10 hours on Martha's Vineyard


As a family we grew up spending many weekends on the Vineyard, so many trips to Felix Neck, Bunch of Grapes bookstore, Chilmark Chocolates, and other vintage gems. The Vineyard in the 90s feels different than the Vineyard now. And while I think that is true, it is also just a bit of a lie. All the same laid back, easy going, casual people are still there... they are just slightly hidden by the hoards of bachelorette parties.

Jake and I rather casually planned a last minute-ish trip down the Vineyard when we both had some time off. He's going away to college in like a month so I'm dying a bit inside and trying to trick him into spending as much time as possible with me. And just like I learned during our Seattle trip, he is a perfect travel partner. He listens to what you might be interested in doing and makes sure that you get to see it. We have the same taste in snacks (Cape Cod BBQ Chips) and stores to browse (anything outdoor-ish). He also doesn't say "up to you" when you ask for his opinion on which sweatpants to get. For the record, I went with "Chappy" sweatpants.

Here's how the longest, best day ever unfolded. We started with our favorite bagel breakfast at home before hitting the road. Despite trying to sweet talk my way into the "good" Steamship Authority parking lot, we had to drive to another one. I normally win with grandfather-types but this was a fail ... but that was legitimately the last piece of poor luck we had for the rest of the day. We made the ferry we wanted and got excellent parking spots for the rest of the day. A true Summer Vineyard victory.

All in it was a super long day... but also incredibly worth it. I can't guarantee that you'll see fireworks twice like we did - but maybe you'll get lucky and see them once. It certainly made waiting for the 9:30 return boat worth it... and getting into our car at 10:30 for the drive home.

Lunch & Chappy
I applaud people that can mentally handle a public bus system - but I am not one of them. So, we were absolutely renting a car. I reserved a tiny little Nissan Versa ... and with my Hertz status figured we would get an upgrade to something slightly better. But - the incredibly nice guy named Ron ... gave us a nearly brand new Jeep Wrangler instead. It absolutely made the day so much more fun.

The obvious choice after getting off one ferry ... is to get on another one. After we left arrived on the island, we quickly picked up our rental car in Vineyard Haven and grabbed lunch in Edgartown. We rather randomly ended up at R+B Eatery and it was pretty perfect. I had a BLT (obvi) and Jake had a burger. The guy we shared a table with thought we were locals - which was pretty flattering. Also, the pasta salad... totally worth it.

For years, it always felt like Chappy was a lot of work - but it turns out it really isn't. We just rolled up to the ferry and then proceeded to drive around Chappy for a couple hours. We hit up the Trustees spots in Wasque Point and Cape Pogue Wildlife Refuge. Initially, we were excited about spotting an osprey... and then literally saw like an osprey party at Cape Pogue.

Casual Afternoon
We had initially been thinking of going to Felix Neck - but very much forgot about that. I think seeing all the ospreys on Chappy really distracted us. So instead, we wandered Morning Glory Farms before heading into Edgartown. Those sunflowers? So amazing.

Edgartown will always been one of my favorite places. It's just so picturesque. Standing on the top of the pier offers such an incredible view of the harbor. You are an idiot if you don't make the tiny effort to check this out. Stores we wandered? Black Dog and Backwater.

Our parking good luck continued when we got a parking spot right near Edgartown Light. I've always loved this lighthouse but especially since I saw it for sunrise in 2015. But this was better than that. We walked to the lighthouse taking turns eating BBQ Cape Cod potato chips and chatting. Heaven. Second highlight? When Jake knocked on the lighthouse door and asked if anyone was home. I'm not sure why that is so funny but it was. Perhaps we just really needed pizza at this point.
Pizza and Sunset
I'd like to give us nearly a 10 for solid planning. We worked our way clockwise around the island during the day and called ahead hours in advance for our pizza from Wolf's Den Pizza. From the very beginning, we had planned to have a pizza dinner on the beach. Initially I was thinking about Gay Head but honestly we were too hungry - so we went to Menemsha Beach instead. I'm sure that we did this when we were kids too but I'll be sure to do this again. So easy to just pick up a pizza and head for a picture perfect sunset.

Another reason why Jake is a great travel partner? He patiently waits for me to take the picture I'm hoping for. These dumb kids were jumping all over the fish sculpture at Menemsha Beach and we just waited for them to stop throwing sand at each other. Since the early part of sunset was so cloudy, we figured it wasn't worth the wait... and we had a ferry to catch. But we were so wrong. The sky totally lit up. Thankfully, this happened as we were pulling into Vineyard Haven so we scooted over to West Chop to watch the end of the show.
[top] Cape Pogue dune grass
[1] ferry for the ride from Woods Hole to Vineyard Haven. We sat on the deck and bought used golf balls off Amazon.
[2, 4] Fog as Wasque Point. It didn't seem like there was fog anywhere else on the island but when we drove up to the beach it was enveloped in a heavy fog. Made everything a little bit more interesting.
[3] Osprey nest. I often see osprey nesting poles around but never with a nest as big as this one. It must be like two feet in depth? No osprey in sight but this was huge.
[5] Cape Pogue beach. Had to wait for all the families to get on the beach to take this shot... but it was worth it.
[6] Adorable "On-Time" ferry return ticket. Kind of wish we realized there was a map on the back before we were in line.
[7] Morning Glory Farm display
[8] Watching the Chappy ferry from the top of the Town Pier. One of my favorite views in Edgartown.
[9] Edgartown Light. There were bees everywhere on the wild flowers.
[10, 11] This is my favorite type of architecture. Old, with flags, and flowers. I'm going to need to learn how they get their hydrangeas so bountiful.
[12] It might look like we were alone but we absolutely were not. So many families all hanging out of the beach having picnics. Since we were so ill-prepared, we sat on the jetty.
[13] Menemsha Swordfish sculpture. Not sure this could be any more picturesque at sunset.
[14] Stumbled upon this killer West Chop view rather by accident. I'm pretty sure that it's actually some how a private little view point, but thankfully nobody said anything as we leapt out of the car for a quick picture.

green tomato garden party


I feel like I'm constantly comparing this year's garden progress to last year. Are the sunflowers taller? Were the tomatoes a brighter shade of red? Was the dinosaur kale more crinkly? Pretty much the only thing that I'm confident of is that the marigolds are equally crushing it.

I'm very much ready for the tomatoes to ripen. I procured some burrata this week and all I want to do is have a fresh tomato with some burrata, basil and maybe even some farro? Farro has been kind of my jam recently.

So while the vegetable / fruit side of the garden is chugging along, the flower side is blooming away. In the last week the sunflowers have really begun to pop and the white dahlias showed up to the party. The best part about having a cutting garden is being able to bring flowers to people's house instead of wine. I never have wine on hand - but now I always have flowers. Just a bunch of soft, fuzzy dusty miller and a few dahlias? Win.

Here's the update:

  • Dahlias // doing really well. The arabian night variety is still the most productive - but the two white ones are coming in. While I love the romantic look of the Snowbound variety, I think I'm more partial to the more structured Bridezilla variety. I will plant one million dahlias next year.
  • Cosmos // blooming pretty well. I read yesterday that you can use cosmos petals to dye fabric so might look into that. I'm not totally sure how you use these as cut flowers since some of the stems would be so short? It doesn't feel as straight forward as the dahlias.
  • Love-in-a-Mist // Great filler - and super easy to grow but not much more to say about it. Love the varieties in blue shades.
  • Sunflowers // Some of these suckers are so big. I had to cut one last week because it was so big and heavy that it was significantly bending the stock. Seeing the bees on these babies is one of my favorite things. Also, I really need the bees to visit the zucchini plant.

 From the veggie perspective:

  • Tomatoes // All the plants have fruit on them - but you can see which ones are slated to be more productive than other varieties. So far, Black Krim is going pretty strong while Red Lightening is the opposite of lightening. But! Not even a hint of red in there - or yellow in the case of the Orange Juice variety.
  • Carrots // The normal variety is getting real bushy. Not seeing as much success with the purplesnax so I might try and plant another row somewhere else in the garden. Totally a month or so off before a harvest here it feels like.
  • Radish // Love how quick these babes grow!
  • Cucumber // I'm feeling moderately confident about the mexican gherkin. I would say "pretty confident" but I don't want to jinx myself. Please keep growing.
  • Zucchini // This is getting so big. Also all of the articles I read about being able to train this for a trellis feel like a massive lie. I have no idea how that would happen from what I'm seeing.
  • Peppers // Real mixed bag here. I have no idea why some of these plants are so small and others are bigger. Only a few peppers showing up but still very petite. There was so much growth between week 1 and 2 on the pepper I was watching... and now, less so. I've pretty much given up hope on the "Good as Gold" peppers. I'm still going to water and fertilize it, but I'm putting my eggs in the mexican gherkin basket at this point.
  • Eggplant // The purple flowers have showed up so I'm optimistic for some patio baby eggplants in the next few weeks? But, only time will tell.
  • Beans // Harvest city!
  • Peas // Gorgeous subtle purple flowers popped up this week - so hopefully some snow peas in the next week!

rice krispy smores bars


After making this dessert, I learned something terrifying. Rice krispy treats pretty much never "go bad". I'm unwilling to admit how long they lasted for but I will say you could safely make this dessert a week in advance. Which in my book makes this even more of a home run than it naturally is.

Rice krispy treats are a favorite dessert of mine for many reasons. One is that you don't feel like you are eating something terrible and heavy and sugary and sweet. Of course they are sweet, it's filled with marshmallows... but not sweet like frosting.

A few notes about this recipe:

  • Great for kids! Super easy to make and lots of steps that they can be involved in.
  • Easy modifications! There are a million ways you could switch this up. Maybe add a little peanut butter into the krispy mixture part? Use Andes mints with the chocolate? Seasonal sprinkle colors in the krispys? See!
  • Make ahead! Like I said earlier, you could seemingly make this real far in advance. I made the krispys the night before the party but next time would totally do it up to 3 days in advance.
Here's how it goes.

  1. Make the rice krispy treats via the directions on the side of the box. Essentially, melt marshmellows, stir in cereal. But some tips, spray down the pan with a cooking spray and use a sheet of wax paper to help press the sticky mixture into the pan. You can leave the wax paper on top until the whole thing cools.
  2. Smash up 4 or so graham crackers into small bits. It's okay if you have some slightly larger pieces but largely let's get this stuff into crumbs.
  3. Melt chocolate. I melted two cups of chocolate chips for 8x11 baking pan of krispy treats. It was pretty much about right. Google the best way you know to melt chocolate. I never have success in the microwave so I always need to use the double boiler method.
  4. Pour the melted chocolate over the treats (after you've removed the wax paper of course).
  5. After you've spread the chocolate evenly, sprinkle the graham crackers over and gently press into the chocolate. This way when the chocolate hardens, it'll keep the graham cracker from falling off (mostly).
  6. Let cure / harden / cool ... then cut and enjoy!

bitty blooms are coming


So just as fast as the ranunculus showed up... they faded into the past. I enjoyed them for sure but I'm not sure they were exactly worth all the mental energy I put into raising them. The good news is... some of the other flowers are beginning to show life ... and blooms as well. For me there are few greater satisfying moments than gardening (and perhaps cooking and yoga).

When you first look at the garden, you see a lot of green - and hopefully some of this green will turn into flowers in the near future.

Dahlias // The Arabian Night was the first to bloom which makes sense since it went into the ground about two weeks before the other ones. I have a love hate relationship with this one. It is really pretty but it super hard to photograph. The dark crimson is a challenge - but it looks great with dusty miller. I brought a small arrangement (if I can even call it that) over to a friend's house for a party.

Ranunculus // See above. Not worth it. Next year, I'm just going to plant like a million dahlias.

Love-in-a-mist // I think the seed packet that I picked up didn't have an actual picture but rather a drawing so I wasn't totally sure what I was getting into. I can see how it is a hardy flower as it is able to withstand the strong winds that come in off the marsh. I wasn't sure how it was going to bloom - but just yesterday the first one showed up. As of now, this is an absolute repeat for next year.

Cosmos // No blooms yet - but I can't wait. I had planted two varieties that were super similar and the second is performing much better than the first. The second variety was a last minute purchase from Burpee - and I have a million more seeds so I'll hopefully get another round of flowers from those before the Fall.

Tuberose // Fail. The bulbs never came up - and I emailed Burpee for a refund. I was optimistic and excited since they were allegedly super fragrant and great for cutting gardens.

Sunflowers // So, it's a little bit of two different stories here. The seeds that I actually planed this year are doing fine. They seem to be taking root nicely. Now, there are these random sunflowers that planted themselves from last year's seeds... and they are insanely strong. I would bet that by this weekend they'll be as tall as me. I do wish I had tried harder to transplant some of the errant ones into the back row but I guess their randomness is part of the magic.

Dusty Miller // My love affair with dusty miller continues. It should be planted in all the gardens in all the world. It has an incredible shelf-life after being cut so it's the perfect filler to put all around your house... and not worry about.
[top] the whole cutting garden
[1] Comos bud before the bloom
[2] Arabian Night Dahlia bloom
[3, 4] Love-in-a-mist
[5] Beautiful, fuzzy dusty miller

2017: ranunculus are here [6/18], attempting to grow flowers again [4/22]

love a good party


Our neighborhood celebrated the 4th of July for a solid 5 days. FIVE DAYS. That is five nights of fireworks from the deck, bare feet, bathing suits, and ... let's be honest sunblock layered on my body. It's incredible but also exhausting. Every other month of the year you can find me in bed by 10 pm - but in the month of July I'm watching fireworks past my bedtime.

I'm not sure if this happens everywhere but in this town people celebrate the 3rd almost more than the 4th. We actually met some new neighbors and they had no idea. That poor woman was commuting to Newton on one of the best neighbor party days of the year.

For the "big party", I had a few criteria when I was planning the menu. Primarily how easy and straightforward can I make this while not being boring and lame. I am really pleased with how it all played out because not only was the party a breeze but people enjoyed the menu. I put the majority of my efforts into planning the sides because a burger is just a burger. A hot dog is just a hot dog.

  • Simple "main course" of burgers and hot dogs. Only two types of cheese - cheddar and swiss. No reason to be fancy.
  • Sides can be prepped in advance
  • Sides will still be good the next day (e.g. no lettuce/green salads)
Appetizers // all provided by guests. Hindsight, I should have at least had a bag of chips. Poor planning. The first guests who arrived didn't bring an appetizer and so I was taking pretzels out of my snack cabinet to give them

Main Eats // I ordered all pre-made quality-ish burgers from Peapod. My parents love Bubba Burgers but they were twice the price of the freshly, hand-packed burgers. I also had chicken sausage but nobody opted for that. Just burgers and dogs folks.

Sides //  Like I said, I didn't want to pick things that wouldn't be satisfying the next day. I love the options that I went with. The flavors were just enough without being too weird with the other sides.
Dessert // We had a few people bring desserts but I can never resist the opportunity to cook. I did bring back last year's popular cookies but brought in two other new desserts.
Overall, the party was a success. But, the food was just one part of it. It was the good company who actually brought their own chairs, the endless bug spray, and the fireworks that just never really stopped. Spoiler alert, I stayed up until midnight and completely destroyed the kitchen three days in a row... all before 8 am.

garden update

Oh be still my heart. It's full swing into gardening season... and things are taking off. It actually makes me nervous to say that. Like did I just jinx the whole thing? I was pretty nervous a few weeks ago. Despite starting seeds very early, all of my plants were small... well that has changed ... a bit.

My friend at the local hardware store told me about this incredible soil called Happy Frog - although she introduced it to me as Jamaican Frog. Apparently it's so incredible that people love to use it to grow marijuana at home. While I'm really only interested in growing tomatoes, I figured it still would be a homerun for non-marijuana growing. The fertilizer looks like dirty brown water so that must mean it is organic. I'm sold. The garden is accidentally all organic this year.

Here's the rundown of where we are this year:

Peppers // So a bit of a mixed bag here. The plants that I bought full-size are doing pretty well. There are some good flowers on there - and I noticed an itty bitty baby green pepper show up this weekend. The two plants grown from seed are pretty far behind. I'm not sure that I'll ever seen a pepper from the "good as gold" variety. I'm just going to keep giving these guys some fertilizer each week and hope for the best.

Tomatoes // Some of these are really hitting their stride - and some are slower. The Red Lightening is the slowest and the Black Krim seems to be the most productive so far. There are flowers on just about every single plant which is very encouraging. I am a little worried about the plants outside the garden. They definitely seem most prone to disease as some of the leaves have shown spots and curling. The roma plant does have some sizable fruit on it - and absolutely the furthest ahead in terms of growth.

Zucchini // Totally taken off in the last week. I woke up one morning and there was a blossom - and then the next morning I swear there were like five. The internet did tell me that I could make zucchini climb the trellis but I'm unsure about how that actually happens. I need to do a little research on that. This plant does not seem willing to climb.

Cucumbers // So, of the two varieties planted by seed.... I had zero hopes for the last couple weeks. Then - the Mexican Gherkin seemed to actually show up to the party. I'm not sure how this will go but it is making slow progress towards being a real, productive plant. I'm nervous but it would be cool if this worked out.

Peas & Beans // The beans are predictably doing fine - but I'm surprised by how slow the peas are. Initially I had planted some snap peas that were a total failure - like maybe 15% germination? So I bought some snow peas from Aubuchon Hardware and tossed those in there. They germinated really quickly but have been slower to climb the trellis. There has been a bit more growth in the last couple days as I've seen them reach for the twine. It's kind of incredible how strong the little vines are. Magical nature.

Carrots & Radishes // Mixed bag here. The normal carrots up front in the garden are doing well - but the purplesnax that I planted behind the zucchini is much slower. I'm probably a week away from a radish harvest? This year I will actually eat them. I should start searching for an inspiring radish recipe. I assume they exist.

Kale & Lettuce // Doing well - but the lettuce went from being red and green.... to like all red. Which is fine, but also like what happened to the green. This was supposed to be "mixed greens" and it is really just red lettuce.
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