Watch Out for the Energy-Sucking Draft Monster

Can you imagine a draft monster? What would it look like? It would most certainly have a large mouth to suck all of that warm air out of your house, I am sure. If you’ve been visited by the draft monster in the past, now is the time to get ready for its reappearance. After all, it’s fall, and after fall comes the cold and drafty winter season. Here are some tips that will help you draft-proof your home. First, check for the presence of drafts. Place your hand next to doorways and windows, or place a thin piece of … Continue reading

Getting Rid of Kid’s Stuff

If you’re feeling a little swamped by the idea of sorting your child’s stuff, or your child is suffering mental burnout looking at all of those toys, it’s time to get rid of things! Of course, the best way to get rid of items is to avoid getting them in the first place. But if you’re swamped with stuff, follow these suggestions to help it find a new home where it will be valued. Give things to a friend. The other day, a friend came over to visit and left with a bag of clothes. Only do this after you … Continue reading

What is a Home?

If you search the word “home” on the Internet, you get some pretty interesting results. For example, Wikipedia defines home in the following way: “A home is a place of residence or refuge. When it refers to a building, it is usually a place in which an individual or a family can live and store personal property. Most modern-day households contain sanitary facilities and a means of preparing food.” That pretty much sums it up in a very clinical way, sort of cold and matter of fact. I thought that it was interesting that there was a mention about how … Continue reading

Homes for Bees: Creating a Bee-eautiful Garden

This summer, I’m teaching kids about pollinators. I love pollinators. So do you, even though you may not realize it. A third of what you eat is a product of a pollinator. Fruits and many things that we call vegetables were pollinated by a bee, a butterfly, or another creature that fertilized the flower and allowed that fruit to grow. If you have a garden at home, you need pollinators too. Even if you don’t have a garden, there’s a whole world out there that needs pollinating! Pollinator populations are dropping rapidly, since urban development has taken away wild sources … Continue reading

Naked Lunch

I had to get really creative, or at least desperate, with what was packed this morning in my kids’ lunches. Without bread, the sandwiches would be a bit, well, naked. You see, last night we never did get to the grocery store, so we are out of basics, such as bread, milk and dark chocolate. Yikes. Okay, so the dark chocolate was for me, but we do normally incorporate bread and milk somewhere in meals for our children. Typically, I am an uber-planner, well, an uber-planner wanna be. I haven’t yet obtained my certificate or badge, and the phrase “let … Continue reading

Four Ways to Propagate Plants Part Two

This is part two of a series about growing additional plants from your existing ones. If you missed part one, which instructed the leaf cutting and root division methods, click here. Ground Layering Large woody plants, such as climbing roses, hydrangea, and other flowering shrubs will propagate easily using the ground layering method. Ground layering should be done in late spring or early summer. Select a young two- to three-foot stem from your plant and remove any flower buds, but leave the stem attached to the main plant. Next, dig a shallow trench, about a couple of inches down, near … Continue reading

Four Ways to Propagate Plants

Growing additional plants from your existing ones can result of plenty of new landscaping for you or to share or exchange with a friend, neighbor or club. Fill out your garden beds or make someone else happy now once you know how. Leaf Cutting Most tropical species, such as begonias and violets can create new plants from leaf cuttings. First select a nice thick leaf. Then, with a sharp razor blade or X-Acto knife, cut the leaf into one-inch sections, making sure that you get a strong part of the vein in each section. Next, place the sections vertically into … Continue reading

Sneaky Gardeners: The Trap Crop

This year, I’m enjoying “my” new garden very much. It’s a garden up the street from our house, and it belongs to someone else. I just get the pleasure of growing vegetables in it this year. A few years ago, I inadvertently discovered the idea of a trap crop. What is a trap crop? You’re probably familiar with the idea of companion planting. Companion planting is all about planting crops that work well with each other. Carrots loosen the soil for other plants. Many herbs attract beneficial insects that help pollinate other plants or eat other insects that will eat … Continue reading

Types of Rain Barrels

Rain, rain, come again. Fill up my rain barrel for me, then you can fill another, and another. In the Pacific Northwest, with its overabundant rainfall, we often think that rain barrels are a ridiculous idea. However, the Pacific Northwest also comes with its summer time droughts, so rain barrels are actually an extremely sensible idea in this climate. In other climates that are more prone to drought, sensible gardeners have been using them for years. What styles of rain barrels are available for your garden? The traditional drum-style rain barrel can be wood or plastic. There is an area … Continue reading

French Revolution Interrupted by Power Failure

That is one of my favorite descriptions of what happened on Saturday night for us. I wasn’t clever enough to think of it myself, but I am shamelessly grabbing the line for my blog post title, since it perfectly sums up recent events. As I’ve hinted at here and there, our home life got turned upside down when my ten-year-old got a significant part in the local high school musical, Les Mis, which is set at the French Revolution. There were a lot of late night rehearsals, working around the schedules of everyone else in the family, giving up recess … Continue reading