Monday, April 29, 2013

When Life Gives You Lemons...

Grow a lemon tree!
I'm not sure what's gotten into me lately but I have become obsessed with the idea of growing a lemon tree in my house. After weeks of researching a variety of citrus trees, I decided I needed a Dwarf Meyer Lemon Tree. It is one of the hardiest and most productive of all dwarf citrus trees, you can grow it inside or outside and they are the easiest to maintain!

However, when I got to the nursery I was pretty disappointed in the difference between an $18 and a $112 lemon tree. Since I only had permission to purchase a $20 tree, I sadly picked up the teeniest tree they had {which I was convinced was a lime tree} but is promised to grow 3-5 feet. After all, this was going to be quite the experiment so I knew I would be angry if I killed a $100+ plant!
 {my dinky dwarf meyer lemon tree}

While I was at the nursery, I took the opportunity to ask for some advice on growing my lemon tree. I also did a little research and this is what I've learned:

Potting: Re-pot the tree in a larger container to avoid root crowding. If you notice yellowing leaves, it is time to replant into a larger pot. Top off the pot with a little bark or mulch to help retain moisture.

Indoor/Outdoor Transitions: Place your tree in the sunniest area of the house during the winter to avoid freeze, and bring it outside during warmer weather. If the tree remains indoors during the entire season, bees and other insects will be unable to pollinate it. The tree requires 6-8 hours of direct sun daily. When transitioning indoors or out, start by placing the tree in partial shade for a couple of weeks so it can adjust to the new temperature. If temperatures dip below 55 degrees F at night, the tree will go into dormancy, so double check temperatures before transitioning.

Note: Check for insects on the leaves before taking your tree indoors for the cold months.

Watering: Water often, but do not over-water. Over-watering is the #1 killer of lemon trees. The soil shouldn't be wet, it should always be kept moist. Humidity is also imperative for your lemon tree to thrive. Using a spray bottle, mist your tree once or twice a day. The leaves will absorb the moisture and transfer the water to the fruit.

Note: The leaves will be a dark green if there is enough light, and begin to yellow around the edges when not enough is provided. A wilted tree means too little water. A tree with yellow leaves or folded leaves can indicate too much water.

Pruning: After the bloom or fruiting seasons, prune your lemon tree {once a year} to keep a nice rounded shape by cutting twiggy branches from top. Leave most bottom branches since they produce the most fruit. As the lemon tree is blooming, you will notice that 2 or more clusters of fruit appear at each bud. As the fruit begins to grow, remove all but one or two of the fruit, giving the remaining ones more access to vital nutrients and encouraging healthier fruit growth.

I picked up this pretty ceramic pot from Michaels {on sale for $12}. I love how my tree looks planted in it and I can already tell this lil guy is growing! 
Go get yourself a lemon tree! 


Thursday, April 25, 2013

Loving Lately

A few things I'm loving lately...
  Red Velvet Pupcakes: Over the weekend I made a batch of cupcakes for Charlie...
 He loved them! 
Fresh Flowers: During the springtime, a magical fresh flower stand parks right outside of my office. Bouquets are $10-$20 and are absolutely gorgeous.

Quick & Easy Dinners: Taco Lettuce Wraps {black beans, corn, fresh salsa, avocado, sour cream, seasonings}.
Unnecessary Target purchases this week:
-2013 Gold Polka Dot Planner: this looked way too "Kate Spade" to not pick it up for $10.
-Gummi Bears: these actually were necessary ($1)
-Thank You Cards: $3.99

Black Coconut Yankee Candle: Whenever my MIL recommends a new candle to me, I immediately run to the store and purchase it. I swear she is  a candle connoisseur. And I have to say, this scent does not disappoint!

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf

I’ve been experimenting with my loaf pan a lot recently. Approximately 75% of those experiments have turned out to be complete baking fails. Either I don’t cook the loaf long enough and the center is gooey but the rest is crispy, or I lose half of my loaf inside the pan when I turn it over {no matter how well I grease it}. However, the other 25% of my baking attempts have turned out amazing. Like, really amazing. For example, the Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf...
  Lemon-Blueberry Yogurt Loaf 
From Sweet Pea's Kitchen


For the Loaf:
1 1/2 cups + 1 tablespoon all-purpose flour, divided
2 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
1 cup plain whole-milk yogurt
1 cup sugar
3 large eggs
2 teaspoons grated lemon zest (approximately 2 lemons)
1/2 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
1/2 cup vegetable oil
1 1/2 cups blueberries, fresh or frozen, thawed and rinsed

For the Lemon Syrup:
1/3 cup freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/3 cup sugar

For the Lemon Glaze:
1 cups confectioners’ sugar, sifted
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice


Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease bottom and sides of one 9 x 5-inch loaf pans; dust with flour, tapping out excess.

In a medium bowl, sift together flour, baking powder and salt; set aside.

In a large bowl, whisk together the yogurt, sugar, eggs, lemon zest, vanilla and oil. Slowly whisk the dry ingredients into the wet ingredients. In a separate bowl, mix the blueberries with the remaining tablespoon of flour, and fold them very gently into the batter.

Pour the batter into the prepared pan and bake 50 to 55 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean. Let cool in the pans for 10 minutes before removing loaf to a wire rack on top of a baking sheet.

While the loaf is cooling, make the lemon syrup in a small saucepan over medium heat. Stir together the lemon juice and sugar until the sugar is completely dissolved. Once dissolved, continue to cook for 3 more minutes. Remove from the heat; set aside.

Use a toothpick to poke holes in the tops and sides of the warm loaf. Brush the top and sides of the loaf with the lemon syrup. Let the syrup soak into the cake and brush again. Let the cake cool completely.

To make the lemon glaze, in a small bowl, whisk together the confectioners’ sugar and 2-3 tablespoons of the lemon juice. The mixture should be thick but pourable. Add up to another tablespoon of lemon juice if the mixture is too stiff. Pour the lemon glaze over the top of each loaf and let it drip down the sides. Let the lemon glaze harden, about 15 minutes, before serving.
Serve this zingy cake with a cup of coffee for breakfast or with a glass of milk for dessert! It’s really the perfect anytime cake. 
I think I am going to make this as mini muffins next!

Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Party of the Year: Kiawah Bachelorette

Last weekend 11 lucky girls met up in Kiawah Island for the best bachelorette party of our lives. All weekend we sipped cocktails, sunbathed, danced, ate amazing meals, walked the beach, relaxed by the pool and celebrated our bridey! 
   Most of us took Friday off to get to Charleston early. On the way there, our car full of girls stopped at the outlets and snagged some great finds! Afterwards we headed to our resort, The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island. 
  When we arrived Kristen surprised each of us with a monogrammed iomoi canvas tote, a pair of Lindsay-Phillips Switch Flops, a personalized tumbler and a monogrammed Haymarket Designs beach towel. I've never been so showered by a bride at her own party! Isn't she the sweetest?!
  I should also mention it was our bride's birthday too! Waiting in her room was a delicious red velvet cake, a cheese & fruit plate, balloons and champagne from her mom and mother-in-law!
Dinner on Friday night was at The Fat Hen. Probably one of the best meals I've had all year.
After dinner we grabbed martinis, played a few games and showered Kristen with lingerie. 
The next morning a group of us rushed to the pool to get the best chairs available. The butler service was unbelievable. Our towels were laid out for us, our drinks were replenished every 15 minutes and the view of our infinity pool and beach was amazing.

Everyone loved their towel from Kristen.

  How cute is this colorful picture? We took over an entire pool area all day.
{Playing in the sun}
  {our tumblers}
  {our flip flops}
  Not only were we lucky enough to snag an adorable pair of Lindsay-Phillips SwitchFlops, we got to party with Lindsay all weekend!
  {group shot}
After 7 hours of sun we decided to shower and get ready for our night in Charleston.

{Two of my very best friends - Mel & Brynn}
Saturday night we headed into Charleston...

  Our first stop was the rooftop of Stars for a few drinks.
  Dinner was just a few blocks away at Lucca.
  After dinner we partied with table service at The Cocktail Club where I experienced several glasses of Dom Perignon for the first time.
Sunday morning was rough for everyone. Thankfully we had a massive brunch before we all hit the road.

Best weekend ever. I've never had so much fun at a bachelorette party in my life.
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