The Backyard

The Backyard

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

In Honor of Earth Day - Her Designs Handbags

Women's handbags are huge business and the majority are NOT animal friendly -- i.e., leather! The other downfall of most purses is where they are made and shipped from -- China. The affordability of a China-made bag simply can't be beat which is why they completely flood the market. And while tradition claims leather as the fabric of choice for a durable, long-lasting bag, it's obviously not a preferred fabric when choosing eco-friendly, animal-friendly handbags. Enter Her Design. I've been shopping for some time for a new handbag when my cheap china-made pleather starting falling apart in less than a year. I knew I didn't want leather, and I knew I didn't want China-made. A search on Vegan Women's Bags made in USA came up with many very cool designer handbags -- at a huge cost. Matt and Natt is very cool, but expensive and when asked where they were made, the answer was "Asia." Then I discovered Her Design by Helen Reigle. What attracted me first to these handbags were the designs -- inspired by nature. They use colors from nature and the styles come from varied eye-catching visions in the environment. "Poppy" is the perfect example. the purse is inspired by the seed head of a poppy flower. Check out their website for very cool designs. The second attraction is the materials used to make the purses. All eco-friendly and with concern for the environment. They use hemp, wool, linen, organic cotton and recycled fibers. The faux leather is a substance that originates from a rubber tree. And lastly, while not made in USA (American wages are simply too high and make the products unaffordable), they DO use coops that practice fair labor in countries such as Mexico and Costa Rica. I'm ok with that (it's not "Asia"). And the prices? Well... some are a little salty, but if you catch the sales, $40-$80 bucks ain't too shabby. I ordered 4 purses and when I received, I was so excited I wanted to use them all at once. Every one was more beautiful and made with TLC than described on the website. The colors are exquisite and the styles are roomy and well-thought out with many pockets, nooks and crannys. Poppy got the first honors for use. Thank you Her Design for incredibly beautiful, eco-friendly purses!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

April Update in the Backyard

First, my apologies for those who have been checking in on any updates and found nothing for over a month. Last year was a true year-in-the-life of an organic garden and I shared many, many tips and tools of the trade. And since the methods of organic gardening change little from year to year, please re-read last year's posts if you are looking for specific info. I added a search box so you can search specific topics. This year, I'll likely do updates only monthly on backyard chilibloggin. I'm focusing on balancing my gardens with my active lifestyle, thus less posts here since last year was the year of many posts. You are welcome to check out my activities at - there's some interesting stuff in there too if you like mountain biking, trail running, white water kayaking and sometimes racing adventure tris and other interesting races. And now the garden update for April.

Spring clean-up gets harder and harder each year mainly because I simply have too much garden to maintain while working and playing full-time. I'm about 75% finished and everything is getting mulched with horse manure/straw this year to prevent weeds from growing. It may not look attractive, but time will be saved by not having to weed as much with everything covered in straw-mulch. Here's the plantings and seed startings for April:

-- Planting 150 onions after we realized the prices to buy onions has skyrocketed (I was going to not plant onions to cut back a little on how much I plant).
-- Started 68 broccoli plants from seeds in March and they are all now nestled in their growing spot in the garden. They are coming along beautifully.
-- Planted snap pea seeds, carrots, red beets, spinach, kale and radicchio which are all coming up nicely. The leeks seeds will take some time (long season plant).
-- Started bunches of seeds indoors: two kinds of heirloom tomatoes, two peppers (we loved Nardello last year and couldn't wait to start them again), early girl tomatoes, purple stripe eggplant, heirloom melons, and purple basil. All sprouted and are coming along beautifully. The peppers took about 10 days to sprout, and the eggplant is just about ready to pop (takes about 3 weeks according to the seed pack). I have faith on my eggplant this year. Last year was a failure and I had to buy plants which were likely Monsanto seeds (argh!). I'm going to have an overabundance of tomato plants, but since I have space, I think I'm going to plant them all and try to sell them this year to make a little money for a change. Haven't decided that for sure yet.

And the perennial vegetables/fruits are coming along beautifully also -- the asparagus is coming in like crazy (it loved my feeding of pure horse manure a couple weeks ago), the strawberry plants are reviving after a long winter's sleep, the rhubarb is huge, and the herb garden got a massive haircut and is starting to grow again. Spring is a bunch of work, but its so rewarding when finished and you can sit back and truly reap the benefits of your labor. See you in May!