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Composting made easier

If you are like Tightwad you have compost on the go, ready to replenish the soil nutrients in her planting beds. But then again if you are like Tightwad for some reason the compost never actually makes it to a raised bed or cut flower garden. This tip may help (if you have a vertical composter with no liner): PLACE THE COMPOSTER ABOVE THE BED YOU WANT TO AUGMENT over the fall and winter, fill it and tend it over those months, then lift it in the spring and it’s easy to distribute on the area you want to nourish. No more transferring it to a wheelbarrow and dragging it across the garden. This is a much simpler approach and may encourage you in your composting efforts too.

Whatz the haps - Paleo diet

The Paleo, aka the Stone Age or caveman diet, is an eating plan based on how humans ate during the Paleolithic era. What this means to Tightwad is the no-brainer approach of eating whole foods and not consuming anything processed.  As everyone knows, as a rule, if the food comes in a box, don’t eat it. The Paleo diet is high in fat, moderate in animal protein and low to moderate in carbohydrates. Calorie counting is not encouraged, neither is portion control. This seems achievable.

The diet recommends generous amounts of saturated fats like coconut oil and butter. Beef tallow, lard and duck fat are also good. Olive, avocado and macadamia oils are good fats to use in salads and drizzle over food, but not for cooking.

Suggested animal protein includes red meat, poultry, pork, eggs, organs, wild caught fish and shellfish.

Eat generous amounts of fresh or frozen vegetables cooked or raw and served with fat. Starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes and yams are also great as a source of non-toxic carbohydrates.

Eat low to moderate amounts of fruit and nuts, particularly fruit low in sugar and high in antioxidants such as berries and nuts high in omega-3, low in omega-6 and low in total polyunsaturated fat like macadamia nuts. Consider cutting fruit if you are trying to lose weight faster.

Eliminate all cereal grains and legumes. Cut all vegetable and hydrogenated oils including margarine. Ditch added sugar, soft drinks, all packaged sweets and juices. Say no to dairy products other than butter and heavy cream. If you cannot eliminate all dairy, consider raw, full-fat and/or fermented products.

Other tips: Eat when you’re hungry and don’t stress if you skip a meal or even two. Do what feels natural. Get enough sleep. Consider supplementing with vitamin D and probiotics. Levels of magnesium, iodine and vitamin K2 should also be optimized.

French girl floral

Practice camaïeu: Choose a monochromatic colour palette, working with a range of, for example, all white/off whites, pinks and purples, darks, chartreuses in different hues. This gives a feeling of stillness and uniformity to the composition. Stay with all cool hues, or warm hues, not both. The result will be more balances and calming.

Focus, texture, filigree: Three words to keep in mind as you choose materials and build your arrangement.

Pre-hydrate: Cut stems at an angle to increase surface area and ensure they absorb fresh water for a few hours prior to arranging them.

Seek imperfection: Flaws are charming. Forage elements such as grasses and sculptural branches. Tightwad loves unusual bark and lichen in her arrangements.  

It’s not just about the flowers: Choose your container to scale with the volume of flowers you are working with. The vessel alone should create a statement so that your blooms remain elegant, minimal and foraged, while still appearing sculptural and unique.

Gardens are for living in

Gardens offer serenity and important green space to your home, which is essentially the centrepiece of your garden. Here are some Tightwad tips to consider when planning your outdoor space.
Mirror the sky 3D gazers or mirror balls are gorgeous in gardens, but the same effect can be created with a large shallow bowl of water to reflect the sky and give the impression of limitless.
Hardscape, then softscape Get the bones of the space down first, whether it’s a pea gravel area under shade for dining, or a retaining wall, or raised planters, and build the softscape to compliment that.
Mimic nature Plants grow in massings and drifts, overlapping as they merge. Pattern is produced with layers and through the repeated use of a physical characteristic such as form, colour or texture.
Perennials are an important backbone of your garden. As any gardener knows, things can be hum-ho with perennials the first year, and maybe even the second, but by their third year you will be thanking yourself for nurturing them into gorgeous, spreading loveliness. Also extremely handy as a ready to go cut flower garden.
Filigree Typically a word used for a jewellery making technique, Tightwad thinks its spot on to describe the level of plant textural variety that helps elevate any garden.
Manage the colour palette Are you going for a monsoon wedding joyous riot of colour? Or Tightwad’s favourite, a white/off white, chartreuse and subtle plum palette? Don’t do both. Consider the camaïeu, or a sophisticated monochromatic palette
Go for height Mix herbaceous woody species with height defying perennials and grasses. Utilize planters to add height and create the feeling of enclosure that make garden spaces special and sought after. Remember what you plant that doesn’t die down for the winter will create sculptural vocabulary during the dormant months. 
Create shade Umbrellas, triangular sails, pergolas are a few of the many ways to beat the heat and create a social focal point in your green space.
Make it a seamless transition from the interior to the exterior Have your garden visible from the inside and make the access inviting with potted plants and other sculptural elements.
Aromatic foliage Create an outdoor space that is not only visually, but aromatically memorable. Some fragrant plant ideas: daphne, lavender, roses, ornamental lilies, lilac, gardenia and sweet peas. 

Himalayan salt - what's the deal?

Himalayan salt, also known as Himalayan crystal salt or sometimes marketed as Jurassic sea salt, is a type of unrefined rock salt best known for its pretty pink colour. The colour originates from a common microorganism that had lived in it, along with the natural presence of approximately 84 minerals and elements used by the human body, including magnesium and iodine. 

Considered the purest salt on earth, it matured under intense tectonic pressure in an toxin free environment in a primal seabed of the Permian and Cretaceous eras. The sea became landlocked and evaporated, leaving a dense salt deposit. Over the next few hundred million years, that deposit was at the border of a continental plate and was pushed up into a mountain range in Pakistan. The concentration of salt near in Punjab province of Pakistan may have first been discovered around 326 BC when troops led by Alexander the Great observed their horses licking salty rocks. 

Popular in Ayurvedic, Tibetan, and other traditions, the jury is out on the health benefits of Himalayan salt but many believe that its unique cellular structure allows it to store vibrational energy. In addition, it is believed to regulate water levels in the body, aid vascular health, support respiratory function, reduce cramps, promote stable pH balance, encourage healthy blood sugar levels, promote kidney and gallbladder health, encourage healthy sleep patterns and encourage a healthy libido. Some call this pseudoscience, but Tightwad is pretty swayed by these health benefit claims. This is particularly in light of the fact that the trouble with processed table salt, according to some Himalayan salt advocates, is that it is void of trace minerals, having been processed with questionable chemicals and dried at more than 1,200o Fahrenheit. It is considered energetically dead because of the disruption of its natural chemical structures and the body must expend tremendous amounts of energy to metabolize and neutralize it and keep the body in a state of optimum fluid balance.

Definitely, says Tightwad, food for thought.

Mac 'n' cheese 'n' bagels oh my

Mark the calendar! Not sure if you know, but National Mac and Cheese Day is fast approaching, on July 14. Can there be anything more delicious and photogenic?

With some quick digging, Tightwad discovered that the history of this national day is really the history of Kraft Macaroni and Cheese, aka Kraft Dinner (KD) in Canada. While it seems simple and even obvious today, the dish was actually considered fairly innovative in its time and began a tradition of ready-to-prepare foods. KD was created in response to the Great Depression, during a scarcity of protein and dairy products. One of their salesmen began attaching packages of grated cheese to boxes of pasta. In part due to the conditions of its release, it became very successful. James Lewis Kraft patented a method of processing cheese that gave KD its unique colour and has served as a signature trait of the product ever since. 

If you like mac and cheese, bagels and free stuff, please do keep reading.  

Members of the Einstein Bros. Bagels Schmear Society can receive, with purchase, a free mac and cheese bagel with purchase on July 14. If you are not yet a member of the Shmear Society rewards program sign up at by July 13.

Tightwad thinks she will file this under PSAs.