A Few Thoughts About Garden-Based Learning

This morning over coffee I read this link   to a story about garden-based learning on Jamie Oliver’s website. It describes a school program in Morgantown, West Virginia and the work that’s being done to teach children experientially, using the garden. It sounds quite similar to the garden that I talked about here when I blogged about the Nathaniel Bowditch School in Salem last summer. Gardens are popping up in schools all over the country as we come to realize that our children need to learn, in a very hands on way, about where their food comes from, or perhaps I should say “where it should come from”.  Many American children are growing up with the idea that food comes from a box at the grocery store. I recently sent some zucchini home with one of my kid’s friends and heard later that they had no idea what it was. It really made me think about what I could do to share home grown food with people. I’ve always liked to give vegetables and eggs away.  Now I’m trying to give them to those who might not experience them often rather than to those whom I know will appreciate them. Even if someone looks at the zucchini on the counter for a few days wondering about how to cook it, then tosses it, at least there’s some thought about where it grew. Sorry, I’m digressing a bit, the point is, kids (and adults) really benefit from the hands on experience of planting, growing, harvesting and eating. Most kids don’t experience this at home for so many reasons so it needs to happen in school. Their health and the health of our planet depends on it.  Check out the link if you have a few minutes, think about giving some veggies away freely, and consider supporting your local school’s garden.

Thank you for indulging me for a few minutes while I stood on my soapbox! Sometimes I just can’t help it 😉

Enjoy Everything!

Michele

A Little Thanksgiving Garden Update

In the midst of the cooking and cleaning and prep I managed to get out to the garden this morning, and to take some photos, and to do a little blog post! Yay!!  Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday. For me it’s about giving thanks, real, true thanks, from deep within. I love preparing the food and spending a quiet day with family and friends.

This morning I harvested the last of the carrots. When we grow carrots I always try to save some for Thanksgiving dinner. There were more there than I thought, we will enjoy these for a few weeks..
There’s still some mesclun… this is so resilient, it’s amazing…

And there’s still sage. I picked a nice handful for the turkey.

And rosemary and thyme… for the turkey, stuffing and dinner rolls..

And of course there’s still plenty of chickens… they look pretty happy that this isn’t their holiday,  ;

I wish you all a very Happy Thanksgiving.

Lots of love,  Michele

The Day After Sandy, the Day Before Halloween..

Today feels like such a weird day. The storm has mostly moved west of here so we are in cleanup mode in Salem. That’s good, because tomorrow is Halloween, our most celebrated day of the year. We made it through the storm in good shape. There were power outages, although not to us, our lights just flickered a few times. Lots of trees and branches came down and people lost siding, boats and things that weren’t secured well. Overall there is a strong sense of relief. I can’t feel it yet myself. I keep looking at photos of the devastation in the mid-Atlantic states and feeling a huge sense of loss. That’s where I grew up and where most of our family and so many friends still live.  The damage is overwhelming and the story is just starting to be told. It leaves me feeling uneasy, unsettled and not able to celebrate anything other than our good fortune this time.

Here are some photos that Michael took at work yesterday. He posted the last one on facebook last night with the caption “a bird’s eye view of Sandy”… That made me smile for a minute  😉

An October Saturday Night in Salem

Last night we took the kids for a walk downtown with the idea that we would visit a Haunted House that Michael had tickets for. We got there and looked around the entrance. This is everyone hanging in the door making the decision about whether or not to go in. I was very clear, I don’t do haunted houses, sorry, but I did strongly encourage the rest to give it a try if they wanted to… The final verdict was “not today, maybe another night”… Just call us “the brave family”!We walked by the Salem Witch Museum, where my oldest son was at work. The museum erects these canopies for the month of October so that guests don’t have to wait outside in bad weather. The line stretched out the door and way down the street! Needless to say I had a very tired teenager coming in at 10:45 after work.There are lots and lots of places like this right now… we, of course, say hi and keep going  🙂  but the crowds waiting to vist are huge!Here’s one of many guided tours that we saw. There are lots of these right now with different themes, everything from “ghosts of Salem” to a food tour that stops at different restaurants. They look like fun!Salem Common is the place to head for carnival food and games…
There’s a cute hay maze on the common for toddlers and small children (and they don’t have to be “too small” to enjoy it)!Donations collected at the maze benefit the schools.
This young lady was encouraging people to visit one of the haunted houses. She said that we just had to say “monsters be gone” and they would back off if we were too scared.. still no takers from my crowd! Michael looks ready to go!There’s lots of interesting shops to visit..and a witchcraft and wizardry school..
Or for a lighter experience you can relax on the ferris wheel…My little kids loved this ride..So did Dad, but he was concerned about the safety of it. We’ll stick with the ferris wheel and merry go round next time.You can win a great witch decoration at the water gun game..

And there are ghosts in windows everywhere…

Just a very small glimpse of an October night in downtown Salem. Next Saturday the costumes will be out! We just saw a few last night, nothing too exciting, but their coming!!

A Few Minutes at the Gables

I know, I’m supposed to be blogging about Halloween, but, I still have a Salem garden or two to get in before the frost hits. I thought I’d make it to lots of places this summer and then it just seemed to go so quickly! That’s okay, I like having a long list of places that I’d like to show you someday.  I had a few errands to run yesterday and found myself parked in front of the House of the Seven Gables.  I used to love to look around their garden and I hadn’t been by there in a very long time so I thought I’d stop in for a few minutes. Years ago the garden and grounds were open to the public but now the grounds can be enjoyed with a ticket. When I asked if I could take a few photos for my blog I was readily admitted and allowed to wander with my camera. It really is a unique and special place. The site includes a visitor center,  the very famous “House of Seven Gables” which is open by guided tour, a gift shop, a Kids Cove and the home that Nathaniel Hawthorne was born in.

The seaside garden is really beautiful. The raised beds are full of annuals and perennials.  It’s colorful and has a historic feel.

This shady pergola is such a nice place to sit and relax.

The lawn in front of the sea wall is often the site of functions and special events. And the view of the Derby Lighthouse from the lawn is quite unique.

When I zoomed in on the lighthouse, Forest River Park popped into the background. The park is quite a distance away from the wharf, I’d estimate at least a half mile? Doesn’t it look closer?  Here’s our favorite ship… remember the view of the gables from Derby wharf that I posted a few weeks ago?A fun play space for kids..and another one… this must be relatively new. If your worried about taking small children into the rather delicate, historic houses this is a great alternative!Lots of things to see and do…Here’s Nathaniel Hawthorne’s Birthplace which was moved to the site in 1958. I always find it touching that this was preserved and placed in such a fitting spot.

Another view of the garden, and a good number of people enjoying it on a quiet Tuesday morning.

Let’s not forget the House of the Seven Gables, itself! I haven’t been on a tour inside in many years but I remember it as just fascinating. There’s twist and turns, great furniture and architecture and plenty of history. If you read the famous novel you will really enjoy seeing this home. It was being painted yesterday. Maintaining homes that are located right on the water is a huge commitment. It must be painted often!

It’s a great stop if your in town for a visit, or if your a resident. There’s something for everyone here.

Of course, my eyes are always on the flowers, but the history, charm and wonderful salt air will draw any visitor in!

Have a wonderful day! Enjoy everything!

Michele

This Morning’s View, While Weeding

I donated some weeding time to our church auction a few months ago.  This morning was weeding day for the kind friends who purchased my services.  I love to weed! It’s relaxing and I love seeing an area of the garden pop out and shine. I enjoyed it even more than usual today because this was my view:

Peace and tranquility at it’s best!

and a nice finished product at the end!

Well, almost finished, I made a few more passes over this before I was done.

Enjoy everything today!

Love,  Michele

This Morning’s View

I was having my coffee this morning and I looked up and saw this…

I couldn’t believe it,  the first glimmer of fall!

Fall in New England is knocking at our door. I really don’t feel ready for it, but I’m never really ready for anything (except for maybe spring and summer).

Are you ready for fall? Winter isn’t far behind…

National Museum of the American Indian–Just a Peek at the Garden

The garden at the National Museum of the American Indian…

yet another great place to take a little break in Washington DC!

Clearly, I enjoyed this trip!

Happy Sunday!

Michele

A Walk Through the National Garden

Last week I wrote a post about my visit to the Children’s Garden at the US Botanic Garden. Here are a few photos from the rest of my visit. It was unbelievably hot that day and I had all of the outside gardens to myself. The conservatory was climate controlled, of course, and just beautiful.  If I lived or worked in DC I’m sure that I  would visit very, very often.

The garden is located  just to the right of the capital building, at the end of the National Mall.

Inside the conservatory there are surprises everywhere.

I loved this Pink Powder Puff, Calliandra emarginata

 and this beautiful view.

There are educational exhibits.  

And there are orchids. Here are a few photos for my friends who grow orchids…

I loved the beautiful pots of succulents and the great benches.

I need one of these butterfly benches!

The First Lady’s Water Garden looked very refreshing.

As you know, I love Echinacea… this variety is called Big Sky Sunrise.

The garden was a perfect respite from the DC heat.

I’ll be sure to return the next time I’m on Capital Hill!

Another Great DC Stop–Georgetown Cupcake!

We visited lots of great museums, monuments and places of historical importance on our trip to Washington DC a few weeks ago. At the end of the day, after seeing all of those amazing places, it was all about the cupcakes for us!  As I mentioned in yesterday’s post it was really, really hot. 108 degrees is hot!  In spite of this, we still found some energy to check out the Georgetown Cupcake shop, home of the hit TLC show DC Cupcake.   As we left the National Mall and drove a mile west the temperature went down eight degrees according to our car thermometer. Suddenly 100 degrees felt like air conditioning! We thought we could do anything! So we found a parking spot right on the Potomac River and took a hike up the hill to find the famous cupcake shop.

It looked just like it does on the TV show. The man in blue is a security guard and I suspect that he would have been very busy if it had been a little cooler.

 
My gang was ready to check things out!

Here’s a view of the inside… many, many boxes and many, many cupcakes! It seemed like a pretty tight space. We wondered if there was a larger kitchen/baking area to the right…


This young man was very patient with us.  It took us awhile to order.

I think that’s because these were the choices. It was just a little bit difficult for anyone to make a decision.

Here’s what we came home with. Yes, there are six cupcakes for seven people. That’s because our oldest daughter is severely allergic to nuts so she had to pass on the cupcake.  She’s a huge fan of the show and was okay with visiting and getting a t-shirt instead of a cupcake.  She loves to bake and uses the recipes from their cookbook all the time.


We did make it back to the hotel eventually and  had a cupcake feast (and a nap if needed)!