Friday, 17 April 2015

Life Lessons From Gardening: There Are No Mistakes

I love gardening for so many reasons, not least of which because of everything gardening has taught me. Anyone who has tried to grow something can tell you something that they have learned through the process. Some speak of the appreciation they have for nature, for being witness to the life around them. Others speak about the time spent outdoors and the meditative effect of daily tasks and chores. Then there is the satisfaction of growing one's own food and being intimately connected to the earth.

My favourite gardening lesson is also my favourite life lesson.

There are no mistakes in gardening, only learning experiences.

It is all a matter of perspective, really, as is most of life. Glass half empty or glass half full?

Sure there are posts and books about common newbie gardener mistakes, like not giving plants enough space, under or over fertilizing, or planting in the wrong location. I have read many of them, and when I started container gardening many years ago, and then gardening in my raised beds 5 years ago I did what I do when I start anything new: I read up on how to do it.

But gardening, like life, cannot always be anticipated perfectly, and sometimes things do not go as planned. Of course it feels like a mistake when the garden does not turn out the way you intended it. 

But there are no mistakes, only learning experiences and happy surprises.

An example is my backyard garden so far this season. I was very excited to plant asparagus for the first time this year because I love perennial plants that are plant once and go. I wouldn't be able to harvest any spears this year to allow the plants to establish themselves firmly in the soil, but oh the wait would be worth it for delicious, fresh homegrown spring asparagus. I read the information packet that came with the roots I ordered from a local seed company, did a quick search on the internet to read a little more and then I planted them quickly before heading off on a family vacation.

Asparagus crowns: the roots are the long dangly parts. You
maybe can see why I thought the part of the crowns in the
bottom of the photo were the beginning of the roots,
rather than the future spears. Basically this is upside down.

Friday, 3 April 2015

Are Plastic Bag Bans Worth It?


Recently my family and I were on holiday in Maui, Hawaii, and as soon as we went shopping I noticed that everyone was offering us paper bags for our items. Of course I just pulled out the small cloth shopping bags that I keep in every bag I own and used that. On the few occasions the items didn't fit in my smallish shopping bags, I returned the paper bags and just carried out my purchases in my hand rather than use a large paper bag.

After a few days of this I did a quick google search to discover that there is a ban on plastic shopping bags on the island. My initial reaction was yes! But then I remembered that I saw everyone walking out of stores with paper bags, not reusable bags. When I remarked on this, my oldest daughter commented that paper bags are probably better than plastic.

It may have been due to being spring break and the area was full of tourists who (unlike me) do not travel with their reusable shopping bags, so their only choice was to use paper bags. However, this is not the fully story because we also went shopping in less touristy areas and there was still a predominance of paper bags.

This did not sit right with me. After all, as a reasonably environmentally aware person, I knew that the best choice should always be to use reusable shopping bags, rather than having to chose between paper or plastic bags.
I love the reuseable bags I purchased years ago, and they
fold up small enough to fit in any bag or purse so I always
have one or two on hand, even on vacation.

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Friday, 20 March 2015

Teaching Happiness: A Picture Book Review

As a teacher one of the first ways I teach something is through reading a picture book. There's something about compelling illustrations to draw us into the author's message. I believe that picture books can be used with all ages, be they young children or fully grown adults.

Teaching about the importance of the Earth and environmentalism is a tough topic for children, as the Climate Crusader has found, and I have found one of the best ways to engage children with difficult topics like the environment and social responsibility, is through reading books.

One area of my life that I am trying to work on is being satisfied with what I have and not desiring more stuff, like my own Making Do Movement, so I was drawn to a book in my school library,  The Short And Incredibly Happy Life Of Riley by Colin Thompson and Amy Lissiat.

Friday, 6 March 2015

In Defence of Making Do

I will begin by saying that I have very little fashion and design sense, and I cannot walk into a room and see how I can transform it into a vision of my own style. I cannot just slap a coat of paint on something and magically transform a room for under $700. Anyone who comes into my home or sees how I dress can see that right away.

The downside is that I am sometimes embarrassed by the mismatched nature of my home furnishings. The upside is that I am not spending thousands and thousands of dollars updating my home to the latest and greatest style.
My mismatched floors after an old dishwasher broke, leaked,
and damaged the flooring. Thank goodness for kind neighbours
who help source replacement boards and install for me.

One of my pet peeves is watching home decorations and real estate shows that have people saying how the house is not move in ready because the perfectly serviceable countertops are not granite and the appliances are not stainless steel, and how they want to rip everything out of the kitchen to make it more their style. When we moved into our home we were thrilled, despite the fact that the original 80s kitchen cabinets have not been updated (just painted) and the countertops have a faux treatment to look like granite (and they aren't fooling anyone, I assure you!). It was move-in ready because everything worked.

Recently I moved some furnishings from my grandmother's home to mine.


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Friday, 16 January 2015

{this moment}

{this moment} - Inspired by Amanda Soule at SouleMama
"A Friday ritual. A single photo - no words - capturing a moment from the week. A simple, special, extraordinary moment. A moment I want to pause, savor and remember. If you're inspired to do the same, leave a link to your 'moment' in the comments."







Guilt Free Coffee

I have a love/hate relationship with my morning cup of coffee. I have kicked the habit, or at least taken a break from the habit, for years at a time, but I always seem to return to my beloved cup of joe.

I've never gone the espresso machine route (always out of my price range) but over the years I've tried several coffee makers. Some I've loved more than others, but each one of them has lost its lustre in my eyes. After my latest round of caffeine detox I took a long hard look at my coffee machine. The carafe was glass, but all the other parts, including the basket where the hot water would drain through, was plastic, and this did not wash with me.

Time to find a new coffee making system.

Needless to say I would not purchase a K Cup system. I won't bother going into the reasons; they do not need to be spoken, and EcoYogini has already done a great job.
Don't judge me. Yes, I am a nerd.
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Friday, 2 January 2015

Reverse Green Resolutions



It's the new year and my Facebook feed is full of inspirational quotes and resolutions for starting the year well. But like Neil deGrasse Tyson, I won't be making any resolutions.

We have all had to make resolutions in January when we were in school, which we know almost immediately that we wouldn't keep. Then we feel bad about ourselves for not keeping the resolutions. 

Unless there has been a genuine shift in thinking and attitude, and we are able to make a change in behaviour a habit, we do not follow through on our goals. 

Instead, I think we should be focussing on all the positive actions we have done for the environment over the previous year, like a reverse resolution. Most likely we are doing more than we realize, and this is important because we can get bogged down in all the things we should be doing. 

I've brainstormed as many actions that I can think of that we may have done in 2014, and if you have made even five items on the list a habit give yourself a pat on the back for a job well done. Keep up the good work for 2015!


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