April and May, in photos

I am so constantly amazed that you can take such lovely images with an iPhone!  I’ve got a beautiful bunch of peonies gracing my yard right now and it never ceases to make my day when I catch a glimpse of them.  I’ve been running around like a crazy person for the past few weeks – celebrating several Baby Showers, training for my first Half Marathon (four weeks away!), fundraising for the New York Marathon (yay Fred’s Team!), and getting into some serious yoga.

Here’s a little summary in photos of my past few weeks:

Baby Showers…

Planting herbs…

Running…

Fundraising for Fred’s Team…

Yoga!  I’m learning to handstand, among other things.

 

 

Hydrangeas

Aren’t those pretty?  I love hydrangeas, and I was so happy when my started blooming this year.  Apparently I don’t have the healthiest soil around since mine vary in color from palest blue to a bright magenta, but hey, I’ll take it.  Thank goodness they bloom profusely or mine would be naked since I keep bringing them indoors.  I hope you all have as lovely a view somewhere in your house or yard.  Which plants can’t you resist bringing inside?

Out and About – Bremen, Ga

I recently visited a new Farmer’s Market in my area: the Sewell Mill Community and Farmer’s Market in Bremen, Ga.  There were several interesting vendors, and I enjoyed looking around, but honestly, I was much more interested in the old part of downtown Bremen where the market was located.  I love small towns – they just have so much character, and often the oldest structures are the ones that catch my eye.  

I often catch myself saying how glad I am that we live so close to Atlanta so that I can get to town for shopping and entertainment, and sometimes I forget how many lovely things there are just down the road.  The Farmer’s Market communities are so friendly and, especially this time of year, there is so much color and liveliness there.  Enjoy the view!

 

5 Tips for How to Be a Spectator and Still Have Fun

I bet you’re wondering where I’m going with this.  I mean, we’ve all been spectators at some point in our lives – and I mean the kind of spectate-ing where you’re watching a friend or family member perform, compete, exhibit, or otherwise publically make use of a skill set or talent that you do not possess and most likely wouldn’t even know about if said loved one didn’t inspire your interest.  For instance:  I love college football games.  As in Love.  If I had a friend or family member playing for my team, and they requested that I come out to support them, I wouldn’t even have to change my plans because I’d probably already be there anyway.  But it’s a little different when your loved one has a passion for something that, while you can appreciate their enjoyment, you don’t necessarily want to join the team yourself. 

I’ve mentioned my husband’s hobby to you before – he has a real passion for going fast, more specifically on motorcycles.   He participates in motorcycle Track Days, which are sponsored by various groups, such as NESBA or STT.  In short, the race tracks that are uber-appealing to motorcycle riders (Road Atlanta, Barber Motorsports Park, etc) are available to be rented out for weekends when they aren’t hosting races or events, but the prices are so high that it wouldn’t be practical for an individual.  So the riding organizations rent the tracks and then sell riding privileges at prices that are much more accessible to the masses.  It’s actually a really great environment for the riders – they get to talk shop all weekend with like-minded enthusiasts, and they get to ride really fast in a safe situation. 

Jacob is totally in his element at track days – he loves to ride, and he’s really good at it.  Me, not so much.  I’m an excellent passenger, and I love to ride with him (at a more sedate pace, of course), but at track days, I don’t really have a role.  I can help unpack the trailer and set up our canopy and such, but besides that there’s not much for me to do unless I want to get on a bike myself.  And it’s not the most spectator friendly sport – the tracks are made to be like a winding road, so they go through wooded areas, up and down hills, under bridges… If there is a viewing area, you may see the riders coming for a moment, and then zoom they’re gone.  After we had attended a couple of track days and I got over the excitement of seeing something brand new, I started to get a little, well, bored.  I really love to see Jacob having so much fun, and I love that he wants to share this experience with me, but it doesn’t change the fact that while he’s out there riding, I’m just standing around watching him whoosh by once every two minutes or so.  After nearly three years of attending track days, I realized that I sort of made my own role so that I could be there to support Jacob, and at the same time stay interested and engaged in the activity. 

I would guess that a fair number of you have friends or loved ones with a hobby that you don’t, or can’t, share a passion for. And it can be hard to show enthusiasm when you’re just not having as much fun as someone else.  I’ve made a list of a few tips that helped me in just that situation, and I’m passing them on the hopes that some of you may be able to find a little more enjoyment in being a spectator.

  1. Get involved!  What do you love to do?  Is there some way that you can incorporate your hobby into your loved one’s activity?  I love photography, so I started bringing my camera along to the race track, and now I look forward to track days almost as much as Jacob does.  I was able to learn a whole new style of taking pictures – there’s nothing like trying to get a perfectly sharp photo of someone who is zooming by you at 150mph to make you really good at sports photography.  But maybe you love to cook, and you could provide snacks; or you’re a born leader and have some ideas for improving the event.  Join the group or committee that runs the event and give yourself a reason to be invested in the activity.   You’ll find that both you and your loved one will enjoy it more if you’re enthusiastic about being involved.
  2. Bring a friend.  I had so much fun at the first track day we attended, but after the new wore off, my interest started to wane.  When we had friends join us for a weekend, I was able to show them the ropes and explain things, and it was a lot of fun watching someone else experience it all for the first time.  And it never hurts to have someone around to talk to in a slow moment.
  3. Socialize.  This one is kind of hard for me to do, since I sometimes feel out of place, but it’s always rewarding when I make the effort.  You’re probably not the only spectator there, so talk to the person next to you.  Chances are, they’ve had similar feelings if they’ve been watching the same thing you have, and they may welcome a conversation to relieve their own boredom.  And if they’re not bored, then you definitely need to talk to them, because enthusiasm is contagious
  4. Do some research.  Take some time to learn a little bit about the sport or activity that you’ll be attending.  If you don’t know the rules it’s hard to follow the action, but also, just knowing some background information can help you become involved in the conversations around you.  I’m fairly knowledgeable about motorcycles at this point, because Jacob is so into them and I like to talk to him about it.  So when we’re at the track and I’m standing there with five or six riders all going on about their steering dampeners, or their rear suspension, or the particular tire compound they’re running that day I can at least follow the conversation, and even join in occasionally.
  5. Make an effort.  This one is really important.  And it may be the hardest thing to do.  I know how hard it is to try to be enthusiastic about something that you could care less about – but that’s the thing isn’t it?  You clearly do care about your friend or family member that you’ve gone out the support, or you wouldn’t be there in the first place.  But it takes real effort to find some enjoyment for yourself in the midst of being supportive.  You have to look for a way to involve yourself.  You have to entertain that friend that you invite along.  You have to be friendly and sociable to strike up a conversation with a stranger, and you may have to step outside of your comfort zone to engage a stranger in conversation in the first place.   But that small effort may open up a new door for you – you may find a new hobby for yourself, or make a new friend, or reconnect with an old one.  If nothing else, you’ll probably learn something new, and you may even find an interest where you didn’t know you had one.

The fact is, a good attitude can go a long way.  If you open your mind to the possibility of a good time you’ll be much more likely to find one.  So try to keep a positive attitude, dear readers, and if all else fails, bring a good book and a [insert beverage of choice] and you’ll be just fine.

My Fruitful Yard

Remember when I asked you all for advice on what this plant was?  I thought (hoped!) it was blueberries, and many of you concurred.  Well guess what?  We were right!

I checked up on them today, and I found these little guys popping up all over them.  I have 8 good sized bushes, and they’re all putting on what looks like a bountiful crop of fruit… I see a summer full of crisps, pies, and cobblers on the horizon, and I for one can’t wait.   I also have several of these guys peeking out:

And I’m letting my cilantro run wild in the hopes of collecting some coriander seeds – although I may give in to my inner OCD person and cut it down if it gets much bigger.  It’s almost as tall as I am, which is a little wild looking.

I know many people are enjoying the fruits and such that are slowly making their way into the grocery stores and farmer’s markets – what are you guys’ favorite springtime treats?  Me, I love strawberries more than almost anything – they’re my favorite fruit, right behind peaches.  I know I’m going to be overrun with berries before too long, so do you all have any suggestions for what I can do with them?

Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market

 

Hooray for Farmer’s Markets!  Last year my parents joined the Cotton Mill Farmer’s Market in Carrollton, Ga as a way to get their products out to more people, and I must say that I love going out to say hello so I can browse all the lovely (local!) produce.  It’s not a huge Market, but all the major food groups are represented: meats, dairy, fruits and veggies, and greens.  There are some great people involved who really love their crafts, and it makes for a fun shopping experience when the farmer is clearly dying to tell you all about their products and methods.  Buying local isn’t something that’s for everyone – sometimes it’s just not practical.  The prices are higher than most conventional grocery stores; most Markets are open only one or two days a week, limiting your ability to get groceries at the drop of a hat; selection is limited to what’s in season, and there aren’t many exotic items (tahini in Georgia? I think not). But there are many advantages, chief of which is that the quality of the products is generally much higher.  Because the produce isn’t being hauled from the other side of the continent, it’s usually perfectly ripe and ready to eat – and usually naturally grown or organic.  Also, buying from local farmers and artisans is a great way to put money back into your community.  I’ll be honest here – I buy the majority of my groceries from Publix, but during the spring and summer I try to get as much of my produce as I can from the local producers.  I like knowing that my food was grown less than an hour from where I live, and I like that it’s been grown by folks who have a love for farming.  Because more people are becoming concerned about the quality of the food we eat, more and more Farmer’s Markets are popping up in cities and towns all across the country, and if you’ve never been to one, I encourage you to check one out.  If nothing else, you’ll probably find a friendly farmer ready to talk your ear off about something.

Spring Photo Goodness

I know, I know, another post of “Springtime” photos… Can it get any more cliche, right?  Well, the thing is, spring is inspiring.  After months of grays and browns, bare tree limbs, and barren lawns, we are finally getting some color back into our lives.  Flowers are blooming, pollen is flying, and our grass is about to need a trim.  And really, it’s lovely.  Lovely, I tell you.  So just suck it up and enjoy the sight of leaves unfurling and blooms happily waving on heavily laden branches that is the annual sign of new life and warmer days that we call: Spring.

 

 

Spring has Sprung!

I’ve been so busy running back and forth from my greenhouse to watch this happening:

That I totally missed this on the other side of my yard:

We’ve had 5 consecutive days of 70º weather, I’ve had my windows open since Thursday of last week, birds are singing, seeds are sprouting, and I bought a pair of sandals today…I think it’s safe to say that Spring has finally decided to grace us with it’s presence.  So far I’ve got radishes and brussels sprouts peeking out, and also some arugula that came from my first ever seed swap.  We’ll be tied up this weekend, and the next as well, but my garden should be officially in the ground by April 20.  I was a little worried that was going to be too late, but a coworker who is a Georgia Master Gardener told me that traditionally in Georgia gardens are started on tax day, so I’m not too far off.

Happy Spring Everybody!

 

 

Seedlings

 

And that, my friends, is how you start seeds.  I’m super duper excited about this since this is my first time starting my own plants.  It was very easy, and seems to be working well – I planted these on Wednesday and I already have sprouts.  The boxes I’m using are by Jiffy – I got them at Home Depot for a very good price, and I would definitely recommend them.  After planting my seeds I left them overnight with the lids on, per the instructions, and when I went back the next day to check on them, they were nice and steamy under the lid.  I know they’re staying warm at night, and not drying out, although I expect I’ll have to add water in a day or two.  I got two sizes – several with the smaller pellets like you see above, and then two that had larger pellets for my tomatoes.   It took mine 30-45 minutes to absorb all the water and fluff up completely, so be prepared for a little wait if you use these, but I quite like them and will probably buy the pellet refills and continue using them.

I’m having Easter house guests this weekend, so I’ll be cooking something wonderful (I hope!) and visiting with my family.  I hope all of you have a wonderful Easter, as well, and a beautiful weekend!