Grow Your Own Garlic

Pintrest is one of my new favorite things, full of handy information and tons of ideas. One that I’ve tried recently is growing my own garlic from a store bought clove! You would be surprised how many plants you can grow from produce that you buy anyway. Fruit trees, garlic, green onions, pineapple and lots more!

Last week I decided I would try starting garlic because I had a bit more than I needed and wanted to see if this would really work. One clove grows an entire bulb of garlic! For best results choose the largest cloves on the bulb for planting. This will result in the largest bulbs growing. Pull of the cloves off the bulb without peeling. Some sources suggest keeping your cloves in the refrigerator for a couple of weeks before planting to improve the probability of it sprouting. I used this method so I can’t speak to the success of planting without chilling first.

After the cloves have been prepared by chilling for a few weeks, plant in the soil with the pointy end up (root side down). Within about a week you should see some shoots coming up from the soil.

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Growing time varies based on the temperature it is grown in growing in a cooler temperature takes longer. You will be able to tell that it is ready for harvest wham the bottom leaves start to turn brown.

I am planning to stagger planting a couple bulbs per month in indoor pots to provide me with continuous fresh garlic and a wider harvest window. If you plan to cute and store your garlic you need to pay closer attention to the plant to ensure you don’t harvest too soon resulting in small bulbs or too late giving you loose bulbs that don’t store well.

I will be sure to post an update when I’m ready to harvest.

Happy growing!

Mmm…Apple Cider

One of my favorite things about the fall is apple cider! I usually try to buy it at the framer’s market when I can since I’ve switched from the instant powdered mix that is chock full of sugar, but it can be pretty expensive when you’re buying real apple cider. So when I was on Pintrest a recipe for apple cider caught my eye and I was surprised at how simple it is to make! All it takes is a few apples, cinnamon, sugar and water. The recipe said to boil everything together for several hours, but I didn’t want to have to monitor the boiling pot for that long so I decided to use my Crock–Pot instead!

So here’s what I did:
Cut about 5 apples in quarters and place them in the Crock–Pot
Fill the remaining space in the Crock–Pot with water
Add cinnamon and sugar (I substituted coconut sugar), to taste
Cook for 6-8 hours in Crock–Pot
Once cooked, strain into a container using cheesecloth or a micro strainer (I used two 1 liter canning jars to seal in the freshness)

I’m really pleased with how it turned out! It tastes great, I know exactly what is in it, and I’m able to substitute coconut sugar as a healthier alternative to white sugar. And an added bonus is that it makes your house smell amazing! I will definitely be making this again!

I’ve Been a Busy Bee

Well, once again Labour Day has come and gone and another summer is over along with my inadvertant hiatus.  Summertime seems to  just slip away with cottage weekends, weddings, showers and enjoying the beautiful weather well into the evening. I hope you all got to enjoy some fresh air, exercise and time with family over the last couple of months!

With my blogging return I bring you big news!

After planning  my bestfriend’s bridal shower and having a ton of people telling me I should be an event planner, I’ve gone and done the next best thing…I’ve partnered up with my bff and we’ve openned our own shop, Lily & Ellie, on Etsy! Etsy is a website where you can buy and sell all things handmade, vintage and supply materials.

We will have a big focus on weddings and other events, but we also refinish and repurpose a wide variety of household decor items and sell vintage treasures! From picture frames to custom headboards, hair accessories to garter belts you never know what we’ll be up to next. So check out our shop, I’m sure you’ll find something you will love! And keep an eye out for handmade hair accessories and masquerade masks just in time for halloween coming soon!

Here are a few items from our shop to whet your appetite:

     

   

   

I have always loved crafting and being able to make something from virtually nothing and now I can combine this love with my passion for the environment by giving life to old wornout or boring items with a little creativity.

If you’d like to see more, check out our shop here. And if you would like to inquire about having something custom made contact us at lilyandellieshop@gmail.com!

Popeye and Olive Oil Salad

This is a tasty summer salad that is so flavourful it barely needs dressing! Substituting mango for the mandarin slices is also a delicious alternative.

Ingredients
Salad:
1 1/2 cups chopped baby spinach
1 1/2 cups chopped romaine lettuce
3 slices prosciutto, chopped
1/2 cup mandarin orange slices
1/3 cup sliced strawberries
2 tablespoons diced red onion

Dressing:
1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/2 clove garlic, minced
1/8 teaspoon black pepper

Directions
Mix the salad ingredients in a bowl. Mix the dressing in another bowl and pour over the salad. Toss to coat.

Makes 1 serving

Must Mulch

Last year when I started my garden, I had read that I “should” do a lot of different things to help my garden have higher yields, but it was hard to determine what would really have a significant impact.  I pretty much just started with the basics last year and I didn’t mulch.  Big mistake.  Because my garden isn’t in my own backyard it can be difficult to find the time to water it everyday, which is my first challenge.  Second, for some reason my garden plot seems to sprout weeds much more quickly than I ever anticipated. Last year was particularly bad because it was never tilled before the beginning of the season due to the unseasonably wet spring.

So this year I learned my from struggles last season and decided to invest in a $7 bag of mulch to save me many hours of weeding and keep my plants from struggling to grow because the soil gets dehydrated on warm days so quickly. Thus far, it has been the best $7 I’ve spent on my garden yet! I took a picture a couple of weeks ago after a few days away from the garden and the impact is obvious.  The first row to the left of the pink line is barely distinguishable because of all the weeds that have cropped up.  Luckily this row is potatoes so they are a bit more hearty than a pepper or tomato plant and won’t wilt as quickly. I swear, I didn’t touch the other rows prior to the picture and they have significantly less weeds and are never as dry.  Not only does it keep the moisture in the ground better, but there aren’t weeds all around soaking up the water and nutrients that are there!

While I’ve got that figured out now, I’m still looking for a good natural fertilizer, so if anyone has any suggestions please let me know! Sometimes I wish I could just use Miracle Grow and have big plants like many of the other plots, but growing organic produce is 75% of the reason why I have a garden in the first place so I’ll just have to manage my garden envy in the mean time.

Happy growing everyone!

Coconut Craze

When I was at the Green Living Show in April this year, I stopped at the Cocovie booth to check out their coconut sugar. I’ve been hearing lots about coconut water, which is has lots of vitamins, can aid in digestion, can boost metabolism and contains natural electrolytes, but I hadn’t seen coconut sugar before.

Coconut sugar, derived from the flowers of the coconut tree, is a sustainable natural sweetener that shows promising results for people who suffer from chronic illnesses or conditions such as diabetes, gallstones, cancer, heart disease and obesity. This sugar also has a low glycemic index, with a score of 35, so it’s diabetic and diet friendly!

Low glycemic index foods can help balance and control health conditions such as diabetes, high cholesterol and obesity. Eating low glycemic may also protect your body against cardiovascular disease and hypoglycemia. In a study published in the “American Journal of Clinical Nutrition,” researchers from the University of Sydney in Australia showed that eating a low glycemic index diet reduced the risk of chronic diseases such as Type 2 diabetes, gallbladder disease, coronary heart disease and breast cancer.

Coconut sugar is also a nutrient powerhouse, filled with lots of vitamins, minerals and amino acids. It contains calcium, magnesium, potassium, zinc, iron, copper, manganese, phosphorus and boron. Minerals are necessary for many body functions, such as muscle and bone growth, cell production, mental development and immune system and enzyme regulation. Because the body cannot produce minerals, it is imperative that you find them through food sources.  This sugar is also especially high in the amino acids glutamic acid, which makes glutamine, threonine, aspartic acid and serine. Glutamine is very important for metabolic function and can also be effective for healing of wounds and injuries, building up the immune system, treating inflammatory bowel syndrome, helping with HIV/AIDS patients and possibly aid in the treatment of cancer.

In addition to the health benefits, coconut sugar is minimally processed, unbleached and contains no preservatives. It has a taste and texture similar to brown sugar and can be substituted 1:1 for refined white sugar in coffee, baking, and other desserts! This is a really simple way to reduce your sugar and calorie intake while still enjoying your coffee and other foods sweetened to your liking using a natural product.

Cocovie has a number of other unique consumable coconut products including flour vinegar and jam. They even make laundry soap! I definitely suggest giving them a try; click for locations.

Just Call Me the Tin Man

So last night was my first yoga class in about a month and I am definitely a little rusty!  I took some time off because I was having a lot of back pain and my chiropractor suggested that I avoid hyper-extending my back for a while until we got the situation at least partially corrected.

Unfortunately, while my back was getting better, the rest of me was not.  I found myself getting more moody with every week that passed and that my shoulders and hips in particular were getting quite tense! I was bound and determined to get back to yoga last night, and I made it!

I knew I wouldn’t be able to do all the things I could before and certainly not to the same level as before I took my break, but I was shocked at the stiffness and inflexibility that had crept back into my body while I was away from my practice!  Women often carry stress in their hips and I’m no exception! There is a lot going on in my life lately I and could definitely feel the physical symptoms.  About half-way through the class I noticed that my hip flexors were actually quivering uncontrollably! Both compression and stretching were having this effect because I’ve been sitting around stressing all month!

My shoulders and neck actually felt much better after class, but I’m feeling it today!  The sad part is that it was just a restorative class! I’m glad I had enough sense to get started back into it slowly and not have ridiculous expectations that I would be at the same place as when I stopped. In some ways it is just like getting back on a bike.  You know the poses, the sequence, proper form, etc., but for me it was more like getting back on a bike that you’ve left outside in the rain and is now covered in rust!

So here’s what I learned:

  1. Always listen to your body
    • If you need to take a break from your exercise routine to let your body heal, do it.  Trying to “push through” usually just ends up in injury that forces you to take even more time off or quit all together.
    • When you return to your yoga practice, or any other activity, after a break be nice to yourself!   Your body will be out of practice and probably out of shape, so listen to what it’s telling you.  If you feel pain, back off. If you are out of breath or can’t talk without gasping, slow down and take it at a pace that your body can handle.
  2. Don’t expect that you’ll be at the same level as when you left. 
    • You will just be disappointed and discouraged if you set expectations that are too high or unattainable.  It’s good to have goals, but be reasonable.  Give your body time to get back to the level you were at before.
    • As always, remember that each class is different.  The demands in the class may change, but mostly the way your body feels will change day-to-day, even when you’re practicing regularly.  Maybe you didn’t sleep or eat well, maybe you have a lot on your mind, whatever the cause understand that you need to listen to your body and don’t be discouraged or judge yourself when it’s not up to the task sometimes.
  3.  Don’t delay!
    • I knew I would be sore when I started yoga again so I procrastinated getting back into it.  I just didn’t want to deal with the discomfort of muscle pain afterwards, but I realized that every week that went by and I did nothing was just going to make it worse!
    • Have you ever regretted going to yoga or exercising?  I doubt it! You may be kicking yourself later because of some muscle pain, but you always feel better and feel like you’ve accomplished something having gone.
    • Most importantly, we only have so much time in our lives and being fit and having less stress both extends that time and makes it more enjoyable!  When you’re in shape you have more energy, less pain and you can make the most of life!
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