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She Plants A Vineyard

It is November, has anyone noticed? I do not have any gardening happening at the moment…at least not outside. But I am really excited to note that I have just recently acquired a Camellia Sinensis (Tea Plant). It is currently indoors in a pot until I figure out how to get it outside without freezing it, or until I find it thrives just fine indoors.

This past summer I saved so many seeds I will have to choose what I want to plant next year and what I can actually plant. But it will be quite fun. I am excited about that.

So, not much of an update since it is november, but I will keep you posted in the spring as to which plants come back and which ones were lost to the cold.

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Saving Christmas

This is the perfect time of year to be discussing saving money. We are heading into the holidays. Obviously one big way to save is to take advantage of sales such as Black Friday. Another option is to save some money after Christmas and use that to stock up for next year on things (not necessarily gifts but decor or other items that go on a really good clearance). This is how I have found a majority of my decorations.

But what I really want to address is the homemade gift. One year for Christmas my parents decided to make a memory. We didn’t do regular gifts that year. We could only give one gift to each person in the family and we had to make that gift ourselves. I can to this day name every single gift given and received that year. Why? Because they held much more meaning than the gifts that we thought we wanted.

Because I work at church we have a lot of volunteers that help us and I like to do a little something for those that I work closely with. Over the past several years I have started doing more homemade items.

Note of caution, be sure to price out your DIY items per person and make sure that you aren’t losing money in this. Include how much the item itself costs to make as well as if you need to put it in a container.

Last year I gave out jars of homemade laundry soap. This year…well I can’t share that, but it will be super easy and a big hit!

Strangely enough, when it comes to Christmas cards, it is actually becoming cheaper to do photo cards. These can also be much more meaningful. I would suggest ordering those soon so that you don’t end up with a last minute holiday stress!

So those are a few tips. You know what you can and can’t do but keep in mind if you are doing to do homemade gifts you should start soon!!!

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Edible Landscaping

There is a whole world of folks out there who practice something called edible landscaping. The idea is that you plant things you can eat. If you have ever been to Disneyland you might have noticed the lettuce that they grow everywhere as decor.

There are so many plants that are not only beautiful but edible. Quite a lot of herbs that can be used as tea and many vegetables have a beauty all their own! For green leafy look go for lettuce or kale. For the rich colors add some purple eggplant or snapdragons. There are multitudes of edible flowers and so many vegetables are actually pretty when they grow (basil is not only beautiful but releases a strong fragrance that is very pleasant).

Disclaimer: Of course I have to say it, make sure before you eat a plant that it is safe for consumption. There are many resources online and you can also check with your local nursery for more information. Be sure to check several sources as there are many plants (like Jasmine) that have some edible and some non-edible varieties. When in doubt, don’t eat it.

Here are some photos from my garden. I do practice edible landscaping and with the exception of one plant that I am not certain about, everything has some sort of culinary quality.


Basil really is a beautiful plant and so much of the plant is useful! The leaves are for cooking, the flowers can be steeped for tea (the leaves as well), and the seeds inside the flowers can be stored for future plantings.


You don’t often hear “what a beautiful tomato plant” but they really are quite lovely. The red and green colors compliment and, properly supported, it is a nice large plant that adds lots of height to your landscape.


Roses are always a lovely addition and the petals are edible as well as the rose hips (the bud), when left on the plant they will develop into a fruit that can be used to make jams, jellies, teas, etc.


Thyme is a great ground cover and is easily trimmed and dried for use all year long. It also is a great with some lemon balm as tea.


Lemon Balm is also a great herb for tea (do you see a running theme here? I really like tea). It is another easily trimmed and dried for future use. It also stores well in the fridge, just put in a zip lock with some air and a bit of water and it will last you for quite a while.


Lavender is of course beautiful and has quite a lot of uses. Even if you aren’t ready to eat it you can always just rub some on your wrists for a stress reliever.


Bell pepper plants are quite pretty with their broad green leaves. Once the peppers start turning color it just adds more beauty to the plant.

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Plant An App And Watch It Grow

Plant An App And Watching It Grow

There’s an app for that! Believe it or not I have several gardening apps. Yes…gardening apps. At this point I have yet to find the one app that I love but the following are still useful.


Tomato Match is a good tool for finding different tomato varieties for your different purposes. My only negative would be that I could find some tomatoes on there but not all of the ones in my garden. But this is also understandable as there are quite a lot of varieties. It would be great if they added the ability to add personal notes or keep track of which ones you have in your own garden. Other tips such as saving seeds or recipes would be nice as well.


This app is a nice one for giving reminders of when to fertilize, weed, plant, etc. I do like this app. But again it has a very limited database. It is quite useful for newer gardeners however as it has a lot of information about each plant that is in the database.


This app is part of one of my favorite Gardening Supply Companies. It is very useful with lots of tips and tricks.

I am still looking for a good garden mapper where I can notate where my plants are and what their names are. If I knew how to write apps I would create one that did it all!

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Edible Landscaping

Wednesday Web Sitings

There is so much information out there for planting and growing things, be it from seed or seedling, indoors or outdoors, edible or pretty. However the first thing you might need to know is what zone you are in. There are several different zoning systems in the United States. I typically use the USDA zoning for no other reason than that is what my dad uses. I am familiar with it and so I stick with what I know. Here are some sites for finding out your zone:

USDA Plant Hardiness Map
Climate Zones
A Good Site For Alternatives To USDA

Granted I am posting this in a season where there is not much planting going on but depending on the year and the location you might still be able to squeeze in a few plants before the snow flies (if snow flies in your area). Most gardening calendars are based on zone and you can search for gardening calendar and your zone number to find them. But the following is a good resource for all zones:

Gardener’s Almanac

Another thing you can do at this time of year is get seeds for spring. For example, squash is all over the grocery store right now. I buy several types, clean the seeds out, lay them out to dry on a paper towel and then eat the squash. Once the seeds are dry (about a week or so) I put them in a paper bag, write the name of the squash, the year, and what I liked about the squash or a good recipe on the bag. This way in the spring I am all set to plant.

Baked Squashes And Pumpkins And How To Save The Seeds
How To Save Seeds
Seed Sanctuary

Granted you might be reading this at a time of year that gardening is in full swing. If that is the case then enjoy! Explore! Be brave! Try things out, if it doesn’t work then try something different (unlike how I keep planting those sunflowers in the same exact spot!).

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Watching Things Grow

She considers a field and buys it;
From her profits she plants a vineyard.
Proverbs 31:16

I can’t say that I have a green thumb, though things have grown that I have planted. But I still can’t say that I have a green thumb because of several things. The first is that God does the growing…really, all I do is stick a seed in the ground and put some water on it. The second reason I can’t claim any glory in this is that all of my planting is trial and error. Everyone said my side yard would not get enough sunlight, but I planted there anyway because it was going to make a cute garden area. So I go with cute instead of practical, and somehow it worked. No matter how many years in a row that I try to grow sunflowers I can’t get them to grow. Why? Because I really really want them to grow in the back yard along the fence. They obviously aren’t getting what they need there because they never make it. See…trial and error.

But I do love my garden. I so enjoy the fruits of my labors and I really enjoy the blessings of watching what God can do!

So join me this week as we explore some of the tips and tricks that I have learned along the way as an amateur gardener.

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Edible Landscaping

She Stretches Her Hand To The Distaff

She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle.
Proverbs 31:19

This is an area that I enjoy. All the DIY stuff is fun to me…for the most part. Every year for Christmas I get more and more creative with making instead of buying gifts (Last year I gave out laundry soap and dried apples, and they were both a huge hit!). I am excited and looking forward to Christmas this year. I like to give gifts that are helpful and will give others the tools they need to make their lives simpler and more economical.

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DIY Week

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What Started It All

What Do You Need

What Do You Need?

The first step in DIY projects is to decide what you want to try. I started with making Laundry Soap because I had heard several friends mention that they had made their own and it intrigued me. After my first batch, and discovering just how inexpensive it is to make, I gave away jars of it at Christmas. Now, 9 months later, I still have people asking me for the recipe. Your first batch is the most expensive, it is about $10 for a 5 gallon bucket. 5 GALLONS! After that its about $1 to refill your bucket.

From there I decided to try other soaps and cleaning products and ended up stumbling across this wonderful resource: DIY Natural. This site has everything! I love it!

I have also tried toothpaste (though I do not recommend making this before purchasing xylitol, it is quite unpleasant without it), all purpose cleaner(from their book), shampoo and conditioner, and dishwashing detergent.

When I am looking for a project I use several sources. I use Pinterest, You Tube, or a general internet search. The important thing is when something breaks to start with the thought of, “Can I fix this myself?” When doing any project it is important to get advice from those who are more experienced than yourself. When my garage door broke I spoke with several people I know about it and then did a search on the internet for a similar problem. When I am knitting and come across a mistake I will email my sister in law. For making homemade soaps and such I ask several friends who also make their own soaps.

I do need to slip a disclaimer in here though, if you are trying to fix something there are two things that can happen if you make a mistake, you can make it worse, or you can end up spending more money than it would have cost to have a professional do it. Keep these things in mind when assessing projects. Also, if you are dealing with anything dangerous (like fixing your electrical wiring) it is best to leave it to a professional.

Update on 10-14-12: Over the past two weeks I have run out of conditioner and toothpaste. Both of these items were things I have attempted to make in the past and not terribly happy with them. They were also the two items I kept forgetting at the store. So as an emergency substitution I made them to hold me over until the next grocery trip. In the end I liked them after all. The conditioner I thought didn’t work, but it does. The toothpaste I didn’t like without the xylitol but I hadn’t given it much chance after I had xylitol. So now I like it. Sometimes necessity isn’t committing to making your own for the rest of your life, simply ass a substitute for a time. Who knows, in the end you may like it and end up never switching back.

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What Started It All

This is my favorite DIY project of all time. I have jarred it up and gave it away for Christmas, I have made it several times, and it saves tons of money. Plus, making it makes your house smell amazing.

I have read that this works well with HE washing machines.

My recipe comes from my friends blog, but the following are from my own experience making it:

Laundry Soap
Ingredients Needed:
5 Gallon Bucket (you will fill this all the way)
Several Large Pots
1/2 Cup Borax
1 Cup Arm & Hammer Super Laundry Booster or Laundry Soda
A Bar of Laundry Soap
15-20 Drops Essential Oil (Optional)
Tea Kettle or similar sized pot for boiling water


Start pots of water (including a tea kettle) boiling, leaving one burner open for your saucepan.

Grate soap and put in saucepan.




Add just enough water to cover and heat on low, stirring enough so that it does not stick, until melted completely.



Add the teakettle of water to your bucket and melted soap. Stir until combined.


Add washing soda and borax (and oil) at this point. Stir until dissolved.


Add more boiling water until bucket is 2/3 full (I have only a couple of small pots and usually at this point I am adding hot water from the faucet to get the bucket 2/3 full and it still works great). Keep stirring. Then fill the rest of the bucket with hot (not boiling) water. Let stand.


After a few hours you should have the consistency of gelatin with some liquid around it. At this point you can keep it in your bucket or transfer some to a smaller jar to use in your washing machine. It only take 1/4 cup for a load. When I have a large load I use a heaping 1/4 cup.

DIY Week

She stretches out her hands to the distaff,
And her hand holds the spindle. Proverbs 31:19

This verse always makes me think of Sleeping Beauty. As if an early version of the fairy tale would follow the above lines with, “then she falls asleep.”

This week my focus is going to be on DIY, or Do It Yourself, projects. There are many reasons to have DIY projects, the first would be to save money. In most cases doing or making something yourself is much more cost efficient. However, there are other cases where it can be more expensive, so make sure you do your research first if you plan to do this for money saving purposes.

These projects also give us a sense of satisfaction and the pride of having done something yourself. This is no small feat and can help with many emotional areas as well as keeps us busy, while having fun (usually its fun…do your homework first).

Finally these projects are educational. Now I am assuming many of my readers are adults and so we do not often care if something has educational value when thinking of ourselves. But remember for a moment the joy of understanding, of discovery, the part of learning that is enjoyable…that is what we are looking for.

DIY can be anything from fixing a broken garage door to making laundry soap from scratch, to making homemade Christmas decorations. It can be anything that you enjoy doing. It can have a specific purpose or can be for the simple reason of enjoyment (i.e. the leaky pipe would be a specific purpose, but the Christmas decorations can simply be for fun).

This week I will be posting some of my own DIY projects and resources. More to come!

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