July 31, 2013

Garden Update

Tomatoes and kale

If you've followed me for a while (or if you know me), you know that I am not a skilled gardener.  Previous attempts at gardening were met with mixed results.  Sometimes the rabbits won.  We got a couple good years of blueberries before the bushes stopped producing.  We had one really great year of pumpkins followed by a couple bad ones.   We figured out what worked in pots.  

Slowly but surely, I've gained a little knowledge and experience.  My herb barrel is a summer necessity, filled with basil, cilantro, rosemary, and scallions.  I've given up on the blueberries, and I've given up trying to plant things without adequate protection from the critters.  My next-door neighbor has been gracious enough to allow us to use some of her raised beds.  Last year we had two, and we grew mostly tomatoes, which are my highest priority garden vegetable.  (Store-bought tomatoes are mostly just gross.)  We still had problems with the rabbits and deer, so we had to wrap the plants in netting to save them.  

This year, my neighbor said we could use all of the raised beds.  I got proactive and built fencing around each of them, and thankfully and for the first time ever, the animals have not been an issue.  I got seedlings from our community organic farm, so everything is organic and GMO-free.  It's been so much fun!  The kids love checking the garden every day to see the progress and picking anything that's ripe.  It's exciting when something new appears.  And with so much extra space, I branched out to vegetables I had never grown before.  So cool!

I got this eggplant later in the spring at the spur of the moment, since I had more space left.  We've already eaten one big one, and we have three more growing!  So easy and super fun.

The green beans were started in a paper cup by Aaron in his kindergarten class.  He brought his seedlings home at the end of the year, and we planted them in the garden.  It has grown like crazy!  We've had enough green beans for dinner several times already, and they're still coming!

Zucchini!  I've always wanted to grow zucchini but never had the space.  We have already had at least a dozen, and again, they keep coming!  We've had them grilled, sauteed, baked in bread, cooked in chowder...  So awesome.

We only have one butternut squash so far, but it's a beauty.  I'm not wishing Summer away, but Fall will be wonderful too.

Tomatoes!  We are getting about 15-20 cherry tomatoes a day, plus a regular-sized tomato every few days.  I think the varieties I chose are a little later, so I'm expecting and hoping that August will be full of tomatoes.  Until then, I'm happy to watch Aaron eat cherry tomatoes right off the vine.

We've also enjoyed a good amount of kale, a couple heads of lettuce (we lost a couple more to heavy rain), quite a few cucumbers (they've been overtaken by the zucchini at this point I think), and we have four big broccoli plants that I hope we get to enjoy in the Fall.  Hooray!

July 29, 2013

More from Newport

The Lone Bellow - Photo by Adam Kissick for NPR 

I just thought I'd share a few more pictures from Saturday at the Newport Folk Festival.  These capture some just a few of the bands we got to see that glorious day.

Also, the video below captures some of the magic that ended our evening.  The Avett Brothers at sunset...

Frank Turner - Photo by Adam Kissick for NPR 

Trombone Shorty - Photo: Meagan Beauchemin for NPR

The Avett Brothers - Photo: Meagan Beauchemin for NPR

Jason Isbell and Amanda Shire - Photo: Meagan Beauchemin for NPR

Weekend Recap - Newport!

Another wonderful, invigorating, soul-replenishing, inspiring, and beautiful day at the Newport Folk Festival.  So far our family tradition is going well.  We had another day of picture-perfect weather.  Despite a slow start in the morning, we got there just after the gates opened and found a nice spot in front of the main stage.  We watched and listened to Nicki Bluhm & The Gramblers, Langhorne Slim & The Law, The Lone Bellow, Frank Turner, Jim James, Jason Isbell, Trombone Shorty, and The Avett Brothers.  The Lone Bellow was the highlight of the day.  They were awesome, and they were clearly having a blast - their enthusiasm rubbed off on the crowd, and we were all swept away.  At the end of the day, the sun set just as The Avett Brothers finished their set, playing "I and Love and You", creating a magical moment that I will not soon forget.  

The following morning, we spent a few hours at the beach before heading home.  That topped off another beautiful summer weekend!  Really, I am a very lucky girl.  

This camera hasn't worked for years, but it doesn't stop Nathan from taking pictures. 

The Lone Bellow

Jason Isbell - You should go listen to his album, Southeastern, right now.  

Aaron had the most fun listening to the music when he could see the entire band.  
My shoulders are sore, but it was worth it.

The Avett Brothers at sunset

The sign says "Danger Keep Off Rocks".  This picture says a lot about my Nathan.

July 26, 2013

Newport Folk Festival - Preview

It is time!  Time for our 2nd Annual Trip to the Newport Folk Festival.  I do hope we're able to keep this tradition going for many years.  This year, Kevin's sisters and brother-in-law will be joining us, so there will be more hands available to help with the boys, and I think it will be fun to have a group together to enjoy the music.  If you'd like to listen or watch any of the shows, NPR will be streaming live and posting concerts all weekend.  I will definitely have it on today. 

I have stared at the schedule for a couple weeks now, and I think I've resigned myself to our approach for the day.  It is so difficult to choose between so many wonderful artists!  But I also have to consider the boys in the equation, so running from stage to stage too much is not really an option.  For example, in choosing between Sarah Jarosz and Nicki Bluhm, I ended up choosing Nicki primarily because she's playing at the main stage.  I'm really bummed not to get to see Sarah, but Nicki & The Gramblers will be a lot of fun to watch. 

We will hopefully see a little bit of Langhorne Slim before heading to one of the smaller stages to see The Lone Bellow.  The boys like them, and they are one of the bands I've been most looking forward to.  

Another extremely tough decision, but I think that instead of sticking around to watch Shovels & Rope, we will rush back to the main stage to see Frank Turner.  If I hear just this one song, I will be happy.  It's one of my current favorites.

We will see some of Jim James, and then I'm thinking I'd like to go watch Jason Isbell.  (Or Father John Misty, oh geez.)  I haven't been a fan of Jason's for a long time, but his latest album, Southeastern, is really really good.  The song below is heartbreakingly sad, but so beautiful.

Then we could watch some of Justin Townes Earle or get back to watch Trombone Shorty - that'll be a game-day decision.  That's all in preparation for the headliners!  I put this song on last night after dinner, and Aaron sang all the words and danced around the room.  Yep - he's ready.  

So am I.

July 23, 2013

The Best Day Ever...

After a fun morning at camp, we headed to a nearby farm for more berry-picking and some surprise ice cream.  Aaron declared, "Mom, this is the best day ever.  Of the whole summer.  Well except yesterday, and going to the Cape, and the pool, and going to the lake will be awesome too.  But this is a really really good day."  

In other words, the boys are having such an amazing summer so far that he doesn't even know how to compare how fun every day is.  Lucky kids.

July 22, 2013

Weekend Recap

Collecting seashells

What a beautiful weekend.  After a horrendously hot week, the entire weekend was blissfully refreshing.  We started out on Friday afternoon with an invitation to a new friend's house.  They live very close and have a gorgeous pool, which felt amazing on the hottest day of the sticky week.  The boys were excited to show me everything they've learned so far in their swimming lessons, and I was excited to make a new friend.  Their family has two little boys as well, and there are quite a few other similarities between our families; so I'm optimistic that this is the start of a fun new friendship.  

On Saturday, we spent the day on Cape Cod.  We were invited by some other friends to spend the day at their beach house.  It was a hot but gorgeous day, and we all had a great time playing, boating, swimming, eating, and again, extending and solidifying friendships.  

Sunday involved some time at home, working in the yard and explaining to the boys that sometimes it's okay to chill at home.  Aaron still struggles with this at times.  He basically waited all day until it was time for us to go to another outing.  We were invited to dinner and a swim for the kids.  The swimming allowed the adults to talk for a little bit, and then we all enjoyed a nice summer meal.  The meal included a salad featuring our own tomatoes and cucumbers.  :-D

So I reached the end of the weekend and realized that we never had to cook for ourselves!  We will have to be sure to reciprocate all these fun invitations, especially as summer ends and the desire for being by a pool or beach wanes.  I am feeling so incredibly lucky to have so many awesome friends.  

And now, as the boys enter their last week of camp, we still have so much summer fun left to look forward to.  Next up - Newport!

Private Beach


July 16, 2013

A Few Things...

What I want to be doing right now...via Spell and the Gypsy Collective

My funk is lifting.  I'm sweltering in the sticky heat, but my homemade lemon-limeade is the perfect antidote.  I'm sticking to old standbys for dinner, including sauteed zucchini from the garden.  (Do I talk about the garden too much?  Well this is the best year I've ever had, so I'm excited.  Forgive me.)  And as I look out at the next month, our calendar is full of camps, get-togethers with friends, trips to the beach, to the music festival, and to the lake.  I'm still exercising every morning and physically feeling really good (which is a good way to be during bikini season!).

As the sweat drips down my face, I thought I'd share a few things I've come across and enjoyed recently.

Pro Surfer Israel Paskowitz Uses His Unique Expertise to Help Autistic Children.  I thought this was pretty cool.

Beautiful paintings by a gorgeous and talented little girl.  Seriously stunning watercolors created by a little girl with autism.  I think one of these would look lovely in a nursery.

A Pretty Good Summer Music Mix.

I loved this.  Matt Harvey is a pitcher for the New York Mets, and he is starting tonight's All-Star game.  He took to the streets of New York, asking people questions about Matt Harvey.  It's hysterical.

I am thinking this Summer Vegetable Frittata would be another good use of fresh Summer veggies.

I loved this list...the Best of Summer Awards from Dinner: A Love Story.  Eggs, tomato sandwiches, smoothies, Kurt Vile...there is much to love.

Aaron checked out a book called Who's on First, based on the Abbott & Costello routine.  He thought it was hysterical, and we've read it every night this week.  I introduced him to the real Abbott & Costello via YouTube, and I think he could've watched all day.  It's worth watching again...Who's on First?

You Are What You Read

Poetry and History

This site is pretty cool - people who work in the art and design world describing their favorite books.  Interesting choices, and I love seeing all those messy stacks of books.  

I love looking at other people's bookshelves.  Visiting someone's home and browsing through their books is very fun, and I think you can definitely get a feel for someone based on the books they read.  So I thought I'd share some pictures of the books you'd see if you visited my house.  It doesn't include my nightstand, which has a big stack of books I haven't read yet, plus what I'm reading now of course.  It also doesn't include about three boxes of books that are stuck in the attic.  I haven't decided how to bring them out yet, but they contain a lot of old classics - think The Great Gatsby, A Separate Peace, Sense & Sensibility...  Books that should really grace my shelves.  

But here's what you'd see at the moment:

Living Room - just a few shelves on either side of the fireplace...

Office - This is where most of our books are.  Somewhat sorta kinda organized by subject.  Poetry and history shown above.  

Business/Economics up top, and some recognizable series in the middle

History and Religion up top (with a lot of general fiction too), 
Baseball in the middle (I love baseball books and am reminded that I haven't read one yet this summer)
Anita Shreve and other general fiction on the bottom

Family Room - Still working on filling in these shelves, and perhaps this is where those boxes in the attic need to be added.  
Carl Sagan, Neil DeGrasse Tyson, Barbara Kingsolver, and House & Garden stuff

Recent fiction, including Ian McEwan, Sebastian Barry, and many books I've mentioned on the blog
Also music coffee-table books

Books by and/or about musicians up top

What do you think my bookshelves say about me?  Do you see some that I'm missing?  Do you have any recommendations for organizing/displaying them?  What do you think your own bookshelves say about you?

July 15, 2013

The Dog Days...

For the first time in what feels like a really long time, I'm in a funk.  For the past several days, I've been on edge, and I'm not even really sure why.  I guess life ebbs and flows like that sometimes.  I found myself getting more frustrated with people than necessary, uncomfortable in social situations, and overall I think maybe just a bit bored.  

It wasn't a bad weekend.  We played baseball, grilled dinner, picked veggies from the garden.  We visited an old high school friend of Kevin's on Sunday.  He and his family have a house on a lake, so we hung out, took the boys for rides on the boat.  It was a really lovely day, but I just couldn't relax and enjoy it for some reason.  

The climax of the negativity occurred on Sunday evening, when I accidentally left a potholder too close to the stovetop.  It caught on fire, burning an ugly spot on our not-even-one-year-old island countertop.  I wanted to cry.  I actually woke up at four o'clock this morning, stressed about it and unable to go back to sleep.  I will keep it in perspective, I promise.  However, this type of house stuff hanging over my head is a source of stress I had hoped was mostly behind me.  (Also still battling a floor issue, we have doors that need to be hung and painted, and these ridiculously hot and muggy weeks have Kevin determined to investigate central air conditioning.)

So now I take a deep breath and look forward to a new week.  We have more fun plans coming up, so I will plan for those and look forward to them.  I'm going to reach out to friends, continue exercising every day, drink lots of water (and delicious homemade lemon-limeade!), eat healthy lunches with those veggies from the garden, read good books, and relish the fact that I get to hang out with my boys and play during the day.  It's all good.

July 12, 2013

Fitz & the Tantrums - Fools Gold

The above song is Aaron's Summer Jam this year.  Fitz & the Tantrums' new album, More Than Just A Dream, is pretty good overall, but it didn't take long for Aaron to pick out his favorites.  

photo by Piper Ferguson

July 10, 2013

Thinking About...

photo taken by my six-year-old, Aaron

*Ice cream.  Why don't I have an ice cream maker?  For someone who loves ice cream as much as I do, it seems like a no-brainer, doesn't it?

*Photography.  I am still no good with my camera.  Every photographer in person and online says "practice, practice, and it will soon become second nature!".  Well, I do practice, but I guess not as much as necessary to get over that hump.  I end up with so many blurry shots, and I get frustrated and put the camera back on Auto.  Hmpf.  I'll keep trying...  Meanwhile, I let Aaron take some pictures with the camera last week.  Maybe he'll be able to get the hang of it before me.

*Newport.  The Newport schedule came out, and I'm now strategizing on which bands we'll get to see.  It's so hard!  The Lone Bellow and Langhorne Slim & The Law playing at the same time!?!  Arg.  But that's a really fun problem to have.  Just a few more weeks!  I can't wait!

*The garden.  Upon returning from vacation last weekend, we harvested a big bunch of kale, a head of lettuce, a cucumber, a zucchini, and a handful of cherry tomatoes.  Yay!  We already have more kale, a big ripe tomato, several more zucchini, and some green beans.  I still have no idea what I'm doing, but it's so much fun, so I'll keep doing it.

*Tomato sandwiches.  The season has begun.  Now you know what I'll be having for lunch every day for the next couple months.

*Camping.  After last month's successful backyard campout, I am ready to start exploring campgrounds in the area.  We have a few things we still want to get, like a big cooler; but I am excited to start this phase of vacation-taking.

*Swimming and Silence.  The boys started a summer day camp this week.  They'll be spending mornings there for the next couple weeks.  They are loving it!  They come home with new songs and more confidence in the water thanks to daily swim lessons.  I'm also loving a little morning silence.  Off to enjoy a bit of that now...

July 8, 2013

Things I Learned...in Maine

We had yet another fabulous trip to Maine.  It is fast becoming one of my favorite places in the world.  Stunning beaches, quaint towns, tasty lobster, friendly people...  It has it all, and it's less than two hours from home!  The weather was hot hot hot, but if it's gonna be sweltering, the beach is a pretty great place to be.  The boys are also getting to be much lower-maintenance.  With every trip, it gets easier.  

Here are just a few things I learned this time around...

1.  Bring good shoes.  I forgot how much walking there is, and I did all of it in flip-flops.  My shins were not happy.  
2.  The ocean is cold off the coast of Maine.  The air may have been really hot, but the water was bone-numbing cold.  I always seem to forget that too.  It didn't stop the boys from jumping right in and having a blast, though.
3.  My favorite flavor of ice cream is called Maine Black Bear.  I have tried ice cream/gelato in many different places around the world, and I've tried just about all the flavors.  It's official - this one is my fave.  (Raspberry ice cream with chocolate chips and chocolate truffles - soooooo good.)
4.  I will never be able to afford one of those beachfront houses.  But it's fun to dream.  
5.  Breathing in salt air, listening to the waves, watching the kids squeal and laugh in the water...the beach is good for my soul.
6.  If you're walking around in a bikini, don't steal glances at your reflection in the window.  Just own it.  
7.  You don't have to travel far to take a vacation that feels very far from the routine of your home life.
8.  Coming home a day earlier than everyone else means that there is less traffic and that you have a day at home to get settled again before having to jump back into that routine.  
9.  Whoopee cushions are never not funny.

My travel companions, enjoying the view.

The boys got to see what a sparkler is.

Just a short walk to the ocean walk to see a great fireworks display.  Another first for the boys.

July 2, 2013

Little Things and the Week Ahead

We had such a wonderful day celebrating our little man.  It was threatening to rain, so I was nervous and contingency planning.  Thankfully, we didn't have to break out the "Pin the tail on Bullseye" inside the house, as the rain mostly stayed away.  It was muggy and very hot, but I'll take it!  The boys had a blast, and I did too.  

an adorable gaggle of boys

The last couple days have been cloudy, with on and off showers and storms rolling through.  So instead of venturing out to a local swimming pond, the boys and I have spent quality time at home.  It's been surprisingly okay.  So far, I've heard very little of the dreaded "I'm bored".  I know it has only been a week since school let out, but still...I feel like my boys are figuring out how to entertain themselves more, and we are all getting along pretty well.  We are plowing through our Summer Fun List pretty quickly - I think we need to slow down!

I've been able to take note of lots of the little things, such as:

  • playing catch in the yard
  • picking our first cucumber and cherry tomatoes
  • riding bikes up to the library
  • the resulting silence in the house after we return home with a stack of books
  • the smell of banana-zucchini bread filling the house as I attempt to use up all our perishables before our trip
  • allowing the boys to sleep later and later (today was 8:30!) as I enjoy a bit of quiet in the morning
  • watching the boys create works of art
  • learning new things as we take on 'pick-an-animal day' (today was sea turtles)
  • walking through the grass barefoot

Tomorrow, we are off to the beach!  We are headed back to our favorite little town in Maine.  (Although I should admit that we have not explored enough of that beautiful state.  Need to see more.  What we've seen is so beautiful!)  We will be there through Saturday for our first taste of the ocean of the summer.  All I want to do is dig my toes into the sand and listen to the waves.  Ah....I can't wait!


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