Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Garden Hack For the Budget Challenged

I usually want all the things, and I want them NOW...
I just don't want to pay for them!
Gardening can be very expensive but if you get out and check out your surroundings, you may find that there are plenty of resources to be found - for nothing!
The Colorado River runs through our town.  One day, Doug took the kids down to one of the river banks to explore.  While there, we found the most amazing bamboo forest.....and I've been harvesting from it ever since for my garden.

There is lots of luscious, green bamboo around.  
You don't want that! 
It takes a strong arm, a sharp machete, and a LOT of work to get it.
Go for the dried, dead stuff.  
Chances are it's already laying on the ground ready for you to pick up, or a simple pull and it comes right out of the ground.  Plus, it's easy to just snap off the lengths you need instead of getting out the hacksaw.

See, I'm all about frugality AND energy conservation!

So many sizes and shapes, perfect for every need in the garden.
I haven't bought tomato cages in YEARS because I can pick bamboo for FREE!

Bamboo weathers beautifully and is super sturdy for climbing plants like cucumbers, cantaloupes, peas, and squash.

Add a pack of clothes pins from the dollar store and you have pretty garden markers for herbs and flowers.

Just be aware, in a house full of children, the bamboo might also be used for things other than gardening!

Friday, March 9, 2018

Starting a Raised Bed Garden - Creamer Style!

Lately I've had lots of friends ask me how to start gardening 
so I decided to make a blog post on how I garden on the 
cheap and dirty...otherwise known as "Creamer Style."

First, have your handy hubby (or sisters, do it yourself!) 
build a square box with corner reinforcements.  The boxes need to have lumber 8-12 inches tall and about 4 feet long.  We buy 8ft. long, untreated boards at Home Depot and have them cut in half.  
Once you have your boxes assembled, cover the bottom in at least two layers of cardboard.  This will smother the underlying grass and attract earthworms, they love to eat cardboard!

Lay yard debris on top of the cardboard.  
We have an area behind our barn where we take all our yard debris like grass cuttings, limbs, twigs, and leaves.  I contribute a lot to it during the winter months and by spring it has mostly decomposed.  This layer will help provide some drainage for the garden soil and will put organic matter into the soil as the season progresses.

Next, add a mixture of garden soil and compost then water well.  That's it!  Your garden is now ready to plant or you can leave it to sit until you (and the weather) are ready.

As you can see, compost is a big part of the Creamer garden.
We were gifted this wonderful composter when neighbors of ours moved.  It's a Good Ideas Dual Senior Compost Wizard and it  makes quick work of breaking down all our kitchen scraps, 
along with a handful of earthworms.

We also have that spot by the barn I told you about for the bigger stuff.  Just turn it with a shovel every now and then, and by the end of each season you'll have some nice compost!

There's no reason gardening has to be expensive.  With a small investment in the beginning, your garden boxes should last several planting seasons.  Just keep adding your composted materials and you'll never have to buy soil or fertilizer!

Get out there and plant something!

Monday, March 5, 2018

Baseball Mom Survival Bag

Baseball season is in FULL SWING
(haha, no pun intended!).

We find ourselves on the road a lot this time of year and I thought I'd share a handy tip that will keep you prepared because let's face it, we all leave the house in a hurry, and most days I'm lucky if my six year old leaves with matching shoes!

Pack your bag with these essentials and leave it in your vehicle.  
I put my stuff in a small backpack, that way I just sling it over my shoulder and we're off!

    Wipes                       Hand Sanitizer
Flushable wipes       Sun Screen
Kleenex                     Bug Spray
          Bandaids                 Pepto Tabs or Tums
Powder                  Chapstick
              Benadryl                 Antibiotic Ointment
Ibuprofen                     Snacks

Just add chairs, baseball equipment, and a case of water 
and we are off for a day of baseball.
All bases are covered.
(haha, pun intended!)

And if you're wondering, my son is the one in the iron mask.

Thursday, February 15, 2018

Feeling lost...

When I promised to get back to this space, I was in hopes of blogging spring gardening, my latest obsessions, and kid's activities.
But it's about to get REAL up in here.

About two years ago my oldest son, Ryan, moved out on his own.  It was a good move because Ryan and I are more alike than I'd like to admit and for his entire life we have butted heads.  Ryan has always been extremely independent and fearless.  I had no doubt this young man would be just fine, and I'm happy to report
 no bail money has been spent...yet!

But just a month ago, my second son, Kyle, 
moved out on his own.  
I thought I was ready.
I clearly am not.

I am lost.

I know it's the hope of every parent that their kids move on from the nest and become happy and productive people.  
It's my hope, too.  That's why I'm reeling from the punch in the gut that I'm feeling right now.

Doug just doesn't understand.
It's a MAMA thing!

There are still three kiddos at home who still need me...ALOT!  
But it seems I'm always on the edge of tears because my oldest two don't need me anymore.  They are working, meeting new people, and having adventures without me...and in spite of me...and I just want to watch from the sidelines to make sure they're happy, safe, and well.  Sure, they text and call daily but it's not the same.

They've moved on and I have not.
I don't want to stop mothering them!
I like the dirty faces, the messes, the fights, the noise,

For now I bribe them to come home with Sunday dinners, 
a carload of groceries, or offers to do their laundry.  
Sometimes they jump at the offer and sometimes I get, 
"Maybe later, Mom, I've got plans."  

We've all got to figure out this new chapter we've come to.
So say a prayer for this lost mama to find her way.
'Cause growing up is HARD!

"I love you forever.
I'll like you for always.
As long as I'm living,
my baby you'll be."

~Robert Munsch
From the book, Love You Forever

Sunday, February 4, 2018

Good days and bad days...

It has been a VERY long time since I've entered this space.
The last time time was the height of summer with the garden in full swing, kids running here and there, 
and things were boring....very boring 
(note:  I like it that way!).

Then came along a hurricane that devastated our town and still affects many friends and family to this day.  
The holidays came on the heels of recovery, then a new year.  Number 2 son was soon ready to fly the nest 
and set up his own in another town. 
All the while I am working a lot more than I like, 
keeping me away from home 
and the three that still need me there.

There have been good days and bad days.

But I realize that I need those bad days.  
They help me really appreciate the good days.

And after all, it's just a bad day...
not a bad life.

I'm looking forward to returning to this space and sharing more about our boring life very soon!

Monday, July 31, 2017


This weekend was spent baking and prepping 
for Ryan and Kyle's birthdays.

Somehow I managed to have my oldest children just two days 
shy of exactly three years apart.  
This year, Ryan wanted a BIG party at his apartment...and he wanted Mom and Dad to foot the bill.  
We compromised.
I cooked all the food for the party. 

And I had a little help from two of the cutest soux chefs 
in all of Texas!

We stayed just long enough to set everything up and sing, "Happy Birthday" to the boys.  After that we were shooed away because we weren't cool enough to party with the big guys.
Plus, who wants to drink and party with their MOM?
Am I right?

 <---ryan a="" blink182="" cake="" p="" s="" song="" t="">

Kyle's cake--->
He's a Reece's ADDICT!

Happy Birthday 
to my precious boys~
I'm so proud of the young men you've become!

Sunday, July 2, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 7.2.17

Things are growing UP in the Creamer garden this week!
Sunflowers, trellised vegetables, okra, peppers, and green beans.

Growing vegetables in small spaces means growing vertically.
You can grow so much more using homemade trellises and sturdy sunflowers as supports.

It was also a clean up week in the side garden.
I cut back all my tomato and tomatillo plants 
and cut down all the spent sunflowers.
Planting early and cutting back the plants mid summer 
has given me a second bumper crop late in the season. 

More veggies equals one happy gardener!

Mid-clean up

And with the sunflowers gone, I have a few extra feet 
to plant something new.
Mary Grace says we should plant more sunflowers, of course!

After clean up
But for now we are enjoying the fruits of our labor,
and that means pints and pints of 
Tomatillo/Jalapeno Salsa!

1-2 pounds tomatillos husks removed and washed
3 large jalpenos
half a red onion
6 cloves of garlic
1 bunch of fresh cilantro
splash of lime juice or white vinegar
sea salt and cumin to taste

Roast tomatillo, peppers, and garlic under the broiler 
until the skins are blackened.
Put all ingredients in the food processor 
and pulse to desired consistency.
Season with salt and cumin.

Sewing With a Purpose

A friend of mine approached me at work about a special project she was coordinating at our hospital.  Ms. Donna is a lactation consultant and she is spear-heading a special project during Breastfeeding Awareness Week.  
She asked if I could sew and gave me supplies for a dozen burp cloths and breast pads.

A dozen of each seemed like pretty easy work.
And then I asked how many she needed.
"Oh, just a few hundred!" she said with a smile.

Luckily she enlisted the help of many talented women
 and is well on her way to having her quota!

I figured there should be an easy way to sew this project,
'cause I'm all about sewing on the 'quick and dirty.'
So I came up with a template to make things simple.

I traced around the breast pads to make a cardboard template.
The breast pads are very easy to sew.
Just trace the template onto the wrong side of your fabric, 
cut out, and sew onto the breast pads using a zig-zag stitch.

My burp cloth center was 17"X 4" and I cut 
a cardboard template out to that size.

Place the template on the wrong side of the fabric and cut 
about 3/4" around the template.  
It does NOT have to be perfect!  
Just make sure you have enough fabric to fold over 
onto the cardboard.  

Fold the fabric over your cardboard template 
and press with a hot steam iron.
Remove the template and pin onto the cloth diaper.
Sew around the edges of the fabric and you're done!

I've got supplies for two dozen more to tackle this week,
and when I'm done fulfilling Ms.Donna's need,
I think I'll start on my own stash for baby gifts!

Tuesday, June 13, 2017

The Creamer Garden ~ 6.13.17 (a.k.a. The Goji Edition)

Every year I try to grow something new and different in the Creamer Garden because, let's face it, zucchini gets boring after a while!  Last year, on a whim, I purchased a goji berry plant.

I thought it would be a pretty ornamental in the garden, but I really had no idea how to use the berries.  You never hear of a 'goji berry pie' or a 'goji berry cobbler'...and now I know why!
They really don't taste sweet like you'd think a berry would be.  They taste like a sweet bell pepper and are hollow inside except for several tiny seeds.  To me, they seem more closely related to peppers than berries.

These plants also spread and multiply like crazy!
I've had three more plants pop up in this same garden bed several feet from the original plant.  I thought I'd transplant the extras so I dug them up by the root and gave them a new home.  Despite lots of watering and TLC, it appeared that my transplants died.  I just left them where they were and I'll be darned if a week later they both sprouted new growth AND berries!
Even if you have a "brown thumb," 
you can grow goji berries!

I'm still not sure what to do with all these berries!
Right now I'm drying them and using them in salads, sauces, soups, and they make the most lovely tea (with a little lemon!).
I definitely want to incorporate them into our diets 
more and more due to their amazing super food properties.

If you're interested in growing your own goji berries, 
I got mine HERE.

Now if anyone has that recipe for goji berry pie....