How Does Your Garden Grow?

Moving from California to Tennessee has been an adventure, to say the least.

What I’ve found to be the most challenging, is the difference in climates.  For example, a Spring evening in (Northern) California consists of maybe an evening rain, an always-tempting glass of red wine, a cozy throw blanket and a good go-to movie and not having to water your plants because you know the consistent Spring weather pattern all too well.  Here in Nashville, I’ve learned the late Spring weather resembles that of a mood ring, you never really know when to expect an evening rain or sprinkle, accompanied by scattered thunderstorms, wind, humidity (so no cozy throw blanket necessary), possibly a pesky mosquito or two buzzing around your ears, an always-tempting glass of rose, or white wine (because it’s too warm for red) and having to water your plants in the evening because the 80+ degree weather dried up the soil from your earlier morning watering.

I am lucky because I had last Summer to learn a bit about how herbs, flowers and plants grow here.  During my job search, I had about three months to experiment with a variety of greens and flowers all thanks to my stepmom’s abundance of backyard space and raised garden beds that were a blank canvas for me to use. This was my third attempt at gardening and my first here in Tennessee. I am, by no means, a green thumb.  I just enjoy it enough to want to perfect it, which of course, is the OCD in me coming out.  I am envious of gardens that always look put together because you know how much work someone put into them (unless they have the funds for a landscaper to make things look pretty) but what fun is that if you don’t see the seeds, flowers and plants that you put down with your own hard work and dedication?

So last Summer, off I went to a local nursery here in town to ask what would work best for beginners (aside from the easy care of herbs).  The gentleman that helped me was not bad on the ole eyes, so I was a bit distracted but I really did learn something from him (really, I did)! I walked out with four varieties of tomato plants, squash, cucumber, carrots, zucchini, swiss chard and onions.

After watching these babies grow from seeds and the tomatoes shoot up, I went back to plant flowers and created a little garden space that I discovered was shared by the squirrels, tree frogs and bunnies [insert eye roll].

The taste of growing your own herbs and veggies is vastly different from store bought, even farmers markets, which I also love to go to (shop local and support smaller businesses)! There is also that instant gratification when you can bring a little basket out to pick your own homegrown veggies and cut your own fresh herbs, plus the money you save is also a win-win.

I now have my own home, with a blank canvas…1/4 of an acre blank canvas.  I know this year is merely experimental as I’ve been watching the sun patterns and as we approach the Summer months, I am fairly certain I’m not planting much more until the Fall (aka my absolute favorite season). I told myself this time next year, I’ll have it looking a little better than this year, just chipping away slowly at my garden masterpiece (eat your heart out Martha)! My stepmom bought me an awesome gardening book for Middle Tennessee and Kentucky, which is great as it goes through a year of gardening and guides you month-by-month.

Here are my tips for beginners, from what I’ve learned:

  1. Educate yourself on your climate and zone(s).  Get books (Amazon, a used book store, research online, or borrow from a friend/family/neighbor). Chat with your neighbors who have gardens, go to a local nursery and engage in conversation with someone who knows about your area.
  2. Commit yourself to watering (unless you have a dedicated irrigation system or gardener).  It’s not worth all the time and money to spend if you’re not going to commit to watering, weeding, thinning, etc., right?
  3. Experiment and have fun! Watching seeds grow, and flowers bloom is one of the joys of gardening.  They won’t always grow, or bloom, so try to learn from it all and have fun doing it!

Here are some pics from my small patio garden in California to the raised garden beds I planted last Summer.

Have a great week!

xoxo,
Sarah

 

Spring Cleaning or Khooneh Tekouni

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Hello Loves,

Before I dive into the body of this post, here’s a dose of reality…becoming a homeowner has pulled me in many directions – it has lured me into Home Goods for just ONE more pillow, Target to check out Magnolia’s latest line and coming home with new salt and pepper shakers but of course forgetting toilet paper, my local Ace Hardware because I really, really wanted to see what’s new in the gardening section, to planning how often to have the grass cut, asking vendors I work with on the daily how often I need to do this and do that, squirreling away reserves for last minute expenses but most importantly, guided me in the direction of getting my you-know-what together.  With tax season behind us (for those that did not file an extension), I have now decided, after much procrastination, to sit down and get my finances in order. 

Spring is a time for new beginnings (awakenings), new blooms (love me some fleurs), the ever famous “Spring Cleaning” (sometimes takes a gust of Spring wind to push you into the right mindset to find the motivation) and consider this as my sound advice (NOTE: I am by no means a wise owl, more a baby bird warming up my wings to home ownership) – create yourself an immediate, short and long-term list of things you need to accomplish. It has really steered me in the right direction to make more rational decisions as of late.  Ok, ok, aside from the occasional steak dinner splurge…did someone say ribeye!?

I did learn recently that the term “Spring Cleaning” could possibly originate to Iranians who continue the practice of “khooneh tekouni”, which literally means “shaking the house” just before the Persian New Year.  Everything in the home is thoroughly cleaned, from the drapes to the furniture.  I know you all can relate to that feeling of accomplishment, cleansing and letting go after some good old-fashioned Spring Cleaning, am I right? Thus, bringing one a sense of harmony.  There is an old Japanese term, simply called “Wa”, which translates to “harmony”.  I have discovered recently that merely by sitting at home, putting my phone on silent and going through finances, paperwork, clothes, the last remaining cardboard boxes, has brought me to feel the harmony, or that could very well be the homebody in me that I’ve come to love and really, really appreciate.

My other recent “awakening” has been to let go of the clutter. When I packed up for my move from California, I wanted to keep the things that really meant something and now that I’ve unpacked the majority of my boxes, there is quite a bit that I’m ready to let go of.  I admit, I do see a garage sale in my near future…am I becoming a minimalist, or am I realizing that tangible objects don’t hold as much sentiment and significance as photos, a phone call with family or friends back in California, the appreciation of having a roof over my head that is my little stake in the ground, having dinner with friends I’ve made here in Nashville, a visit with my dad and stepmom, snuggling with my dog, gardening, or having the weekends to consume myself with laughs, morning conversation and coffee with my boyfriend?  

In short and to recap, my advice is to let go of things that have an immediate need and focus more on the longer term.  Life is short and so is each season. I encourage you to do a little Khooneh Tekouni and find your Wa. 

Be cozy.  Stay home and save the money on that last minute splurge and just enjoy it.  You’ll be happy you did.  I speak (and write) from experience.

 

All my love, 

Sarah 

 

 

Spring Forward

IMG_1196“Some old-fashioned things like fresh air and sunshine are hard to beat.”                             –  Laura Ingalls Wilder

♥ Happy Spring, Chickens!♥

I find it fitting that it’s a new season and what better time for a fresh reemergence to my blog? I’ve truly missed my weekly posts and sharing my world with all of you.  It has been a great year thus far and I hope the same for all of you! 

I don’t know about you all but I’ve been running around like a busy bee these past few winter months and now, here were are in the latter part of March, say what??  As previously mentioned in earlier posts, I had been working meticulously (speaking of busy bees) towards becoming a first-time homeowner…well, I am happy to report that as of February 12th, my wish came true and all thanks to the constant support, love and advice of family and good friends.  It’s the perfect COZY cottage and everyday I fall more in love with its imperfections, its 62 year old bones (albeit good bones) and how layer by layer, I’m making it my very own.  I looked at new builds and while the straight lines, brand new appliances, fixtures, etc. are idyllic, there’s just something about the charm and character of an old home that tells a story.  

After getting all of my ducks in a row, I unpacked the majority of my boxes (ok, ok, I admit I do have several unpacked boxes stored in my garage aka “the staging area” as I refer to it and still have bits and pieces at my dad/stepmom’s house THANK YOU BOTH), I thought to myself, “Where does one start in a new home”? The inner Martha Stewart/Joanna Gaines in me wanted to get my kitchen and dining room set up immediately.  So, that’s where I continue to focus on.  Even though I find myself perusing Pinterest on the daily looking at gardening, fences, pergolas, flower beds, DIY shutters, etc., the list goes on…and on…someone told me “Welcome to home-ownership, the world of endless projects”.  No complaints here.  I am soaking up every moment. 

Last weekend, I attended Vintage Market Days at the Nashville Fairgrounds with two of my girlfriends.  I was overwhelmed to say the least! There were so many vendors, booths and all things Spring! What are some of your favorite Spring decor ideas, flowers and recipes that you love? I am feeling inspired and just what is it about Spring, that brings new beginnings, almost as if one hits the “refresh” button?  

A friend of mine organized an upcoming brunch and I thought it would be perfect to host at my house, which is distracting me from home projects and now am going all out to make it the perfect setting for friends. So, stay tuned for recipes, DIY decor and Spring accents!  

I’m perusing my photos and previous events I’ve hosted for some inspiration (pics below if you’re also feeling inspired with the upcoming Easter Holiday).  Well, in true Spring form, I’m going to hop to it and get on with the day.  Have a beautiful week and I hope you all look forward to reading these posts as much as I enjoy writing them!

xo,

Sarah

 

A Fresh Outlook

Happy, happy 2018 Friends!

It has been a few weeks since my last blog post as I was caught up in the whirlwind of the holidays!

How do they fly by and POOF! here we are at the end of the first day of 2018.  For the past three years, I have started an annual tradition of buying fresh, white flowers (Note: this year is a little different because I’m still at dad & stepmom’s, so she asked for my advice on what flowers to get for their NYE dinner party and I suggested white flowers, so that counts as carrying on the tradition, right)? There are so many meanings behind the color white.  The three that stand out most to me are beginnings, possibility and spirituality.

What are some traditions you have?

As I sit here with some jazz music playing softly in the background, in my cozy pajamas, (not entirely in the mindset that I have to get back to reality and go back to work tomorrow), I am really happy.

I have been reflecting on the past year and how much has changed for me.  Leaving a state I still call home, driving across country with my sidekick Coco, beginning a new life here and it now, really is starting to feel like home.  Last year, in a word, was adventure and I am excited for what is to come.  I’m excited to see what 2018 has in store for all of us and I wish you all a year of finding joy, peace and purpose.

xoxo,

Sarah

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Feeling Thankful

Good Morning Busy Bees!

The holiday season is well upon us and my social media accounts have been filled with all things festive and fun.  I am sure you can relate to the constant running around town visiting with family and friends, cooking, baking, shopping, entertaining, hosting, nesting, decorating, snuggled up watching holiday movies and so much more.

I wanted to apologize for not getting around to last week and following up on a Target gift card.  The truth is…I got “wrapped” up in all the holiday festivities, I went to Holiday Vintage Market Days here at the Nashville Fairgrounds with friends, attended a holiday charity event the following day, helped my stepmom prepare for her first holiday dinner party since they’ve remodeled their home, decorated my first Nashville Christmas tree and soaked in some of the most beautiful December sunsets. It has been a whirlwind and I am loving every minute of it.

This year especially, I am filled with gratitude. Consumed by it actually.  I have not felt this truly happy in quite some time. The most exciting news is the arrival of the newest member of our family, Nora Grace.  I cannot wait to meet you at Christmas sweet baby girl.

The weather has been dropping slightly in the last week, or so and in between the holiday chaos, I’ve managed to squeeze in some downtime to watch some holiday movies.  What are some of your must-see, feel-good movies during the holidays?

My top 5 holiday movie picks are:

♥ White Christmas

♥ The Holiday

♥ The Family Stone

♥ A Christmas Story

♥ National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation

Well, I am still in my jammies, have Christmas music playing in the background and making a list of ingredients to bake a lasagna this evening. Better hop to it and get going on this chilly Sunday morning.

Wishing you all a very happy week ahead!

Warmest Wishes,

Sarah

An apple (pie) a day..and a chance to win a gift card to Target!

♥Happiest of Sundays Friends!♥

I can hardly believe that Thanksgiving has come and gone.  What a whirlwind of a weekend! I hope all of you enjoyed your holiday with family and friends and all things cozy, of course. 

If you’re a lover of baking like I am, did you find yourself overwhelmed with all of the creative and fun recipes out there these days?

We were asked to bring dessert, so at least that narrowed it down for me…somewhat.  I had a hard time deciding what to choose and wanted to bake something classic, cozy and comforting.  After browsing Southern Living, Sift, Garden & Gun,  Real Simple and King Arthur magazines (to name a handful), I decided on mini apple pies – a Thanksgiving classic runner up behind pumpkin pies.  Simple I know, right? Well, sometimes opting for simple – especially during this time of year, is the way to go.  Never before had I baked mini pies, so I thought it would be the perfect dessert next to many, many others.  Plus you can’t feel a sense of guilt with a mini pie, right? So I rolled up my sleeves and channeled my inner Martha Stewart. See recipe and photos below. The best part is, you can create mini any-kind-of-pie, or two varieties, accompanied with a scoop of vanilla ice cream (I chose Madagascar Vanilla Bean).

RECIPE (I found it makes 24 mini pies, but you can cut the recipe in half for 12 mini pies):

♥ Preheat oven to 400

♥ Cut 8 cups of apples into small pieces ( I like to use a variety of different apples such as Granny Smith, Pink Lady and Red Delicious)

♥ Mix the apples with 12 tablespoons flour, 1½ cups of sugar, 3-4 heaping tablespoons of cinnamon and a ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg.  Be sure to mix well to coat.

♥ Cut 4 tablespoons of chilled butter into 24 equally sized portions and set aside

♥ 4 chilled (not frozen) pie crusts: you can make your own, or use pre-made such as Pillsbury, or Immaculate Baking (the latter is good for sweet and savory baking).  

♥ Unroll chilled pie crusts and use a large circular cookie cutter to cut out 24 (or 12 if you’re cutting the recipe in half) circular crusts. Line each cup of your muffin tin with a crust, creating a catch-all vs. pushing crust to base of tin. Push little grooves into siding. Carefully line crusts with apple filling and place 2 pieces of butter on top of each pie. 

♥ This is the fun part and where you can be creative.  Top each pie with a cutout of your choosing with remaining dough.  I used small cookie cutter hearts.  Place on top of each pie. Brush with melted butter if you’d like and sprinkle with sugar.

♥ Bake for 18-22 minutes (I checked every 10 minutes).

♥ Serve with a scoop of ice cream and enjoy!

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I even had a little leftover apple mixture and made a small apple pie with a squirrel cutout (thanks to my stepmom’s, who is also an avid baker, spectacular stockpile of cookie cutters).

Target has some great cookie cutter sets – the first two by one of my favorite designers (Joanna & Chip Gaines’ new line).  They’re all under $10, which is an even better score!

https://www.target.com/p/stainless-steel-bell-cookie-cutter-3pk-hearth-hand-153-with-magnolia/-/A-52611431#lnk=sametab

https://www.target.com/p/stainless-steel-house-cookie-cutter-3pk-hearth-hand-153-with-magnolia/-/A-52611453#lnk=sametab

https://www.target.com/p/cookie-cutter-set-threshold-153/-/A-52363341#lnk=sametab

Well, tomorrow is back to the grind.  I’d love to hear what you’ve been baking up this Fall, and would love to feature a few of your favorite Fall recipes on an upcoming post!

To make this fun, email your creative dessert recipes (and photo of dessert, if possible) to: zavasarah@gmail.com for an automatic entry for a drawing of $50 gift card to Target! Entries accepted until midnight Saturday, December 2nd, CST.  Winner will be selected and announced on Sunday, December 3rd and featured on my blog. 

Have a wonderful week ahead!

XOXO,
Sarah

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

A Warm Heart (and a holiday DIY)

Happy Sunday Loves!

It is with a warm heart that I write today’s post.  My mom and my most favorite aunt are here visiting me in Nashville. It has been a busy weekend of playing tour guide – from cozy conversation while sitting under the twinkling holiday lights at Opryland, to country back-road drives, to warm and buttery biscuits from Loveless Cafe, to introducing them to some friends I’ve made here.  What a whirlwind!

One of the hardest things I did was leave family and friends in California.  I have reflected on this every now and again and if I could have one wish, it would be to have all of them in one town.  While I know this is impossible, I realize that they are with me and have been all along…the endless amount of support that I carry with me, that constant drive and focus and the abundance of love.

There are some days I get into an especially creative spirit and find it therapeutic to craft or bake something fun!

As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, there is something purely magical about this time of year and there are many days that I like to spend cozy at home, perusing Pinterest, cookbooks, magazines for fun projects that I can create for family and friends.  I found an easy, thrifty and fun DIY for the upcoming holidays and thought I’d share with you.  Photos following.  You can get all of the supplies from Michael’s for under $20…use those coupons! They’re really cute tied onto a gift basket or present. I hope you enjoy!

DIY

 

Well, I am off to another fun day of adventures, so I wish all of you a very Happy Thanksgiving!

XOXO,
Sarah

 

‘Tis the Season!

Hi Friends!

I missed my Sunday post last week as it seems to be that time of year when the days fly by and here we are with the wonderful smells of Thanksgiving just around the corner.

Last week I had the opportunity to travel to New York and I say this because I know many of you can relate, what is it about Autumn in New York? There’s definitely something magical about it.  I had a couple of days to myself and I found myself walking around Central Park, visiting The Met, falling in love with a photo simply named “Subway Florist”, which grabbed my eye immediately and afterwards, as I was walking around the Upper East Side, I found this cozy French Brasserie, Jacques.  It was exactly the kind of place I love – intimate, cozy and warm.  If you’re in New York, definitely make the time to find this hidden gem https://www.jacquesbrasserie.com/.  I ordered the mussels, a cheese plate and a glass of wine, that came highly recommended by the mysterious and alluring bartender.  He had that [obvious] je ne sais quoi, though he did know his French wine because he talked me into ordering a second glass. Yikes.

Walking the streets of New York made me miss the “bright lights, big city” vibe of San Francisco, though as fast paced as it is, I was happy to get home to Nashville.  I am in awe of how much my life has changed within the past year and I am grateful for every moment.

Other places worth checking out in New York, which I frequent when visiting:

  • SoHo: Balthazar http://balthazarny.com/
  • MidTown: The BlueBell Cafe http://www.thebluebellcafenyc.com/
  • MidTown: Rocco’s Steakhouse http://www.roccosteakhouse.com/
  • Bronx: Dominick’s http://www.bronxlittleitaly.com/merchants/restaurants/dominicks-restaurant/

I hope you enjoy the photos below as much as I enjoyed taking them.  While these are only a glimpse into my trip, I hope they warm your heart as much as they did mine. Until next time New York.

Have a wonderful week ahead.

xo,

Sarah

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Family + Friends = A Perfect Recipe

It’s a chilly Sunday evening and I have found myself in the habit of writing in the mornings. The leaves have fallen all over the backyard, they are the prettiest colors and I’ve managed to collect a few to dry and create something crafty…stay tuned for that. IMG_9013

This past week has been bittersweet and it took me all day today to reflect on this week’s post.  So a loaf of homemade cornbread, creamy vegetarian chili and a batch of warm chocolate chip cookies later, I’ve come to realize we are at the time of year when we are spending more time with family and friends.

Making the decision to move from California to Tennessee was one of the biggest decisions I have ever had to make.  I never thought I would take the leap and actually jump and yet, here I am, six months later and it still feels a bit like an extended vacation…I have a new car that we traveled safely across country with, a new city to call home, an amazing new job and coworkers to be grateful for, an incredible new group of friends, spending more time with my dad and stepmom and it’s still hard for me to believe, I am in the beginning stages of becoming a first-time homeowner!

When was the last time you did something for the first time?

Keeping positive has played a major role in all of it. However, there are some days where I find myself missing a snuggly afternoon gossiping with my mom at her house, having dinner parties and making sarcastic jokes with my best girlfriends who finish my sentences, escaping for weekends away in Sonoma County to spend with my cousin and her family and laughing over the funny things we do after sharing probably one too many glasses of wine.  Then I pause and think, this new life is a part of my adventure, I am LIVING my life, soaking up every memory, every moment and I then I realize, I know this is where I am supposed to be.

I spent all day cooking and baking because in a way, it’s therapeutic for me.  I think the best part was sharing that meal with family.  With the holiday season just around the corner, wherever the wind blows you this year, invite that one family member that never gets invited, or friend, or coworker that has nowhere to go, or make that long-awaited phone call and try to put aside any ill will and focus on the memories of being with family and friends, because after all, that is the perfect recipe.

My sweet tooth is getting the best of me, so I am signing off to run downstairs and grab a few warm cookies.

Have a very happy and safe Halloween!

 

 

Cookies, Anyone?

 

 

 

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Good Morning Friends!

It has been a busy week, I can definitely relate to those squirrels running around gathering nuts for the Winter months.

The weather here in Nashville has officially begun its slow transition into Fall, leaves are falling, colors are changing and I find myself in the baking spirit.  Yesterday, I was perusing my recipe books, Pinterest and thanks to one of my good friends for introducing me to what is now one of my favorite publications, Sift Magazine.  I came across a recipe for vanilla chai shortbread cookies and they did not disappoint.  They are the perfect blend of spicy and sweet,  the icing has a vanilla and cinnamon finish, which are two of my favorite ingredients.

What are some of your favorite things to bake?

One of the things I love most about baking, is bringing surprise treats to family and friends.  These days, there are so many creative ways to package homemade treats.  You can often find me shopping at Cost Plus World Market, which I’ve found always has an eclectic assortment of gifting ideas.  Sometimes I find myself getting sidetracked in there, it’s so easy to do.  I find Target can be the same way.  I went in about a month ago to buy workout clothes and laundry detergent and walked out with two of these adorable “Warm & Cozy” mugs.  You can buy them here: https://www.target.com/p/clay-art-camper-mug-15oz-stoneware-warm-cozy/-/A-51090849

Happy Shopping!

I am off to deliver some of these tasty treats to a good friend, I hope you all have a great week ahead!