Tomato Countdown and a Garden Update

Holy cow, how did it get to be August already? Summer is speeding along, but the good news is that it’s almost time for garden tomatoes. This year I tried mulching the tomato plants with pine needles, and despite five hail storms and not a lot of attention from me, the plants seem quite happy.

cherry tomatoes

The cherry tomatoes are almost ripe!

 

Early girl tomato

Some of the Early Girls have just begun to change color. We should be enjoying this one in a matter of days!

 

green tomatoes

The Better Boys are looking fat and happy.

 

Green roma tomatoes

The Romas should be red in about ten days. Pasta time!

 

Baby leeks

I thinned the leeks last week, so that they can have room to grow. (Just ignore those little weeds.)

 

Tomato garden

The tomatoes have started to look a little wild, and they haven’t stayed tucked in their cages at all. Where in the world did they learn those rebellious tendencies, I wonder?

 

Black-eyed Susan

Just when some of the other flowers start to fade from the heat, the Black-Eyed Susans open their faces to the sun. So pretty.

How about you? Have you harvested tomatoes yet, or other produce? I’d love to hear what’s happening in your garden. Meanwhile, let’s savor these glorious summer days of August while we can…

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

How To Remove a Sticky Label or Stubborn Price Sticker

Use this trick to remove a sticky price sticker

Pity the poor security people who work at places like Ross, Marshall’s and T.J. Maxx. They must have had to deal with an epidemic of people switching price stickers on already-discounted stuff. Why else would they affix such impossible-to-remove price stickers to their merchandise? The adhesive sticks fast on even the slipperiest nonstick surfaces, and to further deter easy removal the stickers are perforated in about sixteen places. This is all fine and well as a security measure, but what about us honest citizens who purchase something and do not care to enjoy said item with its price sticker forever affixed?

I’ve wrecked fingernails and tried razor blades, soaking in hot water, and solvents like Goo Gone and rubbing alcohol to remove stubborn stickers. These methods all have the unfortunate side effect of sometimes ruining the very thing you’re trying to preserve. When I finally discovered the magic trick to remove the stickers, I knew I had to share it with you.

First heat your iron to its lowest setting. You’ll also need a little scrap of fabric or a thin cotton dishtowel to protect the item while you get the sticker off. I used a small scrap of paper towel. Very gently and being careful not to touch the item with your iron, run the pointed part of the iron over the fabric or paper towel covering the sticker.

Remove a stubborn sticky price sticker with this trick from Happy Simple Living.

Test the sticker and see if it will cooperate now. If it doesn’t peel right off, hit it a couple more times with the iron. You may need to raise the temperature a notch or experiment a little bit. Just go slowly and err on the side of caution so you don’t melt anything except the stubborn glue on the sticker.

How to easily remove a price sticker, from Happy Simple Living.

As you can see, after about ten seconds with the tip of the iron this sticker came right off of a cellophane-covered package.

Remove stubborn price stickers with this tip from Happy Simple Living.

You readers are so smart you’ve probably been happily ironing off your price stickers for decades, but for me this discovery was life changing. How about you? Have you ever tried this tip?

Keep calm and carry on! Hugs and happy Monday,

The signature for Eliza Cross

Slow and Steady Can Lead to Big Things

Turtle in the grass

Allow me to introduce Turnip, a beautiful female turtle my son and I are caring for this weekend. Her photo seems fitting for this final day of my six-day experiment to take photographs daily for 15 minutes.

Slow and steady is a concept I’ve learned to embrace. Big projects can be overwhelming, but I’ve discovered that working in small increments can help me make real progress. The key, for me, is to honor those small chunks of time and create space for them in my busy schedule.

How about you? Were you successful in devoting a little time to something meaningful this week? What would you like to focus on next? I always love hearing your comments and thoughts.

Enjoy the weekend and thanks for joining me in this endeavor. Here’s to slow and steady progress on the things that matter, for all of us.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. Georgina, a signed copy of The Quinoa Quookbook is headed your way. Congratulations on making time to write in your journal during a busy week.

Do Just One Thing Today

ladybug and daisies

Weird early morning shot of a ladybug and daisy buds

 

One of the best time management tips I ever heard was to jot down a list of Top Three Priorities each morning, and commit to accomplishing those three things. When I take a moment to do that and stay focused on just getting through my short list, I accomplish so much more than when I let the day self-direct itself with e-mails, calls and other demands.

 

Clematis vine

The clematis in full bloom

Let’s simplify this idea even further, and just focus on a single priority.

What’s the one thing you would love to accomplish today? Write it as a comment.

And then, let’s each do that one important thing.

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. I committed to spending 15 minutes a day this week taking photographs. If you’re new to this blog, you can read more about accomplishing big things in small increments of time.

Let’s Talk About Resistance

face in a tree

Yesterday’s photo – a whimsical tree face

Most of us can identify a handful of activities that make us feel extraordinarily satisfied when we do them. A few on my list include exercising, writing, meditating, spending time with my family, praying, walking, gardening and creating. So why do I so often get to the end of the day and realize I’ve squandered most of my precious minutes on everything but those things?

Resistance comes in many forms. “You have too many important things to get done right now. Maybe you can take a walk later in the day,” that little voice says.

Or: “It’s only fifteen minutes anyway. It won’t really matter if you skip meditating today.”

Or: “What you really need is a weekend away in a quiet cabin. Then you can focus on your novel and do some great writing.”

My friend Diane Sieg—an author, speaker and yoga instructor who is one of the most active and productive people I know—says she talks to her resistance. “I’m not going to listen to you!” she says. “You’re not going to sidetrack me today.” And then she gets busy doing the things that matter.

How about you? Do you ever feel that mysterious pull to ignore those few actions that mean so much? How do you handle resistance? How would you feel if you devoted 15 minutes today to something worthwhile?

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. Congratulations to Denise at Wisdom From My Parents who won the giveaway of sunscreen from Block Island Organics. Check back again soon for more giveaways.

Learning By Messing Around

currant close up

When I was just starting out in the business world in the 1980s, Tom Peters and Robert H. Waterman, Jr. wrote an international bestselling book called In Search of Excellence. One of the concepts the authors wrote about was an idea they called MBWA – Management by Wandering Around.

During their research they discovered that managers who got out from behind their desks and regularly talked to people built companies of greater openness, trust and creativity. That simple idea always resonated with me, and I think of it to this day when I get stuck. Get up! I tell myself when I’ve been at my computer too long. Get out! Wander around and explore. Stop thinking and planning, and go out and make something happen!

I’ve taken photography classes and studied my camera manual, but I’m really a student of LBMA—learning by messing around. I love to tinker and explore out in the field. The close-up photo of currants above is one I took yesterday while experimenting with macro lenses again. I was lying in the grass and the sun was already too bright, so I only snapped a few shots.

I was hoping for a pretty result because I love this currant bush. I had trouble even digging a hole for it eight years ago in our rock-hard clay soil, and then Dad died and I totally neglected it. But the bush flourished nonetheless. The currants are tart and sweet, and I eat them off the bush because I read that they’re a good source of phytochemicals. They also make delicious homemade booze. But I digress.

When I looked at the images closely later, I was disappointed because they were overexposed and slightly out of focus. Here’s how the image above looked straight out of the camera:

red currant

But part of the fun of learning, for me, is experimenting with photo editing. Using Photoshop Elements, I cropped the image, adjusted the colors and tones a bit, and increased the contrast. I experimented with the program’s Sharpen feature, and that improved my shaky hand.

While it’s not a photo that will win any awards, I was happy with it and learned a few things in the process. Because I have to shoot in “manual” mode with the camera’s macro lens, I need to make slight adjustments in the focus and shoot several versions of each image to increase my odds of getting that nice, sharp focus. I need to experiment more with the aperture settings, and a tripod would be a good idea, too. I also need to get up a little earlier in the morning if I want to capture the pretty light on this currant bush.

How about you? Could you do 15 minutes of LBMA today? Let’s go!

Hugs,

The signature for Eliza Cross

P.S. Today is the final day to enter to win full-sized bottles of organic, zinc-based sunscreen and cooling sunburn gel from Block Island Organics. Details here.