Slow and Steady

I don’t have much to write, but there have been some complaints about the infrequent posts (father!), so I’ll do my best. Life is moving at a wonderful place. I feel so happy plodding along, through the heat of the summer. And I do mean heat. It’s been humid and hot and sticky and rainy here, but I won’t complain because I’m sure the farmers love it. My tomatoes sure do! And yes, that is a deck gnome.

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My peas have not fared so well. I think it’s much too hot for them, and the buckets of rain that have been dumped on us over the last week have washed the nutrients right out of the soil. Deck gardening is tough. I fear these two little guys are the only peas I’ll have this year, as 2 out of my 3 pea plants have already gone yellow and croaked. They were delicious.

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The lettuce lives on, and frequently finds itself in my lunch pail in the form of a crisp and tasty salad. I spotted some free packets of lettuce seeds on the curb in my neighborhood yesterday, so I’m already set for this fall and next spring.

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I had some glorious and long awaited girl time last week end when my best friend came to stay. Some good old nail painting, strawberry picking, wedding planning, Say Yes to The Dress watching girl time. Ad is still tramping around Idaho taking measurements and gathering rock samples, and my best friend’s other half very lovingly stayed at home so that we could do some serious female bonding. It was my first time picking strawberries, and clearly I was quite pleased with myself. The matching nail polish was no coincidence.

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I now have a freezer full of strawberry jam, and mashed up strawberries for shortcake. Strawberry shortcake is a personal favorite of mine, and I have yummy memories of having strawberry shortcake for supper at my Grandma’s house. The fact that we eat strawberry shortcake and apple dumplings as a meal instead of dessert probably explains my massive sweet tooth. I called grandma to get the strawberry shortcake recipe, assuming that it was something old and handed down and tricky. I had a little giggle when she told me it’s just the shortcake recipe from the back of the Bisquick box and mashed up strawberries. Right on Grandma! Easy is always better.

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And now for the obligatory wedding talk. I’ll give you a sneak preview of some bits I’ve been thrifting for the big day.

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Work has been busy, but I love my job (mostly). Ad has been away, but I’m spending time with other wonderful people. Life is moving slowly, and I’m just fine with that. Summers are meant to be slow.

An Easter Walk

After digging through our Easter baskets this morning and munching on some chocolate, we went for a walk in the sun. The weather has finally improved here, and we’re getting some spring temperatures. The lake is still frozen over, but I think that will soon change.

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We passed lots of flowers pushing through the dirt.

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We are lucky to live where we do. Our neighborhood is quite, pretty, and full of friendly people. In the summer and fall there are always boxes on the curb full of free fresh veggies. Today we found a table full of free seeds! I picked out sunflowers, morning glories, oregano, and marjoram. Apparently I’m not very good at growing seeds, since almost all of the ones I started a few weeks ago have succumbed to damping-off, but I’m determined to keep trying. I think I just need to spend money on some good sterilized growing mixture. Maybe next weekend.

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We ended up at Olbrich Botanical Gardens and Conservatory. It’s only 2 miles from our house, but for some reason we hadn’t gotten there yet. The soggy ground kept us out of the gardens, but the chirping birds called to us from the conservatory! I’m considering places where I could volunteer once I graduate, and this one is now pretty high on my list.

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Happy Easter to those who celebrate it, and Happy Spring to those who don’t!

 

 

 

Dirt Therapy

I’m ready for spring. I’m tired of school, I’m tired of snow, and I’m tired in general. The sun was shining today, and I had two precious hours of time alone before I had to head to class. I figured it was as good a time as any to start decorating the house for Easter and to   start my seeds inside.

There’s something about playing in the dirt that always makes me feel better, even if it’s just standing at the kitchen table in my pajamas scooping potting soil into tiny paper pots. Feeling the earth is so good for my soul. I had to do a little research to see when the best time to start indoor seeds is in Wisconsin, since this is my first spring here. Most people recommended the middle of March, so I’m only a week early.  This morning I started English Lavender, Chives, Hungarian Wax Peppers, Cilantro, Basil, and Lettuce. Every 3 or 4 weeks I’ll sow another round of Lettuce and Cilantro, so that we have a continuous supply over the summer. I’ve got two kinds of tomatoes to plant as well, but I was worried that if I started them now they would be too big before it was warm enough to set them out.    Unfortunately, space is limited. I’m craving a greenhouse.

With the seeds planted, I began decorating for Easter. It’s one of my favorite holidays so I decorate early to enjoy it longer. When I was young, my family had a giant Egg Hunt each year and I always looked forward to it. I’m talking hundreds of eggs. I love celebrating spring, growth, life, and nature. I’m all about it.

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I’d love some spring, but right now I’ll have to be content with sun and snow.

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It’s Your Lucky Day!

A few days ago adisoninmadison reached 2,000 views! Apparently I’m not as boring as I thought. I’m simply astounded that the blog has been viewed so many times, and the support from all of my followers and readers means so much.

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To celebrate, I’m doing a give away. That’s right! You can win something! For FREE! Up for grabs are some some heirloom seeds from Seed Savers Exchange. The goal of Seed Savers Exchange is to collect rare, heirloom garden seeds, and distribute them to other gardeners. The idea is to promote and preserve diversity in food crops, while also paying homage to our farming, gardening, food-growing heritage. The Seed Savers Exchange website explains the importance of this in lovelier words than I can find, so I encourage you  to check it out if you have the time.

Here’s the deal. These seeds are mine. I bought them for myself. I need them. I love them.  I have big dreams of a flourishing deck garden so grand that I can sit out there and the neighbors won’t be able to see me.  I will have enough tomatoes to feed a small army. That’s probably not realistic, but my ideas rarely are.

Luckily for you, most of these packets contain 50-250 seeds. I have a limited amount of space, and I would hate for these babies to go bad before I have a chance to use them all. So the extras are going to you!

Two beautiful winners will receive the following:

10 Wapsipinicon Peach Tomato Seeds – Heavy producer of 2″ round fuzzy yellow fruits. Sweet, juicy, well-balanced flavor. And best of all….rot resistant!

20 Lettuce Mixture Seeds – A mix of Australian Yellowleaf, Forellenschluss, Pablo, Red Velvet, and others cutting lettuces.

10 Globe Basil Seeds – Globe bush with very small, thin leaves. Intense sweet basil scent with spicy flavor. Slow to go to seed.

20 Cilantro Seeds – A must have for your Mexican dishes. The fresh leaves are called cilantro, and the seeds are the spice called coriander! This was news to me. The things you can learn from the back of seed packets.

10 British Wonder Pea Seeds – A large-podded dwarf pea (sounds like a medical issue to me) with good yield. This seed has been around since 1890.

10 Blondköpfchen Tomato Seeds – That translates to Little Blond Girl, so I had to buy them. Small, gold-yellow 1″ fruits borne in giant clusters, excellent sweet taste. Rarely a cracked fruit.

10 Black Hungarian Pepper Seeds – 3 foot plants produce abundant yields of 4″ long fiery fruits, shiny black ripening to red. Medium Hot. Ad is all about these.

10 English Lavender Seeds – Grey-green clustered foliage and short spikes of violet purple flowers. Highly valued for cutting, drying, and aromatic fragrance.

20 Chives Seeds – Delicate onion-flavored foliage is good for fresh eating or cooking, excess freezes well. The lavender-pink flowers are also edible.

Here’s what to do:

Leave a comment below telling me what your favorite veggie is, and why. My absolute, w/out a doubt favorite is tiny tomatoes. Grape, cherry, whatever you want to call them. It’s like candy, but it’s a vegetable! As children, my cousin and I would pick them, arrange them on the leaves of my sunflower house, and then sell them to my mom for a penny each. Apparently I was very business minded as a child.

One week from now (Thursday, February 7th) I’ll randomly select 2 names from the comments below as winners! I’ll post the winners here, and I’ll also e-mail them privately to find out where they would like their spoils sent. I’ll include all instructions provided on the original seed packets.

Comment away! Tell your friends!

The winners have been chosen! Congratulations to Pat and Donna! I swear this wasn’t rigged, Ad drew the names with his eyes closed. Thanks to all who entered, and best of luck in future giveaways! That’s right, there will be more. 

Sharing the Love with The Leftovers Lady

Welcome to the very first post in the “Sharing the Love” series, where I’ll feature some creative, inspiring folks who have some wisdom to share!

As you may have read in a previous post, I’m on a mission to improve my relationship with food. Part of this improvement process involves becoming a more creative cook and cutting back on the amount of food that gets wasted in my house. My friend Lindsey, a.k.a. The Leftovers Lady, does this better than anyone else I know. She has a fabulous website, www.leftoverslady.com, where she shares all of her tips for redesigning leftover food, cooking healthy, and minimizing food waste. She’s taken the time to answer a few questions and impart some wisdom. Enjoy!

AdisonInMadison: Tell us a little bit about yourself.

Lindsey: Hi! My name is Lindsey. I was born and rained in Western Washington and now reside in Seattle. I am married and have one son, who is almost 3. I like to eat. I like to cook. I like to garden. I am frugal and cheap and thrifty.

AdisonInMadison: Who or what inspires you in the kitchen?

Lindsey: My kitchen inspirations come from the day before or what someone gave me, or what’s growing in my yarden. I hardly ever make menu plans or schedules. I just go with the flow of what needs using up or what I have found on sale someplace.

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AdisonInMadison: When did you first realize that you were a creative cook?

Lindsey: I have been a creative cook my whole life. I suppose it began when my parents were divorced at age 7 and I learned to help my mom with the cooking and baking. I was often experimenting on my own, with her at work….so I improvised.

AdisonInMadison: Do you have a culinary role model?

Lindsey: Definitely my maternal grandmother. She is currently 94 years young. She grew up during the Great Depression and the rationing of WWII and she knows how to use every crumb or leaf of edible morsel.

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AdisonInMadison: I know that you create most of your dishes yourself, but do you have a favorite cook book?

Lindsey: My favorite cookbook is the JOY OF COOKING. It was the first cookbook I received as an adult, so it means a lot to me. My aunt gave it to me when I graduated college. I think she could see the budding chef within!

AdisonInMadison: What’s the one kitchen utensil or appliance that you just couldn’t live without?

Lindsey: I love my immersion blender. It’s my all time favorite tool. I made a lot of soups, and with the immersion blender, I don’t have to transfer my soups in and out of a blender to get them smooth. Examples are cream of broccoli or split pea soups.

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AdisonInMadison: What’s the most versatile food that you cook with?

Lindsey: I suppose that the most versatile food item I keep on hand is the lemon. It’s able to behave in anything from sweet to savory, even a cup of tea or water. And it’s very nutritious.

AdisonInMadison: How has having your own yarden (the term you brilliantly coined to describe your front yard/garden) impacted what you do in the kitchen?

Lindsey: Growing my own food in what used to be my yard is brilliant. Over the past 5 years I have honed in on what grows well here in Seattle, in my soil, with my (and my husband’s and son’s) talents. I don’t like wasting space or water or time on something that isn’t meant to grow here. So I now focus on only about 15 crops, rather than my original try at everything possible that grows! Most of my time in the kitchen in July and August is spent par boiling and freezing spare green vegetables, making pickles, jams, and salsas to preserve what can’t be eaten fresh. My meals completely 100% revolve around my garden from April through November.

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AdisonInMadison: Whats the best advice you can give to someone who want’s to cook creatively and frugally?

Lindsey: Don’t plan your meals and then go out and buy everything…..go out shopping for staple items and then see what else is on sale that you can work with. If you aren’t going to finish something and it can be frozen for later, freeze it. Clean up your meals and contain them attractively so that you will feel like eating them the next time you see them. Label and date things. Always say YES to free food from friends and neighbors.

There you have it folks! A big thanks to Lindsey for letting me share the love with her. Be sure to check out her website,www.leftoverslady.com, for a lot more advice on cooking, canning, gardening, freezing, and using up those leftovers. 

Happy Father’s Day!

Happy Father’s Day!

When I graduated from college last year I was jobless, so my dad offered to let me come work with him. He owns a  landscaping business in Marietta, OH, and does some truly beautiful work. Working with him was such a wonderful opportunity, and very rewarding.There’s something so satisfying about manual labor, especially when you’re making the world a prettier place. Of course spending time with him is what really made it enjoyable. I survived the 90 degree days and 100% humidity just fine, and as my father would say, it was character building. Check out his skills: