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Category Archives: Farming

Love at first bite.

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I dated a lazy hippie for 7 years. He was delightfully entertaining, but perpetually broke. He was pretty & funny… and when you’re a divorcee in your twenties, that’s enough.

Not so much in your thirties.

He was still cute, but aged rapidly in a smoky haze, and his stoned view on life was boring. I was sick of paying his way and sick of being ignored while he talked politics with random stoned strangers.

I extricated myself from our friendship… and the breakup was as miserable as the worst days of our relationship. I’ve been able to miss his sense of humor lately- but I’d probably still roll my eyes at him one last time.

I came to terms with being single again, at the same time as my mother was going through a messy divorce. I decided to take her out for Halloween, we dressed up… and someone drugged our one drink. The last thing I remember was a 22 year old boy leading my giggly mom out to dance, and me kissing the Dread Pirate Roberts.

I woke up with my mom, a hangover and a business card with a number.

Aaron was a great boyfriend, and showed me some of my very favorite things. I will never smell a fresh bay leaf and not think of him. It was old fashioned romantic, and he was quick to introduce me to his amazing family.

He took me on a business trip and introduced me to his mom and dad. He showed me the natural beauty of his beloved Santa Cruz and surfed while I wiggled my toes in the sand. I fell in love with every new and exciting element of him and his mom was amazing enough to overlook every last one of his personal flaws. His family was the one I’d always dreamed of having.

His Daddy took us to dinner at Alexander’s Steak House, where I ate an heirloom tomato salad that would change my life.

Simple tomatoes, balsamic, sea salt and black pepper. So phenomenal I asked for a paper napkin and saved a few seeds.

And the rest is history…

2015

He married a friend of mine, I cut back to 150 tomato plants and adopted a kitten. ♥

rainbow

In other words… I lived happily ever after.

Happy Spring ♥

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I’m slowly getting back in the habit of writing every day to clear out the cobwebs, and I figured I’d be lazy and catch up with everyone at once, since answering emails isn’t one of my strong points.

Life has been a steady bunch of bliss for the past two years, and though things didn’t go like I expected, I have never been happier with how it all IS. My babies are growing and happy. My tomatoes are standing tall and ready to outdo their predecessors. It’s been a beautiful early spring and my garden is planted MONTHS earlier than ever before.

This little munchkin has a lot to do with that!  I’ve grown a mini farmer, and she loves to play in the dirt with me. (amen)

mqLooking back, it’s amazing how much time I wasted trying to find love. I’ve been single for nearly two years, have no intention of dating again and could not be happier. My days are full of laughter, baby dolls and rows of vegetables. I love my job, have great friends and am finally content with my fat ass.

It doesn’t get much better than that.

Write on…

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It’s been a long year. In fact…it’s been a long decade.

I finished planting my garden earlier than ever last year. My corn was a huge success for the first time! The pumpkin patch of my dreams, was a reality. Through morning and afternoon baby naps, I managed to get it planted and weeded. It was actually beautiful… but sobering. I CAN grow an acre of vegetables and bottle enough to feed an army, but I don’t NEED to. I’ve given up on the fantasy of my children loving to garden, and I remember clearly how much I hated it as a child. I’m determined to cut back this year so that it’s a blessing, not a burden.

I figured it may be relaxing to write again, if only for myself. I get the nicest emails from people, asking me why I don’t write anymore. I’m not sure how to answer that?

I’m a different person than I used to be. Growing up, and more importantly fucking up; changes you. I guess you could say that I finally learned from my mistakes. As a result of my relationship failing, finding myself as a single mother with a teenager AND a newborn and a side of heartache… I grew up. I’m slowly finding my footing again, while carefully choosing each step with the knowledge that the wrong one can have lasting consequences.

I’m a little sad to see my tiny one grow so fast and I miss her infancy when I see newborns. She lights the whole world up with her constant smile, hilarious laughter and baby chatter. I don’t know how we ever lived without the joy and love she brings to everyone and everywhere. She’s nothing short of magical. I’m that annoying friend on Facebook who shamelessly inundates everyone with baby pictures and videos.

The teenager is absolutely frustratingly normal. Most days I’m the stupidest person in the world and live purely to thwart her plans for part of the day, and her best friend the other half. I am proud of the young lady I know that she is, and hopeful she’ll escape our small town after graduation to pursue her dreams. I’m grateful for the friendship I have with her dad and step-mother.

All in all, and in every aspect; life has calmed down. The custody war has long ended and my relationship with my baby girl’s dad is peaceful and friendly. He’s dating an old friend and has moved back to Colorado to live with her. He calls regularly and I hang pictures of him around the house so she sees his face. She’s just begun to say Daddy. I’m grateful she will grow up surrounded with love, not hostility. I never dreamed in a million years that I’d be raising a baby alone, but I treasure every single second and appreciate that he does everything he can do from thousands of miles away.

We’ve learned to coexist, sleep, love and make the most of every moment in the last year. We’ve weathered financial devastation, laughed through a lot of creative pasta and rice dishes and have found a new-found peace in being carnivorous vegetarians. We all love a good steak but we can afford veggies, and I grew enough to feed us all winter.

Life has changed and it isn’t what I thought it would be, but it is absolutely joyous and full of everything simple and sweet that I treasure most.

The last vestiges of babyhood have been hard to pack away. A long-outgrown bassinet stands in the corner of my room, because I love it too much to part with it. Baby shoes, pacifiers and miniature socks clutter the top of my dresser. It’s a strange mix, no matter where you look. My black work apron, a few pens, a wine key and wilted gardenia still hooked by the bobby pin that held it in my hair all night. A school progress report for Little Red, lipgloss and an antique jar of buttons. My latest knitting pattern, some industrial foot cream for my mangled server feet and a stack of bills. As always, my crafts create a happy clutter that reminds me to take time to create. My vices are all healthy, and I am definitely guilty of being a little boring these days. I wouldn’t have it any other way.

I’m only growing three varieties of tomatoes this year. I did away with my whimsical round garden and have practical, straight rows. I wouldn’t say I’m disenchanted… more so that I’ve gotten an epic reality check. I don’t want to be bitter and jaded, but my fairy-tales turn into nightmares when I least expect them to and my heart is not a good judge of character. Consequently… I have taken myself out of the pool, entirely, and permanently.

Never. Another. Boyfriend. I have two cats… and I’d be delighted to adopt a dozen more.

IMG_7334Being boring is awesome. ♥

Fresh Butternutty Goodness

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I love love love seeing 10 hits on my blog. I feel like celebrating.

Gone are those 1000+ days. Amen.

I deleted all the baggage and cut all my ties.

I’ve been watching Hoarders lately and felt the same way about my blog. It had piles of shit I didn’t like, recognize or want anymore. It was so infested with douche bags and liars that the clean up would have been exhausting and endless- so instead I just burnt the whole fucker down- like most of the people on that show should do with their houses!

🙂 Ahhh. Peace. Clean sheets, new socks and your favorite sweatpants, sort of cozy freshness.

I’d documented my midlife crisis and sad attempts at having faith in the worst of humanity and took the last, very necessary response… and threw it all into the fire.

When you don’t like the view in the rear-view mirror anymore, you need a change of scenery and a fresh perspective.

Now I don’t mind writing anymore, though I may bore everyone to death with recipes, teething woes and too much gardening…

but at the very least… you’ll get to eat great food because I’m a domestic whirlwind these days. Behold! The perfect butternut squash soup, in my not-so-humble opinion… to celebrate this nice clean house.

My Better Butternut soup

8 cups good chicken stock. I make mine- you can do the same easily or buy it pre-made. Buy the organic one, really… because commercial chickens are perhaps the least respected meat raised and you should do your part to stop it. Even if your part is lazy- it counts. Ish.

1/2 c. Butter

2 c. Shallots. They’re the Filet Mignon of onions- trust me- spend the extra $.

3 cloves Garlic, minced, and while you’re at it- plant some! Garlic goes in to the ground this week and it’s so delicious home grown!

3.5-4 lb Butternut squash. Peel, seed and chop it into cubes. It’s a smooth textured winter squash and its glorious if you’re type A like me and want to see perfect orange cubes in a big white bowl.

2 c. Pumpkin puree. Finally something to make with all those pumpkins from the garden or in a can from the store- it all tastes the same.

1 c. Half & half

Just typing this recipe up makes me want to go make some more, and I just finished the batch I made this week for breakfast this morning.

s1

Dice your shallots and garlic while the butter melts in your stock pot. Let them soften over low-medium heat until they’re translucent. Add your chicken broth and bring to a boil over medium heat. Add your butternut squash cubes and pumpkin puree.  Simmer until the cubes of squash are soft and use your stick blender (don’t tell me you don’t have one. Go buy one!) until roughly half the cubes of butternut squash are blended. It will be a creamy lumpy texture and smell like heaven. Salt & pepper to taste.

s2

Add your half & half and stir, stir, stir. I usually make some naan or croutons to go along with it, but it’s good all by itself too. Enjoy a fresh & happy fall!

mmm

Foundation

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I have an old cedar deck on the front of my house, and in one spot, the boards are being pulled a different direction by the house. I know a problem when I see one. Thankfully after 37 years I also know when it’s a problem I am not equipped to repair by myself. It’s a foundation issue.

Such was my life. Being pulled in a million directions results in you neglecting the priorities you really want to prioritize. I was scattered. Flailing. Desperate.

Not at all how anyone would like to be described.

And just like these boards of mine, I started from the top and have worked my way down. Ish.

I had faith in love again and was disappointed when it went sour. It happens. I’m definitely jaded at this point and have happily burned my V card. I intend to live out my life with a houseful of happiness. (and a dozen cats).

I’ve learned to recognize when I’m not good at something and let it go. I realized how much I needed my mom in my life, and we’ve never been closer after realizing that it’s time spent, that counts. She’s given me a million things over the years, but the week she spent with me after my baby was born wove the frayed ends of our bond back together again.

Ripping down the foundation means you have to put it back together brick by brick… and you only use the bricks you know to be the best. You pick your favorites and leave the broken empty bullshit in the pile.

When you only foster and encourage the best parts of you, every day counts. I’m living proof of the power of having faith in yourself and the ability to change your life.

I had a beautiful baby in July and she lights my life in more ways than I can describe …while she grins and poops at the same time. I still pinch myself every time she wakes me from the four hour power naps I survive on. She wakes up with a big smile and we get our routine on with a little Biggie Smalls. She’s my little Muffin.

muffin

My day begins with a diaper to change, diapers to wash. Jammies to hang up. Smiley baby to nurse. Lunch to pack.

Her big sister is a full fledged teenager, fighting me when she spots my weaknesses. I love her to bits and remember what it was like with her big brother and realize it’s just how they are. I’ve had a baby in each stage of my life. My teens (19), my twenties (24) and now my thirties (37). It’s all so different and similar at the same time. I have so much more patience now- and I feel bad for my older kids because they had the drill sergeant asshole mom.  The midlife crisis mom. Muffin gets the best of me. The weathered, hardened and tempered steel strong lady I’ve grown into. The mom who know knows dessert for dinner is healthy sometimes. The everything-can-wait-let’s read-another-book mom. The mom who makes the damn kids help in the garden. I’ve learned through success and failure to focus on what’s important and leave the rest behind.

I miss my coworkers. I miss having something to talk about beyond baby smiles, infant milestones and canning…. but I’m loving my life these days. I’m living in the moment and treasuring each one.

yarden2013

I grew that damn enormous acre of vegetables and it’s downright terrifying how many heirloom tomatoes I have. A thousand pounds, perhaps? More? It’s beyond epic. It’s a biomass.

toms

Gardening while growing a human is not for the faint of heart. I pulled off the impossible. It was spectacular- and froze last week (Thank GAWD) It wasn’t bad while I was pregnant, and actually helped my back feel better. It was soothing while I was nesting and needed more to clean. It’s amazing how many weeds I pulled with a 45 inch waistline. Muffin was born right when it started to produce and things got a little crazy. You can’t take a newborn into the blazing sun and the weeds grew right along with the plants, which I never found time to fertilize.

somanyheirlooms

Thank God, all the angels & saints too… because I would have had to call the gleaners to help take some of it away.

 

pantry

I’m canning with a newborn, which is intense- to say the least. I dice tomatoes… then sing patty-cake. Nap time for baby means running a few dozen jars of sauce, salsa, tomatoes, etc through the canner. My pantry is beautiful, and I treasure these months I’ve been devoting myself at home, full time. I love having all the laundry done. I smile when I see a fresh tablecloth on the kitchen table. I like cleaning light fixtures. I’m contemplating painting. It feels good to make home feel cozy and beautiful again. Getting rid of the excess and only keeping your favorite things results in a nice tidy home full of everything you love most. All bets are off where my crafty stuff is concerned.

One cannot own too much yarn, fabric or buttons. These are facts.

I’m baking again which is sinfully good and terrible for my ass at the same time. I roasted a baby sugar pumpkin from the garden yesterday and I’m making a few pumpkin rolls today. The house smells like a mom lives here again. I can’t even get a thigh in my old jeans. Damn. Pregnancy at 37 doesn’t go away as fast as it does when you’re younger… but I’ll get there. Right after this pumpkin roll… 🙂 I really don’t care, to be completely honest. I’m focusing on being a great mother, being a better friend and appreciating the people and season. There’s plenty of time for working out when this baby isn’t so tiny and new. If this sweet chubby babylove of mine is any indication, my breast milk is more like heavy cream.

hat

I spent nap time sewing for my baby sister yesterday. Her baby is due any day and they did not find out their baby’s gender. It’s fabulously exciting, but a pain in the ass when you’re buying or making gifts. I hope like crazy it’s a girl because her and Muffin would be so close in age. Either way, it was so nice to fire up the Pfaff again. I padded her presents with baby potatoes and actually managed to get it in the mail in time to make it there for her shower… I hope.

I started running again this week after trading a years worth of garden produce for an awesome jogging stroller. Muffin loves it and I’m happy to resume a healthy habit that makes me feel so much better.

Rebuilding a foundation takes time and patience but having strong footing makes all the difference. Ridding yourself of the junk that holds you back and drowns you out, frees up a lot of time to focus on the things you love.

So I’ve cleaned the house, put away enough food for a damn army and knit 4 hats, a sweater and one bootie.

homegrown

I grew a baby, grew a garden and kept stacking away on my new foundation. I’ve only used the bricks that make me a maternal bad ass with a black belt in organic gardening. I threw out the bullshit, burned the trash and life has never been more peaceful.

One of these days I’m going to get around to fixing that deck.

Stupidity Payment

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ouchie

As the clock ticks down to Baby Q’s arrival, I have a million things left to get planted. I watered for hours yesterday to loosen the soil and today is the big day of mass planting.

However… I made the fatal error of roto-tilling barefoot last week… and destroyed my left baby toe. Everything was going along perfectly… the sun was shining, the birds were singing, and I was approaching my last pass of the heirloom tomato garden, when I hit a buried plastic pipe, the tiller yanked forward and I stepped right on the pipe I’d just sharpened with the rotating steel blades.

Ya know when something hurts so badly so immediately that you know you’ve really done some damage? Yeah… that’s what it was like.

I flipped the choke on the tiller and stood in shocked silence for a moment, immediately gripped by a stress-contraction. Even little Quinn knew to remind me to go inside, immediately. It takes a lot to make me cry, and I hobbled/waddled over to the outside water faucet to rinse off the dirt and survey the damage. Icy cold water hit like a second stab from the pipe and the water ran red for too long. I knew I was in trouble and I knew I needed to go inside and have my Little Red take a look.

Therein lies the real problem of hurting the bottom of your foot when you’re 9 months pregnant. You can’t even see it to know how bad it is.

I tracked blood across the patio and in through the kitchen, and started to panic a little when I saw how much there still was. I’m days away from delivery and my first concern, as always; is with my children.

Little Red followed me worriedly to the bathroom and had me lift my foot. Her eyes widened and she told me we needed to go to the emergency room. She’s not a kid that worries unnecessarily, so when she says it’s time to go, it’s solid advice. Being the impatient person I am, I wrapped a trash bag around my poor foot and hobbled out to the car. She insisted on calling people, I insisted she get in and buckle up.

Now the funny thing about being so roundly pregnant, is that people MOVE when you walk in to the emergency room. It was the shortest trip I’ve ever had through the ER and the most pleasant as well. They not only move, they take care to make sure you’re resting comfortably and don’t need anything else they never offer you when you are not with child.

I’m not a fan of needles. I don’t like shots at all. I am anti-vaccination…. but I know I’m due a tetanus shot. My darling daughter is raising an eyebrow at me as I negotiate my way out of one until after the baby. I’ve been with my attorney all afternoon and some of his argumentative nature has clearly worn off. My daughter is shaking her head at me while the tiny daughter in my belly kicks happily.

My doc walks in and smiles at me, joining in the head shaking.

D- Flip flops?

J- No… worse. Barefoot.

D- In the dirt?

J- Oh you haven’t lived if you’ve never walked barefoot through the freshly tilled soil… but yeah… perhaps wait until you’re done tilling.

We went through the options and I could see the loophole he was offering.

D- Well you’re really looking at a serious amount of stitches to put all these layers back together. It’s also going to hurt pretty bad for me to numb it.

I see him eye my belly warily and know a window worth climbing through when I see one.

J- It seems to just lie together nicely when you don’t mess with it, couldn’t it just heal on it’s own with a little love and care?

My daughter is wide eyed and her mouth is hanging open.

D- I think it just might. I could glue most of it to hold it while it heals, and you could keep it bandaged, clean and dry and it may heal even better that way.

J- Ohhh…. clean and dry may pose a problem. Could I wrap a bag around it to finish gardening?

D- Actually yes, that’s a great idea! Just make sure to take a lot of breaks and keep it from getting sweaty. It also appears to be broken… so that may slow you down.

I assure him I’ll do my best, the lovely nurse comes in to clean and bandage it, and we are on our way back home in under two hours. I walked in to the house, mopped up the blood, wrapped a bag around my freshly bandaged foot and headed back out to the garden… while my disgruntled teenager followed me, chastising all the way.

The garden got mulched, the beets got watered and I managed to ruin my new bandage in under an hour while my little nurse clucked her disapproval.

Old habits die hard… but at least I’m forced to keep my shoes on these days. The garden is close to being completely planted and despite my ever-growing baby belly- I’ve learned how to reapply the dressing in the last week…

Today: the potatoes get planted, tomorrow the flowers and hopefully in the next two weeks: a tiny baby girl will join us to make our family complete ♥

The Anti-Farmer

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Who needs internet dating, all you really need is a giant garden bordered on one side by the road.

Boobs, sundress, tattoos… and they drop like flies neatly along my fence line.

I spent 10 hours in the garden yesterday, with the sunburn to show for it; and it was insanity. The women smile and wave, generally saying something nice about my garden or muttering about my mental stability under their breath.

The men stop.

The older retired set compliment me on being a good woman, and we chat for a while about how women don’t grow their own food anymore and how sad that is. He leaves with more compliments, referring to me as Sugar, Honey, or Sweetheart as he walks away. He always tells me he’ll be back when the tomatoes are ripe… and he always is. I have at least a dozen older neighbors that wave dollar bills over the fence every September.

The married men… and these are the worst. The big bad wolves of the neighborhood. I could tell you every single husband that cheats on his wife within a mile of my house. They leer at me. they make comments about my appearance. They start running daily during garden season. They come late afternoon to catch me rinsing off. I know these things because they tell me. Eww. There’s really nothing worse than being hit on by a guy, only to sit next to his wife at PTA meetings. Some men are just snakes…

The boyfriends… and these are the best. They talk about their girlfriend’s garden and ask me for garden advice or just tell me they think the garden is beautiful. They usually make the effort to stand my fence up a little straighter too. They’re the good guys, the helpers. Aw. There’s about one a week, so don’t get too excited.

The single men. The most challenging. Don’t get me wrong- I’ll be damn happy if my very own Prince Charming walks up to the fence to hand me a shiny 3 carat princess diamond. Yeah, sign me up- but it just isn’t that easy. These men range from absolutely repulsive to hot 23 year old half naked college student home for the summer. It’s either light hearted flirtation with a side of compliments- or outright whistling, followed by a request for my number.

With a nice exception yesterday.

I was roasting in the mid-morning sunshine. Spreading newspaper and straw mulch in between the rows to keep the weeds at bay. I’m determined to pull off this garden and work full time, and enjoy the summer with my daughter. I’m trying to cover as many bases as I can to make this as easy as possible. I heard someone at the fence and looked up.

Bald.

I laugh at myself because it’s the first thing I notice and acknowledge it silently in my head. I start walking over, smiling and melting at the same time.

Cute.

He’s cute, cute. I think I’ve seen him somewhere before. I’m not sure. Damn cute though- granted his shiny head is only helping him with me. What a weakness… good Lord.

C- Hey, this is quite a garden you have here. Is it a city project?

J- Nope, just mine.

C- Well it’s beautiful and I love the round paths, it’s very feminine.

J- I suppose that happens when there’s not a man demanding straight rows? I like it curvy.

C- It looks that way. Here’s my card, I just moved to town and I’d love to help sometime if you want. I’d like to know what makes an anti-farmer start farming.

J- An anti-farmer?

C- Clearly you’re a girlie girl, but with tattoos and 8 times an average vegetable garden?

J- Pretty much.

C- Call me if you want, I want to know more.

He smiled and jogged off and I laughed…

Perhaps I should make a poster and announce it to the masses. I’m not dating… which is precisely when they all come flying at you. I’m too happy not dating, though I’m definitely wound tightly. My life is a douche bag free zone. It’s complication free, stress free and happy. My biggest concern is a slug eating my cucumber plants. I have a new job I’m really excited about.

I have time with my daughter and my garden is going in quicker than ever before this year. I’m moving my own mountains, instead of wasting time getting my feelings hurt. I crave bad habits like everybody- but I’m finally at a point that the cost is too high for me to consider. I know that I can’t have what I really want in my life if I’m wasting time doing what I know doesn’t work.

Tempting… oh so tempting… but no.

I have tomatoes to plant. A fence to rebuild (ugh…) a yard sale to put together, a new job, etc… I don’t have time for a potential douche bag- so as sweet as they all are- and as easy as it is in the garden.

I’m throwing the number away. Sigh.

I know myself too well…. and he’s gonna look better and better while I’m doing that fence.

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