Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Home made paper pots

Making your own seed starting pots can be a simple money saving and green way to start your garden, and not fill a landfill. My husband only get's the Sunday paper to sift through the jobs so we don't have too much paper laying around. If that's the case for you, old phone book would serve well too.

For this demo, I grabbed some paper out of the phone book. Any paper about average size would do. If you're going to use a newspaper, I recommend cutting the pages down to a manageable size.

You're first step is to fold the top of the paper about an inch. This will reinforce the top so your pot keeps it's shape.

Next find any cylinder shaped object, a glass, a jar to help you get an even curve.

Wrap the paper around the cylinder.

Tuck the end into the fold so you don't have to use tape.

Fold the bottom like you would wrap a gift.

Fill carefully, supporting the bottom, and store them in a waterproof container.

If you used any tape making these, be sure to remove it before transplanting your seedlings into the ground. The pots otherwise can go directly in the ground. They will breakdown in the soil.

Monday, March 29, 2010

Menu Plan Monday

This is the first time I've even considered planning out my whole week in food. Our budget is still a mess, my husband is on month five of being unemployed. We refuse to give up our whole/organic foods lifestyle, even with the crunch in our budget.

As of this week, I'll also be posting the amount of money we spend on food. It is my belief that we can sustain a healthy lifestyle of eating, on a strict budget. This weekend we bought what we needed to eat for the week, and spent a total $137.88. This is how we'll use it:

Monday: Vegetarian Day
  • Breakfast: Organic Oatmeal, flavored with Maple Syrup and sugar, and a banana.
  • Mid-morning snack: Grapes
  • Lunch: Organic Peanut Butter and Homemade Jelly on 12 grain bread. Raw organic baby carrots and organic applesauce as a side.
  • Dinner: Spring Mix Salad, Spaghetti, and homemade garlic bread.

  • Breakfast: Egg sandwiches (egg whites for me!), and organic sliced apples.
  • Mid-morning Snack:
  • Lunch: Homemade Tomato Soup and crackers
  • Dinner: Chicken and Rice

    Wednesday: Vegetarian Day
  • Breakfast: Eggs, toast and grapes
  • Mid-morning Snack: Dry cheerios
  • Lunch: Grilled Cheese Sandwiches/Yesterday's leftovers, apple slices
  • Dinner: Spring Mix Salad, Baked Mac and Cheese

  • Breakfast: Pancakes and sliced apples
  • Mid-morning Snack: Sliced Organic Cheddar Cheese
  • Lunch: Leftovers
  • Dinner: Chicken Drumsticks, Broccoli and Cheese

  • Breakfast: Oatmeal with Maple Syrup, fresh grapes
  • Mid-morning Snack: Apple slices and peanut butter
  • Lunch: Peanut Butter Jelly Sandwich/Leftovers
  • Dinner: Leftovers

  • Breakfast: Eggs with fried potatoes, toast, and bananas
  • Mid-morning Snack: Sliced Cheese
  • Lunch: Leftover Chicken/Veggies -- Chicken salad Sandwiches
  • Dinner: Beef Stroganoff

  • Breakfast: Cold cereal with banana slices.
  • Mid-morning Snack: ----
  • Lunch: Easter lunch with Parents/Grandmother
  • Dinner: Leftovers from Easter

  • Sunday, March 28, 2010

    Earth Hour -- Last night

    I ended up having my plans change for Saturday, so I was home for Earth Hour last night. Hubs and I had a daring match of UNO by candlelight. It was a nice change, because usually we have our backs to each other at the computers.

    We were a little late to get started, our four year old was fighting sleep as usual. Once she managed to get to sleep, we flipped the lights off, it was about 8:45. We did manage to gather a few grainy pictures of our candlelit room. Hubs even snagged a shot of me shuffling the UNO deck.

    On a more somber note, I have to admit my disappointment in the government's lack of enthusiasm towards Earth Hour. I run across so much ignorance here in my hometown, and I didn't hear about this on the news, or in the newspaper. Most of the pictures I see for this event are coming from Australia and New Zealand. It's such a small gesture to switch off a light to get involved. Sadly enough, I know the "conservative" government doesn't seem as on board to support living cleanly as the "liberal" government does here. The Virginia State Government didn't even sign on, whereas Maryland and even West Virginia did. We need to stop making global responsibility a political issue, and make it a human issue.

    I'd love to know how other people celebrated. Please feel free to link to your blogs if you have pictures or stories of your Earth Hour. I will get off my tiny insignificant soap box, and resume my normal cheerful self. ;)

    Saturday, March 27, 2010

    Jamie Oliver -- Food Revolution

    Last night, my husband and I sat down with our house guest Rachael and watched Jamie Oliver's new show, Food Revolution on ABC.

    I don't normally sit down and watch T.V., like ever. So don't get used to having a show review on my blog. Healthy eating however is a passion of mine, so I watched it. For those of you who don't know, Jamie Oliver's show took place in Huntington, West Virginia. I lived in West Virginia for about five years, up north in Morgantown. Which just so happens to be where Morgan Spurlock is from; the author of Super Size Me.

    Back to Jamie. I agree 100% with his food philosophy. I actually have come to personally like Jamie on his show. He reminds me of my husband, because he's a softy with a big heart. Jamie, if you're reading this, I think your going at it from the wrong angle. Educate the parents, YES! Go after the schools...NO! Let the parents do that Jamie. I'll tell you why.

    My son went to public school last year as a kindergartner. I will tell you now, he ate more junk food there then he ever has in his entire life. I would go have lunch with him sometimes, his lunch always packed by me with whole foods. Not only was I disgusted by what they were serving in the lunch lines, but...the food the parents packed was no better. The white processed bread, the lunchables, the not really juice, sugar water fake stuff drinks. It was appalling! And it was the parents who were doing it. The teachers even give M&M's as rewards for getting answers right. It's no wonder they're fat and their teeth are falling out.

    It's the parents we need to get to, Jamie. My children recognize vegetables because it's a core value in my house. We all garden together, and my son loves "Eggplant" day. We drink water with our meals, I don't even allow fruit juice except for orange juice at breakfast. Dessert in this house is fruit, and on special occasions ice cream. My kids are at healthy weights, however even with all these restrictions, my husband and I are still overweight.

    So, in review. Yes, parents, watch the show. It is eye opening. Jaime, stop addressing the school's as an outsider. You're only setting yourself up to fail. Educate parents in some kind of shocking, drive it home way. You saw that the kids themselves didn't care about eating a ground up chicken carcass...but their parents would. My hat is off to you though Jamie, you have my support, and I wish you the best.

    For more information on Jamie Oliver, check out his website. He's got all kinds of recipes and passionate pleas for healthy eating.

    Sunday, March 21, 2010

    Organic Apple Pie -- Guilt!

    Ok, so apple's aren't in season, and this isn't the healthiest recipe that I've ever posted. However, this was my sanity during this really hard winter we had. It didn't help with the pudge either, but it's spring, and I can finally go out and work.

    So here's the best apple pie recipe I've found:

  • One pie crust. (I used a premade crust, the only non-organic thing in the recipe)
  • 1/2 cup of organic butter
  • 3 tbsp of organic unbleached all purpose flour.
  • 1/4 cup of water
  • 1 cup organic sugar (you could also use a mix of brown/blonde sugar)
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • 8 peeled and cored organic apples. We used golden delicious, but just about anything will do.


  • Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
  • Melt the butter on the stove top, and add the flour to make a paste. Add the sugar, and simmer for 5 minutes.
  • Put the crust in your pie dish, and fill with apples.
  • Cover the apples with a crust lattice, then pour the butter mixture over the lattice and apples.
  • Bake 10 minutes at 425, then reduce to 350 for an hour.
  • The pie will need to cool for about an hour before serving. Enjoy!!
  • Saturday, March 20, 2010

    Earth Hour 3/27/10

    I would like my readers to please take a moment and check out Earth hour. It's supposed to take place next week at 8:30 your current time. Please check out the video, or the website. I will be out of town visiting my best friend, but I will be asking hubby to do this with the kids. I may even persuade my best friend to do it too! Think of all the fun you can have in the dark!!

    All you moms, should check out their children's section. Lot's of fun and informative games. Can't wait to hear what you guys do in your earth hour!! :)

    Friday, March 19, 2010

    More garden -- planting

    Yesterday we worked pretty hard but we weren't able to finish the left front garden. Last night after my lessons, I stopped by Lowe's again, got more dirt to finish the job, and I did end up picking up two apple trees. I've been doing some fruit tree research, and I have some stuff to share! More on that later.

    The type of gardening I do is purely organic. I think I've mentioned this before, but some of you may not quite be sure what that means. Basically gardening organically means that I do not use any synthetic materials in my garden. I don't spray insecticide, and I don't fertilize with synthetic materials. I also don't use genetically modified seeds (Monsanto!! Grrr!). Some organization is needed when you're planning out an organic vegetable garden. I have found that disorganized chaos is really what works best. Have I lost you yet?


    When I plant new seeds I do so in rows. The picture above has markers and below those markers are straight rows of two different seeds. They are markers for cauliflower and kale. Next to that, are little red bulbs, which are my onions, and on the other side of those I have some spring lettuce mix. Along the back wall there I have also planted sugar snap peas. The diversity in each section of my garden will help keep any diseases that might crop up (teehee) quarantined.

    For seed organization, I tend to put seeds in storage baggies. I found these in the craft section of Walmart (I know, Walmart is the devil!), and these little baggies really come in handy. Use a sharpie to label, and viola, you have organized seeds. I also put different seeds in Ziploc baggies, like flower seeds, or early spring seeds, etc. The major benefit though of putting your seeds in baggies like this?? Water proof, which I was grateful for this morning after I completely doused them when watering the bed. Oops! No harm done though. ;) Happy Gardening!

    Thursday, March 18, 2010

    Garden time!


    It's a little early to be out in the garden still in Virginia, with the possibility of freezing still I have to be careful. I couldn't help myself though, my daughter requested we garden today and I wasn't difficult to convince. My husband last week had dug out a bit on the side of the house, and we had taken pictures to show his handy work with the lattice. Before we got started, I had him bring it out just a bit more so it was wider.

     So, Erin and I went to Lowe's and picked up some more bags of this stuff. I garden organically only, and this is my dirt of choice. I got four bags today, and of course it wasn't enough, so I'll be going back tonight after work. I'm picking up apple trees too, however I might change my mind. With hubby still out of work, I know I can decide to garden for the summer, but what will we do come fall? So, we'll see.

     This is the other side of the house, that is need of some serious TLC. Winter was tough on my lavender you see there in the middle. It will come back, but what a mess. So, while pouring out the dirt in the new section of the garden, I sent Erin over here to dig out rocks. Erin loves helping out, I don't even have to bribe her with money though like I do her brother. She's so happy to be outside and in the bugs and sunshine. She loves it.

    Next we planted some sugar snap peas. These are an easy thing to start so early in the season. The kids love them, my son last year would pull them off the vine and eat them. The peas are so sweet, it's like sugar water snapping in your mouth (and it's healthy too!!). They are easy to grow, and if you note, I put a little fence behind them to grow up on. This is my front yard, so I try to keep things relatively pretty while practical.

    Next we moved on to a little strawberry plant we saw at Lowe's today. It was only three bucks and had a pretty pink flower on it. Erin was stoked. I've grown strawberries before, but I've never put them in the ground before. They spread so easily, I've always been nervous. We'll see how things go, I tend my garden so much I can keep it from spreading out of control.

      Here's the end of day one. Not much to see, nothing's growing. I planted some lettuce and some onion sets. Tomorrow the plan is to start some broccoli, cauliflower, and maybe some kale. Spring garden's are great in Virginia. You should see my bedroom though, it's turned into a greenhouse where all my summer vegetables have started in their pots.

    Under construction!

    I'm doing some playing around with my blog. I guess some spring cleaning is in order online too, since I've had the same layout for over a year. Bare with me while I get things in order.

    Happy Thursday!!

    Friday, March 5, 2010

    Weighing my options -- juggling

    I have an amazing and supportive family. My poor sick mother has tried her very best to be my pillar through all of this. Even in her weakened state of health, she continues to be a source of strength for me. (thank you mom!)

    This post will be a list of positives and negatives. My family owns this little tiny house sitting on 5 acres in the county next to us. It used to be my great grandmother's house. It is situated directly next door to my 90 year old grandmother, and my family has told me if I need to live there, I am welcome to it. My own house (like most home owners right now) has negative equity. There is the chance I may be able to rent it out but I am unsure if I would be able to come out even each month. Short-sale is also an option, however that in itself takes a huge hit on my credit, which currently is pristine.

    So, here are the Positives and Negatives to me moving. Any reader's thoughts/wisdom/input is welcome.

    1. Rent/Mortgage Free
    2. Five acres to garden, and to allow my children to play in.
    3. Next door to my grandmother, and will be able to feed/check on her daily.
    4. In a better school district.
    5. Has a detached shed/garage.
    6. Same distance to my current employer.

    1. The house is on a road that has a 45 mile an hour speed limit. (however my parents have offered to help put up a fence for the kids)
    2. It is 800 square feet. Tiny tiny. Our current house is approximately 2200 square feet.
    3. Next door to my grandmother, who can be moody and temperamental.
    4. Further away from potential employers.
    5. Kids will have to share a bedroom, the cottage is only a two bedroom house.

    The question has been raised...will I homeschool next year? I have no answer for that right now. I know that if my husband is unable to find employment that has benefits and I'm offered a teaching job, I'd have to accept it. That would make homeschooling impossible. I have put in for a few jobs in the surrounding counties, but I feel my best chance is to be rehired in the county I stopped teaching in a few years ago. Having said that, this house is not within commuting distance to that county. It's about 70+ miles away.

    If I move now, I have the potential to have a magnificent vegetable crop at this little property. With all the space to grow, I could drastically cut our food budget. So, anyway, here are my options, the pros and cons. I am open to suggestions.

    Thursday, March 4, 2010

    No to Texas

    We just got news tonight, there will be no Austin, Texas. Now we're back to not knowing and not having any other strong leads for a job. More later.

    Monday, March 1, 2010

    Update -- Dealing with unemployment

    Yeah, so I know I said I'd try to do better, but reality is, when my life is busy, blogging gets put on the back burner. What's been going on?? Well, just surviving really. Husband is still unemployed, but has a strong lead to a job in Austin, Texas. I'm not thrilled about having to move. As I've said before, I'm a Virginia girl, through and through. However, I've been told that Austin is wonderful. I'm excited, scared, nervous, and I don't even know if we're going there yet.

    Normally this time of year I start seeds for my garden. I get my tomatoes and cukes going, peppers, etc. I want to do this even still...but how do I when I don't know where I'll be in four months? Nothing is normal anymore. I've still been working at the local arts academy, and I don't know what to tell my students. Will I be here next year?? They all know what's been going on, I'm pretty transparent to those who know me.

    I've been purging like never before. If we have to move, which most assuredly we will, I want to move as little as possible. I've Craigslisted some large items, like our huge entertainment center in the living room. I'm giving a couch to my parents, and many of my children's toys (approx. 2/3) will be donated/given to friends. My daughter's preschool is going to get a bunch, my best friend will be given a van load when I go visit her in a few weeks, and my church will get whatever's left to be donated. My kids will keep only their favorite.

    Now for the depression aspect of all this. I was diagnosed with clinical depression about a year ago. I'm not going into a whole sch peal about depression treatments, but I will tell you, this has been the most difficult last few months. It's winter, meaning less sunlight, making symptoms worse anyway. I'm scared, anxious, sad..and these are all very valid emotions during this time. But, the strange things have crept back in too. I have had to pull out all stops to keep my mind clear, including exercise, extra socializing, shopping, cleaning...it's exhausting. It's when I'm still, that's the worst. I can't sit still for now.

    Anyway, that's my update. Hopefully I'll eventually be back up and blogging. As soon as hubby gets a job, I'll be shouting it from the rooftop, that's for sure.


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