Saturday, January 30, 2010

A Sight for Sore Eyes

I took these first thing this morning before the house was awake, before any snow on the sidewalks had been disturbed.  I love how snow makes the outside world seem so quite and still, how it muffles everything.  We are hoping to spend many, many hours out in this gorgeous, fluffy, white snow to make up for going 4 years without.  I can't wait for Julian to wake up so we can go out and play in it, it's going to blow his mind!

Thursday, January 28, 2010


Randy Moss is very important in our house.  He doesn't just play football - he also snacks, plays kitchen, rides in monster trucks, goes to the park - you know important stuff.  Papa was sure Randy wasn't destined to the top tier of loved toys, he though he would just sit on the shelf in his little stand where J could look at him.  I didn't agree, little boys love to carry around their "treasures", and right now Randy is amongst the top 3 of Julian's favored entourage. He goes just about everywhere these days, and now that Julian knows all about monster truck jumps Randy is in for some exciting adventures.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

We've Finally Gone Wireless!

After months and months of fighting with Cox and our Airport Express, and some big help from our neighborhood IT guy, we've officially gone wireless. So now instead of being trapped in one place with the netbook and 80 trillion cords attached I can move freely about the house!  And we can get the Mac off of the kitchen counter!  I'm so flippin excited to be joining the masses.   Now I just have to see how far and wide I can go:)

Thursday, January 21, 2010

The Beginning of the Master Plan 2010

I'm surrounded by piles and piles of books and magazines.   Books on square foot gardening, composting, heirloom seeds and vegetable growing, urban farming, and so on.  I'm waiting anxiously for the rest of my seed catalogs to arrive, so far Burpee is the lone soldier.  I like their catalog but I wish it had more heirloom varieties to choose from.  I'm also going to head down to The Five Points Farmers Market  to talk to Bev about what seeds and seedlings they plan on selling. We'll buy as much locally as we can, either from the market or a few of my other favorite garden stores,  but I think I'm going to allow myself one online order to try out a few wild and crazy varieties.

Pete helped me measure out our largest vegetable bed, and eyed the spaces along the fence line where we can stick some plants in with the existing perennials.  The list so far is this:

Succession Plantings:
4 varieties of Lettuce
2-3 varieties of Carrots
1-2 varieties of Radishes

Big Plants:
4-5 varieties of Peppers
2-4 varieties Potatoes
1 variety Broccoli
1 variety Cauliflower
4-5 varieties Tomatoes
2 varieties Eggplant
1 variety Leeks

2 varieties of Cucumbers
3-4 varieties of Green Beans/Beans
1 variety of Peas (Early crop in bean plots)
4 varieties of Summer Squash
2 varieties Winter Squash

Chives x 2
2-3 varieties Basil

I will also be planting tall and short varieties of sunflowers all along the east side of our house as well as marigolds throughout the garden to act as a pest deterrent. My largest plot measures 6ft x 23ft so I will be using my own modified version of Square Foot Gardening to make the most of the space we have out back.  Because we live in a rental, and because our backyard it so tiny, it just isn't feasible to build a bunch of 4x4 raised beds.  Instead I will be leaving small pathways between groupings of plantings and using the SFG guidelines for planting things closer together to make the most of our space.  In addition to in ground plantings I'll be planting some of the tomatoes and herbs in containers to line our front walkway while taking advantage of the awesome sun the front of the house gets.

What are some of your favorite varieties?  How do work with the space you have?  Have I forgotten any important additions to our garden?  I'd love to hear tips and tricks from people who have been there done this.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Posting from My New Netbook

I was shocked when Pete carried in two boxes from Amazon yesterday afternoon because I had been tracking the items I ordered last week and nothing was supposed to arrive until at least Thursday.  The first box contained Julian's new tea set.   The one thing I had overlooked getting for his kitchen set up was cups!  This killed two birds with one stone - 2 cups for drinking PLUS endless fun having tea parties with teeny tea bags and itty bitty sugar cubes.  I love everything that Plan Toys make, the quality of the wood toys is excellent, and everything we have purchased has stood the test of time with a 2 year old boy. He loved it immediately and proceeded to make tea for Papa all evening long.

The second box contained my new Toshiba Netbook!  This was Pete's Christmas present to me/us.  There were lots of good reasons to make some changes to our office set up but now that I am going to try my hand at writing articles for a local online news rag, as well as documenting several big projects here at home and with my friend Amelia, I needed something more portable.  Now I will be able to head to the coffee shop or the farmers market, for some free wi-fi while I work!  We still have to get the wireless network up and running here at home, but for now a super long cable cord split off from the TV allows me to work in both the living room and the play room.

So far I'm just playing around with it a bit, getting used to the small size (only 10 inches!), refining the blog, setting up Twitter, and working on getting all of my bookmarks moved over.  I need to get the extra memory I ordered installed as well and I want to use some instructions I found on life hacker to relegate a few USB memory sticks to hold photos and key applications I'll need on the go.  Hopefully I'll be able to get back to updating with pictures soon!

Friday, January 15, 2010

One Local Dinner

Five Red Potatoes pulled from the ground of a local farm in November.

2 leeks from the market.

1 qt. veggie stock made from our entire turnip harvest.

And 1 pint of whipping cream for the butter and the buttermilk.

Gathered all together, along with a recipe from on of my favorite food science guys and Jules and I will be dining on some local delight.  Hopefully I can get some bread or biscuits thrown together as well.

The back door is thrown open, and Jules is at the counter *helping*.  It's nice to have a taste of Spring with this 60 degree day,

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Last Minute Party Plans

Wednesday morning began with a text from Amelia asking if I would like to join her at the Keep Norfolk Beautiful Gala that is happening this Saturday evening.  Without even thinking I said yes!  Who would pass up a fun girls date that includes local food, a drink, and a very good cause.  What I didn't think about was the fact that I do not own single dress or skirt!  I'm on the hunt through friends and shopping for a staple to add to my wardrobe, I desperately need a go to outfit for these kinds of things.

This will be my first return to the social world of adults since Julian was born.  Our family life is pretty low key, and most of the last two years has been focused on a nursling who still needed his mama 24/7 and that's okay with me.  He'll only be this small for so long, but I'm looking forward to the opportunity to knock off my dusty noggin and stretch my wings out in the big world again.  It may have been awhile but I think I still have it in me.

Monday, January 11, 2010

This Just In

I just rushed home from my morning meeting to discover Jules down for his nap, so I'm going to steal some blogging time while I can.

This morning was my very first brainstorming meeting with Amelia, the owner of Green Alternatives here in Norfolk, and I'm so excited about the endless possibilities our partnership could create.  I'm really enjoying my time as a stay at home mom and wife, and the stability it has provided for our family as Pete continues his career with the Navy.  That said, I miss the drive, energy, and excitement of working.  I was at my best working for and with small, women owned and operated businesses.  I need a career path that is flexible enough for me to be able to meet the needs of my family while bringing in (hopefully, someday) income to add to the family coffers, or even a retirement account!  Who knows where I will be in 6 months, but I'm hoping with enough dedication I'll be able to see an upward trajectory looking back over this year.

Over the next few months I'm going to be reading, researching, and reaching out for any and all information I can find on community gardening, podcasting, blogging, grants, as well as self advertisement and advocacy in the hopes of bringing many of these ideas to fruition.  I'm going to rejuvenate my Twitter account so that I can provide updates about our progress on these projects as well as things going on in our local community.  If you have any recommendations leave them in the comments section, or if you know of a local activity or program that needs to get the word out let me know so I can pass it on.  A big event I'm going to be reminding people about is the Sustainable Living Fair that The Five Points Farmers Market and Green Alternatives is putting on down at Waterside this February so stay tuned!

Sunday, January 10, 2010

A New Year, A Fresh Start

The clock says 1:15PM but it still feels like a sunny Sunday morning in my living room with the curtains drawn to let in the warmth. The thermostat is rarely set above 62 in this old clunker of a house so I'll take the free warmth when I can get it! I'm making coffee and waiting for Pete to get home with the Sunday paper. We've got a routine down: I sort and read while drinking my homemade mocha and we talk about the week past and the one that's about to wallop us in the face come Monday morning. Then we price out TVs we hope to have someday, look through the coupons, find things to check out, all while checking in. This week is a new week for me. I'm not one for resolutions, and it's not any different this year, but I have decided to try some new things.

I started a 7 vitamin and supplement fertility routine this morning. I hate swallowing pills so this is going to be one of the most difficult ones to keep going, but I'm determined to get it done. One year down, a fresh start in this one. A journal has been purchased and begun with Thankful lists and memories of Jules, a niche carved out in the playroom for a workspace and the soon to arrive netbook that will help boost other bigger plans for this year along. Think big! Seed catalogs are here and plants are being pondered, emails are being composed and idea lists are piling up. A basement has been cleared and workout equipment installed, exercise may make it on the to do list finally.

I'm thinking local, green as I can, leaps of faith, and some good old fashioned family time.

Saturday, January 9, 2010

To Begin Again

It is time to start knocking the dust off of this old blog. The past year has been a busy one, full of change, and with many hills and valleys throughout as a good life does. Julian turned two just a few months ago and I can barely see the baby in him these days. Even I have changed, resembling more of my old self every day. Being his mama has been the most fulfilling aspect of my life to date but there is more to me than that and stepping away from some of my commitments in life allowed me to work in that space a bit.

Once Jules began walking things really took off around here. We went, went, went all the time to take advantage of his new mobility and to harness all the energy he creates. No longer did we spend afternoons nursing in a chair, instead we were at the park, the zoo, on play dates, in the yard, at the beach. We made many friends and saw many new places. We were everywhere and it was and remains awesome.

Once he dropped down to one nap a day I began to be able to spend the morning nap hours gardening and crafting, thinking of new ideas, reading for me, etc. I stopped reading parenting books and baby guides and I got in touch with the Rachel I know I used to be. From this came the most unexpected bonus - Julian now loves to do those things with me. I thought pushing for me time and space would create distance but instead it has brought us together and opened his world. Like the parallel play toddlers engage in, he and I have parallel tasks. He bulldozes while I shovel, he rakes while I weed, he reads while I read - it's an awesome comfort to look over my shoulder to see that little towheaded boy hard at work in the dirt.

I'm hoping to take this new year, and the new beginning it provides, to revamp this blog. I want to bring it up to date and to broaden it's horizons and topics. I hope to bring more local flavor as well as more in depth writing about our life and experiences as a family, and mine as a woman, reaching beyond the title "mama" for what makes me tick.