Create Your Own Compost

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Composting is the process of decomposing organic material into a soil conditioner. Added to enrich soil, this nutrient rich humus restores vitality and helps plants grow. Plus, it’s good for the environment. Composting recycles kitchen and yard waste, diverting as much as 30% from the garbage can and landfills.

It’s simple to create your own compost, using a bin or container.

Create Your Own Compost title meme

Creating a Composting Bin

Several methods exist for creating simple composting bins.

Drill holes around the base of a heavy duty garbage can. Add organic material to the bin and stir every two weeks.

Build a simple box from wooden boards or slats. Make it at least 3 feet square and no more than waist high. Set it on bare ground, to encourage insects and earthworms to burrow in. If wild animals or the neighbor’s dogs getting into the bin is a concern, add chicken wire or pig wire to the top. Add organic material and stir to aerate every two weeks.

There are more elaborate systems out there that incorporate three bins for mixing, turning and storing. These aren’t necessary however if that design appeals to you, go for it! Google composting bins or search on Pinterest for ideas.

Or you can purchase composting bins from garden centers. If you don’t have the simple tools to build one, this is a quick option to get you started.

Create Your Own Compost
Create your own compost – my simple DIY wooden bin.

What Goes Into the Compost Bin?

Once your composting bin is set up, start adding kitchen and garden waste. The trick is to balance “green” waste such as vegetable and fruit scraps with “brown” material such as dry leaves, newspapers and cardboard. This is important because green materials supply nitrogen to the mix while brown materials are rich in carbon. Carbon feeds the organisms that break down the scraps and nitrogen builds the cell structure of the newly formed soil enrichment.

The compost pile also needs oxygen and water. Without oxygen the pile will simply rot and smell. Moisture helps the organic material break down. Sprinkle the compost frequently if it hasn’t rained. And stir up the compost as it breaks down, to help air move through the mixture.

Earthworms are welcome allies to the compost pile as they help to aerate and break down matter. I have TONS of huge earthworms in my garden. I toss some into the compost pile as I weed and undercover them.

Create Your Own Compost earthworms
Earthworms are welcome allies in the compost bin

Green, Nitrogen Rich Waste to Add

The healthy compost pile needs more carbon than nitrogen in the mix. Too much nitrogen creates a dense, smelly mixture that decomposes too slowly. The bulkiness of carbon material helps oxygen move through the mixture and nourishes the organisms living there.

A good rule of thumb is one third green nitrogen waste to two thirds brown carbon materials.

Create Your Own Compost scraps
Create your own compost – scraps

Check out these lists of green and brown materials

Brown/Carbon Materials to Add:

  • wood chips, pellets, bark
  • straw or hay
  • shrub, tree trimmings
  • shredded paper including newspapers
  • cardboard, torn into strips
  • pine needles (use in moderation)
  • leaves, chopped or shredded is best, or create a separate pile for leaves
  • dryer lint (best if from natural materials)
  • corn cobs, stalks
Create Your Own Compost newspapers
Create your own compost – newspapers

Green/Nitrogen Material to Add:

  • tea leaves and paper tea bags
  • table scraps
  • seaweed and kelp
  • lawn and garden weeds, that have not gone to seed
  • grass clippings
  • green leaves
  • garden plants that have not died of disease
  • fruit and vegetable scraps
  • flower cuttings
  • coffee grounds (earthworms love these) and coffee filters
  • eggshells (which are really more neutral)
Create Your Own Compost saving scraps
Create your own compost – saving scraps

Don’t Add These Materials:

  • meat, bones, fish, dairy products
  • fats, cooking oils, grease
  • perennial or diseased plants
  • dog, cat or human poop or cat litter
  • black walnut leaves
  • machine or chain oils
  • sawdust unless it’s clean and then add sparingly
  • plastics
  • plastic coated paper or cardboard
  • anything treated with pesticides
  • charcoal

Tips to Create a Successful Compost

A few additional tips as you create your own compost.

Collect food, fruit and vegetable scraps in the house. I use a 21 cup plastic container that I already had on hand. Any container with a lid works. Because I am plant based, I can easily fill up my container in a day so I empty it every evening. When adding organic scraps, toss in carbon materials too such as newspapers, cardboard or leaves.

I love making my own veggie broth so most of my vegetable scraps go into containers in the freezer for this purpose. However I use the leftovers from juicing and blemished produce or veggies past their prime for composting.

Chop larger yard and garden wastes, to help them break down more quickly. And leaves and grass are excellent for the compost, however don’t add them in thick layers or they will clump together, slowing down aeration.

Use a spading fork to turn the mixture every week or two. If organic matter isn’t breaking down, add more green material and keep the pile moist.

If the compost pile is too wet and smelly, add more brown material and turn the mixture more frequently.

Create Your Own Compost
Create your own compost – after a month or so, this compost is coming along nicely

How to Use Your Compost

Your compost is ready to use when it looks and smells like dirt! This can take a couple of months or more, depending on what’s in your mixture.

Incorporate your rich new compost into garden beds or sprinkle it on top of the ground. Compost isn’t a replacement for soil but an amendment that nurtures it and your plants.

It’s that easy to create your own compost! Feel good about enriching your garden and easing the burden of wastes on landfills. And if you have any questions, ask in the comments.

Recycle or Compost

Other Posts in the Backyard Garden Series:

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

Gardening Finds from Amazon:


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Plants Gone Wild

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Gardening is an adventure and a journey. No two gardens are exactly alike and no two journeys are either. I’ve learned over the years, as a gardener, from successes and mistakes.

One of the first things I learned is that some plants thrive, to the point that they can overtake a garden, crowding out other plants and hogging water and nutrients. This is my list of plants gone wild!

 

Plants Gone Wild title meme

Be Aware

Planting is purely a matter a choice, which is why my subtitle is “be aware of these invasive perennials” rather than “beware”. I choose to include a few invasive perennials, because I appreciate their beauty. I control their prolific spread. Others I dug up and removed because the effort to keep them in check proved too great.

With awareness, you can decide what works best for your garden. Check out your gardening zone. And then be aware that the following plants may spread into other areas of your garden or yard.

Liriope

This plant officially counts as my first big gardening mistake. From east and southeast Asia, this low growing plant is often used by landscapers to border a walkway or edge a flower bed. Liriope produces green or variegated grass like leaves, and stalks of purple flowers. And it thrives…in full sun or partial shade, in a wide range of soil conditions and it’s drought resistant. Perfect, right?

Liriope is optimistically called a “vigorous grower”, meaning it quickly overruns its boundaries and invades other areas. Using landscape edging or other barriers can help restrict it, however I found it too difficult to control. Even after years of weeding it out of flower beds in the front yard, it still shows up.

Plants Gone Wild liriope
Plants gone wild – liriope

English Ivy

And this classic beauty was my second big gardening boo boo. My grandson and I purchased one small ivy plant, years ago, and lovingly tucked it into a corner of a flower bed near the front deck. That ivy plant became a monster, covering all other plants in the bed and consuming them. Well, it didn’t literally eat them. However, ivy chokes other plants, depriving them of sunlight. They die.

Ivy is an evergreen woody vine. It is extremely aggressive, vining and climbing over other plants, shrubs, trees and even buildings. It took me a great deal of time to remove the ivy that spread from that one tiny plant. I’ve learned that the safest way to grow ivy is in a container…indoors!

Plants Gone Wild ivy
Plants gone wild – my glacier ivy in a pot

Creeping Jenny

Any plant name that contains the word “creeping” implies a warning…this plant spreads! Creeping jenny is considered a ground cover that tolerates both shade and sunlight. It’s a pretty yellow green in color and it’s commonly used to fill in areas where other plants won’t grow.

I added creeping jenny for exactly that reason, in a shady area with shallow soil. It thrives there and has indeed filled in the area. Because it’s in a contained space, I simply watch for it to encroach into the neighboring area, and pull it up when it does. For me, this easy to care for plant is worth having in my garden.

Plants Gone Wild creeping jenny
Plants gone wild – creeping jenny

Goldflame Spirea

Commonly called Japanese spirea, this mounding shrub is simple to grow. The goldflame variety produces showy leaves and clusters of pink flowers. It tolerates full sun to light shade and handles heat well. Spirea bushes are aggressive self seeders, however, and can escape a garden if not tended. They’ve naturalized in areas of the eastern US.

I love my goldflame spirea though. The leaves are brilliantly hued, from bronzes, golds and reds in spring to to yellow-green in summer to finishing with copper and crimson shades in autumn. Plus, the flowers attract butterflies. I keep my spirea in check by pruning it back to the ground during the winter. I admit, it does get a little bigger each year!

Plants Gone Wild spirea
Plants gone wild – goldflame spirea

Lemon Balm, Peppermint and Bee Balm

These herbs, all members of the mint family, are prolific producers and can overrun the garden. Extremely easy to grow, simply plant them in a sunny location and forget about them. They return year after year, often showing up in other flower beds, containers and the lawn. Lemon balm is one of the first plants to appear in my garden each spring and thrives until a hard frost nips it in late fall.

I love these herbs, for their wonderful health benefits, and happily tolerate their wildness. Their flowers attract bees. I keep mint in a contained area, however I give lemon balm and bee balm free reign, pulling up the excess plants.

These herbs do well in containers and that is the best way to keep them from spreading. Also, shear off the flowers before they go to seed. That practice not only helps prevent new plants, it encourages the existing herbs to produce more leaves.

Plants Gone Wild lemon balm
Plants gone wild – lemon balm

Lamb’s Ear

These gray-green plants with the soft fuzzy leaves are fun to include in the garden. They make perfect additions to sensory gardens and their stalks of purple flowers attract bees and butterflies. Native to Turkey, Armenia and Iran, lamb’s ear is considered an ornamental plant that tolerates various soil conditions. It thrives in partial shade to full sun.

I added three small lamb’s ear plants to my garden in 2014 and realized quickly that they aggressively fill in an area and pop up all over the garden and yard. I’ve even found new plants in the alleyway, pushing up through gravel. I’ve kept the plants under control by rigorously pulling up seedlings as they appear. It also helps to cut down the flower stalks, before they set seed.

Perhaps because we had so much rain last summer, most of my lamb’s ears did not return this spring. However, three plants appeared at the edge of their usual space. I know what three plants can do!

Plants Gone Wild lambs ear
Plants gone wild – lamb’s ear

Ornamental Grasses

When I planned out my garden in 2014, I knew I wanted ornamental grasses. I love the way they wave in the breeze and their tassels in the fall are so gorgeous. And leaving the dried grasses up in winter creates interest in an otherwise drab garden.  What I didn’t take into consideration is that those tassels are seeds. And the seeds go everywhere.

Ornamental grasses come in a variety of colors and sizes, with different shaped tassels. I still love having them in my garden. And…no other plant creates as much work for me!  Because my garden area covers more than half of my backyard, there is a great deal of disturbed ground for those grass seeds to sprout up in.

While the clusters are small, ornamental grasses are relatively simple to remove. And remove them I must, or grasses would spread throughout the garden, choking out all other plants. If I miss any, they reveal themselves in the fall, as other plants die back to the ground.

Knowing what I know now, would I still have ornamental grasses in my garden? Yes. I’ve learned to walk the garden frequently and remove baby grasses. Plus, a heavy layer of mulch greatly reduces their numbers as well.

Plants Gone Wild - ornamental grasses
Plants gone wild – ornamental grasses

Have Your Plants Gone Wild?

There are other plants considered aggressive invaders. I’ve only listed those I’ve personally dealt with. Bamboo, for example, should never be planted in a garden. It is the most difficult plant to contain and even more difficult to remove. And pretty little periwinkle, a ground cover, can certainly run amok!

Truthfully, most perennials possess the potential to spread beyond their borders. That’s why I choose to plant them. They return every year and continue to fill in.

That’s okay. I love a little chaos in my garden. A profusion of flowers, herbs and plants and a bit of wildness makes my heart sing. How could it be otherwise, for a woman who continually seeks to “go beyond”?

Tell me about your garden. Do you have a story about plants gone wild?

Plants Gone Wild night garden

Check out these posts in the Backyard Garden Series:

Spring Garden Tips

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

 

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

It’s true that April showers bring May flowers! The plants in the garden flourish during this month, offering colors, scents and beauty. In fact, May is Gifts from the Garden Month, with a different emphasis on each day.

May 3 is Meditate in the Garden Day and I celebrated the occasion with afternoon tea, journaling and a time of meditation in my contemplative corner. I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and re-entered the house refreshed and full of joy.

It’s easy to create a meditation area in your garden. Think of this space as a place to daydream, write, relax, reflect, draw and pray or meditate. From a simple chair in a corner of the garden, to a hammock filled with pillows, to a fun, themed corner, the meditation area soothes the body and feeds the soul.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden title meme

Elements of a Meditation Area

I first fell in love with small personal garden spaces as a child. In my own backyard I found a large bush to crawl beneath, when I craved alone time. And the wonderful couple across the street, whom all the neighborhood children loved, gave me permission to use their little corner backyard garden spot anytime I wanted. This area, with a single bench and honeysuckle covering the fence, became my own secret garden. I spent hours sitting in that space and as a result, I love honeysuckle.

Use some or all of the following elements, to create a meditation area in your garden. Simplicity is key. You don’t want a high maintenance area that creates more work and stress. This is your personal spot to de-stress, unwind and breathe deeply. Make sure that the environment supports those intentions.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden chairs
Create a meditation area in your garden – seating

Water

Water features soothe frazzled nerves and relax tense muscles, encourage reflection and mask noise if the water is moving. They encourage butterflies, dragonflies and birds to visit.

Add a koi pond, fountain, tabletop fountain, bird bath or a simple shallow bowl filled with water to the meditation area. If the water is still, change it frequently to discourage mosquitoes from using it as a nursery.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden water feature
Create a meditation area in your garden – water feature

Natural Elements

Add natural elements such as brick, stones, wood, bamboo, grass, pebbles or sand to your area. These materials complement plants, flowers and trees, providing a restorative space for grounding and centering. They also offer a deep connection to nature.

Add a couple of large rocks for interest. Or create a privacy screen from wood. Brick, sand, cedar mulch or paving stones make an excellent floor that helps to define your space and provides a solid foundation for chairs or benches.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden natural elements
Create a meditation area in your garden – natural elements

Seclusion

This is perhaps the most important element to keep in mind, when creating a meditation area. Find a place that is separate from the rest of the garden. A simple chair in a corner or alcove works well. A bench at the end of a pathway or a hammock strung between two sturdy trees is ideal also. If you have a structure in the yard or garden, such as a gazebo or a covered back porch, create your own little private nook there.

Partition off your chosen area with fencing, repurposed gates, pig wire covered with flowering vines or lightweight fabric. Make use of existing trees or shrubs to provide privacy. And consider how much sunlight the area gets. Too much sun can be uncomfortable during the summer. Tent the area with a water proof, lightweight fabric or grow vines on an arbor to provide shade.

Create a place that delights the senses, where you can be alone.

Create a Meditation Area for Your Garden hammock
Create a meditation area for your garden – hammock

Beauty

Beauty inspires creativity, uplifts the spirit and brings joy to the heart. And beauty truly is in the eye of the beholder. What makes you smile? Include those things in your meditation area.

Plants, flowers, herbs, ornamental grasses, trees and shrubs are excellent choices. Water features fall into this category too as do small boulders, pathways and garden art. Gather items that spark joy, to borrow a concept from Marie Kondo. This is your personal space. Let it be a reflection of who you are.

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden beauty
Create a meditation area in your garden – beauty for my eyes, next to my meditation corner

Personal Touch

Finally, because this is your personal retreat area, add items that showcase your unique personality. Add garden statues for whimsy, flowers in repurposed containers and inspirational signs.

You’ll need a place to sit. Add a chair, or a pair of chairs if you’d like to occasionally share your space, and a small table. The table is perfect for holding a journal, a candle, a glass of cold water or a tray with afternoon tea.

Choose a playful theme or include your favorite colors. Add interesting textures by way of cushions, pillows or snuggly wraps. If you’ll practice yoga in your meditation area, create space for a mat. Add twinkling lights, battery powered or those that plug into an outlet, so you can enjoy your meditation area during warm summer evenings.

Use what you have on hand to personalize your space. Make your own pillows. Repurpose items. This project does not need to be expensive to create. This is all about enjoying peace and solitude, even if only for a few minutes a day.

Create a a Meditation Area in Your Garden bicycle
Create a meditation area in your garden – repurposed bicycle

Bringing It All Together

Here is how I used the elements listed above, in my own meditation area.

I created the contemplative corner when I laid out my original garden in 2014. The space evolved over the years, to its current state.

I am adding a water feature this summer, in the form of a fountain. Greg is running electrical wiring to the corner so the fountain can plug into an outlet. I’ll string lights up as well.

A wood privacy fence forms two walls in my corner. Pig wire, covered in clematis vines, creates the other two walls, leaving an entrance into the area. This spring, Greg replaced the cedar mulch flooring with vintage brick. I love this change. The brick defines the area beautifully and creates a feeling of permanence.

The wood fence and vine covered fencing separates my meditation area from the rest of the garden. And yet, I still have gorgeous views of my backyard paradise through the vines and the entrance.

Beauty is provided via clematis vines, flowering plants, potted plants and the colors and items I’m using to cozy up the space.

And I’ve definitely added my own personal touch to my meditation area. My favorite colors…blues and greens….are represented in the cushions, pillows, throw, table and flower pots. I light candles when I’m enjoying my space, carry out tea and a journal, and include a colorful sign that reminds me to RELAX. And my beloved metal cranes stand guard at the entrance.

Meditation Area
My meditation area

What Will You Include in Your Meditation Area?

What will you include in your special area? I’d love to hear your ideas and see photos of your meditation area, contemplative corner or relaxation space.

May you enjoy many pleasant and restorative moments in your garden or backyard this season!

And check out these posts, in the Backyard Garden Series, for more ideas!

10 Shade Garden Plants

Easy Container Gardening

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden

Create a Meditation Area in Your Garden gate

Gardening Finds from Amazon:

 


 

Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I love this time of year. Spring signals rebirth and new life, as this part of the world awakens from winter’s sleep. For me, spring is gardening season, as plants awaken as well.

In my Backyard Garden Series, I’ve shared information about various types of plants, tips for gardening and ecological hacks. Today I add to that series with this post, Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden.

As important as the flowers, herbs and veggies are, it’s the personal touches that make a garden uniquely yours. That backyard paradise, patio garden or window box full of herbs becomes a canvas to create upon. No matter how large or small the space, the garden is your opportunity to tell your story.

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden title meme

What Story Do You Want to Tell?

These ideas, grouped into six categories, are merely suggestions to spark creativity. There are endless ways to create gardens, whether they look formal, look wild or fall somewhere in between.

It’s fun to plan a garden. Choosing which plants to grow, what layout to use, whether your garden has a theme or not is just the beginning. After all the planning and planting comes stamping your garden with your unique style and personality. Choose ideas from one of the categories below, several of them or all of them.

Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden firepit
Six ways to personalize your garden – features such as fire pits

Foundational Features

Features provide a foundation for the garden, designating certain areas for particular purposes. When planning the garden, decide what you’d love to include in this outdoor space. This is your sanctuary so make sure whatever you add is a reflection of you.

For me, a fire pit, seating areas and a secluded space for meditation and contemplation were important initially. I’m now in the process of upgrading the meditation area and adding a water feature and electricity for lighting. And I’d love to have an inviting, bohemian style hammock in the shadier north side of the yard.

Feature ideas:

  • fire pits/fireplaces
  • patios/seating areas
  • water features
  • pathways
  • gazebos/structures
  • secluded areas
  • outdoor rooms/kitchens
  • lighting
  • speakers for music
Contemplative Corner
Six ways to personalize your garden – secluded space with its vintage brick

Artistic Accents

With the foundational areas designated, and plants in the ground, now is the time to play creatively. Do you paint? Create garden art. Sew? Make cushions for chairs, swings or the patio in your favorite patterns and colors. Whatever your creative passion…building birdhouses, pottery, macrame, stained glass, metal work…bring your artistic abilities into the garden.

In the house, I create vignettes that tell stories. I do the same in the garden, grouping items together, using unusual containers for plants and coordinating fabrics in my signature colors.

Garden art:

  • paintings on metal or wood
  • wind chimes
  • birdhouses/spider houses/toad houses/bug hotels
  • fountains/birdbaths/bird feeders
  • fabric pillows/cushions/hammocks/tents/throws
  • mosaics
  • murals
  • signs/inspirational sayings/poetry
  • plant markers
  • decorative fences/trellises/obelisks/sundials
  • statues/decorative concrete
Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden art
Six ways to personalize your garden – art from the NW Arkansas Botanical Garden

Repurposed Items

This is, without a doubt, my favorite thing to do, inside and outside the house. I love finding new ways to use existing items and if they are vintage, that’s even better . My garden is full of metal buckets, wash tubs, tool boxes, wire baskets and leftover wire fencing panels. The containers typically hold flowers and plants. One of my favorite pieces, an old minnow bucket, holds a fat candle.

I’ve used a variety of wood pieces in the garden as well. And while I love how the old doors, chairs and boxes look, they just don’t hold up well. Eventually the elements rot them away, no matter how well I paint or treat them.

Use your imagination. If something grabs your interest or sparks an idea, no matter how unusual, try it out in your garden.

Repurpose these items in the garden:

  • metal pieces such as buckets, trays, canisters, wash tubs, tool boxes, metal tables, metal drawers, minnow buckets, gates
  • metal tools such as old cultivators, vintage wheelbarrows, rakes, shovels
  • wire baskets/wire trays/wire boxes/fence panels
  • vintage brick/stone/concrete/paving stones/building materials
  • wood pieces such as chairs, drawers, boxes, dressers, screen doors, signs, baskets – with the understanding that the wood will eventually rot
  • kitchen items such as colanders, strainers, kitchen utensils, storage bins
  • farm pieces such as chick feeders, water troughs, watering tubs, vintage sprinklers, signs, posts
  • odd items such as box springs, tires, sinks, bicycles, vintage metal baby strollers, vintage toys, trucks, automobiles
Vintage Minnow Bucket Candle Holder
Six ways to personalize your garden – repurpose items, such as this old minnow bucket turned into a candle holder and a bucket into a flower pot

Memorials

Some of the most precious items in my garden belonged to family members who have passed on. My Aunt Annie’s red wooden box graces my covered front porch. It holds eight clay pots, full of begonias. My cousin’s wash tub holds vinca this year. Grandpa Bill’s rusty old cultivator is covered with clematis. My mother-in-law’s wind chime sings in the breeze. And the butterfly my stepfather painted years ago brightens the garage wall.

And those are just a few of the family memorials gracing my garden. There are more. All of these items remind me of my loved ones, as they serve in my garden. They tell stories about lives lived and joys experienced and challenges overcome. I don’t use fragile family pieces in the garden. These are all hardy items that can withstand weather.

In addition, I have plants that came from family members. The lilac bush was a start from my grandfather’s. The creeping phlox came from Mom Moore’s garden. And irises from my aunt’s yard now bloom in mine.

Items that can be used as garden memorials:

  • metal, wood, clay containers
  • art including wind chimes, signs, durable paintings
  • garden tools such as cultivators, rakes, shovels, sprinklers, watering cans
  • ceramic tiles
  • kitchen gadgets and containers
  • wood boxes, signs and containers, if protected from the weather
  • outdoor furniture
  • statues/concrete art
  • cuttings and transplants from their gardens
Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden cultivator
Six ways to personalize your garden – Grandpa Bill’s cultivator

Whimsy

Whimsy is defined as “playfully quaint or fanciful”. I love whimsy. It appeals to my inner child, makes me smile and invites play. I make sure I include some whimsy in my garden. The rabbit statue, a nod to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, stands guard near a clump of ornamental grass. Herbs cluster in an apothecary garden.And a couple of years ago, I created a fairy garden in a vintage wheelbarrow.

Other whimsical touches in my garden include playful art such as the large butterfly, a bistro table and chairs and various candle holders. Special note, only place candles in fire safe items such as metal buckets or votive holders. I love sprinkling candle light throughout my garden by using candle holders from the garden and house. Soon I’ll have twinkling white lights in the garden too.

Whimsy is a state of being as well. When I’m whimsical I enjoy tea parties in the garden, make a bohemian tent to color in, stargaze or appreciate a crackling fire in the fire pit.

Add whimsy with these suggestions:

  • candle holders
  • gazing balls/birdbaths/bird feeders
  • fairy garden/miniature garden
  • child’s garden/vintage toys/lawn games such as croquet, badminton or corn hole
  • playful statues/garden gnomes
  • playground equipment/playhouse/treehouse
  • garden swing
  • bistro table and chairs
  • wind chimes
  • unusual plants/flowers
  • apothecary garden
  • secret garden
  • hammock
  • koi pond/zen garden
  • maze/labyrinth
Fairy Garden
Six ways to personalize your garden – whimsical fairy garden

Tell Your Stories

Your garden, as an extension of who you are, tells your stories. What stories will you include in your garden? One of my favorites is the pair of metal cranes near my contemplative corner. Read their amazing tale HERE.

These cranes tell part of my Scottish story. I christened them with Scottish names. Every time I look at those graceful birds, I think of Thirlestane Castle, in Lauder, Scotland, home of my ancestors.

The natural wildness of my garden reflects who I am, as does the candle light, the vintage brick patio and the many metal pieces scattered throughout the space. They all contribute to the telling of my tale. They all share aspects of who I am. I love that I can accomplish that with my garden. You can too.

Add these elements to help tell your story:

  • garden style…formal, semi-formal, natural, wild, modern, vintage, eclectic, flowers, herbs, trees, vegetables, fruits
  • lights/candles
  • fabrics/tents/hammocks/pillows/cushions
  • statues/art/whimsy
  • family pieces/memorials/ancestry
  • colors/textures
  • wildlife/pets/koi
  • structures/outdoor rooms/kitchen/she shed/outdoor office/he shed/play area
  • water/sand/grasses/rocks/trees
  • music/art/inspirational signs
  • outdoor furniture
Six Ways to Personalize Your Garden - candlelight
Six ways to personalize your garden – tell your stories. The cranes, the candles, the metal containers…they all tell parts of my story.

Fresh Ideas

I hope these six ways to personalize your garden sparked fresh ideas. The garden is such a personal space. Make it completely yours.

If your garden area is tiny, find creative ways to fill it. After the Joplin tornado in 2011, I lived in an upstairs apartment for two years. My “garden” was a 3’X4′ balcony. An assortment of flowers and plants thrived on that balcony and brought me immense joy.

And that is the greatest benefit from gardening and allowing creativity free reign…joy. Oh the herbs and veggies and flowers are wonderful. However, it is the whole experience that blisses me out.

What stories will you tell, in your garden? What will you create there?

Whimsy in the Garden
Six ways to personalize your garden – whimsical rabbit

Check out these gardening finds, from Amazon:

 


 

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10 Kitchen Herbs to Grow in Water

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We typically associate gardening with digging in the dirt in a dedicated garden space. Or perhaps gardening is tucking plants into pretty ceramic pots. However, there are gardening tasks to do year around, even during the winter months. And gardening can move indoors to the kitchen.

Try these 10 kitchen herbs to grow in water. No dirt or green thumb required! And the convenience of snipping fresh herbs for a cup of tea or cooking is wonderful.

10 kitchen herbs to grow in water title meme

Set Up

Any waterproof container works for growing herbs in water. If it holds water, it is suitable. Line up a row of mason jars. Try vases in various sizes. Or browse your favorite flea market for one of a kind containers. Additionally, you need a window sill, bench, table or counter top near a sunny window.

Before frost nips the garden, bring in herb clippings to root in water. Or simply visit the produce section of the grocery store and purchase your favorite fresh herbs. Cut stems six to eight inches long and remove leaves from the bottom four inches. Before placing stems in water, make a fresh diagonal cut across the bottom of the stem.

Fill containers with fresh water. Do not use distilled water, as plants need minerals. When using clear glass containers, change the water frequently to prevent algae growth. Opaque containers don’t require changing as often.

Add prepared stems to water in containers and place them in a sunny location. Growing these plants in water creates a steady supply of fresh herbs. Snip leaves as they reach full size, to encourage new growth.

10 Herbs to Grow in Water

These 10 kitchen herbs are perfect for rooting in water in your kitchen.

1. Oregano

Oregano spices up pasta, sauces, soups and broths. This herb loves growing in water and can get big fast so keep it cut back. It loves sunshine.

2. Peppermint

One of my favorite herbs for tea, peppermint is perfect for relieving an upset stomach, soothing tight muscles and calming the body. Chew on a few fresh leaves for a quick energetic pick me up. Peppermint thrives in a partially shady window as well as a sunny one.

Peppermint in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – peppermint

3. Thyme

Thyme is another great herb for adding flavor to Italian dishes, soups and sauces. I also enjoy thyme tea. And it is one of the herbs I use in my DIY Vegetable Broth. Thyme prefers six to eight hours of sunlight a day.

4. Basil

Fragrant basil is a wonderful addition to pasta, sauces and soup. Plus it is the key ingredient in fresh pesto. Basil is another prolific herb that thrives in water. And it enjoys plenty of sunlight.

Growing Basil in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – basil

5. Chives

Chives are very easy to grow in water. This member of the onion family flavors a variety of dishes from soups to stir fries. Change the water every couple of days and make sure the herb receives lots of sunlight.

6. Lemon Balm

Another favorite of mine, this member of the mint family has a distinctive lemon scent and flavor. Lemon balm tea relieves indigestion, calms the body, soothes anxiety and allows the body to relax into sleep. Check out this lemon balm, fennel and thyme tea.

Lemon Balm in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – lemon balm

7. Lavender

This herb is worth growing in water just for its marvelous fragrance. Simply inhaling lavender’s scent calms the body. As a tea it eases depression, relieves migraines and promotes a good night’s sleep. Dry the leaves and tiny flowers and make sachets for drawers and closets.

8. Rosemary

I love inhaling this herb’s magical scent as well. Rosemary flavors rice and lentil dishes, roasted potatoes, soups and sauces. It makes a wonderful tea as well. Rosemary will tolerate partially shaded areas although it thrives best in full sunlight.

Rosemary in Water
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – rosemary

9. Marjoram

This herb does well rooting in water although it is slower to grow. Use this fragrant herb in soups and sauces or combine with thyme or rosemary for a powerful tea. Marjoram prefers full sunlight.

10. Cilantro

Cilantro thrives as a water plant although it needs plenty of sunlight. Use this herb in homemade salsa and Mexican dishes. Or for powerful health benefits, add cilantro to juices and morning smoothies.

10 Kitchen Herbs to Grow in Water cilantro
10 kitchen herbs to grow in water – cilantro

Other posts in the Backyard Garden Series

Gardening in Winter

Spring Garden Tips

Containers for Rooting Herbs

 

 


 

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Gardening in Winter

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Gardening in winter may seem an impossibility. What about freezing temperatures, lack of sunshine and snow? However, during winter the garden goes dormant, resting before the growing season ahead. This makes January through early March the perfect time to prep.

Check out these tasks to do now, to get the garden ready for spring.

Gardening in Winter title meme

Gardening in Winter

I leave dry plant stalks and ornamental grasses up during the winter. Today perfectly illustrates why. My area received a light snow overnight, turning my beautifully messy garden space into an enchanting work of art.

I must add that I laughed over this occurrence. I plan my blog posts a month in advance. Today’s scheduled post, Gardening in Winter, benefited from the snowfall. It offered me the opportunity to snap wonderfully appropriate photos. Of course I did not know in advance that my post and snow would coincide but I happily accept this marvelous gift.

Six Tasks to do Now

Transplant Trees and Shrubs

These woody plants slumbering during the winter months can be moved while they aren’t growing. Dig up the tree or shrub, leaving a ball of earth around the roots. Move it carefully to the new location.

Replant the tree or shrub at its original depth, water thoroughly and tamp in dirt around the root ball. Water regularly during any dry spells, to help lessen shock from the transplant.

Trim Back Ornamental Grasses

Leave dry ornamental grasses up during winter, to add interest and beauty to the garden. Before spring, trim grass stalks back, to within six inches of the ground. February is a good month for this task in most zones. Ideally, trim grasses before any new green growth appears.

I use a large metal barrel to burn the dry stalks after trimming the plants back. A calm day with no wind is necessary when burning garden debris.

Now is the time as well to dig up any stray ornamental grasses that popped up in the garden in late fall. The plants are easy to spot, due to their tall stalks and it is simple to dig them up while they are small.

Gardening in Winter Grasses
Gardening in Winter – almost time to trim back ornamental grasses

Work the Soil

As the ground warms, prepare the soil for spring planting. Using a tiller or spading by hand, incorporate several inches of compost or shredded tree leaves into the soil. Remove dead weeds from the garden and cut dry perennials and herb stalks back to the ground.

Add a layer of mulch. Or you can wait until spring plants barely poke through the ground and then mulch heavily around them. Mulch reduces weeds, holds in important moisture and protects the plants.

Trim Back Evergreens, Flowering Shrubs and Vines

Now is the time to tidy up flowering shrubs and evergreens. Prune back branches, for healthier growth in the spring. Vines tolerate a good cutting back. I sometimes cut my clematis vines back to the ground although a less severe pruning is fine too.

Don’t prune crape myrtle however. If the plant gets too large for its location, consider moving it.

Gardening in Winter Cranes
Garden cranes stand guard over straggly clematis vines.

Check Garden Containers and Equipment

During those cold wintry days, walk through the garden frequently and check for needed repairs. I leave many of my containers outside during winter. Now is the time to inspect those metal tubs and buckets, clay pots, plant stands, trellises and wheelbarrows. Remove dried flower stalks or weeds from all containers, to prepare for spring planting.

Clean and sharpen shovels and hand trowels. Clean rakes. Inspect garden hoses for splits or cracks.

I have two metal cranes and a rabbit statue in the garden. I check them for damage and remove any garden debris from them.

Dream and Plan

This task is perfect for days when the weather prevents outdoor work. Grab a cup of hot tea or hot chocolate, a notebook and a pen and sketch out the garden. Dream up a new feature. Plan a border. Add a water fountain. Dream really big and create a whole new garden.

Research plants. Think about trying something different. Visit online nurseries, such as this one.

Winter is not just a time for gardens to rest and prepare. This season is a wonderful time for gardeners to dream, plan and prepare as well.

Gardening in Winter Rabbit
Rabbit statue in winter

Ready to Get Ready

I’m looking forward to getting into my garden to carry out these winter tasks. On the next mild day you’ll find me in my backyard garden, pruning, weeding and preparing for spring.

Admittedly, I have much to do. My garden suffered last year from too much rain. The excessive water affected herbs and flowers and encouraged rampant weed growth. By the end of summer, my garden looked wild.

No worries though. Hard work, heavy pruning and weeding will set things right. I don’t mind a bit of wildness, after all. It suits me. It’s that balance of beautiful order and barely contained wildness that so delights and inspires me.

Gardening in Winter Stalks

Check out these other posts, in the Backyard Gardening Series:

Spring Garden Tips

Ecological Garden Hacks

13 Easy Herbs to Grow

10 Super Easy Perennials to Grow

Create a Bee and Butterfly Garden

 

Gardening Help from Amazon:


 

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End of the Birthday Celebrations

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It’s officially the end of the birthday celebrations. My 62nd birthday was January 9, marking the culmination of 62 days of celebrating by randomly drawing activities from a jar. It’s been fun! It’s been challenging. I’ve learned so much.

Read the post that started the fun romp toward my birthday HERE. And then check out the last activities.

End of the Birthday Celebrations title meme

Final Week of Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper, back in early November. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I drew out an activity and did what was written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations

As the slips of paper dwindled, these are the last activities that I drew.

Shop for an Outfit at a Thrift Store with a $20 Budget

The idea behind this activity was not just thriftiness. Buying gently used clothes instead of new reduces my impact on the world’s resources. Have you ever thought about the energy and resources consumed by the clothing industry? Read this great article about the subject.

I found this activity an outlet for my creativity too. I chose to shop at my local Goodwill Store with a $20 bill tucked into my pocket. Could I do it?

Yes!

I purchased a cute jacket, a simple black top and skinny gray pants….for a total of $16. Thanks to the jacket’s half price tag, I stayed under budget. I love the way things work out!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Thrift
End of the Birthday Celebrations – thrift store outfit

24 Hour Liquid Fast

I changed this activity from a water fast to a liquid fast. Nutritionally, the difference felt important. I think it made the activity easier and I benefited more from it.

My mornings are always liquids. I don’t eat solid food until noon. On this day, however, lunch was a huge glass of apple celery juice. By mid afternoon my empty stomach rumbled a bit. But by evening, my hunger completely disappeared and I felt energized. It’s good to give the digestive system a break occasionally. Throughout the day, I consumed freshly prepared juices, fruit smoothies, lots of herbal teas and a brothy soup.

I ended up completing a 36 hour liquid fast and felt wonderful as a result.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Liquid Fast
Refreshing apple celery juice for lunch.

Write Chapter One in House H(a)unting Book

This activity felt SO GOOD to complete. I’ve had a book idea for many years. After quickly writing the first chapter, I wondered why I waited so long to start this project. The reason, I decided, is because I wasn’t ready.

The years of crafting blog posts helped me hammer out my own particular writing style. And I’ve learned much this past year about trimming away the excess and keeping my writing tight and more focused. Now I’m ready.

The first chapter in this non fiction book came together extremely well. I’m excited to continue the work, chapter by chapter.

End of the Birthday Celebrations Chapter One
Chapter One…

Visit a New Place, Within 100 Miles of Joplin AND Hike a New Trail

It made sense to combine these two activities. I’m thankful for Google! How simple to type in “fun activities within 20 miles of Joplin” and scroll through the list. I considered options farther away from my hometown, however it gets dark early this time of year and this was a solo adventure.

I ended up near Galena, Kansas at the Southeast Kansas Nature Center. Located in Schermerhorn Park south of the town, the nature center provided the perfect opportunity for visiting a new to me place. I spent a pleasant twenty minutes looking at animals, reading through info about southeast Kansas and opening drawers containing hands-on activities. I stood for a time watching bees in an indoor hive. I’ve never seen a hive up close. The glass walls allowed viewing without disturbing the bees. A short tunnel to the outdoors enabled the insects to easily exit the building and return to the hive.

Southeast Kansas Nature Center
Southeast Kansas Nature Center’

Hiking

Conveniently, down the hill from the nature center a couple of trails that I’ve not hiked before snaked through the woods. Alone in the this part of the park, I first walked along the Roos Trail.

I then returned to the parking lot and headed west toward the Schemerhorn Cave. Only vaguely aware of the cave’s location, I veered right onto the trail branching off of the main track, hoping my sense of direction guided me well.

Perhaps because I was alone, I felt mildly uneasy. Or perhaps I’ve watched too many episodes of Dark, in which paranormal activity occurs in a cave. As I approached the cave though the uneasiness grew. I felt creeped out. By that I mean I picked up strange vibrational energy. I paused on the trail and considered turning around. However, these activities are meant to challenge me and move me beyond my comfort zone. I didn’t sense danger. I sensed something otherworldly.

When I found the cave, I didn’t linger there or enter it. Distinct, negative energy haunts that area. Returning to the car I turned around twice, looking back along the trail, sure that something followed me.

In the car, with the doors locked, I looked up info about the cave. There are accounts of paranormal activity there. People have reported hearing ghostly voices and phantom gunshots in the area. The outlaw Jesse James supposedly hid out in that cave. My intuition was spot on.

Hike at Schermerhorn Park
I much preferred this merry little stream over the foreboding cave.

Do a Vlog in Place of a Blog

This is the last activity I drew from my jar, on my birthday. How perfect. This video came together more smoothly than my last one! Check it out.

Truly the End of the Birthday Celebrations

That’s a wrap! During the longest running game that I’ve yet created, I completed 62 activities. I swapped out several. Interestingly, the activities that I tried to pre-plan for specific dates…a play, a book signing and a movie…didn’t work out. I learned it’s better NOT to try to schedule random activities!

Allowing the activities to choose me works much better.

Here’s what else I discovered. I can do challenging things. Many of the activities pushed me beyond my comfort zone. I contacted brands and companies to work with, most of which have not yet responded. That’s okay. I learned how to better craft a pitch. And other opportunities came to me, including a paid sponsorship with another brand that sought me out. This game created around me an energetic space of openness and receptivity. I’m a magnet…for all kinds of deeper wonderment.

I’m still working on the submission packet for the writing fellowship. And I have a couple of activities to put finishing touches on. Overall, what an amazing time of trying new things, having fun and growing. This might be my best birthday ever. I can’t think of a better way to celebrate than expressing creativity and upping my life game. The experience launched 2020 in a powerful, magnificent way. I am excited to see what happens next!

End of the Birthday Celebrations Empty Jar
End of the Birthday Celebrations – empty jar

Here are the other weeks of activities:

One, two, three, four, five, six, seven and eight.

Want to create your own fun game? It begins with ideas, strips of paper…and an empty jar.

 

 

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Home Stretch

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

I’ve entered the home stretch, doing outrageous activities, as my 62nd birthday is this week. What fun these celebrations sparked. And, not surprisingly, opportunities for growth and going beyond my comfort zone appeared as well. That was the primary intention, playing this game. I’ll be a bit sad to see it end, however what a wonderful way to begin a new year.

Check out last week’s activities as the count down continues.

Home Stretch title meme

Week Eight Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have deepened greatly as a result.

Home Stretch

With my birthday so close, the jar is almost empty. I’m posting last week’s activities today and I’ll do a follow up post Friday to wrap up this two month long event. Here are the last seven activities…with an explanation. I had clients to take care of and non-celebratory but important tasks to do such as creating a vision board for the year. This past week I didn’t complete every activity although I at least began each one. I’ll follow through and finish them in the upcoming weeks.

Create Art Piece for This Year’s Symbol the Key

I started this practice last year, creating a work of art that features my symbol for the year. The idea of creating such art yearly appeals to me. Thus I began my second sketch in this series. The key is my symbol for 2020, representing how curiosity “unlocks” doors of adventure and opportunity.

Because I felt drawn to the rabbit in Alice in Wonderland, I drew him holding a key rather than a pocket watch. The rough sketch is pictured here. I’ll tidy it up and then use colored pencils to complete the art piece. And, looking at it here, I think I’ll make that key larger. I possess a BIG sense of curiosity.

Home Stretch Sketch
Home Stretch sketch – my symbol for the year

Visit a Local Store I’ve Not Visited Before

I frequently drive by Plato’s Closet, located on S. Rangeline and yet I’ve never visited this consignment store. Plato’s Closet buys and resells gently worn name brand clothing. Although they primarily cater to teens and twenty-somethings, they carry a wide variety of brands and styles, in a full range of sizes. Prices are generally 70% off what you’d find at the mall.

When I stopped by, the store was full of shoppers looking for bargains. I didn’t have much time, however I enjoyed browsing through well organized racks of tops, pants and dresses. I saw several women carry in bags of clothing. While they shopped, employees sorted through the clothes, made selections and presented offers. I believe you can receive cash or a store credit.

I’ll certainly return to Plato’s Closet when I have more time to look.

Plato's Closet
Plato’s Closet, located at 1313 S Rangeline in Joplin.

Change Themes on the Blogs

I wrote these as separate activities and drew them the same week, which actually worked out well. It’s time to change the themes on my blogs, prompting me to look through possibilities for Cindy Goes Beyond and Journey With Healthy Me. I felt drawn to blog themes created by Solo Pine, on the site Theme Forest.

My criteria for new themes includes compatibility with WordPress, responsiveness, mobile friendliness and a clean, uncluttered layout. I selected the theme Rosemary for Beyond and the theme Alder for Journey. Watch for the blogs to freshen up their appearances in the next week or so. Because technology is one way I am forced to grow, I will spend time over the weekend uploading these new themes and making necessary changes.

Home Stretch Rosemary
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Beyond with the Rosemary theme
Home Stretch Alder
Home Stretch – new appearance coming for Journey with the Alder theme

Try a New Vegetable

I’ve noticed these small green gourds in the produce section at the grocery store. Is it a fruit? Is it a vegetable? When I drew this activity I checked out these new to me foods to discover what they were exactly.

It turns out they are chayote, a type of squash that is common in Mexico. And while this produce is technically a fruit, it is prepared and eaten like a vegetable. The meat of the chayote is used much like zucchini. It can be added raw to salads or stir fried, boiled, mashed or baked.

I purchased a couple of chayotes and found a recipe online to adapt. Although I haven’t prepared my new “vegetable” yet, I will tomorrow. I’ll let you know how it turns out!

Chayote

Have an Afternoon of Silence

I welcomed this quiet activity. However, I didn’t get to experience it on the day I drew the slip of paper from the jar. Instead I  partnered this one with the next day’s activity, Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series. It was an interesting combination…silence for a time then take after take recording a video.

I am at heart a solitary person. When I’m by myself, I tend to speak very little although I may burst into song occasionally. Typically music plays in the background when I’m home alone.

For this activity, I chose complete silence, with no speaking, music, or television. The absence of noise allowed my muscles to relax and my breathing to deepen. I found myself smiling several times, as I worked in my studio. I’d like to practice this activity more.

Home Stretch Silence
Home Stretch – silence

Record Video One in the Believe in Yourself Series

I followed my time of quiet with a burst of speaking. I ended up doing at least a dozen takes before I got a decent video for this activity…and it was only a five minute recording!

Here’s what I learned. To properly do a series of videos, I’ll need a dedicated space to create in and some essential equipment. I propped my phone up in my creative studio, which seems appropriate enough. However I dealt with too much sunlight filtering in through the closed blinds, my iPhone falling over while I recorded and a cat that just had to check out what was going on. And then there were the flubs as I spoke!

It’s all valuable experience that I’m grateful for. I’m encouraged to keep trying and keep going. I know there is another video related activity still in the jar. I’ll see how that one goes compared to this initial attempt.

Home Stretch Video
Take ten. And it’s a photo of the video…not a clickable video fortunately. 

Happy Birthday to Me

Thursday is my birthday. It’s already been a unique celebration, or series of celebrations rather, that I’ve thoroughly enjoyed. I’m grateful that my granddaughter suggested this idea to me. She’s very aware of what I’ve been doing and that precious girl has been my biggest cheerleader the last eight weeks.

I’ll finish this series on Friday, although I expect that the impact from this imaginative game will continue for some time. I’ve given myself a remarkable gift.

Week Eight Activities

Check out the other activities during weeks one, two, three, four, five, six and seven.

 

Amazon finds:

 


 

 

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2019 Year in Review

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

Wow, what an extraordinary year! I knew going into 2019 that the next twelve months were going to grow me and that I’d exit the year a different person. That’s true for everyone, I think, whether they are aware of it or not. Every day, week, month and year brings opportunities to grow. I definitely experienced profound shifts.

Check out 2019 Year in Review for the highlights.

2019 Year in Review title meme

Focus for 2019

I primarily focused on two things last year, growing the blogs and a planned trip to Scotland. Many joys and some challenges filled in the spaces between those two big goals, creating a year of shifts and letting go.

My word for 2019, Enchantment, inspired me to use my thoughts, words and actions to create the reality that I desire. My symbol, the queen chess piece, came to me through a Divine question:

“Do you want to be the Queen of your own kingdom, or a pawn in someone else’s?”

During 2019, as the Queen of Enchantment, I focused on building my kingdom through writing, sharing, speaking and engaging.

The 2019 Year in Review is very simple as it basically covers two areas.

2019 Year in Review Queen Chess Piece
2019 Year in Review – the Queen of Enchantment

2019 Year in Review Blogs

The Blogs

This year brought huge growth in me as a blogger and in the blogs as well. I began the year by taking an online blogging class. Blogging Blastoff, created and taught by Heather and Pete Reese, is a 30 day course with daily, online classes. I’ve been blogging for more than six years, however, I’ve never taken a class. How helpful this course is. I highly recommend it to anyone who is interested in creating a blog or monetizing an existing one.

Click this LINK to check out their classes. There’s an excellent free five day getting started course as well.

That class changed the course of my blogs. As a result, I now earn money through affiliate connections, like with Amazon, and through sponsorships with companies and brands. This past year I worked with 16 brands…and counting. I was also featured in two national magazines, Woman’s World and For Women First, guested on my first two podcasts, did a Facebook live for a group and did interviews.

These activities not only helped my blogs to grow, they expanded my abilities as well. I’m not exaggerating when I say that I spend hours and hours a day, working on my writing and my blogs. I love the journey though. And I’ve connected with other bloggers, which was a key component missing from my blogging journey before. There are so many amazing bloggers out there and I’m privileged to call some of them friends. We help each other out and encourage one another, sharing our accomplishments and our challenges.

 

2019 Year in Review Podcasts
2019 Year in Review – Podcasts
2019 Year in Review Magazines
2019 Year in Review – Magazines. My mom and I were in the Woman’s World piece together, which was so much fun.

The Scotland Trip

If you know anything about me, you know this…I love Scotland. My Scottish DNA seems to work as a powerful magnet, drawing me ever toward my ancestral home. The highlight of 2019 was a trip to Scotland, accompanied by my sister Debbie. We made Edinburgh our homebase while we explored that gorgeous, ancient city and met up, for the first time, with Clan Maitland members from around the world.

For me, Edinburgh is home, even though my family originates from Lauder, in the Borders. I’ve never experienced the connection anywhere else, that I feel in Edinburgh. This was my third trip to Scotland and I never tire of wandering the streets and closes of Edinburgh. The energy is amazing there, the sights and sounds exhilarating and the people so friendly. Debbie and I spent many happy hours exploring the city. A couple of vegan restaurants, Seeds for the Soul and Beetroot Sauvage, comped meals for us and a vegan bakery gave us extra treats to take back to our apartment.

I’m grateful that my sister traveled with me. It was a trip to remember. My next Scottish intention is visiting Edinburgh at Christmas time.

2019 Year in Review
2019 Year in Review – Seeds for the Soul Vegan Cafe
2019 Year in Review Scotland
Edinburgh, Scotland…my favorite city in the world. That’s Edinburgh Castle in the background.
2019 Year in Review Scottish Lasses
2019 Year in Review – Scottish Lasses. We were at our Clan Maitland Formal Dinner.

Clan Maitland

The second part of visiting Scotland involved meeting Scottish kin. Debbie and I are members of Clan Maitland, which includes those with Maitland and Lauderdale surnames. Early ancestors came from Normandy and settled eventually near Lauder, Scotland in the Borders. The family lineage includes a duke and a long line of earls. Our clan chief is Ian Maitland, the 18th Earl of Lauderdale. And there is a castle in Lauder, Thirlestane, that is occupied by another branch of the family.

What an amazing adventure, to meet Ian, his son John, and family members from New Zealand, the US, Scotland, England and France. As a family we explored places in the Borders connected historically to the Maitlands. Our little group of about 30 people bonded during our days together and truly became family, or kin as Ian liked to call us. We toured Thirlestane Castle and met our in-residence family members there, Edward and Sarah Maitland-Carew. They were such gracious hosts. Edward and Ian entertained us with stories about the castle as we toured the rooms and shared afternoon tea together.

Debbie and I left Scotland, reluctantly, but with full hearts and connections with new cousins. Clan means family, Ian reminded us daily. I love my expanded family and I look forward to seeing them again.

2019 Year in Review Clan Maitland
2019 Year in Review – Clan Maitland in front of Thirlestane Castle

A New Adventure Begins

Exiting 2019, I leave with a kingdom that I’ve build with my own efforts, words and actions.  I’ll be leaving real estate by the end of this year, parking my license with Keller Williams.

It is time for me to expand my tiny kingdom. I have a new word and a new symbol for 2020, and big dreams and intentions. I am the Queen of Enchantment still though, the queen of my own kingdom. Creating my reality is my calling, along with helping others to live beyond comfort zones, limiting beliefs, poor health and fears.

Thank you for journeying with me. It means so much to me. I’m excited to see where I go this year, who I meet and what doors open! Join me on this next adventure during the Year of Curiosity.

Curiosity Quoye

Check out these books and products from 2019:

 


Cindy Goes Beyond is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program. This affiliate program provides a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon.com, all at no extra cost to you.

I am an affiliate with It’s a Lovely Life and Blogging Blastoff. All opinions are my own.

 

Adapting As I Go

This post may contain affiliate links. Please read my Disclosure Policy for details.

With Christmas properly celebrated and captured in memory, it’s onward with the 62 outrageous things to do for my 62nd birthday. As the new year approaches, bringing my birthday on January 9th, the number of folded papers in my jar dwindles. With the holiday in the middle of last week, it was a challenge to complete the daily birthday activities. And, as you are about to discover, not all went as I thought it would, requiring shifts. That’s okay. In fact, it’s more than okay. Adapting as I go is one of the ways that I learn and grow and go beyond.

Here are the week seven celebrations.

Adapting As I Go title meme

 Week Seven Celebrations

As a reminder, I wrote 62 activities on slips of paper. I folded those papers up and dropped them into a jar. Every morning I draw out an activity and do what is written on the paper. I love this game, trusting that the activity I randomly select is the perfect one for that particular day. This is a game that I play frequently, for various reasons. My trust and playfulness have both deepened greatly as a result.

Adapting As I Go

Full confession….there were days I accomplished my activities…and days when I simply did not have enough time. So a couple of days, I did two activities at once. However, that did not in any way lessen the magic of playing this game. I marvel, truly, at the way that life unfolds, playfully, amazingly, when I open up and allow. One of the most important lessons that I’m learning during this game is to get out of my own way. Don’t overthink. Stay open and aware. Don’t try to control anything. Have fun.

Reach Out to a Brand for a Sponsorship

My original intention here was to reach out to a brand that I use and love. I considered the companies represented by the products in my home. And yet…as I turn over ideas in my mind, none of them stuck. That’s a sure sign to me that I haven’t hit on the right idea yet.

I finally realized I needed to think bigger, reach farther. Reach was actually my word for the year many years ago. And suddenly that word stood out on my slip of paper. Reach out.

I reached out to Amtrak, the cross country train service, with a sponsored post idea. This company is adapting the way that they market their services. They recognize the benefits of working with those who post frequently on social media. Even though there isn’t a stop in Joplin for Amtrak, I’d happily travel to where there is one and embark from there. How fun and educational a trip on rails would be. I’ll let you know how this activity turns out!

Adapting As I Go Amtrak
Adapting As I Go…with Amtrak

Order Business Cards for the Blogs

This activity seems easy enough. I even had an online graphic design company in mind to order from. However, looking through an endless assortment of biz cards and designs, nothing grabbed my interest.

And then I began to doubt. Does anyone still use actual business cards in this digital age? What would I use business cards for? Did I need business cards?

I played with creating my own designs and saved them while I do a bit of research to see if business cards are necessary or desirable. What’s your opinion? Do you still use actual cards?

Adapting As I Go Business Cards

Give Something Away Today

This activity beautifully coincided with Christmas Day. I’d already come up with a gift that I gave to several family members called a Giving Jar. What a perfect item to give away on this day and how amazingly synchronous.

My giving jars contain a Christmas Stove Top Potpourri with mandarin oranges, cranberries, cinnamon sticks, sprigs of pine and spices. As the ingredients simmer in a pot of water, the whole house smells like Christmas. Check out this post, which details how to make the potpourri.

I went a step further, turning the gift jars into giving jars. The attached card reads: This is a giving jar. After you’ve enjoyed the contents, fill the jar with something else and pass it on to someone else.

Receive and Give

The best part of this story is that once I decided on creating giving jars, events magically transpired to birth that idea into reality. I wanted to use mason jars and cover the lids with fabric. I’d recently uncovered a box in the attic that appeared to contain Ball mason jars. I retrieved the box, which came from the home of Greg’s parents after his father passed.

When I opened the box a few days before Christmas, for the first time since bringing it home, I discovered vintage mason jars as I expected. However on closer inspection I also found red, green and white material folded up. The square patterns were perfect for cutting apart to use as lid covers. I’d only need pinking shears. Do you know what else was tucked into the box? Yes, pinking shears. I can only guess that Greg’s mother created gift jars years ago and this old cardboard box contained the leftover materials.

When things like this happen, I feel so aligned with the flow of life, so connected to the Divine, so delighted in all that is. I expressed joyful gratitude for the discovery…and created the giving jars.

Adapting As I Go Giving Jars

Work in a Different Spot

The convenience of a smart phone and a laptop means I can work from any room in my house. This activity challenged me to find a different place to work.

After the tornado ripped through Joplin in 2011, the city built a new public library on the corner of 20th and Connecticut. I love this beautiful space with its huge windows and comfortable, modern furniture. This became my designated “different spot” to work in.

I found a rocking chair and a small table near huge windows on the east side of the main room in the library. By the time I arrived, darkness curtained the window. However, I enjoyed filling out the month of January in my new planner and writing in my idea notebook. I’ll return to this spot soon when it’s daytime and I can enjoy the views out the windows.

Adapting As I Go in the Library
Adapting As I Go in the Library. I didn’t have a stalker. Greg took this photo as I worked.

Read a Book in a Different Genre

The library served a dual purpose, as I accomplished two activities at once there. Not only did I work, I also checked out a book in a different genre. I read widely, so when I considered possibilities, the first out of the ordinary genre that came to mind was political thriller.

Scrolling through a list of political thrillers on my phone, a title jumped out at me, The President is Missing. The authors intrigued me as well. President Bill Clinton collaborated on this story with James Patterson. I love when people step beyond who they are perceived to be and offer something new. I’m excited to complete the book. And in the same vein, I’m looking forward to visiting Crystal Bridges Art Museum in Arkansas and viewing paintings by another president who has discovered new creative abilities, George W. Bush.

Bill Clinton Book

Say Yes Ten Times During the Day

This activity proved interesting. I’ve always practiced saying yes more often than no, even as a parent and grandparent. However, when you have no idea what opportunities…or obligations…are coming in a day, saying yes can appear risky.

I love how this activity turned out. Briefly, the ten yeses broke down like this. Three yeses secured new clients, one brought an offer to learn more about cooking Indian food, three yeses connected me to blogging adventures, one provided an app to try out for a brand and two involved learning more about travel writing.

By the end of the day, I felt joyful, full of light and open to possibilities. That’s the power of yes.

The Power of Yes

Try a New Fruit

I’m sure there are fruits I have not yet tried. Living in the midwest limits what’s available though. I hoped to experience something exotic, like jackfruit. I knew I wouldn’t find a fresh jackfruit in the produce section of my market but I hoped to find a can of it on the shelves. No.

Back to the produce section I went, where it seems a plant based diet has exposed me to everything there. After all, I eat a lot of fruit. Walking around, thinking and adapting as I go, I spy a  bin of whole pineapples.

Of course, I’ve eaten pineapple. I love the fruit. But….I’ve never eaten a fresh pineapple that I prepared myself. That’s how I adapted for this activity. I cut up a fresh pineapple, using the instructions on the tag attached to the fruit.

Now I’m wondering why whole pineapples intimidated me all these years. It wasn’t difficult to cut up and I’ll enjoy my fresh pineapple this week combined with other fruits in a salad.

Adapting As I Go
Adapting As I Go…fresh pineapple becomes a new fruit.

Ten More Days

My birthday is ten days away. Ten more days until the game ends. This has been a fun and remarkable experience. I’m excited to share some of the lessons learned and ahas realized on January 9th. Thank you for playing along!

Check out the other weeks of activities here: week one, two, three, four, five and six.

Week Seven Birthday Activities
Adapting as I go through week seven activities.

Check out these finds from Amazon and create your own giving jars:

 


 

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