Monday, March 15, 2010

Happy Birthday Ella

In my previous post "A Different Child" my friend Bree posted a comment that she will always remember my girls with me (in response to me saying that everyone else will forget them).  I really appreciated that comment and it's fitting that I just now saw it there when I was about to post this for her daughter Ella.

Today would be Ella's 1 year birthday, had she lived.  Had she been a tiny miracle that made it - like the Duggars (you know - with the 18 other kids) are so lucky to have.  Ella was born at 23.3 weeks.  And she was born the day before I found out we lost Liliana.  Bree and I met in a support group and have very much been there for each other on this rough journey.  Coincidently, we are due with our rainbow babies only 2 days apart.  It is crazy how the world works sometimes.    I feel so blessed to have Bree in my life.  It feels so much less lonely when you have someone to count on through motherhood complications.

Anyway - Kaelyn and I made cupcakes and celebrated Ella's birthday.  We are so sad that she is not here, but we also know that we would not know Bree and her future baby if she was.  So we will be thankful for that.  And think of Ella always.

Celery Abundance

We have officially had our first abundance of a crop!!  I planted celery seeds last June.  And let me just tell you, they are the tiniest seeds, so there were a LOT that went into the dirt! At first, I thought they were duds.  And then a long time later, they started looking like weeds.  I wasn't sure what to do so I left them.  They were in the middle of a tomato/snap pea/cucumber/cantaloupe patch so they were quite crowded.  Well, they grew up to be celery.  We were able to start harvesting last September.  It's been the one crop that I've been able to quantify our savings with.  We generally buy one bunch of celery per week or so (probably 3 per month).  From our farmer's market that's $3 per bunch or $9/month.  So we've been saving $9/month since September.
In December it seemed like the crop was waining.  We haven't studied up much on celery so we weren't sure what to expect.  Have actually been wanting to pull it out to get ready for the tomatoes for this upcoming season (it's the perfect tomato growing place in the garden!).  So Mike cut a bunch of it out, thinking that would be our last batch.  Wrong!!  It came back with a vengeance.  So I finally got around to thinning it out again and came up with 5 full bunches - way too much to eat at once (and by the way, $15 worth of celery!)   And believe me, there is PLENTY left in the ground!
So we decided to share with our gardening neighbors and gave two bunches away.  We spent two hours visiting with the two neighbors we shared with and came home feeling just wonderful.  It was really nice to share a bounty with others (for once) and it got us to randomly socialize...just like they used to!!

I got home and realized just how fitting this was.  The celery is the one crop (besides Parsley) that is still growing strong from my original plantings last June.  And this week marks the one year anniversary of losing Liliana.  So Liliana's garden fed other families this week.  It made me feel really good to know that although she is not here, she lives on.  She really does ;-)

A head start on the garden

Last year we started the gardens in June - mainly b/c that was when we got the gardens "made!"  So this time we get to have a better start on the season.  Mike has really take charge of the gardening this year.  And it's really taken over the kitchen!
Here are some pics of all the indoor seedlings we've been starting.  He did a bunch of lettuce, spinach, chard, and broccoli in January that is already in the garden and growing pretty strong.  The latest crop is over 120 heirloom tomato seedlings with probably about 100 starting off strong.

Mike designed his own egg-carton greenhouses...
A pic of the garden from February...

The kitchen window.  It gets great light for the seedlings.  This shot doesn't even show it at it's fullest ;-)

A cucumber start that is going really strong.  It even started flowering already.  The cuc's he transplanted in February to the outdoors didn't make it.  Hummm...

Master Gardner Mike (with a fourth of his tomato seedlings!

We did all organic, heirloom seeds this year and purchased them mostly from (including 10 varieties of tomatoes). We have HIGH hopes for having tomatoes overwhelm us this year!!

A "Local" Birthday Celebration

This post has been a long time in coming. For Mike's birthday this year (in January ;-) he decided he wanted to have a couple friends over and serve a dinner that was all "local" food.  So, it took some planning, but we really pulled it off. We are so lucky to live in a place where food grows year round.  But there still were a lot of lessons learned about just how difficult it is to find things that are grown locally and not flown in from around the world.  We know consciously do an "all local" meal once a week.

A delicious New Zealand Spinach and Strawberry salad (the spinach was grown locally) fresh from the farmer's market.
Mike's favorite Bruschetta (mine too!).  This was quite popular.  We are lucky both Strawberries and Tomatoes have a January season here.  The bread is an Artesian bread from our farmer's market.
Undoubtedly the favorite dish - dessert.  A persimmon pie.  Persimmon's are a fruit that I consider to be a cross between an apple and a peach.  We only stumbled upon them when they came into season last August.  We ate so many that we got a little tired of them.  Then I discovered they are wonderful dehydrated so I started buying them again.  For Mike's dinner I was so excited to think of adapting my yummy and healthy peach pie recipe with these persimmons.  I had no idea how wonderful the pie would be.  I think each of us would have eaten our own if there were enough.  Alas - the next week the farmer's market was out of persimmons.  We must wait to experience this pie again until next August.  Ugh!
And another of our favorites - Artichokes.  These have been just wonderful fresh from the farm since January and we have been enjoying them ever since this dinner - sometimes twice a week.  

I forgot to take photos of the fish but we also were able to grab some yummy fresh local caught halibut at the farmer's market.  Everyone enjoyed it thoroughly.
Happy Birthday Mikey! Let's do it again next year ;-)