Thursday, June 30, 2011

Fresh From The Farm

It's finally here! For months we have eagerly anticipated the opening of the Middleton Farmer's Market, located in the Angelica's Restaurant parking lot. And I have to say, it does not disappoint!

The market has a strong emphasis on organic goods and the farmers are only allowed to sell what they grow on their land. It's all part of a campaign to promote healthy eating and living and it supports New England farms and businesses.

Even though we are early in the growing season, there was an abundance of fresh produce - garlic, lettuce, beets, squash - with a promise of much more variety as the growing season progresses.

Heron Pond Farm - South Hampton, NH

Also thrown in are vendors selling delicious cheeses, jellies and relishes, homemade pasta, plants, candles, herbs,and baked goods. And if I'm not mistaken, I think I saw some lobsters and meat for sale!

Sandra Hunt from Vermont Gourmet Candy Dish -

As I walked around the stalls, I got to meet the friendly vendors, very eager to talk about their wares - the origins, history, their location and how their products are grown or made.

My first stop was at the West River Creamery Stand from Londonderry,Vermont.

The owner had several different cheeses to sample. I walked away with a Cambridge cheddar and a Smoked cheddar.  They were delish!!  Next time I'm trying the Marinated Feta!

"Neighbors" - West River Creamery and Vermont Gourmet Candy Dish

The Vermont Gourmet Candy Dish had a variety of jellies, caramel, chocolate sauce and a yummy corn relish that I purchased and served on top of sliced chicken for dinner that night.  In the words of Rachel Ray - "Yum-O"!!

Michelle Splaine of Valicenti Organico offered up a bunch of flavored homemade pasta.  Lemon Basil Linguini - couldn't resist!  Served it tonight with a light olive oil-lemon sauce.  Two days into the market and I've already put on 10 lbs!!

Michelle Splaine from Valicenti Organico

The Soup Guy (nothing like Seinfeld's Soup Nazi!) served up steaming pots of soup and chili.

DiMauro Family & Sports Chiropractic of Middleton trying to keep our spines in line!

Jennifer Hickman of Kittredge Candles

Beautiful display, beautiful scents...Had to purchase a Mediterranean Fig and Ocean Mist candle from Kittredge Candles of Andover, MA.  Check out their animal shaped candles!

Gluten Free Oat Brittle from 19 Steps Bake Shop

 Gluten Free Oat Brittle from 19 Steps Bake Shop in Haverhill, MA.  Their motto - "Worth the Walk".  And it was!  I should have asked Lauren Suszczewicz, the owner - "19 steps from what??"  And while I was at it - "How do you pronounce your last name??"  Questions for next week!

Susan Davis

Susan Davis of SUZ Bath and Body in Boxford, another local business has all kinds of handmade soaps and soy candles.  Just what you need after a hard, stressful day!

Annarosa's Breads - Salisbury, MA

My last stop was at Annarosa's Breads, 175 Elm St., Salisbury MA  978-499-8839.  I have a weakness for fresh bread.  A tasty Baguette came home with me and was totally devoured for dinner, along with the corn relish I had purchased! 

I didn't get to all the stands, but that will just keep me going back for more!  So any of my local readers, please come out!  Spend some time and spend some money on good, wholesome, local products!

Middleton Farmer's Market - Angelica's parking lot on the corner of Route 114 and Route 62, every Wednesday, June-October, 3:00 - 7:00.

"One cannot think well, love well, sleep well, if one has not dined well." —-Virginia Woolf

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

"Fred!! Stay Out Of My Bed!!!

Fred - Photography by R. Palazola

 Just to be clear, I'm talking about my GARDEN beds!  As you remember from previous posts, my "pet" groundhog, Fred likes to take nibbles from my vegetable garden.  While I don't mind feeding the menagerie in my backyard some seeds and nuts, I draw the line at sharing my vegetables!!  Especially before I've had any, myself!

Raised Planting Beds

My wonderful husband has built me some raised beds for my vegetables.  The idea was to build the bed base and add pretty latticework later as a deterrent to my vegetarian varmints!

Ringleader of the Squirrel Squad - Photography by R. Palazola

Just to introduce you to a few....we have the Squirrel Squad - at least 3 or 4 gray squirrels that feed at the base of the bird feeder at any given moment.  They mostly mind their own business and just munch!

Alvin - Photography by R.Palazola

Then there are Alvin and his brothers...and cousins...and aunts and uncles...nephews twice get the picture...

King of the Hill - Photography by R. Palazola

One of my favorites....King of The Hill, a little red squirrel that will chase anyone and anything away from his food.  He's called King of the Hill because he will climb the birdfeeder, grab a mouth full of seeds, sit with his back to the feeder surveying his kingdom and makes sure no one interrupts his meal.

Once the raised bed bases were constructed,  I spent a weekend hauling dirt and planting vegetables and herbs.  The latticework would have to wait until the deck was finished (a honey-do project that was taking longer than expected).  So in my infinite wisdom, I stapled some plastic poultry fencing around the first tomato bed.  That should stop the little critters!  Two more beds to go....Ooops! I ran out of fencing.  I must have bought the 15' roll instead of the 25'.  No matter...the second bed had seeds and since nothing was growing yet, that would be safe.  The third bed contained some hot cayenne pepper plants.  That should be a good enough deterrent!  WRONG!!!

Raised Beds With Poultry Fencing - Photography by R.Palazola

 The next day when I checked on the plants, my pepper plant was seriously lacking in the leaf department!!!  FRED!!!  (I think I heard a burp from somewhere in the yard...)

Nibbled on pepper plant
 Time to put up the rest of the fencing.  HA!!  Try to get through that!!

Wait, what's that????  THE BUTT END OF A CHIPMUNK DIGGING IN MY TOMATO PLANTS!!!  What was I thinking???  Maybe Fred couldn't make it over the fencing, but for the chipmunks....piece of cake!! (Or should I say, "salad"!)  I looked at the chipmunk and he looked back at me as if to say, "Woman, you are interrupting my lunch."  He finally scampered up over the fencing and out of the bed.  Damn!  Not only do I need a wall protecting the plants, now I need a roof too!

Butt end of a chipmunk AFTER he left the tomato Plants - Photography by R. Palazola

Well, I was done for the day.  As I packed up my gardening tools, I heard a faint sound coming from the holes in my lawn.  Do chipmunks really laugh??

"Fill what's empty, empty what's full, and scratch where it itches." (The Squirrel of Windsor)

Monday, June 13, 2011

Taking My Own Advice....

In my last post, I urged everyone to get out of their own backyard to see what's in your neighborhood.  Lately I have been uninspired, blah, uncreative, brain-numb....pick your word.  I needed a good jump start, or a kick in the pants.  I decided to shed the toxic aspects of my life and get my brain in gear again...hence, quitting my day  job, going back to school and two local events that were all about glitz, glam and days gone by.  It's been a busy week!

For the past eleven years I have been designing homes AND doing the bookkeeping for small, local businesses.  My left and right brains are constantly in conflict!  My bookkeeping experience is in Quickbooks - which does most of the thinking for you.  I decided to go back to school to learn the theory behind the numbers.  Bookkeeping and Accounting 101 - here I come!  Piece of cake!!!  Until I started doing my homework.  Credits are not necessarily pluses and debits aren't minuses???  WHY???  Balance sheets, income statements, owner's equity....just want to crawl back into my safe Quickbooks program!  But, it's time for the old dog to learn some new tricks, so bring it on!

Thursday night I attended an event in Newburyport - Fabulous in Full Force North of Boston.  "Come celebrate your fabulous life and kick off the summer season!"  Sounded good to me! They promised a night of sampling the food, drink and products of local area businesses.  Upon entering the event tent, we are given a "swag bag" full of samples of thirst quenching libations, savory snacks, gift goodies and coupons to try out the vendors wares.  Walking around, we got to sample a deliciously light Chambord black raspberry cocktail, crisps and dips from Pretzel Crisps, and appetizers from Burton's Grill to name a few.

Those light cocktails from Chambord are perfect for a hot summer evening!

 My friends Linda Smith and Yvonne Blacker had a table showcasing Linda's design business and store, New England Fine Living and their joint venture, New England Finery online magazine  It's always a good time when Linda and Yvonne are around!

Linda Smith, left and Yvonne Blacker

The ladies from Interlocks Salon & Day Spa in Newburyport were busy giving make-overs to lucky attendees.

Liz White from Mason & Madison in Middleton was showcasing her beautiful "gifts with style".

These fabulous shoes from Bella Sera caught my eye!  They have a wonderful sparkle, as does their marketing director, Tara Antonucci!  My dream job in another life would be to work in a bridal salon!

The night was capped off with a fashion show hosted by Amy McLaughlin of Amy McLaughlin Lifestyle Design, Kiss 108's Lisa Donovan and Miss Massachusetts 2010 Lacey Wilson.  The adorable models, all legs and smiles, showcased fashions from beachwear to formals.

More sparkle!

Ruffled Elegance!

I had previously stopped by Amy McLauglin's display table and had a quick chat with her very proud mother who told me Amy specializes in wardrobe styling, image consultation, home decor and staging, and event production.  All that specializing can wear a girl out, but Amy does it with style, flair and looks fabulous to boot! You can learn more about her at

So much for the "glitz and glam"!  As for the "days gone by", I attended an outdoor antiques fair at the Elm Bank Reservation in Wellesley, MA, the home of the Massachusetts Horticultural Society.  The day was cool and drizzly but Yvonne and I were determined that a little "frizz" wouldn't stand in our way!  Yvonne asked me to photograph the event for an article in the New England Finery online magazine, so I'm only going to give a sneak peek into the event. 

Copper and Brass accessories
 We spent the day shopping and speaking to vendors and many were so eager to talk about the history of their wares, their travels to get their items and sometimes an explanation as to what the item was!  We saw wonderful furniture, porcelain, pottery, artwork and.....TEACUPS!!!  I have a collection of unusual antique teacups in my home, whether it be the color, the mother of pearl interior, or the footed pedestal its sits on.  One particular set caught my eye.  The color of this one was bright, lipstick red!  That perfect red that is not too orange and not too blue! Just RED!!  The owner of the stall, Linda Grossman, of The Chair Man and The Tea Lady shouted across the tent that she knew that set would attract attention!  It did, I bought and we traded stories about our love of tea.

My new acquisition!

Yvonne with the Big Red Chair!

A stroll through the gardens offered up a few surprises!  Yvonne discovered this giant red chair....almost matches my teacup set!

A treehouse make of branches!

The Goddess Garden, Elm Bank Reservation

....and a garden fit for Goddesses!

What a week! I am officially running on empty!  I think it's time to relax with a warm cup of lemon berry tea in my beautiful "redder than red" teacup....until next time.....

"There is no trouble so great or grave that cannot be much diminished by a nice cup of tea." -  Bernard-Paul Heroux