Heart = Warmed

What a fantastic weekend. On Friday, we got word from the city that they have approved our proposal to build the Keystone-Monon Community Garden at Arsenal Park.

We had our first fundraiser for the garden yesterday at a community event at a local school. We had such a super fun morning talking to people about vegetables and gardens and community, and we raised just over $100 from the extra seedlings I planted this spring. We talked to a couple of kids about becoming scientists in Antarctica; another two told us their favorite fruits or vegetables were oranges and food. 🙂 One child picked out a lettuce plant and wouldn’t put it down or let anyone else hold it.

20150425. Seedling sale at IPS School 91's Our Community Day.

20150425. Seedling Sale at IPS School 91's Our Community Day.

Now it’s today, aka the best day ever: we just got back from an awesome afternoon hanging at old Bloomington friends’ place for a barbecue (Willem’s first!). I put Willem to nap when we got home, then checked my email. One of my friend’s moms here in Indy made an extremely generous donation to the community garden! Like, we should name a garden bed after her. I am just overwhelmed to know such a wonderful human being who is so incredibly supportive of local food, community projects, and general good stuff (oh… and ME!). This is just… it’s so overwhelmingly wonderful, it’s hard to even put it into words.

I’m over the moon right now. We need to raise a lot more in the way of funds or even in-kind donations, of course, but I’m feeling absolutely humbled and thrilled.

20150425. Seedling Sale at IPS School 91's Our Community Day.

20150425. Seedling Sale at IPS School 91's Our Community Day.

20150425. Seedling Sale at IPS School 91's Our Community Day.

Spring Has Sprung, the Grass Is ‘Ris…

I wonder where the birdies is!*

*This was my late Grandma Farm’s favorite springtime poem, my mom told me recently. She would recite it every time my mom saw her in the spring – spring has sprung, the grass is ‘ris, I wonder where the birdies is! – then cackle with delight. I just love that.

Today was a simply fantastic day. It’s also that wonderful time of year where, even though still stark and brown, the air holds promise of greener days, of growing things, of time spent rolling in the grass and picking dinner from the backyard:

  • I spent a wonderful morning visiting just a few of the many churches in our neighborhood, inviting them to the upcoming Keystone-Monon Community Garden organizing meeting. So many friendly, smiling, welcoming faces and well wishes – it was a great way to start a busy Sunday! I’m reminded yet again of how many awesome people there are, right in our neighborhood, I have yet to meet. Also, if my church growing up had been like any of these? Well, maybe I’d still be a church goer. They made me feel embraced and welcomed.
20150322. First days of spring.

Although you can’t tell, so much has happened already this spring: fresh compost in all the beds, soil turned, hay removed, things cut back, sweet potato bin readied, and the first seeds planted.

  • I got some work done – a grant application for our after-school and summer camp programs, the Eat Well Club, and editing a monthly online newsletter – then got some food into the boy post-nap. Then….
20150322. First days of spring.

Gardening doesn’t need to be fancy or expensive: we’ve used this same chicken wire and canvas drop cloths to grow sweet potatoes three years now.

  • We headed back out and wandered around Arsenal Park, where we’re hoping the community garden will take root (literally), putting flyers on every house around the perimeter. I feel so strongly that we need our community to drive this effort, thus my flyering and helloing efforts this morning. Facebook and email only go so far.
20150322. First days of spring.

The middle bin was full of amazing compost just last week. Now? It’s mixed into all of our garden beds for some hopefully amazing plants this year.

  • THEN we had a very special surprise for our fearless leaders, who are expecting their first baby any day now. We headed to the farm at the Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center, which is a fantastic place to enjoy the spring weather. I was feeling a little lazy while volunteers moved wheelbarrows full of mulch all over, readying the beds, but Willem and I had the important task of hanging out with 4-year-old Berlin. She loved Willem and really wanted to teach him to not eat the mulch. Sorry, Berlin, we’re not quite there yet, but we appreciate your steadfast efforts and sweetness.
20150322. First days of spring.

Garlic, always our first green things!

  • Fearless leaders arrived, and we handed over their gift – well wishes for them and the newest little one from the entire Indianapolis food, health, and yoga community. We couldn’t think of a single “thing” to give them; but then we thought of the amazing work they have done to build this community right here in Indianapolis and realized the most meaningful thing we could give them were that community’s words, hopes, and dreams for their new family.
20150322. First days of spring.

Some fresh chicken bedding for the run and a set of Chris’ still-empty bee hives (I think he plans to use that for a swarm if he’s lucky enough to find one this year).

  • Willem and I finished our flyering, then headed home. On the way back, I noticed a bunch of folks a few doors down, doing some lawn work and hanging. Willem and I sauntered over, invited them to the next community garden meeting, then chatted all things gardening and neighborhood block partying. This community organizing stuff is making me bold!

Spring, friends. It’s here, in all its still-slightly-brown glory!

Nesting and Knitting

Nesting
The absolutely frigid weather this week coupled with a lack of motivation to make real meals made me realize that, hey, come baby-time, it would be so super cool to have some good food on hand, just waiting to be thawed and nommed. So this weekend, I made three different soups in three days. Is this what they mean by “nesting”?

We now have a veggie-rific vegetarian chili, homemade chicken noodle soup, and broccoli-pea-asiago soup (that is reminiscent of that famous scene in The Exorcist) clogging up our freezer. Chris professed the chicken noodle soup to be bested only by a concoction he had sampled as a kid at some church, made by a bunch of old ladies who even made their own noodles. Being in the same league as those little old ladies? I call that soup success.

20140112. Homemade chicken noodle soup.

So if anyone has other healthy meals that freeze well, please share! I also started the sweet potato slips yesterday. Let’s hope we get another great batch of sweet potatoes growing this year.
20140111. Starting the sweet potatoes.

Nesting Some More… with the Help of the Farmers Market
Speaking of food, I also made a much-needed trip down to the Indy Winter Farmers Market yesterday. I went for honey sticks, but I walked away with crusty sunflower seed bread, freshly made honey peanut butter, radishes, and red raspberry leaf and lemon balm for tea.

Even better than that crusty bread, though? I got to spend the morning chatting with some wonderful people – a much-needed break from my computer and the shut-in feeling that built over the last week. And this is coming from someone who really, really loves fresh, crusty bread.

All the goodies! Crust bread, radishes, herbs to drink, honey sticks, and freshly made honey peanut butter. Thanks, Indy Winter Farmers Market!

Knitting
A couple of winters ago, I joined up with an awesome group of ladies: the Indy Pub Knitters. We like to say we’re drinkers with a knitting problem. Every other Sunday, we meet up at a different area pub or micro-brewery, and we knit and chat. I look forward to our get-togethers very much.

Anyway, today turned out to be a two-cupcake day because, wouldn’t you know it, the ladies surprised me with an impromptu baby shower! I love how many handmade blankets, booties, hats, wash cloths, bibs, sweaters, and pants this baby is going to have. Thank you for making me feel so loved and special, ladies.

20140112. Hand knitted gifts from the Indy Pub Knitters.

On the knitting and nesting front, in addition to making ALL THE SOUP, I’ve also been knitting up a storm for this baby. A small, recent sampling: a sheep pillow…
20140108. Sheep pillow.

One of many bandana bibs…
20140108. Bandana baby bib.

A cozy cabled blanket…
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Some cozy baby pants…
20131222. Kanoko pants.

A sweet little vest…
20131112. Pebble vest.

And what baby doesn’t need a pixie hat?
20131007. Pixie hat for the sprout.

I’m 35 weeks today – hi, baby!
20140112. 35 weeks.

Resolutions, 2014 Edition (or Can We Just Continue on with the Awesome, Please?)

Last year, I had some kick-ass resolutions. How do I define “kick ass”? For starters, I actually kept them (to be fair, one of them was to drink more juice).

A brief recap: my 2013 resolutions…

  • Drink more juice. Check!
  • Apply for an apprenticeship this summer with Growing Places Indy. So much checking!
  • Take a trip with my honey. So we didn’t end up in Oregon, but our vacation did require passports. Check and check!

More importantly, though, it seemed my mental pump was primed this time last year for some big changes in 2013 (of which there were so, so many). It’s easy to list off the events that happened: got engaged, got pregnant, did an urban farming apprenticeship, learned so very much all summer long, expanded our garden, got married, went on an awesome vacation, had a fantastic baby shower, etc. etc.

20130907. Our Wedding!

However, the internal shifts are harder to quantify or even vocalize without starting to feel like a dirty hippie. But they are really, incredibly important to me. A few of the things I learned this year:

  • View the world through a positive lens.
  • Actively kick those negative, ugly, or self-defeating thoughts out.
  • Get excited about the immense number of things you can do, the things you can learn, the people you can meet, the ways you can move forward and just be better at being you; don’t worry about your limitations.
  • Actually, just kick those (mostly perceived) limitations to the curb while you’re at it.
  • Do it. Show up. Open your heart. Don’t be afraid.
  • Approach the world and especially the people in it with abundance and gratitude and thanks and gentleness. We all need more gentleness.
  • Let people know you appreciate them. Show your gratitude any time you can.

20130801. Growing Places Indy Summer Apprentices.

Speaking of showing gratitude, I am so thankful for so many people over this last year. My parents (gratitude times a million, this year and always, really); Chris, who got me through the worst days, supported me unconditionally as I came up with new schemes and dreams, and cheered me on through the best; Laura, Tyler, all of my Growing Places Indy peeps, and my inspiring, thoughtful, hilarious fellow apprentices this summer; Amy at South Circle Farm for so graciously opening up her farm to us on what turned out to be one of my favorite days this year, our wedding; Maggie at Fall Creek Gardens for being generally awesome and letting me help out with the new demonstration garden; our good local friends, fellow knitters, and neighbors; all of my girl friends scattered across the country, who listened during some damn dark days early this year; and my amazing, generous, loving extended family, of which I’ve always been so thankful to be a part and which expanded even more this year.

20130512. The whole clan.

So my resolutions for 2014?

  • Keep working to live all those hard to quantify, sometimes easy to forget life lessons I picked up in 2013. 
  • Approach motherhood and our soon-to-be expanded family with humor, joy, and adventure. Oh, the places we’ll go.
  • Go on a real vacation with my husband and my baby. Maybe this year will be our chance to roam the Oregon coast, expand our micro-brewery horizons among the Portland-hip, and introduce our baby to a starfish or two.
  • Continue to put myself out there and open my heart to people who make it easy to feel gratitude, thanks, and positivity.

Happy NEW YEAR! Here’s to lots of goodness in 2014.

20130928. New onesies for the sprout.

20131231. Chris' favorite Christmas present.

Giving Thanks, Days 13, 14, and 15: I Love YOU and YOU and YOU

I am a lucky, lucky girl in lots of different ways. I’m so thankful to so many people, most of all my parents, who will get their own extensive entry one of these days. I’m thankful for my circumstances and, in general, luck. Things have not always been fantastic, but when I think about how many opportunities I have had, thanks to the help of others, dumb luck, and my own efforts, it’s staggering.

So this post is going to be all about three amazing people in my life.

DAY (LUCKY NUMBER) 13: THANKS TO MY LOVE, MY COMPADRE, MY PARTNER IN CRIME, MY DUDE, CHRIS, FOR… WELL, FOR EVERYTHING. I’m so glad you decided you wanted to marry me. You bring out the good parts of me and make me want to be a better person. Maybe it’s the hormones speaking, but I am just overwhelmed lately with all the feels re: you. And me. And you and me together. And that’s a very nice thing.

20130907. Our wedding!

20130907. Our wedding!

DAY 14: SHOUT OUT TO THE INSPIRATIONS IN MY LIFE. I had dinner with one of my favorite inspiring lassies, Sally, on Tuesday, and I love that I have a Sally in my life. It is amazing to grow with your friends, to be inspired by them (see: the Sally Project), to share the awesomeness that can happen when you decide what you want in life and just start DOING it. It is intoxicating when you start seeing positive results just from focusing yourself and making small, simple step after small, simple step, and even more inspiring when you get to hang out with cool people living through similar realizations.

100703. me and sally.

DAY 15: THANKS FOR BOXES OF BABY GOODIES FROM LOVED ONES FROM AFAR. My friend, Nikki, made my week – she sent what she had said would be “a few things” for the baby and turned out to be a box absolutely loaded with pretty much all the clothes I think we’ll need for the kid for at least the first several months. Seriously, this is amazing on so many levels – I no longer have to worry that my baby will have no clothes, I don’t have to go out and be a dirty consumer, the stuff she sent is beyond adorable, AND I’ll think of her and her little one every time the kid wears something from her. We’re talking a GIRAFFE CARDIGAN, sweet little rattles and teethers, the most amazing fleece lined baby parka thingie I’ve ever seen, and so many onesies and sleepers to make you swoon.

20131120. Baby clothes from Nikki.

20131120. Baby clothes from Nikki - GIRAFFE CARDIGAN.

20131120. Baby clothes from Nikki - you've got to be kidding me with the cute.

Like I said, I am a damn lucky girl. Thanks, universe, for being so good to me and bringing these wonderful people into my little world.

Bust Out the Kleenex!

I am so thankful to Maggie, one of my fellow apprentices, for documenting the inspiring, thoughtful, candid, wonderful human beings I got to spend my summer with during the Growing Places Indy summer apprenticeship. It’s strangely comforting to me that everyone’s mannerisms, their voices, how they talk, their thoughtfulness was captured for me to listen to any time I need it. Which means I’ve watched this video probably about five times today.

I guess what I’m saying is I miss you all already.

Your Magic’s Real, So Why Aren’t You Using It?

This optimistic update is brought to you by:

20130719. Waiting for the Exorcist at the IMA.

    • Coffee with Mexican hot chocolate mixed in – hot and hot!
    • Less grass, more herbs and edibles: our new front yard view
20130714. Less grass + more herbs = happy house.

Lavender, sage, lemon balm, mint, oregano, and transplanted native wildflowers.

    • Tomato (and basil) season!

20130719. It's officially tomato season!

    • First canning of the season: peppers, beets, and cumin-spiced summer squash
    • Getting our very first wedding response card in the mail (also, friends who, by the time we get married, will be Mr. and Mrs. So excited for you!)

20130719. First response card received!

    • Sky Farm sneak previews, hard hats, safety goggles, and very sexy construction vests

20130709. Sky Farm at Eskenazi Health.

    • And this adorable song, which has been stuck in my head all morning: YACHT, “I Believe in You”

Peppermint Wishes and Asparagus Dreams

I am trying to soak in every minute of the Growing Places Indy summer apprenticeship. Heaven knows I’m having a hard time writing it all down. By the time I get around to updating ye olde blog, I am either falling asleep on the couch/drooling on my dog or I feel like I’m coming off very Pollyanna about the whole thing.

Fair warning: this entry will be of the Pollyanna variety.

As I process all that we have done over the last three weeks (and oh, we have done a lot), things have shaken out a bit:

  • Week 1: I’ve Got Nothing to Do Today but Smile – I ended the week in a total state of bliss, pinching myself to be sure I wasn’t dreaming.
  • Week 2: Back to Life, Back to Reality – During week 2, the rubber hit the road (figuratively and literally, in terms of my bike traveling 60 miles around Indianapolis in four days). The hard work began, and my body, used to hours sitting in front of a computer, was jolted into a new reality: sunshine and fresh air and work in the dirt among the green things. By the end of the week, I was exhausted, both physically and mentally.
  • Week 3: I Get By With a Little Help from My Friends – This week, I felt comfortable enough in the work that I could expand my gaze to the people around me – the apprentices and leaders of the program – and make the mental space to really talk with them and enjoy their company, building relationships over mulberry trees and Jerusalem artichokes. It has been my favorite week so far for that reason alone.

I’ve also met even more people across Indianapolis who I would like to be when I grow up. I am in awe at the variety of things going on in this fair city and the incredibly open, welcoming, and inspiring people behind them. Just in this past week, we’ve met:

  • Bob Shaver, Karp Resources, about job options in local food economies.
  • Thom England, Ivy Tech Culinary Center, who is passionate about all things local and sustainable, including operating a beautiful state of the art, no-waste culinary school facility. Note: this is no small feat!
  • Amy Matthews, South Circle Farm, who is one of the hardest working women I have ever met. Not only do I want to be her when I grow up in terms of the work she is doing, but her whole demeanor was so kind, welcoming, and chill; I aspire to learn a little something from that, too.
  • Imhotep Adisa and Paulette Fair, KI EcoCenter, who shared so much of their worlds with us. I was inspired by the obvious passion and love they have for their community and especially the kids within it.
  • Sister Faiza, Living Well Community Garden, who recognized a need in her community and, three summers later, has a garden that brings people together to grow, to cook, and to share. I loved hearing how quickly a spark on an idea can become something as wonderful as a community garden.

Before I started the apprenticeship, I was most excited about learning the farming aspects: hands on skills, planning tools, strategies for making a living and bringing food to market, and getting my hands in the dirt. After this week when people ask me about the apprenticeship, I start by gushing about how amazing everyone in the program is, followed quickly by how inspiring the people of Indianapolis are.

I didn’t anticipate that going into this program, but maybe that says more about me and my own headspace than anything else. I always want to know how to get things done and then do it. The more I think about it, though, relationships are perhaps the most important thing we can build and grow – in encouraging a local, sustainable food culture and economy, for sure, but also in everything we do. I feel like I had somehow forgotten that amidst all the to do lists and deadlines and conference calls and tasks that need to be accomplished.

20130613. Asparagus dreams at the Near Eastside Legacy Center.

Speaking of relationships, the beautiful and awesome Elise, one of my fellow apprentices, shot this picture of me on Thursday, tied up in the asparagus fronds. I think this is an accurate depiction about how I feel about all of my new friends, aka the other apprentices in the program, and my general lot in life.

My Little Whirlwind of a Life

I seem to have very little time on the computer these days. This is certainly not a complaint, just an observation. I’ve been on my bike, in the sun, learning, talking, doing – and when I am on the computer, it’s to dedicate some time to my day job, which has so graciously and kindly allowed me to have this summer of awesome.

It’s funny how extracurricular internet is the first thing to go when life gets busy-happy (or, like last night, just plain exhausted… OMG SO EXHAUSTED). Nevertheless, it’s high time for a post about all the awesome goings on over here.

VISITORS FROM AFAR
Over Memorial Day weekend, I hosted two of my favorite ladies – good friends from San Francisco and North Carolina who I wish lived much, much closer. We ate ice cream and delicious food stuffs, played with chickens, napped, watched Sherlock and Portlandia and Jenna Marbles videos on YouTube, visited the butterflies and the meerkats at the zoo, and went to the Indianapolis 500 parade. It was a much-needed weekend of girl check-in and resting time.

The ladies, the ladies!
20130525. Sarah, Carrie, and me. Indianapolis Zoo.

Butterfly cocoons, looking like leaves and beads and the rare jewels that they are.
20130525. Butterfly cocoons. Indianapolis Zoo.

The most pensive meerkat.
20130525. The best meerkat. Indianapolis Zoo.

Petting sharks.
20130525. Shark petting. Indianapolis Zoo.

GROWING PLACES INDY URBAN FARM APPRENTICESHIP: It Is ON!

Our first day: Introductions, bicycles, strawberries and garlic and Jerusalem artichokes, downtown Indy, yoga, rows of greens and clover, chickens, markets, more veggies than I probably know what to do with, and some already stellar people.

20130528. Growing Places Indy.

An overall good motto to live by, right?

We finished our first week, and I can honestly say this is one of the better decisions I have made in my life. It’s on the same level of deciding to go on a solo trip around Europe in my late-20s or transferring schools to Humboldt State in my early-20s. And it’s only the first week! In the past three days, I have harvested mint, oregano, lemon balm, strawberries, chard, kale, radishes, and… a lot more. I have also biked nearly 60 miles in those three days.

Even better, I have eaten some amazing food and have an entire shelf in my fridge dedicated to locally produced or homemade items (some of which was produced in my own kitchen).

My current office.

My current office.

At White River State Park, thinking about a nap under this sign.

The best part of all? My fellow apprentices are pretty fantastic. I’m not surprised at that – I am just so excited about HOW fantastic they really are. I am also super excited that I will get to be the veggie share/CSA coordinator this summer, as well as work on fundraising for next year’s apprentices (a sort of “pay it forward” model) with another of the apprentices. If you have any brilliant fundraising project ideas, let ’em fly!

20130530. What ever could be hiding in that over-stuffed bag?

What ever could be hiding in my ridiculously overstuffed bike bag?

20130530. The sexiest top shelf of a fridge ever - completely local or homemade items.

My first Growing Places Indy CSA share, of course! Our top shelf is nothing but ultra local produce or stuff made by our chickens or me (mmm, apple sauce canned from last fall’s orchard visit).

THE STATE OF THE GARDEN
I would be remiss to not mention the fact that our garden has been off the chain this spring. It has also been a long, cool, wet spring, which means my earlier season plants are rocking my socks off. Let’s just close out this post with a few pretty garden pictures, shall we?

20130529. State of the garden - lettuce.

Some of the lettuce leaves are about a foot long. DINO LETTUCE.

20130529. State of the garden - tomatoes.

Baby cherry tomatoes.

20130529. State of the garden - strawberries and lettuce.

Strawberries and lettuce for last night’s dinner – mint strawberry salad with pea tendrils. Yeah, it didn’t suck.

20130529. State of the garden - tatsoi.

TATSOI!

20130529. State of the garden.

Long view of the garden.

It’s May! … and Everything’s Coming Up Christie

I am in love with this month, and it’s still only the first day. Why, you ask? Here’s a small sampling of what we’ve got going on in the next 30 days:

    • My nephew Zachary’s first birthday on 5/4 and my brother’s birthday the next day.
20120629. Vacation to Colorado to visit the family.

The goober last summer, only about 8 weeks old.

day 4 - brian and sarah at the teahouse.

Brian and Sarah at this teahouse we hiked to up in the mountains years ago, somewhere in Alberta.

    • My birthday on May 18, oh yeah!

100518. sad bird.

    • A fantastic homebrewing festival this weekend, Big Brew 2013 at Great Fermentations just down the street from our house, featuring classes on cheesemaking and wild yeast cultures/sour beers, followed up by a cookout at a friend’s house (I’m bringing deviled eggs, of course!).
    • A tour of Fruit Loop Acres, which is a truly awesome urban endeavor by two pretty awesome people, from what I hear, this Sunday.
    • Mother’s Day and a visit to my parents’ place up near Chicago, including a huge family picnic and my brother, sis-in-law, and two nephews visiting from Colorado.
20111024. playing with ben.

Me and Ben, my almost 4-year-old nephew, who I think is pretty much the coolest.

090815. me and mom, deception pass.

Me and my amazing, beautiful, wonderful, ridiculously caring mom at Deception Pass in Washington a few years back.

    • A visit from three fantastic women to little old Indianapolis – Sarah from San Francisco, Carrie from North Carolina, and Nikki from Toronto are all going to be IN MY HOUSE AT THE SAME TIME! I *almost* literally cannot wait and feel way too lucky. We will eat ice cream at BRICS and brunch at Three Sisters and go to the Indy 500 parade and hit up 100 Acres and the IMA and watch bad television and hang out with the chickens in the backyard and cuddle Birdie and and and… I just can’t wait.
20111002. visit to asbury park, nj.

Two of my three girls, on an adventure in 2011 to Asbury Park, NJ, to see Jeff Mangum play his first show in a long while. Best weekend ever.

    • AAAAAND… the start of my apprenticeship with Growing Places Indy on 5/28!

20120920. Happy!

The last couple of months have been rough ones. This month, though… this month is going to be the greatest one ever. Sometimes (okay, most of the time), I really love my life.

P.S. Also… Chris is currently prepping our hop trellis. That’s right… We’re also planting our HOPS this month! I’m telling you, “m” is for May and magic.