Make Your Own: Gourd Birdhouse

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Before we launch into this project, I want to invite you to click over to My Mod Style and see the group guest post I contributed to today! Jessie matched us up with  Disney characters! So fun and super cute.
Okay- What a fun project this was!! I’d been seeing these cute gourd birdhouses at the farmer’s market for weeks and really wanted one. A few weeks ago I saw that one booth was selling just the gourds, so I bought one for $4 with the intention of making my own.

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Such an easy project for an afternoon. I had Andy help me with drilling the holes. First he drilled the hole for the opening. You don’t have to have this fancy attachment. There are other ways to do it, but this was just a quicker option and since I’m impatient, I went for it.

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He also drilled two holes at the top so I could thread some string through it to hang it from.

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And don’t forget to drill a small hole in the bottom for drainage, just in case your birdhouse gets water in it.

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You’ll need to clean out the inards of the gourd. I used a long handled wire brush to get it all out.

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Then take some sand paper to it and sand it until it’s smooth and you’ve gotten all the dirt and debry off of it.

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At this point you may want to soak it in some bleach water just to get it real clean. I didn’t feel that my gourd needed it so I skipped that step. I went right on to painting it. It’s suggested that you paint it a light color so it won’t become a ‘bird sauna’ in the summer. I chose a happy yellow- mostly because that’s what I had on hand.

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My original plan was to put two coats of paint on it. After the first coat, I decided that I really liked the look, so I left it.

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I used the back end of a paint brush to dot this little heart design near the doorway to my birdhouse.

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I used a large needle to thread some twine through the top to hang the birdhouse from.

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Your last step is to hang it!

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I absolutely love how it turned out! I may have to make a second one next year. We’ll see if it actually attracts any birds. If not, that’s okay, because it’s cute anyway.

Replanting the Yucca plants + Giveaway

Hey everyone! Just a reminder about the super cool giveaway I’ve got going on over at Bookmark To Blog today. Make sure you click over and enter! I’ll be choosing two winners. Everyone is welcome to enter!

So, I have to admit something. As much as I love gardening, I sometimes suck at it. I’ll admit something else too– sometimes I suck at it simply because I get lazy about it. This is what happened in the case of these sad looking Yucca plants we have in our backyard.

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I’m pretty sure we got these from Andy’s parents a couple of years ago and I proceeded to just leave them in the backyard without bothering to transplant them or anything. It’s got to say something that they actually survived this long. Especially because I hardly ever thought to water them. Luckily they can survive in “dry and poor soil.”

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Anyway, I thought it was high time I fixed them up. I purchased two of these large planters. I have two more in the front yard and I love them. They are light weight but sturdy. I got them at Wally World.

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I mixed potting soil with some soil we had in the yard and made sure to pull off all the dead leaves before replanting them. That’s pretty much it.

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They still look kind of pathetic, but I’m hoping that now the Yucca have a new home, they’ll start to thrive again. In all actuality they should look like THIS. Oops.

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What have you neglected this summer that you really shouldn’t have?
ps- Don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

what’s growing around here

I’ve been snapping pictures of my flowers like crazy- specifically the Lilies which are looking especially beautiful. I have a couple different colors of Daylilies as well as several red Asiatic Lilies, one pink Oriental Lily and one white Easter Lily. I thought I’d share some photo’s of them today. They always seem to go more quickly than I’d like them to.

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It’s been pouring buckets off and on the last couple of weeks. It will be sunny for several days and then the rain will come back. I kind of like it. The quiet evenings with just the sound of the rain on the roof are pretty peaceful. The garden is growing pretty well right now too. I posted a picture of our first major harvest on Facebook last night.

Which Lily do you like the best? What flowers do you like the best?

What’s growing around here

As you might have guessed, we came back from vacation to lawn that desperately needed mowing and flower/vegetable beds that desperately needed weeding. It’s amazing how out of control it can get in just one week!
I have a whole list of ‘catch up’ chores that need to be done, so I’m slowly trying to find time to get back on top of everything-including blogging. In the meantime, I wanted to show you some pictures I recently took around our yard. I love how it’s constantly changing and even as I type this, there are new things popping up to photograph.
First I wanted to show you the vibrant red lilies we enjoyed for awhile. Sadly, they are gone now but more are waiting to take their place.

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Aren’t they beautiful? I’ll have some white ones soon too!

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Remember the before I took of this flower bed awhile back?

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Well, look at it now!

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I also took some photos of the garden so you could see how it’s progressed.

In April:

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Now:

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A couple things about the garden:

*We waited too long to harvest the spinach and it’s already started to go to seed. Every year I forget how quickly it grows.

*The kale has grown very nicely and I’m going to harvest some this weekend. But it’s also been chewed on quite a bit which is frustrating.

*We have several zucchini that will be ready this weekend. I’m gearing up for it!

*Our broccoli has gotten a little spindly. I suspect it hasn’t gotten enough water.

*The peas and beans are doing fantastic! Can’t wait for those guys.

*Several green tomatoes are on the vine.

*Still no poblanos but the plants look great. We have green peppers but the peppers and the plants are still small. I’m not sure what to do to remedy this in the future.

Overall I’m really proud of the garden this year. We are learning and every year the growing season is better for us. I’m so grateful for our little garden and I’m grateful that Andy is supportive of my interest in gardening. It’s been fun to see our progression as we figure out how to make it better each year.

Are you growing anything this year? Flower…veggies? What is your favorite fresh veggie from the garden?

ps- I want to again say thanks to the ladies that guest posted while I was away and remind you to stop over and see them at their blogs.

Kyria from Travel Spot
Heather from Mac Moto’s World
Jessie from My Mod Style
Rebecca from Rebecca (hearts)…

Progress: A close up of the vegetable garden

Can you believe it’s already the last day of May? I think our garden is doing better than it ever has in the past. I thought I’d share a close up of the little bit of progress that it’s made since planting at the beginning of May.

First up, tomatoes!

In the past we have ended up planting way too many tomato plants and can never use or get rid of all the tomatoes they produce. So this year we chose three different varieties- one being an heirloom. The other two are traditional tomatoes. I opted not to plant any cherry tomatoes because we can never eat them all. We also opted not to plant any roma. I haven’t liked the roma’s that we’ve had in the past. For some reason the skin on them always seems too thick and tough and it’s just not my cup of tea.

We planted quite a few peppers this year but made some changes in that department as well. I planted 2 green pepper plants because I love green peppers and use them in so many recipes.

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As you can see, we’ve already got a few peppers forming. This is kind of worrying me because I’d like the plants to be a bit bigger before they start producing. Is this going to be a problem and cause the plants to stay small rather than fill out?

The past couple of years we have planted anaheim and yellow peppers as well as tomatillos. We decided against them this year because we’re just simply tired of them. Instead, I opted to plant poblanos!! I’m really excited about this. I see chile rellenos in our future. Yum!

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Last year we planted beans and they didn’t come up, so I was pretty delighted to see that they were working well this year. I did one thing different. I soaked the bean seeds in water overnight before planting them this time. I’m not sure if that made a difference but I guess it didn’t hurt. 
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Broccoli!

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We tried cauliflower before and it never worked out. Of course, we didn’t really read up on the proper care of the plant, so I think that was our problem. This time we decided to try broccoli. From what I read, broccoli needs plenty of water to be successful. They have a shallow root system, so you have to be careful not to let your soil dry out. Broccoli is also a heavy feeder and needs nutrient rich soil or fertilizer. We are anxious to see how they do.

The carrots are up as well.

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And clearly needing thinning and weeding.

This little guy is my butternut squash.

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Why is he in a pot? Two reasons: I’m experimenting at trying to keep the slugs away from him. Also, because there wasn’t room for him in the garden. I’ll most likely have to move the pot somewhere where he can really spread out as he begins to grow.

Luckily slugs have not been a problem just yet. Last year we planted a cucumber and it was chewed to bits by the very next day.

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We haven’t had a problem yet and I’m hoping it stays that way.

I always love to have zucchini in the garden. It’s such a versatile vegetable and I have no problem using it all up. What I can’t, use I shred and then freeze, to use later in zucchini bread or chocolate cake. 
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Do you know what this is?

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It’s Kale! We discovered that we actually really like kale this winter. We got some in our Bountiful Basket and after adding it to a couple of soups, decided that we needed to have it more often.

Spinach.

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Just barely starting to come up. No lettuce this year. We haven’t had any luck finding a variety that has a good texture and tastes well, so we chose not to plant any and just focus on spinach.

Peas of course! You can’t have a garden without some yummy snap peas.

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And peeking up behind the peas is the corn.

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Last but not least are the potatoes.

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We didn’t plant these this year. They are coming up from last year if you would believe. They look pretty good, so I’m excited to get digging in there and see what we’ve got. Potatoes are such an easy thing to plant and so nice to have from the garden.
The only thing that hasn’t come up so far are the green onions. I also didn’t plant any sunflowers this year out of laziness. They are gorgeous but are kind of paint to clean up. Although we have several sprouting sunflower seeds leftover from last year so I could just technically let them grow if I really wanted to. 

So there you have it!

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We’re happy with the progress the garden is making but a little nervous that it will all go to crap when we go on vacation at the end of June. But all in all, I think this is shaping up to be one of the most successful gardening years. We’ve come a long way from the first raised beds we had and we are still feeling that we need to make the garden bigger!

Are you a gardener? What do you plant? Do you have a big garden or just rely on pots? What’s your favorite vegetable from the garden?

PS- Tomorrow marks the first day of the June Salad Challenge. Are you ready?

What’s growing around here

I love my flowers. I know it’s silly but they honestly bring me so much joy. I love that they greet me when I leave the house for work and that they are there to greet me when I pull back in to the driveway after a long day. I anxiously await their arrival every spring and feel very sad when they leave at the end of the season. The lack of flowers is why I always have a hard time getting through the winter months. It’s almost like they’re lifetime friends who come for a visit each year and when they go away I’m left feeling a tiny little void. I’m hoping that one day I’ll have a cutting garden full of enough flowers that I can cut them daily and bring a bouquet in to the house to enjoy.
In the front yard my white tulips are in full swing and they are gorgeous!! I scrutinized over what color to plant- most all of the houses around us have yellow or red tulips so I’m glad I chose to do all white. They really stand out and are just so lovely.
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The daisies are popping up and hopefully will be blooming soon. This year I moved some of them to the backyard as they were spreading like crazy. I don’t care that they spread though- it would be fantastic to have enough that I could cut a fresh daisy bouquet each week.

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I can’t remember the name of this little guy. Andy picked it out last year and while we didn’t know if it was going to survive, we’re happy to see it back this year.
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Only one Daylily has bloomed so far. I have several different varieties of Daylillies and I’m always excited to see which color will bloom next. I have a pretty little pinkish one that is my favorite. I’ll have to show you when it comes back this year. So far the only one that has bloomed is this dainty yellow one.

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I have other lilies as well- I believe these are going to be crimson. As you can tell, I’m no expert on flowers. I don’t know all their proper names but I just love them.

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I planted this blue ground cover this year to fill in some spaces and to add a different color to the bed. It’s still small but hopefully it will spread out a little next year.

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Against the house I have the hosta bed. Another absolute favorite. As you can see, they’re still small and I’ve had to plant a few new ones to fill in some blank spots. This is a problem area as they cats like to dig around in here and they’ve killed a few of my plants.
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There is also this lovely little ground cover around the hostas. I was excited to see it spreading and hugging the rocks last year. I just love the vibrant green that it adds to the area.

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In the backyard the irises are in full swing and they are magnificent!
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This giant plant hasn’t bloomed yet but it’s a Hollyhock and it so pretty. But honestly it’s quite the monster right now. I need to ask my in-laws about it (a lot of the flowers in my yard came from their yard.) I’m not sure if I should be allowing it to take over the world like it is.

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I also have little anemones back here in several different colors. This is another problem bed as the trees planted here are dying and have a bunch of stickers growing up around their base. We have yet to decide how to handle this issue.

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Don’t know the name of this one either but it shares some ground with the anemones. 
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Bleeding Hearts!! They really need a new home in the yard and I’ve been considering moving them over near the new garden shed. They need to be moved so they can really thrive.

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The peonies have buds on them and will be blooming in a couple of weeks. I can never get over how pretty they are. They are one of my favorites as well, which is why I insisted on having them at my wedding and in my bouquet

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On the shaded side of the house I have these plants. I have no idea what they are called but they get cute little purple flowers on them. They were a gift-transplanted from the neighbors yard after they noticed I liked flowers and sadly they don’t live there anymore.

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The mint was also a gift from those neighbors and it is spreading like wildfire! Everyone should have mint in their yard even if they don’t use it for cooking- it’s very pretty and smells divine!! When I mow the lawn I always run over the edge of the mint bed a little to release the aroma. It’s wonderful.

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And last but not least- the Peace Lily. As you can see my conscience got the better of me and I did not let it die but it does need some tlc if it’s going to start looking a little better.

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That’s it for now- we haven’t planted our garden yet, will wait to do that for another couple of weeks. I’ll post another update as more things start to bloom.

What’s your favorite flower?  

Dinners outside

It’s finally been warm enough to spend some time on the deck. Monday night we grilled hamburgers for dinner and I made sweet potato fries.

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Yesterday after work we spent some time cleaning out this mess of weeds from our garden.

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Then Andy mowed the back lawn (I mowed the front on Monday) while I caught up on some reading.

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Later on we grilled up some steak, pineapple and veggie kabobs. This has to be one of my favorite ways to use up extra veggies and leftover steak.

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So while it’s been raining during the day, it’s been clearing up by the time we get home from work so we can enjoy some time outside.

Are you getting the spring rain showers too? 

Her Weekend

This turned out to be a pretty eventful weekend. I had lunch with my mom on Friday and we did a little shopping. Afterward, Andy and I decided to drive down to Salt Lake to check out a bike sale. Several weeks ago Andy bought himself a road bike and we’ve been on the lookout for one for me ever since so we could ride together. We found a bike for me at Highland Cycle.

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We took the bikes out for a ride on Saturday morning. The strong winds kind of put a damper on our ride but we still had a ton of fun and I can’t wait to take the bikes out again this coming week. I think I’m really going to enjoy this new hobby of ours, despite the fact that I still have a lot to learn about road biking. I think it’s going to be a great way for us to get some exercise this summer.

After we bought the bike Friday evening we decided to grab dinner at Desert Edge. We were so hungry that I didn’t snap a picture of our dinner until this happened:

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It didn’t take me long to inhale that plate of pasta. After dinner we decided to brave the crowds and check out the new City Creek Center on our way home.

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I’ll admit, I was kind of wondering what the big deal was. In my mind, it was just another shopping center, but ten feet in and I was surprised to see how beautiful it was.

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We didn’t do any shopping because it was just too crowded, but we walked around and looked at all the water features. It’s really quite pretty. The ‘creek’ running down the center and the evening sky above added to the ambiance of the place.

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I’ll definitely be back to do some real shopping.

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On Friday I also got my Project Life supplies in the mail. I’m really excited about this project and just a little sad that I didn’t decide to start it earlier. I chose the turquoise theme even though the core kit is sold out right now because I liked it the best. They won’t be getting more in until May but I figure I could still plan my pages and set my photos aside and then just assemble it all when I get the kit.

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Lately journaling has been a total bore for me so I’m excited for this new and more creative way to document our life.

Something else exciting happened this weekend: Heather and Joe were in town! Andy and I went down to Riverton to see them at her mom’s house this afternoon. We got to see Russell for a minute while his grandma was feeding him. While Russell was napping we snuck away for a quick brunch (for the ladies) and lunch (for the guys) at Tin Roof Grill in Sandy.

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None of us had ever been there before but we were thoroughly impressed. The food was amazing!

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It was so good to catch up with Heather and Joe. We miss them!

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(blt pizza)

Good times!

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(Captain Crunch french toast with strawberries, blackberries & blueberries)

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After lunch we headed home so Andy could work on our bathroom remodel with his brother, Bret. Bret’s girlfriend, Cami and I, played with Ash while they worked on the wiring. Afterward, we all went to dinner at Slackwater Pizza (our new favorite place in Ogden.) No pizza this time. I had the club sandwich with mulligatawny soup and Andy had a caesar salad. Excellent as always.

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Lately I’ve even managed to clear out one of my flower beds. (One down, four to go. Plus a garden to clear and plant!)

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I could see little bits of green trying to work their way through the mess so I thought I’d better get in there and do some work.

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Pretty soon my white tulips will be blooming!Can’t wait until it all fills in.

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It’s been a fun weekend and next weekend promises to be even more fun! I will get to see some of my favorite people! I’m feeling a bit tired out and under the weather tonight though. I hope I’m not coming down with something. I think I may have to take myself to bed- and hopefully Henry the Bed Hog won’t still all my space again tonight.

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How was your weekend?

Trying it out

Every summer we have a garden and I love it. It’s so great to have fresh produce right at an arms length whenever I want to cook something. Meal planning is not so much fun in the winter months when my garden is sleeping. I find that we eat more crap and less fresh stuff during this time because the produce at the grocery is either expensive or not good quality.
A friend suggested that I try Bountiful Baskets Food Co-op for a few weeks and see what I thought. So I signed up to get some baskets this week. One thing I love about Bountiful Baskets is that you don’t have to have a ‘membership.’ You can sign up to get baskets every week or every couple of weeks- whenever you want. It’s very convenient. There are also many locations, a few being very close to our home which make it nice as well.

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For $15 you get one basket of veggies and one basket of fruits and you never know what you’re going to get each week. I think that will make it fun and exciting! It will also give us a chance to try produce that I normally wouldn’t buy at the grocery store.

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Also, you can sign up for add-ons such as honey, herbs, olive oil, banana bread, and other things if you like. I didn’t do any add-ons this week. I’m excited to get our first weeks worth of produce and see what kind of meals I can make with it! I’ll let you know how it goes.

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*all photos taken from Bountiful Basket’s Facebook Page