We had our usual Saturday... slow to wake, off to the Farmer's Market, then home for some rolling around.

While 'H' napped, I suggested that Jeff, 'A' and I lay down and rest too. I had hoped that my rest time would look like this (above....)

and while Jeff and 'A' spent some time swinging in the hammock, I kept trying to lay down to read but found I had to fend off Grace (or keep petting her, depending on how you look at it).

The tomatoes are happy and I put the peppers in today - 5 different kinds. The sunflowers are poking through the soil and all looks good out in our little garden.

At the market today we got more broccoli rabe, more bok choy and my favorite, garlic scapes.

Dinner tonight was pizza with tomato sauce, sauteed garlic scapes, sauteed mushrooms and wilted broccoli rabe, decorated with the fresh rabe flowers.

The half-moon is out ("Where's other half?" asked 'H' today).

The baby birds are growing their flying feathers. They're getting ready to fledge.

rainy days

These rainy days make me so sleepy! I could curl up anywhere and take a nap. Today we went to our local children's museum to play. Apparently it was a popular destination because the entire world was there!

Sunflower seeds are sprouting, Jeff is making homemade lotion, I had my last Healthy Children, Healthy Planet class tonight, complete with delicious potluck dinner, 'A' drew some lovely pictures for me while I was at class, and 'H' stayed up to catch my goodnight kiss tonight after I got home. I am full of love and wonderful yummy feelings. I love my family.

We got a new book from the library: Sky Tree: Seeing Science Through Art, by Thomas Locker. It's a great book. We read it outside this afternoon, after the rain dried up and it was finally warm. Every page shows the same tree on a hill with a river in the background. Each page talks about a new phase of a season and shows the tree in that phase: with full leaves in summer, orange in autumn, bare and snowy in winter.... it's wonderful, a delight for all ages. Check it out.

Magic. That's what life is.

finally, some rain!

There are days when I wonder how anyone in the world manages to get anything done. Is it just me? No, it isn't, there are tons and tons of people out there who feel this same way, based on how much people in our culture talk about multitasking and feeling stressed out and all of that. And you know, the things I have to do that keep piling up aren't even that hard. It's not like my life takes place on the super-highway and I have a million things going on. But if I really want to commit to slowing things down and getting in touch with the smaller, sweeter moments in life, then I have to just accept the fact that I'm going to feel overwhelmed by stuff and I'm going to let myself down sometimes.

Thanks for listening to my little whine and pep talk. I have a pile on my desk of *stuff*. I'm learning that my desk piles get me down the worst. If my laundry piles up or my floors need cleaning, it doesn't bother me very much. You should see the inside of my car most days - it looks like a tornado went through. We can sometimes go a week without moving clothes from the laundry basket to the dresser drawer.... But the paper and the little tasks can paralyze me and overwhelm me fast and make me totally crazy. I wonder what that says about me.

Today and these next few days are rainy ones and I am the happiest person in the world because of it. Our rain barrel emptied out last week after I made a new flower bed in the yard and broke up a bunch of perennials to move into it. They were so upset with me for moving them in the heat last week and they required a lot of water as an apology. So there went the 56 gallons in the barrel. These last few days before the rain came, I was saving our gray water and running it out to the new bed every time the bucket got full. It is really amazing to me how much water I waste in the kitchen alone. I put a bowl in the sink to collect the water I use when I wash my hands and that alone was a few gallons a day. Great for me, I wash my hands a lot, but holy cow, that's a lot of water down the drain! I also scooped out the bath water after the girls were done in the tub. We use all natural soap and shampoo so I figured the flowers could handle it - right?

To celebrate the rain, we ran errands this morning. I brought the girls to get their hair cut. It was 'H's first time and she did great! They both did a great job and they even got lollipops as a treat. The only thing that wasn't so great was the finished product. I could have done the same work for free. I think this experience might be enough to reinstate me as our family hair dresser. Jeff took me off of that duty after the last time I butchered 'A's hair but look - it's growing longer now and it just needs to be cut at the bottom.

Then we went to the library. We have a few libraries that are close to us and I use all of them. People who are part of some other school systems get better privileges at some of the other libraries than those of us in the Ballston Spa system, and I know people who won't use the other libraries simply because of that, but I don't care. I'm a book junkie and I need my fix, so I don't care where my fix comes from. I inherited it, my love of paper and ink. My grandfather was a printer and it's in the family genes. Mmmm, I can smell that ink now, and feel that warm stack of paper.

Anyway, I love, love, love the children's room at the Clifton Park library. It's so user-friendly and their selection is amazing. I always walk away with a treasure trove of books for the girls. Lately I've been pushing - and they've been loving - books by Elisa Kleven. For me, children's books have to either have a good story or great illustrations, and ideally, but unfortunately not often enough, they will have both. Elisa Kleven is an unbelievably talented artist and we love her stories about flying paper princesses and party pinatas. She even has a book about an apple doll, complete with real-life instructions on how to make one, and you know I'm going to try it with some Twenty Ounce apples in the fall!

I did plant a bunch of transplants and seeds in the vegetable garden and I'll update you as things start to grow. The people at the farmer's market told me to put those tomatoes in the ground and not wait, so I listened to them. The bean seeds are in (we read Jack and the Beanstalk for the first time tonight to kick off bean season), and so are the sunflower seeds and carrot seeds too. Peppers will wait until it's warm all the time here. You know what they say - Some like it hot! I would lump peppers into that category.

Dinner tonight was sauteed mushrooms and swiss chard (with garlic, of course!) over thin spaghetti with turnip green salad. It was super-yummy and Jeff and I kept going back for more. The girls have opposite taste buds - 'H' loves the mushrooms, 'A' can't stand them. I can't keep up.

Tomorrow I have some baby turnips to use up and some bok choy.

I love our backyard. Honestly, it's the whole reason we bought our home. The girls love it too!

I woke up earlier than usual this morning and spent some time getting the garden beds ready for planting. I'm filling them with a soil & compost mix that we have had "steeping" in the woods for three years. It's good soil, full of earthworms, and with a pH of 6.8. I think that's on the high side for vegetables but overall I am hoping it will work well for us this year. I augmented with just a little manure.

I think our planting plan is just about ready. I've spent time on this. There are a lot of things I'm not good at, but research is not one of them. So, after much reading, and speaking with experts, and a class at the local cooperative extension office, I've come up with a plan that includes tomatoes (from transplants, and I'm looking for different varieties of heirlooms); zucchini and two different types of yellow summer squash; peppers (at least two varieties); carrots (actually, 'A' is growing those); beans; basil, thyme, sage, cilantro, rosemary and if I can find a transplant, some cumin; and for fun, a sunflower. The bed gets 10 hours of sun a day now.

I grouped them in the beds according to the companion planting guides and I've been checking the soil and air temperatures to see when I can put each plant or seed in the ground. It looks like we'll start the carrots this weekend, the tomatoes and peppers in a week or two, the zucchini in a while, when the soil warms to at least 65 degrees (it's 60 now), and the beans in a while, when the soil is a few degrees above 60. How long does it take for the soil to warm up? Can you say "short growing season?"

Everything outside is coming to life.

Well, hello there!

We had a butterfly friend join us at lunchtime today. If you look closely, you can see it fluttering around the parsley. I love having them come to visit us. You know that all is right when butterflies are around. No genetically modified corn here to kill off the larvae.

The coolest thing happened during lunch today. We sat outside and enjoyed a variety of things (brown rice, soynut butter on homemade pita bread, pears and strawberries) and then 'H' asked for some lettuce. That's not the cool part - she loves the Newman's Asian dressing I use and she wanted some bok choy with it. I got her a bowl, she polished it off, and then she asked for some more. I walked over to the lettuce plants and picked a few leaves for her. The next thing I knew, 'A' was picking lettuce leaves and adding them to her soynut butter sandwich. Now that's cool! She has never said "yes" to leafy greens, but now that they're growing in her yard, she's willing to give them a try. I get a BIG smile on my face when I think about it!

Below is Grace's snake toy that she found in the back yard today. Well, it's not actually a toy, but she used it as one.

Our plant-based diet is (surprisingly) incredibly easy to live with. I eat fruit for breakfast - lately it's this smoothie: banana, rice milk, OJ, ice and another fruit, like pineapple. Sometimes I throw in dandelion greens or spinach for fun. Lunch is a salad - sometimes I use my sister's fabulous salad recipe: greens, avocado, almonds, and an orange with orange-ginger dressing. Dinner consists of a variety of things. Tonight we had a wild rice, lentil and black eyed pea pilaf with broiled asparagus and zucchini, and black bean hummus with pita chips. Tomorrow I think we're having something with broccoli rabe - maybe pizza with the rabe and tomato sauce (no cheese) or a simple pasta dish with garlic and rabe.

It's easy to do this in part because I feel physically good (when you cut out dairy, the pounds melt away without help). I also feel like I'm taking one of the most important steps I've ever taken on my journey to bring health to our planet. Food choices matter so much. It's not just a matter of where the food is grown, or whether pesticides are used. Simply put, a diet that includes meat and dairy is not sustainable for the planet. More and more corn is grown to feed more and more cows, and those fields of corn are taking nutrients from the soil but they don't put it back in. The corn crops can't continue forever in poor soil. And the cows who eat the corn? They're some of the earth's biggest polluters of all. It's their gas, no joke.

By removing the cow from our diet, we've taken a huge step in the right direction. I never ate beef anyway, but I did love dairy, and I've found it very easy to give it up.

Cheers to a happy planet!


The girls and I went on a field trip to a local dairy farm today. I knew almost immediately that it was a mistake to go. It made me really sad to be there. Then we saw the babies. They were lined up in pens. This one was pointed out to us because it was just born this morning. 'A' looked at me and asked, "Where is the mommy? Where are all the mommies?" Good question. We asked. Apparently the little calves are safer in the pens, being bottle fed, than they are with their own nursing mothers.

Now, for the afternoon, I get to answer the same questions over and over: "Why did that woman say that dairy is good for us? It's not good for me. Why do all of those people think it's good for them?" I don't know what kind of answer to give.

I've finally found a phrase to describe our diet - "Plant based." It's more accurate than vegan, because we're not strict vegans (we eat honey, we wear wool and silk and we have leather seats in our cars, as well as leather shoes). We have a plant based diet.

I've learned a lot in the past few weeks about what a plant based diet means, and the more I learn, the happier I am with it. It's not just about our health, or the health of our planet.

We've finally got our protein intake down to a healthy level. Our sugar intake is lower than ever. I won't go into all of the reasons why I like this better than eating meat and dairy, but I'll leave you with this thought about the topic: the greenhouse gases from the meat and dairy industry are far greater than the greenhouse gases that come from all of the cars in the world.

Jeff's parents came to visit these past few days. They left today. They were "stopping by" on their way from Florida to Vienna. They're taking a trip up the Danube River with friends. Nice.

baby fever!

T H E Y hatched! Baby House Finches are our newest addition! Happy baby wishes all around. May the wonder of fertility and new life never leave you.

About Me

My name is Jillian. I started this blog as a way to experiment with my camera and it's a become a nice little spot where I enjoy spending time. I'm a mother to 6 and 4 year old daughters, wife to a cool computer guy, and mama to a cuddly cat. We enjoy eating local, organic food; managing several food allergies; homeschooling with love; spending time in nature; and we love to take time each day to be creative. You can also find me over at From Scratch Club from time to time. Welcome!