Saturday, February 23, 2013

Seed Starting (and Garden Planning) Has Begun!

It's time for late-winter/early-spring gardening!  At times, I wonder what role gardening has on this blog, except that it is a huge part of our creative lives.  Long ago, it was more a matter of simply growing vegetables to can or freeze for the next year, and it certainly is still that.  But, it's also become much more creative and much more of a community-minded activity.  We live in the suburbs, after all -- a long ways away from when we gardened surrounded by 180 acres of farmland (and I had space for 54 tomato plants and could put up more than enough food!!)

Indeed, my main goals for the garden this year have more to do with dear friends who passed away this year, who always checked out the garden and watched whatever we were up to, chuckling often when we asked for their bagged leaves from their curbs, but always willing to provide.  And then, a few years ago, I noticed that one of the men had started growing red and white impatiens in flower boxes all along the front of his house.  And, he got some pin wheels.  And, I started enjoying watching his gardening adventures, just as he got a kick out of ours.

He passed away from cancer this year.  His pin wheel and flower boxes are still in front of his house.  So, this year, I might not have too many plans for the garden in terms of where I'm planting what, but I do know that I'll be planting some red and white impatiens and I need to find some pin wheels in honor of friends who we miss dearly.

And, meanwhile, we just started a flat of tomato seeds that have joined an earlier flat of leeks and flowers.  I am bound and determined to actually grow leeks one year -- so far, it hasn't happened, but that's the fun of gardening.  This year might be the year!  Last year was a good one in terms of new things -- we grew broom corn, green cabbages, and cauliflower successfully for the first time.

This year, I don't have many goals, except that I'd love to see my asparagus really provide a decent crop, I'd like to see my strawberries perform, and I need to figure out a way to get a larger tomato harvest.  I'd thought I had put up enough tomatoes, but we ran out of canned tomatoes and sauce a few weeks ago -- way too early!  I also need more basil because we ran out of frozen pesto long ago, too.   My other goal is to avoid planting things that my family just won't eat.  There's no need to plant a bunch of lettuce or pac choi because the guys will only eat so many salads and even fewer stir fries....

We were just blessed with some used wood from a house that is being remodeled, so we spent an hour or so today pulling nails from it and getting it ready for more garden boxes (not that I have any idea where to actually place them in our small yard!).  We also want/need to build another compost bin.

The fun begins!

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

"Autumn Reflections" - 1st Place Garden Views

Recently, we had the pleasure of attending the awards ceremony for the Washington Gardener Magazine Photo Contest and finding out that one of my photos had been awarded 1st place in the Garden Views category.  This photo was taken at Westmoreland State Park.  The photo will be on display this summer at a local gallery and will also be printed in the spring issue of the magazine.

Friday, February 8, 2013

Bountiful -- My Cookbook is Finished!

About a year ago, I suggested to my friends and family that we compile a cookbook.  I'd realized that some recipes were in danger of disappearing from our family traditions, and I didn't want that to happen.  Frankly, I had no idea of what I was really suggesting, as the time required to put together the book that I envisioned quickly became more than I initially realized.

For the entire year, I did not take my usual photography classes, design my usual photography books, or do any of my standard creative pursuits.   Instead, I threw myself into the book that became a labor of love.  And, to be honest, I had definite ideas of what I wanted to see in the book -- lots of photographs, a focus on cooking with the seasons (and the gardening that goes along with that concept), and recipes that made people smile and remember.  All those things, plus the fact that I had to self-publish the book, pretty much made the cookbook a "collector's item" before it was published! But, after a year's work, the book is done.  I hope it brings joy wherever it goes...

If you'd like to take a look at it, here's the web address:

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

Valentines Made by the Boys

Both my boys need to make homemade Valentines for their school friends.  We headed off to the local craft store but could only find materials in the usual pink or red...with lots of frills.  Those things definitely weren't going to work for my boys, despite the fact that they know that pink was considered a masculine color back in the Colonial period!

So, we revisited an idea that we've used in years past to make a more gender-neutral Valentine.  We bought coffee filters and cut them into hearts.  Then, the boys put food coloring on the filters to turn them into various shades of red, blue, green, yellow, orange, purple....and sometimes brown, if the boys got a little heavy-handed squirting food coloring everywhere!  After the hearts dried, we glued them onto brightly-colored card stock.

The Valentines look great!

Friday, February 1, 2013

God's Eyes

My youngest son has become enamored with God's Eyes.  He learned how to make them at school and they have become his special art.  We have them hanging from most of our windows; it's become a good thing that we don't have any fabric "window treatments"-- his art is all the treatment these windows need!  Joy, our cat, likes to sit up as high as she can and look at them all.