health · life curation

Preparing for Mid-Summer Gardening!

I have still been enjoying time out in my yard, and I’m considering what plants I can start in July (since I was SO behind the ball this season). For the record, I didn’t know that I was going to be so fascinated with gardening, flowers, and nature in general this spring. My fascination blindsided me, so I’m very LATE in garden planning. But that doesn’t mean that all hope is lost! There are quite a few plants that can be started in midsummer and still thrive with ease.

Dreaming of summer gardening . . .

Burpee’s website outlines all of the crops that can be started in July. I wasn’t interested in growing vegetables per se, but if I change my mind, I may try to grow squash. My preference is smaller herbs and maybe some flowers. I found this guide published on The Spruce to be the best one for planning the kind of plants I would like to grow.

The only thing currently blooming in my yard: my gorgeous gardenias!

I’ve very interested in growing cilantro, garlic, basil and (perhaps) arugula or looseleaf lettuce. I want to start small and then expand into bigger plants. I really enjoyed seeing my overall growing options over on the Old Farmer’s Almanac website. There are a lot of plants that can grow in my zone (zone 7) so I’m excited to see if I can squeeze in one more herb or maybe even a fruit (perhaps blackberries or raspberries).

I watched this fantastic video that also gave me some ideas for what I may grow in my zone in July. I like that this guide can be used for multiple zones, not just zone 7. Rare Seeds’s YouTube channel is a wealth of information.

Will any of you be trying some midsummer gardening? Let me know about it in the comments!

life curation · music

A Peek Into My Current Playlist

Happy Monday! I’m enjoying the rising temperatures in central VA and I’m feeling oh-so-thankful that SUMMER is here!

I wanted to discuss something more fun today: music! I’ve been listening to a few artists that I haven’t mentioned on this blog before, but I’m excited to share them with you now. If you aren’t familiar with these artists, you can check out their music by clicking on the YouTube videos I’m linking below. Enjoy!

Chloe X Halle have been making incredible music for years, but their newest album is such an auditory delight: I had to share it with you all!

Doja Cat has been in the center of a few online controversies, so I was torn about adding her. However, her song “Say So” is so good that I have to share it, not to mention, she has actively sought to uplift ALL women. I haven’t canceled her yet, and I doubt that I ever will.

Missy Elliott has been one of my favorites for AGES, so her music over the past few years has been such a treat. I adore her!

Teyana Taylor had not been on my radar previously, but this song is so wholesome, uplifting and beautiful that I had to include it.

Those are a few of the songs that I’ve been enjoying lately. Do you have any recommendations? I’d love to hear all about them!

life curation · writing

My First Book Endorsement!

I’m so excited to share that my book got an unexpected endo

rsement! I wrote and self-published my first book last year (I wrote about it here and followed up with more information in this post) and I was pleased to make a few sales. I wrote about a very niche topic (receiving college credits using equivalency tests) so I didn’t expect that my book would have much “reach”.

My first published book:

However, I was so excited to see that one of my favorite authors, Ginie Sayles, endorsed my book! Here is a screenshot to the endorsement, as well as a link to Mrs. Sayles’s author page.

Mrs. Sayles is absolutely inspirational in every way. Her guidance in her many books has been crucial in my journey toward living a beautiful, enjoyable life. In particular, her book “Writer’s Block is a Crock! Write a Book in 3 Weeks – Or Less!” was instrumental to completing my manuscript and self-publishing. I didn’t finish the book in 3 weeks – after all, it was a leisure project – but the strategies listed in the book absolutely work if you are committed to the process. I am still in awe of how thorough Mrs. Sayles’s work is, and how useful it is for aspiring authors.

Ginie Sayles, Writer’s Block is a Crock! Write a Book in 3 Weeks – Or Less!

To commemorate this delightful, unexpected endorsement, I’m reducing the price of both the printed and Kindle version of my book. Also, the book has always been, and will continue to be, within Kindle’s Lending Library, so you can borrow it for free within the Kindle system. I wholeheartedly believe in providing this information for an affordable price and keeping the book as accessible as possible.

That’s my good news for this Wednesday! I hope you all are doing great and staying safe. Take care, adn I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

*This post contains affiliate links.

life curation · travel

Throwback Thursday Travel: Indianapolis

Nearly ten (!) years ago, I went to Indianapolis, Indiana to train for my previous job as a international tax auditor (that’s another story for another day . . . ). I was there for several weeks and I enjoyed exploring the city on foot during my down time. I have always wanted to return to the city, especially since I enjoy live sporting events and would love to attend a Pacers game. Maybe I’ll return when COVID-19 is no longer a threat. Until then, here are some of my photos from that trip. Enjoy!

Views from my hotel room in Indy
Lucas Oil Stadium (where the Colts play)
My room at the Marriott
Another view of my room
When I return, I’ll visit
Fountain near my hotel
The Circle, downtown Indy
Capital Building
life curation · Uncategorized

Wonderful Weeds

Since becoming a homeowner last year, I’ve spent a lot of time getting to know my home and yard. I enjoy the flowers that the previous owner planted, and I find so much pleasure in sitting in my morning room and looking at the woods beyond my backyard, where I can catch glimpses of rabbits, various beautiful birds, and occasionally deer.

Prior to moving here, I assumed that weeds were the bane of most homeowners. After all, weeds were usually unsightly, absorbed nutrients that could have been utilized by prettier plants, and attracted pests. However, my herbalist studies have given me a different perspective on weeds, and I’ve gotten to a point that I love to explore my yard and see if the weeds can be used for medicinal or culinary purposes.

I’m delighted to share that I’ve discovered several weeds that I can use in my herbalist practice! I also have some photos of the weeds that I’m excited to use in the upcoming months.

This weed is mullein. Isn’t it stunning? It can be used to create teas and tinctures that remove mucus from the lungs and gastrointestinal tract. I actually just love the look of it. It is wind-pollinated, so here’s hoping that it’ll bloom and those seeds will create some more plants nearby.

A young mullein plant

This is dog fennel, a weed that closely resembles dill. This weed should only be used externally (it can treat sunburn and can also be used as a mosquito repellent) because it has compounds that are toxic to the liver. Some people hate the smell, while others find it earthy (like pine). I actually enjoy the fragrance. I’m still researching the best way to extract the oils for a liquid repellent, but so far, I haven’t seen anything. I may just experiment a bit and see if I can come up with a good repellent recipe using dog fennel.

A cluster of dog fennel

This very common plant is pokeweed (poke salad/poke sallet). It can be prepared as a cooked green, and, if done well, it’s delicious. My mother gave me a great recipe, and cautioned me that the weed should not be consumed once it starts bearing seeds (when the little berries appear). We had a chance to pick the pokeweed behind my home, and we filled a large garbage bag with the leaves, and there are still so many more plants left. However, we’re done gathering pokeweed for this season: we have plenty!

Pokeweed growing next to my back porch

Finally, you may see a cute little berry looks like a strawberry, but it’s smaller, a bit rounder, and the seeds look a little strange. That is actually a mock strawberry. It’s nontoxic, but it doesn’t have nearly the same level of flavor or sweetness as real strawberries. However, it’s lovely ground cover and is a pretty harmless plant overall, other than the fact that it can take over a yard quickly. I learned that the berries can be eaten (some people enjoy the flavor), and the leaves can be dried and turned into a tea. So I collected a TON of the leaves and started drying them. I’m excited to let you know how the tea turns out.

Closeup of the mock strawberry leaves

So when you start seeing your grass get a little taller than you’d like, perhaps you can take some time to explore and figure out if any of the “weeds” could be useful to you! You may be pleased with what you find.

That’s all for this Tuesday. Have a great day everyone!

life curation

Another New Family Member

Meet Dory, our newest family member!

Blue betta fish are so striking, so we’re excited that he’s now part of our family. He’s so pretty!

That’s all for today (I know, it’s a brief post!). I don’t have any updates from the weekend, but no news is good news, right? I’m glad that things are calm on my end. I hope you all had a relaxing and enjoyable weekend!

Talk to you all tomorrow!

life curation

Hope for a Better Tomorrow

Hello friends. The past week or so has been a tense time in the United States. Many are frustrated, sad, angry, outraged, and ready to see substantive changes. I acknowledge and understand the pain behind the actions that have occurred, and I continue to hold a space of hope and love for all people. No matter who or where you are, please continue to hold HOPE for a better tomorrow. If you can spend a moment just sending your good energy toward the US population, that would mean a lot to me.

Take care, and I’ll talk to you all tomorrow.

life curation

New Goals for 2020

Even before COVID-19 upended our collective plans and intentions for 2020, I knew that I was taking a completely different direction than I had for the past few years.

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Every year, I focus on very tangible goals. My goals could be easily quantified, because I believe in goals being SMART – specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and time-bound – and I tied my personal value to the achievement of a SMART goal.

But now, my goals are shifting . . . And I like it. Yes, to a degree, my goals are still SMART, but they all aren’t as dynamic as before. I will always have a couple of dynamic goals (that’s my nature) but some of my other goals are more fluid, and allow me room to be gentle with myself. I’m starting to fall in love with my “new normal”, which include practices that support my emotional and mental health, and goals that focus more on who I’m being as opposed to what I’m doing.

With that in mind, here are some of my new goals for 2020:

  • Practice yoga weekly
  • Finish writing and editing two of my books
  • Complete my herbalist certification (did that earlier this week!)

Have you had a chance to revisit and rethink your goals? What direction do you think you’ll be going this year? I’d love to hear all about it!

health · life curation

Fibro Fridays: A Thought on Spoon Theory

Happy Friday friends! We survived another week and here’s hoping that we are all feeling great as the weekend begins.

I was just thinking about how much things have changed since my fibro diagnosis last year, as well as the concepts and terminology that has become second nature to me due to fibro. One of the most fascinating concepts that I’ve heard about is spoon theory. This principle speaks to the finite energy stores possessed by the chronically ill, as well as how easy it is to fall into an energy deficit, resulting in the inevitable “crash” phase.

untitled design

The Spoon Theory essay was written by Christine Miserandino, and I love that this simple teaching has offered such an accurate visual representation of the daily reality of chronically ill individuals. Once we have used up our energy, the results of exceeding our limitations can be devastating in the days and weeks to come. Also, it illustrates how having casual/less active days can allow us to “save up” energy for anticipated intense days.

I’ve shared this theory with friends and relatives so that they can better understand what I experience. It’s hard to describe the specific feelings that I may have each day, but I can easily tell you if I’ve used too many spoons in the previous days, or if, on a particular day, I have a lot of spoons at my disposal. It’s very useful for quantifying my energy levels on any given day.

If you really want a better understanding of chronic illness, I highly encourage you to read the Spoon Theory essay for yourself. If you’ve already read it, let me know your thoughts in the comment below!

Those are my views on Spoon Theory. I hope you all are doing well, and enjoy your weekend!

 

beauty · life curation

The Novice Gardener’s Digital Toolkit

untitled designAs this is my first year cultivating a true flower garden, I’ve been eager to learn as much about the plants surrounding my home as I can. Sadly, I don’t know much about plants and I don’t have any nearby friends or relatives that can easily identify the bushes and trees in my yard. Desperate, I reached out to my Facebook family, and they didn’t disappoint! They made some excellent recommendations to help me get the information that I need. So, since I have some great tools at my disposal, it’s only right that I pass them along to you!

PlantSnap and PictureThis have been my constant companions over the past few weeks. I love that I can take a picture of a plant and process the picture through both apps to get a good idea of what kind of plant it is. I find that PictureThis has more reliable results than PlantSnap, but I love them both and find them very easy to use. I really enjoy the fact that the apps allow you to identify plants for free, and PlantSnap even lets you know that you can identify 25 pictures per day before a paid account is required (I’m not sure how many pictures are allowed using the free membership of PictureThis, but I imagine that the number is similar). The biggest advantage to PictureThis (other than the higher identification reliability) is that it automatically keeps a log of the pictures that you’ve submitted, so you can easy review previously identified plants within the app. For PlantSnap, you have to manually save the photos to a collection in order to retain that information.

YouTube has so many great videos for learning more about the wild plants growing near you: I simply cannot list them all! However, you can search for wild edibles by clicking here and you will find the most popular videos on the topic. Of course, you may not be interested in plants that you can eat; however, edible plants are fascinating to me, and the fact that many “weeds” are also edible and nutritious makes it a topic that I think may interest some of you, as well. As I continue exploring various YT channels, I’ll make a post in the future listing the best gardening channels that I’ve found.

Finally, the USDA Plant Hardiness Zone Map has been one of my favorite references during this growing season. Viewing the zone map and using other USDA resources has taught me a lot about what kind of zone I live in, as well as the different zones within my state.

Do you have any digital tools that you use for your garden? I’d love to hear all about them!