Sunday, March 22, 2009

In the Beginning, There was Dirt.

Some of you may recall my green thumb series last summer... the story of how I started my first vegetable garden followed by a few progress reports.
2008: My first sprouts2008: It's edible!

Throughout the winter, I continued to enjoy the fruits of our labor in the form of soups, chili and spaghetti sauce. Each time that I pulled another container of tomatoes or bag of carrots out of the freezer, I smiled at my little piece of success.

There was no doubt in my mind that I wanted to plant another garden this year.  Unlike last year, I'm not waiting until plants and seedlings are almost gone from the local stores. This year we're planning things out better.  I sat down and thought about what I wanted to put in the garden this year.  While I enjoyed having carrots, I didn't feel that they were a good use of space.  Instead, I want lettuce, more onions and shallots.  I surfed the net for different types of tomatoes and decided that I wanted grape tomatoes for snacking, a beefsteak tomato for everyday use and some orange or yellow tomatoes for variety.  I picked out the types of onions and shallots that I preferred and handed the list to DH.

He hopped onto eBay and purchased most of the seeds that I had requested.  Didn't know you could purchase seeds on eBay?  Yes, you can. (What CAN'T you purchase on eBay? Wait, don't answer that because the things you CAN'T purchase on eBay are the same things that I don't mention on my blog.) 

If you have never checked out the produce section of eBay, you will be completely amazed.  There are some awesome varieties available.  Looking for a white tomato, a red cucumber or a purple pepper?  Only have a certain amount of room?  Shooting for container gardening?  Need something that is fool-proof for the beginner gardener?  Read the descriptions and you'll be surprised what you can find.  Some are outright funky.  As a bonus, you can probably get everything you want all from the same seller and save on shipping charges.   

2009: It just looks like dirtA few weeks ago, we planted seeds into four prefilled biodegradable containers.
(1) Beefsteak tomatoes and grape tomatoes
(2) Texas onions
(3) Maui onions
(4) Several varieties of peppers

2009: One lonely sproutI kept them in a warm, sunny place and spritzed them with water every day.  When they didn't start to sprout when they were supposed to, we moved to plan B.  We placed the trays inside greenhouse boxes and filled the bottoms with about half an inch of water.  We covered them and let nature take over.  The onions and peppers are showing little progress, but the tomatoes are doing very well.
2009: Some tomato plants emerge!2009: 34 out of 36 tomato plants break through!
This is a project that DH and I are doing together and once the garden is ready to plant will become a family project.  I'm very excited about the fact that something I put into the ground (or pseudo ground in this case) is actually coming to life.  I don't have a green thumb and am often afraid to bring plants into my home because they usually die.  Thankfully DH is helping out!

Stay tuned... There's more to come, including the assembly of another raised bed!

Friday, March 13, 2009

Tracking Your Spending

In this time of spending concern, we're all thinking twice about many of our purchases.  A lot of people are putting off purchases of larger items.  But is that really the solution for you?  How do you know where to cut back if you don't really know where your money is going?Get $50 Cash Back from Discover!

I'm a huge advocate of using financial software like MS Money.  As part of a review tour through BlogHer, I had the opportunity to discuss this in more detail along with talk about the new Spend Analyzer that Discover launched. 

I encourage you to read "I Spend HOW much on Fast Food?" at SAHM Reviews to find out how DH and I started on our path to financial accountability as well as some scoop about the Discover's Spend Analyzer!  It's honest and true and it's not a sales pitch so please stop by and read it...

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Is a Goldfish Considered Bribery?

Yesterday at the gym, they had a table set up doing dental screenings for children.  My girls were quite excited to get brand-spanking new toothbrushes.  They act like they never get a new toothbrush!  I digress... As I was talking to the woman who set up the table, I noticed a stuffed Nemo as part of her display.  I laughed and as I recounted the goldfish story to her, I realized that I hadn't shared it on my blog yet.

Oh, where to start?
How about before Christmas.  Yup.  That's a good place to start.

Miss M wasn't even 6 yet and Miss K had just turned 4.  Our family dentist said that children can't brush their teeth effectively until they are much, much older.  So what I do is let the girls brush first then I follow up with my more thorough approach.

Brushing our teeth has always been a natural part of our bedtime routine.  But for some odd reason, probably chaotic schedules, morning brushing hasn't exactly been a priority.  Yeah, that's my fault but when I'm busy and running around trying to get Miss M ready for school while juggling getting myself and Miss K ready for the gym, I tend to get a bit flustered.  As many times as I would ask them to go brush their teeth by themselves in the morning, they seldom would.  "Tsk, tsk, Nicole.  They're only 5 and 4 - what on earth would compel you to believe they would do it on their own?"

In the meantime, someone besides me decided that the girls needed goldfish.  Probably because every time we went to WalMart they wanted to go look at all the fish.  Didn't matter what they saw in the tank, they always got excited.

Add another thing to my to-do list, but okay... if it will make them happy then I'm game.

Then came Christmas.  DH and I purchased matching beginner bowl sets for the girls.  They were cute and even came with rocks and a plant.  When we returned from Christmas out of town, the girls were allowed to go to WalMart and pick one goldfish each.  The were delighted. 
When we got home, DH set a few rules. 
One - the girls need to help clean the tanks once a week.  (He's been the parent in charge of cleaning every time except a few so hooray for DH!) 
Two - the fish cannot be fed until the beds are made and the teeth are brushed. 

The girls agreed without any complaint.  No longer do I need to beg them or remind them to brush their teeth in the morning... they usually remind ME!  Sometimes on weekends, I have to ask them if they've made their beds yet and brushed their teeth because "Your fish is waiting for breakfast."  That's not bad considering I don't usually have to remind them during the week.

Here we are in March and the fish are still alive. 

Basically, it cost us 40 cents to get the kids in the habit of brushing their teeth twice a day.  And the fact that they make their beds in the morning as part of the deal is just a bonus.

Have you bribed your kids lately?

Winner - High School Musical: The Ice Tour

Congratulations to The Fiedlers for their winning entry!  Vouchers are on their way so tell your daughter to start practicing her singing!