Wednesday, May 15, 2019

Smelling like dirt ...

One of the things I love best about moving out to the country is playing in my garden.  This past winter seemed unusually long and brutally cold here in Iowa.  So perhaps that has made me even more anxious to get out and dig in the dirt!  Now The Old Farmers Almanac and my wise father have always advised me not to plant anything before May 9th (or about Mother's Day), as that is the predicted last Spring frost date for my area.  Mother Nature is often teasing me with a few warm days before May 9th, so this year I lived on the edge and planted my herbs in my window boxes on the back porch on May 3rd. 😏  AND of course I was draping those boxes with sheets 3 nights later when frost was predicted overnight!! 😳

But anyway, last year I discovered that I really like having fresh herbs just a few steps from the kitchen rather than all the way out in the garden.  They are handy when cooking and add an interesting bit of greenery in with the flowers that decorate my back porch.

I have 6 of these baskets along my porch railing and a good selection of common herbs that I use in my recipes.  I encourage you to try creating your own kitchen herb garden too.  Its a great way to always have fresh herbs handy for recipes and save some money at the grocery store!

8 Easy Herbs to try Growing in Containers

1. Basil
3. Rosemary
4. Cilantro
5. Chives
6. Parsley
7. Mint
8. Dill

I look for starter plants in the garden center at my local stores and pick up a bag or two of fresh potting soil.  Be sure your pots or containers have good drainage holes so excess water can drain off and prevent pooling at the roots causing root rot or fungus issues.  Transplant your new baby herbs and leave plenty of growing room per container.  My herbs have morning sun and afternoon shade.  Containers and window box soils dry out quickly so water often, especially in very hot weather!  
And I feed the plants with liquid fertilizer about once a month. 

Below is a favorite recipe for a light summer dinner - I use fresh home grown herbs and salad greens!

Rosemary & Thyme Chicken w/ Berries Salad (4 servings)

3 cups fresh spinach
3 cups fresh bib lettuce
4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
1 cup sliced fresh strawberries
1/3 cup grated parmesan or asiago cheese
1/4 cup butter
Season salt
Black pepper
Fresh Thyme and Rosemary
Bottled Poppy Seed salad dressing

Preheat oven to 375 degrees and melt butter in a 9 x 13 glass baking dish. Place chicken breasts in baking dish and turn to coat with butter.  Sprinkle with season salt and pepper.  Chop several fresh sprigs of Thyme and Rosemary and sprinkle over chicken.  Bake for 12 minutes.  Turn and season other side and add more herbs.  Return to oven and bake an additional 12-14 minutes.  While the chicken is baking wash and chop salad greens and strawberries.  Slice chicken breasts over salad greens. Sprinkle with strawberries and cheese and a few more fresh herbs.  Serve with Poppy seed salad dressing.


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Let's go get dirty!  You can find me in the garden.
~ Connie

In the spring, at the end of the day, you should smell like dirt.  ~Margaret Atwood 

Wednesday, May 1, 2019

Down a gravel road ...

My name is Connie and I'd like to Welcome you to my Blog -

The "Prairie Chick" refers to myself and my return to rural life in Iowa a couple of years ago.  I grew up in Iowa (not on a farm) but as a small town/somewhat rural area girl. 😉  After college at a large mid western university, I was excited to move to my "big girl" life in Chicago!  I worked in both the city and the suburbs as an interior and graphic designer for over 28 years.  All the while, my husband and I raised our four children in the charming suburb of Glen Ellyn, Illinois.  We led your typical crazy, busy suburban lives with jobs, friends, kid sports, church activities, piano lessons, etc.  It was a great life, but as our kids headed off to their colleges and the nest started to empty ... we began to think about our next adventure.  We had long talked of moving out of suburbia and dreamed of owning some place out in the country.  

My wonderful husband works in the technology industry and is able to work from anywhere.  And over the years I have transitioned from corporate design work to freelancing from my home.  So with the kids finishing up high school and moving on to college, we began to explore the possibility of finding our dream home out in the Iowa countryside.  Within the span of four months in early 2017, we found our dream property,  sold our home in Illinois,  worked out the details of working remotely and moved 10 miles outside a small town in central Iowa.  

We still wake up every morning (almost 2 years later) and can't really believe we made such a life change.  And we still sit on our front porch most evenings and are so happy that we did it!

With this blog I will be sharing fast and easy recipes (featuring some fresh goodness from my garden), art and design projects that I am working on (and creating my "Tiny House Art Studio).  I hope you'll come along to see what's happening down our gravel road! 😉

Love & Hugs,


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