June 16, 2017

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Cheers to Dad

There’s something special about watching my husband be a father; it makes me love him more. He teaches, he cares for and he loves—and to witness that is a beautiful thing.

 

 

In honor of Father’s Day, reader Rachel Lee shared a sweet photo of her husband cradling their newborn son for the first time.

 

 

“He's been a great partner to me for almost four years and he’s been the best dad for a year and a half,” Lee writes. “He always puts our son above everything else and any day they spend together is a great day!”

 

 

Check out how some of our readers enjoy spending their ideal Daddy and Me day.

 

The kids love when Daddy takes them down to the Fun Zone at the beach. Arcade games, ice cream cones and quality Daddy and kiddos time.”

—Christin A.

 

“The perfect Daddy and Me day would be taking the kids fishing.”

—Daniel B.

 

“Dad and son biking!”

—David M.

 

My son loves running errands and picnics in the park with daddy.”

—Joe J.

 

“Baseball games!”

‪Marcus B.

 

“Looking at birds together.”

‪Michael C.

 

“Going out to the park and throwing the football!”

‪Washington A.

 

“Working on projects as a family or fishing.”

‪Steve H.

 

“I like playing tennis and going for a bike ride with my dad.”

—‪Cathy B.

 

“My son and my husband like to look for frogs. They go to the parks and spend almost all day doing it.”

—‪Kelsey S.

 

“Anytime the whole family is together is a great day. The kids love their daddy, and I think he's pretty awesome, too!”

—‪Jeri E.

          

June 12, 2017

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A Tour for the Senses

Retailer Spotlight: Steeplebush Farms

 

If you’re trying to get a hold of Lauriejane Kelley, you won’t catch her by phone. You may even miss her at home. Where you will find her is in the garden at Steeplebush Farm Herbs.

 

Lauriejane is a purveyor of flowers and uncommon herbs used for healing and in the kitchen. She had been organic gardening for years when she left her subdivision and headed for farm life in Limington, Maine, in 1984. That same year she hurriedly cleaned up the 35-acre farm (with some help from her small flock of sheep), cleared out an outhouse and opened a nursery and gift shop.

 

They were humble beginnings, to say the least.

 

“I would pray someone would come up the driveway at least one to three times a week,” Lauriejane recalls.

 

Things have changed over the years. For example, the outhouse is gone. Instead, the farm boasts a two-story greenhouse and a new gift shop built by Lauriejane’s husband.

 

 

Every fall, on Veteran’s Day weekend, Steeplebush hosts a three-day open house as part of The Snowflake Trail, a progressive-style shopping experience featuring a dozen small businesses in the area. At Steeplebush the barn transforms into a fantastic retail space featuring wreaths, handwork and one-of-a-kind items made by Lauriejane and other artisans. In the greenhouse visitors may find quilters, woodcarvers, jewelry makers and basket weavers working on their designs and answering questions.

 

Before the shop closes in December there’s plenty to do. Lauriejane shows visitors how to spruce up their holidays with birdhouses made with all-natural gingerbread bases and decorated with birdseed and wheat roofs. Or, how to make a centerpiece with dried fruit, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks.

 

Downtime through May gives Lauriejane a break to focus on Steeplebush’s own line of lotions, liquid soaps, lip balm, teas and cooking oils. In fact, everything sold at Steeplebush is handmade. Lauriejane supports the local economy, evidenced by the items in her gift shop.

 

So when she came across LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls at a trade show two years ago, she was thrilled to discover they were made in Maine.

 

“I had been carrying wool dryer balls but they had no packaging; I had to package them myself,” Lauriejane says. “LooHoo’s packaging is exquisite—it explains what the product is. They are great quality and have a great sense of color.”

 

 

After the snow melts and spring arrives, the farm is aflutter with activity. Vibrant heliotrope and fragrant jasmine bloom. Sucker trees are trimmed. The raised beds are cleaned out.

 

These days Steeplebush attracts a steady stream of visitors. While some come for landscaping ideas or planting tips, Lauriejane also welcomes anyone who simply wants to meander through the property.

 

 

“I really want people to feel it is worth the trip to come out to the farm,” she says. “I love sharing with people and am always willing to answer questions.”

 

For more information about the shop and farm, visit steeplebush.com.

June 06, 2017

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Growing up on a Farm

 

Note: My two sisters and I were raised on a farm in North Buxton, Ontario. Our grandparents lived down the road, as did many of our uncles, aunts and cousins. Our one-story house had a huge yard surrounded by large barns and hundreds of acres of fields. We raised pigs and beef cattle and grew soybeans, wheat, hay and seed corn. My older sister, Jackie, remembers farm life most vividly. Here she shares some of her memories.

 

 

There were two words you would never say growing up on a farm: I’m bored.

 

Not only would you immediately be given something to do, but chances are it would be the most mundane, labor-intensive job possible. And there was no option. There was no “How much will you pay me?” You just did it.  

 

Luckily our father or grandfather would offer a small pittance to make the task more palatable, so there was some incentive. Picking up loose corncobs around the corncrib could net 25 cents a bushel, which was a lot of money when you’re 6 years old.

 

One entire summer I fed pigs and received $100, in $5 bills no less! I couldn’t believe my newfound wealth. I remember sitting on the living room floor and throwing all those bills in the air like confetti.  

 

 


 

 

Of course, I did what I would do now: I spent it on clothes.

 

When not in school, or eating or sleeping, I was outside. I would ride my bike for hours, hang out in the barns making friends with our cows and pigs and run through the pasture trying to catch flying grasshoppers. The corncrib became a huge slide – I’d climb inside and scale the collapsing pile of cobs and slide to the bottom where my dogs would be waiting for me.

 

 

As a young girl, I was alone a lot. Not only because of the age difference between my sisters and I, but also because of the distance we lived from other families. My companions were my two farm dogs, who accompanied me through the fields and nearby creek and shared a lopsided teepee I would build with scrap wood and an old blanket.

 

 

My playground was the haymow. Bales were sometimes stacked 20 feet high next to each other along with straw that had busted away from their twine. I spent hours in the mow, making forts and leaping off teetering bales into the loose straw. The scariest areas were the open sections to the barnyard below. One wrong jump and I would have landed in manure up to my neck!

 

At the end of the day, I’d be filthy with scratches all over my arms and legs and hair full of straw.

 

 

Farm life also put me years ahead of other children. I remember being on the riding mower for the first time at age 6, and running over a sapling Dad had just planted because I wasn’t strong enough to stand on the clutch to stop the mower. After hearing my screams, he quickly ran to help. He dried my tears and assured me that all was okay. Then he sent me down the next row as he returned to the barn.  

 

He believed in teaching by doing and never made a difference because I was a girl.

 

My arch nemesis was an ancient tractor they called “old faithful.” I believe it was from the 1930s – at least it seemed like it. The tractor had a cast iron seat and wooden knob on the steering wheel. At my age (under 10), I had to literally stand on the clutch with both feet to slow down and switch gears. It was the same tractor Dad had me drive up and down the fields, pulling a wagon of teen guys hired for the day to bale straw.  

 

Of course, I would let the clutch out too quickly, tossing everyone off the wagon or causing the stacked bales to fall. I would be in tears but Dad would come up, show me again how to ease the clutch and off I would go…until the next time.  

 

Repetitiveness and embarrassment certainly sped up the learning process.

 

 

I learned to drive the farm truck quite early, too. Starting at age 11 or 12, I often got off the school bus and headed to the fields to help with baling or raking – driving the tractor until it was too dark to continue or Mom called us for supper.

 

Oftentimes, I was sent to local farm dealerships for fertilizer or machinery parts if Mom and Dad were in the field and had broken down. So by the time I legally got my driver’s license, I had been driving for four years. That was the norm in a farming community.

 

 

In high school, extra-curricular activities were sometimes out of the question. Depending on the time of year, we were expected in the field and chores needed to be done. Animals had to be fed. I couldn’t get a ride to and from events if our parents were in the field. In fact, I don’t remember them ever coming to a track meet or a volleyball game.

 

Although there would be a twinge of resentment, it was understood that farming was our livelihood and involved the whole family. And besides, it was no different for my friends who were also working on their family farms.

 

Farming was hard, manual work. But we were surrounded by relatives who also farmed. We were doing it together. At harvest, those who were finished would help those who still needed help.  

 

 

With working hard came playing hard. I remember our parents hosting or going to house parties to celebrate the end of season in the fall and snowmobile parties in the winter.

 

It was a time of bittersweet memories that forever shaped my views and beliefs. I have long moved off of the family farm, however, my husband and I do live in the country. Our farmhouse is surrounded by acres of farmland, a constant reminder of the richness of farm life and growing up in this close-knit community.

 

May 19, 2017

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No Ordinary Shop

Retailer Spotlight: Farm + Table

Farm + Table in Maine helps create a heartfelt home with unique items created by American artisans and apprentices.

Maine welcomes millions of visitors a year. Many return home, dream of a life there one day.

 

Three years ago, Liz and Bruce Andrews built that life. They also built a house and a new business that same year.

 

For Liz, a longtime merchandiser, and Bruce, an options trader, retirement came soon enough. They said goodbye to Chicago’s brutal winters but just weren’t the type to idly sit back, watching this new phase in their lives uneventfully pass by.

 

 

They loved their New England life and wanted to contribute in some way. A red 1880s barn in town was available for rent and they decided to jump into the retail ring. In 2015, Farm + Table opened in Kennebunkport, less than two hours north of Boston near Cape Porpoise.

 

This is no ordinary shop; it’s a tour for the senses. Friendly staff is there to greet you upon entry, offering their latest sampling—lotions, jams, cocktail mixes, sweet and savory treats. Visitors don’t just see what they have for sale; they learn about them.

 

Sous Sweet caramels were discovered about seven years ago at a local farmer’s market and are the tastiest you’ll find, Bruce asserts.

 

“We sell thousands a year,” Bruce says.

 

A couple of years ago, Liz came across a wooden serving board made by a local artisan. She fell in love and bought it as a gift for Bruce. The owner walked into Farm + Table one day and an instant connection was formed.

 

Today, Steve Doe’s cutting and serving boards, made from 200-year-old reclaimed wood, are proudly on display and selling well.

 

Cashiers Condiment Shop jams and jellies from Appalachian Harvest have a strong following. Owners Kimberly and Kevin Baldwin are friends from South Carolina.

 

“We have personal relationships with each vendor, we consider them friends,” Bruce says. “We are proud to support their small businesses, help put their kids through school or help pay their electric bill.”

 

The welcoming setting showcases the warmth of a home and elements that help create one. Picture gifts tied in burlap, carved black walnut bowls and candles hand-poured in repurposed wine bottles perfectly placed on rustic wood tables.

 

“Items that celebrate entertaining and hospitality,” Bruce says.

 

Church bells ring in the distance and locals stop by regularly, sometimes just to say “hi.”

 

The shop is open nine months a year, April through December, giving the proprietors time to travel for a few weeks and look for the next season’s great finds.

 

Nearly everything at Farm + Table is American made, save for the linens, which are imported from Canada and Lithuania. At gift shows, Liz and Bruce bypass the busy vendors and seek out “the needle in the haystack,” Bruce says. That’s how they came across LooHoo Wool Dryer Balls.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

“We use them ourselves every day,” Bruce says. “In the shop, we tell everyone they are 100 percent Maine wool, reducing dry time and replace fabric softener. They sell themselves.”

 

May 12, 2017

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What's your favorite mom memory while growing up?

My favorite mom memory while growing up was watching her in the kitchen. It seems like she was always cooking or baking something delicious. I think that’s why I love to be in the kitchen—the gratification of making meals for my family.

 

 

I’m not alone. Many of our LooHoo readers fondly remember time in front of the stove with their mom. Still, others went hot air ballooning, feeding ducks and searching for meteors with their mom.

 

Both Diana H. and Amanda A. remember the great hugs their moms gave, while Caroline R. and Aimee P's mentioned how their moms would brush their hair when they were young. Kelly H's favorite memory is shopping for an outfit with her mom to wear on her first date.

 

From curling up in bed together after a bad day to camping vacations every summer, it seems time is the greatest gift a mother can give her children. Check out more treasured memories of moms across the country.

 

Culinary Delights

“I remember my very first corn dog with my mom. She took me to the roller skating rink and brought over corn dogs from the concession stand... it was amazing and I think of her every time I have one.”

- Heather H.

“She always made whatever we wanted for our birthday cakes.”

- Beth R.

“Baking Christmas cookies and decorating the tree. It's something we still do together.”

- Meredith M.

 

Homemade from the Heart

“My mom made a doll for me when I was a little girl. I loved it so much.”

- Mei L.

“My mom used to make my dresses for me when I was little. I'll never forget first grade and an A-line corduroy smock dress with a pencil embroidered down the front that I loved.”

- Margot C.

“One of my favorite memories was the Halloween where she whipped up two great costumes for my sister and I with old household items and clothes in one afternoon. We loved them!”

‪Tracey H.

 

Small Gestures

“My favorite mom memory was her putting notes in my lunch bags.”

‪Amberleah H.

“Bringing me blueberries still on the bushes so I could pick them off.”

‪Susan S.

 

Lending an Ear

“My mom always listened—always. She listened over dinner, over lunch, over household chores. She taught me I have a voice and it has worthy things to say.”

‪Joy S.

“Whenever any of her kids were having a bad day Mom would take us out for a pop to talk about it. I do that now with my kids.”

‪Melissa B.

“Sitting in the kitchen with her while she was making supper. We talked about anything and everything.”

‪Bernice M.

 

Music Connection

“I went to the Cher concert with my mom. Cher is our favorite performer.”

‪Janet A.

“Favorite memory with Mom was dancing in the living room to Michael Jackson’s Rock with You. All four of us kids and her.”

‪Vela C.

 

Valuable Lessons

“Teaching me how to cook when I was a kid so I could take care of my family.”

—Andrea W.

“Mom teaching us to swim. She was a lifeguard in the ’50s.”

‪Jennifer E.

 

May 09, 2017

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YAYA Organics: The Story of 3 Moms on a Mission

My mother, Alex, and I realized we could not ignore the tick problem anymore. It was spring 2014 and I (Rebecca) was hanging out at my mother’s house with my 9-month-old son, David. We were planning to get some fresh air outside when we paused.

 

 

 

Ticks were everywhere in our New Hampshire backyards and not going anywhere. In fact, they seemed to be getting worse every year. Our favorite spring activities like gardening and walking through the backwoods were becoming a real concern. David was crawling around and exploring and we had to be honest that we were very hesitant about him exploring outside on the grass, where deer ticks (the size of a grain of sand) were waiting.

 

I felt an intense responsibility as a mother to do something about it, and to avoid the toxic chemical repellents like DEET and permethrin. So it was only natural to make our own. We decided it had to fit these criteria: 1. Highly effective in repelling ticks. 2. 100% natural ingredients. 3. Smells good.

 

My mother and I carefully researched university studies, essential oil encyclopedias, online blogs and various resources to determine which essential oils repel ticks most effectively. Soon we were testing our repellents in our backyard that led to a fantastic formula with natural oils of cedar, peppermint, geranium and rosemary, to name a few. We felt liberated.

 

Friends and family performed more field testing for us, and before long we were sourcing bulk quantities, designing labels, bottling and selling our product to local garden centers, grocery stores and pet stores (it works for dogs, too!). Naturopathic doctors, chiropractors and alternative medical centers immediately saw the value in our product as well. The phone was ringing off the hook.

 

The reaction to Tick Ban was exciting and continues to be. YAYA Organics products are now available in several hundred stores throughout New England, and recently in select Whole Foods Markets. We also sell nationwide through Amazon.com and our e-commerce website www.yayaorganics.com.

It’s been a fun, challenging and rewarding journey. However, the real success is knowing that we’re making a difference in the lives of other health-conscious families who also value purity and peace of mind. We love meeting our customers face to face, especially other moms who really appreciate how liberating Tick Ban has been for their families (and dogs).

 

 ...

 

In 2015, Alex and Rebecca joined with partner Valeria and continue to carry forward their mission to create high-quality pure, nontoxic and truly effective products that are organic whenever possible.

 

“Val” is also a mother (of three girls) and fits right into the YAYA family. We now have a line of certified organic face oils called VIVA, which is like superfood for your skin to hydrate, beautify and nourish, and a line of powerful and pure natural deodorants, (aluminum-free) that deliver gym-tested results to the toughest critics. And don’t let me forget Tick Ban’s counterpart, Squito Ban, our all-natural mosquito and black fly repellent featuring clove, cedar and citronella that is worth its weight in gold around the campfire or a backyard gathering for dinner. All of our products are made in-house with strict quality control and the artisan touch of small batches.

 

 

Here at YAYA we are three passionate and conscientious mothers who want the best for our families so we only make products we would want to use every day. We have embraced the nontoxic and natural/organic lifestyle and decided to create products where we saw a real need in the marketplace.

 

“Working with YAYA Organics is rewarding,” says Alex, co-founder and grandmother (“Nana” to little David, and now Noah). “We all really enjoy what we’re doing and always strive to be better. At YAYA, there is a culture of honesty and transparency that is refreshing. Even when there’s obstacles, which there always will be, it helps us to reaffirm our mission and stay true to our values, as ethical businesswomen, and as moms who care.”

 

 

 

 

 

Visit our Facebook page from May 10 - May 12, 2017 to enter a giveaway for Yaya Organic Products plus LooHoos.

May 02, 2017

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Mother’s Day Gift Guide 2017

Check out these 10 gifts that any mom would love.

We love, love the handmade cards and handprint artwork. We can never have too many precious photos. Breakfast in bed? Always a plus.

 

 

But this year, how about something different?

 

Check out these creative gift ideas offered by hard-working mothers who deserve a little pampering and believe in supporting small businesses, the local economy and clean living.

 

Simply print, circle and hand to husband.

  1.     Spa Treatment. Buy local with a gift certificate from a small spa. There’s even licensed massage therapists who make house calls through apps like Zeel and Soothe.
  2.     Handmade Soap. From natural and organic food stores to farmer’s markets, locally made soap is infused with light, fresh scents like lavender. They’re perfect for sensitive skin.
  3.     Home Cooking. Are you ready to order? Challenge your family to prepare an all-organic meal.
  4.     Fruit Tree. If you’ve always wanted a particular fruit growing in your yard, now’s a great time to ask for one to be planted.
  5.     Lazy Susan. These condiment roundabouts are practical and cool. We especially love those fashioned out of wine barrels that can be personalized. Check out Etsy for loads of wood choices and designs.
  6.     Favorite Book. Find a book mom could really get into—and give her some quiet time to read it.
  7.     Creative Candle. This one we have to admit is a “borrowed” idea. Repurpose an old glass votive with a special photo of the kids or whole family. We especially like the effect of an image photocopied onto transparent contact paper or decoupaged right onto the glass.
  8.     Chocolate. Socially minded chocolate purveyors are a sweet choice, such as Chuao out of Southern California. A cooperative in Ghana provides the beans for Washington D.C.-based Divine Milk Chocolate bars.
  9.     Theatre Tickets. Support your local theatre, there’s lots of them coast to coast doing great work.
  10.  Skincare. We especially love mom-owned Osmia Organics’ body duo—start with the Himalayan body buff then smooth your skin with the rosemary mousse.

Moms’ Memories

LooHoo staff shares their favorite Mother’s Day with the ones they love.

“I love having a big breakfast at home lovingly prepared by Scott and Graham then going for a hike or having some outdoor time to spend in the yard. Planting flowers and veggies and herbs. Playing baseball and just having a quiet day at home together.”

—Cyndi Prince, LooHoo proprietress

 

“A cherished Mother's Day tradition in our home is going to our local greenhouse, Lausier Family Gardens, and picking out a perennial to plant—either a bush or flower. I have a yard that blooms every spring with a variety of flowers from tulips and daffodils to rhododendrons and azaleas, anything hearty that blooms in May on Peaks Island here in Maine. I love giving and receiving gifts that come back every year. Flowers are the perfect choice. I have made many bouquets to gift forward from our own plantings.”

—Heather Wasklewicz, marketing maven

 

 

“Family time—that’s all I ask for every year. No electronics, no errands, no laundry or cleaning. We sleep in, splash in the pool, play board games and, if we have time, we watch one of my favorite classics like “The Sound of Music. Meals are prepared by my husband and Emery and Nolan help with the clean up.”

—Cathy Risling, writer & editor extraordinaire

 

April 24, 2017

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New Retailers

We are excited to welcome our newest retailers to the LooHoo family. We encourage our friends and followers to shop and support our shared effort to make the world a better place.

 

 

 

Lucy’s Hardware

Intervale, NH

This TrueValue location has everything you need for home and garden. Services include glass cutting, screen repair, blade sharpening and paint matching. If you need power tools, heaters or cooking equipment, they rent these and more, too.

 

Nature’s Outpost

North Hampton, NH

Once you ready your garden for spring, you’ll want to accessorize. Check out this shop housed in a small cottage with a beautiful garden on the scenic coast of New Hampshire. Open seven days a week.

 

LRGH Auxiliary Gift Shop

Laconia, NH

If you’re visiting Lakes Region General Hospital, stop by the gift shop for some retail therapy. In addition to flowers, they carry accessories such as scarves and jewelry and items for the home.

 

Monica’s Scandinavian Imports

Caribou, ME

Bring home the flavor of Stockholm with a gift from Monica’s Scandinavian Imports appropriately situated on Sweden Street the last 50 years. Items are also from Denmark, Norway and Finland. In addition to the famed Dala wooden horses, shelves are lined with home décor items, clothing and clogs, blankets and jewelry.

 

Handle It!

Portland, ME

This Maine shop has thousands of knobs and pulls to accessorize any cabinet or drawer.  From modern organic shapes to traditional to whimsically colorful, there’s every color and finish you can imagine. Additional items include bath hardware, switch plates, address numbers and hooks.

 

Trillium

Biddeford, ME

Locals are raving about this shop that opened a couple of years ago on Main Street in Biddeford. Their unique items include jewelry, clothing, organic Maple syrup and original art.

 

Gracie’s Corner

Essex, CT

Cupcake soaps, Eliza B sandals and super-efficient Scrub Daddy sponges are among the wide variety of gifts in this shop. If you’re a pet lover, you’ll especially like the food, toys, doggie bowties, collar bells and more for your four-legged friends.

 

HiTide Gifts and Gourmet

Ogunquit, ME

Ogunquit is considered one of the best beaches in the county so if you’re visiting this southern coastal town, stop by HiTide Gifts and Gourmet located in a quaint shopping district. The shop has what you’ll need to enjoy the shore including umbrellas and beach chairs. There’s also gourmet popcorn and souvenirs.

 

Uncle Dean’s Good Groceries

Waterville, ME

This place has been selling natural and organic food for more than 35 years. Now under new ownership, it continues to also offer baked foods, canned and bottled goods, jewelry, gifts and locally raised farm beef.

 

Garden’s Galore

Woburn, MA

Set at the base of a large business building, Garden’s Galore is owned by a local Realtor and landscape designer. Linda Corapi Bolles lends her creative eye to juxtaposing décor items made by local artists. Treasures also include books, hand-blown glass, folk art puzzles and vintage treasures like vases and tableware.

 

Summer House Natural Soaps of Cape Cod

Hyannis, MA

Imagine the fragrance of summer hydrangea and orange buttermilk wafting into the air and you’re halfway to Summer House Natural Soaps. The lotions, salt scrubs, candles and yes, soaps, are all handmade on Cape Cod. They also have all-natural dog shampoo bars, lip balms, soap dishes, jewelry and home cleaning products.

 

My Secret Garden

Avon, CT

There’s quite a selection of unique items at My Secret Garden, voted Best Gift Shop last year, and prices are just right. One of the newer jewelry pieces is the Tempest in a Teapot Angel Bell silver necklace, a wonderful gesture for a special friend.

 

Allen Sterling & Lothrop

Falmouth, ME

Check out Maine’s oldest seed company, where you’ll find seeds (what else!) along with garden kits, nursery supplies and gardening tools. The gift shop also has beautiful and funky items for your favorite gardener.

 

Explore all of our LooHoo retailers here.

April 13, 2017

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Getting Garden Ready

Last autumn, my family visited a pumpkin farm. My son, Graham, couldn’t believe his eyes. Every row had pumpkins of varying sizes, tethered to a seemingly endless twisting vine.

 

 

He enjoyed the excursion so much that he, too, wanted to grow pumpkins. Not just for this year’s Halloween, mind you. Turns out my precious son has an entrepreneurial spirit.

 

 

Graham wants to sell his pumpkins.

 

Not to deter his enthusiasm, my husband has committed to helping Graham plant a pumpkin patch. I’m pitching in with the prep.

 

 

 

To get a garden ready for planting, whether it’s pumpkins or other vegetables, I’ve discovered a few valuable tips:

 

1. Select Location. While some plants like pumpkins prefer sun all day long, others do not. Conversely, not all areas of a yard get full sun. When choosing your garden location, be sure it provides the ideal sunlight to grow your plants.

 

2. Assemble Equipment. Necessary items include a hoe, rake, soil, hand shovel, watering can and gardening gloves. Clean tools with soap and water. Replace broken or rusted tools and sharpen any dull blades.

 

3. Prepare Soil. Perhaps the most important step, healthy soil is key to growing a bountiful garden. Remove weeds and leaves, break up clumps of soil and amend with new nutrient-rich soil and fertilizer high in nitrogen. Aerate then rake until surface is level.

 

4. Plan to Maintain. To keep soil healthy, mix in manure and compost whenever possible. Fertilizing every two to three weeks is also important (liquid variations can be added to water). Also, be sure to check the pH level with a soil tester readily available at gardening stores. The ideal level for pumpkins, for example, is 5.5 to 7.5. Water soil once a week, avoiding vines and leaves.

 

 

 

GARDEN TIP

Adding coffee grounds is a great way to keep insects and other critters out of your garden. Simply mix in your soil before planting.

April 03, 2017

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Spring Cleaning Rituals

As we begin to thaw out and look forward to spring, an annual ritual looms: spring cleaning.

 

In our home it’s a family affair. My husband focuses on outdoors while I get my hands dirty inside. It’s actually therapeutic in a way as we rid ourselves of the old and make room for what this new year brings.

 

 

 

Indoor Chores

My spring cleaning starts in the mudroom. With the snow and rain behind us, I wash and put away winter coats, snow pants, boots, hats and mittens.  

 

My young son often outgrows his clothing by the end of the season. So I compile a “giveaway” bag of clothes and boots we can pass on to other local families.  

 

Then I get scrubbing. I clean the mudroom from top to bottom. It’s surprising how dirty it gets during those winter months. To accompany the newly cleaned room, I invite in fresh air by opening all of the windows in the house (just in short spurts if it’s still cold outside). 

 

Next I head to our bedroom. I wash and put away our heavy down duvet and replace it with lighter bedding.  

 

To finish up, I remove window plastic (for those on the West Coast, that’s insulation film) and clean, dust and vacuum all of the rooms in the house.

 

Outdoor Chores

While I focus on the inside, my husband cleans, washes and fertilizes outside.

 

In anticipation of this season of renewal, he cleans the lawn mower and adds fresh gas and oil. He sharpens the blades and makes sure other lawn tools are also sharp and clean.

 

 

 

He rakes the grass and planters to get rid of debris and fertilizes bushes and shrubs. After a dormant winter, he gets out the hoses and turns on water faucets. He assesses outside projects to be done—painting the trim, touching up clapboards, replacing broken sprinkler heads.

 

Then he heads to the store. He buys fertilizer and fresh soil, gardening items and any supplies he’ll need for projects.

 

Since my son loves to ride his bike, my husband tunes it, wipes it down and replaces parts as needed.

 

As I clean the inside windows, my husband and his squeegee work their magic outside.

 

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