East of Weedin'

Just another AreaVoices site

   May 15

A tulip mystery

I wrote here earlier in the spring, how excited I was for the great tulip bloom of 2015. And it was awesome. Beautiful blooms filled my yard.

One by one, though, they started to disappear.

I noticed petals in the driveway, so I asked my husband. He pleaded ignorance. I asked my older two kids if they had picked them and they both said no.

I had one more suspect, my on year old, but he doesn’t talk much. The next day, I was weeding my front bed and up toddles my youngest with a handful of freshly picked tulips. A red one, a yellow one, and a precious cream colored one. With a big smile he handed them to me.

It was really a bittersweet moment. I explained to him that flowers should stay where they are but he didn’t understand. Oh well, there’s always next year.

On a side note, my spring plants are in and beautiful. We’ve eaten asparagus everyday this week. The lettuce is just about ready to be eaten and peas are starting to get flowers.

It’s a good time of year.


   Apr 08

Taters gonna tate

I started planning my garden in February. When I say planning, I mean having general musings about what I was going to plant when the snow melted.

This weekend I got a bit more serious and actually devised a plan. In creating this plan, I actually forced myself to look at what we eat regularly and to plant for that. In the past, I will admit I’ve planted more out of curiosity than practicality. We all remember the summer of the egg plant glut.

In particular, we eat a lot of potatoes. Baked, mashed, fried, roasted, nuked…we like our spuds. So I planted a fingerling and a russet that should thrive in Minnesota. Taters gonna tate.

As part of the community garden we grew potatoes but I’ve never grown them in my home garden. I’m hopeful the Old Farmer’s Almanac advised me in this venture well.

Over the Easter weekend, I also planted peas, lettuce and onions. It’s not terribly warm here yet, so I anticipate things will be slow to come up but at least I feel like I accomplished something.

   Mar 20

When kissing flowers, tulips are better than one

Today is the vernal equinox, which means the sun appears directly over the equator. The event marks the start of spring in the Northern Hemisphere.

For me it marks a time of great anticipation. See last year, I purchased a bunch of tulip bulbs for dirty cheap towards the end of fall. I planted them throughout all of my flower beds.

All winter I’ve thought about those tulip bulbs and when they would spring from the earth and say hello. The time for them to peak their blooms from the ground is getting close and I am so excited.

This morning, I took a rake to my flower beds and cleaned out some of the old plants that I didn’t pull last year. In several of the beds, there are little green nubbies sticking out. I actually shrieked in anticipation.


I can’t wait to see them all come up. I bought a variety of colors and shapes, so it should be interesting to see what comes up.

Here’s a few tidbits courtesy of The Old Farmers Almanac:

  • Did you know: If you dig up a tulip bulb in midsummer, it’s not the same bulb you planted last fall. It’s her daughter. Even while the tulip is blossoming, the bulb is dividing for the next generation.
  • To get the longest vase life, cut tulip stems diagonally, then wrap the upper two-thirds of the flowers in a funnel of newspaper and stand them in cool water for an hour or two. Then, recut the stems and the tulips will last at least a week.
  • In 17th-century Holland, the new tulip was such the rage and fashion that a handful of bulbs was worth about $44,000.

   Jan 23

Waste not

For Christmas I received a tumbling composter. While I have a pile at home for yard waste, I’m terrible about bringing kitchen waste down there. So I asked for something small I can put on my deck.

I’m pretty stoked to put it into use; however, it’s presently frozen to the garage floor. We had one warm day and the water from the under carriages of our vehicles melted and froze the box and part of the contraption to the floor. I’m really hoping we get another warm day here soon so I can get it out of there.

Nonetheless, I hope the composter will help our family reduce our landfill bound output. After writing a story on a high school that changed it’s refuse practices, I’ve been set on the idea. We eat a lot of fruits and vegetables so I think it should have an impact.

I just have to get everyone in my house on board, which will be the harder task. I think my husband will be the hardest to convince because he generally wants to do the simplest task available. Even with the composter on the deck, I have a feeling getting him to open the door will take some convincing. (He’ll read that as nagging)

Writing about composting makes me a bit blue as spring is still a ways off. Winter takes too long.

To occupy my mind, I’ve been reading as much as time allows. My in-laws gave me the Serpent of Venice by Christopher Moore. I love Moore’s humor and he really is a true word smith. Serpent of Venice has been a fun, quick read and I would recommend it to anyone who enjoys a bit of bawdy humor.


   Dec 04

Books, books, books

Minnesota Public Radio’s Daily Circuit recently held a show dedicated to books. It was a fantastic hour of radio. You can listen to the conversation here.

The featured guests were Ron Charles, Book World editor for the Washington Post and Rebecca Joines Schinsky, Director of content and community for Riot New Media Group. Callers also offered up suggestions for the year’s best books throughout the show.

In listening to the show, I added at least a dozen books to my must-read list. I brought my list to the library and it would seem others may have done the same because a number of the titles I wanted to check out were gone. Still, I was able to get  Liar, Temptress, Soldier, Spy by Karen Abbott. In the book Abbott, a historian, shares the tales of women who served in battle and in intelligence roles during the Civil War.

Recently, I’ve been reading the Harry Potter books so it’s nice to wade into something more adult. Don’t get me wrong, I’ve really enjoyed reading about the wizard boy wonder but I needed something a little more mature.

In addition, I downloaded Un-Jobbing: The Adult Liberation Handbook. Recent changes in my professional life have made me reassess what my future should be.  It’s an interesting book and has provided some insight on ways to simplify.

Any titles you want to share?

   Nov 06

Ready for spring

Every fall I intend to till my garden, so that when those early warm spring days come around I can capitalize on them. However, I have never acted on my intention until this past week.

Last weekend, I spread compost over my garden and then I tilled. I also planted 100 tulip bulbs. I tell you what, I am excited for next spring.

Unfortunately, we have to live through winter first. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is predicting an El Nino so hopefully the winter weather will be more mild than the last few have been.

In the meanwhile, I have a large stack of books I plan to tackle while the weather sucks. On my list is Malcolm Gladwell’s Goliath, World War Z by Max Brooks and Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban by J.K. Rowling.



   Sep 17

School lunch part 2

Our daughter started kindergarten the day after Labor Day. We sent her with a packed lunch but also put money in her account so that she could try hot lunch if she wanted to or frankly for the days that we just don’t have time to pack one.

So far, she’s been good about helping pack her own lunch in the evenings. Based on the recommendation of 100 Days of Real Food, I have her pack two veggies or fruits, a grain and then something else.

Her lunches often consist of cut up veggies such as carrots, pepper slices or broccoli. She takes a piece of fruit too. Recently she’s been on a banana kick.

As for the grain part, she’s brought peanut butter sandwiches, popcorn, homemade muffins and whole wheat crackers. This past weekend, I purchased a Thermos that will fit in her lunch bag so she can take warm food such as soup or macaroni and cheese. Lastly, she’s been taking a cheese stick or yogurt most days.

School is a brand new endeavor for her and so the first couple weeks were overwhelming for her. The first few days she didn’t eat much, so her teacher put her at the slow eaters table. Apparently every year there are a group of kindergartners who need some encouragement to get their food down in the allotted 25 minutes.

Overall, I think she’s made the transition pretty well and she seems happy bringing lunches with her. For now I think we’ll stick to it.

If you need ideas for school lunches 100 Days of Real Food is a treasure trove. She has a ton of creative ideas and the site is worth your time.

   Sep 03

A return on investment

A few years ago, I planted raspberry bushes on the south side of my garden. When I bought the bushes I asked the sales guy if four would be enough. He snorted and said I would have more raspberries than I could handle.

I thought his reaction seemed a bit haughty and unnecessary. He was right,  though. Through July the bushes produced more than a pint a day. And recently, the bushes started bearing a second round of fruit equaling the first. It’s amazing.

If I were to buy that many raspberries I would have spent hundreds of dollars. I purchased the four bushes for $17 a piece which they have returned many times over in the last couple years.

When I purchased the bushes, I didn’t really have money on my mind. Raspberries bushes just seemed like a fun addition to my garden. With three little berry eating machines, though, the bushes have saved us a lot of money.

We mostly eat them raw but with this second batch I plan to make some freezer jam. We go through a lot of jelly in our house so it seems like the thing to do.

An All Recipes devotee, I plan to follow these Freezer Jam instructions. Eat well, friends!



   Aug 21

Lunch battles

My husband and I are having trouble deciding how to feed our daughter at school. He thinks we should make her eat school lunch and I think we should pack her lunch.

His argument is that having her eat school prepared meals will force her to try new foods. He thinks the peer pressure of other students will encourage her to eat whatever they are serving that day.

My arguments is she won’t eat all day, will waste food and come home ravenous. She’s stubborn and skipping a meal doesn’t faze her.

I wouldn’t describe my daughter as a picky eater. She eats a wide variety of foods and can usually be talked into trying new things. However, she doesn’t care for pizza or sandwiches, two of the lunch menu mainstays.

I also think we have the opportunity to teach her some responsibility here. She’s old enough to help pack her own lunch. I think we could make a nightly routine out of it and make her an active participant in feeding herself.

My husband  thinks I’ve lost my damned mind and we will end up having to do it.

Lastly, as I’ve stated in my previous post, starting school will be a big change for her, and I think food she’s familiar with will help provide some comfort during the day.

What do your kids eat at lunch? Let me know your thoughts.


   Aug 13

Starting fresh

I want to apologize for the hiatus from this site. Transitioning to being a family of five turned out to be more than I anticipated and a blog was one more thing on a long list. However, I do want to continue with it and will be more consistent from here on out.

This summer has gone by in the blink of an eye. We’ve done our best to make it a great summer. Our days have been filled with swimming, sun, t-ball, frogs, gardens and more. Not to sound corny but it’s really been a storybook summer for us.It seems like it just started, though, and now it’s nearly over.

I am really not ready for August to end. My oldest will enter kindergarten the day after Labor Day and the thought brings a lump to my throat.

We’ve been fortunate in that we didn’t have to put our children in daycare. We’ve had her home and gotten to witness every milestone, discovery and learning moment.

Frankly, it’s hard to let that go. While of course we will still be there, it won’t be quite the same. She’ll be part of a world, that we are not. The day she walks through those doors, we will say goodbye to the first five years of her life and hello to a whole different world.

That’s the reality of being a parent and I’m excited for all the opportunities that are about to open up to her, but; it’s still difficult.

To get us ready, her mentally and me emotionally, we checked out a few books about going to kindergarten from the library. Most of them are kind of silly but reading about kindergarten has stoked her excitement which calms my fears.

The two books we have most enjoyed are Look Out Kindergarten Here I Come by Nancy Carlson and The Kissing Hand by Audrey Penn.