Gardening is fun, relieves stress and gets you outside for fresh air and exercise.  I don’t claim to have a green thumb, big garden or special expertise, but I have been growing perennial flowers for about 35 years and I do add some vegetables in to the mix most years.  What is my secret for success?  Composted horse manure—a substance that packs a powerful nutrient punch needed by plants for good health.  In fact the plants grow so well it makes manure seem magical when it comes to growing showy flowers, houseplants or veggies.  Of course you do need some sun and water too.  Pulling weeds is therapeutic!   My advice:  start small.  You don’t have to have a lot of space to enjoy gardening.  Make your garden as large or small as you like and can comfortably care for.

When I started gardening back in the day I grew beautiful, large heads of broccoli, cauliflower, and cabbage along with asparagus and you name it.  I tried to do everything ‘naturally’ so I planted marigolds in with my veggies as a natural pesticide.  My produce was beautiful and perhaps I kept away some pests, but the little green worms that lived in my broccoli plants flourished.  I would harvest my broccoli, soak it in water and many worms would drop out.  I repeated those soaks until I thought I had every worm, but I’d usually discover a worm or two in the pot after the broccoli was cooked.  Just a little protein, some would say.  Now I focus on flowers.

Gardening is fun for the whole family.  It is pure joy to plant a seed or small starter plant and watch it grow into a huge, veggie producing tomato, squash or pepper plant (last year I grew several varieties of tomatoes, peppers and acorn squash).  The lazy buzzing of the bumble bee, the fragrance of wet earth and the pleasure of working with your hands are just some of the benefits of gardening.  Not to mention the food and flowers you’ll grow. 

I also like to grow herbs such as rosemary and thyme.  It’s great to go out to the garden and pluck fresh herbs for whatever you’re cooking up for dinner.  I usually have some fresh frozen rosemary, parsley and sage on hand in the freezer to enjoy year round.

My current passion is lavender.  The color, the fragrance, the craft possibilities!  I love the stuff.  I’ve been growing lavender for a number of years.  If you live in central Indiana you might like to visit Carolee’s Herb Farm.  You can visit her on the web at

Last fall I was reading a food blog by Lauren Zeitsman called A Full Measure of Happiness at  which featured lavender gift ideas.  I was fascinated by the idea and borrowed on it to make Lavender Salt, Lavender Sugar, and my own Lavender Bath gifts for friends and family for Christmas.

Gardening is great!  Get growing and enjoy.

Just Stick It!

By Michelle Plummer

While you may think it is too early to think about foods on a stick I disagree!  I had shisk-k-bobs for dinner from the grill last evening!  This is the perfect whether (actually as long as you can find the grill is perfect weather) for food on a stick!  But I digress, this post is supposed to be about ALL the wonders that are enjoyed on a stick.

My first favorite is cotton candy, is there anything tastier as spun sugar or Angel’s Hair like I use to call it as a child.  My favorite adult food on a stick has to satays!  Thinly sliced pieces of meat, ribboned onto a skewer ready to be marinated, grilled, and dipped into sauce! The best part is they don’t fall off the stick like meatballs or olives on a martini stick (skewer).

But let’s get to the real FOOD on a STICK  Mecca, the State Fair!  Continue reading

Breakfast for Dinner???

By DeDe Hausmann

I remember as a kid how I didn’t like it when Mom served pancakes/eggs/sausage for dinner.  I felt they were breakfast foods and that’s where they should stay.  Later, after I became a wife and mom, I would sometimes find myself serving breakfast for dinner and thinking back to how smart my Mom was.  BUT, I wanted to make sure my family had gotten their fair share of foods from all 5 food groups so a basic breakfast wasn’t good enough for me.

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National Chip and Dip Day!

By Michelle Plummer

Chip (or anything you wish) & Dip day is here!

According to Webster:Dip is an immersion of something into a liquid to coat such as a candle.  As Hoosiers, we have embraced and celebrated that thought!  As this is quote a National Chip & Dip day no one really knows who started this day, or why.  But, do we really need a reason to dip?  I say NO!  We need more DIPS to immerse chips, wings, pretzels, carrots, celery and even apples into!  Therefore, it is my attempt to provide you links to some really great dips and some of my own to promote and keep this “National Holiday” alive! Continue reading

National Goof Off Day!

By Mary Nicholson

Check your calendars!  I hope you have March 22, 2012 circled in red or some other prominent color because it’s NATIONAL GOOF OFF DAY!!!  Doesn’t that sound great?  Recognition that goofing off must be important!

Goofing off instantly brings to mind some masters of the craft – The 3 Stooges, The Marx Brothers, or Monty Python.  A prime example of goofing off – Stooges style – is when Curly had eyeballs painted on his eyelids, so that when he really closed his eyes, it looked as if they were open.  Thus, he could take a nap while sitting at a desk, but it looked like he was awake.  At least that was the gist of the scene.  But the more I thought of these actors who often portray silliness, I realized that they had to work pretty hard to make us laugh.  I wonder what they did to goof off?

I think the definition of goofing off is a little different for everybody.  To me, it would be somewhat spontaneous and there shouldn’t be any work, stress or major decision making involved.  For me, planning sometimes includes those elements.  But there are those who are natural planners, and it would cause anxiety not to plan; that would defeat the whole purpose of goofing off.  So there’s really no right or wrong way to celebrate the day.

There are many factors in today’s world that contribute to fuller schedules and less down time, which leads to more stress in our lives, which makes a holiday like National Goof Off Day more important than ever.  I ran across this on-line resource that justifies the need to goof off now and then:  Much like a short nap can be very refreshing, a little bit of goofing off can actually make us more productive.  Maybe a short nap is your version of goofing off!

As I was thinking about writing this blog, I thought of some of the ways I might be celebrating National Goof Off Day.  If you’re too stressed to even think about it, feel free to use my ideas.  Heck, you don’t even have to wait until tomorrow!

  • Play with a Slinky, Play-Doh, Legos, Silly Putty and/or (my all-time favorite), Color-Forms.
  • Go for a bike ride or roller skating/blading.
  • Blow bubbles.
  • Lie down in the grass and look at clouds.
  • Go to a park with playground equipment and swing.
  • Go bowling or to a movie.
  • Lounge on the couch and watch movies like “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”, “Caddyshack”, or any of the Marx Brothers movies.
  • Watch 3 Stooges episodes or reruns of Monty Python’s Flying Circus.

Whatever you do – have fun!

A Healthier Cookie?

By Diane Ruyack

What is crispy or chewy and goes with milk as a delicious snack or dessert?  Cookies! How do we make them healthier?  Here are some suggestions and ideas to help.

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Feeling Green?

By Mary Nicholson

Ah, St. Patrick’s Day!  That means, even if it’s snowing, spring is just around the corner.  It also takes me back to fourth grade.  That was my first year at Irving Grade School, which was in the “city” (population 17,500) compared to the rural school I had come from (town population of 800).  Up until then, any recognition of St. Patrick’s Day usually involved cutting out shamrocks from green construction paper at school.  Maybe Mom would add green food coloring to something, but, coming from a largely German background, that was about it.

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