Monday, April 23, 2012

It's Springtime!

I made these Kawaii Springtime magnet set recently to celebrate the warmer weather even though the weather is currently bipolar. Can you see just how happy the Daisy is?

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Strawberry Avocado Spinach Salad

I'm normally a "safe" food eater. Not a foodie at all. I like what I like and tend to order the same things over and over. Not to mention, I can't cook and I am tongue deaf (the equivalent of being tone deaf. Yeah. I just made that up.) So, when I saw that I had avocados and strawberries ripening quicker than I can blink, something clicked. What if I made a strawberry and avocado salad? And also added spinach? So I looked up different recipes and got basic ideas for the dressing since I'm a ranch kinda girl. I'm not brave enough to venture in making my own dressing yet so I improvised and bought ready made olive oil and vinegar dressing. When I got home, I added in a touch or two of honey to sweeten it up. Boy, am I glad I ventured out of my food comfort zone.

The salad consists of spinach (bagged or bunch, your preference. I chose bunched), sliced strawberries, 1 avocado and garlic and herb feta cheese (they didn't have plain). For the dressing, just store bought already made olive oil and vinegar dressing. I poured about a cup of dressing and I stirred in two small dollops of honey to sweeten. Tasty.

I didn't include any specific measurements since everyone's appetite and portion size is different do let me know if something is not clear :)

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Saturday, April 14, 2012

Lovebug Magnet!

One of the things I plan on making is a cute bug magnet set which will include a butterfly, a dragonfly and a bee. Just need one more cute bug to add to the set.

Ninja Magnet Party Favors

Made these "angry" ninjas for a friend for her son's birthday party. They were the not-so-angry party favors :)

Friday, April 13, 2012

Spring Owls Magnet Set!

Thomas the Train and Friends

I made this cute set as a request from my friend for her son. Like the magnets, plastic bottlecaps are used to give the stacked look of the locomotives.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Neem Oil as a Natural Pesticide.

Last year, I had an infestation of spider mites that killed my cucumbers. I let the soil get too dry and with the heat in Southern California, it was a perfect breeding environment for spider mites. I lost my will to keep up with the plants after I tossed the cucumbers and forgetting to water. This year, I did some research and found out that neem oil is a natural pesticide that is also good for plants. Neem oil is an essential oil harmful to pests but not to humans (unless you're pregnant).

Neem oil is "harvested" from the fruit and seeds of the neem tree which is from India. It needs to be diluted with water before you can use it directly on the leaves otherwise, you risk killing or burning it. Because it is a natural and organic product, you do not get instant results like you would with chemical pesticides and multiple sprayings on top and underneath the foilage over a few days are needed in order to kill any spider mites. The reason being is the neem oil doesn't instantly kill the mites but instead messes with their body (i.e. breathing, eating, etc) which is why it takes a few days to get rid of them.

Just mix a tablespoon of neem oil with a gallon of water and couple drops of dish soap (the soap helps to keep the neem oil and water from separating) and spray on top and under the leaves of the infested plants every day until the spider mites have been eradicated. The mixture is only good for up to about 8 hours so be sure to make a new batch every time.

Urban Gardening Year 2

Suffice to say, last year's attempt at growing some vegetables didn't pan out. Out of the numerous lettuce plants, two tomato plants, 4 cucumbers plants and 2 strawberry plants, I got 2 grape tomatoes, a few lettuce leaves and 4 or 5 strawberries.

This year, I am armed with more info, more experience, fertilizer and more determination.

Here is this year's attempt at container gardening inside my apartment. These pics were taken a few days ago on the 8th, so there has been some more growth since then.

The red bucket is a yellow summer squash plant flanked by a pair of cherry tomato plants. The little cup in the window sill are basil seedlings. The little cap in the squash container contains neem oil (see next post for what it is), which is a natural essential oil that helps to repel pests, particularly spider mites, which killed my cucumbers last year.

I am also trying my hand at upside down gardening in order to conserve space. A 2 liter bottle was converted to grow cucumber. I also planted a lettuce seed on top since it is a companion plant to cucumber. In the bag, I have another cherry tomato plant growing. On top of the soil, I have also planted some basil seeds since it can help to improve the flavor of the tomato plants and can also repel pests. So far, the cucumber is doing great and the upside down tomato plant looks a little sad but no hope is lost yet.

A closer look at the cucumber.

My container of black eyed simpson lettuce (same as I grew last year). Most lettuce varieties grow better in cooler weather but the black eyed simpson is more heat and sun tolerant. Next year, I shall try a cooler variety in order to free up some space for other plants that need more sun. This year, I added in used (but dried out) coffee grounds since coffee grounds are high in nitrogen and lettuce craves nitrogen.

And last but not least, a family of sunflowers and cosmos (on the end to the right) that I will hopefully be able to have flower this year. Last year's attempt with flowers didn't work so well.

One thing I am doing different this year is actually using fertilizer and pollinating the flowers by hand since I don't have any bees that live inside my apartment. I just didn't think about it last year :)