Archive for May, 2012

May 30, 2012

4 Weeks to A Better You Summer Smack Down Starts June 3rd – Who’s with me?

After an insane spring, the good habits I developed during the 8 Weeks to a Better You! mini-challenge back in February started slipping.  I’ve been trying to give myself another kick to get going, but continue to lose focus and lose steam.  I’ve been hoping and praying for something to give me some motivation to get back into the swing of things so I don’t lose all of the momentum I had going earlier in the year.

Tonight I checked in with my friends at 8 Weeks to a Better You! and wouldn’t you know it, my prayers have been answered!  They are doing another 4 Week challenge for the month of June.  In fact, June 3rd starts the 4 Weeks to a Better You Summer Smack Down and I’m super excited to participate.  I had great results physically, mentally and emotionally with the first one and I hope to do at least as well if not better this time.

A number of you (you know who you are) talked to me last time and said you weren’t quite ready to commit, but wanted me to let you know when the next challenge came around.  Well, guess what?  It’s here!

The rules are the same, the cost is $13 to sign-up.  You have nothing to lose and lots of good stuff to gain!

Here’s the challenge:
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.

So without further adieu – I would like to formally invite you to join me in this next 4 week challenge to make a better YOU!  To register go to 8 Weeks to a Better You website and register on the right hand side.

Who’s with me?


p.s. – I need recommendations for another book which would provide 15 minutes of uplifting reading each day.  (Last time I read The Alchemist by Paulo Coelho, which I really enjoyed.)

May 29, 2012

Location, Location, Location

At first glance, you may think you’ve crossed wires and are reading a post from a realtor.  Not so, but when it comes to planting, regardless of what kind of plant it is, location is just as crucial as buying a house (okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but you get the point).

What do I mean by location, location, location?  When it comes to plants there are three basic factors to consider that help determine the best location for your new plant(s).

The first consideration for location is the sun factor.  Most plants are pretty particular about how much they like.  Give them what they need.  Put sun plants in sunny locations and shade plants in shady locations.  Plant tomatoes in sun.  Hostas in shade.  (I still scorn the first person to use Hostas as landscape plants in Southern and Western exposed foundation plantings.  Those poor Hostas!  What did they ever do to you?!)

The second consideration for location is the soil factor. While some plants can handle a range of conditions, others can’t.  Don’t put water-loving plants in sandy soil and plants that like “free draining” soil in clay.  For example, Willows love water.  If you plant them in sand you will either be watering constantly (not exactly a very environmentally friendly thing to do) or they be stressed (kind of cruel), but they will chase water wherever it might be, including underground water lines and water mains. Unless you like calling Roto-Rooter, skip the Willow if you have sandy soil and plant something that likes good drainage in its place.

The third consideration for location is the exposure factor.  When it comes to exposure this is where it’s handy to know a plant’s origin.  Let’s take Birch trees for example.  When I was growing up many homes had one single Birch tree right smack dab in the middle of the yard.  People love them, myself included.  The white peeling papery bark, the airy, wispy canopy and the unique branching habit.  Beautiful.  But, unlike taking a walk through the woods where you might see a limitless number of Birch among other hardwoods, many Birch trees in front yards have had issues.  Lost limbs, storm damage and overall just stressed.  Why?  Because Birch trees in their native habitat are understory trees, meaning they receive protection from the canopy of larger trees.  If they were to plant themselves in their ideal location, it would not be in the middle of a lawn with blazing hot sun and no protection from strong winds, storms or winter cold.  But we love the beauty of Birch trees, so we plant them there anyway.  Unfortunately, the stress eventually catches up to them and they just can’t survive.  Bummer for the trees.  Bummer for us.

You get the picture, right?  Location, location, location.  Put plants where they like to be and they’ll thrive, put them in less than desirable conditions and they’ll struggle.

So knowing all of this location stuff, why on earth do you think I would I build my raised vegetable beds in shade?  No, I did.  Seriously!  This past weekend I finally had a little window of time and ventured out to get my garden planted and started looking at my plan and siting and realized… there’s no sun on my garden.  Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration.  There is one corner of one bed that gets about an hour of morning sun and a corner of the other bed that gets about 25 minutes just before the sun sets.  Holy cow was I ticked when I realized this.  How did this happen?!?  What was I thinking?  Seriously!  So ticked.

Okay, in my own defense I must explain. You know how it’s hard to see change in people we live with?  Kids grow-up so fast, adults ahh.. um… age, but we it’s not until someone points it out who hasn’t been around us every day that we realize how much we’ve changed.  Well, the same goes for my garden.  You see, I have a little problem with plants.  If its alive, I want to keep it.  If it’s on its last leg, I want to revive it.  If it’s a volunteer, well it must like it there, who am I to remove it?  Add to that the novelty of growing at least one of just about anything that comes my way and lo and behold the raised garden is in the shade.   You see, about 5 or 6 years ago  I got a couple of ash and elm volunteers on my fence line and left them.  They weren’t doing any harm at the time so why remove them?  Besides, they provided a little screening too.  Fast forward to today and I can’t even reach the lowest branches to limb them up, which is what I originally thought when I discovered the shade.  But after a closer look, I realized these trees are probably 30 feet high and have a combined canopy of about 60 feet shading my entire garden.

So now what?  No, seriously.  That’s what I’m asking myself.   Per my previous paragraph, I have a problem with plants (and trees and shrubs) so it makes it really hard for me to remove them.  On one hand, these are healthy trees.  On the other hand, they were volunteers.  On one hand,they screen the power pole.  On the other hand, they’re growing through the power lines that connect to the power pole.  And did I mention they shade my garden.  And while I’ve been gradually converting my landscaping to edible landscaping and this would definitely speed up the process, I’m just not ready to bail on my raised beds.  Oh, and did I mention how ticked I am that I will now have to pay someone hundreds to cut them down whereas if I’d had the foresight I could have used my own saw to take care of them a couple of years ago?  Yeah, ticked.

So, learn from my mistakes.  Location is of utmost importance.  Before you plant, or let a volunteer continue to grow, think about the future.  Sure it’s just a little guy now, but what’s it going to be when it grows up?  Will provide shade?  In the right place?  How big will it get?  Will it get too big for the space? Is it an understory tree? Does it need protection?  Will it get it?  How high are those power lines?  Will it get big enough to touch them?

The same goes for edibles.  Some like rich soil, some not so much.  Some are finicky about water, others could care less.  And when siting your plants, make sure you’re not planting your tallest plants on the South end of your garden.  You don’t want them shading everything else out.  Well, unless you do.  In other words if you’re trying to create cool and shade in an otherwise hot environment, but that’s another conversation.

So needless to say, the raised beds didn’t get planted this weekend… and more edible landscaping did.  But there’s a lot more I wanted to do and a lot more plants to go in the ground, so I’ll keep you posted on what ends up where and how they do.  2012 may turn out to be one giant experiment!


May 25, 2012

Where are you on the jerk-o-meter?

By now most of you have probably heard the report that those of us who eat are exposed to organic food are jerks.  That’s right, a study just published online in Social Psychological and Personality Science has now proven that once exposed to organic food you will become all “judgey”.

Okay, so I mock.  As with any study, I’m sure there is truth to it in whatever capacity it was taken. But I can’t take this study seriously.   Seriously!  Part of what I find humorous about it though is how fast it spread.  Even Leno was talking about it tonight.

But I have to be honest, when I first heard this report I thought, “Organic food make you “judgey”? Ha, whatever! Oh, wait, ew… Did that sound harsh?  Was that judgey?”  Then I read the part where those who eat organic food volunteer less.   Holy smokes!  If that’s true I don’t know what to think.  I just spent the past 3 months volunteering so many hours to my son’s school I’ve literally lost count.  Just imagine what I could have done if I’d only looked at a brownie instead of looking at a picture of organic food!

By the way, did you notice the word “exposed” earlier?  Yes, the study “exposed” people to a picture or organic food versus a picture of a brownie.  Again, really?  Oh, my!  What would have happened if they had actually eaten the organic food (God forbid)?  I can’t bear to think about it!

More humor, the Abstract of the study reads:

Recent research has revealed that specific tastes can influence moral processing, with sweet tastes inducing prosocial behavior and disgusting tastes harshening moral judgments.  Do similar effects apply to different food types (comfort foods, organic foods, etc.)?

Really?  The equivalent study is sweet vs. “disgusting”?  In other words suggesting that comfort foods, like a brownie are sweet (and good) and organic food is disgusting (and bad).  Nice study!  Who wrote this?  My second grade son?  I’m sorry, but I had to laugh.  (And I had to keep checking to make sure I wasn’t reading The Onion.)

I’m sure some aren’t finding humor in this report or my comments, but I honestly have to say that if someone has the time and the money to spend on such a study to find out if looking at organic food makes people judgey then all the power to them.

In the mean time, I’m going to go eat some, shhhh…. (organic) food, then quit volunteering and go judge all my neighbors.  And watch out!  I sure hope you don’t need anything today because I’ll have already done my good deed for the day by looking at my organic food before I ate it.

However, you might get lucky.  After all,  I was thinking about a brownie while I was writing this.  Do you think that can un-do the organic apple I ate?   Nevermind.  I did see organic salad in the fridge on my way to get the apple.   Oh, and the organic milk while I was closing the door…

Yep.  You’re out of luck.  If you run into problems, definitely ask the person with chocolate brownie stuck in their teeth for help, because I’d just let you sit there and rot.


May 17, 2012

What hairstyle does your yard have?

Maybe it’s the lack of sleep that makes me think these things, but have you ever noticed that yards have hairstyles?

The other day I read something that said everyone’s yard has a style, even if you don’t know what it is, your neighbors do.  That got me thinking, okay, traditional, cottage, natural.   Okay, sure, makes sense but kind of boring and obvious, isn’t it?   Then my mind started to wander off and I realized that I don’t think that’s true.  I couldn’t put my yard in just one bucket.  Why?  Because my yard has a Mullet.  That’s when I realized yards are more than just a style, they have a hairstyle!

So think about your yard for a moment.  What kind of style does it have?  Does it have one?  And furthermore, what kind of hairstyle does it have?

Here are a few hairstyles I’ve come up with for yards.  Take a gander and see if any of them fit you?

The Mullet

If you lived through the 70s and 80s, then you remember the mullet.  Business in the front, party in the back.  The mullet was predominantly worn by men, although I do remember some women with them too.  They kept the front of their hair short and the back of their hair long.

The same goes for yards.  Take mine for example.  I try to keep the landscaping neat and clean in the front and try to keep the lawn mowed on a regular basis for curb appeal.  Although I let my personal style come through a little in my choice of plantings and bedlines, I don’t get too adventurous.  I save that…. for the back!  The back is where I let it all hang out.  That’s where I conduct most of my plant experiments and I’m not overly concerned if it’s not looking neat.  That’s also where the patio is, the veggie garden, etc.  It’s relaxed, messy at times and fun.  See?  Mullet.

The Bob

The bob has been around for decades in various forms.  Typically worn by women with straight hair it has also been modified for curly hair.  In general, it’s a very simple, neat and clean style.  The stylist needs to know what they are doing because in this style flaws are very obvious.

Yards, again, can have the bob.  Very clean and simple.  Everything has its place and there is a consistent flow of uniformly shaped plants regardless of whether you’re in the front, the back or the side.  Rarely do you see a plant out-of-place or a weed in sight.

The Hippie

Okay, technically I don’t think the hippie is the name of a hairstyle, but if I say the word “hippie” what do you envision?  I envision, glasses and long hair that hasn’t been trimmed in years. Think au naturel.

The Hippie yard… you’re catching on now aren’t you?  The Hippie yard is well, just there.  Not much in the way of maintenance, an occasional mowing of the lawn and trees and shrubs haven’t been pruned in years.  And naturally, you’ll see weeds because the owner of the hippie hairstyle would never harm a fly.

The Crew Cut

Simply put, the crew cut is short and simple.  A little on top.  Not much on the sides and back.

The Crew Cut yard?  Pretty basic.  A few basic shrubs or foundation plants in the front and nothing but lawn on the sides and in the back.


Pretty self-explanatory style is it not?

Yard?  Yes, sadly, I’ve seen this.  No plants.  None.  And lawn?  Well, I didn’t even realize mower blades could be set that low.

Well, that about wraps it up.  What do you think?  Do any of these hairstyle fit your yard? Let me know! Or if you think of a style I’ve forgotten, please share!  I’d love to hear your thoughts.