Seedlings aren’t for the faint of heart

damping off

Let me start by saying I am by no means a professional when it comes to growing food. I am however very passionate about it and eager to learn whatever I can from whoever will teach me. Books have been pretty informative so far but I find reading other blogs and interacting with other gardeners/homesteaders to be the best source of knowledge. Oh, and don’t forget your own mistakes – you’ll learn a hell of a lot from those.

Back to the topic at hand; plants and the daunting yet rewarding act of growing them from seeds. I was optimistic this year since my first garden (last year) was so successful. I thought, ‘hey, you know what? I’m going to double the size and quality of my garden this year and I’m going to start from seed. No transplants for me!”  So I started planting, watering, watching frequently, and rotating my babies to optimize the sun from my relatively small South-Western facing window. Well they grew, but they also suffered an ill fate damping off.

Needless to say I’m starting over and I’m hoping these ones will be healthier. Instead of bagged seedling starter I’m going to load up my trays with some good ol’ cow manure and peat moss. Luckily the hubby works on a farm where both are in great supply. (It’s the best miracle grow I know of and why I didn’t use it to begin with I’ll never know.)

SEED TRAYS

This year I didn’t really do too much planning, which was short-sighted on my part. On a whim, I decided to buy seedling starter pots that you could just plant directly in the ground with your transplants. Looking back on that decision I regret it because now that I’ve found a DIY idea I love, it just seems silly to have PAID for them. Note: I really don’t think they benefited the health of the plants either.

These Recycled Newspaper Pots are brilliant and super easy to make. Today’s looking pretty gloomy outside so I think my toddler and I are going to have a crafty afternoon constructing little plant pots. I definitely suggest these to anyone looking to recycle and save money. Did I mention they’re environmentally friendly?

Paper Plant Pots

Garden Betty’s Recycled Newspaper Pots

WATERING

This was certainly an issue for me this year – being a little overenthusiastic with the spray bottle was not a good idea. A late start to the season, cloudy days, and water without any great deal of sun turned into disease in the soil, wasted seed, and a flustered gardener. So, I’ve decided to modify my watering schedule a little.

– First initial watering is just misting the seedlings to create damp soil. Cover the tray your pots are in with a plastic dome or plastic wrap. They can be kept somewhere warm, and since they don’t need sun at this stage the soil won’t dry out quite so fast – little to no watering needed.

– Only if the soil is dry to the touch do they need light mist. Only watering when soil is dry will allow more time for the soil to dry out which promotes root growth. (Instead of keeping the soil damp by spraying both morning and evening like I was previously.)

– Once sprouted, setting trays (with holes in bottom) in a dish of water to absorb from below for about 2-3 minutes. This is only needed every other day or else you risk root rot or damping off. It also ensures you’re not wetting the leaves or stems, which also cuts back on your risk of disease.

 

These are just the first few steps in growing my seedlings. Once I know they’ve grown sturdier and more likely to survive I’ll work on hardening them and then transplanting them into my raised beds. I’m pretty excited to get this whole process down pat and become confident in doing it multiple times a year.

“One of the most delightful things about a garden is the anticipation it provides”

– W.E. Johns

Note: Major shout out to Linda Ly at gardenbetty.com – SO many wonderful and informative posts!

Advertisements

REAL food and REAL life

Is food really so complicated or do we just make it that way? One of my biggest struggles in living a healthier lifestyle has definitely been mastering the art of eating the best foods for my body. I never understood why it was such a complex thing until I started my search for better information in my early 20s. I realized quickly that there is just SO much out there. Seriously – walk into any bookstore, health food section, or google anything to do with food and you’re instantly confronted by a thousand ways to lose a few extra pounds, cut carbs, fat, or sodium, etc. It’s just within the last few years that mainstream media has grabbed hold of books, articles, and blogs that get down to the nitty gritty and discuss REAL food. I’m not sure about you but I’m tired of wading through fad diets and fast food advertisements. For this reason (and many others) the homesteading movement really appeals to me. Getting back to the basics and being self sufficient sounds blissful.

This leads me into what I’ve really been wanting to talk about. Homesteading. Getting back to our roots and eating real food, not the crap in packages that is marketed as ‘natural’ or even as food at all. Don’t get me wrong, I do indulge in junk, but my main goal is to make or grow whatever I can myself. There’s just something so rewarding about doing things yourself and not relying on anyone else. Last year was my first year gardening on my own and I have to say there is nothing like pulling fresh food out of the garden and eating it right away. You don’t realize how much flavor the grocery store produce is missing! (Not to mention nutrients.)

At first homesteading can be ridiculously overwhelming because there really is an endless amount of things you can take on. From reading and talking to others I’ve come to realize that it’s all about small steps and learning things thoroughly. There’s no need to rush. I want to make sure that when I’m learning these lifelong skills that I’m giving them 100%. On my list of things to do this year I’ve continued on with gardening and canning preserves (Still SO much to learn), and also added fermented goods to the list.

Recently I kind of fell into a rut feeling like I would never get around to any of this because I was overwhelmed by my mild OCD with cleaning (it’s endless if you allow it to be) and my silly addiction to my phone. On a side note: It’s nuts how much time we waste on a regular basis doing things we really don’t even want to do! I baffle myself sometimes. Why the hell would I spend any amount of time surfing Facebook when I could be playing with my little girl, journaling, creating delicious healthy food for my family –  just concentrating my efforts on things I enjoy and that pertain to me. Not so-and-so’s vacation photos or the many status’ that ooze with either negativity or the awesome stuff OTHER people are doing. *Facepalm*

Enter the wise words of a homesteading supermom. Martina is a fellow mom I met through the Nova Scotia Cloth Diaper Network on Facebook (I know I know. But sometimes Facebook is beneficial) and through a mutual friend. I’m not sure she realized how much she really helped me, but it was just what I needed to realize that I’d been stressing about things I didn’t even care about. Though I already knew on some level that I had complete control over my life there was just something that stood out when in regards to cleaning and ‘having it together in other people’s eyes’ she wrote, “My secret is just letting go of those things and not giving two shits. Doing the things I love and keeping the kids fed, happy, and healthy.” She also wrote, “Honestly the things that I take time for are my ‘escape’ gardening, homesteading, fermenting, and cooking. These are my escape from the 24/7 attention that I give to the kids. They benefit from it, learn from it and I make it my thing.” How is this some kind of eureka moment for me you ask? Because I didn’t know where to start and I thought cleaning was a huge part of what made me happy. Turns out that if the laundry’s folded and the sink is empty I’m no more happy than if I had just left them and done something more important. I’m actually happier and more energetic concentrating on family, cooking, and homesteading.

So that all being said, I wanted to make sure that others looking to get into homesteading weren’t crazy overwhelmed. Just get yourself to the point where you have a list of things you want to concentrate on and that make you happy, and go for it! Take your time, learn new things, and for the love of god stop worrying about what you ‘should’ be doing. I feel like I’ve wasted enough time thinking, planning, and cleaning, I’m just ready to DO. My first order of things is to spend as much time with my little as possible and include her in as much of the homesteading process as I can. I’ve sort of avoided this at times because it’s faster to get things done if I do them, but the speed at which it’s done doesn’t matter in the least. So what’s holding you back? What’s overwhelming you and preventing you from doing the things you love? What makes you happy? Why haven’t you done these things? Could you be taking time from things like surfing the net and watching TV to do these things?

 

NOTE: This is the video that took me from interested in homesteading and self sufficiency to being passionate about it. The Dervaes family is so inspirational when it comes to being self sufficient. I aspire to learn the skills necessary to create my own oasis and provide for my family in such a profound way. Please take a look 🙂

Frozen Banana Pops

These are stupid easy to make and A loved them 🙂

Frozen banana pops

3 bananas
Yogurt or Peanut Butter (or whatever you’d like really)
Topping for them: Granola, nuts, seeds, shredded coconut, etc.
Wax paper
Plate or pan
Popsicle sticks

Place wax paper on your pan or plate and have it ready for your treats. Don’t forget to clear out a flat spot in your freezer.

Cut your bananas in half (I also created bites which I cut into 1 inch pieces) and lightly coat them in yogurt/peanut butter. immediately roll in topping and place on wax paper. I placed mine in the freezer for about 6 hours (it may not take that long) and BOOM! They’re done 🙂
We enjoyed them for breakfast and man they were good!

Frozen banana pops

Why walking is one of the single most important things you’ll ever do :)

I just read this in Success Magazine and I loved it – I had to share 🙂

Unfortunately I don’t know who the author is but I hope you enjoy!

 

“Hey, brain researchers—yeah, you with the lab coats and electrodes. Where are all the studies on walking and relationships? On why taking a stroll together is as great for romance, family ties and friendship as it is for muscles and Reebok sales? Not only has my web sleuthing turned up no such studies, but a famous neurologist tells me he can’t find any either. Well, no biggie. Over the years, I’ve developed plenty of my own theories on what makes walking the best thing for human bonding since the smile:

➽Walking is proof you care. Going to dinner with someone could just mean you’re hungry. A movie? Maybe you’ve got a crush on Angelina Jolie. But inviting a friend or loved one for a walk shows you really want to spend time with that person. I’ll never forget how, one day in the mid-1980s, my pal Bill offered to walk with me clear across our New Jersey college town so I could buy yarn. He had zero interest in yarn—which is how I knew, beyond doubt, that he was interested in me. (Yes, he was the Bill I’m now married to.)

➽Walking is easy. Unlike playing a sport, there’s no equipment (except sneakers), no score to keep track of, no court time or tee time to reserve. Unlike meeting for lunch, there are no menus to study or waiters to track down. You can walk often and on the spur of the moment—and if you’re like my friends and me, you’ll pick a route with so few street crossings, you could practically do it blindfolded. Bingo: except for the occasional need to hopscotch over a pile of steaming dog gifts, you’ll be free to focus on nothing but each other.

➽Walking loosens tongues. Most of my best gabfests with my father and brother have been during walks. Meandering without my chatty mother, we can’t hang back and let her do the talking as we usually do. Plus, I suspect, the oxygen-induced brain boost we’re getting from exercise (which has been studied) helps get our words rolling.

➽Walking really loosens kids’ tongues. Go on: Ask your offspring, “How was your day?” while you’re all sitting indoors. Then ask the same thing while marching side by side in the fresh air. Which scenario wins you the fewest “I dunnos” and the most tales of frenemy antics and floor-hockey politics? The walking scenario, I guarantee. Plenty of parents have noticed that car rides have ice-breaking effects, too—maybe because, like walking, they don’t involve much eye contact. But I find strolls are even better for parent-child conversation. On foot, after all, your kids can’t escape into a book or a round of Angry Birds (at least not if you win the argument, as I usually do, over whether walking is compatible with cellphone games and paperbacks about fairies).

➽Walking is, in its own humble way, a form of travel. We all know that vacationing with someone builds fantastic rapport—assuming that you can agree on where to go and what to splurge on, and don’t almost come to blows when one of you insists on stinking up your motel room with nail polish remover. (No, Mom, I’m in no way referring to that time in Boston.) An ordinary walk requires few, if any, negotiations and no money. It’s just two people enjoying many perks of a shared vacation—interesting sights and sounds, joint memories built—who are then free to sleep in their own, un-stinky bedrooms.

➽Walking provides no shortage of stuff to talk about. Whether you’re with a new friend or your spouse of 20 years (maybe especially your spouse of 20 years), you’re bound to hit awkward silences now and then. This is where that guy shuffling toward you—the one who, you both agree, looks exactly like John Boehner crossed with the Pillsbury Doughboy—comes in  handy.

➽Walking helps you blow off steam. Every few months, Bill and I take what we delicately call a “b*#!$*%’s walk” (rhymes with “dastard’s walk”). As you might guess, this is not an occasion to say nice things about a charming colleague, boss or contractor who’s been acting lovely. As you might also guess, it’s pretty darn cathartic. This is good both for our spirits at that moment and, I’m convinced, for our marriage, because it cuts down on the need to sulk at home.

➽Walking gives your kids a chance to gripe to each other about how mean you are. Face it: They need to do this—but you probably don’t want to overhear them. So the other day after a family disagreement, when my son and daughter casually announced that they would be taking a short walk together, I said sure, great, fine, and watch out for cars.

And there you have it, scientists—my case for walking and relationships. Just remember: When you win a Nobel for proving my theories (which I’m sure you’re now dying to do), I want a cut.”

A whole new outlook

I am at a point in my life where I’m learning more about myself than ever. After I had my daughter I underwent major changes not only in how I felt emotionally and physically, but how I viewed the world around me as a whole. Now nearly 14 months later I’ve reached such a fantastic point in my life where I’m happy and grateful on a daily basis. (4 years ago I sat in chaos.) With all this change came knowledge, and once I reached a certain point I couldn’t turn back.

On May 4th I watched a documentary called ‘Peaceable Kingdom‘ which sparked me to watch another, ‘Vegecated.’ Now for those of you who know what those are about, you’ll know that this probably qued a large change in my diet. However for those of you who aren’t familiar with these documentaries I’ll give you a quick run down. (You can click the links and read more.) In short they are about the world of raising animals for consumption and in turn changing your eating habits so as to not take part in this process. I would definitely recommend both these films coupled with ‘I Am.’ Seeing so many animals in pain and emotional distress for the majority of their lives was just so heart breaking. Not only was I outraged that humans could do this to another living being, something inside me just snapped. The decision to be a Vegetarian came so quickly and so easily that I knew there was no questioning it. That evening and the next few days following I hit the books hard researching cooking substitutions and recipes. I hope to eventually go vegan 🙂

Now before you stray away thinking I’m going to start protesting and shaming you for your decisions, please know that I am making this decision for myself. I am a girl who grew up eating a meat and potatoes based diet. I’ve always found it difficult to shy away from animal products mostly because a lot of it had been my comfort food but also because it’s just always been ‘the norm’ to eat it without question. At this point in time it just made sense to me to become vegetarian. I am continuously educating myself on what goes in and on my body as well as my family’s.

So as Maya Angelou says, “Do the best you can until you know better. Then when you know better, do better.”

Thanksgiving Update

Holy, I do apologize for going off the grid for a while. Things have been hectic here with a teething baby, Thanksgiving, family photos, yoga, and baby group.

What’s new? Well sadly my efforts to become no-poo met an early demise. We weren’t decided on a date for our family pictures until last minute and I just couldn’t be in the middle of transition for those…sooooooooo it’s time to start over. I had my hair cut and used my Watkins shampoo to wash up for the pictures, but now I’m ready to get down to business. Clarifying tomorrow, and then back to my baking soda, vinegar, and honey. I’m determined to have it down pat before Christmas rolls around.

Also, Happy Thanksgiving!! I hope you all got to spend time with family and friends eating delicious meals and enjoying the beautiful fall weather. I made a delicious turkey and my mom came down and helped prepare all the fixin’s. This was my first time roasting a turkey and I have to say it turned out pretty juicy. I did a pretty basic recipe of 1 cup white wine, 1 cup water, 3/4 cup orange juice (or lemon), some rosemary, basil, and poultry seasoning. Stuck an onion inside and roasted for 1.5 hours in tinfoil breast down and then took the tinfoil off and roasted for another 5-6 hours on 330F. Yum!
Annnnnnd to top it all off, we had our family photos done yesterday with my wonderful friend Maegan, which I can’t wait to see. My little looked absolutely adorable and she was so well behaved the entire time, mind you she was getting a bit hungry and tired by the end.

I truly am a lucky lady to have such amazing people in my life. My wonderful mister, our beautiful little girl, our families, and our friends. I am continuously amazed at how much my life has changed in the past few years. I became a mother, a yogi, a blogger, a housewife (for lack of a better word, lol), and a business owner. There is so much to be thankful for!

So thank you so much for reading my blog and again I apologize for my delayed posting.

 

Take care,

V

The Mommy Wars

I’ve finally mastered the art of mommyhood!….well not exactly, but I am certainly feeling a lot more confident.

The little miss and I are starting to establish a routine and I can now say I’m comfortable in my role as a mother. I don’t second guess my decisions near as much, I’ve ditched the judgemental mindset, and I have realized my love for everything child related. Not only do I feel excited for what’s to come with my own little one I find myself wanting to learn more and help other families, specifically moms.

It’s this love of being a parent that has led me to join a handful of mommy groups and multiple online communities. Overall these groups have provided a sense of camaraderie and a great source for support. However not all interactions are positive, whether they be in person or from behind a keyboard. It has come to my attention (repeatedly I might add) that judgement, ridicule, lack of compassion, and blatant disregard for respect are becoming more common things among mothers. This makes me sad in so many ways.

I call these the mommy wars.

We as mothers have one of the most difficult jobs in the entire world as far as I’m concerned. We have to make decisions that will break our hearts, make us second guess ourselves, put us in the doghouse with our children, spouse, friends, or family, and most importantly will shape our children’s’ future. So knowing we carry this tremendous responsibility, how it that we feel we have the right to condemn others for making these decisions to the best of their abilities?

Whether it’s breastfeeding vs. formula, cloth diapers vs. disposable, when we introduce solids, vegetarian/vegan vs. eating meat, immunizations, teething necklaces, co-sleeping, sleeping in a crib, discipline, natural/organic products, or the way we give birth, there always seems to be a battle to fight.

Now on top of being our own biggest critic and the stress of making these decisions, we are forced to defend them! Come on ladies, seriously? I firmly believe that we, more than anyone else, should be supporting each other. I mean no offence but men just don’t understand women, especially moms, and women who are not mothers don’t fully understand some of the things that come with being a parent. (Not to discredit anyone who is not a mother by any means. Life if difficult in other ways, I know.) Only we know first hand what it’s like, and even though we don’t all go through the exact same things we still know how difficult (yet rewarding) it really is.

So I’m challenging every mother who reads this to stop yourself when you’re about to scorn another for her decisions (mentally or out loud.) Maybe what she’s doing isn’t your cup of tea, but it’s not your cup of tea to swallow. You don’t know what led her to make these decisions, but I’m sure you can recall all the choices you were once given and making your own.

I think it’s time we show a little more compassion and empathy towards one another. This beautiful thing called motherhood has been gifted to us. We should be spending it learning, laughing, teaching, and loving as much as humanly possible.

Let’s kick this negativity.

Let’s help each other be the best women we can be; for ourselves, for each other, and for our children.

 

V

Technology Detox

Do you ever feel like you know exactly what’s happening in everyones’ lives (via social media) but still feel more disconnected than ever? Yeah me too.

I just don’t understand how in a world where it’s so easy to be ‘connected,’ we go days or months without speaking to friends. We sift through pictures of family events, the birth of a child, parties, vacations, birthdays, and endless selfies and somehow we feel as if we’re keeping in touch by clicking the ‘like’ button on Facebook.

Our perception of our own lives is often clouded by what we see of someone elses’ through media, but keep in mind that what you see is often the best of it. No one is going to post photos of their negative account balance or the messy state that their house is in. It’s often said that the grass is always greener on the other side and I have to agree, visually sure it is! But it’s not always the case. (And often it’s not.)

I’ve come to the conclusion that I (like many others) am in need of a detox from this virtual environment. Not only do I find it toxic, but it’s just downright time-consuming. I will be the first to complain there aren’t enough hours in the day yet there I sit, spending my free moments on my phone or computer clicking away through Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest, and other blogs. What a friggin’ waste of time! Sure I find cool patterns for sewing or I talk to other moms on my cloth diaper network, but let’s be honest…majority of this time is spent basically doing nothing. Useless gawking at a screen when I could be doing something more productive like cleaning, reading an actual book, sewing, baking, etc. The saddest part of it is that I realize this but continue to do so day in and day out.

So this is where I’m going to draw the line and challenge myself to detox and get back in touch with the real world. I’ve decided I’m going to make a list of things I want to do this fall/winter and actually DO them. So here I go, this is part of my list:

– Sew the following: Dress for myself, dress for Aurora, stuffed toys, crib set, and a few things for Christmas gifts.
– Make a habit of going for a morning walk (until it gets bitterly cold/the snow gets deep)
– Do yoga daily, or at least every other day.
– Take Aurora for a sleigh ride.
– Go around and see all the pumpkin people.
– Read books. Yes multiple! Haha.
– Go to a concert in the city with the hubby.
– Bake more.
– Go to more social events (ie. yoga, farmers markets, baby groups, basically anything to get me out of the house and meeting new people.)
– Hand make my Christmas gifts.
– Spend more quality time with the hubby.
– Set up a garbage station with bins for recycling/garbage/cardboard. (Instead of just a garbage bin and the rest in bags on the floor.)
– Make soups/stews from local in season veggies to freeze for easy dinners.

Those are just a few but you get the idea. It’s so easy to just sit back and let your thumbs do all the work but I promise you that getting more hands on will be MUCH more rewarding. You don’t have to give up your guilty internet pleasure completely but why not try to cut back and kick it old school? 🙂 You might just have fun and actually get connected.

V

A blog and movie you may enjoy that are similar to this topic:

http://www.huffingtonpost.com/wait-but-why/generation-y-unhappy_b_3930620.html – Such a great article on todays generation and partially what triggered this post of mine.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1433811/ – I plan on watching this 🙂 It came highly recommended.

 

IMG_95572083861360

You are what you eat

Why is it so easy to eat junk and so damn hard to eat healthy?

I’ve been wandering on and off of the path to eating healthy for about 5 years now. Over time I’ve learned more about the food I eat and what it does to my body. I’ve spoken to numerous people, each with different eating habits. So how is it that I’m still baffled by planning my meals and I feel like a stranger in the kitchen? 

I have such a strong craving for knowledge in regards to health. I want so badly to become comfortable and confident in the kitchen, to cook beautiful meals, and to do so consistently. To treat my body with care and respect, so that I can physically and mentally be there for my family and friends in every way. I want to wake up every morning feeling great, and to have immense amounts of energy throughout the day. So finding the motivation to do all of this has been my goal as of late.

It’s so easy to get caught up in all the craziness of life and lose touch with your body. Most times you aren’t even aware of it happening until one day you wake up, and BAM! You feel like you’ve been hit by a train and the only way you’re ever going to get out of bed is if you shot gun jet fuel and light a fire under your ass. Just remind yourself that you are what you eat, and that you are totally capable of making a change for the best. 

I’ve struggled with this, so I know as you’re reading right now you’re saying, “Easier said than done!” Well yes, it is. But nothing that’s worthwhile is ever easy. It’s going to take a lot of determination and self control but damn it, it’s possible. 

So please, join me on my journey to become happier and healthier. I look forward to further educating myself and I hope you can not only learn as well but keep me on track with any questions or concerns you may have.

 

V