Man versus beast

This is Matt's arsenal:

This is Matt's target:

After observing three separate assaults, I can tell you that trying to deter a woodchuck by hurling fruit at it is pretty much as effective as, say, trying to scare away a pit bull by handing it a pork chop. No matter - Matt's aim is improving, which I see as a benefit... I was impressed when he actually hit one, but he said it was just "on the bounce," and therefore does not count.



On Saturdays I accompany Matt to the farmers market in Dallas, PA, where I help sling loaves in the Mockingbird Bakery stand. Our neighbor, Don of Dancing Hen Farm, often has something interesting on his table. Last week he opened up his van and immediately tempted us with a "surprise" that we couldn't have if we had any family history of epilepsy. That made me a teensy tiny bit wary of the surprise.

But Matt and I are suckers, so we just popped the surprises in our mouths. You know how sometimes experiences are described as eye-popping? I think that's what this was. There was so much intense tingling, accompanied by so much salty saliva... I thought I was gonna lose it. So I did, preemptively, and whilst hiding behind the truck.

The surprise was a Spilanthes (or toothache plant) flower, which this article by Richard A. Cech aptly describes as inspiring an "indescribable profusion of stimulatory responses... as if the teeth have begun to play musical chairs, springing painlessly from their moorage and rioting about in chaotic dance..." I don't really ever want to try another one, but I don't doubt this plant is a good toothache remedy. It's also very pretty, and the whole experience was, if not entirely pleasant, definitely thrilling and educational.


A Rosie and a lily

This is my friend Rosie, with my Lilium 'Conca D'or.' I think they are both lovely. For the record, I do not make a habit of planting Giant Yellow Things in my garden. In fact, as a rule, I despise them. But life is complicated, and thus... there is room in my heart for Conca D'or.

And also, we have a new pearled earth header, which I hope you like. I enjoy drawing pictures, and I plan to share some of them here going forward.


Married... the menu!


Now that things are all said and done, it's worth pondering: which came first, the proposal or the pig? It's a question without an answer, because there was no real proposal - we just all of a sudden moved getting married from the "maybe" to the "why yes, let's" list.

And then Matt started talking about the pig. Or he had been talking about the pig all along. I'm not sure. In any case, Matt needed a pig, and Farmer Pete had just the one. Pete and Matt slaughtered the pig and put it in the freezer a few months before the wedding.

The rest of the menu was designed to complement our porcine guest of honor. It was easy to decide what to eat: we just picked all our favorite things from all our favorite places.

Rosie's sangria
Two Pennsylvania brews:
Victory Hop Devil and Lionshead
Wines selected by AV Restaurant:
Terlato Pinot Grigio
St. Antonius Riesling Spatlese
Toasted Head Barrel Reserve Pinto Noir
Paul Louis Vn Mousseux Blanc de Blanc

 Cocktail hour hors d'oeuvre:
Cow's milk cheeses from Calkins Creamery
Goat's milk cheeses from Ardith Mae Farm
Breads from Mockingbird Bakery (aka Matt):
walnut rye, sunflower sesame flax, olive,
and whole wheat sourdoughs, and ciabatta
Salumi platter by Pat Quinn
Roasted vegetable platter by AV
Smoked trout mousse and Sundried tomato white bean dip
by Summerhouse Grill
Olives, Hillside Farms butter

Green salad with Hakurei turnips and scallions
from Skoloff Farm and Prospect St. Gardens
Garlicky ranch and Fig chutney salad dressings
by Toby Landon of Fig
Bean and corn salad and Fresh cucumber salad by AV
Macaroni and cheese with LeRaysville cheddar by Soup Chic
Homemade vegan sausage and peppers
by Can't Stand the Meat?
Pulled roasted pork from Clodhopper Farm
with Matt's rhubarb chutney

Raspberry buttercream and Lemon curd cupcakes with Daisy flour
by Emily Severson
Gluten free chocolate brownies by moi
...the above made with Hillside Farms butter and local eggs
Amazing artisan, raw, vegan chocolates by Immortal Mountain


Tent photo by Michael Mullen
Matt with pig and goat cheeses photos by Tonia Eden Mayton
The boys with pig and cupcakes photos by Michael Poster


Matt and Zoe... married!

We did it! And was it ever a blast. On June 26th, we had a blowout wedding party at my parents' house.

What can I say about this day, except that we were overwhelmed by all the love and all the fun? I was scared beforehand, because I'm pretty shy... Which I guess is why I never mentioned the wedding here. I might have titled the post "Impending Wedding of Doom," and that wouldn't have pleased anyone, would it?

But it was the strangest thing... in the moments before I walked out to meet Matt at the altar (forsythia bush), my upset just melted away like butter. Having my family, Matt's family, our family friends, and the friends Matt and I have made across the country all in my mother's garden... was beautifully mind-blowing.

Our people trickled into town in the days ahead, and helped with all the preparations. They hefted a 165 pound pig into a brine vat. They hauled kegs, hung parasols, strung Christmas lights, arranged flowers. They roasted pork, and then pulled it - for hours. They cooked and fed the masses, beforehand, and after.

Others grew vegetables, raised a pig, made cheese and chocolates, baked cupcakes, mixed cocktails, selected and transported cases of gorgeous wines, and cooked beautiful, extravagant platters of food.

My mom's cousin sewed me the peach-silk-chiffon dress of my dreams, and crafted a crazy, awesome headpiece to go with it. My new husband orchestrated food for 185 people, and pulled it off with a skeleton crew including the one and only, almighty, Jess (of Soup Chic). My parents planned and hosted the party of our lives, with enthusiasm and artistry.

Matt's father led our ceremony, with his usual gentle eloquence. Our friend Mike spoke a poem he wrote, and blew us away. Photographer friends took pictures - lots of awesome pictures. Our DJ spun the best endless hours of dance vinyl I've ever experienced. (Three weeks later, the soles of my feet are beginning to heal!)

Our wedding was not traditional... For one, I wore little chickens on my head. And for two, instead of being sanctioned by the state, our union was validated by everyone who celebrated with us. Thank you - to all of them - for making it real.

In order, the above photos were taken by:
Michael Mullen (1)
My dad, Michael Poster (1)
Tonia Eden Mayton, of Eden Photography (1)
Rolfe Ross (1)
Tonia Eden Mayton (1)
Michael Mullen (1)
Tonia Eden Mayton (1)
Michael Mullen (1)
Tonia Eden Mayton (1)
Rolfe Ross (1)
Julie Mullen (1)
Michael Poster (3)

Lizzy Tilley, my mom's cousin, made my dress (which I enjoy visiting, in its closet), and my fascinator veil. She owns Sugarcoat Couture in Ithaca, NY, specializes in sweetened vintage, and is fabulously talented.

Ann Hartley of Hartley Studio made our simple silver wedding bands. I've never met Ann, but I know she's lovely, and I admire her work every day.

Music, played expertly, by Walter Lukatchik.

More pictures? See my dad's beautiful slideshows of the event in three stages here:
Wedding Make Ready
Wedding Dressup
Wedding Party

And more of Matt's cousin Tonia's fantastic photos here:
Eden Photography on Facebook

Coming next: Married... the menu!



My mom started this gas plant (Dictamnus albus 'Rubra') from seed. It took years to bloom. But when it did, it was stunning. Handsome, really. Dark leaves, robust flower stalks that do not topple. And... it does a party trick!


The stems of gas plant are sticky with the oil it emits. After you light it and you're just sitting in your chair sipping your drink, a smell creeps up in ribbons: citrus and ozone. Dark magic. I do not know if this plant is edible to deer, but I suspect it is not. On close inspection, the plant in Mom's garden is almost pristine - no insect-nibbled leaves, which is pretty miraculous for any plant at all. I love it.


Three Flowers

These three flowers are all I can muster tonight, and really I didn't have much to do with them. The allium in the front is a wild thing that grew in Nellie's garden, before we ever came here. The zinnia in the middle is maybe 'Queen Red Lime', and the echinacea in the back is one of those that's been The Next Best Thing for five years, but only ever lives up to my expectations for two weeks in June.


The Garden at Hillside Farms

Once a week, Matt delivers bread to the store at Hillside Farms. I have written before about the farm's exceptional heavy cream. Today I shall write about their exceptional garden.

There is something about this garden that lifts my heart when I walk into it. For me, it is a fresh perspective - I would not choose the colors or combinations here, but I am delighted when I see them. They make me bounce.

Part of it is the annuals, which I covet. Interesting and unusual annual starts are not available to buy in this area, so I start my own for my tiny garden... But most of my time is spent in the gardens of my clients, where cool annuals are sadly impractical. I'm stuck using the same old hardy, deer-resistant perennials and shrubs over and over. Booor-ring.

Ann, the Hillside Farms gardener

Pictures are easy here. Doesn't hurt that the gardener is perfectly lovely, and there are abundant cute animals hiding behind oversized leaves and paddling around in puddles. And scampering out of newly renovated antique greenhouses.

A bonus: at least some of the cute animals want you to pick them up! I hate it when cute animals don't want you to pick them up.

Ann's garden is loose and billowy and artistic. She combines ordinary flowers in unexpected ways, and here and there is something fabulous I have never seen before. When I find a new flower, I quickly locate Ann's straw hat in the landscape, so I can ask for an identification.

My intention is to do some progress posts of this garden through the season... So, stay tuned.