Gardening Made Easy, in Any Space

October 29, 2009

One hobby I have taken up is gardening.  I live in a condo with no backyard so my “gardening” is limited to a small balcony.  Maintaining a garden may seem far from hassle free, however I have experimented with different ways to make it work, and have along the way learned some inexpensive ways to keep my plants healthy while helping the environment along the way.

IMG_8844

Mint in the top left, Green Onion on the top right, Basil in the front

In the above picture I have mint, basil, and green onions; all of which are very easy to grow.  Here are some things I’ve learned about growing them.

1) On the bottom left corner you may see a basil stem in a jar.  That jar is filled with water, and since then has grown roots and I’ve successfully planted it as its own basil plant.  The cutting had originally come from the big plant and using cuttings is an easy way to grow basil.  I’ve also read you can do this with fresh basil bought from the store.

2) Pruning basil properly is essential to encourage growth.  Snipping basil leaves one by one will quickly diminish the basil plant to nothing.  Doing a little research on how to properly harvest basil goes a long way.

3) Mint grows like a weed.  Make sure to plant mint in a pot and not a backyard garden.  It is otherwise very easy to grow and it grows very plentifully.

4) Green onions are great plants.  After I used up a bunch of green onions I purchased for 50 cents at the grocery store, I stuck the ends in dirt and in the summer I watched it grow about an inch a day.  It grows so fast and it is so useful.  There are other things that can be planted using this method.  I believe chives are one of them.. anything that resembles scallions can probably be grown this way.  Leeks are another that comes to mind.

5) You may notice that the white containers that the green onions are in may not match the flower pots.  This is a great tip I learned.  Many bakeries, pool supply stores, restaurants, etc. often get various materials in these buckets and then throw them out.  All you have to do from saving them from going to waste is pop into your local bakery and ask them if they have any of these plastic buckets that they were going to otherwise throw out.  Oftentimes they have some to spare and it works great as a planter.  5 gallon buckets are perfect for tomatoes and if you want a fun DIY project,  you can make your own Self Watering Container out of some 5 gallon buckets.

6) Some of the best fertilizers for these plants are very accessible.  Coffee grounds, tea leaves, and egg shells are great fertilizers.  Starbucks is required to provide their used coffee grounds to anyone who asks for them, so it is easy to just pop into a Starbucks and get some (this comes in handy for me since I’m a non coffee drinker).

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Arugula grown from seed

I have tried to take the easiest approach when it comes to gardening in my limited space.  If you have more time on your hands, you may find inspirations from things such as this “Salad Bar” or making your own self watering containers, both of which take a little more time but are good in small spaces.  Some have even taken on experimenting with maintaining a compost pile in their apartments.  I’m currently trying to grown a basil plant in a “Pop Bottle.”  Pop Bottles may be a quick and easy way to start up your herb plant.  Enjoy!

-Debs

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Why I don’t like TIPS

October 21, 2009

One simple reason – when I’m buying a derivative, I don’t want the payer to be in control of the underlying.  IN ENGLISH:  The government gets to pick the formula for “inflation” when paying you for how much inflation has gone up.

In case you don’t know what TIPS are, in short, they’re a note or bond you buy from the US government whose payout goes up when inflation goes up.  So some advise owning some of these to protect yourself against inflation.  This sounds great in theory, except when you read about stories like the government counting the “price” of cars in the “cars for clunkers” program being $4500 less than than before. This is artificial deflation and screws over those with TIPS.

So back to the main point – no way I’m lending someone money and letting that person control the interest rate charged whenever they want.

-Tim

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Hello Again!

October 19, 2009

Hi loyal followers and first-time visitors,

You may have noticed that we took a bit of an extended summer vacation with our postings being a bit sparse and limited.  To be sure, this wasn’t an entirely intentional move. Most of the Roaring twentySomethings staff is still relatively new to this whole blogging shtick and we stumbled on a few unexpected hurdles. Nevertheless, we’re back! And we come with a few (mostly internal) important changes.  Previously, the Roaring twentySomethings was dedicated to sharing and discussing personal finance news and information, but we found this singular focus to be too limiting.  There are quite a few more topics we feel are worth broaching and we intend to share them with you from here on out!

Additionally, we’re proud to welcome a new contributor, Tim, to our folds.  You can find out a bit about Tim in our About page.

Stay tuned for new topics, new ideas and new posts!


From Our Kitchen: Crispy Homestyle Potatoes

September 2, 2009

This past weekend I ran my second half marathon, the SF Marathon.  It was cold, but an absolutely amazing experience!  Prior to the race, of course I had to carb load so I had some potatoes the night before the race, and also for brunch after the race.  Potatoes are one of my favorite foods – whether it be mashed, fried, baked… I love potatoes.  I had a couple of sides of really great crispy potatoes and became inspired to recreate it at home.  I was on a mission to recreate the same crispy, yet soft side of potatoes I had at Crepevine and Park Chow (both excellent restaurants in SF and come highly recommended from me…. I especially enjoyed Park Chow) and this is what I came up with.  I think I was pretty successful :) Enjoy!  The secret is lots and lots of butter… however I did personally try and cut out as much as I could.

Finished Product

Finished Product

Ingredients:
Garlic (I used a lot… probably an entire head of garlic.  I like garlic!  I’d say about 3 cloves is good, but you can use as much as you enjoy)
Rosemary
1 tsp of salt
1-2 tbsp olive oil
Potatoes  (I used about 4 medium sized potatoes)
Butter
Water

1.  Pour the water in a pot and start boiling it.
2. While waiting for the pot of water to boil, dice the potatoes.
3. (Optional) Salt the boiling water if desired
4. Toss the diced potatoes in the boiling water, let it boil for 6-10 minutes (soft enough to eat, but not so soft that it’s about to become mushy)
5. While the potatoes are boiling, mix the garlic, rosemary, salt, and olive oil in a big bowl.  I actually added some basil and pepper in too.  Be creative!
6. When the potatoes are done, drain and let it cool.  I also poured some cold water on it to speed up this process.
7. Toss the potatoes in the big bowl with the olive oil mixture.  Make sure to coat the potatoes well.. if more olive oil or herbs are needed then add accordingly.
8. Heat up a pan and coat with butter (use lots of butter if you’re not scared of butter and you want really crispy potatoes…. I used only 1-2 tbsp, just enough to coat the pan).
9. Cover the pan with a layer of potatoes.  Try and distribute the potatoes as evenly as you can.

While the potatoes were cooking

While the potatoes were cooking

10.  Let it fry for 5-10 minutes and then flip the potatoes and do the same.  Try not to stir too much so that the potatoes can crisp up… but repeat until you’ve got the potatoes as desired.

Enjoy!  I’m sorry if the recipe is confusing.. I’m not good at measuring things out when I cook and I cook tend to cook by common sense/instinct but if you have any questions, feel free to ask :)

-Debs


The More You Know…About BEER!: Wailua Wheat

August 28, 2009

Wailua (Wheat Ale brewed with Passion Fruit)
By Kona Brewery (Kona, Hawaii)
355mL (12 fl. oz.)
5.4% ABV

Wailua Wheat

Wailua Wheat

Bottle Description:
Wailua is Hawaiian for two fresh water streams mingling. This was just the inspiration needed for our limited release Wheat Ale brewed with tropical passion fruit. A refreshing citrusy, sun-colored ale with the cool taste of Hawaii.

I forget when the official date for the “start of summer” is, but Wheat Ales are in season. Actually, Wheat Ales and DIPAs are the main styles brewed for summer. Don’t be surprised to see most breweries carrying these styles as their summer seasonal (Samuel Adams Summer, Anchor Summer, AleSmith YuleSmith, etc.) Kona Brewing Company, opened in 1994 brews delicious beers with a touch of Hawaiian culture blended in (or at least so I feel when I drink one). Bottled on 5/29/09. This beer is less than a month old; a very hard thing to acquire so young considering Kona Brewery is all the way in Hawaii.

Well-carbonated and not bottle-conditioned (no yeast sediments, soapy bubbles). This beer pours out dark gold in color with golden yellow hues with a bright white head that does not persist. Brilliant clarity. Smells of grainy wheat and light passion fruit flavors. No banana or clove aromas perceived (as those characteristics are more common with German Hefeweizens). Light bready malty sweetness carries into the background. The first taste is covered by a strong carbonic bite but fades into moderately wheaty flavors with passionfruit as a support to the malt/wheat. No hop aroma or hop flavors are present but there is an extremely low hop bitterness. The flavors are also reminiscent of pineapples. Light-medium bodied and quite refreshing with its high carbonation. Although I shouldn’t assume, I feel as if this beer benefits a lot from using an American ale yeast as opposed to the German Hefeweizen yeast since the banana/clove characteristics may have clashed with the aromas of the passion fruit and bready wheat. I can see myself enjoying this in someone’s backyard or next to a beach. A great summer beer. I’m a big fan of passion fruit and I think Kona Brewing Company did a great job pairing this flavor with a American Wheat Beer. However, I wish the passion fruit wasn’t as subtle (passion fruit has a light flavor that can be easily masked by more overwhelming flavors) and I hope to see a bottle-conditioned version.

Category 20: Fruit Beer
Aroma: 9/12
Appearance: 2/3
Flavor: 16/20
Mouthfeel: 5/5
Overall: 7/10
Total: 39/50 — B+

-Ant


Thinking of Buying a House?

August 26, 2009

blog_house

Unless you’ve been living under a rock or over a rainbow, you’ve surely noticed that the global economy has suffered a massive bout of what I like to call EPIC FAIL. But you might also have noticed that the month of July just posted a 9.7% increase in sales of new houses since June. I’m sure this is in no small because the government is giving $8,000 to first time homebuyers that I’ve heard can even be counted toward your down payment.

A lot of twentySomethings have been working for a few years and have stockpiled a good sum of money while not having enough of it in the market to be squandered. Many of us also are points in our lives where we’re looking to settle down, maybe buy a house and start a family. It’s only natural to follow the mold and think of buying a house these days if you still have a job and money in the bank. After all, housing prices haven’t looked like this in years!

If you’ve only recently begun thinking of buying a house, don’t forget that the price of the house is not the only thing that matters. HOA (Homeowners Association) fees are imposed on many condos and apartments, and some housing neighborhoods as well. In California, cities, counties and districts can impose Mello-Roos taxes on your property on top of the state property tax. Then there are maintenance fees that renters don’t have to think about, like when your toilet breaks or your shower leaks or your dishwasher breaks. Oh, and if you’re not paying monthly utilities for water and trash, those will officially become your responsibility. Those are all landlord problems, and you’re thinking of becoming a landlord! On top of all those there are the fees you’re going to pay just to buy the house, which may include closing and escrow fees (and buying fees if you eventually sell the house somewhere down the line).

In the interest of full disclosure, I do not own a house and I’ve never purchased one. That really means there may be even more costs I haven’t considered or mentioned, like costs associated with taking care of your lawn. But for many people this is a worthwhile investment, if not financially then just because people take pride in owning their home. For those of you looking to buy, I advise you to make use of this Rent vs. Buy Calculator provided by the New York Times website.

Happy Hunting!
-RT


An Airline Pilot With Answers

August 19, 2009

Awesomeness_Poster

Freakonomics has an interesting feature going on with a captain of a major airline they call simply, Captain Steve. Actually, this has been going on for so long that there are multiple posts with Captain Steve answering questions continuing, to answer, and questions. They also have one guest post from Captain Steve where he goes on a bit of a tirade regarding the system of air travel. If you’ve ever thought about being a pilot, or think it might be cool, Captain Steve might well shoot down that notion.

Also, he answers some questions that every traveler has wondered (or may wonder next time) that I think everybody should read like why do all electronics need to be turned off even though I’ve left my cell phone on for the duration of a whole flight before? or How much of the flight is actually on auto-pilot? or What is the general condition of U.S. airplanes these days? and Should I prepare for death during turbulence? Ok, that last one was mine, but you get the gist!

-RT