Jill S. McIntyre

Life isn't about finding yourself. It's about creating your self.

Tag: Gardening

7 Easy Grow Veggies for Kids

It’s that time of year when winter gradually turns to spring, and the seed catalog find their way  to your mailbox. Now is the time to also involve your children in planning this year’s garden. Start your summer garden by choosing the seeds you will be planting.  My daughter enjoys looking through the colorful pages of the seed catalogs–oohing and ahh-ing over beautiful green peas and rainbow colored flowers.  Gardening with your children is so much fun! Kids learn not only where their food comes from but also care taking and patience. Plus, research shows that children are more likely to try a new vegetable if they have grown it themselves. Teaching your child a lifelong skill of growing her own food is a very valuable lesson indeed. Having grown vegetables and flowers with my oldest daughter as she grew has instilled a love of growing her own food, and now as a young adult she has her own container garden. My youngest daughter is also well on her way to becoming a master gardener as well at the ripe old age of 4.  One of the things I found that  parents can do to foster a love of gardening is to chose vegetables that are easy to grow and do not require anything beyond watering and weeding.

Here is a list of 7 easy to grow vegetables for your family’s garden:

Radishes
Crisp and a little spicy, radishes are a very hardy, cool season vegetable. Radishes need a lot of sun so be sure to plant them where they will not be shaded. Many varieties will germinate within 3-7 days and can be harvested in about 3 to 4 weeks after planting making them very easy to grow. Be sure to pick them when they are ready as the texture of the radish deteriorates after maturity if not. Bonus: The leaves/greens are edible too!

Spinach
Popeye was definitely on to this super food. Spinach is also a very hardy, cool season crop. Spinach needs about 6 weeks of cool spring weather from germination to harvest. Full of essential vitamins and minerals, spinach can be eaten raw or cooked. Encourage your child to try easy to grow spinach right out of the garden.

 Cherry Tomatoes
There is nothing in the world like a garden tomato! Although technically a fruit, cherry tomatoes are sweet and juicy and easy for small fingers to pick. Many people opt for tomato starts rather than planting tomatoes by seed. Children will learn transplanting from one container to the next or the garden. Provide full sun and lots of water and your plant will yield a bounty of tasty little tomatoes in late summer.

 Carrots
Eh, what’s up doc! Carrots are a must have for gardening with children. Not only do carrot varieties come in orange but also white, yellow, red, and purple! Carrots although easy to grow take up to 70-80 days to mature. This is where teaching your child gardening patience comes into play. Try planting carrot tape to ensure proper spacing and no need for thinning.

 Peas
Yes please, pass the peas! Peas have been documented as one of the oldest cultivated vegetables in the world! Coming in many varieties from snow peas to sugar snap peas, your child will enjoy planting this tasty treat. Soil temperature is the deciding factor on how quickly your peas will reach maturity. Raised beds warm faster than the ground so peas planted in a raised bed will make this easy to grow vegetable germinate faster. Teach your child about seed saving by saving a few shelled peas: air dry the peas and save them in a sealed envelope in a cool dark place until next summer.

Zucchini
The almighty zucchini! A very prolific producer of summer squash, this easy to grow, warm season vegetable is also technically a fruit. Most zucchini varieties take about 60 days to maturity. To help stave off over abundance of zucchini fruits, harvest a few flowers from each plant. The edible flower of the zucchini plant is a fun delicacy to share with your child. Do not let zucchini get overly large or the texture becomes pithy inside the squash. Zucchini fruits can grow up to an inch a day so chose one with your child to measure each day until it is ready to harvest.

Pumpkins

Have the most sincere pumpkin patch on the block, and plant easy to grow sugar pumpkins with your child! Sugar pumpkins reach maturity after about 110 days when they are orange and 6-8 inches in diameter. Roasted pumpkins can be used in everything from pies to soup. Seeds can also be roasted and enjoyed as a healthy snack.

12 Easy Ways to Restore Balance

worklifebalance

 

I am a dyed-in-the-wool Libra.  Though I don’t always bank on my horoscope, one thing is certain: I constantly seek the balance of those archetypal  Libran Scales.   Like most of us, the more things I have going on in my life, the less I feel in balance.  Whether you are a stay at home mom or the CEO of a Fortune 500, you have a multitude of work-related responsibilities along side your life commitments.    Leaving your work at work can be difficult, especially if you work from home in any capacity.  Recent research on work/life balance by Brandman University shows exactly how challenging escaping work can be.

 

BY THE NUMBERS

Here are some of their findings:

  • 30% of employees feel burn-out
  • 27% report being emotionally drained from work
  • 42% of those surveyed feel fed up by the end of their work day
  • 81% of U.S. employees check work emails outside of work
  • 50% say work interferes with life responsibilities 2 or 3 times each week
  • 55% check work email inboxes after 11 p.m.
  • 40% of women have delayed having children because of work/careers

Can you identify with this?  I sure can!

TAKING SELF-INVENTORY

A helpful tool I came across while conducting my fact-finding expedition for this article and upcoming workshop I am giving on Work/Life balance is Mallika Chopra’s “My Balance Wheel”.  Taking an honest look at yourself, rate each area using the scale provided.  This will give you an idea on which areas of your life need improving the balance in your life.

balancewheel1

12 TIPS ON RESTORING BALANCE

While some stressors will come and go, others will stay.  However, the more balance we can find in our lives, these stressors will be more manageable. Try applying these tips to your life to achieve that equilibrium you seek.

  1. Have a designated tech-free time each day or each week. In this day and age, it is harder than ever to be tech-free or screen-free. Work this in during times you already notice yourself stepping away from your laptop or cell phone.   I will admit it.  This one has been challenging for me.
  2. Be organized, and learn time management skills. Really?  Yes!  I would always get so annoyed at my husband for telling me to write things down in our shared planner.  However, after missing an event and being late to my youngest daughter’s well baby check-up, I realize that this simple task is so important.  One of my busiest times of my life was when I was seeking a second degree, running my cleaning service, and getting my oldest daughter through high school.  Without proper time management, I could have never done it.  Important note: Include commuting times when you jot down your appointments and child’s activities.
  3. Exercise on a regular basis.  I used to struggle with this one.  I would buy workout videos, and do really good for awhile.  But, then I would just get bored.  When two of my closest friends got into powerlifting, I thought I would try more than just 5 lb. hand weights.  This didn’t last long either.  I realized I wasn’t as passionate about it as they were.  Then, two years ago, I stepped out of my comfort zone and attended a group fitness class by myself. This was a pretty big deal because in the past I would “need” someone to go with me.  This class was like no other I have ever taken!  Oula is really “dance mania for the soul” like their advertising claims!  I am a regular Oulakin both at my gym (I kept that membership after I decided not to give powerlifting any more thought) and at the new Oula Studio here in Bozeman.  I love it so much that I plan on taking the instructor training when my baby gets a little older. I finally found the exercise routine that I am passionate about, and that’s a wonderful feeling!
  4. Nurture relationships, and commit to plans with friends and family.  All relationships need work to stay healthy and alive.  Pencil in time with your family and friends if need be.  Most importantly, stick to those plans.  And, do keep your phone out of sight unless you need it.  When my oldest daughter pointed out I wasn’t fully engaged with her because of my cell and tablet use, I was heartbroken.  No Facebook post or silly text from your sister is more important than the people right in front of you, especially your children.
  5. Learn to say “NO!” Funny this should follow committing to plans.  You are allowed to say no to projects and events you have no interest in or are too busy to do.  True friends will understand your needs.  Just don’t say “NO!” so often you are no longer considered to be asked.  When I served on a social life committee at a local church, I didn’t voice my “NO!”, and subsequently got roped into doing the dishes after social hour. Every. Single. Time.  I got so frustrated that eventually I just quit the committee.   Had I voiced my frustration and felt like I could say “NO!” things would have probably turned out different.  Hindsight is 20/20.
  6. Don’t waste your vacation time! Life happens. Sometimes you do need to use vacation time when sick time is used up or for emergencies.  The idea here is to actually take a vacation or at least a stay-cation.  And definitely don’t be stuck on your phone checking work emails the whole time you are on your get-away.
  7. Get sleep.  This is way easier said than done.  Having an infant, myself, I know that I need to get rest and sleep whenever I can find it–even if it means going to bed at 8 p.m. when she does.  Many experts also say to stop hitting snooze and just get up because 9 more minutes of sleep between alarms won’t do much, or you may not even really sleep at all.   I say do what YOU need to do to get in a few extra winks here and there.  Life is so much easier to navigate if you feel well rested.
  8. Create a study area.  This quiet area with no distractions is helpful for the student and non-student alike.  Use it to further your education, as reading nook, or as a homework station for your children.  I should add that the terms “quiet area” and “distractions” are relative to each individual.  I like music when I study and am more distracted without a little background noise.
  9. Seek out companies with flexible schedule.  When I interviewed for my AmeriCorps VISTA position, I also interviewed my host site about the flexibility of the schedule.  Flexibility is important to me as an entrepreneur.  Since my host site is an entrepreneurial launchpad, my supervisor had no issue with my needs.
  10. Break your phone habit!  You know what I am talking about.  I do it too.   There are other ways to kill your boredom.  Also, remember, the phone is there for your convenience not the caller’s .
  11. Pursue a hobby. Hobbies?  I have several: Zentangle, journaling, gardening, collecting Pez dispensers.  Hobbies like refinishing furniture or embroidery could become income streams for the budding entrepreneur.
  12. Self care, self care, self care!  This one should be a no brainer.  Unfortunately, a lot of us give so much of ourselves to work, family, and friends that we often overlook our own needs.   From drinking enough water and eating healthy foods to a much needed soak in a hot bubble bath,  get in all self care you can!

Try these pointers to be a happier, balanced version of YOU!

 

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