Green Thumbs Up!

DIY Patio Vegetable Garden

When you picture a vegetable garden, you picture and large luscious plot of land with lots of greenery, huge bunches of lettuce, carrots sugar coated with dirt fresh from the ground and tall trees filled with the bright colors of apples and oranges waiting to be plucked from the trees. Most people think that growing a garden, let alone a vegetable garden is exclusive to people who have land. This isn’t the case. It is not impossible to grow your own food in small spaces at all.

Having fresh healthy food should be a basic human right. If your living on a budget, buying healthy, organic and fresh food just isn’t a reality. Food prices are skyrocketing and the food that is most affordable is not good for your health, fat filled foods with loads of sugar and chemicals added.  It should be the opposite.

Food in the grocery store is not only expensive but heavily packaged. Its crazy what companies will wrap in plastic that doesn’t need to be. I see everything from apples to garlic, packaged unnecessarily. Plastic has become a huge problem. The good news is there are tons of ways you can help with this problem. It’s always important to remember to be better not perfect. Growing one tomato plant saves one or two plastic clam shells from going into the landfill or even into the ocean and if you continue to grow tomatoes you save even more plastic waste. Did you know only 9% of the world’s plastic ever made has been recycled.  A great way to help even a little bit is growing your own food, even if you have a small space.

I live in a small one bedroom apartment and have a small patio. I always thought that because of this there was no way I could grow my own food, it just wasn’t possible. I was wrong! Whether you’re growing from seed or you buy starter plants, you have plenty of room to grow food, even if it’s just something simple

I started by going to my local garden store and grabbing their used, recycled pots. This is a great way to reduce plastic waste. Next I grabbed starter plants that are harder to grow from seeds, and seeds of things I want to grow and eventually eat! These were things like cilantro, mint, lettuce, zucchini, potatoes, garlic, herbs and many more. Then i grabs organic dirt to start my planting. I took me about 3 nights to plant all the seeds and put them outside. They are now flourishing. I can see the food beginning to grow and it has changed my relationship with food. Watching it grow has been and still is an amazing experience. Its calming to take a break from the world and water,harvest, and care from your food and nurture and grow it, when it reaches your table is such a satisfying and fulfilling feeling.

That being said, I am not a professional gardener, this is my first year growing my own food and I have been pleasantly surprised at how much fun I have been having. I have however had challenges. Somethings are hard to grow from seed, and some plants start to die and I try to help it as much as I can but nothing seems to work. I have gone to the garden store many time seeking advice and learning something new every time. The only way to learn is to do it. The more you try the more you succeed.

My goal going into this challenge of growing some over my own food was to reduce my plastic waste, but I didn’t even think about the money it is saving me in the long run. If you buy a package of seeds, say for $3, that package of seeds is going to give you multiple seeds giving you multiple plants and each of the plants produces many pieces of food. Now this is just one pack of seeds, imagine how much food you could grow with 3 or 4 seed packages, you could be saving money and saving the environment!

Gardening takes a lot of time and planning but if you think of it as an investment, it makes the idea a lot better. You are investing your time and energy, but in return, you have fresh food to eat for you and your family, you save money, you get a fun new hobby and not to mention the gorgeous green you get to look at every day! Now what are you doing reading this still, get your green on!

Green Thumbs Up!

Canning 101

Canning History

There are so many different reasons to start canning, maybe you want to learn more about making your own jam just out of curiosity or, you think homemade things just taste so much better that things from the grocery store. My reasoning is learning how to reduce my waste and carbon footprint and make my produce that is in season or grown from my yard, last all year. Not to mention, saving tedious trips to the store!

Canning is a fairly new development in ways to preserve food. People were not canning until around the 18th century,  but had different ways of preserving food, like drying, salting, and fermenting.

Canning for the environment

Living a zero waste lifestyle, I have been super interested in learning how to can my own food. It seems like a great way to reduce my food waste. Reducing packaging and using reusable container is also a huge pro in my book. Canning used to be what our grandmas and great grandmas did through the summer to have food ready and stored for the winter. It’s just what you did, there were limited options other than that. That all changed with the up roar of plastic packaging and easy access to canned food in stores. People started steering away from canning and preserving food and switched to the more convenient option of buying canned food at the store. Now that plastic packaging and single use packaging are normalized, people are starting to consider going back to the “old ways” of canning and sustainable living.

After I learned more and more about canning, I realized that canning went hand and hand with living a zero waste lifestyle and was almost a necessity to try and reduce our waste.

Where to Start?

My first question was “how do you can?” after reading countless websites, pinterest pages, articles, recipes and watching the occasional YouTube video, I feel like I know enough to start canning, or at least trying to. Here is what I learned.

There are two different types of canning, water bath canning and pressure canning. To decide which type of canning is best for you, you have to start with decided what you are going to can. The most common type of canning is water bath canning. You’ll see water bath canning with pickles, fruits, fruit juices, jams, and condiments. Pressure canning is for meats, seafood, and salsa, this is because the temperature in this process gets up to 240 degrees which is necessary to kill any foodborne illnesses with these foods.

No matter what you choose to can, it is very important to sanitize your jar that you are going to use to preserve your food in. You can sanitize your jar by giving it a boiling water bath and always start with new lids to ensure that you will always get a proper seal. After your sanitize your jar, place it on a clean towel. Now you can move on to filling the jars! The best part.

My Favorite Canning Recipes

The first thing I canned this week was white peaches. Peaches and nectarines are some of my favorite fruits and I wait for them all year long, nothing can beat a fresh juicy peach outside on a warm summer day. To can peaches is fairly simple. First, you cut your peaches whatever shape you prefer. You can dice them or slice them. I chose to slice them so they can hold their shape a little bit better. After slicing your peaches prepare a simple syrup using one part water, and one part water and one part sugar. I also added a splash of vanilla extract from added flavor. Place your peaches in the jar and fill with simple syrup leaving space at the top. Screw the lid on tightly and place in boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Place your jar back on the towel and don’t touch for 24 hours. After that your all set! Congratulations! You just canned peaches!

Canned Peaches

1 large peach

½ cup sugar

½ cup water

Splash of vanilla

This next recipe I use during the summer is watermelon jelly. watermelon goes  pretty fast in our house, but I usually buy a watermelon to make this jelly so we can have that natural watermelon flavor all year long. Start by blending watermelon to a puree in blender. Simmer watermelon, then add sugar, cornstarch and vinegar. Simmer until thick, transfer to jar. Put lid on, and place in boiling water for 10 minutes. Place on towel and leave for 24 hours. Place in fridge enjoy on toast!

Watermelon Jelly

1 cup watermelon

¾ cup sugar

1 ½ tbsp cornstarch

Splash of vinegar

Thanks so much for reading! I hope you are inspired to try something new and make something delicious.


Green Thumbs Up!

Military Chefs

In a primarily male dominated profession, this woman stood out. Working in a military kitchen takes hard work and persistence to become successful. Not only do you have to complete culinary training but you also have to complete 10 weeks of “Basic Combat Training” in order to move forward in this career. After completing this you move on to 9 weeks of “Advanced Individual Training”. This includes time spent in the classroom, and time spent on the field. Surveys indicate that in the culinary industry only 14% of executive chefs are women and it is around the same percentage for women in the military.

Army Stg. Sarah Deckert was the first woman to be named the Armed Forces Chef of the Year in 2014. Deckert became interested in cooking starting at age 7, cooking in her grandmother’s kitchen making pie using fresh fruit from the garden. Starting in high school she entered cooking competitions and worked hard to succeed in the culinary industry. Not only is she a brilliant chef, but she is making history for women in the military. This is how she did it.

In Fort Lee, Virgina, at a military culinary training center Deckert was giving a series of ingredients and 30 minutes create a menu for a 4-course meal. The next 3 and a half hours could make a huge change in her career. After completing the gorgeous 4- course meal she was given the Armed Forces Chef of the year award.

Deckert was already a trained culinarian before enrolling in the U.S army. Now she is a food service sergeant for the U.S army, and not only that but Deckert took second place in the American Culinary Federation’s National Chef of the Year competition.

Now Deckert is working hard to achieve her masters in nutrition to fulfill her dreams of becoming a registered dietitian, but she will never stop competing, there are still barriers to break between men and women in the culinary and military industry.



Website Title: Colorado Springs Gazette\

Article Title: Women conquering military kitchens with top chef honors

Date Published: June 12, 2016

Date Accessed May 28, 2019


Website: Title United Service Organizations

Article Title: 15 Women Making Modern Military History

Date Accessed: May 28, 2019


Website Title:

Article Title: Military chefs soup up skills at culinary competition

Date Accessed: May 28, 2019


Website Title:

Article Title: Culinary Specialist Jobs (92G)

Date Accessed: May 29, 2019


Website TitleParade

Article Title: Grill Sergeant: Meet the First Female Armed Forces Chef of the Year

Date Published: September 11, 2014

Date Accessed: May 29, 2019

Green Thumbs Up!

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm

Lemon Balm is an amazing herb that grows in my area. You can use it for all sorts of things and after this article, you’ll know a bit more on the subject about lemon balm then you probably want to. This amazing herb is in the mint family but does not taste like mint at all! It tastes like well, lemon! Lemon has been around for centuries and has been used for many different purposes.

Lemon Balm in Cooking

There are limitless way to incorporate lemon balm into your cooking. Whether it be sweet or savory, just like lemon, lemon balm can be added to any variety of recipes. Replacing lemon peel in a soup or salad will give it that lemony punch you crave. Folding chopped lemon balm into sugar cookie dough will give you a naturally flavors lemon cookie.

Lemon Balm the Healing Plant

I have memories from my childhood of getting a bug bite and getting lemon balm and rubbing it on the bite to sooth the itch. This trick isn’t the only way you can use lemon balm as a healing herb. Traditionally, lemon balm was used to help soothe colic in babies, now there are many ways to utilize lemon balm. One of my favorite ways to use it is to make it into a tea for bedtime or when I have a tummy ache and it works wonders. Lemon balm is the herb to have around when you are sick, it is also known to help fevers.

Lemon Balm in your Garden

If all the ways you can use lemon balm wasn’t enough to convince you to plant some than this surely will. Lemon balm attracts bees! Bees are great for your garden and pollinate your garden and will leave it happy and healthy. While they attract bees, they keep mosquitos away.  



Website TitleThe Nerdy Farm Wife

Article Title12 Things to Do With Lemon Balm

Date PublishedApril 04, 2019

Date AccessedJune 05, 2019


Website TitleMonterey Bay Spice Company

Article TitleLemon Balm: The Calming Herb

Date AccessedJune 05, 2019