Tuesday, February 21, 2012


The garden is in! We spent our weekend planting and it's looking to be a tasty summer. We planted tomatoes, onions, bell peppers, jalapenos, squash of all kinds, broccoli, cauliflower, spinach, lettuce, beets, turnips, beans, peas, carrots, radishes, herbs....the list goes on and on. I'm hoping to be up to my ears in produce. I've already been internet shopping for more canning jars!
Pickled asparagus we put up last year
We aren't really trying any new varieties this year but we are experimenting with different types of gardening. In a few of our beds, we are trying the "square foot" method as opposed to row plantings. This makes my OCD senses tingle, having to spread seeds willy nilly but we want to maximize space and minimize weeds which this method promises to do. My husband still let me have a few row plantings to satisfy my need for symmetry...isn't he a gem?

Anything good to eat in here Mom?
We are also experimenting with terracing on the slope between our fruit trees. Our beloved tomato plants slow production during the summer once the temperatures are consistently over 105 degrees (so NOT looking forward to that!) In an effort to give them some relief from the sun, we planted a few between the fruit trees, hoping the shade will keep them comfortable. We lost so many tomatoes to blossom end rot last season we are willing to do just about anything for our romas, krims and beefsteaks. Tomatoes are a gardener's most prized crop!

Part of last year's crop
And flowers. I planted flowers. We haven't ever planted flowers. When we moved here almost four years ago, we thought it silly that many people had huge lawns that they spent hundreds of dollars on each month to water. We live in the desert. Grass does not grow here for a reason! My husband and I hopped on the artificial turf bandwagon and solemnly swore we wouldn't plant anything that wasn't useful or edible. Flowers don't really fit into either of those categories but it sure is nice to have some color in the yard. I don't see myself having an English garden anytime soon but I'm thinking flowers will be making their appearance in my yard on a regular basis.

What are you planting this year?


Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Tea Tin Candle

You've heard me talk about the dangers of conventional candles a few times. Nasty chemicals lurking in wax and wicks, turning a perfectly lovely candle into an environmental disaster. Benzene? Zinc? Lead? No thank you! My kids and I made some rolled beeswax candles not too long ago and it left me wanting to learn more about candle making at home. I finally gathered my supplies and made my first eco-friendly container candle and I thought I'd share the process!

You will need:
A container (Thanks for the tea tins Momma!)
Beeswax or Soywax
100% cotton wicking
Essential Oils (optional)

Step One-Set The Wick. I used prepared cotton wicks meaning they were tabbed and waxed which helps them to stand upright. You can use regular old cotton wicking if that's what you have, but know that your process might be a bit different. To set a prepared wick, you can either dip the tab in a little wax and stick it to the bottom of your container or you can use hot glue. I used hot glue since my glue gun was still sitting on the counter from my adventures with Vinny the Valentine horse.

Step Two-Melt Your Wax. This being my first go round with container candles, I wasn't quite sure how to measure my wax beads to ensure I had enough. I filled each of my containers with beeswax pastilles and dumped them into my waxpot. THIS IS NOT ENOUGH WAX. I ended up only being able to make one votive. Next time, I plan to measure out twice as many pastilles as I will need to fill one container. That's a ratio of roughly 2 to 1.

Step Three-Scent and Pour. Scenting your candle is completely optional. Beeswax gives off it's own sweet smell but I like things fragrant so I added some bergamont essential oil to my melted wax. Carefully pour your wax into your container, taking care not to drown your wick. I poured with one hand and held my wick up with the other.

Step Four- Secure and Support. There are many methods for keeping your wick upright and centered while your wax hardens. Because I used a prepared wick, it was already quite stiff and only needed a little help to stay in place.I gently wedged my wick between two pencils placed horizontally on the container and that seemed to do the trick.

Step Five- Trim and Burn. Once your wax has hardened and your container has cooled, you may find that the top of your candle appears sunken. This is normal. Top off with another layer of wax and your candle will be smooth and even. Once your top layer is set, remove your wick support and trim your wick to about a 1/4 inch. Light and enjoy!


Friday, February 10, 2012

Vinny the Valentine Horse

When my daughter's teacher sent out an email asking for empty Kleenex boxes to be used as a Valentine mailbox, I assumed that the creating/decorating of said mailbox would take place at school. I was wrong. Instead, my daughter arrived home with an empty Kleenex box and a cheerful note encouraging us work together at home to transform the box into a receptacle worthy of the finest love notes.

She was excited to get started so I pulled out the usual suspects: stickers, markers, and glitter. She rolled a marker thoughtfully between her palms, staring intently at her Kleenex box and announced, "I want it to look like horse." This is not at all surprising. My horse crazy girl lives and breathes all things equine. "That's great honey! Draw a horse on the box," I exclaimed. She continued to roll her marker, chewing on her lower lip. "No Momma. I don't want to draw a horse. I want the box to BE a horse."

I wasn't sure how I was going to make a Kleenex box into a horse but I knew that I certainly would not be spending any money to do so. A quick internet search gave use a few ideas about what a Valentine horse might look like, and we set to work using what we had around the house. Vinny the Valentine horse (as he is so affectionately called) is an upcycled masterpiece. Standing proud his on toilet paper roll legs, Vinny's body is an empty Kleenex box that K painted hot pink. His tail, also pink, was made from leftover yarn. I made Vinny's head out of construction paper and glued it to a file folder for support.

K is beyond excited to take Vinny to class on Tuesday.And to tell you the truth, I'm pretty excited too. Who'd have thought a bunch of "trash" could make something so cute?!


Wednesday, February 1, 2012


The first Matchbox car was manufactured in 1949. The company started with just three die cast models; a steam roller, a dump truck and a cement mixer. Nowadays there are thousands of different makes and models, everything from Corvettes and Hummers, to army tanks and double decker buses. My son is an avid collector of these little vehicles, and his friends and family are doing a bang up job making sure he has a large and varied collection. When not clutched in his sticky little hand, I find cars everywhere....and I mean EVERYWHERE. I took a walk around the house this morning looking for cars and here is what I found.

Cars on the couch
Cars on the water cooler

Cars in the sink

Cars in the cat food

Cars in the yard
And though I grumble and groan about picking up and/or stepping on that tiny truck for the 327th time, I think I might be very sad when I stop finding miniature Mustangs on every surface and in every nook and cranny. Very sad indeed. Perhaps its time I embraced the Matchbox car...they'll be gone before I know it!