Sunshine and Lollipops

April showers bring May flowers. What a great saying. April has blessed us with blossoms galore and a frenzied pace from nature. My only concern is what the month of May has in store. Hopefully my daughter’s sing-song voice is foretelling what May will bring when she sings “Sunshine, lollipops…rainbows every day. All things wonderful are…coming our way!”
I am in my “happy place” right now. Even flies buzzing past make me smile inside. Everything in nature is on a mission. Have you noticed how busy every species seems to be? Every life form is awake and kick-started into high gear. I love it! At the risk of sounding like I’m giving myself a pat on the back (even though I do feel it is a good thing to do that occasionally), I’ve been very productive this past weekend. I have caught the Spring fever too!
Yesterday I supplemented my new garden with more soil and organic matter. It stills needs more compost which I plan on adding the next sunny day we have. I will be opening up our compost cage to utilize the rich mixture that has been decomposing for the past few summers. I have taken care to only add items that would benefit the mixture unlike what our municipal program considers compostable. Everything “good” goes in my compost pile while everything else that the city deems suitable to compost, but I don’t, goes into my green bins to go to the municipal maggot pile. My only reservation about opening up my compost cage is that I have convinced myself that some type of critter has made a home near the back of the warm, earthy pile. The last thing I want next week’s blog post to be about is how I was sprayed by a skunk while amending my garden! It may be entertaining but I’m not interested.
I have also been baking like a fiend lately. With the peanut-free rule at school I make sure we are well stocked with lunch bag items. I feel guilty putting store-bought, processed unfood into my children’s lunch bag. I feel homemade with love will always trump factory produced “what-is-it”. Please do not think that I am being judgemental of those that put store-bought snacks in their children’s lunch bags. That is your decision, not mine. I choose not to as this works for me and my family.
I find baking to be very therapeutic. We all need a place where our mind can go to do nothing but focus on the moment. Baking is this place for me. As is gardening, lawn mowing (it helps that I can’t hear anyone yelling “Mom!” while I’m mowing the grass), meditation (no, not medication), yoga, reading, and time spent with my friends. A break from inner turmoil is essential. I’m saving myself a bundle on therapy with all the therapeutic activities I employ as part of my day-to-day existence. I should be as calm as a cucumber by now. Or is it as cool as a cucumber? I am neither cool nor calm and I’m OK with that.
I have a few projects started in my cranium and am looking forward to working on them. My new garden can’t be planted for a while yet and to stop myself from jumping the gun I plan on utilizing my time effectively instead of just staring at the patch of soil in my yard.
My soul is singing with the awakening in Nature. I am like a sponge sucking in the beauty that Mother Nature is offering our eyes and minds right now. Take a few moments to just “be” with nature to listen and feel the movement and energy that surrounds us all.
Happiness is not something you postpone for the future; it is something you design for the present.
-Jim Rohn 
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Garden Goddess Gets a Garden

Alright, alright…I’m not really a Garden Goddess but it sure sounds good, doesn’t it? I have been plotting and planning inside my head all winter this year. What have I been concocting in my noggin, you ask?

The fruits of my mental labour are about to be revealed. I had alluded to my plans in a previous post and I am thrilled to share my hard work with you.  I have put my nose to the grindstone and put in my much dreamed about vegetable garden!  The only feasible piece of land for growing is smack dab in the middle of my back lawn. I love my fairly large backyard and hesitated to split up the area.  There was just no other way to get a large enough growing space without doing so. The rooftop garden was no longer feasible for everything I intend on growing and the crazy winds we have been experiencing over the past year or so made me nervous about stuff blowing off the roof and onto my car. That would not be a good scene.

The following photos are a step-by-step of the birth of my new garden. Yeah!

These two photos (above and directly below) are of my lawn prior to implementing my plans. As you can see, this is really the only patch that I get good sunlight.

The garden hose (below) has been laid out as an outline. The rototilling is about to begin. I must give a shout out to my neighbour who was very kind and helped me out with this part. He was like a superhero with that rototiller and turned days of work into mere hours. Thank you helpful neighbour!

I left a strip of lawn (below) as a walk from the deck to the rest of the backyard. Plus, it looks inviting.

Below is the (almost) finished product. A few hours of crawling around picking up clods of grass left behind made my back scream out for relief. Thank goodness for the rain that moved in over the last couple of days. As you can see by the wheelbarrow full of rain water we have had a fair bit. My back is ready to get back at raking out any more grass clumps and throwing down compost to be rototilled into the soil.

I am looking forward to planting my heirloom veggies, having my kids spend time in the garden with me, and best of all reaping the bounty of fresh, homegrown organic vegetables.

With the weird up-and-down weather we are experiencing at present I can only look out my window and dream of sunnier days to come.

Don’t Push Mother Nature…She’ll Push Back.

“Follow the laws of nature and you’ll never go wrong” – Dr. Forrest C. Shaklee
Very wise words. It is becoming more apparent each and every day, everywhere I look. The more we tamper with Nature, the more we slide down a slippery slope. We as a society have been led to believe that we can make something that is from Nature better by manipulating it to fit our purpose, whatever it may happen to be.

Manipulation by genetic modification seems to be on my mind a lot lately. I heard a frightening statistic last week. I am going to share this stat with you not to rid myself of the horror of it rattling around in my brain but because I feel we all should be aware. Here goes: “70 to 75% of all “food” in our grocery stores are GMO (genetically modified organisms)”. I can no longer walk through a grocery store without being sceptical of almost everything sold there.
Let’s ponder this statement. Why is genetically altering a species or variety of plant a dangerous proposition, you ask? I will share my thoughts on this. I’m sure with time my understanding will broaden and my disgust deepen regarding the tampering with Mother Nature. For today I will focus on GMO “foods”. I hesitate to call them real food because in my mind once something is altered from its natural state as far as processing and laboratory experiments go it is no longer food. It becomes a food-like substance.

 

Genetically manipulating our food sources definitely comes at a price. These range from health effects, loss of natural species and an infinitely more expensive overall food cost. We are told by biotech companies that genetically altering plants is of great value to our future success. One of these companies actually claims on its website that human testing of GMOs is unnecessary because they are no different than conventional and natural crop varieties. Say what!? I beg to differ. I’m certain that once an individual delves a bit deeper than the surface of GMO’s that you would most definitely find there is a huge difference between natural crop varieties and those that have been manipulated. Do they think that we are all daft enough to believe this? Regulatory authorities have never taken the agri-giants to task on actually proving this baseless claim, which flies in the face of independent science.

 

Originally, genetic modification was developed to assist in increased crop production and crop protection against pests and diseases. This sounds like a great idea. We all want farmers to profit and don’t relish the thought of sharing our food with creepy crawlies. Sadly, it is having an opposite effect. Farmers are drowning in debt, our beautiful land is eroding at alarming rates, biodiversity is being affected, and those pests we shudder at the thought of really aren’t evil beings out to get us.

 

Sometimes there is no getting back what is lost. Species and plant varieties that become extinct, for example.

 

If you have the ability to get your hands on the documentaries Food Inc. and FoodMatters, I would highly recommend watching them. Both of the films will lead you to question the things we just accept or take for granted.

 

I just want to eat a big bowl of popcorn with butter and not have to worry whether my cells are being corrupted, or worse, destroyed.

 

If we really knew all of the effects these “foods” have on us and our environment, would we support their presence and consume them? I think not. We will probably never get a truthful, straight answer to this question from the companies and scientists that are producing these misfit sources of sustenance. Why would they tell us. They would go out of business in the blink of an eye. We need to educate ourselves.

 

This year I am on a mission. More so than ever before. I will only accept heritage(or heirloom if you prefer) seeds into my gardens. I have always been a pesticide-free gardener and bought heirloom plants when I could find them. From now on if they are not heirloom/heritage, they are not coming home with me. When I sit down to a meal that is lovingly prepared, I want to know that I am feeding my family and friends the best that Mother Nature has to offer.

 

“You must be the change you wish to see in the world.” Mahatma Gandhi

Putting More Green In My Spring!

I absolutely love this time of year. There is nothing more invigorating than birds singing, the sun shining, and flowers starting to bloom. To quote an old favourite song, I feel as though “I’m walking on sunshine” once Spring finally arrives. I have a perma-grin plastered on my face constantly from all the joy Mother Nature presents upon the arrival of Spring.

Even cleaning doesn’t seem like drudgery in the Spring. The annual Spring cleaning is actually something to look forward to. Did I say that out loud? I have changed my Spring cleaning routine over the last few years to use only biodegradable, non-toxic cleaning products that are easy on the environment, my home’s air quality as well as my budget. The best part is that I get a sparkling clean that smells, well…it doesn’t smell at all.

Not only do I clean the inside of my home with these products, I also clean the outside. They are extraordinarily versatile which saves me even more green while being green! Maybe this is one of the many reasons Spring cleaning isn’t the horrific experience it used to be. I love saving money where I can and saving while being environmentally responsible is a major bonus.

This year I am in the process of creating more garden space to be able to grow more of my family’s food. I love the idea of grocery shopping in my own yard for organically grown produce with only the price tag of putting in my hours outside with my plants. Over the last 2 years,  I have been growing our food crops on our flat roof in large containers. As our needs have grown for different varieties and more plants we need to expand our growing area. It will be a benefit at ground level too since I am a bit of a weenie when it comes to ladders. The going up is fine, it’s the coming back down that freaks me out. So, in order to save myself the task of tending to the roof garden after a long day at work I’ve decided I am going ground-level.

Our outdoor environment and new garden will also benefit from my Spring cleaning supplies. One of my favourite products is called Basic H by Shaklee. I use Basic H in my gardens different purposes. Let me list a few:

  • a few drops on my hands rubbed on like hand lotion creates an “invisible glove” that makes washing up easy once I’m finished
  • natural pesticide. Used in the all-purpose cleaner dilution I use it to rid my plants safely of aphids, whitefly, fungus gnats, mealy bugs and other unwanted visitors without harming me or my plants
  • as a wetting agent it increases the rate of water penetration in the soil by up to 300% which reduces runoff and loss by evaporation
  • less watering needed in dry spells because of sturdier root systems that have grown deeper due to water availability
  • increased earthworm activity. Basic H has a pH of 6.5 which appears to neutralize soil acidity. Earth worm activity increases in balanced soils which in turn lowers need for additional fertilization other than compost.

These uses for Basic H have been reported by others using this product themselves. Shaklee does not promote or guarantee this product for these purposes. I have personally found that all of these uses work for me.  ( To view or order: livelovebegreen.myshaklee.com)

Being eco-responsible isn’t difficult. Anyone can make small tweaks to what they are already doing to make a difference. For me, getting back to the basics seems to make sense while simplifying my day-to-day existence.

I guess I had better get back to cleaning so I can move out into the sunshine!

“Spring makes its own statement, so loud and clear that the gardener seems to be only one of the instruments, not the composer.” ~Geoffrey B. Charlesworth

Leading by Example

Since I can remember, I have always had a strong internal desire to do what is right. Sometimes the reality of what is right can be a bit fuzzy though. If I listen to my head, sometimes I can be led astray. The head always wants us to “look out for number one”. My heart leads to decisions that are in line with who I am and who I am becoming in a more encompassing way. Being heart-led, in my case, is allowing my instincts to guide me.

Over the years I have gained an incredible amount of trust in my instincts but it has taken a lot of practice. Too many times I have shushed my heart to accommodate others or to avoid confrontation. This has not served me well. With maturity I have learned to say no when I feel I need to, let others know when I am in disagreement in a respectful manner(because it is alright to have a different opinion) and to be my own cheerleader.

Making decisions based on ethics and instincts is an example I want to set. I like not being a volatile decision maker but someone that bases a choice on whether it is the right thing to do. It just feels good. For me and others. When we do the right thing we are leading by example. The path of my life is trying to make choices that ultimately make my space in this world, and of those I come in contact with, a better place. I like knowing that I am being proactive in making a difference even if it is miniscule in the grand scheme of things. Something as simple as a smile or showing someone you care makes a difference.
A few of the heart-led decisions I have made include:
I choose cleaning products for my home that are non-polluting, are safe and non-toxic for not only my family but also the lakes, groundwater and wildlife they will at some point come in contact with. It feels good to know that I am not contributing to the poisoning of our ecosystem with toxic chemicals. I feel secure in the fact that I am not creating a toxic load in my home that my family and I have to process through our systems on a daily basis.The products I choose for my home can be found at LiveLoveBeGreen.myshaklee.com

I choose time laughing and being silly with my children rather than scheduling our lives to the extreme.

Most of all, I feel that I am showing my children that when we are true to our values as individuals we can make a difference in a positive sense. We can all feel when someone is genuine and truthful. I have chosen to lead by example in my life. To be strong in my convictions and to strive for positive change.

“Ethics is knowing the difference between what you have a right to do and what is right to do.” -Potter Stewart