Emancipated Love Junkie

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Thank you to author Rachel Wilshusen for sending me her book, Emancipated Love Junkie, for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

 

As a blogger, I get many requests to read and review books. I love to read, however I do not have the time currently to enjoy many books, necessitating the turning down of most requests.

Occasionally, though, an author and book comes along that captivates me or touches me, even before I hold the book in my hands. Rachel Wilshusen is such an author who has written such a book.

The subject of eating disorders is not unfamiliar to me. I understand the importance of offering help to those who feel trapped by their thoughts about and perceptions of food. Rachel’s charming email, writing style and her travels intrigued me. Over the last month I have indeed held her book in my hands and carried it around with me as I read her moving memoir and followed her healing journey. I’m grateful for the opportunity.

Check out this book review for Emancipated Love Junkie.

Emancipated Love Junkie title meme

Meet Rachel Wilshusen

Rachel is a vibrant writer with liberal arts degrees from not one but three universities: University of Pennsylvania, University College London and University of Cambridge.

She’s lived on both the east and west coasts of the United States and also in the midwestern state of Oklahoma. As a young adult she traveled, living and working in Canada, England and China.

During her travels, this talented woman worked as an executive assistant, rock musician, teacher, playwright, and cookie company owner.

However, Rachel hid a secret.

For 20 years, she struggled with eating disorders, including bingeing and anorexia. Emancipated Love Junkie is a beautiful, humorous and oft times painfully honest memoir of the journey that ultimately led to her recovery.

Emancipated Love Junkie rachel
Rachel Wilshusen, author of Emancipated Love Junkie. Photo from her website.

Rachel’s Story

From her early childhood in Arizona to her travels around the world, Rachel details her shifting relationship with food. And beyond that, she shares her deteriorating relationship with herself.

Raised with an appreciation for family, homecooked meals and baked goods, Rachel felt she was a star ascending…if only others could see her the way she envisioned herself. She clung to the bright hope for her future that children instinctively possess, until life began to tarnish her vision.

The family moved frequently, due to her father’s work as an Army doctor. Rachel often felt like an outsider in new schools as she tried desperately to fit in. And yet, she experienced the warmth of a close knit family. She found pleasure in running. Beyond a doubt, she knew she was meant for so much more than standing on the fringes.

By high school, Rachel’s love/hate relationship with food began. If she could just control what she ate, and when she ate, things would change. She could be one of the popular girls, one of the “Sylvias” that seemed to have it all together.

The struggles with eating deepened. Times of starvation followed bouts of bingeing. The negative self talk began. That inner critic, which Rachel nicknamed Mal, became a constant companion.

High Highs and Low Lows

As she bounced around the US and the world, Rachel drove herself to achieve, to present herself as the best teacher, executive assistant or cookie maker. And she succeeded. Additionally, the long days and hard work helped silence her inner critic. However, those perfectionist tendencies took a toll on her physically, emotionally and mentally.

After binge eating a whole pizza one night, and feeling the agony of an overly full stomach after a day of starvation, she made a vow. No more bingeing. Ever.

Thereafter, Rachel attempted to maintain what she considered her ideal weight and size by severely limiting food intake. She appeared successful and thin and brilliant…and she was all of those things. Beneath the shiny exterior though lurked dark thoughts of failing, of not being enough, of not being worthy.

This is a healing journey, thankfully. To get to the recovery part, Rachel had to get to the face-pressed-against-the-floorboards, “I can’t do this anymore” part. She did. And when she reached out, she found help available.

Emancipated Love Junkie collect beautiful moments
Emancipated Love Junkie – collect beautiful moments

My Thoughts About Emancipated Love Junkie

Rachel’s book powerfully captures her journey to recovery and healing. I found her transparency incredibly honest and authentic. Coupled with her conversational and charming writing style, Rachel’s story is easy to read while difficult to put down. She includes Self Love Gems throughout the book that offer helpful suggestions and positive actions.

I hurt for her, as I read about her struggles with food and self worth.  I literally became aware of pressing my hand over my heart as I felt compassion for her.

And although I did not dealt with bingeing or anorexia, I had complicated relationships with food and with myself. I understand Rachel’s journey. My health shifted, for the better, when my relationship with food shifted. For most of my life, I ate foods that I knew created discomfort and inflammation in my body. Gluten and dairy products made me sick. I consumed them anyway. When I felt happy, I ate. When I felt sad, I ate. Loneliness? Boredom? The solution was always food.

I’m grateful for a healthy relationship now with food and with myself.

And I’m grateful as well for Rachel and her changed relationships with food and herself.

She has much to offer to the world. To those struggling secretly or openly with eating disorders, Rachel offers hope.

Emancipated Love Junkie book
Emancipated Love Junkie book

Purchasing Rachel’s Book

You can order Emancipated Love Junkie via Rachel’s website HERE. Or by clicking this Amazon LINK.

 

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.

 

 

Bridgerton Series Review

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

Typically, this time of year is award season, for films and series. Due to last year’s restrictions on producing those films and series, all award shows are currently pushed farther out.

I realized today how few movies I watched last year, perhaps the lowest number in my entire life. My local movie theater closed last March and has not opened again. Thankfully there are streaming services, offering a variety of wonderful movies, documentaries and series.

For some reason, I’ve gravitated toward more series than films during this strange time. As nominations come in for awards, my viewing patterns will shift. Today, however, allow me to share a review of one of my favorite series…so far…currently available on Netflix. I enjoyed the eight episodes so much that I did a rare thing. I watched the entire series for a second time and loved it as much.

Check out my Bridgerton series review.

Bridgerton Review title meme

Bridgerton Cast

This opulent, Netflix Original Series features a large ensemble cast. Actors include Phoebe Dynevor, Regé-Jean Page, Nicola Coughlan, Jonathan Bailey, Harriet Cains, Bessie Carter, Ruth Gemmell, Florence Hunt, Claudia Jessie, Luke Newton, Luke Thompson, Will Tilston, Ruby Barker, Ben Miller, Adjoa Andoh, Polly Walker, Golda Rosheuvel, Ruby Stokes, Freddie Stroma and Julie Andrews (voice only).

Directors for the series include Julie Anne Robinson, Sheree Folkson, Alrick Riley and Tom Verica. Chris Van Dusen created the series, based on the books by Julia Quinn.

Each of the eight episodes runs an hour and carries an Ma for mature rating.

Bridgerton Review the fam
Bridgerton Series Review – the family, minus daughter Fran

Meet the Bridgertons

The title of the series comes from the family bearing the same name. The tagline sets the tone for what unfolds during the eight episodes: “Wealth, lust and betrayal set against the backdrop of Regency Era England, as seen through the eyes of the powerful Bridgerton Family.

Lady Violet Bridgerton (Gemmell) raises her large family of eight children alone, after the death of her husband. For convenience, the couple used names beginning with A – H for their offspring: Anthony (Bailey), Benedict (Thompson), Colin (Newton), Daphne (Dynevor), Eloise (Jessie), Francesca (Stokes), Gregory (Tilston) and Hyacinth (Hunt). That trick helps the viewer keep the children straight as well!

The story focuses on Daphne Bridgerton, fourth born child and eldest daughter, at the beginning of the London Season. Every unmarried young woman…and her anxious mama…are out and on the hunt for a suitable husband.

Bridgerton Review daphne
Bridgerton Series Review – Daphne

The London Season

Daphne debuts and sets the bar high, as Queen Charlotte (Rosheuvel) notices her during the presentation of the debutantes. The mysterious writer of the high society gossip sheet, Lady Whistledown (voiced by Andrews), creates a stir with her scathing commentary on London’s elite. Although no one knows who she is (including the viewers), she seems to know everything about everyone.

When London’s most eligible bachelor, Simon the Duke of Hasting (Page), arrives in town, he and Daphne strike an unusual deal. Daphne wants to marry for love, in spite of her brother Anthony’s intention to make a quick match for her. And Simon never wants to marry at all. The two decide to create a pretend courtship. The ruse keeps mothers and their single daughters away from him. And Daphne can take her time finding a suitor to fall in love with.

Bridgerton Review duke and duchess
Bridgerton Series Review – less a match, more an agreement

London Atwitter

It turns out Lady Whistledown has much to write about.

Neighbors of the Bridgertons, the Featheringtons, gain a niece for the Season, much to Lady Featherington’s (Walker) dismay.  She already has three unmarried daughters to find husbands for: Philipa (Cains), Prudence (Carter) and Penelope (Coughlan). And Lord Featherington’s (Miller) niece, Marina (Barker), possesses beauty, charm and a sharp wit. She immediately attracts many would-be suitors, including Colin Bridgerton.

When Queen Charlotte’s nephew, Prince Friedrich (Stroma) arrives, and strives to win Daphne’ heart, all of London watches to see who ends up with the “diamond of the season”.

Bridgerton Review queen charlottes court
Bridgerton Series Review – Queen Charlotte’s court

Mysteries, Secrets and Scandals

While courtships form or falter and love blossoms or dies, the undercurrent in London becomes more complex. Eloise and Penelope form a partnership to uncover the identity of the mysterious Lady Whistledown.

Marina hides a secret that makes her desperate to marry quickly. And Daphne must choose between a prince and the man who vows he will never marry, but who has captured her heart nonetheless. Simon is not immune to Daphne’s charms however a difficult relationship with his father hardened his heart toward marriage and siring children.

Presiding over all these stories…of joy, desire and heartbreak…and over all the balls and society gatherings, is the queen and Lady Danbury (Andoh). This feisty, fierce, yet kind woman knows more about Simon and matters of the heart than anyone else.

Bridgerton Review simon and lady danbury
Bridgerton Series Review – Lady Danbury and Simon

My Thoughts on Bridgerton

I loved this series. First of all, because it’s a lavishly depicted historical piece. The costumes and settings astound with their beauty. And I find British shows especially fun to watch.

Secondly, I enjoyed the multiple story lines. A few characters, like Pen’s sisters, have minor roles. That’s understandable with a cast this large. Most characters though develop nicely as the series progresses. I came to adore Eloise Bridgerton, who follows curiosity and never hesitates to speak her mind. And Penelope is a joy to watch as she learns to carve out her own unique space apart from her mother and sisters.

And finally, I appreciate the casting of the characters. Everyone is simply, or complexly, who they are, regardless of race or skin color. They are people with complicated, intriguing stories and lives, period. Although set in the past, Bridgerton shows what’s possible when we accept each other as we are.

Bridgerton Review behind the scenes
Bridgerton Series Review – fun behind the scenes moment

Second Season Picked Up

The good news is, for those of us who watched Bridgerton and immediately craved more, a second season is on the way. I’m so excited!

There are eight books in the series, and Netflix intends to create eight seasons. Each book focuses on a different Bridgerton child. The series intends to follow the same format. That means I have seven more seasons to look forward to. In the meantime, I’m now reading the books.

Have you seen Bridgerton? If so, I’d love to read your thoughts in the comments. If not, know this. The series is intended for mature audiences. Due to some nudity and quite a lot of sexual content, this series is not for children. Savor the show after the kids go to bed, with a glass of wine or a mug of hot tea. But do savor it. It’s a visual and emotional treat.

Bridgerton Review Anthony
Bridgerton Series Review – season two focuses on the eldest Bridgerton child, Anthony

Pick up the Bridgerton books from Amazon:

 


 

And if you enjoyed this series review, check out this one:

Yellowstone Series Review

 

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.

 

 

 

The Story Behind Little Golden Books

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

As one of my celebration activities, during the 63 Curious Things to Do for My 63rd Birthday, I drew this slip of paper: Write about a topic I’ve never written about before.

I had just boxed up children’s books in my home and delivered them to my daughter, for her baby girl, Finley. Delivering the books, I wondered, When did Little Golden Books come into existence? I remembered reading them as a child. And I read them to my children and grandchildren.

That question led to research and a blog topic I’ve never written about before.

Here’s the story behind Little Golden Books.

The Story Behind Little Golden Books title meme

The Beginning of Little Golden Books

When Little Golden Books first published, in 1942, high quality books for children were expensive, averaging $2 to $3 each. Most parents couldn’t afford such books. Little Golden Books changed that, launching 12 titles in their first series.

Sold in stores where people shopped weekly, and at an extremely reasonable 25 cents each, the books gained instant popularity. Hundreds of thousands of books sold, drawing the attention of talented writers such as Margaret Wise Brown, author of Goodnight Moon, and new author Richard Scarry. Millions of children developed a love for reading, thanks to these affordable books.

The first three titles published in 1942 included Three Little Kittens, The Little Red Hen and The Alphabet from A to Z. Each book featured brightly colored illustrations and a sturdy cardboard cover with a shiny, golden spine.

The Story Behind Little Golden Books red hen
The Story Behind Little Golden Books – The Little Red Hen

 

Little Golden Books Timeline

1940s

Just four months after their initial launch, most Little Golden Book titles are in their third printing. More than 1.5 million copies sell during that time.

In 1944, Disney publishes their first Little Golden Book, Through the Picture Frame.

1950s

In the 1950s the company celebrates its 10th anniversary with 183 million books sold. The cost is still 25 cents. Except for Russia, the books are available throughout the world.

1960s

Prices raise slightly in the 60s, to 29 cents. Due to the popularity of Saturday morning cartoons, titles include favorites such as The Flintstones, Huckleberry Hound and Tom and Jerry.

1970s

Sesame Street titles join Little Golden Books in the 1970s. And the first Barbie title is published in 1974. The price per book is now 59 cents.

1980s

In 1982, Little Golden Books celebrates its 40th anniversary, with more than 800 million books sold. Cost per book rises to 89 cents. On November 20, 1986, the one billionth Little Golden Book is printed. The Poky Little Puppy becomes the best selling children’s book of all time.

Click photo to order this title from Amazon.

2000s

By the 2000s, the company relaunches its most popular vintage books, due to consumer demand. Little Golden Books offers 1200 unique titles, priced at $2.99 each.

2010s

July 2013 sees the release of Star Wars Little Golden Books, with a Star Wars theme on the golden spines. Books are now $3.99 each. Random House publishes the New York Times bestseller, Everything I Need to Know, I Learned from a Little Golden Book, by Diane Muldrow.

Little Golden Books celebrates its 75th anniversary in 2017. There are 644 titles in print. Books sell for $4.99. The company continues to release new titles for today’s child. Penguin Random House is the current publisher.

A recent release, available from Amazon. Click photo to order.

A Childhood Tradition that Continues

I grew up reading Little Golden Books. My favorite titles were fairy tales and classics such as The Little Red Hen. When my family moved from Oklahoma to Missouri, in 1970, we sold our collection of books at a garage sale. Oh, how I wish I still had my childhood books!

My children grew up reading Little Golden Books as well. Their favorites included stories about animals, tie ins to television shows such Sesame Street and Pano the Train. I read The Boy with a Drum so many times that I memorized it. That book continued as an often requested read from my grandchildren. I can still quote most of the book from memory.

The Story Behind Little Golden Books vintage
The Story Behind Little Golden Books – these are vintage now and well worn from years of reading

A New Home for My Little Golden Books

With the birth of my newest granddaughter, Finley Grace, it felt like time for the collection of books to go to a new home. I boxed up the Little Golden Books along with Dr. Seuss classics and paperback favorites such as The Berenstain Bears series.

My daughter Adriel graciously accepted those books and gave them a new home in the baby’s nursery. I’m so thrilled that Adriel and her husband Nate read to Finley daily and indeed began reading to her while she was still in the womb. At almost three months old, she loves books already.

My oldest child, daughter Elissa, recently showed me the copy of the Ruth Bader Ginsburg Little Golden Book that she had just purchased. I admired it and asked if the book was for Finley. “Oh no,” she told me. “This is my book.”

That’s my girl. And that’s the continuing power of Little Golden Books.

Do you have a favorite title?

The Story Behind Little Golden Books bookcase
The Story Behind Little Golden Books – a new home for the books

Check out more Little Golden Books 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.

 

 

 

Book Review Live Life Colorfully

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

Thank you to wunderkind pr for sending Live Life Colorfully for review purposes. All opinions are my own.

 

In the midst of an ongoing, world wide pandemic and the accompanying changes we all continue to experience, it’s refreshing to dive into a book that encourages creativity and seeing life differently.

Jason Naylor’s beautiful book, Live Life Colorfully, offers respite, uplifts the spirit and fires up the creativity nestled within us all. I can’t help but smile over the bold, colorful pages as I slowly and thoughtfully thumb through the book. Each page is an invitation to bring more color, more positivity, into my life. It’s an invitation I happily accept.

Allow me to introduce you to Jason Naylor and his colorful life.

Live Life Colorfully title meme

Meet Jason Naylor

Jason is an award winning artist and designer based in NYC. He is known for his bright colors and even brighter messages of hope. Originally from Salt Lake City, he traveled to New York as a teen and felt drawn to the color, the art and the culture there.

Jason’s work has received global recognition, including the Golden Novum Design award, and he has been featured on HGTV and the Discovery Channel. In 2018, Jason was named by BUMBLE as one of the 100 Most Inspiring New Yorkers, and his colorful creations have found partnership with brands like Coach, Guess, Pepsi, and Maybelline.

Jason’s mission is to spread color and positivity around the world. His brightly colored designs and insightful words reflect his zeal for life, his quest for joy, and his love of LOVE.  His art ranges from videos to illustrations to typography to murals. And now he’s created his first book, Live Life Colorfully.

“I like to describe my color palette as electric. My art is very reliant upon messaging, often about kindness or love, but I don’t see these as something passive. I think they should be treated with passion and energy, and my palette supports that.” Jason Naylor

Those words perfectly capture Jason’s book. It’s full of that passion and energy.

Live Life Colorfully Jason Naylor
Live Life Colorfully – artist Jason Naylor

Live Life Colorfully Book

One of Jason’s strongest messages is to “live life colorfully” so it’s no surprise to discover those words as the title and theme of his new release.

The square hardcover book features rich, bold colors on pages with black  or brilliantly hued backgrounds. However, this isn’t just a book to read cover to cover or a “coffee table” book. No. This beautiful book offers insights, tips, quotes and activities…99 of them…to add joy, positivity and creativity to life.

Did you know that looking at or using strong vibrant colors lifts the spirits, stimulates the brain and boosts creativity?

Live Life Colorfully offers all of that within its pages with a mix of inspiration, tips and fun activities.  It’s the perfect gift for self help, motivation, and happiness seekers, as well as lovers of pop art and bright colors.

Live Life Colorfully page 54
Live Life Colorfully – #54 Albert Einstein quote

Sample of Pages

Take a look at some of the bright, fun pages within Live Life Colorfully.

#24 Color Your Sidewalk

How long has it been since YOU colored on the sidewalk? It’s an activity children enjoy however as adults, we either don’t take the time to play in this way or we feel foolish for coloring madly on the sidewalk.

Jason encourages the reconnection with the inner child, something I’ve been consciously doing for several years. It’s amazing how doing so fires up creativity.

Live Life Colorfully page 24
Live Life Colorfully – #24 Color Your Sidewalk

#2 Stick it to the (Hu)Man

I love the reminder on this page to leave encouraging notes around the home or office. I have a stack of colorful sticky notes, which is perfect! Often we crave words of praise from someone…anyone. We can encourage ourselves with funny sayings, words of praise or inspiring quotes.

And what a great idea for brightening a child’s room or surprising a co-worker.

Live Life Colorfully page 2
Live Life Colorfully – #2 Leave sticky notes around the house or office

#77 Four Letter Words

I love this activity. Jason writes that four letter words, also called colorful language, often refer to profane or vulgar words. However he says we get it wrong. There are many four letter words that inspire, encourage, uplift or possess deeper meanings.

Jason shares some of his favorite four letter words and invites the reader to come up with more.

Live Life Colorfully 77
Live Life Colorfully – #77 Four Letter Words

My Thoughts About Live Life Colorfully

Simply stated, I love this book. I feel energized, joyful and creative as I work through it. The quotes inspire me. And some of the pages elicit a laugh while others lead me to deeper thoughts and realizations.

There are pages on cutting out fear, making a paper airplane, growing succulents and shining as your absolute self. One activity encourages the reader to give things away. Another one discusses hugs.  There’s a helpful tip on organizing your phone apps by color and one to colorize your closet.

Jason lives life boldly, compassionately, confidently and yes, colorfully and I appreciate the gifts he offers to the world.

In the forward to the book, Jason shares these words:

“Live life colorfully is a succinct way to say ‘Be yourself, be brave, be proud of who you are, be kind, be loving and be happy!’ I hope that exploring this book will help you do just that.”

That’s exactly what the book is doing as I explore it. I randomly open to a page and read the text. If an activity is present, then I do that. During a year when my intention is to be my most authentic, creative “wild woman” self, Jason’s book serves as a powerful reminder of what that means.

Live Life Colorfully 53
Live Life Colorfully – #53 Use Colored Pens

Get Your Book

Are you ready to bring more color, creativity and joy into your life?

You can order your copy of Live Life Colorfully at Chronicle Books or through Bookshop. It’s also available at Amazon.

I believe you’ll enjoy colorizing your life!

Book Cover

 

 

 

 

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.

 

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together

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

We all appreciate companions in our lives, people who journey alongside, encouraging and supporting us. Plants, it turns out, enjoy a form of companionship as well.

Companion gardening is the practice of planting specific plants close together, for the mutual benefit of both. Our grandparents and great grandparents understood that plants thrive better when certain combinations are tucked into the ground together. I’m learning more about this helpful process.

Companion gardening, plants that thrive together, offers a list to try out in your own backyard or garden space.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together title meme

The Benefits of Companion Gardening

Tom Maloney, horticulture educator for Penn State Extension, says

“The theory behind companion planting is that certain plants may help each other take up nutrients, improve pest management, or attract pollinators.”

Flowering herbs and plants attract pollinators such as butterflies, bees, wasps and birds that improve the growth and yield of certain vegetables. Other strong smelling flowers or herbs help to deter pests such as beetles or aphids. Large leafy vegetables provide shade for smaller plants or give climbers support. While sprawling plants like okra or squash help keep weeds from springing up.

Try the following companion gardening plants that thrive together.

Cabbage and Chamomile

What a surprise this pairing presents! The flowering herb, known for its relaxing properties as a tea, draws beneficial insects to the cabbage plant.

In the fall, chop up any remaining chamomile, if you can bear to part with it yourself, and scatter the pieces over the vegetable garden to enrich the soil.

Tomatoes and Basil

This is a classic companion gardening combo and for good reason.

Basil and tomato plants share nutrients in the soil. The fragrant herb improves the flavor of the tomato plant and its strong scent, which I absolutely love, keeps pests away. Plus, experienced vegetable gardeners swear that they harvest more tomatoes when they companion plant them with basil.

Let some of the basil plants flower, to bring in those important pollinators.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together tomatoes and basil
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – tomatoes and basil

Tomatoes and Lettuce

Extend their growing season by planting lettuce crops, which prefer cooler temperatures, among taller tomato plants. The tomato plants shade the lettuce and help to protect them from too much sunlight.

Lettuce and Chives or Garlic

Those pesky aphids don’t like strongly scented herbs such as chives or garlic. Interplant chives or garlic with lettuce to protect their tender leaves. Consider adding the flower alyssum as well. It’s tiny white flowers attract beneficial insects. Or allow the chives to flower.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together chives and lettuce
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – lettuce and garlic

Radishes and Carrots

Since both of these are root vegetables, you’d think that they might compete for the same nutrients. However, radishes mature quickly and don’t grow as deeply in the soil.

Carrots mature more slowly and put down a longer taproot, drawing their nutrients from a different space.

Corn and Pole Beans and Squash or Pumpkins

This method of companion planting originated with Native Americans, who called it the Three Sisters.

Corn provides a framework for the beans to climb on. Beans convert nitrogen in the air into a form the plants use in the soil. And the squash or pumpkins sprawl out with their large leaves, preventing weeds from springing up and competing for nutrients.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together three sisters
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – corn, beans and squash

Melons and Flowering Herbs

Melons need pollinators to produce their fruit. Plant flowering herbs nearby to draw them in. Great herb choices include dill, fennel, thyme, mint or parsley. Provide a framework for melons to climb upon or give them plenty of space for the vines to sprawl naturally.

Broccoli and Calendula

The calendula plants produce a sticky substance on their stems that attract aphids and trap them. Planting the flowers near broccoli and related plants such as cabbage, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, kale and collards, keeps aphids under control.

Plus, ladybugs are attracted to the calendula flowers. And they love to dine on aphids.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together broccoli and calendula
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – broccoli and calendula

Cucumbers and Nasturtium

Grow cucumbers up a trellis or platform and plant colorful nasturtium beneath them.

The scent of the flowers repels damaging insects while the colorful flowers attract pollinators.

Summer Squash and Marigolds

Similarly, planting nasturtium or marigolds with summer squashes such as yellow squash or zucchini helps protect those plants. Aphids and beetles are repelled by the unique scents of these flowers.

Marigolds enhance the growth of other garden favorites such as basil, broccoli, cabbage, cucumbers, eggplant, gourds, kale, potatoes, squash and tomatoes. Or pair them with melons as a way to deter beetles. Do not plant marigolds near beans.

Companion Gardening Plants that Thrive Together squash and nasturtium
Companion gardening plants that thrive together – squash and nasturtium

Flowers that Pair Well Together

If you love flowers like I do, you might enjoy pairing these flowers together, in containers or your garden space.

  • black eyed Susans with garden phlox or coneflowers
  • daylilies with yarrow or lavendar
  • bee balm with Russian sage
  • daffodils with irises
  • shasta daisies with coneflowers

Need help coming up with a garden plan? Check out free garden plans HERE.

I hope you discovered fresh ideas for companion gardening! We all like a win/win situation. Flowers, herbs and vegetables benefit from such favorable arrangements as well.

Have you tried companion gardening? What pairings benefited your plants the most?

Companion Gardening

Check out these posts from the Backyard Gardening Series:

7 Summer Gardening Tasks

10 Low Maintenance Annuals to Grow

6 Ways to Personalize Your Garden

Gardening Helps 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.

 

 

 

Create Your Own Compost

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

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:

 


 

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.

 

10 Kitchen Herbs to Grow in Water

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

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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