March 13, 2011

Dan and I set about clearing out the front and back yards this weekend of all of last year’s pride-turned-debris, as we’ve done for several years now.  I’ll say one thing, though.  This year it feels really good, though.  Like we finally (kinda) know what we’re doing – if even just a little bit more than we did three seasons ago.

Eager to get started with this nice bit of warmer weather taunting me on my lunch break on Friday, I couldn’t think of anything else by Friday afternoon.  So after work we hit the store and by late Saturday morning we had planted the front yard with hearty, cold-tolerant yellow pansies, a lovely pink flowering shrub called a Japanese pieris (known as “Mountain Fire”), another tough shrub called mugo pine, some heath, and two different kinds of lavender that we transplanted from last year’s construction bucket experiment in the backyard.  (See below for last year’s back yard garden.  Construction buckets and all.)

Trying to test out the container garden concept before I invest in beautiful and potentially expensive pots in 2010. It was part success, part learning experience. But more on that in my April blogs!

My goal with the front yard was really to create a landscape that we’ll grow into and that will continue to look beautiful and organized into the winter months.  Both the Japanese pieris and the mugo pine both are evergreens which means they’ll keep some color and all of their shape into the fall and winter months, and the lavender plants (in my opinion) are fairly attractive even when bare-stemmed by the harsh temperatures.

In terms of growing into an ever-expanding, but well-planned yardscape?  Well, we left enough room for the three little heaths (currently 12″ high) to grow into the full three-foot wide bushes we hope to see them grow into, and we left enough room for the mugo pine to grow from its 18″ stature into the 4 ft x 4ft bush it’ll eventually become.  We hope.

The pièce de résistance?  Well, that little japanese pieris I mentioned before is only 18″ tall today.  But some research tells me that we can expect it to grow to about 8 feet tall, given the optimum conditions we’ve provided for it in its current location.  Perrrfect to round out the variety of heights and hues in the front yard.  Like an orchestra of color and shape.

Want to know about the backyard and our ever-changing home garden production schedule?  Well, friends – you’ll have to visit back later this week to find out…  Okay, I’ll give you a hint:  The ole wolf peach makes a return visit to the Fagella farm this spring.

(Bonus points if you can figure out what that means and post in the comments below.)

Until next time!

❤ k


October 22, 2010

Ah, yes. <tink, tink, tink>  That’s the sound of website construction.  See, kids?  Renovation always takes twice as long and costs four times as much.  Whether it’s online or in your kitchen.  (As it turned out, photoshopping some badass graphics takes a leetle more time than your very own Mastress of Nothing Related to Graphic Design had originally anticipated.)

But – good news!  We’re going to start blogging even before the nifty graphics get sorted out and the cool functionalities we’re planning on installing are ready to go.  Yay for regularly-posted scathingly-hot information, dazzling resources, captivating stories, and hilarious hijinks!

Today I have GREAT news.  After an unacceptably-long period of inactivity, I’m calling my very favorite childhood treat out from the bull pen, and it’s one you’ll love as much today as I did back then.  Stargazing.  More specifically?  The magical art of sitting in a lawn chair and trying to distinguish airplanes from flaming hunks of cosmic debris, known as meteors.

“Ah yes!,” you might think to yourself.  “I remember how magical those are!  I wonder when the next meteor shower is??”  And then boom.  I’m right here with that information.

While the last one was last night – hence the amazing photograph my husband took below of nothing even closely-related to meteor showers, the next one is just around the corner on November 17th and 18th.  That meteor shower will appear to be radiating out of the constellation “Leo.”  (All you July/August birthdays know what’s up.)

And we’re pros at this!  Well, we’re getting there.  Last night Dan and I drove out to the middle of nowhere (alright, fine – suburbia), parked ourselves on the park bench, and with total childlike awe in our eyes observed…deer.  Lots of ’em.  We followed them around and took photos and just had a blast.

Alright, so here are my…

Top 10 Tips for Observing the Nov. 17/18 Meteor Shower:

1.  Don’t start until midnight.  That’s when you can actually start to see stuff.

2.  If you want to see a shower, don’t pass on the November one.  The Leonids shower is pretty darn good, producing an average of 40 meteors per hour at its peak.

3.  This isn’t like prime time T.V. where you need to be seated with popcorn popped by 8pm or you’ll miss something juicy – so don’t freak out if you show up at 11:30pm or 12:15am to your field of choice.  This is a cosmic event.  There isn’t an advertiser-sanctioned start time.  The shower usually peaks on November 17 & 18, but you may see some meteors from November 13 – 20.

4.  Bring a blanket to cuddle in.

5.  Bring a blanket for whomever in YOUR family is known for stealing your blanket to cuddle in.

6.  Bring another blanket for under your butt.  This move will make you famous among your friends for decades.  It’s just that smart.

7.  Sitting on the hood of your car rocks when you’re stargazing on a crisp autumn night.  It’s all warm and wonderful.

8.  Just in case you’re kinda prissy about things like sitting on your hood (or if your driver may be), bring a lawn chair.

9.  Be patient.  It takes a minute for your eyes to adjust when you’re looking up, and even then, you’re witnessing a totally unpredictable event.  Just keep your head craned up and if you want to mess with your friends, be the first person to claim to HAVE SEEN ONE!  (This gets old after the first round.)

10. Ignore the really cute and incredibly agile Bambi-like creatures!  Take it from us, staying focused is hard, but worth it.

So, as it turns out, you have to have a bit of adult-like focus to watch meteor showers.  A certain level of determination that, it would appear, Dan and I lack.  But we’re undaunted and heading back out next month.

You should totally join us.

❤ kate

Deer! Look kinda into the middle ground for white fluffy tails.

"Almost Done" by the (incredible) Keegan Wenkman. Go to http://www.onefootinfront.com and buy up every print/card/journal Keegan makes. ❤

October 5, 2010

Hang tight – I only have to tweak a few more visual and back end components and then we’re money.  So so money.  And posting will commence!!

Lots of love,


P.S. I promise there is very very good reason for this level of excitement.  I’ve been reading BOOKS on blogging and talking to OTHER BLOGGERS.  I’ve even got the very very exciting news to reveal that…oh, wait.  That’s right.  You’ll have to come back next post and read it like everyone else.  😛


Check the new page out - in just one week!

Hang tight, everyone!  In just a short while this site will be transformed into a beautifully updated blog about all things wonderful: gardening, cooking, and family.  And, of course, everything you ever wanted to know about my life as a newlywed.  It’s going to be faaabulous.  Stay tuned!

xxx ooo


November 24, 2009

Hobson Asks, “Do you love the American farm?”

By Joseph Dougherty

Thomas Hobson

At the turn of the 16th a century a livery stable owner in Cambridge, England began a practice of offering each of his customers a choice; they could either ride the horse in the stall closest to the door, or they could ride no horse at all. The asperity in this new policy stemmed from the owner’s frustration over the customers habit of cherry picking only the best horses, a practice that resulted in the favored horses being ridden too often and breaking down from exhaustion. This innovative “take it or leave it” policy reversed this practice and distributed the riding equally, and the success gave birth to the term Hobson’s choice (named after the owner, Thomas Hobson).

Today the term is used today to describe any free choice in which only one option is truly offered. And for me, this is a perfect description how agricultural policy is currently framed for the American public. The reasoning behind this is that in nearly every other political debate the proponents proffer the classic “false choice” – describe two options and say you can only do one, when, in fact, it is actually possible to do both (example: “we can either focus on executive compensation or focus on reviving our economy”). But in the debate over agricultural policy, the lack of both complexity and variance in the public discourse creates a situation in which proponents rarely need to even mention a second option. You’re just for American farms…period.

The problem with this stance is that being “for American farms” eventually becomes synonymous with being in favor of American agricultural policy as it is currently structured. More importantly, it imbeds a level of cognitive dissonance that results in supporters of farm policy viewing nearly every other domestic policy issue as inimical to their interests. Carl Taylor, in his classic article for the American Sociological Review, scoured decades of polling in rural communities and found that this trend placed both farmers and their supporters in a position of reflexive, unified opposition to a platform of issues regardless of their relationship to agriculture. Many of these policies, particularly the ones related to social or urban policy, had no discernible impact on agriculture at all.

One of the many limitations, and significant ironies, in this is that a number of the policies classically opposed by agriculture supporters actually help farmers. As an example, let’s look at the field of environmental policy. Many environmentalists like to start a discussion of farms and the environment by referencing global climate change (the future of arable land in the Midwest, introducing carbon into soil, etc.), but since climate change legislation is not currently in place I’d prefer to focus on something more concrete. For example – the relationship between farmers and federal regulators is widely understood to be contentious. This is primarily a result of the Environmental Protection Agency’s role in regulating solid waste and pesticides in farms as well as the farm community’s reflexive opprobrium for federal regulation (as cited by Taylor above). But underneath the emotion begs the question…is this opposition to the EPA necessarily helpful to agriculture?

Consider this – the Clean Air Act requires the EPA to set National Ambient Air Quality Standards (NAAQS) for pollutants that are considered harmful to public health and the environment. These standards are, at first glance, something the farm community would reflexively oppose (the regulations impact energy producers, primarily coal and oil, which could raise energy costs on farms). But why are they in place? The first reason is to set a primary standard to protect the health of sensitive populations such as asthmatics, children, and the elderly. But the second reason is to protect livestock, vegetation and crops from air pollution. Why is that necessary? Air pollutants such as sulfur dioxide, ozone, and particulate matter can have a corrosive effect on crops, especially ones downwind from coal fired plants. Absent national regulation these pollutants could significantly impair crop production and reduce the productivity of American farms.

U.S. Senator Grassley (R-IA)

It’s just one example, but the point is that there is far more syncretism between the pro-agriculture and pro-environment worldviews then many people recognize. Last summer Senator Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) invited EPA Administrator Lisa Jackson down to Iowa to see how “real family farms” operate under the onerous impact of EPA regulations. It was an unremarkable stunt, primarily because the farm policy debate is so stilted to begin with, but it belies the unnecessary tension between agriculture supporters and the rest of the policy arena. With time, and with great understanding of the collaborative role other stakeholders play in farm policy, I hope supporters like Grassley can move the debate from a Hobson’s choice to a real choice over what is best for American farms.

Editor’s Note:  I hope you enjoyed our guest writer and a good friend of mine, Joe Dougherty.  Please take a minute to submit a comment or question for him below.

Tomorrow's guest writer: Joe Dougherty

November 23, 2009


Stop by tomorrow to read my favorite and yours…Joe Dougherty!



Is Thursday the New Friday?

November 19, 2009

Is Thursday the new Friday?

Why should I withhold all of the fun and crazy frenzy we all associate with YOUR AWESOME FRIDAY BONUS content another minute!?

I can’t think of a single reason.

That being said, there is one decidedly good reason to go ahead and post it today.  Namely, that I’ll be on vacation tomorrow and decidedly not near my trusty blogging device.  And what’s on tap for Saturday, you may ask?  Well, a small fête at my home.  Really, just dinner with a few friends.  If you’re lucky (and you look lucky in that snazzy shirt, my friend), I’ll post about our organic, sustainable, local, AND EASY menu when I return on Monday.

But you had better behave over the weekend, kids.  (Or no soup for you!!)

So, here it is.  Your Awesome Friday Bonus content.  For that special someone.  Enjoy!