Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Greenhouse Boxes: Part II

Hi! I wanted to show you a little update on how the clear storage boxes are working as greenhouses. Like I said before, this is the first time we've tried using them, and I wasn't sure how well they would work. But I have to show you guys how awesome these are. First, I think I said last time that we could keep the lids on when it wasn't sunny. That's not really true. You really have to have the lids cracked all the time for ventilation or your boxes will get too hot. You can still stack them, just offset the lids a little, like this:  

Here's what our greenboxes looked like just one week after we planted the seeds.

This is the best start we've ever had! Here's what I think is working this year:

  • Presoaking - I think that soaking the seeds made a big difference. We had some things sprout just two days after we planted these little guys! 
  • Even, gentle moisture - The boxes work great for keeping everything evenly moist, which I also think helped them grow faster. I also only used a spray bottle to water the seeds for the first week. I think this also helped. Sometimes I think pouring water on the soil can actually push the seeds too deep. 
  • Even Sunlight - What I love about the boxes is that they are easy to maneuver. In the past we were trying to rotate flimsy trays so that plants would grow straight (since they bend toward the window side), and rotating things from bottom shelves to top ones.  This gets especially hard when the plants are a little bigger and get easily tangled with each other. With the boxes; I just unstack them, water everything, and then rotate the other side to the window, switching the bottom and top box. The plants are totally undisturbed--no tangling, no spilled dirt. 
Once all the seeds have sprouted, you can remove the lid permanently. A week before planting you put the boxes outside during the day to harden them off and make the transition smoother.

This method definitely works for us. I took these pictures two days ago and most of the plants have already doubled in size just since then. With the fast growing rate, the boys have loved getting to watch the seeds sprout and grow. Since you can see the condensation on the lid and sides of the boxes we've been able to throw in a little pre-school science as well about water cycle and air flow. Bonus! Hope you are having a great week! You are loved!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Make a Difference: Water for Life

Hello, on a Saturday! I'm posting today because it's World Water Day, meant to draw attention to the fact that more than a billion people in the world do not have access to clean drinking water.


When I saw this video I was amazed by this filter. Thank God for people who are smart enough to come up with these solutions. Clean, safe water for a family for their entire lives for $79--how can you say no to that? Watch this:

Can you say no? I thought not. : ) Click here to donate one, then go enjoy a nice clean glass of water knowing that now someone else can do the same!

Thanks for reading, and for making a difference, friends!

Thursday, March 20, 2014

Healthy Homemade Snacks

Hi! I thought today I would share a few ideas/recipes for easy, healthy snacks. Just because pre-packaged health food is expensive doesn't mean that healthy food is expensive. As with all things, when something's overpriced I always think: could I make this, and would it be worth it? When I saw Disney from Ruffles & Stuff posted this homemade version of a larabar a few years ago, I thought: yes and yes! It's not rocket science. Disney did one I'd call PB&J, with just peanuts and raisins. We actually didn't have either of those things so we did our own versions. Here's three versions of "LaraStars" to try for yourself. : )

1. Cranberry Date LaraStars

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup pitted dried dates
2/3 c pecans
dash of salt

2. Cranberry Apricot LaraStars

1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup dried apricots
2/3 cup pecans
dash of salt

makes 20 bites or balls

Combine all ingredients in a food processor until very finely chopped.

Press mix into silicone ice cube molds or roll into one-inch balls. The firmer you compact it, the better it will hold it's shape. Refridgerate 30-60 minutes.

Remove from mold and keep in airtight container in the fridge. Here's the date ones:

...and here's the apricot, my personal favorite. Seriously so, so good! Be creative, really any combo of dried fruit and nuts should work in about the same ratio. If you feel the mix is too dry, add more fruit, if too sticky add more nuts. Easy!

3. Coconut Fruit Truffles
If you decide to do the balls instead of the stars (or other mold shape), try this: before you mix the ingredients in the food processor, pulse 1/2 cup natural dried coconut until very finely chopped. Set aside, and pulse the rest of the ingredients. After rolling the fruit and nut mixture into balls, roll in the coconut powder to coat. They look like little fruit truffles, but they are sugar, dairy and gluten free!

I shared the recipe for these peanut butter oat snacks at Super bowl time. If you don't coat them with chocolate these might be considered healthy. They're a good shot of protein, with a sweetness that will curb your sweet tooth. I've always felt oatmeal cookies doen't even count as dessert, they're made of oats, c'mon! : ) Here's the recipe again:

No-bake Chocolate Chip Oatmeal Cookies

1 cup oats (not quick)
1/2 cup peanut butter
1/3 cup honey
1 cup dried natural coconut flakes (unsweetened)- pulsed in a a food processor until finely chopped
1/2 cup ground almonds or pecans OR crushed cereal
1 tbsp chia seeds (optional)
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips

Mix all ingredients in a bowl and chill in the fridge for 1 hour. Form dough into 1" balls and store in an airtight container in the fridge.
Makes 2 dozen

We don't have soccer players yet, but maybe one of these snacks would make a good team snack? Barring a nut allergy of course (but great for the sugar, dairy, gluten-free crowd). Orange slices and granola bars must get old at some point, right? Here's to happy, heathy snacking!

- Haley

Monday, March 17, 2014

Planting o' the Green

Happy St. Patrick's Day! I know Spring doesn't officially start for a few more days, but when we get to St. Patty's Day it feels like time to start growing stuff. Maybe it's all the green. Every year we try something new in the garden. New plants, new methods, new ideas. That's what I love about gardening, every year is different. 

In Colorado you can't get things in the ground safely until about Mother's day, so we usually start seeds inside in March or April. Every year we start a little sooner. This year we are trying a new greenhouse method. I saw it on a garden forum, but there wasn't really any info with the picture. Still, I could see the possibilities of this economical and flexible greenhouse method and knew this was something we wanted to try. I bought these clear 66 qt Sterilite containers (with clear lids) at Walmart for less than $9 each. Each one fits about 12-15, 4-pks of plants, or a combination of different sizes of containers. 

When it's warm and sunny in the morning we offset the lids to let them vent and not get too hot. Once the sun's not shining on them you can put the lids on and stack them to save space. In years past it's been hard having a little greenhouse in the kitchen sometimes. Now, if we need to move them we can. Plus they will be easy to put outside when the weather is nice and when it's time to harden them off slowly before we plant them in the garden. If we happen to get a late frost, we can turn the boxes upside-down over the plants in the garden to protect them, and when we are done with them for the season, they stack inside each other for easy storage. 

Before we planted our seeds this year I tried soaking the larger seeds. I've read this speeds sprouting time. I just soaked them for 10-30 minutes in an ice cube tray so I could keep them separate, but soak them all at once. 

Every year we plan out our garden so we know what we want to grow and where, and how many plants to start. Then I start a couple more of each plant than we need just in case some don't grow. If they all grow we have some to give to friends. : ) 

This year I'm trying to be more strategic. I looked up several companion plant guides (here's one if you're looking), to see what's best grown together. I'm not that picky about flowers, so I am mostly only planting flowers that will help our veggie garden. I've read that nasturtium improves the flavor of tomatoes and can also keep some bugs at bay. Nasturtium flowers are edible, which would make for a pretty salad too. Marigolds are also notorious natural bug repellers. I found a pretty vanilla variety of marigold I'm excited about. I also read that planting sunflowers near cucumbers will give them a sweeter flavor and if you want you can use the stalks as a trellis for the cucumber. Interesting huh? We love basil and that's also supposed to keep some bugs out of the garden and help with better pollination (read about that here), so rather than just planting that in our herb garden, I'm mixing it into our veggie beds this year. 

We'll see how all our new methods pan out. I've got a few other garden plans in the works, so hopefully I will have more garden ideas to share soon. Any gardening tips that have helped your garden? 

**Update: Click here to see how the greenhouse boxes are working just one week later,
and click here to see them at six weeks after planting.
We will definitely be doing these again, although next year we are going to be careful to use "seed starting soil" rather than just potting soil, because it seems like the 2" containers run out of nutrients before it's time to transplant them. **

Happy planting! 
 - Haley

Friday, March 7, 2014

Book of the Month: Love Does

I'm making one of my goals for this year to read one book a month. So far I've read two, and added about five to the list. I loved the book I just finished so much; I could not recommend it more. If you are looking for a book to encourage and inspire you, Love Does is the book for you. 

Bob Goff writes about a lifetime of crazy adventures, chances taken, and lessons learned. I don't know how you can be so humble and so awesome at the same time, but apparently Bob knows a lot of people just like him. The book is full of stories about everything. He writes about his friend who invented the frappuccino (true story), about hitch-hiking with Satan, scaling mountains in a snowstorm with his son, and freeing kids held in prison without trial in Uganda. I told you, everything. It reads like you're having coffee with Bob and he's just telling you about this one time... except at the end, he sums up what he learned from it, and how he sees life differently because of it.

Here's a couple of my favorite quotes from the book -

I used to be afraid of failing at something that really mattered to me, but now I'm more afraid of succeeding at things that don't matter.
Faith isn't an equation or formula or business deal that gets you what you want. In short there's nothing on the other side of the equals sign, just Jesus. 

I hope you like Love Does as much as I did! I'm so glad I read it. What are you reading? Anything I should add to the growing list?

Have a good weekend, friends! It's cold and snowy here, perfect reading weather. : )


Sunday, March 2, 2014

A Quilt for Craft Cheaters

When it comes to crafts and DIY projects I require basically instant satisfaction. If it's going to take much more than a day or two, I may lose interest. So I never really thought I'd be much of a quilter. But, I saw a cheat on Pinterest that I just had to try. I combined this with my favorite self-binding blanket pattern and it made for a time-friendly quilt project. If you've never quilted, this is the place to start!

First you pick out your fabrics, and cut nine squares total, whatever size you want. I think I did 9" squares.  Lay them out the way you want and then sew (right sides together) into strips of three with 1/2" inseam. Then sew the strips together (again right sides together) to form a 3x3 square. Iron all the seams.

Okay now here's the cool part: measure and mark the half way line vertically and horizontally. Then cut along both lines to divide it into four even pieces. It should look like this:

Now, you take your four squares and re-arrange them. Flip them around until you like how it looks. Then sew them (right sides) together. Then you have one big square again, but it looks like you pieced together lots of different sizes. One thing you have to be careful of is using a fabric with a pattern that only looks good "right side up." Luckily I anticipated this, so you see above I sewed one of the printed squares in sideways to begin with, that way when I turned it, all four of those jungle pieces could be right side up. See below:

To bring it all together I used the self binding blanket method which I learned from Tea Rose Home (visit her post for all the details). Briefly: my top layer ended up at 25.5 inches (3 x 9" squares = 27,  minus 3 x .5"seams = 25.5), so I cut the back piece 35" square. This allows for about a 2.5 inch boarder around the outside. You could make it wider or narrower once you've tried the method once or twice. I also added a layer of batting to this one after it was all sewed together and turned right side out. I just slipped it in through the space I used to turn it, and smoothed it out all the way to the corners.  Finally I top stitched all the way around the blanket on the boarder, a quarter inch from the edge of the patched panel. 

I hope that doesn't sound too complicated, it really comes together so fast, especially for a quilt.

Happy crafting and thanks for reading!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...