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?

 

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?

wine down

I had the opportunity to do a little wine-ing down this weekend.  A much-needed girls getaway for sure!  Have you ever been to Long Island?

Long Island Wine Trail

I was completely blown away by the beauty.  It boasts everything I love rolled into one, well, long island. We stayed in North Fork, Suffolk county on a harbor nestled amongst the wineries.

LI wine trail

The majestic fall color was in its prime.

Long Island Wine Trail 7

Vineyards galore.  One right after another and then another and another.

Long Island Wine Trail 4

Antique stores!  Yes, Long Island had some gorgeous little shops full of inspiring displays.

Long Island Wine Trail 7

Long Island Wine Trail 6

Clever repurposing ideas.  I’d love to replicate this wine bottle “wall” somewhere.

Long Island Wine Trail 2

Beautiful old farmhouses and farm markets…all along the bay.

Long Island Wine Trail 3

Long Island Wine Trail 9

If you are looking for a getaway, I’d highly recommend a weekend trip out to Long Island.  It is just another reason to love this beautiful country!

Long Island Wine Trail 5

But back to biz!  Next up, I will be at The Painted Home’s Holiday Pop-Up Shop with 2 of my favorite comical and creative bloggers.  I’ll be alongside Kelly of Eclectically Vintage and Denise of The Painted Home this Friday from 2-8…or until we run out of wine.

Painted Home pop up

Unfortunately, I can’t make it Saturday so be sure to come for Friday happy hour if you want to see a free milk paint demo!  Good thing I just came back from wine country.  There will be plenty to share plus some tasty treats to pair!  Yup, I’m a poet.

   Long Island Wine Trail 8

farmers market roundup

I’m usually that girl who plants mums in August and has pumpkins out for Labor Day.  This year, however, I have been reluctant to say goodbye to summer.  I’m simply not going to do it ’til summer is really over.  At the end of September.

But I can’t deny the crisp air and winding down humidity so I have been thinking about switching out my seasonal decor and introducing some late summer favorites.  I love this time of year at the farmer’s market.  The colors, textures and pickins’ are in abundance.  Not only do I want to eat the season’s harvest but I want to decorate with it!

fall bistro table

Here are a few decorating ideas that will bring the changing season in without breaking your budget.  If you’re lucky, you might already have these crops growing in your own backyard garden.  If not, you know where to go!

Indian Corn Wreath:  Husks of Indian corn aren’t just for the lamp-post.  Pick up clusters of mini Indian corn which show a variety of colors.  Attach them to a wire form and you have yourself a new wreath plus a squirrel’s feast.  These are best hung between a storm door and front door or you won’t have anything left in a matter of hours!

mini Indian corn fall harvest wreath

Hot Pepper Wreath:  Pick up some hot peppers next time you’re at the market.  If you can find a surplus of them, you’ll get a better deal.  Wire them up to wreath form for new door decor.

hot pepper wreath

Farmers Market Vignette:  This vignette is nothing more than colorful, seasonal squashes and a pumpkin mixed with locally grown flowers that are drying out.  Arrange them amongst some other items that are already on hand like a rusty old scale and homemade pumpkin for instant impact!  When you’re not sure about what’s for dinner, slice open that squash and steam it.

fall vignette

Mumkin:  There is always the classic pumpkin planter stand by.  Grab a large pumpkin and 6 inch mum at the market.  Carve and hollow the pumpkin.  Plant the mum, pot and all, directly into the pumpkin planter.

Mumkin

Seed Packet Art:  If you can’t bring the freshness of the harvest inside, you can always create your own original seed packet art.  I duplicated a few vintage seed graphics last fall with paint and reclaimed wood.

vintage sunflower seed pack reproduction sign

the CSA way

This summer we joined a CSA for the first time. All I can say is, why didn’t we do this sooner?

csa (10 of 10)

We love everything about the experience!  We’ve been introduced to so many new varieties of vegetables which is right in line with our new healthy diet.

Raise your hand if you know what kohlrabi is.  Two months ago, I had never heard of it and I went to an agricultural college in the area!  Now it is one of our new favorite vegetables.  Unfortunately, they’re pretty much done for the season but that’s ok because we’ve moved onto tasty summer squashes.

csa (1 of 10)

CSA stands for Community Supported Agriculture.  In the spring, we paid a membership fee to Pennypack Farm and as a result we pick up 6 shares of locally grown produce & herbs weekly during the summer harvest season.  It has quickly become my favorite day of the week!

The shares offered weekly change as the growing season changes.  It’s like Pandora’s box of produce.  Being part of a CSA also challenges us in the kitchen because you have to work each week’s offerings to create delicious meals.  My latest concoction was beet stuffed peppers with a dollop of local honey.  Delish!

csa (3 of 10)

This week we got to pick our own string beans which we took right home and had for dinner.  It doesn’t get any fresher than that!

csa (4 of 10)

We go very few places without Wilson.  So its awesome that dogs are allowed on the farm too!

csa (5 of 10)

As a bonus we get to harvest flowers from the cutting garden.

csa (7 of 10)

csa (8 of 10)

Summertime and the livin’ is easy….

csa (2 of 10)

If you have the opportunity to join a CSA next year, I highly recommend it.  It will expand your palette and culinary skills as well as support local farms and farmers.  I have to thank Karen, a blog reader, for referring us to our CSA!

farm to table

…sort of.

I love that phrase – farm to table.  It sounds like such a basic concept.  It is one that we’ve embraced recently in our house.  Well, I guess it has been more like farm to store to table.  But once the harvest season starts it will definitely be more farm to table.  Anyway…

First let me say thank you to so many of you who have consistently followed up with us on Ryan’s MS diagnosis last fall.  He is doing just wonderful.  In fact, much better than before.  And me too.  We have embraced new routines and ditched a few old ones.  Mostly we’ve been really cognizant of what we’re eating and how our meals are made and, most importantly, how those foods impact Ryan.

I’ve never been much of a chef and I’m no food blogger.  There are plenty of fantastic blogs out there for recipes and such but as I’ve been sharing some of my new recipes with friends, they encouraged me to post about it.  Perhaps you’ll have an interest too.

We haven’t become vegetarians or anything official but we’ve embraced a highly vegetable based diet and legume based for that matter.  The turning point was receiving my first ever food processor at my bridal shower.  We ate veggies before but usually in a raw or steamed state as a side. Nothing fancy.  The food processor has hands down changed my life.  And I actually like cooking and experimenting in the kitchen now.  I had no idea how versatile chick peas are!  Yes, I’m getting excited about chick peas.  That’s the new me.

Let me just share some of my latest concoctions.  Ryan laughs at me every time I take pictures of our meals.  I take pictures of our sofa, mantelscape and everything else.  So why stop at dinner?

Chick pea “meat”loaf with carrot soup – my soups need some work

chick pea loaf & carrot soup

Sweet potato stuffed pepper with a garlic cream sauce – hands down, my favorite so far although probably the least photogenic.  Can you believe I never ate a radish before now?

sweet potato stuffed pepper

Mediterranean loaf (with basil, pepper, tomato & mozzarella) – Ryan thinks we need to come up with a new word for “loaf”.  I agree.  Any suggestions?

Mediterranean loaf

Smoked salmon salad – an oldie but goodie.  I think we may be headed down the path of pescetarian but again, no official commitments here

smoked salmon salad

Mango vanilla smoothie – we still go for the ol’ classic strawberry smoothie on the reg too. Apparently I don’t have pictures of either.

I seriously shock myself with my new found kitchen prowess.  Ryan is feeling very healthy and active which is the goal when you have MS.  You want to keep a high energy level and remain active so the disease doesn’t creep up on you.  Certain foods, like kiwi, can increase your energy level.  He’s even lost weight.  Men, they lose it so easily!  Hmmph.

And we LOVE doing yoga.  It is so relaxing & strengthening.  I find it helps me a lot with stress.  I never thought I’d become an organic, yogi but I think that’s the path I’m on.  Ryan continues to do all of the things he loves like fishing & bike riding.

It’s funny how life has a way of throwing you curve balls.  You can either let it get you down or embrace it and make the best of it.  I’m pretty happy with how we’re tackling Multiple Sclerosis head on over here

So what healthy recipes should I try next?