Saturday, April 30, 2011

The benefits of gardening: a sneak peek at my edible container garden

Gardening is a very rewarding activity and it feels great to have an edible garden as well. It's exciting to grow something new for the first time and it's rewarding to be able to bring some home grown food on the table!

The first time I harvested enough lettuce to fix a salad plate I was elated! I had limited myself to gardening flowers and herbs until now. I did not want to put forth the effort to get my yard ready for any substantial edible garden because I was not very confident in my abilities to maintain it! With the rewards from my container garden I am much more confident  in maintaining a large edible garden so I will keep you posted on my progress on this particular project! For now I invite you to take a quick tour in my container garden!

My first lettuce harvest

 It doesn't get more organic than that right? When you plant your own produces you don't have to be concerned about any recalls but you still have to rinse your food very well!

A very simple and healthy lunch: The strawberries are not from my garden, mine are still a work in progress

I tried to grow some strawberries last year but in seemed that some kind of creature was constantly nibbling on them before I could harvest even one strawberry! Thankfully I am being more successful this year...
The flowers are a very good sign that I have some nice strawberries coming...yeaah!!!

Yeaaaah some strawberries...

My Chives are 4 years old! They are a perennial herb that I find very easy to grow and much useful to use! As the weather get colder I generally cut them and freeze them, like this I can still enjoy them during the winter months. They are obviously great to top potatoes but they can also be used in soups and stew or to flavor sauces, mayonnaise, sour cream...
Some benefits of Chives: 
they are high in Vitamin C and A and contain essential minerals such as potassium, folic acid,calcium. 

Rosemary and Lavender

are among my older herbs too. They are great for bath, homemade scented sachets, adding scent to your cooking or body oil.

My thyme are 2 years old, obviously another easy perennial herb to grow! 
Some benefits of thyme:
The oil of thyme is used in aromatherapy to elevate the mood! The ancient Romans used it as a remedy for melancholy! Thyme also has some therapeutic properties. It possesses  expectorant and bronchial antispasmodic properties, making it useful in the treatment of acute and chronic bronchitis, whooping cough, and inflammation of the upper respiratory tract.

 Oregano is a must have herb in your garden! It's not only a delicious addition to flavor your dishes but it's full in antioxidants.
Some benefits of Oregano:
Oregano actually has 42 times the antioxidants of a medium size apple! 
Did you know that Hippocrates the great Greek philosopher and scholar used it for its medicinal properties? Oregano has many beneficial properties and it's worth considering as a natural remedy to some ailments! For example, it has antibacterial properties as well as anti-parasitical properties! It can be used as a natural treatment to E-coli! Thanks to its anti-bacterial and anti-septic benefits, the oil can be rubbed on wounds and cuts. In some cultures it's used as a pain-killer probably due to its anti-inflammatory properties, as the oil can also treat inflamed joints and muscles. Well as you can see much can be said about this special herb so more about it later.

This is my first year planting some habanero peppers, I am glad to see those flowers! Habanero peppers are greatly favored where I grew up as many cooks will consider that a dish without habanero peppers is weak in flavor. If you intend on losing weight, spicing your food with hot peppers such as those will assist you in that effort I will keep you posted on my harvest...

It's also my first time planting some broccoli, I am not sure what to expect but I think it's a head coming forth, stay tuned! I am also planted some Brussels sprouts and some tomatoes in my container garden.

 I think that there are 4 great advantages to container gardening:

1) It allows you to start small in case you are not confident.
2) It allows you to still grow what you want even if you do not have a lot of  space! So if you do not have a yard you can still plant an herb and edible garden.
3) It's practically low maintenance.
4) It can move with you once you change residence.

I hope this quick tour has inspired you to try growing something edible in case you have never done it before. Can you think of any more advantages to container gardening? What do you grow in your edible garden?

Friday, April 29, 2011

On hair: Talking hair with a Natural: Africa's hair journey part 2

About a month ago I posted part 1 of my conversation with my friend Africa Brown who lives in the UK.  I decided to divide the interview in two parts because it would have been too long to read in one chunk and my questions were obviously falling into two categories. The first set of questions was more about her hair care regimen as it relates to her hair journey  and the last set of questions I asked her were more about the social and personal aspect of her hair journey. As I was ending part 1 I promised to share with you part 2, here it is: the rest of my conversation with Africa Brown.  

A picture of Africa's natural hair on a work day! Look nice and porfessional!

I think that for some people who have had relaxed hair there is something and someone that triggered them going natural? Was someone an inspiration to you? Or did something take place that triggered your desire to be/stay natural? There was no real trigger for why I went natural. I only relaxed my hair due to lack of knowledge about my own hair, not because I wanted to emulate a white woman.
How did your friends and family react to your decision to go natural? I have had good reactions from my family. I have an aunt and sister, who are both natural, but wear wigs. I have been able to educate them on taking care of their hair. The next step is to get them to wear it out. The relaxed side of my family loves my hair but is afraid to go natural. My partner adores my hair and has been very encouraging.
Do you think that people treat naturals differently than girls with relaxed hair? How? No, not from my experience.
Where you live right now, are they a lot of natural? There are quite a few naturals where I live but it is evident that they are not maintaining their hair. I am currently looking at designing some afro hair care leaflets, which will basically show how to take care of natural hair the easy way. I see so many naturals, who I just want to educate on maintaining afro hair. So if I just hand them a leaflet this way I am helping them without them realizing.
 Do you think that being natural have influenced/improved you and your life? How? I am much happier as a natural. I do not care so much what other people think about my hair.
When I see some natural women I think that it takes a certain courage to be natural in a society where we are trained to look and act like others and I think that certain naturals have a higher sense of pride and purpose would you agree? I definitely agree with that. It does take courage and you have to be prepared for the stares and the ignorant comments. My boyfriend loves my hair and says it makes him feel closer to me as a black woman.
 Beside your hair being natural are there other ways in which you embrace a natural and green lifestyle? Like the use of natural remedies instead of depending a lot on medicine or the use of natural skin care? Any Green practice that’s important to you like recycling rain water, saving energy, recycling?I have stopped using products with parabens in them. I now use African black soap to cleanse my skin instead of using high street cleansers and I use Fairtrade shea butter from Ghana for my skin and hair.
 I have always led a relatively green lifestyle but I still have a way to go in regards to the use of medicines. I have also decided to make a change and buy black owned products only. I no longer buy from the Asian beauty stores. I am fortunate enough to have black owned stores in my area, although my main products are purchased online.
Do you think that most natural embrace natural ways in other area of their lives or not necessarily?No, not really. I know of a few other naturals who do not care about what they put into their bodies.
What advice would you give to anyone you want to be natural but is intimidated to do it mainly because of society? It is the hair you were born with and nobody can change that. Just accept yourself for what you have. I have heard many women say that natural hair does not suit them. I always respond by saying how can your own hair not suit you? They never have an answer for that!
What’s to you the most rewarding thing about being natural?Being able to show the world that I am rocking what the Lord blessed me with and that I am proud. I do not want to look like everybody else. I am me, I am Africa! I love my hair and I will never relax my hair again. My hair can do anything that I want it to do. I can change my hair and have a different hair style every day. No other race can do that. I am proud of my uniqueness.
Since I engaged this conversation with African Brown I have become more aware that many women are not as fortunate as she has been, to have a partner who is fully supportive of her natural hair. I have read about some women's concerns that their boyfriends or husbands are reluctant to their decision and some would go as far as giving them an ultimatum! I want to hear from you.Do you want me to share your natural journey? If yes simply send me a message at with the sugject: My hair Journey.
Are you a natural? How supportive is your man about your decision to go natural? If he was reluctant at first how did you get him to support your decision? Do you think that men have a say on their women's decision concerning their hair?Do you think that people do treat women with relaxed hair differently than they treat naturals? How so? If you are a man reading this article what is your take on the issue of natural hair?


Wednesday, April 27, 2011

The benefits of gardening: A whimsical idea Monet would have smiled at....

A few days ago I went to my garden for our morning ritual, ritual that consists of heading there first thing in the morning to see what new bloom was birthed, taking some pictures and embracing the love from the flower garden....
As I was walking back into the house this fun idea occurred to me: To float some clematis in my birdbath! Strange idea!!!I know...but that's the thing about being in love with's okay to think out of the box! I do not have a lily pond so the idea was pretty cute and whimsical!

N'na's garden: Clematis & birdbath
I know it's not Monet's Lily pond at Giverny but I think that even him would have smiled at the sight of this birdbath...

I went as far as bringing some clematis in the house and ...

Talking of Monet this blurry picture  I took this morning before the rain could  make for Impressionist art don't you think?

I think that the following pictures would have definitely inspired our French Impressionist and I will show you why I am confident of that....
Cypress Gardens, South Carolina

Cypress Gardens South Carolina

Cypress Gardens South Carolina

Now you see what I mean? Below each one of my photograph I found a painting somewhat similar. I can't deny it Monet is my favorite Impressionist. It's obvious that him and I share a common affection for nature. What about you?

I don't have paintings to offer you, just pictures, so here are more pictures taken this morning....

N'na's Garden: Iceberg roses & Catmint
 My neighbor's mom stopped by yesterday morning and we talked about many of the flowers she was admiring, she was curious about my Lemon balm which you can see in the picture below. Lemon balm is an herb I planted in my garden a couple of years ago! It's a perennial herb and it faithfully returns every year with more leaves that I enjoy as tea or simply as a room freshener because the scent is simply divine!  Since I do not use any chemical in my garden and stick to homemade organic fertilizers it's totally safe to consume the herbs that I plant in my flower beds!

N'na's Garden: Iceberg roses

N'na's Garden Iceberg roses

The climbing rose below bloom profusely and is just a delight to watch, it's also quite a mystery because it kind of grow wild too.....humm the many surprises a garden reserves!!!
N'na's garden: Climbing Roses

Claude Monet said " I perhaps owe having become a painter to flowers"!
I love photographing flowers and I think that I owe to flowers my interest for art as a whole!
Flowers make life so beautiful, someone said "one who plants a garden plants happiness" , I hope that in sharing those pictures with you this morning I have planted happiness in your day! These 2 geese below have been planting happiness in my days lately!

 I will have to find them a name, any suggestion?

Thanks for taking this small tour in my garden! I hope you found inspiration in many ways and that you caught on the happy vibe! Nature is greatly represented in Art and Monet is a great inspiration to me! What about you? Who is your favorite artist?