Gardening in a shade garden🕶

The first time I realized my new house had a very shady garden I immediately thought a colorless back yard. And no chance of a vegetable garden.

Beautiful mature Camellia plants lined the yard, and a few azaleas bloomed in between. One Japanese maple tree that had grown out of its corner, was overwhelmed by a white dogwood tree, and shaded by a large mulberry tree branches.

When spring came, I started making a list of plants that were colorful, plants with many shades of green, and a list with combination of perennials and annuals.

My list for annuals: Begonias, impatiens, monkey flower, snapdragon, pansy, coral bells, lily of the valley.

My list for perennials: foxgloves, hydrangeas, hostas, ferns, primroses, encore azaleas.

I am sure you agree when I say, a Gardner needs to be patient and thick skinned. No matter how much planning is done you are still in the mercy of nature and drastic changes in weather. Gardening is always a work in progress, and the joy of seeing a perennial popping it’s head out of the soil in early spring is absolutely priceless.

Begonia
Hosta

Azalea

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Pantry Must Haves🥫

Necessary Items for any pantry

We usually think of our pantry as the place we store what we need for cooking on daily bases. I have come to realize these days, that my pantry should have everything I need to make meals for not just weeks but maybe months.

Believe me I don’t own a large pantry, so no room for a large varieties of food, but I have learned how to make meals that share the same basic ingredients. And with few more from the freezer, voila I have put together a nice meal.

To create a nice meal has always been important to me. I grew up in a household that eating healthy, and eating delicious meals took an entire day to prepare. Chopping vegetables, marinating the meat, making sauces, all were an important component of creating a delicious food, and setting a beautiful table.

So to keep stress out of my life I have grouped my basic pantry items in 4 categories:

1- cooking

2- baking

3- snacking

4- breakfast

For Baking

Always store Salt, peppers, spices, cooking oils in large quantities since they are used in daily cooking. Canned sauces, and tomatoes, canned vegetables, soups, tuna, pickles, olives, and pastas are another must haves, with long expiration dates that are easy to buy for storing.

Take advantage of end of season sales for baking, canned vegetables, and pastas. And remember you can store most ingredients like butter, cooked pastas, cooked rice, and breads, for few weeks in your freezer.

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How to get a restful sleep

To get a restful sleep we need to follow a ritual of eating the right food and creating a right atmosphere to fall sleep. It is achievable, and is easy to follow a healthy routine to get sleep and stay sleep without using any over the counter help.

What we eat, how we unwind, and where we sleep effects how fast we fall sleep and stay sleep.

Two hours before you tuck yourself under the covers snack on food that will help your brain to produce hormones that will relax your thoughts and calm your nervous system. A healthy balance of hormones are the key to a good night’s sleep. Serotonin and melatonin need to work in harmony to keep the body balanced.

How Serotonin and melatonin work in our body:

Serotonin is the energizing happy hormone that increases positivity and relaxation. It helps us get out of bed and look forward to our day.

Melatonin is produced after the dark. When the environment around us is turned to night time. Making it extremely important to start our sleep ritual by turning the lights low and keeping our bedroom windows covered with curtains, blocking any light from entering the room.

😴 Enjoy snacking on food that can help: (2hours before bed )

Bananas

Peanut butter on wheat

Cottage cheese

Oatmeal

Almonds

Dark chocolate

Warm milk

😴 Create a relaxing surroundings:

Using natural essentials oil:

Rose, vanilla, sandalwood, Jasmine scents can relax our thoughts, helping us feel sleepy.

Reading & Avoiding electronics :

Enjoying a good book can relax our mind.

Blocking natural light:

Helps the increase of melatonin levels, telling our body it is night time, time to relax.

To keep our body and mind healthy we need to sleep. Our body needs at least 7-8 hours of sleep for a healthy strong immune system and a bright mind.

For a detailed list on meals and ways of relaxing please use the link below for “ How to asleep better” video.

Quiet time with our Family

I used to remember specifically assigning a week night for dinner with my family. Searching for the day that no one missed dinner because of a late meeting, softball practice, or travel plans. We sat around the dinner table and enjoyed nice meal as a family.

Well I know I won’t shock anyone by writing, that since the pandemic, we have been having dinners together as a family for over four months now. We cook, set the table, eat, cleanup, and spread around the house relaxing before we go to bed.

We now enjoy a routine that felt as if it was forced on all of us. Not having the freedom of mind to be some where else, our home more than ever has become a safe place that we see and hear each other, doing things that keep us entertained and comfortable.

We are watching movies from 1930s and search google to learn more about the actors we just watched. Our conversations vary from what we have read, or heard from friends, reminiscing about past summer vacations, and future plans for traveling. History pops up more than ever! Our political history, changes our grandparents lived through, and our hope and conversations for changes that our future would benefit from.

Our home has changed to accommodate all of our needs. Where we read, watch tv, listen to podcasts. We have found and created spaces to relax, and not be distracted by others. This was an important realization. To have our own quiet spaces to go to, and come back together when we want to. Hoping we are learning from our new normal, and keeping each other happy.

For more on creating quiet spaces at home, Please visit :

Go to our YouTube channel , to see how to create comfortable spaces for your kids.

https://youtu.be/xf36iuyEggo

Summer Nail Colors

Warm weather is here, and we are showing a lot more skin & toes. You can’t possibly wear sandals with plain bare toes during summer, so begin with a beautiful pastel nail polish.

I love painting my own nails. It gives me a chance to relax and pamper myself. First I start by clipping, filing, and buffing my nails; then I moisturize my skin and the best part choose my color.

If you have noticed the make up counters these days, you have seen how much companies have expanded their nail products, and colors as the seasons change.

I have fallen into the trap of what is in season will also look good on me, but have also quickly realized that I often gone back to what I like and feel pretty and comfortable in. I like to think that I create my own trends 🤣

I picked a few beautiful pastel nail polishes for this summer with the help of my daughter. We chose the brand “essie” known for their fresh colors with their cute names such as “vanity fairies”, and “blue -la-la”. Their creative, fresh take on nail polish have helped them to become a very popular brand among all ages.

We bought four fun colors and recorded painting them on, just to show you the cool colors for this summer.

Check out the video👍 I hope you find the time to relax, put some color on your nails & enjoy the summer 🌞⛱

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essie nail polish

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Summer Salad with Watermelon

Best way to eat fruits & vegetables sometimes is to make a nice salad. I have found it to be easier to add flavor and excitement to our food and get our kids to eat more fresh and healthy food.

One summer fruit that I love to serve is watermelon. With 1200 varieties, it is sweet, juicy, full of nutrients, and easy to serve.

Thirst quenching watermelon has many benefits, with 92% water, drinking its juice is an important way to keep our body hydrated.

Low in calories only 46 calories per cup, it is a great recovery beverage after a workout, and packed with vitamins, that help with :

1- Lowering blood pressure

2- high in antioxidants – prevents cell damage

3- helps in preventing cancer

4- helps with inflammation

5- helps with muscle soreness

6- helps with healthy hair & skin

One of my favorite salads in summer is watermelon feta cheese salad. Served with mint, glaze balsamic vinegar, olive oil, is cool and refreshing and everyone’s favorite.

Below is a video on how I made this easy salad. Try it & enjoy it 👍😋🍉

Baking Healthy Desserts

(Scones filled with chocolate chips and berries.)

I truly love baking. I rather bake than cook, and I rather bake goodies that are packed with fruits, nuts & berries.

I know there is always that feeling of guilt that creeps to our head when eating desserts, but I believe when we are baking our own cakes and cookies, we are more aware and use better and healthier ingredients.

For example, scones with cranberries and raisins, covered with vanilla glaze are great as dessert, and when served with a mixture of strawberry jelly and cream cheese or butter and honey is a scrumptious breakfast.

And if you love your coffee in the morning, dunking your scone in a hot cup of coffee is a great way to start your morning. 🌞

Click on the video and watch how I serve the scones.😋👍

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Healthy Hair for a youthful look

Rosemary & thyme

Healthy looking hair is important at any age. It is true as we get older our skin, and hair can change drastically, and not because we are getting older, but because of poor diet and the side effects of certain medications that we are forced to take.

Changing to a healthier diet can be the easiest solution, and eliminating stress and anxiety maybe the most difficult to achieve.

To start with the easiest changes, we need to wash our hair often to get rid of the oil that can weaken the hair follicles. And with daily brushing we are giving our scalp a message and moving oil from our roots keeping our scalp.

Healthy diet with good sleep habits are also important for healthy hair growth.

Using miniral oils while messaging can help too. Here are 3 DIY recipes :

1- One tablespoon of almond oil, three to four drops of rosemary essential oil and peppermint essential oil. Mix them together and rub it into your scalp to stimulate hair growth.

2- Message your scalp every morning with a mix of three ounces of cayenne pepper and 1/5 of vodka. Rub a small amount to your scalp once every morning to help stimulate hair follicles by helping blood circulation.

3- Use castor oil, mix one ounce of castor oil with four drops of rosemary essential oil and massaging it into your scalp. Rinse out after 30 to 45 minutes. Caster oil Is rich in Omega-9 fatty acids and vitamin E that helps with hair growth.

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Rosemary oil

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Peppermint oil

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Almond oil

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Castro oil

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Orange oil for relaxing & healing

Orange oil

Scents can improve our mood and energize us. Citrus smells not only have a positive effect on our mood, they can also reduce stress and anxiety. When peeling an orange, it is hard to avoid the fruity smell dispersing through the air and its oil on your hands.

Beside enjoying a peeled orange, there is also orange marmalade, candied oranges, and orange oil to enjoy.

Making orange oil is easy and a great way to use all the beautiful orange peels. All you need is patience to peel the pith off the skin and leaving it to dry for a few days. Fill a glass jar with the dry peels and add vodka, leaving a small space between the lid and the orange peels.

Keep the jar away from light and shake it twice a day for 2-4 days. Open the lid and cover with a paper towel for the alcohol to evaporate for another day. The next day, drain the oranges using a coffee filter to get rid of sediment, then discard the oranges.

Orange oil can help protect and heal skin, and promote collagen. Add 8-10 drops of orange oil to 1/4 cup of epsom salt to running bath water for a relaxing bath.

You can also substitute the oranges for lemons or grapefruits. Enjoy the fruity smell.

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Epson salt

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Peaches make Summer bearable😎

Peach cobbler with whipped cream

Grocery shopping is not one of my favorite things on my to do list. But every now and then, it turns out to be a lovely experience.

A few days ago when I was running through isles to pick up some vegetables, I froze when the wonderful sweet smell of peaches hit my senses. To be honest, these are the small things that make summer bearable. Sweet peaches, juicy watermelons, popsicles, grilled corn on the cob, and summer gardening. Yes, they are mostly food related, but any thing else involving the outdoors means facing the heat.

Going back to the sweet peaches, I planned on baking a peach cobbler, a bowl of fruit salad for a cool dessert, grill them as a side dish, and for breakfast mix it with yogurt.

Enjoy the peaches this summer.🍑

Peach cobbler

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Corn starch

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Baking dish

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