Category Archives: Home Sweet Home

Life Through Photos | Simple Father’s Day Gift

Life Through Photos | Simple Father’s Day Gift

Handprint and Footprint Art

 

I was trying to come up with something cute and special to make for my husband for Father’s Day. I normally have the kids just draw a bunch of squiggles on a blank piece or paper for his birthday so I wanted to do a little something different. I saw this idea floating around – there are so many animals and object you can create using the hand and foot print of your kids! So we got started.

I used this time to help teach my oldest a little about mixing colors. We wanted to make Sully and Mike from Monster’s Inc. We had an array of colors but not the right colors. So we got to mixing. He has a great time watching the light blue become more true blue and the green become more lime.

It was difficult to do the handprint. Because you have to paint the whole hand minus one finger (either the middle or the ring finger). I then held that finger back so that it doesn’t get any paint on it. It took me a few tries to get a decent print.

The foot was easy!

 

Raleigh Family Photography - Fathers Day Handprint Art 1

 

I wrote out ‘Happy Father’s Day’ in pencil first so that I could be sure it was even and centered. I then traced it over with a permeant marker. This gift can be given whenever – birthday, valentines day, retirement etc! So write whatever you would like!

 

Raleigh Family Photography - Fathers Day Handprint Art 2

 

Then once it was dry I got to work adding all the details. Our paintbrush selection was sparse so I made due with a few other tools – some of the smaller details I used toothpicks and q-tips for a couple others.

We gave it to him this morning and he loves it – and he can’t wait to get it up on his wall at work! The boys really enjoyed putting together these two characters since they are some of their favorite from the movie! You can frame it if you would like too!

 

Raleigh Family Photography - Fathers Day Handprint Art 3

Life Through Photos | 10 on 10 June

Life Through Photos | 10 on 10 June

Played around with this month’s ’10 on 10′ and photographed a couple items using my phone’s Macro lens and then the pulled back version. Just a few fun things lying around the house…

 

{My son went to a week long ‘Beach’ themed summer camp and made this Jelly Fish}

10 on 10 June 2015 | Jelly Fish

{Here is a quick close up of my Birth Photography USB Packaging}

10 on 10 June 2015 | USB Packaging

{I make hats for all my Birth and Fresh48 Babies – this happens to be one of my favorites I have made so far}

10 on 10 June 2015 | Knit Hat

{Lava rocks added in to my bracelet – it holds essential oils and helps slowly release}

10 on 10 June 2015 | Bracelet

{We love using straws and I find it fun to change it up a bit with fancy colors and designs}

10 on 10 June 2015 | Straws

 

 

Life Through Photos | Snow Day Freezer Meals

Life Through Photos | Snow Day Freezer Meals

What do you do on a snowy day? For the south, most of the city panics and rushes to the grocery for milk and bread. Instead – I sent my husband to the store to gather items I needed to make {SEVEN} freezer meals. I figured I would be stuck inside so why not put that time to good use.

(this is the link to view and print out the shopping list and recipes I used for these freezer meals)

While my husband was shopping, I was preparing the kitchen.  I cleaned off my kitchen table so that I had even more space to spread out. My husband arrived home and I set everything out so that it was easily accessible.

Snow Day Meal Prep Sweetbottoms Baby 1

One of the first things I did – while the meat was cooking I was chopping the vegetables that were needed. I placed them all in separate bowls so I could just measure what I needed.Snow Day Meal Prep Sweetbottoms Baby 2

Then I labeled all the bags before I put anything in them. I was sure to add any cooking instructions so I didn’t have to refer back to the recipes.Snow Day Meal Prep Sweetbottoms Baby 3 Snow Day Meal Prep Sweetbottoms Baby 4

Find a larger Tupperware bowl, formula can or coffee can and place the bag inside and fold over the edges. This made a sturdy place to add all my ingredients. Snow Day Meal Prep Sweetbottoms Baby 5 Snow Day Meal Prep Sweetbottoms Baby 6

I stacked my bags flat – I find this helpful for storage once they are frozen and they are easier to thaw!Snow Day Meal Prep Sweetbottoms Baby 7

I spent about 3 hours total in preparing and cleaning for this project. I was also attending to lunch and nap times for my kids so there was a little deviation from the task at hand. Best part… I have SEVEN meals frozen and ready to eat whenever (or share with a postpartum mom!)

Moving Tips for Families with Children

moving tips with children

I’m sure there are more stressful things in life, but packing up and moving to a new state has been a HUGE event in our lives this year. At first, it really doesn’t seem all that difficult. I’ve moved to several states and even stayed in a different country for a semester. I felt like I knew how to pack, how to move and learn a new place. The only difference? This time I have two children in tow.

All moves are different. Down the street is easier than a different town or state or country. Another consideration is the change in square footage. Moving to a larger place isn’t as stressful as downsizing. And having plenty of time to prepare is, of course, an advantage over unexpected moves.

For our move, we were going only about 300 miles from Durham, NC to the Baltimore area. We knew we’d be using a truck so we weren’t very limited on how much we could bring. The limits for us came in the smaller home size. We left our 2-story 1100 sq ft town home in North Carolina for a 870 sq ft apartment in Maryland.

 

Our experience– compared to what it could have been– wasn’t terribly harrowing, but it was much more difficult and stressful than I had anticipated. Part of it came from me getting sick three times in the last month before we moved. Although we still aren’t completely settled, I did unpack the last box and with that came a great sense of relief: We’re finally home.

Here are a few things we did (and should have done) that might help you moving (especially) with children.

1.  Start early. I cannot stress enough how much longer everything takes than you’d expect. You can begin packing things like out-of-season clothes, keepsakes, knickknacks, decorations and books. I actually packed away all our books (kids’ too) and relied on library books for the last 6 weeks. About 2 weeks before the move, I packed up almost the entire kitchen. We used disposable goods and ate more to-go dinners than normal in the last few days before we left. Plan for all those little things like taking down curtain rods and wall hangings. Like everything else, they take longer than expected.

purge

2. Don’t pack what you don’t need. If you’re into sports metaphors: The best defense is a good offense. Even though I thought I had already purged before packing, I still ended up dropping off several loads at Goodwill on our first week in Maryland. Downsizing means that we have less than half the storage space we had before so there is simply not room for extra boxes of baby clothes for “just in case” or toys that my kid plays with for only 30 seconds. It’s best to get rid of as much as possible before the move because– obviously– that means less packing and unpacking work, but it’s also a good idea because you’re more familiar with consignment shops and donation spots in your current city.

3. Make a master ist of places to call or contact. You’ll need one list of old to disconnect and one list of new to sign up for services.

Here’s our list to get you started:

Electric/Gas, Water, Internet/Cable, Renters/Homeowners Insurance, Auto Insurance, Health Insurance, Doctors/Dentists (*Let them know you are moving and get any routine checkups you might need. Ask if they can refer you to a physician in your new area and find out about how to get your records transferred.)

4. Explain what’s happening to your children. Even if you are moving just around the corner, kids are very sensitive to changes in their environment. They pick up on the slightest changes and can sense if you’re stressed out. Don’t be surprised if there are changes in eating, sleeping and behavior. Try to maintain as much normalcy as possible. Talk to your children about the move explain what’s going to happen in simple terms. I kept telling my three year-old son that we would be getting a new house but that all of our old things like the couch, bed, and toys would come to our new house. We also checked out books about moving and looked at maps of where we were going.

involve the kids

5. Let your kids help. Sure, you can do it 10x faster. But if you can assign your little ones a small task (like ‘transfer the contents of this bin into this box’) while you focus on a bigger task, you might actually get some work done. Even if you have to re-pack what they did later, it will help them feel a part of the process and buy you a little time.

6. Pack like you want to unpack. Don’t just think of packing room-by-room. We had 6 main categories: study (books and school supplies), clothes/accessories, kitchen, decor, toys and bathroom. Make sure you have a few vital boxes and suitcases that you want to unpack first. Those boxes should have everyday use and high-need items. I recommend packing a couple of suitcases as if you were going on a trip for a week: include clothes, toiletries and favorite toys. (And don’t forget about urgent items like a thermometer and medicines–just in case!)

7. Consider what your child will do on moving day. It worked out that I was in Houston visiting my parents while my husband did the actual move to Maryland. Although it was lonely for him (he did have friends helping), we were so glad we planned it that way. Moving can be stressful and even hazardous for little ones. Make sure you arrange for them to be supervised and safely occupied while things are coming in and out of the house.

8. Don’t unpack until you know where it goes. Once you’ve moved in, the temptation is to quickly unpack and get out from all those stacks of boxes. And while heavy boxes can be safety hazards for little ones, it will make your life easier if you can unpack little-by-little. Keep things packed until you are really ready to put away everything in the box. All those breakable knickknacks and teeny accessories are taped up and out of your little one’s hands. Unpacking in a methodical and organized way will help your home run much more smoothly in the long run. (And save you from tripping over piles of random items in the short run.)

9. Introduce your children to their new home. Make sure they know their way around the new place. Little ones can be easily turned around and might get scared– especially at night. Go around to each room and talk about what is going to be in there. Explain how this is your new home and listen to any concerns your child might have. Be prepared again for changes in typical behaviors until things get settled. It’s only natural that they may feel unsettled. One of the first things I set up was a play space for my kids. Even though my kitchen is still a little disorganized, I’d rather have their space settled so they can relax and enjoy it.

get out and explore

10. Have fun with it! In the first few days everything is crazy–boxes everywhere, you don’t know where your left sock is–much less the grocery store. But take a break from the overwhelming task of creating a new home and make a few memories. Get out of the house and go on an adventure. Google Maps now has turn-by-turn directions on their App so you can explore your new city with confidence. Even if you don’t want to leave, just take a break from work and play with the kids: use boxes as drawing boards or play hide-and-seek. Be patient (I know it’s hard) but your home will all come together soon!

Have you made a big move with the kids? What’s your best advice?

Silent Sunday: the last Sunday in July…

Silent Sunday: July 27, 2014

Silent Sunday is a photography series I created on my personal blog to capture the small, ordinary moments of a Sunday. The intention of the series was to instill a growing appreciation and gratitude for these moments and all the ones like them to follow…
 
 morning coffee: silent sunday
 
 garden walk
 
 
garden bounty
 
 morning nap
 
preparing dinner
 
dinner
 
 

This Sunday started over coffee. We then spent a little time in the garden picking and then moved to the grill/kitchen to cook the harvest. And in between, it was spent marveling at the serenity found while peeking in on the little one’s naps.

How did you spend your Sunday?

4 Ways to Set Boundaries With Technology

setting boundaries with technology

I’m a blogger, an Internet salesperson, and an on-call doula… as far as lifestyles go mine is fairly reliant on technology. If I’m at home I am writing posts, updating my social media accounts to drive traffic, checking out other blogs, and doing research for future posts. If I’m out an about I am checking my email to hear back about guest posts and giveaways and checking my stats to see how my day is going, at work I am connecting with people from all over the world through internet sales and emails, and at any given moment I am waiting for a phone call from a mom in labor.

Being connected through technology has become a necessity for many of us. It allows us to have incredible and fulfilling lives, impacting change and connecting with people across the globe. Unfortunately, while we are doing that we are often disconnecting from the people under our own roof and ignoring our own need to relax and re-center.

I cannot tell you how many times how many times I have tried to have a conversation with my husband while his face is buried in his email inbox or how many times he has been telling me about his day as I work on coding some new feature on my blog. Where is our real focus in those moments? Is it where it should be?

For years I racked up sleepless night after sleepless night due to an email I had seen just minutes before turning out the light, leaving my groggy and grumpy the next day. Was it worth that one last in-box check?

Finally, when my life had become so consumed by stress that I was having anxiety attacks and my health was suffering I decided I had to make some changes. One change was to set some boundaries surrounding my use of technology. Here are 4 tricks I used to set boundaries with technology:

  1. Turn off the push notifications: I love my smart phone because it gives me the freedom to access information and connect with others whenever I want. Unfortunately, my phone is not smart enough to know when I want to be connected and when I don’t. Turning off those email notifications, Facebook notifications and Twitter notifications, puts the freedom back in your hands. If it is something that needs to be handled immediately, like a mom in labor, it gets handled via phone call or text message and I know about it. All of that other stuff can wait until I am ready. It is also wonderful to not have to hear the constant buzzing or dinging of new notifications 24 hours a day.
  2. If you are too tired to handle it, don’t find out about it: This was a big one for me. If you are too tired or too stressed out to handle a new crisis, don’t check your email! Go to bed! Sure, maybe a crisis isn’t waiting for you, but if it is you’ll be able to handle it better after some sleep. Plus, if it was a real crisis you can be reached via phone call and text right? Don’t check your email.
  3. Utilize Your Do Not Disturb Mode: Many smart phones have this feature, it allows you to keep your phone on, use your alarm, and even be reached by phone call or texts from certain people while simultaneously allowing you to silence everything else during a time period of your choosing. When I am not on call for a birth, my phone automatically stops notifying me of text messages and alerts between 10pm and 6am.
  4. Don’t let your technology interrupt your family time: Yes, some days you just want to get that email answered and mark it off your to do list, but your husband walks in the door before you get to finish the last sentence or your kid decides to take that moment to talk to you about their day at school… in that moment, remind yourself what matters. That email will still be there waiting to be sent after dinner, that chance for you to show your spouse or your children that you care, it lasts one second. One second before they see you look frustrated, brush them off, or not look up from your screen. The more we remind ourselves of that the easier it will be o keep our priorities in check!

 

About Samantha: 

Samantha is the author of the blog Sweet Potatoes and Social Change. She writes about apartment homesteading, simple living and healing her autoimmune condition through diet and lifestyle. Outside of writing she is also a wife and a childbirth doula.

DIY Calendar {for Kids}

Using a daily calendar with your child opens so many educational possibilities. It’s such a simple and natural way to introduce concepts like yesterday/today/tomorrow, days of the week, months of the year, and numbers. I’ll get into more ideas about using a calendar, but first I want to share how I made my own DIY calendar for way cheaper than buying a pre made one!

DIY Teaching Calendar

Materials:

  • Large foam board (20×30″) Alternatively you could use a poster board, magnetic dry erase board or repurpose some old cardboard or wood, if you happen to have some lying around. I chose to use a black foam board so the black magnets wouldn’t show up as much.
  • Scissors and tape/glue.
  • Adhesive magnetic sheets. You could also just glue on ordinary flat magnets. Another option would be Velcro. 
  • Free printables for your months, days and numbers (see below)

diy calendar - filling up the month

Since I don’t have a printer at home, I had them printed at Office Max. Just upload the .pdf and send it to your local store. (Other office stores have similar printing systems, too.) I went with a heavier paper stock and glossy finish. You might also want to think about laminating them. They will get handled a lot so this cut down on wear and tear.

The adhesive magnetic sheets need to be cut into small strips. Attach one magnet to the back of each cutout number, day and month piece. (I also mounted my months to some spare paper I had. It adds a touch of color and makes the piece more sturdy.)

Then attach the other magnetic pieces to your board. One longer piece goes at the top for your month. Just below it, make a row with 7 columns for your days of the week. I sort-of measured about 1.5″ between each one.

For the numbers, you’ll want to make 6 more rows. The first row needs only two magnets (in the Friday and Saturday columns.) The sixth row needs only two magnets (in the Sunday and Monday columns.) This will allow you to adjust your board for whatever day the month begins.

Then you’re ready to start teaching!

Putting together this DIY calendar took maybe an hour. I did not let my kids help but my 3.5 year-old son did watch for a bit and I explained what I was doing. If you have any little ones around, be very careful of the magnets! Magnets can be very dangerous if swallowed, so make sure the materials are out of reach.

We hung it on the wall near where we usually eat breakfast in the kitchen. My son can reach it if he’s standing on something but my one-year-old cannot.

Once you’d completed your DIY calendar, what’s next?

diy calendar- practicing numbers

There are so many things you can learn with a calendar! I used to teach elementary school, and most all teachers start the day with some version of a calendar. It can be as simple as reminding students the date or as complex as a 30-minute math lesson. For preschoolers, I’d start with the basics. Children are often taught numbers, days and months with rote memorization in a song or rhyme. There’s nothing wrong with that, but they also need to practice using them in a natural context. Doing a daily calendar helps to isolate these abstract concepts and make them more tangible.

  • Today, Yesterday, Tomorrow- Talk about what you did and what you’re going to do. These concepts can be tricky for little ones who don’t quite get delayed gratification yet. Doing a daily calendar will help them mark time and understand what a day means.
  • Days of the Week- Allow your child to remove and put back the days of the week in order. Talk about the days and things that regularly happen on each day.
  • Numbers- I like to put up the new number for each day instead of filling in the entire calendar at the beginning of the month. You can make the date your ‘number of the day’ and count out stickers, beans, counters or whatever for that number.

For older kids who already understand basic calendar concepts, you can add on more. You could include talking about the weather. It’s also a great way to start the practice of journaling. Write a sentence for each day. (If your child isn’t ready to write, you do the writing.) An example would be “Today is Monday, July 7 and we are going to the library.” It would be nice to keep this record and look back on it later!

My son really enjoys this daily activity and he usually reminds me if I get sidetracked. It’s a nice way to begin your ‘school’ day, which can be a sort-of haphazard feeling if you are homeschooling. I like that it’s a signal to him that we are “starting school.” After the calendar he is usually ready to sit and do another small learning activity so I like to have one ready to go.

But– don’t feel like this is just something for homeschool. This would be a great way to reinforce whatever you child might be learning about the calendar at school and make it more personal for your family.

Please click the .pdf files below to open and download.

calendar-printable months-printable

Thanks for reading and please leave me any questions or add your own experience in the comments below!

Transitioning Children to a More Nourishing Diet

transitioning kids to a more nourishing diet

It seems like every day I am seeing more and more new information about the negative effects various processed foods are having on our health and the health of our children. It is great that people are becoming more educated about what they are eating and advocating for healthier options, however anyone who has ever cooked a meal for a little one knows that change is not always perceived in the most positive light! You may be ready to throw out the junk and switch to a nourishing diet of healthy fats, meats and veggies but your little ones may not be so excited at first. That is ok, don’t give up, it is a process! Here are a few tips for transitioning children to a more nourishing diet:

Change One Thing at a Time: Just like adults can get overwhelmed with too much work or too many changes at one time, changing your child’s entire diet in one day is probably going to be a recipe for a total meltdown. Try changing one thing at a time working from something small, like a snack, to the larger meals. Instead of goldfish for example, try some homemade fruit gummy snacks packed with grass fed gelatin!

Run Out: Another way to change things gradually is to simply run out of things and stop buying them again. Chances are your kids are not the ones doing the grocery shopping, but many of them will understand what it means to be out of something… it means you are not withholding anything from them it is just simply not available. Using this trick also allows things to change more gradually rather than going out and buying all new food at one time.

Remember that children don’t have as many preconceived ideas as adults: Don’t think your child will be on board with switching from soda to kombucha? You may be surprised! Many of our likes and dislikes as adults have more to do with what we think is weird and strange and less about what our taste buds are actually tasting. Also, our taste buds have developed over our many years and may be conditioned to only like super sweet things over slightly sweet things because that is what we have been consuming for years and years. I have never offered chicken broth to a child who didn’t love it, yet my husband can barely get it down when he is sick because he thinks the idea of bone broth is gross.

Eat What Your Kids Eat: Do not play short order cook and don’t try to switch your children over to a nourishing food diet and expect to sneak a bowl of cereal after they go to bed. They will find the cereal and playing short order cook will get old fast. Make healthy changes as a family. In fact, if your kids see you enjoying a new nourishing food that may make them more inclined to enjoy it as well.

Change is never easy especially when it involves getting a family of people on board, it is a process and every family is different. Make changes at a pace that suits your needs but don’t give up just because it is hard at first. Allowing children to discover what it means to have a positive and nourishing relationship with food will be a gift that will last them a lifetime.

So, are you ready to make some changes in your family’s diet? Here are a few of my favorite kid-approved nourishing recipes to get you started:


Strawberry KombuchaApple Ginger Gummy Snacks


Plantain Fries

Coconut Flour Thumbprint Cookies

Butter Button Candies

Strawberry Kombucha

Sweet Potato Fries

Avocado Ice Cream Cake

Grain Free, Sugar Free Waffles

Fruit PopsiclesApple Ginger Gummies

Lavender Kombucha

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Samantha is our newest Sweet Talk contributor. She writes about clean living, urban homesteading and saving money. You can read more at her blog, Sweet Potatoes and Social Change.

What are Essential Oils and How Can I Use Them?

Essential Oils 101

I love essential oils and use them daily – but not everyone does… yet!  It is exciting to see the use of essential oils growing; Mamas are using them to keep their family healthy, wellness practitioners are recommending them to their clients for common ailments and hospitals are also using them to support their cancer patients.

When I tell people I work with essential oils, I often hear a common response, “I don’t really like strong smells – they give me head aches.”  Yes, I agree – I don’t care for perfumes and air fresheners either.  Essential Oils are different – let me explain.

Essential Oils are basically concentrated plant extracts from the juice or blood of the plant.  You know when you break a leaf or stem from a house plant and you see clear or white fluid come out – well that is a “cut” and the plant is bleeding – just like we do.  It is this fluid that we are extracting during the distillation process that becomes an essential oil. Chamomile field pic

Usually when we hear “oil” we picture olive oil or almond oil – something slick and heavy that stays on our skin – which we often use as a moisturizer.    Most essential oils are not thick like that because of the size of their tiny molecules.

During distillation, only very small molecules make it through the process – these molecules are under 500 amu (atomic mass unit).  When a molecule is so tiny like that it means that it is transdermal – it is absorbed into our skins very quickly.  So you may put a drop of essential oil in your palm and rub your hands together and within a few minutes – the oil is gone – is has been absorbed.  The magic of our essential oils come from this ability to be absorbed so quickly!

So, what can an essential oil do for us?  Well, now since essential oils are basically the blood of the plant – let’s think about what our blood does for us.  Our blood brings oxygen to cells, it helps to remove the “garbage”, it transports nutrients and protects us from germs.  The plant’s blood does the same thing for the plant too and what the plant’s blood does for the plant – it also does for us.  Yes… so that means that we can use essential oils to bring oxygen to our cells (support healing and increase 02 to the brain), remove “garbage” (cleanse our tissues), transport nutrients to our cells and fight bacteria and germs to keep us healthy.

That is pretty exciting – isn’t it!

What is beautiful about essential oils is that they are so versatile!  At my home and in my office I use them to freshen the air, clean with, support relaxation and sleep, reduce cold germs and use to alleviate common ailments.

And what makes this even more exciting is these essential oils are made out of molecules that are nature made – just like us.  Our bodies can work with these molecules much easier than man-made molecules that you’ll find in air fresheners, cleaning products, decongestants etc.,  They are non-toxic and do not cause side effects.  So for anyone who wants to go more “green” or natural – essential oils is a perfect tool for you.

Using essential oils is simple.  Here are a few examples of how I use them with my family:

  • Young Living Catalog Shoot 3/2009I apply them to the area that hurts and needs attention, like if I have tight muscles – I put a drop of essential oil on that area and rub it in.  Remember the small size of the molecules allows them to be quickly absorbed into the body.
  • I also use this transdermal quality and simply apply a drop or two of the essential oil on the soles of my feet.  I often do this when I want to enhance relaxation or sleep.
  • I simply smell the essential oil directly from the bottle.  This is a wonderful way to support focus and concentration, like if I need to drive late at night.
  • I diffuse or disperse the essential oil in the air so that the whole family inhales it and the tiny molecules land on everything in the room.  I diffuse my essential oils during the wintertime to reduce the number of cold germs in our house.
  • I take my essential oils internally by adding a drop to a glass of water or a teaspoon of honey.  I will take my essential oils internally when I am fighting a cold and want the full “wham-bang” antimicrobial effect.  Please make sure that if you choose to take your essential oils internally that you follow the directions on the label as most will say not to take internally.  If internal use is not recommended – don’t take it internally!

If your interest in essential oils has been piqued and you’d like to learn more about how you can use essential oils in your home then I highly recommend that you pick up Gentle Babies – a book that is specific to Pregnancy, Babies and New Mamas.  Sweetbottoms Baby Boutique carries this book and a few favorite baby essential oils too.

In my next blog I’ll talk about basic essential oils safety you need to learn before using essential oils.  I’ll also share about the different schools of thought when it comes to essential oil use.  If you can’t wait until the next blog – then you’ll find all your questions answered in Gentle Babies!

Container Gardening

Container Gardening Get Started

Container Vegetable Gardening 101

In an age when there is a grocery store or fast food restaurant on almost every corner it may seem silly to think about growing your own food. Why go through all the trouble of growing something that you could just buy? Not to mention the fact that in a society where an increasing number of people rent homes or live in apartments, condos and townhomes, who even has the space for a garden? Well, that is what I am here to talk to you all about today! Gardening is an activity with many benefits and you need very little space to enjoy them!

Container Gardening Growing

Why Garden? 

Gardening will save you money:  Three tomato plants will cost you anywhere from $6 to $15 dollars depending on where and when you buy the plants, and if you buy seeds they will only cost you a few cents. An average yield from three healthy tomato plants is in the ballpark of about 89 tomatoes. That is an estimated value of about $90! By growing three plants you just saved yourself enough money to go on a nice family outing. Sure, there are the startup expenses of pots and dirt but many of your costs are one time only, even some of your potting soil can be reused from year to year.

Gardening Helps the Environment: Growing your own food reduces your carbon footprint. To continue with our tomato example, your every day store-bought tomato is grown in a green house, picked about two weeks before it is actually ripe, stored in cold storage for up to a month before they travel and reach the store and are put in ethylene gas chambers that artificially induce color and ripeness. When you compare the amount of energy it takes to accomplish all of that with the amount of energy it takes to grow a tomato in a pot, it is clear that growing your own vegetables makes an impact on your carbon footprint. Not to mention that there is no packaging to dispose of with a homegrown tomato, no plastic and Styrofoam packaging and no little sticker. By growing your own veggies, not only are you reducing the amount of energy spent on your food, you are reducing your waste production.

Gardening is Therapeutic and Educational:

Having a reason to get outside and enjoy the sunshine is sure to be a mood lifter. You get to increase your vitamin D production, have a little time away from the constant barrage of emails, phone calls, and to-do lists and just enjoy your little patch of nature. One of the things I love the most is the sense of satisfaction that comes with watching your plants develop. I could be having a truly terrible day, but if I come home and see that a new seedling has started poking through the soil, or a new little tomato has formed from a flower, I am excited. I just can’t help it. Finally, gardening can be educational, especially if you have little ones at home. Teaching our children how their food grows and where it comes from is one of the most valuable lessons I feel a child can learn. It gives them an appreciation of the food they have and it can even inspire them to eat more healthy foods. I have heard so many stories of children who would never eat a vegetable growing to love them once they were able to play a role in planting and growing their own food.

Container Gardening Pots

“But I Can’t Garden, I Don’t Have Space!”: 

Unless you live and work in a windowless room, you probably do have space to grow something. If you rent a house or a townhouse with a yard but you can’t plant a garden in the ground, obviously you can just use the yard space you have and use pots and other containers to grow your plants. If you have a patio or balcony you would be very surprised by how much food you can produce in that small space, everything from vertical gardens, to pots to window boxes can be used to maximize your space! If neither of those options fit with your situation, do you have a sunny window that you can set plants in front of? That will work just fine, especially for plants like greens and herbs. Do you have a sunny spot in your office at work? Does your office or apartment building have a roof that is accessible? Rooftop gardens are becoming increasingly popular in major cities. Get creative, but know that just because you don’t have a yard doesn’t mean you can’t have a garden!

Plants That Do Well in Containers: 

Just like the options for gardening spaces, the number of plants that can be grown in containers is almost limitless. However, here is a little list of some of the plants that I have had personal success growing in pots.

Container Gardening Ten Plants

How to Get Started: 

You don’t need much to get started with container gardening. I would recommend buying some basic potting soil, I have never needed to get the “nice” potting soil with lots of fertilizers and additives. Basic soil will do. I would also recommend getting a basic bag of compost or manure to add into your soil, this will give you really nice healthy plants. Find yourself a cheap pair of gardening gloves and either a trowel or a shovel and then the only things left to get are your containers.

I have seen so many great ideas for gardening containers. Obviously, pots are many people’s go to choice. However, I have had great luck with using 5-gallon paint buckets that I picked up for a few dollars at the local home-improvement store. For smaller plants such as herbs, recycled milk jugs, cups, and even recycled tins work wonderfully. For vertical gardening, wooden pallets can work wonders. Resilient root plants like onions and potatoes can even be grown in burlap bags! Anything that can hold water and soil can be used as a container, so get creative!

So, no matter how much or how little space you have, or how much or how little you know about gardening, I encourage you to give it a try this summer. Whether you plant one tomato plant or you fill up your balcony and produce food for the whole summer, just give it a try and see what happens! One of my favorite quotes comes from an unknown author and says this, “To plant a garden is to believe in the future.” Grab some seeds and a pot and go see what your future holds!

Container Gardening Sprout

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Samantha is our newest Sweet Talk contributor. She writes about clean living, urban homesteading and saving money. You can read more at her blog, Sweet Potatoes and Social Change.