Today I wanted to provide a progress update on the seeds I started last weekend and pot up some of my previously started seeds into cups – this will likely be their last home before they get transplanted outside (if the weather cooperates). “Potting up” is needed in order to ensure they get enough water and nutrients for their larger (and hungrier/thirstier selves) selves. 🙂

First, some updates on the kale and lettuce seeds started last week:

At the rear is the cabbage I started 2 weeks ago (which we’ll be up-potting today.

In the row in front of them are the kale – all came up.

Lettuce is in the 2 rows in front of that, some are slowly starting to sprout (which is normal).

Let’s transplant the cabbage seedlings into cups. I use styrofoam cups since they last long (even though I know it’s no longer politically correct to use it – I’ve had them for 3 years now and will only throw them out if they die on me).

Step 1: Get your cups/larger containers ready. I poked holes in the bottom of these cups with a chopstick to let water drain out. I fill the cup halfway with seed starting mix or potting mix (something light and airy so the roots can grow well)..

Step 2: Thin them out. Remember how we planted 2-3 seeds per pod? Now is the time to snip the weaker ones and keep the strongest to transplant. Use scissors and carefully snip the weak ones – don’t pinch them or pull them out in case it disturbs the roots of the one you’re keeping. Here are my casualties – which I sprinkled over pasta for dinner – no waste!

Step 3: If you can, remove the pod mesh wrapping from the seedling – very gently so as not to damage the roots – and plop it in the cup.  I prefer to to do this now, and don’t plant them in the garden outside with it on – I’ve found these a year later in my soil – they don’t disintegrate like they’re supposed to. I gently twist it in a bit so it’s snug – but again, gently – there are roots coming out of these and you don’t want to damage them.

Step 4: Add more seed starting/potting mix to the cup to just under the rim.

Do the same thing for each seedling you want to move to a larger cup/pot.

Step 5: Water them in – I stack them into foil roasting pans – easy to transport around, catches water that drains out – they last for years and are not expensive. Highly recommend.

Done! Now, they go into my south-facing window, I rotate them often, make sure they’re watered. Provide a very light fertilizer to feed them and keep my eye on the weather. 🙂


Now, let’s start some more seeds – this time for marigolds (which I plant around the garden for pest control) and roma tomatoes (for sauce and salsa).

Same drill as last week: Prep the pods first – I rearranged my kale to the back row to make room for more empty pods, then added water so they poof up. I’m planting 17 marigolds and 7 romas. (Oh, you can see a lettuce sprouting in the bottom right poofed up pod!)

First the marigolds:

Then the tomatoes:

Fluff up the peat in the pods, add 2 seeds to each pod.

Then cover the seeds with a bit of the fluffed up peat and you’re good to go. I added a bit of water to the tray to make sure they stay moist. Covered them with the dome again and the waiting (and fawning) continues. 🙂

Here’s a peek at the basil I started in another tray last weekend – starting to sprout as well. 🙂 I LOVE SPRING!!!!

I’ve been getting questions about starting a garden, likely because more and more folks want to be able to grow their own food in these uncertain COVID-19 times. Since I’m in the process of starting my own seeds indoors to transplant into my raised beds in a few weeks, I figured I’d take pics of the process and provide some tips and tricks for anyone interested. 🙂  Here goes!

I typically use a seed starting tray with Jiffy pods to start seeds but there are other ways for those so inclined. I like the simplicity of the pods. I don’t use a heat mat – I have a south-facing window in my office/seed-starting room and it gets plenty warm in there. This year is the first time I’ve used a grow light (I have a south-facing window but thought I’d experiment with a light to see how it goes).

To start, I plan out how many plants I want to end up with, then start a couple more seeds in case they don’t all germinate. I follow the square foot gardening method (see the details of that method explained here by the amazing Mel Bartholomew).  Today, I’m starting kale and lettuce.

I started cabbage last weekend so don’t mind the existing seedlings in the pics. They’re going to be roomies for now.

Step 1: The first step is to place the pods in the tray “circle side up”:

Step 2: Water them so get moistened and expand. After the first watering, wait about 5 minutes to see if they’ve puffed up enough. They may need a second watering. You know you’re good to go when they look like the empty ones in the top right – all poofed up – that’s what you want:

Step 3: I open up the “holes”  (the mesh is really delicate – you can tear it very easily with your fingers or a toothpick) and fluff/loosen up the peat (which is what the pods are made out of), with a toothpick, chopstick, tweezer, whatever you have that has a small pointy end will work. This is so that when you add the seeds, it’s easier to cover them with some loose/fluffed up peat afterwards.

Step 4: Get your seeds ready. Let’s start with the kale seeds. I place 2-3 seeds per pod (2 if they’re new seeds and more likely to germinate, maybe 3-4 if I’ve had them a few years). Yes, they are small and sometimes tough to pick up with your fingers. I usually grab a pinchful and try to get about 2-3 in each pod. Don’t stress. Gardening is meant to be fun. 🙂

Now for the lettuce:

Step 5: I cover up the seeds with some of the loose peat (read your seed packets since some seeds need light to germinate and shouldn’t be covered).

Step 6: Add the plastic dome to cover the tray and keep moisture in. Make sure they stay moist and never dry out – that’s very important.

That’s it! These should sprout in a few days. I’ll keep you posted on how things go! 🙂

P.S. You can see my sage (greek mountain sage for tea) seedlings on the bottom tray – first time growing those.






Oscar Predictions 2020

It’s that time again – the Oscars are tomorrow night. Below are my predictions. I’ve seen 5 of the 9 films nominated for Best Picture. I’m not sure if 1917 (which I’ve seen) will win over Parasite (which I haven’t) so I’m going with 1917. Besides, a foreign film has never won Best Picture so the odds are tipped in 1917’s favor.

The four acting categories are shoe-ins, in my mind so those were easy picks. I’m never sure in the short film category so I’m going with popular opinion.


  • ANTONIO BANDERAS, Pain and Glory
  • LEONARDO DICAPRIO, Once upon a Time…in Hollywood
  • ADAM DRIVER. Marriage Story
  • JONATHAN PRYCE, The Two Popes


  • TOM HANKS, A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood
  • ANTHONY HOPKINS, The Two Popes
  • AL PACINO, The Irishman
  • JOE PESCI, The Irishman
  • BRAD PITT, Once upon a Time…in Hollywood


  • CYNTHIA ERIVO, Harriet
  • SCARLETT JOHANSSON, Marriage Story
  • SAOIRSE RONAN, Little Women
  • CHARLIZE THERON, Bombshell


  • KATHY BATES, Richard Jewell
  • LAURA DERN, Marriage Story
  • FLORENCE PUGH, Little Women
  • MARGOT ROBBIE, Bombshell


  • HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON: THE HIDDEN WORLD, Dean DeBlois, Bradford Lewis and Bonnie Arnold
  • I LOST MY BODY, Jérémy Clapin and Marc du Pontavice
  • KLAUS, Sergio Pablos, Jinko Gotoh and Marisa Román
  • MISSING LINK, Chris Butler, Arianne Sutner and Travis Knight
  • TOY STORY 4, Josh Cooley, Mark Nielsen and Jonas Rivera


  • THE IRISHMAN, Rodrigo Prieto
  • JOKER, Lawrence Sher
  • THE LIGHTHOUSE, Jarin Blaschke
  • 1917, Roger Deakins
  • ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, Robert Richardson


  • THE IRISHMAN, Sandy Powell and Christopher Peterson
  • JOJO RABBIT, Mayes C. Rubeo
  • JOKER, Mark Bridges
  • LITTLE WOMEN, Jacqueline Durran


  • THE IRISHMAN, Martin Scorsese
  • JOKER, Todd Phillips
  • 1917, Sam Mendes
  • ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, Quentin Tarantino
  • PARASITE, Bong Joon Ho


  • AMERICAN FACTORY. Steven Bognar, Julia Reichert and Jeff Reichert
  • THE CAVE, Feras Fayyad, Kirstine Barfod and Sigrid Dyekjær
  • THE EDGE OF DEMOCRACY, Petra Costa, Joanna Natasegara, Shane Boris and Tiago Pavan
  • FOR SAMA, Waad al-Kateab and Edward Watts
  • HONEYLAND, Ljubo Stefanov, Tamara Kotevska and Atanas Georgiev


  • IN THE ABSENCE, Yi Seung-Jun and Gary Byung-Seok Kam
  • LEARNING TO SKATEBOARD IN A WARZONE (IF YOU’RE A GIRL), Carol Dysinger and Elena Andreicheva
  • LIFE OVERTAKES ME, John Haptas and Kristine Samuelson
  • ST. LOUIS SUPERMAN, Smriti Mundhra and Sami Khan
  • WALK RUN CHA-CHA, Laura Nix and Colette Sandstedt


  • FORD V FERRARI, Michael McCusker and Andrew Buckland
  • THE IRISHMAN, Thelma Schoonmaker
  • JOJO RABBIT, Tom Eagles
  • JOKER, Jeff Groth
  • PARASITE, Yang Jinmo


  • HONEYLAND, North Macedonia
  • PARASITE, South Korea


  • BOMBSHELL, Kazu Hiro, Anne Morgan and Vivian Baker
  • JOKER, Nicki Ledermann and Kay Georgiou
  • JUDY, Jeremy Woodhead
  • MALEFICENT: MISTRESS OF EVIL, Paul Gooch, Arjen Tuiten and David White
  • 1917, Naomi Donne, Tristan Versluis and Rebecca Cole


  • JOKER, Hildur Guðnadóttir
  • LITTLE WOMEN, Alexandre Desplat
  • MARRIAGE STORY, Randy Newman
  • 1917, Thomas Newman


  • I CAN’T LET YOU THROW YOURSELF AWAY, from Toy Story 4; Music and Lyric by Randy Newman
  • (I’M GONNA) LOVE ME AGAIN, from Rocketman; Music by Elton John; Lyric by Bernie Taupin
  • I’M STANDING WITH YOU, from Breakthrough; Music and Lyric by Diane Warren
  • INTO THE UNKNOWN, from Frozen II; Music and Lyric by Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez
  • STAND UP, from Harriet; Music and Lyric by Joshuah Brian Campbell and Cynthia Erivo


  • FORD V FERRARI, Peter Chernin, Jenno Topping and James Mangold, Producers
  • THE IRISHMAN, Martin Scorsese, Robert De Niro, Jane Rosenthal and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Producers
  • JOJO RABBIT, Carthew Neal, Taika Waititi and Chelsea Winstanley, Producers
  • JOKER, Todd Phillips, Bradley Cooper and Emma Tillinger Koskoff, Producers
  • LITTLE WOMEN, Amy Pascal, Producer
  • MARRIAGE STORY, Noah Baumbach and David Heyman, Producers
  • 1917, Sam Mendes, Pippa Harris, Jayne-Ann Tenggren and Callum McDougall, Producers
  • ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, David Heyman, Shannon McIntosh and Quentin Tarantino, Producers
  • PARASITE, Kwak Sin Ae and Bong Joon Ho, Producers


  • THE IRISHMAN, Production Design: Bob Shaw; Set Decoration: Regina Graves
  • JOJO RABBIT, Production Design: Ra Vincent; Set Decoration: Nora Sopková
  • 1917, Production Design: Dennis Gassner; Set Decoration: Lee Sandales
  • ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, Production Design: Barbara Ling; Set Decoration: Nancy Haigh
  • PARASITE, Production Design: Lee Ha Jun; Set Decoration: Cho Won Woo


  • DCERA (DAUGHTER), Daria Kashcheeva
  • HAIR LOVE, Matthew A. Cherry and Karen Rupert Toliver
  • KITBULL, Rosana Sullivan and Kathryn Hendrickson
  • MEMORABLE, Bruno Collet and Jean-François Le Corre
  • SISTER, Siqi Song


  • BROTHERHOOD, Meryam Joobeur and Maria Gracia Turgeon
  • NEFTA FOOTBALL CLUB, Yves Piat and Damien Megherbi
  • THE NEIGHBORS’ WINDOW, Marshall Curry
  • SARIA, Bryan Buckley and Matt Lefebvre
  • A SISTER, Delphine Girard


  • FORD V FERRARI, Donald Sylvester
  • JOKER, Alan Robert Murray
  • 1917, Oliver Tarney and Rachael Tate
  • STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, Matthew Wood and David Acord


  • AD ASTRA, Gary Rydstrom, Tom Johnson and Mark Ulano
  • FORD V FERRARI, Paul Massey, David Giammarco and Steven A. Morrow
  • JOKER, Tom Ozanich, Dean Zupancic and Tod Maitland
  • 1917, Mark Taylor and Stuart Wilson
  • ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, Michael Minkler, Christian P. Minkler and Mark Ulano


  • AVENGERS: ENDGAME, Dan DeLeeuw, Russell Earl, Matt Aitken and Dan Sudick
  • THE IRISHMAN, Pablo Helman, Leandro Estebecorena, Nelson Sepulveda-Fauser and Stephane Grabli
  • THE LION KING, Robert Legato, Adam Valdez, Andrew R. Jones and Elliot Newman
  • 1917, Guillaume Rocheron, Greg Butler and Dominic Tuohy
  • STAR WARS: THE RISE OF SKYWALKER, Roger Guyett, Neal Scanlan, Patrick Tubach and Dominic Tuohy


  • THE IRISHMAN, Screenplay by Steven Zaillian
  • JOJO RABBIT, Screenplay by Taika Waititi
  • JOKER, Written by Todd Phillips & Scott Silver
  • LITTLE WOMEN, Written for the screen by Greta Gerwig
  • THE TWO POPES, Written by Anthony McCarten


  • KNIVES OUT, Written by Rian Johnson
  • MARRIAGE STORY, Written by Noah Baumbach
  • 1917, Written by Sam Mendes & Krysty Wilson-Cairns
  • ONCE UPON A TIME…IN HOLLYWOOD, Written by Quentin Tarantino
  • PARASITE, Screenplay by Bong Joon Ho, Han Jin Won; Story by Bong Joon Ho

Christmas Ornament 2019

Behold our annual ornament to commemorate the past year. We spent an amazing week in the Rockies in June and loved it. This is the 11th year we’ve been choosing one ornament that reflects a memorable event and placing it at the top of our tree.

This is a wooden ornament of a bear in a canoe. 🙂 We saw tons of bears on our trip. More bears than canoes actually!

2020: A Look Ahead

I love this time of year. I get to think ahead and plan what I’ll be tackling from my Life List in the coming year. Similar to years past, we already know where we’ll be traveling, so those will get crossed off in 2020. I want to cross off a few others as well; some of which I’ve been carrying forward for a couple of years so it’s time to get them done. 🙂

  • Travel to England
  • Travel to Scotland
  • Ride on the Tube in London
  • Visit Buckingham Palace in London
  • Visit the Tower of London
  • Tour a castle in Europe
  • Ride the Jacobite Train in Scotland
  • Visit Edinburgh, Scotland
  • Visit the Highlands, Scotland
  • Take a picture with a guard in London
  • See Big Ben
  • Have bangers and mash in England
  • Visit the Harry Potter Studio Tour in England
  • Learn to crochet
  • Knit a shawl
  • Attend a paint & wine class
  • Make yogurt
  • Make cheese
  • Make homemade pita bread

I’ll also be keeping my usual “annual” goals:

  • Watch 50 movies
  • Cook 30 new recipes
  • Read 10 books

I’m still figuring out what to add in terms of houseplants and other gardening things and will do so eventually. 🙂 Looking forward to 2020!

Life List Recap 2019

Wow – 2019 went by in a flash! This year-end is even more meaningful because it’s also the end of a decade! 2020 seemed so far away when we were kids…and now it’s here. 🙂

This year I was able to cross off several Life List items, quite a few related to travel (as usual):

  • Make fresh pasta
  • Stay in a cabin in the woods
  • Visit Banff, Alberta
  • Visit Jasper, Alberta
  • See Lake Louise in Alberta
  • Drive the Icefields Parkway, Alberta
  • Hike in the Rockies
  • Hike to one of the teahouses in the Rockies
  • Propagate a plant cutting successfully

I continued my food preservation skills and was able to complete the following:

  • Make freezer jam (cherry, strawberry, apricot)
  • Make and freeze cherry pie filling
  • Make and freeze apple and caramelized onion chutney
  • Make pickles (refrigerator and freezer): dill, sweet, bread and butter
  • Make dilly green beans
  • Grow and dry herbs for tea (chamomile, lemon balm and mint) – I made three different blends this year (just mint, mint + lemon balm, and mint + lemon balm + chamomile)
  • Grow and dry herbs for cooking: parsley, chives, oregano
  • Make blueberry compote
  • Make and freeze pesto
  • Make and freeze salsa
  • Make and freeze tomato sauce

I also learned a lot in terms of gardening, yardwork and plant-related skills which I’m pretty proud of!

  • Grow lavender and harvest / make lavender sachets
  • Learn how to edge a flower bed
  • Propagate a plant via cuttings in water and in soil
  • Make bamboo teepee trellises
  • Overseed a lawn
  • Learn how and when to properly prune various shrubs and plants
  • Plant containers (fall)
  • Dig up / move plants properly
  • Collect seeds for planting next year (rudbeckia)
  • Plant bulbs
  • Grow/maintain houseplants (I currently have 30 with a growing wish list)

And of my usual annual counts, I completed 1 of 3 – I was close on the other 2 as well so will likely maintain the same targets for 2020.

  • Watch 50 movies: I’m currently at 43 and we’re going to watch the new Star Wars this afternoon. I don’t think I’ll make it to 50 though. 🙂
  • Cook 30 new recipes: I cooked 25. Not bad – almost made it!
  • Read 10 books: Success – I recently started book #11 a couple of days ago.

Those who know me know that my interest in gardening and houseplants increased tremendously this year so I’ll likely be adding more life list items related to those activities. Stay tuned!

Coming up next: What’s the plan for 2020?