2018 Theme: Replenish

It's been a while since I've posted here, but I'm back (I think). Life has a way of forcing you to prioritize all of your obligations, interests, and challenges, and my life is no exception. Activites (even tedious ones), work, and classwork were taking up most of my waking hours and blogging took a backseat in my priorities. 

At the same time I was evaluating things, life took a turn that I'm sure many of you can identify with in your own lives. I was suddenly thrust into a situation of the brief, but terminal illness and death of my mother. Then, two months later lost one of my closest friends to cancer. Losing both of them like that was difficult, to say the least. I needed to slow down, allow myself a lack of focus and let my grief do whatever it was going to do. Plus....it was a long cold winter here in New Jersey and nothing was growing and I wasn't doing a whole lot of cooking worth writing about. Life made the decision for me to take a break.

Larkspur (pictured above) is the flower of the birth month of July. My mother, my friend, Sharon and I all were born in July. Photo courtesy of Johnny Seeds.

I read a https://livinghomegrown.com/goal-setting-themes/ recently that suggested if setting goals for the year is difficult, to at least set a theme. I really like this idea. A theme is supposed to act like a beacon to guide you and your activities rather than pressure you with specific achievements and accomplishments. My recent life experiences left me feeling completely "tapped out" and "depleted." So, when I thought about what my theme would be for what remains of this year, "Replenish" came to mind. My focus should be on the people and activities that give me enjoyment, challenge me, and help me learn and grow...basically the things that "fill me up" and "replenish." Yes, I still have all of the obligations of work/life to contend with (who doesn't?), but this is a start.

So here I am, mid-year setting my "theme." My 2018 (what's left of it) is going to be a year of replenishing the empty spaces. Along with other parts of my life that fulfill me, I'm going to restore my focus and participate in the enjoyment of gardening, cook with my (hopefully) amazing garden goods, and learn a whole heck of a lot along the way. I've already gotten started by diving back into the garden and trying new and different plants and approaches. I'm just going to see where that takes me and I hope whatever I share with you from that lends itself to whatever your "theme" may be.

In the meantime, learn how easy it is to grow microgreens & use them as a garnish in dishes like Pea & Herb Risotto with Microgreen Garnish

I'm Catherine, a small-space urban gardener in New Jersey (Zone 7a) who started gardening out of upcycled wooden wine boxes. For years, I wanted to try gardening, but didn't know where to start. I got up the nerve to give it a try - starting small with a single wooden wine box that turned an idea into reality. That reality quickly turned into my filling every sunny inch of space of my postage-stamp size lawn and turning it into a garden oasis. I grow mostly vegetables and herbs with some exception for fruits (when the squirrels and rabbits don't get to them first). I love learning from gardening communities (and lots of trial and error).

I hope one day to take all that I'm learning and apply it to a larger plot of land. To help me get there, I'm extending my learning through the University of Massachusetts, Stockbridge School of Agriculture's, Sustainable Food & Farming program. (I'm addicted to learning as much as I am to gardening.)

This blog isn't just for gardeners (although I hope it inspires some of you to try growing a plant or two). The recipes (food & cocktails) in theRecipes section of this blog contain ingredients that don't have to come from your own backyard. If you like visiting your local farmer's market(or even your grocery store) and would like to get some new recipes you can use with the fresh produce and herbs you get from your local growers, this blog will have plenty for you too.

In addition to gardening and cooking, I also love to visit and photograph my surroundings. I feel fortunate to have so many amazing places here in New York/New Jersey, where I live and work. Visits to local farms, farmer's markets, and cycling through rural farming areas help me feel connected and refreshed. share these experiences in theExploring section of the blog so that you might visit through proxy or be inspired enough to visit yourself. 

With very few exceptions, all of the photographs on this site are ones I have taken myself. (For the photographers out there, I shoot with a Canon 7D and sometimes with my Lumix  DMC-ZS15 compact camera.) 

I hope this blog inspires you to grow, create, explore, and try something new. The best way to stay up-to-date is to follow me using the social buttons above, or click Subscribe and sign up for my email newsletters.    

Happy Gardening and Healthful Living!

- Catherine