Monday, April 30, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow? {May 1, 2012}

First things first. It is my mom's birthday today. Happy Birthday Mom! When she comes up to visit, I am going to take her on the Island Artists Tour all day and buy her something special. She is an incredibly talented artist and she appreciates my photos (because she is my mom) so I posted more than usual for her this week. Love ya Mom!

Wow. This last week blew right by me. It feels like the planets are aligning for me in so many ways. My garden is green, green and green and there is growth beyond just the weeds. My strawberry plants are booming thanks to our net/caging system we set up. The garlic looks like a group of sentinels around the garden's edge sending off alarms to curious noses as if to say, "There is nothing here for you." My onion starts are starting to look a little stronger. The herbs I planted inside have all germinated. The sunflowers the Lil Man and I planted last week have germinated. Our artichoke plant has it's first artichoke and you would think there was a new baby in the family. We are mighty proud. We have had three meals with asparagus. THREE! The peas are starting to send their tendrils out to search for the lattice work. Lettuce and spinach greens are almost ready to start plucking (I planted the seed really thick so I could thin by picking those tender baby leaves). My tulips are up and they haven't been chomped thanks to some deer repellent I put out...divine intervention or blood meal?

I have to be careful though. It would be easy to wallow in the offerings these spring plants are bringing forth, but there is more planting to be done. A lot more. Squash. A whole lotta squash. And gourds. Busy busy busy.

For those of you who didn't see my FB post, I had a bit of a hiccup in the herb department. The post went something like this: Note to self: make sure the pen you are using is indeed a Sharpie and not a dry erase marker when labeling your Mason jars full of seeds. Awesome, right? Well lovies, I have taken photos of all of them and I will post the pics later this week so YOU can help me tell them apart. I might have to give something away to the person who comes the closest to naming them correctly. There are a couple I can easily distinguish at this point. A couple. Did I mention that there are 8 jars with tiny little shoots in them? Ha ha ha ha.

Here is the photo montage from this week and please be sure to tell me how your garden is growing!

Leafy green lettuce
leafy green lettuce
Lemon balm
lemon balm, right?
young spinach plants
Pea tendrils
pea tendrils
Leafy greens
young lettuce shoots
White tulips
double white tulips - I really love these
Parrot Tulips
Parrot tulips - these are one of my favorite flowers in my garden
Have a wonderful week and get some dirt under those nails of yours!
Click here if you would like to see previous weeks of "How Does Your Garden Grow?"

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Farmers' Market in pictures

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Friday, April 27, 2012

These Moments {the week in color}

Blackboard Piggy
Going the distance
The bunny is back
Beeswax and Honey
Silver Vision

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Spring Butterfly Parfait Toppers

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It was my turn to bring snack and Spring was in the air. While perusing Pinterest, I saw some butterflies made out of ziplock bags and clothespins and they were filled with snacks. The concept was cute, but I knew that my Lil Man would need more than just a snack bag to satiate him at snack time, so I filled one wing with organic granola and the other with organic raisins. After the construction was complete, I served them on top of a container of Brown Cow organic cream top yogurt and the kids made Parfaits. The teachers said the kids loved them, so mission completed!

Here is how I did it:

1) Color clothespins.

2) Fill half of Ziplock bag with granola and put clothespin in place.

3) Fill the second half of butterfly with raisins.

4) Twist a pipe cleaner in place for antennae.

This is a kid-friendly creation for a fun-filled and healthy Spring snack. Enjoy!!

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How Does Your Garden Grow? {April 24, 2012}

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You will be so proud of us. The artichoke lives!!

This week was a little slow in the garden. Weeds. More weeds. If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I have tried to make peace with mine. I am in search of dandelion recipes. Have you tried any? I am going to try a Farmers' Almanac Dandelion Soup recipe next week. Who knew I was growing this crop intentionally?

Several seeds made their way into the ground this week. I planted more spinach, LOTS of sunflower seeds in cups to start and our potatoes went into the ground or boxes.

The Yukon Golds are the Good Apple's. He has his own little bed for them. Remember this magical day for us last year? The Lil Man in his skivs, helping out his dad. Bare hands digging into the soil. Fingernails filled with dirt. Garden Heaven.

I planted Sangre, French Fingerlings and German Butterballs in our potato boxes. I have two other varieties to go, but I am not sure where I am going to plant them! Today, I found myself tucking potato starts into my flower boxes. Desperate measures for desperate times.

So there are a couple of regulars in my garden (along with the dandelions) who come back to visit every year. They get plucked year after year, but they insist on returning. I don't know their names. Can you help me?

What is that ferny looking thing on the top?

I really have a strong dislike for this cluster.

Lovely shade of purple, eh? What is it?

I know I should know these, but I don't. I have focused my learning to what I want to grow, not the other way around. This just screams what a novice I am. Help me. Please.

Finally, beginning in June, I will be featuring an island garden, other than mine, every other week during "How Does Your Garden Grow?" While I know all of you are just waiting with baited breath to find out what is happening in my garden each week (ha!), there are many talented gardeners on the island with so much to share in terms of knowledge and beauty. If you know someone on San Juan Island who fits this bill, send them my way!

Click here to see past issues of "How Does Your Garden Grow?"

And is YOUR garden growing?


All photos are taken by Val Curtis and can be used with permission only.

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Weekly Menu for April 23

This will be my last weekly menu post until the fall. We have hit the time of year when dinners with friends and community events are more common than a night at home. It is what we do here and here is a taste of it this week.

Monday - Rosemary Salt Rubbed Pork Chops and roasted potatoes with green salad.

Seared rosemary pork chop and roasted red potatoes
The pork chop recipe is from Amber at Northwest Edible Life. It is good, fast, fresh and it received a thumbs up from the entire crew. I used local pork chops and rosemary from the garden. I had a meeting and dinner was ready to fly before I was out the door.

For my roasted potatoes, I used red potatoes cut them in 1/4s and then gave them a little toss with olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and pepper. A trick I like for roasting veggies: put your baking sheet in the oven while it is warming. After tossing the veggies in a bowl with the EVOO, shake them onto the hot sheet and those bottoms will start roasting up! 25 minutes at 425 and they will be finished just in time to be served up hot with those perfect little chops.

Tuesday - Slow Cooker Spicy Beef Tacos from Give Me Some Oven

Searing the beef
Taco Tuesday! Surprise! Or not. We had some friends over for dinner tonight. I was able to send them home with a container of beef, some tortillas and beans and rice. Again, I used local beef and it did not disappoint. Add a little guacamole, sour cream and salsa. Bam. Dinner. My girlfriend brought a yummy chocolate chip coffee cake that was devoured by the whole crew! Thank you!

Wednesday - Roasted Veggie Pasta and a green salad

This is just so easy. Our medley this week consisted of carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, zucchini and ...wait for it...asparagus from the garden! This was our first sampling after a three year wait and it was oh, so tender and good! Incredible really. There is no comparison and I might just have to throw this into the tomato category of homegrown goodness. Yes. There it is.

Roasted veggie pasta
Cut up the veggies into large pieces. Give them a toss with some EVOO. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Throw them on a hot baking sheet for 25 minutes at 425. I add the broccoli in on a separate sheet for the last 10 minutes. They roast up pretty quickly.

Spoon pasta into bowls. Add a layer of veggies. Cover with your favorite red sauce. Sprinkle with a little Parmesan. Done!

We had friends over this night as well. She is the baker friend who makes all things wonderful, so she offered to make a rhubarb and lemon cake for dessert, I was so excited. So delicious and as soon as she posts it, I will share it with you.

Thursday - out to dinner

We took the kids swimming until late and then popped into a favorite local burger spot. I had a "Black and Bleu". It is a grilled chicken breast sandwich with Cajun spices and it is topped with a little bleu cheese. Oh so good and it is served with sweet potato fries. Love it.

Friday - oh, the guilt

I had great intentions of bringing you something extra special. I have several friends who are following a gluten free diet and I wanted to find something fun to offer them as a dinner option. As I was perusing the shelves at the grocery store I came across a packaged gluten free pizza mix from a brand I love. I thought it would be a great hit. I would try it out and keep some in my pantry if all went well. It didn't. I couldn't even get the dough off my hands to do something with it. It so a wet, gloppy mess. I had already prepared all of the toppings and I was frustrated. I yelled out to the Good Apple, who was in the garden, "Grab the kids, we are going out to dinner." I put the toppings in the fridge, threw the gloppity goop in the trash and headed out the door. This was not going to be a week in budget land because wait...

Saturday - Fundraiser dinner for the completion of the local sports fields

Holy cow! The whole island showed up! It was truly amazing. Hundreds of auction items from boats to cakes (and a meet and greet with Steve Miller, who is a local and whose music I LOVE. It was with concert tickets, dinner and lodging...awesome). The dinner was BBQ chicken AND ribs, coleslaw, beans and a roll and it was ALL done to perfection. Messy? Yes. But it was some of the best BBQ I have had (that didn't come off our own grill, of course). I can't even imagine what the headcount was. They had planned for 500 dinners and they had to rally up more food and they did. I am going to guess they served double that without blinking. Did I mention that there was fantiastic live music playing the whole time? Our community really knows how to throw and attend a fundraiser.

A special hats off to the incredibly dedicated group of parents and community members who made this happen. I can't wait to hear how much they raised.

Sunday- Grilled chicken and roasted veggies with a green salad.

Ahhhh. Back home. Back to normal-ish.

I have to head out to the garden, so I will see you on Tuesday.

Do you need some dinner ideas? Check out my other weekly menus or my real food recipes.

Friday, April 20, 2012

These Moments {in color}

Our focus in the photo challenge this month has been color. Here are my moments from this week. Enjoy!

Farm Fresh
Island time
I can't wait to see your moments! Happy weekend to you.


Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Earth Day Activities: Terrariums

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If you follow me on Facebook, you know that I adore Kristina of Icing and Crumbs. She is the Pinterest mom. She is crafty, a great cook and she regularly takes her kids on amazing adventures. When I asked her to join up with me to do an Earth Day post, I was thrilled when she agreed. The topic, terrariums. I went on a Pinterest pinning frenzy, pinning every terrarium I could find. The next day, she had her post ready for me. My goodness this woman works quickly. I didn't even open it because I didn't want to change my plan based on what she created. So, you get a 2-for-one deal: Kristina's version and mine.

Terrarium Treasures by Kristina Hoy of Icing and Crumbs

“Sometimes the tiniest flowers smell the sweetest.”
(Emilie Barnes)

Gardens are magical places. And tiny gardens enclosed within a small glass structure seem even more so. With Earth Day approaching later this month, I wanted to find a project I could complete with my two young children, and creating our very own terrarium seemed perfect.

Terrariums are not only simple to make, but can become a beautiful feature in any room. They can also be customized to fit into any space – large cookie jars, fish bowls, bell-shaped jars, mason jars, old jam jars, and even light bulbs can all house these little landscapes.

We decided to make a sand terrarium, as these are not only simple to construct, but they are perfect for growing air plants, which need very little care.

Eyes full of excitement, my young, almost-five-year-old daughter scanned the pictures we had collected and announced she was making a butterfly garden. Our trip to the shop didn’t take long – arms piled with round, frilly-necked vases, pink and white sand and a number of colourful, silky butterflies, we were ready to start!

We did the following:
1. Each glass vase was wiped clean with paper towel.

2. Alternating layers of pink and white sand were poured into each. The jar was gently shaken to allow the sand to settle evenly.

3. Colourful glass stones were placed around the outside of the sand, taking care not to touch the sand with our hands (we wanted the sand to remain flat on top, and shaking after placing the stones resulted in them sinking into the sand).

4.  A small air plant was trimmed, lightly sprayed with water and placed into each.

5. Butterflies were attached to the outside rim of the jar.

These tiny terrariums can sit happily on a shelf inside. The air plant does not need direct sunlight, and just needs a light spray of water every now and then.

These also make great gifts or would be a good hands-on activity for kids at a garden-themed party.

by Val from Mental Chew

As I spent time looking through terrariums, I envisioned my son and I sitting side by side working on our delicate structure. About 5 minutes into this activity, the Lil Man asked if he could go play with his trains. "Sure."

I have come to the conclusion that it is ok to just have activities for me and I think this is one of them. It could have been the fact that I was terrified his little hands weren't aware of the delicate nature of the glass containers while he was throwing the rocks in or wanted to spill all of the sand in to the top of the container. There are certain things that I want just so. This was one of those. Perhaps the best answer would have been to have more than one container so he had his own. Yes, that usually is the best option and would be my suggestion for you. Have one for yourself to model what you could/should/would do and one for your child to explore with on their own.

Here is what we I did:
  1. We gathered our supplies: playground sand, white decorative sand, white decorative rocks, four varieties of succulents (look for varying textures and colors), top soil, moss, tweezers and 3 stones from the garden.
  2. We cleaned the container so it was fingerprint-free.
  3. We filled the bottom half of the container with alternating layers of rocks, sand and moss, ending with the sand. (I would love to say we ended up with perfect layers, but we didn't. I think the helpful hint here is make your layers thick.)
  4. I used the tweezers to carefully pull small sections of the succulents from their containers and place their roots into the sand.
  5. I sprinkled a very thin layer of top soil around the plants.
  6. I placed the 3 stones into open spots and then sprayed the entire terrarium with a spray bottle of water.
That was it and to tell you the truth, I wasn't impressed with my terrarium until the next day when I saw the plants perk up and it actually looked kind of cute!

Two very different outcomes, both representing new growth to acknowledge our awareness of our planet.

Here are some other fun Earth Day activities:

We will be doing the last two! What will YOU be doing this Earth Day?