At the Apple Orchard

At the orchard

One of the things we love about where we live is that there are very few Americans.  That might sound bad, but we really hope to take full advantage of our time here in Italy by immersing ourselves in the culture and community.


We have been blessed with having wonderful neighbors on either side of us and we’ve especially connected with one family.  It’s actually the Grandma and Grandpa that live next door but as with most families here, their children and grandchildren are there very often.   They own the flower shop in our town and part of that shop is a 200 tree apple orchard.  Their apples are primarily used to make vinegar however this year they are also making something similar to prosecco.  (YUM!)

This weekend was apple harvest weekend and we spent our Saturday morning picking apples.  It was such fun. Not only were we able to enjoy the gorgeous early Autumn weather but we made connections with our friends and neighbors.  (And helped them out in the process).

Apple blossom in Autumn

Wins all around. (And clearly some of the trees are a bit confused as to the time of year.)

A and M at the orchard

How Our Garden Grows :: June Edition

It is simply unbelievable that the end of June 2012 is here.  Our little Italian garden is plugging away though we’re dealing with many more pests than we have had in recent years.


Slugs slaughtered our first group of lettuce.  I’m hoping that having these in the whiskey barrel will help protect them.  Maybe the pinwheel will help, too.

Do you see what I see?

I spy with my little eye, something red and tasty.  Soon.  Very soon.

Main garden

This year we’re mainly growing tomatoes with canning in mind.  We have a few onions, melon and peppers thrown in for good measure.  Next year we’ll expand.

One of our girls

The girls are getting nice and big.  There is some thought that we may have at least one rooster which we are not up for so chicken dinner may be on the menu soon.  In happier news, the eggs should start appearing in August.



We have tons of fruit trees.  Lots of pears, kumquats and persimmons are in our future.  Of course I have no idea what to do with kumquats or persimmons.  The neighbors say they make good wine.  Hmm…


Front porch sunshine.

Rose bud

The roses continue to bloom and the hydrangea is thriving.  I added a bit of sunshine to the front door and hope to get some window boxes planted.

Here’s to a colorful and delicious July!

In the Garden

Having a new yard brings all kinds of surprises.  This one has had many more than any of our other yards (probably combined).  We have our first rose garden, the hydrangea that I’ve been pining for and pear trees that seem to be very fruitful.  We also have an unimaginable amount of weeds.  From what we’ve been told, the yard has been properly cared for in about 20 years.  That means a lot of work for us.
We love it and are moving slowly but surely (and with the help of paying the kids in 15 minute increments to weed).  We’ve tended to what was already here and put in a garden which we are watching in anticipation.

I thought I’d share a glimpse around the prettier parts of our yard.

First rose.

We’ve lived in 6 houses so far and these are our first rose bushes.  This one smells like lemon.

Pear babies

We have at least five pear trees and they all seem to be fruit bearing.  I see a lot of canning in our future.

Wild strawberry

Oh, wild strawberries.  You vixen.  You’re so cute on the surface and then I look closer and see your vines everywhere.  The chicks love your fruit so you do have an up side.

Bees and flowers

I have no idea what this is.  I really wish I was more knowledgeable when it comes to plants.  I loved watching this bee do his thing.

Yarrow, I think.

I think this is yarrow.  It seems it’s popping up not only all over my yard but in tons of my reading material.  Whatever it is, I like it.

This morning

Morning coffee


Last lettuce

Girls in the morning


Early morning sun

In previous summers, I’ve spent most mornings with my coffee watering the garden.  This year, we’ve had rain nearly every evening which makes early morning watering unnecessary.  I realized as I poured my coffee this morning that I missed those quiet moments in the cool air starting a new day.

So, out I went.  The cool, damp grass felt great on my bare feet.  The fresh air hit my face and peace swept over me.

I took a few minutes to let the chickens out and enjoy the garden growth (which is stunted due to crazy hail storms).

A few minutes was all I got before “mama” rang from inside.  Duty called but I felt refreshed and renewed.

I think I’ll head back to the garden tomorrow morning.




How Our Garden Grows, Late Spring 2011

How our garden grows: Annual

We’re a bit a lot behind on the garden this year.  Life has been so busy that things haven’t gotten planted when they should but we have gotten some seeds in the ground and thanks to the long weekend some seedlings too.

It seemed like a good time to take a walk through our garden and see how she grows.

We have herbs.

How our garden grows:  Rosemary


How Our Garden Grows: Spinach


How Our Garden Grows: Tomatoes

(See that white spot on the top right?  That’s a sock.  Don’t ask because I have no idea.)


How Our Garden Grows: Peas


How Our Garden Grows: Strawberries


How Our Garden Grows: Blueberries



How our garden grows: Apples

Maybe we aren’t so far behind after all.




2010 in pictures

Rachel posted a picture from each month of 2010 and I love the idea so I’m borrowing it.



A welcome break.  Too sick to go to school, just fine to play.


Sick, sick, sick and gloomy outside.


Grandpa visits!


Spring arrives, finally.


Gorgeous afternoons in the backyard.


Summer in WA


Connor’s first steps in the ocean


Digging for harvest and sanity (Jeff departs for Iraq).


Peaceful evening moments on the front porch.




A treasure found when we were blessed by a new friend.


Crazy, joyful, sick.

I’ll be honest, I’m glad to see 2010 come to an end.  It has been one of my least favorite years in a while.

Happy 2011!!

A glimpse.

I’ve come to the conclusion that a grand re-cap of our trip is probably not going to happen.  So, I’m letting go of the idea.  Instead, here’s a glimpse of our month long visit to WA.


My in-laws have a beautiful yard. Because of the rainy spring, many of the spring flowers were still in bloom.


Playing barefoot is a summer requirement that was definitely met.


Our first few days in Portland/Vancouver were gray and rainy. I loved it! The windows of my sister’s house were the perfect frame.


My dad and his family live in a small town. My sister and I took the kids and joined them for the parade. My boys even walked with Grandpa in it.


We spent the 4th at my cousin’s house. Nearly everyone from that side of the family was there.


Fourteen members of my family (8 of whom were children) camped for two nights at the Oregon Coast. This was Connor’s first trip to the ocean.


We picked (and ate) blueberries and raspberries.


We just spent time together.


Visiting the shores of the Puget Sound was one of our favorite activities. Lots and lots of treasures were found.


We spent our last evening in the park enjoying the weather and local music.

Throw in many visits with family & friends (including one of my best friends from h.s. who I hadn’t seen in 7 years), another lost tooth for Jack, Morgan learning to tie her shoes and more adventures than I can count and you’ve got our trip in a nutshell.


We are home.  The kids and I left five weeks ago for WA and Jeff joined us last week (after three weeks of training).  It was a wonderful, crazy, frustrating, fun trip full of love, tears, and laughs.

It’s good to be home.

There was a lot waiting for us here.  The garden, house, Jeff’s impending deployment and school in three weeks all need to be dealt with.

For tonight, we’re focusing on the harvest.  Tomorrow, the work begins.

How our garden grows

We’re back at it with the gardening this year.  Although, I must admit I’ve put forth much less thought and energy.  I’m sure is partly because it’s our second year in this house but it’s also because I’ve felt too crazed to over-analyze things.   So, here’s a little tour of where things stand.

We moved our peas and they seem to be doing well. 

Our whiskey barrel of greens is thriving.  We’ve yet to have our first salad but it’s coming soon.

I can’t even explain how excited I am about our strawberries.  The first thing on my list once they are ripe is this freezer jam.

Our raised beds are full of spinach, garlic, various onions, tomatoes, peppers and marigolds (to keep the bugs away).  I’m not sure about the marigolds but they do brighten things up a bit.

Our growing season is a bit behind most areas and, honestly, that’s a bit annoying.  I’m beyond ready for the harvest.  But, the time will come.  Until then we’re all waiting anxiously.


I’m popping in for a quick “hello.”  All’s well, crazy busy but well.

I vaguely remember this time of year being busy when I was in school and it’s true once again now that we have school aged kids.  Yikes, our calendar is full.  When we don’t have a full calendar, we’re getting outside.  There’s work in the garden, exploration and simple, wonderful play.  (The swing is still a huge hit!)

On top of all of that, it’s “National Turn Off TV” week.  I watch very little TV so I’m limiting, but not cutting out entirely, my computer time.

Thus, there isn’t a lot of blogging or photo uploading go on.

And that’s ok.    Back soon!