Monday, July 28, 2008

New projects in the wings

I've got a serious knitting jones. I've slowly been working on a lovely green hoodie that I'll show once I've gotten it completed. But it seems like old news and what with the weather, and the fussy part I'm knitting right now it has sadly sat languishing in my knitting basket for over a month. But I've been picking up knitting vibes for new projects from all over the creative world, and I succumbed to the siren's song for more yarn. And I did also recommit myself to finishing the hoodie before the first cold snap this fall.

I've picked up some lovely skeins from Webs in Northhampton, MA and Fabric Place in Woburn, MA. Here's a sneak preview of some of the variegated and solid loveliness. All on sale! Which somehow helps me justify the expenditure. I'll give more details as I take it out to actually begin knitting. For now, some flashes of the stash...

Another "Aha" moment

For any of you who (like me) have been spending lots of time individually clicking on all or your favorite blogs, or typing in URLS every time, to see if they've been updated, and on and on. Well, today I found what is likely old-hat to many and totally new to me, an explanation of blog readers, feeds, subscriptions etc. Since I can't possibly make it as clear as simplemom does...

Go here, check it out, simplify your blogreading!

I've now allowed subscriptions to this blog which should simplify things, and I established my blogreader account so that I too can streamline my online time. Hope you find this useful.

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Who Knew?

After coming home to yet another big bunch of radishes ready to pull in the garden, it was time to branch out. Until now I've always thought of radishes as those strong flavored things you only need a few of, sliced up thin and put on your salads. But, now that I use so many in my companion plantings (they are good deterrents to many pests) I need to use up a whole lot more of them. And throwing out all those green tops always seemed like such a waste!

Well, after much searching and reviewing different recipes and recommendations, I discovered that the greens can be used too. Who knew! Cuz' I sure didn't! Well then, I decided to cook them the way I cook chard. I snipped off the radish tail and the top stem and sliced the root into quarter-inch segments and tossed them in a saute pan with a little olive oil to begin heating on med high. Then I cut the lower part of the stem off the leaves, washed them thoroughly and gave them a rough chop. They are a bit fuzzy/prickly which can be a little off-putting but, fear not. The fuzzy/prickles seemed to disappear when cooked. Then I threw the roughly chopped (still damp) greens on top of the roots which were now hissing a little in the pan. I sauted the whole lot until the greens were wilted and the radish roots had become a little translucent. Then I drizzled in a little balsamic vinegar, tossed in a few dried cranberries and called it done. The roots had mellowed and no longer had that strong flavor but held up well to the balsamic and the sweet tartness of the cranberries. All in all a delicious way to serve radishes and we're looking forward to having more for lunch tomorrow.


Well, I've been doing a lot of reading, seeking, reaching for hope lately. Getting hyper focused on the "news" from media outlets, overhearing too many mindless, soul-less conversations, and even looking closely at the sides of the road on my way to work, all leave me in a dark place. I know it is important to be aware of these realities, if only to push against them and strive for better (for humanity, for the environment, for the future). But it is a tricky balance. And often my eyes and ears are almost desperately casting about for something bright and good to land on.

In a Mind Body Workshop I recently attended, we were encouraged to spend a little bit of dedicated time everyday to appreciating, noting, listing things that brought us joy, gave us hope and positively influenced our day.

Here are a few of mine:

• One bright orange giant zinnia blooming/blazing in a mass of green after a torrential thunderstorm

• A very elderly gent on his daily walk down the soggy morning street in a hot pink t-shirt

• Ten minutes of lovely morning quiet to sip my coffee and read

Greg Greenway's song "Standing on the Side of Love" with the soul-tugging strains of Pat Wictor's slide guitar...the best kind of music for a morning commute!

• The man with the shiny bald head and twirly mustache who kindly held the door for me this morning

• The discovery of another amazing family making a change at Path to Freedom

What's bringing you hope today?

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Growing things...

Well, our garden is in full swing! Which is pretty exciting since it was all just a big patch of scrubby grass a few months ago. Last summer when we bought the house, I was so excited with the potential for a large-scale garden. And had hoped to get it planned and framed as soon as we moved in. Well, breaking my leg on the day of the closing (whooops), and the subsequent surgery, complications and healing, left all my plans on hold until this spring.

Thankfully, my leg has healed well, and I have a wonderful, supportive husband, Michael, who has done yeoman's duty helping to make my garden plans come to life.

Here he is back in May framing out some beds... (Thanks to brother-in-law Allen and the surprise gift of a power drill. Whoohoo! That sure sped up the process.)

And then we went the lasagna gardening route, using newspaper/packing paper laid over the grass, then kitchen scraps and compost or grass-clippings and then topsoil. And then the planting. My notebook was brimming with sketches, lists and seed catalogs!

Now, here are those same beds, in mid-July. The one that Michael was building is the one on the far side, taller than the chain link fence. It and the one to the right are filled with a "three-sisters" planting. A symbiotic companion planting of corn, pole beans and squash or pumpkins. They are going like crazy! The beds in the foreground were planted later, but have things like broccoli, kale, radishes, carrots, melons and lots of beans. The cobwebby trellis is one I put together for the red runner beans, and inspired by Green Kitchen.

And lastly, here is a close-up of the strange hoopy chicken-wire structure I built for the cucumbers to climb over and shield the mesclun that I've planted inside. We've named it the "cukastoga wagon."

Hope everything in your world is growing and reaching for the light. I'm off to harvest another bunch of lettuce.

Quiet Beginnings

So, I'm wondering if I should have done something momentous for my first post. But, I've been reading posts (lurking) and commenting (rarely) when I have something to contribute for so long...seemed like I just flowed right into it.

Discovering the world of amazing blogging crafters, and artists, and simple-living folks has really helped me feel connected and hopeful. Which may sound a little odd that the Internet is doing what interactions in my real physical world aren't doing. But, my work world and local neighborhood certainly don't offer the inspiration, creativity, political and social views that I have found on so many relevant, wonderful blogs. That's why I decided it was time to wade in.

I intend this to be a place to document and share my experiments, creations and thoughts. So welcome!

Friday, July 18, 2008

Farmers Market

Yeah, just got to my first farmers market of the season. I had hoped I'd have enough growing in our own garden to circumvent too much produce shopping, but, although we have loads of lettuce and peas, It'll be a while before we see the likes of the beautiful corn, beans, chard, tomatoes and blueberries I picked up today.

I finally had time to organize a chart of all of the farmers markets that are close to home or work and reasonable to get to at lunch or on my commute. This market, in Newton, MA, took me 15 minutes to get to from the office. I took a friend along to do her shopping as well, so it was a great adventure. Nice! There were three farms represented, a fishmonger, a gelato stand and some information booths. Small but good stuff.

Here's to a delicious summer supper tonight!