Monday, March 24, 2014

Signs of Spring

Spring has officially sprung!  We didn’t have much of a Winter but Spring is always welcome!  Here are some signs of Spring around our new house:


Bulbs are popping up all over the place and blooming.  I love tulips!


The apple tree is blooming.  The bees are out pollinating too. 


Hopefully this will mean lots of apples in the Fall!


My lettuce is sprouting – yes, we have a garden!  A small little garden that may or may not produce anything but still it is a garden!


The days are getting longer!  I love getting home and still having some time to enjoy the daylight. 

What are some signs of Spring at your house?

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Milk Jug Greenhouses

This spring with my introductory plant science class, we tested out milk jug greenhouses. We are still getting the data analysis completed, but I'm very pleased with the results. While I can't confirm that the results were statistically significant, I can tell you that the germination rates with our milk jug greenhouses were about equal to the germination rates in the commercial greenhouse. These cheap little greenhouses work! 

The idea with the milk jug greenhouses is that they are a very cheap and easy way to get your seeds started earlier than you might be able to start them in the ground. I've seen some people make the milk jugs into a sort of plant cover to protect the plant. But by using the whole milk jug, if you have a cold snap, you can bring the whole thing inside. It is cheap, easy and effective in starting your own seeds and hopefully getting an extended growing season with your garden.

Here is how to do it. 

Step 1:
Save a milk jug, clean it out. You won't need the cap so that can be recycled immediately. 

Step 2:
Make drainage holes in the bottom. My husband used a knife but in class we were safer and used a drill. Four drainage holes worked great for our class project.

Step 3:
Cut the jug horizontally almost all the way around. Where the handle is, leave a couple inches un cut. The end result should be the top half of the jug being 'hinged' to the bottom half.

Step 4:
Add potting soil and start your seeds. We have started beans, peas, tomatoes, squash and cucumbers all with good success. For each we have just planted four seeds per jug. 

Step 5:
Close the hinge and tape the jug to seal the cut. We have the best luck with duct tape, shipping tape was a bit too flimsy. Make sure the cap is removed and do not seal where the cap had been. The open cap allows for ventilation.

Step 6:
Set out in the sun and enjoy! We did water them as needed, but if you get enough rainfall you may not need to water much at all. If there is risk of frost or you have a cold snap, bring them inside. You could set them in front of a window and take the back out when the conditions improve.

Step 7:
In 2-4 weeks when your starts are looking great, un-tape the jug and transplant! 

I was very pleased with how successful the germination was in the jugs when compared to a commerical greenhouse. It was very inexpensive to try out and you could reuse the milk jugs year after year. We will be repeating this experiment in class with different seeds next spring and I will be using this in my personal garden as well. 

Note: This was not an idea I came up with, but one that I came across online. Whomever originated this idea is brilliant.

I'll update you when the data is complete!

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

36 Weeks

Time flies so fast!  I’m 36 weeks right now which means baby will be coming in about 4 weeks – or whenever he or she feels like arriving really.

Just because I like to keep it real, here are some pictures my hubby took this weekend.  No makeup and didn’t shower – I’m practicing for when the baby gets here! 


I had every intention of taking weekly pictures with a chalkboard or sign.  But, that didn’t happen – I’m not one of those cutesy bloggers … sorry!

Since almost everyone asks me how I am feeling – I’ll tell you before you have to ask.  I’m feeling great – at least as great as someone who is getting beaten from the inside almost all day long can feel!  No complications as of right now and I’ve be very lucky to have a healthy pregnancy.  I do feel like an umpa lumpa or a beached whale when I try to pick something up off the ground or get out of bed but I think that’s pretty normal.  I try not to sit on the floor with my students anymore and when I forget to grab a chair I regret it because it takes a little longer to get up. 


Since I’m so nosy – if you’ve had a baby were you early, late, or right on time?

Yeah, yeah – I know a “due date” is just a guess and you really go into labor when baby is ready – but, I’m still curious! 

Monday, March 17, 2014

St. Patty’s Day Treats

Happy St. Patrick’s Day!

I found this pin on pinterest and had to share … seriously chocolate vodka in a milkshake – what could be better than that?  Not much!

Green Mint Chip Mudslide Milkshake - Get ready for St. Patrick's Day with an adult milkshake!

Since I am preggers, I cannot have chocolate vodka or whipped cream vodka or any alcoholic beverage.  I’ve never been much of a drinker but I have craved alcohol pretty much this entire pregnancy.  Weird, I know – but pretty please drink one of these for me today!

Or, if you are looking for something a little healthier – try this protein shake.  I would use 1% milk, vanilla mix, and spinach or kale.  You could even toss in some chocolate vodka!  Side note – I found this picture on pinterest but cannot find the source – if anyone knows please leave a link in the comments so I can give credit!  Thanks!

Have a very Happy Saint Patrick’s day!  If you have any delicious green drinks, please leave a link so we can check them out!

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Springtime, sunshine, and baby chicks!

A majority of my life I have had chickens. Pretty much my entire life really, except college. We have been at our new house for 2 years so we decided it was time once again to welcome some chickens home.

The plan was to pick up 6 chicks at the local feedstore. 6 adult chickens will produce almost 6 eggs a day, so more than that will not make sense for our family of 3. But chickens are kinda cool to have around and need to be in a group. In fact, some stores have a minimum number of chicks that must be purchased at a time, often 6.

For people ordering 25 chicks or more you can order them direct from the hatchery and pick them up at your local post office. But for less than 25 a local feed store is a good bet. They take good care of the chicks and can help you decide what breeds will work best for you. 

When H and I got to the store, they only had a few of the types I was looking for so we only got 4 instead of 6.
2 Barred Rocks - my all time favorite breed, black with white stripes 
1 white leghorn - the Prius of chickens. Eat little, produce lots of white eggs.
1 Rhode Island Red - the traditional barn yard red chicken, great egg producer. 

My plan was to get 2 more either Silver Laced Wyandotts or Buff Orpingtons. I've never had either but always wanted them. They are big, pretty and not super efficient egg producers. I have also heard they are known for being gentle.

The hubs went with us to the feed store the second time when we picked up the two Buffs - they didn't have any Silvers. And since he was with us, we came home with an extra Rhode Island Red. :) 

Chicks are adorable, but are also very messy and grow rapidly. They need to be kept very warm for the first few weeks before they can start going outdoors. Right now they have a pretty small space living space which helps keep them warm in addition to a heat lamp. But once they are a month old they will start spending more time outside and get a much larger pen.

I'll be keeping you posted on our chick adventures the next few weeks and share our home made brooder. The hubs is working on their permanent pen so we will have updates on that as well.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

March Special!

I’m so excited to announce a special for this month from Shaklee!


I am really happy I found Shaklee about a year ago – it really has changed my life.  I am no longer dealing with eczema in fact I haven’t had a breakout in almost a year.  Even with the dry winter and stress of moving!!  My face is finally clear and I deal with breakouts far less frequently than I had been.  I also can feel such a huge difference in my energy and am happy, pregnant, and healthy thanks to some of the best vitamins out there!!

This is the best deal I’ve seen Shaklee offer so if you are wanting to make the switch to natural products that actually work let me know!!

Monday, March 3, 2014

Thankful for rain... but still in a severe drought

We are so very thankful for the rain we got over the last week or so. But, by no means is this drought over. Here is a quick visual from the Department of Water Resources.

The shaded blue is the historical average. The red line is the drought of 76-77. In my community that drought impacted our area by a drop of 40% in our local economy.

The solid blue is current levels. Lower than even the drought of 76-77.

Bottom line, we are thankful for this rain but need to keep hoping and praying for more of it.

Baby Room – just a little peek

There has been a lot going on around here and the thing I am most excited about is this:


The baby’s room!!  I’ve had it planned out for a LONG time … then we moved and I had to throw that plan away and start over.  We had to work around a major obstacle in the baby’s new room but I am very happy with the progress we’ve made in the last month. 

I can’t wait to show you the whole room – it might be ready by the time the baby gets here! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

Crazy hair, tiny Bikinis and what I learned in Brazil

In February I was fortunate to be a part of an amazing trip to Brazil. I'll be posting more about the trip soon. But to start, this is the story of crazy hair, tiny bikinis and the amazing culture of Brazil.

It all started with crazy hair. My hair is naturally a bit wavy, but how wavy depends on a ton of factors. Usually I wear it straight. I brought a few simple hair products to Brazil with me but none of them served much purpose. The combination of intense humidity and heat along with the water (I don't know what exactly but the water was involved) resulted in hair that just wouldn't be tamed. I tried pulling it back, using much hairspray, but just ended up with a face framing frizz fest. So, after compliments and some deep conditioner, I decided to embrace my wild crazy brazilian hair.

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I was fascinated by the women's hair and when I felt comfortable enough I would ask them about hair products. I couldn't even find a good translation for it. They seem to simply wash, condition and wear. At a field trip to a mega market, I found no hairspray - none.Seriously ZERO bottles. They had one bottle of mousse but otherwise just tons of conditioner options. I did purchase some conditioner which made my hair look much less light socket induced and more crazy beach hair. So the conditioner did help.
But I embraced the hair. I washed and conditioned it and just let it air dry and do what it wanted. No product, no hair dryer, no curing irons, just natural. And I kinda liked it. And I got complimented on it. And all I did was let it be.
I didn't really think too deeply about it until I visited the Copacabana beach in Rio. At the beach in Brazil, everyone wears bikinis. Young and old, tan or pale (but mostly very tan), men and women and every body type there is - all wore tiny bikini bottoms. Most of the women wore thongs and almost all the men wore boy shorts (I finally realized the source of that term). The only men in board shorts and women in one pieces were the tourists. I've never felt over dressed wearing a bikini, until Rio.

But no one seemed to be worried about what was hanging out, or stretch marks, or cellulite, or skin blemishes in unusual places (yes, butt zits were on display). The men weren't worried about being hairy or having a gut - and many of the had both. It was nothing like I have ever seen on a beach in California.
And it was amazing, and revolutionary and freeing. Everyone wore them and clearly no one cared. No one made funny looks at anyone else - except the look of shock on our American faces. They just accepted each other as is. It is hot and humid so tiny bikinis are how you keep comfortable. They are function not a status indicator of a great body.
But don't think there was a lack of magnificent bodies. I saw some of the most beautiful bodies I have ever seen - right out of a magazine no joke - but I saw every type of body in the spectrum with no concern about covering up.

Brazilians seem to embrace who they are physically in a way that would be beneficial to many like myself. We are who we are and while we should work to stay healthy, we should also embrace and accept who we are with hair and body. If you have a rocking bod feel free to show it off, but if you are an average 'Jane' don't limit yourself to cover ups.

I may not be ordering a thong bikini anytime soon, but I will be attempting to embrace my natural wild hair a bit more often. The Brazilians have seem to have body image figured out.

Two thumbs up for wild hair!