5 Reasons Why Kids Should Garden

Filed under: Kids — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:32 am on Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When I was 4 years old, my parents gave me the job of planting the carrot seeds in the garden. I was given the packet full of seeds and told to put the seeds in the row. Somehow, the packet got away from me and I spilled some seeds to the side. I guiltily pretended it didn’t happen and finished up my chore.

Later, I came back and I noticed that the seeds I had spilled had sprouted the same way the ones in the prepared row had sprouted. Suddenly, I understood what a seed was. It wasn’t a process my dad came up with–it’s a germ of life. I have always found seeds kind of magical since that day.

Vegetable gardening is one of the most valuable things you can do with your kid. Here are five reasons why:

It Teaches Them About Food–Let’s just say it: Americans are obese. One of the reasons for this is that we’re disconnected from our food. Seeing food grow as a child short-circuits this disconnection. It teaches them what plant-life actually is, and once they know that, they will always have something wholesome to reference when eating a fast food taco made out of Doritos.

It Teaches Them About Nature–You can teach about plants and seeds on the chalkboard, but it’s not the same as putting a seed in the ground and watching it grow. Gardening teaches children about plant life, insects, birds, light, water, fruiting, birth, and death–plus about a dozen other things I’m not thinking of right now.

It Gives Them Fresh Air and Exercise–We all know kids aren’t getting enough of that, right?

It Gives Them Autonomy–Gardening is a valuable life skill. No matter how bad things get, you know how to feed yourself. There’s that old saying, “Feed a man to fish, you can feed him for a day. Teach a man to fish, you can feed him for a lifetime.” That applies to gardens, and kids, too.

It Gets Them To Eat Vegetables–Studies show that when kids grow vegetables, they are more likely to eat them. This makes sense. After all, what gardener doesn’t want to eat the things they grow?


Bites and Pieces Crust Cutter

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:49 am on Tuesday, April 23, 2013

I don’t understand why some people don’t like the crust on sandwiches, but if you do, this Bites and Pieces Crust Cutter is pretty awesome. Why not play Tetris with your sandwich?

Keeping Ants Off Fruit Trees

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:24 am on Monday, April 22, 2013

Ants, man. They are my garden nemesis. I’m getting better at killing them but they can still do a lot of damage if you let them.

They don’t just put aphids on my plants (I’m getting better at killing those too), they put scales on my fruit trees.

Scales are soft bodies insects that suck the life out of plants and put off a sooty mildew/mold that the ants like to eat, because they are gross. Scales look like this:


I didn’t know about scales, so I didn’t know why ants were climbing all over my lemon bushes. By the time I figured it out, I had an enormous scale problem that has required a lot of care and patience to get under control.

Anyway, I have since learned of a great way to keep ants off fruit tree. The best part of it is that it’s non-invasive. It doesn’t coat the tree in chemicals and it doesn’t kill beneficial insects. Heck, it doesn’t even kill the ants.

It’s called Tanglefoot.

Tanglefoot is a non-drying, sticky compound that forms a barrier against climbing insects. You put a paper collar around the tree–I use duct tape–and “paint” this sticky, honey-like glue all around the trunk, like so:

The ants can’t cross it. Their trail is disrupted and they can’t continue their evil scheme to colonize your tree with scales or aphids.

I’ve used Tanglefoot for almost a year now. It stays sticky for quite awhile. Eventually, the paper collar off the tree and you have to reapply it, but no big deal. It’s nice to have an organic insect control that actually works.

You have to watch those ants, though. They were trying to put citrus scales on my orange tree, so I put Tanglefoot around its base to stop them. The next day, I went out to check that it was working. It was. The ants could not climb up the trunk because the Tanglefoot was blocking their path.

So what did they do? They moved a piece of grass and used that as a ladder over the Tanglefoot so they could go back to putting citrus scales on my orange tree.

Ants, man.

From Plastic Jug To Paint Holder

Filed under: Cleaning/Decorating — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:39 am on Friday, April 19, 2013

I’m not sure where this image originally came from, but I wish I had known about this the last time I had to paint a wall. It’s great for when you have to go up on a high ladder and don’t want to bring the paint bucket with you.

Not as clever as using a plastic jug as a watering can, but close.

Make Your Own Orange Soda

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:35 am on Thursday, April 18, 2013

First it was root beer and now Marcia is making Orange Soda over at Serious Eats. It’s kind of like Orange Crush, except it *gasp* uses actual orange juice. Imagine that.

Start A Garden Tally

Filed under: Gardening — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:55 am on Wednesday, April 17, 2013

Keeping a garden tally throughout the year is a good way to figure out if you’re making money in your garden. All this means is that you have an ongoing list where you mark how many vegetables you harvest. At the end of the year, you add everything up and compare it to what it would have cost you to buy the same amount of food in the store. Take that number, subtract the cost of the garden (the amount you paid for plants, fertilizers, etc.), and you have an idea of how much you’re making by gardening.

Last time I did a tally, I learned that my garden made me $600 that year. I’m hoping to top that number in 2013.

There are lots of ways to set up your garden tally. You could use a notebook or a spreadsheet or an online program. My methods are more primitive. I simply attached a sheet of paper to my refrigerator and put a pen on a magnet beside it. Then I wrote out all the vegetables and fruit I’m planting. From now on, when I bring a vegetable in from the garden, I will mark it on the tally.

For some vegetables, like carrots, you can do a straight count. For others that are more difficult to count, like lettuce, you can weigh it on a kitchen scale and keep track in ounces or pounds. Just make sure you keep straight which way you’re doing it.

There are several reasons to keep a garden tally:

1. It’s great to have a number you can point to and say “My garden made me $X this year.” Numbers are important in assessing the success of any project.

2. It shows which vegetables are the most successful.
You’ll know which are the bumper crops and which are being difficult, which will help you plan what to try again–and give up on–next year.

3. It shows which vegetables make you the most money. Because you compare your harvest to the cost of the same food in the store, you’ll quickly start to see which crops are making you money. Put more of those in next year!

4. It’s fun to watch the tally grow.
As the year goes on, you see more and more marks, straight evidence of your garden’s harvest. That’s a good feeling.

How do you do your garden tally?

Altered Thrift Store Art

Filed under: Recycling — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:27 am on Tuesday, April 16, 2013

I like this Altered Thrift Store Painting. The idea is to put a phrase–song lyrics in this case–in vinyl letters over an old piece of art, paint over it, then remove the letters.

I am going to try this!

Check out 4 more ways to update thrift store art here.

What Do Frugal Habits Save You?

Filed under: Money — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:43 am on Monday, April 15, 2013

On Friday, I was making baby food by running bananas through a blender and freezing them. It was feeling tedious and I started wondering, why not just buy pureed bananas and be done with it?

Then I calculated how much money I was saving by making the bananas instead of buying them. I came up with about $28.

(I paid $3.99 for 10 pounds of bananas. Removing the skin, let’s say that ended up being 9 pounds (144 ounces) of pureed banana for my son. That’s $.03 an ounce. If I buy the same standard baby food at $1.09 for 5 ounces of banana, that’s $.22 an ounce. For the same 144 ounces of baby food, I would pay $31.68. $31.68-$3.99=$27.69.)

That set me thinking: I have dozens of frugal habits that I do throughout the day. These are small things that are part of my daily life, like eating from my garden, using rags instead of paper towels, or using homemade cleaner and homemade hand soap. What do they end up saving me in a day?

So I made an informal tally throughout the day. Here’s what I came up with:

    * After making baby food, I had breakfast: two poached eggs and a piece of wheat bread. The eggs were free from my chickens, so I didn’t have to buy them. Approximate savings: $.75

    * At lunch, I fed my son homemade pureed broccoli and pureed mangoes (among other food), instead of purchasing two jars of baby food. Approximate savings: $2.20.

    * For my lunch, I had a salad that included arugula and strawberries from my garden, as well as smoked turkey and vinegar that I made myself. The only thing I bought was the turkey. Approximate savings: $2.

    * I filled another bottle with homemade liquid hand soap instead of buying liquid hand soap from the store. Approximate savings $3.

    * Throughout the day, I usually used rags instead of paper towels. Say I used 6 rags, that’s 6 paper towels. This is a little difficult to calculate, but let’s say, approximate savings: $.05.

    * Then I had some errands. Instead of driving downtown, I walked. Approximate savings in gas: $.23.

    * On the way, I stopped at a thrift store. I bought a new pair of sunglasses for $1.50 instead of buying new sunglasses at a department store. Approximate savings: $12.50.

    * I also bought a new colander for $1.50 instead of buying one at the store. (“New.”) Approximate savings: $8.50.

    * That night, I wanted to get pizza delivered, but I did not do it! Instead, I made it for $3. Approximate savings: $17.

    Total Savings: $46.23

In this list, I tried to include things I would have done regardless of whether they were frugal or not. I would have eaten food, cleaned, gone downtown, bought sunglasses, fed my son, etc. one way or another.

Of course, this is a sampling of a day. It’s not every day. I don’t buy sunglasses every day and I don’t always make pizza. Still, the point is, these frugal habits add up.

If I save $50 a day, that’s $18,250 that’s still sitting in my bank account at the end of the year.

That’s why frugality works.

You get used to it. You don’t even feel how you’re not spending money.

It’s your habit to do things that save. To get there, it’s just a matter of cultivating those habits.

Spring Cocktail Round-Up

Filed under: Food/Drink — Savvy Housekeeper at 7:54 am on Friday, April 12, 2013

It’s spring! And tax day is on Monday. Either way, sounds like time for a cocktail.

Here are five spring cocktails for you:

savvyhousekeeping 5 spring cocktails round-up

What’s Up Doc, Cocktail? One of the best cocktails we’ve come up with. It tastes a lot like carrot cake.

savvyhousekeeping 5 spring cocktails round-up

Mango Margarita. Mangos are on sale right now, so here’s a mango margarita recipe.

savvyhousekeeping 5 spring cocktails round-up

Champagne Lemon Floats. Homemade lemon sorbet and champagne. Delicious!

savvyhousekeeping 5 spring cocktails round-up

Maple Bacon Bloody Mary. Okay, maybe Bloody Mary isn’t the first thing you think of when I say “spring,” but it is something you drink at brunch, and brunch is something people do in the spring. Anyway, this cocktail, with bacon and maple syrup, is worth a try.

savvyhousekeeping 5 spring cocktails round-up

Strawberry Tarragon Cocktail. Strawberries are just starting to come into the stores, so here’s a cocktail using fresh strawberries, gin, and one of my favorite herbs: tarragon.

Happy spring!

Red Fox Silkscreen

Filed under: Pretty/Cool — Savvy Housekeeper at 8:30 am on Thursday, April 11, 2013

I saw this Red Fox Silkscreen on a TV show and thought it was kind of cute. 12.5″ x 19″. $30

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