I’m Running for President

May 18 was my 35th birthday. I can now run for president! What do you think? Would you vote for me? Normally, I hate my birthday. I usually try to flee town, if not the country. Seriously, I’ve spent my birthday in Kentucky, Spain, Chicago, California, on the way to Europe… I’m not sure why. I think I don’t like the pressure of having to plan/do something awesome. And then feeling disappointed if it’s not birthday-caliber-awesome.

This year, though, my birthday was awesome. Willem turned three months old on May 18, and we took a trip up to Chicago to visit my parents and go to a show in Chicago. Our first date post-Willem, and Willem’s first real trip!

Three months!
20140518. 3 months!

20140518. 3 months!

My parents fed us insanely well, there was amazing beer and two birthday cakes, and I got framed photos of my babe, socks with hipster cats on them, a salad spinner, a rain barrel, more delicious beer, jewelry and clothes, and (best of all) fantastic company. Willem did terrific with the traveling, slept well, was generally a pretty charming little dude, and only really melted down about 40 minutes outside of Indy on our way back.

The view from my parents family room:
Happy birthday to me! My morning view at the parents' pad.

20140517. Willem and Grandma Deb.

20140518. My birthday buddy.

20140519. Willem playing peek-a-boo with Grandpa Steve.

The most amazing birthday cake I’ve ever received:
20140518. The most amazing cake I've ever received.

And oh lordy… these two…
20140518. I look up, and this is what I see. Lord help me.

The show, Elbow at House of Blues, was Chris’ early birthday present, so it was kind of a party weekend all around. The very last song they played was our wedding recessional song, and it was beautiful. Best of all? I put Willem down before we left at 7 pm, and he didn’t wake up until 2 am, well after we had gotten back home. Whew! No screaming babies for grandma and grandpa.

Here it is – well done, boys, well done!

In other news… sometimes it’s hard to make our bed.
20140516. Sometimes it's hard to make my bed.

What. A. Year.

This year has been, without a doubt, one of my favorites so far. Perhaps my favorite. Like, of my whole entire life. It has been life changing and perspective shifting. On January 1 last year, I could never have imagined where I would be today in so many aspects of life.

I feel like it’s been one constant positive feedback loop, which is a pretty amazing place to be living. And I can’t wait for 2014.

So without further ado, let’s take a walk through memory lane and hit just a few of the many highlights:

January – Birdie’s first hotel room and snowy, cold day snuggles.

February – Surprise Valentine’s Day trip to Chicago with this guy and Birdie (the first one was from Revolution – amazing beer, amazing food, amazing beer bottle chandelier).

March – Dreams of summer gardens and our famous chickens.

20130309. Peppers and tomatoes.

20130330. Indianapolis Monthly collage.

April – Upping the ante with our new garden fence (backyard time lapse, 2011 to 2013).

20130415. The backyard - year 1, year 2, and year 3.

May – Celebrating my parents’ 40th anniversary with the whole fam-damily. What a great weekend.

20130511. Mom and Dad's 40th wedding anniversary.

20130512. The whole clan.

Oh – and we’re engaged!
20130517. Engaged!

June – Pregnant! Garden is growing. Apprenticeship starts. So many new, really fantastic things all at once.

20130608. Pregnant!

20130607. Garden jungle.

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

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

July – Apprenticeship with Growing Places Indy is in full swing, and my world is shaping up to be a pretty fantastic place to be.

20130709. Front page of the Indianapolis Star! Er, well... the D section.

20130709. Sky Farm at Eskenazi Health.

20130613. Asparagus dreams at the Near Eastside Legacy Center.

August – It’s official – we let people know we’re having a baby! And summertime is in full swing, as evidenced by a trip to the state fair and our garden.

20130807. First baby gift!

20130807. I got every kid to try a husk cherry, and only one spit it out. Success!

20130810. Indiana State Fair. Deep fried Oreo.

20130810. Indiana State Fair. Ferris wheel.

September – Our wedding at South Circle Farm.

20130907. Our wedding!

20130907. Our wedding!

20130907. Our wedding!

October – Honeymoon/babymoon to Jamaica!

20131028. Amazing storm clouds.

20131028. First time in the water.

20131028. Chris and his thematic reading matter.

November – Our wonderful baby shower, thrown by my mom.

20131130. Our baby shower.

20131130. Our baby shower.

20131128. Me and Chris. Our amazing baby shower!

December – Just a whole lot of thankfulness and happiness going on. I started working with the amazing team at Growing Places Indy, doing operations stuff for them. My parents came to visit for Christmas. We’ve got some ambitious house projects before the baby comes. And Chris and I both took two full weeks off work over the holidays. Life is sweet.

Can you tell how super excited I am to be part of the amazing Growing Places Indy team? #whatayear

Boombox wishes you a Merry Christmas Eve.

20131214. Chris made a snowman.

20131214. Nursery "mobile."

20131207. Birdie hugs.

No Tuber Left Behind

So hey… we just got back from our honeymoon in Jamaica! I was very good about not shouting it from the rooftops (or, more accurately, my computer keypad) that we would be out of town. You know, that whole thing about it being bad to tell the whole world you’re not at home. I can’t tell you how difficult that was, given that I can’t keep a secret to save my life AND I was way overly excited about this particular vacation.

20131028. Amazing storm clouds.

So there you have it: last Sunday, we left for a resort just west of Ocho Rios, spent the week lying on the beach and floating in the ocean, and returned late last night. JAMAICA!

20131028. Chris and his thematic reading matter.

20131028. Virgin pina colada and a good book.

20131028. Crab friend.

20131029. Ocean floating.

20131031. Bob Marley's home when he was a wee babe.

On Thursday, we took a trip into the mountains and countryside to see Bob Marley’s first home and final resting place, and on the way there, we were surprised to learn that 90 percent of the residents of that particular area are farmers.

20131031. 90 percent of the residents in this area are farmers.

The landscape on the way up to Nine Miles.

Additionally, the area’s sole water source is rainfall. This means everyone had not just a rain barrel, but a rain cistern outside the house (along with some very creative guttering systems to get the water from the corrugated metal roofs of some of the houses to the cisterns). There were also large open limestone rock catchment systems scattered throughout the area.

20131031. Limestone rainwater catchment system.

The limestone rainwater catchment system at Mt. Zion.

Being interested in that whole farming thing, my eyes immediately keyed into the fields scattered on hillsides or lower in the valleys. I began seeing squash vines trailing across the red soil, banana trees (I think), cabbage heads cropping up on stonier slopes… and these strange rows upon rows of tall poles, growing thick with what looked like sweet potato vines.

I asked our guide, Ros-shacka, and he confirmed: they were YAMS! He seemed shocked that we could grow sweet potatoes in Indiana, and we chatted for a moment about growing seasons.

20131031. The view from Mt. Zion.

Farms and gardens were tucked in everywhere on these hills.

This was also the swift kick in the behind I needed to get our own yams out of the ground upon our return. November in Indiana also means garlic cloves need to get into the soil. So as our northern diffused November sun slowly warmed the changing leaves above me this morning and with my trusty knit cap snug over my ears, I began the special chore of gently working through soft dirt for those bright red, gem-like tubers.

20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

Assembling the only tools needed for the task of digging sweet potatoes (not pictured: hands).

20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

This year, I started growing our slips early – like, JANUARY.

20130113. Starting the sweet potato slips.

In January…

201305117. Remember that time I worried the sweet potatoes wouldn't grow?

By May, we had amazing growth. Ready for the ground!

Last year was our first year growing sweet potatoes, and so we planted the slips in June, much later than we really should have. So our haul this year is at least double what it was last October. I love the mystery of underground crops, digging through the soil, not really knowing what you’re going to find. Treasures!

20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

Dinner tonight is definitely going to feature roasted, mashed sweet potatoes! Or were they yams? No matter.

Babies on the Brain…

And in the yard and in the house and on the fence and on and on and on…

My co-worker today told me that, during the 17-year cicada cycle, there is a huge growth in baby animal populations. I don’t have any better explanation for the insane number of baby animals we have found in the yard lately, so I’m going with it.

First, we discovered the cutest baby bunnies I HAVE EVER SEEN (turned out to be at least five) hiding out in our garlic beds. This little muffin and its siblings were about the size of tennis balls (in other words, TIIIIINY).

20130512. There she is!

Then, as Chris was leaving for work this morning, he discovered this magical, mythical beast just hanging out, covered in babies, on our fence.

Backyard Opossum with Babies

I mean, like, SERIOUSLY?! Are you KIDDING ME?!!!

Backyard Opossum with Babies

As long as we’re on the subject of babies, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention two of my favorite wee babes, who we got to see this past weekend: my beautiful nephews.

20130511. Zach's 1st birthday, hugging his new hedgehog and rabbit.

Zachary, age one.

20130512. Me and my sweet Ben.

Ben, age almost-four.

And finally, there’s MY baby, Birdie, who has injured herself yet again. It breaks my heart. She managed to rip a nail completely in half in a dishwasher-related freakout last night, leading to a restless night that culminated in me dragging a blanket and pillow out to the rug in the living room at 5:00 this morning and petting her until she stopped whining and fell asleep beside me. My poor, sweet girl.

20130514. No chew!

NO CHEW! NO CHEW!

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.

Yo, Dawg, I Heard You Liked Earth Day, So We Took Your Car and Gutted the Engine and Made It into a Lawn Ornament, Complete with Bird Bath and Composter…

When I started this blog post, I started at the end, writing, “Finally, and unrelated to everything else in this (not-yet-written) post, [blah blah blah song that’s been stuck in my head].” But then I thought, why not start with the end as the beginning? That’s apparently what’s REALLY on my mind, so who cares if it’s unrelated to anything else going on right now? Maybe it IS the most important thing at this very moment.

So, here goes… Unrelated to everything else, I’ve had this song stuck in my head for a while, and the video makes me want to move to Jamaica and hang out with just about every person featured in it for coffee or maybe something a little stronger, a dancing lesson, a bicycle ride, a game of cards, or a boxing match.

I know you, you know me
Baby, you know me
We’re all together in the same boat
I know you, you know me
Baby, you know me
I Just wanna dream

In other news, we had an awesome, whirlwind trip to Des Moines the past several days for a surprise birthday party for Chris’ mom. His mom deadpanned, “Oh, you’re here,” as she walked in and we all yelled the required, “SURPRISE!” She was, however, very pleased to see us (so she says), and we got to spend some good time with her, Chris’ dad, and the human menagerie of his family. It had been too long.

Oh, and if you saw the previous blog post, we did NOT come home with a five-foot metal chicken. If only we’d had the trailer hooked up… We did, however, make it to El Bait Shop (I just linked directly to the beer menu, because OH HOLY F*CKB*LLS, it was amazing!). As we were with family and it was 2 in the afternoon, I only got one beer (sadly, because I wanted to try about 15 of them). It was a winner, though: Green Flash Palate Wrecker IPA. I chose…. WISELY.

Before we left, we made what should probably turn out to be an amazing APFELWEIN. Yeah, not just APPLE WINE, but APFELWEIN, which is really fun to say in an Arnold Schwarzenegger-esque accent (and even more fun if you were saying it in such an accent after two glasses of aforementioned APFELWEIN, I’m guessing). I’m pretty stoked about our entrance into brewing and fermenting delicious things. This one required nothing more than a carboy, five gallons of cheapo ghetto apple juice, two pounds of dextrose, and some yeast. In six weeks or so, we should have an amazing, dry, crisp, carbonated bevvie to sip on and share.

20130419. Apfelwein.

TOTAL BABE. Also, all of this brewing stuff is really Chris’s awesome doing. Please continue being awesome. And thanks.

20130419. Apfelwein.

20130419. Apfelwein.

EDWORT APFELWEIN! (In an Arnold accent, please).

And now it sits, bubbling away gently in our basement.

Speaking of apples, our two apple sticks trees we planted last fall in the backyard, are sending out buds. Hooray! Someday, they will bloom more beautifully than our non-native (yet totally gorgeous) Japonica. Spring… it has sprung.
20130422. Japonica in bloom.

Home Sweet Home

It’s been a little quiet around these parts. Know why? I’ve been off in the second greatest, first littlest state of Rhode Island for a full week for work (oh, yeah, that job I never talk about here!), and Chris has been crying in a corner, missing me too much to be able to function enough to write a blog post.*

*That is a total lie. He actually busted ass with a sod cutter and did some awesome work around the garden. More on that in a mo’.

20120930. Partial WaterFire for our annual conference. PRETTY SPIFF.

Our conference opening session – we had our very own mini Watefire. Providence proved to us over and over what a cool city it is.

20120927. View from my Providence hotel room.

The view from my hotel room.

20120930. Partial WaterFire for our annual conference. Can you spot me and my look of utter terror carrying that torch?

For some reason, someone actually thought it was a good idea to hand me a flaming torch and have me walk down many flights of stairs. They apparently do not know my history (see: stabbing self with knives, nearly cutting off fingers, and falling down/cracking teeth off in Barcelona).

I arrived back at the first greatest state of Indiana yesterday afternoon, dumped my bags, then ran outside to hang with the chickens and get some dirt under my nails. A friend asked if Little Red charged my shins like a tiny rhino upon my return. No, but she did jump up onto my shoulder as I crouched down to say hi to the rest of the girls. We are homies.

After a week away, the three littlest girls look so different to me. Boo’s comb and wattles are getting big!

20121004. I leave for a week, and all the chickens look different to me.

Look at Little Red’s waddles! And I missed Dino Puppy’s black freckles.

20121004. Little Red is getting big waddles!

20121004. I leave for a week, and all the chickens look different to me.This was from a couple of weeks ago, but here is my second (sort of failed) attempt at getting video of the girls “flying the coop.” They get stage fright when I bust out the camera.

I was also thoroughly impressed with Chris’ work while I was gone. Sod cutter plus mulch plus the help of a good friend = LESS GRASS, MORE VEGGIES. He was nice enough to leave some of the sod rolling and mulching for me, though, knowing I would be so very sad to have missed all the fun.

20121004. Chris cut up a ton of sod in the garden area. Halfway done!

Less grass to mow, more room for veggies, and a new bed.

Finally, I decided it was time to harvest the sweet potatoes. We planted them after a potato bin workshop in June at Fall Creek Gardens, so we got a later start than you really should, but whatevs. I can’t wait to plant them again next spring! Look at how cute they are:

20121004. Sweet potatoes! Next year, these are going to be AWESOME.

20121004. First try at sweet potatoes.

Dang, sweet potato, you clean up real nice!

20121004. Growing sweet potatoes for the first time.I cut off some slips before harvesting the taters that will maybe, hopefully grow nice and strong all winter and be ready to plant by the spring. Again, it’s the blind (me) leading the blind (also me) here.

20121004. Sweet potato slips for next spring!There were a few things to harvest in the rest of the garden, too. I definitely dropped the ball with the garden this year – between the heat, the chickens, and the drought, I cut myself a little slack over that.
20121004. Sweet potatoes, peppers, an Romas.So glad to be home! I missed the dude, the chickens, the cats, and the garden. Ahhhh… Indiana.