DIY Baby Puffs Recipe


You know those cute little melt-in-your-mouth cereal puffs you see in the store? The ones that help babies master their pincer grasp?

Though I’d rather give her whole foods to snack on, these have been an absolute life saver for us in the car. Instead of crying the entire time, she concentrates on enjoying her puffs while we’re driving.

These puffs are organic and full of good stuff like kale, sweet potatoes, beets, etc., but the packaging is wasteful and we’ve been going through a lot of them lately, so I wanted to try and make them at home.

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Seed Starting Calendar

I’ve comprised a seed starting calendar for our area that I wanted to share with anyone who is wanting to try to grow their own food this year! If you don’t live in Tennessee, these specific dates won’t apply to you, but from what I’ve seen, our growing season starts about a month earlier than in the Midwest. So you may be able to start your seeds one month after what I have listed.

Last year was my first time having a garden large enough to feed our family of three all year long and I learned a ton through trial and error. One of the things I learned is that you don’t have to start all of your seeds at the same time and that you don’t have to wait until mid-April to transplant everything outdoors.

The other thing I learned was that the spring growing season is rather short. Since Tennessee winters are warm and summer temps settle in come May, certain cool weather crops (root vegetables, broccoli, greens, etc.) need to be in the ground come February and March if you want to get a good yield.

So now is a great time to start certain crops! But which ones?


To Start Seeds Indoors: Fill clean egg shells or seed starter kit with organic compost or potting soil. Plant two seeds per shell according to planting depth on back of seed packet then water and store in a warm place. (On top of the fridge is great as most seeds do not need sun to germinate. If your kitchen is cold, try placing your starts on top of a heating pad.) Once seeds sprout, you can move to a warm sunny window.
To Transplant Your Starts Outdoors: Harden off (introduce to sun incrementally) before you transplant outdoors, then remove soil pod from your egg carton or seed starter kit and plant into the ground. Press down soil around transplant firmly and water. Water as needed until roots are established then water according to instructions on back of seed packet.
To Direct Sow Seeds Into the Garden: 
Prepare garden bed by amending soil (add compost and/or sand and other organic matter) then place seeds in the soil according to recommending spacing on the back of the seed packet. Cover with soil and gently pat down to secure seeds in their spot. Water gently as to not move the seeds. Water once a day until sprout then water according to recommendations on back of seed packet.

My calendar only contains crops that I grow myself. Your list of garden vegetables might be very different than mine, so please consult this comprehensive list to find out the start dates for dozens of other vegetables, herbs, and flowers!

Thanks so much for stopping by and if this post helped you, please share! For video tips and tricks, be sure to follow us on Instagram!

Happy Planting!




Adventures in Organic Gardening: How we Keep our Garden Pest Free 

Cucumbers, tomatoes, bell peppers and squash in full swing! All without the use of store bought sprays or fertilizers!

We don’t have a fence put up around our garden. With owning a new house, the projects are never ending, and they add up fast. So we decided to forgo the garden fence this year, seeing as how most of our neighbors don’t fence in their gardens. So with the help of​ 

advice from locals and some good old fashioned trial-and-error, I’ve found a few effective ways to keep hungry animals and insects from destroying our crops.  

1.) Lime: we put lime down on the bottom of our trenches before we planted potatoes, garlic, and onions to keep bugs from eating the crop underground. We didn’t lose a single potato to slugs because of this.

2.) Dog Hair: we asked the local dog groomer to save us a bag of dog hair for one week and we put a handful of hair under each transplant. Soon after planting our tomato and bell pepper transplants, I noticed the leaves were getting eaten up. Rabbits love eating these plants and a great way to deter them is to lie down dog hair in the garden. Some people swear by spreading it around the perimeter of the garden, but we live on a ridgetop and the winds get very powerful out here, so I stuffed it under the base of the plants so the leaves of the plants could keep the hair from blowing away. We haven’t had any issues with bunnies coming to feast on our crops since! I’m going to ask for another bag soon so I can put more down when I plant my fall crops.

3.) Human Urine: along the same lines as #2, you could pee in a bucket and drizzle it around the perimeter of your garden if you can’t get your hands on dog hair from the groomer. We did this that long week I was waiting for the dog hair and we didn’t lose any more tomato leaves to the bunnies.

4.) Egg Shells: crush up your egg shells and spread them around the base of your plants to deter slugs. They don’t like crossing their sharp edges.

5.) Cayenne Pepper Spray: make a spray of garlic, cayenne pepper, and peppermint essential oil to keep white butterflies, caterpillars, beetles, etc. from destroying your plants. You can find a recipe on Pinterest somewhere I’m sure, but I just steeped garlic and cayenne pepper in a big pot of boiling water, strained it and added peppermint oil. Spray in the early morning before the sun gets too hot.

6.) Zinnias: these colorful flowers deter cucumber beetles and tomato worms, so plant them in between rows of cucumbers and tomatoes. They also attract hummingbirds which eat white flies that may damage potato plants, so we put one big row of zinnias behind our potatoes as well.

I’m excited to plant Nasturtium (an edible flower that helps repel cabbage worms) and try floating row covers on our cabbage  in the fall. We lost the whole crop to white caterpillars and I’m determined to grow some for homemade kimchi this year!

What do you use to keep pests and insects off your garden crops?



Between the Pine Trees

Just taking a quick break from gardening to write this because as I was just standing in between the pine trees, collecting falling needles, I realized how absolutely grateful I am for this little plot of land we bought almost a year ago. 

I’m using the pine needles as mulch in the garden and just being able to live sustainably and be resourceful in this way brings me so much joy. 

The simple fact that we have pine trees to gather fallen needles from makes my heart swell with gratitude and appreciation for the many blessings we have. Some people don’t even have trees in their yard and we have over a dozen different kids! 

I feel so much more connected to the land since buying this house.

From waking up to the roosters crowing to napping in the hammock while listening to the birds and crickets chirp. From saving rain water, to collecting pine needles. Gardening barefoot to picking dandelions. 

I’ve discovered a new, deeper, more meaningful appreciation for the earth. And it’s all because of this little old farmhouse. 

What are you thankful for in this moment? Please share with a comment below! 



Mom Hack Monday: Turn Bar Soap Scraps into Liquid Hand Soap

We love making something out of nothing around here. This is one of my favorite mom hacks. 
Save your bar soap scraps and start making liquid hand soap out of them! 

So it’s one less thing to throw away and one less thing to buy. A total win-win. 

You don’t need to wait until you save a cup of soap scraps if you really want to make this liquid hand soap today. Just melt a whole bar of soap! It works just the same!!

Any soap you have on hand will work. I used scraps from my homemade coconut oil shampoo bars and some locally made goat’s milk soap. 

This would be a great use for that drawer of tiny bars of soap that you’ve acquired from hotels around the country. I know you have one of those drawers. 😉 We all do. 



That’s it for today’s mom hack! 

We’re off to play in Rue’s Splash Pad. ☺️ 

Happy Monday!! 


Kanga ‘n Rue 

Adventures in Organic Gardening

We completed a few of the lingering projects we had to do in the garden. We put up a trellis for the zucchini, planted the peas and started the seeds for the broccoli and eggplant. I also started seeds for a few more tomato plants and butternut squash to go in where the lettuce and kale are now once we harvest those.


Cattle fencing and some wooden stakes Marty cut from scrap wood = something for the zucchini to climb up on ao they don’t overtake the garden. We’ll do the same for the cucumbers once they start to get too big.

We had a major flood a couple weeks ago which was good and bad for the garden. It helped our kale, cabbages, and potatoes spring up quite a bit, but it ended up moving quite a bit of seeds I had planted a week earlier. Haha.

So now we have random cabbage, lettuce, and kale plants sprouting up in between rows and our carrots haven’t grown at all. I wonder if they got washed away with the flood.


At least the flood gave Little Miss something to do while mama gardened.


We’ve been able to harvest some good sized zucchini from the garden, but we haven’t gotten anything else yet. Our garlic, onions, potatoes, and tomatoes are growing steadily, and our peppers finally have grown some new leaves!

We’ve had quite a few cold days and a couple nights that dropped below 50 degrees, so they haven’t grown very much at all since transplanting them because they like very warm weather.

But all in all, with having no fencing around the garden and having not put any fertilizers, pesticides, or herbicides down, I’d say we’re doing pretty good with the few resources the earth has given us.

A few things I’ve learned since starting our garden:

1.) Cucumbers need a lot of water. I have had to water them every couple of days as opposed to all other crops which I have just let the rain take care of without any issues whatsoever.

2.) Weeding is way easier to do one day after a good rain. The damp dirt is way easier to hoe.

3.) You will have to weed at least once a week to keep it under control.

4.) Rabbits like tomato, cucumber, and bell pepper plants. Protect these babies early on so you don’t lose as many leaves as I did.

5.) Leaves will grow back after bunnies have feasted on them, so don’t sweat it too much.

6.) Cucumbers, carrots, and herbs have been the hardest thing to grow. Cucumbers sprout up super quick indoors, but need to take their time hardening up before they are transplanted. I think the herbs may need more sun/heat to sprout, and I have no idea about the carrots. They are a cool weather crop and we haven’t seen anything sprout since we planted those seeds.

What do you have growing in your garden?



What’s Cookin’ Wednesday: Coconut Crusted Cod with Mango Salsa

This recipe was a request by one of our teen chefs at work. She’s the first to complete our teen program, which requires that all of our teen volunteers take command of the kitchen and become a mentor chef for new teen volunteers. Once they can do that, have volunteered for us for at least one year, and have completed our kitchen and garden curriculum, they receive a chef coat with their name embroidered on it.

Last week, we awarded our first teen with her own chef coat, and since she is a serious foodie who now dons a chef coat, I asked her what dishes she would like to see on the menu this week. She chose stuffed zucchini, Thai salad, Indian curry and cod with mango salsa. What a killer menu. Thanks for your hard work and inspiration, girl!

You could use organic store bought coconut milk to make this recipe even faster to execute, red onion in place of radish, and any other white fish you have on hand.

Using organic ingredients is best for maximum health benefits, but it’s difficult to shop 100% organic, so I recommend you at least get processed foods and produce that’s on the dirty dozen list in organic. 

(c=cup; t=teaspoon; T=tablespoon)
Serves 4


1 small ripe avocado, diced
2 T finely diced locally grown radish
1 medium ripe mango, skins removed and diced
1 lime, juiced
Minced mint to taste
½ c organic finely shredded dried coconut
1 t organic onion powder
1 t organic garlic powder
1/2 c homemade organic coconut milk (2 T organic dried coconut + 1/2 c boiled filtered water, blended & strained)
Four ounce wild caught cod fillets
2 T organic unrefined coconut oil, melted
Cilantro leaves for garnish
Sea salt and black pepper to taste


1.) Preheat oven to 350°F and line a baking sheet with unbleached parchment paper.
2.) Mix the first four ingredients in a large mixing bowl and season to taste with salt, pepper, and freshly chopped mint. Set aside.
3.) In a shallow baking dish, mix the coconut, onion powder, and garlic powder. In a separate shallow baking dish, pour the homemade coconut milk.
4.) Season fish generously with salt and pepper, then coat evenly in the coconut milk.
5.) Dredge in the shredded coconut mixture, and arrange evenly on the parchment paper lined baking sheet.
6.) Drizzle with melted coconut oil and bake until lightly golden brown on the outside and white and flaky on the inside (about 15 minutes).
7.) Serve with mango salsa and garnish with cilantro leaves.

Recipe copyrighted by Laura Rodriguez. 

Happy Cooking!

What’s cookin’ in your house today???!



Rue Turns Two!


We’re celebrating baby girl’s birthday all week because she turns 2 this Saturday! I told the family that her birthday wouldn’t fall on a Saturday again for another 7 years, so this year would be the year to come to Tennessee for a birthday weekend, and they are!

I can’t friggin’ wait until they’re all here to party with us and see how cute and funny this little human is right now.

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