Love and Olive Oil

Beyond the Kitchen: Friday Edition

Borage Flowers

As I sit here sweating even with the AC on full blast, there’s no denying that summer is here. And despite the oppressive heat, my balcony garden is thriving. I should be eating homegrown tomatoes within the next few weeks, and I can’t tell you how excited that makes me.

But first…

Stitch Fix Review - June 2014

Let’s talk Stitch Fix. Stitch Fix and I took a little break this winter, after receiving two atrocious boxes in a row. In fact, I was entirely convinced they had turned into a maternity wear company, that’s how bad it was. So we took a break, a 6 month break, and only recently did I decide to give them another chance.

I was pretty pleased with this one overall. You could say Stitch Fix and I are back on speaking terms. The hot pink print wrap dress is perfection, cute and flattering and definitely a keeper. The heart polka dot tank (yes, heart-shaped polka dots!) is adorable, and will probably be staying as well. The green wrap dress, on the other hand, despite the pretty color and comfy fabric, was a bit too low and loose in the chest, and the long sleeves just didn’t work for me. Especially now when it’s 90+ degrees outside. No thanks.

Stitch Fix Review - June 2014

I’m torn on the necklace, which Taylor said looks like spoons filled with whipped cream. Based on that alone I might have to keep it. Because SPOONS!

The other white top is a mystery. It’s a pretty basic piece, a white collared button up. But cotton knit, like a tshirt, with some contrasting ribbed knit on the sides. I like it, and I don’t like it. For $54 I’ll probably end up sending it back, unless you all convince me otherwise.

Regardless, I feel like my last two boxes have redeemed the service. It is a gamble, having someone pick out clothes for you, but for the most part I enjoy it. Getting clothes in the mail without having to go to the mall? I call that a win.

Want to try Stitch Fix yourself? Sign up here and schedule your first box! (Full disclosure, that’s my referral link. If you sign up I get some credit towards future purchases, so thank you in advance!) Basically, you pay a $20 styling fee to receive a box of clothes selected just for you. If you choose to keep any of the pieces, the $20 can be applied towards that cost. AND if you decide to keep the entire box, you get a 20% discount off the entire thing. I’ve had one box like that and I can tell you it’s awesome when it happens. But if there are things you don’t love or that don’t fit, just send them back in the prepaid envelope. It couldn’t be easier.

Also, I really need a full length mirror…

Our Balcony Garden

Heading back outside… this is the current state of our balcony.

Notice the fact that everything is shoved up against one side of the porch. That’s because the sun only hits that side, and even then it’s debatable as to whether the plants get the “full” sun that they need to thrive. I’d love to live on the other side of the building, where they get morning light instead of the scalding afternoon stuff. Regardless, my garden seems to be thriving (especially when you consider that less than two months ago this is what the plants looked like).

I am obsessed with figuring out how to hang some string lights, which I think would look awesome draped between the wall and the divider. We have an outlet over there, but my issue is how to get the lights to hang on the metal siding. I’m thinking something like a magnetic command hook… do they even make such a thing? We obviously can’t drill into the metal siding, so I’m stumped. Definitely open to any ideas!

What we're growing in our balcony garden

As for what we are growing… with the exception of the marigolds, it’s all edible. 16 pots worth. We’ve got the basics, of course, basil (and thai basil), parsley, oregano, thyme, and rosemary. Mint, both julep and the chocolate mint that was the only thing that survived the frigid winter (I just can’t kill it, I tell you). My chives, or should I say, my chive is pathetic, they’re too weak and spindly to even hold up to the gentlest drops of water. I’ve started them over 3 times now from new seeds, and they never quite make it. Poor things. And poor, chiveless me, looks like I’ll be buying chives all summer.

Our Balcony Garden

I’ve got four gorgeous, flourishing tomato plants: two Landis tomatoes (the same kind that did so well for me last year. Perhaps they know that we share a name), and two Lime Green Salad tomatoes that Kristina (aka the tomato whisperer) sent to me, along with a grab bag of peppers and other seeds. Out of 3 or 4 kinds of peppers, the one called Jimmy Nardello was the only one to sprout. I have no idea what kind of pepper it is, but I can’t wait to find out!

Taylor’s got a pot of hops, an impulse purchase when we saw some hop vines for sale at Whole Foods (I may have talked him into getting one). It’s a pretty little vine, we’re hoping it’ll start winding its way through the balcony railing.

And finally, edible greens and flowers. Purslane, as I’ve discussed before, is as pretty as it is delicious. And voracious. I had to transplant the two tumbling perennials into their own pots before they suffocated my tomatoes.

The borage is maybe my favorite part of the garden this year. I had one gangly looking plant last year that didn’t do much. Too cramped in its little pot, I guessed. This year I have 6 in a much bigger pot, and they are exploding. The vibrant flowers just made their appearance this week, and I can’t stop gawking at their gorgeous blue petals, like little periwinkle shooting stars. Borage is also edible, both the leaves (which supposedly have a cucumber-like flavor, although I haven’t tried it yet) as well as the flowers. I have sweet plans for the flowers, just you wait and see!


Sgt. Pepper has discovered the outside… and can’t get enough. Little bugger finds a way to slip through my legs whenever I open the door. He immediately runs over to the cement area, flops over on his side, and starts cackling at the birds. I have to literally drag him, kicking and yowling, inside. He lost his solo-outside privileges a few years ago when he managed to slip through the railing and was on his way over to our neighbor’s when we caught him (and as you picture this, remember that we live 3 stories up).

Sgt. Pepper loves the outside

Meanwhile, Kalypso lost her outside privileges because she tries to eat everything green, toxic or otherwise. And Desmond, well, Desmond is too much of a scaredy cat to go outside alone. And so, when the sun isn’t beating down on the balcony and the temperature is tolerable, we all go outside together for some supervised fresh air.

On that note, I hope you all have a fantastic weekend, filled with plenty of supervised (or not) fresh air of your own. I’ll be back in the kitchen on Monday with more recipes you’re going to love. :)

(Also, for those curious about our planters… the gray cylinder ones are actually made of recycled felt. We like them because they’re cheap, they drain well, and at the end of the season we can fold them up and pack them away. Innovations RA is the brand on ours, although these Root Pouch pots look almost identical.)

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  1. I love your balcony :D Mine is also full with herbs, unfortunately it is too small for bigger plants…  I especially like that you grow hops :D Plans for your own bear brand? ;) 
    Also the picture of your cat at the window is hilarious, we also have cat for the moment. Some friends are on vacation and we are looking after it ;) 
    take care, rebecca

  2. I love seeing everyones’ gardens this time of year! When you start them from seeds they turn into your babies. And your cats are so cute! Our cat Mosby loves the catnip we planted. We have to keep putting the pot up out of reach so it can grow, he always nibbles it down!

  3. Haha too funny — I don’t have a full length mirror either and Stitch Fix and I also took about a 6 month break! They are so much fun to get in the mail though. ;) 

  4. Umm Stitchfix..dunno. I do love your balcony though and i’m inspired to get my butt in gear and do some planting here with the kids.

  5. Love, love, this post! Your photos are beautiful, as always, and I love that collage! I wish I had a balcony off my apartment so that I could do something like this, I’ll have to live vicariously through you in the meantime. I don’t think I’ve ever seen borage before, it is gorgeous! And Sgt. Pepper is adorable!!

  6. I’ve never tried Stichfix and thanks for the honest review :) I love your blue pants! I want those! And Sgt. Pepper is beyond cute!

    Love the balcony and your herbs/plants are more than I’ve got going! Thanks for this slice of real life type of post – love it!

  7. I got that same white shirt in my Fix yesterday, and I feel the same way about it! I like it but I don’t. It looks kind of dressy but feels casual. Quite a confusing article of clothing. I think I’m sending it back…

  8. Love that necklace and mini heart top! Also the pink dress looks great on you.

  9. I found little ‘siding hooks’ at Joanne’s.  Works well for lights.  

  10. Ahh, Stitchfix. I just got my third box and am undecided. They have had a hard time with my size, sending me some things that are way to big and others that are too small, but it seems to be getting better and I liked this months.
    As for cats and the great outdoors, I get it! I am convinced that we put the screened in porch in last summer for the cats, but we also enjoy it. 
    Finally, you garden looks awesome! I have given up and do a CSA, leaving the gardening to those with greener thumbs. Good luck with yours!

  11. Your plants are so much further along than ours. I cannot wait to get tomatoes. I didn’t get chives this year and am kicking myself already.  I hope yours make a recovery!

  12. Poor pathetic chive!

  13. I so loved this post. I loved everything, but I especially loved Sgt Pepper!

  14. I can totally relate to cats and balconies.  Ours is screened-in, so our cats wander in and out all day which makes it tough place for a container garden since they both to love to munch on plants.  

  15. I actually have the same “spoon” necklace, but in orange. I can’t tell you how many compliments I’ve received on it! It works well with any shirts or dresses with a scoop neck. I hope you end up keeping it! :)

  16. Great post! Your balcony looks so pretty with all those plants! And I love the dresses, especially the pink one. I also really liked the photo of your cat!

  17. Love your blog, love your clothes for this month. I even like the loose and low green dress…so unique…but you are right, a little loose….the white shirt…send back….
    Your plants are amazing, of course, I have only ever tried to grow herbs and tomatoes once…not sure why I don’t try them again, except we had such a late start to nice weather here in upstate NY.
    Nnot sure if you can hang hooks from the top of the partition…not sure how wide it is, but shower hooks or even over the door hooks? Or…a strong magnet with a hook…might work for hanging lights. I got some adorable starlights from bed bath and beyond and haven’t figured out where to hang them in my apt. yet either…enjoy the first day of summer. A very sad day for me, because I LOVE this light cycle and it will only be getting shorter every day after tomorrow!

  18. We found our first tiny green tomatoes peppers this week on our plants too!  If you need chives let me know, ours are flowering. :-)

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