Monday, July 26, 2010

going green

What is this you ask?
Well, let me start by saying that I love summer.  I love evening walks, Grotto pizza at the beach (only at the beach, in upstate DE it's not the same), opening all of the windows at night, sunkissed skin, hearing the neighborhood kids yell out for customers for their Lemonade stand, and finding creative ways to cool down.  Of all of the great things summer has to offer, treats from the garden make the whole season a daily adventure in taste.
Last year I read Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver.  Anyone who reads this book and isn't inspired to bite into some fresh locally grown strawberries needs to go through some serious junk food detox program. Her project was a big one - a whole year of eating local.  As a family, they grew much of their food, but made a commitment to consume only the foods that had been grown within 100 miles of their home. Since her book was released, she has brought a great deal of attention to the benefits of being mindful about where your food comes from and supporting local farmers. I realize that "going green" is the very trendy thing to do right now, but my parents had it right.  Throughout the summer months we always had corn on the cob and cantelope on the table along with some fresh vegetables from our garden.  Although I didn't always appreciate it at the time, I get it now.  I don't believe I am a sucker for trends, but I have innately been on the bandwagon.
I haven't quite mastered a garden, but we have done a great job of supporting our local farmers market.  Buying fresh vegetables is a great excuse to try new recipes and makes me proud of who and what we are supporting.  If you're not in to reading, Barbara Kingsolver's book is a wonderful reference for some recipes.  At the end of each chapter she has some great recipes that highlight foods at the prime of their season. 
When I got a hold of some basil this weekend from family in DE, I was excited to finally have an excuse to make some pesto.  I have a great bunch growing in our backyard, but this was all picked and ready to go.  I used this recipe from Food Network because it was simple and straightforward.  Basil is a staple at each of our summer meals.  Most nights it is the key part of our tomato/basil/mozzerella salad, but the pesto gives us other options.  I froze most of the it and I am excited to create some new recipes with the results.
Julia's current favorite summer food are blueberries.  She calls them "blue" and makes the sign for more whenever they are within eyesight.  Lately, she likes to eat them 2 at a time, one in each corner of her cheek. We are a little concerned that she is going to turn into a "blue" like the girl from Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. 
She eats a lot of blue.
That concern is a small one. 
I'm just glad that she's happily enjoying the fruit of the season and is an adventurous eater - she gets that quality from her daddy!  We will work on her love for more vegetables in the fall, but for now, she very content with the sweet stuff.
If you are like me and planting a garden seems like a daunting task, start small.  Plant some herbs that you can use in some of your dishes and work your way up from there.  Each dish will taste a bit more "home cooked" with ingredients that you've grown on your own.  And, it is always important to buy local - sometimes the hardest part of doing that is trying to help your husband understand why Twinkies aren't the best option just because they are on sale for $1 at the store. 
Charles won't always admit it, but he's jumped on that Green, local, organic bandwagon too. 
He claims that we are raising a free range child when he comments on all of her organic treats. 
Free range is a term that fits her very well at this stage.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Yay for moms!

Nope, this isn't a belated mother's day shout out.  It is a recognition of the fact that mom's are great.  Their timing is always impecable!  My mom and Gram came for a visit this week while Charles is away on business.  He doesn't travel very often, but this trip just happened to coincide with several "life complicating" circumstances.  First and foremost, Julia is on a mission.  A search and destroy mission.  A distant second is the fact that I have several projects going on at once with a deadline on the horizon.  I am attempting to plan my sisters bridal shower and bachelorette party and HAD to get the invitations out this week.  So, mom and Gram....Thank You for everything from helping me wrangle Julia to giving Scout an impromptu hose down as you were about to leave.  Mom's are amazing and Grams are amazing with a few more years of experience, so they are wiser and a bit more laid back. 
I always thought that motherhood would make me anxious, but I made a gem of a discovery over the past few days.  Whenever I worry about something I realize that my mom is going to worry about it 10 times more, so I can relax and just let her take over.  I wonder if my mom worried about me as much as she worries about Julia :) 
I got so much done during the time they were here.  My sister's invitations are still a work in progress, but with a few moments to myself I was able to finish this onesie for Clara's first birthday. 
She is going to look mighty cute in this one!

Thursday, July 8, 2010

...and we have a walker!

Few things bring to mind the peace that encompassed our house during the first few weeks of Julia's life like the quiet moments in her nursery. One of my great friends here in Massachusetts made Julia a CD of simple songs that I played over and over again as Charles and I prepared the space for Julia, rocked her during those long initial days, and fed her in the wee hours of the night. On that CD are my all time favorites - Rosie Thomas, Ben Harper, Shane & Shane, and James Taylor to name a few. So when I found out that we would be seeing James Taylor live on the 4th of July I was ecstatic. I am easy to please - bring me anywhere in an open space with live music on a nice night and I am one happy individual! Add to that the atmosphere of the Berkshires, some wine and cheese, my family, and some good friends - it was the makings of a perfect night.
  Music has always been an important part of my family.  It's in my bones and I'm pretty sure that I've passed this along to my child.  Certain music has a powerful way of taking me to certain places in my life, memories that almost come alive as the song unfolds.  The words of James Taylor's lullaby signify Julia's newborn phase...
Goodnight you moonlight ladies,
Rock-a-bye sweet baby James,
Deep greens and blues are the colors I choose,
Won't you let me go down in my dreams,
And rock-a-bye sweet baby James.

So James Taylor sings this song as Charles and I take a short little stroll with Julia - we reiminiced about "this time last year" and how great this year has been.  As we basked in this sweet moment, I looked down at Julia and she promptly grabbed my face and bit my lip as hard as she could. 
Lesson of the night:  Julia's latest goal in life is to assure that although there are great moments to be had, she is our reminder that her feisty and loud personality is stamped on each one of them.

Our James Taylor trip was all in all a great success.  It was one of many highlights of our great week of vacation that included honing in on our new kitchen design/plans, hiking Bash Bish Falls, daily servings of ice cream, and JULIA's FIRST steps, which occured on our 3rd wedding anniversary.  She had been close in the weeks leading up to this, but this was 100% on her own.  Check out the video to see who she chooses to walk to...
Since that moment 1 week ago, Julia hasn't stopped.  In fact, as I write this, she is proudly carrying a box of cake mix from room to room and banging it on each piece of furniture.  In these HOT HOT days, we have some great fun in the non-airconditioned Gray household :)