Taking Care of Our Future Produce

Nine days. It’s been nine days, from a seed to a little sprout, that’s all it took. Well, for some of our plants. Each seed we have planted has some sort of action going on with them, each germinate and grow at different rates.

ZUCCHINI 3-15-15

Obviously, the zucchini plants are growing up nicely! They are already getting secondary leaves! At this rate, I will be transplanting them into bigger pots soon.

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The cucumbers are standing at attention and coming along nicely too. Secondary leaves are starting on them as well.

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I love watching our little tomato plants grow. I love how they go through so many stages and right now, they are in the lanky stage, but they are coming along nicely. I love that the stems look furry, but my favorite part of growing tomatoes is when I touch the leaves and get that “tomato” smell aroma!

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I think our pumpkins have taken some drugs! OMG, I can’t believe how big they have grown in nine days! Geez!  Big secondary leaves have already formed and they are definitely ready next week to be transplanted into bigger pots!

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Finally, we are starting to see little baby Romaine sprouts popping up! Oh how I can’t wait to watch them grow!  We planted Romaine lettuce for the first time last year, and definitely loved it! Romaine is so much better than regular leaf lettuce for sure! If you have never tried growing Romaine, you should consider it!

CELERY 3-15-15

Today, we got our first sight of some of our celery popping up. We love celery! This will be our first time ever that we have attempted to grow celery, so this will be quite an adventure for us.  I remember when we first tasted a celery stalk from a gardener friend of ours a few years ago, and when he told us to taste it, it tasted like it already was lightly salted. It was so awesome to munch on that piece of celery that day, and we have always wanted to try growing some of our own, so this year will be an awesome adventure.

We still have more plants that are coming along, germinating at their own slow pace, but that is how you roll when you start your own seeds indoors. Everything just does not pop up at the same time, they all grow individually, at their own pace. And, like I have mentioned before, we always plant extra seeds just in case some of the seeds don’t germinate, but if all the seeds do, then we’ll have extra.

Nothing is wrong with having too much fresh produce, right?

Wordless Wednesday

Nothing escapes the dogs around here, not even this guy who decided to sit on top of the garage to drive the dogs crazy.

SQUIRREL

OMG, can you see how full this guys belly is? He must have been storing his nuts over the winter for sure! Time to get on the treadmill little man, or I can open the back door and the dogs can chase you!

SQUIRREL2

What do your doggies see outside the window that drive them crazy?

Seed To Green In Three Days

One of the most exciting parts of gardening is watching your plants grow, the other is eating what you grew! I know that we are a long way off to picking any veggies yet, but I can dream of them being in my belly!

GREEN SEEDLINGS 3-10-15

Late Friday afternoon I finally got all of our seeds planted. When I checked in on them on Monday, I was shocked at what I found! I saw “green” and lots of green under the seed cell clear covers! I was doing a happy dance in the laundry room.

CUCUMBERS 3-10-15

As you scroll through these photographs, you can see that some seeds germinate quicker than others. Don’t fret, if you are watching & waiting for yours to sprout, just give them time!

PUMPKINS 3-10-15

Another thing that I love about watching our plants grow, are the shapes they form while popping out of the soil. I get so excited when I see the secondary leaves forming too.

JULIET TOMATO 3-10-15

This is the first Juliet Tomato that popped up, and although it looks like a little green stick now, this baby (once grown) can produce tons of tomatoes!

CABBAGE 3-10-15

I love watching our cabbage plants grow, because when they are little, their leaves always remind me of little hearts, and I love hearts!

BIG BOY TOMATOES 3-10-15

This little Big Boy Tomato plant has just emerged from the soil, reaching for the warmth of the grow light.

ZUCCHINI 3-10-15

The zucchini plants look a lot like a cucumber or a pumpkin when they are small, and this is one of the reasons I always keep our plants labeled.

When we start our gardening season, it is always started indoors while the outdoors is still cold & snowy. I always get a nice workout throughout the day, and every day, as I run up and down our stairs to check in on the plants. When the plants get a lot bigger, the grow lights will be shut off at night so the plants can start learning how to sleep, but that is awhile away for them now. Right now, they need the warmth of the grow lights for germination & growth.

I just realized that I forgot to mention all of the veggies that we will have in our garden this year. They are as follows:  9 Juliet Tomatoes, 9 Big Boy Tomatoes, 9 Colossal Peppers, 9 Red Peppers, 9 Zucchini, 18 Romaine Lettuce, 9 Flat Dutch Cabbage, 18 Cucumbers, Celery and we will also be planting those Loofah Seeds too!  Just so you know how gardening works for us, not all of these plants will be planted in the garden, as we always start & germinate more seeds than needed just in case.

What are you going to grow this year?

Thawing Out

In our little spot in the world today, we started to thaw out. The temps were around 40 degrees, water was flowing through the gutters which was a pleasant sound since they have been a solid block of ice, and the poop pit is no longer an ice skating rink. It was a good day today.

Yahoo, I can smell Spring!

Yahoo, I can smell Spring!

When Nikita went outside today, she jumped up on the side of the snow mound to look around, and stuck her head up in the air to take a good sniff of the air. She smelled Spring today!

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Nikita took a running jump and she was up on top of the snow mound in seconds!  I snapped this photo at the perfect moment and got the snow flying through the air.

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Nikita got so excited when she saw Daddy in the bedroom window looking at her playing.

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I love this photograph of Nikita enjoying her day in the snow.

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Nikita is so photogenic.

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Bella, of course, wanted a chance to show off her mountain goat abilities too!

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Ok, I’m done with this snow mound!

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I’m so tall, I can see into the neighbors yard!  Hey, there’s birdies over there!

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What do you mean I have to come down now?  I’m king of the hill!

SNOW DOGGIES 3-8-15

With the perfect temps today, I just had to make some snow doggies in the front yard! As you can see, I tried to make a snow doggie Nikita and Bella! (and, if you look at the front door, Nikita is watching out the door too)

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Snow doggie Bella!

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All in all, we had a good day. We started to thaw a bit and look forward to the upcoming week of temps in the 40’s where we can get rid of a lot of this snow. The dogs had an awesome play day in the high snow mounds, the poop pit thawed so no more pee pee splits, and snow doggies now sit in the front yard to wave to people driving past. It was a good day.

Gardening Is Like A Slow Dance

When you decide to become a gardener, you have questions, and lots of them. What do I plant? What do I plant them in? How do I plant them? Do I start my own seeds or do I just purchase my plants? These are all good questions, which might leave you wondering where to begin.

We were once there years ago too. We got encouraged to start our own garden from gazing at our neighbors garden. He has a green thumb. We asked him tons of questions. (thanks farmer Steve!) I remember that first year we wanted to plant something, just to try it out and we purchased a couple cherry tomato plants from a local nursery. We planted them in large flower pots and when we saw how well they grew in just a pot, we were hooked and wanted our own garden! That’s when we decided to build our own raised garden beds in the backyard! We have never looked back and every year we get so darn excited about gardening every year.

Now, a few years of gardening under our belt, we feel that we can start and maintain a garden with confidence.

Gardening to me, is like a slow dance. You gather your seeds, soil, and plant trays, then stare at the soil for days until you see a little something “green” poking its way out of the soil! Success! You have officially germinated a seed and you are on your way!

GARDENING: STEP ONE
CREATE CUTE PLANT LABELS

When you become a gardener, you definitely learn from your mistakes. For example, last year I made some cardstock plant labels and taped them to a toothpick. I placed these labels in each seed section to identify what was planted in there. What I learned from this, is that the condensation that happens under the lid, those cardstock labels got destroyed and fell apart. That’s where the “learn” from gardening mistakes come in.

PLANT MARKERS

This year, I made some cute plant labels on cardstock, but I laminated them first! Now I’m on the right track! I got those cute labels all cut out and taped them to the toothpicks again and now know that through watering and the condensation, those labels will hold up until we take the plants out to the garden.I am happy.

PLANT MARKERS2

GARDENING: STEP TWO
CHOOSING THE RIGHT STARTING SOIL

Choosing the right seed starting soil is important. I remember a few years ago we got some cheap crap soil at Marcs (will never do that again) and the soil was like a bag of fluff. Yes, I said fluff, because the soil was horrible and we lost all the seeds that we had planted. Nothing grew in this cheap soil.

STARTING SEEDS

We changed our starting soil to either a Burpee seed starting soil, or a nice organic soil and have had much success with both of these. It’s better to spend a few dollars more on your soil than waste seeds.

Once you have the correct seed starting soil, you are ready to start your seeds. This part is fun, but a little tricky because most of the seeds that you will probably be starting are very tiny in size. I had to use a pair of tweezers just to grab the seeds out of the bag. For example, the Flat Dutch Cabbage seeds are the size of a period at the end of a sentence.

GARDENING: STEP THREE
PLANTING YOUR SEEDS

For a first time gardener, I would suggest you read the planting instructions on all of your seed packs before you attempt to plant your seeds. The depth of your seeds is important.

ROMAINE

We start our seeds in the 72 cell seed starting trays. Each kit comes with a bottom (to catch & hold water), the 72 cell tray (8 sections for 9 plants each), and a clear lid (for the grow light to shine through). I normally use the sections to plant the same seeds, and always plant a few seeds extra, just in case one seed does not germinate!

ZUCCHINI

You take your good seed starting soil, NOT potting soil, as there is a difference. Potting soil is for house plants, not for starting seeds. Fill up each seed cell with your soil, and very lightly pack it in, but not too much, then take a toothpick and poke a small hole in the center of each seed cell, this is where you are going to plant that seed! (now remember, I told you first time gardeners to read the seed packet first, because some seeds just lay on top of the soil, where others have to be planted at a certain depth)

Once you drop your seeds into the soil, lightly cover them up with a dusting of soil. Lightly water the entire seed cell tray, and put the clear lid on.

GARDENING: STEP FOUR
GROW LIGHTS & KEEPING YOUR PLANTS WARM

Other than choosing the right seed starting soil, keeping your seeds under a grow light is important. We hung our grow lights off the beams in the ceiling in our basement. The lights hang from a chain and we use little metal “S” hooks on the chain, as this is used when we change the height of the grow lights.

SEED STARTER

Since our seeds were just started, we keep the grow lights a few inches above the closed lid on our seed cells, as this keeps the seeds warm and with the moisture in the soil from watering, it produces condensation. Always keep those lids closed on your seed cells until you need to water your plants.

PLANT MARKER CABBAGE

As the seeds germinate & grow, they are still kept under the grow lights, but the lights on the chains gets moved up a few notches. You don’t want to burn your plant leaves with too much heat.

Well, that is it for now! You have successfully planted all of your seeds! Now you wait, and wait, until you see that little piece of green popping through your soil and then you rejoice! Normal germination for seeds can be just a few days, but others may take a little while longer, so be patient, you did nothing wrong!

Gardening is definitely like a slow dance, taking it nice and slow. Stay tuned for more gardening tips as we progress along our way!

Slight Sign

In the midst of our Winter hanging on, I saw a sign this week. A slight sign that things are changing and perhaps we might eventually see a Spring this year.

SLIGHT SIGN OF SPRING

Now, I am not getting too excited about this sign, because it will snow again and cover up these bulbs trying to emerge from the frozen ground, and if it is like last year, they never had a chance to bloom.

SNOWED IN GARDEN

This is a depressing photo. All we are dreaming of is gardening again. I can’t remember when we have had this much snow in our backyard. Our poor garden gate & fence is all bent out of shape, but I will fix it.

The Poop Pit is a sheet of ice. The dogs put on a show trying to not do the splits when doing their business. I feel for them, but I do have to laugh a bit when they think they found the right spot, and their legs are sliding out from under them as they slowly slide to the ground. They re-position again to a new spot, and the same thing happens – “splitsville”.  I wish I could relocate them elsewhere to potty, but the snow everywhere else is super high. We just have to wait on the weather to change to get us out of these frigid temps, and a Poop Pit Thaw will be a happy thing!

THE POOP PIT

The only one thing that I fear is when all of this snow does actually start to thaw. Then we will have to deal with potential flooding, and we hope that does not happen.

For now, I will take & enjoy my slight sign of things changing, as it gives me hope that we are heading in the right direction – – – right out of this season, because I have officially cancelled my membership to Winter.

Mom hopes greeting cards will help ease her little boy’s pain

Nikitaland:

If this does not scream PAY IT FORWARD, I don’t know what else will. Let’s all send Joshuah some greeting cards to make him SMILE!

JOSHUAHS CARD

Originally posted on fox8.com:

[van id=”van/ns-acc/2015/03/03/NE-030TU_CNNA-ST1-100000000293239d”]

HOLLY, Michigan– A mom in Michigan is hoping greeting cards will help bring a smile to her little boy’s face.

According to WXYZ, the woman’s son, Joshuah, is battling cancer.

**Watch the video for more on his brave battle**

If you’d like to help brighten his day with a card, you can send it to:

Joshuah’s Journey

P.O. Box 120

Holly, Michigan   48442

The family also has a Go Fund Me page to help with Josh’s medical expenses. *Click here for more*

View original

Pay It Forward Differently

This is my third installment of our Pay It Forward program that we have partnered with our good friends over at Pig Love. If you are joining in with us, please link back your posts back to us! I have found over these past few months, that I am happier inside by doing good deeds, and that it is contagious. When you can see how happy it makes someone to receive your good deed, it is all worth it!

BELLA PIF1

I had a thought today. I was thinking about our Pay It Forward program that we are doing this year, you know the one where we ask everyone to head out into the world and do a good deed for someone to brighten their day! These deeds are random acts of kindness for the people that live in our area and neighborhoods.

Then I thought, what if our fellow bloggers, those whom we talk to every day through our blogs – what if one of them needed help? What if one of them needed help with something, but was afraid to ask for assistance?

All I have to say is, WE ARE HERE FOR YOU! If you are a blogger and need help with something, whether it be figuring out how to setup something on your blog, you don’t know how to create a button for your blog, you don’t know how to use a photo editor, or perhaps you need help in general. If you find yourself struggling with something, let us know. Perhaps you need to find someone to watch your dog or walk them for you, then ask! There might be a blogger in your area that could help you out! I could list out a million things that someone might need help with, but guess what, you are not alone, as someone can help you out! Are you under the weather? Then let us know – someone can send you some chicken soup! (see how this works)

The Pay It Forward program in my mind, does not necessarily have to be for perfect strangers ya know, it can also be used for us to help those we blog with every day and have created a lasting friendship with.

We all know lots of valuable information and we should start sharing it! For example, do you know of a great place to purchase office supplies at a reasonable rate? How about paper towels? Do you know where to get the best deals? Also, how about sharing with others what online photo apps do you use?  What ideas & awesome deals do you have that you can share?

We are here to help. Paying It Forward is a powerful and contagious thing. What have you done today to Pay It Forward?

Some of the Pay It Forward good deeds that we have completed in February are:

  • Still bringing up our neighbors garbage cans in all the snow that we have had (I know that they appreciate it a lot)
  • We made a huge snack bag for a police officer that is a good friend of ours when he was on duty. He texted us to say hello and said that he was hungry. We sprung into action and put together a snack bag with goodies for him to munch on and included a drink too. He swung by the house and picked it up and said that he was having a crazy busy night. He was so appreciative of our little gesture and drove away with a big smile on his face!
  • Shoveled our neighbors sidewalks and driveways

I am also working on another fun Pay It Forward idea too! I have designed little slips of paper to fit inside those small snack sized baggies with a note that says “Enjoy a free car wash on me!” “Just wanted to put a smile on your face today with this simple act of kindness. YOU deserve a smile today! Now, go ahead and Pay It Forward to someone else today & make them smile too!”  Then, of course, I will add the correct amount of change into each baggie for their free car wash and then tape these baggies to the money machine in each car wash bay.  Keep watching for my upcoming photographs on this PIF random act of kindness!

I actually got a random act of kindness done for me too, as I was sincerely surprised when Bacon mailed me a walnut & cranberry cake! It was delicious! It is not every day that we get a cake mailed to us, so this was the coolest surprise ever. Thank you Bacon for such a sweet gesture of kindness, my tummy thanks you!

We can all make a difference in the world today, even if it is just a smile, holding the door for someone, or returning a shopping cart back to the store for someone. Every good deed does make a difference.

Fast Forward

I wish there was a fast forward button on some magical remote that I can push to get us out of Winter already. I am truly beyond my tolerance of this white stuff. I have never recalled a month where so much snow has fallen and the temps were below zero for days in a row. It’s endless. Hence the yearning for that magical remote where I can fast forward us right out of this season.

SNOW FEB

Last night was the worst and coldest night I can remember. The dogs did not even want to go out in it, and I knew they “had” to go, but hesitated on asking to go out. Nikita and Bella chose not to sit by the back door like they usually do, rather they stayed on their pet beds all warm and cozy. Phew! That saved me the ten minutes it takes me to put on my snow pants, boots, hat, scarf, coat and gloves to take them out, not to mention I have to put their warm sweaters back on them too before we head outdoors.

SNOW FEB WHITEOUT

These temps and snow dumping has got to stop already. I can seriously see where one can get cabin fever or depressed seeing things like this on a daily basis, and it is understandable. I just feel really bad for those who have fallen in the snow while shoveling, got frost bite, or even died from these severe temperatures. It’s been rough dealing with it. I know I have had to call it quits many times while trying to clear off our driveway because I could not feel my fingers any longer, nor could I bend them to just open the back door to come in to get warmed up.

SNOW FEB UG

I have limited the dogs time outside too because their paws get frost bitten really quickly. If I could get them to wear little booties, I would, but I know that booties are not in our dogs future. When I am outside with them, I am always watching how they react and when I see them walking with a paw up in the air, it is time to head inside and fast.

TUG OF WAR BOOT

I know that the dogs are getting a little stir crazy from being cooped up in the house with all these frigid temps of late, so we always have play time activities like hide and seek, keep away from Bella, and tug-of-war games are always fun too. I normally don’t win any of these games, because Bella is always the one who sneaks off with the toy at hand. Nikita always gives up the toy to her, but loves the chase!

TUG OF WAR1

Gimme gimme gimme, this is my toy!

TUG OF WAR BELLA WON

I always get the toy in the end! LOL

NIKITA LOOKING FOR BELLA

Bella is hiding behind the couch as Nikita looks for her.

NAP AFTER TUG OF WAR

Nikita figures it is easier to let go of the toy some times, rather than chasing Bella for it. She knows that she will get it back sooner or later.

So what are you doing to keep yourself from going insane from being cooped up inside during these frigid temps? I see another game of hide and seek in the near future, but the dogs always find me hiding behind the bedroom door.

Finding Cleaning Products That Actually Work

At one time or another, we have all noticed areas in our house that needed cleaned. Perhaps a spot that we could never get cleaned, no matter what we tried. I had, yes I said had, one of those spots, but it is now clean!

I had this ugly calcium buildup that resided around the kitchen sink sprayer and no matter what I tried on it, no matter how hard I scrubbed, nothing worked. Until I found my miracle cleaner. I got so excited that this actually worked, and forgot to take a “before” photo, but trust me, it was a mess.

VINEGAR AND DAWN

Isn’t our new carpet so beautiful? (my Sweetie got this for us & I love it) What did I use you ask? Well here is my new found cleaning spray formula that makes our stainless steel kitchen sink sparkle with no more calcium buildup! I just took a spray bottle, filled it with white distilled vinegar and added a few drops of the blue Dawn Dish Liquid, then shook it up. I sprayed this solution all around the calcium buildup and let it sit. It only took a few minutes and I wiped off the vinegar & Dawn solution and all the calcium was gone!

CLEAN

The calcium buildup was all around the base of our sprayer, but not anymore! I bet you are reading this and thinking, “I should try this, because I have the same calcium buildup around my kitchen sink faucets too!” You should try it, because it works!

This same solution can be used in the bathtub too! Just spray it all over the bathtub and let it sit, for 30 minutes or so. Then wipe it off, and rinse. Now you have a clean bathtub!

Spring cleaning will be quickly upon us, but why wait til Spring to try this out? Do you have a cleaning solution that you use that you want to share?