Wednesday, June 28, 2017

Spring in the garden and a visit to a small farm



This year, the garden got off to a slow start this year as we had a cool, often wet, spring.  Because of my studies, I didn't have time to start plants from seed as I usually do.  However, there are many more varieties of heirloom plants to choose from in local nurseries and by mail order than a few years ago.  Although the harvests won't be as diverse as I'd like, I was able to get a variety of tomato, peppers, squash, eggplant, basil and cucumber seedlings.   I also directly planted seeds for beans of all kinds, carrots, and greens. The last few years have provided enough garlic to last will into the winter months.  However, the mild winter disagreed with my fall-planted garlic, so, sadly, I will not have a large garlic harvest later this summer for pesto making.  I will be lucky to get half a dozen bulbs and will miss making a garlic braid to hang in my kitchen.  Each year's weather brings different successes and failures which is why I try to plant a variety each year - if one crop fails, hopefully, there will be plenty of something else. (We still have a couple of butternut squash left from the more than 20 from last year's harvest.)  Gardening certainly makes me appreciate how much work goes into producing our food.

Here are some photos of the garden during the last week of this spring.  Now that the summer heat is on, things have taken off, so I'll post some updates again soon.
Two of the garden beds with tomatoes, basil, and beans; a fig tree, and squash blossoms

Some of the flowers and ornamental plants tucked among the vegetable beds

Recently, we had a real treat in attending an open house of a friend and his wife.  They have about 7 acres, and have been setting up a small farm.  The chickens have the nicest coop I've ever seen with a cupola topped with a weather vane and a solar powered door to allow them easy access to the yard.  There are two of the cutest baby goats that enjoy the run of the paddock and climb on anything they can, plus beehives and guinea hens.  There is a puppy that is a working dog in training to protect them all, along with a few border collies (both theirs and ones they foster before they find a forever homes) for keeping things rounded up.  A vegetable garden is in its first year with plans for a field of cutting flowers for the next.  It was such a relaxing day spent in the fresh air and a bonfire to end the evening.  We went home relaxed while the dogs were tuckered out from running in the fields.  It has me dreaming of having a bit more land of our own.


Resources:
Seeds and fig trees (planted 2 years ago) - http://www.rareseeds.com/
Seedlings:  http://www.territorialseed.com/ and  http://www.rareseeds.com/


Thursday, May 4, 2017

Highlights from 2016


Farm view - Rural Retreat, VA

Well, they say it's better late than never...so, I'm finally getting to complete this post started many months ago.  For me, 2016 was shadowed by my sadness over my mother's passing away in February of last year.  I spent much of the rest of the year just taking things as they came as I realized that I wasn't going to be in control of things the way I usually like to be.  As I incorporated the responsibilities of settling an estate into an already busy schedule, I had to come to grips with the reality that grief makes you move at a slower pace through life.  I had to let some activities go in order to cope.  Despite that, there was still plenty to celebrate during the year.  The year was also filled with plenty of personal reflection, and I marked the end of the year by doing a look back to celebrate the highlights from 2016, picking a word and setting goals for 2017 as I have been doing over the past 10 years or so.

Here are some of the highlights from 2016:

I started and completed 1/4 of the coursework in a graduate school program in transpersonal psychology.  This partial stack of school books in the photo below kept me busy during the year.  My coursework has a large experiential component requiring a great deal of inner work.  My personal meditation practice has become even more consistent as I explored a variety of both Eastern and Western techniques.  I delved into a journey of self-discovery uncovering the mythologies of childhood and culture that are influencing me today, and immersed myself in discovering the science behind the powers of the human mind and the the mysteries of our dreams.  I've included a resource list of some of the books I explored in class and some others just for fun in case you are looking for something to add to your reading list.



Because of my studies, the garden didn't get as much of my attention as I would have liked to have given it.  However, the harvests still offered an abundance of fruits and vegetables plus beautiful flowers for bouquets.



I attended a weekend program on intuition and dreams at a farmhouse called the Big House in Rural Retreat, VA.  In addition to gaining new knowledge, it was a weekend of much needed rejuvenation, beautiful scenery, and making connections with a like-minded community.  After the program, the road trip continued with visits to family in Kentucky and Indiana before heading home and back to work and my studies.

The Big House in Rural Retreat, VA

Other highlights for the year included:


spending time with my brother and his family
a photography workshop with my favorite zen master
high tea at an historic inn with some of the ladies in the neighborhood
a fun summer evening at a traveling carnival with a girlfriend and her family
performing dance at a charity function
a special night at the 10-year anniversary celebration of  the release of Hip Tranquil Chick
my husband taking me to a performance of Love Letters by Ali MacGraw and Ryan O'Neal
a beautiful local Christmas light display
monthly volunteering with my son at the local food bank

As I have done for many years, I completed Susannah Conway's Unravelling exercise of reflection for the year past and set aspirations for the year ahead.  Last year's word was IMMERSION, and that came about when I dove into my studies and also coped with being unexpectedly immersed in grief.  For 2017, I have chosen AUTHENTIC as my word to explore as my knowledge and worldview expand with my studies.  I'm looking forward to watching the rest of 2017 unfold and the adventures it might bring.

Thanks for reading!

Reading list:

Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear
Personal Mythology: Using Ritual, Dreams, and Imagination to Discover Your Inner Story
Dream Solutions! Dream Realizations: The Original Dream Quest Guidebook
Extraordinary Knowing: Science, Skepticism, and the Inexplicable Powers of the Human Mind
Meditation for Beginners
Living Deeply: The Art & Science of Transformation in Everyday Life
When the Soul Awakens: The Path to Spiritual Evolution and a New World Era
The Secret History of Dreaming
The Essential Edgar Cayce
Succulent Wild Woman - Dancing With Your Wonder-full Self!
Essentialism: The Disciplined Pursuit of Less



   Rose in full bloom in my garden







Thursday, April 20, 2017

Spring in the garden


Spinach

Uncovering the winter garden is always a surprise.  Some years are better than others, but there is always something that makes it through the winter tucked under hoops covered by garden fabric and plastic.  This year, there is spinach, flat leaf and curly parsley, carrots, and a few onions.  Of course, the mint always seems to survive no matter what happens, and there are always plenty of weeds.

Spinach harvested for a salad

Repairs have been made to the beds, and I'm looking forward to refreshing the soil in preparation for planting.  This year, I'm trying a different mix to refresh the beds inspired by Jake Mace's soil mix video.  I'll be topping off the beds with a mix of compost, coconut coir (a substitute for peat moss to help retain moisture and save the endangered peat bogs!), azomite trace mineral dust, and worm castings.

This year, I didn't have a chance to start my own seedlings indoors because my studies in a graduate program and work have kept me busy.  I opted to order some seedlings online (rareseeds.com and territorialseed.com), and I'll get a few more from the local garden center and health food store.  Even just a few years ago, if you wanted to plant heirloom varieties, you had to start from seed.   Although you can't beat the variety of heirlooms available as seeds, there are increasingly more choices being offered as seedlings these days.

I look forward to sharing this year's garden adventures with you.

Thanks for reading!

Carrots, flat leaf and curly parsley survived the winter in raised beds under covered hoops




Friday, September 9, 2016

Summer Harvest Salad


Summer Harvest Salad


As summer draws to a close and the warm weather fruits and vegetables are at their peak of ripeness, it is easy to create a colorful, nutritious dish with just a few fresh ingredients from your garden, local farmers market or produce section of the grocery store.  This salad requires no cooking.  It is a great dish for summer picnics or potlucks or when it's too hot to cook.  This dish comes together in very little time because the season's best ingredients need very little to bring out their full flavor.   With the addition of some grilled tofu, fish or chicken and some crusty bread, you have a light meal ready in no time.

Summer harvest salad

2-3 large ripe tomatoes, sliced
2 ears of fresh corn, shuck and remove kernels from cob
1/4 ro 1/2 small red onion, finely chopped
1/2 lemon
micro-greens or sprouts
fresh chopped herbs of choice (basil, thyme, mint)
sea salt and pepper
olive oil (optional)

Arrange the tomato slices on a serving platter.  Sprinkle the corn kernels over the tomato slices.  Sprinkle the onions over the corn.  Sprinkle the chopped herbs over the onions.  Season with sea salt and pepper to taste.  Top with some micro-greens or sprouts.  Squeeze the lemon over the salad and drizzle with olive oil (if using).  Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Thanks for reading!
Harvest from my garden

Monday, May 30, 2016

Kitchen adventure: Superfood granola


Granola with fresh picked strawberries, blueberries and cashew milk

Store bought granola can be loaded with more sugar and fat than you'd like to start your day.  This granola is packed with superfoods and sweetened with dates and dried fruits.  The traditional oil is replaced with banana and tahini (or nut butter of your choice).   This easy to make recipe works well for breakfast, snacks or dessert.  This recipe was inspired by this original recipe at Jenny Mustard's blog.  Although the ingredient list is long, it comes together quickly. Feel free to substitute any of your favorite nuts, seeds or dried fruits that you like.

Superfood granola

12 large medjool dates, soaked and drained (save water)
1 large ripe banana
½ cup tahini (or use almond, cashew or peanut butter)

1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 scoop (1 tablespoon, superfood green powder) optional
4 cups old fashioned oats
1/4 cup raw cacao powder
1/4 cup flax seeds
1 cup raw nuts roughly chopped, (I used walnuts and almonds for this batch)

8-10 prunes or dried mission figs, chopped (this batch had figs)
½ cup raisins or other dried fruit like cherries, blueberries or cranberries
1/3 cup goji berries (or more raisins)
½ cup raw sunflower seeds

½ cup raw pumpkin seeds
½ cup shredded unsweetened coconut
1 teaspoon cinnamon
a pinch of cardamom 


- Preheat the oven to 325 degrees.
- In a food processor or blender combine drained dates, tahini, bananas, superfood powder and vanilla extract until smooth.  If the mixture is too thick to process, add just enough date soaking water to make a thick smooth paste.
In a large mixing bowl, add all the dry ingredients and stir to combine.
- Add the date mixture to the bowl and mix until all the dry ingredients are coated.  
- Spread the granola evenly on a parchment paper or silicone mat lined large baking sheet and press flat with your hand or back of a spoon
- Bake the granola for 25-30 minutes, until golden brown
- Remove from the oven, let cool thoroughly and break into bite sized chunks

- Store in an airtight container.

Thanks for reading!

If you liked this post, you may like:
Healthy cold cereal
Carrot cake granola
Overnight oat and chia seed pudding