Sunday, March 30, 2014

Shooooooot. Two BIG things I did wrong!

So, I fear I may have really screwed up my garden already this year (and it's only March!).

Error #1
Somehow, I think I may have gotten my dates mixed up and started my tomato and pepper plants way too early. How did this happen? I thought I had everything all planned out... I honestly don't know how I jumped the gun like this.

I started the seeds back in February... Thing is, the pepper plants are starting to flower. Now, I don't know if this is really terrible, or if it's okay. From what I remember I needed to start them 6-8 weeks before last frost... but I can't put them out until at least mid-May (and that's with row covers and such). So... yeah. I'm still 6 weeks out NOW, and I've already got crazy growing plants in my furnace room! Ack! Is all lost? Can I keep the plants going under lights until they can go outside? I'll be quite upset if I lose all these adorable yummy little plants.

Consider this a big ole HEAD SLAP from the East Coast.
Just to be safe, I've decided to start a whole new round of pepper and tomato plants indoors. Just goes to show you, you shouldn't put all of your seedlings in one basket. You never know when an entire tray of seedlings will dry out or what have you.

Error #2
This is a biggie. I used Miracle-Gro seed starter. 

On the surface this might not seem like that big of a deal... but it turns out Miracle-Gro is owned by Scotts. Scotts is the company that knowingly sold poisoned birdseed to customers for over two years... And is apparently also in bed with Monsanto doing all kinds of nasty stuff that's affecting not only the bird population but bees as well.

We all know the bees need all the help they can get, and there's been a huge decline in the bee population around the world, including colony collapse disorder, or CCD. There are many theories about why this is but one major concern is the use of pesticides and pesticide-laden seeds, many of which can be found in the birdseed and grass seed sold by Scotts and Miracle-Gro.

Long story short... I screwed up. I can't recommend the use of Miracle-Gro and I certainly won't keep using their products going forward.

Onward and upward.

Monday, March 24, 2014

"Health Check": feeling duped by food labels

I've been on a bit of a mission for the past six months or so, to cut down on the amount of artificial crap (flavour, colour, etc) that we bring into the house. I had read some articles that indicated there may be a link between artificial stuff and children's behaviour, and that the presence of colouring in particular can mimic ADD- and ADHD-like behaviour in our kids.

Years ago, when it was just us and The Boy, we used to go out of our way to buy organic, whole foods, make our own baby food, keep his diet as healthy and natural as possible. I would frequent a local organic farmer's market each week and choose fruits and veggies that were in-season and local. I'd cart these things home and mash them all up and felt good about what I was feeding him.

Somewhere along the way, I lost sight of the importance of whole, natural food. We had a couple more kids, working full time, commuting, weekends running around, etc etc... and life just got in the way. We started taking shortcuts when it came to meals and snacks.

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Simplify: Try Meditation (it's not just for kooks)

In my quest to live more simply, I decided to give meditation a try. You might wonder what meditation has to do with simplifying... isn't it just another "to-do", something else to get done in the run of a day? Who has the time?

meditating momAlso - isn't that for people who are a little... you know... kooky??

Let me tell you: it's not just for kooks. And it really DOES help with the quest to simplify, because for a short period of time the mind clutter is cleared away, like a breath of fresh air for your brain. It's actually pretty amazing.

I know, I know - it still sounds a little kooky. But, for someone who really doesn't know what they are doing and is just starting out, I can tell you it really does change your life. Or, at least your day.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Garden 3.0 Has Begun! Get those seedlings going!

The snow is still flying and it's -11C outside, but inside where it's warm, Garden 3.0 is starting to sprout!

This is only the third year I'll be growing veggies in raised beds, and I'm still very much in learning and trial-and-error mode. Right now I'm focused on how to start seedlings.

You can save a lot of money by starting your own plants from seed ($2 - $3 for a packet of 20-40 seeds, instead of $3 - $5 for a single plant), plus it's a great feeling of accomplishment when you're able to harvest veggies that you started from seeds.

Here are a few things I've learned as a newbie about starting veggies from seed:

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Getting a Handle on the Ever Loving Laundry

If you are still in the process of raising children, be aware that the piles and piles of laundry will disappear all too soon and that you will, to your surprise, miss them profoundly. – Thomas S. Monson
Umm... nope. I will NOT MISS THEM. (The piles I mean. The kids? Sure. The piles?... NOPE.)

It seems that with each new family member you add, the number of dirty clothes grows exponentially. It's truly amazing how much laundry a family of five can produce in just a matter of days. I think back wistfully to the days when I had a "laundry day"... it came around every other week or so, I'd gather up the sheets and a couple of towels, and my clothes and start a load or two. No biggie.


Monday, March 10, 2014

The Thing About Clutter, and My Quest to Simplify

On a whim last week I decided to give up social media for a month; and let me tell you, a week and a half in, I'm already seeing some positive effects. I'm no longer whipping out my phone to 'go online' anytime there's a lull, a break in conversation, a commercial, time to 'fill'. I'm not obsessively checking my notifications as though they're a to-do list to get through. I'm not concerned about capturing photos on my phone to post online or framing my thoughts in the form of a Facebook status update.

Mostly, I'm learning how to be present. To be HERE, now. To be okay in this moment, just this moment and nothing else. A big inspiration to me lately has been Leo Babauta's Zen Habits, and specifically his ideas for living simply, with intention, and putting energy into things that really matter.

I'm also learning that all that time spent online scrolling through newsfeed items is really a distraction from more important things, and a way to procrastinate. It was occupying more than just my down-time... it was ever-present in the back of my mind, it's what I turned to when I didn't want to complete a task or I was bored or just didn't want to think about all the things I SHOULD be doing.

Spending time online is a really easy way to avoid being in this moment; but not being in the moment is proving harmful for so many reasons: you're not with the people you are with. You're avoiding something. You're not clearing your mind - you are avoiding thinking about anything, giving yourself a way to not think at all and most of all, wasting time.

When I think of the distractions I've built into my own life, I realize they are just clutter. Social media, email, texts, blogs and news sites I've historically tried to keep up with... they are cluttering up my time, and my energy. They aren't all bad, but in large part they are taking away from what's really important. In fact, they are preventing me from thinking about what exactly IS important in the first place, and filling my time and my mind with clutter instead.

As a result of giving myself a little bit of time to THINK, just be for a few minutes at a time, I've realized that I've filled other parts of my life with clutter as well. I'm starting to wonder if we're serving our things and not the other way around. The piles of toys in our house could compete with a toy store. Outgrown and worn-out clothes are bursting from closets. There are stacks of papers and things that need to be dealt with. All this clutter, this keeping-up-with-the-Joneses, this acquiring of STUFF is taking away, not adding to my life and that of my family. We're spending time and energy (even if it's just mental energy) dealing with all the things, all the time. The more toys we have, the more we have to clean up. The more clothes we have, the more laundry we need to do. And so it goes.

SO... in addition to cutting back online, I'm on a new quest to cut back at home too: to let go of the things that are taking away, and make an effort to say no, and not to bring things in unless they serve to enrich my life and the things that are important. I'm on a quest to SIMPLIFY, so I - and my family - will have the time, and space, and energy to focus on what IS important:
  1. Family - time spent together
  2. Work - focused and productive
  3. Hobbies: gardening, painting
  4. Friends
  5. Self: physical and mental health
Even limiting that list to five items was difficult for me; I wanted to add all kinds of other things to it, but to be able to simplify and refocus, it had to be pared down to just five important things.

Right now, I'm just taking the very small step to identify what's important, and frame my decisions about what to keep and what to let go of based on whether it enriches or takes away from those five things. I'm not running home to throw everything out, or do a massive purge to give away all our worldly possessions (though a purge is coming!); I'm simply focusing on this list for the time being.

One small step at a time...

Thursday, March 06, 2014

Life without Facebook - Day 2

I accidentally replaced Facebook with Google+. Ooops! I know what you're thinking: nobody replaces Facebook with Google+ silly! I didn't think it was possible either, until I found myself scrolling through G+ just now.

I guess the month without includes G+ now too... They are both time wasters for the large part, and if you're hooked it's best to make a clean break I think.

In other news, I didn't even THINK about Facebook until after 9:30 this morning. 

Wednesday, March 05, 2014

Life Without Facebook

Every year, a friend of mine goes "offline" for Lent. Now, I am not religious at all, but every year I think, That's great! But there's no WAY I could do it. I depend way too heavily on my online interactions every day...

Which is exactly the reason I've decided to do the same this year.

An entire... month?

I won't lie, I am actually having heart palpitations about this right now. It's been exactly three hours since I made this decision, and I've fought the urge to check Facebook no less than a dozen times already.

I realize for a lot of people who aren't online all day, this may sound pretty ridiculous... But I am sadly one of the many Facebook addicts out there.

Just to give an idea of my mental state when I made this decision: my first thought when I made up my mind to do this on a whim this morning was, "But I haven't posted about my break to anyone." Meaning... I haven't prepared anyone for the devastating news that I would not be checking posts constantly, scrolling through my newsfeed, commenting on random things throughout the day, liking anything, for an entire month. How will anyone know what I'm up to? How will I know what everyone else is up to??

Clearly, I am way too caught up in the day-to-day goings-on on Facebook and other social media sites. (Who am I kidding - it's Facebook 98% of the time) I have wasted far, far too much time browsing, reading, checking, looking, mindlessly scrolling. FAR too much time.

So, there it is. Here we go, another digital diet, but this time it's a cold-turkey full-on break from Facebook. I will still be checking email and texts whenever they come in, and writing here, but besides that, you (hopefully) won't see me online in the next month. If I can stick to this.

It won't be that hard... will it?...

(In case anyone is wondering... I will share my blog posts on Facebook during this hiatus, but I can do that from my blog, so no cheating!)
Adios Facebook Amigos