The temps are finally starting to rise a little bit here in middle Tennessee and my brain is all like... "Get seeds in the ground, now!!!"... While playing in the dirt sounds like a great idea, you can't just go throwing stuff in the ground all willy-nilly.... Welll, I mean, you could, but you might end up with a hot mess on your hands and plants that have no room to grow and other random issues. (Don't ask me how I know this)
Since the "morning glory fiasco of 2015", I have put a lot more thought and planning into my gardening... especially the planning part. It is imperative you know how big a plant (or veggie) will get when fully grown vs how much space you have, as to not have a mammoth plant taking over your garden. (One seed probably would have been plenty)
*Prep Your Bed*
First things first; prepare your garden spot. Start by pulling any weeds that have grown up over the winter and amend your soil with any nutrients you may need to give your plants the best start possible. Different plants have different soil requirements, some prefer compact soil, some prefer loose, loamy soil. Some need a high PH, some a low ph. Try to group plants with others that have the same needs.
Inspect your soil. Over the winter, nasty garden pests might have made their way into your beds. Mine usually have tons of grubs, slugs, and roly-polies. I toss the grubs in the yard for the birds and leave the roly-polies and slugs. ("real gardeners" are cringing right now, I know, but I can't harm the slugs)
*Make a Plan*
Resist the urge to plant things just because they are pretty. I know, I know, it sucks, but having a successful garden requires a little bit of planning. There are lots of things to take into consideration... final height of plant, flowering time, soil needs and water and sun-light requirements. You can't plant a tall plant next to a small, squatty plant, because the tall one will block all the light of the small one... again, don't ask me how I know this.
*Start a Composting Area*
If you don't already have an area for composting, now is a great time to start one. You can use a bin specifically for composting or you could modify an old trash can. There are tons of tutorials on the internet for crafting one at home. When I started composting it was eye-opening to see how much stuff we throw away that could be put to good use. If you live in a rural or suburban area, be mindful of securing your compost, lest you become the "crazy raccoon lady" of the neighborhood.
*Start Those Seeds*
If you're starting your plants from seed you will need to plan this step way ahead of time, depending on the climate zone you live in. There are several different schools of thoughts on how is best to do this, but I like old school paper pots or using recycled egg cartons. (If you do this, make sure they are very clean)
If you're starting your plants from bulbs, you might want to wait another week or so. I know if feels nice out there, but don't trust it... we're not there just yet. (speaking of middle TN)
*Start a New Project*
Now is a great time to start a new project in the garden. A new raised bed, a new planting area or even a new water feature. A few years ago, Micah and I made a cute little raised bed together... I designed it, he helped nail it together. That bed has seen many beautiful flowers, and has held our magic lollipop garden and has been a source of many many amazing memories. Gardening is an amazing way to bond with your kids while imparting an important skill to them.
DISCLOSURE: A huge "thank you" to Campaign Monitor for supplying the infographic used in today's post.
If you're a blogger, you know you have to stay on top of all the new trends in marketing, because not only do you have to create interesting content, you also have to make sure people are reading it! Blogging as a business is a numbers game. You can create all the beautiful pictures of roast leg of (insert random foul or mammal here) you want, but if no one is reading it, you're pretty much out of luck if you want to monetize your blog.
There are lots of ways to get more readers if you're willing to put in a little effort in the marketing department. There is tons of info out there, free for the taking if you just do a little research... or let me do it for you. (wink wink) First, let's look at email marketing campaigns. This is a good way to get the most bang for your advertising buck! So, what makes for a winning email campaign? Several factors come into play... design, audience, length of the campaign, lots of stuff. Since I'm a writer, and not necessarily an email marketer, I leave that stuff up to the pros. Using a service like Campaign Monitor takes all the guesswork out of crafting a successful email marketing campaign. Here are a few interesting stats I gleaned from their site that show email marketing is NOT dead!
Experiencing the holidays as an adult does not feel the same as experiencing the holidays as a child. Remember when you were a kid and Christmas was still magical? When the biggest worry on your mind was if you could make it to the big day without busting at the seams with excitement. When gifts were thoughtful, not car-payment-expensive. When you stayed up as late as you could, just to see if you could catch a glimpse of "the big guy" leaving your goodies. Those were the days, huh? Well, they don't have to be in the past. You can create those same feelings today. That magic is not gone, you just need to find it.
In order to find your magic, you have to find what brings you joy, then, do it. Sounds easy enough, right? What makes you smile? What makes you feel like the kid you used to be? For some it might be spending time, laughing with their favorite people (or animals). For others, it might be their alone time they spend curled up with a fuzzy blanket and a good book. No matter what your joy is, find it and do it often. There is no right or wrong answer here.
Think back to when you were a child; the sights and sounds and smells of the holiday season enchanted you with their magic simply by existing. The shiny bows, the smell of evergreen in the air, the twinkling lights, the holiday tunes on the radio, the scent of freshly baked (or burnt) cookies, weaving their spell as they waft through the air... THAT is the magic!
All the extra stuff is so unnecessary. All the stress of buying and wrapping and visiting and baking and shopping and being on time and remembering and rushing and hurrying... and for what? To come to the end of the holiday season broke, out of energy (physically and emotionally), sad and disappointed with lots of regret and hurt feelings? Yeah, no thanks!
Life is hard enough, don't make it worse by setting unrealistic benchmarks you know you can never meet. If you have three kids and a two hundred dollar budget, each kid will not be getting the newest Game Station 360... or whatever the new thing is. And that's OK! There are zero confirmed instances of a child dying or suffering permanent damage because they did not get the newest, bestest, most shiniest whatever on the market. Do what you can with what you have and it will all be OK. Read that again. IT WILL ALL BE OK. It always is.
No one should have to go in debt to prove to their loved ones that they are loved. I promise you, your grandmother is not keeping a list of who gave what and how much it cost... but if your tail isn't in that chair for Christmas dinner, you can best believe she will remember that! Let your presence be your presents.
Most of the holiday stress we all complain about is self-imposed. Think about it. Other than being on time to parties and gatherings, there are NO RULES. No one says you even have to buy gifts. Maybe, instead of physical gifts, you give of your time. Give from your heart, not your wallet. I would bet my last dollar your girlfriend would appreciate your offer to sit with her kids while she got a few minutes of peace to herself wayyy more than that pumpkin spice candle you were about to give her.
The holidays do not have to suck the life right out of you. With a few ideas and a whole lot of letting-go of your preconceived notions about how the holidays are supposed to go, I can show you how the holidays can suck the life right back into you..... wait.... what the hell did I just say? Whatever. Work with me... Just do a few of these things I am going to list below, hold a door open for an old lady at the store, smile at a stranger (or two, but not for long, then it gets weird), pay off someone's fines at the library... go out and make the magic that you so want to believe in. It is all around you, everywhere, if you just look for it.
Here are a few ideas that you can implement starting today, right now, from the comfort of your own (insert place where you currently are here), and a few more that may require you to wear pants and leave the house.
DISCLAIMER: Thanks to Savings.com for sponsoring today's post.
What's better than getting a new HP laptop for Christmas.... getting a new HP laptop AND a huge discount! From now through December 29th with this amazing deal from Savings.com, you can score 25% off select HP Envy laptops (code VALPAK25) annnnd you also get a $50 rebate on any laptop $500 and up. (this offer IS stack-able) Oh, and did I mention (of course I didn't or else I wouldn't be mentioning it now), you also get FREE SHIPPING on any order over $899.
HP has been a silent member of our family for as long as I can remember. My oldest son's very first laptop was an HP. His grandparents bought it to use when he started high school which was more than 8 years ago, as he is now 24. We still have that old laptop and use it from time to time. Granted it is pretty slow by today's standards, but it came in really handy when the littlest became old enough to show an interest in technology. Maybe it's about time to upgrade, ya think?
This gorgeous HP Envy 17t laptop has amazing features and Micah tells me "It will run Fortnite" and that's all he needs to know, but for the more discerning customer, here are a few of the *real* specs...
DISCLAIMER: A huge "thank you" to Cost Plus World Market for sponsoring this post.
'Tis the season to go shopping fa-la-la-la-la-la-la-la... alright folks, lace up your sneakers, make your list, check it twice, it is time to do some shopping. With Halloween in the rear view, we can start talking about holiday shopping without getting glared at by all the "it's-too-soon scrooges".
To kick off the holiday shopping season, your local Cost Plus World Market store is excited to bring you this year's iteration of their super fun in-store game, the Golden Bell Scavenger Hunt. Playing is easy! Every day beginning today, November 1st through Sunday, December 9th your local Cost Plus World Market store will hide 8 Golden Bell pieces throughout the store, your job is to find them.... well, one of them anyway.
Each day at 8 a.m. cst I will share a clue on my Facebook and Instagram pages. Use the clue to help you find a Golden Bell piece and you could receive a reward. Find (1) Golden Bell piece and bring it to the nearest store associate to exchange for a reward coupon worth $10, $20, $25 or $50. (Reward is valid only on the day it is awarded) Limit (1) reward per person throughout the Promotion Period (11/1/18 - 12/9/18) regardless of store location(s) visited. EMPLOYEES and DESIGNATED SHOPPERS NOT ELIGIBLE.
So easy even a cat could play... but no worries, cats are ineligible for prizes. Keep reading below for today's clue as well as my top 10 picks from the new gold ornaments collection at Cost Plus World Market.
Without further adieu, here is your first clue...
While you're at your local Cost Plus World Market store, hunting for the golden bell, you might wanna scope out these golden beauties as well! Every year since I have been a CPWM ambassador, I visit my local Nashville West Cost Plus World Market store and buy each of my kids a new ornament for our tree. It's become a tradition they look forward to every year. I try to make the ornament something personal to each kid and their interests or hobbies or just something that reminds me of them. Here are a few I have my eye on this year...
For a list of rules and regulations, please see this page.
One of the best tips I give friends when they ask me about how to stick with the keto way of eating is: Always have something prepared for when you don't feel like cooking. It's no secret that keto involves a lot of cooking. Most everything I eat is "real food", nothing boxed or prepackaged, so it can get a bit tedious, that's why meal prepping is such a great idea.
I have seen several iterations of this recipe online but never tried it until now... why did I wait so long. These meatballs were amazeballs, but don't take my word for it, try them yourself. They're super easy to whip up and store well in the fridge.
All you need for this recipe is a pack of chicken thighs, an egg, a meat grinder, some seasonings and an oven. I used Montreal chicken seasoning and a little sriracha sauce, but you could use whatever you want.
DIRECTIONS: After grinding your chicken (or buy pre-ground), mix up the chicken, egg, and seasonings and scoop out rounded balls with a tablespoon onto a silpat lined cookie sheet. Bake at 350 for 18 minutes or until done (160 degrees) . The 2lb pack of chicken thighs I used made 18 tablespoon sized meatballs and you can find the nutrition info below.
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