Would you still love Asparagus if it grew all year long?

Wednesday, January 28, 2015

I like to read old gardening books. Old weight lifting books. Old history and economics books... I like to see what people "used to think." It turns out, they used to think the same things we still think. And what they "discovered" as something new, eventually gets discovered by us as something new. Crazy.

Of course, in gardening, they often had a few things wrong or different due to a limited understanding of genetics and technology. I recently read a very interesting book about improving productivity in strawberries. It was from the early 1900s. It had a couple of interesting "new ideas" that I'm going to implement this summer.

The most striking part of the book was a mention of the author's home garden. His asparagus bed alone was 50 feet by 40 feet (2000 square feet of asparagus!) My entire garden is 130 square feet. That's it. And I have three lone asparagus plants.

Three asparagus plants on the corner of this bed, sharing space with 12 tomato plants
I was in shock! Maybe I was just doing this all wrong. How could I ever expect to make a reasonable impact on our diet or budget with just 130 square feet of garden. And clearly I was not growing enough asparagus! 

When I brought this up to my husband, he said, "they must eat asparagus for every meal, all week long." And sure enough, later in the book he discussed that they did eat asparagus every single day. I didn't see anything wrong with that (since I love asparagus!) but would it still be so loved if it was so plentiful? 

Food for thought....

(Since the season is still so short, I think it would still be loved - at least by me.)




Adovia 100% Pure Dead Sea Bath Salts - Review

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for review  purposes. All opinions expressed are my own and no links in this article are affiliate links.

I love using bath salts. It seems like such a minor thing, but adding minerals to the bath really makes a difference in my muscle aches and even my mood! I recently had the opportunity to review the 100% pure dead sea Bath Salts from Adovia.

The Dead Sea is known for it's high concentration of healing minerals and people travel far and wide for its benefits. So it makes since that products made from the Dead Sea would contain a higher percentage of healing minerals.

The Adovia salts are formulated with over 26 essential minerals that the body needs for soothing and relaxation. They contain no additives, colors or scents.

I like this because sometimes you just want a plain old, healing bath. And sometimes I want to add scents. Since these are unscented, I can add my own lavender, lemon, rose petals, or other extracts.

There is a good quantity of salts in the bag, and the bag itself is resealable. Personally, I like to display the salts since they are naturally beautiful so I dump them into a lidded glass jar, but the resealable top would be great if you needed to bring them with on travels or if you wish to keep them in the bag.

All-in-all, these are quality salts and I would buy them again.

Valentine's Day Gift Ideas

Valentine's Day is fast approaching and it's custom to buy gifts for those you care about. But in this day and age, gifts are challenging to find. That's why I say practical and edible gifts are always a good idea. I recently had the opportunity to sample the chocolate popcorn sampler!

One place to find unique edible gifts is GourmetGiftBaskets.com I recently had the opportunity to sample the chocolate popcorn sampler! Yum-o. This box set is loaded with all types of chocolate flavored popcorn in combinations you would have never even thought possible -- like funky monkey, cookies & cream, and strawberry cheesecake.

This is a gift someone would love to get. I loved it and if you are stumped for Valentine's day, you might want to peruse their site to see if there is anything you might want to get for your special someone.

Disclosure: I received a complimentary sample for review purposes. No compensation was received, this post does not contain affiliate links, and all opinions expressed are my own.

Jump Start your Health and Join the 2015 Vionic Walkabout

Now that January is coming to an end (and New Year's resolutions are long forgotten) it's time to get ready for Vionic's 2015 Walkabout (co-sponsored by Dr. Weil.) 

Sign up now for the February 1st start date, and pledge to walk everyday for 30 days to improve your health and well being!
 
 
Why should we walk?: 
Walking can improve your health. In fact, our bodies were made to walk!! Walking is weight bearing exercise that not only benefits your heart and lungs, but also increases your lean muscle mass, improves your balance & agility, and improves lymph circulation. 
It can also improve your mood and get you outside to enjoy the natural world (or even the material world if you'd like to take up mall walking.)
 
It's also easier than most other exercises, making it something you start (at your own pace) and can stick with. 
 Set a goal, join the Walkabout pledge, and strap on some proper walking shoes. The start to a healthy future is just a few footsteps away...




* I received a complimentary pair of walking shoes as part of this promotion.

Epica 3-Piece Ash Bucket Set Review

Monday, January 26, 2015

Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for review  purposes. All opinions expressed are my own and no links in this article are affiliate links.


I recently had the opportunity to review this stylishly designed
6 Gallon Ash Bucket with Lid. I have every intention of using this near our fire pit to collect and store the ashes I use in our garden. But...then my husband placed it near the fireplace and we realized just how good it looked there.

I am tempted to keep at as a decoration!! It's a quality bucket and would be great for holding ashes. It comes with a lid and scoop. It can hold up to 6 gallons and is made of fireproof material so it's safe to put ashes inside.

If you need a place to store your ashes (and if you create ashes - I recommend you save them for your garden or compost bin!) then I would recommend this bucket set.


MeasuPro Programmable Cooking Thermometer Review

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Disclosure: I received a free product for review purposes. No compensation was received, no affiliate links are contained in this article, and all opinions expressed are my own.

How do you know when meat is done? If you're like me, then you spent years "just guessing." Then I discovered my oven had a thermometer probe and my cooking changed incredibly. But what if you don't have probe with your oven? You can do get your own. The  MeasuPro Digital Cooking thermometer is a portable oven probe you can use with any oven.

In fact, since I have a probe for my usual oven, I have been using the MeasuPro for my solar oven and I am so glad to have it! 

The best thing about a cooking probe is being able to tell the temperature deep within the food, without opening the oven and losing valuable heat. This particular thermometer is very easy to use as it comes with preprogrammed meat temperatures (no more guessing at medium rare steak or chicken doneness.)

If you do not have a temperature probe, I would recommend this for your regular oven. And I highly recommend it for solar ovens. Stick thermometers are hard to read through the condensation in a typical solar oven and opening the oven in any way loses precious heat you would have taken hours to build! 

Happy cooking!


Diatomaceous Earth with Calcium Bentonite Review

Disclosure: I received a free product for review purposes. No compensation was received, no affiliate links are contained in this article, and all opinions expressed are my own. 

As a gardener, I am familiar with Diatomaceous Earth Powder for it's bug killing properties. In fact, I own a bag of regular old diatomaceous powder. 

So when I was offered the chance to review the food grade Diatomaceous Earth powder with Calcium Bentonite from Abundant Living, I was happy to give it a try.

This product was different from your usual diatomaceous (DE) products in a couple of key ways. First of all, this product is food grade. I have recently been reading up on the benefits of DE for treating parasites, body lice, and flea but the product I have for my garden is not food grade. I would prefer to use a food grade product if required to ingest DE or feed it to my animals.

Second of all, a minor but surprisingly important difference is the bottle. My usual DE comes in a bag and transfer it to a bucket and scoop it out as needed. It's a dusty, messy situation. Having an easy applicator bottle will be much easier to use, especially in the house if you need to take care of an ant problem  or need to treat your room for bed bugsand you want to use DE without a dusty mess.

The biggest difference, however, is the addition of Calcium Bentonite. I had to google what calcium bentonite was and whether or not it was safe/helpful for human use. This site has a ton of great information and I recommend you read it over if you are planning to use calcium bentonite in your home.

My take was that it is a clay from volcanic ash - useful in detoxifying and providing minerals.

I plan to use my big bag of DE for outdoor uses and use this exclusively for any human, household, or pet needs. 

The makers of this product also claim that it can be used to get the urine smell out of carpets or furniture.... Luckily, I have not had a reason to try this yet (knock on wood!!!) but if our kitty has any issues in the future, I will be ready to give this a try.



Premium 100% Pure Lavender Essential Oil Review

Recently, I started making my own soap. After getting started with lemon oil, I have now moved on to peppermint oil and now lavender oil.

I had a chance to review the  Lavender oil from Applejack Life.

The oil is therapeutic grade and steam distilled. The bottle is 4 oz, so it should last a long time. There are many uses - from treating insomnia to muscle relaxation, to scenting your home.

Here is a list of recommended used from the manufacturer:

  • Treat insomnia
  • Freshen laundry
  • Aromatheraphy
  • Add to your bed and bath
  • Add to your pet’s bath
  • Use on vacuum bags
  • Scent potpourri and candles
  • Add to skin cream to soothe skin
  • Treat bug bites, rashes and sunburns
  • Promote hair growth
  • Provide headache and migraine relief
  • Boost your immune system
  • Reduce acne, scars and stretch marks
  • Relax aching muscles
  • Relieve stress, anxiety and depression

I have used it in the aromatherapy capacity and to relax muscles in the tub (mixed with bath salts). I love the scent. I also plan on using it in soap when I get back into soap making.

This product is high quality, comes in an amber glass bottle to protect the oil, includes the necessary dropper, and even comes with a 1 year money back guarantee. I am quite happy with it.

*Disclosure: I received a complimentary product for review purposes. No compensation was received. There are no affiliate links in this posting.

Using Christmas Trees as Mulch for the Garden

Monday, January 19, 2015

Walking through the neighborhood the other day, I was surprised to see "used" Christmas trees lying in people's front lawns. I saw two of them in a span of 3 blocks and it's the middle of January.

I thought about them the during the entire walk. I wanted them....

My half mulched garden bed

No - I am not a hoarder. Well unless we're talking about seeds, toilet paper, organic materials, and gardening supplies. Then I guess I might be...

One night after swim practice, we swung by the trash to spit out some gum and I noticed a half-eaten apple core in the garbage. I asked my kids, "is it wrong that I want to take that apple home?"

Not to eat, but to compost.  It takes everything in me not to knock on my neighbor's doors and ask for the leaf bags they set out with the trash each fall (in fact, I've decided that I'm asking from now on...and I might as well ask for their coffee grounds too.)

And so it is with the Christmas trees. I want to drag them home and cut off all their branches...and use them as mulch for the garden.

In the photo above, you can see that half of my beds are mulched with pine needles (that I picked up from a lady on craigslist who wanted them raked from her yard.) I got just enough for my blueberry bushes.

But I need a more long lasting - slug stabbing - mulch for the rest of the garden. I would get more pine needles if they were available, but why not spruce tips?

I imagine they would take just as long as pine needles to break down. They are spiky too, so slugs may not enjoy them. I want them to cover the soil, not act as compost, so I would keep the stems rather large. That would keep cutting down to a minimum.

I just convinced myself. Like the Grinch, I am off to steal the trees from their yards. Just kidding. I would totally ask.

My only concern now is that I have read they may be sprayed with chemicals to keep them looking "extra fresh" during the holiday season. Anyone know if this is true or if I can happily accept all used trees from here on out?
Handling Addiction

Overcoming addiction is a difficult process. Often, it feels like a singular, isolated experience. Addicts frequently cannot fathom a world free of their chosen substance. However, there are many men and women who have overcome their addictions. It can be done! Below is a list of ways to overcome addiction.

Retreats

Morningside Recovery is completely dedicated to helping addicts overcome substance and alcohol abuse. Patients who attend their facilities will be taken through a personalized recovery program tailored to their exact needs. Morningside features conventional methods, including a 12-step program, as well as unconventional methods designed to perfectly suit a patient’s needs. The company also features multiple payment methods, traveling arrangements and options, and more. Patients are encouraged to be aggressive through their recovery process, and the company promises to aid their patients in every facet of recovery.

At Home Detoxification

Detoxing at home is not a process that should be taken lightly. It takes approximately eight to ten days. Sadly, at home detoxification is often quite intense. Before you begin, patients should make sure any outstanding responsibilities, like work or children, can be taken care of for at least a week and a half. Patients should also ask a friend or family member to check on them twice a day. Food should be bought and prepared in advance. Also, plenty of research should be conducted before beginning. Consulting with a doctor is also strongly encouraged.

Support Groups

There are dozens of support groups available for men and women suffering from drugs and alcohol addiction. Most popular among them are Alcoholics Anonymous, but there are many more. Support groups are an excellent way to encourage sobriety and overcome addiction. Many people can not survive the road to sobriety without at least minimal support. Of course, greater support is usually available through sponsors, interventions, and events.

Overcoming addiction is a trying process. There are companies that can help patients overcome addiction with reinforced support and great expertise. Detoxing at home is another option, but it is usually quite difficult and requires research and preparation. Support groups are capable of supporting addicts through the other side of recovery. The most important aspect of recovery is that the patient finds the route that works for them.