Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Let It Snow (In My Garden)!

Lavender sustaining itself through last year's snow.

It is still snowing a bit here, just a few scattered flurries to top of the inches already on the ground, and that's just fine by me. For the cold climate garden, snow really does have its benefits. We'll ignore the horror of collapsed greenhouses or blacked out cold frames for now, mainly because I don't have either (heh!), and concentrate on the good points. 'Kay?

As I see it, snow has two wonderful upsides. The first of these is its insulating properties. Snow isn't just a poetic, metaphorical blanket. It really does provide protection to the soil. While I do typically mulch my beds, snow is always welcome added insurance that the roots of my trees, shrubs, and other perennials will not freeze. Without snow, all that cold seeps right into the ground. Soil can freeze to amazing depths and cause plenty of damage to both flora and fauna, but just a couple of inches of snow cover is usually enough to prevent the most significant and damaging soil freezes. A couple inches of snow can also be especially beneficial to small compost piles, acting as an added layer to aid in the continuation of the thermal process happening within.

The second benefit to snow cover is the added moisture. This can be both a blessing and a curse, depending on just how much snow you get and the annual precipitation of your area overall. In my garden, it's best if the snowfall takes place in the earlier months of winter, specifically November, December, January, and early February. This provides more time for the inches and inches of moisture provided by the powdery white stuff to incorporate itself into the soil. Yes, we still have wet, mushy springtimes, but they generally don't last quite as long as they do when our snowfall happens after early February. This earlier moisture absorption allows me to work the soil just a bit earlier. When the snow comes in March and April, as it did last year, it can be as late as June before the soil is really workable. No fun at all.

In the compost pile, it's always important to control moisture. By the end of summer, my compost pile is usually getting pretty dry, so I'm eager for the snow to compensate later on. I deal with the possibility of a waterlogged pile by building all of mine with rounded tops, allowing the moisture the run down the sides. If topped off in the autumn with a "brown" layer (I prefer shredded paper), that will suck up the moisture that your pile needs. The rest of the melted snow will soak into the bottom layer of compost and the soil around it. If you don't build rounded piles, you'll need to ensure proper drainage in your setup so that the excess moisture from inches and inches of snow doesn't soak your pile.

Honestly, I can't imagine a winter without snow. Even if it wasn't beneficial to my garden, and that argument can certainly be made, there's just something magical and oh so gorgeous about it. For me, snow makes winter complete.

Frugal Babywearing: How to Carry a Baby in a Bed Sheet

(Video from Magic City Slingers Blog)

Babywearing may be all the rage now, but it's hardly new and really, truly does not have to be expensive. A simple bedsheet will do in a pinch, as the video above shows you. It'll take some practice, but nothing more than the Moby Wrap or the Ultimate Baby-Wrap Carrier requires.

The "carrier" featured in the video does not require any sewing, but if you'd like to get a little more tailored with your bedsheet:

Sling Article and How-To
Karma Baby's Sling Pattern

And if you've already got mini-mamas at home, like me:

A DIY Child's Pouch Sling @ Chasing Cheerios

Oh how I'm looking forward to the days of having a baby snuggled against my chest... *sigh*

Sunday, January 18, 2009

First Menu Plan Monday

One of my goals for last year was to begin planning our menus to cut down on grocery costs, junk food purchases, and pantry nonsense overload. It's really transformed our grocery bill, and I love the stress relief that comes from not having to hunt for something to make each meal. This year, I thought it might be fun to participate in I'm an Organizing Junkie's weekly Menu Plan Monday event. Not only might I pick up a few new, yummy recipes or menu planning tips, but I hope to pick up a few new friends too!

So, welcome to everyone that is visiting from the Organizing Junkie's blog. Please feel free to comment! I can't wait to see your menus.

Just a note on my menu method: I will include breakfast and dinner items, but not lunch. We generally eat leftovers for lunch, so there's no need for me to plan for it. If there are no leftovers (happening a little too often with this pregnant mama around *ahem*), we have either harboiled eggs with whatever fruit/veggies are available or peanut butter sandwiches with aforementioned fruit/veggies.

Monday: Breakfast-- Cheesy Scrambled Eggs on Buttered Toast
Cinnamon Applesauce
Dinner-- Cheese Manicotti and Romaine Salad

Tuesday: Breakfast-- Banana Pancakes with Peanut Butter
Dinner-- The Husband's Choice

Wednesday: Breakfast-- Baked Oatmeal
Dinner-- Tortellini in Broth with Escarole

Thursday: Breakfast-- Cheesy Scrambled Eggs on Buttered Toast
Cinnamon Applesauce
Dinner-- Pork and Green Bean Stir-Fry with Rice

Friday: Breakfast-- Chunky Monkey Oatmeal
Dinner-- Roasted Chicken Breasts with Carrots and Onions

Saturday: Breakfast-- Apple Cinnamon Muffins
Dinner-- Chili and Romaine Salad

Sunday: Breakfast-- Baked Oatmeal
Dinner-- Homemade Pizza