Garden Tour | Summer 2018

Since first moving to New Jersey and into our own house, we have wanted to start gardening. It took about 3 years, but this Summer was the first year we seriously started growing vegetables. 

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We started small, but this was a great introduction to gardening at home! We started basically everything from plants, except our radishes which we started from seeds. For us, starting from plants was less intimidating and we thought we would have more success. We had lot of success with just about everything we planted.

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Our main bed, and the biggest producer, is in our front yard. My dream is to have more and more beds in our front yard since we don’t really utilize that space. We planted four or five different tomatoes, basil, orange thyme, and shishito peppers. We also planted items in pots that were scattered between front and back.

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In the back we already had blueberry bushes and we also put a raised bed with kale, hot peppers and radishes from seed. We plan to devote one whole side of the yard to our garden next year, have some space in the middle and eventually plant fruit trees on the opposite side.

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This summer was mild but we had lots of sun and lots of rain and the garden loved it! Our tomatoes exploded. We ate one of our favorite meals, tomatoes and mozz, all year and never bought any tomatoes from the store!!

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Mostly for my own records here is a list of what we grew in 2018 and how it did:

4 small tomato varieties - these were bananas! Next year I hope we label/mark/ remember what we plant. That would have been nice this year.

1 large tomato variety - these got completely over shadowed, literally, by the small ones so they didn’t produce much. What we did have was delicious! We like the smalls better, but it seems worth it to have one large each year.

Shishitos - this was my favorite thing we grew this year. I want to have like a million of these next year!

Hot peppers - I’m not sure if we even ate any of these.

Kale - Next year we have to get better about harvesting and eating our own kale!

Radishes - Why did we even grow these? We tried pickling them but they turned out pretty bad. Next year, if we plant them, we will only do a few at a time.

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Basil and purple basil - what we planted in beds did really well, the ones in pots not so much. I hope to plant again next year but be better about picking and using what we grow.

Orange thyme - probably my husbands favorite thing we grew, we will def be planting this again.

Assorted herbs - some of these I’ve had for ears and they just keep coming back, some are new this year. I want to get better and maintaining and using herbs next year.

Blueberries - our bluebs did really well this year. Over the winter we hope to protect them better bc they took quite a beating in heavy snows last year.

Raspberries - we only got a few but they were good! We have them in pots, but perhaps we will transfer them to beds or the yard next year.

Strawberries - we had more strabs than ever before but never got to eat them. We could never get to them before the critters.

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Looking at the list, it’s a lot longer than I thought it would be! I can’t wait to grow more next year and rely on store bought foods less!

What did you grow this year and what are your plans for 2019?

Off Season: Moth Coffeehouse

We recently headed to one of our favorite small towns, Allentown NJ, and finally got to stop in at a Moth Coffeehouse. I’ve been wanting to try it for a long time but somehow always visit the town when the cafe is closed. I was not disappointed. I love that this coffee shop is in a hundreds year old building and that it offers a lot of healthy and vegan options.

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The whole cafe and aesthetic is lovely. They have plenty of low waste options, to stay cups and plates. It’s cozy and if I lived closer, I could easily see myself becoming a regular.

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What’s your favorite coffee shop?

Tattoo Story: Cup of Coffee

My second tattoo might seem a little out there, or childish, but to me it fit perfectly with what I want my tattoos to be and how I want my body to be decorated.

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I got my second tattoo only a few months after my first. I knew that I wanted more and more right away. It was an easy choice to get another from the same artist as my anchor.

My coffee cup clearly depicts my love of coffee, but it’s also a replica of the cups I served coffee out of for 8 years at one of my favorite jobs. It’s very whimsical but it’s remembrance is very special to me.

Do any readers have tattoos of food or drink?

Three Habits I love and Two for October

A few months ago I shared some habits I want to build in the rest of 2018. This week I want to start documenting the habits I'm working on for October. 

Working on building new habits isn't the funnest activity. It can be frustrating and I sometimes forget why I'm even bothering. So before getting into the habit I hope to make, I want to share some of my favorites habits I already have. 

Making The Bed
I don’t make hospital corners, I don’t change the sheets every day, I don’t buy expensive sets, pillows, or have a fancy mattress. But I love to make the bed! making the bed every day makes me feel like I have done something that day (even if I haven’t).

Cat Naps
While we are talking about beds, let’s talk about naps. I try to take a nap several times a week, if not once a day. I like a nap of course more importantly, I need the bonding time with my babies. I used to think that this wasn’t so important, but it has become a vital part of my self care.

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Walking to Work
Walking in general is an activity that I have come to realize is very important to my mental health and over all well being. I wish that I took many long walks, and I used to. But lately, I have settled for just walking to work. Not only do I get a walk in, it takes about 20-25 minutes to get to work, but I get a few moments to prepare from my day ahead.

I plan to continue these habits, hopefully for a long time. But this month, and especially before the cold weather sets in, I want to make some new habits, too. Here’s what I want to work on:

Stretching
This is one habit I have wanted to incorporate for long time. I’m hoping this month I can cement doing daily stretches every day. I plan to start small but I’d like to eventually try a yoga class or something like that.

Dish Free Sink
I actually really like to do dishes. But I am guilty of often not doing them right away. It doesn’t help that we have a small space to dry them. But ever since we got a on tap filter, I have been wanting and trying to keep the sink dish free most of the time.

What are some habits you’ve recently adopted or wish to?

One Day in Cape May

Last month we took an impromptu trip to one of our favorite places, Cape May NJ. We left pretty late as it was a last minute decision to go, but it was a ridiculously gorgeous day and once there, we went right to the beach! It’s about an hour and a half drive so it was really relaxing to swim and lay out.

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Congress Hall is a favorite of ours when we stay in the area, but it’s also great to pop in and see how it’s decorated or for a bathroom break.

We walked around town and popped into a few shops, but then made our way down to Sunset Beach. We love the weird gem shop there and that there is a sunken ship still visible. We even got to see a flag ceremony with muscat salute! It’s also known for it’s sunsets, of course.

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On our way back into town we stopped at the Animal Outreach Of Cape May. It was too late for it to be open, but we got to see a few kitties.

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On the way back north, we stopped at Big Wave Burritos. It was pretty tasty! I was happy to try a few local spots this trip that we hadn’t before. Earlier in the day we also got a nice coffee at Out There Coffee.

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I’m so glad that we live so close to Cape May now and it makes for easy day trips to one of our favorite places! One day in this town is plenty to see and do a lot and I highly suggest a visit if you are close by.

Do you have a near by getaway that you love to revisit again and again.

September Plant Update

September has become one of my favorite months since moving to the beach. Local’s Summer, changing of the season, back to school, and slower living, are part of why I love it. I also really love my plant observations during this month.

We went to some new beaches, new parks, got to forrest bathe and hang out in the back yard.

Higbees Beach, Cape May, NJ

Higbees Beach, Cape May, NJ

We brought these plants all the way from Brooklyn and September is their time to shine.

We brought these plants all the way from Brooklyn and September is their time to shine.

I’m not sure what these little flowers are but they are pretty neat!

I’m not sure what these little flowers are but they are pretty neat!

The bees are still doing the good work this month.

The bees are still doing the good work this month.

Our raspberries were briefly infested with these little bugs.

Our raspberries were briefly infested with these little bugs.

Our morning glories are happy.

Our morning glories are happy.

Exploring some local parks.

Exploring some local parks.

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Clematis at night.

Clematis at night.

More night blooms.

More night blooms.

What month of the year is your favorite for plant observations?

Zero Waste vs. Low Impact Movement

I use the terms Zero Waste, Low/No Waste, and Low Impact Movement a lot these days.

In 2017 I started my zero waste journey. Zero Waste is the goal, mindful practice is the action. When I use the term Zero Waste, that is my ultimate goal, but Less Waste would be a more  accurate description of my evolving lifestyle.

I wanted to take some time and explain these terms. I have done some research on them, but these definitions are mostly what I understand them as and how I use them.

Zero Waste
According to the Zero Waste International Alliance the definition of zero waste goes like this:

“Zero Waste is a goal that is ethical, economical, efficient and visionary, to guide people in changing their lifestyles and practices to emulate sustainable natural cycles, where all discarded materials are designed to become resources for others to use.
Zero Waste means designing and managing products and processes to systematically avoid and eliminate the volume and toxicity of waste and materials, conserve and recover all resources, and not burn or bury them.
Implementing Zero Waste will eliminate all discharges to land, water or air that are a threat to planetary, human, animal or plant health.”

This definition is geared towards big business as well as every day life. The idea is to create systems so that all aspects of industry that are circular, both in production and product, and do not end in landfills or the ocean. For individuals this means changing day to day life before the corporations come around. Living a Zero Waste lifestyle does not mean that one will not generate a single piece of trash, which is of course, impossible, but it means to strive to create as little trash as possible, to seek alternatives avenues that might not generate waste. Zero Wasters consider all sorts of waste when trying to reduce; plastic, water, food, fuel, and all sorts of more traditional trash.

In short, being Zero Waste means trying to live up to the impossible task of generating zero waste of any kind by making mindful decisions in everyday life.

Low/No/Less Waste
This is a more gentle term, a less harsh way to state the above lifestyle but follows the same principles. Whatever they call themselves, one of the tenants that most Low Wasters follow a Low Waste Inverted Pyramid. Remembering to Refuse, Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Rot, can help to keep Low Waste.

In more recent times, as we see that recycling is not a sustainable solution, recycle and rot would be in the opposite spots on the inverted pyramid.

In more recent times, as we see that recycling is not a sustainable solution, recycle and rot would be in the opposite spots on the inverted pyramid.

Low Impact Movement
This term was recently created by a Zero Waste Youtuber Sustainably Vegan. She felt that the term Zero Waste was confining bc it is technically unachievable, zero wasters had become judgmental and that it only explored a small portion of all the ways to reduce ones impact on the environment and global community. By creating the Low Impact Movement, she created a lifestyle movement to incorporate low impact mindfulness in all aspects of daily life from reducing your trash, going no plastic, ditching disposables, reducing your carbon footprint, vaganism, activism, etc…. The Low Impact Movement also emphesizes social action and activism. Their motto is “We strive for a LOW environmental impact through a HIGH social impact.”.

TL:DR
Zero Waste - Controversial term used for and by companies and individuals who are trying to reduce waste in all aspects of production and life.
Low/No/Less Waste - Similar to Zero Waste but less rigid and more practical.
Low Impact Movement - A more inclusive, all incompassing term for reducing ones environmental impact.
Zero/Low/No/Less Waster - Someone who practices a Zero/Low/No/Less Waste lifestyle.
Low Impacter - Someone who takes part in the Low Waste Movement.

I hope these definitions are helpful! Please let me know any questions or comments you might have in the comments!

Mad Cat Market

Since I have renewed my love of thrifting, I wanted to have an avenue to pass on some of my favorite finds. A great thing about thifting is that I find a lot of amazing peices of clothing, homewares, and unique items, but the downside is that I can't keep them all. So, welcome to the official launch of Mad Cat Market, an online shop to share my thrifting finds with everyone!

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I view thrifting as a way of saving items that might otherwise end up in a landfill.  Things I love to "save" are made of natural materials, are vintage, hand made, or unique. My favorite clothes to thrift are made from cotton, linen, silk, tencel, or other natural fibers. Sometimes I have to pick up a synthetic fiber bc the item is so awesome! For homewares I like porcelain, wood, stoneware, embroidery, wicker, etc... 

One of my goals is to pass along these saved treasures at a reasonable rate. I want these items to be loved as much as I might love them if I could keep them all. I'm using an existing Big Cartel shop and keeping it at the lowest plan, which dictates that my collections are kept pretty small but means I can pass the savings on to the buyers! Each is hand picked and curated and I hope that the shoppers like them!

I also invite everyone to visit the Mad Cat Market instagram. I plan on posting sneak peaks, sales, and inspiration there!

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The current collection is a mix of Summer and Fall transition pieces in a range of sizes and styles. 

I'd love to hear what people like or want to see or see more of! I'd love this space to also become a place where people can let me know what items them might be seeking and a conversation about thrifting and sustainable shopping. This is a new experience for me, so I'm thankful for people bearing with me while I work out the kinks and the mission of this shop! Thanks for checking out the new shop!!

Off Season: gARTen, Asbury Park

On the main street (but not Main Street) of our town, tucked in a lot, beyond a fence, besides an ice cream shop, it the gARTen. Truth be told, I don't know too much about it but I think it's an amazing thing to have in one's town!! I'm not sure who is behind this amazing open air junk art gallery display but I salute them! 

This garden isn't open all the time, I don't know the hours, but that almost makes it more magical. You'll be walking along and see that it's open and pop in as an unexpected treat! The garden is always different, pieces added, pieces missing, and constantly in a state of entropy. At night, it's illuminated by blacklight!

I love that someone (or several someone) is creating these objects and I love that they are made from trash that might otherwise end up in the landfill or even worse in the ocean and on the beach, just a few blocks away. 

The other day my husband mentioned that he read that this art project was in danger so we decided to head over and check it out. Hopefully it won't be for the last time. 

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This art project reminds me a lot of my childhood and early education. Being homeschooled and then going to an alternative education school, we were always making the most of the supplies we had and making things out of "junk".  

We are so lucky to have a an art space like this in our town. These unique spaces should thrive in young cities like ours. We should work to preserve them!

Do you have a unique place like this in your town or city?

August Plant Update

August was summer's bounty and did not disappoint. So many flowers, fruits, storms, veggies, and sun!! We've gotten to go to the beach, parks, and explore our own backyard. 

Summer storms.

Summer storms.

Butterfly bush.

Butterfly bush.

On our butterfly trek we saw thee delicate flowers. Anyone know what they are?

On our butterfly trek we saw thee delicate flowers. Anyone know what they are?

No filter!! Bright bright orange!

No filter!! Bright bright orange!

All the sun flowers. 

All the sun flowers. 

Found one!

Found one!

Huge mushroom!!

Huge mushroom!!

The mushrooms near us have been bananas! We have seen so many huge mushrooms making huge fairy rings. Have you had a lot of mushrooms where you live?

What were your plant observations this month?

In Search of Milkweed

We are already thinking about and planning our next year's garden. One big focus we have is attracting more pollinators! We are starting to gather seeds from friends, buying them off the internet, and seeking them out around where we live. 

We recently set out to find some milkweed near us. It was too early for us to gather seeds, but we had fun spotting the plant! We plan to go back later in the Summer or early Fall to see if we can view more butterflies!

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Monarch caterpillar!

Monarch caterpillar!

Snail on snail!

Snail on snail!

Cicada!

Cicada!

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What are some of your favorite pollinator attractors? Is anyone else planning their 2019 garden?

Recently Thrifted

Since returning to thrifting, I've tried to not buy too much, not buy things I wouldn't need and use. But the problem with thrifting is that you find so much good stuff! It's really hard to limit myself when I see things that I want to "save". Here are a few recent finds:

I'm not sure what I will use this wooden tray for, but I couldn't leave it behind. 

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Thrifting is great for feeding my love for vintage, collections, and vintage collections! I have a deep love for sheets and bedding from the 60s and 70s. I'n not sure what it is about the cool feel and classic patterns (usually floral) of these that make them irresistible. 

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Lastly, I found an amazing hand knit, square, neck sweater in a confetti of colors. I have been really excited to find hand made items over the last few months. There's something amazing about finding a hand made item and giving it new life. I can't wait to wear this in cooler weather and already have an idea that this might be the color inspiration for my Fall 2018 capsule wardrobe. 

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Knowing that items like vintage sheets, once loved hand made pieces, or interesting homewares, will one day be gone, replaced by cookie cutter, cheaply made, unmindfully or inhumanely mass produced, pre-garbage (kipple, if you will), makes thrifting seem like it an important part of the low impact movement and my low waste lifestyle.   

I've even been toying with the idea of a pop up shop, or online store or something fun to share my thrift finds with the world. Do any reader have online shops? Would anyone be interested in purchasing curated second hand items? Comment below!

July Plant Update

We've been having such a mild Summer, but in July we've seen some very hot days so far. The plants liked it and it was a great month for plant observations. Flowers were prominent but the real stars of July were all the critters!

Our local garden center is a favorite spot to visit for Summer blooms. 

Our local garden center is a favorite spot to visit for Summer blooms. 

I love clematis! So pretty!

I love clematis! So pretty!

Squirrel butt!

Squirrel butt!

Can anyone tell me what kind of caterpillar this is?

Can anyone tell me what kind of caterpillar this is?

This bee is doing all the good work in our garden!

This bee is doing all the good work in our garden!

June bug. 

June bug. 

Tomato horn worm. 

Tomato horn worm. 

Police station bunny. 

Police station bunny. 

Serious tenant #watchercat. 

Serious tenant #watchercat. 

Our morning glories are finally blooming!

Our morning glories are finally blooming!

Love these day lilies that were here before we moved in. 

Love these day lilies that were here before we moved in. 

Our garden, mid July. I will be posting a garden tour, soon! See it in late July in my last post. 

Our garden, mid July. I will be posting a garden tour, soon! See it in late July in my last post. 

What does every else July plants look like?

Whitesbog Revisited

This is our third year going to the Whitesbog Blueberry Festival and it's one of our favorite June events!! This year was much cooler and cloudy than previous years. It was really nice to do some exploring, eating and observing when it wasn't a million degrees. 

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We also saw this amazing dog!! How cute and tough is he?

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I love to visit and revisit the places we love around NJ. It's so great to see an area in all different weather. Where are your favorite places to visit in your state?

June Plant Update

A little late but here are my plant observations for June!

Lots of flowers!! Veggie garden is started! Replated roses! Farmers markets! What do June plants look like where you live?

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These little light green plants popped up in our blueberry bushes all in a clump? What are they?

This weird fungus also appeared! Can anyone help us identify it? 

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It was a great month for plants! Love living this plant life!

May In Review

May went by in a blur. I took an unexpected hiatus from the blog, saw so many friends and family, made new friends, found watchercats, worked on the house, took long walks, explored places new and old, worked hard, but had tome to rest, too. June started off in a new place and with a celebration. What will happen next?

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