field trip

One of the things I love most about living in Cape May is all of the natural beauty around us.  Sure, we have the beach and ocean and, of course, the most fantastic sunsets.  That is a given.  But what many visitors don’t always see is the vast farmland that Cape May possesses.  Many of the farms are on preserved acres of land.  There are vineyards, alpacas, flower farms, vegetables and hens.  Lots of hens.

Beach Plum Farm-4473

Beach Plum Farm-4474

Ryan and I joined the Egg CSA at Beach Plum Farm this year.  It is a 20 week Community Supported Agriculture program where we pick up a dozen fresh eggs straight from the farm.  I look forward to visiting the farm every week and subsequently the hens.  These ladies run a tight ship – looking for snacks and checking out the visitors. I suppose the hen does rule the roost after all.  Beach Plum Farm Hens

Hens

After a short visit with the girls, they typically lead me right to the piglets.  It’s fun to see the personalities of the animals.  The hens anxiously peck along keeping everyone in check while the pigs are much more laid back.  They’re so darn cute with their muddy snouts and squeaky snorts.  I can’t help but to think of Babe, one of my favorite movies as a kid.  “That’ll do pig, that’ll do.”

Beach Plum Farm

Have you visited Cape May’s farmland lately?

 

hello september

Oh September!  How did you sneak up so quickly?  Quite bittersweet.  I do love fall however so I’m sure I’ll be ok. We’ve been catching some fantastic sunsets lately, a bit earlier than I’m comfortable with but they sure are stunning.

harvest sunset

Cape May celebrated Labor Day weekend with the annual Tomato Festival.  We had an impromptu tomato festival of our own at home after coming into 25 pounds of ripe, locally-grown tomatoes for a steal at a farm stand.

roasted tomato prep

We made pasta sauce, roasted tomatoes, tomato polenta, tomato salad and tomato omelets.   We’re a bit tomato-ed out here but we’ve got enough to last us into the winter, I think.  Nothing like seasoning each dish with complementary garden fresh herbs.

garden fresh herbs

I’m also enjoying our newest book that we just introduced to the inventory for harvest season.  Drink the Harvest has fantastic recipes for drinks made with more of your fruits, vegetables and herbs.  I think mint may be up next on the chopping block over here!  The new book is available at The West End Garage.

DrinktheHarvest

Let me also introduce this little guy.  He has a bit of a moody warmth about him…just in time for the changing season.  Kind of like your favorite slouchy sweater.

MMS typewriter, boxwood & brass mid-century nightstand

I love, love, love the unique brass hardware.  The bottom was painted in MMS milk paint boxwood and the rest is MMS milk paint typewriter with shutter gray peeking through.  I applied antiquing wax over the typewriter to really darken the color.  This nightstand is available at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

petal pushers

Have you ever thought about taking a floral design course before? Have you cut flowers from your garden and wished that you could do more than just haphazardly plop them in a vase? Do you have any idea how you can make the cellophane wrapped supermarket bouquet look like a million bucks?

Now is your chance to learn how from an award-winning, professional floral designer!  And for the mere cost of a floral arrangement which, in turn, will be donated to our Bike MS: City to Shore team.  The funds, not the arrangement.  You get to take your floral arrangement home!  Fresh flowers and a good cause.  Does it get any better than that?

If you’re local to North Wales, PA, I hope you will consider Petal Pushers and join us for this awesome fundraiser on August 14th.  Please register in advance as space is limited.  As always, let me know if you have any questions.

Petal Pushers Bike MS Fundraiser

 

P.S. Pennsylvania friends, I will be conducting a milk paint demo on Sunday, July 20th at 1 pm at Serendipity Shops of Doylestown.

all of that kale

The garden is off to a great start this spring. We’ve had warm, sunny days and cool, misty nights. As a result, we’re harvesting bunches and bunches of lettuce plus a bunch of leafy kale every other day.

leafy kale

The more frequently it is harvested, the higher the yield.  I hate to let any of it go to waste because I know once the temperatures soar these greens will bolt leaving me wishing for just one more kale infused smoothie.  And I’ve tried but I’m just not into kale chips.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3701
In order to maximize the kale harvest and make it last well into summer I’ve come up with a plan.  After washing the bunch of kale and trimming the stems, I toss it into a pan and blanch it.  This only takes a few minutes.  I usually do it while making dinner.

maximizing the harvest- kale-3694

Then, with tongs, I place the wilted greens into an ice-cube tray and cover with water.

making kale cubes

Pop the tray in the freezer and we’ve got kale cubes.  The cubes are ready to chill any smoothie or to toss into any soup, stir fry or side dish.  I put the excess cubes in a freezer bag to make room for more.  There’s another harvest right behind this one!

Maximizing the Harvest - kale cubes

I recently read an interesting article about the benefits of using cooked kale vs. raw kale in smoothies.  What do you think?  What is your preference?

celebrating june

Well, June is here! The weather is on the rise, the days are long, the water cool and strawberries are the pick of the moment.  These things will be celebrated, as they should be, on Saturday at the annual Strawberry Festival in West Cape May.  Be sure to walk across the street and visit us at the The West End Garage.  You might just stumble upon a free milk paint demonstration.  Will you be in Cape May this weekend?

strawberries
June milk paint demonstration at The West End Garage

Strawberry Festival

a walk through the garden

A thunderstorm washed through the area last night leaving everything in the garden looking extra lush and green this morning.  So much so that I decided this was the day to snap a few photos and share a status update on how things are progressing in the garden.

annuals garden box

This is the first year we’ve gardened this plot.  It runs about 4o feet long but only 18-24 inches deep on each side of the fence that divides the vegetables from the flowers.  These border gardens get full sun most of the day.  We decided to start out with a manageable size garden and we’ll add-on annually as desired.

vegetable and perennial border garden

On the exterior of the fence I’m working on a perennial garden.  Most of the plants are immature so I’ve been filling in with annuals.  I can’t wait to see how the perennial gardens thrive over the years.  Perennials gardens have always been my favorite to grow.  I am anticipating a cottage style cutting garden out here.  The thought of garden flower bouquets all summer long is delightful.

milk paint picket fence

The other side of the fence is where most of the action is happening as the flowers get established.  We started this vegetable garden in late March mostly from seed, directly sown.  We are now harvesting the early/cool weather vegetables such as lettuce.  If you come for dinner I can assure you that there will be a salad.

lettuce salad garden

And the snap peas are just darling.  I love their little tendrils and sweet flowers.

snap peas

We upcycled a trellis out of two crib rails.  Ryan just screwed them together making an A-frame.  They’ve already grown about 4 feet tall so looks like we’ll need to give them more space to climb.  Some snap pea varieties grow up to 8 feet.

upcycled snap pea trellis - crib rails

The other vegetables include carrots, tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, beans and kohlrabi – planted mostly from seed.  Plus, we have a galvanized container garden for herbs.  I want to make tea with the relevant herb harvest.

vegetable garden milk painted fence

The fence is a new addition that we added in the fall.  Would you believe we used milk paint on the fence to achieve that subtle light blue?

milk paint on a picket fence #mmsmp

Yes, you can use milk paint outdoors!  It won’t fade from UV light and will be protected when a topcoat of tung oil is applied.  We sell tung oil with milk paint for this purpose.  The color was custom mixed eulalie’s sky and linen in more of a wash consistency. Then two thin coats were applied on a raw pine fence.  Perfect little cottage garden accent, don’t you think?

the beginning of a perennial cutting garden

But the best part of the garden is definitely the bounty it produces.  This morning, I harvested my first bunch of kale to enjoy with some locally grown strawberries in a breakfast smoothie.  Life can really be that simple.

locally grown produce

What are you growing?