An Audio Book Report: Summer 2015

An Audio Book Report |

I don’t really get to read books any more, but I love to listen to them. Especially when I’m traveling or cleaning. A good audio book makes the first one pretty enjoyable and the second one pretty tolerable. Summer time is THE BEST time to dig into a book, here are a few to check out.

Things a Little Bird Told Me by Biz Stone | By far a favorite! If you have an entrepreneurial bone in your body you will love this book. Biz shares his story of cofounding Twitter and about all of the trials before, after and during. It’s really personable (I was a teensy bit worried it would lean toward dot com boasting – and it sorta started that way) but in the end it was inspiring and a good listen.

The Smartest Kids in the World: And How They Got that Way by Amanda Ripley | I started by first borrowing this book from the library but wasn’t able to get all the way through it in that crazy allotted time (10 days??) and switched over to audio. Ripley dissects the educational system at home here in the US and in three of the most successful countries in the world: Finland, South Korea and Poland. (For comparison, the US ranks 29th, 22nd and 19th in the world overall in math, science and reading). The commonality between all three of these top countries? Kids witness their parents holding, reading and loving books. I guess headphones connecting my phone to my head don’t count. But, you’ll never look at school again in the same way after reading this one.

Maxed Out by Katrina Alcorn | I found this book through a blog on this particular day. When I travel for work I am always making crazy car commutes at crazy hours of the day to align everything right for family to care for Marley while I’m in the office. Sometimes a 1 or 2 hour commute (almost 3 hours one morning, that was pretty crazy) and I always download a new book to join me for the ride. I so look forward to listening that I could drive all morning. But back to this book – if you are a working mom and want to commiserate with another working mom on how the system is unbalanced (with plenty of facts to support), try this one out. I enthusiastically support her honesty and another book on why we should change the culture is awesome, but the missing piece from this book is more on how.

To All of the Boys I’ve Ever Loved by Jenny Han | I found this book through a blog as well while looking for a light chicklit. I wasn’t hooked, but I did finish. Classic YA literature and it was cute but not a must-read for me.

Is Everyone Hanging Out With Me? Mindy Kaling | Really enjoyed this book and love Mindy’s sense of humor. Her honesty is refreshing, her writing is witty and while I might have enjoyed certain other funny lady books a little more, her authentic self is the very best part of this book. (I’m on the wait list for Not That Kind of Girl through OverDrive at the library as next up).

I just started Prince of Tides at my mom’s suggestion – any thoughts? Also, a paperback version of Better than Before just arrived in the mail. It was a library book that turned into a full blown purchase because I want to highlight that thang up. Gretchen Rubin is awesome.

PS I listen to all of my audio books through Audible on my iPhone, Amazon + Audible = :).

Easy Like Sunday Morning…

Easy Like Sunday Morning | Taylor Sneaking Pancake Batter |

Someone was recently caught – mid bite – scooping raw pancake batter into their mouth by the fistful. Oh that look says it all!

If this picture shares anything it’s that I need more weekend pancake mornings in my life :). But this week/weekend I’m traveling for work with little M and have left the big girls behind with Kevin. I have already realized that I’ve forgotten a piece of my traveling pump back home (the hose) and a key hard drive. It’s always tricky for me to organize care with any baby that travels with me, but it’s always worth it after a long day (and for a Sunday work event 13 hours was a long day) to come back to so much delight. I love those late night snuggles even more.

Pancakes are special, the girls know it’s a special morning when I pull out the bin of pancake mix (always on hand) and a couple of eggs. We measure flour together, everyone takes a turn stirring and then that mixed, watery batter turns into the most delicious lazy breakfast. We’re partial to Bisquick. And to half cooked pancakes. My mom used to ‘scramble’ the pancake batter to create chicken scratches – those are my favorite! Is that a distinctly midwestern family thing (mom is from Omaha) or has anyone else heard of scrambled, half cooked pancakes? I think that maybe when I get home on Wednesday we’ll make some of those. Until then, I’m enjoying catching up with my team and to some one-on-one time with a very smiley baby.

A Garden Box Update: Summer 2015

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

The veggies garden has exploded since I last shared about it here. Those cute little quart-sized plants have spread out to fill every spare inch of space allotted and the tomatoes (oh the tomatoes!) are now clinging to anything and everything.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

A true jungle for the treasure hunter (aka Liv) in search of red tomatoes to pop into her mouth.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

It always amazes me that it takes just a couple of months for so much to happen.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

I love this garden! I never thought that I would love a garden so much. I don’t spend all that much time on it, but it’s one of those hobbies that I’m willing to make time for when it needs it (aka pruning once a month).

Despite the success in growth, we’ve run into a few problems this summer.

Problem 1: the technical term is ‘powdery mildew’ (it’s true) and it’s been slowly taking over the squash plants.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

This happened last year and a little internet research confirms that you can clean plants up with vinegar (and other household products) but as I did last year, I found the best solution was to prune out the bad leaves and to cut like crazy. The positive is that this sort of fungus doesn’t jump from variety to variety. It usually stays contained on just the plant it started on.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

Many gardeners would disagree – the purpose of the giant canopy leaves is to protect the growing fruit underneath from the sun and you can’t just remove those leaves. I don’t worry about too much direct sun right here though and since it was a problem that I didn’t want to monitor, I thought it best to remove the source and to encourage blossoms that were still protected by unaffected leaves.

Problem 2 has been getting those blossoms to produce veggies. Believe it or not, the zucchini and squash have each produced one massive veggie each (it was pretty odd looking!), and that’s it. Just one each.

Cool fact: the squash plant produces both male and female blossoms. The female blossoms grow with a baby fruit attached (see first arrow) and the male sans any produce (second arrow). But if the pollen from the male doesn’t reach the female, nothing happens.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

Previously my garden bed has been lined with flowers. Marigolds last year and nasturtiums this year. I had to pull the nasturtiums just a couple of weeks ago due to them not looking so great and I think that’s the problem! No bees, no veggies.

So I’m off to purchase some more flowers for the edges of this box soon.

Problem 3 has to do with water and nutrients. It is so challenging to figure out if you are supplying your garden with the right amount of nitrogen, oxygen and so forth. Some plants thrive in depleted environments, some will die. Short of sending a sample of dirt off to be tested, there’s not too much that can be done.

Or so I thought.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

A company called Edyn recently reached out to see if I’d like to test out a garden sensoring system. This little gadget is placed right into your veggie box and is connected via wifi to your smart phone.


Edyn started via Kickstarter and is now available at Home Depot (the explanation video on their homepage is awesome).

Here’s what I learned: the nutrients in my garden are actually right on (hence the overzealous growing, I think.) The moisture level is really too high though, I’m hurting my plants probably with root rot. In our drier climate, my go-to to solve ANY gardening problem has always been to water. I have a nifty little drip system set up within the box and it’s all connected to my hose:

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

We’re in a drought here in California and water conservation is really top priority. I’ve been pretty lean with our lawn out front (which is now mostly tinged brown and green) and the rest of the landscape is more mediterranean desert so it’s holding on well. The garden box is the only little plot of land that receives a decent dousing. But that’s completely not necessary.

I have been really watching water usage over the past few weeks and have cut back drastically. If Edyn tells me to water, I do, but it’s not often.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

I have been experimenting with the best placement for Edyn. Not surprisingly I’ll get slightly different results at different spots.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

Another cool feature of the tool is that you can ask the Edyn app if a particular fruit or veggie will do well in your space. You can virtually add it to your garden and read all about the light, moisture, nutrition and humidity that it requires.

A couple of notes: the sensor is SUPER EASY to use and to set up, but it does have to be connected via a 2.5ghz wifi network. That didn’t make any sense to me in the beginning, either, but my network is a 5ghz network. It’s possible to create a 2.5ghz network from your 5ghz network though and it’s a rather quick process (you probably won’t even have to). I’ll let Google answer any questions that you might have there.

My artichoke is reaching for the sun, my newly pruned squash is cleaned up, my tomatoes continue to climb up and over the wall.

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

A Garden Box Update: Summer | Edyn |

I did lose my beans this year (as I have every year before). Next year maybe I’ll try them with the Edyn sensor right at their roots.

Now it’s time for production! And to enjoy homegrown veggies at our dinner table come August. That’s the goal. (Here’s how we took full advantage of last year’s garden.)

I collaborated with Edyn on this post however thoughts and words are all my own. Thanks for letting me share about products that support this blog.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...