A Nest for All Seasons A Nest for All Seasons: May 2012

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31 May 2012

I'm rich! I'm rich! I'm rich!

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“Food, a French man told me once, is the first wealth. Grow it right, and you feel insanely rich, no matter what you own.” -Kristin Kimball

We have plenty of money.  We have what we need.  We are so filthy rich that there are people that want to kill us simply because we are filthy rich Americans.
...but sometimes I don't feel rich.  especially when I spend too much time on pinterest, or on Houzz, or flipping through the inspiration pages of House Beautiful.   I feel poor.  I can't afford that rug, or that table, or even that lamp.  It is all out of my reach.  ...and perhaps I could save up the money and scrimp on groceries and eventually buy one of those beautiful hooks from Restoration Hardware, but do I really want to?  No, probably not, but it would be nice...

I hear some amens out there -- go ahead let it out!  Admit you want MORE!

I want more and more and more and more until it starts wearing away at my soul.  
I've got to quit this wanting or it is going to eat me alive.  

Where to go?  Shopping? 
 Nah.  The garden.

Oh C'MON Amy, the garden isn't going to get me that new handbag!  There is no way a little walk through the garden will make me forget about that beautiful carpet and the 3 INCH THICK padding that I want but can't afford!  A garden will do nothing!


 Well maybe not...it depends on whether your garden is growing food, or just flowers.  If you only have flowers you might have a problem.  As nice as they are, you can't eat them.  They smell nice, and look nice, and I am ALL for a lovely walk through the garden at dusk, but they aren't going to help your consumerism problem the way a good batch of lettuce and giant stand of onions will.

 You see, food is the first wealth.  Battles were fought over food sources, rivers and salt mines.  We need food to survive, and we need good food to feel rich.  I can grow both in my backyard.  I have soil, I have sun, I have seeds and I have water.  Thus, I am rich.

This is the way it works...you feel bitter that you couldn't get that faucet that you really wanted for the kitchen because it was too gosh darn expensive.  Nevermind the hot tub you wanted for the back porch...so you go walking in the garden.  You get out the scissors and start snipping.  A little spinach here, a few mustard greens, ooo!  Are those strawberries hiding under those leaves?  Perfect -- I just picked myself a smoothie.  Brilliant!

Of course I can't grow ice, but wait!  I have a big 'ol refrigerator and in the freezer is a giant tub of automatically made, precut ice.  Brilliant!

Of course I can't break up the ice...I'll just have no make a salad and ice water.  But wait!  I've got a big, powerful blender sitting on the counter...smoothie here I come!

This is all in your head of course...you still have work to do...  

You lay down your bounty of smoothie supplies and you check out the rest of the garden.  Oh my heavens, that onion is up to my NECK!  I am not even kidding -- how DID that thing grow so high?!  ...and oh my heavens there are 49 of them...all growing tall and huge and we are not going to need to buy onions ever again.

Holy crap -- I'm rich.


I'm rich in onions and potatoes and tomatoes and strawberries and rhubarb and asparagus and spinach and mustard and leeks and garlic and swiss chard and radishes and oh look!  The plum tree is starting to grow -- I can almost feel those little plums, plump and squat in my hands ripe for a big BITE.  Oh and the chestnuts are growing!!  Look at the hazelnuts!  I am rich!  I am rich!  I am rich!

Hang my head in shame.  Look around.  Did anyone see that?  Surely they must think I am crazy.  No?  No one saw me twirling in the middle of the garden and yelling about my riches like a happy fool?  Well then...

"I'm rich!  I'm rich!  I'm rich!"

...and I ain't thinking about that handbag.

I'm rich! I'm rich! I'm rich!

Pin It

“Food, a French man told me once, is the first wealth. Grow it right, and you feel insanely rich, no matter what you own.” -Kristin Kimball

We have plenty of money.  We have what we need.  We are so filthy rich that there are people that want to kill us simply because we are filthy rich Americans.
...but sometimes I don't feel rich.  especially when I spend too much time on pinterest, or on Houzz, or flipping through the inspiration pages of House Beautiful.   I feel poor.  I can't afford that rug, or that table, or even that lamp.  It is all out of my reach.  ...and perhaps I could save up the money and scrimp on groceries and eventually buy one of those beautiful hooks from Restoration Hardware, but do I really want to?  No, probably not, but it would be nice...

I hear some amens out there -- go ahead let it out!  Admit you want MORE!

I want more and more and more and more until it starts wearing away at my soul.  
I've got to quit this wanting or it is going to eat me alive.  

Where to go?  Shopping? 
 Nah.  The garden.

Oh C'MON Amy, the garden isn't going to get me that new handbag!  There is no way a little walk through the garden will make me forget about that beautiful carpet and the 3 INCH THICK padding that I want but can't afford!  A garden will do nothing!


 Well maybe not...it depends on whether your garden is growing food, or just flowers.  If you only have flowers you might have a problem.  As nice as they are, you can't eat them.  They smell nice, and look nice, and I am ALL for a lovely walk through the garden at dusk, but they aren't going to help your consumerism problem the way a good batch of lettuce and giant stand of onions will.

 You see, food is the first wealth.  Battles were fought over food sources, rivers and salt mines.  We need food to survive, and we need good food to feel rich.  I can grow both in my backyard.  I have soil, I have sun, I have seeds and I have water.  Thus, I am rich.

This is the way it works...you feel bitter that you couldn't get that faucet that you really wanted for the kitchen because it was too gosh darn expensive.  Nevermind the hot tub you wanted for the back porch...so you go walking in the garden.  You get out the scissors and start snipping.  A little spinach here, a few mustard greens, ooo!  Are those strawberries hiding under those leaves?  Perfect -- I just picked myself a smoothie.  Brilliant!

Of course I can't grow ice, but wait!  I have a big 'ol refrigerator and in the freezer is a giant tub of automatically made, precut ice.  Brilliant!

Of course I can't break up the ice...I'll just have no make a salad and ice water.  But wait!  I've got a big, powerful blender sitting on the counter...smoothie here I come!

This is all in your head of course...you still have work to do...  

You lay down your bounty of smoothie supplies and you check out the rest of the garden.  Oh my heavens, that onion is up to my NECK!  I am not even kidding -- how DID that thing grow so high?!  ...and oh my heavens there are 49 of them...all growing tall and huge and we are not going to need to buy onions ever again.

Holy crap -- I'm rich.


I'm rich in onions and potatoes and tomatoes and strawberries and rhubarb and asparagus and spinach and mustard and leeks and garlic and swiss chard and radishes and oh look!  The plum tree is starting to grow -- I can almost feel those little plums, plump and squat in my hands ripe for a big BITE.  Oh and the chestnuts are growing!!  Look at the hazelnuts!  I am rich!  I am rich!  I am rich!

Hang my head in shame.  Look around.  Did anyone see that?  Surely they must think I am crazy.  No?  No one saw me twirling in the middle of the garden and yelling about my riches like a happy fool?  Well then...

"I'm rich!  I'm rich!  I'm rich!"

...and I ain't thinking about that handbag.

30 May 2012

Poop & Mulch Tires

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Hey y'all! today we are talking POOP! Not human poop, but chicken poop. Don't have any chicken poop? No worries, you can plant beans or add blood meal or borrow some chicken poop from a friend. Doesn't today's topic sound just delightful??

Here's the experiment. This year I am trying my hand at growing potatoes in tires. We had the tires, I researched the chemical leaching and feel secure that we aren't going to eat toxic potatoes and it required very little extra work compared to my normal potato planting routine.  SO I grabbed the tires, filled them with compost and garden soil, planted my potatoes and then covered them in fresh mulch.

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeech -- wait aren't you supposed to let  mulch age before you use it?  Doesn't fresh mulch leach nitrogen from the soil and turn your plants yellow?

Yes and yes kinda.

...but the fresh mulch is only $50 for a driveway full and the aged mulch costs over $100 for a kinda dinky truckload.  
So the choice was easy, but I had to make some adjustments.

Enter the poop -- see it?

Mulch doesn't leach nitrogen from the soil, but rather the mulch USES the nitrogen in the soil to decompose where the mulch touches the soil.  Therefore, that potato planted way down deep in the tire is not affected.  However, when that potato reached the top, I don't want it to be hungry.  The solution?  Well, if the fresh mulch is taking away nitrogen, then I need to add a bit.  What has a bunch of nitrogen in it?  Chicken poop!

Think of it this way.  The tire holds soil.  Then a tree falls (and magically shreds itself) on the forest floor.  Then an animal comes along and poos on it.  Such is the cycle of nature.  We're just joining the party a little more quickly than nature proceeds.

One thing to note...fresh poo will "burn" the stems and foliage of plants, so I put the poop aside from the actual plants and when it rains the poo slowly moves down through the mulch to the soil and composts and then makes the potatoes grow big and strong and delicious.

Note:  If you don't have chicken poop available, and want to use fresh mulch, try planting a bean (any bean!) right next to every plant in the veggie garden or add alternate sources of nitrogen, such as blood meal.  They will both negate the nitrogen use of the fresh mulch.  You know you need to feed your plants a little more if the leaves start yellowing.  If they grow big and strong then you are good to go!


SO, if you visit me for a meal later in the summer, I might feed you poopy potatoes. 
You'll like them ;)

Poop & Mulch Tires

Pin It

Hey y'all! today we are talking POOP! Not human poop, but chicken poop. Don't have any chicken poop? No worries, you can plant beans or add blood meal or borrow some chicken poop from a friend. Doesn't today's topic sound just delightful??

Here's the experiment. This year I am trying my hand at growing potatoes in tires. We had the tires, I researched the chemical leaching and feel secure that we aren't going to eat toxic potatoes and it required very little extra work compared to my normal potato planting routine.  SO I grabbed the tires, filled them with compost and garden soil, planted my potatoes and then covered them in fresh mulch.

Screeeeeeeeeeeeeech -- wait aren't you supposed to let  mulch age before you use it?  Doesn't fresh mulch leach nitrogen from the soil and turn your plants yellow?

Yes and yes kinda.

...but the fresh mulch is only $50 for a driveway full and the aged mulch costs over $100 for a kinda dinky truckload.  
So the choice was easy, but I had to make some adjustments.

Enter the poop -- see it?

Mulch doesn't leach nitrogen from the soil, but rather the mulch USES the nitrogen in the soil to decompose where the mulch touches the soil.  Therefore, that potato planted way down deep in the tire is not affected.  However, when that potato reached the top, I don't want it to be hungry.  The solution?  Well, if the fresh mulch is taking away nitrogen, then I need to add a bit.  What has a bunch of nitrogen in it?  Chicken poop!

Think of it this way.  The tire holds soil.  Then a tree falls (and magically shreds itself) on the forest floor.  Then an animal comes along and poos on it.  Such is the cycle of nature.  We're just joining the party a little more quickly than nature proceeds.

One thing to note...fresh poo will "burn" the stems and foliage of plants, so I put the poop aside from the actual plants and when it rains the poo slowly moves down through the mulch to the soil and composts and then makes the potatoes grow big and strong and delicious.

Note:  If you don't have chicken poop available, and want to use fresh mulch, try planting a bean (any bean!) right next to every plant in the veggie garden or add alternate sources of nitrogen, such as blood meal.  They will both negate the nitrogen use of the fresh mulch.  You know you need to feed your plants a little more if the leaves start yellowing.  If they grow big and strong then you are good to go!


SO, if you visit me for a meal later in the summer, I might feed you poopy potatoes. 
You'll like them ;)

29 May 2012

Wouldn't You Make That Trade?

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Last year, I saved a couple Boston ferns to overwinter (CLICK HERE to see how).  Who wants to pay for new ones every spring?  
Just give them a drink every 3 weeks or so and they will survive.  The problem?  
They get scraggly.  The old dead fronds turn brown and brittle and need trimming.


The new growth seems determined to grow, like a toddler balancing on their tiptoes, just barely out of reach of the cookie dough spoon.  The problem?  Those old fern fronds are blocking the light and taking up valuable root space in the basket.

The solution?  You've got to shear those ferns.  You've got to go to town on them and cut away all the old, dead growth.  It did its job, it was beautiful, but now it is finished.  Time to move on, time to start anew.  Get those old fronds out of the way and new fronds will grow high and proud, lush fern foliage dripping out of the edges, waving in the wind.


There is an exception to the rule.   When you go to trim the fern and you find this:


Don't cut.  Don't touch that fern.  There are times when the dead fronds can stay.  Their purpose is greater than growth.  They are there to protect and hold 6 tiny little lives, so let them be.  There is a time in life when growth doesn't matter.  There is a time when improvement isn't needed.  When all you really need to do is hold and protect.  There is no need to groom properly.  There is no need to think deeply.  There is no need to move, or work or become a better person.

There is a time just to be that little fern, holding on to those dead fronds, and caring for those little eggs.  It will only be 6 weeks and the birds will be born, the eggs cracked and thrown out by mama bird.  The babies will grow unimaginably fast and then they will be gone.  Poof -- one day in summer and it is all over.  No more watching the mama flit from branch to branch, squawking over her babies.  No more tiny little chirps and tiny little beaks.  There will be time to prune the fern.  It can recover.  ...and if it doesn't?   Well, it is worth it, isn't it?  A fern for 6 tiny birds?  Wouldn't you make that trade?

I know that it is good for me to grow.  I know that it is good for me to think deeply, live lively, run and eat well.  I know that it is good for me to do pilates and have lunch with friends.  I know that I need to grow spiritually and intellectually.  I know that blogging and writing and list making renews my soul and gives me a fresh outlook.  I know it is good for me.  I know what I need and I know how to get it.  That doesn't mean I should.  There are hours, days and sometime years that my only job is to hold still and protect.  My personal growth matters not compared to the protection of my babies.  Protecting their hearts from hurts and protecting their lives from harm.  That is my only job.

There will be hours, and days and years that they won't need me anymore.  I can cut off the old and the used up bits of me and grow with renewed energy.  I will have time to grow later.  ...and if I don't?  Well, isn't it worth it?  Myself for 3 tiny little souls?  Wouldn't you make that trade?


HookingupwithHoH

Did you enjoy this post? Get more updates and the occasional newsletter from Amy Renea by subscribing to the Nest Post below!






Wouldn't You Make That Trade?

Pin It

Last year, I saved a couple Boston ferns to overwinter (CLICK HERE to see how).  Who wants to pay for new ones every spring?  
Just give them a drink every 3 weeks or so and they will survive.  The problem?  
They get scraggly.  The old dead fronds turn brown and brittle and need trimming.


The new growth seems determined to grow, like a toddler balancing on their tiptoes, just barely out of reach of the cookie dough spoon.  The problem?  Those old fern fronds are blocking the light and taking up valuable root space in the basket.

The solution?  You've got to shear those ferns.  You've got to go to town on them and cut away all the old, dead growth.  It did its job, it was beautiful, but now it is finished.  Time to move on, time to start anew.  Get those old fronds out of the way and new fronds will grow high and proud, lush fern foliage dripping out of the edges, waving in the wind.


There is an exception to the rule.   When you go to trim the fern and you find this:


Don't cut.  Don't touch that fern.  There are times when the dead fronds can stay.  Their purpose is greater than growth.  They are there to protect and hold 6 tiny little lives, so let them be.  There is a time in life when growth doesn't matter.  There is a time when improvement isn't needed.  When all you really need to do is hold and protect.  There is no need to groom properly.  There is no need to think deeply.  There is no need to move, or work or become a better person.

There is a time just to be that little fern, holding on to those dead fronds, and caring for those little eggs.  It will only be 6 weeks and the birds will be born, the eggs cracked and thrown out by mama bird.  The babies will grow unimaginably fast and then they will be gone.  Poof -- one day in summer and it is all over.  No more watching the mama flit from branch to branch, squawking over her babies.  No more tiny little chirps and tiny little beaks.  There will be time to prune the fern.  It can recover.  ...and if it doesn't?   Well, it is worth it, isn't it?  A fern for 6 tiny birds?  Wouldn't you make that trade?

I know that it is good for me to grow.  I know that it is good for me to think deeply, live lively, run and eat well.  I know that it is good for me to do pilates and have lunch with friends.  I know that I need to grow spiritually and intellectually.  I know that blogging and writing and list making renews my soul and gives me a fresh outlook.  I know it is good for me.  I know what I need and I know how to get it.  That doesn't mean I should.  There are hours, days and sometime years that my only job is to hold still and protect.  My personal growth matters not compared to the protection of my babies.  Protecting their hearts from hurts and protecting their lives from harm.  That is my only job.

There will be hours, and days and years that they won't need me anymore.  I can cut off the old and the used up bits of me and grow with renewed energy.  I will have time to grow later.  ...and if I don't?  Well, isn't it worth it?  Myself for 3 tiny little souls?  Wouldn't you make that trade?


HookingupwithHoH

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28 May 2012

...and the winner is also...

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I have an extra winner from photography week to announce...drum roll please.....

Congrats to.....








 Christa, #369!!


You won Libby Langdon's 'Small Space Solutions'!!

...and the winner is also...

Pin It

I have an extra winner from photography week to announce...drum roll please.....

Congrats to.....








 Christa, #369!!


You won Libby Langdon's 'Small Space Solutions'!!

23 May 2012

Lavender & Shitake Potato Hash

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I've always been a little intimidated by "fancy" mushrooms.  I always stuck with the little white button mushrooms, or went rogue once in awhile with portabellas or baby bellas.  I mean those fancy mushrooms are all "buy by the handful" and cost like $3.99 a pound or $7.99 a pound, so that is way way way too expensive.  I'll just stick to the 2/ $5 packages of whites, thank you very much.

 Man was I missing out.

My SIL Kate schooled me in the fancy mushroom department.  You see, she had made these incredible pickled shitakes and was all aglow over how amazing they were.

My response -- aren't they kinda expensive?

Kate -- well no not really...they weigh next to nothing, so you buy the whole basket and it is not even a pound.

LIGHTBULB.

Yes of course they aren't that expensive - they barely weigh anything!  Brilliant!

The next day I was off to the grocery store to try my hand at shitakes...2 handfuls for about a buck.


 I decided to pair the earthy shitakes with lavender oil and salt I had from the harvest last fall.  Don't be intimidated by those two ingredients!  Simply harvest lavender flowers in the summer/fall and let them dry.  Grind up the lavender with kosher salt and let the flavors meld for a few weeks before using.  Same goes with the oil.  Simply put the dried flowers (not the stems of leaves!) into a bottle of olive oil and let it sit for a week or so before using.  One 8 oz. bottle requires about 2-3 T of lavender.

After decided on the flavorings, I needed a base, and my go to is a roasted potato hash.  The recipe is simply really.  All the ingredients are "2"'s.  2 handfuls of little yellow or red potatoes, 2 handfuls of mushrooms, 2 small white onions, 2 Tb lavender oil and 2 pinches of lavender salt.  Chop the potatoes, mushrooms and onions into uniform bite-sized chunks.  Make sure you chop the little ends  (the part that attaches to the soil) of the mushrooms off as they are very chewy and hard.


Mix all the ingredients with your oil and salt and bake at 350 degrees until your house smells amazing and the potatoes are fork tender (around 30 minutes).  Let the dish cool for 5-10 minutes and serve with optional additional lavender salt.  Enjoy!



22 May 2012

It isn't as chaotic as you think... | Hershey Family Photographer

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If you follow my photography blog, you might have seen this photo shoot a few weeks ago.  
If not, let me introduce you to the beautiful Kathleen of Grosgrain Fabulous

I wanted to share this shoot because y'all responded really well to my "[self-shot] family photoshoot" and I thought this might help.  When you are getting family photos, it always ends up being a more relaxed session when children are added in bit by bit to the family photo instead of trying to make every kiddo stand perfectly where they are supposed to.  Two year olds just don't get it! :)  This shoot  perfectly illustrates the sequencing among the chaos that is family photography. If you look closely, you can tell how I set up the family shots, starting with the calmest members of the family (mom and baby) pose for portraits and get my light, settings and angle perfect.  Slowly I add in family members by having them "give mommy a kiss" or "can you squeeze mommy's legs really tight?".  At the last minute, I have the exact spot ready for Dad and our resident 2 year old and I have exactly 3 frames to get the perfect family shot.  By the end of the shoot, the only thing that works is singing "Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star" on repeat as the sun sets over a horizon.

Pin It


Pin It


Pin It
Pin It



Want to get this shot?




Start with bebe.  Take a few portraits of him alone...
 
Say hey to big responsible sis -- wanna come sit with your baby bro?

Mama - hop in!
Ok -- next sister?

 
Pin It

Ok dad - bring on the big guns -- time for the toddler!

So I hope that helps you when staging family shots -- I'd love to see your experiments -- care to share?
Just remember to always start with the calmest, easy-to-stay-still family members and build from there!

Want to see Kathleen's take on the day?  Check out HER POST about our session!



Did you enjoy this post? Get more updates and the occasional newsletter from Amy Renea by subscribing to the Nest Post below!





It isn't as chaotic as you think... | Hershey Family Photographer

Pin It

If you follow my photography blog, you might have seen this photo shoot a few weeks ago.  
If not, let me introduce you to the beautiful Kathleen of Grosgrain Fabulous

I wanted to share this shoot because y'all responded really well to my "[self-shot] family photoshoot" and I thought this might help.  When you are getting family photos, it always ends up being a more relaxed session when children are added in bit by bit to the family photo instead of trying to make every kiddo stand perfectly where they are supposed to.  Two year olds just don't get it! :)  This shoot  perfectly illustrates the sequencing among the chaos that is family photography. If you look closely, you can tell how I set up the family shots, starting with the calmest members of the family (mom and baby) pose for portraits and get my light, settings and angle perfect.  Slowly I add in family members by having them "give mommy a kiss" or "can you squeeze mommy's legs really tight?".  At the last minute, I have the exact spot ready for Dad and our resident 2 year old and I have exactly 3 frames to get the perfect family shot.  By the end of the shoot, the only thing that works is singing "Twinkle-Twinkle Little Star" on repeat as the sun sets over a horizon.

Pin It


Pin It


Pin It
Pin It



Want to get this shot?




Start with bebe.  Take a few portraits of him alone...
 
Say hey to big responsible sis -- wanna come sit with your baby bro?

Mama - hop in!
Ok -- next sister?

 
Pin It

Ok dad - bring on the big guns -- time for the toddler!

So I hope that helps you when staging family shots -- I'd love to see your experiments -- care to share?
Just remember to always start with the calmest, easy-to-stay-still family members and build from there!

Want to see Kathleen's take on the day?  Check out HER POST about our session!



Did you enjoy this post? Get more updates and the occasional newsletter from Amy Renea by subscribing to the Nest Post below!





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