Category Archives: Inspiration

Before & After


beforeafter

 

I’ve made it to that mid-point in my gardening season. Cool weather crops are done and warm weather crops aren’t really ready yet. I do still have lettuces and of course, herbs. But that’s about it for the next few weeks.

It’s been a busy June/early July and I haven’t been able to keep up with work in the garden. Now I have a few weeks where I can put in the time and really get things fixed up. I thought it might be interesting to show you the before and after of a real life garden. Not so pretty before. But definitely worth the work for the after.

This self seeded sunflower is monstrous!

This self seeded sunflower is monstrous!

Honeysuckle vine is doing well, no aphids this year. However, one of the vines did die, though the second one is so robust it's hard to even tell that one is missing this year.

Honeysuckle vine is doing well, no aphids this year. However, one of the vines did die, though the second one is so robust it’s hard to even tell that one is missing this year.

View from the deck to the back wall.

View from the deck to the back wall.

Garage side garden in a mid-season transition.

Garage side garden in a mid-season transition.

Peas are done, lots of weeds and some squash plants.

Peas are done, lots of weeds and some squash plants.

Peppers and sunflowers, some lettuce and marigolds. And weeds!

Peppers and sunflowers, some lettuce and marigolds. And weeds!

Compost bin and rhubarb.

Compost bin and rhubarb.

The back wall is a mishmash of perennials, annuals, garlic and lots of weeds. Needs a clean up.

The back wall is a mishmash of perennials, annuals, garlic and lots of weeds. Needs a clean up.

The wall lines the entire back property line of our yard.

The wall lines the entire back property line of our yard.

It's a good lettuce year! No bugs and cooler weather. This needs a major thinning. Time to eat some salad.

It’s a good lettuce year! No bugs and cooler weather. This needs a major thinning. Time to eat some salad.

Strawberries, gladiolus, a few impatiens and some straw that decided to seed itself and grow some annoying green growth. Needs a clean up and prep work for the strawberry runners that are starting to grow.

Strawberries, gladiolus, a few impatiens and some straw that decided to seed itself and grow some annoying green growth. Needs a clean up and prep work for the strawberry runners that are starting to grow.

More of the gladiolus, impatiens and strawberries.

More of the gladiolus, impatiens and strawberries.

New "Believe" rock from my sister-in-law.

New “Believe” rock from my sister-in-law.

Whoa! Okay, so this is a crazy raised bed. From this view you can see borage, garlic, onion, a volunteer lettuce, and dill. Time to harvest the garlic scapes.

Whoa! Okay, so this is a crazy raised bed. From this view you can see borage, garlic, onion, a volunteer lettuce, and dill. Time to harvest the garlic scapes.

The rest of the crazy raised bed is not quite as crazy. It's home to two very small eggplant, three kinds of kale, volunteer red orach, marigolds and Swiss chard. Things are going well here. It needs some weeding and some plant food on those sad eggplant, but I think once we have a long hot spell those will do just fine.

The rest of the crazy raised bed is not quite as crazy. It’s home to two very small eggplant, three kinds of kale, volunteer red orach, marigolds and Swiss chard. Things are going well here. It needs some weeding and some plant food on those sad eggplant, but I think once we have a long hot spell those will do just fine.

Weeds.

Weeds.

So many weeds. Raspberries are back there as well as a potted eggplant that is doing great. And the mint which is recovering from a bunny incident.

So many weeds. Raspberries are back there as well as a potted eggplant that is doing great. And the mint which is recovering from a bunny incident.

There is a rock garden under there somewhere.

There is a rock garden under there somewhere.

Herbs are doing fine. There is a ton of purslane in this raised bed that needs to be pulled, but once that is done this should be low to no maintenance for the rest of the season.

Herbs are doing fine. There is a ton of purslane in this raised bed that needs to be pulled, but once that is done this should be low to no maintenance for the rest of the season.

Beans climbing a support. Need to get my landscaping rocks back in their spots... they seem to walk off with my kids.

Beans climbing a support. Need to get my landscaping rocks back in their spots… they seem to walk off with my kids.

This area needs a clean up. That dill is good for now, but will probably be done in a few weeks.

This area needs a clean up. That dill is good for now, but will probably be done in a few weeks.

Basil is finally getting to a point where I can begin harvesting. I will plant some more in another location for later in the season.

Basil is finally getting to a point where I can begin harvesting. I will plant some more in another location for later in the season.

This is a container of carrots... and weeds.

This is a container of carrots… and weeds.

Another view of the kale, Swiss chard and orach.

Another view of the kale, Swiss chard and orach.

Overhead view shows the extent of weeds taking over the patio.

Overhead view shows the extent of weeds taking over the patio.

This side of the patio has few weeds, but still needs some work. The dill sure looks cool from this view!

This side of the patio has few weeds, but still needs some work. The dill sure looks cool from this view!

Honeysuckle and deck from above.

Honeysuckle and deck from above.

Lawn from above.

Lawn from above.

I have three tomatoes in pots this year. They look small right now and they are. But they are healthy and the weather at my house has been cool. I am confident that these will take off very soon.

I have three tomatoes in pots this year. They look small right now and they are. But they are healthy and the weather at my house has been cool. I am confident that these will take off very soon.

 

One week later, things are looking much better! Here are the after photos:

With weeds gone, the squash seems happier.

With weeds gone, the squash seems happier.

Nutterbutter squash plants are getting bigger.

Nutterbutter squash plants are getting bigger.

Cucumbers just about ready to start climbing.

Cucumbers just about ready to start climbing.

I still have plenty of lettuce here. Also peppers, sunflowers and marigolds. I've also added some basil seeds here, hoping to get a late summer crop to go with tomatoes.

I still have plenty of lettuce here. Also peppers, sunflowers and marigolds. I’ve also added some basil seeds here, hoping to get a late summer crop to go with tomatoes.

Peppers.

Peppers.

Back wall looks much nicer now with weeds gone.

Back wall looks much nicer now with weeds gone.

Pretty lillies.

Pretty lillies.

I like the color back here. And at night I can see the white flower from the house.

I like the color back here. And at night I can see the white flower from the house.

White petunias.

White petunias.

A view of the garage.

A view of the garage.

I topped off the older strawberry plants and will now let the runners go wherever they please.

I topped off the older strawberry plants and will now let the runners go wherever they please.

I "believe" the garden looks better now!

I “believe” the garden looks better now!

Weeded, but still jam packed. Soon the garlic will come out and the dill will take over.

Weeded, but still jam packed. Soon the garlic will come out and the dill will take over.

Weed free, for now. Second container of carrots moved over here.

Weed free, for now. Second container of carrots moved over here.

I love all the colors of kale, orach and chard together.

I love all the colors of kale, orach and chard together.

Swiss chard has the most beautiful leaves.

Swiss chard has the most beautiful leaves.

Raspberries are getting very tall now! We put in a support to try to keep them upright, hopefully it holds.

Raspberries are getting very tall now! We put in a support to try to keep them upright, hopefully it holds.

Pot o' eggplant.

Pot o’ eggplant.

Herb garden is in such good shape right now.

Herb garden is in such good shape right now.

There's the rock garden! I knew it was under those weeds somewhere.

There’s the rock garden! I knew it was under those weeds somewhere.

I'm very happy with my Climbing French green beans. They are perfectly ascending this support and have flowers starting on the bottom.

I’m very happy with my Climbing French green beans. They are perfectly ascending this support and have flowers starting on the bottom.

Lavender, dill and chamomile.

Lavender, dill and chamomile.

A very tall sunflower. It keeps getting taller! I will have to pull out a measuring tape soon.

A very tall sunflower. It keeps getting taller! I will have to pull out a measuring tape soon.

Tomatoes are still looking good and starting to get bigger. They are definitely behind schedule though, so at this point I'm hoping for a nice long summer.

Tomatoes are still looking good and starting to get bigger. They are definitely behind schedule though, so at this point I’m hoping for a nice long summer.

A nice place to sit.

A nice place to sit.

My happy place.

My happy place.

View of the patio garden. I did plant some nasturtiums which are supposed to rise up and meet that sun, but they are only about a foot tall right now.

View of the patio garden. I did plant some nasturtiums which are supposed to rise up and meet that sun, but they are only about a foot tall right now.

Another view of the patio garden.

Another view of the patio garden.

Another view of the deck.

Another view of the deck.

Garage garden.

Garage garden.

Garlic with scapes. The scapes are now ready for harvest and the garlic will stay in for about another month.

Garlic with scapes. The scapes are now ready for harvest and the garlic will stay in for about another month.

Overhead view of herbs and honeysuckle.

Overhead view of herbs and honeysuckle.

Overhead view of deck.

Overhead view of deck.

Patio garden.

Patio garden.

Raspberries and mint.

Raspberries and mint.

Backyard view.

Backyard view.

Overhead of raspberries, beans and nasturtium.

Overhead of raspberries, beans and nasturtium.

Advertisements

Why I’m back with a CSA.


Four years ago I wrote a post titled Why I dropped my CSA membership. Having gleaned all the info and inspiration I needed from that CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) membership, I was ready to make a go of it on my own. Things have gone pretty well in the last four years. We have eaten lots of great garden food. We’ve tried many new varieties of vegetables and herbs. We’ve preserved pound after pound of garden goods and enjoyed them throughout the year.

It hasn’t been all glamour though. Blight, bugs, cold weather, an insane amount of weeds and a myriad of other issues continue to plague my garden year after year. Nothing out of the ordinary. but enough to leave some holes here and there in my harvest.

Also, in that time, I’ve added two children to the family. And my other two kids have grown bigger. When I cook meals now, I need to make a lot of food.

Online and in other media, I’ve seen so many beauty shots of produce from local farms, farmers markets and CSA  boxes. I sometimes get veggie envy.

One year I spent the better part of our food budget at the farmer’s market. Now, there’s nothing really wrong with that. But it did make me think about my CSA days of yore and consider the value of purchasing produce that way. Perhaps the CSA did make better economic sense after all.

And then there’s the creative factor. The CSA boxes included items that made me stretch my cooking chops a bit and learn new techniques. I was missing that. Left to my own devices, I tended to buy basic vegetables that I knew my family would eat without complaining. Again–nothing wrong with that. But it wasn’t as interesting or as much fun. I like a food challenge and researching techniques and recipes is my idea of a good time.

So this winter, when I started to notice all the CSA sign up reminders popping up in my facebook feed, I began to reconsider my stance on CSA membership. Maybe I was ready to dive back in? Indeed, I believe I am.

The first box is here and I’m presented with a whole new vegetable (puntarelle, anyone?) to try and lots of possibilities ahead. I can’t wait to see what every new week brings. I’m confident that the produce we receive each week will be helpful in feeding those two new mouths we have, as well as the other four of us. Thankful for the bounty we grow, but also for that which is grown by others.

IMG_0281 (1)

The Fulfillment of the Promise


What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade. ~Gertrude Jekyll

It has been a beautiful spring so far in Southeastern Wisconsin. Yes, we have had some chilly air here and there. But overall things are right about where they should be. I find some comfort in that. After enduring winter’s bone-chilling cold and colorless landscape, it’s feels so good to know that once again Spring has arrived and the promise of another season of growth and life is now here.

The spiritual message of all this Spring wonder is not lost on me. I’m reminded of life eternal each year, and that only through death can we truly gain life. I don’t want to forget that, even in the giddy excitement of planning and planting the garden and observing the world as it comes back to life.

Here is some photographic evidence that the month of June is here at my house in all her glory. I’m sure the story is similar in countless backyards everywhere. By the way, you don’t have to have a garden to enjoy the sight of wild asparagus on the side of the highway or gorgeous green leaves upon the trees. Go find your own evidence, pretty much anywhere you look right now. And enjoy! It only comes once a year.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don't want hanging around.

A boy with a frog. Love these critters in the garden where they eat slugs and other bugs I don’t want hanging around.

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

Found this photo on my camera. My kids picked these radishes and then photographed them. Wonder where they would get such an idea?

A peek at the red orach which reseeded itself from last year's planting. The color is outstanding.

A peek at the red orach which seeded itself from last year’s planting. The color is outstanding.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Giant stalks of rhubarb awaiting some yummy recipes.

Strawberries setting fruit.

Strawberries setting fruit.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

What a beautiful crop of spinach we are enjoying this year. The best ever.

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year--honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

Chive flowers are now open and attracting something new this year–honey bees! I wonder if a neighbor has a hive?

This year's tomatoes freshly potted. Here's hoping for a good tomato year.

This year’s tomatoes freshly potted. Here’s hoping for a good tomato year.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

Patio with herb garden. Perennial herbs are now up and getting leafy. I should be able to start enjoying all of them soon.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

This raised bed will be featuring the following this year: garlic, onions, borage, spinach, arugula (already done), red orach, kale, Swiss chard, eggplant, marigolds, dill, and one volunteer head of lettuce.

A Summer Well Spent


It’s a warm, sunny, October day here in Wisconsin.  Cooler temperatures are on the horizon, but for today we will enjoy the warmth and sunshine for yet another day.

As I reflect on my summer (which I realize remains a mystery to readers as it’s been months since I’ve posted) I feel thankful and satisfied with what was accomplished.  I set out with a vague goal of preserving more food this year than I ever have before.  I knew that I would grow some of that food.  And that I would buy some of that food from farmers.

You might be wondering what has been grown, purchased and preserved this year.  As a matter of fact, I was wondering that same thing this morning as I pulled out a jar of peaches and thought how nice it would be to have an inventory of some sort.  Here is a list–with and without amounts–of what I worked on this summer.  I hope it inspires other urban gardeners to try some preserving.  Nothing here is exotic or difficult to do, just good ol’ jars of food and stuff in my freezer.

60-ish jars of jam:  rhubarb-vanilla, strawberry, strawberry-rhubarb, peach, peach-vanilla, blueberry
6 cups chopped frozen rhubarb
12 quarts of peaches in medium syrup (my son’s favorite!)
2 gallon bags of frozen blueberries
8 quarts frozen strawberries
strawberry fruit leathers and dried strawberries (these were gobbled up a while ago, I don’t remember exactly how much we made)
5 quarts cherries in almond syrup
4 pints cherries in wine
2 pints dried cherries
1/2 gallon cherry wine
several bags chopped, blanched kale (for winter soups)
4 pint jars dehydrated chocolate mint (for tea)
6 pints mint syrup (for mixed drinks, sweetener)
3 pints cherry wine syrup (to pour over a pound cake)
pesto (we keep eating this, I’m not sure how many we made)
kale pesto
1/2 pint jar dried chamomile (for tea)
several containers cream of broccoli soup
several containers creamy carrot soup
several containers eggplant supper soup
dried thyme
dried oregano
dried parsley
6 quarts garlic and honey dill pickles
7 pints bread and butter pickles
6 pints spicy classic dill pickles
4 pints tomato sauce
4 pints marinara sauce
4 pints tomato salsa
6 pints peach salsa
dehydrated apple rings
dehydrated tomatoes
8 pints applesauce
3 pints cinnamon applesauce
8 loaves zucchini bread
12 heads of garlic
gallon bag of frozen kale cubes (to throw in smoothies)
gallon bag of frozen beet green cubes (to throw in smoothies)

Meanwhile, we’ve eaten countless salads and tomato dishes out of garden.  We’ve eaten mountains of kale chips.  My kids have a habit of eating raw beans, peas and carrots straight out of the garden… in fact these things never make it in the house.  Every day we look forward to our raspberry snack, straight off the canes outside.  We put fresh herbs on all of our meat and fish, make salad dressing with our herbs and use them in mixed drinks.

This year we enjoyed fresh garden onions for the first time.  We made fresh juices with our celery, cucumbers, kale, parsley and other fresh garden goods.

It’s the second week of October and we still have much to look forward to.  There are tomatoes on the vine.  If a frost threatens, I can pull off the green ones and let them ripen indoors.  Until then, bruschetta and salsa awaits!  And probably a few more BLT dinners (our favorite).  Celeriac is ready to harvest and be transformed into a delicious soup.  Leeks are large this year and ready to be used in a leek and potato soup, as well as other applications, such as our Christmas ravioli filling as we’ve done in the past.  There is plenty of swiss chard and kale, the latter of which will continue to grow until it gets very cold.  Raspberries continue to ripen each day and the eggplant has hit a stride that I find hard to keep up with at this point.  I have such good luck with eggplant.

Perhaps the most interesting thing in this year’s garden is the lemon tree.  So many big, beautiful lemons!  They are turning yellow now and will be perfect stuffed into a chicken for roasting or in salad dressing, on fish, in tea, or on my favorite lemon garlic pasta recipe.  What a blessing to finally get some lemons off that little tree.

I garden in a small city sized lot.  I squeeze a lot in to my small space.  Not everything grows, not everything is a success.  That’s okay.  I’ve learned much from my garden failures.

At the beginning of the season I prayed over my garden as I planted it.  “Dear Lord, if it is your will let this garden nourish us this year.  Make it grow!”  God delivered.  I’m not a perfect steward of these blessings (oops, I’ve had to toss a few things I let go past their prime in the compost), but thankfully God doesn’t withhold His blessing just because I make some human mistakes.  I’m so glad He gives me the opportunity to keep trying and keep learning.

So, for now, my larder is full!  Praise God.

Dwarf Meyer lemon tree has been working on growing these lemons all summer.

Dwarf Meyer lemon tree has been working on growing these lemons all summer.

The lemons are beginning to turn from green to yellow.

The lemons are beginning to turn from green to yellow.

I picked these today--October 8th--our tomatoes continue to produce late into the season.

I picked these today–October 8th–our tomatoes continue to produce late into the season.

Celery root (celeriac) is ready for the soup.

Celery root (celeriac) is ready for the soup.

In this part of the garden, I have (from left to right) celery root, leeks and Swiss chard.

In this part of the garden, I have (from left to right) celery root, leeks and Swiss chard.

Marigolds and nasturtiums finishing out the season.  They have added so much color.

Marigolds and nasturtiums finishing out the season. They have added so much color.

My daughter is picking raspberries.  As you can see, my garden is still full.

My daughter is picking raspberries. As you can see, my garden is still full.

Plenty of herbs are available for flavoring meats, soups and sauces.

Plenty of herbs are available for flavoring meats, soups and sauces.

This garden bed is still going strong with strawberries (I admit they've taken over a bit), walking onions, celery, broccoli, carrots, kale and tomatoes.  October 8th and it is all still looking great.

This garden bed is still going strong with strawberries (I admit they’ve taken over a bit), walking onions, celery, broccoli, carrots, kale and tomatoes. October 8th and it is all still looking great.

The strawberries have really multiplied, as you can see from this view.

The strawberries have really multiplied, as you can see from this view.

Every day we enjoy raspberries.

Every day we enjoy raspberries.

All in!


All the pots have been moved to this location so they are watered while I'm away.

All the pots have been moved to this location so they are watered while I’m away.

The process of getting the garden in went into high gear this week as we prepared to head out of town.  It was really a family effort, with my husband doing much of the structural work and hauling of supplies and the kids helping me with seedlings, seeds, weeds and watering.

I knew several months ago that the garden was going to be more productive this year, but I had no idea just how many things we would be able to squeeze in.  I’ve used every inch of dirt and nearly every pot we have.  The result is a backyard full of dozens of varieties of vegetables and beautiful flowers.  I can’t wait to see how it all grows and what we are able to do with it.  I’m especially hoping to be able to preserve more to eat throughout the off-season.

Why do it this way instead of planting fewer varieties but more of them?  Done that way, I could have enough tomatoes to make all the sauce we’d need for the year.  But I wouldn’t have anything else.  And it wouldn’t be much fun.

Planting several varieties ensures that there will be successes, even amid failures.  If tomatoes get blight, there are still many other edibles to enjoy.  Variety is also a great way to draw beneficial insects to the garden.  Each one may attract something different.

And of course, variety is beautiful!

Herb garden is planted with parsley, chamomile, dill, lavender, thyme, sage, tarragon and chives.

Herb garden is planted with parsley, chamomile, dill, lavender, thyme, sage, tarragon and chives.

My husband helped the kids create their own little garden.  They have dinosaur kale and begonias.

My husband helped the kids create their own little garden. They have dinosaur kale and begonias.

My husband installed this lattice.  I'm planning to use it for cucumbers and zucchini.  The rest of the bed is planted with garlic, bush beans, nasturtiums, marigolds, two kinds of lettuce, various beets, celery, celariac, onions, radishes and swiss chard.

My husband installed this lattice. I’m planning to use it for cucumbers and zucchini. The rest of the bed is planted with garlic, bush beans, nasturtiums, marigolds, two kinds of lettuce, various beets, celery, celariac, onions, radishes and swiss chard.

This area has three tomato plants as well as pole beans, fava beans and watermelon.

This area has three tomato plants as well as pole beans, fava beans and watermelon.

This bed is planted with tomatoes, marigolds, three kinds of kale, fennel, two kinds of carrots, broccoli, pak choi, walking onion, leeks, red onions, nasturtiums and strawberries.

This bed is planted with tomatoes, marigolds, three kinds of kale, fennel, two kinds of carrots, broccoli, pak choi, walking onion, leeks, red onions, nasturtiums and strawberries.

Mid-Winter Juicing & The Garden


Carrot juice... such a beautiful orange color.

I’ve always wanted a juicer.  I’ve imagined fresh fruit and vegetable juices in a rainbow of colors for a long time now.  But I’ve never been able to make the big purchase and actually get the juicer.

One reason is, I’m holding out for the really good quality masticating juicer… and those aren’t cheap!

But lucky for me, my brother recently purchased a Jack LaLanne juicer.  While he’s out touring the Midwest with his theater group, the juicer has been staying on my counter top and getting a ton of use.

It does make me miss the garden even more though.  How nice it would be to go outside and grab some mint for my carrot/beet/apple juice!  Or to have grown the carrots or beets myself.  For green juices I think of all the spinach and chard I’ve grown in the past and how handy it would be (and cost-effective) to use my own.

February is one of those months where I wonder how our ancestors did it.  How in the world did they get through the long winter without a modern produce department?  Juicing requires lots of fresh veggies and fruits and while it is an awesome winter pick-me-up, it is dependent on purchasing produce that’s been shipped in from somewhere warm and sunny.  The gardener in me cringes when I think of this!

I hope the juicer comes to visit our house again this summer when the garden is full of fresh vegetables and herbs.  It will be so satisfying to juice from my own garden.  I’m going to plan to grow a few things specifically for this purpose (extra kale, more beets, more fennel).

In case you’re interested, my husband and I have found a few juice recipes to be our favorites.  Here they are:

Fennel & Apple Juice

Green Juice

Mean Green Juice (original)

This is the official recipe used by Joe Cross and Phil Staples according to the Reboot Program.

6 Kale Leaves
1 Cucumber
4 Celery Stalks
2 Green Apples
1/2 Lemon
1 piece of ginger

We watched the movie Fat, Sick and Nearly Dead and were inspired by Joe Cross and Phil Staples.  While I’m more of a whole foods person, this documentary is well done and certainly shows what the benefits of juicing could be for some.

Planning dinner six months in advance.


This time of year, you’ll see me with my stack of seed catalogs, but not far away is my stack of cookbooks and magazines for inspiration.

The reason I planted an herb garden a few years ago is that for years I had seen so many recipes in cookbooks and magazines that called for fresh herbs.  And I wanted to make them!  But fresh herbs cost a mint (pun intended) at the grocery store, and truth be told they really aren’t “fresh” inside those little plastic clamshell boxes anyway.

Grocery store herbs are reminiscent of fresh herbs, but lack the intense smell and flavor of freshly harvested herbs.

Because I love food–and because I love the people for whom I cook food–I had to grow my own herbs.  I couldn’t go wasting money on mediocre (at best) grocery store herbs and I HAD to make those great recipes I was reading and collecting.

Now I like to go back and page through my cookbooks or magazines and think about what we’d like to try in the coming year.  I see a great looking beet salad and I make a mental note to choose beet seeds that will be perfect for that.  Eggplant recipes have inspired me to grow a few different varieties.  When thinking about what to plant, it helps to think about what I will cook.

Last year I added tarragon to my herb bed.  How have I lived without tarragon my whole life?  I was inspired by recipes to add this and now I cannot imagine summer grilling without it.

So I’m looking forward to trying some new recipes this growing season and in preparation I’m going to be ordering the needed seeds.  I think of it as planning for dinner six months in advance.  Might seem a bit extreme to some, but to me it’s much less extreme than my herbs and veggies traveling thousands of miles to end up on my dinner plate.

A little advance garden planning makes it easy to throw together delicious meals during the growing season, such as this grilled chicken marinated in herb mayonnaise with fresh herbs.

Regarding Thanksgiving


“Wake up now, look alive, for here is a day off work just to praise Creation: the turkey, the squash, and the corn, these things that ate and drank sunshine, grass, mud and rain, and then in the shortening days laid down their lives for our welfare and onward resolve. There’s the miracle for you, the absolute sacrifice that still holds back seeds: a germ of promise to do the whole thing again, another time.”

Barbara Kingslover,  Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

Thanksgiving celebrates the bounty of the growing season and provides a special day to offer thanks for the many other blessings in our lives.  What a perfect combination:  food from the garden and thankful hearts!

No matter where our food came from–the grocery store shelves or the organic farm, or perhaps our own backyard–Thanksgiving is the perfect time to pause and reflect on the growing season from start to end.  Here is the culmination of that season and all its elements: seed, soil, sun, water, and the gardener’s touch.  Praise God for that he gives us the chance to take part in the awesome process of providing sustenance for ourselves and the ones we love.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Angela

Time for the Fair!


It’s time for the State Fair here in Wisconsin.  I love movies that feature scenes of a County or State Fair.  (Like Rodgers & Hammersteins State Fair… love it!)

So Dear to My Heart is an utterly charming movie that came out of Walt Disney Studios in the 1940’s, when you could still make a mainstream movie with family values that acknowledged God as our Creator.  It’s a special movie that I’ve shared with my children since they were infants.  It’s simply the best.

Enjoy this clip about the County Fair.  In the movie a young boy raises a black sheep and takes him to the County Fair to try to win a blue ribbon.

Edited to add:  I should mention that this is a live-action film, but the scene I’ve selected is one of several animated scrapbook musical montages throughout the movie which feature a wise old owl who shares many nuggets of wisdom.  So sweet!

Take a ride on Casey Jr.!


I’ve been to Disneyland once, on a gorgeous fall day in October.  We took my then 1-year-old son on the Casey Jr. Circus Train ride in Fantasyland.  What struck me most about it were the charming gardens and miniature villages and storybook castles.  It was very “old school” Disney and was noticeably void of today’s overly pink princesses that seem to permeate all things Disney.

Take a ride on Casey Jr. and see for yourself what a pleasant trip through nostalgia awaits you!