Wednesday, March 31, 2010

Right now

Right now I am thankful for . . .

. . . a weekend spent immersed in new traditions, culture, and history (Good Yomtov!) . . .

. . . a love that grows stronger with each new experience . . .

. . . poetry . . .

. . . thrifting with M and enjoying our finds (a satin LA Lakers jacket for $10!) . . .

. . . exploring a new community garden (more to come!) . . .

. . . our cherry tree blossoms . . .

. . . hard work paying off at the Walnut Hill Mini-Farm (more to come!) . . .

. . . and sunlight.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Honoring Art

This past year I have received some amazing art from my friends, and over the winter I decided to honor them by having them framed (by my new favorite people at Taws Can Do in Philadelphia).

This photograph was taken by Jaja, who exhibited it and then sold it at a gallery! But this one is all mine. I decided to make it all girly with a gold frame and pink mat. I think the framing reflects the romanticism in the photo quite well.

This piece I purchased from Nicole (her etsy shop is called blue bicicletta). Fall is my favorite season and I love the imagery in this poem. I wanted to give it the muted colors of autumn leaves and birds, so I chose semi-subtle mats of orange and teal. I probably should have gone with a patterned mat instead.

And this one is my favorite! It's from Nicole's natural patterns alphabet series (I also have beehive). I love how the speckled frame looks like an egg and the patterned mat just emphasizes the intricate detail of the nest (nido means nest in Italian). Click on the image to see more detail.

I'm lucky to have such talented and generous friends!

Friday, March 26, 2010

Terrain Terrariums

There's a store about 45 minutes away from me called Terrain, and it's run by the same people who do Anthropologie and Urban Outfitters. If you like that stuff (and I DO), and you are a gardener (and I AM), you, like me, would just faint dead away when you saw the things they have for sale at this place. It's like home-and-garden porn.

And they specialize in terrarium supplies, which I happen to be slightly obsessed with. See my post about Z's terrariums at her family home. She scoffed when she heard that I had PAID to attend an entire workshop on the topic, but that I did.

It was taught by Tovah Martin, who has written a coffee table book called "The New Terrarium." While she was talking I had the distinct feeling that both she and I were of a different world than the people who were about to spend over $100 on their terrariums, and how in the world did we get here? But it was fun, and I managed to spend relatively little on my two terrariums.

Her basic recipe includes stones (for drainage), charcoal (to purify the water), container mix soil, and plants. Pretty simple. And to be honest, I think the only things that are necessary are the soil and the plants. It's a widely spread myth that putting stones at the bottom of a container helps with drainage, it doesn't.

The stones, charcoal, and soil came with the registration fee, and they had some fun little pieces of nature to add to the container, which I did, liberally. But the plants and the "glass vessels" were extra, and it was easy to get carried away (my friend spent about $75 on her terrarium). I made one terrarium while I was there, and then prepared another one for home . . .

. . . because I had this special guy to put in it! It's a pitcher plant (Sarracenia sp.), native to our region, that I got from the EPA's flower show exhibit for free! They are kind of difficult to grow indoors, but I'm going to try.

So the verdict is that Terrain is amazing for inspiration, but not so amazing on the wallet. Not that I won't go back.

Wednesday, March 24, 2010


Back in February, when the snow was still covering the ground, we started growing plants for the community gardens in Camden.

We ordered plugs of vegetable starts from a company called Kube Pak, in Allentown, NJ. The veggies come in a dense sheet and we transplant them out into larger cell packs so they have some room to grow.

Some of them went out to the community gardens this month, including a few chive and leek starts that went out to my own gardens in Philly (check out my post on Farm to Philly).

I spent hours in the greenhouse with the plants, watering, smelling, and just being in there while the snow was covering everything outside.

Now my little guys are all grown up and in the ground. How time flies!

Monday, March 22, 2010

Camden Crops

I took a bunch of volunteers out in Camden last week to clean up our garden at 3rd and Beckett Street. A surprising number of crops survived the snow this winter, and we harvested several pounds of rutabagas and kohlrabi.

Unfortunately, when I took the kohlrabi home to cook, it was woody and hollow inside. I guess our little over-wintering experiment didn't quite pan out.

The green cabbage is still going strong, looking a little ratty, but edible (as soon as it heads up). The spinach survived, along with the mustard greens, though the latter is starting to bolt so we pulled it.

And of course, the kale. Good old reliable.

Friday, March 19, 2010

The Living is Easy

There's been a lot of porch- and park-sitting going on here in Phila recently. The temperatures have been in the mid-60s all week and everyone is out basking in the sun, myself included. I even decided to bike to work today, taking the Ben Franklin Bridge home!

And I've also been very, very busy getting ready for the growing season! There's a fun article in the April issue of Grid about my friend Nic and some of the projects we're doing together (I'm in it!).

So as you can see, lots of things are happening. We have a work day this weekend for the Walnut-Hill Mini-Farm and Grower's Co-op, and things are also ramping up in Camden, and at the two community garden plots that M and I tend. Details on all to come soon!

Monday, March 15, 2010

A Cat Named Chauncey

Meet the newest feline on Osage Ave . . . . Chauncey!

She has a mustache.

These are the best photos I could get of her, she's still getting used to her new surroundings and her new housemates. Welcome home, Chauncey!

Friday, March 12, 2010

Phila Street Art :: 47th Street

I discovered these guys along my walk to work one morning.

The second one reminds me of this design from the girl and the rhino in Oakland, CA:

The lore is that George Lucas designed the AT-AT walkers in Star Wars after driving past the Oakland container cranes on the Bay Bridge. But who knows?

Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Philly Deals :: Restaurant School Bread

I live about 8 blocks away from The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill College, and other than the occasional sighting of someone in a chef's hat and checkered pants, I didn't have much interaction with the college. Then a friend told me that they have a bakery on campus that's open to the public and features the goodies from all of the pastry and baking classes! As you can imagine, everything is high quality (they're being graded) and cheap. The first time I went the guy behind the counter let me in on a little secret; the best deal in the place is their bread. It's baked fresh every day and they sell it for $2 a loaf. White bread, wheat, herb, sourdough, even a sourdough pickle loaf (!), all $2. Now that's a Philly deal.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

Me to Philly

A little bit of exciting news today: I've been asked to contribute to the fantastic and informative blog Farm to Philly! My friend Erin is the head honcho over there and she writes for Grid magazine (I'm a HUGE fan of this publication) on behalf of the site. Erin also writes her own vegetarian-focused blog, Veggicurious. Check out my first post, all about DIY sauerkraut (a subject close to my heart).

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Soup and Salad: From Camden to the World!

That's the name of our exhibit at the Philadelphia International Flower Show! The show runs from Sunday, Feb. 28th to Sunday, March 7th, 2010. I spent all of last week in the Philadelphia Convention Center setting up our display, and it was so incredible to see the show take form. When I got there on Tuesday it was mostly carpenters and masons setting up the infrastructure of the exhibits and by the end of the week we were sweeping, labelling our plants, and making last minute adjustments (shining this leaf, staking that flower, etc).

Our exhibit shows off the Community Garden Program at the Camden Children's Garden and emphasizes healthy eating (here's an article on the exhibit from the Philadelphia Inquirer!). It also displays the Campbell Soup Factory, without which Camden, NJ would probably not even exist. Campbell's employed most of the town at one point, and they are currently building their new headquarters in Camden. The gigantic soup bowl and the soup can water tower that are part of our display will be going back to the headquarters to become part of their landscaping.

As you move through the exhibit you see a landscaped factory, an orchard of citrus and fig trees, and a vegetable garden. There is a windmill with the Camden Children's Garden logo, a gigantic salad plate planted with lettuce seedlings, and several topiaries that represent children working in the garden.

And I got to design part of the exhibit! The little vegetable and herb garden on the corner of the exhibit was my idea and my responsibility. I'm thrilled with the way it turned out!

If you're in Philly please come by and see me at the exhibit on Wednesday, March 3rd or Friday, March 5th!