Saturday, October 26, 2013


     I know it's too early for many of you. You may be mad at me for even mentioning it, but you'll be thankful I did if you keep reading.

     Last year I wrote this similar post on my other blog about early Christmas shopping. I have used all these tips, and they have really helped us to have a more budget friendly, less stressful, and more meaningful gift giving season. 


     I have some things that I just want you to think about regarding the holidays and gift shopping. When you mention Christmas shopping before Halloween, people want to hit you, or send other people to hit you, but I don't care! I hope these tips will help us all save money, give us time to find purposeful and personal gifts for those we love. I want to help you make the season less stressful and more enjoyable, because the hard part is already done. Wouldn't you just love to have the stressful part of Christmas over so you can enjoy the season!? (Maybe the stressful part is to come... the part with all your family. In that case, I'm so sorry! And I just can't help you. Haha! Oh dear...)

      I like to give a quick shout out to my momma! She is the queen of early Christmas shopping! Trips over the summer, she'll come back saying she has a Christmas gift for you. I know... I love it! 
     Quick story about early Christmas shopping: One year, her early planning really paid off. She started early like always, but then God told her to finish everything before November. She listened, finished it all, and around Thanksgiving became terribly ill and needed surgery. All of Christmas she was laid up and healing, but all her shopping was done! My sister and I focused on the food, and everything went off without a hitch even with extended family coming! Moral is, you never know what's going to happen, but planning ahead often helps when life throws in the unexpected. Also, listen when God gives you those nudges of intuition, but that's for another day.

     Before I go into things, know that I LOVE Thanksgiving. It is so important to be mindful of the things we have and show sincere gratitude for them. This spirit of Thankfulness gets run over by the greed of the holiday wish lists. In our home, we value what we have and using things until they wear out. We live simply, are mindful of our blessings, and are thankful for our gifts from others and from our Father God.
     Throughout the season of the holidays, remember what you've been given, and constantly give thanks. We have so much, that we are able buy gifts for others, and even ingredients to make sweets! We are so blessed!!!! It is in this spirit of thanksgiving and responsible home living that I suggest the follow ideas for purposeful, budgeted holiday gift giving.

Why do holiday shopping now?

1. More time to decide

     When I'm deciding on a gift to get someone, I can take some time to think about what to look for, and plan ahead for what I think that person would like. I can write down some ideas, and start looking in store and online for the best prices for this item. If I see that it's on sale, I can get it then. I don't have to settle for anything, because "It's the day before Christmas Eve, and I have to get them SOMETHING!?" That's a horrible feeling!

     Also, I should mention if you're going to make something for someone, especially a knit item, you MUST plan in advance, as you need time to complete it. Knitters know large gift planning takes place around August or September, or October at the latest if you are fast and the item's not that large.

     So... you have more time, so you're less stressed, you can save money, and find more personal, thoughtful gifts!

2. Stores are LESS CROWDED!

     You know that feeling... sandwiched in amongst a shocking and impressively large crowd of people. You might start to panic as you realize that, if there were a fire, you will either become trampled or burned alive. Sounds like fun...

     Okay, I'm exaggerating. But I don't like large crowds. And I don't like that blonde b... um, woman... pushing me out of the way to grab the last fuzzy penguin blanket. And I don't like being made to feel like "If I don't grab that last one, there's no way I can give it to so-and-so." Oh, please!! If you go early, there's plenty of the item and no trampling. 

     On a side note, one year at Black Friday, my mom was pushed over, then stepped on several times. Many more unlucky folks die every year of this same kind of thing. I mean, really people? Is this what holidays in America have become!? This is so sad.

     So, you'll have less stress, less pressure, more selection, and no death by trampling! Sounds good to me!

 Just for fun, this was our first ornament, a glass nativity. It's a favorite!

3. You can plan where you spend

     As I mentioned before, if I already know even a few things I'm looking for on my list, I'm watching for sales. Or even better, I can do more planning of where I intend to go to get these things. I have time to include local shops or artists, and thrift stores!

     Local shops are great!!! Why not keep Christmas money in the local economy, spending it on quality products? And I know a few of the local artists here in Bend. They would be thrilled to be supported by you, knowing you like their work enough to give it as a gift. What a fun, unique gift idea!

     And Thrift Stores are FABULOUS!!!! They are my personal favorite gift finding place. And let's get real: Not everything we give must be brand new. Where did we get that idea? (Probably part of the American consumerism constructs created post WWII to keep people spending money.)

     Thrift stores have fun things you can't find anywhere else, because they stopped making them. I always find such unique items in them! I once found a bundle of Tunisian crochet hooks! You can't even find those in all the sizes anymore, and they were antique, and I've used them. It's fun to find gifts that you know will not be duplicated by anyone else, because this is the only one in town. Plus, the money spent at thrift stores go to great local charities, not some big corporate pocket. Maybe I'll buy all my gifts at thrift shops. (Last year, I think 90% of my gifts given were from thrift stores!)

     So, not only are you saving money, local goods help the local economy. If you go to thrift stores, the money helps local charities, and you find unique things for your unique people! Love this!!

Also just for fun, my Christmas bulb self portrait

4. Save Money!

     Here's the deal: Like most all people, we are on a budget. Isn't most everyone? That's just how it is. We live simply, and we make our priorities. So this year for Christmas, I am watching carefully how much we spend. (Yet another reason I am loving the thrift store shopping idea.)

     The great thing about shopping early, I can keep a closer eye on how much we spend, and meter it out each month or week. It doesn't become this all at once expense where we are going "how are we going to live now!?"

     Another thing, use what you have, not what you don't. Be realistic about the amount spent. If you're like me, you LOVE giving gifts because it's one of your love languages or you enjoy the look on people's faces when it's a great gift for them. These are all great things! If you're like me, you want to get everyone everything. Or, in some cases, maybe you're worried that people will think less of you if you don't get them a good enough gift. It's not worth going into deep financial debt! Keep things simple! Maybe this year, try reducing your budget even more, then saving up for next year to be a big gift giving season. How special would that be, knowing you put in that effort, and was purposeful about saving specifically for that event?

     So, a balanced, realistic budget keeps you from going into debt and having more headache! Let's be responsible with our money and focus on what's truly important.

The Penguins bring gifts to worship Baby Jesus

5. When you've got all the shopping done ahead, you can enjoy the Holiday & Christmas Season!!!

     Imagine you haven't bought all your gifts the day before Christmas Eve. You've put it off, and now you're running around like a crazy person, everything is crowded, stressful, and you have no idea what you're getting people, because you didn't plan. And you still need to wrap everything. And you need to get to that holiday party you promised your best friend you'd at least stop by for. There's NOT ENOUGH TIME!? <Panic>

     Now, imagine you bought all your gifts and wrapped them two weeks ago. They are sitting lovingly under your tree, adding to the seasons' decorations. You had enough time today to make cookies for all your neighbors, and bring some them to the holiday party this evening. You even had enough time to get ready and look fantastic! All because you planned ahead and got it done!

     I know, this seems a little idealistic and exaggerated, but this has been true in my life. I have been both of these people before in different years. I love enjoying my holiday time, having things set up, knowing I found thoughtful gifts for everyone, with everything wrapped ahead of time, decorating my tree for a week or two. I want time to plan and buy purposeful gifts, and also watch and spread out my spending.

     That's why I have already bought one gift, seriously planned several, and later this afternoon, my good friend Erika and I are going Christmas shopping at a few thrift stores. This is the second year in a row I will go Christmas shopping at Thrift Stores with a friend. Last year, my sister and I went once a week! SO much fun! I highly recommend going Christmas shopping with a friend. It's much more fun, and good to have an occasional second opinion.

     Let's remember that Christmas is not about shopping and how much you spent! It's not even really about about what you got for people, or what people got you. Christmas is about greater spirit of giving to those you love and who love you, and spending time with them. And even more, it's about the ultimate gift ever given: Jesus, God born as a baby, so he could show us how to live, and later would die to set us free from our sins. This is Christmas!      May you live in the spirit of Peace & Thankfulness well beyond the New Year!

~ Christina

By the way....  do you have ideas about early Christmas shopping or holiday money saving tips? Feel free to comment below!

Thursday, October 24, 2013

In our home, we eat a bunch of stir fry type meals.
I don't mean we eat a lot of just Asian style stir fry. You can make so many wonderful dishes with this method: a bunch of seasonal chopped veggies and a type of grain.
If you want to add protein, add a protein.  

However, this is one reason I LOVE quinoa! 
There are 24 grams of protein in a cup of quinoa!

So with some different veggies, various grains, and often some sort of protein, stir fry type meals are a staple in our vegetarian household. We call them skillet dinners.

This particular one is a variety I've been playing around with for a couple months now.
There are so many lovely seasonal veggies right now showcasing the fall colors, with a beautiful blend of flavors. It's so delightful!

I also often take advantage of things grown in my garden.
So instead of 2 large store bought carrots, I will have 7 or 8 smaller garden carrots.
Always, always, always feel free to add or subtract ingredients for your family's needs and tastes! (I feel like that should go without saying.) And if you need to use up something and it might go with this, throw it in! However, if you follow this exactly, it's going to be pretty tasty.

Harvest Quinoa with Parmesan

1 c. quinoa
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. minced garlic*
1/2 small red diced onion
2 cubed small golden nugget squash
1 c. chopped kale
2 chopped celery stick
2 chopped carrots
5 chopped broccoli leaves**
 about 1/2 to 1 c. chopped red cabbage
To taste: oregano, basil, parsley, paprika, salt & pepper***
1/2 c. parmesan, and a little more to sprinkle on top

 * We LOVE garlic!!! I my have added even more than that... adjust accordingly.
**This was from my garden. We use what we have! You could also substitute spinach, use just kale, or add another cabbage variety or cook-able leafy green.
*** When I cook, I'm so bad about measuring. If it smells and tastes like it needs more, I add more! I probably put about 2 tsp. of each, possibly more.

1) You'll want to first cook your golden nugget squash.
I put both of mine on a cookie sheet in the oven at 350 for about 20 mins. You can also do this in the microwave. If you would like to try to peel it raw, you may. But it is SO much easier to cook a squash first before trying to remove the peel. (Trust me on this one.) When cooked and peeled, then cube.

2) Cook your quinoa just like how you make rice. Also like rice, it's 2 cups of water to every 1 cup quinoa. Don't forget to always rinse your grains, especially quinoa, as it has a bitter coating called saponin.

3) In a large skillet, warm olive oil to medium-high heat, then sauté your garlic and onions, until onions are beyond clear. Both should start to brown just a little at the edges, and start to caramelize. This is when these two little flavor powerhouses become divine!

4) Turn up the heat a little bit, and add your veggies!
Add your seasoning before the veggies really start cooking.
When the veggies have cooked down, and your quinoa is finished, add the quinoa to the skillet full of veggies, and mix it all together. Take a moment to admire the lovely fall colors all in one skillet!

5) At the last second, add your parmesan, and while stirring, let it melt into the rest of the dinner. Serve with a little extra sprinkle of parmesan on top.
Bon appetit!

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

I have had a lovely summer!
I have travelled almost as much as I've been home! Okay, well... that's an exaggeration, but I have been gone quite a bit. I've been to Gold Country California with my dad, Puget Sound & Seattle in Washington with my husband, the Willamette Valley to see friends, and camping last weekend with the hubby in the Cascades. 
And my summer's not over yet!
This week, a close friend and I are having a sister goddess camp out, and then the week after that, I'm off to the Valley again to visit my cousin before her baby shower.

As much as I'm a nester, I'm also an explorer.
I feel like I'm getting it all out of my system before the fall winds and winter snows come in, and then I will cozily hunker down with my knitting.

So, what do all these travels have to do with jam?
Glad you asked! ;)

On my trip to the Willamette Valley, my friend Denae and I went to a local farmers' market, where I picked up a half flat of raspberries.
There is nothing like fresh raspberries!
Right there, I determined I would make jam.

Since I had never made jam before, I went the easy route, and did freezer jam.
If you've never done canning, this is a good place to start, because you almost can't mess it up! I say almost, because you do have to use the recommended amount of sugar, or it won't set up. There are varieties that use less sugar, so look for those if that's what you so desire.

I found an instant pectin from Ball that you don't have to cook.
The flavor from the raspberries is so nicely fresh! This jam will be my little bit of summer to last me into the fall & winter months.

On the inside of the pectin label, they have this recipe:

For every pint of jam ~
1 2/3 c. of prepared fruit
2/3 c. sugar
2 Tbsp. Ball RealFruit Instant Pectin

If you are making peach jam ~
add 1 Tbsp. lemon juice

I substituted honey for sugar, which gave it a wonderful flavor.
For mixing the fruit, I just blended it up in my food processor.

The directions were so simple:
Mix the pectin and sugar.
Add the blended fruit. Stir 3 minutes.
Seriously... one of the most easy recipes ever!

First I made the Raspberry Honey Jam

Then I experimented with Raspberry Nectarine Honey Jam.
Oh yum! Make sure you add a little lemon juice for nectarines and peaches for the flavor.
The sweet & tart combo tastes like candy from a jar!

Your jam will keep in the freezer for a whole year.
However, I don't think it will last that long in our house.

My hubby is so happy! He LOVES jam!
(Anyone else think of John Watson just then? Just me... okay...)

He even bought more bread recently just so he could eat more jam.
This might become a problem... I guess only if he eats it all before I can get some.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Friday, July 26, 2013

Fall Crops
Rainbow Carrots

Today, I just started planting my fall crops.
I know... at 10am, you're already dripping with sweat! For many of us, fall is the last thing on our mind. (That is, until you start smelling the wildfire smoke in the air, which always makes me think of the end of summer or fall. Or, if you are just waiting for your prized garden gem-of-a-pumpkin, you are happily anticipating fall like I am!)

 But now is the time to start planning for your fall carrots, spinach, broccoli, lettuce, peas, and kale, among other things. I found some great articles on this I wanted to share with you. I usually post gardening articles on pinterest. However, many of these can't be posted on Pinterest, because they don't have a picture. They are really great resources if you are thinking about second plantings for late fall veggies!

Planning For Your Fall Crops - Start Now! - Planning tips and great info for each fall crop vegetable

Fall & Winter Vegetable Gardens - Gives info on fall crop vegetables for cooler, wetter climates (Western Oregon & W. Washington)

Planting Vegetables in Midsummer for Fall Harvest - Provides a handy table of fall crop vegetables, their days to maturity, and cold hardiness

And my personal favorite, from The Old Farmer's Almanac,
This has a fantastic table that shows when you need to plant by, in order to have a harvest by specific frost dates. Here in Central Oregon, where our growing season is short, this is VERY important.

I hope these pages will be helpful to you in planning your second planting!
 I'm very excited about my current harvest, which motivates me to plant for late fall.
I love the idea that I can start planting in the next couple months, and be able to use some of these veggies for cozy and warming fall dishes once the wind begins to blow! Carrots and winter kale planted later may even hold until thanksgiving, depending on the kind of fall we have. Apparently, kale's flavor gets better after the frost!

Today I cleaned up my potted garden, and planted some shade loving plants behind my pot of sunflowers. (I don't recommend potting sunflowers. It's just the room I had left. You know, you make do with what you have!) Over the weekend, I will be cleaning up the beds and doing those second plantings.

Do you remember me talking about my radishes going to seed? (I went to the beach, and they went started to flower and go seed.) Well, the ones that have good seed pods coming out will be left, and I hope to plant those seeds in August, (fingers crossed.) Radishes grow so fast, so you can plant them late. Several of the current plants are just going to have to come out to make room for another round of radishes, and more carrots. By the way, when radishes flower, they get hard, and don't taste very good.
As for carrots, they grow great into the later fall. They just hang out in the ground a while until you're ready for them, even after a first frost. (Check the articles for fall carrot harvest specifics.)

A little planning ahead, and we'll be harvesting fresh produce right before Halloween!
Let's just hope for a beautiful, gentle fall. 

~ * ~ * ~ * ~
P.S. Real quick, I just had to show you...
That red carrot at the top, when I cut into it, it looked like this...

How great is that!? Red on the outside, and yellow-orange on the inside! So cool!!

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

My Trip to California & Back Home to My Little Garden

In case you're wondering where I've been... I've not been at home!
Today and yesterday were the first days in weeks that I have been home.

Last week was especially busy and wonderful! The first part, I helped out with crafts for our churches VBS-like kids camp. Then the day after that was over, I went to the Sierra Nevada foothills of Grass Valley, California with my dad. 

 (I sometimes call my dad 'the crazy fruit man!' Haha! We love us some fruit!)

We picked up an RV he was given, then did some looking around the area. The highlight of my trip was doing some father-daughter gold panning. And, yes, I found gold! I don't mean little dust specks, but I found a couple of good size flakes.

I feel like this isn't the best picture of me, but it's proof I did it! Haha!
We also got to see some ghost towns and historic Nevada City as well.

 An old, abandoned miner's home!

The general store in the ghost town of North Bloomfield, at Malakoff Diggins State Park

It was a really fun trip, but it's good to be home!
My husband took care of my little garden while I was gone.
He did a great job with watering, but my squash plants are having some troubles.

They use to look so much better than this, but they were starting to be like this when I left, so it's not his fault. I need to figure out what is causing it!
<Looking around on the web... brb...>

Okay, so it looks like I might have a type of squash disease. (Sigh)
How sad!  :(  If you have squash issues too, here are some great sites I found:

Michelle's Garden - they have a great picture at the bottom to help identity which issue your squash is having.

Harvest to Table - this has an article about squash growing from beginning to end, helpful tips and possible problems that could come up. This article helped me realize I need to mulch! I feel like such a newbie at times!

In other garden news, my radishes came up too fast while I was away at the beach at the beginning of the month. I'm not eating them near fast enough!

Now, I'm purposefully letting them go to seed to I can plant the seeds. It's an experiment, but should be interesting. In the meantime, radishes have the prettiest little white and pink flowers! I have been using some on my kitchen table for a truly cute, country look.

I also have... a zucchini!!! YAY!!!!!

 This gives me so much gardening hope, that it's still going strong!
Earlier, I had little pumpkins coming up, but I think the disease got them, as they shrivelled up. I'm glad these two plants aren't close. The zucchini should be fine, (I'm hoping with fingers crossed)

And hopefully, the rest of the garden will keep growing, so I can start really eating from it!

Variety carrots, new lettuce, and radishes in the background.

Curly Pumpkin Vines!

I hope everything you're growing is staying healthy, and giving you a delicious feast!
May you have happy summer adventures & safe returns to your nest!
~ C

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Reasons I LOVE Being a Homemaker
(a growing list)

 1. My house is clean... most of the time...

2. If I don't want to do it or clean it, I don't have to.

3. I don't punch a clock! Which means I can also take a break.

4. Tea time. At home. In a tea cup, with the occasional goodie. Enough said.

5. I have time to hang my laundry on a clothesline. 
This is for two reasons - 1) it's actually faster than my old 70's dryer, & 2) I step outside, and suddenly I'm living little house on the prairie!

6. I'm able to focus on growing my own food. And food always tastes better when you grow it yourself.

7.  Did I mention I make my own schedule? :D This is really freeing to my spirit.

8. If I get everything done that I wanted to, I can have afternoon for crafting, time to myself, or go on a coffee date. (Even if I don't do everything, it can still happen!)

9. I'm the boss.

10.  While I do my thing, I play my music... LOUD! And no one is in their home to care.

11. Living on one income makes you focus on your priorities, financial and otherwise, and forces you to acknowledge what is truly important to you. 
We live simply, and we like it that way.

12. And my favorite... if I want to go to 'work' in a sarong, or even just my underwear, that's okay!

'Sweet, Simple Things'

Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Rainy Day Oatmeal Raisin Cookies

Rainy days always make me want to bake. Always.
And they go perfectly with that cozy, milky cuppa tea and a blanket.
And maybe a fur-baby on your lap and a movie! I <3 rainy days!

This recipe is one of my most favorites, partially because I love oatmeal raisin, and partially because I made it. Yes, I did!
I can't say that about too many recipes, but this is one I altered, tweaked, and shifted, so much over many months, until it no longer resembled what it was originally.
After many tests on our small group and my hubby, it's ready!

Before you start, I need to say a few things about the ingredients.
The quality of ingredients totally makes this cookie. You can substitute things, (like brown sugar instead of the raw sugar & molasses) but honestly, it's not going to be as good. Use the molasses, use RAW honey. (Check in your area for a good, local raw honey)
You can taste the difference!

Rainy Day Oatmeal Cookies
  Ingredients ~
       1 c. butter, softened
       slightly less than 1 c. raw sugar
       about 1½ tbsp. molasses
       ½ c. raw, quality honey
       2 large eggs
       1½ tbsp. vanilla
       1 tsp. salt or LoSalt
       1 tsp cinnamon (Do you love cinnamon? Put in more!)
       ½ tsp nutmeg (Just like the cinnamon, if you're a spice fan, add more. Why not!?)
       1 tsp. baking soda  
       1½ c. flour ~ 1 c. white & ½ c. whole wheat 
                   (Or try just whole wheat for wonderfully thick cookies)
       3 to 3½ c. rolled oats
       1 to 1 ½ c. raisins

Directions ~
1. Preheat oven to 325*

2. Creme together butter and sugars, including honey. With the molasses, I don't usually measure the amount, which probably means I add a little more. (I'm terrible, I know!) Since the raw sugar is less than a full cup, I usually pour the molasses on top of the raw sugar, so both of them together make a full cup.

3. Beat in eggs and vanilla until smooth, and all mixed together.

4. Add salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, and baking soda, and blend together.

5. Add flour. If doing all whole wheat, try adding a cup at a time. 

6. Add oats and raisins! At this time, resist eating all the dough before baking.

7. Make 2 inch balls or mounds on a cookie sheet. I highly recommend a Silpat mat or parchment sheet. If you don't have either, remember to grease your cookie sheet.

8. Bake for 11 to 15 mins. Check at the 10 or 11 min. mark, then add time. Don't over brown. When you take them out, let them stay on the sheet a few minutes. They cook a little longer on the sheet. When you take them out a minute or two before being really browned, and let the sheet cook for a minute, this is one of the ways they become delightfully chewy. (The honey and molasses helps too!)

9. Store cooled cookies in a sealed container to retain the extra chewiness moisture. Enjoy!!!

If you make these, and find problems, please let me know! 
I just made these on Sunday, so they should be wonderful! :) 

Happy Baking!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Bugs & Mold: Solving some common garden problems

 My garden has bugs.
Not the little fly things or even nasty aphids.
I have cutworms.  And they are pure evil!!!

They come along, and chew up the leaves. Most of the time,  they chew the leaves off the steam, and the plant dies. It's been a bit depressing!

See the whole sections of carrots missing? That's because of the bugs!!! And that powder... I'll talk about that later.

I realize I haven't written about anything in a while. I'm trying to figure out what I've been doing the last month... I went up to the mountain with my dad for the last few days of the season. It had been ten years since I skied. It hurt and was super fun at the same time. I had a ladies night with my sister and cousin. My husband and I went up to Washington for a while to see his parents and sister. We rearranged our living room, and have been hanging out with people a LOT! It's a good life!

As far as home making stuff, I have been trying to spring clean the house and clean up our extra room (from when we thought we were moving and had started packing. Ya, it's a disaster.) I've been discovering and using essential oils around the home, but that's for another post. Really, I've mostly been focused on getting rid of these bugs! And a strange mold I found on my seedlings!

I love gardening, but between the bugs, and mold, and then my zucchini freezing, gardening has been very sad and difficult.

Then this little guy showed up...

... and gave me some HOPE!
This is a brand new pumpkin plant!
(He's got some little cracks. I'm not sure why, but constantly checking on him to make sure he's okay.) 

I wanted to grow pumpkins, but it didn't look like I'd have room in the raised beds. So, we bought a whisky barrel from a lady on Craig's List.
The other thing was, I didn't want to buy a whole seed packet to sprout one seed for a pumpkin. That's when the lovely Darina Davidson stepped in. We sent each other a bunch of seeds in the mail, and this is one she sent. 
I HIGHLY recommend having a seeds swap pen pal! :)

So, are you wondering what to do about the bugs? It's frustrating, isn't it?
Some of my garden is on its 3rd planting, just because the bugs are so bad this year! But don't worry. I now have back up, and I will share with you what I did.

For tiny bugs, like aphids, I found an interesting mixture of
garlic and chili powder, steeped overnight, strain into a sprayer with a little castile or murphy's oil soap, then spray on. It's a repellent!

When doing this search, I misread something involving vinegar as a bug repellent. DO NOT use vinegar on plants! They WILL DIE!!! I found this out the hard way, and killed most of my first planting. That being said, vinegar and water is a great weed killer for those buggers in your gravel.

So, the chili mixture wasn't working great for the cutworm problem, and more and more plants were disappearing! (If it hadn't been raining so much, it may have worked better, I realize.) I had a second planting coming up, then I went to Washington, and they were all gone! This is when I got serious.

After talking to the awesome guy at our local indoor garden shop, Meg-n-Grow (close to Fred Meyers, in the same plaza as Zooka Kids Dental, for you local Bendites,) he showed me various sprays, and told me some tricks. 
First off, I bought some Captain Jacks Deadbug Brew. I know, right!? It's just about as awesome as the name implies. They nibble, they die! And it's organic.

He then told me I should also get some Diatomacious Earth. 
He's so cool and knows so much! They didn't sell that stuff, but told me where I could and what it would do to help kill the bugs and keep things organic.

So, I go over to Ace Hardware, and ask the lady at the counter where I could find Diatomacious Earth. Conversation as follows...

Check out lady, in a country voice: "Di-to-na-cious!? I never even heard-a that! Hey Jack, have you ever heard-a Di-to-na-cious Earth? Do we ever have that!?"
Good old Jack was able to tell us exactly where it was.

Diatomacious Earth, or DE, is a naturally occurring rock powder. You sprinkle on the dirt around your plants, and when the bugs crawl across, it cuts them as well as dehydrates them, and they die. (And that's the less graphic version! I'll spare you more details.) It's kind gross, I know. But this is our food for the summer, and this means war! 

You should know DE is totally natural, organic, and non-toxic,  and even found in some toothpastes! Because the method of killing the bugs is physical, and not chemical, it's much safer and there's no build up of tolerance or pollution, (like Round-Up. Yuck!)


Okay, moving on to gross thing number two...
My seedlings have developed mold on top of the soil. I'm pretty sure I got some in a bag of potting soil. But by the time I realized it, I had use almost all of it. <Sigh>
So, I've been trying to replant almost everything. I need to clean up the old pots, and maybe bleach them. If you know a safer, more natural way to clean mold off pots, I am all ears! Please post a comment below!!

As for the plants, the best thing to do is scrape the nastiness off the top, then repot with as little of the old soil as possible. I've had really good success with this so far.

Another thing, check your watering! If you are watering the soil too much, that gives the perfect environment for mold to grow. On some of the littler guys, I've been misting directly where the root goes into the ground, and not the whole little pot. That's been helping too. I really didn't want to put anything on the mold because I didn't want to harm the plants. I'm sure there's stuff out there you could do. One thing I saw was misting chamomile tea on it. (Do some more research on this if that's what you're going to do.)

One more anti-mold idea: mold loves stagnant air. Air flow creates an environment that mold doesn't like, so I put a little fan on the lowest setting towards my plants. It's not going all the time, but especially on warm or muggy days, this is a very good thing.

Garden Update

I had a lot of bad gardening issues happen at once, but hopefully the worst is behind us.
Most of my gardening is starting to look good again, thankfully. 

Other than my new pumpkin, my most exciting garden news is that my leaf lettuce in a pot has gone crazy, and is already eating size! When did that happen? It sure has loved this clouds and rainy weather we've had.

Grand Rapids Leaf Lettuce, ready for munching!

And soon I will have my first strawberry, with a few others close behind!

And my other seedlings are looking good too. I have other squash starts to replace the ones that died tragically. Now, I'm really glad I planted so many, and didn't give them all away.

 Yes, this is all on my kitchen table. Apparently, we use it less than we thought anyway!

Sweetie Tomatoes! Started from seed, and looking good!
Another few weeks, and these will be going outside to a raised bed.

And outside in the beds, the radishes are starting to come up again... for the third time. 
Again... <sigh>  But they're looking good. I just keep sprinkling the DE and Deadbug Brew. Bugs, stay away!!!  These plant guys are looking so cute.

So, all in all, things are looking better, as soon I replant the squash, it'll be looking good.

I will try to post more recipes soon. I'm still in the planning stage for which of my favorites to include, so be watching for that! 

Hope you all are having a happy spring!
If you haven't yet, get those seeds and starts out there soon! You've still got some time depending on what you plan on growing.

As always, happy planting!