Brighter Planet's 350 challenge Photobucket Photobucket Photobucket
(used with permission from Jordanne Dervais)

Counting it down, are you prepared??

Sunday, June 3, 2012

Gotta love bargains!

It was so nice to hang out with friends and get a chance to go to one of the local farmers markets Friday. Urban Farms is an amazing farm and market that brings fresh and local food to one of Memphis's many food deserts.  Sadly, our dear city has many and efforts are being made by urban Farms and others to help bring fresh healthy food to these areas  On Friday when I went in they were putting out local blackberries.  I went out to their patio where they had a few tomato plants and some flowers left, and that is where the bargain shopping began...the plants were 50 cents a piece!!!  I got 8 tomato plants (arkansas traveler, celebrity, tomato steakhouse & a couple more) and mexican heather.  You know I had to share with my best friend who watched my kids while I shopped.  Anyway, other goodies to be had at this market was raw cheddar cheese, 8oz for $3.99, fresh cilantro, bananas, locally roasted coffees (omg they are amazing!) and so much more.  If you are ever in the Memphis area, stop in and check out this amazing little market!!!

Other goodies I have gotten recently for a steal has been a bunch of bamboo stalks (I'm using as tomato stakes) I found on Freecycle, and a peach tree for $12! Our fruit trees normally aren't that cheap, I paid $20 or 25 for my apple tree last year.

Our favorite freebie we have received lately?  Dexter...

What good garden bargains have you gotten recently?  Do you utilize websites like Freecycle and Craigslist to help you find things cheap/free?


Oh, while I am here....what do you all do to keep the squirrels out of your garden goodies?  They have been attacking my poor tomatoes everyday. I understand they have to eat too, but I have food set out for the squirrels and the birds elsewhere.  Do you use netting? Hang pie plates?  Any ideas that doesn't involve a bb gun (although i must admit it's tempting sometimes) or poison are welcome!!!
I scared off the squirrel and he left my poor tomato behind. LOL

Thursday, May 31, 2012

It's beginning to look (and feel) a lot like Summer! (lots of pics)

Things have been super busy around here, been getting a fresh layer of compost on the beds, checking for pests (thankfully none yet), and waiting. Lots of waiting and I must say I am quite impatient!! But, there are quite a few things growing despite the record high heat we have had.  I think we skipped spring all together and went straight into summer!

cluster of heirloom yellow cherry tomatoes ( I don't remember the variety)

1 of my 3 surviving Rutgers

Black Prince

L to R: zucchini, crookneck squash, front: banana peppers

the largest zucchini (3-4in)

back on trellis: ambrosia melon, front on tripod: bush cucumbers

cucumber. I have a few this size (3-4in)

my poor apple tree. We thought she was dead after receiving storm and kid damage, 
but she's a fighter!

We also have blueberries, strawberries, grapevine, honeydew, white beans, wax beans, corn, and tons of herbs, but nothing exciting is happening on them.  How are things in your garden growing?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Death of Writers Block

Writer's Block has been slain like the demon it is!  Things around here have been busy, both in the yard and the house.  We are working on redecorating the inside and have painted the dining room and kitchen, my son's room is next.

Out in the garden, we turned new beds, lined them with black garden fabric and planted tons of stuff!

This is 6 tomato plants (1 mortgage lifter, 1 black prince & 4 rutgers, 1 sweet basil, 1 hungarian hot pepper & 2 tomatillos. We have since finished laying the fabric

The left section with the planter is the herb bed. The top tier of the planter is greek oregano, the bottom of the planter in this pic is sage but we moved it to the ground in front of the planter since they get 2-3' tall. Now there is french tarragon and sweet marjoram in the bottom of the planter.

The bed with the trellis in it has 2 ambrosia melons against the trellis and 2 bush crop cucumbers in front. The larger bed at the time of this pic was 3 chubby checker corn plants, 2 sweet banana pepper plants, 2 each of zucchini and crookneck squash.

Since taking these pictures, we have lost 1 tomatillo to a badly placed husband's knee, all 3 pepper plants to a hungry hen, all 3 corn plants to either a scratching hen or a digging dog..c'est la vie right?!

Ooh, also found out you can regrow things like celery, bok choy and romaine lettuce by putting the 'butts' in warm water!  After 2 days I am seeing new growth on my bok choy!!!

We are also hoping no crazy weather hits, it is already warmer than normal and we have already seen days creeping toward 90 degrees. April is usually a month of wild electrical storms and some tornadoes for us, so here's hoping we miss it this time around, although the occasional shower would be great! 

Check out what the Almanac says about the past couple and next couple days:
10th-12th Barren Period. Do No Planting.
13th-14th Favorable Days For Planting Beets, Carrots, Turnips, Radishes, Onions, And Root Crops.

 Glad I saw that ahead of time!! Thank to Tim at Oleo Acres Farm for sharing these tidbits from the Almanac on his Facebook page. Be sure to click the link and like his page!!

Other than gardening and painting, I have been canning up a storm, gotta love the clearance produce from Kroger and Easy Way! So far in the past couple weeks I have put up half pints of strawberry preserves, sugar free raspberry preserves, mixed berry jam, sriracha, pickled green tomato relish, and pints & quarts of glazed carrots and cajun spiced yellow squash. i need to get some pics up of all the pretty jars. sorry i'm a slacker without a camera at the moment.

In keeping with the topic of store sales, we have also stocked up on what we can for an emergency situation. It's good to keep at least a month's worth of food on hand in case of an emergency or unexpected situation like loss of income.  My friend's think I'm nuts, but 3 of them have already said "I know where I'm coming when SHTF." I said "Oh really? What are you bringing with you, ain't no free rides here?"  LOL  By the way, scroll back to the top and check out the ZA counter..only 8 months and such left, be prepared people!!!!!
Prepared Pantry - 30 day supply

So my questions for you all are, what's going on in your garden? And what are you doing to prepare for an emergency situation? (This is especially for my TN friends, cuz you now the weather here in April is CRAZY!)

Ok, I think I'm done ramblin' for the night. I'm going to bed now.

Saturday, February 25, 2012

Pepper Joe's & Penny's Tomatoes Seed giveaway!

FREE SEEDS CONTEST: 6 Big Winners will win EIGHT Freebies each...(pack of myco blast and Soil Blast soil conditoners, 3 packs of Tomato seeds and 3 packs of Hot Pepper seeds)....$40 value. WOW. 1 Grand Winner gets a 'Volcano in a Box"...$45 value 7 winners in all.

HOW TO WIN: Easy. We give you one entry for everywhere you place a post/plug for Pepper Joe's and Penny's Tomatoes. Place a post on your Facebook page...1 entry. Place a post on your a post on a Gardening entry...Linked entry. etc. Postings can be on ANY site out there. You decide where. No limit to how many entries you can have. Post a listing on your webpage... and you get THREE entries. Or on someone elses Website. That's right 3 entries! We love being on websites.

The BEST Website post/plug wins the Volcano in a Box. Please include our website addresses on all postings--->>Pepper Joes and Pennys Tomatoes

HOW TO ENTER: Send me an email to with CONTEST in the Subj. Tell me how many places and where you did a posting. We'll give you the right amount of entries. Please list the WEBSITE ADDRESSES so we can take a peek at them. List your mailing address to receive the Free Prizes. 

TIP: The more places you post us, the better your chances are to win. Anybody with FIVE or more postings...we'll DOUBLE your entries. I.E. give us 6 get 12 entries. 

Wednesday, February 1, 2012

Grey Water

First off, let me steal the definition from wikipedia..
Greywater is wastewater generated from domestic activities such as laundry, dishwashing, and bathing, which can be recycled on-site for uses such as landscape irrigation and constructed wetlands. Greywater differs from water from the toilets which is designated sewage or blackwater to indicate it contains human waste.   Greywater gets its name from its cloudy appearance and from its status as being between fresh, potable water (known as "white water") and sewage water ("black water"). In a household context, greywater is the leftover water from baths, showers, hand basins and washing machines only. Some definitions of greywater include water from the kitchen sink. Any water containing human waste is considered black water.
Since I have yet to incorporate this into my home, I will be link sharing, hope you don't mind  :)

Rain Barrels & Greywater Diversion

Now, for places like Memphis that don't get near enough rain in the summer, I think this is a wonderfully awesome idea!  We are checking around with locals who have similar systems and comparing prices for different materials. Over the next couple months as we get beds positioned and dug, I will be posting picture/video updates of the progress. I'm hoping for a mister and underground soaker system.  Am I ambitious?  YES!  Will I find a way to get it done on my non-existent budget?  YOU BET!!

Do you reuse greywater or know anyone who does? Have some great resources to share with us? Please post them!!!!

Monday, January 16, 2012

Monday means weekend updates!

Well, thanks to Mother Nature, who has blessed us with decent weather this weekend (its in the 60s now) we got quite a bit accomplished around here!  Had a friend bring us some deer meat Friday, so we got that cut down and vaccuum sealed and in the freezer.  The biggest accomplishment being the chicken coop (it's now shingled. planning a raised bed on top)

Then, we rehung the 2 long clotheslines, turned the compost, turned a patch of dirt where I am planting beans, added compost to that patch and turned it again. I started some turnip and beet seeds using a method I found on Wintersown, I can't wait to chart their progress! Hmm...let's see...oh, while digging in the dirt with the kids, I found quite a few purple sweet potatoes that were hiding from me when I harvested.  Most were molded but  few pieces were good enough to save to root and plant.  Pics to come soon!

What's going on on your homestead?

Thursday, January 12, 2012

Change of plans & My first GIVEAWAY!!!!!!

So yo know that big post I did the other day about all the seeds I was about to order, well the budget got re-appropriated for a more important bill.  But no fear, I found this wonderful site called Listia (thank you Adventures of a Thrifty Mama for sharing the link!) where I have won jerusalem artichoke seeds and mustard green seeds and have bids out on a few others including blackberries and strawberries.  The best part?  They are all free and all the ones I have bid on are free shipping also!!

And now for the giveaway!  It's a really cute tomato planter with a bag of organic growing medium (ain't it funny how they make dirt sound fancy?) and a package of tiny tim cherry tomato seeds!!  I'm asking you do 2 things to enter:

-share the link to the blog on social media and leave a comment here with a link to it
-leave a comment here on what you plan to grow this spring

I will then leave it up to a random number generator to decide who wins!!  Good luck to all that enter, you have till January 31st to get those comments in!!!

Pic to come as soon as my connection stops being so fickle and lets me upload!

Saturday, January 7, 2012

My favorite cold remedies

Well, here in Memphis, its sinus/cold season from October-March/April and cold medicine is yucky and expensive.  So here are my favorite recipes for colds & sinus:

Homemade syrup:
1 cup honey
1/2 onion chopped
1 inch ginger grated
dash of cayenne pepper

cook the onions & ginger in the honey till they are translucent, the longer the better.  I dash in the cayenne right before removing from the heat. Strain out the solids.  Take a tablespoon as soon as its cool enough to take. store in a honey bottle or mason jar.  It tastes pretty bad but if you are sick enough to want to take meds, you aren't gonna care how it tastes.  Chances are you are so congested you won't be able to taste or smell it anyway.

Tea:  ( per 1 cup)
1 teaspoon dried catnip
1 teaspoon dried chamomile flowers
1 teaspoon fennel seed
1 bag green tea (or your favorite hot tea)

brew in a teapot or cheat like me and make it in the coffeepot.

I hope you feel better soon; please share your remedies with us!!

Friday, January 6, 2012

Prepping for Spring - Part 2 Seed Inventory & Selection

With the unseasonably warm weather we are having, I have been having thoughts of spring and planting.  I decided to pull out all the seeds I have and was surprised to find I have a good bit!  Not all the heirloom I want, but I gotta start somewhere, right?  So here is the list of what i currently have on hand (that I have collected and packets from friends):

  • 100s of bell pepper
  • lots of jalapeno and other varieties hot peppers
  • canteloupe & honeydew melon
  • eggplant
  • heirloom broccoli (waltham 29)
  • heirloom soybeans (thanks to Tim from Oleo Acres)
  • okra
  • 2 varieties of beets
  • carrots
  • squash
  • 2 varieties of lettuce
  • royal burgundy bush beans
  • roma bush beans
  • turnips
  • pumpkin
  • shelly beans
  • peaches n cream corn
I think I am off to a pretty good start!  But I really want to expand this year and thankfully have the help/muscle of a couple family friends.  Here's the list of what I want to buy from Baker Creek heirloom Seed Co:
  • sugar snap peas
  • costata romanesca squash
  • tomatillos
  • yellow & red cherry tomatoes
  • calendula
  • catnip
  • chamomile
  • feverfew
  • scullcap
  • swiss chard
  • kale
  • 2 types of eggplant
  • asparagus
  • bok choy
  • fennel
  • wild rocket arugula
  • bee balm
  • cilantro
  • sage 
  • horehound
  • amaranth
  • italian pepperoncini peppers
  • parisian pickling cucumbers
  • berries & grapes
Sounds like a lot, I know, especially for my yard, but I will be utilizing the beds in the front also and the east side of the house.  most of the herbs will also be in pots on a shelf.  I already have the egg crates ready to start seed and am thinking of starting some lettuce now. The bug has bit and man it bit hard!!!  I'm ready for spring!!!!  All the seeds I am ordering are going to cost about $50 and that doesn't count the berries, grapes and fruit trees I want..

You know what excites me most about this list?  The amaranth.  Don't know what that is? Amaranth is an 8,000 year old crop called the “super food” by the ancient Aztecs.  Once an abundant part of the empire’s crop base, Amaranth was fed to runners and warriors because of its reputation for providing large bursts of energy and improving athletic performance. The crop was regarded so highly that each year bushels of Amaranth were presented to their leader, Montezuma. Because the crop figured so prominently in Aztec culture and religious ceremonies, the conquering armies of Cortez burned the fields to the ground. As European crops replaced indigenous ones, Amaranth slowly fell out of use. Twenty years ago, the “ancient crop with a future” enjoyed a renaissance when the National Academy of Sciences recommended Amaranth as one of twenty foods to be re-introduced into the American diet.

 Amaranth contains large amounts of dietary fiber, iron, and calcium as well as other vitamins and minerals. Amaranth also has naturally high amounts of lysine, methionine and cysteine combined with a fine balance of amino acids making it an excellent source of high quality, balanced protein (about 14% by volume), which is more complete than the protein found in most grains. In addition to Amaranth’s outstanding nutritional value, it is also very low in sodium and contains no saturated fat. Another outstanding feature is that our Amaranth is organically grown and is naturally Non-GMO.

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Beating the winter blues

Winter always depressing me, the plants and trees go into hibernation and the landscapes are dreary..perfect reflection of my mood, dreary.  This winter I have been doing everything I can to keep myself busy.  This year, I planted a fall/winter garden. It's not much but it does get me out into the sunshine for a few minutes a day; currently its broccoli, cauliflower, kale, rosemary and we have added an (indoor) kaffir lime tree (a generous gift from my friend Debe at Awesome Bistro Compliments.)  On sunny days I also open my curtains to let the natural light in, it works miracles for me.

The kids are really good at keeping me distracted by building couch cushion forts, blanket tents and digging in our indoor pots of dirt or treating the tub like a swimming pool.

Scent is also something I use to lift my mood by lighting incense or candles, usually an uplifting scent of citrus, sandalwood or ocean breeze.  Good scents for me are also cinnamon, rose, or anything chocolate scented.  But there are times when distraction and aromatherapy just aren't enough and I have to add in some supplements.  Natural News posted a great list, so I am gong to quote and copy it here:

Vitamin D
A depression which recurs annually during the winter, as well as feelings of depression which deepen during this period, are related to lack of vitamin D, which is delivered in its most powerful form through sunshine. Vitamin D increases brain levels of serotonin, which has been called the "happiness hormone." Vitamin D also plays an important role in the body's production of dopamine, a mood-lifting transmitter. One excellent source of vitamin D is fermented cod liver oil; just one teaspoon a day delivers a potent dose of this vitamin. Dietary sources include salmon, sardines and mackerel as well as organ meats and eggs (choose organic sources for maximum health benefit, of course). You may also want to try a vitamin D supplement to ensure that you get your daily dose.

St. John's Wort
This plant has been used as a nerve tonic for centuries. Its name derives from the fact that its bright yellow flowers bloom around June 24, the day when the feast of St. John was celebrated in the medieval era, shortly after the summer solstice. Traditional herbalists have long held that a tincture made from this plant delivers some of the bright solar energy of that time of year. Recent medical research has confirmed its efficacy in treating anxiety as well as moderate depression.

Side-effects and precautions: St. John's wort should not be taken in combination with pharmaceutical anti-depressants. Some studies suggest it may interfere with oral contraceptives. St. John's Wort may increase the effect of sleeping medications and anesthetics. It may cause sensitivity to ultraviolet light. Also, for people suffering from bipolar disorder, taking this herbal remedy may increase mood swings.

Learn more:

 Ginko Biloba is a natural ingredient that improves circulation in the brain, which often in turn improves memory and also alleviates some symptoms of depression. It is not as effective as St. John's Wort, but it can be taken in conjunction with other natural ingredients as an overall mood-booster.
Siberian Ginseng aids the balance of essential neurotransmitters like serotonin, norepinephrine and dopamine in the brain. Taking Siberian Ginseng regularly can lead to improved feelings of general well-being.
Passion flower is another natural ingredient that can help treat depression, anxiety and sleep disorders. Passion flower is a natural salve that helps to calm and soothe. When it is combined with St. John's Wort, it can be very successful in treating depression naturally.  (source: 
DISCLAIMER:  I am not a doctor, these remedies may work for me but may not be right for everyone, please consult your doctor or naturopath before starting any new remedies to avoid interactions with prescription medication or potential health hazards.

In addition to these supplements, a balanced diet and activities such as exercise, yoga or tai-chi also help to keep the mind occupied and off of the cold temps and sleeping landscape outside.

Do you suffer from SAD or seasonal depression?  If so, how do you treat it? 

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Homemade Anitbacterial Cleaner

I am really enjoying delving into making more of my own cleaning products.  The first question I always get is "how do you know it's really clean?  You need chemicals for that."  My answer, essential oils.  There are at least 14 essential oils that have antibacterial properties and many are also antifungal and antimicrobial. Before I get to the cleaner recipe, I'm going to take some space to list the oils for you so when making your cleaner you can choose the ones that suit your needs.  You are welcome lol

In a lab test, 14 oils were evaluated against Haemophilus influenzae, Streptococcus pneumoniae, Streptococcus pyogenes and Staphylococcus aureus. For most essential oils examined, H. influenzae was most susceptible, followed by S. pneumoniae and S. pyogenes, and then S. aureus. Penicillin-susceptible and -resistant S. pneumoniae were comparable in susceptibility. Escherichia coli, which was used as a control, showed least susceptibility.  (source:

In plain english I'm pretty sure that means that the first one listed was most affected while E coli wasn't affected as much.


  • Cinnamon 
  • Lemongrass
  • Perilla
  • Wild Thyme
  • Red Thyme
  • Geraniol Thyme
  • Peppermint
  • Tea Tree
  • Spike Lavender
  • True Lavender
  • Rosemary
  • Eucalyptus
  • Citron
  • Lavender
  • Tea hierarchy
  • Myrrh
  • Lemongrass
  • Oregano
  • Thyme
  • Vetiver
And don't you know I closed the site before I copied the link for the source..dag nabit...I will google it again and add it in later.  Now on to the recipe!

Homemade AntiBac Cleaner

You will need:
 a clean spray bottle
essential oils of choice (I use at least 2, usually lavender and eucalyptus or lemongrass)
1 cup white vinegar
1/2 cup hydrogen peroxide 3%
10-20 drops essential oils
water to fill your bottle

Hope this new year finds you all well and cold/flu free!  Although if you do happen to be sick, this cleaner is great to make sure it doesn't stick around on cabinets/counters/faucets/toilets!!  If you make this, please leave a comment and let me know what you think!!!!

Monday, January 2, 2012

New Year, New Adventures!

Happy New Year y'all!  I hope you all are doing well.  Now for those that know me, know I don't do resolutions so much, but I do set goals of what I would like to accomplish.  This year, I am pretty proud of my list:
  • yell less, listen more, practice more compassionate parenting tactics
  • get house clean and organized - get rid of the clutter
  • be more forthcoming about my feelings/talk more/initiate more instead of shutting down
  • treat 10yo like a young adult not a kid
  • trim our expenses in anyway possible
  • start an emergency savings fund

I have done quite a bit of reflection on how I parent and I can see i am doing it all wrong.  I need to be patient and listen and remember my children are just that, children.  They do not know everything, they are not perfect and concepts that are common sense to me are second nature to them.  That is not a reason to raise my voice to them or punish them.

Cleaning up and clearing out!  This year is all about simplifying  y'all.  We are steadily clearing junk out, sorting through clothes we don't need and bagging up  toys.  And this year, I will not fill the empty space back up

In an effort to trim expenses, today a dear friend and I made 2 gallons of homemade laundry detergent and 1 gallon of homemade bleach alternative.  I just used them in a load of laundry and let me tell y'all, they work and smell great!!!!

Detergent Recipe - initial cost about $8, subsequent batches about $2
Bleach Alternative Recipe - initial cost about $2

Fabric Softener:
6 cups water
3 cups white vinegar
2 cups hair conditioner
mix in a bottle and shake well!

Also, we are refining how we grocery shop and utilizing the dollar store and international markets as well as the meat market.  We have a stock of so much on hand my last grocery trip for the week was $26.

I think me and 2012 are off to a great start!!

Do you make resolutions? If so, what ones did you make this year?