Fleeting Fall

The leaves seem to already be falling to the ground, and I feel like I’ve barely had the chance to enjoy them shifting from green to yellow to orange to red on the trees. What’s the deal, fall?

We’ve been in the throes of fall cleanup around here. A few weekends ago, the chickens got their coop and run deep clean. Last weekend, I dug the sweet potatoes and put more of the garden to rest.

There’s always so much excitement to see what’s buried under the soil on sweet potato digging day:
20141004. Sweet potato digging day!

And then? Sometimes, this happens. Yup. That is the entirety of our sweet potato “crop” this year.
20141004. Sweet potatoes... And this is all we got, folks.

Sad trombone.
20141004. A rather lackluster sweet potato year.

Still left to do: planting the garlic, cutting back the perennials in the back, and cutting back our newer/smaller perennials up front. Then the snow can fly.
20141004. Putting the garden to bed for the winter.

This weekend? This weekend, I took care of most of the older perennials in the front yard. We usually leave the coneflower all winter for the birds and other little critters, but we were a little distracted this summer and didn’t do much in the way of staking them as they grew. The end result was a bunch of beautiful, wild, crazy flowers laying across the lawn and each other. So… they had to go.

I feel like we should be doing “fall stuff” with Willem – taking him on hay rides and to pumpkin patches and little kid costume parades. But really? At this point, those things would be more for us than him, and he’s just not terribly keen on big crowds. He had such a great time playing on his blanket in the sun this morning, watching me hack away at the bushes of false blue indigo, butterfly weed, and coneflower. So instead of pictures of Willem with pumpkins, we’ll have pictures of Willem on my Grandma Farm’s colorful quilt in the front yard.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

Can you also tell our latest exciting development? Willem now has two bottom teeth coming in! His gummy smile is a thing of the past. Sniff…
20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

I must say, though, I can’t wait until he’s old enough to snuggle up on the couch with us and watch a movie or go play at Conner Prairie or the Children’s Museum or really have a blast watching the Christmas train display at the Eiteljorg Museum. Don’t grow up too fast, kid… but when you do, we’ll have some awesome stuff to do.

20141012. Fall cleaning of the front yard and play time.

Adventures in EATING, Baby Edition

It is so strange to me that I get to witness another human being’s first time ever eating stuff. We like food over here, as evidenced by our garden (and our restaurant/takeout bill – up until last month when we decided we really needed to cut it out if we are going to be able to survive on one income). I was really hoping Willem would like food, too. General consensus? Does he ever.

20140726. New high chair. And our awesome kid.

No, really. I swear he likes food. This is just his well-honed Elvis impression.

Like, yesterday? Willem ate PEAS for the first time. Ever. In his life. And he was all, “Hey, it’s no big thing, I’m just eating PEAS. For the first time. Which, by the way, are REALLY GOOD, and CAN I PLEASE HAVE SOME MORE? Right MEOW?

Half a year old today.

Beets are also a serious fave.

It’s also kind of amazing watching his little brain work. He’s at the stage where, if you put a Cheerio or overcooked piece of broccoli or green bean in front of him, he gets laser sharp focus on whatever is on that tray. First he rakes it into his fist. If he gets a good grip on it and part of it is sticking out (on the mouth side, that is), he’s in business. If not, he sucks on his hand, shoving as much of it in as he can in hopes of getting that little food morsel out. If not? Well, he drops it back on the tray and starts all over again. Baby development = super cool to see.

20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

SO WHAT’S ON THE MENU? This is mostly for my own reference (and for times when I will inevitably feel uninspired re: Willem snacks and need a reminder of some faves), but here are just a few things our little guy has inhaled. We haven’t had to buy baby food yet – just made this stuff from fresh and frozen produce:

  • Sweet potato sticks, green beans, and broccoli (cooked soft so he can feed himself)
  • Homemade chicken noodle soup
  • Peas, spinach, and lentils
  • Banana and pumpkin with a little pumpkin pie spice
  • Beets!
  • Peas!
  • Carrots and apple sauce
  • Broccoli, carrots, and spinach
  • Black beans with just about anything
  • Lentils with just about anything
  • Peaches and blueberries

So we’ve got eating down. Now if we could just figure out how to not end up with sweet potato or spinach up our nose and down our sleeves.

ALL THE THINGS!

TODAY:

  • Dig out all the weeds growing in the lettuce bed.
  • Steam some green beans for Willem’s lunch.
  • Cut back the blackberries.
  • Pull ALL THE WEEDS.
  • Lay down plastic to KILL ALL FUTURE WEEDS.
  • Mow.
  • Buy winter rye for cover cropping (and a bunch of other seeds) from Johnny’s Selected Seeds.
  • Update a website and track the produce from our last CSA of the summer.
  • Get some more work done on our family portrait.

Family.

  • Make rosemary-lavender simple syrup.
  • Go buy some fixings to make a pumpkin pie. I need some pumpkin pie like whoa.
  • Play with, feed, talk to, smile at, put down for naps, read to, and change the Willem.

This guy.

  • Take at least two showers.
  • Drink ice water, eat ice cream, watch the series finale of The Killing, and drink pumpkin beer in our underwear under the fan once all of the above is complete.

Also? It is stupid hot and humid out there. STUPID.

Garden 4.0: Notes for Future-Me

This year, the garden has been a bit, ahem, wild. Overgrown. Unkempt. Let’s just say it’s in need of a serious haircut at this point.

20140726. Our backyard! And Birdie running laps.

Thankfully, due in large part to the wet, cool(ish) summer we’ve been having (and not to my serious neglect), we’ve still managed to get some lovely produce. The tomatoes, green beans, beets, radishes, lettuce, kale, and husk cherries in particular have done awesomely.

20140812. Husk cherries.

Now is the time, though, to start making some notes to future-me for future-garden. I do this mentally every year, and then I completely forget or push out of my mind the previous year’s lessons learned. So, dang it all to heck, we’re documenting the crap out of them this year!

20140708. State of the garden address.

Plans for next year:

  • Husk cherries are the bomb. We need a field of husk cherries next year. Okay, maybe a bed of them will do, but seriously… a lot, please.
  • Half a bed of tomatoes = perfect. Although Chris will disagree, horizontal trellising has worked nicely this year (i.e. no broken twine halfway through the summer during the latest thunderstorm to try to restring, heavy with tomatoes).
  • Let’s do onions for real next year, and half a bed of garlic was perfect. Next year: half a bed of garlic, the other half onions? Yeah? Yeah.
  • ONLY GROW HALF A BED OF GREENS, TOTAL. PERIOD. None of this “eight kale plants will do” crap. Jeez, girl. Greens do awesomely in our backyard, and we really only need two kale and two chard plants for our own consumption. At this point, the chickens have eaten more kale than I have, which is embarrassing (although the chickens are stoked).
  • I really need an entire bed of pepper plants. I love peppers. We EAT peppers. We CAN peppers. I want ALL THE PEPPERS.
  • Green beans: everyone in this house loves them, including Willem. Next year, we’re building a trellis of green beans – a TRELLIS you can walk through and be surrounded by lovely green beans – maybe as part of our front yard landscaping, maybe somewhere in back. Who knows. But we need a lot of green beans. Also, the purple ones are the bomb, because you can actually see them hiding among all that green foliage.
  • A bed of lettuce early in the season was awesome. Maybe that bed can be flipped later for fall plantings of beets, radishes, and arugula, all of which are awesome and need to be planted everywhere again next year, all summer long.
  • THINGS WE NEED NEXT YEAR: Cucumbers were sadly missing from our garden this year, as were carrots. I think I want to do a huge carrot field in one of the beds. I learned that the best carrot planters are 4-year-olds: they just throw the seeds (in huge quantities) everywhere. So that’ll be the carrot-planting plan next year.
  • Last but not least, how about some sweet potato love? I need to expand our sweet potato growing next year. We’ve been doing a sweet potato bin the last few years, which works but kind of requires upkeep all summer, adding more soil. And I want a LOT of sweet potatoes. I’m open to suggestions for best ways to grow them!
  • Oh wait… LAST last one… We need some winter rye for cover cropping this fall/winter. We ran out and didn’t have any last fall, which I swear is part of the reason we suddenly have grass trying to take over the beds this year. It also provides a great winter fresh feed for the chickens.

Also, someday Chris is going to make an epic post about the tens of thousands of bees who have taken up residence in our backyard. He finally managed to get me into the suit last week to help him move the (now two) hives around a little bit. This was me flexing and feeling very high on life after surviving the process without a) getting stung and b) having a panic attack.

IMG_2775

Pics or It Didn’t Happen!

Look! A picture of a blackberry! (And some gorgeous purple green beans we’re growing this year). So far, every blackberry that has sprung forth from our bushes this year has been promptly eaten, usually fresh off the bramble, before pictures could happen. This one was so gigantic and wonderful – the quintessential blackberry – that I reined myself in and kept from eating it long enough to snap a shot.

The color of the day is purple.

And then? Then I ate it.

Farm-to-Fork? More Like Farm-to-Face

Willem is eating FOOD, guys! I’m not sure why I’m so excited about this, but I am. I mean, it was inevitable that the kid would eat food at some point, right? He’s not going to survive on breast milk forever.

Part of it is that, oh, holy crap, he’s already eating food. At this rate, he’ll be learning to drive before we know it.
20140724. I'm ready.

The other part is that so far, his first foods were lovingly made by ME last fall. With every messy bite, I’m brought back to that time, when I was so full of excitement and big dreams for this little creature I was anxiously waiting to meet. And now? Now he is here, and he gets to eat that excitement and those big dreams with every spoonful. How cool is that?

Sweet potatoes (or were those yams?) from the garden last fall…
20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

And straight into the gullet. The kid, he likes his sweet potatoes.
20140724. Sweet potatoes are GOOD.

Our annual trip to Anderson Orchard last September:
20130914. Anderson Orchard.

20130914. Annual Anderson Orchard visit.

Apple sauce making:
20130914. Old school is new school again.

Apple sauce eating. Verdict: apple sauce is GOOOOOD.
Apple sauce!

I honestly don’t see us ever buying baby food from the store. This is one-ingredient goodness right here, and it doesn’t get much closer to home.

Balance

So… I was supposed to return from maternity leave to my old, full-time, wonderful job on May 15. I had been there six years and had very much climbed the ladder (and had been given the opportunity, trust, and support to do so from my boss, co-workers, our board, our members… everyone) in terms of both salary and job responsibilities/title. It was an awesome place to grow and learn, and in those respects it was very hard to not go back.

In the I-have-a-Willem-now respect, though, it was very, very easy to not go back. I just… I can’t even imagine working full time right now and am utterly thankful I am not having to make that work. However, being completely focused on a baby and someone else’s needs? That gets old fast, and so I am super lucky and thankful to be working very part-time for Growing Places Indy as their operations manager. I’m writing grants, tracking donations and entering data into QuickBooks, doing graphic design – basically, whatever needs getting done, I’ll do. It keeps me tied to the real world in an awesome way, since I get to work for an organization that is doing some amazing stuff in my city and that I really believe in and am interested in already.

I’m pleased as punch to see my signs around town for our new u-pick farm and farm stand:

Farm U-Pick and Farm Stand, Chase Near Eastside Legacy Center

Growing Places Indy's Urban U-Pick is open for business!

And the other day we got notice that we received funding on the first grant I’ve ever applied for. It seems weird that this is the first grant I’ve actually ever applied for; I’ve worked on grants for other people before but never really been the head grant-applicator. Or something. Anyway, it’s awesome, and it means we will be able to grow produce year-round AND support a year-round urban farmer, which is huge. I’m super proud.

P.S. Backyard panorama, just for scuzz.

Backyard panorama.

P.P.S. Speaking of “balance,” I’d be remiss to not post a picture of my Willem being cute, right?

The cutest.

Life Goals and Stuff

New life goal: live life so the smile lines way outweigh the frown lines. Way easier said than done at times.

New life goal: live so the laugh lines far outweigh the stress lines.

Things to smile about: how much Willem loves watching the wind blow through the trees.
20140708. Watching the wind in the trees.

Chris’ new obsession/love of all things bees and our dreams of alpaca/bee farms in the mountains outside Asheville. Hey, it could happen.
Fat Honey Comb in my Top-Bar Hive - Day 62

First tomatoes:
20140708. State of the garden address.

Mad, mad gardens:
20140708. State of the garden address.

My Own Personal Gilroy Garlic Festival

In Gilroy, CA, there is an annual garlic fest of epic proportions. It’s actually pretty lame, but I never went to it when I lived in Humboldt County and San Francisco. NEVER. Current me is berating past me for not recognizing that future me would think that was the most awesome festival ever.

And, really, my “own personal Gilroy Garlic Festival” is a bit of an exaggeration. Know why? The GGF has GARLIC ICE CREAM. And I have none of that. Which is sad.

However! I do have garlic! As of today, we have way more garlic than we will be able to consume in the next year. Seriously, garlic grows itself. If you’re interested in knowing how, hit me up. All you need is a little planning ahead (hint: plant those cloves in November, homie), a little patience (gotta wait until next summer, dawg), and a coolish, darkish place for them to dry out and cure a bit (like our super lo-fi basement hanger set up):

20140706. Garlic fest 2014.

In the latest edition of “babies are HARD,” we’ve had some serious sleep issues cropping up for the last month or so. It’s funny… my lack of schedule for him wasn’t a problem at all until SUDDENLY IT WAS A HUGE PROBLEM. They finally got so bad last week that the little bugger was only napping in half-hour increments and was chronically tired and cranky. No bueno!

Starting Friday, July 4, I started actually putting the kid on a schedule and trying some different ways of getting him to sleep. I’m happy to report that he has now slept until 7 am the last two mornings, and his last eight naps have been in his crib, as opposed to in my arms, the carrier, the stroller, etc. So far, it’s also been not too terribly painful – maybe 15 minutes of me settling him for each nap, sometimes re-settling halfway through, but nothing major and no crying until puking. It’s wonderful, and we are all feeling so much better about life already. Fingers crossed, knock on wood, and all that jazz.

20140706. What new level of cuteness is this?!

Handmade goodies.

This is what it looks like when a creative, yet OCD, person tries to get a baby on a schedule. But look! See how the last two bars are almost identical? That’s what we want.

20140706. This is what putting a kid on a sleep schedule looks like in my creative/OCD world.

P.S. I was cleaning out the wallet I’ve been using for years and found the following tucked away in a secret pocket, given to me by Sean in probably 2002 or so. The paper is so worn it feels like fabric now. They have been moved over to the new wallet, and I’m so happy to remember their existence.

Wallet stowaways.

You’re Every Willem in the World to Me

A few more new mommy observations on this absolutely gorgeous Saturday. These days, EVERY day is a Saturday!

First Fourth!

Unfortunately, every day is also a Monday.

Kicking it with this beautiful boy.

Sleep. Sleep is, like, really super important. I am SO good at sleep. Ask anyone. I can sleep anywhere and rarely make it through an entire movie without falling asleep on the couch. I used to go on work trips, down a latte at the airport, and be asleep in my seat before the wheels had left the ground. So yeah… I know a thing or two about sleep, but I apparently suck at teaching others the fine art and sweet beauty of sleep. More on that later.

Willem's first check out at the library.

Also? Having a baby is kind of like having Stockholm Syndrome. You grow to love and adore your tiny, drooly captor and would do anything for him.

Hanging.

We were away last weekend visiting family, and Willem’s sleep schedule got completely jacked. It already took a turn for the worse around 3.5-4 months, but upon returning home, it was abysmal. So starting yesterday, we are now in baby-sleep boot camp (which really means “getting the kid on a dang schedule already”). I was bracing myself for a horrible day and night, but the little guy did pretty all right! He took three long naps in his crib for the first time EVER yesterday, and then I was able to get him to sleep until 7 this morning. I call that a huge success already.

Yes, I’m a little embarrassed to admit that my son had never taken all of his naps in his crib. And I bounced or fed him to sleep every time. And he had zero in the way of a bed time/nap time routine. No wonder his sleep is all jacked!

In other news, our house is dreamy right now:
June 2014.

June 2014.

June 2014.

June 2014.