Mystery Plants & Green Thumb

Do you know what this is?

Look closer.

It’s a lemon tree!


I run by it most days.  See those clusters of lemons just waiting to be picked?

Suddenly I have a craving for fresh-squeezed lemonade.

Or  Sweet & Sour Honey Lemon Tofu

Or Raw Vegan Cheesecake

A super simple recipe.  Just make sure to blend, blend, blend if you make this.  And in 15 minutes you can dig in.
Raw Vegan Cheesecake

If you need more lemon-containing recipes, I have others, too.

There are plenty of plants in San Diego that I have no idea what they are called, other than pretty.

I’m sure someone will write to me with the names of them, but I just like to admire their beauty.

So pretty it looks fake!

I know the basics that I see around my neighborhood: roses


And a yellow lily, right?

From my last post about my Much Needed Meetup, it was fun to hear who or what has been much needed in your life.

And yikes on those gas prices.  We’re all in sticker shock!


1. Have you ever had a lemon straight from the tree?  Or any other food straight from the farm?

I had farm-fresh, hand-picked avocados, locally grown avocados recently.

And made plenty of recipes with them: guacamole and smoothies.

I have a CSA share.

And I support my local farmers markets.

But until I moved to San Diego I had never had lemons straight from the tree.  I used to live in a 1920s house with a lemon tree the size of a Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree.  Only slightly exaggerating about that.  It had 300 lemons at any given time.  Crazy!

2. Are you good with plant names and types, or not so much?

I admit that I was not into gardening, plants, horticulture, nature, or anything remotely green until my early 20s.  It was a world I was not familiar with and wanted nothing to do with.  I just didn’t care!

My parents, ironically, are extremely into both cooking and gardening and until my early/mid 20s, I wanted nothing to do with, either!

Maybe it was my way of rebelling or dissing what they were interested in, because you know, anything parents are into is automatically uncool, right?

Now I embrace both cooking and plants.  Boy how times have changed!

3. Are you a gardener?  Do you have a green thumb?

I have done some container gardening on the patio and grow herbs and plants in my kitchen on the countertops, like my stevia plant.

Sometimes I kill the plants and sometimes I can keep them going for quite awhile.  The stevia plant lasted about 3 months and then one day it was just dead.

My aloe plant is still going strong, 10 months later!

But I admit, with urban living and not having a yard or a private patio/deck and the fact that I live in San Diego with such amazing produce being grown year round by others, I haven’t ventured too much into the realm of gardening myself.  One day though!

Until I have more time and space to devote to gardening, I’d rather spend my extra time reading blogs, writing my own blog, working on my photography, and being with Skylar.

Thanks for all the entries for the CamelBak Groove Giveaway for 3 readers.  Contest ends Friday so get your entries in pronto!


  1. I would love to see lemon trees in real life! That would be awesome. :)

    I grew up around tons of plants and greenhouses because we were in the outdoor flower biz, so I can identify a lot of annuals. And I lived in the valley surrounded by apple and pear and other orchards. We had bosc pear trees at our house but I didn’t like them AT ALL. I think it’s because I would etry to at them off of the tree when they weren’t ripe, LOL. Other than the trees surrounding our house, we sold apples and other produce picked on farms just a few miles away, so they were practically off the tree and some still had leaves attached. I didn’t appreciate the gorgeous produce I had access to back then. What I wouldn’t do for it now!!

  2. Ahh now I want a lemon tree! :D

    Oh yes, I’ve had plenty of vegetables and apples straight from the farm. So fresh.

    My mom and I plant herbs and vegetables in our garden.

  3. That’s so cool- you have a stevia plant! I love to garden, but at the moment I’m in a fourth floor apartment on a college campus. East Tennessee’s a wonderfully lush and green environment though. (and I’m moving to a place with my own balcony too!)

    A lot of farms nearby have pick your own businesses. Strawberries and apples… My favorite straight from the tree were cherries from a farm in northern Maryland. :)

  4. lemon trees, avacado trees, stevia bushes…ok, these are right out of fantastyland, for me! you’re sooo lucky to be in so cal!!!
    you took the words right out of my mouth: i was going to suggest you stick with the photography because your flower photos are magnificent. leave the growing to someone else, you’ll just capture the end result!
    i have no green thumb abilities at all. and plant names? it’s embarrassing. apparent from rose, tulip, carnation, i am pretty much at a loss!

  5. I’ve ate a lot of local grown foods. And I’ve apples straight from the tree; and raspberries, blueberries, and strawberries (all wild) straight from the plants. There’s always something special about picking them yourself and getting the fullest flavor!

    SUCH gorgeous flowers! And I love having a few plants around the house too. I wouldn’t say that I have a green thumb, but I usually keep plants alive and well. ;)

  6. When we went to visit my parents’ friends in Santa Barbara last year, they took us to their friends’ house on an avocado farm. The avocadoes were AMAZING in guac, but the best part was that their dog was absolutely huge from eating so many of them. Seriously, it was like a roly-poly!!

  7. Nope, no lemons straight from the tree for me…I think mine are flown the length of the US before they arrive here :X I do love where I live and all, but I absolutely wish I had farmers markets here like you do in California! Ah, well; can’t have it all, right? At least we make good maple syrup… ;)
    Gorgeous flowers! We are just starting to get some tulips blossoming out front :) And as for gardening – well, it’s hit or miss for me, too! I shouldn’t give myself so much credit, actually – if it weren’t for my mom watering “my” plants, they’d all be dead…I have high hopes for my fig trees!
    I remember being obsessed with aloe plants when I was younger. And venus fly traps. So cool. (random…)
    With your stevia plant, were you able to use the leaves as a form of sweetener? I’m curious now!

    • yes on the stevia leaves but they are about as “sweet” as a spearmint leaf is, i.e. not very. In order to make the amount of stevia in one packet of stevia, in terms of the uber sweetness of it, I kid you not, you must need to grind 500 of those little stevia leaves. The amt needed would be insane?! The leaves are not “that” sweet, at all, just one by one.

  8. I love lemons! I seriously use them in everything. Hummus. Dressing. And now that raw cheesecake once I can get my hands on some cashoos!

  9. I looove lemon flavored foods! Especially lemon cookies:) mmm!

  10. I love lemons, I think I would have to snag a few on the way past! I’ve eaten apples and pears straight from the trees (my grandmother had a huge garden and also some apple and pear trees). My mother actually knows her stuff when it comes to plants. She’s really big into wild edible and medicinal plants.

  11. Your so lucky with the abundance of fresh produce all around you, thats great! we have it pretty good in vermont also, it makes it much easier to support local farmers. I have never had a lemon picked straight from a tree though, I bet it would be fantastic.
    I’ve only ever tried to grow tomatoes in one of those topsy turvy hanging plants, it was such a failure! I know when I have a house someday that I will get really into gardening though. I want a full herb and veggie garden!

  12. LOVE seeing your sweet little gal in that sweatshirt. We loved that thing – still as good as new. No green thumb over here. I have to pick my battles – and gardening is not my favorite task. Gotta go sign up for your fab giveaway! xo
    btw: Digging that stevia plant

    • omg she wears that sweatshirt ALL The time!! as she did the longer sleeves shirts and some t’s. She’s grown out of much of it now, and it will be passed on to my sister’s 1 year old daughter :) The clothes that keep on giving!

      Stevia plant. $2.99 buy one and see if you can keep it alive better than i did :)

  13. I have wanted a stevia plant, but I’ve heard they are kind of hard to keep! I guess I heard right! ;)

    I’ve done a little gardening (right now, we have a 4×4′ square foot garden), and there is just NOTHING like fresh food just picked! I think we have gotten desensitized to supermarket produce. Farmer’s markets come pretty close though!

    I would love to have a citrus tree in my backyard! Your jogging path is just so pretty!

  14. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a lemon bush — it is neat to see how different plants grow!

    My mother in law has a garden (and my dad grows tomatoes) — so we have plenty of produce in the summertime that is freshly picked. I also get produce at the Farmer’s Market which is pretty fresh too!

    I don’t know much about plant names/gardening/etc — I’m helping my MIL this summer with her garden and I hope to learn a lot from her. I’d like to have a big garden one day.

  15. Lemons! I adore lemons. They’re especially delicious in the warm weather. I wish I had a lemon plant of my own!

  16. Thanks for posting the pictures of the lemon tree. Never seen one before.

    Peaches fresh from the tree are amazing and so juicy! Apples fresh from the tree have a juicy crunch that seems to echo through the orchard.

    I’m not so good with flowers and tree names.
    I do have a green thumb, and love having plants throughout the house, and the office.
    Thankfully we have lots of trees and plants at the ourdoor paintball field too.

  17. Nope, I’m not so awesome with plant names. Great pics though! When life gives you lemons… : )

  18. My family lived in Sierra Madre when I was little and we had a lemon tree, and I remember Mom using the lemons to squeeze on baked fish. Delicious.
    I’m really bad with plant names and I’d say I have a black thumb. I’m not very good at keeping houseplants alive and I’ve never grown anything from seed. My dad’s the gardener in the family, and I love eating his tomatoes, Armenian cucumbers, squash, peas, sweet corn, etc. Best veggies ever.

  19. Hey! Love, love, love your blog and your pictures!!

    I don’t have a green thumb to save my life. My boyfriend doesn’t even trust me to take care of his plants (that require minimum assistance btw)

  20. I am trying both of these recipes tonight!! So awesome!

  21. I haven’t had anything more exciting than a fresh apple or a fresh plum off a tree. Nothing else, but fresh lemons sound awesome!

    I am not into gardening and I certainly don’t have a green thumb. But my husband does, as does my best friend, my family and their families. Apparently I’m the only one!

  22. OMG so bad with plant names! I love plants and flowers and bushes, but I could not tell you one from the other! haha…whenever I go to FLorida I love it because my grandparents grow grapefruits and lemons in their backyard! they are BEYOND delicious!!!

    the sweet and sour lemon tofu looks fabulous! what is your trick to making the edges look so crispy? I think I need to broil it or cook it at a higher temp so it crisps up like that!

  23. I know nothing about flowers (other than sunflowers and daisies because they’re my favorite), but I love all of your pictures!

  24. I’ve never had a lemon straight from the tree – that’s awesome! I’ve had plenty of fruit and veggies, literally 5 seconds from the tree or ground – cherries, apples, peaches, apricots, plums, strawberries, blackberries, raspberries, tomatoes, carrots, peas, green beans, all sorts of greens. I have a huge garden in the summer. I can’t wait to blog a little about it. I do have a green thumb, sorta. I have a couple plants inside that have survived a couple years. Although my mom has given me two aloes(babies from her plants) and I’ve killed them both. Haha. I am really bad with plant names though. My parents are really good with them and I can’t remember a single one – not even the name of the plant in my front yard. I totally agree it’s not cool when you’re younger and your parents like something. But I quickly realized home grown veggies taste way better and now I’m slowly starting to enjoy gardening more.

  25. oww! Those lemons look so gorgeous! We have a garden, so I’m hoping to get lots of fresh picked goodness this year! We also have a plantation down the road that has lots of you pick options. I need to get over there and get strawberries asap!! I’m good with most flower names (I worked at a florist growing up) but I’m not so good with plants. Have a great day

  26. YOou know I love me some gardening! And my stevia plant died in a windstorm, which I wasn’t too sad about because I didn’t really get how to use it anyway. I love gardening, but mostly the veggies and such, not the flowers. I don’t know why, but maybe its my practicality coming out.

    I worked in Yuma near a lemon tree plantation and went there weekly to stock up. I’d get a plastic grocery bag FULL of fresh lemons and make lemonade for the whole crew. It was the best lemonade I’ve ever had!

  27. My next door neighbor has a very productive lemon tree, and she gives me lemons anytime I want them.
    When I was in high-school my best friend had THREE avocado trees in her backyard (haas and fuente) and we’d stuff ourselves silly with guacamole when they were in season.
    I’m getting my last three plants in the soil today. I’m hoping they’ll be lots bigger when I get back from my San Diego trip.

  28. I would love to have a lemon tree growing in my yard!!! I would totally be stealing those lemons from that tree!!!! LOL

  29. I can only imagine just how delicious one of those lemons would be!

  30. Ohh wow, this vegan cheesecake is totally up my alley. Delish, thanks for sharing!

  31. Growing up, our backyard was loaded with fruit trees and a little garden. We had plums, pears, cherries, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries, apples, and even a fig tree (although none of us ate them!) There are lots of forest areas and nice blackberry bushes so we used to go hunt for blackberry bushes too. I never realized how lucky I was until I moved out and had to start paying for fruit.

    My parents are really good about the names of trees and plants. My dad was a logger and then a lumber grader so he taught me how to tell the difference between types of wood based on bark, colour, and smell (cedar smells the best, btw). My mom is into flowers so she knows all sorts of different kinds. I’m just starting to learn. I’m a biology major at school so although I can tell you everything *inside* the plant, the actual name of the plant is beyond me!

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  34. You made me miss my lemon tree! I get a little attached to my plants, LOL! We rescued a little lemon tree when I was a little kid and my mom still has it in Bulgaria :) I’m 31 now! And I so miss our garden back home :( But until I’m done with this crazy military lifestyle though there will be no gardening… so my therapy these days is cooking/baking!

    I tried your Raw Vegan Cheesecake a while back but couldn’t get the cheesecake filling smooth like yours. Will try it again once I have a Vitamix :) Or will add more liquid to it. But will definitely try the Tofu soon, it looks amazing!

  35. Were you always into being healthy and exercising?

  36. Wow, that tree is packed with lemons! And that sunflower is gorgeous!

    1. Sure, I use fresh lemons a lot and eat tomatoes, nuts, apples, pears, etc. straight from trees.
    2. Getting better, but not great. I swear my mom knows them all! :-P
    3. Yes, a lot more so now. But our garden boxes need a lot of work for spring still. Even though it’s time consuming, I love the idea of being able to great fresh ingredients from the backyard as I need them.

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  42. I have never taken the time to find out if I have a green thumb … but this summer I plan to.

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