PART I: It's Never Too Late

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I'm embarrassed to see the last time I wrote a blog entry. I have the best of intentions but let's face it, life happens and then you look back and see that it's been exactly 3 months since you picked up something that you thought you were going to be intentional about.

I digress.

Lots has happened since my last post. Bo started school (3K), CC celebrated her first birthday, my mom graduated college with her Associates Degree at the age of 55, and so many other things sprinkled in between. I'll delve into details in future posts (I guess that means I have more to write about than I thought...?) but I wanted to share something monumental today. It may be minuscule to some but for me, it's in a way turning over a new leaf.

I was visiting family in South Carolina and Alabama this past week for a few special occasions (my mom's graduation in SC and my cousin's wedding in AL) which was a great trip even though it was just me and CC, and I missed my boys. The second half of my trip was spent at my family's place in Alabama; my great aunt Mildred and uncle Bill who are in their 70's have a produce farm where they grow, maintain and harvest an array of vegetables, fruits and herbs. Aunt Mildred is also a pro at growing (and keeping alive) gorgeous plants and flowers, including a few peony bushes that belonged to her mother, my great grandma Callie. Our trips to Alabama are never long enough for me to really soak up lessons on growing and maintaining plant life but every trip we take, even with my two brown thumbs, I leave feeling inspired to keep trying with this whole growing food/flowers thing. After all, it's in my blood. My great grandaddy Russell (his first name was Jessie and he was Grandma Callie's husband) was, as my mom described it, a "truck farmer" where he had a produce farm much like Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill but he drove around selling it out of his truck. I've never been one to keep things alive -- aside from my children of course so I must have something right -- but seriously, try as I may I either overwater, underwater or just flat out neglect what I plant. The thought of growing things has always been fascinating to me, to be able to be self-sustaining, live off the land like the natives did, and just know what's in your food. It's just super cool in my mind. A lot of hard work, yes, but you reap what you sow (ha, pun intended!) and to be able to literally go from farm-to-table is so much more than the latest trend to me; it was my family's way of life back in the day and it's very admirable in my book.

So anyway, this monumental moment for me today! Rob made me a huge (to me, anyway!) raised gardening bed for Mother's Day. He's very practical with his gift giving but I love him for it because if he didn't support half of my outlandish dreams and random thoughts, I'd probably still be sitting on the couch binging on Netflix. Not really but for real, he's the fire-slash-confidence I need to jumpstart most of the things I come up with, including this whole urban farm wannabe thing. I figure, hey, what if God is setting us up for our next adventure?! Who knows? You won't know jack until you leap out there and try it. If I kill all the plants, so be it but at least I know I tried with my two brown thumbs.

This morning I took those same thumbs and went to work with Rob filling up that ginormous raised bed with compost. He borrowed a Bobcat machine digger thing (yes, I referred to it as a thing) to move the compost and I raked it out in the bed. There was a constant drizzle/pouring rain but the kids were still asleep and it was kind of fun being out there in the rain and muck setting up our little garden before most of the neighbors were even awake. It gave me a sense of nostalgia, thinking of Aunt Mildred and Uncle Bill, how they were probably already out in the fields on their north Alabama produce farm. It also gave me a sense of pride that Rob and I were tackling this new thing head on together and knowing that as long as we really stick to it and stay on top of it, we will be growing our own produce. Peace out grocery stores! Not only will we be able to enjoy fresh veggies this summer but I get excited thinking of learning to can tomatoes and [hopefully] okra for sauces, soups and chilis in the fall and winter.

One of the last times we were in Alabama together as a family with the 4 of us, Rob and I decided we wanted to make everyone an authentic Italian meal with as many ingredients from the farm as possible. We planned the whole thing out and decided, based on what was still in season, we would make chicken cutlet parmesan, eggplant parmesan and penne alla vodka. Aside from the basil, all other veggies and herbs came from the farm. Even the tomatoes were canned from the farm. We fed close to 20 of my relatives, including Rob and I, and everything was a hit. That was the first and only time we've almost literally had a farm-to-table gathering. It was truly special to us.

So here we are with a box filled with dirt and by the weekend, we'll be planting. I've planted in years past, only tomatoes and zucchini, some turned out pretty decent while other attempts were a complete flop. However, this year we're going to try our hand at adding squash, okra, a variety of herbs, maybe peppers, spinach and I'm thinking possibly a fruit but I'm not sure what just yet. Fingers crossed, y'all! It's never too late to learn new things!


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Rob operating the Bobcat thing.

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Ummm hellooooo how gorgeous are these tulips?! I'll be 32 next month and this morning, for the first time ever, I cut my own bouquet that I grew myself (with the help of God of course!). Before I started helping Rob level out the compost, I cut several of the tulips I planted as bulbs back in the fall and made this arrangement, as well as a tiny, 3-flower arrangement. I was pleased as punch at how beautiful they came out!


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