Gardening for Beginners: Getting Started @themerrythoughtIf you’ve been reading along, you probably know that my cousin bought a house last year and we’ve been working on renovating and finally got to move in this winter! One of the things I was most excited about was finally having a backyard space! After living in an upstairs apartment with no outdoor space for five years, it was about time! One of my goals I’ve had for years was to start a garden once I had a patch of yard to call my own. So this year I’ve decided to attempt to learn how to garden! I don’t have a green thumb at all but my Aunt and Uncle have the most incredible gardens at their house and they said they would be willing to help me start my own! So I’ve decided to share the journey on here – partly because I need the accountability so I actually go through with it (ha!) and partly because I’m so excited about it and am hoping someone else might want to jump in with me and start your own! Today I’m just taking you through the beginning steps that I’ve taken to get things started!Gardening for Beginners: Getting Started @themerrythoughtHere’s a run down of what I’m growing this year:
Carrots, garlic, sweet potatoes, rhubarb, asparagus, cucumbers, jalapeño, brussels sprouts, kale, greens mix, thyme, cilantro, rosemary, lavender, and basil.

Some of the regulars (tomatoes, onions, etc) are missing because eww or I just wouldn’t use them enough for it to be worth it. But I’ll share some tips for all of the veggies and herbs that I’m trying out this year.

What to buy:
-Potting Soil
-Seed Starter Kit
-5″ Plastic Pots

Getting started:
-Set up a space where you won’t mind soil getting everywhere.
-Take your bag of potting soil and set aside a few handfuls of dry soil.
-Leave the rest of the soil in the bag and mix water directly into bag until the soil is about the texture of pie crust – not too wet! When you squeeze it, it should stay together but you should still be able crumble it apart easily.Gardening for Beginners: Getting Started @themerrythoughtI started with my seed starter kit – it had five little trays inside with 10 holes per tray. I assigned one vegetable per tray so that if one starts growing quicker than the others, I can remove it and plant it as needed. I used this for the kale, mesclun greens mix, cucumbers, jalapeño, and brussels sprouts.
-Fill each hole with lightly packed soil up to the brim of the tray.
-Create a small hole for the seed (make sure you are making them the depth noted on each individual seed pack.)
-Place two seeds in each hole.
-Cover with a thin layer of the dry soil.
-Label each tray so you remember what is planted inside – I used popsicle sticks.
-Cover tray with a plastic cover (mine came with one) and place in a warm place.
*-Once they start sprouting, they must be in a warm, sunny place.

For my herbs (thyme, cilantro, rosemary, lavender, basil), I used 5″ plastic pots.
-Fill each pot mostly full with lightly packed soil.
-Lightly scatter seeds across the top of the soil.
-Cover with a thin layer of dry soil.
-Label each pot.
-Cover with plastic wrap and place in a warm place.
*-Once they start sprouting, they must be in a warm, sunny place.

For the sweet potatoes
-I purchased organic sweet potatoes from the store
-Fill glass mostly with water and place one end of the sweet potato inside.
-You can use toothpicks in the sides to help hold it up in the glass.
-Wait until it starts to sprout.

On my TO BUY list for the next step are:
-Carrot seeds (these will go directly into the garden)
-Rhubarb plant
-Asparagus plant

Are you still with me? Have you done any gardening? Planning on trying this year?

xo. CaitlinGardening for Beginners: Getting Started @themerrythought

  • Friday, April 7, 2017 - 2:10 pm

    Marlene @ Idle Hands Awake - Aaahhh I’m so excited for you! And also for spring 🙂 . I started gardening two seasons ago with flowers and then grew herbs last season. They were truly the most delicious herbs I’ve ever had!ReplyCancel

  • Friday, April 7, 2017 - 3:32 pm

    Niki LaRock - We started our planting indoors WAY too early this year. We planted cucumbers, radishes, green onions and a few different flower varieties. Definitely learned our lesson for next year to wait until late March early April.ReplyCancel

  • Friday, April 14, 2017 - 2:08 am

    Lucy M. Clark - It will be very exciting! You will definitely enjoy gardening. I am also doing gardening and I feel connected with nature. This is so refreshing to visit the garden in morning.ReplyCancel


DIY Wooden Paper Towel Stand @themerrythoughtSince the kitchen renovation we had been in the habit of throwing our roll of paper towels haphazardly into our pantry most times after we use it because we couldn’t decide where to put a paper towel bar. Lately our paper towel roll has been found out on the counter more often after use and I decided to whip together a simple stand for it so that it looks like it belongs out there. A little unfinished wood and leather (a few of my favoriteeee things) and our paper towels now have a home!DIY Wooden Paper Towel Stand @themerrythoughtWhat you need:
-6″ round piece of wood – look for clock faces or flat plaques
-1″ dowel
-Hand saw
-Forstner bit
-Wood glue
-1/2″ brad nail

How to make it:
-Use your hand saw to cut your dowel to 15″ long.
-Use the saw along the top of the dowel to create an angled side along the top.
-Cut a 2.5″ long strip of leather and fold in half.
-Use the hammer & nail to secure the leather in place along the angled side of the dowel.
-Use a drill and a forstner bit the same width as the dowel to create a hole in the center of the 6″ round piece of wood. Drill most of the way through the wood but not completely.
-Use wood glue to secure the bottom of dowel into the drilled hole (making sure it is standing up straight) and let it dry.
DIY Wooden Paper Towel Stand @themerrythoughtDIY Wooden Paper Towel Stand @themerrythoughtDIY Wooden Paper Towel Stand @themerrythoughtxo. Caitlin


Roasted Tomato & Artichoke Grilled Cheese @themerrythoughtGrilled cheese is a favorite comfort food for so many of us. And since April is National Grilled Cheese month, you can feel free to indulge a few times this month! I like to try adding different ingredients and cheeses to my sandwiches to keep things interesting. A couple years ago we shared a post with 10 Grilled Cheese Sandwiches (yes, go check it out they are a must try!). And since then, I’ve been loving creating new, delicious sandwiches.
This time I used a couple favorite veggies, tomatoes & artichokes, roasting both beforehand. (I think the sandwiches would still be great without roasting if you’re in a hurry and need to skip that step). And I used a couple of my favorite kinds of cheese: fresh mozzarella (can never go wrong there) and gouda, which I think is my all time favorite cheese. Ever. These warm, gooey, flavorful sandwiches have quickly become a favorite! I didn’t list measurements for this, as I feel liked grilled cheese is an add-as-much-as you-like kind of recipe. Plus every ingredient amount would change depending on how many sandwiches you make.Roasted Tomato & Artichoke Grilled Cheese @themerrythoughtRoasted Tomato & Artichoke Grilled Cheese @themerrythoughtRoasted Tomato & Artichoke Grilled Cheese

tomatoes, cut into slices
artichokes, halved and patted dry (I did use canned)
garlic clove, minced
olive oil
salt & pepper, to taste
fresh mozzarella, sliced
gouda, shredded
basil pesto
good bread, sliced (I used Garlic Tuscan)
butter, softened

Preaheat oven to 400ºF. Line a baking sheet with tinfoil and lightly grease. In a small bowl mix together olive oil and minced garlic. Gently stir in tomato slices & artichoke halves until coated. Arrange on baking sheet in a single layer. Season with salt & pepper. Bake for 20-30 minutes (the timing really depends on how thick your slices are and how many you have on the pan, so just keep an eye on them) or until soft and beginning to brown on the edges.

Spread pesto on the inside of a slice bread. Top with cheeses, tomatoes and artichokes. Top with another bread slice, butter the outside of both bread slices, and cook on a flat skillet over medium low heat until golden. Enjoy!
Roasted Tomato & Artichoke Grilled Cheese @themerrythoughtRoasted Tomato & Artichoke Grilled Cheese @themerrythoughtAny favorite grilled cheese recipes we should try out this month?


  • Monday, April 17, 2017 - 8:21 pm

    Ivory - This sandwich looks so tasty. Thanks!ReplyCancel


DIY Earring Stand @themerrythoughtI’ve been needing something to hold my stud earrings for a long time. I had been putting them in a drawer in a little jewelry box I have on my dresser, but they always blend in together and I have the hardest time finding matching pairs! After spotting this one at UO recently, I decided I needed one and finally had Mike work on one with me. We stuck with our usual, unfinished wood with a simple, basic design. (Feel free to paint/stain as your heart desires). I think it’s the perfect stud earring organizer and only wish I had made it sooner – makes my accessorizing routine so much easier. 😉DIY Earring Stand @themerrythoughtDIY Earring Stand @themerrythoughtMaterials:

– 1/8-inch plywood – for upright piece
– 1/2-inch plywood – for base
– table saw
– mitre box
– ruler + pencil
– drill + 1/16” drill bit
– sand paper
wood glue
– clamps
DIY Earring Stand @themerrythoughtMeasure and mark where holes will go on the 1/8-inch plywood. Our measurements were: 1-3/8” from the bottom of the upright piece, we made 5 rows 1” apart, coming in 5/8” from the side. We spaced the holes 5/8” apart.
Using a 1/16” drill bit, drill holes.
DIY Earring Stand @themerrythoughtCut 1/8-inch plywood to size, ours is 4-1/4” x 7-1/4”. Cut the 1/2-inch plywood to size: ours is 1-5/8”, with a 15 degree angle (on the side the upright piece attaches to) and 4-1/4” wide. Sand as needed.
DIY Earring Stand @themerrythoughtGlue and clamp the upright piece to the angled side of the base. Once glue is dry, remove clamps.
DIY Earring Stand @themerrythoughtDIY Earring Stand @themerrythought


be you print | coffee print | marble planter (similar) | ring cones – made by Caitlin, find a DIY here | glass shadow box

  • Friday, March 31, 2017 - 3:33 am

    Indya | TheSmallAdventurer - This is such a great idea! At the moment all my studs are in a box together, and I often forget about them since they’re not on display. This stand is so cute and simple, it’s definitely going high on my to do list!

  • Monday, April 3, 2017 - 4:10 pm

    Lucy @ best jogging strollers - Just stumbled upon this blog and just wanted to say that I think you girls are absolutely beautiful! Plus the DIY stand looks like an awesome weekend project. Looking forward to checking out your other articles.



Creamy Fruit Pizzelles @themerrythoughtAround this time I start getting really anxious for warm weather to actually arrive here in Western NY. (Get these boys outta my house and let us all breathe in some fresh air!) And while it’s slowly, slowly coming, it never seems soon enough after the long, dreary winters we have. So I try to bring some spring/summer foods to our table to tide us over until spring has really sprung. And these little desserts – they’ll make your heart & belly so happy you’ll forget that it’s still only 40 out. And raining. Again.Creamy Fruit Pizzelles @themerrythoughtI’ve been wanting to use pizzelles in a recipe for a while, they’re such pretty looking cookies. I’m not a fan of anise flavor (which I think is the traditional pizzelle flavor? Really I’m not sure, I’ve been too lazy to do any research), but they sell them in vanilla & chocolate flavor, and being a vanilla girl, I was set. I wanted something easy, sweet and perfect for a spring or summer brunch. I used the filling from our favorite No-Bake Blueberry Cheesecake Pie, and topped it with some fresh fruit. The result – an addicting, delicious, easy-to-make treat! We have a video below, so you can watch how simple these are to make – and if you follow us on the Darby app, you can see more of our recipe & DIY videos there!
I will note that our grocery store was out of regular pizzelles when I went, so I bought gluten-free ones, and they were sooo good! They also stayed nice & crispy even with the filling on them for a few hours. So, these can be a gluten-free dessert if you’d like. I found regular pizzelles (for a whole lot cheaper at Aldi’s) and while still delicious, they do get a little “soft” after sitting with the filling on them for a bit.Creamy Fruit Pizzelles @themerrythoughtCreamy Fruit Pizzelles

4 ounces cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract
1-1/2 cups whipped cream (I recommend homemade whipped cream!)
pizzelles (I used vanilla flavored pizzelles)
fresh fruit

Mix cream cheese, powdered sugar and vanilla together until smooth & creamy. Fold in whipped cream.

Top pizzelles with about a tablespoon of cream cheese mixture. Top with fresh fruit. Serve immediately.

Creamy Fruit Pizzelles @themerrythoughtCreamy Fruit Pizzelles @themerrythought


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