Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Around the House: What's in the Garden

Our yard is a work in progress. A couple of years ago it looked like this.
Over time we've turned the yard into a full garden adding flowers, plants, and shrubs to fill things out.   It has required a lot of time, work, and patience, but has been well worth the effort. We see it as our little way of brightening up our home and city. So without further ado, here's what's going on...

This year we added a few peony plants and orange lilies. The pop of orange really makes me happy and the scent of the peonies is wonderful. It's too bad our peonies were not in bloom very long :-( But I have a special project I'll share with you later that involves our spent blooms.

We have a huge sycamore tree in the front yard so most of our garden is covered in shade. This makes hostas a nice option. They are an attractive low maintenance ground cover. They spread vigorously and can easily be divided, so it's often easy to score a few for free. You can get them free from a neighbor, through plant exchanges, via Craigslist free section, and FREECYCLE. Several people were kind enough to give us free hostas. We have many in the yard that will fill out in years to come, and once they do we'll be able to return the favor and offer our extras to someone else.

We also added another shade plant, astilbe. We have them in two colors dark and light pink. Most of them are small now, but in a few years they'll spread out and cover more ground. They work well if you need to plant around a tree base.

Interspersed throughout the yard we have a few purple hydrangeas. They do well in part shade and are one of my favorite cut flowers. It's nice to pick plantings that you'll enjoy bringing inside, so you won't be tempted to purchase bouquets during the spring and summer.

There are several blue mistflowers planted. I like them because they add interest through height and have a pretty lavender flower that blooms later in the summer.

Tucked in a shady corner are some bleeding hearts. They are pretty small now. I'm looking forward to watching their growth.

You may have noticed we still have a few leaves on the ground. We opted to use them as natural mulch, instead of purchasing mulch. It saves us money, simplifies things, and uses what we've got. So far I'm happy with the decision.

There are a few more flowers, but to be honest I'm pooped and will have to blog about them some other time. So tell me what's going on in your garden?

"Life's a garden--dig it."~unknown

Monday, June 6, 2016

On the Market: 5811 Bellona Ave., Baltimore, MD 21212

A beautifully renovated victorian was just dramatically slashed in price the other day. It's a nice deal at $249,900. It would make a lovely family home, as it has lots of historic character and modern amenities like central A/C and two full baths. An added bonus is the large master bedroom that features a walk-in closet with laundry room attached. It's also located in a new elementary charter school district undergoing positive transformation, with a new school building in the works.  Have a look around the place.

Learn more about the listing HERE.

Saturday, June 4, 2016

Weekend Reading & Free Alert

Berkeley bungalow house tour. HERE
Don't upgrade you life. HERE

Free yoga classes will be offered every Wednesday from 5:30-6:30pm June thru September at the Druid Hill Farmer's Market. Get more info HERE.

A free gardening class will be offered Sunday June 12 from 2-4pm at Reservoir Hill's Whitlock Community Farm.  Learn more HERE.

Have a fabulous weekend!

Thursday, June 2, 2016

What I Learned in April and May

Photo: Deer passing through water in Baltimore's Mt. Washington neighborhood

1) It's important to save for a rainy day. One day out of the blue the hubs learned the company he worked for was going out of business. One of the firms executives had been mismanaging company funds and poof just like that 100 people were out of a job. People with new babies, pregnant wives, new mortgages, and other financial commitments were left to fend for themselves, us included. It was a sad event as of course no one wants to lose their job, or watch their colleagues/friends go into a financial crisis. We were fortunate in that we have been vigilant in maintaining a healthy rainy day fund. Not everyone makes enough money to cover reasonable living expenses and save a significant portion of their income. Getting laid off provided an important reminder about the importance of saving when you have the ability to do so.

2) Our household wastes a lot of food. With the hubs getting laid off we are careful about every penny we spend, which means finding areas where we are currently wasting money. The biggest area for us thus far is overspending on food. This is largely due to food waste. Americans on average WASTE AROUND A THIRD of their food supply, and we are no different. I had no idea how much food we were throwing away every week. Once I started paying attention it was truly astounding, and we will be working hard to reduce our waste dramatically.

3) How to get rid of mold. We had a mishap with our shower that resulted in some flooding in our bathroom, which lead to a small problem with mold. Luckily a quick Google search was able to turn up was to get up the mold naturally and cheap. You can learn how using baking soda or vinegar HERE.

What did you learn this month? You can learn more about what others learned at CHATTING AT THE SKY.

"The beautiful thing about learning is no one can take it away from you." ~B.B. King

Wednesday, June 1, 2016

Around the World: Senegal (Part2)

It's taken me forever to finally get around to uploading more pictures from our trip to Senegal but here they are. Senegal is a beautiful country with many interesting things to do, especially if you're an adventure seeker. I highlighted a few places to visit in an earlier POST. A couple of other destinations I'd add to that list are the BANDIA WILDLIFE RESERVE, which is absolutely amazing, and the downtown Dakar clothing market. Take a look at both below. The hubs was kind enough to make a short video of the clothing market for everyone :-)

"Life is short and the world is wide." ~unknown

Sunday, May 29, 2016

Weekend Reading

Happy early Memorial Day! I hope you all are having a lovely extended weekend. I will use part of the weekend to catch up on some reading. Here are a few things I hope to read, in case you're interested.

10 Facts you might not know about Memorial Day. HERE
125 Recipes to help fight food waste. HERE
Tips for keeping it real and engaging in meaningful conversation. HERE
How technology is rewiring our brains, and why we sometimes need to unplug. HERE
Stop pretending you're perfect. HERE

Sunday, May 22, 2016

Taking a Moment to be Thankful

How often do you pause and take a moment to be thankful? I'll admit I don't do this often enough. Sometimes I let my life get overrun with seemingly important things, that at the end of the day are not all that important. I find myself busy, too busy in fact to step back and be thankful. Luckily for me, I always seem to realize the error in my ways, and come back to a place of gratitude.

The other day I was taking a stroll with my daughter and stumbled upon the scene pictured above. It made me thankful. Thankful that I live in a nice neighborhood that's relatively safe with beautiful gardens. In Baltimore, there are many people living in neighborhoods that look like this

And here I was walking around my neighborhood so many times, not remembering to thankful for my surroundings.

Later in the day I began to notice other things to be thankful for. It was amazing how one moment of gratitude could become contagious and begin to illuminate all the other things I had to be grateful for, that often go unnoticed. Do you take out time to be thankful? What have you been thankful for lately? Please share.

"It is only with gratitude that life becomes rich." ~Deitrich Bonheiffer

Friday, May 13, 2016

Community Announcement: Lake Walker Plant Exchange

Photo: House in Baltimore's Lake Walker neighborhood

Hi neighbors! This Sunday at 10am Deb Pickett will be hosting the Lake Walker plant exchange. All are welcome to come, even if you don't have plants. I hope to see you there.

Wednesday, May 11, 2016

Around the World: Dakar, Senegal (Part 1)

Hello, from the other side of the Atlantic Ocean! Our family was fortunate enough to be able to take a trip to Senegal. I'm always taking virtual vacations via Youtube and blogs so I thought I'd return the favor and take you on a trip to Senegal. Here are a few things I recommend doing while visiting.

1) Village des Arts.  Dakar the capital city of Senegal has an AMAZING arts scene. The fact that the society values artists is immediately apparent as you see beautiful public displays of art everywhere. I could not get enough of the hand painted public buses found riding around town. Local artisans from the Village des Arts paint the buses and work with local children to make mini toy buses. The colorful creations offer an instant pick-me-up if you are having a bad day. In addition to painters the village houses sculptors who create breathtaking installations using scrap materials. Their ingenuity will blow you away.

2) Try the Local Cuisine. Sengalese food is delicious, in fact, I'm missing it already :-( As a coastal country they eat lots of fish, especially thioff (pronounced choff). The hubs and I could not get enough of it, and had it many times. Our favorite fish dish was poisson yassa. It comes with a wonderful onion sauce that is finger lickin' good.

They also have very tasty beverages. Be sure to have a cup of bissap, gingembre, and the local coffee (you will be seriously wishing this was on the menu at Starbucks).

3) Ngor Beach and Island. Senegal is blessed with tons of natural beauty. You can see spectacular views while on their beaches. I highly recommend visiting Ngor Beach.

 Baby Z had a ball playing in the sand.

After spending time at the beach you can hop a 5 minute boat ride to Ngor Island. This is where you can get a tour, talk with local artisans, watch the sunset, and learn about the celebrities who inhabit the small island.

 Throughout the island you'll see lovely mosaics made with recycled glass by local children.

 There's also a nice hotel filled with local art for purchase.

Before leaving the island be sure to stop by and see this man, he offers the finest meal in Senegal, and right on the beach no less.

4) Goree Island. Goree Island is a world site that has lots of historical significance, as it was the largest slave trading post on the west coast of Africa.

The hubs inside of a cell where slaves where held as a form of punishment.

A look out into what's known as the "point of no return", because it was the last place where many slaves saw their family members before being packed into ships to head to various countries.

Baby Z inspecting the point of no return.

5) Lake Retba (aka Pink Lake). We headed out to rural Senegal to visit what is known as the Pink Lake. The atmosphere is beautiful and really something to see.

We made friends with a precious little girl named Umi.

Baby Z was unfortunately ready to unfriend little Umi after dad held our new friend for too long :-(

Dad and Baby Z were brave and rode a camel. I chickened out at the last minute and got down after mounting :-(

Baby Z shopping for jewelry with a local artisan.

Workers do the hard and dangerous job of extracting salt from the lake. This works causes severe skin problems, but many of the workers do it anyways in order to feed their families.

The boats used by fisherman are super cool, just like the buses in the city. In Senegalese culture, fishermen buy a boat to honor their wife. I told the hubs I loved this idea, and he should immediately start boat shopping for me. He agreed to take me to Toys "R"Us when we got back to the States :-(

Well that's all for now. I'll share a second post with more details about Senegal when I get a chance. I hope you enjoyed.

"Oh, the places you'll go." ~Dr. Seuss