Moving on Up – Our First Shot at Vertical Gardening

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If you’ve never heard of vertical gardening, two things are clear – you’ve never lived in a small space with little or no yard, and you’ve never done The Land boat ride at EPCOT.  Originally, vertical gardening was done out of necessity – with no real property on which to plant a proper garden, geniuses with green thumbs opted for containers that could somehow be stacked or hung, taking up minimal space for maximum produce.  We did it out of pure lazy.  Plus, it turned a blank wall into something almost artistic!


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We’ve done traditional gardens before, and our first year in this house, we planted a huge bed in our backyard.  After battling bunnies and squirrels, neighbor’s cats and kids, we gave up.  It was so much work for so little return.  Discovering vertical gardening not only minimizes the risk of half the residents of the Enchanted Forest chowing down on your salad before you pick it, but it’s MUCH easier to plant!

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You start your garden with a shoe organizer – the kind you can hang over your door.  You may luck into one at a thrift store or a dollar store, but we bought canvas organizers at the Container Store for less than $10 each.  If you can’t find canvas, you can absolutely use vinyl or plastic, but you’ll want to punch three or four holes in each pocket for drainage.

When thinking of what to plant, you’ll want to keep in mind that you won’t be able to stake things up very well – like tomato plants.  Lettuces work well in this type of garden, as does kale, some edible flowers, and anything you can think that will grow up or in a cascade as opposed to needing additional support.  We planted a lot of herbs – chocolate mint, two kinds of basil, oregano, and dill among them.  I also put in a couple of marigolds to act as a repellent for some animals and insects, and at the very bottom, we added a petunia, because I love them.

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This is our first attempt, but the kids had a great time planting, and since it didn’t take a huge amount of effort to dig holes and plant the garden, we were finished before anyone got bored.  We used the over the door hooks to hang the organizers over our fence, but we added rope for additional support.

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We’ll see how things go over the next few weeks.  We may lose everything, but for a minimal investment, we had some great family fun!

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Expect the Unexpected – Unique Must Haves in Your Car For a Road Trip

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I have a good sized list of things I like to have in the car with me, but there is definitely a list of MUST haves when we embark on a road trip – especially with the girls.  There’s the list of typical things – and you can find them in a blog I wrote for Family Travel Magazine here – http://www.familytravelmagazine.com/moms-merry-miles-must-haves-in-your-car-before-your-road-trip/ – this is my most standard go-to list.  It’s all stuff that can make or break a good road trip.  But to really make sure you’re all set, you may want to pack an extra bag with some of these great things to have.

Mr. Clean Magic Eraser – What? I’m on vacation – you want me to clean? Well, no, but you might have to.  I use these magical cleaning miracles for everything from stains on clothing to ink on the leather seats in the car to barbecue sauce on the rugs in the back seat.  You don’t want to leave home without him!

Desitin Ointment – Oh, now she’s just crazy! First, she wants me to clean on vacation, now she wants me to buy diaper rash ointment when I have no babies. Or diapers. YES! Get a tube of Desitin! Not only is Desitin great for chapped or chafed skin (and really, us Pooh sized people get chafed in areas we don’t like to talk about), but it has so many other uses, you will be sorry you didn’t buy stock when you have infants! Containing zinc oxide, Desitin is great to useto take the sting out of insect bites and sunburned skin, but you can also use it to prevent sunburn in the first place.  You’ll find zinc oxide in things like calamine lotion, so a little dab’ll do ya if you get a touch of poison ivy.  You can even use Desitin as a treatment for dandruff! I keep a small tube in my glove box for emergencies.

Blanket – We have children who have raised whining and complaining to an art form. It never fails, whenever we hit the road, someone is too cold. It may not be all of them, but it is at least one of them, all the time. Rather than have the driver passing out from heat stroke trying to make the children suffering from frostbite happy, have a blanket handy. Oh – and if you want to stop for an impromptu picnic or a quick visit to the beach, you’ll be ready.

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Coupons – I don’t get the newspaper, but my stepdad picks up three different papers each day.  On the weekends, that means he gets three times the coupons. The leftover coupons he gives us usually means that I have a bunch of fast food or chain restaurant deals that help me keep my spending in check on a road trip. There are coupons for free sandwiches if you buy a drink at fast food locations or free appetizers if you sit down at a chain joint. That’s money I can use on a nicer hotel or an extra souvenir!

What are your must haves on a car road trip?