Friday, May 20, 2016

Tips for Gardening with a One Year Old

Let's be honest, I had two opposing thoughts when it came to including my little one in my gardening adventure this summer.  My first thought was how excited I was about including her in the food to table process, teaching her the limited things I do know and am learning about gardening, and being able to get her more time outside which is always a plus in my book.  However, my second thought was that my "destructo" child may be more of a hindrance than a help.  So far, I've discovered both are true.  But, I am convinced the benefits outweigh the difficulties she may create; so I had to find a way to make it work.

I thought I would share with you some of the lessons I've learned.

1. Find age appropriate ways your little one can participate.
At 19 months, she is an expert at ripping things right now, so I've been able to allow her to tear off herbs for now while waiting for the fruits and vegetables to come in.  They may not be perfect, but herbs tend to be forgiving unlike some tender fruit.  I suspect she'll be great at pulling root vegetables when they are ready as well.

 If I were gardening in the soil, I would definitely allow her to help me to dig holes for planting with a kid safe shovel or her hands depending on the size of the hole I needed.

We went to a Spring Carnival put on by a local high school's Band Boosters.  A local realtor was handing out wildflower packets with her card.  Letting my little one throw out the wildflower seeds are a perfect activity at her age.  She can be messy, and it is perfectly okay.  If you are worried about placement, of course, you can do flower bombs.  As for me, I figured I could allow her to throw them and let nature take its course.  As they grow, she can pick them or just watch them grow. The wildflower seeds were all small enough that I would not consider them a choking hazard either.

If I had a traditional garden instead of a container garden, she would be at a great age to help with weeding as long as there were no seedlings nearby.

Include her while shopping for your gardening supplies.  I took my lo with me every shopping trip.  Sometimes, I would give her two choices i.e. two similar tomato plants and allowed her to pick one.  I talked to her throughout the whole decision process.  Not only is this a chance to work on her language skills, but she also got to feel as if she was part of the process.

We have had too much rain here this last month to need to water my plants.  However, we have a kid size watering can at the ready for the drier days of summer for her to assist in watering.

2. Remember, as always, safety first.
Even with organic gardening, there are still some things you won't want little one getting into.  I used a trowel to transplant some of the plants I bought as I acquired larger pots or containers.  While my trowel is nowhere near as sharp as kitchen knife, I still didn't want her getting her hands on it and possibly hurting herself.  So, when the trowel wasn't in the soil, I made the effort to put it far out of her reach.  If you buy store bought plants, many have plastic wrap that needs to be removed by either a knife or scissors.  It is worth the extra planning to have a surface high enough they can't climb or walk it back inside as soon as you are done.

I would also recommend using compost or potting soil that is free of manure.  Little ones love to put things in their mouth, and I, personally, wouldn't want to risk exposure to bacteria that might be in manure.

Also, be cautious with what plants you choose to grow as some plants have parts which are poisonous to eat including tomatoes, rhubarb, and asparagus.  That being said, I am still growing tomatoes.  I have them high enough the little one will not be able to reach them without assistance allowing me to keep a good eye on her to assure no leaves make it into her mouth.

If gardening outdoors, remember sun safety.  My little one is terrible about wearing sun hats and has to be in the mood to keep her sunglasses on.  However, we do practice use of sunscreen and proper reapplication if necessary.

3.Find alternatives that are encouraging.  
Some of this may be trial and error.  I originally was going to allow her to aid me in adding some potting soil and compost to my plants once I placed them in containers.  She had other ideas.  Instead, she decided it would be fun to try to remove as much soil as she could from the pots.

See the pile of potting soil beside her in the picture above.  While she looks like she is calmly examining the plant marker of this tomato plant her grandmother bought her, that pile was her doing.  
She also tried her hand at eating it repeatedly.  Being a first time mom who tends to worry about pretty much everything, I desperately tried my best to clean her mouth out.  Thankfully, potting soil whether organic or not is not going to kill her.

So, eventually, I gave her a pot with plastic under and let her go to town removing as much dirt as her heart desired.  She was happy and I could get work done.  I call that a win.

4.Accept learning even if it wasn't the lesson you had planned.
Remember her dirt pot I just mentioned.  She eventually got creative and found a stick to aid in the dirt removal.  I must admit I was so proud of her for her use of a makeshift tool that I called her father immediately to tell him while I continued to watch her.  I am so amazed at the little connections her brain is constantly making.

5. Sometimes, babywearing saves the day. 
I know I have touted my love of babywearing previously, however, just in the last few weeks, it has been a lifesaver with both allowing me to work on my garden as well as maintain my sanity.  This year, we are doing a container garden most of which is on a makeshift table made of a piece of plywood on two sawhorses.  Due to the height, she is unable to even see most of the plants unless I have her on me.  However, just like being on me while cooking, I am convinced she is still absorbing lessons by just seeing what I am doing.

Just the other day, she was being especially fussy at a superbly inconvenient time while her father was trying to deal with work matters on the phone.  Her fussiness was mainly due to her fighting taking a nap.  I took her outside to our plants and talked to her about their growth, pointed out the new shoots some of the potatoes had made through the ground, discussed the color of the flowers that had begun to bloom on our patio eggplant, and talked to her about the meals we could cook with the food we were growing.   She calmed down almost immediately both from being worn and being outside.

6. Consider multiple senses.
Pick plants with consideration to color, texture, smell, and of course, taste.

Herbs are especially helpful in the smell and texture categories.  I have already been able to give her a sage leaf to rub between her fingers with much glee.  I have held up all our herbs for her to sniff as well.  I tried to choose a variety of herbs considering our limited space.  So far, we have cilantro, sweet basil, rosemary, dill, sage, thai basil, and lavender in bloom.  I hope to add a few more especially parsley and oregano as well as possibly some variety of mint.

I am trying to ensure that the garden we have will be colorful as well not only because we try to eat all our colors, but also, as we know kids like a variety of colors.  So far, we've got yellow and red from tomatoes, purple from eggplants and peppers, and green with zucchini and peppers.
7. Think outside the box.
Creating adventurous eaters begins with exposure to variety.  Getting kids to try new things can start with small touches like nontraditional colors for everyday food.  I am fairly sure the first pepper my daughter had was a purple one from my parent's garden.  However, I know that is not the norm for most kids.  So, I've planted blue potatoes, yellow pear tomatoes, and purple peppers.

8. Have a backup activity.
At this age, they tend to work on their schedule.  They may be over garden time as soon as you get out there or even ten minutes into it.  Just being outside with you is good enough, though.  As you can see in the picture above, she has her bubble wand in hand for when she's ready.  A play lawnmower or ride on toy are also great to keep them nearby but occupied.

9. Work in smaller increments.
I could stay outside working in the garden for hours happily; however, a one year old rarely has the ability to maintain interest in an activity for that long.  Consider their attention span when planning your time.  So, this may mean going outside for 15 minutes after breakfast, twenty minutes after snack time, and another 15 minutes later in the day.

10. Think about some plants just for hummingbirds and butterflies.  
This is a great age for them to happily watch birds and insects. Many stores sell mini garden kits for this sole purpose or you can easily choose the plants yourself like bee balm, milkweed, and coneflowers to name a few that they like.

11. Make use of naps.
Realistically at this age, it probably easier to do some of the work of gardening on your own time if possible when napping or another adult is watching them.  As much as I love my daughter, I know I would be wary of her trampling my seedlings if I had a garden in the ground.

She may have muddy knees, but it certainly was worth the extra work for stain removal being able to remember the joy captured in this picture she felt not only being outdoors but also participating in something with me.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Tabernacle United Methodist Consignment Sale Haul

I know it's been a while since the sale; however, I've been running behind a bit due to some family emergencies which ended up leading me to miss 2 of the consignment sales I had been planning on shopping this season.  I am slowly trying to play catch up while also working on networking for the blog.  

So, even though it has been awhile since the sale, I still wanted to post my haul because I hope it helps others not only see what great deals you can pick up at consignment sales hopefully encouraging others to dip their toes into the addictive world of consignment sale shopping, but also to give you some idea of what typical prices are for items you would find at these sales.  While the spring consignment sale season is over where I live, summer and fall sales will be here before we know it.

This sale happened to be not only the sale I spent the most at this season, but also the one I picked up the most items.  I spent $40 total for all the items I purchased.  Since this was sponsored by a nonprofit, there was no sales tax which is always nice. 

I picked up this B. Meowsic Keyboard for $5 making it my most expensive purchase the entire season.  I didn't mind spending a little bit more on this keyboard since it is a rare item at the sales in my area, and something I know will keep her interest for years for my little one unlike some toys.  Both my daughter and her cousin who is less than a month away from turning 5 have logged in hours playing with this keyboard.  They especially like hearing themselves sing into the microphone which also has a record option.  

 18 month outfit for $1.50.  I like outfits that already go together but done in neutral colors I could pair with other items.  I find this is a biggie since sometimes I get lucky, and my little one only manages to stain either her top or bottom.  Since she is a stain magnet often going through 3-4 outfits a day, I will look for any reasonable way to reduce the amount of laundry I have to do.  I know I could just let her run around naked or just in a diaper to save on the laundry load for me.  However, her father is opposed to this.  You can easily guess which one of us is responsible for laundry in our house.

Four pair of 18 month pants grouped together for $3.  As I mentioned before, buying clothes in lots like this can often be a good way to save money as long as you like all the items which I happen to since I am a huge fan of bright colors.  

18 month jeans for $1.  I try to pick up jeans for $1 or $,50 cents if I can since I know they will get a ton of wear in my house.  

18 month yoga pants for $1.  Not only do I like the cuteness factor of these especially since I'm trying to start making it to mommy and me yoga classes, but I can always use some plain black pants for her.

18 month leggings for $1.  Nice neutral colors, and in the falls I figure I can pull her socks up to cover up the hot pink if necessary.

I broke my own rule on these and picked up a pair of 3t leggings for $1 due to my ladybug obsession since they looked rather new hoping the elastic holds up until she makes it to 3t clothes which at this rate feels like will never happen.

18 month ladybug tops sold as a lot for $1.50.  I am fairly certain she will still be in 12 month clothes by the end of summer, but they didn't seem too large to sneak them in by August.

12 month summer romper for $1.

18 month pants for $1.

18 month dress for $1.  Even though it could be worn by itself as a summer dress, I think the colors are neutral enough that I could make it a jumper to transition to fall or possibly next spring.

This onesie is by Faded Glory, so normally I would have avoided it due to their low resale value which is something I try to consider when making purchases.  However, I was having a great deal of difficulty finding summer tops for her after several sales.  So, I gave into the cuteness and picked this up for $1. Paired with the right bottom, I may still be able to make my money back on this when I resell it despite the brand. 

12 month dress for $2.  I am sure she'll wear this for Memorial Day or Fourth of July and hopefully, I will get tons of cute holiday pictures out of it.

I couldn't resist this watermelon dress and matching diaper cover for $1.50.

These shorts were all sold individually for either .50 cents or $1.  I was desperate to find some khaki or jean shorts to easily match her summer tops and onesies.

4 pair of 2t rubber pants for $1.  I was saddened to discover these will be way too big for her tiny hiny.  I am really struggling to find potty training supplies in sizes small enough for her.  

Melissa and Doug magnetic letters and numbers $2

$1 for this soft potty seat.  Can you tell I'm trying to gear up for potty training?

$2 for these Robeez.  These are a brand, I am willing to pay a bit more for in general since I do prefer having her in soft soled shoes, and they have great ratings.

18 month rubber pants for $1.  I know they seem like boy colors, but I am not that worried about it since finding any sizes below 2t is rare, and I suspect few people will be looking at what is on her bottom.

$2 for these sandals due to my ladybug obsession.

$1.50 for this Dr. Seuss book which is more than I'd like to pay but not a title I've seen at sales thus far.

$2 for this set of Beginner Books.

$1 for the Berenstein Bears book which is a classic I remember from my childhood.

I paid $1 for the monkey backpack toddler leash.  I have stated several times I am a huge advocate of babywearing, so this purchase may be surprising and perhaps even more so if I told you this was the first item I went looking for.  Well, as much as babywearing is convenient, there are some times where I want to let her get down ie folk music festivals, kid friendly events, amusement parks, and parks where I worry about potentially losing her in a crowd since she's a runner.  We tested it at a recent visit to the hospital just to get her used to it.  She really liked wearing it perhaps because she was in love with the monkey or because she's seen us with bags on.  For us, this is only for certain occasions and hopefully a short term solution as we work on her not trying to run off.  

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

Root Vegetable Hash with Amy's Kitchen Veggie Sausages

Meatless Monday

I almost never post a recipe with a specific product in the ingredients.  However, up until these links, I hadn't come across a particular faux sausage link that I particularly cared for.  While I like Amy's Kitchen products in general, I had never tried their Veggie Sausages just because of my aversion to faux sausage links I cared as well as breakfast being the meal I least worried about getting additional protein since I often have yogurt or eggs.  Target was recently resetting their grocery department and eliminating tons of products to make room for new products.  I was quite sad over this reset since they no longer carry some of my favorite products including the Amy's Kitchen Veggie Meatballs.  While I was stocking up on the Veggie Meatballs, I decided to try their Veggie Sausages since they were also being discontinued at Target.  After trying the Veggie Sausages, I was pleasantly surprised that they tasted almost exactly like the Veggie Meatballs I already liked with a nice smoky flavor and lots of fennel seeds.

I immediately know, I needed to come up with a hearty recipe to compliment the robust flavor of these tasty links instead of relegating to just being an accompaniment to eggs and toast.  With this year's late frosts, we have yet to get into much local spring or summer produce.  However, root vegetables are still in abundance.  Since I like the combination of sweet and smoky, I thought a slightly nontraditional hash might be the perfect vehicle for these links.  I decided to use a red pepper and yellow pepper continuing the red pepper already in the links but also to pump up the color.

I chose to boil the potatoes and turnips first to ensure that they were fully cooked and would have a crisp exterior for the hash.  This is a great trick whenever making hash or homefries to not only make your saute time quicker but also ensure a nice crisp exterior to your potatoes.

So, here's the recipe:

3 white potatoes
3 turnips
1 sweet potato
2 carrots
2 parsnips
1 package Amy's Veggie Sausage
1 yellow pepper
1 red pepper
1 tbs minced garlic
1 tsp garlic seasoning
olive oil
salt and pepper to taste

1. Dice the white potatoes and turnips into 1 to 2 inch cubes.

2. Boil the potato and turnips until soft.

3. Dice the remaining veggies into 1/2 to 1 inch cubes.

4. Cook the veggie sausage in a pan according to the package instructions.

5. Saute the peppers, garlic, and spices with olive oil until the peppers are soft.

6.  Saute the root vegetables with olive oil until the potatoes are nice and crisp on the outside.

7. Cut up the sausages into 1 inch segments.

8. Combine all the ingredients in a pan and cook until combined usually less than 3-5 minutes.

Serve the hash by itself or as I prefer it topped with an over easy egg.  I love the contrast of the creamy yolk over the hash.  I prefer to accompany this hash with sauteed greens.

This post was in no way sponsored by Amy's Kitchen.