Garden Party in the Pantry!

Store bought celery will sprout new stalks when set in shallow waterGrow Your Own – Everybody’s Doing It!

Grow Your Own – Everybody’s Doing it!

There really is no excuse to not grow at least some of your family’s own food. One of the best things about growing food is how little space it actually takes. If you have some containers and some empty space, you too can enjoy some home grown deliciousness! Not convinced? Here are some places I, personally, have successfully grown delicious food

  • In a bright sunny window
  • in a garage, without windows
  • in a garage with windows
  • in a cheap plastic covered “greenhouse” bought at Raley’s
  • In an unheated shed attached to the garage, with windows
  • In a shallow bowl from store bought cut produce (like the celery in the picture above)
  • in my pantry!

I am going to talk specifically about my pantry greenhouse today, because if I can grow food, in my pantry, then you can grow something where you live too! Be that an apartment, in the suburbs, in a sky-rise, it doesn’t matter! Get the idea of needing a ton of space and time and resources, etc. etc. to grow your own salad successfully out of your head. It’s just not true. I am currently growing;

  • Easter Egg radishes,
  • 4 varieties of lettuce
  • 4 varieties of carrots
  • 2 different herbs
  • and sprouting 5 different varieties of pepper seeds

All on a few shelves in my pantry!

STOP. Listening to what “everyone” says and START experimenting with what you have to work with. I think you will be surprised how much you can do in small unexpected places when you use all available space efficiently and creatively.

Let’s Get Started

Here’s the short list of what you need to get basic food items (lettuces, carrots, radishes, herbs) growing;

  • shop lights and hoods (about $12 at Lowes)
  • Thin chain
  • Small “S” hooks that will hook inside the chain
  • extension cord IF your spot is not close to an outlet
  • Hooks that you screw into a ceiling (make sure the chain is large enough to fit over the hook)

Not Required but might make your job easier

  • Drill for pre-drilling small holes to screw your hooks into

All of the above should cost less than $20 for one light set up. Of course, if you end up doing multiple lights, like I have, it will cost a bit more up front, but this is not an expensive set up! I do not use expensive grow lights for this get up. Shop. Lights. Don’t be wooed by the fancy plants and veggies on the grow light boxes, I have never found them to be necessary or worth the cost!

**I would like to add, however, that when I was planting less hardy crops, in a very cold garage space, I also used a basic heat light to make sure my veggies stayed warm on freezing cold night. But that’s not what this post is about so i will not be going into detail about heat lamps here

Putting it All Together

Let’s put everything together and get growing!

  1. There are small holes on either end of your shop light hood. Measure the distance between the two holes and that is roughly the distance you want to drill the holes for your hanging hooks to be screwed into the top of whatever shelf or space you will be using to grow.
  2. Pre-drill a hole smaller than the screw tip of your hanging hook. Then go ahead and just screw the hook in by hand, it should go pretty easily.
  3. Once your hooks are in place, slip one end of your small “S” hook into each hole on both sides of your light hood. Hook your chain through the other side and hang your light up on the hanging hooks you prepared
  4. Plug your lights in and turn them on…

Let’s Get Planting!

Now the fun part!! Pick some lettuce varieties that will not be overly tall (so skip the romaine for this one), unless you have a very tall space. I love May Queen, Tom Thumb, Red Sails, or any of the loose leaf lettuce varieties! There are thousands of seed catalogs and varieties out there! Of course, in a pinch, I’m sure your local garden center also has a few fun varieties that will work. I am a big believer in supporting the local businesses that I don’t want to close up shop, so I intentionally make purchases at my local garden center whenever I can. Of course, it would be impossible for them to carry every variety, so seed catalogs get a fair share of my business. There are thousands of seed companies out there! Just make sure the seeds you buy are Heirloom, organic, non gmo, etc. Here are a few of my fav’s (not necessarily in order, but pretty close!).

  1. MI Gardener (this will actually be my first year using these seeds, but I have followed his YouTube channel for years and trust they will be excellent…and they are ONLY ONE DOLLAR each!)
  2. Bakers Creek (have used their seeds for years and LOVE them!)
  3. Territorial Seed Company
  4. High Mowing Seeds
  5. West Coast Seeds

As far as planting medium goes, do not use dirt from your backyard, unless you have a proven, weed free, pest free compost pile. I always use organic bagged potting soil, from my local garden center, for my seedlings and have yet to regret it. You will be using only a small amount of soil and, remember, this will be food you and your family will be eating, so it’s worth the few bucks to buy a good organic potting soil.

Now, for the actual container to plant in. Basically anything that holds dirt and water will work. I never put holes in the bottom of my planting containers in the greenhouse. It just means I have to water them more often, and I tend to be lazy when it comes to water. Here are a few container ideas;

  • plastic cups
  • Milk Jugs cut in half
  • Empty Yogurt Containers
  • Cardboard Soup Boxes cut in half
  • Water Catchment Trays

For my pantry I moved to large indoor plant catchment basins (basically the plastic disc you put under your indoor houseplants to catch water). They are 4 inches tall and have a 12 inch diameter, so they are a decent depth and enough width to fit several plants in one container. For my full size carrots, I am using 14 inch cheap plastic pots. I definitely recommend using plastic for plants you plan on having in the container for a long period of time, in this case, all Winter. I will be experimenting with “Soil Blocks” this Spring to hopefully move away from starts in plastic cups and containers.

Get This Party Started

Now that you have your lights set up, your organic potting soil ready, and seeds purchased,  let’s get dirty!

Fill all of your containers with your soil, leaving about 1/2 inch of space around the rim. Wet the soil and mix it all up to make sure it is evenly damp, but not sopping wet.

Either follow the planting/spacing instructions for your seeds or start your seeds sprouting for transplanting later. You can read more about pre-sprouting your seeds here.

I direct seeded my lettuces with excellent germination success. It is extremely important that your soil stay moist while the seeds are germinating. This is one reason I like my soil nice and moist before I plant.

Here is a list of seeds I pre-sprouted to improve germination rates and how many days it took for them to sprout:

  • Carrots – 3-5 days
  • Radishes – 2-3 days
  • Herbs – 1-5 days (depending on the herb and variety)
  • Peppers – 5-10 days

As the seeds germinate, they are placed into their pots at the suggested spacing for that particular plant. I only put a very light dusting of soil on top of my seeds and then water them into the soil well. Remember, there are no holes in the bottom of your containers (unless you bought container with pre-made holes, like my larger carrot buckets) so don’t do crazy with the water. Just enough to keep the soil damp.

Check daily for new sprouts! Some of mine were up the  next day! Some didn’t come out for 3 days, it was equally exciting for me to see each new seed and variety pop up! Some things never get old.

Now that everything is planted and lights are set up…all you have to do is wait. And wait a little more….and waiting is my least favorite thing. Ha! But it’s always worth it. Below are a few things that are growing in my pantry, right now, in the beginning of January in zone 5. These would never be an option outside or in my unheated greenhouse!

I would love to hear if you used any of these ideas to grow something new in your own space…the more creative the better! Please share in the comments below – pictures are a bonus 🙂

Happy Growing!






Improve and Guarantee Your Seeds Germination!

The Rub

We’ve all been there. You painstakingly prepare your garden beds, add enough fertilizers, order the perfect seeds, and lovingly tuck them into the soil. Then you wait. And you watch. And you water.

And nothing ever happens.


Talk about a major let down! It’s enough to make you want to give up gardening all together. What went wrong? Well, the problem is that as soon as those seeds slip into the soil, it’s essentially impossible to know what happens to them. The most likely culprit is the seed never germinated to begin with.

So what is a gardener to do?

The Solution

The answer? Pre-germination! If you only put germinated seeds into the ground, you are much more likely to have a successful sprouted seed, which will grow into the beautiful plant you always knew it could be. Right? Yes.

Luckily for all of us, there is a simple method that all of us, no doubt, have done at some point in an Elementary Science class. Seeds actually need very little to germinate. The main element necessary is moisture. I live in the desert…guess how fast the top 1/4 inch of soil dries out here on a warm Spring day? I’ve never timed it, but I’m guessing less than an hour after I water my seedlings, that soil is on it’s way to drier than dry! Which means, dried out seeds, no germination, and no food for me. Fortunately, pre-sprouting your seeds saves a great number of disappointments in the gardening department of life.

Tools for the Pre-Sprouting Method

  • Paper Towels (I try to use recycled and non chemical paper towels)
  • Ziplock Plastic Baggie
  • Masking Tape
  • Sharpie
  • Seeds

Ready? This is going to be so easy and quick you’ll wonder why you haven’t been doing it your whole dag gone life.

  1. Soak paper towel and slightly ring out, so it’s not dripping everywhere but very wet
  2. Tap desired quantity of seeds onto wet paper towel
  3. Fold paper towel up into a square and tuck it inside of a ziplock bag
  4. Label the bag with the masking tape and sharpie
  5. Put the baggie in a warm place until germination

Make sure you check your sprouts every day. I like to open the towel up every few days to make sure none of the seeds are molding, which is rare but can happen.

Once you have sprouted seeds (congrats!) you can carefully unfold the wet paper towel and plant each sprouted seedling according to the packets direction (or just roughly 1 inch apart, if you don’t have a packet with directions).

Some seeds are very tiny and need to be handled more gently. For seeds like carrots and basil, you can either arrange the seeds at the spacing you want on the paper towel, and then plant the whole paper towel along with the seeds.

Or, you can use something like a pencil or scalpel to place each individual seed into it’s place. For example, the basil in the pictures below were so tiny I couldn’t grab them with my fingers, so I used a knife and pencil to place each one where I wanted it. A bit tedious, but again, a for sure germinated seedling!

And that’s a wrap! I hope you enjoyed this handy gardening tip and use it to your advantage in all your garden adventures!

Happy Growing!


Let them be WHITE! Fancy Girls Bedroom Update

My husband built Fancy Girl an adorable little house bookshelf/dollhouse last year, which I did not stain or paint because it went perfectly with her very earthy montessori type bedroom at the time. Everything in her bedroom, including the house bed he had also made her, her night stand, her dresser, art table, etc. was raw wood.

I debated back and forth about painting them for her new updated bedroom. If I did paint them, what color? Then it happened. I made the mistake of asking her opinion. Don’t. Do. It. She vacillated between painting all of her furniture pink or purple and finally settled on WHITE, with absolutely no influence or input from yours truly (okay I bribed her with chocolate! it works in a pinch). Whew. Bullet dodged.

Technically, “they” say you should prime raw wood before painting, but I’m not into buying a whole other gallon of white paint, when I already have a half gallon of white paint…am I right? I mean, I just don’t get it. I just opted to paint each piece twice, like I would be doing with a primer anyways…? See my confusion there?

Here are the pieces before any painting. I did sand the top of the nightstand a bit…it was a tad beat up after a year and a half of use. Here is the raw wood grain of the pieces before  painting. The bookshelf had this really cool knot detail at the bottom I initially was not going to paint because I liked it so much…but it really just looked silly once everything else was painted but that one strip, so I did end up having to paint it after all.

I had put a sticky wall decal on the inside back of that bookshelf so I had to be careful and actually cut in every stupid edge and angle. It took F.O.R.E.V.E.R. with a little kids paint brush. Ugh. I’m never painting these again…which is why they needed to be white! Obviously, because I did not prime them, I did two coats of paint. Even with the double coat, the wood grain still did show through, which I love! So I was very pleased, overall with how these pieces turned out. Again, I purposed at creating neutral pieces that will continue to work as she grows…and white is always in style.

Final Product:

Check out the rest of this fun series;

Here – Geometry Wall

Here – Flower Mirror

Here – The Fanciest Switch Plates

Here – Glitter Wall

Here –  Final Room Tour

Geometry Wall – Fancy Girls Bedroom Makeover Series!

The Making of the Perfect “Girl” Wall

This was actually the first portion of my second born’s bedroom makeover I tackled! This is the largest wall in her bedroom, and would also be the main feature wall, so I had to get it right. I had her pick her 3 favorite colors (pink, purple, and blue) and we had a special mama daughter date to our  local Lowes to look at paint strips. I chose a strip with 3 shades of colors for all 3 of her favorite colors. That was fun and also helped build some excitement for this big make over project for her bedroom. The first one we have actually ever done for her! Lots of excitement 🙂


  1. At least 2 colors of paint, though I prefer 3…I think 4 at the most, if you have a VERY large wall. Make sure the colors compliment eachother, otherwise it will just look too chaotic!
  2. A good painters tape, I prefer Frog tape ( you can’t miss the green tape on the painting aisle!). It’s specifically formulated to not allow  paint to seep under it, ruining your perfectly straight lines. Take some advice from yours truly and follow the directions if you have a textured wall you are working on…there are special instructions for these surfaces.
  3. A good 2-3 inch paint brush. I use the Wooster, which are just as good ad Purdy, but not quite as expensive. I use an angled brush so I can also cut in the edges of the ceiling and don’t have to switch brushes. That’s annoying.
  4. Small paint bucket
  5. Ladder (unless you are fortunate to NOT HAVE vaulted ceilings and will not be going up and down a ladder all. day. long. AHEM.)

First things first, you will need to assess your walls for texture. Unless you are painting straight onto drywall, chances are your walls are textured, which means you will need to follow specific directions to get the best results from your frog tape. Yours truly happened to learn this after the fact, and I’m trying to save you the meticulous nightmare of “fixing” imperfect lines after the fact. Go ahead and watch that little tutorial here. I am not responsible for the narrators poor acting skills.

Once you have watched the exciting video and know how to properly apply your frog tape, you are ready to start! I began by taping, essentially, a large “X” from corner to corner across the wall. From that I did several other long strips across the wall at different diagonal angles. It is helpful to have another adult helping at this point, especially if it’s a large wall, in order to keep the tape straight. Step back after each tape application to make sure you are liking how the design is looking over all. Here’s where our pattern ended up

As you can see, I taped the color of paper I wanted to paint each space to the wall…this gave me a decent idea of how the wall would look when it was done. I moved the colors around until I was happy with the flow of colors, and got to work!

Pink first! I love the pink color she chose for this space!

I was thrilled she chose blue (thank you Elsa) as one of her colors. I get annoyed that blue has somehow become off limits as a girl color.

And finally, purple! The tape came off (lots of micro touch up, thanks to my lack of frog taping knowledge) and it looks AWESOME!! I think these colors are so beautiful together! Even though the pink and purple shout “GIRLY” the blue really balances everything out nicely so that it’s not too over the top.

In addition to the dark brown carpet, brown ceiling beams, brown window treatment, and cream-yellow wall color, the trim was also dark brown. No wonder my 4 year old, princess loving, daughter walked in and announced her displeasure at having a “boy room”. So, here you see….trim is painted white! Such a small thing but makes a huge difference in this space to break up all the brown and masculine feel of this room. Since there is nothing to be done about the carpet (yet) or the window coverings (for the foreseeable future) I am happy with the smaller details here.

I painted the rest of the walls in the same light blue as I used on the geometry wall. It’s cool, calming, and gives the room an overall “girly neutral” feel. Hopefully there is enough variety in these colors that she will love this color scheme for several years.

See my other Fancy Girl Bedroom Updates;

Here– Let Them Be White

Here  – Flower Mirror

Here – The Fanciest Switch Plates

Here – Glitter Wall

Here – Completed Room Tour

Flower Mirror – Fancy Girl’s Bedroom Makeover!

The Vision

My vision for this room was to go neutral with permanent objects (walls and furniture) then have lots of girly things that POP all over the room as extra touches a little girl would love but could also be easily switched out as she gets older and matures. Not that she’s ever going to break my heart and move past her love of Moana, dress up, make believe, and all things imaginary and other worldly. Because that’s just sad. Why do we let ourselves grow up?

I think everyone has one of those $10 laminate, rectangular framed, mirrors hanging around from their college days, right? I actually bought this for her when she was itty bitty and I just wanted a cheap mirror she could sit on the ground and see herself in. How it looked, what color it was, etc. did not matter. Well, fast forward 3 years later and it’s time for an upgrade. This is one of those little details that really help pull the feel of a room together in the end. Could I have just left the mirror alone and no one would have thought twice about it? Yes. Is that my style? No. Must. Change. All. The. Things.

What you will need:

  • Cheapo laminate mirror (though any mirror with a frame would work)
  • Different sized silk flowers, stems removed to make the base of the flower as flat as possible
  • Glue gun and glue sticks
  • White paint (if you want to do the brushed on look like I did here)
  • Painters tape to protect the mirror

So here we go. This is actually a pretty simple little make over, but I think you’ll be surprised at what an impact it makes!

Step One: My mirror has a black frame, and black is not part of my vision for this space. So, I just used the same white paint I had used for the trim and ran a thin coat of paint over the whole frame. I only did one coat because I wanted it to look “distressed”, or vintage, or whatever. It came out better than I had imaged it would! Considering I was doing this over cheap laminate…wiiiiinning!

Next, I used my hot glue gun to glue flowers, in random order, along half one long side and half the short side. I repeated this process on the opposite half on the other long side, and on the other short side (it will make sense when you look at the picture, I promise!).

This little project went so fast, I literally did not even have time to take pictures! Once that hot glue gun came out, it was game on and done in about 10 minutes! Lol. In fact, I think this entire project only took about 20 minutes! #worthit

Final Product:

Now, even with the horrible picture quality you can see how adorable this mirror turned out! What little girl wouldn’t go gaga over this?!

Check out My other posts on Fancy Girls Bedroom Makeover!

Here – Let Them Be White

Here – The Fanciest Switch Plates

Here – Geometry Wall

Here – Glitter Wall

Here – Completed Room Tour