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Showing posts from 2011

Warm Spiced Cider - A Special Holiday Treat!

Image from For my birthday this year, my sister outdid herself. She bought me these Mason Jar Mugs from Pottery Barn, one of the most magical places on earth.

But beyond that, she provided me with the ingredients to make this fabulous, Hot Spiced Cider (recipe displayed above). It is too delicious not to share. This is certainly something you will want to try at any holiday parties or with family on Christmas Eve. This recipe serves 6.

Hot Spiced Cider
6 Cups Apple Cider
3 Cinnamon Sticks
30 Whole Cloves
8 Slices Crystalized Ginger
3/4 cup Calvados or other Apple Brandy  In a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat, combine the cider, cinnamon sticks, cloves and crystalized ginger. (I crushed the spices with a mortar and pestle before throwing it in the saucepan.)Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low. Cover partially and simmer for 30 minutes.Ladle the cider into mugs, adding some of the spices to each. Stir 2 tbsp Apple Brandy into each mug and serve immediately.
What ar…

A Reassessment of Goals

A year ago, I was preparing for the holiday season weighing about 15 pounds more than I currently do. I was proud of myself for having lost 15 pounds up to that point, but I knew I had a lot further to go. I did not have any set goals other than to look great on my wedding day.

I modified my goals as we got closer to the big day. I focused on being fit, rather than being skinny, incorporating weight training into my everyday work outs. I decided that weight was just a number on the scale, and that I should measure my success by how I feel.

Shortly after the wedding, I made a commitment to myself to push further than what I thought I was capable of and to complete a half marathon. The thought of completing a half marathon was daunting, but if I did not try, I would never know. With a few 5ks under my belt, I signed up for a half marathon and created a training schedule.

With training for a half marathon, as with most things in life, you have to be prepared to adapt. For example, last w…

Foamies Craft for Baby

I had great success and popularity with the Established Family craft I posted back in October, both in the blogosphere and with those whom I gifted this craft to. Such success, that I decided to recreate this as a craft for baby.

Ladies and gentleman, I give you the Foamies Craft for Baby! Oh how fun!

This particular craft was created for baby boy Trevor, expected February 2012. His loving parents have created a jungle oasis for his nursery, complete with banana tree wall decal, and plenty of greens and browns to make the tiniest monkey feel right at home.

This project follows the instructions given in The Established Family craft post (found here), with the addition of a few steps and a fun material that I had never worked with before: Foamies Sticky Back Foam Sheets.

Available at most craft stores, I picked up a multicolor pack of Foamies like the one pictured from JoAnn Fabric and Crafts. Also from JoAnn, I grabbed a pack of pre-cut flowers and vines. I may not have worked with foa…

Wednesday Weighin... sort of...

This past week has been a balancing act. Work, meals, cleaning, decorating, spreading Christmas cheer... the work is never done. I am so proud of myself and the way I have balanced all of my responsibilities, lately.

I have not missed a beat with training. I am proud to report that I continue to increase my mileage and my pace on the treadmill. I completed a four mile run this weekend, which has been my longest treadmill run to date. It was a constant mental battle, but I finished, and the three miles I ran today were a breeze because of it.

This week's training schedule:

Now, my diet... or lack thereof... well it is the season. But still, if you are going to consume holiday treats, you want to make sure they are worth every calorie. What follows is exactly that. A holiday treat that is worth every calorie and never fails to leave you with a smile. Consume in moderation, and at your own risk. (I have been allowing myself one, one-inch-square a day.)

Creme de Menthe Brownies


Recipe on the Run

Now that we are in the middle of the holiday rush, do you feel like the sky is falling down? Don't know what or when to cook dinner? Here is a slow cooker recipe that is quick to throw together and produces fall-off-the-bone, juicy chicken!

Slow Cooker Chicken
2-3lb Chicken
1 Chicken Bouillon
Salt and Pepper
Aluminum Foil
Slow Cooker (Crock Pot)

Wad three to five pieces of aluminum foil into three to four inch balls and place them in the bottom of the slow cooker.Place the chicken bouillon in the bottom of the slow cooker and pour over two cups of water. Clean the chicken with cool water and pat dry. Season the chicken with the paprika, garlic, thyme, salt and pepper.Place the chicken in the slow cooker on top of the crumbled aluminum foil.Set the slow cooker to High for 1 hour, then turn down to Low for about 8 to 10 hours, or until the chicken is no longer pink and the juices run clear.This is the perfect recipe to prepare in the morning and let cook while you…

All I Want for Christmas is my Garmin 305...

The basic joys of running are pretty simple. Everyone has the ability to do it, you can do it anywhere, and it is free. That is, until you start signing up for races, putting mileage on your shoes and decide to invest in expensive training equipment.

Over the years, the contents of my Christmas list has varied. When I was younger, the N64 was the big ticket item. When I was in college, I wanted a nice winter coat and purse to keep up with the cool rich kids. Now that I am an adult (arguably), my hobbies have changed, and invariably so has the Christmas list.

Instead of handbags or Nintendo Wii games, a Garmin Forerunner 305 tops my list this year. Granted, it is not the most fashionable accessory, but it beats carrying my phone to use my Verizon GPS whilst I run through the sketch scene that is my neighborhood.

And while we are on the topic of running through the neighborhood, an iPod shuffle would do nicely to cover up the sounds of catcalls from passersby. If ever you feel down abou…

Leftovers Week!

Photo from
Well it is no secret that I took the last week off to pack on the winter pounds. How else am I supposed to stay warm during the dark, cold winter months?!

Thanksgiving provided a bountiful spread of mashed potatoes, gravy, green bean casserole, cranberries, pickled onions, homemade dinner rolls, yams, corn, stuffing and of course Turkey! Among other things... And let us not discuss the dessert. O the dessert! I made my first pumpkin roll, an apple pie; and then of course there was the pecan pie, the pumpkin pie, and the... but I digress...

Drooling yet? Well don't wipe up that pool just yet. It's about to get worse...

What is better than Thanksgiving dinner? Thanksgiving Leftovers!

I stole this recipe from Everyday Food, a Martha Stewart Magazine. And of course, I put my own spin and flavor in it. As a disclaimer, this recipe is just as delicious with leftover turkey and potatoes as it is with the fresh stuff. Try it this or any week!

Turkey and …

The Turkeys and I are on Strike

The Turkeys and I are on strike until after the Thanksgiving Holiday. But I promise to update as soon as I wake up from my tryptophan and black Friday hangover.

Chance's Anniversary

Part of being a fit for life wife is being a fit mom. Now, I may not have a baby with two legs, but I do have a baby with four legs, and he is just as special to me.

Welcome home, Chance!
We adopted Chance Nov. 19, 2010 from Second Hope Rescue. We had just lost our beloved cat, Cowboy, to feline leukemia, and I could not bare to have another cat replace him. Cowboy had such personality swagger. He was loving, thoughtful (he never pooped outside his litter box), comforting, and above all things, he was an excellent companion. I swear to you that this cat would talk to us... but that is another story. The point is, without Cowboy in our home, there was a void. A gaping, icy void.

That being said, my heart melted the moment Chance came into our home. He has a pizazz unlike any pooch I have ever met. His energy is phenomenal, albeit annoying at times like when I want to sleep in on Saturday, but oh no! Puppy wants to play! He is a proud dog. He prances like he is in a showplace arena whe…

Wednesday Whoops!

I am a little late posting this week's Wednesday Weigh in. Hectic day: work, drumming up some side work, and an HOA meeting. Surprisingly enough, the HOA meeting was the highlight of the day.

I came home ready to call it quits, but I had a fire burning inside me and the only way to put it out was to create a breeze by running. Okay, that was totally cheesy. And what is worse, there is no breeze when you run on a treadmill.

I got all of my runs and workouts in last week until Saturday came around...

This weekend was wildly busy. Hubby and I finally got to unpacking wedding gifts and rearranging our house to make room. That means lots of trips to Lowes and a trip out of town to purchase my first big girl sofa!

Isn't she lovely? Isn't she wonderful?
Unfortunately, I did not run on Saturday as a result of all the hoopla. There was no rest, however. We put together two storage units in the basement. How did they get down there, you ask? Hubby and I carried them, then built th…

Decisions, Decisions

The quarter-life crisis is the new mid-life crisis, and I am starting to feel like I am facing one.

I have been waxing poetic a lot lately about the idea of going back to school. Unfortunately, we live in an area where there are not a whole lot of options in the way of continuing education. Second problem: since I have my degree in Journalism (a Bachelor of Arts) and I work in the engineering field, I would have to take a bunch of undergraduate courses before beginning any Masters programs in Engineering or Computer Science. Third, and most importantly, I am tired of sitting at a desk all day.

Possible solutions I have brainstormed include taking courses online to complete a degree, staying with my parents during the week while taking classes at a state school and coming home on the weekends, taking a lesser paying job wherein my bank account would be less full, but I would feel fulfilled in my work and have a lesser commute. This last option is also ideal for starting a family withi…

Loaded Potato Soup - Lite

A photographer I am not. As the weather turns cooler with winter's approach, I turn to cold weather recipes to warm up the Hubby and I.

I saw this recipe for Lightened Loaded Potato Soup on Pinterest, and I had to give it a try! I made my own modifications to the recipe, of course.

For starters, sour cream had to be removed from the ingredient list as Hubby despises mayonnaise, salad dressings, and generally anything white and creamy. This includes sour cream, unfortunately. I argued it is an essential ingredient in a loaded potato, but we did not have any in the house and I did not want to go to the store for one item... but I digress.

I also replaced green onions with garlic chives that were miraculously still growing in my garden, which I have long since ceased caring for this year (A wedding will force you to neglect other aspects of your life).

The original recipe also calls for preparing the potatoes and bacon in a microwave, which we do not have. So my instructions are for…

Cowboy: The Cat, The Myth, The Legend

Our final moments. It was one year ago today that, with deep regret and personal turmoil, we had our beloved cat Cowboy put to sleep. Cowboy suffered from Feline Leukemia (FeLV) and developed lymphoma later on. With a weakened immune system, there was no course of treatment that wouldn't cause more damage to his health. We had three short years with him, but we cherished every moment.

We first met Cowboy, a disheveled and discarded cat, roaming the streets of Baltimore City. A little worse for wear, he was bone thin and had some jacked up crooked teeth. We were visiting my sister-in-law's house for a Labor Day cookout. Hubby's sister had taken to feeding Cowboy as a stray, and so he liked to hang around her place.

Before I had met Cowboy, I had sworn off cats. I thought they were prissy, unfriendly and sneaky creatures, able to cause chaos virtually undetected with their stealthy ninja abilities; leaping fences in a single bound, hiding the sounds of their movements with …

Rock Steady

With a week of moderate training, a mock Thanksgiving dinner, and 13 hours in a car over the weekend, seeing the number on the scale has not budged is a blessing. I was fully prepared for a raise in weight this week (I say this now that I didn't have to see a raise on the scale). Having one weekend a month to let yourself go is not the worst thing in the world. What is? Letting yourself go completely.

Knowing I had an off weekend filled with holiday fun has prepared me to step up my game in training this week. Staying steady at 128 pounds is fine by me. The flab on top of the jeans that I'm starting to see creep back? Not fine.

I am so ready to get my butt kicked in cross training today (Jillian Michaels is my punishment of choice). In fact, I am looking forward to it. I ran an easy 3 miles last night. While that was great for cardio and for helping me to achieve my goal of completing a half marathon in March, I need to focus on strength training tonight. I worked hard to fi…

Inspiring Words

Today's inspirational quotes are brought to you by Mark Twain, Runners World, and boredom in the workplace. Hooray, boredom in the workplace!

Dream big, but allow yourself the opportunity to start small, and have your share of struggles in the beginning. The world's great composers weren't writing symphonies the day they first sat at a piano.

Kevin O'Rourke, Marathoner
It is easy to become discouraged when striving to achieve a goal. It is easier still to see obstacles between yourself and your goal and throw your hands up in the air and say, "I give up!" It is important to remember that nothing worth doing comes easily. This quote is a fabulous reminder of that fact.

The road to success is a long bumpy one, and sometimes it gets lonely out there. My best advice is to dig in and do the next thing. I heard a sermon once wherein the minister described the path to achieving a goal as a mountain. At first, when you see obstacles, they look like a giant mountain b…

Training Day

Over the weekend, I received an email reminder from the Rock n Roll Half Marathon that I have 19 weeks until my first half marathon. 19 weeks may seem like a long time, but since they have put a countdown on it, I am feeling the pressure!

So today I have created a training calendar to keep myself and my running mate on track.

Feel free to take advantage of this calendar and use it yourself, I made it public for you. How sweet of me?!

This calendar is a modification of the 12 week Novice 2 schedule for half marathon training created by Hal Higdon. Since I have an extra seven weeks, I added in a few more long runs and some cross training days. I believe cross training was a big help in building my endurance when training for my 5-Ks. I will be using Jillian Michaels' 30 Day Shred dvd, more likely than not. It is an ass butt kicker!

You'll notice that towards the end of the training period, a 5-K race and a 10-K race are involved. We are on the lookout for races on those days. If…

Today I'm thankful for...

I have been a bit stressed lately. Spread thin does not even begin to cover it. I find the best thing to do when you are feeling like you cannot keep your head above water is to list the things you are thankful for.

So, today I am thankful for:
My husband, whose love and support has carried me for six years to achieve the things I did not think I was capable of and to become the person I am today. May we have many more years together to continue to grow and love.My family, which just got larger in the last month. I am so blessed to be joining Hub's family, who I have thought of as an extended family since day one. My own family who loves and supports me through my endeavors. Let's not leave out our furbaby either. He has been an incredible blessing in our home.My beautiful home, which becomes warmer every day we spend in it. With myself, Hubby and God in this house, no one can stand against us. It is my sanctuary.My treadmill. I try to leave out the material possessions when I …

After much research...

... and consideration, we are the proud owners of a brand new
Livestrong LS10.0T Treadmill!

Dick's Sporting Goods just opened nearby. I had already done a considerable amount of research online and review reading before heading to the store. Lucky for us, they had this beauty for an incredibly reasonable price.

Fact: The Livestrong LS13.0T has a 5 inch longer track, .25 more horsepower, and 2 percent steeper incline than the LS10.0T. Another Fact: My basement is pressed for space, I can touch the ceiling at 12 percent incline and Husband is under 6 feet, so the longer track would not benefit us. Final fact: We saved $200 by not going overboard.

Don't be tempted by all the bells and whistles just because they are within your reach. Be reasonable. The 10.0T does everything I want it to, and has great impact absorption (the tracks of the 10.0T and 13.0T have the same impact technology).

Details: The setup was super easy. Instructions were easy to read and all of the pieces were …

Luminaries from Leftovers

So our new Pottery Barncoffee tables came yesterday and they are beautiful. Spare me any lectures you might have on the cost of Pottery Barn, they were on sale and I got a 10% Registry Completion Discount. I love Pottery Barn and you can't change my mind. Nope, nope, nope!

So anyway, now I have these awesome tables but they looked fabulously naked bare in the middle of our living room.

Looking at them, I knew I needed baskets, mason jars, candles and vase filler, but I didn't have those items lying around the house. **Light Bulb** Why not use some leftover pieces from the wedding?

Enter vellum, glass beads, LED candles, glue dots, and a pair of small square vases that have been hiding in my linen closet since we moved here over three years ago. (Holy cow has it been that long?!) Most of these materials were leftover from the table number luminaries I created for the wedding (shown at right).

I threw together a quick design in Photoshop to print out on the vellum paper. When p…

And the weight is coming off (again)!

So today I dutifully stepped on the scale, as I do most Wednesday mornings, to see that my training and hard work last week has begun to pay off. SCORE!

I'm down 1.4 lbs since last week, birthday cake and all!

I wasn't entirely strict with my diet over the weekend. Birthdays are tough on the waistline. Nevertheless, keeping the sushi, hibachi, and cake to a minimum and working it into my overall daily caloric goals saved me some major disappointment on the scale.

I began training for a half-marathon last week, so activity was at an all time high. Maybe not all time, but it was at the highest point since running the Warrior Dash in May. I ran the first three days of the Couch to 5K (C25K) program to ease back into running.

Yesterday, I completed a 2 mile run in just under 21 minutes. Not too shabby for the first week back at it! I have to keep reminding myself not to push too hard too fast. Thankfully, my lovely lady friend who convinced me to sign up for this …

Pressed for Time

"The best laid plans of mice and men often go awry." -- Robert Burns
No matter how much planning we do, it's a law of science that if something can go wrong, it will go wrong. Trust me, it's science.

But seriously, all of these idioms exist for a reason. No matter how much planning we do, we cannot account for all events that come our way. As such, my best laid plans to train for this half marathon have already gone of the track.

Staying late for work, traffic on my afternoon commute, calling financial institutions to change my legal name, and the lack of day light have all conspired against me to cause me to miss my training for the first time. Three for four isn't bad, right?

There are so many things that can conspire against us to keep us from attaining our fitness goals. But even if you don't have time to get to the gym or don't make it for your evening run, here's a few ways that you can burn a few extra calories throughout the day:

1. Park as fa…

This Established Family...

... just got a little bit craftier!
I not only strive to be a fit wife, but a wife fit for a king! We're talking cooking, cleaning, gardening, and crafting to make this house feel like a home. Leading up to the wedding, we were tight on the budget. We wanted to get through the wedding without any debt. Now that we've passed that hurdle, let the homemaking begin!

Friday I posted about temptations. One of my temptations was a craft project I've had waiting for me since last weekend. Today I took the time to finish it up!

I originally found this craft inspiration on Pinterest, from a blog that I mentioned the other day (Delightfully Noted). I thought it was a perfect step to homebodying our home.

First I had to gather all the materials.

Notice the can of spray stain. I wanted to do a rich, warm, wood tone rather than a glossy spray paint in hopes that the color would pop and match the lighter, distressed color in the frame, as well as the tones and color scheme of our first …

It's my Birthday!

Today marks a quarter century since my birth. Saying it like that makes me feel kind of... old? But then I remember I have so much life left ahead of me, and my journey has only just begun!

I like to think of Friday's as "Temptation Friday," because there's always something just before the weekend that you're either a) really looking forward to, b) can't wait to avoid, c) have to do right now! These can be good temptations, or they can be devilish unwise temptations.

Today's temptation is a good one for me. I'm working from home and I'm fighting the temptation to throw my work to the wind and put my feet on the pavement. As of today, I am officially considering myself in training for the Rock n' Roll Half Marathon at our Nation's capital. As I'm making it official, a run at lunch with the pooch can't hurt productivity too badly can it?

My second temptation is to begin a craft project that I have been dying to get to. I purchased t…

Welp, it's Wednesday!

First, let me start off with saying that I do not condone daily weigh-ins. As I have written before (Choosing a Healthy Goal), choosing a fitness goal measured by how you look and feel is far more important than limiting yourself to a number on the scale. Furthermore, your body weight may fluctuate anywhere from one to five pounds at any given point in the day. That is why it is important to only weigh yourself once a week at the same time of day. For me, that's Wednesday morning before work.

So this morning was the first time I weighed myself since our return from the honeymoon. I weighed myself immediately upon our return, but we'll not discuss that here. It was unsettling.

The first week after the honeymoon, I kept telling everyone I was on the newly married, "letting myself go" diet. It worked and I enjoyed indulging myself on the honeymoon and for the first few days we were back, but then I found myself feeling lethargic and all and all, not very healthy. Your b…

Simple Scallops

One of my easiest go to meals for dinner is Scallops over Fried Rice. It takes about 30 minutes, give or take rice cooking time, and is delicious every time. Trust me, the hubster was not very familiar with fish when we first started dating, but I've made him a believer in scallops.

I've been working a lot of long days and, thanks to some road work, I have had a longer than usual commute time lately; so healthy, home cooked meals have been hard to come by since the wedding. I was thrilled to make it home in time to cook this meal for dinner. As a bonus, hubby had the rice ready and waiting for me when I got home. (Love you hubby!) To make things go quicker, I used frozen vegetables for this meal, though I typically peel carrots and chop onions and peppers.

As you'll see from this recipe, I don't often use measurements in my dinner recipes (baking is a completely other story). I also don't like to tell people how to season their foods because different people have …

I'm Back Y'all!

And I've got lots to tell you about. As some of you know, my hubby and I were married on Oct. 1. As such, I've been remotely enjoying his company and haven't bothered to check in.

We have a lot to do to get caught up, but I will be updating regularly again when things return to normal around here.

Until then, here's a gooey wedding photo by The Blonde Photographer to gush over.

The Final Fitting Faint

I see a fair amount of irony in the fact that I obsess over healthy eating and preach it to everyone I know, but don't always follow my own principles; the most important of them being to make sure I'm consuming enough calories.

Bottom line: Nobody's perfect.

I had my final dress fitting on Friday for the wedding (well, not quite final as the hem was incorrect and I have to go back one more time before picking it up, but I digress). I have been super organized and in go mode for the last month putting all the finishing touches on the wedding. Having taken off work Friday and the dress appointment being in the mid-afternoon, I took the opportunity to sleep in and make up for some of my sleep deficit.

Unfortunately, I slept well passed breakfast and woke up just before lunch time and had to get on the road right away. I insisted we stop for lunch along the way. Chick-Fil-A, naturally, was my choice. I consider this to be the best fast food, as far as healthy eating goes. It…

Counting the Calories for the Final Countdown!

I've been slacking in the updates here lately, and for that I apologize. As some of you know, I'm counting down the days until my wedding. Today we have entered single digits and it cannot come too soon! I'm ready to walk down the aisle, sporting my Essense of Australia gown, and flexing my muscles from all those push ups I've done in preparation for this day.

But the countdown isn't over in nine days, nor did it begin with the proposal. The countdown I'm talking about is for counting calories.

I mentioned before that I lost quite a bit of weight with South Beach Diet. I had even become a member of their site to plan our meals, chat on the forums with people in similar situations as me, and track my progress. Before long, I had plateaued and it became plain that cutting out processed foods and eating healthier carbs alone wasn't the answer.

Yes, I took up running and became more active; but I found myself to be lethargic and having less stamina on days where …

The Pizza Omelet!

I've been in a bit of a sprint to the finish with our wedding coming up and haven't had much time for preparing full meals. But fast food is pretty much the opposite of good for you food. Brinner (Breakfast for dinner) has always been a quick and easy alternative for dinner, but it can get boring. Why not spice it up?

Enter: the pizza omelet!

"Doesn't look delicious," you say? Think again. The key is in the marinara sauce.

Here's what I put into my pizza omelet; a few items I already had in my fridge, thankfully.

2 Eggs, Beaten
1/4 cup organic 1% milk
1/4 cup ricotta cheese
2 baby bella mushrooms, sliced
10 turkey pepperoni slices
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella
Ragu Chunky Marinara (it's what was in the fridge)

Beat the eggs, milk and ricotta together. Pour into hot pan. Let set. Spread marinara over top of egg to your liking. Place mushrooms and pepperoni slices. Cover with mozzarella.

Voila! I folded the egg creation like I would any omelet, and ate it wit…

Easy Garden Recipes

Coming off of my post about growing your own garden, I thought I might share some quick and easy recipes for sides or appetizers that I make frequently with fresh veggies from my garden.

Garden Fresh Pesto

Basil is always a strong herb in my garden; no matter how much I plant, we always end up with a bush taller than me. It's a good thing we like pesto! The above picture is of whole wheat rotini noodles with pan seared chicken, garden fresh tomatoes, mushrooms and pesto made from the recipe that follows.

3 cups packed fresh basil leaves
4 cloves garlic
1 cup grated Parmesan cheese (I add extra cheese liberally, it's kind of my thing)
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup slivered almonds
1/2 cup chopped fresh parsley (also picked from the garden)

Combine all ingredients in a blender or food processor, I prefer the Magic Bullet, and blend until smooth.

I love tossing this pesto with rotini because the ridges of the pasta pick up the creamy sauce quite nicely.

Spicy Garden Sal…

Grow Your Own Garden

Just over two years ago now, I became obsessed with reading Martha Stewart Living magazine. I'm talking obsessed. I started tearing out pages and leaving copies all over the house to the point that FI needed to have an intervention.

One of the greatest ideas Martha ever gave me was to grow my own garden. FI and I have a townhouse with minimal yard space, and when it really comes down to it, I'm kind of lazy and wanted to do as little work as possible. Sound like you? PERFECT! Keep reading!

FI and I decided that our best option with our limited space was a raised garden bed. We purchased a 6'x4'x1' garden bed and went to work. We filled it with a mix of Miracle Grow Garden Soil and regular old top soil as directed on the back of the Miracle Grow bag. We purchased a rake, a hoe, some gloves for getting dirty, some seeds and a professional greenhouse plant starter kit.

I drew a grid of my garden on a piece of paper to plan out what seeds needed to be planted where based …