Monday, March 28, 2011

Garden Plans

According to the calendar, spring is here. According to my thermometer and piles of snow still on my yard, spring is an elusive little bugger. Even though it doesn't feel very springlike at Silly Goose Farm, I'm still moving forward with plans for my garden this year.

Considering this is the first year we've owned the farm that I haven't been 1) pregnant or 2) recovering from a C-Section, I feel like I finally have the energy to move forward with major overhauls to the landscape (and boy, does it need it!). The first move is going to be installing a new vegetable and cutting garden. While surely not all of my plans can be implemented this year, here is what I'm hoping to achieve over the next two-to-three years.

Sorry the numbers are hard to read, but here is a basic explanation of the layout:

- The dimensions of the garden are about 75' x 60', delineated (at some point in the future) by some sort of fencing (either picket or iron). A 5' arbor entrance is wide enough to allow for garden tractors and wheelbarrows for maintenance (I'd love to cover the arbor with wisteria or climbing roses, and maybe old-fashioned hollyhocks on either side as you enter). The central pathway is also large enough for said equipment

- For now, all the sections of the garden will be mounded soil as raised beds. Down the road, perhaps I'll install fancy stonework or hemlock/cider boards to contain the soil

- Sections 1 and 2 will be used for flowers. I'm thinking zinnias, dahlias, cosmos, strawflower, cornflower, and coneflower. I'll probably add tulip and daffodil bulbs come fall for quick color next spring

- Sections 3 and 4 will be reserved for strawberries, blackberries, raspberries and blueberries. We currently have some blackberries and raspberries that grow on the farm, but they are in a not-so-good position and I'd love to move them to a more centralized location. Maybe down the road, I'll add a currant bush or two.  Space will be reserved for other perennials/bushes like horseradish and rhubarb (we have both on the property now, but again, in a tough, overgrown bed)

- Section 5 (if not used for berries) will be saved for grapes. We have TONS of grapevines on the property, but just not in a great location. I don't really know if one can transplant grapevine, but it might be neat to try!

- Sections 6 and 11 are for "viney" plants - melons, pumpkins, gourds, cucumbers zucchini and squash (mmm, just thinking about butternut squash ravioli make me drool)

-Sections 7 and 8 will be all tomatoes, all the time. I'm really hoping to be able to exclusively use canned tomatoes from my own garden. I'll be planting Roma tomatoes (the classic for canning), as well as Beefsteak for tomato-and-mayo sandwiches and little currant tomatoes for salads

- Section 9 is saved for peppers, both sweet and hot. I love hot pepper jelly (spread on a brick of cream cheese and popped in the oven for a few minutes... mmm), and homemade salsa, so peppers are a must. For sections 7, 8, and 9, I'll incorporate marigolds to help ward off beetles and other nasty buggers who like to lunch on tomatoes and peppers

- Section 10 will feature lettuce, microgreens, and other leafy veggies, like Swiss chard. Since lettuce can be harvested in the spring and fall, I want to keep it close to entrance for easy access. I imagine there will be plenty of room here to keep broccoli as well

- Section 12 and 13 will be for root veggies like potatoes, garlic, onions, parsnips, turnips, radishes and carrots

- Section 14 will have a trellis system for beans and peas (honestly, we don't eat much of either, so there will probably be more carrots here as space provides)

- Section 15 will be the herb garden. Lots of basil, chives, parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, lavender, dill, marjoram, thyme, and mint. I'm getting excited thinking about all the summertime cocktails and teas I can infuse with herbaceous blends and simple syrups

I realize this sounds like a lot for a family of four. It is, no doubt. I don't think I'll have full beds this year, but I am hoping to at least lay the foundation for future expansion. I also am dedicated to canning, freezing and preserving as much as I can and frequently use goodies from my garden/kitchen as gifts for birthdays and holidays. So while it seems like a lot of work up front, it makes a heck of a lot of sense in the long run. Plus, it's just a really awesome feeling to be (somewhat) self-sufficient. Now, if I could just convince Dave about that windmill...

Any tips and tricks that you would like to impart on gardening? Funny stories? Favorite flowers, fruits or veggies you love to grow? I would love to hear! Stay tuned for more news and inspiration on my edible garden as well as some suggestions for urban- and suburbanites for growing your own food.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

Things That Made Me Smile This Week

So Young and Pretty Vintage Photo of a Pretty Woman With an Engaging Smile

I woke up last Monday thinking it was Sunday. I had a big smile on my face and was really looking forward to a day of no obligations, plenty of loafing, and pancakes. Then I realized it was actually Monday, and that we received an additional two inches of snow overnight, and I was pissed. It was a stressful week and there's still plenty to do, but there were a few things that made me smile, including:

- I met some new people who made me laugh
- I was able to catch up with a good friend over cocktails, cupcakes and tasty canapes
- I walked into a meeting, upon which everyone smiled
- People asked me for my card before I asked them (I take that as a sign they actually want to stay in touch)
- I made great progress on pottery projects
- I ate Indian cuisine twice this week for lunch
- I showed my cocktail prowess and taught a bartender a few slick moves
- I had a pretty good fashion/wardrobe week, and I think I must have lost a pound or two because a skirt that was a bit tight a few weeks ago fit perfectly (stress can be a good thing sometimes!)
- A friend mentioned someone he knew who would love to meet me (nice to know you are thought of positively by strangers!)
- I learned a new trick that Eric thinks is hilarious (and baby laughs are the best!)
- I was able to exchange Monty Python quotes at will and not be publicly shunned for it

The stuff life is made of, my friends. What made you smile this week? I'd love to hear!

Monday, March 21, 2011

How to Live Sustainably: Go Vintage

One of the basic tenets of living sustainably is to follow the three Rs: Recycle, Reduce, Reuse. Sure, I buy new things when I need to, but the thrill of finding a great vintage or thrifted item is too good to pass up. Edith and I didn't make it out to the antiques festival this weekend (we all slept in a bit on Saturday morning, then decided to include "the boys" on a family breakfast down at the Duanesburg Diner), but I did make a quick stop at the local Goodwill. In search of some new entertaining pieces, I easily could have hopped online and ordered from Pottery Barn; instead, I used the opportunity to live sustainably and go vintage.

I really love the look of pressed- and hobnail glass, and had been eying these tumblers from Pottery Barn for a while:

Victorian Tumbler, Set of 6, Clear

I lucked out and found a similarly-styled version at Goodwill:

Sure, they aren't exactly the same, but they feel heavier and of better quality than the PB option. I could only find four, but that amount will certainly suffice for a few mojitos or Pimm's Cups shared with friends on the sunporch this summer. And the best part? This set was only $8.

I also stumbled upon this set of pressed-glass serving bowls. Perfect for candy, nuts or relishes ($4):

My favorite find of the day might be these little candle holders. I can't wait to use them ($4):

In one trip to Goodwill I was able to practice the three Rs, and found three sets of new goodies for less than half of what I would have paid for the PB purchase.* Before you toss out old household items, think about donating or saving for a tag sale. If you are looking for a few new pieces to add to a collection, consider hitting up your local thrift shop. It's a fun way to encourage sustainable living!

*In my opinion, if you can't find a second-hand item that fits your needs or makes you happy, buy new. Don't feel guilty about it! If you are against thrifted items all together, consider purchasing new goods from companies that include social and environmental responsibility in their practices.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

Weekend Listening

I don't know about you, but this week went by fast. I hope the opposite is true for the weekend! Tomorrow I'm planning to take Edith with me to an antiques festival (I'm searching for new nightstands for my bedroom) and if the weather holds out, yard work is in order. How about you?
This edition of weekend listening features one of my all-time favorites, Josh Rouse. I just love him, and I really want to see him in concert. The Best of the Rykodisc Years compiles some of my favorite Josh Rouse songs onto one album. "Under Cold Blue Stars" reminds me of a boy I used to date. "Nothing Gives Me Pleasure" is the song I wish was written about me (so romantic!). And I always find myself doing the subconscious catchy-song headbob/sway/toetap when "Love Vibration," "Come Back," or "It's the Night Time" come on. If you're ever looking for a good Pandora station, type in Josh Rouse. Check out this album if you get the chance!
Have a sunny weekend, friends!

Sustainable Snippets

Happy Friday! Man, can you believe March is more than half-over? 2011 seems to be flying by. Another week nearly done. I trust you have recovered from your St. Patty's Day hangover by now (depends on if you were drinking green beer or Irish Whiskey, one supposes!).

I thought I'd use Fridays to share some articles from around the web about issues related (in some way) to sustainability. So, here's round one. Happy reading!

A few simple ideas for DIY foodstuffs (this is SO the Silly Goose Farm lifestyle!)

Good thing growing season is right around the corner!

One must really like pigs to give-up vacations (did you know some breeds of pigs are smarter than dogs?)

Where was this when I was single? (I met my husband in a restaurant)

Get your Chicory Stout while the getting's good (yay craft beer!)

I've got to get that garden planned

Friday, March 18, 2011

For Japan With Love


All posts originally scheduled for today will be available tomorrow. Instead, I'm joining the bandwagon and participating in a day of silence for Japan. All the destruction is truly horrific, but the images and stories of parents not being able to find their children are what really break my heart. I can't even imagine (Eric crawled under the couch once and I freaked...). I hope you will consider making a donation to help relief efforts. In the meantime, here is an interesting story about American donations to Japan.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

A Moment of Catharsis

I really have no room to complain about my life, considering all the strife and despair happening across the world today. I should count my blessings and be thankful for all the good fortune in my life (I do, and I am); however, it is hard for me to appreciate the good unless I can release my feelings about the bad. WARNING: If you don't want to hear any self-serving whining, please stop reading here.

I am hoping if I flush this out now, I can focus on all the great things in my life (as there are many and I haven't been able to appreciate them as much as I want to). I have been really, really down for the past nine months or so. Sometimes I don't even recognize myself. A few core elements in my life have been very unsettled and it makes it hard for me to even function sometimes.

To begin with, my "scary age" birthday is just over a month away. There are so many parts of my life I never thought I'd have by now (house, kids), and yet so many things I thought I would have that I don't. I'm still trying to adjust to this life, and adapting comes harder to me that I wish sometimes.

My job is very stressful, too, which doesn't help. Being an independent consultant has amazing benefits, but it is very unpredictable. I also never thought this would be my career, and I'm trying to find a balance between this job and where I ultimately want to be. It sounds so silly to say because I am so young (and have some impressive accomplishments under my belt already, if I can say so), but I feel like I haven't accomplished much in my life and am having a hard time with feelings of guilt, failure and discontent.

The last factor is relationships. I've had two important friendships end in the past few months - one was a long time coming, and the other completely blindsided me. I'm trying to make sense of what happened in each scenario. I tend to dwell on "rejection" and "why doesn't that person like me?" I'm working on getting past that. I've come up with little tricks for myself (channeling those feelings into productivity, and my three-strike friendship rule), but one thing I'm sticking to is the end of one-sided relationships. "Friend" is a term that holds special meaning to me, and I truly love my friends like family. I give my whole self to them, but I also need the same dedication back. Maybe I expect too much, but I think when someone is your friend, it isn't a halfway thing.

I've been having lots of problems in other relationships, as well, and I'm hoping to resolve these problems (for better or worse) soon, which might cause a lot of shift in my life. The good thing is that I have always been an up-and-up person - things can always be better, and I make the most of the circumstances. I also have a couple of super-amazing friends who have been by my side through all of this and are helping me get through this (you know who you are!!).

Much of my silence on this blog has been due to all of the above, and I felt obligated to provide insight into the reasons behind this. There are so many parts of my life that I am incredibly thankful for, including the unbelievably talented, passionate and kind people I've met through blogging, but sometimes having a moment of catharsis can help purge the barriers that hamper me from realizing the good (no rain, no rainbows, right?). I’d love to hear what you do to help bring yourself out of a funk, if you don’t mind sharing!

Thanks for listening :-) You are the best-est.

All pictures are by one of my favorite photographers, Gerald Brimacombe, and make me so happy!

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

What Does Artisanal Really Mean?

Gold mining Madre de Dios

Our Farm

Just wanted to drop in quick to give you a heads-up about a post I just added to my other blog. It's about the meaning of artisanal. You might be surprised. If you would like to check it out, click here.

Sorry for my silence as of late. More on that soon. In the meantime, we just received another FOURTEEN INCHES of snow at Silly Goose Farm, and we're all going crazy. Even the dogs. As soon as they saw the snow, the tried to climb back inside the house and howled and wimpered like they were being toutured.

Hope the weather is to your liking where you live. And thanks for stopping by :-)