Family, Hard Work, & Memories…and did I mention hard work?

I have been going to the farmers’ market since I was a small child, as long as I can remember. I get so excited every time pulling into the parking lot. I love the smells, seeing the new purveyors, reassured when I see the old standbys, waiting for the horn to blow, and most of all, knowing we’ll be eating what is now considered quite chic – farm to table. Where have you all been?

I grew up in the city and I do mean, right smack dab in the center of the city. No rolling hills, no green grass, no flowers, none of that good stuff growing around us. We were surrounded by the landscape of Pittsburgh, better known as Belgian block. But, I was raised by my grandmother who came here from “the old country” so she only knew fresh or “putting up” for winter. For you newbies, that means canning. I learned to respect food at a very early age. Enter the hard work from my side. It’s really hot and tiring standing over a steaming pot after picking through, peeling, cutting, and prepping produce all day, actually a lot of hot summer days.

But this post is to show you a little from the production side of this process; again, stressing family, hard work, and I’m guessing, a lot of memories. I contacted Janoski’s Farm because I LOVE the aesthetics of how they display their produce, bushels, and baskets of bounty. Everything is lined up perfectly straight, ever so neat, piled so high you wonder how it stays balanced. They agreed to permit me to come into their space to photograph and I had the pleasure of meeting Mrs. Janoski, the matriarch of this hard working, proud family. She is such a pleasant and lovely woman and was kind enough to tell me about her husband, who recently passed, and her children and grandchildren who have been taught how to continue working their farm for posterity and for you and me. Besides the pride showing in the way everything is displayed, the way they work together while unloading is a beautiful choreographed dance. The family and workers move in unison, everyone knowing their part; step left, step right, bend, turn now, repeat. It was beautiful. I’m guessing everyone is tired at night’s end so, again, family, memories, and of course, hard work.

I prepped what I purchased that night and I’m going back to Janoski’s next week to get my tomatoes for canning. No matter how tired and hot I get, those memories of working side by side with my grandmother keep me smiling while I’m making new memories with my family. Maybe that’s why I love the farmers’ market so much. It’s like going home. Treat yourself, go to the market.

janoski  truck  pickles  peaches  peppers  mixed_bushels  garlic  bushels_peppers  beets  market_sign

Yellow Sunshine!

After weeks of rain, rain, rain, we finally had a week filled with sunshine. I wonder if people who don’t have rainy day after rainy day can fully appreciate the feeling of warmth and happiness of the sun shining on their face.  Hmm, I wonder; I know I can. Anyway, I loved all that sunshine this week and it made me think of yellow. So let’s celebrate yellow. Yellow represents happiness and optimism. It’s stimulating, it’s hope when things seem down, it’s cheerful and oh so positive. It can’t help but make us feel good.

So this week…close your eyes and pretend to skip down the yellow brick road. Or you can bop your head from side to side while singing “We all live in a Yellow Submarine” while you look up and enjoy the warm sun on your face. I’ll bet you smile. Enjoy this week’s pics, they’re YELLOW.

We all live in a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine, a yellow submarine……

IMG_0093  DSC_0055  DSC_0048  DSC_0013  DSC_0024  DSC_0008  DSC_0022


This week I saw a garden that highlights creativity, determination, and most of all, frugality. We learn about these characteristics our entire lives, but we don’t always follow through unless we really want something badly enough and we’re willing to show up and do the work. These folks showed up.

They were able to plant a garden filled with goodies without spending any money. They live in a plot that is about a 45 degree drop and enclosed on both sides by other houses. No backhoes in here! They also made the decision that they didn’t want to buy dirt so they brought compost, dirt and manure from another site by carrying in bushels. (My grandmother would have been proud. Buy dirt?!) They carried those bushels until they had enough dirt to provide them with a workable planting space. They’ve also made the most of every square inch by planting in between, underneath, and rotating. Now here’s the best. They started their plants from seeds or cuttings. So, think about this. You have a really good heirloom tomato for dinner tonight, save the seeds, dry them, protect them, and then start new plants for next year’s garden to enjoy a bunch of tomatoes. Take a look at what can be accomplished if you just work at it. Hats off!

DSC_0087  DSC_0076  DSC_0035  DSC_0057  DSC_0075  DSC_0041  DSC_0024  DSC_0037    DSC_0058

Ribbons and Yarns and Pizza Pie, Oh My!

I had so much fun visiting the Osborne Elementary gARTen. Osborne’s principal, Barbara Mellet and her associate, Erin Dierker, were so enthusiastic about this project it made me want to pick up a shovel and dig.

Osborne’s gARTen is a collaborative working garden that provides food for an annual pizza party, smoothie day, and enough greens to share with a local food bank. Parents are heavily involved while the children are learning how food actually gets to the market. By working in the garden they become a part of that process, a win-win for sure. The children’s art surrounds this beautiful, healthy garden and it is so uplifting to watch the ribbons blowing in the wind, hearing the chimes and seeing the ripple of the crocheted ropes. Ms. Mellet told me that they, like many gardeners in Western Pennsylvania, have had an ongoing battle keeping deer away from their garden. After a few failed attempts with other methods, they were inspired by the Fiberarts Guild of Pittsburgh’s Knit the Bridge project which covered the Andy Warhol Bridge in knitted and crocheted panels. The good news….it’s working. The deer are staying away and the plants are thriving.

Why don’t you take some inspiration from Osborne and tie some colorful ribbons around your garden. Even if the deer still come, you’ll love watching the ribbons blowing in the breeze. This was indeed a very special gARTen!

DSC_0003  DSC_0007  DSC_0013  DSC_0014  DSC_0015  DSC_0019  DSC_0021  DSC_0022  DSC_0027  DSC_0030  DSC_0031  DSC_0035  DSC_0038  DSC_0039  DSC_0053  DSC_0043

It’s a White Week

I recently reconnected with someone whom I consider to have been my angel at a time when I really needed one. Have you ever known that special person who when you’re in a tough place doesn’t say, “let me know if there’s anything I can do”? They just seem to know what that is and then they just do it, boom, done. They won’t take any argument, they’re just there for you and to that I say thank you and I’ll work harder to be that kind of person. So that made me think of angels which then made me think of white so that was my focus this week. That also reminded me that I can’t do everything alone so I ventured out to other gardens. I’ll be doing that more often. I have a very special garden that I’m going to share with you next week. You’ll love it. Anyway, back to white. Here’s a little info about the color, or non-color, white.

White is the color of purity and ultimate peace and surrender. It’s the color of clean, light without color. You can almost smell fresh laundry blowing in the breeze hanging on the clothesline when you think of white. It is a recall of youth and simplicity, innocence, and softness. It’s said if you wear white to bed you’ll have pleasant dreams. I like white. How about you?

p.s. I had to include the green frog – he’s too cute, and alas, not mine.

DSC_0061  DSC_0052  DSC_0042  DSC_0039  DSC_0029  DSC_0016  DSC_0011  DSC_0008  Enjoy your week!


It rains a lot in Pittsburgh in June…this year, really a lot. However, there are a couple of things to keep in mind when it feels like the sun is never coming out again. Don’t be afraid of a few raindrops, ok, well a lot, and know that eventually the sun will shine, if only for a little while, so be ready to enjoy.

This is sort of like life because we wouldn’t truly appreciate the sunshine or how good the rain can feel and sound if we don’t make the effort to find its splendor. I don’t know who wrote the saying “Life is not about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain” but that certainly is true. We have to keep our eyes open for the opportunities to dance in the rain, close our eyes and hear it hitting the roof, and then being able to bask in the moments of sunshine.

They say every life has a little rain. Well, some folks have to make their way through a tsunami or two. I’m lucky because I’ve learned a couple of secrets along the way. Keep your eyes open for the break in the clouds and bask in that sunshine. Always have a raincoat ready so you can get out there and boogie in the raindrops.

DSC_0019  DSC_0032  DSC_0006a  DSC_0008a  DSC_0063a  DSC_0022  DSC_0053  DSC_0048  DSC_0042DSC_0008a  DSC_0023  DSC_0038  DSC_0062

Happy Father’s Day!

The Best Laid Plans

plan aI have been working on a project, a book titled The Joymaker Garden, and I have been having a hard time staying on task. It’s a very personal project (more info on that later) and maybe that’s why it’s so difficult, but I needed to find a vehicle to help me to stay motivated and focused. I’m very good at sorting paper clips so I had an idea. I remembered a book, Make Something 365 by Noah Scalin. The basic concept is to choose a subject, visit it daily for 365 days and document your work. You can grow your creativity, stay focused on your theme or do with it what you will but truly examine your subject. It can be broken down however you choose and I chose to photograph a garden throughout the seasons, 365 days, to stay focused on my priority, the book. The Joymaker Garden is a book that relates the life of a very special child to the seasons of a garden so one year seems like an appropriate time frame.

Enter the best laid plan. My plan was to take my daily photographs and then post in a weekly slideshow format. I can’t figure out how to make that slideshow happen so instead of turning this into a paper clip project, here are some of my favorite photos from this past week. And yes, even though this has been a very busy “life week”, I’ve finally gotten back to work on the primary project – The Joymaker Garden. Thanks for visiting, wish me luck, and maybe I’ll come and take some photos of your garden while I’m working on this project.

may_25  may_26  may_27  may_28  may_29  may_30  may_31


weedsGardens need to be tended and fed to grow and be healthy; just like us. If we leave them too long without caring for them, weeds pop up – pretty quickly, and BOOM, all those pretty flowers don’t have the space to bloom. They get choked out or they go dormant. The same happens with people and families. We have to love each other AND ourselves in order to grow and bloom. It takes work. Yep, that’s my shadow in my “weed bed”. I haven’t nurtured my garden or my muse for much too long. The why is a long story but the important part is it’s time to clean up and make space for my beautiful flowers. Have you hugged someone you love? Given yourself an atta girl? Nurtured your muse? Give somebody a hug, pat yourself on the back and give your muse an extra drink of water and watch and see how beautifully you are rewarded.