Saturday, April 26, 2014

Kinfolk Living

Kindred Spirit- (n) a person who shares beliefs, attitudes, feelings, or features with another, also called a kindred soul.

Kinfolk Magazine- (pn) quarterly magazine that collects ideas from a growing international community of artists, writers, designers, photographers, cooks and others who are interested in creating small gatherings and finding new things to make and do.

Simple, creative, intentional. This is the dream I chase. The mirror in my office received a mini makeover today.  It's all about the details.

It took all of five minutes. Styling is so much fun. I find it so peaceful. Probably because I'm lucky enough to have a guy that assembles and installs all of my Ikea pieces for me. All I have to do is add a personal touch afterwards.

I love creating in our beautiful home. Making it mine. Making it lovely.

I've been slowly adding and changing elements around the house. I think this one was superb.

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Start of My Vegetable Garden

My 2014 Vegetable Garden Details

Initial Cost to Start:
Seeds- $10
Organic starting soil- $5
Indoor seedling containers-  $2   (Two containers from the dollar store and small boxes that I cut down in height.)
Drip pan underneath containers- $0   (I used old pans from under my oven.)

Initial cost to start was super affordable for me. I didn't worry about having the "best" supplies. I just got a little crafty for the containers and such. The only things I really invested in were decent seeds and organic starting soil.

What I'm Attempting to Grow This Year:
Cherry tomatoes
Heirloom tomatoes
Bell Peppers
Green Beans

I'll be sharing more about my garden this month, including seedling progress so far and the transplant from indoor starting containers to our new raised garden beds in the backyard. A little teaser for you guys- our gorgeous raised garden beds didn't cost a dine! Are you planning a vegetable garden this year?


Monday, March 31, 2014

Why I Decided to Natural Feed My Cat

A couple of months ago, I decided that something needed to change in my cat's diet. His quality of life has been "okay" at best, and I could tell that his manufactured cat food was doing little to satisfy his hunger and nutritional needs.

Oreo has always been a slim cat, but lately he had been constantly hungry. He was always crying for more cat food, he would eat it all very quickly and either throw it up or run to his litter box shortly afterwards. He wasn't putting on any weight and he clearly wasn't feeling full after eating his manufactured cat food. Leaving him hungry, overeating and always getting sick from overeating. I had to start limiting his cat food and rationing it into 4-5 small portions a day, just so he wouldn't get sick. I felt miserable because it was clear that the food I was giving him, wasn't doing it's job. (Just a note- I always bought him "natural" manufactured dry food with no corn meal. That still wasn't meeting his hunger + health requirements, obviously.)

After doing my research for a few weeks, I decided to start "Natural Feeding" my cat.

What is natural feeding?

Natural feeding means preparing homemade food for your cat, that more closely resembles what it's diet would look like in the natural world. There are so many terrific resources for finding out more about this process, like this website and this one. I am most certainty not an expert or even well experienced in this area, but I can tell you how it's worked for me.

What do I feed my cat?

I feed my cat a combination of "natural" and manufactured food. I stress a million times over, do your research on this one people. I learned so much when looking into this major lifestyle change for my cat and also found out that I do not have the resources or time to currently feed my cat an all natural diet. I don't have a meat grinder, which means he would miss out on important nutrients found in the bones and internal organs of small animals (chickens, mice, etc.) I also learned that my cat will not eat raw meat. And that he's picky and won't eat meat that isn't cooked the way I prepare it for myself (with enhanced flavors and yummy texture.) All of these factors meant that I would have to supplement his diet in other ways to make up for what he was missing out on.

I have to add vitamins and other supplements to his cooked chicken (details on a cat's dietary needs can be found in the two websites I linked above.) As well as supplementing his new natural diet with his traditional manufactured food. I cook up chicken in batches once or twice a week. He eats about 1/3 cup of cooked chicken twice to three times daily. He also has unlimited access to his dry cat food for whenever he is hungry so I can be sure that his dietary needs are being better met in the areas that I'm not able to meet them.

The difference that natural feeding has made in my cat:

I was hoping to see an improvement in Oreo's eating and waste habits and I have! He is eating far less manufactured food because when he eats chicken, it leaves him full and satisfied for quite a length of time. He's also using his litter box less and when he does, it smells less foul. This is a God send because he used smell up the entire house.

There have also been a few improvements that I had not expected. Immediately after a natural feeding, his eyes become very large and he seems to connect more with his natural self. Lots of energy for roaming around the house, jumping, and being wild. The best improvement I've seen so far is a complete change in his personality. Growing up, (I've had him for almost 10 years!) my parents nick-named Oreo "Grumpy Old Bastard." He used to be so anti-social and avoided all interaction with people. Now he actively seeks out love and affection. He will follow me around the house, snuggle up to me in bed, sleep on my feet when I'm on the couch. Stephen's actually gotten him to eat out of his hand- something he would never do before, you had to put it down for him to take it! He's happier, more outgoing and more adventurous.

I thought perhaps some of the changes were ones I had expected and I might have embellished the results because I had a bias opinion. But then when I went on vacation and his diet temporarily went back to dry cat food for a couple of weeks, I noticed a change again! He was constantly eating his manufactured food, crying for food, and he threw up a few times. A few days after my return home, I made sure to bake some delicious chicken for him. Since I've resumed our "natural feeding" diet this week, he's stopped getting sick and been far more content.

If you're interested in natural feeding your cat, I highly recommend you look into it! I've seen such great benefits from making the change with Oreo. I hope that one day I am able to convert to completely natural feeding both my cat and dogs with homemade food, but for now this is what works for our family. Is it something you'll be trying?


Sunday, March 2, 2014

My Top 5 Tips for Planting Your First Garden

 While I am certainly no expert at gardening, I've been doing a lot of homework to prepare for my garden this year. I am going to share a couple of quick tips on getting started with gardening. I've been doing a ton of research the last couple of months and I've learned so much! This will be my first time ever having a garden so these tips are perfect for those of you who might be considering doing the same thing.

My Top 5 Tips

1) Pinterest- love, love, love all the websites and blogs about gardening that I have found through pinterest. I have read so many tips and tricks that I had never heard of before and I feel like this will really help me my first year. If you can learn from other people's mistakes instead of making the same ones yourself, why wouldn't you?

2) Raised Garden Beds & Potted Plants are the way to go! Not only is it easier to garden this way, but this form of gardening will be doing the most to ensure my gardening produces healthy, organic veggies. Some of the reasons I'm going with raised garden beds and potted plants this year are
I live in Charlotte, NC. We don't have soil here. We have clay.
I live in the city. This means that city sewer lines and all kinds of toxins and chemicals are no doubt in my backyard. The whole point of gardening for me, is to produce healthier options I can trust. By sticking with raised beds and pots, I'm using all new soil what hasn't been contaminated or exposed to local toxins.
It's easier. No tilling up the ground. Less bending over for maintaining and harvesting plants. Less weed growth surrounding the vegetable plants.

3) Organic starting soil is your friend. Potting soils like Miracle Gro are infused with a lot of preservatives and chemicals that are intended to help your plants grow quicker. Unfortunately the additives to these soils also attract more bugs. Then you're forced to buy and use bug repellents and disease preventatives for your plants. Adding even more chemicals and preservatives to your soil and your vegetables. Despite everything I had thought about organic starting soil (Miracle Gro has a great marketing team by the way,) most blogs I've visited have said that they have actually noticed a dramatic increase in yield since switching to organic starting soil. Healthier for you and gives you more at harvest time? Win, win.

4) Be prepared to get dirty. It doesn't matter how great your gloves are, if you are gardening, you will end up with dirt under your nails. A lot of dirt. And often. I rather enjoy feeling like one with mother earth though.

5) Write things down. Keep a journal or notebook to log all of your garden details. When you planted your seeds, what brand of seeds and potting soil you used, the date you transplanted your seedlings outdoors, etc. Next year, when you go to tackle your garden, you'll want those notes as a guide. What worked, which crops turned out great and which ones didn't. Writing it all down helps you identify what really works for you and what things you'll want to try changing.

Good luck getting started, I hope these little tips help!


Intentional Living- Gardening

I've been waiting years to have my first vegetable garden. Something about being self-sufficient and enjoying mother nature's way of providing for us is very appealing to me. Not to mention all the health benefits of homegrown food. The more I hear about toxins and chemicals contaminating market bought produce, the more I feel the desire to grow my own garden so I feel safer and more knowledgeable about what's going into my body.

Well, I am so thrilled that we've bought a house and now all those dreams can be put to hard work in our back yard! We've been in our home since October, and finally spring is coming around. I've had so many plans and hopes for what my garden might be. While there will be times when I have no idea what I'm doing and times when I fail, I can't wait to see the fruits vegetables of my labor, come harvest!

I've started this blog to document not just my new adventures in gardening, but in my more intentional approach to life this year altogether. I hope to try many new activities and work towards controlling more of the things that affect my health and well being. I truly believe that striving to live simply will lead to a much more relaxed and content attitude each day. Plus, I get to try my hand at a ton of new hobbies and I just love having hobbies.

What suggestions do you have for starting towards a more intentional lifestyle? I'd love to hear them!

Thank you so much for stopping by and reading. I can't wait to see this blog grow and flourish.