Archive for February, 2012

February 23, 2012

Play with Your Food! (Part Deuce)

Warning: Images and content may not be suitable for all viewers.  Recommended for mature gardening audiences only.

The game got off to a slow start.  Day by day it seems things were hardly changing.  Then, almost out of nowhere, the Green Onion Experiment took off! By Day 10, it was clear the Green Onions decided to show up for the game and were ready to compete, while the Leek Experiment showed little interest in standing up to the challenge.  Today there’s no contest.  The Leek Experiment got swept 6 – 0. (And quite frankly, they stink!)

Day 1

Day 1 - Top View

What went wrong?  Maybe the easier question is what went right?  For the Leek Experiment this proves to be a grim season, at least on the windowsill.  They complained about getting cut, they said they didn’t have their space, didn’t have room to breathe, they said they didn’t want to get their feet wet.  Okay, okay… I guess the coach should listen and when playing with rookies, not push them so hard and go back to the basics.  For a while they even showed signs of life, or at least a couple of them did, but they went sour like their team mates.  You know what they say… one bad leek can spoil the whole bunch… or something like that.

Day 2

Day 2 - Top View

So what did we learn from this experiment?  Next time, I’ll start slow.  I won’t cut/divide them, although I don’t think that was the root of the problem (pardon the pun).  I’ll give them more space in the glass so they aren’t touching each other and make sure the water level stays low enough to just cover the roots (I think I gave them a little too much water a couple of times causing them to begin rotting). Yummy!  So the Leek Experiment is complete, for now.  (At least until I cook with leeks again.)

Day 8 - Guys in the back starting to show up

Day 16 - Eww...

Day 16 - Gross...

Day 16 - Game over!

The Green Onion Experiment continues to go strong.  A few are showing up better than others, but all of them are still in the game at this point.  I’ll continue to post on the progress.

Day 18

Day 18 - Opposite View

Any other experiments out there?  Any progress reports?


February 21, 2012

Get into the groove

I made it!  Week one of the 4 Weeks to a Better You Challenge is complete and I’m already a couple of days into the second week.  I’m really happy with my progress so far.  Has it been perfect? No, but I feel really good about what I’ve accomplished.

As part of the 4 week challenge, we’re supposed to do a daily journal. As I was writing in my journal, I put my pen down and decided to use my journal thoughts as my post.  I had originally planned on writing a gardening post today, but I’m so elated that I couldn’t focus on much else.

So, how has the first week gone?  Great!  I managed to fit in all of the exercise and only missed 1 point for food/drink due to a misunderstanding on my part.  I could have given myself a perfect score, using the excuse that I didn’t know, but we’re doing the scoring on our honor and how honorable would it be of me to do that?  Not so much.  So, now I know.

What I’ve learned so far is that when I physically feel good and emotionally feel good, my perception of things around me is different, in a good way.  And I found perception is truly the key for me.  Instead of thinking about what I can’t eat, I try to focus on what I can eat.  I tried to find alternatives for the foods I needed to cut out right away so I only had to think about it once.  That way when I want pasta, I grab whole wheat, when I’m wanting something sweet, I grab honey, pure maple syrup, agave nectar or sucanat. (I’m still looking for maple sugar flakes, if anyone knows where to get them please let me know!)  I’ve also found that if I make as much of the food myself as possible, then I don’t have to worry about reading packages all the time.  Some of this was already habit for me, some of it is a stretch and some things are truly a challenge.  As far as the food goes though, it’s all worth it.  I feel so much better when I eat better!

I’m still ironing out what works best as far as a schedule for exercise, reading and journaling goes.  I’ve been doing them at different times of the day trying to find the best fit.  The past few days those three things have been pushed to the end of the day.  I’ve found that doesn’t work so well.  While I’m doing it, I don’t feel 100% present.  I’m not just going through the motions, but I’m getting tired and not putting into it what I would like to get out of it.  So this week I hope to find a time of the day for each of those that will feel better and get me into a groove.

What else have I learned so far?  I’ve also learned that I’m a lot stronger and more capable than I give myself credit for.  I had my doubts.  Honestly, the 45 minutes of exercise each day was what I found most intimidating.  For some reason I felt like I could work in 30 minutes a day, but 45?  Whew!  I thought that would be pushing it.  What I’ve discovered is that it really is only 15 additional minutes.  Imagine that!

The first week wasn’t all easy.  You know the evil little guy that rides around on your shoulder chirping in your ear, telling you that you can’t do it, that you’re not strong enough, not organized enough, not motivated enough to accomplish it?  He tried more than once to get me into trouble, but then I realized that I’ve come this far (a full day, two days, etc.), why would I want to blow it?  It’s not worth it!  So I stopped listening to him.

Instead I’m listening to my cheering squad.  And I have to tell you, I have the most amazing cheering squad.  My son not only cheers me on, but serves as my coach.  He’s a great kid.  He knows what I can and can’t eat and the other day while he was eating a banana bar with chocolate chips I teased him that I almost stole a bite and his response was, “Well, it’s a good thing you didn’t, Mom, because that would have blown your challenge!”

Did I mention the other thing that I love about this challenge?  It’s a challenge not a diet! It’s not just focused on food (which in my humble opinion is why diets don’t work).  Instead this challenge truly focuses on making a well-rounded, better you.  It’s an all-encompassing, full-life challenge.

As I head into the second week, my goal is to get into a groove that will become a part of my new lifestyle.  Something I won’t have to think about.  It will just become second nature, a part of who I am.

As I go forward it will still be a journey, I’m sure there will be good days and there will be some tough days.  But knowing after a week what I’m capable of, I’m looking forward to it.  I know I can do it.

Some people have questioned why I’m pushing myself so hard.  My reason is this: this is a challenge, a challenge to make myself a better person physically, emotionally and spiritually.  Some pieces of the challenge were already a part of my daily life, as I’m guessing is the case for most people.  But if I don’t challenge myself to complete every part of the challenge then I’ll never know what I’m capable of.  If I stop short in one area, I’ll look back and wonder if I tried harder would I have been able to do it?  Why not just try it?  I want to get to the end of this challenge and know what I’m capable of.

I’ve had a few friends mention that they thought about joining me on the challenge but for one reason or another, they didn’t.  As far as I’m concerned that’s okay.  I think you need to be a the right place and time in your life to do something like this in order to stay committed to it.  For me the timing was right.  After having been sick for nearly two years and regaining my energy and strength over the past 6 months, the time was right for me to work new habits and challenges into my life.  If you’re interested, but didn’t do it, don’t worry, the right time will come for you.  Maybe this challenge wasn’t a fit, but another personal challenge will come along at the right time for you.

In the mean time, I think it’s good for all of us to take a step back every once in a while, look at our lives and find ways to challenge ourselves to become better people.


February 15, 2012

Play with Your Food! (Windowsill Gardens)

I know, I know, most of us have memories of our mothers telling us to stop playing with our food.  Well, I’m here to tell you that it’s time to throw that out the window, or actually, stop just short of out the window at the windowsill.

Although we have a serious shortage in the snow department this year, the temperatures, although tropical for a Minnesota winter, are hardly “growing season” temps.  That, however, should not stop you from growing plants, herbs and veggies!  No, I’m not crazy.  Okay, well, maybe a little, but that’s beside the point.   Anyway,  during the winter months when I can’t be outside in the garden I tend to focus on what I can grow inside.  Typically my kitchen windowsill is loaded with any glass, bottle or jar I can get my hands on, and inside them I’m growing whatever strikes my fancy.

Windowsill Garden 1

Windowsill Garden 1

Windowsill Garden 2

Windowsill Garden 2

In addition to the Garlic Experiment, my current windowsill experiments include: green onions/scallions, basil, a Christmas cactus, spearmint, leeks, a maple tree, aloe vera and an avocado pit.  I also have herbs growing in the bathroom, but since that’s technically not on the windowsill, I’ll save that for later.

Pinterest Inspiration

Pinterest Inspiration

Let’s start with the green onions or scallions, whatever you’d like to call them.  A couple of weeks ago I was perusing Pinterest and ran across an image of scallions growing in a glass of water.  Ha!  Why didn’t I think of that? I thought.  I need to try this!  It makes perfect sense that it would work… onions are a bulb and you can force/grow most flowering bulbs in water, so why not onions?!?  So I set out to do it.  That night I just happened to need green onions in a recipe I was making for dinner… 🙂

feb 5

The beginning of the Green Onion Experiment

As I was prepping the onions, instead of discarding the ends, I set them aside to prepare for the Green Onion Experiment.  After finishing my dinner prep, I grabbed a glass and set my onions in the bottom.   Ha, I make it sound so easy.  Actually I fought with the little buggers quite a bit to get them to stand upright.  They already have little roots attached when you buy the onions in the store and since they aren’t all the same length it made them a little tippy (next time I’ll trim the trouble makers).  Anyway, once upright, I added a tiny bit of water, just enough to cover the roots, but not so much as to cover the onion itself or I would end up with a glass of foul-smelling rotting plant material, which is not my goal.

I was a little concerned that this experiment might not work so well because after I started this experiment I checked into the source of the Pinterest photo.  Turns out, they only used the greens for their cooking and had the entire base of the onion left over so they had really fast results.  Since I cook with nearly everything but the roots it made me a little nervous, because I really didn’t have a lot of plant material to work with, but I trusted in my plant biology knowledge, sent good sprouting vibes to the little guys and set them on my kitchen windowsill.  I should mention that my windowsill experiments only receive part-sun exposure because it’s an East facing window, but it’s where I do a lot of my propagating because I can watch it every day.  They tend to do fine, at least until they get a little larger and need more light in which case I’ll either transfer them to a window with better exposure (South or West facing) or under plant lights.

Day 4 - Shoots forming & root growth

Day 5

Amazingly, it didn’t take too long for the roots to start growing and shoots to form.  By the first day, I could see little green specs on the top of one onion.  And by Day 2, 3 and 4 it became more and more visible (but not so much with the camera.) By Day 5, however, shoots can be seen on more than one onion.

Day 10 - Growth on all onions

Day 10 - Top View

And now, about 10 days out, it looks like the experiment is a success.  In a few weeks we’ll have a nice crop of green onions.  As a side note, I change the water every couple of days to everything fresh.

I’ll continue to post on the Green Onion Experiment as it progresses.  In the mean time, stay tuned for leeks, basil, avocado, Christmas cactus, Maple tree, aloe vera and spearmint and… whatever else might strike my fancy along the way!

Now, go play with your food, would you?!


February 10, 2012

4 Weeks to a Better You! – Challenge Starts Feb. 12! Join Me!


A few days ago I happened upon a website called 8 Weeks to a Better You! Challenge.  What I like about this challenge is that there is a physical challenge as well as an emotional/spiritual challenge.  The physical challenge incorporates the Clean Eating principles, but the emotional/spiritual challenge incorporates many things I have on my daily “to do” list.  I’ve been wanting to give myself a little extra incentive as well as been looking for some comradery in my efforts (without going to a gym).  I think this challenge will help give me a little more focus as well so I’ve decided to take the challenge.

The cost is $10 USD per person which enters you in the running for rewards.  That is, rewards in addition to creating a better you!

By following through on the challenge you have the opportunity to earn points.  Possible points earned are 10 per day, 70 per week.

Another thing I like about the challenge is that it is practical.  You get a FREE DAY where you get the full 10 points whether or not you complete all the requirements. You can choose which day of each week is your free day each week, but you cannot choose different days for different points.  The only exception to this rule is exercise.  Your free day from exercise can be different if you choose.  For example – you may choose Saturday as your free day but choose to workout that day and take Sunday off from exercise.

Here’s how you earn points…

Physically Better Yourself

1. Exercise at least 45 minutes a day!

2. Get AT LEAST 7 hours of sleep a night (if you are short a little just squeeze a nap in to make up for it).
3. Drink at least 8 glasses of water a day
4. No Sugar
5. No Soda, Fast Food, or Junk Food
6. Eat at least 2 servings of fruit and 2 servings of vegetables
7. No eating after 8 p.m. (unless it’s your dinner-but try really hard to get dinner in earlier)
Emotionally/Spiritually Better Yourself
8. Write in your journal EVERY DAY.
9. Complete at least 15 minutes of uplifting reading or scripture study.
10. Complete an act of service or random act of kindness.  Whether it be a small one or a big one, do something kind for someone else that is out of your normal routine.
The challenge starts in two days.  You can be anywhere in the country or the world for that matter.  I would love for you to join me!