Decorating with Herbs: Mint

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It’s great to mix it up a little by using herbs instead of flowers to decorate your home. This mint makes a beautiful arrangement while also making your home smell amazing!

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Mint is one of those plants that will keep growing and growing anywhere you plant it! You will have plenty to cook with and decorate with.

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Can’t wait to think of fun recipes to use the mint with! Any ideas?

Grilled Artichokes

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It’s artichoke season! March through May is the most popular time for artichokes and I try and get my hands on as many as possible! These spiky little green balls can be intimidating at first, but are so delicious once you figure out the best way to cook them. One of my favorite ways is to grill them.

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Harvesting artichokes is really easy using gardening sheers – you just cut right through the stem. The stem is one of the best parts of an artichoke so I like to cut about 4 inches down from the bulb.

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The hardest part of cooking artichokes is cleaning and prepping them – but it really just comes down to four steps.

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STEP 1: Slice them in half. I like to take the point of a large sharp knife in the stem at the base of the bulb and cut through the whole choke first, then the stem.

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STEP 2:  Cut off the hard top of each leaf with scissors.

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STEP 3: Scoop out the center of the artichoke with a spoon. Remove the hairy fibers covering the heart and the inner purple spiny leaves. Be careful not to take out pieces of the heart but still be firm with the spoon.

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STEP 4: Peel the stem using a normal vegetable peeler until it turns bright green.

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Once the artichoke is prepped immediately place in a pot of water with lemons to keep it green. Boil artichokes for about 25 minutes until the heart is fork tender and the outer leaves can easily be pulled off.

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Drain the artichokes and pat them dry with paper towels to remove and access moister. Cover with coarse black pepper and sea salt.

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Grill face down on high heat for 3-5 minutes and serve!

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These grilled artichokes go great with a lemon Dijon aioli dipping sauce. Simply combine: 1 cup of mayonnaise, 1/2 cup of Dijon Mustard, the juice of one lemon and salt and pepper. Enjoy!

Quest for the Perfect Cafe Table: Rose Bowl Flea Market

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For the first time in my adult life I have a backyard! (well in reality a 3×6 foot balcony). But it’s just enough space for some flower boxes, herbs and potted tomato plants. What was missing was seating to enjoy it all.

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I searched all the usual places: Target, Bed Bath and Beyond, Craigslist¬†– I wasn’t impressed. I fell in love with a perfect garden table at a store on Montana but it was $400. Finally I found this adorable metal cafe table and chairs at the famous Rose Bowl Flea Market for $100. Not cheap, but still a great deal.¬† It’s the perfect addition to my ‘backyard’.

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This flea market is enormous. You can find vintage clothes, antique furniture, old records, estate sale jewelry – pretty much anything you could possible imagine. It’s open the second Sunday of the month. Don’t miss out this weekend! My next search will be for some cute upholstered stools to put by my fire place. I found this photo from http://thetwinsfashionblog.wordpress.com – check it out for more information on the market.

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I thought this lantern from Cost Plus World Market (www.worldmarket.com) was a great accessory for the table. I can’t wait to have a dinner date out here on a warm spring night!