Tag Archives: 30 Before 30

#16 Done – I Grow, Girl!

30 May

Told you I had some things crossed off The List to share! I’ve been working on #16 since last Sunday, when I got my first little tomato seedlings into their pots, and yesterday I got the last of my purchased transplants settled into their new soiled homes, so I can finally call #16 – planting a container garden – done, done, done! Well, as done as it can be. If I’ve learned anything about gardening it’s that even small-scale planting can be extremely addictive, so I went as far as my modest budget would allow, and already have big dreams for next year. Summer Winds gift cards are my new best friends. It’s a good thing though, really, having to keep things simple. Not only am I having to get creative about finding/upcycling budget-friendly supplies (always fun), but friends have been so generous, sharing cuttings and excess plants, it’s been amazing. Plus, I’m not known for my ability to keep green things alive, so I’m looking at this year as a bit of an experiment; I live in one of the best areas in the world for growing my own food, but I don’t yet know what will work in my space. It’s a small space – our HOA calls it an atrium – and only half of it gets full sun, the other half partial shade. So I’m trying things out and (grudgingly) keeping it simple, so that I’m not sinking a boat-load of skrilla into something that I may end up killing. But so far they’re all growing! Thriving, even! I can’t wait to show you what I’ve got growing – me, Black Thumb McGee – so let’s have some pictures, shall we?

the plants that started it all

I’ve actually got two of these tubs going. One has (I think) two Roma tomato plants, and this one has three of some other kind of tomato. I forget the type. My friend Ken, father to my good buddy Kedrick, gave me five plants, and started me off on my container adventure. I put the tubs on those cool little stands with wheels so I can easily move them about to follow the sun. Since I read in all three You Grow Girl Books (my new bibles) that tomatoes make great companion plants, so I planted little basils I got from Whole Foods on top. This planter has two purple basil plants and two Thai basil plants. The other has four sweet basils. I’m a little worried that I crowded the container, even though they are the size of medium trash cans, but the tomato plants seem to be doing well so far. They’ve grown at least an inch and a half since I pinched off a third of their growth, and have nine buds between them. That’s a good sign, yes? Anyone who knows more about tomatoes than I do (not hard) feel free to chime in!

This is my small planter. I got all my plant furniture and a ton of pots from my dear friend Jan three years ago when we moved into our house, and I’m so glad I finally get to make good use of them! Clockwise from top left: purple sage (which I hear gets huge!) Sonnet snapdragons that are coming up a fiery orange and fuchsia, Italian oregano, and creeping rosemary (no towering bushes for my little space, thanks!). I just read that steeping rosemary in hot water helps headaches. Which I get. A lot. And I hate taking medicine. So that’s a win!


This is the top of my tall planter. When I have more resources I want to make the most of their deep baskets and line the tiers with landscaping cloth and put hanging plants like cherry tomatoes and strawberries in them. But for now, it’s doing a good job of holding up my containers. Snapdragons on top and mesclun lettuce in the wooden planter.

They just started popping up! I know it’s a little late in the season for lettuce, but I’m planning on plucking these when they’re small and tender for a baby lettuce salad. As I said, it’s an experiment.

Bottom tier of the same tall planter. This is my herbal tea level. Clockwise from bottom left: lemon balm, stevia, mint, and lemon verbena. Did you know lemon balm helps upset stomachs when steeped? I didn’t! I’m definitely planning on making some tea blends to warm me through the winter, but I also see some more granitas in my future. I hear lemon verbena is a winning flavor in more than tea!

Did you notice all those spots of orange among all the normal pots? Those would be my second favorite thing in my garden! I never realized how expensive pots and garden accessories are, never having had much use for them before. So two days ago I went to my local Goodwill to see if there was anything I could upcycle into pots. I found this mint condition nesting set of vintage Tupperware, registered trademark. I drilled some holes in the bottom, and bam! Kitchey-cool containers! If they were a different color I’d totally have them on my kitchen counter, but they’re a not-kidding-around shade of orange. Which is perfect against my drab grey walls (HOA chosen) with bright green trailing out of them. I am in love with the iconic swirl design. They all had their lids, too, (classic Tupperware sunburst-style, straight from my childhood) and I haven’t decided yet if I want to use them as stepping-stones when I plant in the ground or make a found object wind chime. And did I mention they’re in perfect condition? Well, before I poked holes in them, that is. The best part? The set of four was only $7.00. I went to another Goodwill today looking for things to make a bird bath and found one single large matching container. It was totally beat up, no lid, and labeled $6.99. Um, I don’t think so! I already scored a great deal, thanks! So. In. Love.

This is the small stand planter, on the wall between our living room window and our bedroom’s sliding glass doors. I totally underestimated how many snapdragons I could fit in my Tupperware (registered trademark!) and had no where to put three of them, but luckily I had this gorgeous glazed drum pot from Jan. I’d intended to use it for something else in the future, but I really like the snapdragons in it, so I’ll keep them there for now.

It looks like a lot of dirt, but I see sprouts! Clockwise from top: little gem lettuce starting to poke it’s heads through the soil (hey, I know it’s Summer. I said I’m experimenting.), lemon thyme, chives that I seeded three days ago so still has a ways to grow, and regular thyme I got from my dear friend Danielle. Yes, my garden is a product of the work of many hands. Every time I look at all the things given by people I love, I feel very happy.

What’s that you ask? What was that thing behind the chicken wire to the right of the planter? So glad you asked, because it’s my first favorite thing in my garden:

A baby globe artichoke plant! Ahhhhhhhh!

I love artichokes. I mean, I LOVE artichokes. And there’s no better place to grow them in the States than the California Bay Area. When this baby gets big I should be able to harvest around 30 artichokes a year. Because they’re a year-round grower in my area. Yeah, baby! So the chicken wire…yeah, artichokes need a lot of water and fertilizer. I’m working on an organic garden, so my fertilizer of choice is a fish and sea kelp emulsion. Which made my dogs go crazy. As in, they tore the first artichoke I planted apart within five minutes while I was in the shower. You’ve never seen such muddy prissy city dogs. They both got baths of shame and a thorough scolding from A. Even though I was at my garden budget with the first artichoke, A told me I could get a second one. So I wasn’t taking any chances. A erected a fence for me as an anniversary present. Hey, everyone has their own idea of romance. Mine is the promise of future artichokes. It’s the prettiest little ugly plant ever.

Last but not least, these little greens are on my kitchen windowsill above the tomatoes. I’ve bought microgreens for years at the store, so you could imagine my surprise when I discovered I could buy enough seeds to plant ten pots worth of microgreens for less than the cost of one container of sprouts from the store. I figure that if all else fails, these will not. They’re pretty idiot-proof, since you cut them down before they actually grow into anything. These are broccoli sprouts, soon to be joined by clover and radish sprouts. These are just now ready for harvesting; I thought that I could try planting other varieties two weeks apart, and A and I could have home-grown microgreens for the whole Summer.

So that’s my container garden! I have lots I want to do, but I’m very happy for now. And there will be more than a few How Tuesdays coming up featuring the bounty of my little containers. In a few months I’ll be ready to split my artichoke (it’s best done young) and I am still enthralled with adding pieces of friend’s gardens through cuttings or splits of interesting plants and flowers. So if you’re in the area and want to share plants, let me know!

What’s growing in your slice of the world?

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Done With #1 – Do You Feel the Allure?

30 Apr

I’m wearing sunscreen. Took me long enough.

Well, to be fair, I’m not putting it on every day as I should. But when I don’t I think about it – I remember –  which makes me comfortable crossing this one off The List.

I know this one isn’t the most earth-shattering to read about, so I’ll be brief. But it is a big deal for me. Being able to continue my sun-worshipping ways without looking like I have a crocodile bag for a face in twenty years is a win. And here’s the product I bought into that made it all happen:

aveeno radiant moisturizer with spf 30

And for the record, I only just found out this has been an Allure Best of Beauty pick for four years when I went searching for an image. Iso care about Allure, so I’m even more sold on the awesomeness of this product. *detect sarcasm alert*

Lightweight, silky, way cheaper than Benefit, and it doesn’t make my face taste bad. What it does is leave me with softly glowing skin without a lot of gross chemicals. I give it full credit for the surprising number of compliments I’ve gotten in the last months on how I look healthier and have a glow. (Or it could be that I’ve been working out 3-4 times a week, whateves. Not a big deal. 🙂 ) Not pregnant-lady glow, thankfully, but a just-walked-in-from-the-sun-and-I’m-full-of-life kind of glow. I’m in love. Big thanks to Sunrise, whose suggestion made me finally take home the pretty bottle I’ve looked at on the Target shelf for a year.

I said I’d be brief, so I’ll stop waxing poetic about lotion. I’ll just leave you with this last little nugget, one of my favorite ironic songs from high school.

Friday Five – Before We’re 30…

27 Apr

My girl Sunrise sent me an article via Huffington Post of a list originally published in Glamor magazine called “Turning 30: 30 Things Every Woman Should Have And Should Know.”

photo from magculture on flickr

I understand this list has been passed around from girlfriend to girlfriend, so perhaps you’ve seen it before? In any case it is a fabulous list – and you know how much I love lists of things to check off before turning 30 – so I had to share my favorites. I couldn’t just pick five, so I took my fave five things we should do, and my fave five things we should know. Check out the full list here, then add your two cents in the comments!

By 30, you should have …

A decent piece of furniture not previously owned by anyone else in your family.

A past juicy enough that you’re looking forward to retelling it in your old age.

One friend who always makes you laugh and one who lets you cry.

Something ridiculously expensive that you bought for yourself, just because you deserve it.

A skin-care regimen, an exercise routine, and a plan for dealing with those few other facets of life that don’t get better after 30.

By 30, you should know …

How you feel about having kids.

How to quit a job, break up with a man, and confront a friend without ruining the friendship.

How to kiss in a way that communicates perfectly what you would and wouldn’t like to happen next.

How to live alone, even if you don’t like to.

That you can’t change the length of your legs, the width of your hips, or the nature of your parents.

Wether you’re looking forward to 30 or are hip and happy on the other side, what do you think we should have/know by 30?

#4 Done – Can You Say Namaste?

29 Mar

image courtesy of we ❤ it.

Wow, it’s been a while since we’ve had one of these posts! But I am ready to cross #4 off of my 30 Before 30 List.  I wanted to wait until I’d attended at least a month’s worth of classes to cross this one off, and since Monday evenings on my calender now read YOGA, I feel like I can call this one accomplished.

This week I took my eighth yoga class since I joined my new gym, and everything I remember loving about yoga nine years ago is coming back to me. All the stress on the body, the stretching outside my comfort zone, the holding position that makes me want to scream at the instructor, and the five minutes at the end to stretch out, relax, reward your body for the work it’s done, and quiet the mind that makes it all worthwhile. I was lucky to join the gym at a time where there was an additional class scheduled for Saturdays in addition to their usual Monday class, so I got in twice the yoga I would have on any other month. I’ve enjoyed many of the group classes, but the yoga class in particular feels like I’m setting aside quality time for myself. I feel centered, strong, and awesome when I finish a class, and have already seen a marked difference in how my body performs the moves.

Our instructor is awesome; she is great at offering traditional moves with several degrees of difficulty, so beginners and yogis alike can feel challenged by the class. We start out simple, and always finish with a ‘challenge pose’ before moving into final relaxation. I don’t know what yoga discipline I’m taking, but I do know that our instructor moves us through different poses slowly at first, than gaining momentum to keep our heart rate elevated and warm the body. I often sweat a lot in class (and this is NOT hot yoga) from the work we do, so I know it’s a far cry from some of the more breathing and meditation-focused yoga classes I’ve taken in the past. In short, it’s my kind of yoga.

Some things that are different from previous yoga experiences:

  • I’m several cup sizes larger, which really gets in the way. It’s annoying.
  • I feel like I understand what I’m doing for the first time, and can intentionally engage muscles in my body to get a full workout experience.
  • I’m learning to focus on breathing and quieting the mind as well as keeping my full body engaged, so I feel like I’m finally tapping into the whole mind-body connection yoga can bring.
  • Since I’m participating in other sports as well as yoga for the first time, I definitely see a dramatic improvement in how my body performs because of the cross training. And I’m loving it.

So #4 is done. I’m loving everything about this class, no matter how much I’d swear to the contrary when I’m trying to hold a strong warrior pose.

Have you crossed anything off of your goal list lately? Tell me about it!

The Cost of Dreaming

30 Jan

photo from soul meets body

So I was looking back over my wishes for 2012 and saw that I wrote, on this very blog, that I would live to cross 15 of the 25 remaining items off of The List this year. That’s 15 things in 12 months. Or, more accurately since I haven’t accomplished any this month, 15 things in 11 months. Holy crappers, people, that’s a lot of things to do!

As I look over my list, the thing that strikes me most is that crossing things off my list is going to cost me. Why didn’t that occur to me, in a real dollars and cents way, before now? A and I do just fine, thankyouverymuch, but most of our money isn’t liquid. As A likes to put it, we’re house-poor. Even more so with our water heater basically exploding last week. The more I work on crossing off the list, the more I realize that even having a list means accepting cost. It has a tangible monetary cost, but it also costs time, it costs effort, and I can see why people put off their dreams because, at the end of the day, dreaming is costly.

A few months ago I was at a lecture by Kathi Lipp where she talked to women about finding their dream. One of the things I remember her saying the most was (and I’m heavily paraphrasing here) that lots of women don’t know how find their dreams, and those who do let the excuses of time or money get in the way of pursuing their dreams. My 30 before 30 list is an excercise in dreaming, and there’s no way I’m going to get 15 things crossed off in the next year, let alone 25 in two, if I don’t plan for it. Make the time, set aside the money, and just balls-to-the-wall go for it, baby.

When A and I decided it was time to put aside excuses and have me start Christian counselling, we did it not knowing where the money was going to come from. All we knew was that we’d prayed for assistance, it hadn’t come, but that we’d waited long enough and it was time. After we took the leap and I started meeting with a counsellor, the financial help appeared. Our prayers were answered. But we had to take the leap first.

Now don’t get me wrong, I believe that was a special case. I don’t think God’s going to show up if I pray hard enough for the money to appear so A and I can learn to make sushi. My point it that dreaming takes planning, intention, and making a choice to go for it, come what may. So this month I’m starting a 30 Before 30 fund. I’m lucky enough to work at a job where I get reimbursed a bit for the endless amount of commuting I do. With A’s blessing I’m now going to save up my mileage and designate it my dream fund – a little bit above and beyond our normal income that I can put towards my dreams guilt-free. But if I didn’t have that, I wouldn’t let that stop me. I’d find another way to cut a corner: forego my Friday latte, reduce my cell phone’s data plan, nix Netflix, something. Because as nice as those little luxuries are, they’re nothing compared to seeing a dream become reality and being able to look back and say “yeah, I did that. I went for it.”

If you’re waiting on someone to hand you the golden ticket to  make all your dreams come true, I have three words for you: Get Over It. No one will care more about your dreams than you will. No one has the capacity to make them happen like you do. No one else will hunger to see them come to life, and darn the cost. Because it will cost you: effort, time, willpower, maybe even money, but as someone working through her own mini-bucket list I’m here to tell you that it’s worth every bit of it.

So that’s my pledge for this next chapter of my life: to go forward with no excuses. If I can’t afford it, I’ll save up or find a way to make it happen for less. If I don’t have time, well, we always make time for that which is most important to us, don’t we? If I don’t have the drive, I have a friends and a loving husband to help keep me accountable. I’ll be intentional, and make it happen.

Do you ever let outside forces stand in the way of your dreams?

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