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7 Reasons To Grow A Home Garden

I’m not a gardening expert. In fact, I don’t know that I even qualify as a “gardener”.

What I do know is that each Spring I get out in my home garden with the kids and do my best (okay, perhaps not my “best”) to learn more about growing our own fruits and vegetables at home. My efforts have yet to yield a harvest that can be viewed by anyone as worth the effort. Last Summer I think we got four radishes. That doesn’t seem worth the hours we put into gardening each week.

So why do I garden? Here are seven reasons.


Reason #1: “It’s Fun”- Cassidy Spilsbury (It’s Also a Great Learning Experience for Kids)

According to Cassidy who is standing right next to me as I’m typing, gardening is “fun”. “It’s fun doing all the steps, from planting to watering”, she continues. I’ll throw in the fact that it’s an amazing learning opportunity for the kids to not only learn about growing food, but about where food comes from. In fact, studies have shown that students who participate in school gardening programs score higher on standardized testing (Bartosh, 2003).

Home Garden

read “A Bit of Earth” blog post here

The truth is, there’s no better family project to do while purposefully working toward something together than gardening. It’s where team work and learning meet fun and creativity for every member of our family.

The kids help me plan our garden by choosing which vegetables and herbs we’ll grow. We research growing season and carefully select seeds. Okay, that sounds like we know a lot more about what we’re doing than we actually do… let’s just say that it’s been a big learning experience.

Read more here about the Great Tomato Seedling Disaster of 2011:

Home Garden

Read “The One That Got Away” blog post here


Reason #2: Not To Sound Cliche, but It’s Relaxing

I may not be an expert on gardening, but I do know a thing or two… or three about the need to relax. My sister recently described me as a “cyclone” that is “constantly in motion”. Here’s what I said in early 2011 about gardening:

“After spending a couple hours working in my garden today, I came inside feeling as light and crisp as a freshly picked snap pea. I totally understand now why gardening is a hobby for so many people.”

Home Gardening

oh yeah, these died too.


Reason #3: What If

Last year I wrote about “Victory Gardening”, a movement during World War II to help the food shortage by planting home gardens. During the war, the government’s edict on rationing kept food supply at an all-time low, so Americans began growing food in any plot of dirt they could get their hands on.

Our food supply is fine right now. But what if. What if something happened (God forbid) that disrupted that supply: war, pandemic, bee shortage? Hello!- bee shortage?

I don’t want to be the person trying to figure out how to plant a garden a day late and a dollar short. Many apologies for the dramatic scenarios, but I’m “just saying”.

Victory Gardening

read “Victory Gardening” blog post here



Reason #4: GMO’s (No More Frankenstein Food, Please)

If you’re one of the many Americans who is completely oblivious to the severity of the situation of our genetically modified foods (GMO’s), I urge you to take a minute to learn more about it now because I guarantee you will be outraged. (video at bottom of this page)

If you’re my age, then like me, you remember a time when kids could pack peanut butter and jelly sandwiches to school. You remember growing up and entering adulthood having never heard the word “gluten”. There were no gluten-free foods because everyone could eat it. You are what you eat, and when your food is being mutated, your body will follow.

Before you write off the need to educate yourself on GMO’s, know that in Europe, 7% of their food comes from genetically modified crops, while in the U.S. it’s 77%. Stupide Americaans (in French accent). Major chocolate manufacturers create two batches of chocolate- one made with GMO’s for the ignorant Americans and one batch of chocolate made from ingredients not genetically modified for the rest of the world that cares to care.

I don’t know where this road is taking us, so I’m going to learn more now about growing my own food.


Reason #5: Photo Opp

Let’s lighten the mood a bit with another reason to grow your own home garden. It creates great photo opportunities.

If you’re a photography addict like I am, you know a good opportunity when you see it. A few years ago I created an entire photo shoot of my kids in the garden to use for Mother’s Day and Father’s Day photo gifts.

Summer Garden Photo Shoot

check out “Kids Garden Photo Shoot” here

Reason #6: Economics

Unless radishes are running around $75.00 each, I can’t honestly say that gardening has been “frugal” for me… yet. I still consider the time and money I’ve put into gardening well worth it however, just in educational experience and fun with the kids.

If you are able to yield a harvest that enables you to reduce your grocery spending, that’s a huge benefit combined with the fact that it’s organic and all-natural. A recent trip to my local farmers market brought me avocados at $2.50 each (yes, each) and organic kale for $3.00 a bundle. I use two bundles of kale a week just for my green smoothies. You do the math.

Now that I’m composting, I expect my future gardens to bear much fruit.

one of our garden successes



Reason #7: Because You Get To Do This

One thing I have managed to grow well in my garden is herbs. For someone who uses many herbs in recipes, this has been a great resource. I love cooking in the kitchen and running out to my garden to clip some rosemary or basil (or asking the kids to do it) to use in my meal.

When I’m producing more herbs than we can use, I like to chop them up and store them in ice cube trays with melted butter, olive oil and garlic. Then, during the Fall and Winter months, I simply pop out a couple of these cubes to use in sautes or soups.


Herb Garden



Learn more about composting:

Home Composting

home composting


And just in case you’re interested in “getting in the know” about the food you eat every day that comes from genetically modified crops (GMO’s):


Grow A Home Garden

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Fourth Fireworks, Family, Fun, Friends & Food

It’s not a 4th of July celebration without……

What makes the 4th of July a celebration? For me, it’s all about my favorite “F’s”: Family, Fun, Friends and Food. Oh, and let’s not forget the Fireworks.

As I prepare for our 4th of July celebration this year, I enlist the details that make it a celebration.

To start off, I select just the perfect way to let my friends and family know they’re invited with this fun invitation. By creating an image for my invitation, I can Facebook, text message or email it. I can even do things the old-fashion way and print it.

4th of July Party Invitation

1. Food

Some of my favorite 4th of July recipes can be found here, like my Herb-Marinated Flank Steak and Red, White & Blue Potato Salad:


4th July Steak

Herb Marinated Flank Steak Recipe


Potato Salad Recipe

Red, White & Blue Potato Salad Recipe


2. Fun

I always have something fun for the kids to do. This year we’re making our Lemonade Stand again so the kids can entertain themselves and guests.

Kids Lemonade Stand

“A Family Tradition”- Kids Lemonade Stand, read more here


3. Fancy

It’s time to decorate! With a few special touches, it’s simple to create a celebration your guests will not soon forget in my “4th of July Fun in Retro Blue & Red”.

4th July Decor

4th of July Decorating, read more here



4. Fireworks

We’re fortunate to have a jaw-dropping aerial fireworks show each year (thanks to some awesome neighbors), but I it’s not the 4th of July without sparklers. Here’s last year’s celebration redone in 1960’s Picasa:

2012 4th of July Celebration in 1960’s Picasa



 5. reFreshments

For a party, I love to make my Homemade Summer Sangria. Some non-alcoholic favorites, I make a simple punch with fresh blueberries and strawberrries.

Homemade Sangria

Summer Sangria Recipe


Pomegranate Crystal Light with fresh blueberries and strawberries

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We’re Composting!

That’s right, the Spilsbury family has taken the not-so-giant leap to composting.

Don’t worry, I’m not about to trade in my BCBG pumps for a pair of Birkenstocks just yet. The fact of the matter is that I just couldn’t not compost anymore.

For an entire year I’ve felt guilty each time I tossed out wilted lettuce, eggs shells, banana peels or tomato tops. I would look out onto my struggling garden that seemed to be begging for nutrients. It was like throwing food out in front of starving children.

Las Vegas isn’t exactly the ideal place for growing fruits and vegetables, with nutrient-deficient soil being one of the main problems. I started to feel like I was throwing out gold.

It didn’t require a lot of work to begin composting. I simply purchased a compost container for the backyard from and assembled it (okay, I had someone else assemble it), but you get the picture. Most of the work in composting comes from training your family to not throw away compost material.

Home Composting

egg shells are awesome for compost

I keep a small bucket on the kitchen counter while we accumulate scraps throughout the day. While I’m cleaning the kitchen that evening I have the kids run the bucket out and toss the contents into the compost container. Once a week I have the gardener throw in a bag of grass clippings and then I toss in any brown paper bags (like the ones from Trader Joe’s or Whole Foods) that I acquired from forgetting my reusable shopping bags.

It’s actually pretty simple. Of course, I never use any animal fats, pet waste or other non-organic materials in our compost. For a great beginners guide to composting, visit Whole Foods Home Composting: The Basics.

I’m thinking that by this time next year my garden will be as fertile as a Montana prairie.

Banana Split French Toast by The Organized Cook

don’t toss these babies in the trash!


Why Do I Garden?

Recently I wrote about 7 Reasons To Grow A Home Garden here:

Home Gardening

read “7 Reasons To Grow A Home Garden” here


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Narnia Springtime Birthday Party

When you have boy/girl twins it’s not always easy coming up with a birthday party theme to fit them both. With Narnia’s Lion, Witch & Wardrobe being our favorite family movie this year, I decided to take a jab at creating the perfect Narnia celebration for them. It all starts with the invitation….. Narnia Party

The Invitation- Narnia Birthday Party

“Sons of Adam and Daughters of Eve, Your Presence is Requested at the 10th Birthday Celebration of King Connor and Queen Cassidy”.  A simple Canva design layout which I transferred to Microsoft Publisher helped me design this beautiful invitation. Narnia Birthday Party

The Decorations- Narnia Birthday Party

The wardrobe in The Lion, Witch & Wardrobe is an essential part of the story, so I decided to turn my foyer into the wardrobe using a white bed sheet and some brown acrylic craft paint. I penciled the outline first, then painted it in before cutting a slit up the middle for guests to walk through. Yes, that’s a rolling coat rack just beyond that sheet with fur coats hanging on it… faux of course! No letters from PETA please. Narnia Party Ideas   And as if painting one white bed sheet wasn’t enough, I decided to paint a Narnia scene on a second sheet and hang it at the end of my entry hall. Once guests passed through that sheet, it was on to the party. I also had to break out some Christmas decorations from storage. Narnia Party Decor     White cotton balls strung on fishing line and hung from the ceiling to create snowfall. I opted for the cotton after carefully weighing my options for creating snow, from falling paper confetti to a snow machine- no thanks. Narnia Lion Witch Wardrobe party Thank goodness for Grams! My grandmother has been my slave laborer since the twins were born in helping me create the details for these parties. This year, she made these Narnia flags to hang outside. For Narnia! Love you Grams! Narnia Party decorations

The Activities- Narnia Birthday Party

Petting Zoo

A petting zoo was the perfect main attraction for our Narnia themed party. Although Petting Zoo To U didn’t have any fauns, lions or talking gophers, the guests loved the goats, bunnies and ducks. Narnia birthday party IMG_5344-001 IMG_5343-001 IMG_5323 IMG_5313-001 IMG_5308-001 IMG_5302-001 IMG_5334-001

Being Knighted

Each party guest received a red cloak and shield of armor before being knighted a King and Queen of Narnia. Of course, once the swords come out, it’s game-on. Narnia Party Narnia Party   I found these “make your own shield” activity kits complete with stickers at Birthday In a Box for only $2.99 for a pack of 4. I purchased 6 packs and paid less than $20…what a steal. Narnia Party   Guests marched off to practice for battle…. right after a quick snack. IMG_5369-001 IMG_5376-001 IMG_5383-001

The Games- Narnia Birthday Party

Who’s up for a little Scooter Jousting? Anyone? Narnians hopped on their scooters and rode off to battle before slaying the White Witch (otherwise known as the pinata hanging from the basketball hoop). Narnia party IMG_5390-001 IMG_5393-001 IMG_5403-001   And if Scooter Jousting isn’t your thing…. there’s always an archery contest to prove your skills in battle. Narnia Party This is Brooke emceeing the archery contest and I wish I would have video recorded it because I’ve always warned my husband that we need to prepare ourselves for her career on Saturday Night Live. Onlookers do not look thrilled with her.

Narnia Party


Once a King and Queen of Narnia….

After opening gifts it was time to say goodbye to Narnia and head back through the wardrobe. Narnia Birthday Party Parting gifts consisted of trinkets and candy along with a note to remind them of our birthday adventures. Narnia Birthday Party


Ten years has gone by too fast. Tear.

Ten years has gone by too fast. Tear.

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