Archive for May, 2011

The Happiest Place on Earth

It’s not Disneyland.  I’ve never been there, but it sounds loud, crowded, and full of cartoon animals.  I don’t like any of those things, unless it’s the crazy chef from “The Little Mermaid.”  The happiest place on earth is my local garden centre.  You see, I have discovered in recent years that I love to garden.

As a kid I was always more of the “Ignore it and see what sprouts” school of growing things.  My Mom would patiently assign me a corner of the garden every year, and don’t get me wrong, I loved the idea of gardening, but just couldn’t seem to find the tenacity to stick with it.  In retrospect I think part of the problem was that I always filled my plot with flowers, which look nice, but don’t really give much back.  Of course, at the time growing vegetables wouldn’t have been as rewarding as it would just have gone in with all the grub my Mom was growing.  Now, it’s a whole other ballgame.  I put in the effort and I get a payout of cheap, delicious food.

...dirty freeloaders.

When I finally moved into a townhouse with a small backyard I decided right away that the barren edge of the lawn would become a garden.  I didn’t do much more than dig out the weeds and add some potting soil to it before I threw in my seeds.  I had a bumper crop of tomatoes that fall, but little else.  My peas died off after one picking and I got two hard, seedy zucchinis.  The soil was dense and rock-filled, and my carrots mostly broke off in the ground.  Still, I was hooked.  The veggies I did harvest were mind-blowingly delicious.  The first bite of carrot immediately convinced me to grow as much food as possible.  It’s easy to forget that veggies are actually very tasty, especially when we mostly buy grocery store versions.

The next year I did a little research and took a little more care in my planting.  My husband killed my peas and spearmint,  but the rest of the veggies came up nicely, and we ate tomatoes and zucchini, topped with fresh herbs, for quite some time.

This year, our apartment is on the second floor of our building and I am gearing up for a container farm.  The deck is sheltered nicely, and if I work around the bikes I think I can get a good selection going.  So a few weeks ago now I was off to a nearby greenhouse to stock up on plants. It’s a magical place, full of green things and damp smells.  And I mean that in the “damp foresty” and not the “damp gym socks” way.

Now, several weeks later, I have success on all but the lettuce front.  Apparently those seeds were duds.  Otherwise though, things are coming along nicely!

This slideshow requires JavaScript.

In order of appearance:  An Oxalis my grandmother gave me (and I was worried I’d killed), Oregano sprouts, a Pea plant, Zucchinis, and a Strawberry blossom.


The Vinegar Files

So, my life has been a little wild lately.  This isn’t my personal blog, so I will keep the whining brief:  I am out of a job, and have sent my husband up north for work.   As you may infer, I now have quite a bit of free time, so I am trying to keep busy and productive. And is it ok that I am kind of enjoying it?

Today I finally feel like I’ve accomplished something in getting my house clean.  Up until now this has been a fruitless effort largely because I have been living with four males.  However, with Husband up north and Brothers 1 & 2 out of town for summer jobs, it just leaves me and the fairly tidy Roommate.  We’ve both done some organizing, purging, and tidying, and I’m proud to say the house looks kind of like adults live here.  Adults with a lot of secondhand furniture and swords, but nonetheless.

I am sure you’ve heard that most things can be cleaned with Baking Soda and Vinegar.  I just finally bought some Baking Soda (I don’t bake) and have been using Washing Soda instead, but here’s the Lazy Hippie’s top ten uses of Vinegar.

Yes, the stuff on the restaurant table that no one uses. It's good on fries though!

1. To clean the coffee maker.  I just bought a French Press, so I decided to give our drip machine a good cleaning.  Fill it up with water and a good splash of Vinegar, run it through once or twice, and follow with a plain water cycle.  Give the carafe a scrub and let the whole thing air dry.

2. To clean the rack from my toaster oven.  I soaked it in hot water and Vinegar and the majority of baked on ickies came off with a light scrubbing.

3. To deal with the unspeakable horrors at the back of the toilet seat.  Enough said.

4. To kill the moss on the deck.  Actually my Grandmother told me about this one:  half Vinegar and half water was apparently more effective than any of the commercial moss-killers she bought.

5. As half of the bathroom crime fighting duo.  I use Washing Soda and a damp sponge to scrub out the tub and sink, rinse with water, then spray down with Vinegar.  The ensuing chemical reaction dissolves off any Soda residue as it converts to water.  I don’t rinse off the Vinegar so it works thoroughly, as my baby blue 70’s tub shows pretty much every streak left.  Yes the place smells nasty, so follow it all up with your favourite scented candles.

6. To leave my dishes sparkling. I am blessed with a dishwasher, however, it’s one that leaves my dishes cloudy and dull.  I dump Vinegar and maybe a splash of lemon juice in the bottom of the dishwasher before I run it, and end up with clear, residue-free dishes.

7. As an ingredient in my homemade glass cleaner.

8. In hair rinses.  Except for this I use Apple Cider Vinegar instead of plain white.

9. As a fabric softener alongside this detergent.

10. As….um,  OH!  I used it as a weed killer on the patio at my last house!

Seriously, a massive jug of Vinegar is kind of the holy grail of homemade/green home solutions.  I keep a spray bottle filled with the stuff at all times.  It’s cheap and effective, just make sure you have your scented candles ready afterwards!