Maggies Mentions


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How Not To Be A Victim of Vacation Rental Scams

ID-100262368Renting a home, condo or apartment for a large family get away or just for two is a nice way to spend a vacation this summer. Love a home on the water, or hiking from a cabin in the woods, beware of scammers who want to build up your hopes and take your money. They can use fake photo’s and descriptions they have stolen from real estate websites to promote their fake listings on places like Craigslist. They put up a lovely photo, bring you in with a winning description and a low price you may not be able to resist.  Remember the saying ” If it sounds to good to be true it probably isn’t true at all”.

Scammers can ask you to send a deposit and in return they will send you the keys or tell you where they are to get access to the property. Either you will receive a set of fake keys, or the place where they said the keys would be will not be there.  Research any deal you come across on Craigslist or a site like it. There may be some that are  legitimate, but better to be safe and check with a real estate office in the area you are looking to rent a vacation spot from.

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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How To Make an Easter Bunny Cake In Six Steps by Howcast (Video)

Budget Bi-Rite Insurance, Inc

ID-100145440Delight your family and friends this Easter with an easy to make Bunny Cake in just 6 Easy steps by Howcast.com. Use a homemade cake mix or one from the box. The coconut adds flavor and looks like soft bunny fur. A couple of jelly beans or round candy make up the eyes and nose. Finish off with licorice strings for the whiskers, pink cardboard for the ears and you have a Happy Easter Bunny Cake… see more on the video…

Photo courtesy of nongpimmy at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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Seeds and Seedlings

seedlingsblog copySince the plants in my raised garden bed are coming up nicely, I am turning my attention to the seedlings I planted a couple of days after I made the raised garden bed.

Most of the seeds I planted take about a week to 10 tens days to sprout up. The ones in the photo are Marigolds in the back and a Cherry Tomato plant in the front.  The Marigolds took about 3 days to show up, the Tomato 7 days. They are not ready to be transferred into the garden just yet. The leaves showing are called the first leaves, and it is best to wait until you have the true leaves, that will be fuller and come on soon.

Starting the seedlings indoors weeks ahead before the last frost up North is a great way to get a head start on your garden. In Florida however, I think we had two cold nights in February, well probably cold for Floridians, and one of those nights that took the digits down to a whopping 35 degrees… If you are from any biting cold, wind chill dropping, snowy part of the country, go ahead and laugh, I understand, its ok.

The spring already here by the first week of March, I started my seedlings on the back porch. They have an adaption already to the temperature and some sunshine in the morning, versus bringing them outside from an indoor climate. See Secrets To Transplanting Seedlings: 3 Tips To Success for more information.

My son told me what plants will help the soil and grow well together.  I happened to be on Facebook, and saw that a company I am following bbbseed.com was having a sale and offering free shipping. Heirloom, Organic seeds were just what I was looking for and this was perfect timing. The site offers great information and companion planting advice for each type of seed. (The links below are not affiliate or a paid endorsement)

Here is the what I have so far:

Green Beans in the garden bed
Sugar Pod Peas in the garden bed
Organic Rainbow Blend Carrots – looking forward to these! More on how I planted them later.
Cherry Tomato’s Seedling
Basil Seedling
Cilantro Seedling
Sage Seedling
Four O’clock Flowers Seedling
Sunflower Giant – Next to my Tropical Guild Garden. Grew one of these before, they are amazing!
Marigold Flowers Seedling and in the garden bed.

My son also recommended LocalHarvest.org  which is a great site for finding local plants, seeds and more from farmers in your area. He planted very tasty Everglade Tomato’s in his food forest and they did well being a local plant, so I am going to do the same. In the search bar I choose seeds, added my zip code and then choose vegetables and tomatoes. Pages and pages were available for all kinds of tomatoes for my area. If you are interested in purchasing these seeds, they are from Southern J Ranch.

While I was researching seedlings, I came across an article by DIY With Kathy for Garden Planning Online. She provides links with great information for making a Raised Garden Bed and what to plant in it. Thank you Kathy.

More on Transplanting the Seedlings when they are ready.

Happy Gardening :}


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My Garden – Preparing the Garden Bed

ID-10062334Last weekend we came into the month of March, which means that Spring is here and time to plant seeds in my garden. I am preparing the garden using the Permaculture method. (See Green Thumb Gardening – Discover Permaculture for more information on that.)
My son has been a great inspiration for this and helping me along the way. I have purchased my seeds and will be doing companion planting, plants that go well together and compliment the nutrients each offers to the garden. My daughter who does not really like gardening, came over to help out and did a great job :}

This type raised garden bed is considered a lasagna, layered, no-dig, no-till, square foot, type of gardening, mainly because you are not digging or tilling the soil, you are layering it like you would lasagna.

 

 

 

firstlayercardboard copyMy first layer my son tells me, is to lay down cardboard. I was concerned about the writing on some of the pieces, so I tore that off. The cardboard will offer carbon to the garden and as it deteriorates. Laying out the cardboard also gave me an idea of how big I wanted this garden bed to be and it is 5″ x 10″.

 

 

 

 

 

Secondlayersoil copyThe second layer is good natural black dirt mixed with mushroom compost 50/50. I do not want any pesticides or non organic fertilizes, I want the plants to grow as nature intends. That will be a journey of research in itself, but I am off to a good start.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourthlayerclippings copyThe third layer should be natural mulch from your yard, dried leaves, grass clippings, scraps of vegetables, fruits that you would put in the garbage anyway. I did not have much around the yard, but I gathered what I could and took a bit from my other garden, a tropical guild I started last year.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Fourthlayermulch copyThe fourth layer is 1″ high of all natural Cypress mulch. I put this on to make up for the lack of clippings.

 

 

 

 

 

Fifthlayersoil copyThe Fifth layer is adding the natural black dirt mixed with the mushroom compost again, adding a thick layer this time of 3″ high.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Sixthlayermulch copyThe final layer is adding the cypress wood mulch to top off the garden. This is also put on thick to about 3″ high.

Starting with the cardboard, each layer was watered down before the next layer was added, ending with watering the top layer.

 

 

 

Now that the garden bed is ready, this will be where I am going to plant my peas, green beans and flowers to start and then the Rainbow carrots, that I am really looking forward to growing.

Next post – Seeds Are Sprouting in the Raised Garden Bed

If you would like to take the journey with me, like this post and follow my blog.

Happy Gardening :}

 

Top Photo courtesy of podpad at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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Green Thumb Gardening – Discover Permaculture

ID-100196322Spring is on its way here in Florida and I am waiting impatiently to plant my seeds and get my garden started.

My son loves gardening as well and has been teaching me how to prepare my garden using the Permaculture method. (He actually had a small food forest he built up in a couple of years in his backyard while going to college).

So you ask, what is Permaculture? It originally was referred to as permanent agriculture or permanent culture and was developed in 1978 by Bill Mollison and David Holmgren of Australia. It is a method of planting, using natural resources and plants that are native to your area, and growing a garden that works with nature rather then against it.  See More from Organic Gardening.com

With so much controversy over GMO’s (Genetically Modified Foods), Pesticides and other forms of growing food these days, I want to grow my garden as healthy as possible, so I am going to take the journey this year with Permaculture.

Last spring, I planted a banana tree and also added sweet potatoes. This was fine, but I did not really understand companion planting  and added kale and tomatoes. Kale and tomatoes do not like each other and the banana tree was not having it with the kale in the garden either. So success was just ok. I still have a Rosemary bush that did not care who was around and has done very well. I got a bunch of sweet potatoes, some orange peppers I planted, but the results could have been better.  That is when I called my son and said teach me what you did for your food forest. I am not building a food forest, but still want the benefits of a great garden. See SmartGardener.com for what plants are best for your area.

Over the winter I have been getting my soil ready for planting, adding natural mulch, compost and will be planting seeds in the next couple of weeks. I will be planting to start with, sweet potatoes ( they regenerate on their own from the ones left in the ground) Peas, Green Beans, Tomatoes, and Rainbow Carrots. For herbs I will be planting Cilantro, Sage, Basil and Parsley. I also have flowers to aid in the process, Marigolds, Four O’Clocks and a Bee Rescue Wildflower Mix. My goal will be two gardens, a tropical guild and one for the carrots.

If you would like to take the journey with me, like this post or follow my blog.

I will be referencing different websites along the way with the first being DeepGreenPermaculture and of course get help and advice from my favorite source, my son.

See the next article – Preparing The Garden Bed

Happy Gardening :}

Photo Courtesy of by hin255  at FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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How To Get More Miles Out Of Your Gas Tank

ID-100126260For the first time in years fuel prices have dropped! To save even more money on fuel, there are some things you can do to get even more millage for your dollar.

Smooth Driving
With the GPS system and places online like Google Maps and Map Quest you can pretty much pick a route of where you are going and it will show you where the traffic is heavy or if there is any traffic at all. Planning to go across town or further, check out your GPS or maps online with the address your going to from the place your at and see if the traffic is heavy. This will help you pick out a detour that may be shorter or even if its a bit longer you can still save money on the road. Better to be along your way then sitting in traffic using up fuel.

What lane do you drive in?
If your on a road with say three lanes, then you know that probably the right lane will be a stop and go for people turning off to the right, the braking and acceleration of slow down and speed up uses up more fuel. Passing someone even uses up more fuel. Try the middle lane and cruise until you have to be either the left or right lane.

No Phone Calls
Anything distracting you while driving is not good. Cell phones are just that, a distraction whether you have a head set or speaker phone. Many states ban cell phones and texting while driving and with good reason to safety. While they are a safely issue, the distraction while on the phone can also cause you to make a wrong turn, brake suddenly for not noticing traffic or the person in front of you stopping and driving faster then you should. This all adds up to more fuel being used.

Turn of The Air Conditioner
Air Conditioners eat up your fuel try not to use the air conditioner if you don’t have to. If you are starting out in the morning and the heat is not up to par yet, ride with the windows down.
When you reach your destination try to park in a place that provides shade so you can keep your car reasonably cool and your air conditioner wont have to cool off your hot car.
Once your car is cool, turn the AC down a notch or two.

Gas Prices can be more on the Weekends
Check gas prices on the news, online and especially during a holiday weekend coming up. Usually during a holiday weekend like gas prices can go up. Try to fill your tank a few days before to get the cheapest price. Your local news should give you updates on gas prices during the week for what is to come for the weekend.

Carpooling
If you know of a neighbor or co worker nearby you, offer to carpool. Going to the store, gym or to work, this is a good way to save on fuel.

Photo Courtesy of FreeDigitalPhotos.net


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New Girl Scout Cookies Coming to a Location Near You

Budget Bi-Rite Insurance, Inc

cookies copyWho can resist a box of Girl Scout cookies! Its that time of year again, and the Girl Scouts will be selling delicious cookies in a variety of flavors. This year there are three new cookies to add to the list, Trios, Rah Rah Raisin and Toffee Tastic. The Rah Rah Raisin is an oatmeal cookie with raisins and bits of Greek Yogurt bites. Trios is a gluten free peanut butter oatmeal cookie with chocolate chips and Toffee Tastic is a butter cookie with bits of toffee through out and is also gluten free.

Fun Facts:

Did you know that the girls scouts organization is one hundred and two years old? Juliette “Daisy” Gordon Low invited 18 girls in Savannah, Georgia,  on March 12, 1912, to attended the first Girl Scout meeting. See the History here.

In 1917 girls and their mothers started baking cookies to help raise money for…

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