Archive for September, 2011

Dear T&M: The Mysterious Case of the Stinky Seedlings

Posted on September 21st, 2011 by Tonia 2 Comments

I am sorry, Rachel, that it took me so long to research and respond!! I think this problem is caused by a mixture of your hot and humid climate and the fact that you’re using a biodegradable material {egg carton} for your containers. The containers are actually beginning to rot slowly, which we all know does NOT smell nice {and why we all keep our compost piles outside!}

Do you have a sunny spot outside that you could move these little stinky guys? Get them out of the house if you can, so they get fresh air and you get relief from their smell. They should outgrow the egg containers pretty quickly, and at that point should be transplanted into larger plastic planter cups {gasp! Yes, plastic!}

Plastic planters is the way to go for several reasons: They don’t decompose, which means no foul smell and less chance that bacteria and disease can fester and possibly infect your seedlings. Also, you can buy them once and then re-use them year after year. The ones with little holes in the bottom will allow enough drainage to minimize the chance of over-watering.

I hope we’re not too late on getting this advice to you. Good for you for planting fall crops! Hope it works out and you get to enjoy the fruits of your labors this winter in the form of delicious potato and leek soup, kale and apple salad, and gnocchi with spinach and pancetta. Mmmmm! Good luck!


If you would like to air your dirty secret or ask a question, email us with “Dear T&M” in the subject line. Please indicate if you wish to remain anonymous.
toniasimeone {at} gmail {dot} com

Seven Links

Posted on September 20th, 2011 by Tonia 2 Comments

My good friend Courtney tagged me in a blogging game called Seven Links. Bloggers choose their posts that best fit the following categories: Most Beautiful PostMost Popular PostMost Controversial PostMost Helpful PostPost Whose Success Surprised MePost That Didn’t Get Attention It Deserved, and Post I Am Most Proud of. Thanks for including me, Court!

This blog has really evolved over time. When we moved from the city into a small town, it went from being a “how to live greener in an urban setting” blog to being more just about our life.

I’ve been writing here since November, 2009 and in that time you guys have read, commented, and shared your stories with me. I cherish every one of you. Thanks for hanging out with me! Now let’s take a look back at some old posts together:

Most Beautiful Post

All the posts involving flowers. I couldn’t pick just one. There were so many amazing flowers popping up in our yard this summer, and it was such a treat to watch them come and go all season long. I will be looking at this series of posts in the dead of winter, to cheer me up and remind me of what’s to come!

Most Popular Post

To Amelia with Love got the most comments I have ever had. It was a very fun gift to make and give, and I’m thrilled that we maybe inspired you guys to make gifts for your loved ones. Everyone loves a homemade gift over a purchased one ANY day! Speaking of which, she did love it.

Most Controversial Post

I don’t really have any controversial posts, so I picked one that I thought should have sparked more discussion/controversy: Thoughts on Food. Maybe I need to work on my controversial-ness! Or accumulate some readers who don’t agree with me so much. You guys are so agreeable!

Most Helpful Post

I still have people telling me they use this homemade laundry detergent and are so glad I posted the video on how to make it.

Post Whose Success Surprised Me

The whole 30 for 30 Challenge series was incredibly popular, and it really surprised me! It started because it was the middle of winter, I was bored and had nothing to blog about, and I was shopping online too much and needed to break the cycle. I remember thinking, “Oh man, I’m going to be really embarrassed by these photos later on.” And I am, but it ended up being a really worthwhile thing! And you guys still tell me how much you liked that series and how it helped you to rid your closets of unnecessary bulk. Cool!

Post That Didn’t Get Attention It Deserved

Sadly, there are a couple. Both of which had a lot of work put into them, and I feel bad that they didn’t spark as much discussion as I had hoped. Winter Compost is a GREAT post by my friend Jared. Anyone planning on composting through the winter, this post is for you! And this post by my friend Beth has SO MUCH awesome information for anyone thinking about raising chickens.

Post I Am Most Proud of

I loved the maple syrup series from a couple years ago. My family has been making syrup every spring, the old-fashioned way, since I was a baby. This particular year, Mike’s family came and helped with the whole process.

The syrup we made that season was bottled up and given to our wedding guests as favors. It was really special how our families came together to share in a tradition and make something for our loved ones. Keep scrolling down and paging back to see the whole series.

That’s it! Thanks for taking this walk down memory lane with me. I get the pleasure now of tagging a couple blogging friends of mine to play the game. Here are some of my favorite blogs to read, check them out! I hope they’ll play and we will get to see some of the memorable posts from their archives.

Tricia of Little Eco Footprints / Devin of For Making’s Sake / Lily of bigBANG Studio / Beth of six orange carrots / Lael of Clamorous Fall

Natural cold remedies

Posted on September 19th, 2011 by Tonia 7 Comments

Images left to right: Thayer Photo, Martha Stewart

Mike and I are both fighting a cold right now. It’s no fun to feel icky, especially during one of the nicest times of year. The leaves are starting to change colors, the days are cool and sunny- perfect for being active outside. But here we are on the couch instead.

Mike almost never gets fully sick- his body naturally fights off most flues and colds before they have a chance to really take hold. He’ll feel bad for a day and then spring right back to life.

I also don’t get sick often, but when I do, it seems to last and last. I’ve kind of become a pro at helping my body recover and fight the good fight against whatever is attacking my immune system. Today I’m sharing some of my home remedies {and I bet you all have your own favorite ways of making yourselves more comfortable or heal more quickly during a cold, so please share your methods in the comments!}

1. Sleep. The number one thing that supports our immune systems is sleep. The more sleep you get on a nightly basis, the stronger your immune system is. The more sleep you get during a cold, the faster your body will be able to heal.

2. Garlic. This delicious little bulb has incredible healing powers. When we feel a cold coming on, we make a super garlicky soup {chicken soup lends itself perfectly to an extra garlicky broth} for dinner. And then we go to bed right away and let the hot broth in our bellies work its magic. Nine times out of ten we wake up feeling completely healthy again, illness averted.

3. Ginger. This spicy root, when grated fresh into teas or broths, gets your circulation going and fights inflammation throughout our bodies. One of my favorite sore-throat remedies is lemon-ginger-honey tea. I usually just heat up water and lemon juice, grate some ginger in, and then stir in honey right before drinking {add each ingredient to taste, since everyone’s comfort level with spiciness is different.} You could also just start with a packaged ginger tea and then add lemon juice and honey {I like the Yogi brand the best.} Either way, your throat will be soothed almost instantly. Ginger is also great for your digestive system- calming any issues going on there.

4. Cayenne pepper. This spice has been used for thousands of years as a medicine for almost every ailment imaginable {people even rubbed it into open wounds because it disinfects and accelerates the healing process.} Much like ginger, it increases circulation and decreases inflammation wherever it is applied. Adding it to your stew or broth will help keep you from getting that “achy” feeling that comes with many colds, and will get your sinuses flowing {no more stuffed-up nose!}

5. Echinacea extract. This healing liquid can be found in the health-food or vitamin aisles at most markets. It’s made from a pretty flower called the purple coneflower. You can add a few droplets of the extract to your tea or juice and it will help support your immune system. There has been some warning against using echinacea long-term. I only use it during a cold, and I believe it helps me to recover quicker. But, as with any supplements, you should research it yourself and decide if it’s right for you or speak with your doctor before taking it.

6. Zinc. Another supplement that speeds recovery. I take one 500 mil capsule daily when I have a cold. It’s a wonderful immune system supporter, but this supplement makes me really nauseous if I take it on an empty stomach. Be careful to take your vitamins and supplements right before or after a meal.

7. Vitamin C. Take 1000 mil of it daily throughout your cold. You literally can’t take too much {it is water-solvable, so your body will just release what it doesn’t need through your pee} and it is probably the #2 best thing you can do to help your body heal after getting lots of sleep.

8. Hot packs. A lot of colds cause us to feel achy all over, which gets in the way of sleep because it’s so uncomfortable. These homemade hot packs help to relax muscles. Put one under your lower back or at the base of your neck and breathe deeply. You’ll be conked out in a deep, healing sleep in no time.

9. Neti-pot. Netis are little pots, usually made of ceramic, that are filled with a saline solution {usually salt and water} which gets poured through the nasal passages, flushing out the sinuses. This is a great remedy for sinus infections, allergies, and general stuffiness. It’s pretty weird at first and counter-intuitive to pour liquid into your nose, but you feel so much better afterward, so it’s worth the momentary weirdness. Neti-pot use dates back to ancient Italy. It’s tried and true.

10. Get active. I know, it seems weird. The last thing you usually feel like doing when you’re sick is moving! However, I have fought off colds simply by refusing to give in to them. When we’re active, our lungs fill with fresh air and our hearts pump oxygenated blood through our bodies. Sometimes that’s all it takes for a cold to back off- it realizes this is a very alive and healthy body. However, it’s important to listen to our bodies. If you’re truly feeling like nothing would be better than a 10 hour nap, do it. The body tells us what it needs if we listen.

Hope you all stay happy and healthy out there!

One Year

Posted on September 18th, 2011 by Tonia 4 Comments

September 18, 2010

Dear Mike,

Being married to you is awesome. This has been a pretty ideal first year. We’re so blessed to have each other, this little homestead, and our sweet dog.

Today- instead of decorating the house and cooking the big fancy meal I planned- we sat on the couch together, played Mexican Train Dominoes, watched the Packers beat the Panthers, and ate chili {the easiest recipe in the world: two cans black beans, two cans sweet corn, a big bottle of chunky salsa, and a bunch of shredded cheddar.} We’re both feeling under the weather and just needed a really mellow day.

It was perfect, I loved every minute of it. Happy anniversary to my favorite husband ever!!

I Love You,


P.S. It was really fun to go back and read all the posts about our wedding. Man-alive was that fun. I wish we could do it all over again every year: Setting up/rehearsal, getting ready, the ceremony, the details, the dinner, the dancing, the next day.