A Garden Dinner Disaster

A few short hours ago, the fam and I arrived back home safely from a quick trip back to Pennsylvania. Since I did all the driving, once we walked through the door and got the kids some cereal (they only get cereal for dinner when they’ve been really, really good!), Daddy was in charge while I got dinner together. And even though I considered grabbing us both a bowl and a spoon, after walking out back to check on the garden, I realized dinner was at my fingertips.

Garden Goods

Beets, cukes, chives, lemon balm, and thai basil, all ready for some dressing-up. I would like to take credit for the cherry tomatoes, but I can’t as those are from my father’s little backyard plot; my tomatoes aren’t quite ready yet. I am starting to wonder if I might have a case of late summer tomato blight, but I’m not sure that their current condition wasn’t brought about by an unfortunate lack of watering while we were gone. Oh dear.

Noodle Cukes

As I lovingly washed my veggies, then sliced into the cucumber, I thought I could whip up a Thai/Vietnamese summer noodle dish that would highlight the beet greens, herbs, and veg… it would also be quick and require little more stove time that boiling a pot of water. Done!

Nuoac Cham

So I grabbed the fish sauce, limes, garlic, sugar, and chili sauce (I’m plumb out of fresh chilies)…

Noodle Bowl

Soaked, rinsed, and distributed the noodles…

Noodle Finis

Juilenned, chiffonaded, and dressed the greens and herbs on top of the tomatoes and cukes, which were resting ever so gently above the rice noodles.

Doesn’t look so bad, right?

Soap for Dinner

It. Was. Terrible.

I mean awful. Ridiculously disgusting. Bitter, overpowering… soapy! Really… I swear it was like eating flakes of Ivory. So much time and energy and patience wasted while watching and tending to those little guys when I could have just plopped down a dollar at the pharmacy for a bar of soap. The sauce was delicious, but everything else was so over-the-top strong, that both my husband and I cut our losses and ran back to the kitchen for some noodles and cukes (after fishing out all of my dad’s tomatoes!).

Recovery Bowl

I have a feeling that tomorrow there will be a clean patch of dirt where I’ve stripped the earth of the offending romantic-garden-ideal-busting Ivory soap plant. Oh yes, Hell hath no fury like the woman frothing at the mouth from a sudsy leaf!

A New Harvest

Last week, I harvested a new crop to me; potatoes.

The Potatoes

New potatoes, from our little garden. I had no idea how gratifying it would be.

Earlier in the day I had grabbed a few ears of local corn from a stand by the road. I stopped because it looked like they had peaches, which I was craving. We bought a few of those as well, but of course, none of them made it the whole way home. I can assure you they were as delicious as their heady scent promised and well worth all the sticky spots on the seats of the car.

Cutting Corn

Corn reminds me of my gram, standing with her back to me in her small kitchen, at the counter with a knife, a cutting board, a box of ziploc bags, and ears and ears of corn from her garden, waiting to be processed, marked, and thrown into the freezer.

What a visceral experience I had, cutting into those ears that I bought. I could almost smell her house again, hear the creaks as my pap walked down the narrow hall from the living room. I miss them both. I am so glad those cobs brought them both back to me, even for the briefest of moments.

Kernel Cream

Corn was never my favorite, but I loved my Gram’s, with the sweet cream gathered from the deep pockets of the kernels, released by running the back of her knife blade down the cob she held nearly vertical to the board.

Crash Potatoes and Corn Sauce

Today I wanted to write about the meal I made with my new potatoes and the carrots and corn I bought from local farmers. But instead I find myself thinking about family, and nourishment, and fortitude, and grace; an unexpectedly rich new harvest of senses and emotions.

Eating With Gratitude

As I write this post, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for all the scattered and tender memories I have of her. On that day as I walked past my children and breathed in their scent, I again caught the faintest trace of her presence…

And along with the very keen yearning I had to have her here again, I also felt comfort.

Thank you Gram. You are still so very loved.


On Sunday, for Mother’s Day, we spent the majority of the day pottering around in the yard. And while we did, look what we found!

Found Object

A chrysalis of some variety hanging out in the ground directly below our new blueberry bushes. I do believe it is a moth—Sorry Janet!—but no worries for us here. We are all still amazed at what we found and what it may become, especially the older two kids. Nature never seems to disappoint.


Our newly found friend needed a habitat, of course, so out they all went to find the choicest bits to make her or him comfortable.


I have to admit that as far as temporary shelters go, I wouldn’t mind the accommodations in which our new guest has been happily (we hope) ensconced.

The Wonder of it All

And now, as with so many other things in our lives, we wait and see what happens.

Decorating with Humor


I found a few things a few weeks ago. They’re, um, quite bright, yes? But they were kind of cute and I thought with a little bit of good old fashioned spray paint and a few plants they could fit in on the shelves in the living room.

Right Shelf\

So this is how the right shelf looks as of today…

Left Shelf

… and here’s the left shelf. What do you think?

I’m up to four shelves done now… I’ll take this as good progress. The terrarium thing has worked out pretty well, although I’ve had to replace a plant or two here and there. Sticking with plants that do well in indirect light has been key. And it only took me a few weeks to figure it out! Look, even more progress!

The Swan

I think the swan is looking a little bit more classy in her coat of white (please don’t look too closely or you’ll see all the spots I missed that glow just a touch blue!)

Swan Deet

And how about these little vases?

Lovely Ladies

Brainless Beauty

I’m trying not to think about them as brainless beauties, but rather as lovely ladies with awesome hats. But the bad seed has been planted I’m afraid.

Air Plants

These three little plants—two in the vases and one as the lovely lady’s hat—are all the air plants from Brimfield. One is already blooming, and the two pictured here are getting ready to flower in the next few weeks.


I used to have a pair of these peacocks, but the baby managed to get a hold of one of them and then smash it to smithereens within the two seconds we had her eyes off of her. I may or may not have held on to the pieces for a few weeks thinking that maybe somehow it would magically be glued together again when I came down for my morning coffee.


I really hope these plants do well. This curly spiral leafed Begonia is something else!

But I have to admit my favorite part is this…

Gnomey Gnomey



Yeah, definitely my favorite.

Terrariums are popping up everywhere these days, and I’ve enjoyed figuring out how to pull in a few more on the shelves. The thing is, there are only so many glass jars and vases that I felt I could fit in, so finding these goofy little containers seemed like a fun way to fill more space and add more plants.


Linked to these fine and fun DIY sites ::

UndertheTableandDreaming ==Tip Junkie handmade projects==Today's Creative Blog====Rooted In Thyme

Growing Things

Today we spent nearly the entire day outside planting and weeding and tearing up and moving about. After ten days of rainy, foggy, cold coastal spring weather, the bright spot of sun that came out ever-so-briefly in the morning gave us all the push we needed to get out of our pj’s, down the last bits of coffee, and get into the yard for some fresh air. After a few minutes, the fog came back and stayed for a few hours before the sun broke through later in the afternoon, but that freshly washed spring air was something I’ve craved and needed.

Little Feet

We all needed it.


Although it seems as if Spring was stalled for all the cold that April held, things have been growing all around us. Some inside on our windowsills…

Finding Roots

And some outside waiting for their chance to be put in the bed…

Please Plant Me

I’m afraid my cucumbers aren’t going to make it, but it’s OK, I have others germinating right now. To be quite honest, I fully expected the seedling project to utterly fail, so I planted things so much earlier than I should have. The tomatoes are still doing OK, although they need to be transplanted and out into some sort of greenhouse, but the cucumbers haven’t enjoyed the cold, windy weather we’ve been experiencing.


Leeks and Lettuce and Such

The peas, radishes, sorrel, leeks, beets, lettuce, escarole, bok choy, and tat soi are all doing well, although growing a bit slower due to the colder temperatures.


It was cold outside without the sun, and after an hour or so, the kids went back inside to warm up and grab some lunch while I stayed outside and planted the big bed. It took me five hours, but I got it done.

The Big Bed

After many years of planning and dreaming, it is so gratifying to see it start coming together.

Growing Companions

I am a little scared it’s going to fail miserably… I’m trying to work the bed with companion plantings which is entirely new and a little bit, well, uncomfortable for me, but I’m hoping and keeping my fingers crossed that it may just work.

Onions and Cabbage

And now we wait. It’s time for the roots to take hold. Because, of course, the dream was not only about a garden, but for a wish for a strong family, and a home to shelter us, and a community to ground us all. Watching a physical manifestation of that metaphor not only grow but thrive… well… it means so much more than a plate full of tasty vegetables doesn’t it.

But tasty vegetables would be awesome too.

Seeking Comfort

This week… well… this week is one I’m hoping to put behind us as soon as possible. With an accidental head injury that caused an emergency trip to the hospital, it’s been a struggle—quite literally—to stay on our feet. Unfortunately the blog had to sit on the sideline for a bit while we figure out how to keep our little one still and calm. We need some time for rest to allow that little body to heal.

Today my mom came from out of town to stay with us for two weeks, and the timing could not have been any better. I am so grateful that she’s here. To show my appreciation, I made her an omelette with some butter braised radishes, pea shoots, and radish greens from the garden with a bit of ham and feta. Omelettes are one of our preferred comfort foods here, and making a few is one way I have tried to restore some sense of order and normalcy to help wrap up this week.

Home Grown Radishes

Butter Braise

Spring Greens

Stuffing the Omelette

Cutting Into It

Up Close and Personal

I guess if taking pictures while you make and eat your food is what you might consider normal, then we may have seen a tiny glimpse of it today.

First Harvest

Last night I had to thin out my radishes. It’s a little bittersweet for me, getting rid of all that potential just to give the others a chance to grow and thrive. I find the metaphor hard and discomforting.

Baby Radishes

But the bounty is surely sweet.

Radish Sandwich

Dinner was a baby radish sandwich on a lovely slice of locally baked quinoa bread with thick slab of butter and just a touch of salt for good measure. Tonight I ate the baby greens with a bit of lemon, salt, pepper, and hazelnut oil.

They were tiny, they were tender, they were sown by my hand, they grew in our ground, and for all of it—all of it—I am so truly thankful.


On the Agenda

“Well,” said my beloved step-father as I walked him around the house, “You have more irons in the fire than most.”

Yes, indeed.


Easter was wonderful, quite full yet somehow relaxing. We had family in town, which was such a gift although the time we spent together was much too short.

What little time we had was spent doing and making and talking and laughing. Our kids are such natural comedians at times ::

“Look Mama, Look! The Easter Bunny brought us our favoritest!”
“Oh! How fun! What is it?” I ask as she shows me the little jar of play dough.
“I dunno,” she shrugs as she walks away.


This week I have many projects to tie up in a bow, document, and write up. There’s a sign my mom made which needs to be hung; a little boy’s room that needs some attention; a playroom in desperate need of a thorough Spring cleaning; a website to build; a science fair to plan (an entire science fair! I’ve never even attended one before!); a hutch to finish; another bed or two or three to build; plants to harden off; seedlings to sow (yes, more, crazy I know!); clothes to organize, size up, and put away; children to tend; floors to scrub; laundry to wash and fold and put away… you know, the usual.


Unfortunately, I’ll also need to do some more cooking, as we’re sadly out of leftovers. We made some good old fashioned Polish food in time for Easter; kielbasa, ham, pierogie. This time all of my kids ate it—something new—which means less for me and the husband later in the week. Really, not such a terrible problem to have.


And my parents helped me fill the bed with the freshly delivered compost. We had exactly enough, not a bit more or less. Amazing.

Light Stand

It’s good that the bed is now ready to plant because I am totally out of space.

No, I haven’t been thinking about a greenhouse… well, not seriously, just daydreaming.

I definitely have a problem.

Sunless Saturday

It was a rainy, cold, and wet day. So we stayed inside and tried to keep ourselves busy.


There are a few things in progress at the moment, but nothing that’s really complete. Hopefully that will come tomorrow.

There was one project that finally got a little shove into the finished folder…

The Bed

That’s one bed down, two more to go! Woo-hoo!