Tag Archive for 'gardening'

Life in Cowtown in Calgary

in Alberta, food blog, gardening and Personal Blog

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Tatina Kharitonova of Life in CowtownTatiana Kharitonova uses both sides of her brain. The 29 year old accountant crunches numbers in downtown Calgary from 9 to 5, but after work and on weekends she follows her heart and explores a ‘million mini passions’ which she writes about on her blog.

Life in Cowtown was originally created to document Tatiana’s first ‘cold climate garden’, and just in case anyone cared to duplicate her experiments she decided to keep an online journal that she could also reference later. An early post shows her backyard in the winter before the garden occurs and describes the conflict that occurs inside her own brain – Tatiana is torn between her desire to be outdoors, and her general fear and contempt for insects, esp spiders and stinging bees.

Stable, secure and contemplative, Tatiana has been locked up in a good relationship with “a great guy” for eight years. She loves to read books and digests about four per week. She’s also a champion of free printable coupons and occasionally  posts offers right on her blog.

pepper plantSkilled in writing unbiased reviews, it’s not unusual to find Tatiana combining food and travel in the same post. She reviews cafes, shopping malls and Calgary Hotels and her journal entries are sometime punctuated with pictures of half eaten sandwiches and empty soup bowls. Unpredictable, she’s best categorized as an abstract gardening and pets blogger.

“I’m a generalist” she exclaims, ‘I like to learn a reasonably shallow amount on a variety of topics, and here anything goes – from ‘quantum physics for dummies’ to ‘how to make penicillin at home’. For example, Tatiana is an amateur mycologist and goes foraging for mushrooms in Alberta every year. I hope she writes a post on that subject this summer, and perhaps someday she will offer up a homemade mushroom hunting map to her readers.

Miss Kharitonova shoots all her own photos, and counts photography among her many interests.  Some great posts include her review of Millarville, which is typical straightforward account of her journey to Southern Alberta’s largest outdoor farmers’ market. That destination relates to her cold climate gardening objectives. Here’s a fascinating look at wall systems and how she replants peppers and takes her own advice, for once.

She loves her cats, especially Tweak, seen here.
Tweak the cat
Tatiana’s journal is not political. She doesn’t write to offend anybody, or propose radical change or protest society. But she did relate to me her frustration with the city of Calgary. What other city builds overpasses and sticks six sets of lights on them? Or purposely staggers their red lights so that you catch each one when driving?

In closing, Tatiana relates, “I do have a pretty dark side, but it doesn’t come out on the blog for several reasons. First, the nature of this blog doesn’t really encourage it – it’s hard to write about gardening and cats then switch to something nihilistic. I may have to get a second blog to express that side of me, but when I think about it, life is hard enough for many people, so having something to laugh at is more important than dragging oneself down.”

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Empress of Dirt in Ontario

in Mom Social, Ontario and Personal Blog


Empress of DirtMelissa’s profile on Blogger has been viewed almost 10,000 times since she joined in October 2004. That’s because her blogs tell stories about gardening, fabric dyeing and how to make garden art from junk. She blogs about the birds and the bees, and about motherhood and vegan food, and she has an empire of dirt from which all this goodness grows.

MellisaEmpress of Dirt is a personal garden and nature site, with some life philosophy and humour thrown in. Melissa is the first to admit that she has little gardening or nature expertise, but she loves the outdoors and paying attention to how it thrives. And, she explains, “if you put a bunch of plants in the ground, they eventually get huge and fantastic looking.” And her blog nourishes that truth.

Back in 1999, Melissa had an online business selling hand-dyed fabrics, and it was through her monthly newsletters that she started sharing funny anecdotes from her home life. The response from readers was so favourable that she turned the stories into a daily blog entitled Pioneer Woman With Cell Phone.  The blog revolved around motherhood and the antics of her family members.

HoneybeeFor a few years, the blog was a fun place to write for Melissa. But eventually her oldest daughter became self-conscious about being included in her mom’s posts, and asked to be kept out of it. “Gasp! That was the end of my best material! I continued blogging but it seemed muted to leave her out, but I had to respect her wishes…” And so, she shifted her blogging efforts to a new site, and Empress of Dirt was born.

Empress of Dirt is the site on which Melissa spends the majority of her time, but there is another place on Melissa’s personal blog roll. Fabric Dyeing 101 is where Melissa compiles all her notes and knowledge and experience in the fabric dyeing business. In conjunction with this blog, she’s also writing an e-book.*

ChipmunkBlogging comes natural for Melissa; she’s a compulsive photographer and loves to write. Her pictures are beautiful before Photoshop, and impress folks interested in gardening, flowers or rare butterflies. In a recent post named brown bees, Melissa posts images of honey bees collecting pollen. The pictures are filled with wildflowers and green leafy plants and natural medicine helpful herbs.  Even in her more humorous posts, such as guess who caused $279 damage?, her snapshots show the beauty of nature at a close range. She truly has a great eye for capturing the essence of her subjects, like this mischievous chipmunk.

When asked what she hopes her readers take away from Empress of Dirt, Melissa answers, “Inspiration and often a laugh or two. I have complete aw and reverence for the earth and nature, but I also have a rather ridiculous sense of humour and I don’t mind sharing it, no matter how embarrassing it can be. Laugh with me or at me, I don’t care. Just laugh.”

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