Thursday, July 29, 2010
I've tried to include my little kiddos in our garden this year. Which was difficult because I wanted it to be done just right. But Sophie, my four-year-old, planted the sunflowers and made the signs for each row of beans and peas and carrots, etc. Naomi did her best not to dig up everything Sophie and I had planted...or maybe she didn't try that hard, but we made sure she had a few things to do too. :)
I'm kind of a gardening imbecile, so I checked out some books from the library--I should have just visited Rachel's house!--to help me know what plants to plant beside each other and when to plant them, etc. Unfortunately, even with the tried and true help of garden experts, I still didn't have much success this year. The radishes were munched by slugs and ants before we could get a bite; and the carrots, well, they just didn't grow at all. The beans and beets were...um...I haven't determined the cause of death yet. The peas did produce some good edible snacks for us, but the best results this year have come from our lone blueberry bush. Oh, thank heaven for berries! Every year this little bush produces a little more fruit. It's perfect for a summertime snack!
I'm sure I probably need to do some kind of pruning to keep this little bush healthy, but really, all it has needed so far is watering...which most of the time I can remember to do. :)
I used to think that gardening was a one-chance thing in the spring and summer where you had just one chance to start a garden before it was too hot or too late in the season. But, thankfully, somewhere in those library books I learned that gardening is a year-round seasonal thing. So, even though most of my plants failed so far, I know I can start something new, something different, and still find success.
Do any of you garden year-round? What would you recommend for me now?
I love my flower garden. We moved into our house almost a year ago and I am loving having a garden of my own. It has been really fun planting seeds and transplanting, and transplanting again all of our flowers. I also planted some sweet peas this year.
I have come to learn that you can use simple household items for a great garden. Here are some of my favorites. (Pictures to come.)
Using yarn and paint sticks you can create a tomato support.
Using yarn and a railing you can make a trellis for vine plants.
Using scrap wood or plastic totes you can create a raised planter box.
OK, I know there are more, but my brain is dead. Just look around and see what you can find. It may be something really useful to your garden.
What random things have you used in your garden?
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
As much as I appreciate the formality of a perfectly manicured English garden, that's not gonna happen around here. I mix my flowers in with my herbs...the lower herbs like thyme provide a ground cover and weed control for taller flowers like lilies. I planned our yard in the front so there would be something different blooming over the summer. When the spring tulips and daffodils are spent and done, the peonies come out. Then, when they're done, the bright yellow and red lilies spring up (over 6 feet tall this year!). Then, all the herbs flower and go to seed before the chill of autumn comes around.
Monday, July 26, 2010
You Grow Girl is the first gardening book by garden blogger Gayla Trail, and I LOVE it. Her ideas work in urban as well as backyard gardens, it's easy to understand and fun to flip through. Whenever I'm feeling like the laziest gardener ever, this book kicks me right back into gear with simple and do-able ideas.
Front Yard Gardens by Liz Primeau is the garden book that when I picked it up I said "YES, this is exactly what I want!" I will confess right now that I'm not a fan of big lawns. On a ball field, yes. In my garden, no. They're high maintenance and I don't love the way they look. I've heard the argument that it's somewhere for the kids to play, and then I've watched my own kids run around the periphery of our backyard where they can climb trees and hide behind bushes and find shady cozy spots to read. That's what I want all over my yard - garden everywhere!
Any book on companion planting is cool with me, this is just the one I happen to own. As someone who believes wholeheartedly in working with nature rather than fighting against it, I love the idea that certain plants when grown together will help each other out; fighting each others battles against pests and diseases.
It is a dream of mine to have our backyard certified as wildlife habitat by the National Wildlife Federation. Did you know you could do that? It's so cool. I love seeing birds in our trees and butterflies and hummingbirds flitting about and the hum of bees in the vegetable garden. This is a great book on how to use your landscape and your plantings to attract these helpful critters to your garden, thus making it even more beautiful.
And this, my friends, is the vegetable gardener's bible if you live in the Maritime Northwest. It pretty much tells you what you should be doing in your garden from month-to-month, including how to amend your soil and use compost, what sorts of seeds to plant and when (and which to start indoors and which to sow outdoors).
What are your favorite garden books?
Now, maybe not a life like you and me.
But somewhere there's a single streak of green inside it.
Come, and let me show you what I mean.
When a think is wick, it has a light around it.
Maybe not a light that you can see.
But hiding down below a spark's asleep inside it,
Waiting for the right time to be seen.
You clear away the dead parts
What are some of the things you think about while gardening?
Thursday, July 22, 2010
These newly appreciated memories surfaced when I opened this little book that had been sitting on my shelf, waiting to be read. What book is it, you might be asking? Get the Sugar Out, by Ann Louise Gittleman.
It took several years of the book sitting on my shelf before I opened it and read it. I was dreading the experience; another nutrition book that would tell me I was doing things all wrong and that would tell me to make drastic changes that I couldn't maintain or enjoy.
Nope, I was wrong. Imagine that. :) And thank heavens!
Here are a few key things I am learning and why they are so important...
There are two types of carbohydrates: simple and complex. Simple carbs, or simple sugars, are digested quickly, enter the blood stream quickly, and cause both a fast rise in blood sugar levels and an increase in insulin levels, resulting in a drastic drop in blood-sugar levels. Complex carbs, however, are digested more slowly, enter the blood stream more gradually, and do not trigger intense fluctuation in blood-sugar levels and insulin production. How does this translate into everyday food? Like this:
Processed foods, including granulated sugar, white flour, white pastas and breads, etc. equal simple sugars.
Whole wheats, grains, and natural sugars such as pure maple syrup and honey or fruit, equal complex carbohydrates and sugars.
Ann Louise Gittleman goes into more detail (but is so easy to understand) and gives an amazing explanation of the extensive health research surrounding sugar in the body--but I'm not qualified to expound on all that information. Just know that reading about it will open your eyes and inspire you to make better choices. When you're ready, read it.
So here are a few of the changes I've made
Whole grain rice instead of white rice. And wheat berries quickly available to be ground in the wheat-grinder when called for.
My cupboards have been cleaned out and are now filled with beautiful jars of nuts, seeds, whole grain pastas and seasonings. I LOVE the bulk section at the store that allows me to buy nutritious food for a much more reasonable price. When my kids want a snack, if it's not fresh fruit or carrot sticks, we have nuts--cashews, almonds and pecans--sunflower seeds and dried fruit.
These are a few of the natural sweeteners and other sugar-free things I am learning to use. Molasses, Honey, and pure maple syrup are the easiest sweeteners to use. I don't have it in this photo, but I also picked up some sugar made from evaporated sugarcane juice. A few other choices I am hoping to try soon are date sugar and brown rice syrup. You can also see Balsamic vinegar and rice vinegar in this photo because...
One key to getting rid of unnecessary and unwanted sugar is to read the labels of condiments and dressings. There are so many places where sugar is hidden in the things we eat and I did not even realize it (even in lunch meat!). Using oils and vinegars and lemon juice or other natural seasonings is just a much healthier choice.
The whole point is to eat less refined, processed, simple sugars. And when you do eat sugar, eat the kind that still has some of it's natural nutritional value--yes, sugar can have some nutritional value. Eating more whole grains, balanced with the right fats and protein is vital.
A large part of this change in how I eat and cook and think, has been motivated by my recent realization that wanting to lose weight and actually trying to lose weight are two different things. Even with regular exercise, without the right diet I was steadily putting on the pounds. Using self-control to regulate portion sizes and cravings has made a huge difference, in addition to the benefits of my new food choices. I am losing weight (almost six pounds in just two weeks) and feeling great. This is how I want to feel all the time. This is how I want my children to feel--healthy and able to run and play (and think) with all the energy of a healthy life!
I am so glad to be surrounded by people like my father-in-law and my college roommie who know about important things that I have missed before now. I am sure there are more of you geniuses around me who know a whole heck of a lot more and I'm just too distracted to notice. How I wish I had taken at least one nutrition class in school! How I wish I had read that book sooner! But how glad I am to know what I know now! :) It's crazy how a little knowledge begs for more... I am hungry for more knowledge but I don't have a single sugar craving! Yes! :)
Four years ago when I found out I was going to be a mother to a little girl I was a little overwhelmed. A girl! My sisters all had boys at the time and my sister in law has one girl, who is 5 years or so older then mine. In all today my parents have 11 grandsons and 3 grand daughters. Yeah a little outnumbered. It did make it exciting that there was finally going to be another girl for them.
But really, that is not why I was scared. I was a tomboyish girl growing up. I rarely wear makeup. I rarely cut my hair, I can barely do hair anyways. I am not a very frilly girl. I am getting better though having her. She has really changed my outlook on life. It is actually really fun having a girl. It is hard at times, but my son can be hard too. She can also be pretty tomboyish too so that helps.
She totally has her sugary moments. We both enjoy eating it and baking with it together, and you are what you eat. She loves to helps and do "acts of love" for her family. She can be very sweet.
She is totally full of spice. Man she is a little spitfire. I love that about her. she keeps you on your toes and can have you rolling on the floor laughing by the things she does and say because of that spice.
She really is full of everything nice. She makes friends with everyone, she has a hard time when she gets left out because she does not want to be pushy and force herself in. She also has great manners.
I really love my little girl. I am glad I have her in my life. As women, we all have our moments, but really, we are made of sugar, and spice, and everything nice. Some of us just have a little more spice.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
Aren't I lucky that it's my turn to post on our 200th?? To celebrate, I whipped up a little giveaway sweetness, inspired by my sisters, two of the sweetest, funniest, most generous people you'll ever meet. I've talked about them before, and I could go on and on, but just know if you're lucky enough to be a winner that you're getting a little piece of them too.
Don't you love these fabrics? My Georgia sister got it at Whipstitch Lounge in Atlanta, and now I have just one more reason to hop on a plane for a visit. And last Christmas my Washington sister made me some cute dish towels like these that I've just recently been able to bring myself to actually use rather than admire neatly folded up in the linen drawer.
So, to enter, just leave a comment and, since this week's theme is sugar, tell me what your favorite sweet indulgence is, just for kicks. TWO of you (since it is our TWO hundreth post, after all) will each receive one of these embellished towels and a set of heart-shaped measuring spoons, and maybe a surprise or two that I'll pick up on our road trip next week. You have until noon next Wednesday (July 28th) to enter before winners are chosen.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Like this cake, which I made a version of for my son's 3rd birthday:
Click here for recipe and how-to.
... which was inspired by this one ...
Click here for recipe and how-to.
Click here for recipe and how-to.
Happy decorating, whatever your inspiration! I'm just glad to take a break from it until next year, when I promise - REALLY this time - to keep it simple.
Monday, July 19, 2010
Friday, July 16, 2010
On a hot summer day nothing is more soothing than a refreshing frozen treat. Since fresh fruit is so plentiful during the summer we make lots of smoothies which are perfect for cooling off on a hot day. If you want a creamier smoothie with a healthy kick try adding an avocado. If your kids are picky that’s ok the avocado isn’t detectable when mixed with lots of tasty fruit.
We also LOVE to eat frozen grapes. These are a quick and refreshing summer treat that are less messy than popsicles and ice cream and healthier too.
Another Frozen treat that our family enjoys are frozen Capri Suns. After these juice pouches are frozen we carefully cut a slit in the bottom and put the frozen goodness into a bowl. Then you grab a spoon and did in. Sometimes we let it thaw just a little so it becomes more of a slushy.
After you finish your yummy frozen treat you can recycle the package and make it into a pencil pouch. You can find the tutorial over at Skip to my Lou.
If you own Popsicle molds summer is the perfect time to try new recipes. If you like fudgesicles try using chocolate pudding mix and milk to create your own chocolate treat. My girl’s favorite is apple juice popsicles.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
This is the longest I think I've ever gone between haircuts. I've not visited my stylist since November, and she may suspect I'm cheating on her with another salon. But no, my mane has just taken off while I'm trying to decide what to do with it. The difference between "Hey, I think I might actually like having long hair" and "It's bugging me! Chop it off!" is about 4 days. With the weather FINALLY warming up around here, I need to keep it off my neck if I'm going to keep my cool when the weather heats up.
We're getting ready to go on a camping vacation, so I don't really want to figure out how to work with a new hairstyle, but I want to do something cuter than just whipping it up into your every-day ponytail, so I looked around for some up-do's that are easy enough for me to do and ones I don't need a third arm or eyes in the back of my head to make it work.
Here's a tutorial for a cute low side bun. Isn't she a cute girl?? I like tutorials that show the actual person, not a professional stylist, doing the styling. I think I can pull this off since my hair is about the same length as hers.
Here's another one from her for a messy bun that looks messy in a cute way and not messy in a, well, messy way.
OK! I'm off to do some experimenting. I'd love any tips you have for an easy summer up-do.
Monday, July 12, 2010
It makes me even glad for the blazing heat which pushes me outside at summertime dusk.
It also motivates me to go ahead and build that bat house we've been talking about for the last year or so. A bat house?! you ask. Why? Well, here's why; and how, too, for that matter! Bat Conservation, International is also a good place for general information on bats and why they're great.
If you live in a place where placing an owl nesting box would be appropriate (sadly, our backyard isn't good habitat for nesting owls, I think), here and here are some places for information and plans.
And if nothing else, go on outside some evening this summer to cool off from the heat of the day - from bats to owls to endless stars on clear-sky nights, you might discover something amazing!