Saturday, May 31, 2008

Garden Updates

Oh how I have been enjoying this season. Each day I crave digging in the dirt, transforming my yard, and growing fresh organic veggies for my family. Gardening cleanses my soul. There is nothing better than going out to my herb garden while I am cooking and picking some fresh herbs to add to the meal. Here are some photos to show how it is going so far. I am trying many new things this year.

I decided to try my hand at two raised beds this year. I put them in a different spot away from my other gardens to see how they do. The one on the left has tomatoes, green peppers, hot peppers, radishes and squash. The bed on the right is my baby lettuce bed. I plant baby lettuce seeds alternating sides every two weeks.

The structure on the left has peas, the one on the left has beans. There are two strawberry plants, chives and several garlic plants. In the very front row will grow corn and sunflowers.
My garden fort is growing. I can't wait until this is covered with lovely flowering vines.

This was my latest project. The front of this garden section is filled with chives, basil, lemon balm, Italian parsley, cilantro and lavender. Behind the herbs is a new edible flower garden I just planted yesterday. Behind that is two rows of pumpkins, one row of corn and two cucumber plants.

Happy gardening.

Tuesday, May 27, 2008

What's in a name?

This weekend I had the pleasure of traveling to a family gathering for my mother's Italian side. The Grasso/Locicero family. My great grandparents moved to NH from Sicily when they were in their late teens. My great grandmother was a Locicero and my great grandfather a Grasso. I was too young to remember my great grandfather but I have many memories of visits to my grandma Grasso's house as we called her. Her first name was Vincenza. I was too young to really absorb and realize how much I had around me at the time. Instead as a young child I was easily annoyed that I could not understand her broken English and every time she pinched my cheeks I wanted to scream. The many large meals we had at her house though were unforgettable.

In Italy it is tradition to pass down family names to the children. When they came to America though most of this tradition stopped. My great grandparents carried it on. They gave birth to Salvatore (my grandfather), Mary, Camile and Rosario. It was this generation however who chose more American names for their kids. I am assuming in order to have them become more "Americanized".

When I married I did something I never thought I would do and I took my husbands last name. When I was younger I used to wish my mother had hyphenated our last names so I could have used her maiden name as well as my father's. I found it unfair that the women marries and gives up her name. The one identifier of her past. I have been thinking of switching my name back for years now. I mean no disrespect to my husband and his family. I only wish to hold on to mine as well.

Some people move their maiden name to be their middle name. This is an option for me but I don't want to lose my middle name either. I think the only thing to do is to have several names as I have given my children. So I believe I will add my mother's maiden name of Grasso to my middle name and then add my maiden name of Freel and maybe hyphenate it with my current last name. I'm sure it will confuse people but I don't really care. I have never been one to do anything normal anyway.

Thursday, May 22, 2008

Happy Birthday to me!

birthday apple tree

Today is my birthday! Hooray hooray! So far I am having a rockin' time. Here's why:

  • I got this awesome new table cloth and cloth napkins I wanted from Crate & Barrel from my sister in law
  • My kids made my day this morning just being all cute and excited about it being my birthday.
  • My husband got me the new Madonna CD. It freakin' rocks.
  • I had a soy latte and amazing muffin with my youngest son at my favorite local coffee shop this morning.
  • Then I bought an apple tree with the gift card to Gardener's Supply my in laws got me. I have always wanted an apple tree. I am psyched.

All this and it is only 10:51am. My husband says he has a surprise for tonight. I can't wait to see what it is.

Happy Birthday to me!

Thursday, May 15, 2008

Happy birthday little

This week we celebrated my youngest son's 3rd birthday but two days before would have been my oldest child's 8th birthday. We lost her due to a miscarriage. Ironically she died the exact same day my oldest son was born. My husband and I have always made a flower bouquet from our garden on that day but from this year on we are choosing to celebrate what would have been her birthday instead. So this year on that day we chose to buy a plant and add it to our garden in celebration of her. She left us too early but her memory lives on. I honor her and treat her as if she was my child. She was my first experience with pregnancy and losing her was devastating. It happened very early in our relationship and it was because of her that my husband and I bonded so strongly and stuck together. We married later that year and gave birth to our first son exactly two years later.

Her name is "little" and will always be little. Thank you little for coming into our lives. Even though your time with us was short we love you just as much as if you were with us today.

Happy 8th birthday.

We love you so much.

I was interviewed for a small piece that was done in our local paper on Moms and social networking sites. Read the story here.

Wednesday, May 14, 2008

Today you are three!

Then . . .

Now . . .

Dear Sal,

Today is your birthday. Today you are three. You have done so many wonderful things this year. You learned to ride a trike, climbed higher at the park, perfected your alphabet, learned to count in Spanish, drew fabulous pictures, and painted with lots of globs and colors. You are such a helpful, kind and polite child. You value your friendships and wake up each day with a wide eyed new view of the world. I have so thoroughly enjoyed watching you grow and learn this year. You have been a wonderful teacher for me. I thank you for showing me how to stop and notice the birds in the trees, the songs they sing, a simple lady bug on a leaf, and how hiding in the same spot over and over again during hide and seek can still be fun.

I wish for you so much in your next year as a three year old. After being home with me full time you will venture off to preschool this coming fall. It will be a big step for both of us and I know we will be ready. With a tear in my eye and happiness in my heart I will hold your hand as we begin this adventure together.

Happy Birthday my little guy.
I love you so much.

Sunday, May 11, 2008

What a weekend

Saturday we had our family and friends birthday celebration for Sal. He turns 3 on Wednesday the 14th. My parents came up for the celebration and lots of our friends joined us as well. Sunday was Mothers Day and I had an amazing time. I was treated to a delicious cheddar, mushroom and spinach omelet, some flowers and awesome handmade cards. I sat outside sipping some coffee while JB cooked and I just knew it would be a great day. I was like a kid in a candy store when JB offered to borrow our neighbors truck and pick up my 1/2 yard of soil/compost for my new raised beds. I was out there shoveling soil all day and it felt great. I filled my new raised beds and had extra to add to my herb garden spot and still have extra that for now is just piled in the back of my garden. I planted my vine flowers for the garden fort and built an extension trellis on my deck to grow vines for a privacy wall. We ended the day with a family game of bocce ball and a BBQ. It was a great weekend. Here are some pictures:

Sal about to dig into this home made cake I made him. Double layer super moist vegan chocolate cake with home made butter cream frosting (non vegan)

Some of our good friends who came over on Saturday to help us celebrate.
We took my parents out for dinner on Saturday night to celebrate their 40th wedding anniversary. Italian of course.

My Mother's Day flowers.

My Mother's Day breakfast. Cheddar, mushroom & spinach omlette, soysauges, decaf coffee in what was my Papa's coffee cup when he was alive.

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Garden bug

I have been officially hit by the garden bug. I have waited through the long cold winter to dig my hands in the earth. We finally had some nice weather a few weeks ago and I started on some projects I had on my list.

First up was to put up the structures. I have given up my main garden space to create a children's garden. This year I will be planting my vegetables in two raised beds. Here you can see on the far right is our bean tee pee, next to it is a structure that will hold our peas and to the far left is going to be a garden fort. I found the materials for the garden fort behind my shed and put it together last week. I really wanted to create these structures so they become a natural play space for the kids. If all goes well and the plants grow as they should we will have here three different forts for the kids to play in.

Second project on my list was the entrance way into our backyard. This is where my backyard insanity starts to show a bit because last year I ripped up all the grass and put down gravel. This year I decided to dig up all the gravel and try to grow grass again. This is how it looks after I shoveled up all the gravel and made about 7 wheelbarrow trips to my neighbors house to dump it off. I put the stepping stones back in place and I will attempt to grow grass again. I think I have a problem

Third project was to create a small front yard garden. My front yard grass sucks and I have been wanting to create a garden space in the attempt to eventually have the front yard become less and less grass (I think Americans are too obsessed with lawns anyway). This first picture shows what it looks like after I cut out the design, ripped up all the grass and put down some mulch.

This second picture shows it after new top soil has been put down and a few perennials have been planted. It's a start at least.

So that is what I have been doing lately. I hope I have inspired some future yard projects.