facebook pinterest twitter google instagram rss

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

If you’re trying to eat local, in-season food, make sure to include these top ten plants for early spring harvest. They will yield the first food in the spring so you can have farm fresh produce as soon as possible.

top 10 plants for early spring harvest

*This post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission from your purchase.*

One of my long term life dreams is to eat only locally grown and produced food, like Barbara Kingsolver did in her book Animal, Vegetable, Miracle {one of my most favorite books of all times}. At first thought, it sounds kind of doable, right? I mean, I have a big garden, and I have egg and meat chickens. I’ve also found a source for local pastured pork and organic, local, grassfed beef. But the logistics are really a lot more complicated than my pea-brain can handle. And it would take a REALLY REALLY REALLY big garden to produce enough food to feed my family of six. Maybe some day.

For now, I will be content to do what I can, and that means maximizing every growing season, and this post starts with spring! Enjoy my list of the top 10 plants to consider if you want to get the earliest possible harvest out of your garden.

Top 10 Plants for Early Spring Harvest

bowl of strawberries and asparagus in the grass

Early Spring Perennials

I love perennials because I can plant them once, and reap the rewards for years! It’s also a bonus that a few garden perennials produce some of the earliest food in the spring, so make sure to include them in your garden.

Rhubarb – it seems a lot of people have a love/hate relationship with rhubarb, but I love it. It’s also ready for picking sooner than most other fruits and is delicious in crisps, scones, and made into syrup too!

Strawberries – strawberries are the first berries to ripen, usually late May or early June in my area. Nothing beats a fresh strawberry right out of the garden! And since conventionally grown strawberries are some of the most pesticide laden fruits grown, we prefer to grow our own.

asparagus on a sheet pan for roasting

Asparagus – asparagus is ready for a full harvest the third year after it’s planted. It’s one of the earliest crops of spring – so delicious!! We look forward to fresh asparagus every year.

Spring Veggies to Plant before the Last Frost

Spring Onions / Potatoes – can be directly sown from seed six weeks before the last frost if the ground is workable. Onions grow quickly and the greens can be cut pretty soon after they start growing. If you leave the bulb in the ground and just cut the greens, they will even grow new greens for you!

Potatoes are generally ready for harvest a little later, but you can carefully collect new potatoes without disturbing the plant ten weeks after the potatoes were planted. We use the no-dig planting method to grow potatoes. Learn more here.

Spinach / Kohlrabi / Kale – can be directly sown from seed five weeks before the last frost date. It’s especially important to plant spinach early as it needs six cool weeks to reach maturity and bolts quickly in hot weather.

Peas / Radish / Carrots – can be directly sown from seed four weeks before last frost date. Peas also don’t do well in hot weather, so make sure to plant them as quickly as possible. Every year I have volunteer radish crops in my garden because I let some go to seed in the summer. They are some of the first fresh veggies we eat!

Forellensuss Lettuce

Lettuce / Swiss Chard – can be directly sown from seed two weeks before last frost date. I also have volunteer lettuce in my garden from time to time and love it! Fresh lettuce is just delicious.

Check your seed packets to see which varieties mature the quickest. Some radishes are ready within 25 days! And lettuce is very quick growing too.

A collage of  pictures including strawberries in a bowl, forelenschuss lettuce, and a basket of eggs and lettuce harvest.

What plants do you look forward to most in spring?

6 Types of Natural Immune System Support You Need TODAY!

Here are six types of natural immune system support that you need today to keep your family healthy! From the best types of probiotic capsules, to immune boosting tea, to rest, immune boosting food, and essential oils for immunity, there are plenty of things you can do today to help you naturally support your immune system when you’d rather just stay home but can’t.

6 Types of natural immune system support YOUR FAMILY needs today. Keep your family healthy with these natural tips!

Photo credit

Please note, this post contains affiliate links which means I earn a small commission on your purchase. Also, all opinions are mine – a well read mother – who tries to make informed decisions for my family. These statements have not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. These products are not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease. Please consult a trusted medical professional if you are sick and need medical advice.

 

It’s been hard to keep everyone well this year, but we’ve managed to stay mostly healthy at my house by living an overall pretty healthy lifestyle. That’s not to say we haven’t had a few sniffles and coughs, but we have not had the flu or any long lasting illness around here. I have found five easy ways to support immune system so we all stay healthier and am excited to share them with you today.

Types of Natural Immune System Support You Need TODAY!

1. Take high quality probiotic capsules.

Probiotics are live microorganisms that live naturally in our guts. They play a lot of beneficial roles in our bodies, one of which is to support the immune system. When we have a lot of healthy probiotics in our guts, the bad bacteria have a harder time making us sick. Some probiotics also produce a substance called bacteriocin which can actually keep bad bacteria from growing. To insure you have enough probiotics living in your gut, it’s a good idea to find a high quality probiotic supplement to take, especially in the winter. I recommend raw probiotic capsules from Garden of Life. They’re stored and shipped cold, and they’re soy and gluten free, and free from GMOs as well. They specially formulate varieties for men, women, and children.

winter immune boosting smoothie recipe

2. Seek out immune boosting food.

I’m sure you’ve heard about the importance of getting enough vitamins and minerals, but if you’re like my kids, it might be hard to enjoy enough servings. One way I make sure we get enough vitamins in the winter is to ramp up our intake of smoothies. I love all the fresh citrus in the winter! Oranges, cuties, pineapples all make great bases for nutrient rich smoothies. My kids’ favorite smoothie right now is Orange, Banana, Strawberry Smoothie with spinach thrown in for good measure!

We also love a Pineapple, Orange, Banana Smoothie and lots of other kinds of green smoothies as well, depending on what we happen to have in our fridge. I also make immune boosting bone broth and we love this immune boosting creamy chicken stew too! Check out this list of 15 foods that can boost your immune system for more ideas.

3. Reduce stress.

Reducing stress is a big part of immune support for me. If I’m too stressed, I can’t sleep.  If I can’t sleep, I become totally worn down and don’t function well. And then I get sick. It’s a big downward spiral for me. Sometimes, it seems like my stress is impossible to reduce – that’s when hard changes need to be made. Then I just need to reflect, talk to friends, and work it out on my own. Other times. working out, listening to soothing music, reading a good book, soaking in the bathtub, engaging in a hobby, or drinking a nice cup of tea or glass of wine can really help me relax.

Listening to my children, being mindful with them, playing fun games, and laughing are all ways to help my children reduce their stress. Pay attention to your kids and their stress levels too. It’s tough being a kid today!

5 Ways to Boost Immune System Traditional Medicinals teas

4. Get enough sleep.

According to WebMD, preliminary research suggests that people who get seven hours or fewer sleep each night are three times as likely to get the common cold after exposure than people who get eight or more hours sleep at night.  I know I go to bed a lot earlier in the winter – usually because it’s just so dark and cold out here in Eastern Iowa. I never have functioned well on fewer than seven hours of sleep and sometimes it seems like I need at least 10 hours each night to be a polite, functioning member of society. It really helps me sleep better if I can unwind my mind before I go to bed. That means doing something relaxing, reading books with my kids, or reading a book just for me. Turning of the computer and putting down my phone help out immeasurably too.

5.  Drink immune boosting tea.

There are many types of immune boosting tea to add to your diet. Dandelion, Chamomile, Ginseng, Echinacea all support the immune system. Green tea and elderberry tea are also good choices for an immune boosting tea. And they’re a nice drink for just perfect for cold winter days too. I have a huge container of tea bags I pull out for everything from sore throats, to help wind down after a busy day. Do you drink tea, and if so, what’s your favorite?

6. Use Essential oils for immunity

There are several different types of essential oils for immunity. Our favorite is Thieves Oil, and I’m diffusing it nonstop at home right now in an attempt to keep everyone healthy. I have a diffuser near my front door and another one upstairs where the kids’ bedrooms are. I am not an essential oil dealer and I’ve used the Thieves Oil from Young Living, Plant Therapy Germ Fighter (Plant Therapy also has a kid safe blend which we use and love too) and Nature’s Shield from Now. I can’t honestly say that one works better than another, and they all basically smell the same, but the prices are quite a lot different. 🙂

These are the things we do at my house to keep our family healthy. What would you add?

6 Types of natural immune system support YOUR FAMILY needs today. Keep your family healthy with these natural tips!

3 Things 1.28.17: Rainbow Le Creuset; Family Read Alouds; Niagara Falls in the Winter

Happy Saturday, dear friends. Thank you for taking a few minutes out of your lovely weekend to enter my world. In today’s post, I’m sharing pictures of my completed Rainbow Le Creuset Collection, our current family read aloud, and beautiful pictures of Niagara Falls in the Winter.

3-things-at-simplifylivelove

*This post contains affiliate links. Thank you for supporting my blog.*

3 Things 1.28.17: Rainbow Le Creuset; Family Read Alouds; Niagara Falls in the Winter

le creuset

3-things-1Rainbow Le Creuset

My rainbow Le Creuset is complete with the addition of a 3 quart Soleil Balti cast iron dish! I’m so excited to see the complete rainbow, but part of me feels a bit bummed…because Lead Safe America recently found unsafe levels of cadmium and lead in the paint of some Le Creuset products. I heard this sad information a while ago, before I got the last yellow piece. I love cooking with my Le Creuset – I use my 7 1/4 quart cassis (purple) round French oven the most, but I do use them all.

So when I heard about the heavy metals in Le Creuset, I was sadden. I did a little research and couldn’t find any information on Le Creuset’s own website (go-figure). But I am encouraged by research conducted by The Soft Landing. They claim only two cookware companies address the issue of heavy metals in their cookware at all and say that Le Creuset strictly controls cadmium which they use in the paint that adorns the outside of the pots and uses agents to prevent it from flaking off. They also claim that Le Creuset is one of very few companies to subject their products to third party testy to verify safety.

The one thing that makes me squirm a little is that Le Creuset claims not to use lead at all, yet Lead Safe America found lead in their products. Hmmmm. All I say is I am struggling right now with my love for Le Creuset.  

story of the world

3-things-2Family Read Alouds

Do you read aloud to your family? I used to read a lot to the kids when they were younger, but I have gotten away from it since they went off to school. We just started a new read aloud, though, and it’s a lot of fun. We’re reading a chapter from the Story of the World, Volume 3 after dinner every night, or as often as we can. We’re all learning a bit about history before out trip to Europe in March. The kids are fascinated, and admittedly, so am I, because I either never learned a lot of the facts they discuss in this book, or have forgotten them. I even had the kids watch the hilarious Netherlands Second Spoof because it touched on topics from the book! It is possible to find modern connections to make learning history more interesting.

beautiful niagara falls in the winter

3-things-3Niagara Falls in the Winter

It turns our that Dan and I are on an impromptu trip to Niagara Falls this weekend to pick up supplies for the Passive House we’re currently building in Wilton. I guess we’ll find any excuse to take a road trip. At 10 hours away, it’ll save us quite a lot of money to go get this stuff ourselves, as opposed to having it shipped, so we’re off.

The kids and I actually went to Niagara Falls in the winter – January of 2013 – with my amazing friend Robin and her three boys. The funniest part of the trip were the Chinese tourists who were enamored with the nine of use – two women and their seven collective kids. They took a picture of our group even and I wish we would have thought to have them take a picture with one of our cameras, but we didn’t. I laugh every time I imagine the stories they told their Chinese friends about the two crazy American women with seven kids!

Niagara Falls lookout

Niagara Falls in the winter is really beautiful, but we were not properly prepared for the brutal cold we faced there, and I swore I would NEVER go back to  in January…yet here we are. I’ve been promised 40 degree temps and a balmy beach vacation. I’ll keep you updated on how that works out for me – lol. If you’d like to visit Niagara Falls in the winter, here are some of the amazing sights you might see!

Niagara Falls Frosty Trees

Niagara Falls in winter

Frost at Niagara Falls
And that’s it you guys. Another week at the Passive-Aggressive house has come to close. I look forward to catching up with you next week. What’s been going on in your world?

Niagara Falls in the Winter pin

5 Tips for Making Amazing Stop Motion Animation at Home

 Stop motion animation is a fun way to engage your children in creativity and learning.  My kids really enjoy making stop motion animation at home and are sharing their five best tips for creating fun videos with you today!

5 Tips for Making Amazing Stop Motion Animation at Home

The struggle to limit time on electronics is real. But sometimes, we can find great ways to incorporate electronics into learning and family fun. One way to do that is to create stop motion animation with your children. I don’t mind my kids using electronics as much if they are engaged in learning and so we’ve had a lot of fun this last week working on stop motion animation videos. Here are a few tips to help you make your own amazing stop motion animation videos at home too!

5 Tips for Amazing Stop Motion Animation

stop motion animation - simple backdrop

Gather props and make a backdrop

Stop motion animation usually uses small items. Little animals, figurines, doll house accessories, and other small props you may have around your house make great props. We made several different backdrops using string, construction paper, tissue paper, sticks, and yarn. Gather what works for you and make something pretty!

Stop Motion Animation made on iphone

Come up with a story line

This is where your imagination comes into play. We came up with a lot of different angles – Goldfish crackers making a snowman. Goldfish crackers being eating by a dinosaur. Goldfish crackers racing in toy cars. We finally settled on Goldfish crackers racing themselves around a track made out of yarn. Get creative and have fun!

Download helpful apps

There are many helpful apps that make the stop motion animation process pretty easy.  Goldfish Smiles lists several apps you can choose from as well as sources for free sound clips. We used Stop Motion Studio which is a free download. We did pay $4.99 to unlock the bonus features like sound clips, though. The kids had a great time playing with the sound and adding it to the video (I did too!).

One problem we had with the app was that we couldn’t tell what part of the video would be cut off in the final version. As we were making the videos and reviewing them on the app, everything looked fine. But when we created the final video and shared it, we realized that part of the video was cut off – the left side. We made our videos using an iphone and I think perhaps we would have seen more detail had we used a bigger screen, like an ipad.  This is just a practical tip we learned that may help you.

stop motion animation - stabilize the camera

Find a way to stabilize your camera and take lots of pictures

Stabilizing the camera is tricky but oh so important as the camera needs to stay in the same spot or the video ends up distorted. We used a bendy tripod to attach my iphone to the large tripod. But honestly, my big iphone is too heavy for the bendy tripod and we had a lot of trouble keeping it still. We took almost 200 pictures to make our video, so this part requires some persistence and patience…   {I’m in the market for a new table top tripod for my plus sized iphone if anyone has any recommendations. }

Another thing Anna did as she created this video was to make it in reverse. She wrote out the words GO! with Pepperidge Farm Goldfish and started the video at the end. Then, we filmed the Goldfish crackers racing around the track backwards. After that she made the words disappear by removing one row of crackers at a time. And finally, we reversed the order of the pictures so it looks like we filmed the words appearing first. For tips about how to make your props move fast or slow, head over to the Goldfish Smiles website. They have so many helpful videos with useful tips and tricks.

Have fun! 

This is where you need to step back, mom, and let the kids work together. AHHH – I struggle so much with this because I want to take control. In my experience, my kids do better and fight less when I step back and let them take charge. They always have fun making stop motion animation videos but they really enjoyed making these because they also got a little snack in the process. Pepperidge Farm Goldfish are baked without artificial flavors or preservatives, using colors sourced from plants.

Goldfish Tales Stop Motion Animation Contest

Enter your video to win $5000!

Once you have created your video, head over to Goldfish Tales Animation Experience and enter it to win! Twelve films will be nominated across four categories and the best in each category will win a $5000 grand prize. Judging begins on February 28 and the winners will be announced on April 21.

What are you waiting for? Head over to GoldfishSmiles and learn how to create your own stop motion animation movie with your kids!

Stop motion animation is a fun way to engage children in creativity and learning. Check out these 5 best tips for creating awesome videos with your kids!