Planting the Seeds: Making a Container Garden with my Kid

I signed up for a CSA this year from Farmer Dave‘s in Dracut.  I’m excited about the prospects of fresh and unusual veggies from June 11 to October 22 filling our fridge to abundance.  However, since the farm is farther away I won’t be driving out to volunteer help with weeding, or get the satisfaction of seeing the veggies ripen and grow.  So, I decided to do the next best thing and plant some container gardens.

This is something I’ve tried in the past and been less than successful with.  (Read: I left them out in a thunderstorm and half the dirt was violently thrown from the pot.  Any remaining plants, I subsequently forgot to water.  Oops.) I decided to get really really basic (and vow not to be so careless).  I bought lettuces.  Against my better judgement, after I bought these seeds I also saw these cute little herbs “guaranteed to grow” in the Target $1 bins and made an impulsive purchase.  I haven’t had success with herbs in the past, but hope springs eternal each time I plant a new seeds! Ha.



I also wanted to make the whole thing into a fun DIY craft project for Ethan, my son, and I, so I got out some acrylic paints to make a few designs on the containers.  I put the paints onto an old styrofoam tray thinking that since Ethan likes to brush his cheerios (and squash, and cereal, and bananas…) around on the high chair tray he would want to brush his hands in the paint, and then I could gently guide him toward making cute finger and hand prints on the containers.

The first part of that worked wonderfully.  But when I tried to “gently guide” his hands, he screamed bloody murder.  He continued screaming as I tried to clean him up with the water in the blue bucket.  He finally calmed down after I let him play with the water, and eat grass and rocks.  Just kidding!  (But only about the rocks part.)

I still think this is a good idea for a craft with kids, but I will probably have more success next year when he’s two.

Meanwhile, I put the dirt into the container gardens, and let him throw as much out of it as he wanted.  After he got tired of it, I put the lettuce seeds into the pots, watered them, and set them in the sun.  We’ll see what happens!

I realize it’s a bit of stretch to call three (and a half) pots a “garden” but it makes me feel like a champion.  Also, as my friend once told me, you can always call gardening “micro-farming” if you need a real ego-boost.

So far the Basil is really outstripping the Parsley… let’s see what happens in the long run.



Making a Grand Entrance

Brightening your doorway with a DIY recycled sweater wreath

Descending into a basement apartment can be a bit of a downer, literally and figuratively.   Which is why I absolutely needed to beautiful the entrance.

Since joining Pinterest the amount of crafts I’ve wanted to do has increased even faster than ever.  In fact, looking at wreaths during Christmas time caused me some serious envy.

So, I knew I would have to make my own.  This is a very simple project, especially if you still have plenty of felted sweaters sitting around from when you made Christmas Ornaments.

The only other things you need are: a wreath form available at AC Moore( no doubt at other craft stores too), scissors, and a glue gun.

You cut the sweater into strips approximately 6 to 8 inches long, and about .5 to .75 of an inch wide.  Then, roll and glue.  You can make the circles larger or smaller depending on the length of each strip.  There are also other techniques you can follow to make the rolls more like roses.  When I had about 20 I glued them onto the wreath frame.   I also had some beads left over from another project so I glued those on too.  The ribbon is leftover from my wedding centerpieces.  The End!

There you have it, recycled art and home decoration.  Total time for this project – less than the length of the movie The Change Up, with Jason Bateman.

Hospitality: It’s more than getting your own bed.

Hospitality seems to get the same rap as the Golden Rule: “What’s the big deal, you just be nice to people.”   And, if measured in terms of services, can be performed better by an impersonal hotel, which has brokered deals for better TV, better coffee, and a better air conditioning.

Yet, as I’ve been traveling through the Maritime provinces of Canada with my husband we’ve stayed at several campgrounds, and two WWOOF hosts getting a more intimate picture of hospitality.  WWOOFing stands for “Willing Workers on Organic Farms” and the deal is: For 5 to 6 hours of work per day, you stay at an organic farm with a host for an agreed upon duration with free room and board.  The farms aren’t conventional pastoral scenes envisioned by us urbanites, but range from CSA farms, to bakeries, vineyards, or (as our next destination) an artisanal tofu shop.

Here’s where Hospitality comes into play.  Every one of these hosts has agreed to open their home to strangers, in exchange for some work that is of nearly equal value.  The host has already agreed to the premise of hospitality, but what they do beyond clean sheets separates gratitude from grudge.  This is where I truly discovered that there is more to hospitality even than extra rooms in a home, lovingly prepared food, meals eaten as a group, and badminton groups available for joining.

Our first hosts knew how many siblings we each had (and their occupations) by the end of the third day, they suggested locations to visit around their area and tailored those suggestions to the type of people we readily present ourselves to be (bibliophile metropolitan hipsters with coffee cravings).  Upon hearing our religious affiliation they put their own disavowal of organized religion behind them, and accepted that we had made intentional choices regarding beliefs.

Our second hosts couldn’t have told you what city we lived near or the type of movies we liked watching.  They could tell you how three people own the entire American political machine, how evil precludes the existence of God, and cities are places where the Hell’s Angels roam militantly about seeking whom they might devour.  They weren’t prepared to allow us a single statement either in confirmation or denial of any of these things.  They lectured continually.

Between these two hosts, we noticed that the first had a doorway of transparency, and the second an obdurate wall of opinion.  The first respected us as people who had come to crossroad and made different decisions based on reason, the second couldn’t believe that we perceived tofu as a remotely appetizing.  (“If I want to eat bean protein, I’ll just eat beans.  Besides, Bison meat is the best source of protein and fat you can eat.”  – Yes, that is a REAL quote) The first were ready to inconvenience themselves, even mentally for us, the second unable to see beyond their own limited provincial experiences.

Hospitality, which is so much more than even this topsoil level scratching, has become a thing I want to examine more closely.  What more is there beyond the material comfort, the respect and transparency?  What can I find out, and how then can I embody it?