I love June!  While I don’t necessarily enjoy the frenetic race to reach the finish line at the end of the month, it is usually a month filled with happy occasions like the end of the school year and graduation (our youngest graduated from high school this month), weddings, birthdays (Irwin’s was on the 18th) and Father’s Day. The last couple of weeks are often chaotic and exhausting, but the days are some of the longest and the weather is finally truly warm. AND…summer finally arrives.

 

Graduation

 

Summer Arrives

These are the days I cherish, the days I long for all year. The days I hold firmly in my heart as I wade through mountains of snow in the absolute darkness of late afternoons in December.  I cling to these early days of summer as I begin the count from the shortest day of the year to the longest and am always astounded to have made it back again, another year under my belt.  It is cause for celebration: A time to truly be grateful for all that we have. And what better place to do it than in the country; where we can focus on the basics of a quality, slow home lifestyle.

 

Slow Home

 

Busy Bees

 We arrived in the country on Friday and were greeted by our neighbor Jeanne, and our four-week old garden.  Jeanne had baked a strawberry/rhubarb birthday pie for Irwin from scratch with fruit she had gotten at the local farmer’s market.  The smell of the sweet fruit wafted through the air and the plate was still warm to the touch when she handed it to me.  The garden offered up rose-colored radishes along with growth by leaps and bounds.

   

Home Made Birthday Pie

 

Rosie Radishes

Although Irwin is not big on birthday celebrations, we have grown to understand how really special each one is so we began his birthday with the gift of a waffle maker and my preparation of a delicious Belgian waffle batter from scratch along with fresh whipped cream.  The result was so delicious, that I have vowed never to use a mix for either waffles or pancakes again.

 

 Waffle Maker

 

Breakfast Remains

Then the boys gave Irwin a very special gift and card and it was then time to pass the Kleenex. 

 

A Kleenex Moment

The rest of the day was spent relaxing and taking some family photos and ended with an easy barbeque and consumption of Smores cupcakes I made thanks to a recipe shared by @RidgelyBrode

 

Four Out of Five (Middle Son Had to Work)

Smores Cupcakes

Simple and sweet, we ended the day driving our youngest to camp. 

 

The events of last weekend may not seem out of the ordinary in any way and that is exactly my point.  It was a simple relaxed birthday weekend that we were privileged to share as a family: A privilege that we would like many others to have the opportunity to share for years and years.

 

And so, we are welcoming summer with another kind of celebration.  A celebration that we would like to share with all of you.  Through the power of social media, we have collaborated with Sunbrella to introduce our latest Pretty in Pink for Life piece to benefit Susan Komen for the Cure CT.

 

Our Latest Pretty in Pink 4 Life to Benefit Komen

This fabulous fuchsia powder coated Mid Century iron ottoman covered in Sunbrella’s Canvas- Hot Pink 5462 and Steeplechase-Malibu 56064 fabrics is phenomenal and is perfect for summer fun either indoors or out!

 

So please help spread the word and help us find this wonderful ottoman a home so that Komen CT can benefit from ALL the proceeds of the sale.  It is our way of sharing the simple pleasure of birthdays with others.

 

For Details on this piece:

www.irwinfelddesign.com/index.cfm/product/1182_13/pretty-in-pink-4-life-mid-century-fuchsia-sculptural-ottoman.cfm

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

How Green is Our Garden

Our Modern Garden is almost three weeks old and like most new parents, we are simply over the moon.  Our hearts are bursting with pride and our fledgling farm is flourishing.

 We arrived last weekend just in time to pick a substantial amount of lettuce, arugula, basil, spinach and parsley. 

        

A bed of Lettuces

  
The seeds planted are sprouting like mad and we anxiously await picking the radishes as well as the beets, which appear to be making quite a bit of headway while the carrots, cucumbers and sweet basil are still in-utero, so to speak.

 

sprouting seedlings

 

The menu reflected our current harvest and included:

Fresh Mozzarella, tomato and arugula sandwiches with olive oil and garlic on a fresh farm store baguette.

 

Baguette with Fresh garden basil

 

A wonderful mixed greens and arugula salad with goat cheese, beets ( not from our garden yet) and toasted slivered almonds.

 

Arugula salad

 

A delicious frittata  using garden spinach and basil along with feta cheese, tomatoes, peppers, mushroom and just a bit of mozzarella.

Fabulous frittata

 

 

And finally, with our garden greens all but picked we combined the remaining spinach, arugula and basil to make a fantastic pasta with pesto and sun dried tomatoes.

 Trifecta Pesto

 

 

With the weekend almost here and the plants replenished, some new "farm to table" dishes are sure to be on the menu.

 

And, have we mentioned our latest guests?

I awoke this morning to find this family of five woodchucks.  The parent was foraging on our lawn as the four babies lounged on the porch steps, posed for family photos and went exploring in our flower beds.  I'm hoping they graze on the lawn like their parent and not on out plants.

 

Proud Parent

 

Just Chillin'

 

brotherly love

 


Say Cheese

 

Enjoy the weekend!

 

Wordless Wednesday: Our First Harvest

Well, our Modern Garden is little more than one week old and we have already “harvested” our first crops.  Our seed plantings have all begun to sprout and our vegetable plants, like all of the plants and flowers on our property are experiencing mega-growth.  While our neighbor Gloria attributes the plant and flower growth to the fact that all the plantings were covered in three to four feet of snow during most of the winter, we can only attribute the early success of our vegetable garden to the combination of good soil, lots of sunlight, more than a fair amount of rain, luck and…LOVE.

Whatever the reason, the results are very encouraging as well as delicious, and "locally grown" has taken on a new meaning.

 

Farmer Irwin harvesting picking lettuce

 

 

 

Beautiful baby green & red lettuce

 

 

Arugula

 

 

Spinach, basil, parsley & tyme

 

AND, our good friend and partner Steve has just given us two tomato plants that he grew from seeds to plant so...stay tuned!

A Modern Garden

Two months after sharing our first post about our Garden of Dreams, it has become a reality.  But as is often the case with best-laid plans, the final incarnation is much different than the original proposal.

Yes, it is true: we got carried away!  We got so caught up in the excitement of having our very own, slow home garden this summer, that we neglected to realize that our initial plan of 10’x10’ raised planter beds was waaaay too ambitious for citiots like ourselves.  In addition to it being too large and requiring serious fencing, it was too far from our water supply and would have required massive amounts of bending.  So we went back to the drawing board and our wonderful neighbor Jeanne, who is collaborating with us on this venture, came up with an alternate plan.  She found Western Red Cedar tool-free assembly elevated garden beds made by Gronomics and we purchased two from our local garden store along with a simple gardening book that explained how to prepare the planting beds. 

 

A garden in a Box

 

 

Read and Seed

 

We initially planned on placing the beds, which measure 34” x 48” each, in front of our shed, but after waiting patiently and unsuccessfully for days and days and days AND days for the sun to make an appearance so that we could ascertain if the location was indeed sunny enough, we decided to plant them in our driveway, where we were sure that six hours of daily sun would not be a problem.

 

Sun-where?

 

So this past weekend, in between the thunder, lightening and soaking rain, we assembled the beds and planted the garden.

Our intern: Zippy

 

Simple Assembly: A Family Affair

 

The finished product

 

  Thanks to Jeanne’s diligence and research, we filled the beds with a mixture composed of:

1/3 Vermiculite

1/3 Peat Moss

1/3 Compost mixing three kinds including organic compost, a compost/humus mix and compost Jeanne had accumulated last year.

How to make your garden grow

 

For Peat Sake

 

We began by spreading a tarp and combined the mixture for each bed separately so that it would be more manageable.  Then our youngest son shoveled it into the beds where we continued to mix it and water it so that it was well blended and moist.

three kinds of compost

 

Blending the ingredients

 

Raking it in

 

the perfect blend

 

the good earth

 

hands on work

 

 

We planted one bed with plants including two kinds of lettuce, two kinds of mint, arugula, spinach, jalapeno peppers, red peppers and thyme and the second bed with seeds for carrots, cucumbers and radishes along with several kinds of beet plants.  We are planning on filling in with other herb plants this coming weekend and are still discussing how best to house tomato plants.

Separating the arugula

 

Almost done

 

put to bed

 

great greens

 

ready to grow

 

 

our dream team

 

 


 For now, both beds are covered with bird netting to discourage the deer, possibly the only animals that can reach the comfortable height of 32 inches.

 

 

Net worth

 

Just born but sure to grow to love our garden

 

There is something so wonderfully rewarding about getting your hands dirty and planting food to harvest that we all, including our youngest, were swept up in the excitement.  We were so thrilled with our initial planting, we ran back to the farm store for more plants!

And this is just the beginning.  If we are successful with these two raised beds this season, we will plant the larger raised beds we had originally planned, next year and use these two raised beds for herbs.  And there I go again, getting ahead of myself, but it is almost impossible not to.

The simple pleasure of this modern take on ancient agrarian farming has really inspired us and the possibilities are endless. With our Garden of Dreams taking shape, can Alpacas be far behind?

our future??

 

So, as you begin your holiday weekend, think about building your own Garden of Dreams, however small.  The results will be magical!

 And here is the proof: Our first radish sprouts popped up yesterday, just three days after planting the seeds.

A sprout even the green giant would be proud of

 

 

 

A Garden of Dreams

It is late March and despite the subfreezing temperatures and the promise of snow later in the week, we just met with our gardener to discuss the vegetable garden we want to plant this spring.  The snow has finally melted, for now at least, and it appears as if some “early birds” are already nest hunting around the house, confirming that spring will arrive…eventually and our Garden of Dreams will become a reality.  The excitement is palpable.  Well OK, maybe it is not as exhilarating as winning the Mega Millions, which I tried unsuccessfully to do this weekend or even as stirring as the status of March Madness, but for Irwin and I and our slow home lifestyle, it is absolutely thrilling.

 

Irwin & our gardener measuring for the garden

 

An "Early Bird" Nest Hunting

 

We have been discussing the possibility of planting a vegetable garden for eleven years, ever since taking title of our home in the country. The thought of growing food along with caring for farm animals has been a dream of ours from the outset. It is almost impossible NOT to consider a slow home, farming life when surrounded by lush farmland, rolling hills and babbling creeks, but the reality of our weekender status never allowed us to move forward with either. 

 

lush Farmland, rolling hills

 

 

 

babbling creeks

 

 

However, that never stopped us from dreaming about as well as continuing to discuss it.  Early on, immediately following our first visit to the local county fair, I was convinced that raising animals was our destiny.  After looking at all of the beautiful farm animals brought to show at the fair, I knew that would be a part of our future in the country.  And while my dream of an Alpaca farm is still on the back burner, our dream of building a garden and growing our own vegetables is coming to fruition. Now that is progress, country style.

 

A Fair to Remember:

Howdy Cowdy

 

 

 

A couple of kids

 

 

This big piggy

 

 

Seriously, she's got Milk

 

 

Alpacas...on hold

 

 After sharing the fresh salad our neighbor Gloria, a master gardener, brought to our Road Party last summer, we revisited the possibility of planting a garden this year.  Gloria had offered to mentor us, which was just the impetus we needed to get the ball rolling.  While we had what we were hoping was the ideal location, there was still the issue of maintaining the garden during the week, when we are in the city.  That glitch was remedied when our wonderful neighbor Jeanne suggested that we collaborate on the vegetable garden.

 

Gloria's fresh garden salad- helped make our dream a reality

 

The plan was simple.  We would house the garden on our property (Jeanne does not have an appropriate spot) and she would help maintain and water it as best she could, when we could not be here.  After initial costs were calculated, we would determine appropriate shares of cost and harvest and go forward from there.  All we needed to do was wait for spring.

And what a wait it has been.  Despite several glorious spring days, we in the Northeast, are still experiencing winter weather daily but are hoping that eventually, (and by that I mean before July) spring will indeed arrive.

So here are the basics of our plan:

A ten by ten or smaller sized garden with raised beds. We don't want to bite off more than we can chew, at least initially.  A fence eight to ten feet high surrounding the garden to keep out the deer that use that area as a thoroughfare as they head up and down the mountain and chicken wire under the beds to deter woodchucks.

That is it: Simple and sweet, at least for now.   Much like our life in the country.

We'll see how this plan pans out.  I am sure like most other things, it will be a process with many lessons learned along the way.  But have no fear, I will be sharing updates as they occur and spring’s renewal as it transpires.

Just wanted to leave you with these beautiful faces of Charlie’s friends in the country. They stopped by to say hello while we were out making plans for our vegetable garden.

Finnegan

 

collie

 

 

And share this beautiful pair of bouquets, which are always in full bloom.  All the proceeds from the sale of these spectacular chairs will go directly to Komen CT.

 

 

 the entire proceeds from the sale of these beautiful chairs will go directly to Komen CT

 

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