Growing Peas From Seed

If you’re reading this, you likely live on Hansard an you might have scanned the pea seed jar. In this quick review, I will share with you about theses seeds and the basics to planting and caring for them. Please take only as many seeds as you need for your garden so that other neighbors may also get seeds.

Sweet Peas

These peas seeds come from my garden in the backyard from peas I allowed to overgrow and dry up for the purpose of producing seeds. They are a sweet pea, but it has been a few years since I bought the original seeds, so I can’t tell you much more than that.

Plant in March & August

You will want to plant them in mid-March for a June/July crop (if you take good care of them, they will continue to produce through September) or again in early-August for a October harvest (these won’t produce as much of a crop, but they are good to have to get you some fresh veggies in the fall). Prior to planting, soak the seeds in water for 24 hours to give them a good start at growing.

Lots of Sun and Something To Climb

They should be planted where there’s a fair amount of sunlight and something for them to climb. If you have a trellis or fence, stick them near there. Be aware that anything you plant north of these peas will get a bit of shade so plan your placement ahead of time. Keep your peas well watered, but let them dry out a little bit between watering so not to rot the roots.

Harvest Either Flat or Plump

When these pea pods start to appear, they will be a bit flat, but they will plump up as time goes on. The flatter they are, the more tender and you can use full, flat, pea pods in stir fries. The plumper pods are great for snacking and deshelling.

Every Plant Grows A Lot

You only need 3-4 pea plants per family member if you intend on freezing some. Otherwise, don’t plant more than 2 plants per person eating peas.

Easy To Collect Seeds From

If you find your pea plant drying up and turning yellow, it is nearing the end of the plants life. Dried up pea pods can be used for seeds, and if you don’t want to use them, feel free to drop them back off at the garden table for us to distribute to more neighbours!

my 2020 peas!

Hansard Growing!

This Responsive Neighbourhood Small Grant project was funded by the Vancouver Foundation and administered by The Association of Neighbourhood Houses BC. 

If you know anything about me, it should be that I love to produce. I like to make things from seemingly nothing and I also like to instill that ability in others. Which is a big reason I have my garden. Taking a little seed and making it grow into a big ol’ plant, that’s my JAM! So after I got my community project rolling, I needed to do more! But on the limited budget that I was on (ahem, $0) I couldn’t do it alone. Which is when my googling took me to Neighbourhood Small Grants. The Vancouver Foundation actively funds small neighbourhood projects each year; all you need is an idea and the ability to share it and see it through.

When I found NSG, I got to work writing out my application.

The Application

Last year, my family grew more food than we were able to eat; we gave away the excess where we could to friends yet a fair amount still went to waste. In this we realized an opportunity to create community, and so this year, we have endeavored to build more gardening space. I am a horticulture student with an interest in edible landscaping and I intend to eventually eliminate my front lawn completely and replace it all with food. We have sent letters out to the 60 homes in our neighbourhood letting everyone know that we would be sharing our excess produce with them this year. Within the week, we have heard from about 10 of our neighbours, thanking us for this and already asking after some mint they saw growing; which is where this project comes in. I want to build a planter box (2’w X 6’l X 3’h) in my front yard, next to the sidewalk, in which to grow produce designated for the neighbourhood, starting with lettuces and mints. I also want to empower my neighbours to grow their own food by producing seedlings that they can plant in their own gardens and yards, and also provide free seeds with planting instructions. I will be doing the bulk of caring for the plants we grow, and I intend to create videos for our neighbours to learn how to harvest the plants being grown so that the plants are cared for and we continue to get a harvest from the food being grown. My project costs include the following: Purchasing the materials to make the planter box (treated wood, screws, dirt, delivery) Purchasing seeds and small plants to be planted into the planter Purchasing potting soil, reusable seedling pots, and seeds for seedlings Purchasing seed envelopes and printer ink to print on the envelopes Cost of printing and laminating small signs for the planter and to accompany the seedlings Cost of labels for the seedling pots so that they may be returned and reused I hope to cultivate a thriving community around the production of our own food. I hope to grow this project further in the future by putting a cold frame on the planter (for winter growing), creating a seed library where we may exchange seeds, and reusing the products purchased for this project to continue to offer plants and seeds to my neighbours in addition to the produce I share.

My ambitions were high, and still are! Once this NSG was approved, I got to work. Unfortunately, I mis-estimated how tall my planter should be, and it was nearly twice the height that we needed it to be (we wanted kids and adults alike to be able to pick yummy food!). Because the wood was already purchased and cut, and all the costs already estimated, I decided to double the footprint my yard was going to contribute to this project and made my one planter box into two.

While this was being built; I started growing some seedlings ASAP to share with my neighbors. Within a few days of the grant being approved I had the soil I needed to share some sunflower seedings (check out my instagram to learn why I had these to share!) and a few tomatillos. I had another neighbour with tons (16!) of volunteer tomato seedlings for me to share on my little community table. In the two months that I’ve had the funding, I’ve been able to share all these plants, and some pumpkin seedlings. So far, this little community table has shared 30+ seedlings!

Volunteer seedlings

Seedlings that pop up in places where you did not plant them. Usually they’re the offspring from fallen fruit from last year’s crop.

I wasn’t able to get dirt into the planter boxes until much later than I originally anticipated, so we’re just now beginning to get plants into it. I decided to fill one with tomato plants and a little bit of mint (which we have separated into it’s own planter within the box so that it doesn’t spread as easily). The other box is just about to be planted with some fall crops, like lettuce, kale, and maybe some radishes.

So if you’re on Hansard, feel free to swing by and pick up some fresh produce from the two labeled planters! Soon you’ll be finding seeds on the community table for fall planting, and other fun treats as a result of this neighbourhood small grant.

Creating Community

Last year, more food than I would like to admit went to waste in my yard. If you haven’t seen my 2020 garden recap yet, check it out! My garden produced more food than Jim (husband man), Cecilia (daughter person), and I could eat, even when sharing the bounty with the friends and family we were socializing with. I took care to harvest some food specifically for the freezer, I preserved food by pickling, canning, and dehydrating, and yet, I still had a lot of food just be tossed into the compost.

So why did I made my garden even larger this year? Well, it’s pretty simple; so that I could create a community among my neighbors.


A group of people who live in the same area or who share a common characteristic, like gardening, or eating. Eating is my favourite kind of community assembly

Now, you could argue that my neighbors and I already belong to a community, as we literally all live in each other’s vicinity, but aside from the casual conversations I have with my next door neighbors, D&W, watching my kid play with other kids while I stand there with the other parents, and the constant walks Cecilia and I take, we don’t really interact with our neighbors which is a shame. So I decided that this year, instead of letting food go to waste, I would create a place where I could share garden fresh produce.

My ultimate goal here is to share my excess and have neighbors share theirs. To start a conversation around growing our own food, and living a more sustainable life. And to get to know my neighbors a bit more intimately. I hope that by offering a community space to share, we become more interconnected and learn from one another.

I brought up this project with a small group of people in a discussion around food security and I had two individuals reach out to me, asking about my grassroots project. Until this point, I didn’t think about it as a grassroots project, and just something I was doing for my family and for my desire for community, but the more I considered it, the more it became evident that this term “grassroots project” was so accurate, except there would be no grass, because I’m ripping my lawn out!

This project of mine has a budget of $0 so I turned to my local Buy Nothing group (you know how I love my BN group) and Facebook Marketplace for free listings of the things I would need to make this project a little more “real”. I wanted a table (to place my gifts) and baskets and bowls (to put the food into, on the table).

Fortunately, I was able to find a table pretty quickly (sooner than I was ready to put it out!), and I’ve now started collecting baskets and bowls to share the wealth.

My next step was telling my neighbours about this. Because of COVID I couldn’t exactly go door knocking, so I worked on a letter which I then printed (I decided that using materials I already had, like paper, ink, and seeds did not count against my budget) 60 copies of. This was a big undertaking for me because I also decided that I wanted to make sure that my neighbours wouldn’t just think this all was spam or someone trying to convert them to another religion before they even opened the letter, so I coloured a different fruit/veg/plant drawing on every.single.letter and wrote out one of two things “It’s like a farmer’s market, but no farmer and free” or for the ones which my drawing suffered “I grow food better than I draw it!”

The letter!

Hello Neighbour,

I want to share free produce with you and your family! I am not selling anything or preaching religion or anything like that; this really is just about free food.

My name is Breanne, I live at redacted with my husband, Jim, and daughter, Cecilia. You may have noticed a lot of gardening happening in our yard this year and last. I am a landscape student with an interest in edible landscaping and in creating productive spaces.

After last year’s bounty, I noticed our gardens produced more food than my family and I could possibly eat, yet I made my gardens larger this year with the goal of producing even more! My hope is to share the food I produce with you, my neighbours, and create a community around growing food.

You will notice in the next few weeks a table set up under the magnolia tree which is where I will be putting our excess produce, occasionally small plants, and sometimes seeds from my seeding fruit. Please feel free to take as much as you can use from here.

It is unlikely that I will be placing lettuces on this table outside of spring because of how easily they wilt in the heat, but I will be sharing on my social media channels when I have lettuces available; please reach out to me there if you would like some.

I will regularly be posting photos to my Instagram account of my growing garden, and I will be posting there every time produce is added to the community table/pantry, so if you’d like updates on when new produce is put out, be sure to follow @basilbeelife on Instagram and/or Basil Bee . garden . kitchen . lifestyle on Facebook, or just walk by! I also regularly update a blog where I write about gardening, preserving, and mom life:

We’re asking nothing in return for the produce that we share with you, however, if you would like to express thanks, we would love it if you could add bounty from your garden to the community table/pantry (be it vegetables, fruit, flowers, seeds, seedlings, yummy food made from the produce, etc); share about this small community project and encourage others to bring a similar project to their own communities; offer your help with labour if you see me out working in the yard; or whichever way you feel is appropriate.

I do request that you respect our property and do not come onto it to pick any of our produce unless we have invited you to do so. I am carefully measuring the output of my garden as a portfolio project, so it is important that food is not taken without my knowledge. Please take only as much as your family will eat. Do not remove the table or the baskets and bowls on the table holding the produce.

I am so excited to share the bounty of my garden with you this year! If you want help or advice with your garden, please feel free to reach out any time. I am always happy to help more food to be produced in homes. If you are renting and don’t have the freedom to produce food in your yard but are interested in the process, or if you want your kids to be involved in learning about gardening, please also reach out and I would be thrilled to include you and your family in my gardening.

The day after we sent out these letters (which Cecilia and I hand delivered), our Instagram had a bunch of new followers and we had neighbours already dropping by, asking after the mint I had planted. My table wasn’t even out yet, and our neighbours were excited!

I’ve also applied for a Neighborhood Small Grant, for which I’ve been approved, which will allow me to grow plants specifically for this project AND build a planter box just for neighbour use. In it, I will be planting some lettuces, mints, and perhaps other small things, and posting videos to instruct neighbours on how to harvest these goodies for themselves. I will have another blog post though to share more about that project, which I’ve titled Hansard Growing.

As this project grows (pun intended) and I learn more, I hope that I can inspire other small neighbourhoods to do something similar. All it takes is one person to make a good change in their community!


This update will be quick and won’t really qualify as a “post” I guess, but I felt the need to do it as it’s been a while since I’ve added any new content.

I am not one to sit still. I like to do about a zillion things at once, because that’s just who I am. But these last few months have been trying, to say the least. When my father passed away in March, everything I understood and knew about life went sideways. In a way, I felt I failed the man. Everything has been sitting still since then, or at least in contrast to how I normally live my life.

As I try to bring my life back to normalcy, at least in part, I will be picking this little project back up soon and writing about all the crazy things I have going on. My original intention was one post a week, and hopefully we get back there, but for now, I am going to strive for one post a month, and see how we go from there.

With love,


Oral Presentation Reflections

Once again, I am writing as part of a term long, 5 part, assignment for my Introduction to Professional Communications course. You may have been tuned in to read about citing and plagiarism, my CRAAP test error log, or writing about my midterm. There was supposed to be one more before this one, but my father passed away suddenly and I had to travel to Cranbrook BC to handle that. But that whole thing is a whole other topic that I will be writing about at a later day, when I can face it. Anyway, I suppose my 5 part assignment is now a 4 part. Oh well; enjoy.

This was my dad, in 2017 at my wedding. This was the last time we got good photos together. I hate that. He passed suddenly on his 48th birthday.
Photo credit to Jelger and Tanja Photographers, though I cropped it for this.

In my first week back, we were instructed to do an oral presentation on something, anything, to demonstrate a number of the communication methods we’ve learned this term. Things like understanding basic methods of communication, creating a clear and concise message, and understanding beginnings, middles, and ends. The goal is to equip us for speaking on a topic which we understood, and in a professional setting… I think 😉

What I loved about this assignment is the freedom to cover any topic we want. The only restriction was it could not exceed 2 minutes (which was probably a good call on the teacher’s part, because I could have done a 2 hour video about the importance of permaculture methods for farmers in the Amazon rain forest, and it would have been hella compelling), and it couldn’t be on a derogatory subject, which I want to make a joke about, but everything I’ve typed out makes me sound like a closeted fascist which I do not want to convey in any way.

So, 2 minutes on anything we want. This was not an easy choice for me to make as there are so many things I could share on. I decided that the message should be something along the lines of a teaching moment, which really doesn’t narrow down what I could speak on. I also was feeling very passionate about certain subjects, like, I don’t know, the need to do some end of life planning if you have kids or a single item of value. Or the value in officially filing for divorce after 12 years of separation, or the importance of not letting your emotions get the best of you, or about how addiction is a serious disease, not to be taken lightly. Basically, all the topics that immediately came to light were those that made me mad or sad about the death of my father, mostly mad. They would not do when trying to convey a professional message, because I would get worked up and angry or take up the full 2 minutes trying to choke down tears.

Meager strawberry patch
The strawberries that started it all

But as I was brainstorming various ideas, I remembered a conversation I had with my teacher when we were discussing how to move forward with my classwork after having to miss a few weeks due to my father’s death. She mentioned something about gardening. I couldn’t (and can’t) remember exactly what it was, but it helped me to shift focus away from the topics that were immediately eating at me to speak on.

I thought about permaculture, or replacing your grass with food, keeping a garden journal, and a number of other subjects. I went through each of the plants I have planned for my garden this year (and boy, do I have plans) and when I got to my strawberries, I had a mini eureka moment. Strawberries are the plant that gave me the courage to actually have a garden, and I could share about how you shouldn’t give up on something just because you keep failing, because eventually, you will succeed. If that isn’t the most inspirational talk I can give in 2 minutes, I don’t know what is.

While Cecilia is a pro in the garden, she’s not quite as helpful with recording videos with me

It took me a very short time to write the first draft, and I even had Cecilia (daughter person) hanging off of me as I wrote. But I had to write quickly, as I had a limited time where Jim (husband man) would take Cecilia out for a walk and my makeshift office in my dining room (because my office is currently filled with my late father’s belongings as I sort through them). I took about 75 minutes to record, and record, and record again and again before I got a take I was happy with. I cannot begin to count them, because some I only got two sentences in before I fumbled. The first few practice ones helped me realize that what I had written was about 45 seconds too long, so I had to do a few rewrites in that time. And, at one point, I sneezed about 5 seconds from the end of a perfect take. My video count was definitely over 40.

I also had a goal of imputing some photos on the side of the video as I spoke (think about a newscaster with that fun little corner photo as they talk); but once I took the completed video into video editing software I realized I had no idea how to do that, so I nixed that idea.

I had personal troubles with some of the recordings. I’m working through some pretty rough feelings around my mother right now, following my father’s death (we haven’t spoken since my daughter was born, and she made it a little worse these last few weeks) but I felt including her (because including my youth) was an important aspect of the presentation. It took me a few tries to mask my anger with her in my voice.

Generally though, I was very comfortable with recording myself; I’ve spent enough time on Zoom this last year to not have an issue with being on film. Watching myself back was a different story though.

The way my computer films is that while it films you’re basically seeing yourself in selfie mode; but when the recording ends, the video is flipped, and it’s like seeing yourself backwards (even though selfie mode is really the backwards thing) so it took me a little bit to get over my own aesthetic issues with that.

I did notice, while watching myself back, that my eyes were all over the place. Admittedly they spent a bit of time reading what I had written, but they also are probably the most vain part of me, so they spent a lot of time watching myself on the screen too. Ultimately, though it was a guideline to have your eyes on the “audience” I decided that with the limited time I had, not having my eyes on sight was a hit I was okay taking, all things considered.

Had I taken more time (this was completely on me; I indicated that I would not need an extension for this particular assignment because I honestly forgot that my quiet working space had been taken over), I likely would have rehearsed and committed the short piece to memory (I’ve won awards for my performance poetry, I can recite with the masters), I would have taken more time to write something a little more lyrical, and I would have done more, appearance wise, than stick on a bra and a clean shirt. Maybe I would have even put on real pants.

All in all, I was pretty happy with how my presentation turned out, considering there was a short iteration where I would have angrily ranted about how everyone should get a flipping will done.

This is the end result of my submitted video presentation

My Buy Nothing Challenge

“Buy nothing. Give freely. Share creatively.” These are the corner stones of the Buy Nothing Project, founded in Washington (the state) by two friends, Rebecca and Liesl (Buy Nothing Project, n.d.)*. I’m interested in reducing waste and other green goings on, so when this project came across my radar, it piqued my interest because it’s such a simple concept.

When I originally wanted to be involved in the Buy Nothing Project, I couldn’t find a Facebook group for my city, which meant I wasn’t able to join because part of the premise is a hyper local gifting economy. Until I found the BuyNothing7 Challenge, I thought I was SOL for getting involved. Since then, I have found a local group to me and have been participating almost daily.

Back to the 7 day challenge. It was an interesting concept. Spend no money, except on essentials for 7 days. That part can be simple, especially in these pandemic times, but then comes the challenge part; each day there is a specific “todo” to really get involved in the gift economy. So knowing there was a new challenge every day, I decided to put this challenge off until after classes started. Then until after midterms ended. Then “maybe after the reading break” and I realized I just had to commit and make myself accountable for my own BuyNothing7.

Day 1, BuyNothing7; Give

The first task in BuyNothing7 is to give. You’re asked to “Pick a closet, drawer, or room and clean it out! But first take a before picture in advance of your clean-out. Place in a box the things you no longer need.” Then essentially give away those things.

Giving comes easily to me; not so easily? Giving away things of mine. I grew up poor, for a lack of a better word, and I early on became uniquely attached to my things. I also am a bit of a… collector. If I think something may have a use, I have a hard time getting rid of it. This is something I’m working very hard to amend but I have collected literally every tin that we have gotten from my daughter’s formula and not given them away because “I can use these!”. I am still unwilling to give up those tins, but there are pleanty of other things which I can part with.

I started off this day’s challenge fulfilling a gift to someone in my local BuyNothing group who has been looking for milk jugs for their winter garden. They’ve started to collect now for next winter. I have all the clean milk jugs that I can use for my own winter sowing, so I’ve been collecting these 4L jugs for this person that I don’t even know for a few weeks now and I just remembered that my collection has grown enough now that I can tell her to come and pick them up.

But that isn’t explicitly the challenge. Sure, I gave, but I had already set that all aside and it felt a little like cheating, especially as I hadn’t cleaned anything. It took me about 30 minutes to decide to clean my sewing desk.

Before I cleaned up my sewing desk
After the big clean. There’s still a little bit of crap hanging around, but at least the desk is functional now!

This sewing desk often becomes a junk desk. It sits in our den and because it’s corner lines up with the corner of the room, we can put things on it that Cecilia (daughter/person) can’t reach. Which means it’s seldomly useable for it’s intended purpose; sewing. I have a matching dress project that I started working on in December that I frankly forgot about that I managed to uncover while cleaning! And now that I’ve cleaned the desk off, I can keep on working on it.

Clowns, man, clowns

As for the gift; I uncovered here a brand new car window sunshade that we never used but my daughter decided to rip out of the packaging. We would likely never use it (clowns creep me out) so I posted it. I also came across my collection on safety eyes (the hard plastic pieces used as eyes for stuffed animals). This pack had some outrageous number of eyes and noses in it, and I needed a few different sizes so I splurged. I will keep on using them, but I realized that there’s no way that I’ll be using them all, so I sent out another offer into the Facebook Buy Nothing world, offering a few pairs to anyone who needed them so they wouldn’t have to go purchase their own extraordinary number.

Day one down, and it was a lot easier than I chalked it up to be. Now for day two.

Day 2, BuyNothing7; Fix

We live in such a wasteful world. I’m sure you can think of something that you owned that when it broke, instead of fixing it, you just tossed it. I can think of a few pairs of pants which ripped where my thighs rub together and instead of fixing them, which I am completely capable of doing, I put them in the “donate” pile. Looking back on this, I can only think of myself as a complete piece of rubbish. Not only was I unwilling to fix them or repurpose them, I gave a pair of pants to a charity who would undoubtedly just toss them as actually fixing them isn’t part of what they do. I put the onus of throwing them away on someone else’s shoulders so that I wouldn’t feel bad about throwing them out myself.

I’m getting off track. The point of this day is to look around at the things in your home which need to be fixed and actually put the time into fixing that thing. And if you don’t know how, it was something that you could approach your local Buy Nothing group for as an ask. And if you had nothing to fix, then offer yourself to your group to perform a service.

I will admit, I had to go grocery shopping today, but as per the BuyNothing7 challenge rules, this is totally okay, as long as I don’t purchase things on impulse, as it’s a need. I got everything on my list and nothing else, except hand soap. It was on my list for weeks and the store was always out when I went, so hand soap wasn’t on this list, but it was on my general list of things that we needed and the store wasn’t out. I also got myself a coffee as a little treat for getting out of bed to grocery shop at 7:30am, which was also something I had planned and is okay as per the rules. I almost cracked to get a super tasty looking cranberry muffin, but I am proud to say that I resisted.

These were obviously sewn on the machine as this tan thread was not broken and was much longer than the space it had come out of. This means that there is a bobbin thread underneath which held this tan thread in-place.
So what I did was come in with some black button thread (which is like extra-strength thread) and replaced the bobbin thread that had broken. I also made sure to put a few extra stiches in on that tan thread, just to increase the longevity a bit further.

For the day specific challenge, I decided to repair my husband’s slippers. As far as projects go, this one was simple, but also sitting on my todo list for far too long. As you can see in the photo, a thread holding the leather sole onto the felted slipper was beginning to unravel. These slippers were given to Jim (husband/man) as a welcome gift from his last employer and he adores them, I guess they’re comfortable, anyway, he had asked me to fix them and I gave him explicit instructions not to wear them until they were fixed so that the fix doesn’t become more difficult. Poor guy keeps complaining about his cold toes, instead of, you know, wearing socks.

This fix took me approximately 15 minutes. I could have done it faster, but I wanted to be careful to ensure the slipper looked as good as it did before and not disrupt the integrity of the original thread, as it is still holding most of the slipper intact.

It’s pretty obvious why this is a challenge in the BuyNothing7, because it encourages a fix culture rather than one of waste where you throw a thing away when it becomes dysfunctional, and replace it. Obviously, on some level, there are a lot of aspects about the Buy Nothing culture that I agree with which is why I decided to do this challenge in the first place, but analyzing each challenge as I am doing here really helps to drive the point home.

I love showing off the things I’ve made, like this awesome little derpy heart stuffie that I made for my best friend’s kid before he had heart surgery.

As a quick update on day one as well is that in offering safety eyes to other people in my buy nothing group, I’ve made a friend (kind of) who is coming to pick up some eyes from me, but who has started a conversation with me and is sharing resources for her crochet and is marveling at my work.

Day 3, BuyNothing7; Resources

For day 3, we are encouraged to share resources with others. Whether this is sharing a handy life hack or linking out to a list of 50 things that you never need to buy again. For this task I decided to write a blog post dedicated to sharing some of my favorite frugal garden “hacks” which you should totally check out if you’re as cheap as I am. I decided that not only could I share some awesome Buy Nothing resources, I could also create a Buy Nothing resource.

The blog post didn’t take me long to write, maybe 2 hours total with formatting and inserting images, and what it made me do is reach out to a local gardening community (on Facebook of course) and ask them what their favourite frugal “hacks” are. I had a fair number on my own, but there were a few I was having troubles with remembering (like taking cuttings off of another plant to grow a new plant) that served as a refresher. There were also some new ideas for me, and it created a really important discussion in that group. In a way, this challenge is bringing out some social opportunities.

Day 4, BuyNothing7; Needs vs Wants

This day’s challenge was mostly about inner reflection. There’s a fine line between needs and wants, and that line shouldn’t matter. When you’re taking the time to do the BuyNothing7, there’s no reason you shouldn’t have both your needs AND wants fulfilled.

I took probably only 30 minutes to think about needs vs wants today and I think I have a hard time driving a line because it really depends on my mood if something is a need or a want. For example, we recently bought a brand new BBQ, for cooking up the cow we have in the freezer and to get more use out of our deck and to enjoy another cooking method. The BBQ is a want, but its also a need if we think about the type of lifestyle we want for our family. I want the “eat outdoors” lifestyle in the summer, I need to eat something that wasn’t heated up on my stove, I NEED a hotdog off the BBQ because I am not allowed to have a fire in my backyard. There are a lot of wants and needs all rolled into one item, which is where I feel it gets a little convoluted.

Sure, we can look at whoever’s hierarchy of needs (I’m not going to name drop because it was totally stolen from Indigenous peoples and I am not here for that) and state what my overarching needs are, because they are the same as every other living human. But what about food. Food is a need, but I don’t need dried pasta, I could make it myself. The need comes into play when you evaluate what your time is worth and do a cost analysis. I can make pasta (and I do sometimes) but it’s not a sustainable thing for me to be doing. I also don’t need pasta period, I could survive on just produce, but again what kind of quality of life would I have? (I’m not saying people who eat strictly vegetables have a low quality of life, just that it would create a less than desirable quality of life for myself).

While it’s important to distinguish needs vs wants, it’s also imperative to evaluate your wants on a scale. We’re going to need a new car soon. I want a new car soon. Both of these are true. When we buy a car, I have two lists. I have a list of needs: I need to be able to strap two car seats in. I need something hybrid or electric if we’re buying new. I need to have something with a fair amount of space so that I can shove work things in. I also have some wants: I want it to have towing capabilities. I want it to be a manual (which is not happening with an electric car). I want seats that fold down flat. I want a trunk that open by me pressing my foot under the bumper. There are a lot of things I want, but I realize that all my wants are not realistic. But having one or two of my wants will bring me some joy, which makes at least one of my wants a need.

I feel my writing is starting to get too introspective now. I’m going to move one. The point is, I spent some time with my needs and wants.

Day 5, BuyNothing7; Sustainable 24

Think about what you’re spending money on that maybe you don’t even realize that you’re spending money on in these 7 days. Your lights are on, you’re probably not freezing or boiling hot, because of the silent things we spend money on. So in this 24 hour period, we’re asked to consider what we’re spending money on and how we can reduce that cost. Often when we spend money we’re also impacting our environment in some way, so reducing these regular costs can help to reduce our ecofootprint. The main take away is “spend less, conserve more.”

Some of the expenses I found we were silently paying for:

  • Disney+
  • Spottify
  • Microsoft programs (word, excel, etc)
  • Client management software
  • Timeline creation software
  • Website hosting
  • Domain names
  • Website security
  • Hydro
  • Fortis (natural gas)
  • City utilities
  • Diapers
  • Telus
  • Banking fees
  • Insurance (home, car, life)
  • Property tax

Obviously, there’s not a lot we can do about a number of these expenses (if we stopped paying our home insurance, we would be in violation of our mortgage agreement and could seriously effect all sorts of things), but there are a lot of things here that we could trim down.

We had already decided to cut out Netflix and cable; we pay for Disney+ still because we find it’s the best platform for us. When we cut cable, we had to keep internet (working from home also means we have to have like the biggest internet package) so we minimized that cost a bunch (by like $100/month… why IS cable so expensive?) back in September and can’t move much from there.

And my plant budget can come way down because I’m propagating my very own babies in class!

I realized that I didn’t need to continue paying for Microsoft office as part of my tuition includes the Microsoft suite, so I’ll be getting rid of my subscription and using the “free” one through school. I can’t do much about my client management system for wedding planning, nor the timeline software. Once I understand better how my wedding planning business is going to function post pandemic, I might downgrade that to a lower package.

On day 5 I also signed up for Chip Drop which provided me with 5 yard of fresh wood chips, free, from an arborist doing a local job, which means they waste less gas and less dump fees. This allows me to spend less money on my garden and also allows me the opportunity to make it social by offering wood chips to my gardening neighbors, as there is no way I’m using all 5 yards.

Website hosting is pretty pricey, and we own at least one domain name we don’t use, so I’m going to attempt to sell that name, and if I want to pay less for site security I won’t have a funtional website for my business. What I am going to try to do is convert that website to a new hosting platform and cut out security entirely. I may have to pay a bit upfront for a transfer and my SEO may suffer, but $1200/year is a bit steep for a business that may not survive much past the pandemic.

Hydro is our electricity, and we suck up A LOT, especially now that we’re home all the time. I have retrofitted a number of our light switches to smart switches to lights turn off on schedule (and I’ve turned off the auto on, so we have to need the light to turn on). I also have a lot of things plugged into power bars and I turn off the power bars when I don’t need the items on, which is going a long way. What I think I might do, further, is install smart outlets/switches to things like the TV so that we can have the TV essentially not plugged in at night, but I have to make sure that’s safe for something like my husband’s PS4 first.

With Fortis (natural gas) there’s a limited number of things we can do; we use natural gas for all our cooking and heating, and we have a smart thermostat for our furnace so we’re able to control consumption that way (which is awesome). We will be eventually installing outdoor gas lines for our BBQ and a fireplace we hope to get in the next few years.

With banking fees, I realized that I didn’t need to have all the accounts open that I have, so I’ve decided to close at least one of them and have added a monthly reminder to my phone to pay off my visa so that I don’t incur fees there. I’ve also made an appointment with my bank to re-open my TFSA and start putting money in there monthly.

Another thing, not listed, is taxes. I am SO bad about doing taxes on time, so this year I have a goal to do my taxes before the deadline so that I don’t occur any weird fees for late payments or anything like that.

Though I do worry, what boxes will she play in if we stop buying diapers!?

The last thing to touch on here is diapers. It is my hope that I have purchased my last box of diapers. Cecilia is slowly being potty trained and if I can cut out diapers that is $30/month that I can save!

Day 6, BuyNothing7; Make It Social

This one is hard to do in a pandemic, but not impossible. Make your Buy Nothing journey a social goal and do things with others to encourage that attitude. The more people in your life who are involved in a gifting economy, the better your experience.

While a gifting economy isn’t synonymous with sustainability, I can say with confidence, when you involve your friends and family in a project like this, you get to live more sustainably.

In the past I’ve hosted clothing exchanges with a small group of women where we all come together after emptying out our closets of the things we don’t wear any more or that are too small, but when I got pregnant it stopped happening then this whole nonsense about some sort of pandemic came up and we just haven’t been able to come together to do this great event again.

Our food prep days are some of my favourite days; I even have a blog post about my most recent one!

Another social thing I’ve done in the past have been my salsa days. A group of us meet up at one place and together we make GALLONS of salsa and we all split the cost and get to go home with some yummy jars that last us a few months.

So while there are a lot of social things we can’t do, I am very much looking forward to the things that we can do. Once restrictions are lifted a bit and we can reintroduce our small group bubbles, I will be having another salsa day. I will also 100% be inviting people to do pickles with me again this year.

I am also working on making a little “produce stand” for my front yard where I can share with my neighbors the excess food from my garden.

The social thing that I decided to do was to bring the conversation to my small group of friends and invite them to contribute sustainable actions that they get to take. It wasn’t much, but it made me happy. Also we’re going to go visit the bird sanctuary tomorrow (3 of us and two kids; we’re keeping our distance and arriving separately) and while it’s not free, it is low cost and a group activity.

Day 7, BuyNothing7; Make a Habit

There is absolutely scientific proof that to make a habit, something needs to be done for at least 21 days, so the 7th challenge is to embrace the challenge for another 23 days; each of those days including even more challenges. And if you decide that the challenge isn’t something you need to continue to do, you’re asked to do two exercises:

  1. “take a moment to reflect on what you’ve learned or a behavior or trait about your buying that you’ve discovered and share it” as a gratitude post.
  2. “take a look at some of these behavioral changes that many of us have taken on over the past few years, to curb buying and spark more home-made and home-fixed things. Perhaps you might want to try more DIY-style solutions as alternatives to buying?”

I cannot believe that I am at day 7 already. There were a few times I felt a little weak, up to and including this morning (while admittedly scrolling through Facebook marketplace), where I wanted to make a purchase and instead took a moment, and tried to analyze what I wanted to purchase, why, and if it was worth breaking my challenge and starting all over. I did not break. When I made cookies and decided that the upcycled oven racks that I had been using for cookie cooling racks were not going to do the trick and I decided that I needed a proper cooling rack, instead of ordering it online or going to the store to buy one, I posted the ask on my local Buy Nothing Facebook group.

On the other side of things, when I went to sell some seeds that I had grown the previous year, I also posted some in my Buy Nothing group and I have given away so many seeds for pumpkins, radishes, peas, and cilantro. While I would love to sell some of my packets of seeds, a lot of people are just learning to garden and I think I would’ve been more inclined to experiment with more plants if I had access to free seeds when I was just learning.

For my gratitude post, I shared the following sentiment:

I’ve just finished day 7. I didn’t realize how much of an effort I would need to put in just to not spend money. I thought “I’m frugal, I avoid spending money” which isn’t the full truth. I love a good deal, so I spend. I like to browse my local thrift store and try to find neat little things. I enjoy shopping. But I also enjoy not contributing to more waste in this world, which I’m not always great at. This challenge encouraged me to look into the why of my spending. For the most part, I spend because I have an unhealthy attachment to things. I’m not a hoarder, per say, but I do look at things and think “Oh, this is neat” or “I could probably use that for something”. I’m taking a more careful look at these habits now and am going to try to ask “why” more often. I’m also going to continue to lean on my community before spending money on items. I can see if there’s anyone in my community who might have and no longer need the thing I want. I can make the intentional effort to share with my community the things I no longer have use for; I NEED to be able to identify the things I no longer have use for. Buy Nothing is an attitude, and I am grateful that I have been given the opportunity to explore that attitude.

And for the second part, I don’t know that I will have any trouble incorporating more DIY into my regular life 🙂

Other things I did this week in the buy nothing spirit included:

*I want to note here, I have no copyright or anything with the Buy Nothing Project or BuyNothing7 Challenge, this is merely me writing about my experience doing the BuyNothing7 Challenge

Midterm Review

This is crazy series continues where I write blog content as an assignment for my Introduction to Professional Communications class. I’m enjoying writing these and reflecting on the work I do for the class, while also doing some self learning to blog better (you’ll notice that I don’t have the banner image repeated anymore). If you’ve missed it, I’ve reflected on learning about plagiarism and reacted to work I’ve done on a error log for my first assignment.

For this week’s assignment, we’re asked to review our process for writing our midterm and the feedback we received for it. Our midterm was hosted asynchronously and it was made up of three parts. The first part was the CRAAP assignment we had done as our first assignment, but severely altered to reflect our previous feedback and the error log we did on it. The second part was a detailed outline of what changes we made to the CRAAP test and why. The third was our personal assessment of the revised CRAAP test and the mark we believed we deserved, as stated out of 15. We were not given a rubric for the midterm or any examples and had to instead rely on our own instincts and the basic instructions we were delivered.

Because we had been given an assignment package with the outline of our course assignments and what we could expect for the tests, I was able to look ahead and see that our error log and midterm were in the same vein of work, so I made the early decision to complete both at the same time. While I started with the error log and the blog post for it, the work I did on the error log directly informed how I worked on my midterm.

I took the time to carefully read through everything that was required of me for the midterm before starting on it and decided that the best way to do it was to work on multiple documents at once. Over my two screen set-up, I had 4 documents open and viewable at once.

This was definitely part of my CRAAP test
Photo by Anna Shvets on
  1. The original CRAAP test with the feedback from my instructor on it
  2. The PDF overview of what was expected for the CRAPP test and midterm
  3. The midterm packet document I created with a copied and pasted version of the original CRAAP test on it
  4. A blank document for me to record the changes that I made as I made them

Having all of these open at the same time made it very simple for me to work on whichever of the two working documents I needed to be on, and be able to reference the feedback and the assignment as I needed to. There was very minimal clicking back and forth. I also had my error log in front of me and I had a copy of the graded rubric from the original CRAAP test for me to refer to as I wrote.

Before I started the actual editing phase, I also wrote out the steps in editing and rewriting as we learned in the week of the error log, so that my memory was fresh and so that I would have something to refer to.

After going through all the rewriting steps and carefully documenting my changes (including citing the original text and indicating what was changed) I combined the change record document with the midterm and began working on the whole thing as one document.

1.5 year old standing looking at a note book, appearing to erase a section
I will never not use this image as it regards to Cecilia (daughter/person) and classwork

When I felt I was finished with the re-write, I read the re-write out loud to my poor unsuspecting kid and asked for her notes. She was not helpful, but I did stumble over a few sentences which I rewrote.

I considered the first part of the midterm complete at this point and looked through my change document and formatted it, corrected errors where I saw them, and moved onto the final part of the assignment.

The self assessment. It’s hard to self assess, especially when your ego is well documented like mine. I carefully reviewed the original rubric for the CRAAP test, reflected on the marked rubric from my instructor, and reviewed the feedback of the original assignment. Did I mention I got 95% on the original document? The part for which I was docked marks was my citing, as I didn’t use proper APA citing for 1 of 2 references. Logically, as this error was corrected, my revised document should sit at 100%, but I also want to be a little humble and be like “I can do better” but I honestly didn’t think I could. So I said as much.

I edited this self assessment document a few times and let it sit for a few hours before coming back for an edit, but for the most part, the tone and the general sentiment stayed the same.

Submitting the midterm early allowed me to make sure bear was strapped in real safe in the car before we went vroom vroom

Once I felt all three parts were complete, I re-read everything once more, and submitted the midterm, just hours following my error log blog post assignment. I felt really good about being able to submit 9 days before the deadline.

I think I reflected a little about how I felt getting my assignment feedback (dumb. Come on, CHOSE? Really? I didn’t know about chose?!) in my error log blog post, and much of that sticks as I revisited my assignment and rewrote it. I felt a little pride because “citing was my only serious error?!” but as I was reflecting on my revision and writing my self assessment, I was further prideful. I wrote something technically correct in my revision, and how far I’ve come from that 15 year-old who cared minimally about grammar. At that point, I didn’t think I would ever do so well on a writing assignment as I did on this revision (except for that one piece in English 12 where I had to write a diary entry for the characters from Ethan Frome and I wrote as Ethan Frome who wasn’t a particularly well educated man, so I added in some additional spelling errors and aged the page, but really, that was more of an art assignment than an English one).

As I worked through the midterm, I think my biggest learning experience was how much work editing truly is. I cast it off to the side and dismiss it as an easy task because I just read through my work a few times, but when I was tracking every change (and I even skipped the mundane things like “I fixed the spelling for citing from siting”) and I had it all down, written in front of me, it was surprising; I had two pages of written notes of the edits I had made. That blew my mind.

With this in mind, I realize just how much energy I expel in ensuring my work is at a high enough quality for my own standards, but then how much more I have to input for it to be a high enough quality for someone who is reviewing my work. It’s a lot.

Honestly, I don’t know how this will all apply to what I do in the future; I think it will be more of a lesson learned kind of thing. I won’t take what I perceive to be easy work for granted. I spent as much, if not more, time rewriting and editing my CRAAP test assignment as I did writing it in the first place, which says a bit as the OG assignment involved research!

I will say, that as sweet as the 95% felt for the original CRAAP test, it felt so much better getting 100% on my midterm. I’ve told my husband like 6 times now that I got a perfect score. Pride may be a cardinal sin for religious people, but damn, it feels GOOD.

March 2021; What’s In The Garden?

As January turned to February, my seed collection suddenly started jumping out of their storage site and just started screaming at my like my toddler “time to plant, time to plant, time to plant”. I have my seeds organized by month to plant which is evidently a mistake because all I want to do as soon as the calendar says it’s the first of the month, I want to get them rolling.

Now, obviously, February is too early to be planting outdoors, even in zone 8a, but there’s plenty of seeds that I was able to start indoors, and some that I maybe should have waited to start, but where’s the fun in that?

Below is a diagram of what I have cooking up in my window, getting ready to be planted outdoors

A – Holly Hock
B – Homegrown banana pepper
C – Homegrown jalapeno
D – Guajillo pepper
E – Bell pepper
F – Jalapeno
G – Red hot cherry peppers

H – Habanero peppers
I – Mixed hot peppers
J – Cherry bomb peppers
K – Tomatillo
L – Peanuts
M – Rosemary
N – Red cabbage

O – Green cabbage
P – Beefsteak tomato
Q – Black eyed Susans (vine)
R – Romaine lettuce
Sm – San marzano tomato
T – Sweet aroma tomato

I soaked all my seeds before planting (excluding the peanuts) and I am itching to get them outside, mostly because Cecilia (daughter-person) keeps trying to play in the dirt that’s inside and very clearly out for her to play in.

I tend to these babies daily (in order to do so, I have to move a couch, set a curtain aside, and turn a bookshelf, but whatever I need to do to protect them from my kid) and am counting down in my calendar for when I can start hardening them off.

Hardening off

Slowly exposing seedlings that were raised in controlled conditions (such as indoors without wind and with constant temps) through visits outdoors before planting them in the garden.

I’m also learning so much from my propagation class. Too much. It makes my plans get crazier and crazier. But at least for now, the outdoor gardens are pretty quiet. I have kale and radishes planted in my raised bed, cilantro in my new 3 sisters plot (later in the year, when everything is warmer and after my troves of cilantro is harvested for cilantro relish, the plot will belong to beans, corn, and squash), I just got my first ever batch of potatoes in the ground, of course I have my garlic planted and growing from November, with some spinach planted among it, and my perennial everbearing strawberries are just starting to perk up again. The garden is starting to see a lot of action and I’m dreaming of when my plots will be teeming with new life.

My raised bed map
My front garden and herb spiral
My “berry plot”, which looks unexciting but it has rhubarb, huckleberries, and garlic currently living in it and spinach germinating (I hope)
photo of a bare dirt garden plot with garlic placed in holes at regular intervals
This is from back in November when I planted all my garlics. I have more planted in with my strawberries, and I don’t think I have enough garlic planted…
My new 3 sisters plots and my makeshift drum kit planters for my cut flowers.

23 Frugal Garden Hacks

YAY! You’re getting a bonus post this week because I am participating in a 7 day challenge! You’ll be able to read more on that soon, but for now, enjoy this.

I don’t know about you, but when I can avoid spending money, I AVOID it. But that doesn’t mean that my poor garden has to suffer as a result. Here are some of my favourite frugal garden hacks to keep your garden on budget but looking great.

Seeds and Plants

Seeds are fairly cheap… until you’ve got 20 packs in your basket and you have no idea where everything will be planted, but you want them anyway. There are a lot of ways to save yourself some money when it comes to your little green babies.

My saved cilantro seeds from 2020

23. Seed saving – when I first started looking at seed saving, it was a little daunting and honestly, I didn’t think I could do it. It’s actually a super easy thing to do, depending on the plant which you want to go to seed. From my first year of gardening I managed to collect seeds from my squash, some peppers, cilantro, and oh my goodness, radishes! I’ve given away a lot of my seeds (because there’s no way that I could possibly use all of the seeds I managed to save) and that brings me to my next frugal point…

There’s no doubt I got a beautiful bounty of seeds last year when I participated in a Christmas seed swap

22. Seed swap groups – there used to be events when we could actually see each other in person and trade our seeds. I never went to one, but I dreamt of it. This past Christmas, one of my local gardening groups did a seed swap where I sent seeds to 6 other people and in return, those 6 sent me seeds. I ended up with such a crazy array of seeds I probably wouldn’t have purchased but I can’t wait to plant (except the ones I’ve already planted; those ones I can’t wait to eat). All those seeds cost me was about $6 in postage, a few of the seeds I won’t be able to use, and the price of an envelope.

21. Ask for them – is there a plant that you love that someone you know has? Ask them for a cutting or division, or seeds. They may not always say yes, but a lot of the time, a plant needs to be pruned anyway, or they need to make the plant a little smaller and would be happy to give you a division when they do that!

20. Seed libraries – much like seed swaps, these give you the opportunity to get seeds for free in exchange for contributing seeds to the library in the fall. Find a BC seed library here! Unfortunately, COVID has slowed a number of these libaries, but here’s hoping they start functioning again soon!

19. Purchase seeds at the end of the season – Most places can’t sell all their seeds before the end of the year, but seed packs do have a “sell before” date (this is not an expiry date!) which means they go on sale! I’ve gotten oodles of seeds for literally pennies because stores are just trying to get rid of their stock.


Tools can be a big expense when you’re building a garden or adding features. For the most part, the only tools you really need to have a garden is a shovel, maybe a rake, a pair of clippers, and your own two hands. While it’s nice to have more tools on hand (I love my eletric drill and my table saw!) it’s not always a need. Instead here are a few tool hacks for you to save money on things to get the job done. Note, for these selections, I include any tool, including things like soil and fertilizer.

18. Ask for what you need – there’s an increase of interest in a sharing economy lately and if you need something, oftentimes you need just ask and you can access the things you need. You can pose your need on your public social media page, or hit up some of Facebook’s groups, like your local buy nothing group, or a local gardening group. Your social network can lead to a number of the things you might need.

17. Tool library – another library! A tool library is much like a regular library, except there’s often a membership fee involved. Still, paying a membership fee is often far less than purchasing and upkeeping all the tools you may need one off. I don’t know about you, but I don’t need an auger; except for that one post that I want to put into my yard. Tool library.

16. Egg shells – Egg shells are a mighty tool, even if they are fragile. I use them for decomposable seed starting pots, for protection against slugs and snails in my raised bed, and just a regular amendment I add crushed to my garden bed. Eggs are full of calcium and other good things. Just make sure to wash the shells and bake them before using to ensure they’re not an attractant for pests. See more about how to use egg shells in your garden here.

15. Milk jugs – turning everyday waste into useful items! That’s what I’m talking about, boi! 1 gallon milk jugs are a great tool for winter seed sowing. Learn how to use milk jugs in your garden here.

14. News papers – I don’t get the news paper, but my in-laws do and I recently asked them to save a few for me. What I got was a tower of news papers that I was not prepared for. But they’re awesome for so many reasons. I’ve made little compostable pots out of them, I’ve used them for cleaning, and I’ve used them in my compost as brown matter. Learn more about using newspapers for your garden at this link.

13. Clear plastic food containers – You know, the ones that your rotisserie chicken comes in or your delicious baked goods? Use those for starting seeds! The clear top helps to keep the atmosphere inside humid for seeds getting going.

12. Sour cream containers – or yogurt containers. Or any opaque container. I cut them down into little stakes and write on them with black sharpie so I can keep track of what’s planted where.

My egg cartons have yet to do me wrong!

11. Egg cartons – another favourite for a decomposable seed starter; in fact, I used one last year for starting my corn! and I have another couple dozen cells in use now for starting my peppers. Just be sure that if you’re not removing the seedling from the cell before planting in the ground that you tear the bottom off a little so that the roots don’t have to work as hard to get through.

Form and function

This is where we can have the most fun (in my opinion) and get really creative with what we use to make our gardens fruitful (pun 100% intended). Almost anything can become a planter if you try enough!

10. Bed frames for trellises – I just picked up an old twin bed’s head and foot boards and they make for the perfect climbing structure for your vining plants. Put the call out in your Buy Nothing group or scroll endlessly in Facebook marketplace to find some.

9. Used bricks for garden boarders – I have a marketplace alert for anytime someone local to me posts about bricks. Not only can you avoid bricks going to waste, you can build a border or any kind of structure using them, and you can often get them for free!

I got these beauties already painted even!

8. Side of the road treasures as planters – I picked up these scrapped drums from a neighbor up the street who was just throwing away the drums. They are now my cut flower planters. Your vehicle is a shopping cart; keep your eyes open as you drive around your city of other sweet finds like this.

7. Collected shells for features – I like to do walks on the beach and lately I’ve been collecting all the shells I can get my hands on. These can be used in cement for decoration, or you can crush them and use them for “gravel” or you can leave them hole and use them instead of rocks for a feature piece.

I’m excited to finally get potatoes growing!

6. Offcuts from other projects for planters – we recently rebuilt our deck, which resulted in a number of offcuts. Instead of taking them to the dump, I used them to make new planters. I also used offcuts of some plywood for a new potato box.

5. Cracking coffee cups for little planters – I started collecting animal shaped coffee mugs a few years ago and they are absolutely my go to for every cup of tea I made (and with COVID, I’m stuck at home and often making 3 cups a day). But with as much use as I give them, they don’t always have a long life. Some of my favourite mugs are now cracked and no good fold holding in tea. But they do hold in soil. And plants. So while this isn’t a garden hack; it is definitely a plant hack!

4. Cement – am I the only one getting cement DIYs videos pushed to them on Facebook? Because I keep seeing cement DIYs and I am longing for my next cement project. While they aren’t always easy to do, they are fairly cheap and perfect when you’re trying to make a very specific planter. I am using cement and rocks for my herb spiral!


3. Use the library this time I’m talking about the old fashioned book library. There’s a whole little section for gardening. While I am not normally one for reading non-fiction, there’s so much you can learn to make your garden better through books you find at your library. All it costs you is a library card.

2. Ask for help – it is important to hire a professional when you need a professional’s work done, but it is totally possible to reach out to your local But Nothing group and ask for anyone who might be able to teach you how to do the task you need to get done.

1. Trade work for food. This is my number one, top tip. If you need help getting stuff done in your garden, ask for help. Ask your friends, or family, or just put it out there in your local Buy Nothing group. If they’re friends and family, offer them lunch or dinner in exchange for helping, or maybe some of your garden bounty. Offer some bounty to your Buy Nothing group too. It never hurts to share food!

The Error Log

If you’re not up to date on my class work (likely because you’re not my teacher), check out my last installment in my “Assignment Doubles as Blog Content” series, called Sources, Citing, and Plagiarism. If you are up to date, you know that I’ve been asked to do a series of blog posts to reflect on the things I’ve learned in my Introduction to Professional Communications class. This is segment number two; The Error Log.

In today’s assignment, I’ve been asked to review my first submitted assignment, a CRAAP test (more on this in a moment) and create an error log for it to look for trends in the errors I made. I’m writing this part of the blog BEFORE I’ve done my error log because there’s a prediction I want to make. My error trends are in spelling.

Okay, CRAAP test; it’s basically an annotated bibliography with personal flair. CRAPP stands for:

File:Poop Emoji Icon.png - Wikimedia Commons

Currency; how timely is the source? If it’s an article written about a farmer’s income in 1987, it’s likely not super relevant to us in 2021

Relevancy; how well does the subject matter fit into that which the source is being used as a citation for? If you’re using a article about maritime law when you’re doing research on how to milk a cow, you may be a little off base for the relevancy.

Authority; does the author have authority in this area? If it’s a botanist writing about the mating habits of geese, you may question their authority.

Accuracy; how can you measure the accuracy? Is there research to back it up or maybe lived experience? If the author is making speculations about how the vascular tissue works in a tree and there’s no citing to back them up, you may want to seek another source, unless they have done personal research and this is a scientific journal article.

Purpose; is the author trying to inform or teach? Are they selling something? Are they trying to convince you of something? What is their agenda and how does that contribute to the accuracy and authority of the author? If someone is trying to sell you a fancy new seed, the info they share about the plant you’re looking at it probably going to be a little biased.

The original assignment on which I am doing my error log required me to choose a source that I might use for my assignment at the end of the term and perform a CRAAP test for it. I choose a blog post from entitled “How to Keep Farm Records” by Lauren Arcuri. I won’t hop into more detail than that for now, because for this assignment (the blog post I am writing here in front of you) I have done an error log ON that first assignment and now I am writing about my experience doing the error log.

Error log

A document in which you list the mistakes, or errors, made in a seperate document and search for trends in those errors in order to be aware of the dumb things you do and course correct your errors in the future.

Full disclosure, I got a beautiful 95% on my CRAAP test assignment, and because my ego is so damn inflated, I can tell you it’s because I don’t make mistakes, I make art. And spelling errors.

My teacher, being the kind soul she is, used the comment feature on Word to show me where the errors were on my original assignment and indicate what was wrong about the errors (and yes, this is a little bit of brown-nosing because she is 100% reading this assignment, but also because legitimately, I love it when people correct my work in a way which is easy to understand and make changes to the work, should I have to). I will be using this feedback as a foundation for my error log, but also I will be attempting to find errors on my own.

In completing my error log, I did most of it in my notebook so that I could have one screen of my computer dedicated to the original assignment and the other dedicated to the error log example. Because I’m a tad bit lazy when it comes to my writing (in that it can sometimes be difficult to read my handwriting) I chose to only write out what type of error was made and the corrected sentence, which I followed with notes about the correction.

None of my feedback really surprised me. In one instance I used the spelling “choose” for the word “chose” and the feedback I was given was that this was a tense error; however, I didn’t know that “chose” was spelt this way until I looked it up following receiving the feedback for my assignment. I honestly thought that it was one of those English things like how “read” and “read” are spelt the same. So I learned that chose is it’s very own word and that I had been doing it wrong for centuries.

This photo has nothing to do with the text, just my rosemary babies, because blocks and blocks of text without images on a blog is BORING.

I was also a little surprised that the formal nature that I had written my introduction in was not a requirement. I thought, going into this course, that I would be focused more on academic writing and thus, that is how I wrote it. With the feedback saying it could’ve been better in the first person, I was surprised. I took great joy in rewriting my introductory paragraph in a more “me” style (pun definitely intended).

I did take a crack at finding any errors or issues not indicated in my instructor’s notes, and aside from the repeat errors, I feel I did fairly well on the overall piece of writing and could not find additional mistakes. But again, I refer to my massive ego; it would probably like for this to be true and that I am simply just creating errorless art.

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Except by making it a photo! #lifehack

In regards to my prediction, the trend was indeed misspellings, though it had an undertone of “I had no idea” (such as with the chose example above). I wasn’t very careful when I went through and edited the assignment prior to submission, which is evident when I use the term “sited” in lieu of the correct “cited” (insert eyeroll emoji, because I have no idea how to do that on a blog).

I had neglected to add a date on one of my citations because the piece to which I was referring was not dated. Apparently these citations should include an indication that there is no date, for example: (last name, n.d.).

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Just baby Bea, on her first day of kindergarten. Unsuspecting teachers not knowing they’re about to get the teaching challenge of their careers

For the most part, the trends followed patterns that I was fully aware of, and most of these problems are systemic ones. I grew up with an awful speech impediment, it was so bad that we joke that English is not my first language, gibberish was. While my elementary school teachers (bless their hearts) did everything they could to help me, I did not get the professional help I needed until I was 7. Because so much of my developmental years were spent trying to overcome the difficulties around this impediment (such as speaking, spelling, and sounding out words) I became discouraged easily when it came to my English studies (nevermind learning French, HA!) and unless the assignment was purely reading, I did not do well with English.

Alas, I am a story teller and I love to spin a good tale, so as I got older, in order to tell my stories, I had to learn to write in a way which people would understand the words I was writing. A big part of the reason I write in the eloquent way that I do today (that damn ego is really getting the best of me today) is because of computers. Having a system which constantly corrected me, as annoying as it was, helped me immensely. I can’t look at a squiggly red line on my screen for more than finishing off my sentence before having to go back to correct it, which in a really weird way, helps me to learn better to spell (though I detest the red lines that pop up under Canadian spelling of words that I know are correct. Those drive me bonkers).

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I loved to build stories and worlds; this is pages and pages of world building lore I wrote when I was 15 for a 20 book series I had all mapped out called “Ode to Odelette”. Those books have yet to be written 😉

As a favour to me, please do not go back and read my Facebook posts from when I was 15; not only are my teenage ideals… questionable, but the spelling. I can’t handle my “on this day” posts from that time. I don’t know how my English teachers handled me as long as they did. Anyway, I’m steering way away from the point of my blog post here; the assignment.

So yeah, the error trends in my writing are systemic and I am learning my way out of them. If I can practice a little more patience when writing assignments, I may be able to decrease my errors even further. But, I mean, 95% is pretty good…

It’s no 100% though.