Mad Cat Garden | July

July saw the garden really take off. Here is the record of last month progress.

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The flowers and cat nip were still going strong.

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We moved the corn out of a bed and into the ground.

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Strawberries and raspberries growing but slowly.

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Spinach and arugula went nuts. We plan to take them all out when and replant for fall.

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The last picture is of our compost squash. We had to wait until August to find out what it was!

What’s your best growing garden items this year?

July Plant Update

After a very rainy June, July’s bright hot days made all nature pop around Asbury Park, New Jersey! It was a great month for plant observations. We mostly stayed close to home, worked on the garden, and the beach.

From the beginning of July…

From the beginning of July…

… to the middle.

… to the middle.

Our clematis is going nuts.

Our clematis is going nuts.

The hostas bloomed.

The hostas bloomed.

My husband picked up some beautiful milkweed. Previously, I didn’t know there were so many varieties of monarch butterflies favorite plant.

My husband picked up some beautiful milkweed. Previously, I didn’t know there were so many varieties of monarch butterflies favorite plant.

Late season honeysuckle still going strong.

Late season honeysuckle still going strong.

Mid month we had some crazy storms, Many old trees were downed.

Mid month we had some crazy storms, Many old trees were downed.

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Lots of mushrooms this year.

Lots of mushrooms this year.

Anyone know what these magic puffballs are?

Anyone know what these magic puffballs are?

A neighbor’s garden in the beginning…

A neighbor’s garden in the beginning…

…and end of July.

…and end of July.

We were able to spend some time observing the sky at the beach.

We were able to spend some time observing the sky at the beach.

A rainbow gave July a good send off.

A rainbow gave July a good send off.

What did you observe this July? Are your favorite plants out now? Are flowers blooming?

Mad Cat Garden | June

May was the first month we started working on and tracking out garden, but June was when we really got down to business. June saw us buying and plating more, making more beds, and seeing plants grow and change. The changes between the beginning and end of June were huge, but these photos and records are mainly from the beginning on the month.

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June was extremely rainy. Many of the plats loved it! Our lilies returned and grew taller then me this year. They are not strictly part of the garden but a focus of June was to bring in pollinators with many flowers. The strawberries over wintered and started blossoming. We planted herbs and they thrived in the rain.

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In out front bed, also our first bed, tomato volunteers started popping up like mad and we had to thin them out. Rather than just toss the extras, we planted them in small pots to give away, or replanted them in other areas. We made new beds in the back and planted lettuce, arugula, broccoli (one is pictured in the first photo), corn, beans, and cucumbers.

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Many flowers helped attract bugs and bees. Our blueberries got off to a good start, enjoying the rain and producing lots of little soon to be bluebs.

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Tom often helped by inspecting the catnip patches. In June we created three new beds and had a delivery of filtered soil dropped off to fill them. Although pricy, we found this to be a convenient and zero waste alternative to buying many bags of dirt. We are still contributing to our compost on a regular basis, but it’s not big enough to fill beds. We do use some compost to help enrich the soil.

By the end of June, the yard looked very different, but we’ll have to wait until July’s update to take a look!

How is your garden growing?

June Plant Update

June was all about the flowers! The previous months were not as spectacular as they usually are, so June really shown this year. It was a wet month with only a few very hot day, so flowers and plants took a lot of days to grow and flourish in the wet and temperate weather. We were able to take some long walks, go to new places, visit nurseries to buy plants for our garden, and see some critters this month. This is the first month of 2019 that I feel like we got outside a proper amount.

The colors of various roses this year took my breath away.

The colors of various roses this year took my breath away.

Does anyone know what this plant is? It’s stunning and I’m seeing it in many places this year.

Does anyone know what this plant is? It’s stunning and I’m seeing it in many places this year.

Cuties.

Cuties.

So many climbing roses this year. These are not ours, but the ones we have in the back year went bananas. Those blooms were gone by June, however.

So many climbing roses this year. These are not ours, but the ones we have in the back year went bananas. Those blooms were gone by June, however.

We didn’t plan(t) well for pollinaters this year, but the bees loved our little lavender.

We didn’t plan(t) well for pollinaters this year, but the bees loved our little lavender.

Such colors!

Such colors!

Brooklyn Blooms.

Brooklyn Blooms.

There have been so many lightening bugs this year, it makes me happy!

There have been so many lightening bugs this year, it makes me happy!

Between rain showers, this neighbor headed to a dry porch.

Between rain showers, this neighbor headed to a dry porch.

Another surprising color of rose.

Another surprising color of rose.

So many kittens this year! Blooming like flowers. I hope they all find homes!

So many kittens this year! Blooming like flowers. I hope they all find homes!

A shy chicken at a local farmers market.

A shy chicken at a local farmers market.

Always in style.

Always in style.

A new generation of bunnies.

A new generation of bunnies.

What animals and plants are you seeing where you live? Do you have a favorite Summer plant?

6 Months of Zero Waste: February Declutter Review

In January I posted about 6 ways to reduce you waste, or become closer to the Zero Waste lifestyle. Here is a little refresher of something to do each month leading up to Plastic Free July:

January - Trash Audit
We separated and looked our trash to see what we are throwing away and what we can reduce.
February - Declutter Everything
March - Switch to Paper
April - Compost
May - Meatless Monday
June - No Bottled Water

How have you you been doing so far? I’ve gotten behind in reviewing and documenting each month, so hopefully you’ve been following along on your own. If not, no worries, it’s never too late to jump on and start! If you need the push to get started here is the February Review:

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In February we declutter.
That could be a motto for America this year, right? With Marie Kondo’s method for clean living being on the top of everyones to watch list, this was an easy month to get your self and your stuff sorted. Whether you use her life changing magic, or you just had some good old fashion cleaning sessions, decluttering and minimizing is a great step towards Zero Waste. Like the trash audit, it allows us to see what we are using and what we are wasting. Once we have established that, it’s easier to see where we can reduce in out day to day.

Personally, I didn’t get a lot decluttered in Feb, but I have been trying to declutter as I go, day to day. I know that I still need to take a full day for each area that needs to be reassessed.

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What’s great about this challange, is it’s ok to go at your own speed. Starting to think about waht your wasting, cstarting to be aware of waste that’s created day to day is the biggest piece of the puzzle. Changing your midset to think like a zero waster is the hardest part of being sero waste, but it’s also the biggest step, so once you’ve made that mindset shift, you’ve already come a long way!

How did your declutter go?

March Plant Update

I had high hopes that I would be out and about for most of March, but the weather was still cold and I was still in hibernation mode. I did get out some and we were able to check out some local plants in March.

Still brown, but this day spring was in the air.

Still brown, but this day spring was in the air.

There was a theme this month.

There was a theme this month.

totally happy to see these babes sprouting out.

totally happy to see these babes sprouting out.

And fully popped!

And fully popped!

Another.

Another.

What are these? I wish my whole yard was covered in them!

What are these? I wish my whole yard was covered in them!

These strawbs are ready for spring.

These strawbs are ready for spring.

So is our grandma rose.

So is our grandma rose.

And these magnolias. They’ve been trying since January.

And these magnolias. They’ve been trying since January.

Current state of our front bed.

Current state of our front bed.

What do the plants look like where you live?
Was March a good month for your plant observations?
What were you most excited to take note of this month?

What I Ate 2/20/19

This was a pretty typical of eating for me. And it was a pretty typical day for documenting in that it started off strong, but kinda petered off.

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Everyday, always, forever starts off with coffee.

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But I’ve also been smitten with ginger tea. So simple, so good! Usually this is just ginger slices in hot water. Sometimes I add honey.

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For breakfast/lunch/first meal of the day I had a salad with romaine, homemade crunchy croutons, Quorn chicken nuggets, and store bought caesar dressing. And lots of fresh ground black pepper!
Fake chicken doesn’t always agree with me, but a chicken caesar salad is one of my all time favorite meals and I was craving it! I love getting this brand and type bc it comes only in cardboard (no plastic!) and I can heat just a few nuggs up at a time, so there is less waste. Store bought dressing is one things I want to give up and start making myself, but I haven’t motivated to do it quite yet.

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On this day I went grocery shopping and couldn’t resist snacking on some pistachios in the car. We go on various nut kicks and pistachios have been a hot for a while now. I usually by them in a plastic bag, unfortunately. But we take that bag to be recycled at some of our local shops.

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Grocery shopping usually leads to unhealthy snacking for me! I have been digging these self-serve mochi lately. No plastic!

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My husband prefers the self-serve donuts. If they are around, I’ll take a bite.

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As usual, my dinner pics are a little lacking! We had one of our favorite vegan meals this night: tofu, rice, broccoli, peanuts, sesame seeds, and chili garlic sauce. I wish this meal were a little more zero waste, but the tofu and chili garlic sauce only come in plastic near us.

On many nights, I would also eat something sweet at the end of my meals, but since I snacked on so many sweets today I didn’t feel like eating anything else sweet.

I was happy to eat a lot of my favorite foods today but this could have easily been a vegan day of eating, as well. I find myself trying to assess my meals and see where they can become more vegan and more sustainable.

What did you eat today?

Back to Cape May for 6th Anniversary

We are not big occasion people. We don’t buy xmas gifts, we don’t go on dates, we don’t dress up. But one thing that we have celebrated for the last six years is our wedding anniversary. We always try to take a little trip around this time and this year, we headed back to an old favorite: Cape May, New Jersey.

We took a leisurely time to drive down to Cape May and stopped at a few thrift shops we enjoy along the way. We arrived just in time for the sunset. They are usually quite spectacular in this town.

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The night was easy and we took advantage of a warm room and a strong shower. In the morning we ate at the hotel restaurant before heading out into the snowy landscape.

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The Victorian homes and square are particularly striking in the snow.

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We always like to take a look at the sunken concrete ship at the end of the state.

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Our trip was very brief but relaxing and lovely. Here’s to another year to decide where to go next.

Past trips:
Philly
Princeton
Cape May
Washington DC

January Plant Update

I feel like I spent most of January in doors. I did have some plant observations but this was a slow month for it.
What months are you less inclined to get out and observe?

Bathroom Pothos

Bathroom Pothos

First snow of the year.

First snow of the year.

A visitor and some indoor plants.

A visitor and some indoor plants.

This local magnolia is always fuzzy.

This local magnolia is always fuzzy.

Who knows what February will bring for plants?

What did January look like where you live?

Off Season: Asbury Park Post Office

One of my favorite places in our city by the sea is the Asbury Park Post office. Built in 1912 and in continual use, it’s a very lovely old building tucked into a quickly modernizing city. Functional and beautiful, the PO sits close to the train station, police, and administrative building on Main Street, Route 71. It has a grand sweeping exterior but inside is full of beautiful small details.

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Below is a pic from the early twenties when the post office was first built. in the thirties is was renovated and a back extension was put on.

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I’m not sure when the above photos were taken but the modern PO looks just about exactly the same, now. That tree on the south east corner of the property is still standing and shading people waiting to cross Main Street instead of a hedge row, there are roses around the perimeter. I found these photos here.

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Although not a luxurious stop in a fast growing beach town, this gorgeous link to the past is well worth a visit!!

November Plant Update

The minute the weather changes to Winter cold, I worry that I’ll never go outside again. But we were able to get out and about a little in November. We went to one of our favorite beach-combing beaches, we went to one of our favorite breakfast spots and all their plants, we walked around our yard and neighborhood, and we watched our garden transition into Winter.

The walk up to the beach.

The walk up to the beach.

Look at all that goos stuff!!

Look at all that goos stuff!!

Natural contrast.

Natural contrast.

Some happy plants (some not so happy).

Some happy plants (some not so happy).

I moved all the plants around this month. It makes some fun new corners around the house.

I moved all the plants around this month. It makes some fun new corners around the house.

Record collection is guarded well.

Record collection is guarded well.

Perfect rose.

Perfect rose.

Hanging in there.

Hanging in there.

Te garden is slowly being taken over by Winter.

Te garden is slowly being taken over by Winter.

Visiting plant friends.

Visiting plant friends.

Perfect Autumn views.

Perfect Autumn views.

Is it Fall where you live? What are your plant observations for the month of November?

November In Review

November went by so fast, and the year is nearly over.

The weather turned very cold, so bundling up was necessary. Despite that we were still able to see family and friends, enjoy the holidays, have some walks on the beach and get a lot of work done.

1) Flounder… 2) …flounder. 3) Porch #watchercat, 4) And another warm inside.

1) Flounder… 2) …flounder. 3) Porch #watchercat, 4) And another warm inside.

#watchercats were out, finding sunny spots this month. We tried to save a flounder on the beach, and hung out with Flounder at home.

1) Morning light. 2) Afternoon light with a friend. 3) Morning essentials. 4) Giants in the sky.

1) Morning light. 2) Afternoon light with a friend. 3) Morning essentials. 4) Giants in the sky.

We traveled only a little this month, heading to Brooklyn a few times and visiting a few toy shows around NJ.

Our holidays were very relaxed and we were super happy to see family and friends.

1) Recipe coming soon. 2) A little bit of zen. 3) Holidays collide. 4) Instant collection.

1) Recipe coming soon. 2) A little bit of zen. 3) Holidays collide. 4) Instant collection.

Over all it was a really good month! We’ve started to reflect on the past year and look ahead to the new year. Here comes December!

What Plant Based Means to Me and How We Eat

My mom was a vegetarian while I was growing up. I was used to having tofu, tempeh, fresh veg, lots of legumes, fruits and homemade foods. Bc I grew up with it, it never occurred to me that other kids didn’t live that way. My father was always a healthy eater and great cook, but he ate meat. As I see it, I had the best of both worlds.

When I met my husband, he was vegetarian and had been on and off for most of his life. I ate meat then, but I never had any issues eating less or no meat during our meals together. Eating less meat made me realize that when I did eat meat, I didn’t feel as good as when I ate more fruits and veggies.

By the time we moved to New Jersey, we were eating fish, but little to no land meat. We wavered back and forth some (my husband even ate chicken for a while) but it was mostly ovo lacto vegetarian for us. Some events in the Summer of 2018 lead us both to come to the conclusion that we would give up all meat, from land and sea, in a serious manner.

Personally, I think humans are supposed to eat animals. We, ourselves, are animals and omnivores as far as I can tell from the evidence I know. But I think the way most people currently eat animals is unsustainable and inhumane, wasteful and unnecessary. In an attempt to lead a more sustainable and less wasteful life, eating plant based is an easy and obvious choice.

I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

I’ve been trying to eat more rice, as it is a great staple. This is a good example of a fresh whole foods meal. Rice, carrots, onions, celery, sweet potato, squash, apple cider vin, soy sauce, pepper.

Now we eat what I like to call a vegetarian, plant based, whole food diet. That’s a mouth full and what does it even mean? We stopped eating any fish and sea creatures. We do eat dairy like cheese and butter and sour cream. We try to eat mostly fruits and veggies and eat whole foods that have not been overly processed. We eat fermented foods like miso, pickles and vinegar.

We try to eat a lot of fruits and vegetables. Some with every meal! The term Plant Based really refers to a diet that is only plants but I use it to mean a diet that is based on plants, which we definitely do.

We also try to keep local stores, growers, producers in mind when we eat. This year was the first one where we grew our some of our own food and it was a game changer. It’s important to us to eat this way so that we are conscious of the environment, animals, our home and our health.

There are, of course, some ways we could improve our current diet. An example would be to make our own cheeses, sour cream, and yogurt, or only buy local cheese and dairy. But right now this diet works for us.

Some of our typical and most eaten meals are:

Quesadillas with black beans, corn, olives, fresh veggies, sour cream and hot sauce.

Cheese, crackers, veggies, mustard, pickles, olives, and mustard.

Miso soup with veggies and noodles.

Pasta with red sauce or pesto or cheese or garlic oil.

Sides meal with potatoes, veggies, grains, and various other “sides”.

Salads with home made croutons, veggies, sometimes we add fake chicken patties, and dressings.

Tofu, rice and broccoli with soy sauce, peanuts and chili garlic sauce.

Peanut butter and jelly (and sometimes hot sauce) sandwiches.

Bean and rice bowls.

Grilled cheese sandwiches with red onions and hot sauce.

Pierogies with onions, sour cream and veggies.

Smoothie bowls with various toppings.

Oatmeal with fruits, nuts and nut milks.

Beans on toast.

Chickpea salad sandwiches with carrots, onions, celery, and mayo.

This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

This is an example of a more processed meal I might eat. The cheese bread is made fresh daily at our local grocery store and the beans are vegetarian. Beans on toast is a favorite breakfast of mine but I only eat it once in a while.

Let me know in the comments if you also eat meals like this! Or if you would like recipes or more info on any of the meals listed above. What kind of diet do you eat? What role does your diet play in your lifestyle?