Gardening Season Never Got So Easy

Gardening Season Never Got So Easy

Lilacs: Signs of Spring

The lilacs are out in full bloom and the air smells sweet with their scent.  It’s gardening, season in Chicago.  And this Windy City Momma has a secret: when I garden, I like to get REALLY, really dirty; no knee pads and gardening gloves for me!  When I get in my garden, I dig for worms, spread the manure with my hands, feet, arms and legs and basically get covered in dirt from head to toe.  Call it a stress reliever for a weary mom or a sick way to embrace my inner child; I really don’t care. Carefree gardening is just plain fun!


My Fledgling Garden

It just so happens that the generous P&G folks at Tide asked me if I was interested in trying out the new Tide Pods (detergent, stain remover & brightener in one) to confirm that Tide could, in fact, get out any tough stain and dirt.

What a great challenge!  Look, I have NEVER been a devout believer that any particular laundry detergent would be able to get my clothes clean after a full day digging in manure, dirt and clay.  I have accepted the fact that some clothes are meant to be discarded after I (literally) roll in the mud for a day. But my husband has sentimental feelings about using Tide.  His mother always uses this particular brand and he loves the scent(s).  I guess it just provokes wonderful childhood memories and when he smells his shirts in the morning, he is instantly happy.  Far be it for me to take this little slice of heaven from him, right?

As for its effectiveness, well, I wasn’t too convinced that one little pod could clean, get rid of stains and brighten my clothes.  I decided too accept the free samples but I would use it to clean my dirtiest and scummiest clothes: the bright fushia sweatpants I wear every year when I plant the garden.  Trust me, when I was done for the day, the pants smelled far worse than they looked in these post-gardening pictures:


Dirt, Rain & Manure = A Cleaning Challenge


Just gross


That's Never Coming Out!


Here it comes to save the day! Tide is on the way!


Wish me luck!


So, you’ve seen the pictures and I have expressed my doubts.   Will a Tide pod be able to get rid of (a) the dirt etc. stains (b) make the pants look like they were new and (c) eliminate the awful manure smell they emitted?

And the answer is:


Need I say more?  I am convinced!  If Tide Pods can get rid of the stains and smell great then I am a believer and a convert.  The Keats can officially be declared a “TIDE Family!”

**Note: Since my daughter found out about my little Tide experiment, I’ve noticed that she has ceased being as careful with her clothes as she was last week. Perhaps the drastic difference between the dirty and clean sweat pants was a bit too effective for her?

 This is a Sponsored post written behalf of Tide Pods. All opinions are 100% mine. Click here if you are interested in getting a Tide Pods sample.  I would love to read about your experiences with the product!  


Could I Be The New Dwight Schrute, Famous Beet Farmer?

Could I Be The New Dwight Schrute, Famous Beet Farmer?

Digging in the Dirt for Beets

 The gardening magazines are piling up on my desk.  Looking out my office window, I catch a glimpse of my sparse garden and romanticize what, in a few short months, could be growing: strawberries, arugula, sugar snap peas, cucumbers, various herbs, tomatoes, basil and yes, beets.  My garden will be divided in two sections: a cornucopia of veggies and fruits and beets.

Growing up in Baltimore, I clearly remember being “forced” to eat beets at my grandparent’s house.  As a child I reasoned that cold red beet soup and sour cream must have been good for old people and thus the reason that my grandparents consumed it almost daily.  I hated beets–all beets, no exception.  The mere mention of the word drove me into fits of mock hysteria complete with gagging sounds and fake vomiting.  (Hey Mom?  Remember the time I fake puked in front of your Danish friends?  That was a scene, wasn’t it?) 

Leave it to my husband to re-introduce beets into my diet.  (It helps to live with a semi-gourmet cook.)  But every now and then I flat out refuse to eat something that he has cooked.  Baked beets were one of those dishes.  Serve me up some Kohlrabi and I am your girl.  I’ll even try a bit of broccolini before condemning it.  But beets?  Forget it.  Eventually, when my (then) 2 year old daughter gobbled them up like they were candy, I decided to try beets again.  And I loved them!  The secret was in the baking with olive oil and not serving them as a cold soup.  Now I can’t get enough beets and cherish opportunities to find different varieties to cook and serve with various parings.

Thus the Dwight Schrute reference.

When we moved to the Chicago suburbs six years ago, my husband and I were jazzed to have our own “bit of earth” and converted part of our minuscule lawn into the organic garden of our dreams.  (That’s right, no pesticides, chemicals or sprays on our food. Just me fighting the bunnies, deer and bugs.)  At first he was really involved in charting the progression of tilled earth to seedling to plant and harvest.  But after a few years, my husband lost some interest in the whole gardening experience and concentrated his efforts solely on the seasonal tomato and basil production.  I was left to my own devices in the rest of the garden and we discovered that there was one less thing that we had in common. Left to my own devices, I have a BLACK thumb.   At first I planted and tried to grow all sorts of fruits and vegetables:

  • Cantaloupe: Horrible disaster and rather messy. Who knew that you were supposed to let them grow on the ground?
  • Carrots: Did not appear OR the rabbits ate them before I could protect them
  • Thyme and Lavender: Over-run by my husband’s chive (aka: garden grass) plants
  • Cucumbers: Usually get one monster cucumber that turns cannibal and eats the baby cukes. (Scary, I know.)
  • Strawberries: Yeah, uh….we prefer not to discuss the patch of strawberry “weeds” we cannot get rid of in the middle of the garden.  We never did finesse a “berry” out of that patch.
  • Sugar Snap Peas:  Well, I got them to grow but then forgot about them and they dried up on the vine.  Plus, the vines sort of attack you when you’re not looking.
Over the years, only one plant has remained faithful and low maintenance: The Beet.  Color is irrelevant; I grow ’em all.  The weeds are so scared of our industrial strength and uber-disease resistant beets that they don’t bother targeting that part of the garden.  And each year we have a bumper crop of beets which we are forced to distribute (free of charge) to our neighbors who bask in the miracle that is our tiny beet farm.  Don’t believe me?  Check out the photo we captured last summer of one of our prize vegetables:

We are set in beets for at least three or four months–assuming we don’t take a break from the daily beet consumption feasts.  I never thought that I would get sensitive whenever someone made jokes about beet farming until I realized that I AM A BEET FARMER!  And while hubbie checks out the awesome tomato variations and selections in the gardening catalogues and magazines, guess what?  I have dog eared all of the sections pertaining to beet growth. I may not be a great gardener but I am a darn good BEET Farmer!

Thanks Dwight Schrute for being the Beet Industry’s Spokesperson!  You make us Proud!

This post was graciously sponsored by Alan’s Factory Outlet  whose awesome Amish sheds have been used for storing gardening supplies, tools, and even beet seeds. Please check out the site!