Green Thumb: Adaptive Gardening

Today, I have my Physical Therapist hat on. Therefore, I decided to reblog this article on adaptive gardening that I wrote for my rehab hospital’s website. Enjoy!


Spring is just around the corner, and that means gardening season for many Austinites. The health benefits of gardening are plentiful. They include:
• Stress relief
• Decreased risk of stroke and heart attack by up to 30% in adults > 60 yrs old
• Decreased risk of dementia by 36-47% (according to two recent studies) when performed daily
• Moderate cardiovascular exercise: one hour of light gardening and yard work can burn 200-400 calories
• Can provide an opportunity to soak up Vitamin D when exposing bare skin to sunlight. This is best achieved in early morning hours and limited to 20-25 minutes to reduce the risk of skin cancer.

Despite all these benefits, gardening is something that many adults feel is out of reach due to injury, disability or advanced age. Bending, squatting and kneeling are all tasks that pose difficulty. In addition, adults with impaired balance risk fall and possible injury negotiating tight spots between plantings and managing equipment such as rakes, shovels and hoes.

One solution is to build a raised garden bed. Raised beds of 24-36 inches high and no more than 4 feet wide are ideal for wheelchair users with an average reach of 30 inches. They are also helpful for individuals who need to sit and garden. Wide pathways can allow safe maneuverability on all sides of the bed, especially for those requiring assistive devices to walk. Plants are planted closer together, eliminating the need for frequent weeding.




Table top gardens provide similar benefits. They are typically raised off the ground on legs with a 6-12” deep bed for planting. The height can easily be adjusted to accommodate wheelchair users or to enable gardening in standing. Wheels can even be added to allow the garden to be moved.




For more info on how to build a raised or table top garden, please check out the resources below:

Also check out the Vernon Barker Memorial Garden, an accessible garden right here in Austin, TX. It is part of the Sunshine Community Gardens.

Enjoy this spring weather while it lasts, and don’t hesitate to get your garden on!



J’s Ariel Pool Party Part II: An Ocean Themed Menu

As I just threw J a Tangled themed birthday party, I thought it was high time that I publish the second half of her Ariel pool party post. I wrote it ages ago, but had not inserted all the pics. My bad. Here it is…

An Ariel pool party would not be complete without an ocean-themed menu. This party was actually a pot luck, but I have great friends who are completely on board with my crazy ideas. I came up with the following:


  • Seaweed Dip (aka Spinach Dip)
  • Goldfish, Cheese Whales and Oyster Crackers

The spinach dip, brought by my friend Julia, was a huge hit. She had a lot of requests for her recipe, which involved walking into HEB and finding the spinach dip in the refrigerated section 🙂 And all kids love fishes, especially when there are cheese, chocolate and pretzel flavored varieties.

Main Course:

  • “Sand”-wiches including “peanut butter and jellyfish”, “hummus and sea cucumber “and “submarine” sand-wiches
  • Shell Pasta Salad (made with shell pasta, of course)
  • Seaweed Salad  (aka Mixed Greens)
  • Whale Chicken Nuggets

The pasta salad was displayed in a sand bucket, as I had seen many Pinterest ladies do. I opted not to make my guests use a shovel to scoop out the pasta. Sometimes you have to draw a line in the sand somewhere. Making the sandwiches fish-shaped was harder than it looked. I had a total Pinterest fail. The boys (hubby and cousin) bailed me out, toasting the bread and using a cookie cutter to carefully make each fish shape before filling with PB or hummus. The cookie cutter I used can be found here.


  • The Deep Blue Sea
  • The Red Sea

We had both adult-friendly and kid-friendly beverages. The Deep Blue Sea was actually Simply Lemonade with a few drops of blue food coloring. Thanks to my HS friend Kristi M&M for throwing a baby shower and posting to Facebook her blue punch as an inspiration. The Red Sea was sangria. I firmly believe you cannot throw a summer party without serving sangria.


  • Blue and purple cupcakes adorned with candy seashells and Ariel’s friends
  • Oyster and Pearl Macarons
  • Gummy Penguins, Shark Gummy Fruit and Swedish Fish
  • Swiss Roll Sushi

Ariel and her friends adorned the cupcakes as well as seashell candies I made with a Wilton candy mold. The Ariel figurines were purchased from Amazon and were found at a great bargain price. The candy molds were also a Pinterest fail initially, but I eventually got the hang of it. The macarons are found in the frozen section of Trader Joe’s. I carefully inserted a small pearl candy in each. Cute and yummy! I originally had plans to make rice crispy sushi, but I ran out of time. The swiss roll sushi was a quick and easy substitute.

The buffet cards were a free printable courtesy of The Suburban Mom and can be edited in Pic Monkey to reflect your personal menu. Get the free download here.

All the kids had a great time splashing around the pool and blowing bubbles on the patio after dessert. My favorite little hostess had an especially good time and informed me that next she is having a Rapunzel birthday party. Better gear up for that one! She sure is bossy 🙂


J’s Big Birthday Adventure: Part II- Party Favors


I’ll be honest. After engineering over 20 Backpack/Rescue Pack invitations, I was pretty beat. But I knew my work was far from done.  The fear in inviting your child’s entire class to a party is that either a) no one will show up or worse b) everyone will show up. I had my work cut out for me if I was to entertain a bunch of three year olds. I thought a Dora map adventure might do the trick. I planned to follow the general format of the show and sent the kids out into my big back yard to search for the birthday piñata.  Why do they have to find the birthday piñata.  Well, Swiper stole him silly.  You really need to keep an eye on that Swiper.

There can be no map adventure without Map and Backpack. I knew I needed to fabricate both of these.  Also, there would undoubtedly be things we would need to do at each of the stops on the map. This solved the dilemma of what to make for party favors. Clearly, each of the girls needed Dora’s Backpack, and each of the boys needed Diego’s Rescue Pack. Inside would be all the items needed along the way. Once we reached our final destination and broke open the piñata, the bags would be very handy for storing all the candy.

As you know, there are many crafty mommas out there. I pinned several Backpack/Rescue Pack party favor bags on my idea board here. Some of my favorites were:

Using orange and purple lunch bags or gift bags such as these Rescue Packs by Reading Confetti

diego birthday party 33

Dying Oriental Trading backpacks purple as with these Backpacks by Googly Eyes and Glitter 

diy dora party backpacks

Using drawstring backpacks such as these seen on Etsy 


Or reusable grocery totes such as these on Mission Decorate 


I really liked the idea of the kids having a wearable, reusable bag so I narrowed down my options to drawstring backpacks or reusable grocery bags.  I found both purple and orange totes and purple and orange drawstring  backpacks at affordable pricing online. Ultimately, I went with the drawstring backpacks as they were larger and could actually be worn as a backpack.

For Backpack, I used the template found at Nick Jr. to trace the face onto the drawstring bags using Elmer’s Painter’s Pens. I traced the template first in pencil and then went over it using a fine tip sharpie. I used paint pens rather than fabric paint to fill in the color so that the work could go quicker with less chance for mistakes. The downside is that the paint pens are opaque. This was not much of an issue for the red mouth but required multiple coats for eyes and eyebrows and just did not provide the coverage that fabric paint would have. Still, I think they came out pretty good.

For Rescue Pack, I also used the template from Nick Jr but needed to resize and tweak it a bit.

Map needs to go inside Backpack.  I used the Nick Jr map template above photocopied on one side of 8 1/2 x 11 white paper and photocopied a map of my own drawing on the other side. I searched and searched for an easy map template. The best I could find was this. I used it as a general template and then did separate image searches for the stops I chose for J’s adventure: The Dancing Trees, Crocodile Lake and Play Park. The last stop is actually J’s playscape, so I just drew that from memory. It came out pretty good for someone who doesn’t draw, and might help someone else out in the future. For PDF versions, please visit my free printables page.



Inside the backpack were the items we needed for the adventure: a Dora or Diego magnifying glass, Dora and Diego maracas, a mini flute and Dora or Diego blow outs. More on the specific purpose of these items in the next post.

The finished product can be seen below.


Again, I will not lie to you.  This is not a quick, easy project. Because I did not trust myself to free hand the face and was very careful with the paint pens, each bag took some time. I made 20 and was very thankful for one particularly long nap both J and D took one Sunday afternoon. J often sat at the table next to me coloring while I would knock out 1 or 2 bags. If I were to do it again, I would STRONGLY consider printing each of the faces in color on iron-on transfer paper.  There are several face template files available to purchase on Etsy and would have been well worth the money. I think this may have been 10x easier. Hindsight is 20/20.

Stay tuned for Party III- Party Time to find out how our adventure went.

What’s In A Name?

So I’ve decided to try my hand at blogging.  Blogging is all the rage for new moms and you know how en vogue I am. I suspect there is much laughter following that one.

Actually, my inspiration came from my research in planning my daughter Juliette’s first birthday party.  As I began to scour the web for ideas and bookmark them using my handy Pinterest tool, I was surprised to see that some of the best DIY ideas did not come from Martha Stewart. They came from ordinary women like myself who then posted their creations on their respective blogs.  This is something I can definitely embrace. And so, I too, have decided to contribute- my thoughts, my crazy party planning projects, my frugal finds. I just needed a name.  What to call such a blog?

Originally, I wanted to incorporate the word “multitastic,” a clever hybrid of “multitalented” and “fantastic.” Unfortunately, a blogger more popular than I ever anticipate being, snagged that one. I then contemplated something along the lines of “A busy mind is a happy mind” to accentuate my wake up and hit the ground running lifestyle.  But it didn’t seem to fit.

Finally I settled upon “While Everyone Else Is Sleeping” because the only reason I even had time to ponder such a thing was due to my daughter being in bed and my husband away on a business trip. In fact, for the longest time, nearly all my leisure activities are pursued only while my loved ones are slumbering.  My husband and I are both avid nappers. But I had to give up that sport when we became home owners and I found the only time I could get household projects done was while Dean was taking his Sunday afternoon nap. Now, as a Mom, my time is even more scarce and I attempt to tackle my lengthy to do list in the span of my daughter’s two daily naps.

As if confirming how fitting this name is, creating this blog was on my wish list for today.  A recent trip and day light saving’s time made for some really rough daytime naps, and it was all I could do to set up this blog. This post is being written safely after my love bug’s 7 PM bedtime and while hubby is typing away on his lap top in the next room.

This should be interesting.  We’ll see how long I can keep it up 🙂