There are no limits to success to those who never stop learning. I want to help you succeed by sharing what I have learned about life skills. Knowing these skills can nourish your personal growth. I hope you enjoy this blog, and visit often so you keep learning too!
A well-kept lawn is a beautiful sight and a standard attribute of residential yards. But it’s also very one-dimensional. Grass may be the largest irrigated crop in the country, but it’s also sadly inedible. All of the time and energy that goes into creating and maintaining an ornamental lawn, shrubs, and assorted plants would be better spent tending to an equally eye-catching landscape filled with food! With some helpful tips and tricks, you can transform your yawn of a yard into a produce-producing powerhouse.
The process of gardening should be enjoyable, so be sure to start small. Rather than dig up the yard and transform every inch, choose a family-favorite food to add to existing flower borders, or pot some herbs and use them to fill out empty spaces in the landscape.
Beware of Foot Traffic
Be mindful not to place your edible garden too close to passersby on the sidewalk or street, or too tight to walkways leading to the front door. Dogs will see your plantings as an opportunity to pee, while kids may wind up stomping over your veggies. Direct foot traffic away from the garden with rocks, solar lights, a small fence, and other landscaping accessories.
Choose Low-Maintenance Edibles
Be honest with yourself about the amount of time you’re willing to spend tending to the garden. Swapping out a lawn for edible landscaping that requires a ton of maintenance defeats the purpose. Prioritize perennials, which require less upkeep than annuals.
Plant spreading varieties for an easy way to turn a yard into an edible garden. Nasturtiums, for instance, are self-seeding annuals that add a pop of color in the spring. Herbs like oregano, thyme, and marjoram can withstand foot traffic, and they release a delicious fragrance into the air.
Not everything has to be edible! When building out an edible garden, create dimension and intrigue by incorporating shade-tolerant ornamentals in areas that don’t see enough sunlight for edibles to thrive. Break up the greenery with garden structures like trellises and statues.
Take Note of Size, Texture, and Shape
Without proper planning, an edible garden will look messy. Different edibles vary in size, texture, shape, and even color. Keep these variations in mind as you design your garden. Group together like plants, ensuring that low-growing ones are situated at the front of the flower bed and high-growing ones in the back.
Know What You Like
Incorporating edible plants into your landscaping should be about taste as well as looks! If you’re not a fan of zucchini, why plant it? Figure out which foods you desire most, and consider how those plants can be used. Blueberries, for example, offer beautiful spring flowers, vibrant color, and delicious flavor, and they also make for great hedge plants.
Be Mindful of Sunlight
Be sure to plant edibles in locations that receive enough light. Most edibles do best with 6 to 8 hours of full sunlight. Cool-season plants like lettuce and cabbage can tolerate a little more shade.
A number of edibles are known for their bounty as well as their aesthetics. Vining edibles such as beans, peas, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers, and melons can be trained to grow vertically (and beautifully) along a trellis.
Welcome Wildlife Allies
Bees, hummingbirds, and butterflies are just some of the pollinators that improve the success of a vegetable garden. They help plants set fruit, ensuring a bountiful harvest. Welcome wildlife allies by planting attractive flowers like lavender and providing sources of shelter and water for these busy workers.
There’s no arguing that a healthy, green houseplant looks good just about anywhere. Something about those lush leaves or beachy palm fronds can really amplify the vibe in any space. But when it feels like you’re only seeing green, adding a pop of color from a flowering indoor plant can be a sight for sore eyes.
Before you go running off to the closest greenhouse, keep in mind: Your new blooming buddy might require more TLC than that snake plant in your corner. Like any species of plant or flower, each has its own set of “rules” for ensuring it blooms and grows to its fullest potential. While these vary, Erin Marino, plant expert and director of brand marketing at The Sill, has some general tips:
For light: “Indoor plants that bloom usually require more sunlight—bright direct to bright indirect—and frequent waterings than other plants,” she says. “You’ll want to make sure your space receives enough bright light for your new houseplant to thrive and support its flowers, or that you invest in supplemental lighting.”
For water: According to Marino, you’ll probably find yourself watering flowering plants more often than those that don’t bloom. That means you may want to invest in a good self-draining pot: “It depends on the specific plant whether it likes to dry out between waterings or remain semi-moist,” she says. “Either way, good drainage is key.”
For soil: Fertilizing your blooming houseplants can also help encourage more flowers. “Fertilizer isn’t food but nutrients, similar to those your plant would get out in its natural habitat,” Marino says. She suggests always checking the fertilizer label for directions and notes that some flowering plants, like orchids, even have their own fertilizers developed just for them.
Ready to add some color to that green thumb? Below are six flowering indoor plants to check out (as if you needed another reason to expand your collection…)
6 pretty flowering indoor plants for beautiful blooms
As you age (and especially after having a baby) you might find yourself having difficulties holding in your pee until you can rush to the bathroom. While leaking, aka stress incontinence, can be messy and embarrassing, it is actually pretty common. So remove that shame! Instead, work toward training your bladder to better hold in your urine until you can reach the toilet.
There’s something called “bladder training,” which basically conditions your bladder to be able to hold onto liquid longer. “This is usually recommended for people with overactive bladder, meaning they have excessively frequent urination, leakage, or urgent urination. But it can also be helpful for those who encounter the issues later in life or, for example, after pregnancy.
What causes overactive bladder?
Common risk factors for overactive bladder include aging, menopause, and certain neurological conditions. But more often, it’s due to having a baby. “The most common cause of stress incontinence—leaking with coughing, sneezing, and so forth—is vaginal childbirth,” says Karyn Eilber, MD, a board-certified urologist with sub-specialty board certification in female pelvic medicine and reconstructive surgery and the founder of GLISSANT.
Poor pelvic floor strength also plays a role. “Women with a history of pregnancy and delivery, regardless of whether it was cesarean or vaginal, may be more likely to have underactive pelvic floor muscles,” says Aleece Fosnight, PA-C and medical advisor at Aeroflow Urology, a specialist in men and women’s urological care and sexual health. And if you’re an athlete? You could have overactive pelvic floor muscles, she adds. (Sorry.)
Still, there’s no one-size-fits-all fix—and sometimes, it’s hard to pinpoint the cause of overactive bladder. (That’s why speaking to your doctor is important to properly diagnose and treat any bladder issues.) The biggest benefit of bladder training is that it helps address urinary symptoms without medication.
How does bladder training work?
The point of bladder training, says Fosnight, is to diminish leakage and the sense of urgency to urinate. “The goals are to increase the amount of time between emptying your bladder as well as expand the amount of fluids your bladder can hold,” she says. This should also make you feel more comfortable in between bathroom breaks.
On that note, says Dr. Eilber, bladder training involves gradually increasing the time interval between urination. That’s done by following a fixed voiding schedule, whether or not you feel the urge to urinate. If you feel an urge to urinate before the assigned interval, you should use urge suppression techniques—such as relaxation and/or engaging the pelvic floor muscles, such as squeezing, like a kegel. “For instance, if someone urinates every 30 minutes, for one week they would be instructed to postpone urination five minutes, then add on five minutes the following week, and so on,” she says.
How to use bladder training techniques
First, empty your bladder as soon as you get up in the morning, as this kicks off your retraining schedule. Then throughout the day, go to the bathroom at the specific times that have been discussed with your healthcare provider, and increase by minute-long increments, as advised by your doctor.
“Wait until your next scheduled time before you urinate again and be sure to empty your bladder, even if you feel no urge to urinate,” says Fosnight. Follow the schedule during waking hours only. At night, go to the bathroom only if you wake and find it absolutely necessary.
“When you feel the urge to urinate before the next designated time, use urge suppression techniques or relaxation techniques like deep breathing to focus on relaxing all other muscles,” says Fosnight.
If possible, sit down until the sensation passes. If the urge is suppressed, adhere to the schedule. “If you cannot suppress the urge, wait five minutes. Then slowly make your way to the bathroom, where after urinating, you re-establish the schedule,” says Fosnight. She advises repeaingt this process every time you feel the urge to pee.
When you’ve accomplished your initial goal, Fosnight suggests gradually increasing the time between emptying your bladder by 15-minute intervals. Increase your interval each week until you get to a voiding interval of three or four hours.
How long until you see results?
There is no specific amount of time that it will take you to reach your goal. “A helpful and achievable timeline would be about six to 12 weeks to accomplish your ultimate goal,” says Fonsight.
Don’t be discouraged by setbacks! You may find you have good days and bad days, just like any other part of life. As you continue bladder retraining, you will start to notice more and more good days, so keep practicing. “Keeping a bladder diary can be helpful to understand your triggers,” adds Fosnight.
You’ll boost the speediness of your success by doing your pelvic floor exercises consistently every day, too. And those diaries will also help you see your progress and identify your problem times, as well as track your successes. Before you know it, you’ll be ready to use the bathroom—on your own preferred schedule.
Article by Aleece Fosnight, MSPAS, PA-C & Karyn Eilber, MD
You likely wouldn’t be surprised to learn rock gardens originated in East Asia, but many of the modern iterations we see today have their roots in 17th-century Europe and America. Early Asian rock gardens were focused on unusual rock forms, while Western rock gardens were inspired by beautiful mountain ranges that people wanted to recreate on their own properties. Either way, both sides of the world developed rock gardens to bring joy, peace, and tranquility into their daily lives, and these rock garden ideas will assist you in doing just that in your own backyard.
Whether you have sprawling green space or a minuscule patio, there are plenty of rock garden varieties to fit your landscaping needs. From classic Japanese gardens to modern outdoor art fixtures, our favorite rock garden ideas below are sure to inspire.
Ryōan-ji is Japan’s most famous rock garden, residing in the capital city of Kyoto. This garden is enclosed by clay walls and serves as a meditation space for monks studying at Myoshin-ji school of Zen Buddhism.
This desert scene is from Moorten Botanical Garden, an iconic Palm Springs destination for exploring the area’s unique flora and fauna. Several varieties of cacti offer a fun twist on the classic rock garden.
Creating stunning borders is the highlight of having a garden. Seeing those rich beds in full bloom and bursting with colour is what makes all of those hours of weeding and digging worthwhile. But thriving, luscious flower borders can be expensive – especially when you are starting from scratch.
Fortunately there are ways to get rich herbaceous borders on a budget. So let me share my top money-saving tips for frugal flowerbeds that can still take your breath away.
FRAMEWORK OF FEATURES
When designing any flower border, you need a framework of strong, reliable specimens that will anchor the planting. These are your permanent fixtures – once these are in place you can work around them with seasonal varieties.
Shrubs, trees and evergreens provide a great base for your flowers, as well as giving the border structure in winter. Plant a few feature specimens throughout the border.
A few smaller garden trees that are sure to brighten up your borders are:
• Acer palmatum (Japanese maple)
• Prunus (cherry)’Kiku-shidare-zakura’
• Salix caprea (Kilmarnock willow)
• Prunus (cherry) ‘Amanogawa’
However, these are not always cheap. You can save money by buying young plants and letting them grow to size, if you have the patience. Or for an instant effect you can try fast-growing shrubs that will quickly fill the empty spaces such as:
• Rosa glauca
• Spiraea japonica
For fast results, sow annual flowers. These germinate, bloom and set seed all in one season, so they act fast and can transform a bare plot.
They come in all sizes, shapes and colours imaginable, so it’s worth scouring your local garden retailer for seeds that you love.
• Sweet pea
• Sweet alyssum
The cheapest way to buy new plants is from seed. But they can take a long time to reach maturity, leaving you with a half-empty bed.
However, there are some varieties that grow fast. These are all strong perennials that will flower in one season:
Sow them in early spring and you can have striking, flowering plants by the summer.
These popular herbaceous border plants will flower the second year after sowing, so it’s worth getting them in the ground too:
DIVIDE PERENNIALS AND BULBS
Make more plants for free by dividing what’s already in your garden. Large perennials and groups of bulbs can become congested, which reduces their flowering.
Turn on your TV and watch a moving tribute that honors America’s servicemen and women from the comfort of your home. This year’s event airs Sunday, May 30, at 8:00 p.m. EST on PBS, and includes performances by Sara Bareilles, Vince Gill, and Alan Jackson.
With all the hustle and bustle of a long weekend, it’s easy to forget to pause and think about what Memorial Day is really about. Simply take a moment or two with your family to remember those who have served.
For more Memorial Day idea’s, click the link below.
“Don’t get too attached,” said my friend Kathleen. My first sugar snap pea plant was suffering an infestation of some sort, and it looked faded and thin. “Gardening is rife with heartbreak,” she added. This was one of many tidbits my friend offered during my first tentative foray into gardening. While this was not the advice I wanted, embracing failure was exactly the insight I needed to succeed.
As a writer, I’m intimately familiar with the phrase “murder your darlings,” a reference to letting precious turns of phrase surrender to the delete key in service of the larger work. But when it came to attempting a garden of my own, overwhelm and fear of failure immediately shrouded me in doubt. Did I want to build raised beds or sow directly into the ground? What could I plant where? What if critters ate everything?
During the first summer of the COVID-19 pandemic, my friend and I conferred about gardening via the Marco Polo video messaging app. I’d pepper her with questions and she’d offer abundant gardening know-how and encouragement, taking obvious delight in mentoring a novice. Her advice to not give up if a plant didn’t survive—the ultimate fate of my sugar snap pea plant—gave me the gumption to keep growing.
If you’re a novice, the idea of designing your own garden might feel daunting, as it did for me. This is especially true when comparison-itis strikes; how could my seedling of an idea compare to the lush, sophisticated bounty of experienced gardeners like Kathleen? For me, the trick to getting started was letting inspiration be my guide and dividing the project into achievable steps, nurtured with patient advice from other gardeners.
GIVE YOUR GARDEN A PURPOSE
It might seem like gardening is simply a matter of choosing a location and creating a grid for planting. However, it can be inspiring to start by giving your garden a purpose. Do you want to grow your own food, herbs or flowers—or all of the above?
My friend Kathleen is an “all of the above” gardener, her front yard a head-turning neighborhood floral oasis, complete with bird feeders and bright, chalky-blue Adirondack chairs. Her gardening aesthetic runs in the direction of nuance and detail, Latin plant names embedded in her memory like those of treasured friends. She even created a spreadsheet for me to plan my next garden, including what supplies to buy and when.
In contrast, my plant vibe tends more toward instincts and appetites: ”How hard will it be to grow a rainbow coneflower bed like my neighbor around the block?” or ”Will this taste good in a salsa?” In fact, “pico de gallo” was my first garden theme, a nod to my insatiable appetite for summer-grilled steak and shrimp fajitas and an idea that felt simple, achievable, and delicious. I planted zesty serranos and jalapeños, cilantro, and Roma tomatoes bursting with bright summer flavor, supplemented with red onion from my farmers market and grocery store limes.
DECIDE WHETHER TO START WITH SEEDS OR PLANTS
There’s no right or wrong way to go when deciding whether to start from seed or purchase plants. Neither method is necessarily better except in two respects: timing and space. Timing matters because seeds need more time to grow and often must be planted indoors a few weeks before the last frost of the year. That’s where space comes in – you’ll need somewhere indoors to start seeds under a grow lamp until the seedlings are hardy enough to plant outdoors.
Because I got started late in the season, seeds were not an option. My small town northwest of Chicago has a quaint Victorian town square with a bustling farmers market, so I got most of my plants there. However, the “Fourth of July” slicing tomato plant I scored for two bucks at the local hardware store turned out to be a family favorite, too—including my tomato-averse middle child.
Tip: Wherever you get your plants or seeds, chat up the growers who work there. Experienced local gardeners can be invaluable assets who are often happy to share their knowledge.
START WHERE YOU ARE: DESIGN YOUR GARDEN BASED ON YOUR NEEDS
If you don’t feel ready to plant a full-scale garden on your first try, that’s okay. Consider a kitchen window herb garden, or plop a cherry tomato plant into a hefty pot and see what happens. Whatever your available space and knowledge level, you’ll want to give some thought to which type of garden to plant.
CONTAINERS, RAISED BEDS OR IN THE GROUND?
The sizable garden my dad grew during my childhood seemed effortless—probably because I wasn’t the one doing the bulk of the work. He’d till the soil with a pitchfork, shirtless under the optimistic rays of Midwestern spring. By late summer, we’d stand in the garden before dinner, unable to resist savoring crisp green beans and the tender tang of deep red slicing tomatoes plucked straight from the vine.
Because I wanted to start on a smaller scale, I opted for a container garden. Buoyed by early success with spring lettuces and herbs, a couple of pots quickly grew into a collection that claimed half of our brick patio. Easier to weed, container gardening is ideal for people with limited space or mobility issues, where bending down to tend plants can be challenging. The potted plants are convenient to move around to capture sunlight throughout a day or season. You can add cages to support tomatoes and potatoes and trellises for climbers like cucumbers and beans. However, container gardens require more frequent watering and are not ideal for larger produce like melons or squash.
For my second growing season, I ordered pre-made raised bed kits recommended by Kathleen rather than build them myself, since I’m about as handy as Homer Simpson. A raised bed garden has sides made from wood or metal and is a good option for areas where the ground is nutrient-poor or dense from clay composition. Once you’ve done the work of building and filling the raised beds, you’ll want to amend them with compost each season before planting. Raised beds are easier to access for weeding and harvesting. Root vegetables like carrots, parsnips and turnips like the extra depth of raised beds full of fluffy soil for setting down roots. If you’re not handy, you can order raised bed kits from garden centers like I did.
Gardening directly in the ground like my dad used to do is a great choice for people with ample growing space in a sunny spot, but you may need to add nutrient-rich topsoil and compost. Your local cooperative extension service is an invaluable gardening resource for learning about additions you may need to add to the soil. This national network of university departments provides help to farmers and gardeners, answering questions about plants, pest control, and soil quality. Once you’ve dug your garden, the sky’s the limit in terms of what you can grow within your hardiness zone.
KNOW YOUR GROW ZONE
Not every type of plant thrives in every environment due to variations in soil type, amount of annual rainfall, and length of growing season. The U.S. is divided into 13 plant hardiness zones developed by the U.S. Department of Agriculture, based on average annual minimum winter temperatures.
To find your planting zone, the USDA has a searchable plant hardiness zone map. Seed packets and plant tags list the optimal zones for planting; if you’re unsure, check with local garden center staff, online gardening websites and your local cooperative extension service are good resources.
Accepting that gardening can at times test your will or even break your heart wasn’t the only thing my friend taught me. Gardening is also inherently about generosity, both from the plants themselves and the people who love growing them, ready to share advice, suggestions and homegrown produce.
Believe it or not, there are some colors you’re wearing that can actually lower your attractiveness, say psychologists, and you’d be wise to avoid them. Read on to learn about the colors that secretly make your less desirable. (As well as the two colors that can enhance your appeal.)
Synonymous with the sun, Big Bird, and taxis, yellow is a color that catches the eye quickly. However, it isn’t going to do your dating life any favors. A study published in Evolutionary Psychology found that both men and women ranked yellow as among the least attractive colors to see a potential mate wearing. “In summary, our results have shown that clothing color affects perceived attractiveness of males as well as females,” the study concludes.
(A certain shade of) Brown
Phrases like “that’s the worst outfit I’ve ever seen” or “I just had the worst day ever” are thrown around a lot these days, but most of the time that’s just an exaggeration. Well, turns out there really is a “worst color ever,” and you don’t want to be caught wearing this shade on a blind date.
Technically called “Pantone 448 C,” the color can be described as a “drab, dark brown,” as Time puts it. It’s also described as an “olive brown,” and is the current title holder of the “the ugliest color in the world.” In fact, this shade of brown is so visually repulsive that it’s even been chosen as the main color for tobacco packaging in Australia to discourage the habit. (If brown can keep smokers away from cigarettes, imagine what avoiding it will do for your appearance.)
Every color invokes a certain emotion within us, and in many cases it happens on a subconscious level. Gray isn’t a particularly exciting color, and is associated with bad weather, depression, and negativity. What’s more, a study published in Frontiers in Psychology that investigated which emotions people tend to associate with certain colors found gray to be connected with sadness. So, going all gray may not be the best idea the next time you want to dress to impress.
Life is full of exceptions, and certain occasions call for different colors. “The impression that the color of clothing gives is also subject to the particular occasion or scenario. Bright, flirty colors such as red and turquoise are attractive choices to wear on dates and parties. However, they’re not the best options for a job interview, in which cool, deep colors such as navy, grey, or black work best,” comments life coach Michelle Davies, Co-Founder and Editor-in-Chief of The Best Ever Guide to Life.
This notion is supported by research as well. A study published in Color Research And Application conducted a series of experiments to see if men would prefer their dates wear red over other colors, as well as what colors the women would like their dates to wear. While some notable findings did appear, such as the observation that women tend to like wearing blue on dates, the study authors ended up concluding “color preferences for each individual are inherently unique.”
Many believe red is the best color to wear to attract others. Red is definitely associated with love and warmth, but black may have it beat when it comes to universal appeal.
“Red is traditionally seen as the color of love, but more recently research has shown that both black and red are perceived as equally attractive, and that the two colors may simply increase attractiveness in different ways,” comments Robin Kramer, Ph.D., MSc, the lead researcher of a study that tackled this subject.
“While red may increase perceived attractiveness through evolutionary mechanisms, dates appear to rely more heavily on black in order to attract a potential mate, suggesting that cultural and societal influences may play a much larger role in the way people dress than the use of evolutionary signals.”
Armed Forces Day is a joint celebration of all six branches of the U.S. military: Air Force, Army, Coast Guard, Marine Corps, Navy, and the newly created Space Force. The day honors all people currently serving in the U.S. armed forces. This includes the men and women who have served or are serving in the Army, Navy, Marine Corps, Air Force, Space Force and Coast Guard, including the National Guard and Reserve components.
You can demonstrate your gratitude to the men and women who have served and currently serving in the United States Armed Forces:
Offer a simple thank you. Sometimes this is the most honest expression of gratitude to those who serve our country.
Talk to veterans or active service members. Ask questions about their service, why they joined the military, and listen to their stories. A little interest can go a long way.
Offer to help a military spouse. While expressing gratitude to service members is encouraged, so is helping out their families. Offer to cook a meal, drive them somewhere or watch their children for a few hours.