Category Archives: food

Gardening on Earth Day

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow!, a home gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

Today, Earth Day, was the perfect day to get outside and work in my garden! A few weeks ago I was very eager to plant my seeds, and they grew quite well. So well, in fact, that they are ready to plant outside now even though we still have a chance of frost in our area. So the tomatoes  and peppers will have to stay inside for just a little longer, but I planted the frost-hardy spinach and lettuce today.

These little guys are growing and need to get outside!

I planted both seedlings and seeds in my raised garden bed. The seedlings were growing right by my patio door, which I have been opening every day to let the fresh air in. I hope that was enough to “harden” the plants and make them accustomed to the cool spring weather!

Green Beret spinach

I’m also risking the chance of frost and planted two bean plants and a cucumber plant. They are already flowering! Along with frost, I worry about the two little rabbits I’ve seen running around my yard, so Ed found some garden netting for me to use to protect my baby plants. If all grows well, we–not the rabbits–will be eating fresh lettuce and spinach pretty soon!

Can you see the netting by my cucumber plant?

I’m planning on planting my other plants outside by Mother’s Day. Read my first #HeyLetsGrow post here: Winter Outside, Spring Inside. Happy Earth Day!

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3 Ways to Stay Young

Every time when I look in the mirror
All these lines on my face getting clearer
The past is gone
It went by, like dusk to dawn

I rarely drink from a straw, in fear of creating lines around my pursed lips. Lines that lipstick can bleed through, even though I’m not much of a lipstick wearer. Lines that will betray my age. But if I’m afraid of straws, will that mean I have to stop whistling as well? I bought wrinkle cream for the lines radiating from my eyes. They say that age is just a number, and my number is approaching 50. Grey hairs are slowly appearing, drawing fine lines in my mousey blond hair. Should I hide them with color or wear them proudly?

I started writing this post back in February, when I was thinking about my birthday. When I turned 47, I was celebrating a special anniversary–20 years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Ed and I trained and raised money to be able to walk 39 miles in the Avon Walk to End Breast Cancer. I was so excited about participating in that walk with Ed that 47 didn’t feel that old to me. This year, I turned 48; only two years until I turn 50. Ugh! Usually numbers don’t bother me, but I’ll be honest; this year’s number bothered me! It doesn’t help that many of my friends, parents of my children’s friends, are lamenting their upcoming 40th birthday! When I turned 40, I had a 4 year old, and an 17 month old baby with an ear infection. I was way too tired to even care about turning 40! (How do I remember? I wrote it down on my blog!)

My kids are older now, and so am I! I’m actually much less tired than I was back then. Raising my kids has been so fun, and they keep me young, along with these three things.

3 Ways to Stay Young
1. Learn Something New

As a 40-something, I took downhill ski lessons, which I do not recommend. If you are going to learn how to ski, do it when you are young and stupid, therefore not afraid of heights or going fast or falling and breaking your leg. There is nothing better to keep you young than to scare yourself to death. On second thought, maybe ski lessons aged me instead of keeping me young! So I went in the opposite direction and learned how to knit in my 40’s, which is a very low key and non-risky activity. Now I am part of a knitting group with some nice retired women. That will be much better for my heart!

How does this keep me young? Seriously, though, I love learning new things, including downhill skiing. It really gave me a sense of accomplishment. Learning new things stimulates your brain and helps memory functions. I don’t know about you, but I need help with memory! Where did I put my car keys again?

2. Volunteer

Okay, so I probably volunteer too much. On Wednesday, I baked 22 potatoes for a Lenten dinner. They barely fit in my oven all at one time! Most of my volunteering is at my church and at both my daughters’ schools. Volunteering is a great way to get perspective on age! When I was teaching Sunday school, somehow the subject of Jesus’ second coming came up. I talked about how Jesus was going to come down to Earth and take us up to heaven to live with Him, and how happy we would be. Well, one fifth grade boy did not look so happy. “You mean we’re going to DIE?!?” he exclaimed. “I’m just a kid! I have things I want to do!” So I tried my best to console him and said I didn’t think the second coming was imminent, which was a little tricky as a Sunday school teacher.

Recently I also volunteered at a high school for a show choir competition. Lily was competing in her middle school choir (they sang the song at the beginning of this post), and I’ve never volunteered at the high school level before. It was fun to talk with parents who have older kids than I do; I was able to help out while they went and saw their older kids perform since Lily had already performed the night before.

How does this help keep me young? Volunteering gives you a different perspective, whether it’s caring for old or young people, feeding the hungry, or just volunteering with people different from you. Plus, you feel good after helping others! When my kids are older and I’m not needed at their schools, I hope to volunteer at a hospital or library.

3. Traveling to a new places

Oh, you know this is Ed’s favorite thing to do! Well, somehow he hooked me on traveling too. We had so much fun driving to Yellowstone National Park last summer and visiting a lot of different towns and states. I just booked a trip to Maine, a new state for me! I’m so excited about our summer plans!

How does this help keep me young? The anticipation and excitement of traveling to a new place keeps me feeling young!

What helps keep you young? Let me know in the comments!

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Winter Outside, Spring Inside

Disclaimer: I’m participating in Hey, Let’s Grow, a gardening program sponsored by Monsanto, which provided me with a seed starter kit, Seminis Home Garden seeds, and a gift card for additional gardening supplies. All opinions, along with gardening skills or lack thereof, are my own.

This winter, Chicagoans were surprised by spring-like weather in February, and by winter-like weather in March. We now have quite a few inches of snow on the ground! I mean, seriously, a month ago my kids were ripping off their coats and running to the park to meet their friends, and today they were wearing snow pants and making snow angels in the back yard.

Outside it looks like this
Inside it looks like this

Back when it was warm in February, I was so excited about spring that I wanted to get my garden started! At the beginning of March, I decided which Seminis seeds I was going to plant and used the garden starter kit sent to me by my friends at Monsanto. Even though we usually don’t plant outside until Mother’s Day or later in this area, it’s not too early to start seeds, like tomatoes and peppers, inside.

Well, maybe it’s too early for beans. I’ve already had to put my bean seedlings in bigger pots!

Custard beans

I had no idea what lettuce and spinach seeds and seedlings look like. How fun to be able to plant them and see them sprout! I bought a small grow light from my local garden center to give my seedlings more light to grow by. I hope these little plants flourish–my hope is to have some lettuce and spinach to eat later this spring.

Spinach seedlings on right.

My little pepper seeds haven’t started yet; I think I see one little sprout starting to pop up! I haven’t given up hope; pepper seeds like it warm and take a little longer to sprout, from what I’ve read online.

Do you garden? What would you like to grow? Follow along with my seedlings and me this spring to see what happens!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

pie-4
Cherry pie, pumpkin pie, and key lime pie

For Mara in Norway, my mom’s pumpkin pie recipe! I hope you’ll be able to convert my American measurements, Mara. My mom’s measurements aren’t exact, as you can tell, and we put the larger amount of spices in our pie.

Favorite Pumpkin Pie

1 1/2 cups canned or mashed cooked pumpkin
3/4 cup sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 to 1 teaspoon ginger
1 to 1 1/4 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/4 to 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves

3 slightly beaten eggs
1 1/4 cups milk
2/3 cup evaporated milk
1 nine-inch unbaked pastry shell

Thoroughly combine the pumpkin, sugar, salt and spices. Blend in eggs, milk and evaporated milk. Pour into unbaked pastry shell. (Have edges crimped high because amount of filling is generous.) Bake in hot oven (400 degrees Fahrenheit) for 50 minutes, or until knife inserted halfway between center and outside edge comes out clean. Serve with whipped cream. Enjoy!

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The Tuesday Before Thanksgiving

What do you write about on the Tuesday before Thanksgiving? (Writing a blog post every day has been very challenging for me this year!) The girls didn’t have school today, so we ran a couple of errands. It was mostly a pajama day, however! Pajama days are good to have every once in a while. I’m not hosting Thanksgiving, so I don’t have to worry about cooking and cleaning. I do need to make pies for Thanksgiving, so tomorrow is pie-making day. We are going to make pumpkin pie, a key lime pie, and a cherry pie. Ed has the easiest job of all; he’s supposed to buy the beer!

The pie picture is from our pie making day in 2012! If I remember, I will blog about our pie making tomorrow. 🙂

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