Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Picture of the day

As you can see I have been busy. My starts are starting to raise up to the sky! Oregon weather is finally staying in the 50's and this week should peek to the 60's. Woot woot!

Sunday, March 27, 2011

$50 a week

New Season's

$1.97 Bulk Dishwashing Powder
$2.99 5lb bag of organic russet potatoes
$2.99 3lb bag of pink ladies apples (cheaper to get the bag this time)
$2.49 Organic Navel Oranges (99 cents per pound sale)
$2.19 Dozen Vegetarian free range eggs
$3.98 Nitrate free bacon pieces (had to ask because they were not in the deli case.. $2.99 per lb)
.79     Organic yellow onion
$4.99 Gallon of organic milk

TOTAL minus bag credit $22.29

Whole Foods

$7.99 Liquid Amino's 32 oz (basically soy sauce but healthy and 50% less sodium plus YUMMY)
$1.49 Sunshine hormone free half n half
$2.69Mother's butter 1 lb (usually $2.99 but was on sale)
$1.13 Boc Choy (1.49 per lb)
$1.47 Fair Trade Banana's (69 cents per lb)
Bag donation was donated.

TOTAL 28.77


$3.24 Bulk White Rice (.47 per lb)
$1.48 Natural Cough Drops
.05 bag credit
TOTAL $4.65


$12.90 10  2lb bags of hash browns
I should state that these are my husband's favorite hashbrowns and Grocery Outlet doesn't always carry them so when I find them I buy a ton of them.  These are 2lb bags so 20 lbs of hashbrowns should last us a month or so.  I dislike the fact they come in plastic bags but I do recycle them. Uggg

$18.60 over budget

I am way over budget but I have a happy husband. I could of passed on the butter because I didn't look to see if we had any and I never want to run out.  They were also on sale so I snagged one anyways.  But I  still would of been over budget.  Oh well .  Nuff said.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Garden Progress March 2011

Yeah I know its been a while. Thursday of last week I thought I came down with a cold. Well turns out I have hay fever and I have been dealing with that since then.  Thanks Lisa Sharp for bringing that to my attention.  For some reason it never occurred to me because I have never had hay fever before. So all week I have been doubling up on my allergy medicines and drinking lots of nettle tea. The problem is that I forget to take my medicine all the time which leads to me suffering more. I suck.

Oh yeah today was a good day. I was able to use my new rubber boots that my best friend scored a deal for me. $11 is a good deal if you ask me. I played in the mud and enjoyed every single minute of it.

Remember that wire I snagged from my grandma's place? Well today I put them to use with my twins. We wired them together into circles, filled the sides with leaves n such to keep the soil in and then planted potatoes into them. I have been stashing small finger potatoes, purple potatoes and russet potatoes (all organic) in my pantry and they finally were ready to plant. This is my first time planing in above the ground so we will see how it turns out. This option should make it easier to harvest later. Yeah for no more digging up potatoes!!!
I decided to put my tall wire things (name?) in the center of my garden beds. I will be planting beans and pea's to grow up them. I am trying to use up every single space in these garden beds.
I snagged this small wooden box thing from grandma's wood shed.  Not sure what they used it for but I decided to plant some marigold's and alysums in them.  Should be interesting....
I finally moved my poppy plant in the front yard by my strawberries.  My truck needs the space so I have been moving all the plants to other places so we can fill that area in with gravel.  When I moved the poppy I found this small poppy baby. Perfect time to move it because it's been the 3rd wettest March on record here in Oregon.  They look like they will make the move just fine.  Excited to see how large they get this year.

Last year my father in law moved into a home and this fountain was there. He ended up giving it to us so we dragged the heavy thing home. We put a new water pump in it and had it up and running for a while but issues came up.  I noticed slime and the pump getting clogged from my twins putting organic matter in the water.  So this year I decided to turn it into a garden feature instead of a water feature. It turned out better than I thought it would and I can't wait until the plants fill in more.
My last photo is just a fun one. My plum tree is in full bloom and I just love these tiny little blossoms.  Its photo's like this one that make me love my camera that much more. Love close shots . Have a nice day!

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Monthly budgeting questions

I have been getting many questions about my monthly budget and how it exactly works. So today I thought I would break it down for you and hopefully you can get some inspiration from it.   Here we go!

My husband get's paid only once a month so I have to really budget my money or we will be up a creek if we don't.  I head on up to the bank and withdraw $600.  I immediately set aside $50 for 4 weeks which is a total of $200. This is for my $50 weekly food budget that I use to keep fresh seasonal items in the house.
 I then head on over to Winco to fill up on bulk items that I still cannot find cheaper or local. I know that Winco helps people with their super cheap prices but I just don't like to shop there for a few reasons.
-Produce is not organic or local
-Only has a few local company product options
-Not many organic products
-Plastic bags are the norm there.
-Crazy busy and way too many people for me.
-Not many products in glass containers
-Will not allow you to bring your own container for meat etc.
-Meat selection has no non hormone/nitrate free options
-Etc need I go on?
I am almost ready to stop going there but I have just a few things I still cannot find cheaper alternatives to. Rice and cheese is my biggest problem. I can get rice in the bulk section for .50 cents per pound or up to $1.50 per pound for organic. This is way cheaper than Whole Foods or New Seasons. I am pricing it out on Azure later to see if I can find rice in larger quantities.  But until then I buy my rice from Winco. I usually will pick up about 6 pounds of white rice and 4 pounds of brown rice because this will allow me to only shop at Winco once a month.

My next problem is cheese. I have a love hate relationship with cheese. I really really love love cheese of all kinds. I DISLIKE all the plastic involved. So I either need to learn how to make it or just get over it. Ugg. So I buy about 6 pounds of assorted cheese blocks. I will figure out if bulk or name brand is cheaper and go with the cheaper one. Sorry but I just cannot live without cheese. Not happening.

I also pick up my dog food from Winco. She is on a raw food diet due to all her allergies and Winco has the cheapest meat around besides a butcher which i'm still deciding on whether or not to check them out. 88 cents per pound is a steal. This does not come out of my food budget but out of our main account. I buy animal fat for her and also eggs as well.  None of this is organic because honestly we just can't afford it. I love my dog but I love my kids more. Sorry Riley....Anyways my dog isn't picky about what type of meat or part  of the animal so if I find a deal somewhere else then I buy it. I just scored some chicken skin (with meat) for 50 cents per pound and some beef fat for 25 cents a pound. I randomly went into Albertson's (which I never shop at) and asked the meat counter guy if they sold it and he off loaded a ton to me. I think he was happy about it and actually said they throw it out sometimes.
So rice, cheese, and things like that I pick up at Winco.   They do have a bag credit of 5 cents for bringing in your own bag but honestly I rarely see people doing it. Its mostly those damn plastic toxic bags. UURRR.

The left over money from my Winco trip is use to get by as long as possible.  The longer I put off using my $50 weekly money the better. The money I save can be used for other things we normally wouldn't be doing. Maybe pizza one night or maybe ice cream. I do need to mention that my monthly budget money also pays for anything the kids might need.  All my Goodwill trips, random things the school will require my daughter to get, shoe's, laundry items, etc. I also will order or go in on somethings from Azure from time to time. If they have a killer deal on produce I get ours through them.  My friend will sometimes want me to go in on a rather large item so we can both save money. For example we usually share a 50 pound bag of organic flour for $30. We each will pay $15 and split it up at her house. This is a killer deal.

Now onto my weekly $50 budget and meals. I usually will Facebook about what I make for dinner and how much it will cost to make it each week.  I have had some inquiries about some items not being in my weekly $50 groceries or what not. The $50 is for the fresh in season items. Items like milk, butter, produce, or anything that I run out of and need now.  Because I do my once a month shopping for things like rice, I don't need to buy it because I already did.  I do factor that in when I do my total for the meal though. Make sense? So if you don't see it in the $50 a week picture its because I bought it in the beginning of the month. I also get some free produce from a friend once in a while which you will know because I always give her a shout out. Thanks Theresa!!

The rest of the month I shop at New Season's, Whole Foods and Trader Joe's in that order once a week. New Season's has the best produce and meat  prices, Whole Foods has cheaper half n half and sells particular things I need, and Trader Joe's has the cheapest snack items. All of these stores are within a few miles from me and I only hit them up once a week and usually on a Sunday so I can leave the kids at home and actually think when I buy. Who would of thought? Thinking??? Crazy notion I know.

Now i'm not perfect but this is a plan that works for my family of 6.  Thinking about it now my actual total amount for food each month is only around $400 or so.  I should really sit down and write things down but i'm not that organized.  Actually i'm surprised I stick to a budget as well as I do.  Honestly its pretty pathetic how forgetful I really am. Just ask my husband. This plan keeps me from going to the store very often which makes me happy because I hate shopping.

One thing that I do not do when I shop is write a list down.  You see the thing about buying in season to save money is that it's always new things each week. One week its oranges on sale, the next it's apples. You just never know. If I stick to a list I spend more money.  You save more money using what is in season and on sale.  We like it because each meal is different and meals don't get boring.  I always try something new each week as well so the kids are excited to try new things out.  Last week it was dandelion greens (which we loved) and this week its marinated tofu which will be used tonight. All this enables me to save money and keep it fun and exciting.

Hopefully this answers some of your questions but if not feel free to leave your questions in a comment below. I will answer them as quickly as I can. Thanks!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Green Review One With Nature,Giovanni, and Collective Well Being

One With Nature

One With Nature is a company that makes everything from soaps, lotions, body wash, and hand wash products which are all made using salts/muds from the dead sea. They have been saying for centuries that the mud/salt from The Dead Sea have therapeutic properties that heal your skin. This goes all the way back to Cleopatra.  You can find One With Nature in just about any all natural store there is. Retails for $4.49 each bar of soap.

My Review 

Although the company is aware that The Dead Sea is shrinking at one meter per year,  they continue to use its resources. Yes they are working with a organization that is leading a international effort to investigate and promote large scale efforts but I feel its not enough. To me they are into profits more than conversationship.

But I do have to give credit where credit is due. My review is on their Dead Sea Mud soap.  This soap is pretty amazing. It leaves my hands super soft, clean and leaves a nice smell. The soap is triple milled and last a long time. It's not like those homemade soaps that dissolve into the bath and melt away in just a week.  The small bar I have is in our bathroom by the sink and has been there for about 3 months now.  It is a sample bar so its only about 1 inch wide and 3 inches wide. Imagine if you had the full size bar? This soap would be good for washing your hands after working in the garden or even doing some engine work. Yes its that good.

That being said would I recommend this product? If and only if you live near The Dead Sea. Otherwise no.


I have done a review for Giovanni before and was excited to try their hair care products this time.  This is a somewhat local company to me which is good. All their products are made in California except for the lip balm which is made in Mexico.  None of their products contain SLS, SLES, Phthalates, artificial or synthetic fragrances.  They also don't test their products on animals and are vegan.  They unfortunately not gluten free.  The company prints a expiration date on each product and state that each product has a 3 year shelf life. Most companies do not do this step.

My Review

Would I recommend this product? If you live in the West then yes. If you live somewhere in the East I would start researching to find a local company to you.  I used the shampoo/conditioner for damaged hair because I was able to snag a sample from Whole Foods. I do color my hair so I was excited to see if it would bring a little life into it which it did. It had a lovely light scent which was not over powerful at all.  My hair felt nice and soft with no added weight to it. When my hair was dry it was still super soft with no frizz.  I usually take bath's and didn't notice any oily stuff or weird discoloration on the surface of the water which meant that everything in the conditioner was going straight into my hair. This is a all around great product. Would I recommend this product? Yes especially if you live in the West where its local.

Collective Well Being

This is my first review of Collective Well Being products. Collective Well Being was founded in 2004 after more than three years of three years of development with some of the best dermatologists, microbiologists, green chemists and naturopaths, Collective Wellbeing was born.  They were the first company to have made its entire product range paraben-free,  and were the first to develop an effective acne treatment that has no benzoyl peroxide, hydrogen peroxide or artificial fragrance.  They also have a zero carbon footprint and is the first beauty products company to have pledged at least 1% of annual revenues to environmental non-profits. Retail cost is $12.50. Now that being said onto my review.

My Review

My review is of their Camellia/Sea Kelp  Partner in Shine.  I washed towel dried my hair as usual then put some of this in my hair as directed.  I combed my hair then used my hair dryer to dry all my hair.  I was pretty  disappointed by the results.  I didn't see any new shine to my hair and if anything it made my hair frizz. There also was no hold what so ever. Only thing I could see that it did was help my hair smell a tad bit better.  Yes my hair still felt nice and moisturized which is its claim to fame.  It was no worst or better so again felt like it did nothing.  Maybe I need to use this for a while before I see results? In that case its not worth the money then. I need quick results which this did none.
Would I recommend this product? No.  So save your $12 because your better off just putting olive oil in your hair and getting quick results. Oh and plus if you have it in your house already, its free.

Saturday, March 12, 2011

$50 a week

New Season's

$4.99 Organic Whole Milk
$4.99 5lb bag of organic carrots
$4.69 Minneola Tangerine's (in season so they are 99 cents per lb)
$2.29 Organic Rainbow Chard
$1.48 Bulk Peppermint Tea (much cheaper when bought in bulk vs in prebagged)
$1.54 Anise Seed (using in tea for sore throats)
$2.19 Vegetarian Fed White Eggs

Total with bag refund=$22.22  

Whole Food's

$3.58 Organic Crushed Tomatoes Canned 2 total
$1.49 Hormone free half n half
$4.99 Tofu (this is our fun purchase. Marinated tofu!)
$1.10 Organic Honey Tangerine (on sale for 99 cents per lb. they were as small as a walnut. FUN!)

Also pictured but not listed is 2 banana's and one orange which the girls got for free using their WF kids card. Sweet deal!

Total $10.86

Trader Joe's

$3.98 White Cheddar Puffs 2 bags
$1.29 Sweet Chili Sauce (super yummy! Plus comes in glass so it can be recycled)
$1.99 Gorgonzola Crackers
$1.99 12 Grain Crackers
$1.29 Organic Fusilli Pasta
$1.29 Organic Penne Pasta



I ended up using a gift card with some money still on it and also returned a book I had purchased so my total was actually a but less than what you see.  It actually only cost me $38.65 which is a sweet deal!!! I did forget to check my pantry before I left which resulted in me buying sweet chili sauce when we didn't really need it. That's okay though because we use it on just about everything.  Once again i'm still using up all that sausage I bought 2 weeks ago so I didn't have to buy any meat again. Again saving me money down the long run. Worth scraping by that week for sure! 

Look what we had for lunch today. Organic Penna pasta with yam(Thanks Theresa!), carrot, fennel(again thanks Theresa!), sausage crumbles and a simple white sauce.  Topped it off with fresh parsley and fennel sprigs (thanks Theresa!). Super yummy savory and sweet. Total cost= $2.54 Picture is of the pasta after 6 people already ate. It makes a ton of food.

Earlier in the day my husband bought a truckload of organic compost for $20.  My 10 year old daughter Hailey helped me unload all the dirt into one of the garden beds. We thought one truckload would be enough for the two beds but as you can see it didn't. It was pouring down raining when we did this and as you can see by the picture I was getting stuck in the mud several times. After we came inside and cleaned up it stopped raining. Go figure!

Oh looky what I have here!  Whole Foods has organic certified Botanical Interest seeds for sale and I couldn't resist.  The carrots will be fun for the kids to grow and the tomatoes are all me. Yummy!!!!

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Scappoose Bread Place and Thrift Shop

I have been telling people for a long time about this little place called The Bread Store.  This little place is tucked away on the side of Highway 30 and they only way you can find it is by the tiny little white sign that sits on the side of the highway.  If your headed north up Highway 30 its on your left just before Fred Meyers. If your headed South out of Scappoose its on your right just after the light by Fred Meyers.  Look for the tiny white sign that says "Bread Place". Honestly I tried to find their address but wasn't able to get it.   If you live near Scappoose or within 10 miles of it then you must stop by. They are open Monday through Saturday 10am-2pm.

Bread Place is a little place that gives away bread products for free. Its operated by elderly volunteers each day who love to talk about the weather or just about anything if you stand long enough by them.  You see stores give their day old breads to this place.  Anyone can stop by and get some free bread items and all they ask in return is for a small donation.  Anything you have is just fine. Sometimes I only have one dollar and some days I give more. They don't ask for any certain amount, just what you can afford or nothing if you can't afford it. They also have you sign a paper with your name on it so they can keep track of how many people they help each day.

You can get anything from bread, rolls, hamburger buns, bagels, English muffins and sometimes yummy pastries. Sometimes they set limits on what you can have. For example today they limited it to only one free wheat bread loaf.  I was able to get 2 loaves of bread, one English muffin, one pack of small cinnamon bagels,    
a bag of hoagie rolls and a box of pastries. Pretty good for only $1 don't ya think?  They have plastic bags if you need them but if your green like me you bring your own.

Best part is that if you go during the summer, there is usually free produce.  Most the seniors and regulars bring in and donate produce from their gardens. Anyone can donate and they even have a refrigerator if you need it.  I get many apples, cucumbers and very large zucchini there.  Its just amazing how generous people are even when they don't have much money themselves.  Sometimes you will even find the random can of food, canning supplies and even spices. People just donate anything food related and some lucky person gets to take it home.

All profits from donations are given to the senior center and also put gas into the truck they use to go get the bread from stores.  Its a great place which has a good cause. But it gets better. You see they also have a thrift shop in the very same parking lot. SWEET!!!

The building next to Bread Place is the Thrift Shop which is open Monday through Friday 10am-4pm and Saturday 10am-2pm.  You can find anything you need in this store and sometimes even the kitchen sink.  Again this place is operated by elderly volunteers.  They paint the place (they were doing that today), dust it, clean it, organize it and ring you out.  My favorite part is that it's priced to get rid of it. Unlike Goodwill who sometimes wants more than its worth, this place just wants to sell it and make money.  All profits from this place also go to the seniors.  They even have a public bathroom which is unheard of in places anymore.

Meet Beverly.  She just happened to ring me and my mom out today.  Thank you Beverly for letting me take your picture even though you hate getting your picture taken.  You really are a beautiful lady and should be in more pictures.  As you can see the volunteers are lovely people who are there to help you with anything you need.  I recommend taking your own bags but if you forgot them they also have plastic ones for you.  Also take in anything you need to donate. Sometimes I take in a bag or two of stuff and come out with a bag or two of stuff. Today I bought a good jump rope and some sew on snaps from the early 50's.  I spent a whopping 70 cents for the both of them. Whahoo! This is a sturdy wooden handle and cotton rope jump rope too. Not one of those plastic cheap ones. Anyways I just love these two places and I visit them once a week. The people are amazing and the prices are fantastic.
 It's worth the drive for sure. I have been coming here for 3 years now but  moved away from this place and I still drive the 20 minutes to go there. It saves me money and i'm glad the money I donate goes to wonderful people. Its a win win if you ask me.

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Rubber gloves, oil and dirty knees

Get your head out of the gutter people!  I'm here to show you how to oil up your wooden garden beds. I really wanted to paint my garden beds bright colors but couldn't find any no VOC paint near me so opted to just use boiled linseed oil.
Linseed oil is a classic wood finish and natural protectant that is produced from the seed of the flax plant and processed so that it will dry faster than raw linseed oil.  Boiled linseed oil protects and seals unfinished wood surfaces and produces a beautiful hand-rubbed finish on fine wood and antiques.  Or in my case a wooden garden bed.

Before you start using the oil please read the directions carefully. Do not store near heat and use rubber gloves when handling it.  My husband had this idea to put some coffee grounds into the oil and maybe it would add a natural color to it. I found some vanilla flavored coffee grounds in the freezer and just used those. Didn't like the taste of the coffee at all so I put it in the freezer for just this type of occasion.  I grabbed some old wash clothes and cut them in half so I could use them to rub the oil on the wood.

I started off by using a old Tupperware bowl to put the oil in.  I thought that this was way too much but I was wrong. This stuff goes on forever! I added some coffee grounds and let it sit for a few minutes while I made sure there was no dirt around the edges of my garden bed.

I started taking my time rubbing in the oil as much as I could. I quickly realized there was no need to take my time because the wood sucked up that wood super fast.  I honestly don't think the coffee grounds did anything at all.  But hey it was worth a try.  I did the outside pretty good then did the inside as well.
The inside I did a pretty heavy coat on because the fact that it will be filled with a ton of dirt.  I did get a bit of mud mixed in but instead of darkening the oil it just prevented the oil from soaking into the wood. So make sure all mud/dirt is away from the oil.
I finally finished one!  As you can tell from the pictures, its very different.  Not the cool vibrant color I wanted but still pretty.  I will have to put off doing the second one because I have to take my girls to school.  Both will be done today because it will be raining again tomorrow and they need oil now or the wood will get wet and I will have to wait for another day of no rain.  In Oregon who knows when that will be.
Has we used cedar for this project it would of been pretty expensive.  Even with using Fir and buying oil, it was still way cheaper.  Next we will be getting organic dirt delivered and hopefully by then the weather warms up and I can start planting.  Woot woot!!
Now i'm off to sit and do nothing.  My back is killing me and i'm feeling pretty old right about now.

Monday, March 7, 2011

$50 a week plus garden time

Last week I bought 32 sausage links from New Season's so there was no need for any meat this week.  Normally I would not buy that much but it was New Season's anniversary sale and they were only $1.99 per pound which is unheard of.  So this week I had a little wiggle room for new things. Here  we go!

New Season's

$4.99 Gallon of organic whole milk
$3.99 Organic Yogurt
$2.42 Organic Apples
$1.35 Cramini Mushrooms
$1.03 Organic Onion
$2.29 Red Chard
$2.99 Red Dandelion -no idea what to do with them but should be fun.
$2.19 Dozen vegetarian fed  eggs
$1.99 Wheat Grass-will add this juice we fresh squeeze.

TOTAL minus 10 cent bag credit $23.14


$1.49 Hormone free half n half
$2.89 Fair Trade Banana's
$2.99 Sea fresh Toothpaste-was half price!

Total $7.37


$2.49 Sliced Ham
$2.99 Sliced smoked turkey
$2.58 Two bags of organic fusilli pasta
$2.58 Two bags of organic penne pasta
.99 one head of lettuce
$1.69 Dried mango-will use this in a salad

TOTAL $13.32

I had a gift card I needed to use up so I found 2 lovely bottles of wine to take home. One was a Moscato wine (YUMMY!) for $3.99 and some what locally made in California.  And the other bottle is a organic Sparkling wine for $4.99 from Spain which was recommended.

TOTAL $43.83  
Under budget WHAHOO!!!

Today I was lucky enough to have a garden buddy. We went to work making the soil level between these garden beds.  We have some more to go but we managed to get most of it done.
We also filled in some holes that the neighbors dog had dug up trying to get to our dog. When we built this fence the neighbors dog was able to get in our yard and play with our dog. They had a week of playing, and laying in the grass together. When we finished the fence the dogs were not happy.  And how I have holes in the dirt around my fence. Well until today.  Good news is that the raspberries I thought didn't survive the winter did end up surviving. WOOT!

Last but not least we were able to get some more starts going in the greenhouse. It was a sunny 65 degrees in there which felt really good. Lately its been so darn cold here in Oregon that this greenhouse feels like a sauna. Love it.

Sunday, March 6, 2011

Garden beds and tee pee's

While I was at Goodwill searching for pottery plates I stumbled upon these little guys.  They are handmade from my favorite type of pottery and best part was they cost me only 99 cents each.  They do make a cute couple don't they? These will be my garden buddies. Love this.

It was a crazy day for me today.  While I took my daughter to her soccer game my husband built me some garden beds. Last year I had just rows of soil and I had to battle slugs the entire growing season.
We were going to make these from cedar but cedar has gone up in price and would of been super expensive to make them.  So we decided to make them out of fir instead.  $388 or $200? Yeah I think I will take the $200 option. But now that they are made of fir we have to decide what to paint them with. Oil them up or paint them a color. I think I will be painting them some vibrant colors to spice my garden up. My next challenge is finding non toxic paint I can use for outside and what colors to choose. A work in progress....

When I finally did get home I went right to work on  my tee pee.  I decided to put it there because I didn't want to block the living room tall window and my daughters bedroom window.  Along this wall of our house will soon be cattle fencing hung from the gutters and I will be planting runner beans and pea's. This should shade our wall and keep my house much cooler during the summer.  My hammock will be staying right where it is and I can lay on it and read my book while the girls play in the back yard.  

As you can see I did a simple tee pee.  I was too lazy to get directions so I just sorta fumbled my way through it.  I took 4 bamboo poles ( free from my Grandma's place) and one roll of cotton string I found at the dollar store.  I simply wrapped the string around it at the top and then around the poles slowly going down to the ground level.  I left the front open so my girls can go inside and play. I can't wait till they can do that.  I added dirt to the bottom around the base and will be adding some organic bark inside so the kids won't have to play on the dirt floor.  I then planted runner pea's all along the bottom just under the string and bush beans on the outer rim of the dirt.  Should turn out pretty cool.  

Soon this greenhouse will be completely filled with starts. I need to get all my garden items out of there this week and get to work on more starts.  Today it was 65 degrees in there and felt like summer compared to outside. I can only imagine how hot it will be in there later in the growing season.  I plan on being there a lot so if I don't answer my phone you know where to go.
My lilac tree in my front side yard didn't bloom last year for some reason.  Either its skipping a year or dying. Not sure whether I am keeping it or not. As you can see it has buds so it is alive. Maybe....

Not sure if you can see him or not but on the tip top of this tree is Mr.Hummingbird.  Each time I go outside in the front he talks to me.  Well today while I was doing my yard work he decided to hang out in my neighbors tree.  I think he was giving me pointers on what to do.  Or telling me what I was doing wrong. It's kinda nice having a friend hang out with me.  

And to end things off here is a picture of one of my bulbs that finally decided to bloom.  Can't wait for my mom to come by and see all my flowers because her favorite color is yellow. 

Friday, March 4, 2011

March NW Gardening

Did you know that in March the Chinese celebrate the birthday of Mother Earth? To celebrate why don't you plant something you normally wouldn't plant. Happy Birthday Mother Earth!

Here in the northwest you need to be careful what you plant this month.  Only hearty plants can be planted and survive. March is a mean month. What I mean by that is that each day is different. Just when you think its warm enough you wake up to a frost and your plants were killed.  Your better off growing indoors or in your greenhouse for now.  Some plants can tolerate freezing temperatures for a few days  but in order for them to thrive, night temperatures should be in the high 40's or 50 degrees F.

You can sow some plants right now but just be careful and do slug patrol once in a while.  Because it is cold plants will germinate slowly. Here is a list of things you can grow in the Northwest.

Vegetables Herbs

Carrot Family-Brussels Winter, Turnip Rooted, Cilantro, Fennel, Sweet Cicely and parsley.
Mustard Family-Arugula, Cress, Radishes, Turnips and Oriental Greens.
Beet Family-Spinach, and many Swiss Chard
Pea Family-Fenugreek, Snap Peas, Snow Peas, Shelling Peas, and Garbanzo Beans
Flax Family-Golden Flax
Purslane Family-Minor's Lettuce

Late march
The first spuds can go in the ground as well as Jerusalem Artichoke.  These tubers grow underneath the soil, getting good growth before they emerge in April.  Sunflowers can be planted.

Sow under a cloche

Cloche is a transparent cover which protects your plants from the cold and speeds up germination and growth.  Some people use glass bell shaped containers which is my favorite because its so pretty. But you can use anything you want.  A clear plastic wrap would be just fine.

Vegetables and herbs

Carrot Family-Carrots and Parsley
Mustard Family-Arugula, Broccoli, Cabbage, Chinese Cabbage, Mustard, Radishes and Oriental Greens.
Sunflower Family-Endive, Lettuce, Salsify, Scorzonera and Shungiku.

Sow Indoors to Transplant

Works wonders whether its a greenhouse or just a bright windowsill. If you didn't get your starts going last month you still have time using this method. Picture above I found on the internet and fell in love with.

Vegetables and Herbs

Onion Family-Chives, Garlic Chives, Broadleaf Chives, Leeks, and Green Onions.
Carrot Family-Celeriac, Celery, Cutting Celery, Finnocchio, and Parsley.
Mustard Family-Broccoli, Cabbage, and Cauliflower.
Beet Family-Good King Henry and New Zealand Spinach.
Buckwheat Family-Garden Sorrel and Rhubarb.
Mint Family-Anise Hyssop, Marjoram, Summer Savory, Perilla, lemon Anise Hyssop, and Lemon Balm.
Nightshade Family-Sweet Peppers, Hot Peppers, Slicing Tomatoes, Cherry Tomatoes, Paste Tomatoes, Tomatillo, Ground Cherry and Garden Huckleberry.

My greenhouse is slowly getting filled. I have many Chards growing, Broccoli, Lettuce, and carrots all beginning to see some growth.  I really need to get my butt out there and get more starts going.  I also  need to get my pea teepee going this week.  The above picture is not my garden but just an example of what mine will look like. The picture is of Scarlet Beans which I will be growing in my garden this year. They are so pretty.  I cannot wait till my girls get to play inside the teepee.  Its a fun way to get my girls involved in gardening and make them feel as if they are a part of this whole gardening experience.

So my garden ready friends, what are you starting this month? So you use a cloche? If so which method do you use?

Thursday, March 3, 2011

While I was away....

I am a happy person. I go through life looking at the positive and embracing it all. I try my best to happy 100% of the time so my children can see how exciting life really is.  I want them to grow up seeing life as a open book and you should take advantage of every part of it.  But these last six months have been really hard for me personally yet I still keep a smile on my face .  Its really hard for me sometimes. I just keep telling myself  to smile and let my girls see that even though life is tough sometimes you really can get through it.  I just hope my girls can see the sun through all these storms.

For the last week or so we have been backing up our laptop.  We should of done it a long time ago and feel pretty stupid for not doing it sooner.  We lost so many good pictures and personal security when our other laptop was stolen. Lesson learned.

So I have been keeping myself busy with other things.

I planted lots of things in my greenhouse.  We have had lots of cold weather here so it took them a while to finally push through the soil.  This year I decided to use egg crates for my starts. They were free and are biodegradable.

As you can see, my greenhouse is still being used for storage. When the weather warms up I will be moving these to their new homes.  Then these shelves you see will be filled with lots of plants.

I finally replaced all my traditional store bought mugs with handmade ones I found in thrift stores. My goal is to replace all my dinner ware with handmade stuff. Each piece will be different and unique. It has to be a certain type of pottery too. None of that lightweight type you can paint yourself in those small shops. This stuff has to be heavy weight, tight clay, and signed pieces.  Mugs are easy to find and I replaced them all with no issues at all.

I almost peed my pants when I found all of these.  Bowls are harder to find and I usually find them one at a time.  The stack on the right I found in one day and they were all made by the same person. Someone named "Dale" put lots of time into them.  I spent $15 on them and they are worth way more.  These would be about $15 each if I bought them from the person directly or at stores. You may insert drool here.

This lovely thing here is a fondue pot I believe.  I paid around $4 for this at Goodwill.  They marked each one  a separate price which I pointed out to them that they were made by the same person. They didn't budge on the price but honestly I didn't care one bit. I wanted it. Bad. Its mine. It is used as a gravy boat now. My next challenge is to replace all our plates. This will take me a while because its rare to find handmade plates at all.  So far I have found one small, one medium and two very large plates.  Pictures to follow as soon as I complete the set.

Look what I found recently.  Remember those small cotton tomatoes that your mother put her pin's into? Well this is the new and improved one. They call it the Heirloom Tomato Pin Cushion. There are a few great things about this. A local company makes these here in Portland Oregon. Win! Its made with organic cotton yarn. Win! And I found it for 75% off. Win!! Check Machetedes out on their Etsy Shop.  Maybe pick up a few things for gifts. Or if your local to me head on over to New Seasons and just maybe you will find them on sale too.

Yesterday I received this in the mail from Whole Foods. It was a welcome to the neighborhood gift which threw me off because I have lived here for two years now. Also came with a coupon for a free jelly of my choice which was cool. Not such good timing on their part I must say considering I just bought a 15lb bucket of all natural peanut butter from Azure .  But hey, it was free.

I found this lovely flower this morning.  I dug up a ton of bulbs from my side yard and planted them around tree's and along my garden fence.  Well today they finally started to show their pretty faces. About those bulbs I dug up.....

Apparently I missed about.....oh I don't know....A TON OF THEM.  I had to remove them because our new truck wouldn't fit into the driveway unless we took out a small part of our side yard.  So I sat in the side yard for a couple of hours removing all the bulbs.  We then filled it in with gravel and have been parking over that spot for a few months now. These plants are persistent for sure.  I feel slightly bad for them.  Slightly.  But not enough to go dig them up again. Not gonna happen!
My grandmother's frogs are judging me.  "Pffft!" they say.  As to tell me that Grandma would of had so much more done by now.

Your probably wondering why I took a picture of my dogs poop.  Because I could. Fun huh? Just kidding. We switched our dog to a raw meat diet which has helped her skin, fur and overall health tremendously.  One added bonus is that her poop decomposes super fast.  You know when you are walking in your yard and you smell ripe and freshly laid poop? This never happens to us anymore.

Could you please excuse me? I need to enjoy this cup of coffee.  Or not so nice mommy will be here and we don't want that.  I am excited to be back into the swing of things and cannot wait to blog on.