Learning to Grow Your Own Food Comes with a Host of Benefits

As you may already know if you have been a reader of my blog for very long, I love gardening. After my surgery in 2012 that left me disabled, I discovered that I would not be able to garden in the way that I always had. It took some time for me to find a new way to make a garden. The results of my efforts are not that great in the way of actual food produced, but the enjoyment I get out of the process is enormous. I love to see the plants growing. I love to see the first flowers blooming, and then the first little beans or tomatoes or eggplants emerging from the blossoms. I might only get one or two pots of beans, or two or three tomatoes all season long, but the little garden I made provides me with the opportunity to get my hands dirty; with a reason to get outside in the fresh air and sunshine; and a feeling of satisfaction that I was able to do it. 

gardening can heal the soul.

My little garden on boards.

Learning to grow your own food comes with a host of benefits. The benefits are so good that it’s being recommended as an activity for veterans to engage in, especially if they suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or combat-related stress. The more people learn about the good that can result, the more they may be staking off a plot in the yard to get planting.

“Anyone who has tried their hand at gardening has felt the difference that it can make in their life,” explains Julia Falke, co-founder of the Boulder Crest Retreat. “We believe in getting veterans into gardening and it is why we built the Wallis Annenberg Heroes Garden, the nation’s second handicapped-accessible walled garden. It provides combat veterans and their families with the chance to engage in a calming and peaceful activity, and focuses them on the subject of healthy eating and nutrition. It’s one small part of what we do, but it makes a significant difference.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reports that gardening can be a great way to enjoy the outdoors, among other benefits. Some of the other many benefits of growing your own food include:

Gardening is Therapeutic.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

According to the American Horticulture Therapy Association (AHTA), horticulture is a time-proven practice and the benefits have been documented since ancient times. They report that during the 1940s and 1950s, it was used in rehabilitative care of hospitalized war veterans, and today it is accepted as a beneficial and effective therapeutic modality. 

Gardening is Healthy.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

There is a good chance that when one grows their own food they will end up consuming at least some of it. This is a good way to get healthier foods into the diet, specifically more fruits and vegetables. When I grow my own food, I know there were no harmful chemicals used on the vegetables I eat. 

Gardening is Social.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

Growing your own food can be a social activity, especially if you choose to get involved in a gardening group or community garden. Many people are starting community gardens around the country, where they work together for a common purpose. While the food grown may be consumed by those growing it, some is also often given away to local charities, giving those doing the gardening an added benefit.

Gardening for me gets me out of the house. I go to garden supply stores several times during the season, and talk to the people there, getting advice on the best plants, and best products to use in my garden. The garden is a topic of conversation when delivery people stop at my house. If I happen to have extra veggies, I can give them to my neighbors, which provides another social interaction. 

Gardening provides Physical and Mental Benefits.

Boulder Crest Retreat

Boulder Crest Retreat

Engaging in gardening can help bring about mental clarity and reduce stress. In addition to it being a mind-clearing activity, it’s also a form of physical exercise, helping to keep people active and healthy. I know gardening has been good for my mental health. Being able to do something I thought I would never be able to do again has really brightened my life. 

Gardening can Reduce Pain.

The AHTA reports that some of the additional benefits that people get from growing their own food include that it can help reduce physical pain, and help with rehabilitation and recovery from surgery or other medical interventions.

Boulder Crest Retreat

“The Retreat utilizes a range of everyday family activities, including gardening, cooking well-balanced meals, hiking, kayaking, as well as age-old and proven warrior practices like labyrinths and meditation,” adds Falke. “This enables combat veterans to make peace with their past, live in the present, and begin planning for a great future – full of passion, purpose and service – here at home.”

Summer is a time to get out into the garden and nature, as well as reconnect with those around us. The Wallis Annenberg Heroes Garden was built in 2014 and designed by Donna Hackman, in association with Lisa Catlett.

“For me, this special garden was love at first sight, and I am compelled to try and make every year even more beautiful than the last season,” Donna Hackman explains. “It has been my honor to design and help tend to this garden, and our combat veterans and their families deserve the very best nature has to offer.”

Boulder Crest Retreat is presently building out its horticulture and culinary activities, that will serve the many combat veterans and their families that stay at the facility. The near future result will be a complete veteran ‘farm-to-table’ program adapted for every season. Ongoing support over the past two years, from organizations such as The Burpee Foundation, The Fauquier and Loudoun Garden Club and Middleburg Garden Club, and countless community volunteer hours are helping to make this vision a reality.

Boulder Crest Retreat is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization that is funded entirely by private donations by individuals and organizations from around the country. For more information about the retreat, please go to www.bouldercrestretreat.org


Boulder Crest Retreat for Military and Veteran Wellness is a rural sanctuary that provides free accommodations, recreational and therapeutic activities and programs to help our nation’s military and veteran personnel and their families recover and reconnect during their long journey of healing from physical and invisible wounds of war. The 37-acre retreat is located in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains in Bluemont, Virginia, just 50 miles west of Washington, D.C. The Retreat is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization and is entirely funded through private donations from individuals, foundations and corporations. For more information about Boulder Crest Retreat, please visit www.bouldercrestretreat.org. To make a donation to Boulder Crest Retreat or volunteer, click here


Lady Patch ™ : A New Clitoral Patch For Incontinence Control

Back when I was in my 40’s, I had a bad problem with incontinence. It was one of those problems that I couldn’t hide, because when I sneezed, or coughed, or laughed, I peed on myself. Or the floor. Or the chair I happened to be sitting in. And because I laughed a lot, I went around with wet pants a lot. It was ridiculous. I had to take a change of clothes with me everywhere I went. It was just one of those things I did: I kept a change of clothes in the car. And, honey, I can not tell  you how many times I had to leave a cart full of items in a store and just go home, because I sneezed and peed on my feet. And I mean a lot, not just a dribble. It was more like a puddle.  In 1996, I had surgery to repair the things “down there” that caused me to have the problem. The surgery worked just fine, but hat was twenty years ago. 

Lady Patch comes in two varieties: Regular and Active

Lady Patch comes in two varieties: Regular and Active

Slowly, though, the problem has returned. It is not quite as bad as it was back then, but it IS there. But, thanks to a new product from Lady Patch, I can make it stop. Lady Patch sent me some of their clitoral patches to try so that I could tell y’all about them. All of us who have the problem of urinary incontinence should thank them for that. 

I love spending time with this active little guy, but he makes me laugh, lot.

I love spending time with this little wiggle worm, but he makes me laugh, lot.

Do you sprinkle when you sneeze? Leak when you laugh? Has jogging been known to cause a little ‘dribblelage’? If you’re one of the many women who are exhausted from waking up five times a night to use the restroom, like I do, or tired of shopping trips planned around the bathroom,  you may be familiar with this subject. It’s a topic that has been long since categorized as taboo, but now it’s time to face the facts with some #realtalk. Whether you’ve had a child or are approaching (or finishing!) menopause, urinary issues are commonplace, and let’s be honest, the struggle is real! I have never understood why, when so many of us have this problem, it hasn’t been talked about much. I know I felt so much more embarrassment by my incontinence, because I felt like I was the only one who had that problem. When I finally asked around, I discovered that many of my close friends, and female family members, also wet their pants on a daily basis. So, why did I not know? 

lady patch incontinence patches

Laughing with friends at my birthday party last week. And you know what happens when I laugh!

So what is Lady Patch, and how does it work? Well, I was sort of skeptical. How could a little thing that looks like a sticker help me keep from peeing my pants? The Lady Patch is a drug free, feminine patch that you easily apply to your clitoris, enhancing pelvic tone and giving you more control over your bladder and leaking.  It lets you urinate when you really need to, not just feel like you need to. It is relatively small, compared to a feminine napkin or a tampon. 

Lady Patch

The Lady Patch is small compared to a feminine napkin. That is one on the end of my index finger in this photo. 

Once the Lady Patch is applied to your clitoris, it stimulates the nerves throughout your pelvic region causing the bladder to relax while strengthening pelvic muscles at the same time. It works like a kegel to enhance the muscle tone of your pelvis. This provides more bladder control which means less leaking and fewer urges to go. The Lady Patch is as easy to use as 1-2-3:

Applying the Lady Patch is as easy as 1-2-3!

Applying the Lady Patch is as easy as 1-2-3!

The Lady Patch stays on until you take it off. It has a long lasting sticky side that will keep it in place until you are ready for it to come off. When I put the one patch on my finger to show you the relative size of it, Rosie The Boy Cat wanted it really bad! He tried hard, but he just couldn’t get it to come off. And, his shenanigans made me laugh some more. Thanks, Lady Patch, again, for such a good, and unique, product. 

the lady patch sticks where you want it.

Rosie The Boy Cat trying to get the Lady Patch off my finger. LOL.

To learn more about The Lady Patch, visit their website, like their Facebook page, and follow them on Twitter. You can find them on Amazon.com to make a purchase. They come in two strengths, Regular, and Active. You can see when the recommended times to use each strength on the website. 

Lady Patch

I would have been able to sit all the way through Michael’s graduation ceremony if I had had the Lady Patch last year.

How would the Lady Patch make your life more enjoyable? What would you be able to do again while using Lady Patch?


Lady Patch sponsored this post, to bring awareness for their new product. 


My Smartpond Project: Building A Container Fountain For a Butterfly Garden

This post is brought to you by Smartpond

When we bought our house, we had this ugly pond that the previous owners built in our yard. It was too close to the house; it needed a lot of work on it to make it functional; and it had creatures living in it that were noisy. I mean, the frogs that lived there sounded like they were under my bed, croaking all night long. And, on top of that, it was a danger to our young grandchildren, who were drawn to the water hole. This is what it looked like from our porch:

The old pond was not even pretty! It needed a lot of work done to make it look good.

The old pond was not even pretty! It needed a lot of work done to make it look good.

We drained the pond and filled it in a couple of years ago. We have been thinking about making a butterfly garden, so when Smartpond asked me to try some of their products, we said yes. Fabgrandpa and I discussed how we wanted to go about creating a beautiful Smartpond fountain and butterfly garden. This is the drawing we came up with:

smart pond fountain supplies

Our drawing for our fountain and butterfly garden

The octagon shaped thing in our drawing is a sort of deck, to place a half barrel on to hold the fountain. Because our yard is not very level, and we wanted to be able to place pots of annuals around the pond and plant perennials in the ground as well, we decided to build the small deck.  It measures about 2.5 feet on all sides. We hire a local handy man to do things like this for us because we are both disabled, but it is an easy project to do on your own if you are handy with carpenter tools. The cost of the deck supplies was a total of $140.00. The handy man charged us $100 to go and pick up supplies, build the deck, and then put the fountain together for us, and to add an outdoor electric plug. It doesn’t look like much all by itself. Some of my friends stopped by to ask what the heck it was!

smart pond fountain supplies

The deck for the pond was completed for a couple weeks. People in the neighborhood stopped to ask what it was.

Next, I went shopping for flowers and a half barrel at Lowes. I found some very pretty coreopsis, shasta daisies, and cone flowers. I also looked at butterfly bushes, some lantana, and some yarrow. I think we have decided on getting some Mexican heather too. You can probably tell I like the wildflower look. Here is a pic of some of the things I got at Lowes:

smart pond fountain supplies

I got my 1/2 barrel and some pretty flowers at Lowes.

Along the way, after we had made our original design, I found a cute fish ceramic ornamental statue thing that I just fell in love with. It was just about the same price as the pump handle we had talked about, and I liked it more. So, for $39, I bought the fish to use as the “spit” for the fountain. It already had a hole in the bottom, so it was a perfect choice. 

smart pond fountain supplies

The ceramic fish I found. Isn’t it fun?

The other day, my handy man came back to put together the fountain. We had a Smartpond Complete Pump Filter Kit, which is available at Lowes. It is a complete pump system, which makes building a fountain so easy even I could do it. All there was to it was to immerse the pump in water, hook up the 1/2 inch tubing, and plug it in. We had that fish spitting water in no time at all! 

smart pond

The half barrel we used for the pond project.

pond skin liner

Pond Skin Liner from Smartpond Model #: PL0710

So, when my handy man came back, he cut the liner to fit the half barrell, and stapled it to the top of the barrel. Then, he built a wooden platform for the ceramic fish to sit on, and lined the top of it with leftovers from the liner. Next, he immersed the pump and filter kit in the water, and attached the half inch tubing to it. The tubing was connected to the pump, up over the back of the barrel, and through the hole in the bottom of the ceramic fish. The tube was threaded through the fish to come out just at the mouth. When the pump was turned on, the water started spitting out of the fish’s mouth. This whimsical pond is exactly what I had envisioned when I saw that fish, and like I said, it was so easy to do I probably could have done it myself, if not for the carpentry work that needed to be done.

smart pond fountain project

The finished pond. It just needs flowers now.


smart pond fountain project

The ceramic fish is so cute spitting the water out. I love this fountain!


The pump allows both the fountain spray, and the spit from the fish to go at the same time.

The fish is perfect for this fountain.


This is sort of what it will look like when we have planted flowers around. They will hide the working parts.

This is sort of what it will look like when we have planted flowers around. They will hide the working parts.

I am so excited to be planting flowers next. So many birds, such as humming birds, goldfinches, wrens, pine siskins, and more, are attracted to the sound of running water. The flowers we are choosing are ones that will also attract humming birds and butterflies. What do you think of my Smartpond Fountain project so far? 


Baby Boomers At Risk For Hepatitis C

I was compensated for this post. #ad #HepC #VN

As a member of the Baby Boomer Generation, we have seen and done so many things our parents never dreamed of doing,  or believed they would see in their lifetime. Our generation, those of us born between 1945 and 1965, saw the first color TV’s, cassette tapes, and the first home computers.  We went through atom bomb drills in elementary school (Really? Hiding under a wooden school desk was going to save us?) We watched as the first man walked on the moon. We were the first to wear pantyhose and mini skirts.  We danced to the Four Seasons, The Beach Boys, and The Beatles. And Baby Boomers are all at higher risk for having Hepatitis C. 

While anyone can get Hepatitis C, more than 75% of adults infected are baby boomers, people born from 1945 through 1965. Most people with Hepatitis C don’t know they are infected. The reason that baby boomers have high rates of Hepatitis C is not completely understood. Most boomers are believed to have become infected in the 1970s and 1980s when rates of Hepatitis C were the highest. Since people with Hepatitis C can live for decades without symptoms, many baby boomers are unknowingly living with an infection they got many years ago. Hepatitis C is primarily spread through contact with blood from an infected person. Many baby boomers could have gotten infected from contaminated blood and blood products before widespread screening of the blood supply in 1992 and universal precautions were adopted. Still, many baby boomers do not know how or when they were infected.

Baby Boomers are at a greater risk for having Hep C

Baby Boomers are at a greater risk for having Hep C

So now that you know we are at a greater risk for having Hepatitis C, what can you do about it. First, ask your doctor about getting tested for HepC. Second, get the facts: What you should know about Hep C and why you should care.

Here are some things you should know about Hepatitis C:

  • 3 to 5 million baby boomers have Hepatitis C, yet most don’t even know it
  • The CDC is urging all baby boomers to get tested for Hepatitis C (a blood test you can ask your doctor for)
  • Hepatitis C is a potentially life threatening liver disease, but if caught in time, Hepatitis C is curable
  • Baby boomers are 5X more likely to have Hepatitis C
  • If you were born between 1945 and 1965, you’re at a higher risk for Hepatitis C
  • Liver disease, liver cancer and deaths from Hepatitis C are on the rise.
  • Getting tested can help people learn if they are infected and get them into lifesaving care and treatment.
  • Up to 75% of people living with Hepatitis C do not know they are infected
  • Many people can live with Hepatitis C for decades with no symptoms.

baby boomers at higher risk for hep C

Be a trend setter in your circle of friends! Ask your doctor to test you for Hepatitis C, and then tell all your friends to get tested, too. It’s a Baby Boomer thing!

I am participating in a VIN campaign for Quest Diagnostics. I am receiving a fee for posting; however, the opinions expressed in this post are my own. I am in no way affiliated with Quest Diagnostics and do not earn a commission or percent of sales.


Late on Spring Cleaning? Don’t Sweat It!

washing windows

Getting into spring cleaning by washing windows. Image courtesy of Pixabay.com

It seems that spring for many of us has finally come and it’s nearly summer already. With such late winter and spring weather I am sure many are feeling a bit out of sorts with spring cleaning that didn’t get done because it was cold so late in the year. Now it seems a mad rush to the end of school and graduations, vacation plans and everything else that goes with the beginning of summer. So today we have some tips for getting yourself organized, prioritized and off to a late but great start to the summer season of fun!

If your spring cleaning got pushed back because of weather and long winter blues, these quick tips will help you get done enough to get by for now and not overwhelmed enough to ruin your summer.

Super-fast de-clutter

  • Go room by room through your home and get rid of the surface clutter.
  • No deep cleaning just the clutter you can see.
  • Don’t shuffle it around– put it away or throw it away.
  • You shouldn’t spend more than a couple hours per room.
  • If you have one catch-all room that you know will take longer, avoid that until you have a whole day to devote to that room alone.


laundromat laundry machines

 Image courtesy of Pexels.com

  • Wash the curtains or change them to pretty summery styles that let in all that natural sunlight.
  • Feather dust cobwebs from the corners, again no deep cleaning just cobwebs.
  • Sweep and mop or shampoo carpets- if you have many carpeted rooms hire a professional, look for multiple room specials.
  • Put essential oil diffusers in each room of your home with fresh citrus or flower scents.
  • Wash bedding and rugs; hang them outside if possible to get that fresh air scent.

Spring Cleaning To-do later list

  • Deep cleaning that really needs to be done.
  • Home repairs or upgrades needed that you find as you de-clutter and refresh.
  • Change out leaky faucets with Maestro Bath products
  • Note things that you want to give to charity or put in a yard sale.
  • Note anything else that is a major task to do later.

Plan work days for rainy forecasts

Check the weather forecasts to plan a deep cleaning day, home repair day or reorganization day when there is going to be rain or clouds. This lets you get the basic spring cleaning and refreshing done in a weekend and not feel guilty about deep cleaning. By planning ahead, you can concentrate on larger tasks for one whole day when you aren’t going to be rushed or stressed about getting it all done. No need to do all the spring cleaning in just one day.  That never works.

Start a new routine

  • Keep clutter under control daily, everything in the home should have its place and should go there immediately.
  • If a new item comes into the house, an old one goes out.
  • Assign family managers of certain rooms or tasks and delegate the upkeep to them.

With these quick tips and planned deep cleaning or repair days you should be able to get your house de-cluttered and refreshed in a single weekend. That will leave you free to worry about what fun you are going to have this summer and not the spring cleaning that did not get done.

There is no rule that says you have to do all the spring cleaning at once, or that it even has to be done in the spring. Most of us are craving fresh air and light when we want to clean and freshen the house, so do that and don’t sweat the deep cleaning all at once!


Gluten Free Raspberry Trifle

Glutino Yellow Cake Mix

Glutino Old Fashioned Yellow Cake Mix

I was having company over for dinner today, and I wanted to make a really nice dessert. This one is gluten free, and has reduced sugar content as well. It turned out really pretty, and everyone loved it. I used a Glutino Gluten Free Old Fashioned Yellow Cake Mix, and Sugar Free Jell-O White Chocolate Instant Pudding Mix, so it was so easy to make you wouldn’t believe it. So, here is the how to:

Gluten Free Raspberry Trifle Recipe

1 box Glutino Old Fashioned Yellow Cake Mix

1 stick of butter, softened (1/2 cup)

2 eggs

1 tsp vanilla

1/2 cup milk or water

Follow the directions on the box to make the Glutino Old Fashioned Yellow Cake Mix. It will make one layer. I baked mine in an 8″ X 8″ baking pan. When the cake is done, remove it from the pan and let it cool completely. 

Glutino Old Fashioned Yellow Cake Mix

Glutino Old Fashioned Yellow Cake Mix

2 boxes Jell-O Sugar Free White Chocolate Pudding Mix

4 cups 2% milk

Prepare the pudding mix according to the directions on the box. Cover and refrigerate until ready to assemble the trifle.

2 pints whipping cream

1 tsp vanilla

1/3 cup Splenda

Place a metal or glass mixing bowl in the freezer for five minutes. Take the bowl out of the freezer, and pour in both pints of whipping cream. Add in vanilla and Splenda, and beat on high with a whisk until the whipping cream holds its shape and is about doubled in volume. 

2 pints of fresh raspberries

To assemble the trifle, cube the cake, and place half of it in the bottom of a trifle bowl or large casserole dish. Spread half of the pudding on top of the cake cubes. Layer half of the raspberries on top of the pudding. Spread half of the whipped cream on top of the raspberries. Repeat the layers with the remaining ingredients. Save five or six raspberries to garnish the top. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate until dessert time. 

raspberry trifle

Gluten Free Raspberry Trifle

This Gluten Free Raspberry Trifle is a great dessert to serve at a party or family gathering. It is so simple to make, yet looks so pretty and elegant. It tastes delicious, too.