REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West



Posted by REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West on 12/14/2017

Cooking with fresh herbs is infinitely better than using the dried out flakes you'll find at the grocery store. Not only are they packed with much more flavor, but they'll also save you money in the process. Sure, there are some herbs you probably won't use very often and should just keep a small jar of them in your pantry. However, certain herbs are so useful that it's worth having on your window sill to pick from when you need them. If you're thinking about starting an indoor or outdoor herb garden, here are the best herbs to put in it that will spice up your recipes and save you money at the checkout line.

Basil

Number one on our list is sweet basil. Basil can be chopped up into sauces and salads, or it can be used whole on pizzas and sandwiches. For a great snack, toss some olive oil with chunks of tomato, mozzarella, and chopped basil. It's the perfect combination of tangy, sweet, and refreshing. Basil is also great for making tea and has a strong and pleasant aroma. If you start running low, you can start a new plant with clippings from an old one. As you pick from the plant, be sure to remove the leaf node (the stem part of the leaf) fully so your plant keeps producing more leaves.

Parsley

A good herb to pair with basil is parsley. It goes great with pasta dishes, sauce, pizza, or eggs. Like basil, parsley can be harvested as needed. Simply cut the outermost leaves for use and leave the inner leaves to mature. However, parsley is also easy to dry and store. To dry parsley, hang it up in a warm place that has plenty of shade and ventilation. Test it by seeing if it crumbles in your hand. Once it does, crumble the rest up and store it in an air tight jar.

Thyme

Arguably one of the the prettiest herbs on the list, thyme fills its long stems with small flowers and fills the air with a pleasant scent. Thyme goes well with many vegetables and types of seafood and is also common in many teas. If you live in a temperate climate, you could also try growing some thyme as an ornamental and aromatic shrub in your yard.

Mint

As you would suspect, mint smells and tastes...minty. To impress everyone at your summer cookout, place some mint leaves from your garden into their ice cold drinks. Like many other items on the list, mint is also great in tea and can be paired up with basil, lavender, and many other herbs to make a great herbal tea concoction.

Lavender

Lavender is another pretty flowering herb. However, due to its size, it's best grown outdoors. You can make several homemade items from lavender including soaps, fragrance sprays, tea, and more. However, be sure to read up on caring for lavender plants as they require a lot of sunlight and well-drained soil. To make use of its size and aesthetics outside, you can plant lavender along walkways in your yard or garden.




Tags: garden   gardening   home   mint   herbs   herb   herb garden   basil   parsley   thyme   lavender  
Categories: Gardening   Home   Garden   herbs   herb   herb garden   basil   parsley   thyme   lavender   mint  


Posted by REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West on 7/6/2017

Cooking vegetables from your own garden is a great experience. In the same way that you appreciate a meal made from scratch more than a frozen dinner or takeout, cooking food that you grew yourself is an extremely rewarding feeling. Aside from being delicious, growing your own food can help you save money, waste less food, consume less plastic packaging (helping the environment), and try out new recipes you normally wouldn't. When it comes to planting vegetables for cooking, however, there's more to it than simply tossing some seeds in your garden. Here's how to get the most out of growing your own vegetables for use on the dinner table.

Plant smart

One of the first mistakes beginner gardeners make is planting the wrong vegetables or the wrong proportions of vegetables. One or two squash plants, for example, will provide ample amounts of squash for most small families. So, think about the meals you love to cook and what vegetables they require. Then find out how much those plants yield. Some vegetables can be planted and harvested at many times throughout the growing season. If you eat lots of leafy greens (lettuce, spinach, kale, etc.), don't plant a huge row all at once. Instead, plant in intervals of two or three weeks so you can reap the rewards throughout the season. Similarly, many lettuces (such a romaine) are able to be continually harvested--that means there's no need for pulling the whole planet out of the ground and replanting.

Plan your meals

To get the most out of your garden plan a weekly menu that incorporates items from your garden. If your tomatoes look like they're ripening, plan for making tomato sauce, pizza, or caprese sandwiches the following week. Get creative with recipes. If you have a surplus of peppers, try different stuffed pepper recipes. The internet is your best friend when it comes to discovering new uses for surplus vegetables.

Preserving

A garden should be useful to you year-round, not just during the autumn harvest season. There are several methods of preserving your vegetables. The way you choose depends on your own need. Common means of preservation include:
  • Freezing meals. Remember those stuffed peppers? You don't have to eat them every day of the week once your peppers are ripe. Cook up some rice, beans, and sauce, stuff your peppers and bake. Eat however much you want and place the rest in airtight bags in the freezer. They'll make great lunches for when you're in a rush.
  • Blanching and steaming.  If you're not quite sure how you'll want to use your vegetables but you know you'll use them later blanching and steaming are great options. Boil or steam them for five minutes then toss them into a bucket of ice-water to cool. Once cool, drain them and freeze them in bags.
  • Canning.  This method takes some preparation and research but canning is a great way to save fruits and vegetables for use throughout the year and are great if you don't have extra space in your freezer for frozen vegetables.





Posted by REALTY EXECUTIVES Boston West on 6/1/2017

When the nice weather finally arrives, many of us look for any excuse to get outside to enjoy it. I've even been known to mow the lawn every once in a while just for the pleasure of being outdoors. But you don't have to put yourself to work to enjoy the nice weather. Finding a new hobby can be an excellent way to get outside. But that doesn't mean you have to spend a ton of money on a swimming pool or a membership to your local tennis courts. So, if you're used to spending your afternoons and evenings with Netflix on your couch but want to take advantage of the nice weather while it's here, take a look at these frugal outdoor hobbies that will help you get outside without breaking your wallet.

Fitness

Every time I buy a gym membership I go in with great intentions. I'm motivated and excited to start working out. Then a few weeks go by and slowly my gym bag begins to collect dust. The terrible music, the crowded treadmills, the bros grunting into the mirror... it all adds up to a bad experience. We lose interest in our hobbies when they stop being fun. Fortunately, there are a number of ways to get fit outdoors that are fun and cheap.
  • Run. The simple act of running has been spreading joy since Pheilippides ran from Marathon to Athens to spread the news of victory against the Persians. Once he arrived, however, he supposedly dropped dead. Use that as a reason to start slow and remember to buy a decent pair of running shoes to protect your joints.
  • Bike. Cycling is a great workout and a great way to go sightseeing. Your first thought might be "cycling isn't frugal" but that's only true if you aren't willing to hunt down the great deals on Craigslist and at yard sales, of which there will be many this time of year.
  • Hike. Odds are there are dozens of parks and trails in your area that you've never explored. Throw a sandwich and a water bottle in your bag and go exploring.

Relaxation

If you don't feel like running a marathon just to get outside there are several other hobbies that can help you expand your level of chill while still working on your tan.
  • Meditate. This is truly the master of frugal hobbies in the sense that the only thing you need is yourself. Go out into your yard and the woods, sit or lay down in a comfy position, close your eyes, then notice the sounds and the smells around you.
  • Read. Grab your lounge chair and your library card--that's all you'll need to keep your brain busy all summer outside.
  • Yoga. Even if you don't want to admit it your body needs to move, at least a little bit. But that doesn't mean you can't still be relaxed while doing it. Bring your cell phone or laptop outside and watch one of the many great beginner yoga videos on YouTube.
  • Gardening. Not only is gardening frugal, but you'll actually save money once you start harvesting all the vegetables you've grown. Gardening allows you to play in the dirt, learn new things, get outside, and enjoy food you've grown yourself. It's an all-around awesome hobby.




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