Friday, July 10, 2015

Full Confession: I am no longer an organic gardener

After this past week I can no longer call myself an organic farmer. Sigh.

The Japanese beetles got me. I’ve put up with squash bugs and voles and those nasty invisible beetles that eat up my beans. And while we’ve had Japanese beetles before, I’ve never reached for the chemical weapons with any of them. I moved plants around, incentified the cats, and picked thousands of beetles off plants to drop them to their certain death in my bucket of dish soap.

But then last year happened. I wrote about it. It was devastating. They killed my peach and my nectarine trees, both of which were loaded with their first real crop. I was heartbroken. We ardently applied the milky spore – spent hundreds on it to be sure we treated all the ground around the gardens and fruit trees. We ordered new fruit trees and chalked the whole experience up to the difficult but noble pursuit of organic gardening.

And then I came home from my camping trip in June to find the Japanese beetles were back by the millions. They were devouring my grapes which had barely survived the onslaught last year. They had lived, but been reduced to the size they were the second year of their lives (they are eight this year). The beetles swarmed my gorgeous plum tree which was loaded with beautiful tiny purple plums for the first time ever. The raspberries and asparagus, even the rhubarb were swarmed by beetles.

What the heck? How did this happen? What about all that milky spore? Seems last year’s beetles must have sent out a message and it went viral and now all their friends and relatives had converged on our little hillside for a mass feast.

Saturday, June 6, 2015

Every Woman's Fantasy...

Quick! What’s every woman’s fantasy?

No, that’s not it. It’s a Roomba! A robotic vacuum cleaner.

Guess what?

I got one. Which means, technically, all my dreams have come true. This is pretty much accurate.

Shout out to my FIL and my little brother who pitched in Amazon loot for my birthday which enabled me to bring Ed home finally.

Here’s Ed.

How do I know his name is Ed?

When I told Nick his name was Ed, he asked how I knew that. I said, “It says it there, right on his top.” He said, “You mean P3?” 

(Men, they can ruin everything.)

I chose Ed after carefully considering the options within my budget and reading some of the 400 reviews on Amazon. (Seriously, there are more than 400 reviews of robotic vacuum cleaners on Amazon. Who are these people?) The part that really sold me was that when reviewers were talking about Ed, they always referred to the vacuum as “he”. As in, “He does really well on hardwood floors, but doesn’t like carpet quite as much.” And “My only complaint about him is that he can get stuck moving from hardwood to carpet and he only holds a charge about 35 minutes.” I wanted this vacuum who had so clearly carved a place in the hearts of these reviewers.

Ed was super easy to assemble, just needing me to attach his happy little brush that sweeps objects out of edges and into his path and also the dust cloth. Then the hard part came…I had to wait 16 hours for him to charge up his rechargeable batteries! (It only took that long the first time, subsequently, he was much quicker to get back in the game.)

When he was all charged up, I prepped the kitchen. I removed the mats near the door and picked up larger items like shoes, baseball hats, dogs, and dice (I have a kid with a serious D&D habit, so there are dice in every nook and cranny of my house). Then I put the chairs up on the table and counter. 

(My children did such a great job removing all their crap from the table, just like I asked. Ahem.)

Thursday, April 30, 2015

My Ten Rules for Healthy Eating and Cooking

Last night I finished teaching a six week class on Healthy Cooking for the Community Education program of our school district. It was great fun and forced me to truly examine my own beliefs about healthy cooking.

Let’s first toss aside a few incorrect assumptions.

Healthy cooking is not about losing weight, although if you truly cook in a healthy way your weight will naturally find its way to a healthy number that works for your body.

Healthy cooking is not about using “light” ingredients. It’s about using real ingredients –the kind that heal and grow your body. Many times these ingredients are anything but light.

Healthy cooking does not mean bland, boring food. On the contrary, it means exploring all kinds of taste sensations. It means cooking fabulous food that you LOVE to eat.

At last night’s class I shared my ten rules for Healthy Cooking. I’ll share them with you now. (and if you want to learn more about these rules, be sure to sign up for my class in the fall!)

Ten Rules of Healthy Cooking and Eating:

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up or How to Make Your Sock Drawer Look Like Mine!

I’ve just finished reading a book, I have to write about. Even as I made notes and underlined and laughed while reading it, I thought, “I can’t wait to blog about this….”

I need to qualify all that I’m about to write by saying, this woman is nuts. But it’s a good nuts. Pretty much every chapter had me shaking my head and muttering, “What a lunatic,” but I said it with a smile on my face. I adore this woman and her ideas. I just wouldn’t ever want to live with her.

The book is The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up: the Japanese art of decluttering and organizing by Marie Kondo. Maybe you’ve heard of it? It’s been all over the news lately. It’s a small book that’s selling like hot cakes.

Most of us are enamored with the idea of organizing our stuff, but this book goes beyond that. It preaches that you get rid of huge amounts of your belongings – anything that doesn’t “spark joy.”

I loved this concept that we should only wear clothing that sparks joy for us and we should only keep things in our home that spark joy in our lives. Sure, there’s the stuff you need that maybe doesn’t spark a lot of joy – a spatula, the paper-towel holder, the sheets for the guest room bed – but it’s something to strive for. My teenage daughter has a ladle on her Amazon wishlist that is shaped like the Lochness monster. She loves it. It sparks joy. Maybe it will grace her kitchen someday. She also has a tea infuser that looks like a shark swimming around your cup as it makes your tea. My kid definitely gets the sparks joy concept.

I’ve been trying in recent years not to bring anything in to my house that I don’t really love. No furniture to serve a purpose – it needs to be something that makes me happy.

Our living room is large, there’s room in there for lots of furniture, but currently there is only a couch (it sparks a tiny flicker of joy only because my mom recovered it for me and I remember that fun weekend, but it’s filthy and it’s days are numbered, but it’s the only real seating left in the room, so there it is.), a coffee table (which does spark some joy because Nick refinished it and it’s functional, simple, and pretty), and the dog’s recliner (an ugly, worn out, hand-me-down recliner that our incredibly untrainable dog sleeps on most nights – we hold on to it so that she won’t get on the other furniture.). I know we need some seating, but I’ve yet to find anything I can afford that even remotely sparks joy.

We moved the screened porch furniture in for the winter, so for now there’s lots of seats, but as soon as it warms up that room will be barren again. No matter – I’m not buying anything until I find the furniture that speaks to me. Kondo backs me up on this and I love her for it.

When it comes to clothing, Kondo spends almost half the book on her system.

Friday, March 20, 2015

Two Fabo-licious New Recipes

Sorry, I can’t stay away. I know I said I wouldn’t be blogging very often on this site, but it’s only been a week or so and I’m already back! Not writing has turned out to be more stressful than writing. So this is just a quick fix.

I have to share with you two new recipes I’ve developed this week that are total yum, relatively healthy, and super easy.


The first is a recipe for Whole Wheat Flaxseed Oyster Crackers. That’s a terrible name, so let’s call them Healthy Oyster Crackers That Also Make a Great Snack. Okay, not much better. You can name them whatever you want. 

Healthy Crackers In Need of a Name

1 cup whole wheat flour
1 cup white flour
¼ cup flaxseed meal
2 teaspoons salt
2 teaspoons baking powder
6 Tablespoons butter (cut into small pieces)
2/3 cup warm water

Tuesday, March 3, 2015

First, Let Me Explain.....

Maybe you’ve wondered why I haven’t written as much lately (or maybe you haven’t noticed). Here is my litany of excuses and my plan for this blog moving forward.

Excuse Number One: I signed a book deal for my womens fiction so I am finally writing for real. This is a good thing. Truly. I am following my arrow. The awesome people at StoryPlant are making it happen!

Excuse Number Two: There’s only so many times you can write about starting seedlings, which is what I’d planned to write about this week. The thing is – I’ve written about starting seedlings before and before that and then I wrote about seed starting mediums. So instead of wasting my time and yours, check out those links. That said, I will probably never run out of things to say that have to do with a Kid Friendly Organic Life. And just in case you’re wondering, here’s one of my Sophie's Choice seedlings  coming along: