Thursday, March 29, 2012

Hanging Gutter Garden Part 1: Adventures in Home Depot

So, I live in a second floor apartment and really want to grow my own food this summer (and also have pretty flowers).  That said, I have many projects planned to make our outside space more livable (we have a beautiful corner balcony with lots of room)

I plan to:
  • Make this container structure for pretty flowers
  • Plant tomatoes and peppers in pots
  • Make this pot tower for herbs
  • and make a hanging gutter garden like this
I have all the supplies for the first three; I just need to wait until it is time to start planting.  The gutter garden is going to be the biggest project and I was planning to use my free time between class and work today to get a good solid start on it.  This is the story of why that didn’t happen.

Planning ahead, which is completely out of character in the first place, meant that this morning I loaded up the website with the instructions for my hanging garden onto my kindle fire.  My thought process was was if there is no Internet in Home Depot I can still see what materials I need.  I did not however think about measuring my banister to ceiling distance or anything practical like that.

After class I drove down to Home Depot.  I went straight to the garden center because I knew I needed potting soil.  Then I headed over to the building supplies section.

Either everyone in home depot (including the people who don’t work there) are really friendly or I looked really lost and out of place because on the way to the opposite end of the store I was stopped multiple times, “Do you need help finding something miss?”

home depot, shopping cart, flower pot, potting soil, customer, employee
Me, scooting along through Home Depot amongst a sea of helpful employees and customers
To most I replied, “No thank you, I’m fine.”  But when I couldn’t find the gutters I finally said, “Yes where do you keep rain gutters?”

“Excuse me?”

“Rain gutters, like the kind you put on your house to divert the flow of rain.”

Strange look… “Well, they’re right down this aisle here about halfway.”

“Thank you!” Big smile.

I began comparing prices and picked the cheapest one: 10’ of plastic gutter for $4.89.  And the ends came in two packs with rubber around the edges for extra sealing power.  Now, 10’ is a lot of feet and when I started driving my cart around the store with that hugeness sticking off both ends of the cart I got even more stares than before.  Then it started sliding off the front end and I just barely catch it.

“Careful there miss!”  One employee called to me, “Are you finding what you need?”

“I’m looking for 1/8” steel cable.”

“Just down here, how much do you need.  I can cut it for you.”

My mind goes blank.  Thought process: How much do I need?  I didn’t measure.  You’re an idiot!  To the employee: “I don’t know how much I need.”

“Well that will be tricky for measuring, won’t it?”  Gives me a smile.  “Let me know if you figure it out.”  Leaves.

I pull out my Kindle, thinking maybe I can estimate based on what they used.  Internet doesn't work, "We cannot load your page please check that you have access to internet connection."  Eff you kindle fire.  So much for planning ahead.

I stand there staring at the roll of steel cable (like that’ll help me figure out the distance between my banister and balcony ceiling).  I decide to just make a return trip after measuring and I move down the aisle to where they keep hooks and things.  There are too many choices!  What do I even need?  I start running through options of how to hang this thing, when a man walks over.

question mark, confusion, too many options

“What are you doing with that gutter?”  He asks.

“I’m making a gutter garden, I live in an apartment with a patio so I don’t have anyplace to grow things.”

“Oh how nice.  My friend is doing that with her old gutters, she had plastic ones like this that got ravaged in a hailstorm.  You might want to look at the metal ones; they’re much more durable.”

“Oh thank you so much,” I say, “I didn’t even think about that.”

“Oh yeah and the plastic ones get cracked and dried.  Just be careful with the metal, so you don’t cut yourself.  I built a shed, and last weekend I installed metal gutters on it, my hands are still recovering.”

“Thanks again, I’m going to go check them out.”  Heads back to gutter aisle.  Metal gutters, metal gutters.  There are silver and white… white are twice as expensive?!  Why because they are white?  Oh they are bigger.  I think I want bigger, holds more soil and roots.  No, no, I don’t think I can do this today.  Puts all gutters back.

I went home empty-handed (at least without supplies for this project because I totes bought potting soil and a cute blue pot)

Anyway, on the way home, on the street I live on, I saw one man cutting some gutters, another spray painting some, and another man with his dog on a leash standing and talking to them.  I look in the rearview mirror.  Could it be?  Do I really have this luck?  Truck says Express Gutter Installation.  I screeched my car to a halt and walked over to the man with his dog.

express gutter installation, heavenly chorus, gutter garden
A sign from the garden gods

“Excuse me is this your house?”

“Yes.”  Strange look.

“Are you replacing the gutters?”

“Yes.” Stranger look.

“What are you doing with the old gutters?”

The man who was spray painting says, “You don’t want those, they’re broken and cracked.”

“Well I might, I’m just making a planter. They don’t need to function as gutters.”  I say.

The homeowner says, “Well you are welcome to take a look.”

They are quite broken but they’d probably work and they’re free.  I’m prepared to tell them I’ll take them when the spray painter tells me I can have one of their new ones.

“Really?”  Eyes light up like stars.

Gutter cutter says, “Would you like me to cut it for you?”

“Yes in thirds would be great.”  I say, not believing my luck.

So, he cuts the gutters (not in perfect thirds; but I’m willing to overlook that for the low, low cost of free).

I say, “Thank you so much!  I think this is fate, I just came from Home Depot.”

Spray painter says, “Yeah, gutters can get pretty expensive.”

The homeowner says, “That’ll be $20.”  My heart sinks for a split second before he laughs off his joke.

“Thanks again!”  I say, awkwardly carrying my new gutters to my car.

The garden gods are smiling at me today!

Unfortunately, I don’t have any of the other supplies to make the hanging gutter garden so I will just have to wait for the weekend to continue with this project.  Stay tuned for more building adventures, until next time!

***Update*** The project is complete and there is a blog post to prove it.

What garden projects are you working on for this summer?

Friday, March 9, 2012

My Take on the Kony 2012 Campaign

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: My Take on the Kony 2012 Campaign

We live in the age of the internet and, for better or for worse, Social Media is King.  Facebook, Twitter, Blogging, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Myspace, Tumblr, YouTube.  There are hundreds of sites that are designed to keep us connected, allow us to share ideas,  and make the world feel smaller.  With the invention of smart phones, the drunken bar argument about when an event occurred in history, or who wrote a certain song, or how to pronounce a word is a thing of the past.  My generation have grown up with the equipment and the know-how to look up anything we want to know at any time, without much effort.  Some organizations are using this to their benefit.

This video, according to the caption on YouTube, ”aims to make Joseph Kony famous, not to celebrate him, but to raise support for his arrest and set a precedent for international justice.”  (I believe they really want to make him infamous but that’s just my opinion about word choice)

To summarize the video, Joseph Kony is an evil Ugandan warlord who kidnaps children and uses them as soldiers and sex slaves for his militia the LRA.  Jason Russell has been working through the organization, in which he is an original founder, Invisible Children, for a decade to bring an end to Kony's reign.  They want to catch him this year and they need everyone to know about him.  What they don’t tell you is that according to this article, both the Ugandan army and Sudan People’s Liberation Army, that Invisible Children is working with to find Kony, are just as corrupt.

Invisible Children Inc. has good intentions and I can respect that.  They have their heart in the right place but I’m not so sure about their head.  This article explains why the author doesn’t support the Kony 2012 campaign.

When I began writing this blog, on Tuesday after I first saw the YouTube video. I was inspired.  I was sucked in by good marketing and the need to feel involved.  As I started doing more research on the topic to find the facts behind the video, I realized that I am very confused.

My optimistic, do-gooder side says, “We can do it!  Let’s bring justice!” and my logical questioning side says, “Who are they kidding?  They’re backing the lesser of two evils.”  I want to believe in this campaign but I’m not so sure I want to support Invisible Children.  I want to live in a world where the people have the power to band together and precipitate change but I know it’s more complicated and there are many hoops to jump through.

It’s taken me three days of editing and thinking and discussing and writing to finally come to the conclusion that nothing is ever black and white.  I think the biggest lessons I’ve learn through my research are that just because something is trending doesn’t mean it’s factual, that knowledge is power and to never take something at face value.

Further Reading:
Help me make up my mind: What do you think about the Kony 2012 Campaign?  What is an issue you believe in?

***UPDATE: I know I'm about four months late on this update. Like many other people, I jumped on the bandwagon of this cause and forgot about it after the fad was over. In my blog revamp I saw this post and decided to check up on the campaign's progress. In April 2012 this video was released:

Any thoughts?

Thursday, March 8, 2012

International Women's Day

Short post today... I'm making hummus and granola bars (more on that later)

Google Logo for the day

If you've opened Google today you've seen this image and possibly wondered what it was all about.  Well, it's International Women's Day!  What does that even mean?  Visit this website.

Now for an article: "Subject for Debate: Are Women People?"

How are you celebrating women (even the not people ones) today?

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Homemade Tagalongs

...(or as they're known elsewhere Peanut Butter Patties)

Suite Pea's Kitchen showcased by Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: Homemade Tagalongs

As you know I love to use Pinterest.  I’ve mentioned that I actually use a few of the things I pin.  One (mentioned yesterday) is fitness, another is recipes.  As usual, I was perusing the Pinterest community and discovered this little beauty of a recipe for Tagalongs from Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.  I have been saving it for a special occasion, but finally yesterday I couldn’t wait any longer.  I had to try me some Tagalongs - homemade style.  So I got out all my baking gear and began.

When I bake usually I like to listen to some good music but yesterday I already had my Pandora set to the preset “Pop and Hip Hop Power Workout Station” (I was getting my 5-4-3-2-1 on) so I just left it (that's funny because it's not good music... get it?) It was quite fun dancing to this type of music and I highly recommend it for future baking projects.

Anyway, Tagalongs

tagalongs, girl scout cookies, peanut butter, chocolate
Image Credit: Little Brownie Bakers
This is what Tagalongs look like from the box

Now, normally I would not wish to take away from the Girl Scouts and their one major fundraiser they have all year; after all I was one once.  However $4.00 for a box of cookies is a bit pricey for a college student who needs to buy real food.  The only problem is I absolutely love Tagalongs.  I used to keep the box in my room so greedy hands belonging to my sister and parents would not defile my tasty bits of heaven.  I weighed it in my head in front of that little table the girls had set up outside of King Soopers grocery store: do I want to spend my $4.00 on some cookies or something more nutritious.  Now, I no longer have to shed out precious cash for happiness and the recipe makes enough that I don’t mind sharing.

tagalongs, peanut butter, chocolate, cookie, homemade, girl scout cookies
Image Credit: Christina of Suite Pea's Kitchen
Her's look way better than mine...
Chocolate is super messy"

This recipe on the Sweet Pea’s Kitchen blog is fantastic.  It took FOREVER to make (possibly due to all the dancing) but let me tell you something, it is totally worth it.  These cookies are delicious and they taste a bazillion times better than the boxed variety.

So I really wanted to do a step-by-step post of my progress while baking (complete with the proper dance move technique for each task) but, alas, my camera charger is nowhere to be found.  Without pictures I feel this post would be a bit bland so I’ll just stick with my fantabulous review of this recipe and let you read the step-by-step on Sweet Pea’s Kitchen.

My only edits:  I added about a tablespoon of water to the chocolate to spread it a bit further and to make it more liquidy.  The peanut butter filling is REALLY sweet so next time I will probably add less sugar.  My batch only made two dozen (the recipe says 3 dozen) which leads me to believe I made the cookies too big.  This is probably true because with the filling and the chocolate it is very rich and hard to finish just one cookie.  Definitely a death-by-chocolate type of dessert, but yummers!

Happy Baking!

Would you prefer the boxed variety or these homemade delicacies?  How do you get your bake on?  Care to share a recipe I should try?

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

The 5-4-3-2-1 Workout (my version)

Maggie's Mind Mumbles//: 5-4-3-2-1 Workout

One of my latest obsessions is the website Pinterest (if you want to follow me, my username is: maghaseman).  I spend way too much time there pinning things to plan the wedding that is non-existent, the house I’ll never be able to afford and the vacation of my dreams.  There are a few things I do pin that I actually use though, including workouts.  I came across this wonderful routine about a month ago and have tried it a few times.  I love Caitlin’s Blog Fit Fab Cities and have tried a lot of her ideas.

This particular routine, The 5-4-3-2-1 Workout, is such a great idea, it’s quick and, as Caitlin says in her blog, easy to fit into a busy schedule, and I love the formatting (bright colors).  However, as I was doing the exercise I found that I lost track of the workout.  I have always struggled with workouts that have too much variety, some people enjoy the variety because it keeps it interesting but for me personally it doesn’t work.  The other thing I didn’t like was that it was missing ab exercises.  So I revamped it a little to suit my own needs:

54321 workout, schedule, busy, fitness nuts
You can download the printable version by clicking this link: 5-4-3-2-1 workout.

I kept Caitlin’s cutesy rainbow formatting and a lot of her content.  I replaced her 4 minute section with ab exercises.  Hope you enjoy it!

**Update: Check out my workout terms glossary.

These are the terms used in this workout:

Bicycle Crunch
Lay flat on your back. Place your hands behind your head, lift your left leg straight up about 2 inches from the ground and bring your right knee up to form a 90-degree angle. As you do this pull your left shoulder away from the mat bringing your left elbow to your right knee. Make sure you don’t pull your head forward with your arms but rather keep your gaze upward and use your hand for neck support only. Now switch, pull your right elbow to your 90-degree-bent left knee and straighten your right leg to hover above the floor.

Lay flat on your back. Place your hands behind your head, and your feet flat on the floor. Pull your shoulders away from the mat. Make sure you don’t pull your head forward with your arms but rather keep your gaze upward and use your hand for neck support only. Lower yourself back to the mat.

High Knees
Start standing and begin jogging in place lifting your knees as high as possible.

Jumping Jacks
Starting standing with feet together and arms straight by your sides. Jump up and spread your arms and legs wide as you land. Jump up again to return to center.

Take a big step forward with your left foot, bend your knees and lower your body until both legs form 90-degree angles. Push off with your left foot and stand back up. Do reps, and then repeat on other leg.

Set-up the top of a push-up position with your hands directly below your shoulder. A variation of this is to rest on your forearms with elbows directly beneath shoulders. Hold your body completely straight by engaging your abs. If you can’t hold the plank for the full duration, work up to it. Form is more important the length of time: don’t drop your hips or raise your butt.

Lay on your belly with hand flat on the floor on either side, forearms perpendicular to the floor. Stiffen body and literally push yourself away from the ground, hinging at the toes. When arms are straight hold and with control release your body, hover above the ground and repeat.

Stand with feet shoulder-width apart, arms by sides, Squat slowly until both knees are bent 90 degrees and raise arms straight to shoulder level in front of you. Immediately rise out of squat, returning to standing with arms by side.

Tricep Dip
Find an elevated surface such as a step, a coffee table over a chair. Place your palms on the surface directly behind your body. Hold yourself up and gently lower yourself down using your arms. When your arms make a 90-degree angle behind you lift yourself back up to the starting position.

Leave a comment: What kind of exercises do you enjoy?  How do you fit workouts into your busy schedule?

Monday, March 5, 2012

Mermaid v. Whale

The other day I was on Facebook having a conversation with one of my friends.  Full-blown conversations online have always bothered me for some reason.  Continually commenting on some status back and forth until one of you finally decides to just stop saying things.  It seems silly to formally end it by saying something like “Well I have to go now,” because it’s a comment.  Anyway that’s beside the point.

My point is that while I didn’t enjoy the media for having the conversation I did enjoy the topic (and I hope to continue the discussion when I see my friend next).  We were discussing, of all things, weight.  As in size: fat or thin, big or small, whale or mermaid etc.  The conversation was started from a post I shared from a friend on Facebook.  This post to be exact:

“A while back, at the entrance of a gym, there was a picture of a very thin and beautiful woman. The caption was "This summer, do you want to be a mermaid or a whale?"

The story goes, a woman (of clothing size unknown) answered the following way: 

"Dear people, whales are always surrounded by friends (dolphins, seals, curious humans), they are sexually active and raise their children with great tenderness.

They entertain like crazy with dolphins and eat lots of prawns. They swim all day and travel to fantastic places like Patagonia, the Barents Sea or the coral reefs of Polynesia.

They sing incredibly well and sometimes even are on CDs. They are impressive and dearly loved animals, which everyone defend and admires.

Mermaids do not exist.

But if they existed, they would line up to see a psychologist because of a problem of split personality: woman or fish?

They would have no sex life and could not bear children.  Yes, they would be lovely, but lonely and sad.  And, who wants a girl that smells like fish by his side?

Without a doubt, I'd rather be a whale.

At a time when the media tells us that only thin is beautiful, I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.

We women, we gain weight because we accumulate so much wisdom and knowledge that there isn't enough space in our heads, and it spreads all over our bodies.  We are not fat, we are greatly cultivated.

Every time I see my curves in the mirror, I tell myself: "How amazing am I ?! "

(The girl on the picture is French model Tara Lynn)”

My friend commented that first, humans should be neither whales nor mermaids but humans and second, that he doesn’t like “polarized arguments on either side glorifying either ideal to the extent of unhealthy life habits.”  Both of which are good points.  In responding to him (in the Facebook conversation way that I so enjoy) I started talking about the reasons I shared this particular post: “I prefer to eat ice cream with my kids, to have dinner with my husband, to eat and drink and have fun with my friends.”  I also realized that I have a lot to say about being healthy and my whole life is very focused on size.

The people who surround me spend a lot of time talking about what not to eat and how to stay thin.  The TV shows I watch show “perfect” women.  The magazines I read talk about how best to cut calories and the best workout plan for a flat stomach.  I know I’m guilty of thinking my thighs are too big but I’m also guilty of thinking I’m smokin’ hot within the same day.  And I know I'm not alone.

And all of this, and the realization that all my writing from the past are basically blog posts, led me to decide that I wanted to start a blog.  I want to write about all the things that go into living a healthy life (as far as I know).  I want to share recipes that are healthful, yoga routines that help to balance and a general lifestyle that refreshes.  I want to share the things that happen in my brain and in return I want to discover what others will share with me.

So to begin I’ll introduce myself.  My name is Maggie Haseman.  I am 21 years old.  I currently study restoration ecology in rangeland ecosystems at Colorado State University in Fort Collins Colorado.  My interests include, healthful cooking, practicing yoga, nurturing and collecting plants, playing board and card games, learning as much as I can, teaching others about what I know, reading and getting lost in stories, writing about what I think, laughing a lot, singing to my favorite songs, dancing like a crazy person, listening to music and to what others have to say, talking about things that do matter and things that don’t matter, tasting delicious food, entertaining friends and family, making and viewing art.  I could go on; But I won’t.

This is me.  I would love to hear from you; who are you?  What do you think about the mermaid vs. whale discussion?  How do you live happily and healthfully?