Garden Neglect

I’ve neglected this year’s garden for some time, first by not starting it early enough, and second by doing little else once things were planted. I let the weeds take over, and they covered the whole of the garden. The work it has taken to get it back to looking healthy and presentable has been substantial. What if I had put in a few minutes every day to make sure the weeds were taken care? What if I worked every day to ensure the success of my garden? There are parallels to this in life as well, but I won’t get into that. What I will say is that gardening has taught me many things about life that I did not expect. It has shown me that you get out of it what you put into it. It has taught me patience. It has taught me humility. I can read all the books and do everything by the book, but things can still go wrong. So be humble. When you get a harvest of anything, give thanks. It’s a small miracle that you’ve gotten anything at all. That is all the philosophical garden talk I have for the day. Ha ha!

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These are our cucumber plants. Perhaps I’ll get enough to make some pickles.

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This is the the first time I’m attempting to grow eggplant and I’m hoping that I am at least somewhat successful, but that remains to be seen.

Even with all of shortcomings, I’m still hopeful that I can redeem myself this year in the garden. If I happen to, I’ll post more pictures of sweet sweet redemption.

When you need a reminder.

Sometimes you can forget, or take for granted how fortunate you are. You get hung up on the things that you haven’t accomplished, or acquired yet. Guess what though? All you need to do is look around you and see the little things that stare you in the face every single day to realize their beauty. If you look for it, you’ll find it.

I walked outside tonight when the sun was setting and took this picture.

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And then you see the big things. The faces that look to you every day to teach them. They challenge you, but ultimately they make you a better person. This is Theo. He’s my favorite boy. He’s my only boy. He has the biggest heart. He challenges me daily, but this little man has made me a better mom.

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So when you need a reminder of how fortunate you are, take the time to really look at all that is around you. Really look. You may be amazed at what you see.

The Brevity of Spring

Summer is almost here! I know! I can’t believe it either. In New York we often have an extremely brief spring as in if you blink you miss it, and then BAM summer heat and humidity is here. I think this spring fits nicely into that category though the heat has not been consistent…yet. We actually missed all the action. When we got back from vacation every tree and flower had bloomed! Still, I was excited to see that our pink dogwood tree bloomed, and the bloom was still youthful enough to capture beautiful pictures.

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This time of year is really magical. Though I guess each season holds its own magic. The newness of spring is fleeting, but spectacular and not to be missed, even in New York. That was me telling you to get outside and soak in this spring!

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So I’m not a flower gardener. For whatever reason it has not taken hold of me the way that vegetable gardening has. Perhaps that will change some day, but for now my pink dogwood tree and lilac bushes are enough for me.

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Happy Spring, however brief it may be.

Green Is My Favorite Color

Olive, chartreuse, moss, fern, they are all beautiful. I’ve loved the color green, and all of its variants since I was a child. Green can be fresh and bright, but it can also be warm and comforting. This time of year I’m captivated every time I step outside in my own backyard. Spring has slowly arrived in our area, and though I haven’t been able to plant my garden yet due to the cold nights, there are still beautiful greens to be found out there.

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Evergreen.

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Moss. For some reason I am fascinated by this moss on one of our trees. When the sky is gray like it is today, this moss is bright green when all else is dull.

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Gorgeous life. Beautiful health. Green. Green is my favorite color, and always will be.

The First Day Of Spring?

Today is the first day of spring, though this is what it looks like outside.

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Okay I lied it doesn’t look like that outside, but it did snow today. In fact it’s snowing right now. Will it ever end???? The calendar says that winter is over, but the weather hasn’t quite caught on yet. I want this……

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And this…..

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And THIS!!

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Oops! That’s a picture of Myrtle Beach, but I would still love to be there!

I’ve never been a patient person, but this is a little much don’t you think? I think my fellow north-easterner’s will agree with me when I say, “We’ve had enough already!” I want to blog about my garden! I can’t possibly do that when it’s still buried under snow now can I? I want to take pretty pictures of green things. Right now this is the only green thing in my yard besides our beautiful pine tree.

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Tree Moss. It is pretty though.

How is the weather where you live? I bet you have more green in your backyard than I do, but don’t worry I’ll catch up to you guys eventually!

Is It Spring Yet?

So where is spring? All I see when I look out my picture window in my living room is a sea of white. It doesn’t seem to want to stop snowing either. This coming week we are supposed to get another snow storm! The other week it was so very cold (-13 wind-chill) that the kids and I were able to do an experiment. The idea was sent to me by my friend Lindsay who lives in the South, but is a Rochester girl at heart. We took bubbles outside to see if we could get a bubble to freeze. The kids were so excited to try it. This is what we found.

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Cool huh? It worked! We were able to blow a bubble and as it fell to the ground it froze completely. When it broke, it broke into pieces. It didn’t pop. I might have gotten some cool mom points that day.

Even though this was a completely awesome little experiment, I can honestly say that I hope spring and the warmer temperatures associated with it arrive very soon! I am anxious to get my garden planted and see green grass once again.
Sending warm thoughts!

Happy Thanksgiving

“Give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” – 1 Thessalonians 5:18

Thanksgiving

It’s not always easy to give thanks. Sometimes it’s really really hard especially when things aren’t going according to plan. I’m going to tell you a secret. That is the best time to give thanks! There is always ALWAYS something to be thankful for.

I hope this Thanksgiving is filled with family, fun, and of course yummy food!

Happy Thanksgiving!

5 Reasons I Love Photography

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Disclaimer: I am still very new to photography. As such, you should know that I in no way regard myself as an expert or even intermediate level user of my camera in Manual Mode. I am a beginner in every sense of the word. This list is what keeps me working towards one day being an expert. I love photography!

1.) It’s A Challenge!
Photography can be highly complex in technique and composition. It can also be extremely simplistic in the same ways. I love the challenge that comes with it all. I’m a tech nerd so learning about the features of my camera and DSLR cameras in general has been fun for me. Learning how to apply those features to my photography is still a work in progress. I imagine it will remain so until the day I put down my camera, if such a day ever comes to pass.

2.) It’s Artistic
I never thought of myself as being particularly artistic, but since I purchased my camera I feel just that. Artistic! It feels great. For me it is an outlet I’ve never had before. It has helped me to literally focus on being in the moment.

3.) It’s Soothing
When I am having a hard day, picking up my camera and taking pictures of the things around me is a way for me to really see how fortunate I am. It calms my spirit. It shows me that God is everywhere around me. His beautiful works are right in front of me, every minute of every day. Even on days when everything is fabulous, it is still soothing to pick up the camera and capture what is around me.

4.) It Inspires
I am a technical person with a technical day job. There is no artistry in my day job. It’s all rules and requirements. That is why I LOVE photography. Though there are rules with photography as well, there is room to bend them, at least some of them. What inspires me is that next picture. There are so many possibilities. Will it be of my children? Will it be my garden? Whatever it will be I can’t wait to take that picture!

5.) It’s Deeply Personal
I am somewhat of a shy person. I know….weird right? You wouldn’t think that I am since I have a blog. What’s more outgoing then posting stories about your life on a blog? Photography lets me communicate without saying a word. It’s an extension of me. It shows the viewer what I find beautiful, or interesting, or wonderful.

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What drew you to photography? What keeps you interested in it? I’d love to hear from others like me.

First Snow

Last night it happened. It had been raining on and off all day. Then as night fell the snow came. Our first snow of the season! The kids came downstairs this morning and stared out the living room window. They were so excited that there was snow on the ground. My youngest turned and told me in the sincerest voice, “Jack Frost came to visit us.” Both of them were equally excited to get to wear their winter boots. Ah, to be a kid again.

It was beautiful. I grabbed my camera, slipped on my shoes, and went outside to snap some pictures. I didn’t mention that I was in my PJ’s did I? Oh good!

The birds had quite a bit to say this morning. I think they were excited too.
So we have this holly bush. It’s more like a hedge, I mean tree. It’s way taller than I am. Think we should prune it? Ha ha! I have plans for this holly. It’s going to make a beautiful wreath for my front door. Then again I think I could make one for every house on the block and still have a very large holly bush. I mean hedge. I mean tree!

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My garden is asleep for the winter.

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I can’t wait for next growing season, but until then I will enjoy the snow.

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Happy Winter everyone!!

Powers Farm Market

As far as I’m concerned, it’s not fall until we take a trip to Powers Farm Market. It’s been a tradition in our family for as long as I can remember. Now my kids get to inherit the tradition as well. They love it there. What’s not to love? There are pumpkins, hayrides, baked goods, a “haunted” tepee with beautifully carved Jack ‘O’ Lanterns, baked goods, a small petting zoo, and did I mention baked goods?

It’s a popular place to be on the weekends in October. It’s a challenge to get good pictures with all of the people there, but I managed to get a few. I was able to get a few precious ones of my kids, but I won’t share those here.

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Little pumpkins.

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Bah bah brown sheep?

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This is Lucy. Yes. I named her. I was trying to take a picture of her beautiful eye, but she blinked. I still think she’s lovely in this picture.

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This guy was not happy that a rooster was in his area.

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Can you guess who won the fight? Ha!

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My son loved the tractor. More importantly he love being pulled in the tractor for the hayride.

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Hayrides! Yours truly opted out this year! I know. Lame.

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I met a chicken named Harriette. Yes. I named her. We understood each other.

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All in all it was a beautiful time. The weather was chilly, and that made it all the more perfect.

Where is the place that means fall to you and your family?

Carrots

Carrots! If you’ve ever watched Anne of Green Gables or read the books you know that Gilbert Blythe called Anne Shirley carrots to taunt her about her fabulously red hair. Of course we all know why he taunted her. He was in love! I love those movies. I watched them so many times as a child I’ve memorized most of the lines. Anyway I’m writing this post not to talk about Anne of Green Gables, but to talk about the harvest of my carrots! Yes we’ve got carrots. They are the most perfectly imperfect carrots, and I love them. Yes I love them!

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Aren’t they beautiful?

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I love them!

Next year I will definitely be growing them again. Though I will make a few adjustments. It was my first time growing carrots, and I have to say I did not thin the seedlings very well. So some carrots did not have room to reach their full potential. Also I loosened the soil before sowing the seeds, but next year I will loosen the soil deeper. Doing that will allow the carrots to grow long and straight! I vow to do better next year, but isn’t that always the case? Ha ha!

Did you grow carrots this year? If you didn’t you should! Yum!

First Squash Harvest

I have to say I feel a bit triumphant. I was sure that my squash plants would succumb to an untimely death, but against all odds they have been able to produce some beautiful squash. I was able to tell two of them were ready to be harvested tonight because my fingernail would not pierce the skin. I’ve been waiting for squash it seems like forever, but my wait is finally over!

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Beautiful!

I really cannot tell you how shocked I am that I actually have gotten to harvest squash. It was a rough go of it for a while. It really ended up taking over my whole garden! I learned the hard way what the must have’s for squash are.

Squash Must Have’s

  • Space (My 16’x8′ raised bed was overcome by the squash, though I did have about a good 6 feet for my tomato plants).
  • Lots of space.
  • Did I mention space?
  • Properly fertilized soil. I fertilized every two weeks once blossoms appeared.

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I picked some tomatoes too and took some green tomatoes for the sole purpose of making fried green tomatoes! Yum!

Next year I would love to build another raised bed garden in our backyard. That way I could devote a whole bed to just growing glorious, fabulous, voluptuous squash. Although I had a great time growing squash this year, unless we add on to the garden space it won’t be making an appearance in next years garden. It doesn’t like to share the bed with anyone!

I’ve been trying to come up with a starting line up for next years garden. I’m making lists and doing research on how much space is required for my top choices. For now I will focus on what I have left in my garden. There are more squash, carrots, and tomatoes to be harvested. Do you know what will be growing in your garden next year?

Putting Up Tomatoes

When I was a young girl, I remember when my mom and I spent the day with my Grandma Celine canning tomatoes. I was given an “important” job to help though I can’t remember what that job was. I do remember that day was filled with lots and lots of tomatoes…..and hard work! It stuck out in my memory because of the teamwork and the fun that went into that day of preserving. I’m all grown up now and have my own family and I want preserving to become a way of life for us. It’s a beautiful thing. Fresh, fabulous, and freaking delicious!

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Look at this beauty my daughter is holding!

Today my Mama, my daughter, and myself had a canning day. We got the tomatoes from our local farm market and we preserved about 37 quarts! My daughter Collette helped with measuring out the lemon juice and salt for each jar. She did a great job, and was a great help! I am hoping that one day when she has a family of her own she will want to have days like this with me. It’s hard work but look at the reward!

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If you were there with us today you would have laughed at us. We jumped up and down cheering when we heard the ping of the jars sealing. Yes we are those people. It doesn’t take much to entertain us. Ha ha! I cannot wait until the next time we do this! We need more than 37 quarts between our two families so we might be doing it again sooner rather than later. We also talked about doing a tourtière cooking day. If you don’t know what a tourtière is, look it up. It is heaven in pie form courtesy of the Québécois. If you don’t know what a Québécois is look it up. Ha ha!

What’s your favorite thing to preserve?

Good Friends Share Veggies

When you garden you tend to have friends that do the same. I happen to have a friend that grew an awesome crop of tomatoes this year. Needless to say mine did not do so well. Last night I went over to her house to swap veggies. I gave her some of my surplus of cucumbers and she graciously gave me a plethora of tomatoes. It’s nice to be able to barter like that. She gave us cherry tomatoes, chocolate cherry tomatoes and some other ones. I can’t remember the name of the other variety. Ha!

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Look at those beautiful chocolate cherry tomatoes! Thanks Andrea and Tom! These little babies are going into a great salad, though I must admit that I’ve been eating them like candy so hopefully some make it into the salad. Ha ha!

Do you have a gardener friend? Do you swap crops?

Atlas Eats

Every neighborhood should have a place like Atlas Eats – Kitchen & Bake Shop to enjoy. My friend Andrea and I checked it out over the weekend. We came for the dessert, but ended up having lunch instead. Though the thought of having dessert for lunch was okay with the both of us. Ha! Neither of us had eaten much all day. Andrea went the breakfast route and got the bacon and egg sandwich on a cheese biscuit. I went with the open faced meatball sandwich on focaccia. Both were fabulous! Yes we shared a little with each other, and yes we both brought our cameras. Okay so Andrea brought hers so I wouldn’t look like a tourist all by myself, but hey, what are friends for? Anyway back to Atlas Eats. I will definitely go there again and again. The quality is superb and the atmosphere is inviting. They have tons of baked goods made fresh each day. It’s just a great little spot. Don’t take my word for it though. You must go and check it out for yourself!

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DSC_0435This was my lunch. An open faced meatball sandwich on focaccia with salad greens.

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Now GO! And enjoy!

 

 

Waltham Butternut Squash

There is nothing that symbolizes autumn more than butternut squash. At least for me there isn’t. When it shows up in your local grocery store produce section you know fall has arrived. This year I decided to try my hand at growing some. It was a rocky start. I had some garden pests that kept eating the tender seedlings. Having gotten through that ordeal , I’m pretty sure I had a nightmare or two about it, my plants finally started to grow. This is the latest photo of the first squash blossom that bloomed. I’ve since read that most often it’s the male blossoms that come out first followed by the female (fruit producing) blossoms.

Waltham Butternut Squash Blossom.

How do you make your squash? I love the traditional roasted squash, and I’ll make that, but I also want to try other ways to prepare it. These are the recipes I think I might try once I’ve gotten a good crop of squash.

I love soups, and so does my daughter. They are easy to make and easy to freeze. That makes them a good choice for busy families. I still remember the best lunches from my childhood involved one of my dad’s  famous sandwiches, and a bowl of yummy soup. It doesn’t get much better. This recipes looks delicious!

Roasted Butternut Squash and Shallot Soup from Cooking Light

I wonder if my kids would know there was squash in their mac and cheese? It’s funny they both loved butternut squash baby food when they were babes. This seems like a good sneak attack recipe! Ha ha!

Macaroni and Cheese with Butternut Squash from Martha Stewart

I need a good exotic recipe though perhaps one with curry? This one might do the trick!

Indian Butternut Squash Curry

What is your favorite way to enjoy squash?