Author: hoanth01

The Beginner Gardener Series: The 3 essential tools for gardening

When I was a beginner gardener, I made the  rookie mistake of buying multiple gardening tools that one would use in a traditional garden, including a trowel, transplanter, cultivator, weeding fork, and weeder.  Over the last three years, I found that I could replace them all with 3 tools: a trowel, a weeder, and a Korean traditional garden ho called “a homi”.  If I could only purchase one tool, then a “homi” would be the Swiss army knife. The homi:  This was a “do it all” hand tool since the Bronze Age for Koreans.  I started to see them used in Korean YouTube horticulture videos and decided to purchase one last year on Amazon.  It was the best gardening decision that I have ever made!  It made my life so much easier.  It has a curved handle and a blade with a unique shape that allows you to dig, weed, mound, etc… all encompassed in one tool.  You can find a homi at multiple price points on Amazon by searching for a “Korean homi garden …

The Beginner Gardener Series: Mistakes that I made in Year 1-3 of gardening

As I reflect on my last 3 years of gardening, I realize that I made a fair amount of beginner mistakes.  Here are some takeaways that I learned to help you prevent the novice pitfalls. Putting seeds into the ground too late.  I decided to save money by germinating seeds instead of purchasing nursery plants in my second and third year of gardening. However, I started my seeding too late, which resulted in my vegetables maturing deeper into the summer and yielding less crop.  If you are not able to sow seeds into the ground two or three weeks after your area’s last frost date, then I highly recommend utilizing nursery plants instead. It is okay to get some help. Germinating seeds indoor without proper equipment.  I decided to start seeding a variety of tomatoes, cucumbers, and other vegetables indoors to get a leg up last year.  It sounded like a great idea, but I ended up with a lot of headaches instead.  I had only purchased one small grow light and assumed that the …

The Beginner Gardener Series: How I develop a passion for growing my own food and gardening.

I have been meaning to write about my journey from being a city slicker to a nature lover.  I moved to Boston from NYC when I got married several years ago.  After a few years of city living in tight quarters, my husband and I decided to move to a suburb north of Boston to start our family.  We could finally have a backyard and fresh air!  Three summers ago, I came home from an overseas work trip to discover that my mother-in-law had created a small vegetable garden in my backyard.  She planted tomatoes, cucumbers, and a bunch of onions – the usual ingredients in Bosnian cuisine.  Since I normally worked from home when I was not traveling, it was my responsibility to maintain this nascent garden for the summer.  I started learning slowly by watering the seedlings with timid expectations of a blooming mini farm. As each day passed, I became more inspired to try growing some kitchen herbs, which necessitated numerous trips to the nearby Home Depot. As the summer progressed, the …

Must Do’s: Oxford, England

I traveled to Oxford for work several times over the past few years and fell completely in love with this English city.  Oxford is full of picturesque historical buildings that have been perfectly preserved.  You feel like you are walking through history along the cobble stone pathways.  The local myth is that Hitler wanted to make Oxford his new headquarter and therefore ordered for it to be “left alone” during WWII.  We are fortunate enough to have this city  preserved for our enjoyment. It’s also favorite location for the film industry.  You might feel a sense of familiarity with the buildings as Harry Potter was filmed at Christ Church, Bodleian Library and New College.  Downtown Abbey also used Oxfordshire (the suburbs of Oxford) for their filming locations. For more information on locations used by the film industry, click on Film locations. Here are my recommendations for Oxford. Getting to Oxford: Oxford is a close day trip for those staying in London.  I normally fly into London and stay a day or two to visit friends before heading to Oxford.  My …

4 Essential Drug Store Items For Travel

I have traveled  more than 30+ countries in the past 10 years  for work and have learned from experience on the travel essentials. I often stay several weeks in a foreign country at a time or a few days depending on the assignments.  The four items that are always in my luggage are budget friendly drug store items that are also multi-purpose. These are my must haves for traveling. Cetaphil Gentle Skin Cleanser for Face & Body Travel Size Source:  Target This try and true sensitive skin cleanser is great for washing your face and body in a foreign environment. The local water can range from soft to hard water and this product helps offset any skin irritation. It’s a great face wash. However you still need to take your makeup off first with a makeup remover for it to be effective. It can also be used as shaving gel to give you a closer shave. Johnson’s Baby Oil Travel Size Source:  Target I have used baby oil for years to moisturize my skin after a hot shower. It is cheap …

Weekend Unexplored: Portland, Maine and surrounding area

Portland, Maine, is a quick 2 hour drive north of Boston, making it a perfect weekend trip.  My husband and I fell in love with Maine few years ago, especially Portland and its surrounding areas.  You can find beautiful scenic sights, plenty of outdoor activities, antiquing, great food scene and, of course, lobster rolls.  After so many years, we have perfected our weekend trip itinerary and where to take our “out of town” guests.  Here are some of our favorites and make sure to also scroll all the way to the end for our sample weekend itinerary. HOTELS The Press Hotel (119 Exchange St, Portland, ME 04101) Website Source: Instyle *If you are a history buff, then Press Hotel is a must stay.  The hotel used to be the Gannett Building that housed the offices and printing plant of the Portland Press Herald.  The building was converted to a hotel after the newspaper shut down in 2010.  The hotel has vintage-styled furniture juxtaposed against contemporary interiors and playful newsroom references making it my favorite hotel in Portland. …

Boston Spotlight: Finding Hidden Sushi Gems

After getting a thorough education on sushi during my time in Japan and my 8 years living in NYC, I considered myself knowledgeable enough on quality sushi.  Ever since I moved to Boston three years ago, I have been on a mission to find quality sushi around the Boston area. My definition of quality includes freshness, authenticity and creativity. I am a purist so I generally stick to only sushi or sashimi and always try to go for an Omakase.  Boston doesn’t lack the abundance of sushi restaurants, but good quality sushi is hard to come by.  I spent hours trying to find the “hidden gems” and scouring “Eaters Boston” and “Yelp” for recommendations and coming back a little disappointed each time.  The sushi god has  finally led me to 2  worthy restaurants that can go “toe to toe” with the best of them.  They have the killer combo of amazing sushi or sashimi and a reasonable price point. Cafe Sushi (1105 Massachusetts Ave, Cambridge, MA 02138; Cafe Sushsi Website) After eyeing this restaurant for quite some time, …