Archive for June, 2010

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squash blossoms and
purple potato flowers

Wednesday, June 30th, 2010

I could have titled this REFLECTING ON JUNE, but I am so excited and inspired by the plethora of new flowering veggie plants in my garden that I couldn’t help myself. After a wonderful and rather dry spring, my plants that I have been growing from seed are starting to take off. I have been a bit concerned about their small size, but I think a lot of that has to do with growing directly outdoors from seed.

My efforts are starting to pay off because my potatoes are flowering, and so are my squashes!

squash blossoms

Good morning squash! I will head off to work while you do your thing.

Squash blossoms are so beautiful. They have this amazing deep, vibrant yellow color that I wish I could replicate on a bedroom wall somewhere. “Mix up the squash blossom yellow, please!”

Did you know you can pick the squash blossoms and eat them? I know… it seems a little strange. I have actually never done it, and this is my 4th year growing zucchini and summer squash. But I always read about yummy recipes with squash blossoms in them. Sometimes freshly picked, sometimes stir-fried, sometimes fried… but they always look yummy. Maybe I will get up the nerve and actually pick one or two to eat this year.

squash blossoms

But they are so pretty to just look at!

I am still not sure if this first blossomer is a zucchini or a summer squash, I really don’t remember what I planted where. It was a windy, rain-threatening day when I was out planting the seeds. Soon I will see the start of an actual squash, and then I will know. And I will photograph to share with you.

squash and cucumbers

In the foreground is a cucumber plant. Starting to vine out!

My cucumber plants are lengthening which means I need to trellis them. And I need to figure out a taller, sturdier trellis than my sugar snap pea experiment. Because, sadly, my sugar snap peas have gotten to the end of the trellis ladder and have nowhere else to go. I think they may be at the end of their flowering journey for this round. Sad.

Next time I will get a taller trellis. Next time I will give them more growing space. All things you learn along the way.

Which brings me to my reflections on June. I didn’t reflect on May, but I need to take a step back and gather my thoughts. June was an inadvertently stressful month as we really got into pregnancy talk. The real deal. The what ifs. The actual what are we doooooing???? We did not get pregnant this month, but we had a week of uncertainty and it really took over our thinking. Now we are definitely thinking about the future in much more concrete, ACTUAL terms than we were previously.

I joke with Craig about the whole P90X workout fascination. No, I’m not planning on doing P90X. I’m doing PRE-PREGNANCY 90 DAYS EXTREME. As in, get my butt in pre-pregnancy shape over the next 3 months. Running. Lifting weights. Medicine ball. Sleeping way more. Stressing way less. Eating berries and whole foods. Laughing. Traveling. Enjoying. Relaxing. Being good to my body. Getting rid of bad habits. That’s my P90X. I was mortified at the thought of being pregnant because my body and my mind were not in the place I wanted them to be. And while I’ve been repeatedly told and reminded that it will never be perfect, I know me and I know that I have to be in a better metal/physical/spiritual place.

So I am so glad I have time, and this month has given me a lot to think about and improve upon. I’m not beating myself up. I’m just being realistic. You get out of your body what you put into it, right? And for the past few months I haven’t been treating my body… or my mind… particularly well. And I deserve better. I already know a lot of what I need to do to feel good. I need to run. And run CONSISTENTLY. I need to worry less about things I cannot control. I need to forgive. I need to let go. Blah blah blah… on and on.

I need to get real about what I want, that is for sure. I have to be more honest with myself, hold myself lovingly accountable. In the middle of a work week I’m not necessarily my own best friend. I’m clawing my way along trying to get by. I’m going to have to try a little harder to keep myself active, put nourishing foods into my body, not pop open a bottle of whine (pun intended), and GO TO BED at a reasonable hour. It shouldn’t be so hard, but when you’re in that cycle/routine it can be.

On the positive side (cause I always seek the positive… really I do try!) June was a lot about starting to eat right from the garden! Radishes first. Then broccoli rabe. Then lettuces, baby spinach, and sugar snap peas. The harvest so far has been amazing. I’ve never grown lettuces in so many colors and shapes and varieties. Squiggly and wavy deep maroons, vivid forest greens, bright yellow-limes. So yummy all of them.

And the sugar snap peas are straight out of garden bliss. Screw paying $4.99 a pound for sugar snap peas from Guatemala at the supermarket! You can EASILY grow them from home from seed! And I paid $1.49 for the entire organic seed package. I planted 12 plants, gave my sister a bunch of seeds, and I still have a huge amount of seeds leftover to plant again in the fall. And home-grown sugar snap peas are unlike anything you’ve ever tasted! It’s a small miracle that any of the picked pods ever make it inside to the salad bowl… they are that good!

While I could go on and on about garden veggies… June was also about hanging out with my nephews and really delighting in their amazingness and reaffirming just how unbelievably awesome children can be. Between soccer games, bouncy ball games, ice cream fieldtrips, overnight stays, and surprise work visits, I really had a chance to bond with my nephews this month. And I also got to feed and burp my baby nieces. Granted they are less interactive than my nephews at this point, but it is amazing being around so many kiddos. It has been such a delight and encouragement for me.

June started with garlic scapes shooting up from the garlic stalks in my garden, curling this way and that. The garlic scapes are now long gone (in my belly!), and in their absense I’m enjoying an incredible wave of potato flowers.

purple potato flowers

Do you think purple flowers means purple potatoes?

I have no idea how long this parade of flowers will continue, but I hope it will be around for awhile. I love the colors and shapes of these flowers. I love that summer is here. I love coming home to extra hours of sunlight, warm breezes, and the activity of birds, squirrels, neighborhood cats, and even the dreaded chipmunks in our yard. Summer is such a gift. It is filled with delicious scents when you go running and take in BBQs and blooming flowers. It is easy to stay up late when you don’t get around to making dinner until after 9 p.m. It’s just so reaffirming to have a whole other post-work shift when the sun is still up and the outdoors is calling.

June, I will miss you. But here comes July with even warmer temps, thunderstorms, fireworks, fireflies, our first wedding anniversary, drinking a cold beer with a freshly cut lime on the screened-in porch, farmer’s markets, home improvement projects, vacation planning, and who knows what else.

But for now I am so content to delight in purple potato flowers.

purple potato flowers

What a beautiful shade of purple. Slightly lilac. Slightly violet.

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Posted in The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | 4 Comments »

flowering potatoes!

Monday, June 28th, 2010

My potato patch is flowering! It’s working! It’s working! This is so very exciting, seeing as how this is my first year growing potatoes. And I love the fact that while something incredible is happening under the soil, in the meantime I get to enjoy the real deal, genuine meant-to-be-there flowers in my garden bed. They are not weeds! Not weeds!

That’s right. I declare victory!

potato patch

The potato plants are growing nice and tall. There are white flowers and the beginnings of
purple flowers. I wonder if they will all look the same?

potato flowers

Ta-dah!!! Potato flowers up front, orange lillies in the back. Simply lovely. I can
officially say that I grew flowers from seed! And, no, I don’t care if technically
potatoes don’t count.

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Posted in The Growing Season | 2 Comments »

practice makes perfect sense

Sunday, June 27th, 2010

From relishing not being pregnant yet to spending the weekend babysitting our 9-month old nephew—what a delightful contrast the last few days have been for me and Craig. I can’t think of a better way for us to make peace with our poor struggling minds. And by that I mean taking care of my nephew gave us a lot of reassurance that we are far more ready mentally than we give ourselves credit for.

Craig and I had so much fun taking him starting Saturday morning. We had him overnight Saturday and my older sister came to pick him up around 4 p.m. on Sunday afternoon. So he was a pretty big part of our weekend. And he was like pure therapeutic joy for us.
baby

I think that somewhere in us being so overwhelmed with the thought of being pregnant and WHAT ARE WE DOING and that panic of NOT READY! NOT READY, we forgot that having a kid is fun. We forgot that you figure things out as you go along, on the fly, through trial and error. Having a kid makes you an instant team. You get to belly laugh when he’s making lip-smacking noises while negotiating sticky, slimy banana pieces for breakfast.
baby

You also learn that cutting up the banana pieces too small makes for an instant mess as a 9-month old can’t pick up the pieces fast enough to get them into his mouth.

Having some down time with a 9-month old is snuggly.

baby

Morning breakfast! Craig does such an incredible job of being on from the moment he wakes up. He does such a wonderful job feeding, playing, stroller pushing, interpreting my horrific verbal directions when there's a tired baby in waiting—quick! grab the cloth thingy off the thingy from the dining room!—Craig’s calming presence and sense of humor makes all the difference.

It is exciting watching my nephew discover every mirror in the house and want to kiss the baby he sees. It’s gratifying when he takes a bottle like a champ, squeals when you kiss his belly while changing his diaper, goes down for a nap like clockwork, and lights up with a smile when you come into the room to get him up from his crib.

I had never had that post-nap intimacy with a baby before. Last time we babysat him, he came out of his naps still pretty cranky, and not sure if he wanted to see me. But this time was just awesome. He got so excited when I came into the room, smacking his hands together and cooing and banging his feet up and down on the crib bed. His eyes were wide and bright with a smile that tugged at all those parts of me that need to be nurtured and reminded that I can do this!

And then when you ask him if he’s ready to get up and he reaches his arms out so you can pick him up… ah… what an indescribable feeling. I needed that this weekend.

I needed to spend this time with both my nephew and with Craig. I needed to be forced to slow down. When you are with a baby, you become very aware of time, chunks of time, being productive in little snippets of time. And as a result, you really live in the moment. The present becomes extraordinary. Instead of feeling like my weekend was gobbled up because I was “on duty”, I really feel like I got to relax and just BE this weekend.

baby

Practicing the crawl. So cool to see him on the verge. Any day now!

Craig and I laughed a ton. We were silly. We swayed back and forth to the music of The Rainbow Connection during play time. We took the stroller out and were reminded how much we love our neighborhood. We napped when the baby was napping. We still got laundry done and dishes washed. We even got to visit with Craig’s parents. Life didn’t end.

We really lucked out. My older sister kept thanking us for babysitting. But I should be the one thanking her.

Coming off a stressful wondering sort of week and wrestling with so many life questions, we were reminded this weekend that we have a lot to look forward to. And it is perfectly okay to slow it down and get to where we want to go at our own pace.

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Posted in On the Subject of Parenthood | 3 Comments »

go with the flow

Thursday, June 24th, 2010

It’s been a week. A long one. But a good one. And I am feeling tired and grateful.

Let’s talk garden and life, shall we?

So I tried planting a bunch of flowers from seed this year behind my lettuces. And well, it isn’t working out so much.

weedy flower garden

Can you spot the actual flowers?

Yeah, so I planted all these flower seeds in an attempt to grow sunflowers, zinnias, asters, and more. But all I’m seeing grow is weeds. And interspersed in all these weeds are gigantic chipmunk holes. And then earlier this week I saw this crazy clump of weeds? growing in my back raised garden bed. And what do you know… I could see the remnants of sunflower seed shells in the soil and on the ends of the leaves. And then the very next day, something had come along and chomped off all the leaves.

sunflower fail

So... I'm thinking a chipmunk dug up my sunflower seeds and either deposited
them in the back garden bed or pooped them out there. And then proceeded
to eat the remnants.

Seriously? Yeah. I’m not pleased. Next year I think I will just buy annual flower starts. All I wanted was a flower cutting garden! Instead I’ve got weeds and ridiculously happy chipmunks.

In the midst of all of this, Craig and I were very much in the middle of wondering if we could maybe be expecting. Because my cycle was really off this month. No fun. And that was all it took to throw us into a little bit of disarray. The odds of us actually being pregnant were not very high, but when things don’t go quite like clockwork, your mind starts to blow things out of proportion and wreak havoc on your body.

And it’s not like we haven’t been so seriously contemplating parenthood over these last several weeks, right? I think the stress and wonder of it all threw my body off even more. But we are not expecting. And dare I say we are relieved. Is that wrong?

We are just not quite ready yet. Even if we are READY. But being ready theoretically and being ready ACTUALLY have proven to be quite a juxtaposition for us. Even if it were to be. We would embrace the possibility full-on. But we didn’t want to be there yet. We have learned a lot about ourselves this week. I got to confront my anxieties head on, and it wasn’t pretty. I realized how incredible and scary it is to not know what your own body is up to. Imagine the first 14 weeks! Yikes.

I also realized that mental preparation for a child is so critical. The whole visualization thing. The whole whatever happens I will be okay thing. The whole I can do this! thing. And that maybe it’s not in my best mental-health interests to leave things to chance until I am 100% prepared to accept the outcome, whatever it may be. I mean, we’ve come this far and obviously “planned” as best as we can. So if we are going to go at it, then we have to reallllly go at it. Like with purpose. And be committed to not just the, um, act(s), but the aftermath. Because getting pregnant and having a child is a game-changer. No doubt.

I learned that my mental self is still working stuff out. And my physical self wants at least a few more months of running, putting nourishing whole foods into my body, and seeking a normal sleep routine. I will get there. I will. I feel strangely blessed that I am in tune with my shortcomings and anxieties. Even if they irk me. And that now I have some time to work through them. I think Craig feels the same way. I think he was pretty okay with learning that we aren’t in it to win it just yet.

Our minds can conjure up a million different what-ifs though. Man. I am very happy to say that I am taking a break from myself right now. I need it. Must dissociate. Phew.

On a lighter note, I find myself being way more mindful in a positive way. I have been intensely taking in the little things. Especially the weather. The warm breezes. The presence of summer. The taste of organic strawberries on my tongue. The comforting coo noises my niece made tonight when I held her after work. The rhythm of simple chores like loading and unloading the dishwasher. The amazing feeling of fresh, clean towels. The softness of a pillow when I lie my head upon it. The smell of freshly brewed coffee in the morning.

I feel alert and alive. And I need this.

I got home tonight around 7:30 after visiting my sister and my twin nieces after work. I was excited that I got to see them. And I was psyched to roam the yard afterward. Craig wasn’t at home because he’d gone for an after-work bike ride. So I savored my alone time, pausing to watch the sun sink lower in the sky as crazy cumulous cloud formations hovered overhead. It never ended up thundering or raining, but I was content to walk through the yard and then hang out on the screened porch.

beans and watermelon

The bean plants are ready to trellis. And I think the watermelon plants are having a growth spurt. Pay no attention to the munched-on bean leaf on the right.

black cherry trees

Our black cherry trees are starting to form fruit. Every year I say I'm going to do something with the cherries. I want to try a jam I think.

dusk

After wandering about and pondering life, I sat on the porch for a long while.
I called my older sister and chatted with her about my day. And then when I came inside, I realized it was still light out in the western sky at 9:20 p.m.

It has been—and still is—my intention to take in this summer to its fullest. Because summer is here, it is always short, and I am up for the task. I suppose my mind and body are along for the ride.

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Posted in On the Subject of Parenthood, The Daily Balance, The Growing Season | 1 Comment »

happy summer!

Tuesday, June 22nd, 2010

Summer is officially here! And it is warm and wonderful out.

And today is Craig’s birthday. I am so blessed to be able to share this day with him. And I am so happy to have him back at home after his weekend away down in Boston (45 minutes away). He was gone Saturday and Sunday night. I missed him a ton. While I do love having my alone time, I miss Craig when he is gone awhile. But he is home safe and sound. And now it is his birthday!

I’m going to make him dinner after work. I will grill steak and do some sort of exciting salad using greens from our garden and yummy red lettuce our friend Allison gave us from her garden. I think I will marinate the steak and use garlic scapes and shallots. I’m also thinking that some sort of fun fingerling or new potato might be in the mix to roast or stir fry.

And maybe gorgonzola or other crumbly cheese? Something to create a fresh salad that’s perfect for a steak topping. Definitely calls for fresh tomato and red pepper. Broccoli and red onion. It’s very warm here, so grilling is the perfect option. And having Craig back at home inspires me to cook with fresh ingredients, coming up with new salad combinations!

I won’t lie. While he was gone I ate quite poorly… pizza, canned soup, ice cream (though it was tasty!)… I love to cook and it is fun to make Craig a special dinner. It’s the least I can do. He is awesome, and I am so lucky to share my adventures with him.

Here’s to another year filled with laughter, surprises, and new experiences!

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Posted in Cooking Adventures, The Daily Balance | 1 Comment »

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