Feb 11, 2015

Garden Tip - indoor planting

Hello my friends.

If you live in Oklahoma and want to get a head start on spring veggies, you may have already started some seeds indoors. If not, I'm sharing a few tips on indoor planting that might help your seedlings out. Again, if you've read my posts before, we are not experts - just sharing what works for us.

First off, you need a good seed starting soil. It's not best to use compost or soil from your garden as the soil is a little harsh for the seedlings and can be too hard for the roots to grow in. If you're local, we get our mix from Grumpy's Garden. You can also make your own by mixing soil, peat moss and pearlite.

You also need containers. You can find containers at local nurseries, supermakets, etc. They come in a variety, flats, pods, larger containers. Get what works best for you and will be the easiest.

I'll show you how we started our seeds in flats with premixed potting soil.

First fill the container about two-thirds full with potting soil. Lightly tamp the soil down with something flat. They make soil tampers but I don't own one so I used a plastic box and it worked just fine.

Then sprinkle your seeds over the mix.

Depending on the seed size, you'll need to cover the seeds LIGHTLY with more soil.

For tomatoes, you just sprinkle some soil over and it's okay if they aren't fully covered. Other smaller seeds, like some flower seeds, don't need covered at all. And larger seeds need to be covered much more. Read the packet and it should give you directions for indoor planting - which is somewhat different than planting directly in soil outside.

Once the seeds are covered as needed, lightly tamp again.

Saturate the soil with a spray bottle. You need a lot of water on the seeds so they don't dry out. If you have a light sprayer, that will work too but it's not best to dump water in the container as it will make the seeds move around too much.

Then cover the container, either with a plastic lid or plastic bag and wait. You shouldn't need to water again until the seeds have sprouted - which may be a few days or weeks depending on the plant and age of seed.

Once the seeds have sprouted, watch the soil. You'll want to let it get a little dry between waterings but just don't let it completely dry out.

If you sow in flats, like we did, you'll need to wait until the plant has 4 true leaves before transplanting. And for those that don't know, the first leaves that sprout are not true leaves, all leaves after that are.

Anyway, you can then transplant to larger containers or buckets or if it's warm enough, put the container outside for a few hours a day and then transplant directly in your garden.

If you are wondering what we started indoors, here's a short list:
  • tomatoes of every variety - my neighbor gardener always starts his tomatoes on Super Bowl Sunday and has great results
  • spinach and greens - we like an early crop of greens so we start these indoors and transplant out. We plant more seeds in the garden at the same time as when we transplant the plants out because the indoor plants will bolt faster. It just means a longer season of greens. 
  • flowers - mainly marigolds so they'll have a head start to attract good insects when we plant them in the garden. We typically buy grown flowers at the nursery but we're trying everything by seed this year so it made sense to start these indoors. We also started some other flowers the girls picked but I don't know how those will transplant :)
  • herbs - similar to greens, we like an early, longer growing season and will plant seeds throughout the spring and summer to keep the herbs going
Oh, and lastly, if you start seeds early indoors, like tomatoes on Super Bowl Sunday, you'll need a small growing light above the seeds to keep them healthy. If you rely on the window sun the plants get tall and lanky and aren't very healthy. And yes, we have several indoor growing lights. We once grew an entire garden's worth of greens in a hall closet just to see if we could. hashtag weirdos.

This may sound more complicated that it actually is but people have told me how they haven't had success starting seeds indoors so I thought this may help.

So in short, get some potting soil, put it in a container, sprinkle some seeds in, cover with more soil, water, cover and wait.

Other planting tips here: garden planning, soil prep, spring planting, comfrey and buckwheat, strawberries.

Feb 9, 2015

Be Crafty goes to Washington!

***UPDATE! Event is SOLD OUT!***

You guys.

I am so excited to share the next Be Crafty workshop I'll be doing with Amanda! This workshop will be like none other we have done before.

What makes this one so different?

Well, for starters, we'll be doing it with my sister (how fun is that going to be?!) and Sara Parsons!!! Holla! And it's kind of a given, if two photographers are in the mix you better believe there will be photography in the workshop.

It's basically several hours on May 30th with Amanda and all her crafting glory + Ashley and her phone photography amazingness with a bit of chalk art thrown in with me. All this will be in an incredible barn with the talented and funny Sara.

You won't want to miss this one of a kind event and seats are extremely limited due to the uniqueness of the workshop so register today! Head over to event registration to snag your seat. Event is now sold out.

Feb 6, 2015

oh my ONA

A few weeks ago I posted this picture on instagram:

With this caption:

"So my favorite bag is busted. I guess after 10+ years it reached its limit. I need your help! These are the things almost always in my bag. I am looking for something sturdy, with dividers (so I don't have to dig to find my keys, pen, etc.), large enough to fit all this plus a book here and there or camera (optional), and it has to be a cross body. Preferably leather - not the shiny kind. Needy much? Does anyone know of a bag like this and if so where can I find it?! Thanks in advance. GO!"

See, I have some great followers (I hate that term) so let's call them instagram friends. Anyway, I have some great friends on instagram and I know I can ask a question and get some great responses or recommendations. So when my bag broke I felt like I could turn to instagram for ideas on where to find a new bag.

You guys didn't disappoint. 

I was overwhelmed by the recommendations you guys gave me. There were so many companies recommended and I spent the next couple of days researching each one. Some were all about supporting a good cause, others were mainly for cameras and then there were even some great etsy shops. I was serious about narrowing down my top picks because here's the thing, when I find something I love, I stick with it forever - or until it breaks. Just ask my husband about my house shoes. So I was really hoping to find "the one."

Among the companies mentioned, several of you recommended the camera bag company, ONA. When I hopped over to their site I instantly fell in love. I think there was an audible, "choose me", coming from the Prince Street bag. From all appearances, this bag was made just for me.

It had compartments. And not just normal compartments, but dividers you can move and change according to what you want to fit in the bag.

It looked plenty large enough to fit all my pens, sketchbooks, wallet, etc. But what caught my eye most about this bag was that it didn't seem overly huge like some camera bags I looked at. I'm a short gal and didn't want my bag to overwhelm me so the size seemed absolutely perfect. 

It was a cross body. That's kind of a must for me. I love the look of shoulder bags but when I'm carting around two littles, I don't want to fight my bag falling off my shoulder. And while I'm not a girly-girl and often have dirt under my nails from gardening I loved that it didn't scream "girl bag."

And finally, it was made of Italian leather. Dreamy. And the leather already had a worn look - so I wouldn't have to worry about that first scratch. 

It seemed I had found MY bag. But I did have a few questions regarding size and specifics so I emailed ONA and man, their customer service is top notch. The response was quick and all my questions were addressed.

And then the most amazing thing happened. A Prince Street bag showed up on my doorstep a few days later for me to review.

You guys. When I opened the box I may have teared up a little. I don't deserve a bag like this. And yet, here it was. In all its Italian leather glory. I just wanted to soak it all in. The smell of this bag. I have no words. And the texture. Oh my word, it's so soft but really durable. I can already tell this bag will be on side for many years to come.

I immediately started arranging all my stuff in the bag. Moving the dividers. Deciding what pens went where. Where to put my wallet? Sunglasses? Keys? When I was finished arranging everything I was thrilled that everything had a place and I wouldn't waste time searching for lost keys or pens. This bag was like a glove for all my stuff. A soft, beautiful glove.

I have had my ONA Prince Street bag for over a week now and so happy you guys recommended them. It may sound crazy but I kind of feel like they designed this bag just for me. If you re-read my question from my post, it's everything and then some! It's a beautiful, leather cross-body bag with dividers that will fit all my daily things. I could not have created a more perfect bag for myself had you asked me to. Seriously y'all. It's amazing.

Last weekend I traveled to Minneapolis to co-host another Be Crafty event and not only is this bag perfect for a daily carrying bag, but it's an awesome traveling bag too! 

I could go on and on but I think you get the picture. The Prince Street is basically me in a bag. If you're looking for a quality bag,  highly recommend ONA bags. You won't be sorry.

Feb 3, 2015

Be Crafty Minneapolis!

Wow. Last weekend was so full it's taken me a few days to recover. Oh, last weekend I was in Minneapolis, Minnesota to co-host another Be Crafty workshop with the always amazing, Amanda Rydell. Midas doesn't have anything on her touch.

The weekend started off with a hot dog. A glorious hot dog from a fun place. And by fun, I mean, as soon as I saw the joint I asked Amanda to make a u-turn! As it turned out, not one of the ladies had ever eaten there because they thought it a tad questionable. What?! Looked like the perfect place for a good dog to me.

Anyway, once we got the hot dog under control. We finished setting up Amanda and Jessica's studio. Finished is used very loosely here. It was basically all ready to go, minus a few chalky things needed. Those ladies know how to throw a party.

Treats and drinks were crafted by the amazing, Melissa Coleman.

I have followed her on instagram (@thefauxmartha) for quite some time and it was such a treat to finally meet her and taste her creations. The Italian Soda bar with her homemade syrups were completely addicting. I had more than my fair share. Melissa shared the recipe on her blog, you can find it here.

I shared a few tips on chalk art and the ladies made super cute fabric wrapped chalk banners with canvas from The Modern June. You better bet I have my eye on some of her oil cloth too!

The super-sweet Jessica, of Jeff Loves Jessica Photography, blessed us with her talent and photographed the day's event.

The thing I love most about Be Crafty workshops are all the conversations, laughter and new friendships. I'm not the craftiest of the bunch but I'm so very thankful you guys request me to join in your fun. Thank you from the bottom of my heart.

To see all the crafts and more pictures from the event, head over to Amanda's post here.

After the event there may have been some junk treasure hunting with Jessie, the talent behind the party decor, aka Sweet Shop LuLu. So. Much. Fun.

Goodbyes are hard.

Getting your flight cancelled due to blizzards is not ideal.

Thrifting makes it better.

And, yes, I'm all kinds of gangsta.

I eat at questionable hot dog joints, drink Italian Sodas, make art with chalk and hold hairless cats.

What?! That was random.

Until next time, Be Crafty. Until next time.

Jan 30, 2015


Congrats Cassi Brightforest! You won my "favorite things" giveaway!

Email me at lesley(at)recipeforcrazy(dot)com to claim your package!!!

And thanks again to everyone that entered! You blessed my socks off with your kind words.

Happy Friday All.

Jan 26, 2015

shop birthday + faqs and faves + a giveaway

My little shop turns 4 today! What started out as a little hobby when I quit my design job to stay home and raise my girl, has flourished into so much more than I could ever have dreamed.

The past four years has brought me so many great memories, friends and experiences all thanks to you guys and the grace of God. I don't deserve the support you guys give me but I'm so thankful you do. When I opened up my shop I hoped I'd sell a print or two. In 2014 I surpassed 3,000 sales. WHAT?! Not only that but I was asked to be a local maker for both west elm Tulsa and OKC! Never could I have imagined I'd be typing that out.

I am humbled and honored that you guys choose to hang my designs in your spaces and can't say thank you enough for supporting my shop. 

I was thinking up a fun way to celebrate my shop's birthday and decided to have a giveaway. Over the years I get asked a lot of questions about what pens, paper, paint pen, etc. I use. I definitely have my favorites and you can read more about those on my "faqs and favorites" page. So to celebrate the big 4! I'm giving away a few of my favorite things to one winner!

Think of it as a "design basics" kit. I'd include donuts but those don't ship well so I'll eat one for you. You're welcome.

One winner will receive this bundle of goodies:

  • small sketchbook
  • pencils to get those ideas on paper
  • erasers - an artist can never have too many quality erasers
  • sharpie marker pen - keep away from children
  • Faber-Castell PITT pen - one of my favorite drawing pens
  • pad of watercolor paper
  • Pentel aquash watercolor brush - I LOVE mine
  • set of Prang watercolors
  • lined notebook with pretty floral cover - with the elastic band to keep it closed, my favorite
  • hardback copy of "Little Book of Lettering" by Emily Gregory - the first lettering book I bought

To enter:

1. Leave a comment telling me what you would like to see added to the shop. More cards, prints, notepads, mini cards, etc.

2. Get a second entry by sharing about the giveaway (however you choose, instagram, facebook, twitter, you're own blog, etc.) THEN come back here and leave another comment telling me where you shared.

I'll randomly select a winner Friday, January 30th, 2015 at 12pm CST.

In addition to the giveaway, TODAY ONLY, you can get any 8x10 print in my shop for only $12! No coupon code needed, prices have already been marked down.

Jan 12, 2015

Garden Tip - soil prep (oldie)

prepping your soil for food gardening

This is the last garden tip for a bit, and it's not a new one. I wrote it last year but the people have asked about getting their soil and beds ready for spring gardening, so click here to take you to the info I posted last year.

It also has a link to spring planting tips from our garden at our old house. I forgot how much we grew in that small space!

zellers city garden

Now go get dirty.

Jan 9, 2015

Garden Tips - comfrey, buckwheat and borage

Apparently you guys liked the garden tips I posted last time. That makes me smile. I was asked to go into more detail about some of the things I mentioned to include in your garden, specifically comfrey, buckwheat and borage.

So here's a quick run down. This is a super basic overview. Googling those will tell you a whole lot more and go in more depth but here's what we know on the topic and why these are in our garden - you'll see a trend in the end.

First, comfrey.

It's a funny little leaf. My husband first read about it in Gaia's Garden and knew we had to have it. There are many types of comfrey and it's important to use the right type to reduce spreading.

**"Bocking14" is grown specifically for gardening as it doesn't produce seeds and can only spread through cutting and transplanting the tap root.** Other varieties produce seeds and can overtake an area.

The Bocking14 plant grows a deep tap root so it's really difficult to get rid of once planted so you better plan a spot for it that you don't want to change! But that's also a good thing because plant it once and you'll never need to plant again.

Here it is in various stages in our garden:

pictured bottom middle, the two big leaves about mid-spring, chicken to the right

lower front, by early summer the comfrey plants growing quite well and rather large

On to the good stuff:

  • It's a great organic fertilizer for your garden, specifically tomatoes as it's rich in potassium and nitrogren (but do your research, not all plants like it, ie root plants and lettuces)
  • It kicks your compost into major over-drive because it breaks down quickly
  • You can compost it on it's on and make a liquid, comfrey tea, as a liquid fertilizer - we haven't done this yet as we started out planted last year and it's best to have them established before making leaf cuttings for tea but you better believe we're doing it this year!
  • You can cut the leaves and lay in the hole where you're planting tomatoes, peppers and fruit to fertilize the plant at the roots
  • We used the leaves as a mulch around our berry plants as a fertilizer
  • If you let it blossom, the leaves attract bees which will pollinate your plants
  • We also give fresh leaves to our chickens and rabbits (have I mentioned here that we now have rabbits?!) a supplemental feeding and since it's planted around the border or our garden, the chickens snack on the leaves at will* 

We purchased our cuttings online but word on the street is there's a local Oklahoman growing and selling it.


I didn't know anything about this plant until the husband educated me. Do you see a pattern? He does the research and I follow his lead. It works!

Anyway, having grown it this past year and seeing the benefits, I will always want it in my garden. It's that good. Here it is in our garden:

my oldest in the back area of the garden full of flowering buckwheat

pictured very back by the fence, to give an idea of the space we planted

aerial showing some buckwheat removed for summer squash plants

summer squash growing with remaining buckwheat

buckwheat seeds harvested, leaves removed for chickens and stems dried for mulch

  • It's a great cover crop for outer areas as the plants get pretty dense as they grow and block out weeds
  • the bright white flowers are not only beautiful and look like wildflowers but they also look good to beneficial insects like bees, ladybugs and most importantly, parasitic wasps - these are key if you want to do organic gardening and not spray for pests
  • the plant grows quickly and can be turned in to fertilize the soil
  • the seeds can be harvested and ground into flour - we didn't do this, we threw some in to our chickens
  • instead of turning the stalks into the ground, we let them dry and used as mulch for our strawberries

Lastly, Borage

pictured to the left with purplish-blue flowers
inside the fence, to the left of the chicken is comfrey early spring and borage far right

  • When I talked about companion planting, this is one of the best to plant near tomatoes and squash because it deters hornworms
  • bees and beneficial insects like the blue flowers
  • the small leaves and flowers are edible and taste a little like cucumber and are a pretty addition to salads
  • the leaves help activate compost
  • you can feed the leaves to chickens - ours love them!

There you have it. Basically, we like these because the all attract beneficial insects which pollinate plants, repel bad ones so we don't have to use sprays or chemicals to get rid of pests, they add nutrients to your garden soil and plants and most greens can be fed to your chickens (and rabbits).

As with anything, don't take my word for it, do your own research and see if these are plants you'd like to include in your garden.

*there is some debate on this plant - do your own research and decide if you want to feed to your chickens. We do, our girls love it.

Jan 5, 2015

Garden Tutorial - Planning

Over the years I've been asked to do tutorials on how we garden. It's funny to me because we're not the best gardeners out and we are continuously learning as we go (and we've been gardening for nearly 10 years) so I've never felt comfortable sharing because we're no experts.

But, having said that, and you guys knowing I'm no master gardener, I've decided to go ahead and share how we go about our garden. It's not perfect. We have a lot to learn. But it's what we do and love so here's how we #farminourbackyard (that will make sense if you follow me on instagram, @lesleyzellers, if not, it's just a collection of pictures from our gardening adventures this past year).

**Please keep in mind this is Oklahoma. Different areas have different growing seasons so check your seed packets or nursery to plan for you area. **

For us, the first step in growing food in our backyard is PLANNING.

So my first tip is to do your research. Read blogs about gardening, look at pinterest for layout ideas, read books. Researching will give you an idea of what you want your garden to look like and what you want to grow in it. Take notes, draw plans, scheme and dream.

Most of our growing knowledge was passed down from my grandpa. He grew just about everything in his backyard. Over the years we've mixed in his knowledge with other ideas we've read from various sources.

These are my favorite gardening books:

  • Gaia's Garden - I haven't read it but my husband has. It's a whole lot of permaculture and really good ideas. I'm thankful he read it and has instrumented different principles from it in our garden.
  • The Edible Garden - it ties in with the idea of permaculture but also dives into specific ideas of laying out your garden in a natural way. No rows. More what works best together and how to make the most out of your space. I really like it because it talks specifically about the major plants and how they grow best.
  • The Backyard Homestead - really amazing for garden planning on a small lot with big produce!
  • Farm Anatomy - great design and super basic facts on all farming principles. Not detailed but a really good resource for all farming.

Get yourself a seed catalog.

Any will do. It will give you an idea of all the things you can grow. Highlight, dog-ear, make a list of the things you'd like to grow. Write it all down! Even if you don't feel like you can do it all this year, it's good to know where you want to go.

Sketch out your space and start thinking what you want to plant where.

You'll need to know how the sun moves across your space so you can plant accordingly. Plant smaller things and plants you'll harvest frequently up front with taller ones behind them. Plants like ground cover, radishes, lettuces and greens stay short so no need to worry about them blocking each other out.

That first sketch was my original layout for this spring. We've always worked in rows. It's easy to plan, pick and change but it also has it's drawbacks. So we're trying something different.

The next sketch shows our new approach, called polyculture (what the Edible Garden and Backyard Homestead reference). The idea is called polycutlure. The thought is planting more in line with nature. No straight lines, mixing in plants that grow well together or benefit each other. It's supposed to limit the need as there's less ground open. It's also supposed to help disease from spreading from plant to plant and a ton of other great reasons to try it. That's a whole different post in itself.

For now, here's what our spring plan looks like:

Even if you do rows, you can still do "companion planting" in the rows. From what little research I've done, here are a few plant groupings that work well together:
  • carrots + onion
  • radish + lettuce + onion
  • basil + tomato (the scent is supposed to repel aphids)
  • beets + radish + leeks
  • climbing peas or cucumber + nasturtium flowers
  • herbs + just about anything short - they attract beneficial insects like bees and ladybugs
  • marigolds - another good insect attractor (on that note, it's good to mix different flowers in with your plants as they bring in the good insects and just make it prettier)

We also do a mix of buckets and pots throughout the garden. I like the different levels they bring. It's also good to contain plants that get out of control, like mint. I also like doing carrots in buckets because their roots seem to do better.

We also have chickens so we planted herbs and things they can eat, like comfrey, along the inside of the fence. They can snack on the leaves and flowers that stick out of the fence and appeases them enough to stay out of the garden. Plus it's really good for chickens to eat herbs. In addition to comfrey, we also plant borage, buckwheat and yarrow to give to our chickens. I won't go into detail on those here (because this post is already crazy long) but if you're not familiar with them, google them. They are so beneficial to have in your garden. Especially if you have chickens!!

Once you have your plan, what you want to grow and where - get the seeds. You can order them from a million places online, buy them from a local nursery, of get the ones you saved from last year's garden.

Online seeds places we're used include:
Southern Exposure

Local favorites are Carmichael's and Stringer Nursery.

It costs less to start seeds as opposed to buying the plants but it also takes a lot more work. We've always done a mix of both but this year we're going to try to start all our plants from seeds.

*For spring gardening, start your seeds indoors February 1st*

If you want to start seeds indoors, here are some we're doing: broccoli, brussels sprouts, cabbage, cauliflower, celery, various greens, herbs and tomatoes - to name a few.

That's it on planning. Are you still here? If so, let me know if you found this in any way helpful. I never know what to share when people ask about our garden so I hoped I answered some questions .

To end, here's a quick video I shared on instagram of our #farminourbackyard adventures from 2014.

I'll share more as the growing season moves along and let me know if you have specific questions you'd like me to address. Thanks and happy garden planning!