The Quickest Peek Ever at the Culinary Institute of America

We were driving through New York state a few weeks ago and decided to stop and check out the CIA.  In my mind we were going to quickly view the campus and maybe get something to eat in one of their famous restaurants. We stopped in the admissions office to find out that we had hit the jackpot. It was an information session day for prospective students. Before we knew it we had watched the video, listened to the admissions officer describe all of the features of the school and we were on a guided tour. Some of us were still technically wearing pajamas (not me or the prospective student, thank goodness) but we just went with it.  I did manage to take a few quick photos as we looked around.
IMG_2622This fountain is in the center of the campus and looks down over the Hudson river. I think that’s the shadow of a chef on the left? I didn’t really see it until I was looking at this photo at home.

IMG_2627Here I’m looking up at Roth Hall which seems to be the main building on the campus. Several of the restaurants are located here, along with the majority of the classrooms. Needless to say, I loved the planters that held mixtures of vegetables and flowers.IMG_2629There were strawberries..IMG_2620and tomatoes

IMG_2631and eggplants mixed in. 
IMG_2639This is their Italian restaurant where reservations are required two months in advance. I would have loved to have seen the interior but it wasn’t part of the tour and I’ve learned to keep a low profile when school shopping with high school students.

IMG_2643Here’s the herb garden behind Caterina de Medici. We didn’t have time to walk down there. If we had, I would have spent an hour taking pictures and my family knew it so they dragged me back to the car ;).

IMG_2642 I did catch a glimpse of a student/chef harvesting herbs for dinner.

IMG_2636 This fountain/garden area is near the student rec center. The campus is beautiful!

IMG_2635 They hid parking garages so creatively. This is tucked under the fountain and  conveniently close to all of the restaurants.

IMG_2633 Of course we saw a sample dorm room and I had to take a photo in case we need it for future reference. This is my only interior shot as the school asked us not to take photos of the students.  I was quite careful but next time we visit I’ll be in blogger mode and there will be photos of restaurants, hallways and bookstores for sure!

photoIn the meantime we’ll just enjoy the view.

It was a fun, impromptu stop that certainly shortened our trip from the Poconos to Salem.

Enjoy your weekend! Hope your in the garden!



Financial Aid Forms vs Garden Blogging

I’m stuck again. Darn it! I have a nice long list of blog post ideas sitting here on my desktop and I cannot gather my thoughts, let alone photos, words or sentences to write about any of them. As I picked up from the weekend and thought about what to do I realized that the reason I’m stuck is because I have to, and I do mean have to finish the financial aid forms. I think that if I do just that one thing I will be free and able to get back to normal. You know that if I share this here in public I’ll do it. It’s amazing what I get done when I feel accountable to you.

Here’s my senior in high school.

IMG_0314You can read about him here and here.

I need to do right by this kid. He’s going places 😉

So wish me luck, I’m on my way!

Send me energy, send me math skills!

Thank you all in advance!


Here’s a great post about garden-based learning from a blog in Texas that I started to follow recently. Here’s to many more garden experiences for children in 2013!


Happy New Year from

The Earth-Kind® WaterWise Demonstration Garden

 on Joe Field Road. 

We hope you will take steps in 2013 to cure Nature Deficit Order.

 Book a trip our garden!

Excerpts from the Great American Campout website and American Academy of Pediatrics: 

  • An “indoor childhood” hurts bodies & spirits.
  • Today’s kids are more likely to “tag” a friend on Facebook than outdoors in a game of “freeze tag.”
  • Kids today run from school to activities to sports w/ barely a minute to catch their breath.  Loss of free time can contribute to stress, anxiety, & depression in children. (American Academy of Pediatrics)
  • Studies show being outdoors is the perfect anecdote.  Time in green spaces reduces children’s tension levels & enhances their social interactions, helping them to feel more connected to self and others. 

Learning in the Garden 

Sources cited:

  • Growing Food LiFE Curriculum Series
  •  Botany on Your Plate (Univ…

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Great Achievement at Salem High and 1000 Varieties of Pears in Salem!

It’s nice to wake up at 5:45am to good and interesting news in the paper.

The front page story in today’s Salem News is about our high school’s AP program. The rate of students taking advanced placement classes has risen dramatically and the success rate on completion has too!  Here’s today’s coverage of the Secretary of Education’s visit and the Massachusetts Math and Science Initiative Program’s recognition of our students. This creative program provides cash incentive to students who pass the AP exams, and to their teachers. My oldest son has benefited greatly from this program and I hope that his siblings will too.  The Salem Public School system has it’s challenges but the schools, students, parents and community are working tirelessly to overcome them. I’m so proud that my children attend the Salem Public Schools. Their education is amazing in many, many ways.

I also have to share this interesting letter to the editor, written by Jeanne Stella of Salem. It describes some of the horticultural history of the northern part of Salem and how the street names reflect that history. North Salem was once farm land and orchards. Imagine growing 3000 trees, with 1000 varieties of pears!  You can read Jeanne Stella’s letter here. We are a city of gardeners. It’s in the soil and it’s passed down through many generations!

I’m hoping to do a little bit of Halloween touring later today and tomorrow. We’ll see where the kids and I land. Photos will be coming!

Enjoy everything!


Potato Day!!!

The moment you’ve all been waiting for has finally arrived!

Yesterday we harvested our pot of potatoes!

We had a few friends visiting after school who helped out.

Here comes the wheelbarrow.

The team lifted up the pot and dumped it in!


We found  the pottery and rocks that we’d put in for drainage.

And here they go, a treasure hunt for potatoes…the kids loved this!

We were all quite surprised to find potatoes in there!

Everyone found a few..

Here’s our little harvest. Next summer we’re planning to plant several pots, start toward the bottom third of each pot and gradually add soil as the plants grow. We did a little bit of that but probably not enough.  For this year, we were just excited to see that we grew potatoes!

 After we’d removed potatoes and pottery the girls spent about twenty minutes digging around in the dirt and admiring the amazing bugs that they found. That made my day!

This is what gardening with children is all about!

A Few Minutes on the Friendship

Here’s a little inside look at our favorite ship in Salem!  You can read all about her here.  There are wonderful ranger guided tours, but, since we have our own ranger we like to stop in and look around once in awhile.

The rigging is amazing. The ship’s crew spends countless hours working on this.CargoImagine sleeping here..More cargo and maybe a sail?Counter space and a cute pie..The view from the deck

Another outside view, looking forward (I believe there’s a nautical term for “forward”)…

The captains quarters was closed for repair. I’ll try to get some shots there sometime soon. I could have taken a photo of the steering wheel ..I think that there may also be a nautical term for “steering wheel”, please feel free to chime in and correct me…

Sometimes I can’t believe that this is where we live, work and play.  What a lucky family I have.

Enjoy everything!


Salem 101: A Walk on Derby Wharf

Here in Salem we have access to ocean air and history all year round. One of the best places to experience this is out on Derby Wharf. It’s a great place to walk and play. The wharf is located right on Derby Street and is part of the Salem Maritime National Historic Site

Pedrick’s Store House is the only building on the wharf. Historically the wharf was lined with warehouses like this that stored goods that came in on ships from all over the world. This building is originally from Marblehead and was moved to Derby Wharf a few years ago.
Next stop on the right is the Friendship, the centerpiece of the historic site, if not the whole city! Friendship is a fully rigged ship that was built by the National Park Service with the support of the Salem Partnership. She provides lots of educational opportunities for visitors from near and far.  Everyone loves the ship!  (Does anyone know this guy on the bike?)  😉She really is a work of art. Did you know that ships are always referred to as “she’s”?  I’m going to have to research this and do a post on why that’s so. This sounds like a good winter project.I love this view of the NPS flag and the American flag together.
Going a few steps further out you’ll find these great exhibits. They teach about navigation and Salem’s maritime history and they add a huge element of fun when you walk with kids!I think my little guy was testing his running speed in nautical miles per hour here.One of the neat things about these exhibits is that their designed to blend in with the wharf. When you look out from the street, or even walk along the path, their very slim and discrete. They tell the story of all that happened on the waterfront over time. 

We’ve reached our destination, the lighthouse!

 I remember sitting on the ground on the other side with my eyes closed  (obviously many, many years ago before kids) and opening them to see a huge German Shepherd standing right over me. He scared me half to death! We were both fine but I think of that dog every time I’m out there.
There’s always lots and lots of boat traffic. It’s fun to watch everything from party boats, to lobster boats to yachts going by.And then there’s the view out to the open ocean. I love to stand here and just breathe in that air!

Turn around and there’s a great view of the houses on Derby Street.

You can’t quite see it but when we were first married Michael and I lived in a little loft apartment over the blue building on the right. The House of Seven Gables is just to the right.Here’s a closer shot. Walking in, more exhibits…

And back to Derby Street!

It’s nice to take a rest in the shade of one of these yards. Their all part of the National Historic Site, so everyone is welcome!

This is really one of my favorite walks in the world. You just can’t beat it, history, exercise and nature all in one place. If you make your way to Salem as a visitor, or if you live here, take a few minutes to take a walk on the wharf!


Green in the Middle, A Salem Public Schools Garden Program

This week I was invited to visit the “Green in the Middle” garden at the Nathaniel Bowditch School, here in Salem.  The garden began as part of a garden club at the school’s former location on Federal Street. Now it’s the work of a group of middle school students and teachers who participate in an after school program during the fall and spring and a morning summer program. The participants plan, maintain and enjoy this amazing space and in the process learn about subjects in the STEM areas (science, technology, engineering and math).

Over the past three years the students have designed and installed many great features like this spiral stone path and the bench around the Silk tree.

There are raised beds full of flowers, herbs and vegetables! It’s beautifully done!

Many aspects of gardening are being explored.

From a simple, perfect hibiscus flower…

to a variety of heirloom tomatoes that are grown from seed in the greenhouse.

A great pumpkin plant is creeping across the yard…

and a gourd is tucked in, with morning glories for company.

I found swiss chard with cucumbers about to climb over them. This is a great idea for my garden next year!

The corn is coming right along.

I also found some beautiful pepper plants. Notice the army of watering cans in the background? Lots of work is underway here!

Colorful cement blocks decorated by students define the butterfly garden.

and beautiful decorations are everywhere!

After my visit I spoke with my friend Deborah Trammell, one of the teachers who works with the program. She described some of the educational opportunities that the garden offers this way:

 “The students designed, mapped, built, planted, studied and wrote about the garden. Some of the highlights are our composter (around the corner), increase in number of raised beds, butterfly garden against wall, spiral pathway. Many of our plants are started by seed in our greenhouse. We have many heirloom varieties of tomatoes. We have made lots of food from our plants,made bird houses, seed paper,planters …soaps, sachets, linen sprays which we have sold to raise money to donate, learned about pollinators and organic gardening, mapping, construction, fundraising and hard physical work…and so many other things” 

I’d love to see more programs like this. As a parent I have a huge appreciation of the value of gardening with children. It was exciting to visit this beautiful Salem garden where everything the garden teaches is shared and encouraged. I really believe that the world would be a better place if every child could learn from a garden!