The Light

I used to think spring began in March, or perhaps even April. Now I believe that it is February which truly marks beginning of spring. Yes, there are snowstorms and plenty of cold days, but somehow by at least mid February the world seems to be changing – slowly, almost imperceptibly at first, but changing nonetheless …

The light is returning.

four o’clock and the sun is still high in the sky
Before the storm
Snow
Already melting ~ after only one day
evening

February is certainly a strange month.

Only several days ago it was snowing. Now the snow has melted – not even a trace of it is left – and at the moment it is so warm that if I did not know better, I would surely think it was a summer evening.

Just a bit of green … 🌱
And the moon is waxing again …

Pumpkin Bread ~ Vegan Recipe

I love baking with pumpkin! After several attempts I have finally developed a pumpkin bread recipe that I like. It is very easy to make and does not require many ingredients. I usually prefer to bake without oil, refined sugar and gluten, so this recipe is free of all of those … although I am also including an optional cashew icing that does use sugar.

This bread tastes even better when it is cold – you can refrigerate it for several days. And it is so versatile – it can be an easy breakfast that you prepare beforehand, or with the icing it can be a perfect desert.

Pumpkin Bread ~ Vegan, Gluten Free, Oil Free, Refined Sugar Free

Ingredients:

– 2 cups gluten free oat flour (you can buy it premade or make your own by blending oats)

– 1 cup pumpkin purĂ©e (Farmer’s Market is my favorite brand)

– 14 dates pitted & mashed into paste (soak beforehand if necessary)

– 3 tbsp applesauce

– 1 teaspoon vanilla

– 4 tsp cinnamon

– 2 tsp ginger

– 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

– 1/4 teaspoon allspice

– 1/8 teaspoon cloves

I purchased all of the ingredients for this recipe from Thrive Market. I love Thrive Market because I can buy organic food online at wholesale prices. Get 25% off your first order here:

http://thrv.me/Zg1oQj

You can either make this recipe with a food processor or without one. It is really helpful  to use a food processor if your dates are not as fresh and soft, since that would make it difficult to mash them on your own.

So, you can either put all of the ingredients in a food processor and just mix it that way (so quick and easy, but you may have to do two batches depending on the size of the food processor) or you can mix it all up yourself in a bowl (you may need to soak the dates beforehand if they are not soft). You could also just process the dates in the food processor, mix the rest in a bowl, and then combine it.

Bake the bread for 30 minutes at 350.

An optional addition is this delicious, creamy cashew frosting.

Cashew Frosting Ingredients:

– 1/4 cup raw cashew butter

– 3 tbsp powdered sugar

– 2 tsp water

– 1/2 tsp vanilla

I hope you enjoy this recipe. I love that it is so simple to make – and I just love pumpkin (more pumpkin recipes are definitely coming soon).
What are your favorite ways to use pumpkin in your baking and cooking?

Kale & Apple Salad 

I love the combination of kale, apples, carrots and radishes – the sweetness of the apples along with the other flavors is so delicious. 


I also added several other ingredients – all together they really make this such a wonderful summer salad! I used fresh herbs and some vegetables from my garden. And I made a simple oil free dressing using just a few ingredients. 


The Salad Ingredients 

  • Kale
  • 1 Apple 
  • 1 Carrot
  • Radishes
  • Peas
  • A Small Onion
  • Fresh Cilantro
  • Fresh Dill



The OilFree Dressing

  • 2 tsp Raw, Unfiltered Red Wine Vinegar 
  • 1/4 tsp Dijon Mustard 
  • Dried Cilantro 
  • Lemon Juice 


Are there any salads that you love making in the summer? Leave a comment to let me know what some of your favorites are – I love to try new salads.


Low Maintenance Indoor Plants

My favorite indoor plants are the ones that require less care.

Here are my favorite low maintenance plants:

Spider Plant


Spider plants are very easy to care for – simply water your plant when the soil is dry. Place your spider plant in bright indirect light. Prune your plant occasionally to keep it at your preferred size.

JadePlant


Jade plants are beautiful and low maintenance. Do not let the soil dry fully – keep it moderately dry, but not completely dry. Water your plant more in the summer and less in the winter. It is important to not let the soil dry out, but you should not overwater.

Ivy


I love English Ivy – it is such a beautiful plant. Ivy needs to be placed in bright, indirect light. You should water your ivy when the soil feels dry. So, you will probably need to water it once every few days – maybe less depending on the plant. Periodically spray or wash the leaves to remove dust, dirt and spider mites. Misting the leaves will also prevent them from drying out.

Succulents


These are some of my favorite types of succulents. I water my succulents about once a week. Water them thoroughly and then let them dry out before you water again. And make sure they are getting enough bright light – place them right by a window.

TinyCacti


This is a pincushion cactus – a small cactus is another good choice if you are looking for a low maintenance plant.

My Vegetable Garden: Late April Planting 

I have been planting all day – today I planted kale, spinach, chard, zuchinni, peas, beans, onions and turnips. 



Yesterday I planted carrots, turnips and beets. 


I actually planted the lettuce and beans in a raised bed – this was the first time I planted vegetables in a raised bed. I wanted more space but did not want to dig – a raised bed is a wonderful way to create a garden without digging. I reused old wood (be sure to use untreated wood) and then filled the bed with compost. 


I still have a lot left to plant – but I am happy with the progress I have made. I would love to hear about your garden. What have you planted? 

My New Plants

Recently I bought new indoor plants. I love them all so much – I just had to share some photos with you. 

I would love to see photos of your plants! Use #aloeandaster to share your photos on Instagram.

New plants!
Ivy
New Cacti
I love this one.
Angel Vine
String of Pearls

Comment below to let me know if you have any of these plants – or if you have bought any new indoor plants recently. I would love to hear about your plants. 

At The Garden Shop

Several days ago I went to a plant shop to look for some new indoor plants.


There were too many choices – I wanted to buy everything! I loved this beautiful cactus – but it was a bit too large. I did end up choosing some smaller cactus plants. 


It was especially nice to see all the green – since outside it still feels like winter here. Hopefully the snow will melt soon …



Do you like shopping for plants? What plants have you bought recently?


In my next post I will be sharing photos of my new plants.