Friday, April 17, 2015

doing things different...Permaculture

Hi everyone!  How are you all?  I really should be sleeping as I have not had a good nights rest in several nights due to some sick little beans but I am so excited about spring!  Flowers are blooming, compost and veggies are going in and we are officially back in the garden!!!  

I recently took a class at McDonald Farm with my gardening pal Sue about permaculture.  To say that we were inspired was an understatement.  With California's severe drought and the environment shifting, permaculture is changing the way we think about growing food and our relationship with the environment.

PERMACULTURE....Permaculture is the conscious design and maintenance of agriculturally productive systems which have the diversity, stability, and resilience of natural ecosystems. It is the harmonious integration of the landscape with people providing their food, energy, shelter and other material and non-material needs in a sustainable way.

Here we are standing in front of a garden that was created to handle excess runoff water from the farm.  The water used for cleaning farm equipment and washing crops would just spill out into the field causing major erosion issues.

Now the water has been routed into a little creek where it feeds a natural forest garden full of fruit trees and edible perennials.  Nothing is wasted.

Below is a diagram of a small garden formed around a fruit tree that can be used for a residential garden.  A fruit tree planted with several layers of plants that not only help pollinate the tree but create a perennial garden full of low maintenance edibles.

Currently the folks here at the farm are working on creating gardens such as these at local shelters and schools.


*Provides fresh local food to the community
*Demonstrates a commitment to food security and ecological restoration
*reduces or eliminates lawn maintenance costs
*Creates a community park
*Serves as an outdoor classroom or educational resource
*Connects people to food and nature
*Inspires the growth of individual edible forest gardens

It was an unbelievable day at the farm to begin to think about what is possible and what is already taking place around the world.  A movement is happening!  

Won't you join in? 

Happy gardening my friends I will be around soon to check in with you all!  

Tuesday, April 7, 2015


When I was a little kid I would spend hours drawing houses and gardens.  Nothing has changed when it comes to this.  If I'm on a walk, I am constantly looking at peoples' yards and thinking about what plants I would add to their space to enhance it.  That is until one of the beans runs off and I am on the chase!  I'm currently working on a few design projects for people that have been keeping me busy at night.  This one is in the works right now....


I look for inspiration everywhere.  Colors and textures in interior spaces.....

Magazines when sitting in waiting rooms...

Simple things like messy easter eggs....

And music, there must be music!  Benny Goodman has been playing while I work....

All and all it has been a pretty busy start to spring.
Just wanted to check in and wish you all a creative week with bits of inspiration along the way!   
Happy Making, Baking, and Growing!  

Thursday, March 19, 2015

seeds and eggs

There is so much information out there on gardening.  Sometimes it's just best if you put the books down, go out and buy yourself a pack of seeds, throw them in the dirt and see if they grow.  Don't make it so hard but I guess that's just our nature.  We started some of our seeds.  I'm not an expert on the subject but I do know that I like saving money on the garden and this is one way to do it.  Plus the beans like to watch them grow.

They each picked out their packs and then we put them in some little cups for a soak overnight.  

Play in-between of course.

Me busy reusing the millions of old bricks from the old patio to line the back bed.  I figure if I lay 10 a day I may be done by July!

 Again my little station isn't fancy.  This is the kids art table.  I put command hooks on top and attach a shop light to hang under the table for my seeds.  We are growing all kinds of things from flowers to veggies.  Whatever takes is a bonus.  

Zinnias are starting to say hi!  

And because Easter is near we have started working on some eggs.  Washi tape and paper strips.  A fun and easy one!  

So there you have it!  Check out this fantastic lady for some organic seed companies....

Happy Making, Baking, and Growing Friends!

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

getting the beans IN the garden

I watched today as my beans jumped in mud puddles all over the backyard.  The melting snow coupled with warmer temperatures (finally) created the perfect day of mud jumping.  One of those sweet moments that I will have ingrained in my mind forever.

The beans are great.  
They each have their own favorite plants and are fantastic at caring for the garden.  They take time to look in the soil and explore as we go and they care if someone is careless with our plants.  Like when the tree trimmers were cutting back some branches from our gigantic ash tree and my son was concerned that they smashed our flowers.  He actually told one of the men that he hurt one of his mom's plants.  For me, it doesn't get sweeter! 

My ideas about the garden have changed.  LIVING in a garden with children is much more fulfilling than wanting a perfect space.  It has become more of an experiment with them working by my side rather than a museum of plants.

I hope to capture and encourage even more exploration this season.  Here are a few finds I thought were neat to get kids excited about being active players in the garden....

I found these organic seed collection boxes HERE  They carried many different boxes ranging from flower assortments to veggies.  

And I've been hunting for books.  This one is adorable.  It walks kids through planning and mapping out their space.  I have zinnia seeds I saved from last year to go along with the book.

We are going to be doing a little bit of journaling this season as well.  Probably just in note pads but this journal by Creative Kids caught me eye.  It has some great writing/drawing prompts for little ones.

And I think we may be trying some fun art projects like....

Here is to getting people IN the garden!  Happy week everyone!  

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Five on Friday.....

I'm excited to be linking up with my friend Amy from Love Made My Home today!  My 5 are all centered around the home as we have been cooped up for the last month with February being bitterly cold in our neck of the woods.  The beans are all bouncing off the walls and this mama is ready to dig in the dirt!


Each Monday I plan out meals for the week and write them on our chalkboard that sits in our kitchen.  I make my list for exactly what we need for that week and head to the grocery.  So come Sunday the fridge looks pretty bare.  The good part about this plan is that we don't waste much food.  If you must know, I always feel guilty when I see food go to waste.  I try to teach the beans the importance of where their food comes from and how lucky they are to have it.  So with black bananas staring me down, I decided to make a loaf of...

Cream Cheese Chocolate Chip Banana Bread

1/4 cup butter
8oz cream cheese
1 cup sugar
2 eggs
1 1/2 cups whole wheat flour
1 1/2 cups regular flour

1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon salt
1 cup buttermilk
1 1/2 cups ripe smashed bananas 
1/2 teaspoon vanilla
1 1/4 semi-sweet chocolate chips

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Beat the butter and cream cheese until creamy and slowly add the sugar until fluffy.  Then add the eggs one at a time.  In a separate bowl combine the flours, baking soda, powder, and salt.  Sift into the butter mixture alternating the flour mixture with the buttermilk.  Stir in bananas, chocolate chips and vanilla.  Pour into 2 buttered loaf pans.  Bake for about 60 minutes or until a toothpick comes out clean.  Let stand in the pan for 10 minutes before removing.  Once out let the loaves cool for 30 minutes.  YUMMY!

I also think a lot about where our food comes from.  Sure the beans eat processed foods but I try to limit it as much as possible.  Our new favorite snack is one that is not only easy to make but works well because it only requires 3 ingredients that we always have on hand.

Sun Butter Honey Oat Bites

We have a nut allergy in our home so I changed this recipe from peanut butter to sunbutter and I was thrilled at how delicious it tasted!   
{Inspired by the peanut butter version found on Pinterest}

1/2 cup of sunbutter
1/4 cup of honey
about 1 cup of oats 
(a little more of mixture seems to wet)

~Grease a 9 by 9 pan
~Heat sunbutter and honey in the microwave for 45 seconds and stir 
~Pour in oats and stir again
~Press into pan and put it in the fridge for a couple of minutes to let set
~Cut into squares

Two~Crafting with Beans {character board}

Did I mention that we've been cooped up?!!?  The perfect time to take a trip to Michaels to buy some bits for a new project.  I've had this old sign for a long time and kept it because I knew it would come in handy one day.  The beans and I decided to turn this into our character board.

We picked up wooden hearts and stars at the craft store.  As well as magnetic strips and letters.  I wanted them to have a hand in making the pieces for their board.  The beans painted the pieces and added their names to the newly sprayed sign.

When they make good choices, show good character, and do their chores I tell them to add a star or heart to their board.   It's been such a fantastic way to highlight their positive behaviors throughout the day and a great motivator as well.


I wish I could say that I finished my girls' room but I'm not quite there yet.  In the meantime, I've been adding some finishing touches to my little man's room.  My pop found a vintage airplane calendar for my son so I was able to use some of those photos in his new gallery wall.  


And because I still have a ton of fabric from my old curtains I hand sewed a few hearts that hung in the house during the month of February.  Thinking I will use them as ornaments for Christmas this year.


Last on the list are  2 items I would like to purchase for our garden this year.  I have an infatuation with garden obelisks.  The problem is every obelisk that I like is only made and shipped within the UK.  You all sure know how to make them over there!   Wooden obelisks with round finials are my favorite.

So after a lot of searching I found this one here   The price is right though I will probably end up painting it and maybe just maybe adding my own round finial to the top!  

The last piece for the garden would be a potting bench.  I like the idea of having one for all my "stuff" as well as using it to create vignettes during the cold winter months here in Chicago.  This picture (a bit fuzzy) was from a Christmas walk I went on with my mom and sisters.

I found this simple straightforward version from here

And there you have it!
 I wanted to take a moment and thank you all for being so outstanding.  This journey has connected me with so many extraordinary folks from across the globe!  You inspire me daily!

Wishing you all a lovely weekend!  

*I've been informed that my comments have stopped reaching people's email inboxes.  I'm not sure why so if anyone has any advice on that please feel free to share.

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

embracing small....our edible garden plans for 2015

I'm not gonna lie.  I've been struggling with mapping out the veggies this year as I've been working very hard to embrace small plot gardening.  You'd think I'd have a grip on this by now as I have mastered (kind of) living in a 1600 square foot house with 3 kids.  The truth of it all is that my dream of having a rocking huge yard to grow every kind of fruit and vegetable possible still lingers around in my head especially when I come across gardens like this.....


Dreams aside, and life in the now brings me to what vegetables I'm going to grow this year.  I find it very overwhelming to map out what veggies I want to grow so making a visual collage always helps me stay focused when seed and plant shopping.  Here is what's going in....

Tomatoes-heirloom and cherry {cherry tomatoes in pots}
Salad {pots}
Yellow Crookneck Squash {seeds from here...Seeds Of Change}
Eggplant  {pots}
Pole Beans {over my arbor}

I will be purchasing many of my seeds this year  from
All Good Things Organic Seeds.  

Via~Mano Farm

Now to save on space many of my vegetables will be going in pots as I have listed above.  Not in the list above are all of my herbs.  They always go in containers and those include.....


Other edibles I have growing in containers are Autumn Bliss raspberries and strawberries.

The two plots I constructed for this season are each 4 by 6 feet so I will have room for my climbers in the far north bed {cucumbers and peas}.  

The Victory Gardens of the past always inspire me when dealing with my small plot.  It's amazing what you can create with a vision! 

So that's the start of the endless planning and mapping for the upcoming season...but my brain wouldn't have it any other way!  

Happy Making, Baking, and Growing Friends!