Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Growing Houseplants from Food

It’s relatively easy to grow houseplants from food using the seeds, pits and parts of fruits and vegetables that you would normally throw away.  It takes more time and patience than buying a plant at the store, but I think it's a good trade off.  I'm taking my Grandma's favorite saying to heart -  'Use it up, wear it out, make it do new, do without'.
If you have kids (whether or not you’re homeschooling) you can make this a family project and use it to teach them the concept of life cycles, simple plant biology and much more.  A quick search online will yield multiple ideas and helpful materials. 
I’d really recommend also planting some seeds that are quick to grow so that the kids (and you) won’t get bored while waiting the month or so it can take the seeds I’ve listed below.  While they’re not houseplants, lettuce seeds sprout within days, as do lentils and mung beans (which I’ll discuss at the end of this post).  The bonus with these is that they take up little space and can go from pot to plate, which will provide valuable lessons in where our food comes from.  That extra nutrition won’t hurt you or your wallet either!
When you’re finished making and enjoying that luscious guacamole, don’t toss the avocado pit!  Rinse the pit to get rid of any pulp and grab a small glass or small mason jar and 2 or 3 toothpicks.  Insert the toothpicks, at an angle, into the sides of the pit.  You’ll want the flat part facing down.  The toothpicks will help to hold the top half of the pit out of the water. 
Fill the glass or jar with enough water to cover the bottom half of the pit.  This should be put in a dark place (cabinet, garage, etc) for 2-4 weeks and the water should be checked regularly. I usually change the water every couple of days and never let the water level fall below the pit.
The pit will split in half as it begins to root.  This will be followed by a small shoot.  Once the shoot is about an inch and a half long, you can place it in a pot of soil.  Keep the shoot just above the soil and, because you want to help acclimate it to the outdoors, you’ll need to cover it for the first few days to protect it from direct sun. 
Sweet potato
Sweet potato vines make beautiful, leafy houseplants. Simply cut off a few inches from the pointed end of the potato and plant it, cut side down, in a pot of soil. Keep it watered and you'll have a vine within a few weeks. You can also start it the same way as you would an avocado - placing the potato end in water. 

A word of caution: These vines are poisonous once they've sprouted, so please keep them out of reach of children. The containers can always be moved into reaching distance for watering and then put back out of reach.

Pineapples are a type of bromeliad and can make wonderful houseplants (don’t expect to grow fruit though!) and are fairly easy to start.  Use fresh pineapple to make a smoothie or to broil on the barbeque, but don’t toss the pineapple top! 
When cutting, keep about an inch of the fruit (attached to the leaves) and let this dry for a few days. You’ll need to bury the fruit portion in potting soil and then water.  Water often because the soil needs to stay wet.  Rooting will take about two weeks.  You may not be successful at first, but a way to check is to see if the central leaf is growing.  If it is, then roots are taking.  If not, you’ll have to toss it and try again.
Keep the plant in a sunny window and it should do well!

There are two different methods of rooting mango pits, both of which I’m in the process of trying (sorry, no pictures yet!).
The first method involves planting the pit, including the fibers it will be covered with, in potting soil and then watering.Easy, peasy.
The second method requires removing the husk (with fibers).Be sure not to cut or damage the seeds inside.The seeds will be shaped a bit like a lima bean.Lightly push the seed into a container of potting soil.It can take anywhere from a few days to a few weeks to sprout.

 Mung beans and lentils
Sprouted mung beans are most often used in stirfrys and other oriental dishes.  Sprouted lentils are more often used in salads and sandwiches.  Both contain a lot of nutrition and add a bit of crunch to foods. The following links will take you to information and simple instructions for mung beans and lentils

Shared for Catch As Catch Can at My Repurposed Life

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Inspiration in Your Inbox

Below are six websites that offer inspirational and/or self-empowerment messages that are sent directly to your email address.
I love getting these messages because they help to center me, to remind me that the world is wider than my own doorstep and that I am not alone in my challenges and struggles.  They lift me up and gift me with positives to bolster my heart, reframe my day and re-create my thoughts.  They are a way to nurture myself, to exercise my mind, to open my heart and to feed my soul.  Inspiration sent directly to me, in the privacy of my inbox.  What could be simpler?

Life can be so very hectic and busy.Our commitments and connections, no matter how well appreciated and loved, can leave little time for ourselves. But we ARE worth the time.
Whether you’ve spent the morning trying to keep up with a couple of toddlers, are winding down after a day at the office, are weary after caring for an elderly parent, are living another day with chronic pain or health issues, or are simply feeling tired and discouraged, receiving positive messages in your inbox can provide a breath of encouragement and a spark of joy.  And we can all benefit from that.
Check them out.  Visit the links.  See if one or more calls to you or feels right for you. 

The Brave Girls Club - click on 'Daily Emails' near the top of the page. Messages are sent most days, Monday through Friday.
  • A Little Birdie Told Me, for adult Brave Girls. You can find a sample message here
  • A Little Butterfly Told Me, especially for all of the young Brave Girls of the world.  Just for girls and teens, messages include fun printables.  Read a sample message here
Notes From the Universe - Little reminders of your power, life's magic and how much you're loved, the Notes  are brief passages written by "The Universe" and personalized for you.

Self Help for People Who Wouldn't Be Caught Dead Doing Self Help - from author and artist Karen Salmansohn.  She offers easy to absorb insights using playful analogies, humor and some wonderful graphics, and has free printables as well.  Look on the right hand side of the page to sign up!   A recent sample can be found here

The Daily Om -  Sent each weekday, these are inspirational thoughts to lighten your day and nurture your body, mind and spirity. You can also sign up for a daily music email.

The Divine Whisper - Written by Rev. Anne Presuel, these messages help you to stop, breathe and to really know that you are Divinely loved, guided, protected and provided for.  They are sent every other day.

If you know of other websites that offer positive, uplifting messages via email, feel free to share the links and a little bit of information about them in the comment section.

Shared on Check Me Out Saturday at I Am Only One Woman

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Frugal Decor - Getting Creative With Windows and Frames

I love repurposing things, and have found that vintage frames and windows are the perfect foundation for some unique decor. The four projects that I'm sharing here have been my favorites!

Whether, like me, you’re living with a drastically altered (and lowered) income or you simply enjoy saving money in creative ways, these are just a few ideas for using vintage and garage sale finds to decorate and enhance your home space without spending a lot of money or time.

~Salvage an old window with a wooden frame.  Hang on your wall as is, or sand and repaint to match your décor.  If it doesn’t have glass, place small nails on the back above the window openings and hang small items (hearts, ornaments, miniature wreaths, etc.) for display. 
Found in an antique store on the Oregon coast, and painted with acrylics, this window hangs in my daughter's diningroom
 ~ Use a frame to make an earring holder.  Cut a piece of netting or lace slightly larger than the inside of the frame.  Tack or staple the fabric to the back of the frame.  I used a vintage frame found in my grandparent’s garage.  This has been in storage since my move a year ago, so it’s looking a little bit neglected!

~ Convert a frame into a bulletin board. Cut corkboard or a piece of foam core board to fit the opening. Cut the fabric of your choice (medium weight fabrics work best) the size of the cork board, plus two inches larger on all four sides. Center the fabric, right side up, over the board then flip the board over. Adhere the two inches of excess fabric to the back of the foam core board, pulling to tighten as needed, A hot glue gun works great for this. Attach the fabric covered board to the back of the frame with flat tacks, strong glue or nails.

The one that I made for my office (above) used a vintage white frame salvaged from my Grandparent’s storage and a scrap from a colorful hand-embroidered wall hanging from India (I first posted this project on my Creative Artitudes blog several months ago)

~ Experiment with altered art and create something unique!  I bought this frame on the Oregon Coast too – for another $10.00.  I decoupaged the frame with heavy tissue paper, added the letters to the top and embellishments to the left side and bottom.  I created five separate collages, using some 2 and 3D embellishments.  I then mounted each one to a square of heavy, clear plastic and centered each behind its own pane of glass.  Four of the panes were decorated with embellishments on the front; one with glass paint and crystals as well. I'll be able to add additional panels later, or remove and replace already existing ones. 
My Inspiration Window - the final project for my ARTbundance coaching certification class 
I hope you find some inspiration of your own in this post!
This post is part of 
Get Your Craft On Tuesday at Today's Creative Blog
Share Wednesdays at the Trendy Treehouse 
Whatever You Want Wednesday at Free Pretty Things For You 
Rustic, Recycled & Shabby Chic Ongoing Link Up at Rustic Crafts & Chic Decor
Shared for Show and Tell Saturday at Be Different Act Normal
Shared on Show Off Your Stuff Party at Fireflies and Jellybeans

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Making the Best of Less

Can you make the best of less? Absolutely! It just takes some imagination and a willingness to see things just a bit differently.

A year ago, a month in advance of the time when I knew that my income would plummet to nothing, my adult kids, grandson and I all packed up and moved across state to an area where rents and utilities were much lower. An acquaintance of mine called me an 'economic refugee', lol.

From a three bedroom house with family room, garage and a large backyard, my son and I moved to a two bedroom apartment with four closets and a very small patio. My daughter and grandson moved into their own apartment, which I'm so happy to say, is directly below mine. I love it! I still get to see both of them every day!

Yes, I had to pare things down – a LOT. The month before we moved was full of giveaways, selling things on Craigslist and weekly donation pickups by Vietnam Veterans of America. It was a lesson in learning to let go. One of the things that I kept is this dining room table and it now graces my new apartment.
I can just hear the gasps! I can hear some of you thinking “Oh my! It’s SO ugly” or “How can she have that in her place?!” And, I’d have to agree with you on the ugly part, lol.

When I was first given the table years ago, it was already battered. I refinished and painted it and used it for a few years when my kids were young, and I loved it! Then it went into storage. The table top has numerous deep scratches acquired during one of my earlier moves, but I still kept it.

I gave my daughter my newer dining set and kept this one. Why? I can’t afford to refinish it right now. But, it’s strong, solid wood! It has two leaves that can be added when I have company – or when I need space for a project (especially cutting patterns out for sewing!) and then reduced again to a size that makes sense in my apartment. It’s already battered, so if I decide to create something or do some collage or art journaling and a bit of something attaches to its surface…well, it won’t be a tragedy or cause a flicker of irritation.

If you can see the decorative marker or little splatters of paint on its surface, those creative additions were supplied by my grandson (okay, and maybe a bit by me too!) who loves to visit and ‘make art’. He can paint, color and create to his heart’s content and not worry about making his Ahmmie upset!

And all it takes to transform my table is a tablecloth (and hoping no one peeks underneath)! If you hear of an ‘ugliest table’ contest though, let me know! And if you have a décor or furniture disaster that you’re keeping around, please do share.

Thursday, May 3, 2012

Celebrate With a Salsa Garden!

It’s Cinco de Mayo tomorrow, and while my blended and extended family will be celebrating with a gathering and plenty of delicious, homemade Mexican food, I thought I’d post about plants (and a recipe!) instead of the typical celebratory things.  Not just any plants, but the garden bounty that’s used in salsa!

A salsa garden is perfect for small spaces and for container gardening too.  Tomato, peppers, and cilantro are typical salsa ingredients and all do well in containers and small, sunny spaces.  Making salsa at home isn’t difficult either.  It’s inexpensive and using home grown, chemical free produce adds  the bonuses of extra taste AND helping to keep your body free of toxins.

If gardening in containers, you’ll need a larger container for the tomato plants, but peppers and cilantro can both be grown in smaller containers.   ’m using a 20“ container for tomatoes and chives and, for peppers and herbs, large coffee cans with holes punched into the bottom for drainage. 

A few years ago, I recycled two large, round plastic tubs that had stored toys and used them for planting tomatoes and herbs.  I simply drilled holes in the bottom for drainage and put empty aluminum cans (turned upside down) in the bottom to lessen the weight from the soil and to economize on the amount of soil I needed to buy.

If money is an issue, then growing plants from seed is definitely a frugal move.  It’s late in the season for starting seeds indoors, but you can also do the planting outdoors at the beginning of the growing season. To find out when that is for your area, check here

For healthy tomato plants, it’s important to water regularly, without over watering. Tomatoes don’t like waterlogged roots but, when growing in containers, it’s also important not to let the soil dry out beyond the first inch at the top.  Mulching will help with that, as well as discourage some garden pests.  I use dry grass cuttings or leaves, along with dried coffee grounds, making sure that the mulch doesn’t touch the plant stems.

You can save money on fertilizers as well, and keep your plants chemical free.  Crushed eggshells added to the soil or placed on top of the soil around your plants will give them much needed calcium, while coffee grounds will provide nitrogen.  I use this combination most often for tomato and pepper plants.  Used coffee grounds can also be used as a mulch, or diluted in water as a gentle fertilizer.

If you're not a coffee drinker, or have a larger garden, try stopping by the local Starbucks or other coffee shop and ask if they will let you have used coffee grounds.  Starbucks will let you have the grounds for free and local shops may do the same. 

I love to garden, but finances necessitated a move from a house to an apartment a year ago.  Although my patio is really small, I’ve been determined to have a container garden of some kind.  I’ve gotten a good start this year, planting seeds indoors for tomatoes, chives, three different types of lettuce, parsley, basil and one type of squash.  The last frost date here is in mid-May and we have a short growing season in the high desert of Eastern Oregon, so an early start indoors is a must!

I was hoping to include some photos of my patio, but we’re having a huge thunder, lightning and hail storm today so I haven't put the plants outdoors.  I do have a simple salsa recipe for you though!

The recipe

2 lg. ripe tomatoes, cut in half
4 jalapeños, seeded and minced
1 medium white onion, minced
2 cloves of garlic, minced
18 cilantro sprigs, minced
1 tsp. salt
2 tsp. freshly squeezed lime juice
Preheat a pan on a stove with 1 tbs olive oil.  Add tomato, jalapenos, onion and garlic then roast the mixture well.  Pour the mix into a blender with a very small amount of water and mix on the lowest setting until you have a thick, pulpy (not liquid) salsa.

Add the cilantro and salt to taste, then the lime juice and stir by hand.  You can serve as soon as it’s cooled a bit or store in the refrigerator until needed.  An extra day or two even improves the salsa, giving the flavors time to blend.

Tip:  I don’t like cilantro so I’ll typically leave it out and add chopped chives for taste and color instead.  You can also control the ‘heat’ by leaving out some of the jalapeno – or adding extra.


Shared on Show Off Your Stuff Party at Fireflies and Jellybeans

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Come Join Me!

Welcome to my second blog!!  I’ve been blessed to both give and receive inspiration in my daily life and in my online social networking and felt called to start The Bottomless Heart as a way of sharing with you.

I am always looking for ways to enrich my life and my days and this blog is my invitation to you journey with me as I learn how to live a better, more abundant life in a world that is constantly challenging and changing me!

This is a blog encouraging quality of life, no matter the circumstances you find yourself in.  From the practical to the more ephemeral, you’ll be able to find ideas for stretching your dollars, feeding body and soul, nurturing yourself, finding strength and resources to move ahead and encourage creativity of ALL kinds.

It is also a blog about living with crises – from financial hardship, to emotional challenges, to chronic illness and disabilities.  It is about thinking ‘outside the box”; finding ways to transform and heal our life experiences in ways that can reconnect us with our bottomless hearts.

The things I hope to write about will include
Saving $
Food & nutrition
Feeding your soul and finding inspiration
Creativity for both yourself and your family/children
Finding resources in your community
Navigating the systems that can help – or hinder - you
Alternate incomes
Advocacy and volunteering
Support networks
Roadmaps & Inspiration boards

Eventually, I hope to bring you guest posts from people who will add even more inspiration to our lives and I'll occasionally offer free printables on various topics.  If you have something that you'd like to see covered here, let me know and I'll see what I can do.  I will always be open to your input and ideas!

It’s going to be a wonderful journey!  I hope that you’ll share it with me.