My Garden Plan and Strategy!

Garden Plan and Strategy My garden plan is done and I'm super excited! This year I'm trying to find the right balance of familiar and new plants to keep me experimenting without getting overwhelmed. Here's some info about what I'm growing and my strategy for everything.

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What I'm Growing

Tomatoes (small)

  • Black cherry
  • Blondkopfchen
  • Green Grape
  • Mexicon Mediget
  • Tommy Toe
  • White Cherry

Tomatoes (large)

  • Aunt Ruby's German Green
  • German Pink
  • Gold Medal
  • Kellog's Breakfast
  • Nyagous
  • Paul Robeson


  • Aunt Molly's Ground Cherry
  • Green Husk
  • Purple

Peppers (sweet)

  • Bull Nose Bell
  • Chocolate Beauty
  • Jimmy Nardelo's

Peppers (hot)

  • Aji Crystal
  • Martin's Carrot
  • Mustard Habanero
  • Santa Fe Grande
  • Thai Hot


  • Mexican Sour Gherkin
  • Parade


  • Calypso
  • Provider
  • Purple Podded Pole
  • Rattlesnake Snap

Leafy Greens

  • Arugula
  • Bok Choy
  • Bronze Arrowhead
  • Green Oakleaf
  • Mizuna
  • Red Velvet
  • Tango


  • Summer Crookneck
  • Black Beauty Zucchini
  • Winter Luxury Pumpkin


  • Early Scarlet Globe
  • Cincinatti Market


  • Dragon
  • Paris Market
  • St. Valery


  • Amish snap


  • Boule d'Or
  • Petit Gris de Rennes


  • Italian Basil
  • Globe Basil
  • Thai Basil
  • Cilantro
  • Chives
  • Garlic Chives
  • Catnip
  • Mint
  • Lemon Balm
  • Oregano
  • Rosemary
  • Sage
  • Thyme


  • Blue Boy Bachelor's Buttons
  • Borage
  • Calendula Mix
  • Globe Amaranth
  • Black Velvet Nasturium
  • Empress of India Nasturtium
  • Tansy
  • Titan Sunflower
  • Sunflower Mix
  • Beary's Giant Zinnia

Garden Plan

Should You Try a Menstrual Cup?

Being on your period isn't much fun, but is can better with a menstrual cup. Compared to disposable pads and tampons, reusable menstrual cups are cheaper, more environmentally friendly, and less disrupting to your everyday life. That time of the month isn't so bad when you use a menstrual cup. [x_video type="16:9, 5:3, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2" m4v="" ogv="" poster="" hide_controls="" autoplay="" embed='' no_container="true"]Diva Cup

Garden Planning: Tips and Resources

The best way to have a successful garden is to have a plan! Here are some tips for what to think about when planning your garden, as well as my favorite place to get heirloom and organic seeds and a garden planner that takes out a lot of the guesswork. [x_video type="16:9, 5:3, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2" m4v="" ogv="" poster="" hide_controls="" autoplay="" embed='' no_container="true"]

Seed Savers Exchange

SEE Garden Planner

Learn about the SEE Garden Planner

Steps to Get Plastics Out of Your Kitchen

Plastic dishes and storage containers can leach unhealthy chemicals into your food. Getting rid of them can be overwhelming, so I'm giving you a step-by-step process to help you prioritize which plastic items you should get rid of first and which ones you can hold off on. [x_video type="16:9, 5:3, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2" m4v="" ogv="" poster="" hide_controls="" autoplay="" embed='' no_container="true"]

  1. Hot/Heated Foods. If there is one thing you take away from this post it should be this: never heat your food in plastic! Risk for chemical leaching is higher when the plastic is heated so use reusable glass containers or ceramic dishes for anything you plan to reheat or that is to be consumed hot. An example would be avoiding hot coffee or tea served in a Styrofoam cup. Opt for a proper mug instead!
  2. Most Used Items. Switching out the things you use on a daily basis is going to give you the most bang for your buck in terms of limiting exposure. Try replacing your plastic water bottle with a glass one.
  3. Long Term Storage. The longer something is stored in a plastic container, the higher the chance of chemical leaching. Look for large glass jars or containers to store these foods instead.
  4. Cold/Frozen. This is the area I would tackle last. Remember, if you plan to reheat the food you need to make sure to transfer it before heating.

Also, as a general rule in all categories, the more liquid a food is the more concerned I am with chemical leaching. Think soup vs a sandwich.

I don't think there is any need to go out any buy all new containers and have your bank account crying on the way home. If you have the money, feel free to do an overhaul, but, if your budget is more limited, institute a gradual and calculated change. Start with the containers for hot foods and your most commonly used items and replace things as you're able to from there. Also, keeping a ceramic plate or bowl at work for reheating is a great option. Just make sure you have a way to clean it after each use.

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Influenster J'adore Vox Box Unboxing!

It's Vox Box time! In this video, I open my J'adore Vox Box from Influenster and give you  my first reactions to all of the goodies inside. [x_video type="16:9, 5:3, 5:4, 4:3, 3:2" m4v="" ogv="" poster="" hide_controls="" autoplay="" embed='' no_container="true"]

If you'd like a chance to get your own Vox Box, you can sign up on the Influenster website.

Disclaimer: I received these items for free from Influenster to review.

January 2014 Favorites!

January 2014 Favorites  

Here's everything I've been loving for the month of January. Be sure to check out the video below for my thoughts on everything listed + a favorite that isn't included here!

  1. Thai Sweet Potato Veggie Burgers with Spicy Peanut Sauce
  2. Slow Cooker Pulled Pork
  3. Beet Fennel Apple Slaw
  4. Numi Golden Chai Tea
  5. Takeya Glass Water Bottle
  6. Kate Spade Handbag
  7. Sigma Brush Cleansing Glove
  8. Essie Hors d'Oeuvres
  9. Essie On a Silver Platter
  10. Allegiant by Veronic Roth

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Putting Yourself First in 2014

If reading that title just gave you an icky feeling, this post is for you. So much of our lives is spent doing for others. Whether you are working yourself to death to please your boss or trying to make sure each child is bathed, fed, and clothed, it's common for us to put our own needs at the bottom of our list (if they even make the list). I'm here to remind you that taking care of yourself isn't a bad thing or selfish. It's a must! Now, I'm not suggesting we all bail on our responsibilities in favor of self-indulgence. If the baby needs to be fed, you gotta do it. Rather, I'm just asking that you do a few simple things each day to take care of yourself. After all, when your needs are taken care of, it allows you to be that much better at giving to those around you. This year, make it a habit to nurture yourself. Here are a few ideas to get you (and me) started.

  • Go for a walk
  • Get a massage
  • Paint your nails
  • Make time for prayer or meditation
  • Plan healthy meals for the week
  • Find a good book and actually READ it
  • Take your favorite class at the gym
  • Ask for help when you need it
  • Learn a new skill
  • Take a hot bath
  • Make time for sleep
  • Listen to your favorite music
  • Stretch for a few minutes after you wake up (taking a tip from the kitties here)
  • Talk to a friend
  • Take a nap

Do you struggle with putting yourself first? Do you have any ideas to add to the list? Share in the comments below!

My Favorite Skin Care + 25% OFF!

I don't know about you guys, but it is seriously dry in our house. We got a humidifier a little over a week ago, and that has certainly helped, but there is only so much you can do to combat this cold weather menace. About a year ago, I was having some intense dry skin issues on my face. I was using natural moisturizers like olive and coconut oil, but it seemed my face was too dry and the oil too heavy for it to really make a lasting effect. Kinda like hard, heavy rain on super dry ground. It just didn't soak in. Michael Todd True Organics

Just in time, I came across an amazing brand. Michael Todd True Organics is a natural skin care company that has a wide range of products for all skin types. I can't say enough good things about their stuff!  After a short time of using the line, my skin totally changed. It was moisturized and silky. I was so excited, I was prompting people to touch my face and see how amazing my skin felt! I also have extremely sensitive skin. I mean, even things that are advertised as safe for sensitive skin cause irritation for me. After a year of using Michael Todd's products, I have had zero issues. Another great thing is that you can buy each product individually, or you can buy the entire set for your specific skin needs and get a big discount.  The best thing is, the price point is totally reasonable. They're not bargain bin cheap by any means, but with so many $300 creams out there that are full of chemical junk, I think the prices they charge are reasonable for what you get. Plus, I only have to repurchase one or two times a year.

If you're interested in trying their stuff, be sure to use the code THANKU25 at checkout for 25% off everything on their website. The coupon expires on December 1, 2013 at 11:59 PM EST.

Thanksgiving Nail Polish Picks

Thanksgiving Nail Polish Picks

  1. Butter London Wallis. The olive tone of this polish makes it more interesting than your typical gold.
  2. Essie Beyond Cozy. This one is for all of you out there that are only excited for Thanksgiving because, once its over, you can go into full Christmas mode.
  3. Zoya Stacy. This is a burgundy that leans more red than the picture shows. Think of it as cranberry sauce on your nails.
  4. OPI Ski Teal We Drop. We can't have all reds on this list, so I threw in something for all of the blue fans out there. This dark shade is much more wearable than some of the bright blues of spring and summer, so it's also great for those of you who are a little scared to stray away from reds and pinks.
  5. Covergirl Timeless Rubies. Of all of the polishes on the list, this is the most obvious Thanksgiving choice. It's a gorgeous shimmery red-brown and, being a drug store option, is easy to find.

Getting Into The Halloween Spirit

With Halloween quickly approaching, today I want to share the YouTube love and direct you to some fun tutorials to help you celebrate! I'm a YouTube junkie and these are a few of the videos from my subscription feed that I thought y'all might like. Enjoy! 1. If you still need costume ideas, here are three that could be fun to try. Whether you want to go the scary, cute, or Duck Dynasty route is up to you.

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2. I'm usually not a nail-art kinda gal, but holidays are the exception. These tutorials from MissJenFabulous are great for the beginners out there.



3. If you're more into crafting, I like this wreath tutorial from HeyKayli. It's pretty easy and could be completed in an afternoon. Skip to 1:49 if you just want to see the wreath part of the video.


Things I'm Excited About For Fall


  1. Boots. I've been in search of a good pair of riding boots for a couple years now, but they never fit comfortably over my large calves. These are extra wide and have some elastic, so maybe they'll do the trick!
  2. Pumpkins. While most people are having dreams of Starbucks, I prefer the real thing. Whether used for decor or eating, their quintessential for fall. Plus, making your own pumpkin puree tastes way better than the canned stuff and makes you feel especially fancy.
  3. Dark nail polish. I love my brights, but I'm definitely ready to rock the fall colors. Zoya Hunter is a great green and is right in line with this season's military trend.
  4. Sweaters. They're super cozy and this one has kitties on it!
  5. Apples. They're one of my favorite fruits to add to my plain yogurt, great for snacking, and come in tons of different varieties. They also make a great salad addition!
  6. Seasonal candles. I love this one from Aroma Naturals. It's a mix of orange, clove, and cinnamon and doesn't have any of the yuckies found in most candles.

What are you most excited about for fall? Share in the comments below!

July 2013 Favorites!

August Favs

1. Popsicle Molds. I love popsicles, especially in the summer, but why buy the ones in the store that are full of added sugars and artificial junk when you can make your own at home and control every ingredient that goes in? While I'm usually not a fan of plastic, these aren't going to be heated and they are a more reasonably priced option for a beginner than the metal varieties.

2. Nail Polish. I'm loving this Sinful Colors lacquer in the shade 24/7. It's a neon pink that just screams summer time!

3. Fragrance. Perfume is a daily must-have for many, but who wants to be inhaling harsh chemicals? Yuck! LaVanilla's products are all natural and smell incredible. Plus, we all know vanilla is a universally guy-pleasing smell. My current favorite is this seasonal offering called Vanilla Summer. With a combination of mango, pineapple, coconut milk, and sugar cane, just one spray will have you thinking of paradise.

4. Tomatoes. They are hands-down my favorite vegetable. I look forward to them all year and feast on them for the few months that I can. With so many shapes, sizes, and colors you can never get bored. Plus, they contain lycopene which is a natural sun protector. Get them homegrown or at your local farmers market. The store-bought ones just taste like damp cardboard.

5. Vampire Diaries. I'm not gonna lie, a few months ago, if anyone gushed about this show, I lost a little respect for them. Maybe you just lost some respect for me when you saw it in the picture. I can live with that. Jasen and I decided to watch the first episode on Netflix streaming and see what the fuss was all about. We're currently on Season 2. I may be behind by a few years, but now we can watch one episode right after the other without any waiting! Whether that's a good or bad thing is debatable.

What are you favorite things for the month of July? Do any of mine make your list? Tell me in the comments below!


Independence Day: A Diet Diary

Yesterday, like many Americans, I celebrated the Fourth of July with my family by cooking and sitting down to a summer feast. I figured that with so much good food around, it was a perfect opportunity to post about what we were up to and how I build a healthy meal at a summer cookout. Telling you is helpful, but showing you is so much more fun!

The first thing I made was a cold grain and vegetable salad called tabouleh. I got this particular recipe from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger. It consists of bulgur wheat, tomatoes, cucumber, mint, and red onion, with parsley in the starring role (the recipe calls for 2 cups). These are all mixed together and then dressed with a mixture of extra-virgin olive oil, lemon zest, lemon juice, cumin, salt, and pepper. This is a popular recipe at my house, especially with my 15-year-old brother. In fact, it's his favorite thing that I make! Sometimes, we add chicken to make it a little more filling as a main dish, but, this time, we kept it as a side. There was one minor "learning opportunity." I was a little naughty and didn't wash the parsley off before chopping it. Needless to say it was full of grit and we got a little bit every few bites. I like to think it added some more minerals. Lesson learned: always wash your produce!

I also made a salad from Deborah Madison's Local Flavors. This is a recent find that has been showing up often at the dinner table lately. Romaine is tossed with bell pepper, tomatoes, cucumber, onion, and avocado. Then, a dressing is added made with extra-virgin olive oil, lime juice, mint, cilantro, marjoram, jalapeno, and salt. It can then be topped with sliced olives and crumbled feta, if you so desire.

To round out the meal, I made a burger with grass-fed beef, Worcestershire, and soy sauce and enjoyed it on a Food For Life sprouted wheat bun. The result was delicious and definitely worthy of being one of the few burgers I eat each year.

Mom made a cheesecake for dessert and I enjoyed a small slice to finish the meal off. I was completely satisfied and didn't feel awful the next day. When eating at a cook out or celebration it's important to eat what you love, but also not totally blow your healthy lifestyle out of the water. By filling your plate your veggies and whole grains you can get full on healthy fare and still enjoy dessert.

What did you do to celebrate Independence Day? What is your favorite recipe to bring to a cookout? Answer in the comments below. : )

How To Build a Vegetarian Meal

While I myself am not vegetarian, I am picky about where my meat comes from and I eat vegetarian meals more often than not. With this said, as I see more people switch over to a meat-free lifestyle (whatever their reasons may be), many do not know how to build a meal on this new eating plan. Most often, I see people continue to plan meals that are centered around meat, even though that is exactly what they are giving up. For example, they may eat frozen "chicken" nuggets that are made from plant-based proteins or subsist solely on frozen veggie burgers. These foods are highly processed, often unappetizing, and expensive. I saw this very sort of thing promoted on a recent show on the Cooking Channel. The episode was all about cooking using the Morning Star veggie burgers and the hosts kept talking about getting healthy with a vegetarian diet. I think they were doing exactly the opposite. The key to being meat-free is to think of food in a new way, and get the focus off of meat. The first step is to think of all the foods you are eating, rather than the few that you aren't. Vegetables, fruits, grains, legumes, nuts, seeds, dairy products, and eggs are all fair game for vegetarians and can be combined in many different ways to create a delicious meal. Make spiced black beans served over brown rice with grilled veggies and a fruit salsa on the side. Another option is to roast your favorite vegetables in the oven and make them the star. Then  serve with quinoa or over whole wheat pasta with a tomato sauce. Think outside of your normal confines and get a little creative. A good place to start is with a vegetarian cookbook. Make sure it's one based on whole real foods and not the franken-foods I mentioned above. Deborah Madison is a great cookbook author as well as Heidi Swanson. Start with their titles, and use them as a jumping off point for your own creativity.

Whether you are vegetarian or not, meatless meals can be a delicious and filling option. Learning to cook this way may take a little practice, but, once you drop the fake meat and embrace the yummy plant foods at your finger tips, you'll see that vegetarian does not have to mean cardboard.

How do you feel about vegetarian cuisine? Like it or hate it, I'm all ears!

Do you have a favorite vegetarian cookbook author?

Let me know in the comments below! : )

Ending Body Hate and Embracing the Bikini

While I was eating my breakfast this morning (plain yogurt with cinnamon, apples, and granola, if you were wondering), I saw a news story that I knew I had to share with y'all. Fashion blogger Gabi Gregg, a plus size beauty, posted some photos of herself on vacation in a bikini. She got so much positive feedback that she decided to make a gallery of photos of other women showing off their own plus-size bikini bods. It serves as a celebration of beauty in every size and encourages other women to embrace where they are right now, not where they were or where they want to be.

Now, some have criticized Gabi for promoting overweight and an unhealthy lifestyle, but I totally disagree. Yes, overweight and obesity are serious health concerns, but so is self-hate. So many women, including myself, feel uncomfortable in a bathing suit. Many let that uncomfortable feeling impact their enjoyment of summer-time activities. Some won't even step foot in a pool or on a beach just because they don't feel beautiful as they are. No one should miss out on their own life just because of their size. It's important to remember that health is a journey, not a destination. You might see someone who is overweight and assume that they are unhealthy, when really the may eat clean, whole foods and exercise 5 days a week.

In addition, this message isn't just for those who are overweight or obese. Many people, no matter how "perfect" the body, have their own hang-ups or insecurities. Everyone can learn something from this beautiful lady and her wonderful attitude. Nothing is sexier than confidence.

What do you think of Gabi's bikini photos? Are you inspired to break out the bikini or do something else you've been afraid of?  Do you think her pictures promote overweight and obesity? Answer in the comments below. : )

NNMC Increase Produce: Make Produce the Star

As we finish out this week of the challenge, my last tip has to do with the way you structure your meals. In our society, meals are usually built around meat, with other food groups coming in to take a supporting role. I'm asking you to flip this on its head. Instead, focus first on the vegetables and fruits and then add in your meat or other protein option. When you do this, not only will you increase the quantity of produce in your diet, but you'll also be filling up on those fruits and veggies, which may help with weight loss, if that is your goal. For some, this might be difficult. If you're so used to thinking about your meals with only one structure, you may feel lost for how to switch it up. To ease into this idea, a likely familiar option is a stir fry. Choose a variety of veggies that you love and cook them in a pan with a little oil. Then, consider your protein option, whether it be chicken, grass-fed beef, pork, or tofu. Serve over brown rice and you've got an easy, plant-centric meal that is sure to please everyone. Another great way to get inspiration for this style of cooking is to look at websites like 101 Cookbooks and Vegetarian Times or buy a couple of vegetarian cookbooks. Resources like these will often have recipes that are chock full of produce and you can always add in a little meat if that is a deal breaker for you. However, I encourage you to step out of your comfort zone and try a vegetarian recipe now and then (come on in, the water's warm). By simply incorporating these recipes into your repertoire you'll start thinking about food in a whole new way and increase the produce in your life. So get out there and get cooking!

NNMC Increase Produce: Visit the Farmers Market

Frequenting your local farmers market is an excellent way to become more involved in your community. It also gives you access to locally grown, seasonal produce and the ability to talk directly with the farmer who grew it. Eating food that is in season and hasn't traveled thousands of miles to your plate means that the product quality is superb. The flavor of these foods is so much better than anything else you could buy. When I hear that people don't like a particular fruit or vegetable, I often wonder if the real issue is that they haven't had it at the peak of freshness. You may find that you enjoy something that you previously thought you didn't like at all. Another plus is that you'll be able to purchase produce that you can't find at the grocery store. From heirloom varieties of the classics you already know to vegetables you may have never heard of, the options will amaze you. Having this kind of variety in your diet will help to ensure you're getting all the nutrients you need, keep you from getting bored with your meals, and allow you to discover your knew favorites. To find a market in your area, check out Local Harvest or the USDA National Farmers Market Directory. Happy shopping!

NNMC Increase Produce: Make a Snack

Slipping in more fruits and vegetables at snack time is a great way to up your produce intake. Instead of turning to options like granola bars, crackers, chips, or other vending machine fare, come over to the fresher side of things. You can go as simple or get as creative as you like. The point is to find something that you like and that fits in with your lifestyle so you can keep it up, rather than struggling and feeling like it's a chore. Honestly, this can be just as convenient as those pre-packaged snacks, with a little planning. Cut up veggies over the weekend and divide into snack sized portions so you can grab them right out of the fridge. Mix up a fruit salad that can easily be spooned into a container for later or served up after school. Here are some ideas to get your started.

Snack Ideas

  • Veggies with hummus for dipping
  • Fruit salad
  • Beans and chopped veggies mixed with lemon juice or vinegar, oil, and your favorite spices (make a big batch and keep it in the refrigerator)
  • Plain yogurt topped with fresh fruit
  • Banana with peanut butter
  • Celery with peanut butter
  • Smoothie made with plain yogurt, berries, and spinach
  • Cup of vegetable soup
  • Sliced fruit (apples, pears, orange, peaches, etc.) with plain yogurt for dipping
  • Lettuce roll-ups
  • Fruit and/or veggie skewers

What's your favorite way to snack on fruits and veggies?