A blog about family, food and fun!

Month: April 2017

Easy Dairy-Free Baked Peanut Butter Granola Bars

Easy Dairy-Free Baked Peanut Butter Granola Bars

We recently had to switch to a dairy-free lifestyle in an effort to see if our younger kids have a sensitivity that is causing them some serious sinus problems.  I was having a hard time finding granola bars for our kids that were dairy free, […]

Easy Rainbow Flowers Science Activity

Easy Rainbow Flowers Science Activity

A few weeks ago we had our three year old help us pick out flowers to give to our friends when we ate dinner at their house.  Being three, she was instantly lured to the artificially colored daisies in rainbow hues.  She absolutely loved them […]

Garden Update April 23, 2017

Garden Update April 23, 2017

We have finally been able to make some progress on our garden this week.  Our pumpkin and sunflower seedlings are growing well and are almost ready for hardening off and transplant.  I checked this morning and the watermelon seedlings are just starting to peek through the soil. Our ground cherries have yet to sprout but I was not able to get them to germinate last year either so I will probably buy seed starts again this year at a local plant sale.  If you can I highly recommend buying plants from your local Master Gardeners group. You can just google  “Master Gardeners” with your city and find a local club.  Many put on plant sale which allows you to buy locally and also gives you a chance to talk to a gardener with experience growing the crop you are buying in your particular area. 

 

Last night after nap time I was able to plant the strawberries I received from my local buy nothing group and plant lettuce, zucchini, spaghetti squash, luffa, gourds and cucumbers seeds. I used this planter we bought off of Amazon for the strawberries and lettuce. I put strawberries in the lower layers and lettuce in the top two.  I wanted to save some of the strawberries to plant along the slope I want to keep from eroding.

 

 

We bought our potting soil from Costco and our local nursery.  For the seeds I used mostly potting soil and then added about 1/4-1/2 inch of seed starter to the tops of the cups.

 

 

Our current seed starting method is to use red cups with three holes cut out of the bottom (you can just use kitchen shears) purchased at Costco in a low waterproof container. Since I was planting so many seeds I used this sterilite container with 20 cups. This still left room on the side to add water to the bottom for a passive watering system. 

 

 

I added about a 1/2 inch of water to the bottom and let it sit while I planted the strawberries and lettuce.

 

 

I did have to refill it again since the soil was pretty dry.  After I refilled it I poked two seeds into each cup and labeled them with wooden sticks. I bought ours at a local craft store but mine are almost gone so I will be ordering a gigantic pack from Amazon pretty soon.  You can use anything you want to label your seeds and since I didn’t use a waterproof pen to label mine I will probably be able to wash them and use them again.  Since I did not have enough sticks to label all of my cups I just labeled the first row of each.  Hopefully I won’t mix the cups up…

 

 

Here are the seeds I used.  They are just regular seeds bought from the grocery store except I ordered Luffa and gourd seeds from the Burpee website. They had a free shipping special on seeds and I did not have time to look around for luffa seeds since they are not common.  I have this idea that we will grow our own luffa sponges and make bird houses out of the gourds but I have no idea if they will actually grow so it will be a fun experiment.

 

 

I rearranged our seed shelf in the laundry room so that the new seeds would fit, sprayed the tops of the new cups with water so that the seed starter would not dry out and let them bask in the glow of the light.  All of them should germinate in 7-14 days and I am excited for them to come up!

 

 

A close up of the seed cups. The lack of waterproof marker caused the writing to run when I sprayed them with water but I can still read them so we are all good.

 

 

Today we spent some family time in the garden getting it ready for our seed starts and doing general clean up.  We live in a heavily treed area and there is a constant need for leaf blowing.  Here is the area where we are planting most of our vegetables.  The previous planter from last year has had it’s soil turned over and I weeded and raked the area where the new planter box will go.

 

 

We bought our planter box off of Amazon. It is a little smaller than I pictured but you can add another one on top of it to make it deeper.  We will probably buy another one to add to the top next year.  It was super easy to assemble and our kids loved helping with it.

 

 

We placed the second one slightly farther away from the driveway so that we have a bit more space.  I may plant our sunflowers along the driveway since I don’t want them shading out our planter boxes but I haven’t decided yet.  We will add dirt sometime in the next couple of weeks when we can borrow a truck to haul it.

 

 

I am really happy with our progress in the garden this week. Next week we are planting our tomato starts we got from Costco and looking at adding our seed starts to the garden.  I also need to direct sow our carrots and install a pest management fence around the vegetable garden which we can hopefully complete in the next couple of weeks.

 

What do you have going on in your garden this week?

 

Earth Day Every Day

Earth Day Every Day

April 22nd is Earth Day. As we were poking about in the garden I thought about posting a bunch of activities for Earth Day like making stuff out of other stuff or coloring pictures of earth and discussing pollution but then I asked myself what […]

North Side Fern Discovery

North Side Fern Discovery

To say the north side of my house was a hot mess is an understatement.  The previous owners planted a bunch of bushes and some ivy along the property line and I honestly barely did any gardening back there last year so the weeds were […]

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

Hilarious Japanese Toilet Candy

For Christmas I bought this  Takoyaki candy from Japan for my teenager. Takoyaki is one of her favorite foods and she found it online and wanted to try it.  It was ok and I wish I had gotten pictures of it but she had fun making it with the three year old and we had a good laugh out of it.  The oldest is heading off to college next year and to make her last year memorable I have been randomly ordering funny things off of Amazon to see how she reacts.  A couple of months ago I found this Japanese Candy “In A Toilet”  Drink Toy on Amazon after scouring the site for the perfect gag gift.  I ordered it hoping it would come before Easter and it happened to come last week on a particularly difficult day so I had her open it right away to cheer her up.  

 

All of the pieces.

 

We put it together on the kids’ art table which has been heavily used so please ignore the paint and or sticker mess in any of the pictures.  The three year old wanted to help so she was in charge of stickers and taste testing.  We did not look up where to place the stickers since the three year old was impatient and put them all over the toilet piece.  The girls had fun putting it together.

 

 

 

Despite the instructions being in Japanese there were excellent pictures and it was very easy to put together.

 

 

I love the details put into this candy, they even included a little piece of bathroom floor for the toilet to rest on.

 

 

Once the toilet was put together you pour the powder into the toilet, add water to the back of the toilet and enjoy! The mixture forms bubbles in the bowl of the toilet which you drink out of with a straw.

 

 

I tried the red flavor (strawberry) and it tasted like sour strawberries, similar to the filling in Zots, remember those?  Our three year old absolutely loved doing this activity with us and drank most of both flavors on her own.  My teenager and I got a good laugh out of it and now I am searching for the next thing to try.

 

Maybe I will get the Kracie Popin Cookin 9 Item Bundle with Sushi, Hamburger, Bento, Takoyaki, Cake Shop and More and dole them out slowly when we need a good laugh.  Seriously, I highly recommend them for a fun family activity.  Trying to figure out how to put the kits together builds teamwork skills, allows little ones to practice fine motor skills and gets your kids to try something new and exciting to eat.

 

Happy “cooking”!

 

 

 

 

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

Easy Dairy-Free Grandma’s Fruit Salad

My grandma made fruit salad for us growing up and it was always my favorite because she put a few marshmallows in there.  My mom was always trying to eat healthy so marshmallows were a rare treat in our house.  I made this yummy salad […]

Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Coconut Curry (Dairy-Free/Vegan Option)

Easy Slow Cooker Cauliflower Coconut Curry (Dairy-Free/Vegan Option)

I love mild coconut curry with potatoes.  My mother-in-law makes a chicken coconut curry that is my absolute favorite but she doesn’t ever give up her real recipes so I created this cauliflower coconut curry recipe based on the many curry recipes I found.  Since […]

2017 Seed Starts

2017 Seed Starts

We are a bit late starting seeds this year.  We have been dealing with back to back sickness for months and a lot of our projects have been pushed aside. Last week I started some watermelons, sunflowers, pumpkins and ground cherries. Next week I am going to add broccoli, lettuce varieties and maybe peas but I think it might still be too early for that. We have not had luck starting tomatoes on our own so we buy the starts at Costco and sometimes local plant sales hosted by garden clubs.  We have had super healthy tomato plants from Costco both years we bought them there and last year we grew way more tomatoes than we could eat.

 

I thought I would post a few photos of my setup.  We luckily have a laundry room with a shelf where we are able to place seed trays and a light. We bought  the Fluorescent 4-Tube Fixture from Amazon.  It is 4 feet long so it covers a lot of space for seeds and we used hangers similar to the Elfin Growth 1/8″ Adjustable-Height Grow Light Fixture Ratchet Hangers to hang it from the ceiling.  It is super convenient to adjust the height of the light all the way up when we aren’t using it.  I get my laundry shelf back in the off season!

 

Seed Starting Setup

 

As you can see we use the red cup method for starting our seeds. We  bought a gigantic pack from Costco and cut 3 small holes in the bottom of the cups with kitchen shears, fill them with good soil, add a layer of seed starter to the top and plant our seeds.  This allows us to water the seeds from below and prevent any molds or fungi from growing on too damp plants.  I have thought about using toilet paper rolls to start my seeds, and I may try it later this year with my beans and peas.  My kids constantly play with the used cups after I plant the seeds.  They love to fill them with dirt or water and dump it out.

 

The brown and green containers are ones that have been floating around in our garage for many, many years. I found them while cleaning and instead of throwing them out (they are seriously older than my teenager) I decided to repurpose them for seed starting and they are the perfect height.  You can also use long shallow containers such as these Sterilite 32 Quart/30 Liter ClearView Latch Box  but any container that holds water and isn’t taller than your cups will work. You might even be able to find something at a thrift store. I was in a hurry when I planted these so my handwriting is pretty illegible on the sticks but I can read them and that is all that counts right?

 

 

So far my sunflower and pumpkin seeds have sprouted.  The sunflower seeds are growing fast and will soon be too tall for the light so I may have to move them a bit.  Last year I started them outside but they were immediately eaten after sprouting so I thought I would try inside this year.  We are still new to this whole growing things in our yard. Last year we discovered we have a huge slug problem and some sort of animal that is eating our seedlings.  We are going to try hardware cloth this year and see if that helps.

 

Pumpkin

 

I am excited to grow more of our food this year! I will keep updating our garden progress as projects get completed.

 

Happy Gardening!

 

5 Tools for Making it Through the New Puppy Stage

5 Tools for Making it Through the New Puppy Stage

We added a puppy to our family last fall and even though we have owned dogs for many years, we have never had a young puppy.  We got our dachshund Zoey at 6 months and by then she had outgrown many of her young puppy […]