Parenting without Children | My Organic Garden

When turning the big two-three this year, I began thinking about what I’d like to accomplish in the year, and what I’d treat myself to on the big day. I settled on a little retail therapy. Rather than turning onto Santana Row, I pressed on to Orchard Supply and Hardware. I wanted a vegetable garden.

Plants

Who knew it was so easy to spend so much in a hardware store; both in time and cash. I enlisted a friend’s help in picking out the perfect plants for what would become a salsa garden. Tomatoes, inferno chilies, red, green and purple bell pepper, onion and some herbs made the cut. Oh, and the strawberries… can’t forget those. A few bags of potting soil, and another trip back for more pots and solar lights — the ‘garden’ was born.

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Naturally, I’d become enthralled with the idea of growing more, and more — which led to the purchase of seeds, more containers, tools, netting and an under-bed storage bin that would become my seedling greenhouse. We moved the original fence ‘deck’ garden to another part of the yard, complete with weed-block, and set forth planting a plethora of pumpkin, watermelon, carrot and sunflower seeds. Disclaimer, only plant what you need to, as I learned the hard way. Oops! Happy Mother’s Day Mom! Here’s some… plants. Happy Growing!

A couple weekends later, on another OSH visit — reward card in hand, I fell in love with a greenhouse. Yes, a full on greenhouse. 30 minutes later, Assembly had begun. By this point, the plants were growing at a rapid rate, despite the minor set-back of gnat larvae. Beneficial nematodes to the rescue! Most of the plants were graduating to larger containers. Corn, cucumber and padron pepper seeds were also planted in the greenhouse around this time.

Naturally, it only took a few short weeks, before the greenhouse looked like a scene out of Jurassic Park. How did my little salsa garden, over run a 6×8 foot greenhouse? It took a little convincing, but I was able to sweet talk the landlord into building a raised planter bed. Thanks again Dad! The sunflowers, pumpkin vines and half the watermelon and onions found their new digs to be a tad warm in the direct sunlight… and unfortunately only the pumpkins and sunflowers survived the transition.

Overgrown!

After researching the proper way to make the transition, the corn seedlings (which were now over 2 feet tall) and the cucumbers creeped their way into the bed. This gave the greenhouse plants a little more breathing room, and allowed green sprawl if you will. That leads us up to this point in just about three months. Everything is thriving, and has produced amazing fruit, or is well on track to do so.

Planter bed

This project has become an adopted child. When taking this endeavor on, I didn’t give too much thought to the attention it would entail. I thought I could throw some water at it from time to time, and reap the rewards at the end of the season. Although it’s taken a much larger portion of my time, blood, sweat and tears — I couldn’t be happier with my garden.

Gardening, to me, is all it’s cracked up to be. Sure it’ll leave dirt under your finger nails that’s surprisingly difficult to remove, your lower back on-fire and a swear jar full of change; but when cooking with your veggies, or eating your fresh berries off the vine — it’s all worth it. Not only is it physically rewarding, there’s something about digging, trimming and pulling that’s mentally rewarding. There’s been numerous occasions that my time with the plants have given me the opportunity to check-out from the tech-dependent world that consumes us, and gave me the zen and clarity to sort out my thoughts.

As this entry is beginning to look like a novella, I’ll wrap it up with the thought from David Hobson…

“I grow plants for many reasons: to please my eye or to please my soul, to challenge the elements or to challenge my patience, for novelty or for nostalgia, but mostly for the joy in seeing them grow.”

Until next time!

What are you thankful for this Sunday?

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Whether it’s a trip to the beach, a bike ride through the country, or a day by the pool — there’s plenty to be thankful for on this Summer Sunday.

I’m thankful that, while I may be at work, I’m surrounded by upbeat group of associates, happy members and the air conditioning! How about you?

Recipe | Crockpot Cheddar Cheese Chicken and Potatoes

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Being an Italian, carbs are the bottom portion of the food pyramid — the most important. I have a devotion to these weight-gain inducing minions, that is stronger than any religion. When cooking, the plate is two part starch, sliver of veggies and a serving of protein.

One meal that’s proven to be a staple in this house, is cheddar chicken and potatoes. It’s easy, tastes great and is loaded with cheesy goodness. I’m a finicky eater, especially when it comes to cheese — as my friends can attest, but this is one dish that I can eat endlessly. I’m certain you’ll feel the same, thus, I urge you to try it.

What you’ll need…

  • Boneless chicken breasts (1 per person)
  • A large can of Campbell’s Cream of Chicken Soup
  • A small can of Campbell’s Cheddar Cheese Soup
  • Two fresh garlic cloves, or garlic powder
  • Diced chiles and or jalepenos for a kick
  • Potatoes (1 per person)
  • Salt and pepper

Preparation…

  • Combine the cream of chicken and cheese soups in your crockpot
  • Add a can-full of water and mix well
  • Dice peppers and chilies, and add to the soup
  • Press garlic into soup
  • Add a dash of salt and black pepper to the mix
  • Wash and peel potatoes, slice thinly
  • Add potatoes and chicken to crockpot

Cook time…

  • Close lid, and set to low for approximately 6 hours
  • I usually stir it a bit around the 3 and 6 hour mark
  • When the chicken is completely white and breaks apart easily, it’s ready!
  • **Optional** At this time, you may want to take the potatoes from the crockpot, adding breadcrumbs to the top and broiling them in the oven for an Au Gratin style

The cheese makes a great dressing for the chicken and potatoes on the plate. I typically serve this with fresh biscuits and corn — maybe even a cheesecake for dessert if you’re not completely stuffed by this point.

Enjoy!

Transitions and Transformations

Transitions are pivotal moments in the lives of people, companies and brands. With the change of ‘Everything Me’ to ‘David S. Self’, my goal is to travel outside of my comfort zone, to explore, collect and share what’s on the other side.  In all things, there’s always room for improvement and I look forward to the challenge of exploring the realm of blogging, myself as an individual and also the world in which we live. I’d like to take this Summer, the season of transformations, to improve upon the foundation that I’ve created. I’m looking forward to what lies ahead, and hope you will enjoy, learn and laugh with me on this journey.

Comfort Zone

DIY | Berry Basket Calendar

Berry Basket Calendar

An addiction for Pinterest, combined with a passion for crafts, is similar to dropping Mentos into a Diet Coke bottle! Idea overload, spraying out like foam from eyes, ears and mouths. Like the old science experiment, Pinterest projects can get messy, but are often worth the clean up — this one included!

With my Sunday, I chose a project to complete off my pinboard, courtesy of Ashley at Design Sponge — and set to work. These calendars are a great way to keep track of life’s moments, big or small. With a simple line to jot down the day’s happenings, it’s nice for people like myself, that don’t always have the attention span to keep a journal. My Dad said it best, “It’s like a tweet for every day.” This statement sums it up well, albeit coming from the man who calls hashtags “pounds”…

What you’ll need…

What you'll need

  • A paper cutter, or a very steady hand that’s immune to cramping
  • A berry basket (I found 4 inch square, white ceramic baskets at Sur La Table on sale for $4 each)
  • 4×6 Index cards
  • An inkpad
  • A date stamper
  • Postcards (12)
  • Twine and a hole-punch if you’re gift-wrapping
  • Plenty of patience

The process…

  • Find a spot that will allow you to spread out, make a mess and shout an expletive or two
  • Begin stamping the dates onto your index cards (This is where the shouting comes in. Being a perfectionist, I found it a challenge to let the imperfections go with the stamping process. Ultimately, a few over stamps, or bolded dates makes it unique, and proves you hand stamped them all!) I used the black ink pad for every day, and red for Holidays, birthdays included!

Get to stampin'!

  • Once you’ve completed the stamping, you can trim down the index cards to 3 inches wide. Don’t let the basket fool you, 3 inches is the widest the baskets will allow. I tried 3 1/8th, which was still too big — only realizing after I had cut them all down. D’oh!
  • Now comes the less tedious part, the postcards! Take your collection of postcards, either vintage, old vacation destinations, or store bought and begin trimming them down to 3 inches by 4 1/4. The longer length allows the cards to act as dividers for each month. I found a collection of old style San Francisco post cards while on a day trip in Santa Cruz, and used these for this basket.

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  • After sizing the postcards, and choosing the order, place the postcards and index cards into the basket and voila!
  • If you’re choosing to wrap it in twine to give away, you may also want to keep a scrap piece of one of your postcards to use as a gift tag. This is where the hole-punch comes in handy.
  • After all is said, done, and cleaned up — begin logging!

Start journaling!

I’m very pleased with the final product, and can’t wait to look back in a few years, to see what I’d done in that time. These make great presents, and would be neat to give as a wedding present, with engagement photos of the couple as dividers. In the fast paced world in which we live — this is the perfect way to keep a record of the peak of your day, start a conversation, and reflect back in years time at all that you’ve accomplished. I can envision myself showing grandkids one day that back in 2013, I was still using a car to get to work!

Coming Soon!

I’ve got an exciting string of blogs coming your way!

A bit of flavor in some new recipes, flair in DIY projects, and frank honesty in a couple reviews! It’s easy to get caught up in the Silicon Valley, and lose track of time; but I’m going to do my best to get a new blog out to you each week.

Attached is a sneak peek of the blog that’s coming your way TOMORROW!

Until then!

Coming Soon!

Review | Jawbone UP 2.0

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I’d like to start off by mentioning, that I am not the athlete of the family, nor am I anywhere near being ‘in-shape’. People confuse my fast metabolism for me being able to keep up on a run… not so much these days. At any rate, I know that I have been making unhealthy decisions, and as my metabolism started to slow, my waist began to grow. I watched as the first UP was launched, and wiped a tear or two as it was pulled off of the shelves for minor design flaws. After about a year, it was relaunched — and I couldn’t wait to get my hands on one. I was gifted the UP; thanks for the subtle cue friend. It was instant love, and instant obsession. I’ll talk about a few key points, as well as my opinions in categories:

Design:

There’s no doubt, this band is handsome. It’s the Cinderella to the Nike Fuel Band’s chunky step sister. No offense Nike. There are major differences, yes, but we’ll get to the functionality in a bit. It’s narrower than the Fuel Band, it doesn’t feel as chunky, not to mention it doesn’t pinch your wrist when you put it on. There’s only two LED’s, unlike the Fuel Band, so there’s no instant feedback. Even without a screen or status bar, I appreciate the look of the UP way better. There’s a cap on one end of the band, branded of course — and a simple silver button on the other to toggle between modes.

Comfort:

As previously mentioned, the UP is thinner — this makes it more comfortable. I love the wrap aspect, but especially the fact it doesn’t clasp — this allows the band to move and stretch around with your action. It never feels that it’s cutting off circulation, flopping around or limiting your motion. It took about an hour or so for me to not realize it was there — major bonus, as I don’t normally wear something on my wrist.

Function:

LOVE the sleep function! Press the button before bed, see the moon appear and you’re off to dreamland. It’s interesting to see how long you slept, and even more in-depth as to how much deep sleep, light sleep as well as interruptions. I never realized how much I walk in a day, on average, just under four miles. One busy day at work, and running errands around town I clocked near seven. It counts calories consumed, calories burned in both resting and active states and graphs it all out! The free app is perfectly laid out, simple and informative. I haven’t been too great at logging food, but I’m getting there! HBP runs in the family, so it’s nice to be able to scan the wrappers of what I eat, and monitor the sodium content. After a couple of days, you’ll even get tips based on the content the UP collects.

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Syncing & Charging:

It’s as easy as Glade scented oil; plug it in, plug it in! There is no Bluetooth function YET, which is a little saddening, especially coming from the Jawbone brand. To sync the band, simply plug it in to your iPhone — and now Android. I was initially worried about the length of time it would take to sync; however, the process takes mere seconds. It comes with a USB charger, which I actually plug right into my iPhone charger block.

Conclusion:

I think it’s apparent that I love this thing! I sync it a few times a day to keep on track. I do have to warn you that if you pick one of these up, you’ll become OCD about checking it. You can also manually enter activity. It’s helped me make good choices, and get my butt off the couch. While Jawbone says the UP is shower-proof, I still take it off before bathing… just in case. If you’re looking for a little extra motivation, and would like something buzzing on your arm every hour you’re not moving, order it now!

The UP comes in multiple colors as well! To learn more and buy one, head over to http://www.jawbone.com/up

DIY | Fall in Love with Vino

Love is an understatement for how I feel about, not only the Fall, but Halloween especially. I’m a product of an interesting parenting situation; but to keep the story short and on point; the love for the holiday comes from my two Moms. For as long as I can remember Halloween has always been a big one at our house. My favorite time of the year is Fall, not because the leaves change, or being able to use my car’s butt-warmers; I love fall because of pumpkin spice everything, and the air just feels fresh. Long were the days that drug on forever, the unbearable heat and having to be extra cautious for kids playing in the street. I’m a rhymer now, by the way.

People close to me know all about my love affair with October, and I’ve gathered quite the collection of Fall themed items. It’s even greater that my favorite holiday is in my favorite season. Christmas is fun, but there’s no stress of having to get everyone gifts for Halloween, no having to deal with the madhouse that is the mall parking lot and there’s definitely NO ugly sweaters involved. I choose to decorate my house in the fall. Cinnamon aroma replaces the clean linen and sandy beach candles, and the never-ending hues of oranges and golden browns infiltrate the decor.

I’ve been collecting wine bottles after seeing some ideas on, yes- you guessed it, Pinterest. I liked the way the different shapes looked and the simplicity of the project and how neat they looked completed. Mind you this is just the first batch, and I’m aware now of improvements to the look and process. After completing nine or so bottles I discovered a few ways to streamline the journey from point A to point Z. These are the bottles I’ve completed so far. I have many other ideas and renditions in my head that I can’t wait to get working on, pass the corkscrew please! These could also be good little gifts to bring to a party, jazz up the front porch or in any corner of your house. Let me know what you think!

 

For those DIY’ers: Here’s how to create your own wine bottle centerpieces:

1. Drink copious amounts of wine. Maybe some champagne too; you’ll need a variety of bottle shapes.

2. Soak empty bottles in hot water to peel labels off, then dry.

3. Use ‘Goo Gone; (Man, that stuff is magical) to remove any adhesive remaining on the bottles. I used a wet washcloth after to get the remaining film of the goo gone off of the bottles.

4. Paint! I didn’t prime the bottles at all, and the colors still came out vibrant. I used a regular orange and a terra cotta orange for the pumpkin bottles. On the jack-o-lantern and ghost bottles, 3M blue painter’s tape before painting got the shapes I needed. (Eyes, mouths, ghosts, etc.)

5. Let the paint completely dry for a day or so after peeling off the blue tape.

6. Spray all bottles with a clear gloss coat to protect it from nicks and scratches. This left a slight glow on them that looks really cool!

7. Decorate accordingly and voila! You’ve got yourself some decorations.

Thanks for stopping by! Oh, and for reading all the way through- you get the tip of the day:

When creating these- if you paint them in the wind ”for the extra challenge” you will look like a cheeto when you’re done. :)

Best,

David