pictures of our plants plus a few tips for “urban gardening” (mostly courtesy of my 13 year-old brother who spends his spare time working on a farm and is quite the little gardening whiz). Stay tuned next week for part 2 of the Brooklyn backyard makeover reveal.

herb plants squash blossoms Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 1 || Runway Chef urban garden tips vegetable plants grape plant mini grapes Brooklyn Backyard Reveal, Part 1 || Runway Chef tomatoes green beans Small Gardening Tips

Know when to start something by seed and when to buy a plant already started

  • Seeds are great for things like lettuce, herbs, spinach, peas and beans as well as things that grown into the ground (i.e. beets, carrots, onions)
  • Buy starter plants for things that take longer to germinate, so tomatoes, peppers, squash, eggplant, and cucumbers are all good examples

Use pots to make your space go further

  • Anything that grows up and not out is great for a pot, i.e. things like tomatoes and peppers.
  • Herbs are also great in pots. While some of them do spread out, we tend to use herbs enough in our cooking that the plants are always getting trimmed back.
  • Of course, keep the shape of your plant in mind when picking out pots. Tomatoes will need something very large, herbs mostly work well in smaller, round pots, and things like thyme or mint spread out so I would recommend using rectangular shaped planters.
  • Don’t be afraid to try growing something less traditional in a pot. We have both cucumbers and squash in planters, and while the squash have yet to produce fruit, both plants are doing really well. In a way, the pot replaces the mound of dirt traditionally needed to plant things like squash so I think that’s why it works so well. Just make sure you have room to let the vines spread out.

Combine plants to maximize your gardening space

  • Coordinate your plants based on how they grow to get the most gardening space out of your planters. What I mean by this, is place plants that grow up with plants that stay low or grow out. So for example, peppers grow up and squash spreads out, so in one box we have the peppers in the middle (along with some dill) and then the cucumbers are on the edge growing down over the sides of the box. Thyme is another plant that grows low and does well on the edge of a flower pot. If you have a wall or trellis, put things like peas and beans next to that and then put something low growing beneath them.

Make sure you consistently water, weed, and fertilize

  • I know this kind of goes without saying, but the biggest key to a successful garden (big, small, or just in pots), is making sure you keep things cleaned up and weeded, water consistently, and fertilize (or use soil that has fertilizer added to it).

Do you have a garden? If so, I’d  love to know what you are growing.

Healthy Living- Detox Water

Detox Water As promised, I wanted to share more about my skin routine and the different things I do to keep it healthy in the most natural and organic way possible. While I will eventually get to what I put ‘on’ my skin, I think it is more important to start with what you put ‘in’ your skin, as I believe true beauty comes from within (both physically and emotionally). There are two parts to what I put into my body for healthy skin: vitamins (which we will discuss later) and detox waters. Two out of three of these detox drinks use water and simple house hold items. In fact, they seem so simple you might even wonder if they make a difference. I’ve done plenty of research over the years and have pulled some facts together so you can make your own educated decision, but in my opinion detox water definitely makes a difference.

Lemon Detox Water

Lemon Water 

8 ounces of water + Juice of half of lemon (can be diluted more to suit your tastes)

Every morning I roll out of bed, brush my teeth, and then grab a glass of lemon water. Every.single.morning. My skin has started to glow just a little bit more, and I’ve noticed my morning breathe growing fainter and fainter. Here are some other benefits:

  • Packed with vitamin C, citric acid, potassium (nourishes brain and nerve cells as well as your heart), calcium, phosphorus, magnesium
  • Lemon juice in a glass of warm water first thing in the morning helps flush out toxins and replenishes body salts (also good after a workout)
  • Aids in the production of bile and digestive juices which aids in your digestion and also relieves indigestion symptoms
  • Enhances enzyme function which stimulates your liver and aids in cleansing your system
  • Helps prevent wrinkles and acne and promotes clear skin
  • The pectin fiber in lemon is beneficial for colon health as well as an appetite suppressant thus helping you lose weight
  • Lemon is a powerful antibacterial and helps aid against the common cold as well as the growth of pathogenic bacteria that cause infections and disease
  • Gives you an energy boost which is helpful for those trying to cut caffeine
  • Maintains healthy eyes and fights against eye health problems
  • It balances and maintains healthy pH levels in your body
  • Dissolves uric acids which helps reduce pain and inflammation in your joints and knees 

Please note: One side effect of lemon water can be its harsh effect on your teeth enamel. It is recommended that you brush your teeth prior to drinking lemon water and then do not brush again until at least 3 hours after. You can also swish plain water around your mouth after drinking your lemon water. You can read more about the benefits of lemon detox water here and here.

Apple Cider Vinegar detox water

Vinegar Water

8 ounces of water + 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar (make sure it is unfiltered)

or

8 ounces of seltzer water + 1 tablespoon of vinegar + a splash of juice (typically cranberry juice…you want some that is 100% juice with nothing added)

The benefits of drinking vinegar water are similar to lemon water. It’s great for detoxing and it’s also high in potassium. I find that drinking vinegar detox water helps me to stay detoxed and debloated. Some other benefits include:

  • Apple cider vinegar has all the same benefits that apples do, meaning it is packed with enzymes, amino acids, antioxidants, beta carotene, calcium, iron, pectin, silicon and potassium.
  • It helps keep blood pressure low
  • It can aid in the prevention of colon cancer
  • Apple cider vinegar helps lower glucose levels which in turn can help with diabetes
  • It also aids with weight loss by acting as an appetite suppressant, reducing water retention, increase metabolism, and helping with digestion

Please note: To receive these benefits you must use apple cider vinegar that is raw, unfiltered, unpasteurized, made from organic apples, and includes something about ‘the mother’ (aka the translucent film floating around in the vinegar) on the label. The brand I like to use is Bragg’s, which you can find online, at Whole Foods, or any other health store or specialty market. You can read more about the benefits of apple cider vinegar detox water here.

Dermal Health Detox water

Herb Pharm Dermal Health Drops 

8 ounces of water + 1 dropper of Dermal Health, 3x a day

While this compound is also great for detoxing your system and keeping your liver clean, its primary focus is detoxing the skin to help aid in relief of skin diseases such eczema, psoriasis, and acne. I have been drinking leon and vinegar water for years, but this detox solution is a recent recommendation. It was recommended to me by the lady who runs the herb shop in our neighborhood, and while it didn’t clear up my skin issues, I have noticed a big difference. Here are the ingredients found in this compound as well as links to pages with each of their benefits:

  • Burdock Seed: here and here
  • Stinging Nettle Seed: here
  • Sarsaparilla Root: here
  • Yellow Dock Root: here
  • Spilanthes Flowering Herb: here
  • Ginger Rhizome: here

Please note: This is by far the most expensive detox drink on the list and also probably the hardest to come by. The flavor is also not the most pleasant. 

*Please keep in mind that I am not a doctor and this is not medical advice. These are simply things that have worked for me, my research on them, and my observations of how they have worked. Please consult your physician with any questions*

Happy Hour

Lobster Landing {Lobster roll lunch spot in Connecticut}

Do I want to be funny? Inspirational? How about motivational? Or maybe just plain informational? These are the thoughts that run through my head as I sit down to type out each week’s Happy Hour post………Who am I kidding?! That’s a total lie. The thoughts that actually run through my head consist more of “I wish I had another one of those lobster rolls”, “I would so much rather be back at the beach”,”What are you going to write Alyssa?”, “I could go for a happy hour cocktail right now” “Alyssa! Focus! You need to write something!”…Ya, well this week’s “something” is what you just read. Neither inspirational nor motivational, but as they say “That’s all I’ve got for now kids”.

Hope you’re all having a great week and, in case you missed it, I’m giving away 2 gift cards for FREE ICE CREAM. It’s almost too easy to enter…simply leave a comment with your favorite ice cream flavor on this picture or here on Facebook, and that’s it! Winner will be chosen by random on Sunday, the 20th.

old records {The start of our record collection}

antiques {Some vintage finds from over the weekend}

summer squash {Unusually shaped squash…apparently this type is referred to as “Eight Ball”}

fabric {Fabric to make new covers for our bedroom pillows}

Happy Hour - A Weekly Round-up of Happy Things on Runway Chef {via}

 

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies || Runway Chef I’ve pretty much never met a cookie that I haven’t liked (or really any sweet treat for that matter because, let’s be real, my sweet tooth is ginormous-with-a-capital-G). But when it comes to making cookies, I pretty much stick to one thing- chocolate chip. How boring and unoriginal of me. You see, my brain comes up with all these grand ideas for this cookie and that cookie, but then my tastebuds are all like “I just want chocolate chip.” Until my taste buds had one of these and then they were all like “watermelon + chocolate don’t mix on 90 degree days”. And now this is getting weird, because my tastebuds are talking (What? Yours don’t?!) and I’m not quite even sure what we’re talking about anymore. Oh yeah, cookies. So after making these, I wanted to eat the leftover granita for dessert, but I also wanted a little something to go along with it. I remembered these cookies that my Mom used to make that consisted of cornmeal and lime and had a light buttery, texture, which is perfect for summer and to go along side fruit-based desserts. Of course, growing up I only had eyes for my chocolate chip cookies, so I wasn’t always so keen on these cornmeal ones, but I didn’t mind them either. Armed with a bushel of limes (don’t even ask how we got that many), I set out to find a recipe to replicate these cookies for my now-reformed tastebuds. Mr. RC and I finished half the batch in about a day (what butter??!), so it’s safe to say that the chocolate chip cookies might not be so safe in their number one spot…

What’s your favorite type of cookie?

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies || Runway Chef cornmeal cookies cornmeal cookie recipe citrus cornmeal cookies butter cookies

Rosemary Lime Cornmeal Cookies
Yields 36
A light and buttery cookie with just a hint of flavor that's perfect for summer
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Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
18 min
Total Time
1 hr 45 min
Ingredients
  1. 1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, softened
  2. 3/4 cup powdered sugar
  3. The juice of two limes
  4. The zest of one lime
  5. 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  6. 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  7. 3/4 cup + 2 tablespoons yellow cornmeal + extra cornmeal for rolling
  8. 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  9. Granulated sugar
Instructions
  1. In the bowl of an electric mixer fitted with the paddle attachment, cream the butter and the sugar, on medium speed, until smooth. Add the lime juice, zest, and rosemary, and mix to combine, making sure to scrape the sides of the bowl as needed. With the speed turned down to low, add in the flour, cornmeal, and salt and mix just until combined.
  2. Divide the dough in half, and shape each half into a log that's about 1 1/2" in diameter. Wrap each log in plastic wrap (I usually wrap mine in the empty butter wrappers first), and then refrigerate until cold (about one hour; you can speed up this process by placing the logs in the freezer).
  3. Preheat the oven to 300 degrees. Sprinkle a cutting board with extra cornmeal and granulated sugar (I did about 2 tablespoons of each) and then roll the logs in the mixture to coat them. Slice the logs into approximately 1/4 inch rounds, and place them about 1 inch apart on a baking sheet lined with a silpat mat or parchment paper. Bake until the edges just start to brown and the cookies are golden, about 18-25 minutes (depending on your oven). Cool on sheet. Store in an airtight container for up to a week.
Notes
  1. Rosemary can be omitted and other citrus flavors, such as orange or lemon, can be used in place of the lime.
  2. Not all of the cookies have to be baked at once; you can keep an unbaked log in the fridge for up to a month or in the freezer for up to 2 months. Just make sure the logs stay tightly sealed in plastic wrap.
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Adapted from Martha Stewart
Runway Chef http://www.runwaychef.com/
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We All Scream for Ice Cream

jean skirt outfit When I think about an all-american summer, I think jean shorts (or skirts), striped shirts, baseball hats, aviators….and ice cream. Always ice cream. I could literally eat ice cream every day (and I think some weeks I do), so I’m right on track for the perfect bikini body of 50 pounds heavier by September. Go me. Luckily, I don’t live somewhere that requires beach attire all year round….So anyways, ice cream. Mr. RC and I are constantly jumping at the chance to try new flavors, so when Carvel released their Nutella collection it was a no-brainer that we needed to have an ice cream date to try it out. I mean, nutella + ice cream…can you think of anything possibly being better?! They have a soft serve version and a couple of Nutella sundaes, but we both decided to try the hand-scooped ice cream because it also had the Carvel Chocolate Crunchies mixed in (more chocolate is always better in my book!). Then, with ice cream in hand, we wandered around the South Street Sea Port (ice cream + city wandering has to be one of my favorite dates for me and Mr. RC).

Since I’m sure at this point I’ve got you all screaming for ice cream (I mean, after all, who tortures people with ice cream talk first thing on a Monday morning?!), I have some exciting news for you! This coming Sunday, July 20th, is National Ice Cream Day (which you know I’ll be celebrating). If you’re a Carvel Fudgie Fanatic member, you will receive a coupon that’s good for a junior soft serve cup or cone for only 80₵ (you must sign up by end of day today, the 14th, to receive the coupon in time). If you’re not a member, sign up before the 20th to be entered to win a years worth of free ice cream. Also, watch my Instagram and Facebook page today for an announcement that you won’t want to miss (hint: it may involve free ice cream). Now, who’s off to eat some ice cream?!

Old Navy Striped Shirt Carvel Nutella Ice Cream flavor jean skirt how-to-wear-a-jean-skirt striped-shirt-and-jean-skirt Carvel Nutella Ice Cream J.Crew jean skirt summertime stripes striped shirt baseball hat and jean skirt all-american outfit Carvel Ice Cream French Connection Hat c/o // Old Navy Shirt (in store for $0.97…yes, really) & Bag // J.Crew Jean Skirt via a thrift store (similar here) // Report Signature Shoes // Revlon Lipstick in “Ravish Me Red” // Chantecaille Gloss in “Magic”

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Carvel provided me with gift cards to try their products, but all opinions are my own.