lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

hello March

Hallelujah, it’s finally March. It’s still snowing here in Northern Illinois but March is here and with it the knowledge that spring is just around the corner. I admit that I tend to hibernate a bit in the cold winter months but now, as the days grow a little longer and the sun shines a little brighter, I can feel my energy level rising.

Also rising are all of my seedlings that I planted in early February. This was the earliest I could start them this year, due to an incredible birthday trip to the French Quarter that my husband surprised me with for my birthday.

Though I used to try and start a number of plants indoors, now I just start tomatoes, peppers and eggplant. New this year, I also started some Imperial Star artichokes, which I’m really hoping gives us some of my favorite veggies this summer. We didn’t have much luck with these the last time we tried, but this time we got an early start. I’ll keep you posted on my progress.

Here’s one of my beautiful tomato plants:


That’s just a little piece of heaven in my book. A lot of my seeds this year are from Sustainable Seed Company and they germinated quite nicely. I don’t usually start my seeds in Jiffy pots but my mom gave me a bunch of them and I think we all know how I hate for things to go to waste. So this year, I’m back to Jiffy pots and everything is looking good.

Here’s a shot of one of my artichoke plants:


I also started some purple Violetta artichokes, which I ordered from Reimer Seeds, but the first batch failed to sprout so I just planted my second round. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for those.

If you’ve not seen any of my previous posts on seed starting, I plant mine in pots with a base of potting soil and then a 2-inch topping of seed starter. This way, the seed starter is light enough to help the seeds sprout well but the base gives the roots something to really latch onto as they grow.

Also, I have a smallish, portable 3-shelf greenhouse with a cover that I use for starting my seeds. This helps hold in the heat and moisture until everything has sprouted. Lastly, I’m very lucky to have tons of windows to provide lots of sunshine and warmth for my seedlings.

It won’t be long now before we’re tilling up the garden and planting leeks – these will be another “first attempt”, so wish me luck. Man, I love leeks! Then come radishes, beets, peas, lettuce, greens and onions – I ordered some cool black radishes this year that I’m very excited about. Finally, typically in mid-May, everything else will go in – tomatoes, peppers, eggplant, squash, beans, fennel, carrots, etc.

I can’t wait! Are you growing veggies this year? What’s on your garden planner? I’d love to talk veggies, flowers, herbs and dirt…let me know what you’re looking forward to the most.

lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

please excuse my mess

If you’ve been a previous visitor to my site, then you can see I’ve made some big changes recently. With a desire to have more control over my content and design, I decided to make the move to a self-hosted site and, with that decision, have thrown my site into a bit of upheaval in the past few days.

I just want to say a big “Thank You” to all my friends and followers for putting up with these changes and I hope you’ll stick with me as I redesign and configure my new “home” here.

I also want to wish you all a very Happy Holiday, no matter what holiday it is you celebrate. I celebrate Christmas and am looking forward to a wonderful time spent with family and friends. Our Christmas tree is up, our lights are out, our home is decorated (well, as much as I decorate anyway) and my fridge and pantry are packed to the gills. I’m truly blessed.

sidecar cocktail lola rugula


Thanks for being a part of my journey here. Cheers!

lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

reading material

My husband bought me a Kindle as an anniversary gift years ago, when they first came out, and I truly love it. The ability to have an almost-endless variety of books at my disposal 24 hours a day is a dream come true for me.

I bought the much-upgraded Kindle Paperwhite for my mom’s birthday last year and she loves hers, too. I admit I love the touch functions and backlighting on hers, but I’m hard-pressed to give up my original, because I’m terribly sentimental that way.

I’m not always the first to read a best-seller, but my hands-down favorite this year was the Pulitzer Prize winning “The Goldfinch“.

The goldfinch by donna tart.png

Here’s the description from Amazon:

“The Goldfinch is a rarity that comes along perhaps half a dozen times per decade, a smartly written literary novel that connects with the heart as well as the mind….Donna Tartt has delivered an extraordinary work of fiction.”–Stephen King, The New York Times Book Review

Theo Decker, a 13-year-old New Yorker, miraculously survives an accident that kills his mother. Abandoned by his father, Theo is taken in by the family of a wealthy friend. Bewildered by his strange new home on Park Avenue, disturbed by schoolmates who don’t know how to talk to him, and tormented above all by his longing for his mother, he clings to the one thing that reminds him of her: a small, mysteriously captivating painting that ultimately draws Theo into the underworld of art.

As an adult, Theo moves silkily between the drawing rooms of the rich and the dusty labyrinth of an antiques store where he works. He is alienated and in love–and at the center of a narrowing, ever more dangerous circle.

The Goldfinch is a mesmerizing, stay-up-all-night and tell-all-your-friends triumph, an old-fashioned story of loss and obsession, survival and self-invention, and the ruthless machinations of fate.

This book truly enthralled me and made me lose more than a few night’s sleep because I simply couldn’t put it down. I browsed through some of the reviews on Amazon and Barnes & Noble before posting this and was surprised at the number of people who disliked this book immensely. The most common complaints seems to be that it’s too long, too wordy, and/or too depressing.

With 784 pages, it is without a doubt a long read. Though I didn’t anticipate the dark areas that this novel delves into, I still found it riveting. Life is not always sunshine and roses and neither is this book.

Have you read The Goldfinch? Did you love it or hate it?

Do you own a Kindle? I’m curious to hear what version you have and what you like or don’t like about it. Though I’m still contemplating upgrading mine, for now I’m pretty darned happy with the one I have.

lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

sowing the seeds of love

Hello. It’s me – terrible, horrible, non-posting blogger.

Yes, I’ve been a gardening fool and yes I’ve neglected my little blog a bit. But, even worse, I’ve not had the time to visit all of my favorite blogs and today I’m beginning my journey to remedy that.

I’ll be trying, in the next week or so, to catch up, comment and enjoy your photos, your recipes, your writings and your musings.

Until then…here’s a flower from my garden:

lola rugulaThere…don’t you feel better? I know I do.

lola rugula how to make easy pasta carbonara

random ramblings

I said it on my last post but I’ll say it again: I’ve been a terrible blogger lately. Between veggie gardens, flower gardens, 24 yards of mulch and spring cleaning, I’ve had zero time on my hands. There are always a few weeks in the spring that I feel like this and usually a few weeks in the fall, when veggies are being harvested and preserved.

If I’ve not stopped by your blog recently, believe me, it’s coming. I’m looking forward to the afternoon I get to sit back with my laptop and a cold beverage and catch up with everyone!

I just harvested the last of our spring easter egg radishes and did find the time to snap a few photos:

lola rugula easter egg radishes lola rugula easter egg radishesMy husband and I like radishes so much that they rarely make it into a recipe or even a salad; typically we eat them out of the fridge like they’re candy within a matter of a few days.

Are any of you going garden crazy? Or maybe already taken a vacation, or planning one? Maybe you’re finding time to relax and kick back a bit? I’d love to hear what you’re up to and again, am looking forward to catching up on all your blogs!