Sewing New Seeds.

Gardening projects, backyard renovation, + life thoughts.

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This post is a bit bittersweet, as I start my new job tomorrow, which is most definitely a good thing. However, it’s also the symbolic finish line for the projects I’ve been working on over my last month off from work. During that time, I’ve planted a new garden, renovated our backyard, as well as, refurbished some furniture (pictured below). Converting a run-down backyard space into a livable garden, a venue to entertain friends, and a space for nightly talks with the boy has been absolutely amazing.  Over the last three weeks or so, we’ve had so many laughs & glasses of wine in our new space (probably more glasses of wine than laughs). Moving forward it’s gratifying to know that we have a full home that feels warm and now extends outdoors, as the outdoors are such a big part of Ryan and I’s life.

I’ve always wanted to plant a garden. Growing up my father had a beautiful garden in our yard before we developed on the land. As a child, we had fresh tomatoes, basil, carrots, eggplant, and more. As a twenty-something, finding a space to garden isn’t always the easiest. Moving into our apartment about a year and a half ago, there had happened to be a raised bed; however, our neighbors were using it at the time. Since that time, the bed had become untamed without care, and I was fortunate to take over the space! Checkout the conversion below and let me know your thoughts. Also ya’ll have to come over for dinner soon. #Pizzanight with fresh veggies for everyone.

FLOWERLAND.

Flowerland, which is located on the border of Berkeley and Albany, CA was my first thought when it came to planting a garden. A known institution in the area, and a spot for some awesome coffee, courtesy of Highwire, this place is a must. Not only is there selection of plants and more amazing, but the place is stunning. It’s aesthetically incredible, is so authentic, and also captures the zeitgest of the moment with it’s witty signage.

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GOOD READS.

Not only does Flowerland, have and incredible selection of everything for your home garden, but they also have an entire indoor store with a great selection of candles, coffee table books, notebooks, local art, and more.

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FINDING THE RIGHT PLANTS.

After stopping at Flowerland and picking up a few transplants (it’s too late in the season to start plants from seeds, for most plants, Kale you’re probably safe with, as well as, most squashes) I headed over to Westbrae Nursery , and found the rest of the plants I was looking for. As an amateur, a couple of resources along the way helped to solidify the right choices to ensure a good harvest. A couple of must haves for any Bay area gardener I’ve attached in a link below!

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THE SUPPLY.

With a full crop picked, and some diversity and balance found between herbs and veggies, the lot was ready to go.

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(From left to right by row) Carrots, Broccolini, Chives, Italian Parsley, Thyme, Celery, Sweet Basil, Cilantro, Purple Collard/Kale Hybrid, Authentic Thai Basil, Lemon Mint, Mint.

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PLANT ME.

This was the most fun part. Ryan, Jack, and I (Ryan not pictured, as he was taking most of the photos) went to work with our new garden bed. We found some great organic soil to revitalize the older soil, tilled the land, and laid the plants down. A couple of the herbs were potted on their own (as pictured below), and the rest is history. Currently we are two weeks into the process, the carrots and broccolini are grown very, very well, and the rest of the crop is moving along just fine! Not pictured below, a tomatillo plant, which I’m super excited to make salsa verde with in a few months.

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Thyme
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Cilantro + Parsley

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Broccolini after two weeks!

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Jack Joe Kiss Garden
Kisses from my little helper. Ryan was taking all the photos this week.

TABLE TALK.

So, in the process of planting a garden, I was also re-doing our entire backyard. I found this table on Facebook Marketplace for free, and it was in pretty rough shape. I took it home, purchased a can of outdoor paint, and painted it white. The white adds a nice depth and sense of ‘new’ to our backyard without feeling too rustic. (The original look of the table was similar to that of the weathered chairs.) We’ve put up string lights, laid new mulch, and have created an entire space for hosting guests, along with a fire pit.

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TAKING THE TIME

Before I close out, there’s a couple of things I wanted to say. First off, taking on any project takes time (and most of the time, money too). During my few weeks off I definitely did my share of adventuring up north, finding a good book (or two) to read, and had my share of a few good times out. However, the biggest life lesson I learned from this project came from giving myself the time to fully see something through from start to finish. I see the same maturation with work projects all of the time in my profession, but taking on a side project has given me a newfound respect for nature, mental health, and the importance of defining what you want ‘Home’ to mean to you. I invested four weeks of time into little projects like this garden and the revitalization of our yard because home to me is defined as a place where love, conversation, debate, and true authentic experience should be shared. I challenge you, to define what ‘Home’ means to you, take on a project and live that truth. I’m so grateful for my time off, it was better than any vacation I could’ve taken. Sewing new seeds, and finding a place that you’re proud of to have as your own and to share is nothing short of incredible.

CELEBRATION.

Lastly, to celebrate, we had our friends over for dinner + games this Labor Day weekend. Check out these smiles. Thanks for being our family. Love you all!

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Photo taken by @cru.cait

Pictured:  @sswonkohw @ryanarthurwright @sweden95 

THANKS FOR READING.

Philz good one-2

 

 

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Mendocino

Day trips, dogs, and dallying along the coast. Warning: Beautiful photos ahead.

 

Hi Everyone,

Another week has gone by, and it’s time for another post. This week’s post is extra special, as I’m writing about one of my favorite places in the world, Mendocino, California.  Ryan and I discovered Mendocino about two years ago, pretty soon after we moved to the Bay Area. Located right above Sonoma County, Mendocino County is known for incredible wineries such as Saracina & Bonterra (recently awarded best North American Winery), mountains, and valleys. The county is full of wildlife, rare flowers and plant life, and one of the most stunning views of the ocean on the west coast. The town of Mendocino is perched on the bluffs of the coast within the county and is home to around one thousand people. Most of the local economy is fueled by artisans, B&Bs, art galleries, and restaurants. From Berkeley the drive is a little over three hours, so getting up here does not happen often, sadly. However, each opportunity to make it up for the day or the weekend is truly special. Rather than writing a lot today, I’m going to leave the rest of this post to mostly pictures, as the landscape is absolutely stunning.

Jack and I drove up to Mendocino last Thursday. We woke up early, grabbed a Philz coffee, and made our way up the coast, stopping in Hopland, CA for some photos (not pictured here), and also spent time meandering through the riverscape on US-101N. I highly recommend stopping to see the wildlife. As we arrived at Mendocino, the first stop along the way was at Big River. An inlet situated right below the Pacific Coast Highway protected as National Seashore, that is home to hundreds of species of birds, plants, and other wildlife, as well as, a local spot for a nice beach day. Check it out.

BIG RIVER

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After spending some time at Big River, Jack & I decided to hike a new trail that runs east from the seashore, inland. Recently the town of Mendocino and surrounding unincorporated towns put their funds together and purchased Big River Estuary to be protected indefinitely. To read more about the project, click here.  Below you’ll find photos from our hike through the protected lands.

HIKING

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As the hike came to a close, Jack & I were both ready for some grub & shopping. As mentioned earlier, the downtown area of Mendocino is full of local shops and purveyors/artisans. We hopped into Oliver (our Subaru) and headed downtown. Throughout you’ll find links to a couple of my favorite spots to be bookmarked, if you make it up this way!

DOWNTOWN

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Yes, there is a whole section about jam. This jam store truly has the best jam in the entire world. To admit a secret, it’s one of the reasons I drove up here in the first place. Ryan, my best friend Kara, and myself, stumbled upon this place on our last trip up north. Located on the very last corner of one of the main roads in town and a giant cliff, this local jam spot creates small batches of blueberry, blackberry, raspberry, and boysenberry jams. If you do not take anything else from this blog, make a mental note of this place. You can find them here. There is nothing better than contributing to a local economy. Do yourself a favor and buy some damn jam :).  Also, they have the cutest building ever.

Other Links: 

Garden Bakery of Mendocino

MacCallum House Inn, Mendocino – B&B

JAM (Yes, there’s a whole section about jam.)

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Checkout these wildflowers, absolutely stunning.

As our trip came to a close, the pup and I meandered a bit more, making our way through the small streets of town. Some random photos to follow capture the essence of this magical place. From the tiny well kept homes to the native bees, Mendocino has made a special impact on the way I see the world. California, you’re beautiful.

MEANDER

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With one last stop for a coffee at the Goodlife Cafe & Bakery, we were off and headed home. Until next time Mendocino, keep being beautiful. Also, yes, that red building is a grocery store. How?! So beautiful. What a good day to be alive. Thanks Jack for being my sidekick.

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For more information, any other recommendations, or to collaborate on any photos/projects/day trips please DM on instagram or find me at joecalasci@gmail.com

As always, thanks for reading.

Travel on.

Taking Back Sunday.

Reset. Recharge. Reflect. #MakeSundaysGreatAgain

Over the last two and a half weeks I’ve been on vacation. Well, technically, I’ve been in between employment, as I’m getting ready to start a new position, soon. During that time, I’ve had a lot of downtime. Usually, if any of you know me well, I’m always going. Going to find a place to hike, a new ingredient to play around with, or off for a run. However, in these last fourteen days or so, I’ve been rather still. I’ve been investing time into my home, rather than abroad. I love the home that Ryan and I have built and in effect I feel as though I’ve become somewhat of a home-dweller! This week I decided to focus my post specifically on the topic of home, but more precisely Sundays + home.

As long as I’ve been an adult, Sundays have always been my favorite day of the week. A large percentage of my generation has coined the term ‘Sunday Scaries’ as it can be seen hash-tagged across the interweb; in contrast, I see Sunday in an opposing light, and hope to change your perspective on the start/end to the week (depending on which way you look at it)

Sundays to me represent a few things: 1. Resetting 2. Recharging 3. Reflecting.

Reset

Ryan and I tend to do most of our adventuring, food pioneering, and ‘Fun’ stuff on Friday nights or Saturdays. By the time Sunday morning rolls around we have a usual habit.

We love a good Sunday morning coffee + breakfast. Right down the street from our house is Acme Bread Company, one of the Bay’s biggest suppliers of all things gluten (yum). In addition to it’s kitchen, they have the cutest little storefront where locals can purchase fresh bread and other yummy treats. My favorite are the cheddar and jalapeño croissants. I’ll either grind up some coffee beans at home or make my way to Philz (most likely ground at home), and then head to the market for some fresh bread. Over the next couple of hours to the tune of Bon Iver, Aretha Franklin, jazz assortments, and maybe some Mumford and Sons, we rise with the sun as we cook. (Almost forgot to mention the Smokey the Bear Mug,  it’s the only coffee mug to drink out of these days.)

A couple of our Sunday treats this week.

We’re really lucky to live in such a fruitful place. Right now, the fig and lemon trees in Berkeley are in bloom, and one of the perks of living in a fertile valley, is that there’s always something to be harvested.

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Thanks, Jo for the beautiful figs.

After a long breakfast, hopefully in the backyard, we’ll usually take the pup for a long walk around town. By mid-morning to afternoon there’s definitely a feeling of being reset. Waking up slow is a luxury in these times, and intentionally taking time to be slower is something I highly recommend.

Recharge

Going back to the theme of ‘home-dwelling’ that I had mentioned earlier, Sundays have always been a day to sit around with the boy and hangout with the dog, but lately they’ve come to truly have a deeper meaning. One of the perks of our current apartment is that it has spectacular natural light. On a Sunday afternoon, spending time nestled up with a good book (just finished The Corrections by Jonathan Franzen – highly recommended) on our comfy couch (ask @idontkaratall, she slept there for a week) is the absolute best. During the week we are bothered with the hustle and bustle of it all, but finding a creative outlet, reading, or even taking a nap truly refreshes me for the week to come. Not to mention, Game of Thrones on Sunday night is always a nice cherry on top.  Recharging, is a true highlight of Sundays. Let that iPhone recharge, and take some time respectively for yourself.

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Two personal cooking favorites.

Reflect

During the regular grind of life, when I’m not staycationing, this time has become so much more than a couple of hours with family and friends. Sundays do not warrant anything from you. They do not ask for dates, prior engagements, or extracurricular activities. It is a day comprised of hours strung together that do not oppress, but rather grant freedom. Freedom in the form of time. Rather than being scared about what’s to come next, we should be using what we have to honor the work and time we’ve spent over the last seven days. The debate will rage on whether Sunday should be a day full of worries for Monday and the week ahead, but I challenge you this week to take it as it is. Social media has coined hashtags to instill depression and sadness into your week. In a world full of pessimists, ridiculous negative tweets, and a 24-hour sensationalist news-cycle, take a second. Put the time in this week, but take it back on Sunday.

#MakeSundaysGreatAgain

 

 

First. 

I’m a blogger now?

Well, this is the first time that I have ever blogged (with the exception of that Tumblr page in High School…if you want a good laugh you can stop reading and make your way there) and I’m really excited, but I have no idea what I am doing. Everyone keeps telling me that the key to writing a good blog is ‘authenticity’, so I will do my best to keep to that. I find it odd that one would start a blog without original/authentic content, but to each their own, I guess. However, this is my blog…so I guess I should tell all of you lovely people what to expect.

There are really only a couple of rules that I plan to live by moving forward:

1. Food-centered. I’ve been stressing over finding a way to incorporate food into my life, since about the time that I took my first breathe. Therefore, this blog will be mostly about food. If that does not interest you…find another blog to read!

2. My life. Over the past five years or so, I’ve had the pleasure of building a wonderful life with one of the greatest humans and a crazy dog. You will be sure to find them sprinkled in here from time to time.

3. Lifestyle stuff. Yep. That’s basically how I’m positioning that last 20% of this blog. Ryan and I do some really fun/cool stuff, and I want to talk about it! From time to time I may post an adventure guide, a campfire photo, or a video. I hope ya’ll enjoy.

That is about it, I guess. I’ll be attaching this page to my instagram…read if you want!

Check out the insta @joeandhisfood

Adios!