New Family Fall Traditions

I've titled this post 'Our New Family Fall Traditions' in the hopes that my wife will continue baking hundreds of muffins every year. Maybe I should have called it 'Our New Monthly Family Traditions' instead. It wasn't just about the muffins though, and we did a lot of other fun stuff that I hope will become a routine for years to come.

Why I'm Becoming a Children's Author and Illustrator

You may have noticed that I've taken a bit of a hiatus here recently, but I have some very good reasons. First of all, getting anything done in the garden (or home) with a toddler is a lot harder than it looks. Second, I've been hard at work pursuing my dream of becoming a children's book author and illustrator. No, really. Hear me out.

Mango Habanero Pork Chops and Grilled Veggies

If I can grill a creative and delicious dinner on the fly, then anyone can do it. I love to cook but as a rookie work-from home dad, cooking alongside an impatient toddler can be pretty stressful. Grilling is even more difficult for me than cooking in the kitchen, since I only have about a one-hour window from the time my wife gets home to my son’s bathtime. Trust me… that sleep schedule is not something I want to mess with. Besides the time issue, I’m not necessarily all that experienced on the grill.

10 Mistakes Florida Gardeners Make

Everyone makes mistakes, including myself. The problem is that rather than learn from those mistakes, self-proclaimed 'Black Thumbs' get turned off to gardening just because they kill a few plants and never give it another chance. Things are totally different in Florida, so cut yourself some slack and listen up: Here's a short guide to gardening in Florida for newbies and master gardeners alike.

7 Ways to Fix an Ugly Garden with Plants

My garden isn’t perfect by any means, but I can at least take some credit for turning a really ugly backyard into something that... Apart from a slate path that I installed early this year, all I had to do was choose excellent plants and arrange them in a way that tricks the eye into overlooking my yard’s flaws. Here are some of the tricks I used to whip my backyard into shape.

Grow your own Thai Food: 30 Vegetables, Herbs and Fruits

Do you have a hard time finding ingredients for your favorite Southeast Asian cuisine? Whether you want to cook Thai, Laotian, Vietnamese, Cambodian or Filipino food, all you have to do is grow your own! I've spent a few days compiling this massive list of vegetables, herbs and fruits, and have detailed their flavors, uses and growing instructions so that you can put that pad Thai takeout to shame.

What's Blooming in my July Garden

It's been a long time since I've posted about what's blooming in my garden, and it might have something to do with the fact that I've been a lot more focused on the foliage and overall design lately. Though with all that greenery the flowers just stand out even more!

From Puddle to Rain Garden; Ditch to Dry Creek

I'm making a rain garden and dry creek bed to collect, filter, absorb and divert all of the runoff that had been flooding and eroding my backyard, and wanted to share how I'm turning a muddy and weedy ditch in the middle of my garden into something truly magical. This is going to be one heck of a garden makeover.

5 Things to do in the Summer Garden

In a hot summer, your backyard can either be a haven or a hellhole. Since I've been busy tidying up my own backyard for summer, I thought I'd share some ways to get your patio and garden cookout-ready with a gorgeous garden! Since it will soon be too hot to do much outside, my tips have to do with simplifying garden chores, maximizing enjoyment and pampering your plants so that they look their best.

Savory Kale and Sausage Skillet Recipe

It's our second week of quitting takeout and since there's just too much for one post, I'll break it up so that I can focus on the recipes and ingredients. I used a lot from the garden this week, but Monday was all about the lacinato (aka Tuscan, dinosaur or black) kale, which I used for a delicious and easy skillet. Here's more info about this easy-to-grow veggie and a recipe to put it to good use.

Garden2Blog 2015: Part One

Last Monday I packed my bags and hesitatingly waved goodbye to my family to fly out to Little Rock, where I would join an all-star team of bloggers for the fifth annual Garden2Blog event at P. Allen Smith's beautiful Moss Mountain Farm. I needed the company of friends, the inspiration and to feel once again connected to my career path now that I share my office with a one-year old. The trip, I found, was well worth it.

Taking out the Takeout: Week One

Fast food and takeout have always been a big part of our busy life, but now that I'm a work-from-home dad with a veggie garden at my disposal, cooking just makes more sense. We've been using the kitchen more and more over the last few months, but have now decided to take the plunge and eat fresh, made-from-scratch food almost every night of the week. The result of which has been a richer and more fulfilling life, brimming with creative possibilities.

9 Garden Design Tips from Moss Mountain

To prepare for my trip to Garden2Blog at P. Allen Smith's breathtaking Moss Mountain Farm this week, I've decided to share some inspiration and tips that were inspired by my visit during last year's event. Whether your garden is small or virtually nonexistent, in a cold climate or a tropical one, there's always lots to learn from a well executed garden design. For starters:

Giving Garden Tours to a One-Year Old

Gardening is a lot different now that I have a kid. I used to spend so much time anticipating the unfurling of each new leaf and flower petal on my balcony, viewing the little miracles of nature through the eyes of a child, as if I was experiencing it for the very first time. Now I'm watching my kid grow before my very eyes, and he's the one looking at each little miracle for the first time. Instead of getting lost in the moment, I'm just trying to keep him from eating the bugs.

Impatience is a Virtue

It's hard to find time to garden when you're a dad who works from home, but sometimes it's even harder to justify putting forth the time and effort in the first place. I started to feel insecure, doubting my purpose and vision when the weeds seemed to grow faster than the plants themeslves. There's a lot to be said for patience when it comes to gardening, but a case could also be made for being impatient.

Refreshing the Patio for Spring

I'm proud to announce that I've teamed up with Tuesday Morning to share some creative tips for whipping your garden into shape this spring. This post was originally published on their blog yesterday but I'm also posting it here so that I can show you how to do things like turn bird suet feeder baskets into vertical gardens or make some eye-catching container combinations.

Turn a Shower Caddy into a Vertical Garden

Want to add a little bit of romance to your boring shower? All you need is a hanging shower caddy, a plastic loofah, orchid bark and a few other epiphytic 'air' plants to turn a well-lit bathroom into a tropical spa getaway. Here's how to make your own!

Make this Glowing Houseplant Combo

Some plants survive on neglect with dull and wrinkled leaves, while others seem to glow. Such is the case with this dazzling living flower arrangement that I planted last fall with 'window leaved' Haworthias and a flaming orange 'Wild Tiger' bromeliad burning bright in a bowl of black sand. This combo thrives both indoors and out with lots of sunlight and casual watering. Here's how to make your own in 15-30 minutes.

Before and After my Slate Path

A garden isn't much fun if you're the only one who gets to enjoy it. "Come look at my new planting of ferns!" I would call enthusiastically from the back of the garden to my wife, who timidly stood at the edge of the patio in her nice shoes, clutching onto our baby. "Uh huh! I can see them from here!" she assured me. I can't say I blame her for not venturing from the safety of the concrete into the weeds, mud and exposed roots beyond.

Grow a Miniature Forest in a Wood Bowl

My seven-month old son loves windows to his exciting new world. If I put him on the floor, I can pretty much count on him scrambling to the sliding glass door with squeals of delight exclaiming "Hey! Hey! Hey!" as he stands up and plants his palms on the glass and gazes upon a realm of possibility and excitement. Stay with me now... I'm going somewhere with this.