30
Sep

Fall Gardening Tips

by Tiffany in Gardening

fall-gardening-tips

The weather is getting cool, nights are getting darker, life is moving a little bit slower, and things are winding down in your summer garden. But perhaps you don’t want to give up gardening just yet. Heck the weather is perfect for outdoor enjoyment right? There are still some gardening tips and strategies that you can employ to get you back outside and some dirt under your fingernails. You can add some color and life to your garden, and prepare it for winter. Depending on where you live, fall can be a very busy time in the garden. Here are some ideas:

Earthy Colors!!

Fall is a beautiful and colorful season, and you can add some of that color to your garden this time of year. Chrysanthemums (mums) come in a variety of yellows, bronzes, reds, and purples and they are a very popular flower this time of year so you shouldn’t have any trouble finding them at your local nursery. It’s worth noting, however, that mums will return each year – they’re perennials. So take that into consideration as you decide on their placement in your garden.

Get the Weeds Before They Seed

Weeds plagued you all summer and if you get a bit lazy, fall is the time when many will go to seed, sending the makings of next year’s plant invasion all over your yard. Thankfully, fall can be rainy (it has been in Ohio), and wet soil is easier to pull or hoe weeds. Get rid of those unsightly things now and you’ll thank yourself next spring.

You can also get on top of weed control in the fall by laying down several layers of newspaper or cardboard on top of your garden beds or soil once the plants are spent. Anchor the newspapers/cardboard with rocks or soil and, by the time spring arrives, the weeds will have been deprived of the light and air they need to sprout. The organic material will also start to decompose, which enriches your soil.

Take Care With Your Tools

Investing in good garden tools is just one of the ways we make the gardening process easier and more efficient. At the end of the season take care to clean your tools and hang them in the shed or garage for storage so they will not get rusty and/or broken.

Plant Bulbs

When fall is in the air, it’s time to think ahead and put spring in the ground. There are a variety of bulbs that need to be planted in the fall and it is so easy to do. Dig a hole, drop the bulb in, cover it up, and go have a glass of apple cider. Tulips, Daffodils, Hyacinths, Crocuses, and Allium (my fave!) are typically planted in the fall so they can complete their growth cycle in time to come up in spring. If you grow garlic, it will need to be put into the garden in the fall as well. You can buy many fall varieties like bearded iris bulbs for sale online and in stores. Plan out the places where you want the flowers to bloom in spring and make sure it is an area with good drainage. A little work now will bring you so much happiness in the spring.

Trees and Shrubs

Now is a good time to prune back trees and shrubs, including shrub roses. It’s also a good time to plant them. In the fall, trees and shrubs are in a dormant state, and the planting and pruning are less shocking to the plant.

The growing season is winding down but there is still MUCH to do! What are doing in the garden right now?

Friday, September 30th, 2011

4 Comments on Fall Gardening Tips

29
Sep

Living Minimalist – Practical for Families?

by Tiffany in parenting

A reader recently asked me if I felt it was better to raise kids with less space and stuff. I have written about this several times but my posts on Minimalist ChildrenHelping Kids See Past Commercialism , and Simplicity Parenting come to mind. I am no parenting expert by any means and my kids manage to throw me for a loop all the time but in regards to this issue I think my husband and I have found something that seems to work very well for us. It was a journey to get there though. We certainly didn’t start our married lives or our family with any intention of being minimalist anything.

When we got married we did what many new couples seem to do in this day and age… we got ourselves into debt because we felt entitled to the big house, new cars, and nice things right from the moment we said “I do.” Our grandparents and likely our parents had to work their way up to having nice things and nice homes. If they wanted a big TV and new car they worked their arses off and raised the money for it. It they wanted to go on a family vacation they saved all year for it and paid for everything in cash. Now though the attitude that we deserve all the nice possessions and fancy vacations even before we have worked hard for them seems to prevail. It was only a couple years after marriage that we found ourselves drowning in debt. All the nice things we charged to credit cards did not make us happy. Our first child was barely two before we started thinking about bailing out on each other because life was just too stressful. We did kind of bail out on each other I guess because my husband took a job were he traveled all but 4-5 days a month. We had to find a way to pay for all this debt after all.

Because we felt we were entitled to it all, it makes logical sense that we passed this on to our first child. The kid filled an entire walk-in closet (the size of a bedroom in our current house)  full of his toys and there were plenty more to bleed all over the house. Literally every single time I went to the store (which was a lot) I bought him more toys and clothes.

I am not sure exactly what caused us to shift our lifestyle exactly but I think learning about attachment parenting and green living helped move us toward a new understanding and life philosophy. Maybe we were just sick and tired of messy finances, clutter in our lives, and spending most of our days apart because we were reckless and irresponsible. Either way we changed.

Shortly after the birth of our third child my husband returned home and took a local job. I had created a business working at home and felt a sense of accomplishment and pride I hadn’t felt in a long while. We were suddenly debt free and not wanting to make the mistakes we had in our past. We financed a new “used” car but paid it off in only 6 months. We paid for a second vehicle with cash.  We got rid of all credit cards. We decided to downgrade our home and move into one with barely over 1000 square feet. We now live in one with 1100 square feet. ;) We found new forms of entertainment that didn’t revolve around spending money. We nixed buying the kids anything unless it was a birthday or holiday. The perks I get from blogging are an exception, although 8 times out of 10 we donate the stuff as soon as we review it. We buy all our clothing at thrift stores. That was very drastic but for my two youngest it is just the way life is and they don’t see anything wrong with it. Our older child has had a much harder time with it because he remembers the days of excess. He has tossed around words like cheap and selfish when he cannot get something he wants. We don’t budge because we KNOW we are on the right track.

We know this because our marriage has improved 100% and our daily stress has gone down to almost nothing. Our kids are still happy and healthy even though they aren’t being bombarded with all the new toys and gadgets of this consumerist society. Of course there is still room for improvement. As I mentioned before, we are still on the messy side where finances are concerned. But we no longer spend more than we earn and we don’t have debt. Just recently we started putting money away for emergencies and retirement the way we should have been doing all along. We buy Amazon gift certificates once a week before the holidays so that everything is prepaid and we have no issue getting the kids what they want. And we don’t go crazy. They get one big ticket item and one small item. If they get lots of gifts from family then they have to donate some other stuff so that it evens out.

We went from stress, clutter, overspending, and lots of unhappiness and did a 180 with our lives. Here are a few of the ways we handle things now and make life more minimalist and manageable.

  • When something new comes into the house, something else needs to be sold or donated.
  • Kids are expected to work around the house daily (15 minute clean-up) AND keeps their rooms clean.
  • Furniture and personal belongings are kept to a minimum so that cleaning is easy to manage.
  • If you can’t keep your room clean you have too much STUFF and some of it needs to go.
  • If we don’t love it and use it often then we can do without it.
  • Everything needs a place to call home, preferably one that its out of sight.
  • Buying used is always preferable to buying new.
  • We don’t DO fancy round these parts. Simple and easy is more our style.
  • Limit media consumption so that demands for new “stuff” wanes.
  • Act like a one car household by sending hubby to work with the keys to the other vehicle.
  • If you are bored… read.
  • Feeling antsy? Exercise or play a game.
  • Use it up, wear it out, make it do or do without.

What works for you? I would love to hear!

28
Sep

Wildly Affordable Organic

by Tiffany in Healthy Eating

I have written about eating well on less money many times. This post on affordable organic food is a popular one. Even though I think it is totally possible to eat well and not spend a fortune it can be a difficult and delicate process. I asked fans on my Facebook page how much they spend on food, assuming that they eat mostly organic, whole, nourishing foods. The answers varied but it seemed that families with only 2 or 3 managed to get away with spending only $200-400 per month. When the family size went up to 4-5 the amount rose to an average of $750-$800. I had an inkling that I had gotten a little lazy with my own family’s budget and thanks to Mint.com I was able to quickly see that we spent over $1000 on food in August. This month I put a little more effort into it and I think we will end up around $850. That still seems high to me but what we are paying in money, we are not paying in doctor bills. Food, in my mind, is like a supplemental insurance policy. We almost never have to go see doctors anymore. What once was a large annual expense we wrote off on our taxes is now only a couple hundred dollars a year and that is mostly from preventative stuff like teeth cleaning and state hoops we have to jump through (our two boys both have IEPs).

So once I reminded myself of how healthy we are and how we rarely get sick I stopped feeling guilty about that $850 and started patting myself on the back. I don’t feel a bit guilty about the $65 a month we spend on gym memberships or the gas money we use to get to and from almost every day of the week between the two of us. So why feel guilty about nourishing my body, and my family’s bodies, with the best food? I shouldn’t and I have to let that go. But even so, I like a challenge and the idea that I could whittle that down even further appealed to me. I also happened to run across the book Wildly Affordable Organic: Eat Fabulous Food, Get Healthy, and Save the Planet–All on $5 a Day or Less at the library and it was a great read.

The author, Linda Watson, was inspired to try an experiment in the summer of 2007 when food philosophy and food politics came to the forefront. It was inspired by the work of Michael Pollan and the Food Stamp Challenge whereby some were trying to live on the national food stamp allowance of a dollar a meal. When public figures attempted the challenge and bemoaned how impossible it was, she talked her husband into doing the challenge with her so they could see just how well you could eat on a dollar a day. She also took a full time job outside the home while this was going on so that her attempt would be realistic to the lives of the working class. She and her husband discovered a lot on that journey but perhaps the most important thing was that they could eat healthy food on so little money AND they felt better physically than they had in a long while.

The book has two sets of meal plans. The “green” plan, which is the $5 plan, involves cooking with organic, sustainable, and kindly raised ingredients. The “thrifty” plan picks ingredients with a focus on cost. All recipes are vegetarian because the author is and I think that is awesome because IMO our society is meat obsessed. Whether you decide to be a vegetarian or not I think it is vital to know how to turn out lots of meatless meals, especially if you are on a budget. The meals plans in this book are compatible with the food stamp budget per person allotted by the state where the author lives (North Carolina).

I thought the book was quite excellent. It walks you through a bunch of educational info and pricing information so that you can get a feel for how to save money while still buying the pricier, healthier options. The recipes also look quite tasty although many of them would be adapted in my house to use less grains. I have said it a million times but veggie based cookbooks and recipe plans are heavy on bread and grains. This one isn’t too bad but I would still make some changes here and there.. mostly using a different sweetener here or coconut flour in leu of whole wheat flour there, etc.

The author also gives recipes for making your own bread, yogurt, and pizza dough. I admit that I do not bake my own bread and that is mostly because we do not buy enough or eat enough to justify it. My 5 year old son is usually the only one who demands bread and buying a loaf every two weeks is not breaking the budget. Still I plan on making bread more often over the winter. My sourdough starter has just come out of hibernation (the frig) and I plan to see if I can get a second hand heating pad for helping dough to rise. We already make our own sourdough pizza though I am going to add some of the seasonal toppings recommened in this book. Kale pizza here we come!

I already make yogurt at home but I could do it more because we still buy some at the store as well. We are big yogurt eaters here. Another recipe I want to try is the homemade burger buns. We have some turkey burger enthusiasts in the house and my hubby is always lamenting the crappy ingredients in his burger buns. I think he might like these.

After reading I made a list of ways I think I can whittle down food costs even more without sacrificing the quality of our food and most of that is all about planning better.

How about you? Do you feel that eating well can happen on a food stamp budget?

Wednesday, September 28th, 2011

10 Comments on Wildly Affordable Organic

27
Sep

Pumpkin Shake Recipe

by Tiffany in Recipes

With the arrival of Fall I have been craving pumpkins. Mostly I want some of my mom’s homemade pumpkin cake with cream cheese frosting but me left alone during the day with that cake is a recipe for disaster. So I got creative and adapted my post workout shake to make it pumpkin flavored instead. Delish!

Pumpkin Pie Protein Shake

Ingredients
  • 1 Cup almond or coconut milk
  • 1 scoop vanilla protein powder
  • ½ cup pumpkin
  • 1 half banana
  • 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice or a sprinkling of cinnamon, ginger, nutmeg, and allspice
  • A handful of ice cubes
Instructions: Blend together and enjoy!

I used banana because I almost always choose fruit to sweeten stuff before using a processed sweetener but I could have used coconut sugar in this. I couldn’t even taste the banana though, so it worked for me. I also  highlighted that I chose a no soy protein powder. It has nothing to do with taste… I just detest unfermented soy products. Most protein powders have soy, so be on the lookout if you also avoid soy. Enjoy!

Tuesday, September 27th, 2011

6 Comments on Pumpkin Shake Recipe

26
Sep

Comfy Joey Slings

by Tiffany in Birth & Baby

When my two youngest kiddos were little, I wore them close to me via ring slings, pouches, and wraps. I knew nothing of these amazing devices when my oldest was born but they sure would have been a lifesaver since he was my neediest baby by far. Wearing your baby was something that I was introduced to when I looked into attachment style parenting and it just seemed like a no-brainer way to not only deepen the bond with your child but also a great way to minimize gadgets and gear meant to entertain baby. The baby benefits from having a secure, safe environment that is close to mom and makes them feel protected in the same way swaddling does. Cooking, laundry, household chores, hiking, traveling, etc all became much easier for mom (or dad) when you can just put on a sling and wear your babies around. Baby wraps and slings are amazing!

Comfy Joey is a company that offers absolutely gorgeous ring slings and pouches. They are functional of course but also beautiful. I LOVE the colors. Their linen slings come in lots of great colors. If I were still in my sling years I am sure I would own several! The ones that really stood out to me were the mesh water slings. These can be worn wading in the pool or in the shower. Love them! I always stuck my babes on the bathroom floor with some toys and hoped they wouldn’t get into stuff while I showered. How much easier … and fun… life could have been if we could have showered together with one of these slings. ;)

The company is also mom owned which I always preferred in my sling buying days. It is owned and operated by Ayesha Ghatala Shoaib. Ayesha discovered babywearing after the birth of her second child and founded Comfy Joey when he was only a few months old. Now Ayesha is the proud mother of four. She still considers babywearing a valuable tool as she runs her business while raising her children.

Monday, September 26th, 2011

160 Comments on Comfy Joey Slings