Electric Moon Peony Farm

This past weekend, on a rare day of sun, my friend Linda and I made a trip to Electric Moon Peony Farm in Little Compton. We all know that peonies are gorgeous, but the blooms at this farm surpass any peony I’ve ever seen. The real stunners are the intersectional peonies, which are a cross…

This past weekend, on a rare day of sun, my friend Linda and I made a trip to Electric Moon Peony Farm in Little Compton. We all know that peonies are gorgeous, but the blooms at this farm surpass any peony I’ve ever seen. The real stunners are the intersectional peonies, which are a cross between a tree peony and herbaceous peony. There was a dusky pink variety named Hillary that particularly blew my mind. Linda and I went a little crazy and ended up with a bouquet to end all bouquets, which of course led to a photo shoot. As you do…! I feel incredibly grateful to have met Linda this past year. We actually met at Aran’s workshop in NYC and hit it off right away. I tend to do so much of my adventuring alone. I’ll get up really early in the morning on Saturday or Sunday, and head out for a few hours to stretch my photography wings before returning home to spend the day with my family. I love these solo moments, but it has been so much fun sharing them with a friend who is just as passionate about creating gorgeous images. Of course it helps that she has a wicked sense of humor too! As I navigated my work/ life balance earlier this year, the one thing I found lacking was time spent with friends. I recently decided to rectify this and began to invite friends along for quick excursions, day trips and just hangs at home with my family. It has helped me to feel more grounded and joyful in this busy season of life. I’ll leave you with a close up of my very favorite bloom… Hillary!

Wicked Tulips

It’s been a busy spring, but one thing that took priority on my calendar was a trip to Wicked Tulips. I asked my favorite fellow photographer Forrest Elliott to join me, and we headed out at around 6pm to catch sunset on the farm. I had visited earlier in the week with my boys, but…

It’s been a busy spring, but one thing that took priority on my calendar was a trip to Wicked Tulips. I asked my favorite fellow photographer Forrest Elliott to join me, and we headed out at around 6pm to catch sunset on the farm. I had visited earlier in the week with my boys, but the sun was high in the sky and it wasn’t the right time for pictures. I am SO SO glad I went back at sunset. It was a truly magical experience. If you live in New England put this on your calendar for next spring because Wicked Tulips is absolutely worth a visit (and order your tickets early; they sell out, especially on the weekends). As for the pictures where I’m in them…those are from Forrest, and I love them (and that is saying a lot because I’m super awkward in front of the camera!). I always love adventures that inspire my love of photography and leave me wanting to take a thousand photos. I hope I captured just a bit of the beauty here to share with you…

Floret Flower Farm

One of the highlights of my west coast trip was a visit to Floret. Ever since covering Erin and her flower farmer workshops for Country Living, I’ve been dying to meet her in person and see her farm for myself. It was such a spectacular visit- from the gorgeous flowers to Erin’s inspiring and kind…

Floret6One of the highlights of my west coast trip was a visit to Floret. Ever since covering Erin and her flower farmer workshops for Country Living, I’ve been dying to meet her in person and see her farm for myself. It was such a spectacular visit- from the gorgeous flowers to Erin’s inspiring and kind nature. Every now and then you have the chance to visit a place so beautiful it takes your breath away. I sincerely mean it when I say that I felt that, standing in the fields at Floret. It is an ordinary piece of land, not large by farming standards, just a few acres really, yet under Erin and her team’s care, it yields flowers so gorgeous they hardly seem real. Erin I couldn’t help myself from asking Erin if she would be willing to make one of the “flower installations” that she is known for, and she kindly obliged. She headed out to the field to collect roses, and upon her return laid out the blooms in a wash of corals and pinks. Take a moment and really look..every single bloom is more gorgeous than the next. She made all of my flower dreams come true and I think I took about 150 of the same exact picture because I was so afraid that I wouldn’t capture the exact magic. And still…pictures just don’t do it justice. I would have boarded my plane home with these blooms if I thought they’d have lasted. I wanted to keep them, and hold them, and have them forever.Floret5 Floret8 And the dahlias…well, if you’ve heard about Floret there is a good chance you’ve heard about their dahlias. The dahlia fields were just beginning to pop when I visited, and if I had to guess right about now they must be hauling in truckloads of these beauties. Erin tests hundreds of varieties of rare and unusual flowers every year- choosing for uniqueness in color, bloom, stem length, etc. A wander through the test fields was quite an experience as every variety was unique and different than anything I’d seen before. Erin kindly sent me home with a care package that included packets of Floret seeds, which I am very excited to put to use next year! Floret Christine and Erin Floret4 It was an extremely sunny day- beautiful, not a cloud in the sky. Which is normally a great thing…unless you are trying to take pictures out in the fields! So these are very blown out but I figured I’d share just a few. I’ll have to return someday in the evening light (yep, I just totally invited myself back). Thank you, Erin, for such an incredible visit. The memories from that afternoon continue to bring me immense joy. If for some reason you’re not yet following Floret on Instagram- do yourself a favor and follow along for the most gorgeous flower images ever! Floret2 Floret fields Floret fields1 Floret fields2

Time

Sometimes I wish I had less interests, which sounds like an odd thing to say I’m sure.  The problem is that there is SO much I want to do everyday and there’s limited time to do it.  I want to work on sewing and knitting project, as well as home projects.  I want to visit…

_MG_7986Sometimes I wish I had less interests, which sounds like an odd thing to say I’m sure.  The problem is that there is SO much I want to do everyday and there’s limited time to do it.  I want to work on sewing and knitting project, as well as home projects.  I want to visit my garden and spend time watering, harvesting and weeding.  I want to sneak in a work out (I am currently obsessed with boxing!). I long to catch up with friends over coffee.  I enjoy being in the kitchen trying new recipes along with old favorites.  I love reading.  I yearn to wander around town with my camera.  And that doesn’t even touch on larger interests that I’d love to pursue with abandon, such as travel. But most of my time at home goes into mothering and running a household- and I feel privileged to spend my days doing this, don’t get me wrong.  But you know how it goes….  Sometimes I even wonder if I should try to shift my mindset: less hobbies, less doing and more being.  Yet these things bring me great joy, and each one brings a different sort of joy.  Gardening invigorates me, knitting relaxes me, photography engages me…  This has all been on my mind lately as the busyness of fall begins and I find myself trying to carve out a minute here or there.  It has also been on my mind ever since I read Felicia’s post on “Craft in the Middle of Motherhood.”  There are weeks, and months, and even years where these “hobbies” have been my lifeline, drawing me back to my whole self when I was lost in the fog of new motherhood.

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_MG_7964As mother’s we are hardwired to feel guilt, I suppose.  Are we doing enough?  Are we giving enough?  Are we providing enough?  There are times when my guilt wells up- when I lose my patience and snap at the boys for something silly, or when I’m knitting on the couch and they ask me to play.  Often it is evening time, and I’ve been caring for them all day, cooking for them, swimming with them, reading to them, and I just need a minute to unwind.  But I feel guilty because I know they would love for me to play, and I know this time is fleeting and there will be a day when they want nothing to do with me.  But where is that line between preserving one’s sanity, and cherishing every moment with your children?  I don’t know the answer to this question, though it is one that I frequently ask myself.  For now all I know is this- the vines were heavy with tomatoes, and the kale was overgrown, and the garden called for my attention, and I spent the evening hours there and it felt so good.  That will have to be enough for now.

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Tower Hill and Fall Colors

I had the most beautiful of book signings yesterday at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA.  There was a nice turnout for the cooking demonstration, and the hour flew by as I made Zucchini Muffins with Peach Preserves and Summer Corn Fritters from Little Bites.  All of the produce was sourced from my garden,…

_MG_7658I had the most beautiful of book signings yesterday at Tower Hill Botanic Garden in Boylston, MA.  There was a nice turnout for the cooking demonstration, and the hour flew by as I made Zucchini Muffins with Peach Preserves and Summer Corn Fritters from Little Bites.  All of the produce was sourced from my garden, the farmer’s market or the gardens at Tower Hill.  It was all delicious, and prompted a great number of book sales.  In all, it was one of those afternoons where I was reminded of the reason I love writing books; connecting with people over a common message.  Of course I failed to get a single image of the actual event because I was too busy…but that’s a good problem to have!

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_MG_7641I arrived an hour early to Tower Hill, simply to have enough time to settle in and go for a quick wander.  The grounds were so lovely, and I was surprised to find that fall colors were starting to make their appearance.  In fact, with the overcast skies, it felt much like a fall afternoon.  I love the gardens and grounds at Tower Hill because they change so beautifully with the seasons.  Having spent the last week hardly leaving the water thanks to my two little fish I was still feeling smack dab in the middle of summer.  This weekend reminded me that fall is indeed around the corner, with all of the crisp air and vibrant foliage that it brings.  I say bring it on (but give us a few more weeks of pool weather, if you will!).

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Giving Thanks

Today I am feeling thankful for the year we’ve had so far.  It has been one of the most emotionally difficult years in so many ways, but it has forced us to stretch and grow (uncomfortable as it may be) while we figure out what’s next for this little family of ours.  I have battled…

15628488030_e2cf3ae38d_oToday I am feeling thankful for the year we’ve had so far.  It has been one of the most emotionally difficult years in so many ways, but it has forced us to stretch and grow (uncomfortable as it may be) while we figure out what’s next for this little family of ours.  I have battled with my love for Providence, and feeling overwhelmed by work.  I’ve learn to let go as Vijay ventured off to school for the first time.  We’ve had major house repairs that took us by surprise, and cost us a pretty penny.  And there have been personal battles that threw us all for a loop.  But as the year begins to draw to a close, I can’t help but feel that so much of the stress is behind us for now.  I remember complaining to my mom that, “I just want it all to end.”  It being the stress, unwelcome surprises, and upheaval.  She just looked at me and said, “It will end when life ends.”  True enough (though not quite the sympathy I was looking for in the moment!).  Life is messy and unpredictable.  But beauty comes from broken places, and how are we to appreciate that beauty if we haven’t been through the darkness?

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15789693546_d1ce059ba2_oIn just a few hours, Vik and I will join Vijay at his preschool, and along with all of his classmates and their families, we’ll be treated to a Harvest Feast that the kids cooked themselves.  Pumpkin muffins, apple sauce, vegetable soup, homemade bread; they’ve been hard at work.  Vijay is so excited that he’s been counting down for weeks.  “How many more days until the Harvest Feast?” he asks every morning.

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15627540839_d719ffaa81_oAfter his Harvest Feast, we’ll board a plane to Chicago, my favorite city, where we’ll spend Thanksgiving surrounded by family.  I’m feeling very thankful indeed.  Life is messy, as I’m continually learning, and the house will always need cleaning, and the laundry will always need folding, and the to-do list will never end.  But these are the signs of a life well lived, a life that is full of love, and chaos and laughter, and most importantly little people.  Oh, those little people- that’s where it’s at.  I hope you and yours have a blessed Thanksgiving, and I’ll see you back here next week with pictures and stories to share from the Windy City.

(pictures from my recent Gardenista article on Tower Hill Botanic Garden, the most magical place)

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A Walk to the Garden

The garden is in full swing right now as I pick the remaining lettuce and spinach to make room for my quickly growing tomatoes and snap peas.  I’ve stuck a few new things in my little plot this year including sunflowers, zucchini, and purple cabbage.  We’ll see how it goes.  I also tried some new…

_MG_1182The garden is in full swing right now as I pick the remaining lettuce and spinach to make room for my quickly growing tomatoes and snap peas.  I’ve stuck a few new things in my little plot this year including sunflowers, zucchini, and purple cabbage.  We’ll see how it goes.  I also tried some new varieties of old favorites- a white radish that was an epic fail, and this beautiful jeweled-tone carrot, which is shaping up to be a success.  Would you believe this gorgeous handful is just the thinnings of my carrot patch?  I’ll most likely chop them into a salad, as they’re too small for much else.  Still..those beautiful colors of nature…they’re really something, aren’t they?

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_MG_1013My little helpers make my garden a joyful place to be, despite their tendency to cause a wake of destruction everywhere they go.  Let’s just say we’ve had a few less spinach plants than we originally planned for thanks to eager little hands helping pull “weeds.”  But it’s all about learning and being together, is it not?  Honestly, our evening walks to the garden are often my favorite part of the day, when the heat is breaking and we’re all tuckered out from hours at the pool.  A little scooting, and a little picking…that’s where it’s at, I’ll tell you!

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Providence’s Garden Scene

It’s been a while since I’ve sung the praises of my adopted hometown, but this past weekend I was once again reminded of the fact that I live in a totally bad ass city.  Perhaps it’s the back to school energy that infuses this college town of ours (seeing all of the wide-eyed freshman finding…

_MG_0493It’s been a while since I’ve sung the praises of my adopted hometown, but this past weekend I was once again reminded of the fact that I live in a totally bad ass city.  Perhaps it’s the back to school energy that infuses this college town of ours (seeing all of the wide-eyed freshman finding their way around Brown’s campus always makes for humorous people watching).  Whatever it is, I’m feeling a contagious energy to get out and explore.  Of course most of the students will never leave the comfort of the East Side, but let me tell you, they are missing out…there are so many interesting pockets of the city.

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_MG_0458Tucked away on a residential street on the South Side of Providence lies City Farm, a wildly abundant urban farm.  I was in the neighborhood working on an Edible Rhody piece, and decided to swing by and snap a few pictures.

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_MG_0477Growing up in a suburb of Michigan, my exposure to community gardens was limited.  Every house had enough of yard to garden, so the idea of tending a plot of land away from home was foreign.  In Providence, you can hardly throw a stone without hitting a community garden.  I belong to one, and I LOVE it.  I cannot stress enough what a learning experience it can be if you find a welcoming, and knowledgeable gardening network.  I didn’t know what I was doing this year, but my plot mates all helped me out.  We look after each others plots while people are on vacation, we trade tomato secrets and pest control advice.  We collectively work to weed and spread compost, wood chips and mulch.  We all seem to take immense pride in the space, and it shows.  However, an urban farm is quite different than a community garden.  This land is being WORKED (annually they produce 2 tons of food in a 3/4 acre space)…and the staff really know what they’re doing, which makes for a great learning experience as a visitor.

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_MG_0512Every available inch of soil is being farmed, and it was inspiring to see how much could be produced on a single city lot.  Each week, City Farm sells their produce at the farmers market.  Think about that- a single city lot can produce enough produce to sustain a large booth at the market (again- 2 tons of food!!).  Imagine the possibilities in your own city- abandoned lots, unused green spaces, all that lawn….makes you think!

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_MG_0497As a beginner gardener, it was inspiring to see how they were growing- the particular way they stake their tomatoes (I’m so growing those deep purple ones next year), which plants they grow together (companion planting- I need to learn so much more), how flowers can add to the beauty of a vegetable garden (this is something I am determined to do next year in my small plot- grow flowers!).  Anywhooo- I promise not to bore you with too many more garden posts; I can’t resist, that’s all I want to photograph these days.  I know the growing season is winding down, and I can’t help but want to soak in the last green moments before colder weather comes a knocking.  But with Squam and a family trip to Montreal coming up this month I promise some travel and adventure to break up the monotony.  Oh and we’re celebrating our six-year anniversary by attending Outstanding in the Field tonight (please stop raining!).  I’m beyond excited, and can’t wait to share.  So there’s that to look forward to…but of course it’s held at a farm, so we’re right back where we started…more gardening stuff.  Thanks for sticking it out with me!

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Summer Sigh

My garden is sadly neglected, but unlike the dishes and laundry which are also sorely neglected, my little plot of land seems to take care of itself, producing an abundance of produce despite my lack of attention.  Green beans, tomatoes, kale, hot peppers, tomatillo, herbs…I whisper my thanks for every bit of sustenance, and vow…

_MG_0390My garden is sadly neglected, but unlike the dishes and laundry which are also sorely neglected, my little plot of land seems to take care of itself, producing an abundance of produce despite my lack of attention.  Green beans, tomatoes, kale, hot peppers, tomatillo, herbs…I whisper my thanks for every bit of sustenance, and vow to do better next year.  This month is just too busy.  There are too many demands on my time.  I have been working 40+ hours a week, with only about 10 hours of childcare.  So that roughly translates to no sleep!

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This too shall pass, I remind myself- in a few years I suppose, when the boys are in school and there is some breathing room in my day.  Not that I am wishing this time away.  The boys are at such scrumptious ages- Vik is learning to walk, smiling up a storm and saying “Mama” in his husky little voice.  Vijay refuses to wear anything but pajamas (as is evident by these pictures), and only wants to eat grilled cheese and peaches.  Can you blame him? I want to stay in my pj’s all day, and eat peaches.  These kiddos are smarter than we give them credit for!

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In other gardening news, my chickens have taken to wandering around the neighborhood.  We came home the other day to see the three of them strolling down the street.  Add that to the fact that they aren’t laying eggs, and we’re ready to turn them into a big ole’ chicken dinner.  Any advice to get them laying?  I’ve heard rumors of using fake eggs, though I’m not sure what that’s about!

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Anyway, I’m looking ahead to my next round of planting.  Wondering if I have the energy to replant spinach and a few other fall crops.  For now, I’m feeling like this month is a big sigh…the last sigh of summer, a tired sigh as I try to muster up the energy to get out of bed each morning, a sigh at the end of a long night of work, and most importantly, the contented sigh of my boys as I tuck them in each night, tired from another summer day.

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An Evening in the Garden

We have transitioned into our summer rhythm where Vijay naps late into the afternoon, and Vik and I stroll down to the garden once my husband gets home from work.  I am learning so much this year- my first year as a real vegetable gardener.  Raised beds are the best (in my humble opinion)- the…

We have transitioned into our summer rhythm where Vijay naps late into the afternoon, and Vik and I stroll down to the garden once my husband gets home from work.  I am learning so much this year- my first year as a real vegetable gardener.  Raised beds are the best (in my humble opinion)- the soil is so rich, and the weeds so few.  I’m starting to boast about having a green thumb, but I’m pretty sure it has little to do with me, and more to do with the quality of the soil, and the wonderful rain we’ve been having.

I am keeping all of my thoughts organized in my garden notebook, and so far, I’ve learned the following:
*Just because you buy an entire pack of seeds doesn’t mean you need to plant every single one of them.  I have grown enough spinach and lettuce to fill about 10 grocery bags, and I’ve been giving it away to anyone who will take it.  I’ve made spinach pesto, spinach omelets, spinach pasta, and endless salads.  We’re a bit greened out.
*Same goes for radishes- no one family can possibly eat over 100 radishes and still be excited about them.
*Stake your peas as soon as they start to sprout.  I waited until mine were a tangled crazy clump before I tried to stake them.  A bit of a disaster, but still…we are getting plenty of peas.

I’m sure tomato season will be teaching me quite a lot considering I bought my tomatoes based soley on their names…Striped German, Mortgage Lifter, Yellow Pear, and about 5 others.  I might have gone a bit overboard.  We’ll see what happens!

This part of my day is so idyllic…Vik is such an easygoing soul, he is happy to eat some dirt and hang out while I fuss with my plot.  We load our basket full of kale, spinach, lettuce and peas, and make our way home to start dinner.

The walk to and from our community garden is gorgeous…it is a treat to stroll along the streets of this beautiful town of ours…

The flowers have been extraordinary this year.  Blooms spilling out over every fence, leaving me to wonder what beauty is hiding in the backyards we pass.  Poor Vik…we can hardly make it a block without stopping for dozens of pictures.

When we finally turn onto our block, my heart feels so much lighter.  These walks are my tonic after a busy day of cooking, cleaning and chasing my wild toddler.

And then comes the most laughable part of our urban gardening experience- chicken wrangling.  Our girls don’t seem to understand the concept of coming back to their coop once night falls.  And so we head out into the backyard to chase down our four birds.  It is always comical, with one of us wielding a rake, Vijay making matters worse by scaring them away, and my husband cursing lightly under his breath as he crawls through bushes and under the deck.  Any ideas of how to train our fine feathered friends to come back to the coop on their own each night?  We’d appreciate some tips!