Category Archives: gardening

7 Practical Things I’ve Learned From Social Media

1.  How to DIY Fruit Water (via Facebook, originally posted @ The Yummy Life) 

This is probably my favorite discovery via social media.  I love water, but sometimes…it gets boring.  Add some fruit, maybe even some veggies or herbs, infuse in the fridge, and voila! Some of my favorite variations so far, strawberry with chamomile, orange with mint, and orange with hibiscus and ginger.  For me, this is a great way to get the kids to eat oranges–for some reason they aren’t fans of the fruit itself, and since I’m not a fan of store-bought juices, this is a great way to sneak some of the fruits and veggies into their diet that I couldn’t otherwise get them to consume.

And I’ve found quite a few great recipe ideas this way–Overnight Oatmeal, Spicy Guinness Mustard, P.F. Chang-style Lettuce Wraps, and this delicious looking little 4 ingredient recipe for Meyer Lemon Sorbet that I found on my pinterest today.  Anything you could possibly want to eat is probably posted online already.  Maybe just a Facebook update or Pinterest pin away.

2.  (Almost) Perpetual Green Onions…and other veggies from kitchen scraps (Facebook and assorted blogs)

Most of us probably know that you can grow a carrot top by placing it in a cup of water.  But how many of us would have thought to regrow our green onions that way?  Or to root and replant celery?  How about a pineapple?  Or an avocado (though it can take 7-15 years to fruit, assuming you are even in the right climate)? There’s also ginger, garlic, potatoes and sweet potatoes, that awesome hydroponic lettuce with the roots attached (this is my favorite lettuce of all time, when I can justify the expense…being able to grow it again in my window sill is *squee!!*), and beets and turnips and radishes, etc.  Plus, if you shop at the farmers market, you have a better chance at getting non-hybrid varieties (just ask, they’ll be happy to tell you!) and can save the seeds to plant in your own garden.

3.  The Secret Produce Code (Facebook)

The premise is that the little sticker on your produce can tell you how your fruits and veggies were grown.  The PLU code (Price Look Up–its official name) is a defined list of codes for produce by the International Federation of Produce Standards, and numbering convention goes like this:

4 numbers=conventionally grown
5 numbers starting with an 8=GMO
5 numbers starting with a 9=organic

This one is actually a bit of a mixed bag. These codes are a matter of convenience for the store, not the consumer.  In all technicality, its true.  But in practice, its not…at least with regard to identifying GMOs.

4. Underwater Viewfinder=beach fun for kids (pinterest)

Egg Carton Mancala

I originally came across the idea for this on pinterest, though I’m not entirely sure if I pinned the original or not.  Either way, the kids and I made our own, and much fun ensued.  And there are zillions of other ideas for cheap or low-tech crafts and toys for kids to be found in blogs, on pinterest, etc.  Like this list of kid friendly experiments.  One of my favorite finds (that I still haven’t tried yet) was one that I first ran across from the TED videos…Squishy Circuits–a way to teach circuits to preschoolers, and its made from homemade play dough recipes!

5.  Rediscovering Lost Crafts (youtube, ravelry, pinterest, assorted blogs)

Ever hear of a Dorset Button?  How about chicken-scratch?  Victorian-era hair jewelry?  Pine Burr quilt pattern?  The web has become a treasure trove for reclaiming and rediscovering lost and obscure crafts.  And even the not-so-lost-and-obscure crafts.  I can’t even begin to tell you how many times my grandmother tried to teach me to crochet while I was growing up…but after watching a tutorial on Tunisian Crochet on youtube a couple years ago and checking out a couple of tutorials (including this one) and I’ve been crocheting up a storm ever since (interesting fact: during the Victorian era, what is now called Tunisian crochet was used in winter clothing).

6.  Just Say No to Commercial Cleansers! (pinterest, facebook, assorted blogs)

This is a topic I’ve written about on occasion, though its been a while.  But I continuously run across  some great ideas for greener (environmentally and pocket-book wise) cleaning or some twists on an old favorite.  From laundry soap, to dishwasher detergent, to orange vinegar cleaning spray, there is an environmentally and economically friendlier replacement just a Google search away!

Along with commercial cleansers around the home come tons of ways to replace commercial cleansers of your body.  From going No ‘Poo to DIY facials, the web seems to breed DIY beauty tips like Tribbles on Star Trek (yes, I am that much of a nerd)…even on my own blog.

7. You can reuse, DIY, upcycle…just about anything (all over the web)

Crochet hooks from sticks?  Play kitchen from an old TV cabinet?  Innovative storage for board games AND wall art, simultaneously?  Turning cans into an adorable organizer? Make a yarn political statement on reproductive rights for your congressman?  I’ve run across all these and more in my social media feeds…from the adorably whimsical to the practical to the outright bizarre.  Some of them I’d love to do, if I had the need and the stuff to do it with, and some of it, I just kind of stare in awed wonder of creative superiority.  Every once in a while, I just stare.

Tending the Garden Within

There are times in our lives when we allow our inner selves to get bogged down (as Chickadee would say) with all of the “mad things, bad things and sad things” that stick to us on a daily basis.  Our worries and fears, anger and sadness, frustrations and pain–all of that builds up until we can find ourselves on the edge of a precipice, ready to fall into a funk (or sometimes standing knee deep already).  An almost (or mild) funk can actually be healthy from time to time as a wake-up call to change, if we hone in on its causes and face them directly.  We can tend the garden within–from pulling the weeds of our discontent, to planting new seeds for change.

This is my meditation for the times when dealing with life gets in the way of living–when the anxiety builds up over the little things (or the bigger things outside of our control) and when I get too caught up in the external conditions of momhood or school or work or whatever and forget about my inner self, and need to deal with the crud that has built up.

The meditation:

Center yourself and imagine yourself in an overgrown garden where weeds choke out the plants trying to grow.
Each weed is different, and each weed has a name–for some, the roots go deep into hard earth and on others, they spread in a shallow smothering mat. This garden is your psyche, and you are its gardener. Perhaps you have a trowel or rake to help, or maybe you are just using your hands.

Grasp the weed and name it–the bill you haven’t been able to pay on time, the 15 pounds you obsess over, the bad habit you just can’t let go of, the fight with your mother or your boss, the fear of losing a job, etc. Pull it out and look at it, look at your problem with honesty and own it. Is it something you have control over and can change? Or is it something you need to just let go of? Toss the weed into a bucket or wheelbarrow and move on to the next one. Repeat.

Once you have identified your most pressing problems (I usually stop at 3-5 depending on how in depth or emotionally draining they might be), take your wheelbarrow of weeds to compost.

Reclaim the energy that all of those things have been draining from you and focus it instead on turning those weeds into fertilizer. Does your problem have a solution? If not, are you prepared to let it go? If so, can you identify what realistic steps you can take to minimizing or eliminating the problem?

Work the weeds into the compost pile and see them turn into something useful.  Fill up your wheelbarrow with compost and return to your (now cleared) garden. If there are plants there already, care for them. If there are not, plant ones representative of the things that you would like to foster in your life, particularly if they are tied into some of the potential solutions to your problems.

Work your garden until you are satisfied with the results. Then sit in its center and regroup, ground your left over emotions into your garden and let them be transformed.  Come back from your work feeling lighter and more positive.

Summer Bounty…and what to do with zucchini

KP duty! Collin helping macerate some lemon balm.

Earlier this week, we did our monthly harvest of the off the chain lemon balm. We also found a giant patch of peppergrass, and have been collecting the seed pods and drying them, for an awesome seasoning. And best of all, we were gifted some giant zucchini (out of pity, since our plants only make flowers–the dog got to the zukes that didn’t rot in the big rain we had a couple weeks ago…if only I had known). We have enough zucchini now that it takes up an entire shelf in the fridge.

Of course…this presents a problem. What are we going do with all that zucchini?

So far we have shredded zucchini and put it in the freezer for later (except now we are out of freezer room), sliced and frozen zucchini, we have finely grated zucchini to make green (scrambled) eggs (and ham), we have made veggie patties, we have grilled them, casseroled and baked them, made stir fry with them, eaten them with ranch dressing and made my daddy’s personal stuffed and ‘cued zucchini recipe.

Dad’s Zukes (with some daughter modifications):
take a BIG GIANT ZUCCHINI sliced lengthwise and scoop out seeds…
…add rice (the instant kind) or you can use pre-cooked non-instant rice…
…slice some veggies—tomatoes and garlic and/or onion–and mix with rice…
…liberally sprinkle parmesan/asiago mix on top…I also add a little basil…
…wrap in foil and grill for about 30-45 mil, til zucchini is smushy…
…when done, let cool, defoil, scoop out of skin and ENJOY!!!

But, aside from a plan for zucchini bread/cake/muffins, trying out Sun-dried Zucchini, and wondering about the feasibility of zucchini chips…I’m on the search for fresh ideas.

So, here’s what I have so far…

Recipes That Look Good (but I haven’t tried yet):

Summer Squash Salad
Zucchini spirals with fresh vegetable sauce
Zucchini carrot muffins
Quinoa and Grilled Zucchini
Zucchini and Spinach Soup
Zucchini Pickles
Zucchini cakes
Zucchini Oven Chips
Zucchini Gratin
Chocolate Zucchini Cake
Zucchini Pie

Ode to the Tomato

Prayer for the Tomato Season

I stop for a moment to praise tomatoes,
honoring them by eating one.
Lovely are you spirits who grow such things.
First I praise their shapes–the shun the easy perfection of the sphere
and take instead their own forms.
Their weight is worth praising, and the depth of their color.
Before I eat this one, I smell it, taking its scent in deeply,
finding in me a resonance that tells me that this is the smell of fertile Earth.
Their skin, though stretched tightly, yields quickly;
it has performed its duty of containing treasure with and uncommon devotion
and now relinquishes command to me.
With silent thanks, the, I accept the task
and eagerly receive the honor so bestowed,
hoping, by so doing, to honor in turn the giver of the gift
and the gift itself.

From A Book of Pagan Prayer
by Ceisiwr Serith

luffa, loofa, loofah…

Since its garden planning time, I thought I’d talk a bit about loofahs…

Like alot of people, I just assumed they were a type of sponge, and were animal based…pretty much because I never really thought about them at all.

But then, a few weeks ago, I found loofah seeds at the hardware store in a section of heriloom plant seeds–which I promptly bought… Turns out (for those that didn’t know, or never really thought about it) that the loofah (also spelled Luffa, which is the genus name) is a the seed pod of the fruit of a squash-like plant.

Holy crap, I can grow my own scrubbies!!!

…that actually comes out to be a chunk of change, if you think about it. AND, they are compostable after using), plus you can do all sorts of crafty soap things with them.

From what I have found, in my pre-loofah growing/harvesting research, is that a lot of people grow loofahs, and they all report slightly different growing seasons, preferences and methods (I think some of this is a result of differences in location and variety of plant perhaps, and that it is a slightly odd plant that is not well known).


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