Catching Up.

Shoot, I am SO far behind on life! I didn’t even post my CSA share last week. I was inexplicably depressed all week long- despairing, laying-in-bed, up-all-night, not-eating depressed. At first I figured I was just a little low, but after a third day of picking my food over and being very much inside my head, I knew something was up. The surest way to gauge my mental state is to watch what I’m eating, and how much. It’s a great way for me to keep track of how I’m feeling psychologically, as well as an entryway into the exploration of my relationship with food. I popped in to see a naturopath, who hooked me up with some camu powder and maca, and talked to me a little bit about what behaviors might help to get out of my funk. Easy: friends, more yoga, meditation, running, writing, something school-associated, and lots of time spent outside. I took the kids to parks, rolled out my yoga mat at sunrise and sunset, meditated for thirty minutes a day, and contacted my closest friends for quality time. I have a tendency toward depression- I think most people do- but if I don’t find a way to come out of it, it can screw me up for months. However, as the years have gone on and I delve deeper and deeper into those things I love the most- the interests I cultivate so passionately- I have found my depressive states to be less frequent. I try to maintain a positive focus, and find enjoyment in everything that I do.

So here I am, catching up after two strange weeks. Last I checked in, I believe I was still washing color out of my hair…

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After so much time away, I figured I’d share some pictures of what we’ve been doing these past two weeks πŸ™‚ First: last week’s CSA share:

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Clockwise from top left: cherry tomatoes, 2 heads of lettuce, new potatoes, cucumbers, 2 fennel bulbs, 2 eggplant, a bunch of scallions, spring garlic, green peppers, green cabbage, an heirloom tomato, and lots of summer squash. Also:

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The U-pick for that week: basil, lemon balm, nettle, chives, sage, dill, tomatillos, more cherry tomatoes, and yellow wax beans!

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And flowers, of course πŸ™‚

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I honestly don’t even remember how I used most of my share. My guess is either raw in salads or roasted. I wasn’t really eating, but I do remember roasting the potatoes with some sunflower seed oil and salt, which tasted pretty good to me. We also made baba ganoush from the eggplant, which the kids loved. Jack and Carolyn are such rock stars, and will eat just about any veggie. Jack even eats salad, and Carolyn has just discovered that she loves tomatoes!

I made a discovery of my own over the past few weeks: I can’t take the kids with me to u-pick anymore. Womp womp. They’re just…too active, and too busy for me to try to get my share picked.

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It’s a shame, because I really enjoy bringing them, and they enjoy going and learning about the different veggies. However, when I’m alone with the two of them, I end up spending all of my time either chasing them through the fields so they don’t pull up any plants, or trying to keep them within sight so they don’t pick from plants that aren’t ripe. On Wednesday I may try to go with just Jack, although last Saturday I went alone and loved the peace.

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For now, we’re going to stick to picking from our own little garden, which is really beginning to flourish!

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I had intended to take pictures of our garden harvest each week, but we’ve been using all of it so quickly that it’s difficult to separate ours from what we receive from the CSA. Right now it’s all tomatoes- both cherry and roma- but the eggplant are looking great, and should be ready in a few short weeks!

Like I said, we’ve been spending a lot of time outside. I love to be outdoors, and it gives the kids space to run around and let off some of that wonderful toddler energy.

Tyler Park:

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Solebury Orchards (to pick blueberries):

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The farmer’s market:

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Peaceable Kingdom Playground/Park:

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Every Friday night they have movies in the park, so that’s what the screen in for πŸ™‚

The Playground at Tyler Park:

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Jack’s new trick: climbing. EVERYTHING.

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I have been trying to get them out as much as I possibly can. They’ve both been presenting some challenges lately- defiant, picking at one another, misbehaving…I know it’s just another phase, but it’s leaving me pretty worn out. Getting them out of the house gives them something to focus on besides each other (or me).

A friend of mine invited us to meet her at the Children’s Museum in New Hope, which was a huge success:

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It’s difficult to put into words how ingenious this place is. There is everything and anything a child could want- a kitchen set, a mail room, a “grocery store,” a jungle gym, an “archaeological dig site,” a racetrack, a car parts station where you build your own race cars, lighted floor games, I could go on and on. The best part? The entire place is designed for kids, so I felt pretty comfortable letting Jack and Carolyn roam around and explore without chasing them down to make sure they weren’t breaking or destroying anything. It was brilliant, and I can’t wait to go back.

My Mum and I also took them to the Fallsington Library for story hour, crafts, and some playground time on Friday:

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Neither one of them sat through the story, and we spent most of the hour following them around the library and keeping them off of the bookshelves. I did manage to find this guy for a quarter on the used book shelf, though!

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Finally, we’ve been spending a good deal of time at the Garden of Reflection:

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I’ve actually been coming here a lot on evenings I don’t have yoga, and practicing next to the fountain as the sun sets. It is unimaginably peaceful.

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I was a little wary of setting up right next to the fountain, since the park stays pretty busy even at night, and practicing yoga alone in front of a bunch of unsuspecting strangers makes me a little nervous, but I ended up getting tons of comments about what a GREAT idea it was, and last time I went I had two other people show up and join me. Awesome πŸ™‚

I practice twice a day, every day, but most of the time it’s with the kids crawling over and around me, and toy cars rolling under my hands and feet. I’ve been making a point of leaving each evening when Luis gets home and practicing outside, either in the backyard or at a local park.

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Getting down with some Krishna Das πŸ™‚

It’s made a huge difference in my ability to manage my stress. Of course, Thursdays and Sundays, I’m all about the studio πŸ™‚

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Every time I go, I feel so fortunate to be able to practice in such a lovely space πŸ™‚ We have a great regular group, and it’s such wonderful energy from start to finish and beyond.

I’m trying to stay on top of the stress-management stuff. I know it’s normal to be under stress, that it helps keep us moving and motivated, but too much can be paralyzing and overwhelming. As I bring to the front of my mind all of the challenges and tasks that I am currently juggling, it doesn’t seem so bad- it’s all just a part of my life, a part of me. However, actually staying on top of everything can be really tough. Oftentimes, I feel like there just isn’t enough of me to cover all the bases. Enter: yoga. Running. Meditation. Time spent with my friends. Tea!

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Tea has been huge for me. I ditched coffee- it just wasn’t doing anything for me, other than giving me headaches and a mid-day crash. I switched to green tea, with an occasional cup of Yerba Mate, and I feel so much better. The RoT Double Green is my absolute favorite πŸ™‚

I’ve also been keeping my mala close at hand. It helps to have something to focus my mind on when I feel it’s getting away from me.

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I suppose I should mention that I registered for my GRE tests- both the regular and the English Subject Test. My applications for MFA/PhD programs are due by December 15th, and I’ll know in the spring where I’m headed for the last leg of my education. It’s been very surreal- I can’t believe that it’s finally happening. I passed Bucks the other day, and the realization crashed over my head that not only am I not a student there anymore, but I’m finished at Bucks, with all of my credits transferred out and my record sent off to Temple. It seems strange, after all this time, that I would have even gotten here. I think my mind needs some time to catch up to what’s really going on in my life, because lately I’ve just been sitting in disbelief while this whole other part of me soldiers forward, ordering study guides and writing my Statement of Purpose. It’s unreal.

In other news, I read at the New Hope Poetry Festival over the weekend!

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It took lots of encouragement from Greg and Eileen and several glasses of wine, but I did it, with two poems! Terrifying.

I managedto snap a few photos of the latest CSA share, from last week:

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L to R: celery, cucumbers, sweet peppers, long hots, scallions, 2 heads of lettuce, green beans, husk cherries (!!!!!!), summer squash, new potatoes, tomatoes, cherry tomatoes, new garlic, new onions.

I am loving all of these uncured veggies- potatoes, garlic, and onions. They’re so delicate and fresh tasting!

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I’m back to eating, so I’ve been enjoying this week’s share to the fullest, trying to get a nice variety of foods in to make up for the past two weeks. We got a huge load of different tomato varieties this week, and with some supplementing from my plants I was able to produce a huge batch of gazpacho and a jar of fresh sauce:

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Both of these were made entirely from my CSA share and garden- no extra trips to the grocery store, just pure, local food πŸ™‚ I’ve also been rocking out the buffalo tempeh:

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I’m so into it, and it needs to stop. I served it over salad with the PPK’s ranch dressing, but I’m not even going to try like it was healthy. The sauce/dressings are such a killer. I suppose it could be worse, though!

That….is a very sparse and glossed-over summary of our time, but any more pictures and I’m afraid this post will explode. Photo. Overload. This week is looking pretty busy, with a possible beach trip and LOTS of studying (8 hours on Wednesday- ACK). At least it gives me an excuse to catch some sunsets at the park πŸ™‚

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Welcome Day and CSA Orientation.

Today was Welcome Day in Newtown! It’s basically an opportunity for everyone in the community to get together and check out the different businesses and promotions. Going into it, I thought it would be a block or two of local business stands, and maybe some music- nothing too outrageous. Newtown is, relatively speaking, a quiet little town, but it’s our town and it’s fun to get together and celebrate it!

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My Mum joined us- look at her adorable floral pants! πŸ˜€

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The street was packed, and the tents went on for three or four (long) blocks! I couldn’t believe it- I honestly didn’t expect it to be so busy, and it only got busier as the day went on. We left around 1, and by the time we got out of there all of the parking spots within a three-block radius were filled. Crazy!

There were some really neat vendors- lots of handmade items like magnets, children’s accessories, and wind chimes made from hammered silverware.

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The weather was so perfect, it was a great day to walk around with the kids. They were waaaay overstimulated- there was so much to see and hear! Most of the businesses were giving away free toys and trinkets, so the kids both scored some gear:

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For whatever reason, Jack was really into the different mascots, and made a point of hugging every single one.

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Lovebug πŸ™‚ Carolyn wouldn’t go near any of them, but when Jack was her age he had a similar attitude toward people in costumes, so it was expected.

There wasn’t much in the way of food, at least not for us, but we did manage to locate a stand with sub-par, overpriced friend plantains…

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Thank god for the roasted corn stand next to them, or I would have felt totally let down.

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We ended up refueling at Greenstraw, which was my intention all along ;D

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Extra fun because we got to see Jessie and finalize plans to see Gatsby on Friday- woohoo!

While Cal and I got the smoothies, Grammy took Jack to the bounce house maze they had set up for kids!

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My Mum said that after he had gone through a few times she told him the next time would be the last, and they had to go find Mommy. He went through again, and afterward she called him over and said it was time to go, and he hopped right down and took her hand and left without a fuss. What a doll πŸ™‚

It felt good to get out and move, but not be running, and not have to leave the kids at home. Walking is tragically underestimated, and something everyone should strive to do more of! It allows you to relax and take in your environment more completely πŸ™‚

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After Welcome Day, we went home to drop the kids off for changes and naps while I went over to our new CSA for a new-members orientation. Last year I was part of a different CSA, but it was a really far drive and I never knew what I would be getting each week, which made it difficult to come up with a weekly meal plan before Sunday night. Our new CSA sends out a weekly newsletter laying out the different crops and suggestions for use. They’re also ten minutes from our house. Win!

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Man, this place is so neat! It’s a huge, sprawling farm with gorgeous old barns and stone houses, and tons of farm equipment all over the property. They are really community-based, and host potlucks for all of the members each month. Our first one is on June 22nd, and I am really looking forward to it- it’s the tenth year of Anchor Run CSA, and they’re having a huge celebration with lots of delicious fresh food and plenty of activities for the kids. They also do lots of demonstrations throughout the season to help people with preparing some of the less familiar produce. The orientation was just a basic tour of the farm and a review of the CSA system, and I really enjoyed meeting Dana and Derek and seeing where my food was really coming from! First stop: the barn, where the bulk of our share is picked up. Dana reviewed the pickup procedures and explained what was expected of members, and also showed us around the barn.

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A (not to scale) map of the farm.

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The U-Pick station! Every week members are offered between one and five items to pick themselves, along with the designated quantity. Flowers are U-pick every week, as well as seasonal herbs. U-pick is great because you can do it any time. Our share pickup time is Thursday between 1 and 8, but the farm is open every day from 8 to 8, and we are welcome to go and pick our U-pick share any day we want! They let us know that strawberries will definitely be in the first few weeks of the U-pick, so that’s something to look forward to! πŸ˜€

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Also in addition to our regular weekly share, you have the option of taking two items from the “choice” table- there are four different items, and you pick two out of the four. This is usually for veggies that aren’t as widely recognized, or that they may be running low on but don’t have enough to give to every member.

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Plenty of adorable signs to explain each item!

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My personal favorite is the “take it or leave it” bin. The idea is that members can leave items that they don’t want or feel they won’t use, and can pick from the bin something else that someone may have also left. It gives you the opportunity to get extra of the things you really want and leave the things you don’t without feeling like you aren’t getting the best value or being wasteful. It’s also a small but great way of reinforcing a sense of community and sharing!

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They have TONS of farm-themed trinkets all around. It’s so homey πŸ™‚

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Veggies!

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The whole barn smelled amazing, and this was why- mason jars filled with lilac!

After touring the barn with Dana, Derek took us on a walk through the fields where they grow the veggies.

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He explained all of the different farming practices they utilize, from their irrigation system to how they handle pest-control and still maintain organic practices.

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They try very hard not to irrigate too much, but it was a dry spring, so they’ve been keeping the lettuce happy with a little bit of help from the well. They use a 300-ft deep well to provide water to the farm, and before this year they didn’t have any underground lines, so everything had to be run above ground. I can’t even imagine how much extra work that must have been. These guys work very, very hard.IMG_1829

I surprised myself by being most interested in this thing called a cover crop. I had heard the term before, and could give a loose definition, but I couldn’t have told you the specifics. Now I can! A cover crop, for those who don’t know, is a nutrient-rich crop like crimson clover or rye that the farmer plants over the winter. The crop grows through the early spring, and is then mowed down and incorporated into the soil, increasing the soil’s nutrition. So cool!IMG_1828

Baby peas! Can’t wait to see these guys in a few weeks!

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Another cover crop- crimson clover. Derek also explained to us that they do not use a rotary tiller to till the soil, because although it cuts down on the work for the farmer, it also beats up the soil a great deal.

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This is allllll GARLIC! Not only will we get a portion of the yumminess, but in a few weeks these will flower and grow scapes, which will also come to us through our shares. Awesome!

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Hay bales everywhere. I love it.

 

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It was just the coolest thing to walk around and see all the different fruits and veggies thriving on this gorgeous farm. It’s a whole new level of connectivity to my food, and I’m loving it.

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On the way out, we were asked to take free seedlings. Well, if I have to!

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This is my second round of free seedlings this week!

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A few different tomato varieties, including two cherries, okra, cabbage, and eggplant! I have enough flowerpots, so tomorrow’s task is hunting down organic vegetable potting soil. I’ve heard it’s a tough one to find.

I feel so fortunate to have found such a wonderful community of farm-lovers. Anchor Run is a really successful farm- their CSA boasts over 300 members, and the farmers that run it are incredibly dedicated to their members and their work. The closer I get to my food source, the better I feel, so I am totally looking forward to an entire summer of this. Anchor Run also requires work hours from its members- 8 per season for a full share, and 4 for a half. I’m actually really excited about that, I’m finding myself more and more interested in the farming practices, and I’m eager to learn more about growing food and what it takes to run something as large as a CSA. I think it will also be a great resource for me as I venture into my own gardening adventures over the summer and through the fall. Starting with…

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Chris got me these when I gave the Stan Heim reading, and I’m trying my best to keep them alive until I can plant them in the ground. They’re so pretty and delicately scented!

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Mum and I have also been talking about planting berry bushes in the back garden this fall. The people who owned this house before us had blueberries, and the fenced-in patch is still back there, though the blueberries are not.

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We are looking to revive the back garden, and it seems like we timed it perfectly. We’re planning on composting all through the summer, and then using that for the berry bushes, since berries thrive in nutrient-dense compost.

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By the way, the day was totally completed when I came home to this:

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Ridiculous. By now, it’s Monday night, and I’m posting this with my Nikes on, ready to literally run out the door before heading to Owowcow for a giant five-scoop Mocha Java Chip and Rosewater Cardamom sundae with lots of fudge and dark chocolate shavings on top. That is not an exaggeration.

Huzzah!