Friday, August 31, 2012

Eat your Cucumbers.

Since I have had a steady supply of cucumbers this summer, I have noticed something: Cucumbers give me an instant burst of energy and well being. I dare even say that nothing else I eat works as quickly as this cucumber to make me feel good. Why? I wondered. I researched it for you all today and I am super impressed with this creation.

First off, although there isn't much taste and it doesn't seem like it should be a super veggie, it contains one of my very favorite vitamin of all! B12! B12 is huge for energy and cellular function. It also has A, C, B6 and folate, to name a few. Since it is such a water based veggie, it is absorbed pretty quickly. Not a huge time frame to break it down. That is why I feel such an instant pick up.

In addition, their is only 16 calories per cup if you were a calorie counting type. The cucumber will help to normalize body temperature which we need here in the Hot AZ summer. It contains 3 different phytonutrients to help fight cancer. The Vitamin K helps fight against bone loss and arthritis. It also helps fight against diabetes. It will help regulate the PH level in the body by neutralizing acidity which we all need. An acidic body is a welcome site to illness. 

I could go on and on but the bottom line is; eat a cucumber every day. I just drank mine. I went out and picked a fat Armenian and put it in a blender with a few watermelon chunks, water and some ice. I drank down a tall glass, gave one to my son and I feel so much better! I was dragging this morning. Now I am ready to go work out with Leandro ( My Beach Body friend). 

Grab a cucumber. You can get the pesticide free ones from Costco if you don't have a nice little trellis of them like I do in the back yard. Sorry, I won't share. I need the energy. 30 preschoolers, you know. 

Sunday, August 26, 2012

A Few Gardening Mysteries Solved.

My friend, Julie, Hatching Bunnies Farm, read my post and sent me an email with some great info about what went wrong this year. I had to share it with you so you won't feel so bad about your crops. I know it makes me feel a little better. Read on.

Just read your blog, let me  try and solve a few mysteries for you :)
Tomatoes-didn't do well for anybody this year because our heat was high early.  The pollen is killed between 90-95 degrees depending on the variety.  It hit 100 in late April-so there wasn't much time to set fruit.  Last year was better because the triple digits didn't hit until early June.  As temps go down in the next few weeks, we should see some fruit forming once again.  Also, southern Arizona was hit hard with russet mites.  They can't be seen by the naked eye, but cause browning of the leaves on the tomatoes from the ground up.  I didn't figure out what they were until too late.  A couple of dustings of sulfur (which is great for tomatoes-all natural) would have taken care of them.  I will be treating mine next year as a preventative measure.  

The squash bugs were terrible as well this year.  I have contacted an entymologist at Arbico (organic company in Tucson) and was given some good tips for next year.  I have also found a squash bug and powdery mildew resistant heirloom squash for next year that should help.  Here's what she said:

As for your problems with squash bugs, these critters are best controlled using 
physical methods.  If you place small boards or squares of cardboard near the 
base of your squash plants, the squash bugs will congregate there at night.  Go 
out early the next morning, lift up the boards and sweep the bugs into a bucket 
of soapy water.  If you have outbreaks of the nymphs on your plants, you can 
spray them directly with insecticidal soap or neem oil--or  pyrethrin as a last 
resort. (Avoiding the blooms, of course).

My daughter came up with a homemade aphid killer that worked well this year.  Check my blog for that recipe.

Hopefully this fall's weather and bugs will be kinder to us. :)

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Summer Garden Recap

This summer's garden was interesting. My plants either thrived and produced amazingly or they didn't . There really wasn't much in between. There is still much growing right now and many have gotten their second wind after the aphid infestation. The chard has been around for almost a year now which gives us great greens for smoothies. 

The Good: 

Cucumbers! I planted these in February against all the rules and I had cucumbers from April to July. They were never bitter even with the high heat. And....I went out today and the Armenian's that suffered the aphid attack have come back and look what I found:

More cucumbers! There are many babies growing and so I have a dilemma on my hands; let them grow and sacrifice some room for the fall garden or pull them and plant broccoli. Hard decision. 

Zucchini. Tons of zucchini. I also planted these early and had zucchini from April to July. I should have planted again in June so I would still have some but the beetles came in July and decided they wanted in on the treats. Ugh. I may plant another one now. We will see.


Amazingly sweet. I had about 5 then the aphids hit. I cut them back and they are now growing everywhere and I just picked a couple the other day. I have a good handful more almost ready. I hope they hurry soon. I will need to pull them out. I wish I had room to do a whole melon garden. Someday. 

Peppers and Chilis.

I have many different varieties growing and they have  all flourished this season. I have loved them in omelets, fajitas, fritatas, stir frys and about every thing else. I had onions until this past month and I am sure missing them now. Time to plant more.

I am not quite sure what these peppers are above but they are so cute. They are mini but go from yellow to orange then to red. I pick them at all various stages of color for a great variety. They are sweet and crisp. 

I picked this a couple weeks ago. The last of my carrots. They were under a tomatillo plant and I have been picking carrots for a year. They were always super sweet. I am sad to see them go. I planted the acorn squash early and have a few sitting in my pantry. The aphids ate the plants but not before I was able to get about 6 of them. I planted some butternut squash as well but they are going everywhere! I think I may pull them up for my fall garden. They will still take a while to get big so I am not sure I want to wait.

Take a peak. See how cute. Hurry. Grow.

The not so good: 

Tomatoes! Ugh. I have talked to many people and no one has had tomato success this year. I don't know why this year. I had about two plants out of 15 produce. They are starting to bud again so we will see if I can get anymore. I hope.

Tomatillos. Huge plants. only a handful of tomatillos. I made a couple batches of tomatillo salsa and stir fried some up in some fajitas but sure wish I had more. 

Green Beans. I planted three varieties and the plants looked great. They flowered but I only picked a handful for one bowl of soup. Not sure why these didn't work as well. I had great hopes of freezing lots for future use. Darn.

I have planted some sweet potatoes that should be ready by November if all goes well. The vines are huge:

Is there anything under those vines? I hope. I am not sure it is worth growing potatoes in a small garden but we will see. My other potatoes didn't do so well.

It is time to start planting in a couple weeks. I will have a list soon for pre-orders from The Hatching Bunnies farm for those wanting organic Heirlooms. She will have it all. I hope you are getting your plots ready. I am ready for the fall produce.

My mouth is watering for these:

Soon. November will be here before we know it. 

Hope you had some success this summer. Gardening is a an experiment. Even the best have flops. You just dust off your gardening gloves and start over again.

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Whole Grain Banana Muffins

In my preschool class yesterday, we made these delicious and healthy banana muffins. I had quite a few moms call me to ask for the recipe their little ones were raving about. I thought for sure it was on my blog but for some reason, it never made it as a post. So, for all those moms out there wanting to know what all the hype was about yesterday in class, here you go! They all wanted more. I just teased them with one.

Whole Grain Banana Muffins

3 ripe bananas
1/2 C. coconut oil
1/3 C. coconut milk  (You can use kefir, sour cream, yogurt or any other creamy thing)
2 eggs
1 1/3 C. Coconut sugar (I used a little less)

Mix and combine until smooth


2 C. whole grain flour
3/4 t. sea salt
2 T. ground flax meal
1 1/4 t. baking soda
1 t. vanilla

Mix in dry ingredients and stir until combined. Pour into greased mini muffin pans or any size pan, loaves work as well.

For mini muffins, bake at 350 for 13-15 minutes. For loaves, bake at 325 for about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Return to lists

First off, let us all take a moment to remember the best chicken ever; La Fonda. She suffered a bout of heat stroke last week and went on to chicken heaven. We were greatly saddened. She was our favorite. She would always follow you around and give you a chicken kiss until you would pet her. It was a tragedy. It has been a rough couple months for our chickens. We are down to two. I may be hanging up my chicken farmer hat after these last two. Too much sadness. I get too attached. Rest in peace, La Fonda. You will be missed.

Summer break has come and gone and I can't believe how fast it went. Why does time speed up the older you get? I wasn't ready to send the kids back to school this year which isn't usually the norm. We still had lots of groupons to use and swimming to do. All of a sudden it was August. I don't know how it happened. It was a good summer. It was relaxing but different. With kids getting older, they sort of do their separate thing. Summer school, working, driving their own cars. We added a new teenage driver this summer and had one graduate. Changes. The oldest even went on a trip to California by himself with his friends. No mom. That was a little hard to swallow but he did make it back alive and quite excited for this next chapter in life. As the mom, I have to tell you, it is hard to cut the strings loose and let them be on their own. I am doing my best but it doesn't feel right. He is a good kid and is more than ready to take flight. Ugh. 

I had a huge list of things I was going to accomplish this summer and I found the list the last week of summer. Not one thing had been done. I was going to redecorate a bathroom, patch a wall and paint upstairs, repaint the stair rails, organize every drawer downstairs, clean the pantry, scrub all the baseboards and doors with baking soda, reorganize my preschool supplies and on and on. Well, I was determined in that last week I would get every single item on that list done and guess what? I did! I couldn't believe how very productive I was. It made me start thinking of how my time is used and how I needed to improve.

I used to be a woman of lists. Lists upon lists. I followed them and delighted in crossing the items off. When I started blogging, for some reason, I started to loose the lists a bit. I don't know why. I just sort of went off the routine and went into a survival mode. Life was busy and I just decided to get done what I could get done and not worry about the list. It seemed logical. However, I have realized that without the list, I fill in the time with unstructured, unproductive waste. Don't get me wrong, we need down time and we need not overwork ourselves but man, we can sure waste our moments on earth.

After my week of accomplishing so many tasks around here, I decided that it was time to get back to my lists. By doing so, I spend a fraction of the time on the computer which was getting to be a little too much. I work out so much more. My house is much more clean and organized. I feel like I have more time. I had considered getting a bi-monthly maid to do the jobs I couldn't get to but now being back on my list system, I can get it all done and more. That just saved me a cool $150 per month. Perfect. New clothes.

Every Sunday, I write my lists for the week. I write each weekday down and write everything I need to accomplish that specific day: work out, clean toilets, paint my nails, make bread, etc. Little things to big things. I put the big jobs on my more free days like gardening and cleaning blinds. I put down every thing that needs to be done and I do my very best to accomplish every one of them. I can't get on the computer until they are done except for a quick email check or the important stuff. No blogs, no facebook until all is done. I don't really miss it. I can't believe how much I can get done and how much time I feel like I have left. There really is plenty of time in the day. We just abuse it. You have to get up early, get a jump start on it, have a routine and stick to it. You will feel so much better. You will have a clean and organized home. You can have time to exercise. You can have more time with your kids. We waste too much time with nonsense. If you don't believe me, take a day and write down what you did. It is surprising. We feel better when we work hard, serve others, take care of our home and family and improve ourselves. 

I hope you all had a great summer. I will be back to blogging but it won't be quite as often. I have lists to accomplish and goals to complete. You should see my clean drawers and freshly painted walls. I am ecstatic. 

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Treat Yourself with Michele Brown at the Beauty Room.

The kids will be back in school and there maybe just a minute for you to treat yourself to some luxury. How does a facial for $10 sound? Waxing? Lash tinting? All services are just $10!!! Check out Michele's website below and take advantage of her amazing prices to give yourself a little pampering. I know I am going to be scheduling a little microdermabrasion for this 40 year old!

click here: The Beauty Room