Thursday, September 29, 2011

Welcome Great Pumpkin #1!

Of all the things that we grew this year, the pumpkins were what I was most excited about, and so...I am VERY excited to report that Linus the pumpkin was ready to be harvested from the garden on Tuesday. I was very worried that our pumpkins would not survive the extreme flooding in early September, but both Linus and Sally remained unfazed. Above is a photo of Linus with his faithful blue security blanket.

Though great in terms of awesomeness, Linus is not so great in terms of size (these pictures are misleading - he is really the size of a candlestick bowling ball). I am not sure what his purpose will be yet. I think trying to carve into him to make a jack-o'-lantern might be challenging because he is so small...and I am also not sure that I want to carve into our first pumpkin! Perhaps he will be decorative, and when Sally (Great Pumpkin #2) is ready we can use her for a Snoopy-themed jack-o'-lantern.

Monday, September 26, 2011

Another year at the Danger Zone comes to an end...

It has been a very busy and very wet September, which does not bode well for farm updates. Ithaca got hit with a record 4 inches of rain on the Wednesday after Labor Day, closing Cornell and flooding just about everything. (Though we were not here to see it - we were experiencing the flooding from a Pennsylvania perspective while vacationing with the Hokansons in the Poconos.) Luckily, most of the things we still had growing in the Danger Zone (carrots, potatoes, swiss chard, cucumbers green beans, and pumpkins) held on despite all that water. (The tomatoes...not so much.)

Now that October is almost here, our gardening days are almost over. We have potatoes to pick (which we have never grown before, so I am pretty curious about that) and more carrots, as well as our two great pumpkins(!), but that is about it. These pictures were taken right before we left for the Poconos, so they are a bit outdated...

Our green bean production was completely out of hand, and we were often unprepared for the amount of green beans ready to pick. David put as many as he could in his pockets!

We pickled many of the green beans this year and tons of cucumbers. (If anyone would like a jar of pickles for Christmas, please let me know.) These jars are just from one round of pickling!

We also made three jars of homemade tomato sauce from our limited tomato crop. I am really excited to use one of these with some of David's homemade ravioli... (hint hint, dear)

Our lazy broccoli finally made an appearance, though it did not produce very much. This is a picture of a crown just getting started.
Many of the other surrounding gardens grew more reasonably sized sunflowers that obviously had to be intimidated by our tall (and fierce-looking) ones.

In case you were not convinced that our sunflowers were big, here is a photo of me with one of the ones that we picked. Notice how the sunflower is bigger than my entire head (though my afro of curly hair was tamed in a ponytail, so I may have won the size battle had my hair been down).

Our Chinese eggplant finally came in, and they were totally worth the wait. I am glad this one plant survived all of those pesky black beetles.

Linus (Great Pumpkin #1) was starting to turn orange at the start of September (and is now probably close to being ready to pick)...

...while Sally still grew bigger (David's foot is next to the pumpkin as a make-shift scale bar).

I love how colorful all of these vegetables are!! We used most of these in a giant stir fry. You will notice the carrots look strange; this is what happens if you do not thin your carrot plants early on. As they mature, they run out of space to develop and begin growing together. Many of our carrots are really several carrot plants combined.

The beautiful pork stir fry Chef David made with our vegetables! Yummy :)

As always, it is sad to have another year of farming come to a close, and we will likely have only one more farm update. Luckily, there are many exciting things happening this fall and winter to occupy our time, like...

...Ben's baptism this weekend! trip to Seattle to visit Kristen next weekend!
...the impending arrival of Baby Boy Bennett (late October), Baby Girl LaPierre (mid-November), and many other little ones (10 and counting)!
...and of course, the holidays (Butler for Thanksgiving and Christmas Eve, then onward to South Carolina for Christmas)!

Friday, September 2, 2011

Happy birthday to me!

In August, I turned 28 years old. (One could argue that I am almost 29, in fact...) This birthday was a particularly exciting birthday because I got to celebrate it twice - once in Butler with my extended family, and once at the NYS Fair with David.

My birthday was on a Friday, and we spent six hours of it in a car driving to Butler. David made me this card, which I thought was hilarious. The hunks featured in these photos (Dean Cain, Noah Wyle, Adam Levine, and Conan O'Brien) are all of my celebrity crushes, and David Photoshopped in their Pittsburgh Pirates hats because we had plans to go to the Pirates game with my parents on Sunday. (David would like me to point out that he gave Adam Levine a girl's Pirates hat, because he feels that Adam sings like a girl.) Butler was tons of fun, though I am sad to report that I did not photo-document any of it. We went to Natili's on Friday night with Elliot's parents, Phil Ball, and (briefly) my sister. On Saturday, we hung out with Kristen, and had dinner and strawberry shortcake with my family. And finally on Sunday, we enjoyed a close Pirates game (from amazing seats) at PNC Park, complete with yummy Primanti's sandwiches and Quaker Steak and Lube wings! The Pirates did not win, but it was still a great game and I was glad to get to see them play once this season.

The week after my birthday, David and I went to the NYS Fair. This trip was a double sacrifice for David: 1) David is not so into fairs to begin with and 2) The evening was planned around tickets to a Gavin DeGraw / Train / Maroon 5 concert at the end of our fair visit. I think in the end he still managed to have some fun!

Here is David with his corn dog, his one requirement for attending the fair. We bought that as soon as we arrived. David also had a fish sandwich, and I had fried green tomatoes and a caramel apple.

My favorite fair animals are the "moo cows." These ones were particularly cute.

We played some games during our fair visit, and I insisted that David play a dart game until he won me this Angry Bird. I named it Bomb Squad initially (until David "misheard" me and started calling him Bomb Squat), but now I call him Klabam! Klabam! lives at my lab desk currently.

I took pictures of the concert, but we were so far away that Adam Levine really just looks like an ant under a huge spotlight. All three acts sounded amazing, but this concert was the best Maroon 5 performance I have ever seen. They did some great rearrangements of their hits, and actually played an almost 8 minute medley of songs before even greeting the audience to say hello. It was musically intense and truly fantastic!

I am not sure how I will top two 28th birthday celebrations when I turn 29...but I am sure I will think of something...