Along with buying the plants we needed for our new garden plots, we also let the kids each pick out something to plant at home.

The first photo is all of our plants just waiting to be planted.  Nick and Sally really love playing in the dirt.


Sally planted Impatiens.  She was super excited.


Nick planted Coleus.


I hope that survive the hot weather during our vacation.  The kids would be so sad if they didn’t make it.


It’s been fun to watch Nick and Sally get so excited about planting and watching things grow.  It’s really good for them to learn about it early in life.

 Posted by at 9:52 PM

Today was the third week for the Geauga Family Farms CSA. It was a crazy evening for me (husband Stephen) to pick up the CSA,but I made it to Whole Foods in time to buy a bit of dinner (sushi and tomato bisque soup – a truly international combination) before picking up the CSA. Then it was off to the day’s next event…

Here is what I found in this week’s share:


First up was some good-looking lettuce and some bunching onions.


Tomatoes and peas. Yum! I’m not sure if these are garden or sugar snap peas. I’ll have to try one or two to find out.


Garlic scapes and zucchini.


Last, but not least, some cherry tomatoes.


We also ordered a dozen eggs as an extra item.


Last week, Nick attended camp at Lake Farmpark.  It was for 2 1/2 hours a day and he had a blast.  Sally wasn’t quite sure what to think when we dropped him off.


She enjoyed playing by herself in the play room.


When we left to run errands, she was happy to check on him in his base camp.  She was even happier when she was reunited with him.  Most of the days, we just dropped Nick off and went to run errands.


On Friday, we met up with friends and enjoyed the park.  It turned out to be the perfect day.  Between dropping Nick at camp and our friends’ arrival, a new calf was born.


It was less than 30 minutes old when we saw him.  They named it Waldo.  He wasn’t even standing yet.


Soon, we were on our way to see the piglets.  They were almost 3 weeks old, but still were fun to look at.  The wagon ride is always a hit with the kids.  Today, horses were pulling it and the driver gave us a great ride around the farm.


Soon enough it was time to find Nick at the ice cream social.  After camp ended, we enjoyed a picnic before heading home.


It’s just over a week since we planted our garden. We saw improvements in the water supply with the addition of a second rain barrel and some new stands and locations. Nick enjoyed checking them out and enjoying how they worked.


Nick and Sally have been becoming quite the garden helpers. They are getting really good at watering, which is great because the weather has been dry all week.


We’ve even seen the first of our seeds sprouting, which is great news despite the hot, dry weather. We have been watering regularly to try to keep the seedlings from baking.


I’m hoping the rain continues while I am on vacation, but we have watering coverage just in case.


As  you know by now, we have two CSA shares, love to go to U-Pick farms, and frequently visit farmers’ markets.  People always ask me if I still need to go to the grocery store.  I thought I would take a few minutes to talk about our shopping trips.

A couple of years ago, I was a crazy couponer.  I learned from some of the best couponers in NEO.  At that time, I would go to a store 6-20 times in a given week.  I frequented Giant Eagle, Walgreens, Rite Aid, CVS and more.  I was great at saving money and spent a ton of time on it.

Over the last couple of years, my focus has changed.  We eat lots of fresh, local food and those are not coupon or sale items.  I still use coupons for appropriate items, but my usage is much less than it used to be.  When we start getting low on an item like pasta, I’ll watch for a coupon and sale and try to stock up.  It’s not uncommon for me to buy 40 boxes at a time.  After I stock up, I don’t need pasta for a long time.  I still have lots of toiletries in my stockpile, so I’ve been ignoring those items for a while.  Thankfully, I am almost done buying diapers.  There was a time where we had well over 1500 diapers in our house at one time.  I was actually paid to buy some of them.  In those days, all of my couponing efforts definitely paid off.

In the summer time, with our local growing season, I don’t need much at the store.  I typically get butter, eggs, yogurt and sometimes milk through our CSA.  At the store, we end up buying fresh fruit.  We get some fruit at our CSAs, but we aren’t happy with just one fruit at a time in our house.  We eat lots of the fruit that’s in season, but we still supplement with others (like bananas) even with our home-canned products.

We also buy tortillas, tofu, whole wheat lasagna and other staples that go well with a variety of our CSA items.  We try to buy most of our cheese locally, but many times we will buy some kind of bread and cheese if I am out with the kids at lunch time for a quick bite.

We fill in with other items like condiments, nuts, oils and specialty items as needed.  We have quite a few staple items in our pantry, so our actual trips to the grocery store are small and easy most weeks.  I love eating what’s in season and planning our meals around our CSA bags is getting easier and easier now that we’ve had 3 years of practice

In July, when I return from vacation, I’m going to do a post every week or two about our shopping trips and meal planning around our CSA and pantry items.  Hopefully, you will pick up some new ideas about what to stock in your pantry.


Today, we had our second pick up at the new Mayfield location.  Dan and Kyle were pretty busy when we arrived, so we didn’t get a chance to talk to them.  Everything looked like it was running smoothly.  I’m still getting used to reading the rest of the share list.  Since this is our first time with a large, I keep forgetting to read past the “small CSA share” list.


Small CSA Share

  • 2# black turtle beans
  • 1 bag corn chips
  • 1 # chorizo sausage
  • 1 bunch green onions
  • 1 bunch cilantro
  • 1 head red leaf lettuce
  • 1 head either baby bok choy or 1 bunch swiss chard (depends on stop)
  • 1 head jumbo white stem bok choy
  • 1.5# red slicing tomatoes (approximately 3 tomatoes)
  • 1 lb. snow peas

Large CSA Share Small contents above plus:

  • 1 head cauliflower
  • 1 bunch red kale
  • 1 lb. snow peas
  • 2 ct. zucchini
  • 1 package chicken brats

It’s hard to get a shot that shows all of the items in a large:


I’m getting ready to leave on vacation, so I’ll be prepping the lettuce for my husband to eat in salads.  I’ll be cooking the cauliflower for a side dish tomorrow and/or for Stephen to eat while the kids and I are gone.


I’m going to make soup or a stir fry with the bok choy.  I’ll use some of the peas and onions in that dish.


I put the meats in the freezer.  I’ll probably cook up the chorizo tomorrow.  I will probably make a cold salad with quinoa, chorizo, onions, cilantro, lime, etc.  We’ll pack some for the road this weekend and leave the rest for Stephen to enjoy.  The brats will magically disappear while I’m away with the kids or we’ll enjoy them in July.  The last time I made the brats, I simmered them in beer on the stove.  They were quite tasty.


I still had a couple of zucchini in the fridge, so I am making my fritters with them tomorrow.


I’m soaking the beans tonight so I can cook them tomorrow.  I’ll use some of them and the cilantro in the quinoa salad and freezer the rest.


I haven’t decided on the kale yet.  I just got a kale recipes book in the mail today, so maybe I’ll be inspired to cook something new with it.  The beets were subbed for some of the peas.  They are getting added to a few I have in the fridge for a pickled beets recipe that looked promising.  I hope to make them tomorrow.


We often buy these corn chips as extras, so they will disappear quickly.


Once again, the truck didn’t have any of our favorite yogurt with them, but I was able to pick up some of our favorite granola and milk while we were at our stop.

I’m glad to be going on vacation, but I hate that I’ll miss all of the fun CSA contents for the next two weeks.


This week, we had our annual vacation bible school at church.  Sunday, Monday and Tuesday evenings, we gathered for dinner followed by lots of fun and fellowship.  Highlights definitely included bubbles, tie-dye shirts, crafts, donating money for 2 mosquito nets, and more.

Here’s a review in pictures:






This year, VBS was only 3 nights instead of 5 and it was the best one yet!  I think it helps that the kids are getting older and are really starting to be able to do the activities.

 Posted by at 9:53 PM

It’s time to start canning for 2012, so I thought I should update the current inventory.

amount canned

in inventory 12/14

in inventory 3/27

in inventory 6/13








pear sauce






chopped pears












chopped apples






peach jam





1/2 pints

peach honey











1/2 pints

strawberry jam





1/2 pints

strawberry vanilla





1/2 pints

strawberry lemon butter






apple-plum sauce






tomato sauce (packaged in quarts and pints)





pints blueberry jam

Most of our items are gone.  My canned cupboard is now full of empty jars.  Strawberry season was very short this year.  I didn’t manage to freeze a few berries for jam that I hope to make after vacation.   By then, our other jam will be used up.  In addition to our home-canned jam, I bought a few jars of concord grape jam and cherry preserves from Fresh Fork.  We aren’t in any position to needed store bought jam.

Nick and Sally don’t seem to like my canned tomato sauce.  I’m not sure why.  We usually use Little Italy pasta sauce and they can’t get enough of it.  Most of the tomato sauce that I had left isn’t seasoned, so I am thinking about making some of it into enchilada sauce since we like Mexican casseroles and they are good for using up misc. vegetables from our CSAs.  I’m probably going to cook some of it down for thicker pizza sauce, too.  Hopefully, Nick and Sally will like it.  Since there’s still some time until tomato season, we’re in good shape, but I probably won’t can as much this year unless I can figure out how to season it so the kids like it.

I’m excited to start this year’s canning.  It’s fun to see the full cupboard of local deliciousness in the fall.


Today, we picked up our second week of our Geauga Family Farms CSA.  The table at Whole Foods wasn’t manned today, but we didn’t have any trouble getting our bag or extras and checking off our name at the customer service desk.

This time of year, the shares are a bit light since the growing season is just getting started.  I think it works out well because it give people time to get used to the process and figure out their greens.

Here’s a group shot of this week’s share:


Lettuce, Swiss chard


Tomatoes (slicing), beets


Bunching onions, rhubarb


I’m going out of town this weekend and I’ll be gone for two weeks.  My husband is picking up the share next week, so I want as much of this week’s share to be used before I leave.  Since I have a crazy week ahead, my plan will include some preserving.

The lettuce will get used in salad.  We try to have lots of salads this time of year.  The Swiss chard will get added to some ground sausage with peppers and onions and put on tortillas for dinner tomorrow.  Nick and Stephen like tomatoes.  They’ll just eat them or have them on their salads.  If they decide they don’t want them, I’ll pop them in the freezer.

To use the beets, I’ll probably make Harvard beets.  Everyone likes them and I haven’t looked up pickling yet.  I am pretty sure I want to pickle beets this year – especially if our garden beets take off.

Some of the onions will get used in the dish for tomorrow’s dinner.  The rest I will just chop and freeze to get them out of the way.  We don’t use many raw onions here, so freezing them works well.

I have a small bag of rhubarb in the freezer.  I’m going to add this rhubarb to the freezer as well.  I saw several recipes that look appealing.  Here are some ideas:

I’ll most like be making compote and I’ll probably mix in some strawberries or blueberries depending on what’s in our freezer when I get around to it.

I love the freshness that we picked up in our bag.  Everything looks great.


Saturday, we attended a graduation party for my cousin Jake.  Shortly after we arrived and had dinner, the kids enjoyed making snow cones.  It was very exciting.  It was perfect for the hot day!


Shortly after eating and socializing with family, it was time for the main event.  The stage was set for The Blue Ribbon Bluegrass Band.


We have some talent in our family.  My uncle plays the Banjo, my cousin plays the Mandolin and my brother plays the Fiddle.  We enjoyed the music.


My cousin is the official photographer.  I made sure to snap a few photos since she’s not usually in the photos.  Sally sure enjoyed all of the attention.


The adults listened.  The kids danced, and danced, and danced.  Nick and Sally were nonstop during almost the whole set.


Soon Sally was so tired, she just laid on the grass.  We left during the break between sets because we didn’t want the kids to throw a tantrum leaving during the music.


Nick was still sad to leave.  I told him it was already late and he needed energy for Sunday.  He said he had 100 energies and could keep dancing.

Neither of them slept a wink on the way home and at 6AM Sunday, they were up!

It was a great party.  We were so glad to share it with our family.