Moroccan Chickpea Soup

I don’t think that I’ve mentioned this on Scissors & Sage before, but beyond my work as a music therapist, I’m also part-time at a home and garden store outside of Philly called terrain. I was hired as a seasonal nursery associate, and have been really enjoying my time there.

Over the weekend, terrain had its holiday open house–a huge event that kicks of the season with festivities for all. I decided to enter myself into the employee soup competition with an original recipe for Moroccan chickpea soup. Although it didn’t win, I do think that it’s worth sharing here. Many people enjoyed it for its spicy kick and flavorful ingredients. It’s a recipe that I know I’ll come back to several times this winter.

It’s worth noting that this recipe happens to be vegetarian, vegan, and gluten free. Perfect for most any food restriction! I hope that you enjoy it, and that it warms your bones. It just got really cold in Philly.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Moroccan Chickpea Soup

Prep time: 15 minutes | Cook time: 1 hour | Yields: 4 quarts

Ingredients:

  • 4 carrots, diced
  • 2 Yukon gold potatoes, diced
  • 1 large yellow onion, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 32 oz canned chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 3/4 cup liquid from a can of chickpeas
  • 1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp paprika
  • 1/4 tsp freshly ground coriander
  • 64 oz vegetable broth
  • 28 oz canned diced tomatoes
  • 1 tbs tomato paste
  • zest of 1/2 a lemon

Heat olive oil over medium heat in a large pot. Add onions and garlic, and sauté until cooked. Add spices and toast, stirring continuously. Deglaze using one cup of vegetable broth.

Add carrots and potatoes, and cook for five minutes. Add liquid from the chickpea can, and cook for five additional minutes.

Add diced tomatoes and cook for five minutes. Stir in tomato paste. Add remaining vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce to a simmer, and cover for 15 minutes.

Add chickpeas and lemon zest, and simmer for a final 5-10 minutes. Enjoy immediately, or refrigerate in an airtight container for up to five days.

From Scissors & Sage 

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DIY Self-Watering System for Houseplants

Happy Monday! Did anyone notice I was absent last week? The bad news is I had bronchitis for a few weeks there, but the good news is that I’m feeling better! Philly is in full-blown spring mode, and I can’t get enough of it. My parents visited me and Anne this weekend, and we had a great picnic at the Japanese Gardens in Fairmount Park. The cherry blossoms were out of control!

As the warmer weather begins to take us out of hibernation, it quickly becomes the season to travel more. Day trips, weekend excursions, and longer vacations. All of this traveling means that those houseplants you so carefully take care of are soon left to fend for themselves.

When Anne and I took our road trip through the south last spring, we devised a self-watering wicking system to keep our houseplants happy and healthy while we were away for a week. I pride myself on my level of care for our houseplants, but let me say this: our plants have never looked better than that week they were watering themselves.

Here’s why a self-watering wicking system works so well:

  1. By using a wicking system, the plants only absorb the amount of water that they need. They will never sit in an excess of water.
  2. Different plants require different amounts of water. With this setup, you can keep all of your plants hydrated with one system.
  3. You don’t need to do a damn thing! This system will water itself and leave your plants feeling great.

Oh, and another tip: If you’re new to houseplants, or aren’t sure how much to water them, use this system even when you’re home. You can reap the benefits of keeping houseplants, but your black thumb won’t get in the way!

Are you convinced? Do you want to use this system the next time you’re away from home? The setup process takes about 30 minutes, and should be done the day before you leave in order to minimize stress and confirm the system is working. I’ll walk you through the steps to making your own at home.

DIY Self-Watering System for Houseplants

Materials:

  • 100% cotton string
  • Scissors
  • Paper clips
  • Pasta pot
  • Short stool

Step 1: Gather your houseplants in a location near where they usually reside. Cut the cotton string into two-feet segments (cut as many as you have plants). If you do not have cotton string on hand, take an old 100% cotton t-shirt and cut it into long, thin strips.

Step 2: Tie a paper clip to one end of each piece of string.

Step 3: Fill a pasta pot with water, about 4 quarts. Place the pot on a stool to elevate the water above the level of the plants. (Gravity will work with you to pull the water down the string.) Gather the plants around the pot of water.

Step 4: Place the paper clip end of the string in the pasta pot. (The paper clips will ensure that the string stays in the water.) Take the other end of the string and, using your finger, bury it about one or two inches into the soil of each plant. Press firmly on the soil to hold the string in place.

Step 5: When you have placed the string into each plant, make sure that there are no “dips” in the string. The line of string from the pasta pot to the plant needs to be a fully downward slope. If the string dips below the planter, water will not travel back up the string and into the soil. To avoid this, gently pull the extra string into the pasta pot.

Wrong:

Right:

That is how to create your very own DIY self-watering wicking system! In about an hour, you will notice your plant beginning to receive water.

Depending on how long you are away, there will most likely be water still in the pasta pot when you return home. Gently disassemble the string from the plant, and go back to your usual houseplant routine in about ten minutes.

Or, don’t! There are other, more subtle ways to continue this system while you’re home. Keep your plants where you usually have them, and place smaller bowls of water–on a stack of books, say–near your plants. You can refill the water bowls and know that your plants are receiving just the right amount of water at all times.

Note: Our orchid and fiddle leaf fig are getting their own self-watering setups when Anne and I travel to Greece this summer. They are quite particular plants, so I will keep them right where they are elsewhere in our apartment.

Are you going anywhere this spring or summer? Tell me where you’re traveling in the comments!

{NEW} FOR HIRE

It’s hard to believe December is upon us! Thanksgiving in Chicago was so much fun.  We even went to northern Illinois to chop down a Christmas tree!  Anne and I put our holiday decorations up last night, as it was the first activity in our advent calendar, and the Christmas spirit is officially in full swing.

I thought I’d take a minute to introduce you to a new component of Scissors & Sage: I am for hire!  In this new section, you will find details on the work I am currently offering.  I’ve also copy and pasted the details below for your convenience.  I hope that you will consider selecting me for your holiday needs this year.  I’ve already finished designing one family’s holiday card, and I have a holiday photoshoot scheduled this weekend with a local couple.


{NEW} FOR HIRE

I’d love to work for you!

Just in time for the holiday season, I am offering my graphic design services to create custom holiday cards.  I will transform one (or a few!) family photographs into a beautifully designed card for you to send to loved ones this season.

  • $45 for one photo per card
  • $55 for two photos per card
  • $65 for three or more photos per card
  • $75 for full-service (does not include printing and shipping fees)

Give the gift of a handmade item.  I will recreate any of the projects seen on Scissors & Sage, whether it’s an edible treat, something hand-knit, or another type of DIY craft.  Rates vary depending on the item(s).

Celebrate a special occasion with a photoshoot.  This may include engagement, holiday, maternity, and “just because” photographs.  (Customers must live in or near Philadelphia, PA.)

  • $75 for 1 hour shoot, photo editing, and digital files
  • $95 for 1.5 hour shoot, photo editing, and digital files
  • $105 for 1.5 hour shoot, photo editing, digital files, and text over photos
  • Text over photos can be added to any package for $15

Receive guidance on that blog you’ve been thinking about starting.  I will help you with blog layout and design, content ideas, goal setting, and more!  Meetings may occur in person, over the phone, or on Skype.

  • $55 for first consultation (up to 1.5 hours)
  • $35 for all other consultations (1 hour each)

Email me at victoria@scissorsandsage.com if you are interested in any of the services mentioned above.  I will then send you a more detailed estimate for the time and materials needed, and shipping fees (if applicable).

Follow these five simple steps if you know exactly what you want, or if we’ve already connected over email:

  1. Checkout via  Buy Now Button
  2. Fill in your desired order in the “Enter description” box
  3. Enter the appropriate item price based on prices listed above
  4. Click “Update” to refresh your order
  5. Pay using either a PayPal account or a credit card

I look forward to working for you!

An Afternoon at Petit Jardin en Ville

Today I would like to share with you all Scissors & Sage’s very first small business profile.  I chose a small business that I am continuously drawn to: Petit Jardin en Ville.  This “little garden in the city” can be found tucked away in Philadelphia’s Old City neighborhood, and it instantly transports you to Paris.  Claudia Roux, Parisian florist and garden designer, is the owner of this magical storefront.  She offers her floral design services for weddings, special events, parties, restaurants, and hotels, as well as her garden services for your every garden need year-round.

When I contacted Claudia to see if she would be interested in having her small business profiled on Scissors & Sage, she was delighted.  I couldn’t wait to head over to Petit Jardin for an afternoon.  From the minute you walk in, your senses are fed.  Beautiful flowers, found objects, gardening tools, and whimsical French music fill the space.  Claudia, with the help of her French-born husband, Vincent, assist customers both in and out of the shop.  (I have personally received two flower deliveries at my front door from Vincent — what a happy sight!)

Claudia sat down with me and spoke of her journey to Petit Jardin en Ville, and below are some segments from our conversation.  At the end of my visit, Claudia, Vincent, and I clinked apple tart slices to celebrate Petit Jardin.  This shop, first opened in May 2014, has quickly won the way to my heart.  I am excited to share Claudia’s story with you all today.  Be sure to check out Petit Jardin en Ville online (Official Website | Twitter | Instagram | Facebook) or stop by in person!

From Claudia: After I met my husband, and right before we got married, I moved to France.  We were living in Paris.  I had always been artistic and had worked with florals, but I really didn’t find my path until I moved there.  Flowers are part of the culture in France, so I started to take horticultural classes.  I worked very closely with my teacher, Catherine Muller, who was the protégé of Christian Tutora.  I studied with Catherine for the five years that I lived in Paris.  I still continue to take classes with her now.  Her aesthetic is very similar to mine.  It’s a very garden-y kind of style that I like a lot.  France is a mixture of old and new, which really brings an interesting aesthetic.  It’s where I gained my understanding of combining both of those.

 

My husband and I spent a lot of time in different regions in France [collecting found items].  For example, in Bordeaux, you can find old metal grape pickers with leather straps that you would throw the grapes in as you picked.  A lot of the areas we go to are in the countryside.  We find a lot of farm pieces, which really appeal to my aesthetic, too.  We like to go and find things that others haven’t found yet.  We do bring some city-type things such as a parking sign and original advertisements from the 1940s.  Of course, I choose many things that I can put flowers in, like bottles and glasses, to evoke a feeling of a relaxed, carefree atmosphere that you find in the countryside where people spend so much time outside.

 

Philadelphia as a whole has changed over the years.  When we were looking at spaces, we kept coming back to Old City.  We wanted to be part of a neighborhood, and to emulate the spaces you would find in Paris.  Those spaces tend to be small and have a very special kind of dark feeling.  The flowers bring the light to the inside.  You know, I came from the suburbs where everything is big.  When we moved to Paris, there were so many things that I left behind that I realized I didn’t need.  You can live so beautifully and simply by just editing what you already have.  It enabled me to see a different way of life, and I love small spaces now.

 

Blogs are really important for people like me to get feelings from.  I look for interesting blogs that have a little bit of my aesthetic but also bring something different.  If you’re doing different kinds of projects, it’s always super interesting to me.  I love everything that you can do with your hands.  The more you do, and the more you create, the more people will see.

 

If you have a really great idea, go with it.  Don’t second-guess yourself; don’t hesitate.  If you really like it, and if you can spend the time with it, it shows to other people and they will like it.  In retrospect, I would have tried to start earlier and not be so afraid to start something new.

 

DIY Leaf Flowers

Three years ago, I read an interesting guest blog post on Design*Sponge by artist Kate Pruitt.  She took autumn leaves and transformed them into a beautiful bouquet of flowers.  How did she do it?  I was sure to find out.  Living on a breathtaking college campus in upstate New York at the time, I walked the campus to find fallen leaves.  It was such a fun project that I decided to make it again for you here today.  It’s the perfect time of year to be collecting leaves of all shapes, sizes, and colors — ingredients to surely make a beautiful arrangement!

Materials:

  • 15 or so leaves per flower (dry and freshly fallen)
  • Thin, straight sticks (one per flower)
  • Washi tape

The first time that I made these flowers, I used maple leaves and followed Kate’s instructions more closely.  This season, it has been quite difficult finding rich, red leaves in Philadelphia.  I adapted my folding technique to work with these pretty yellow leaves I collected.  Above are step-by-step picture instructions on how to fold and create your own flowers.

This is one DIY project where I wished I had three hands.  It can become difficult as you add more “petals” to your flower to hold them, fold them, and then place the stick in the center of the bunch to begin taping it.  My third yellow flower completely fell out of my hand when I began taping it to the stick, so I started over.  If it becomes frustrating, take a break and go make some tea.  The end results are completely worth it!

Below is a picture of my red leaf flowers three years ago.  They kept their red color and dried beautifully.  My housemates and I enjoyed them on our dining table for about three months!

What are you making this season?  Share your fall DIY creations on Instagram with #scissorsandsage.