Sprouts Away! And Other Updates

Sprouts Away! And Other Updates

Greetings, dear pond readers! This is yet another small, place-holder post to check in and wish you very happy unofficial start to Summer.

The 2022 Good News Garden is off to a grand start. The Wee Bairn and I up-cycled some containers to head-start seeds in addition to using a grow tray that was buried in our garage. I was not overly optimistic about the motley assortment of milk jugs, strawberry containers, take-out plastic boxes, and paper drink carriers that we assembled. For one thing, they fell over a lot, we didn’t exactly take care over how many seeds got into each one, and had to resort to a combination of twine and scrap cotton fabric to close the containers after running out of packing tape. It seemed a dubious beginning.

And yet, we have sprouts. The Good News Garden is filled with Grace once again. Everything in every unlikely container sprouted and the sprouts in the milk jugs and take-out trays look more robust now than the sprouts in the more “official” garden tray. Go figure.

Mighty Roma Tomatoes by E.A. Schneider

This year, I decided not to wait for the harvest to share the fruits of the garden. Because so many seeds sprouted that the Wee Bairn and I started together, there is no way we’ll be able to grow them all to fruition with the space we have. Bean sprouts were gifted to a neighbor. Basil and Roma tomatoes were gifted to a close friend. Bell peppers and still more Roma tomatoes were gifted to a coworker. I’m planning to put the remaining motley lot of sprouts in the ground and in more pots to share as gifts but we’ll see what happens. The Good News Garden is providing abundant inspiration and joy; gardening is going to be an adventure this year and I’m looking forward to sharing it here with you, dear readers.

Sowing More Seeds Together by E.A. Schneider

Summer is bringing with it more plans, more movies, more writing ambitions, more cooking adventures, more crafting ambitions, and my perennial quest to read more engaging books. I couldn’t be more excited. I recently submitted two of my stories for publication, started two more sewing projects, and saw the movie Belle which has fired my imagination up hotter than a firework. As usual, I hope to share more of these adventures here at the pond.

Tulips blooming by E.A. Schneider

What are your ambitions for the summer, dear reader? What are you most excited to view, read, or create?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Persevering

Persevering

Greetings, dear pond readers! I’m writing to you with a general update on things in my corner of the midwest. This winter was rough with illness and spring has continued in this vein. I’m declaring a win over my latest bout with infectious disease but with the quietest of voices so that the germs don’t hear me and change their plans.

2021 Blueberries on the Wee Bairn’s Blueberry Shrub by E.A. Schneider

Bulbs are coming up. Grass is beginning to green. The soil looks invitingly black and rich. My inner terrier wants to dig and root and inhale deeply of the rich scent of earth. I keep eyeing the garden centers in my area looking for signs of stocked greenhouses. Already I have read and reread my seed packets to sketch my 2022 Good News Garden alongside my Wee Bairn. My spouse laughs lovingly at us for being a pair of Mr. McGregors scolding the naughty bunnies who have eaten the Wee Bairn’s blueberry shrub to a lone, resilient stick and bisected multiple bulbs we planted with their incisors.

Mr. McGregor is not the only literary character on my mind. I keep thinking of Frog and Toad looking for Spring around every corner together in Frog and Toad All Year. That story is one of my very favorites and I love that I can share it with the Wee Bairn. Side by side we hurry to every plot we dug in 2021 to check for green shoots launching upward to the sky or remains rejected by naughty bunnies with picky palettes. It has smote my sore chest every time the Wee Bairn wants to linger outside to plant flowers and fruits only to be told again for the 47th time not today, not yet.

Watching Wildlife Through the Window 2021 by E.A. Schneider

Nevertheless, spring is coming. Seeds will go in the ground. Some will germinate and thrive and some will not. No matter what, it will be an adventure and I’m glad that I can share it with my Wee Bairn. In keeping with the Good News Gardens principles of plant, pray, and proclaim, I’m keen to chronicle our 2022 adventures here again. I’m having fun coming up with ideas to plant seeds and head start them effectively using up-cycled things like milk jugs, drink trays, and cardboard. We’ll see how successful I am in this but it will be fun.

First Bulb Sighting in the Wee Bairn’s Bulb Garden by E.A. Schneider

Speaking of fun, I’m happy to report that this is a big week for my E.A. Lawrence writing journey. I submitted a story to a lovely place this weekend, another story is still under consideration at another lovely place, and last night I found out my status in the NYCMidnight short story contest. Like so much this season, the news is bittersweet. The lovely place didn’t buy my story and the judges didn’t advance me to the next round of judging in the NYCMidnight short story contest. C’est la vie. The sweet part? The lovely place’s reply was encouraging and the NYCMidgnight judges gave me some helpful, constructive feedback on my story. I am heartened that I have some quality stories that just need to find the right home and I’m energized to look.

Frozen Dewdrop on Broccoli 2021 by E.A. Schneider

I’ve also been doggedly plugging away at another short story project that is due in May. Sometimes I write 10 words and reread what I wrote. Other times I write 250. Every time, I text one of my writing friends with a progress update to keep me accountable. I’m writing in my pandemic log and am on volume three. My area is littered with empty pen cartridges. Every time I think I’ve picked them all up, I or the Wee Bairn finds another. Even for as ill as I’ve been and I’ve been scary ill, I’m continuing to write even if it is only a little bit. The effort is a healing exercise. Getting the feedback I’ve gotten on my stories makes me want to seize my fountain pen and dive as deeply into the page as I can. I made a list of my drafts in progress and am cross referencing it with a table of upcoming publishing calls that look promising. I’m trying my absolute best to live up to my writing spirit animal. I sincerely doubt that I will finish all of these stories, at least to my satisfaction, but pondering the possibility gives my arrector pili¬†muscles the good kind of electric boost.

Lake Michigan Spring Snow by E.A. Schneider

The Wee Bairn has also been helping me cut out fabric and started their first hand sewing project this weekend. While sharing certain fabrics from my stash with others was met with protest, the magic of seeing shapes of fabric emerge from the Accuquilt Go was a thrill declared to be the most fun thing ever by my preschooler. I always appreciate this accolade. Of particular interest was the sight of the fabric we used to make a scarf together for the Wee Bairn. The idea that a single fabric could be in both the scarf and be cut into squares for something else for someone else was a fascinating notion to my preschooler. I’m glad. That concept has always been poetic to me. Rattling around in my heart I think there is a fairy tale on the subject but it’s still growing.

I might post these pictures again when I do my post about all my recent sewing projects but here are pictures of the scarf that the Wee Bairn helped me sew. Not only was my Presser Foot Operator on the case, we collaborated on feeding the flannel and minky fabric through the machine. Turning the scarf right-side out was also a source of great excitement and interest. The scarf has become something to cuddle and use as a lasso on the parents more than something warm to wear but that’s okay; we had fun making it together. I pray that someday my child and my future in-laws will be the happier for these early experiments in creativity and making useful, lovely things.

Spring is around the corner. It’s up to us to persevere and get there. Hopefully, this finds you well and healthy and dreaming of pleasant adventures. Are you creating? Writing? Taking pictures?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

Good News Cooking

Good News Cooking

Hello, dear pond readers! At last, today is the day I write about my adventures in cooking the harvest from my Good News Garden. I have cooked an old favorite, new favorites, a disastrous experiment, and learned how to pickle. I have also scarfed down sweet peas fresh from the vine and blueberries fresh from my small but lovely shrub after rinsing them off with my water bottle or the hose. It has all been a treat of an adventure and I even managed to get some pictures.

Mashed cauliflower is an old favorite in my household. The directions are simple: 1) steam fresh cauliflower 2) mash with room-temp cream cheese 3) season to taste 4) nom with enthusiasm. Yes, your kitchen will be redolent with cauliflower smell if you’re not prompt about cleaning the saucepan but the dish is delicious. This year, I successfully managed to grow and harvest a cauliflower head, praise be to God. I also harvested some tiny Yukon gold potatoes and tiny yellow onions. I steamed the lot altogether, mashed it with cream cheese, and spiced it with black pepper, ground mustard, paprika, and a hint of sea salt. There were no leftovers, only happy tummies.

A new favorite to our kitchen is radish-green pesto. I planted radishes this year as an experiment and it did not go as expected. Instead of getting neat little rosy roots, the plants all bolted and I got an abundant supply of greens. I looked up ways to use them and found this excellent radish-green pesto recipe from Love and Lemons. My Wee Bairn and I went over to my mom-in-law’s to use her food processor to make a giant batch of pesto. It turned out to be the best pesto that I’ve ever had and I really like pesto. I made a slightly more bitter batch with beet greens that I froze for later. A significant amount of fresh radish pesto was enjoyed as a dip with cheese and crackers in addition to pasta. The Wee Bairn even ate some! It was a miracle. In keeping with the Good News Garden principle of sharing the harvest, I shared the pesto with my folks and with friends. The beet and radish green pesto batch proved to taste amazing when mixed with feta or mixed into recipes like my vegan ratatouille. The vegan ratatouille also included onion and fresh tomatoes from the garden, too. Bonus, my friends’ child really liked the ratatouille, too. Huzzah!

Last year, my Good News Garden was blessed with numerous spaghetti squash. I was able to give a lot away but I also used a lot in creative kitchen experiment. I made a spaghetti squash casserole last year that I was super excited about because not only did my Wee Bairn help me make the casserole as official pour-er of veggies, cheese, sauce, and spice but said picky-eater actually ate it with gusto. It was a beautiful moment in time. Alas, I neglected to write the recipe down and I blame my post-dinner food coma. This year though, with my beautiful little spaghetti squash, I had to try again. Last year, I had layered spaghetti squash, spiraled butternut squash, spiraled carrot, and spiraled beets with a three cheese mixture under a red sauce with veggie meat crumbles, spices, and more cheese. I tried something similar this year but I didn’t have all the spiraled veggies. To compensate, I added veggies from the Good News Garden. I was out of red sauce and red sauce ingredients but had leftover homemade meat sauce from my mom-in-law and some meatless veggie sausages. I layered spiraled frozen butternut squash, spiraled frozen zucchini, my spaghetti squash, my green beans, my green peas, my broccoli, my Yukon gold potatoes, and one of my small yellow onions in a 9×13″ pan. I poured the meat sauce over top, layered on a mixture of mozzarella and parmesan cheese, a thin layer of beet pesto, the veggie sausages, extra cheese, and homemade buttered bread crumbs during the last six minutes. I baked the whole thing for 30 minutes total at 350F. The first night, the zucchini flavor was too strong but as leftovers, it was delicious with wonderful flavor bursts throughout as one encountered the different garden contributions. I liked it. The Wee Bairn declined to try any but oh well. At least now, I’ve written it all down.

Quiches and frittatas have long been go-to recipes in my kitchen, especially when entertaining. In celebration of getting to spend the day with family, I made a frittata with a garden fresh twist. I microwaved frozen spinach and layered it on the bottom of a 9×13″ pan. I layered two packages of low-fat/low-sodium feta cheese on top of the spinach then fresh broccoli from the garden, my onion, and some of my homemade beet pesto on top. I poured 10 beaten eggs over the mixture, a few more crumbles of feta, and some squirts of pureed basil on top before baking the whole thing for 45 minutes at 425F. My beloved little sis declared it the best frittata ever and we gobbled it up in very short order.

Best Frittata Ever

My kitchen disaster was a foray into making roasted cauliflower leaves. I’ve read that they’re delicious and similar to kale leaves or seaweed and thought I would try it with the remains of my garden cauliflower plant. This did not go well. I burned them into charcoal briquettes and managed to get the whole house to smell like dead cauliflower for far too long. At least I didn’t set the smoke alarm off.

So Many Cauliflower Leaves, So Little Skill at Roasting Them

A far better kitchen experiment this summer has been learning how to pickle. After watching an episode of Waffles and Mochi about pickles, my Wee Bairn, my spouse, and I were all fired up to try it ourselves with our Good News Garden harvest. I found this recipe for refrigerator pickles before I knew that Waffles and Mochi had their own magic pickle recipe. More pickle fun to try! Because I did not have seeds called for in the recipe I tried, I used powdered spices instead. We assembled the other ingredients for the refrigerator recipe, filled the jars as a family, and waited with bated breath for two weeks until Pickle Day. We packed the jars with sweet peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, garden carrots, garden cucumbers supplemented with store cucumbers, garden onions, fresh dill, and the single beet that I had successfully grown. Stuffing a little bit of all the vegetables in the jars was super fun for all three of us. We made an event out of Pickle Day by gathering a cheese plate, crackers, and soup to enjoy the pickles with my mom-in-law. Turns out, we did great! The pickles were crunchy, flavorful, and paired well with our improvised charcuterie board. I think that I’ve found a new kitchen hobby to experiment with alongside my family.

Fruit is a favorite in our family and we were successfully able to grow some in the garden this year. The honeydew have been an experiment with mixed results. I grew two tiny melons roughly the size of a nectarine. They tasted bitter but made the kitchen smell delicious. My foray into growing blueberries has gone well. I bought a small shrub that had green berries on it which managed to hang on until they ripened. My Wee Bairn takes great delight in watering the shrub with whatever rain is in the nearby rain gauge and being able to turn 12 fresh berries into an evening snack for the two of us was elementally satisfying. The watermelons have been a particular source of excitement. One was stolen off the vine by some creature but two survived albeit at a small size. I didn’t know if they were big enough to eat or not but when the curly vine by the melons got brown, I took a chance and picked them. My mom-in-law cut them up for me and they tasted delicious. What a treat! I feel ridiculously pleased and profoundly grateful that we were able to feast on garden grown watermelon as a family. Fun fact, the Wee Bairn took the watermelon picture below and I’m chuffed to display it here.

I have ambitions to use the rind from my tiny watermelons to make watermelon pickles this weekend. We’ll see how it goes but even if it doesn’t turn out, trying a new kitchen adventure is fun. How is your garden going this year, dear pond readers? Any new kitchen experiments? Other creative ideas?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!

I will close with an image of my asters blooming and helping my pollinator neighbors bulk up for winter. I’ve seen multiple monarchs and many bees sampling the asters and it is inspiring.

Fall Asters and Good News Garden Sign by E.A. Schneider

Good Harvest Blessings

Good Harvest Blessings

Greetings, dear pond readers! This is a small post of pictures of the produce I’ve gathered from my 2021 Good News Garden.

Sooner than later, I’m hopeful that I will post about some of the yummy food that I’ve made and shared with this produce. The berries did get devoured almost immediately because blueberries are magically delicious. The honeydew did not turn out. The two pictured above were about the size of a nectarine and although they smelled amazing, they did not taste good. Hopefully, the next batch turns out to be edible.

The flowers in my Good News Garden have been a delight. My Black-eyed Susans have bloomed with masses of color once again, the sunflowers proved to not only be beautiful but also effective at attracting a variety of songbirds, and I have been blessed with an unexpected surprise. A morning glory has been growing and blooming alongside my melons for the last couple weeks. I’ve been optimistically planting morning glory seeds for a couple years to no avail. I don’t recall actually planting seeds where they bloomed but given my chaotic planting style, that is not overly surprising. Morning glories always remind me of a particular dear friend and her mom, especially in growing places; finding this vine and checking on it every day has been like a long distance hug.

In one chaos pot planted by my Wee Bairn, some mysterious, leggy sunflowers have been growing all summer. I had no idea when they would bloom or what they would look like but finally this week, they bloomed a beautiful autumn orange red. When I showed my Wee Bairn, there was much joyful squealing and the resilient flower shown below immediately survived being kissed by a preschooler. This chaos pot of sunflowers has also been feeding chickadees, sparrows, and gold finches. Watching them perch on such delicate flowers has been highly entertaining and soothing. Even though the sunflower stems are slender and twine around in surreal shapes to face the sun, they always bounce back and keep blooming no matter how many birds peck at them or young children hug them. It’s inspiring to see.

Are you growing anything, dear pond readers? Harvesting anything delightful? Creating fun, end of summer memories?

Please, get vaccinated, wear your mask, wash your hands, stay well, stay kind, and leave a comment or question below. Thanks for stopping by the pond today.

I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program here at Technicolorlilypond, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to amazon.com. Some of the links in this post are part of this program and I hope that any fees will help support me as I continue writing and doing creative things here at Technicolorlilypond. Thanks for your support!