Two-Step Tomato Abbondanza!


We have a neglected raised garden bed in the backyard. It had been part of a sandbox configuration, but for years, it’s been a weed patch and dumping ground.
This year, I really wanted to garden with it because it’s a nice, compact size, and it’s right in my line of sight when I look out over the yard, and I couldn’t deal with the shame! The shame!!

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Formerly crummy! Now, a tomato fantasyland.

I’m in the frozen hinterland with only a very short growing season, so  I watched a dozen or so YouTube videos by MI Gardener.
Since watering was a problem for me (I’ve killed years’ worth of container gardens!), I went with the channel’s trench method of bedding. That’s where you dig a trench and fill it with spongy , water-holding decomposing matter like straw.

I didn’t have straw, so I used an old log that washed up in the lake. It was sodden and stinky – perfect for my purposes! Since it was springtime, I also took advantage of about half a dozen dead fish that washed up in our yard. Stink-o-rama, and a little disturbing, but I was tired of my kids staring at them. And, they were far less stinky six to eight inches under. But enough about that!

I bought a seed packet of beets. (Love beets, hate buying them.) I also wanted watermelon* because my kids love it and I thought it would inspire them to help with the weeding. 😉 So, we all went to the garden store and they chose: watermelon, tomatoes and peppers. (HOT peppers – they like a challenge.) We brought them home, planted them in neat rows, and for exactly three days, the kids fought over who would water them. Then, they moved on with their lives. But everything was okay! Because of the log…blog magic log
MI Gardener also had a video about how to increase your tomato output. I thought this might be a gimmick, since this guy clearly had a lot more going for his tomatoes than I did. To boil down an 8 minute video, you flick the tomato flowers with your fingers. I did this whenever I saw flowers, thinking it wouldn’t make much difference and BEHOLD! I have a TON of TOMATOES!blog tomatoes 1 So many, my beets were completely tomatoes 2  Alas.
Basically, using only these two tips from that MI Gardener has given me tomatoes beyond my wildest dreams.

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Tomatoes all around!

I didn’t actually have any dreams of tomatoes to begin with. And now, I have a bajillion. Thanks, MI Gardender!

Next summer – BEETS!

*The watermelon vine died early on. We planted it too early. RIP. I scattered wildflower seeds over its plot.


How Lynn Got Her Food Back


Here’s a secret only parents know. If you have to change everything to keep your kid healthy, you do it. People get lung cancer, heart disease, all kinds of other illnesses all the time, and they’re like, “Meh…” but if a doctor said, look, the whole family has to stand on one leg for two hours every day from now on to keep your child healthy, you would all be standing on one leg. Guaranteed.

When my son was diagnosed with Type 1 Diabetes, we did all of that (not the standing on one leg – if only!!!) First, it was a chart on our fridge of what he HAD to eat at EVERY meal.

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Nightmare! Mealtime tears all around. 😦

Then, we graduated to carb-counting, which is the current life-long standard. There are tons of mixed-messages in carb-counting land. “Let him eat whatever he wants, and dose for it. He’s a kid!… But don’t let him have fruit juice or sugar soda because you’ll wind up in the hospital. Really, he can eat anything! But, this meal has 200 carbs, so be careful giving all of that insulin…” It can be super confusing.

At first, I filled my pantry with dismal sugar-free stuff. This felt even worse, and, to my mind, made life harder for my son. “Here’s his special candy! When everyone else has that, he can have this!” Food is communal, and these simulated foods were just exiling him further. Plus, no matter how bad something tastes, if your kid is in first grade, some other kid is going to eat it when he’s not looking, or at least WANT to eat it.

Image result for what a candy gram i want one

Food is my best friend. Just ask my chins! Ever since I was a kid, I’ve loved cooking. Diabetes is heartbreaking on many levels, but this one was the thorn in my personal side. I love to cook for other people! I cook! I bake! It’s my way!

This is turning into a long story, so I’ll just break down my progression. We went from diet chart to meals I could calculate, which got boring fast, to the exciting part…

YouTube! You can find any way to make anything on YouTube, and I found Momof6 and FoodWishes. Those are my mainstays, and here’s why I love them. Momof6 is a master of planning and organization. With her tools, I am able to look over a whole two-to-six weeks’ worth of food (ALL food – snacks, school lunches, etc.), plan, and have an idea of how “glucose friendly” everything’s going to be. Food Wishes, then has the best way to prepare dinners, so I can still express my love and caring.

Yesterday, I made Salmon with a sauce I can’t pronounce, so I will call Butter Sauce (here’s the link), knowing that with strawberries, cauliflower, and roast potatoes, everyone was going to bed on a full stomach with good numbers. Tonight will be Chicken Fried Rice (a family favorite!) And tomorrow is leftovers (surprise) because I’m making a lot of meals lately.

I know for SURE there are channels on YouTube for restricting carbs (if that’s where you’re at), going gluten-free, “clean,” vegan, paleo – anything you want! It took me some time to curate my own preferences, but it’s worth it.  I can bake my cake, and my kid can eat it, too! Love is back in the air!!

See for yourself! Happy Valentine’s Day!

The Cult of Insta-Pot*


There are two types of people in the world: those who have never heard of an InstaPot, and those who devote their lives to all things InstaPot.


Hal won’t open the pod bay door.

Few appliances have the following that this pressure cooker has.

(Or any following at all. Take the toaster, for example. It’s pretty amazing, and yet, you don’t see whole online communities devoted to a four-slice with darkness control.)

Yet, this electric pressure cooker has 1,010,000 videos and hundreds of thousands of channels on YouTube. There are recipes from chocolate cake to placenta. Admit you just bought an InstaPot, and the person you’re talking to will say, “I love mine! I just made Thanksgiving Dinner for us and the Army Base next door in forty minutes!

I own an InstaPot. I bought it to cook dried beans without having to soak them for a week. I even used it for that, once or twice. (Once.) (Four years ago.)

I have used it for other things. Lending it to other people who thought they might like an InstaPot, for example!

Maybe you have to have an InstaPot gene. There are definitely people who use theirs all the time. Or maybe they don’t, and they just tell people they do to justify spending $100 or more on a gargantuan pressure cooker with more controls that an Airbus.

I feel like this is the year to become a Bride of InstaPot. But first, a few questions…

  1. What’s a good way to remove shrapnel and treat 3rd degree burns?
  2. How fast will an ambulance come for an InstaPot emergency?
  3. Do you have the number for a good reconstructive surgeon?

As I write this, I’m making hard boiled eggs. I should be making them in the InstaPot. Boy! Talk about your wasted opportunity…

JK – I’m making them in the InstaPot, and I’m having clenching pains in my chest because my cat is fascinated with the hissing sound and the steam coming from the top.

I really want to use this. I mean REALLY want to. But, I feel like I need some support and encouragement. If you use an InstaPot, and you’re not carried away using it for crazy stuff, AND you still have eyesight, hearing, and all 10 fingers, AND your cats are okay, please leave your comments! (It’s a tall order, I know…)

I am in no way compensated by Instant Pot, Instapot, or any other pot 😦

Happy New Year!

*Officially it’s called an Instant Pot. It’s for cooking. Which is much less fun than what it sounds like. But, the people who own them and worship them call them Instapot. Now you know!

Wizard of Ahs


2successOnce upon a time, there was Toastmasters. If you wanted to give speeches (for work; I could explain, but let’s just say it was the olden days) you could join a club in your area – sometimes even at your workplace – and practice your presentations. THEN, someone else would give a speech about your speech, and other people around the room had tasks like “Who used the Word of the Day,” and “Ah Counter.”

The Ah Counter, or as some clubs called them, the Wizard of Ahs, kept track of everyone who stood up to speak that meeting and humiliated them by sharing how many times they used fillers like “um,” “ah,” “you know,” “okay,” prolonged “ands” and “sos,” aaaand, let me see, what else…?

Some people thought it was mean to have an Ah Counter because it was public shaming and negative reinforcement, but it certainly made people more aware. Tough love, we used to call it.

My Toastmaster days are over, and my YouTube days are in full swing. When I need to know how to pry the bumper off my phone, tie a gi belt, or suture my own wounds, I turn to the most trusted source on the internet.


The people in these videos are 84% helpful, but the AAAAHHHHHS! As I write this, my daughter is watching an origami tutorial. I keep hearing the word, “Soooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooooo.” And it’s only 4 minutes long!

Thank you very much, technology: everyone with an idea and a phone can make a video and upload it – and they do!

It’s enough to make a Toastmaster deviate from parliamentary procedure.


Unprofessional! I’m out of here on my unnaturally long legs!

Lately, someone told me I need to stop writing a blog with all these wordy-words and switch to video. Well, I don’t want to! I like to read, and my readers like to read. I don’t usually have anything to “show,” and as a consumer of media, I’d rather read an opinion than watch someone bloviate for 12 minutes.

(If you see me in a video, brush up on your Morse code, because I will be trapped in a bunker.)

The next time you encounter a YouTuber or (even worse) a Facebook Live sort in real life, please, grind their phone under your heel for me. Or at least tell them practice and editing are their friends.

If you’re as old and croctchety as I am, find me on Facebook, twitter, or leave a note here!

I Can’t Believe It’s Not Sleep


Sleep, glorious sleep! The holy grail. It was my favorite thing to do, until I stopped being able to do it.

I sleep all night (according to my lifelong eyewitness), but somehow it’s not satisfying. Somehow, I can get a full night’s sleep and wake up as tired as when I went to bed.

Add to that my social anxiety, and I might never get to sleep. On the off chance I should go to a party, my brain is abuzz afterward, backtracking and analyzing: should I have said this? I should not have said that! …and were they laughing with me or at me? (Hint: it’s at, always at.) I have watched the sunrise on many a Sunday morning after a Saturday night do, not for those fun reasons you see in the movies.


They’ll never see me here.

Recently, I found Richard Miller’s Yoga Nidra book and CD at the library, and checked it out on a whim. I do not love yoga. (Sorry, yoga, I have never loved you. You’re bizarre and uncomfortable; two things that do NOT relax me – see social anxiety above.) You see, my sister LOVES yoga, and has devoted her life to it, and I wanted to read the book to have something interesting to say to her. (See social anxiety above.)

The book contains a lot of yoga theory and some interesting exercises, but the CD – THE CD!! I put it in my laptop, plugged in my headphones, and felt like I went under sedation. The first time I played it, I fell asleep in my chair. ynmiller


You’re not actually supposed to fall asleep, yoga nidra is more of a sleep-like meditation, but I must have needed the nap, because it was fantastic. After that, I felt great. I started listening whenever I could.

I felt pretty crummy confessing to my sister that I had been doing yoga, but it was cheating because it was yoga nidra.
“That’s not cheating!” she said, “There are thousands of different kinds of yoga. Yoga nidra is awesome!”

It turns out, you can find lots of yoga nidra on YouTube, and (if you live in the big city) even attend a class! (If laying in a dark room with a bunch of strangers doesn’t wig you out.)

The best part is, you can do a very short practice – from eight to twenty minutes works best for me, but longer meditations exist – and feel rested!

Miller now helps veterans suffering from PTSD in a program called IREST. I have the Kindle edition – it’s a lot of research, and the focus is not as “yogic.” I also like Jennifer Reis and Steve Wolf (he sounds automatedbut he’s real.)


No yoga nidra while driving

I don’t have to worry about sleep anymore! Whoopee! I can finally do all of those late-night things I’ve always wanted to do – when I think of what they are, I will let you know. For now, I will be doing my yoga practice without a care in the world about the person behind me seeing my underpants.


Connect with me on Twitter @lynnvanlier or on Facebook.