A New Challenge

IMG_3879I started this GardeningB blog last year, after reading Elle Luna’s book “The Crossroads of Should and Must” and meeting her at our local bookstore. Several people in the audience were talking about THE 100-DAY PROJECT, a creative challenge they had just started, and that got me thinking about reigniting my creative side. I jumped in, a week or so later, starting my own 100-Day Project. I chose to blog a story every day, for 100 days, about edible gardening. It would be a challenge for me because I hadn’t written much since I had worked as a writer/producer of videos, years ago… and I had done that as part of my job, not for “fun.” I began blogging and taking corresponding pictures for this “project”, starting on May 25 and officially ending on September 2, 2015, without missing a day. I even managed to post while travelling and during a vacation on a cruise ship, with sketchy internet connections. I kept blogging after completing the project, but not every day. Now that I have had time to reflect on the 100-day experience, I would say that it was tremendously rewarding to write and share stories every day.

I had many special moments during those 3+ months of blogging. I was at a party and several people walked up to me and asked for gardening advise–people who I wasn’t even acquainted with or friends who I didn’t know were following my blog stories. One night I went to a Farm-to-Table dinner downtown. I saw my hairdresser and his partner there. When I asked how they knew about the dinner, they said they had read about it on my blog. A few people started herb gardens and planted fruit trees, telling me that I had inspired them. A couple of people began harvesting rain in barrels to water their plants. Others told me that they were motivated to taste fruit they had never heard of before and to try new recipes. I also received gifts of fruit from followers and was sent gardening tips and photos.

When I completed the 100 days, I was asked if I was going to continue writing. I thought I would. I tried to post regularly. Then I got busy with other things. The writing became sporadic. My attention shifted to new interests. I took a drawing class, began Italian classes, and I increased my daily exercising… And I’m still working, which takes up the largest chunk of my days. I tried to get back into a writing routine but I just didn’t have the time. And my creative energy was now going toward other endeavors.

When I heard a new 100-Day Project was starting in 2016, I decided to participate again. I ruminated over several days about which new creative thing to do for 100 days. What I wanted to get better at and do more of is to DRAW.  So that is what I decided to do. My new challenge is to create one drawing everyday on a mini canvas (3” X 3”) using only black and white Sharpie markers. The project isn’t about making a perfect product every day; it is about the process, the practice. What will I learn about drawing, while I am doing it every day? What will I learn about myself? Where will the practice take me?

I started my project on April 19th and have been posting my drawings, with explanations, every day on Instagram (@gardeningB) and Twitter (@superbMiami). If you want to follow along with me, please do! I think you can link to Instagram at the bottom left side of my website or here. I will also share my experiences on this blog, every couple of weeks or so. Wish me luck dear friends! And if I can encourage you on your own creative challenge, please let me know. ♥ The pictures on this post are of my first drawings on mini canvases.

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Pumpkins

IMG_3122 (2)Pumpkins—they’re like sunflowers. I can’t help but smile when I look at them. And I love Halloween, now more than when I was a child.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Kudos to Chef Allen

29 (2)Wow, what a fabulous meal we had last night at Chef Allen’s Farm-to-Table Dinner. This time I remembered to photograph each of the 5-courses before diving into them, thanks to my friends who kept reminding me every time a new dish was served! This was the second dinner event of the series I attended and it was completely different than the one I had enjoyed last Monday, and just as spectacular. The first appetizer we were served was Pan-Seared Fig with Garlic & Honey, on Wilted Spinach Crostini, with Indian Summer Melons. The pink sprouts on the top were a beautiful touch. This was followed by a Green Vegetable Nicoise: Haricot Verts, Cucumbers, Green Tomato and Frissee-Green Goddess. I particularly enjoyed the light cucumber-based dressing. The third course was an Oak Leaf Lettuce, Fennel & Rapini Salad, with Toasted Gremolata. This salad was very, very tasty.

Most of us were drinking wine with dinner: either a Cabernet Sauvignon/Merlot blend or a Chardonnay. The Cabernet blend was surprisingly light and it tasted good with all the vegetable dishes. One of my friends had the Chardonnay and was happy with that choice. The main course was Roasted Curry Carrots & Parsnips with Red Quinoa, served with Braised Leek Sauce. This was a nice combination of textures and tastes and was also topped with the beautiful pink sprouts. Lastly, came the dessert… which was out-of-this-world delicious. It was an Early Macintosh Apple Crumble with brown sugar Ginger Crust. It tasted like it just came out of the oven and wasn’t too sweet; so you could savor the subtle taste of the apples and delectable ginger crust.

We were sitting at little tables joined together in 2 long rows. The wait staff was attentive and friendly. Midway through the meal most everyone had made friends with at least the guests on either side of them; and by the time we had finished the dessert I heard many people talking about how they were going to come back for next Monday’s event. There is a different-themed vegetarian dinner every Monday at 6:30, accompanied by a farmers market, which starts at 4:00.  I’ll be back.

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.

Farm to Table

IMG_2740 (2)I recently had the pleasure of attending one of Chef Allen Susser’s Vegetarian Farm-To-Table Dinners at The Café at Books & Books, Adrienne Arsht Center, Miami. I was so entranced with the delicious food and lively conversation at the table—dinner is served “family-style” with everyone sitting together—that I almost forgot to take pictures. I only managed to get this one photo of one of the appetizers and I’m not sure what all the ingredients in it are… but it was VEEERRY TASTY! (Chef Allen, if you are reading this, please let me know what is in this delectable dish.)

The tables where set up in the plaza, in the middle of a small Farmers’ Market. We were served 5 courses–all made with locally-sourced, fresh ingredients–while listening to live music. And there was also free-flowing wine. After the meal, some of the folks from the Farmers’ Market talked about what they produce. Part of Chef Allen’s vision with these events is for people to learn where the food comes from and to meet/support the local farmers. The Farm-to-Table Dinners are every Monday night at 6:30 and the Farmers’ Market starts at 4. If you live in south Florida, I highly recommend coming to one of the Dinners and/or visiting the Farmers Market. I’ll be there this Monday, again, and I promise to take more pictures!

© 2015 Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com. Excerpts and links may be used and are encouraged, provided that full and clear credit is given to Beatriz Portela and gardeningB.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content. Any other use and/or duplication of this written material & picture(s) is prohibited without written permission from Beatriz Portela.