Last night we had a delicious grilled chicken salad made with lettuce from our own garden, mixed with mandarin orange slices, almonds, and sliced grilled chicken. It was delicious, and all the more so because the lettuce was home grown.
We’ve been munching on little carrots as I thin them out, marvelling over the height of the radishes, waiting expectantly for our tomatoes to ripen, and checking on our growing zucchinis every day. Our cucumber plants are flowering and our peas are coming along nicely as well. Of everything we planted, only the spinach never came up.
If only our spring hadn’t been so cold! We didn’t plant anything until early June, so some things will only just be ready to harvest by the time we move out. I told my parents to expect a great deal of vegetables when I go! We’re looking forward to the much longer growing season in Vancouver. Unfortunately we won’t have the beautiful large garden that we dug up this summer, but we’ll plant what we can in the vegetable boxes around the back of our new place.
Definitely carrots. Mmm, garden-fresh carrots. I have fond memories of eating them straight from my childhood friend’s parents’ garden. Actually, that seems disgusting in hindsight – but ah well, a little dirt’s good for the immune system, right?
This has been such a great undertaking for us this year. From the hard work of digging the plot, to the gratitude of having someone offer to till it for us with their tractor (and the boy’s excitement of getting to watch it happen), to planting the seeds, watering them, watching those first sprouts grow, pulling out weeds, all the way up to now, finally eating the fruits (well, vegetables) of our labour. It has been so neat to see it through the eyes of our son, all that excitement and learning. I’m looking forward to seeing what next year brings.
My husband told me the other day, as he rubbed my bare belly, that he finds me even more irresistibly sexy when I’m pregnant, with all my curves and growing bump – after all, he said, isn’t that the whole point of sex? To form a child?
I love that my children have a father who sees them as a blessing and finds their ballooning mother to be attractive.
I feel the same sense of gratefulness and adoration every time he looks at our son and smiles, whispering to me, “he’s a pretty cool kid, isn’t he?” Every time he leans over to kiss him as he sleeps. Every time he scoops him up in his arms, throws him in the air, then hugs him tightly and tells him how much he loves him. Every time I see him kneeling down to talk gently to our son, teaching him how to grow into a godly man. Every time I get out of bed in the morning and watch the two of them automatically gravitate towards each other, snuggling while they sleep in for a while longer. I couldn’t ask for a better father for my children.
The boy and I gave him tickets to the monster truck show for Father’s Day. I made the mistake of telling the boy about it ahead of time, which resulted in a full day of asking for the monster trucks. I didn’t mention it again after that! More than a week later, I told the boy that I had picked up Daddy’s Father’s Day present. Thinking for a minute, he said, “fadder’s day…monster trucks!!” What a memory that kid has. Anyway, the two of them had a great Saturday afternoon watching the “big loud trucks!” They met up with some friends of ours there, so the boy made a new little friend (and hasn’t stopped talking about her since) and my husband got to talk to someone who wasn’t a toddler for once.
And I, meanwhile, enjoyed the most wonderful belated Mother’s Day. I had chocolate, a good book, a beautiful day, and more than three lovely hours in which to do nothing but relax. Ah, it was sweet.
We invited my family over for a Father’s Day barbecue the next day. I sought out some bison meat to surprise my husband with. We may not have a farmer’s market here, but I am seeking ways to buy local food when possible. I’ve found a local source for bison meat, deer meat, and fish so far. (Oh, and a local source for strawberries – our backyard! The boy and I were exploring the other day and discovered that our backyard is full of wild strawberry plants! I so love this country living stuff.) We enjoyed barbecued bison smokies, devilled eggs, potato wedges, and watermelon for supper. We finished the evening off with a long walk and warm fresh-baked cinnamon buns (my MIL’s recipe – many thanks!). We all had a really nice time.
I hope, though, that I can make my husband feel appreciated and cherished every day, not once a year. Sometimes I need to remind myself of that, those times when I catch myself starting to silently nit-pick at all the things I would do differently if I were still the one at home all day – but for now I’m not, and my son is still thriving despite those differences. For that, and so much more, I am grateful for this man – and grateful that for whatever crazy reason, he loves me too.
Rain, blessed rain. I never thought the day would come when I would say such a thing.
As I’ve said, we dug a garden from scratch this year (with the permission of our landlords, of course – they had room to spare on the four acres of land). We weeded, had a very nice man till it for us, and planted it full of all sorts of vegetables – carrots, peas, radishes, tomatoes, cucumbers, zucchini, lettuce, spinach, and a few jalapeno pepper plants just for fun.
Then it came time to water it.
For the life of us, we could not find a faucet on the outside of the house to connect the hose to. So, while we waited for our landlords to tell us where it was, we hauled watering cans of water from the house to the garden – 9 trips each evening.
Well, they got back to us. No faucet. Beautiful house…but no faucet.
We’ve had a rainy few days and so far have a few more rainy ones forecasted. For the first time ever, my sore arms and pregnant belly are grateful for the rain, as every shower saves me nine trips of lugging a heavy watering can to the garden.
Ah, but how sweet the rewards will be – homegrown vegetables…and nicely toned arms.
I have decided that this year will be the year that I learn to love fall.
I’ve never been terribly fond of it before. It’s cold and wet and chilly. The fresh berries are gone. The trees lose their leaves. Winter starts looming.
(Oh, how I detest winter.)
But no. This year I will enjoy fall. And so far I have. It was helped along by my growing interest in food and sustainability. What grows in what season? What should I look for? What are the local farmers selling now? What new in-season foods can I add to our menu? What new recipes can I try?
Last week it was apple butter and apple sauce. Nothing fancy, but I’ve never made either before so it was exciting enough for me. Tonight it was roasted butternut squash. That stuff is delicious!
I’ve also been enjoying apple cider this month. This intrigues me, as I’ve always hated apple juice. To be perfectly honest, it looks and smells like pee. Which makes me think it tastes like pee. But apple cider? YUM.
Fall also means the return of the pumpkin hat! Oh pumpkin hat, how I adore thee. (Though not nearly as much as I adore the little boy whose head you sit upon.)
Fall means carpets of leaves to wade through in the wooded area behind our house.
Why have I never properly appreciated this place before? It’s beautiful. Our own secret land to explore…
…or just to admire as we sit and contemplate.
So I’ve decided – fall isn’t so bad after all.
Perhaps next year I can work on appreciating winter too.
Peel and quarter 10 apples and place in large pot.
1 1/2 cups brown sugar
1 1/4 cups apple juice
1 Tbsp ground cinnamon
1 Tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground nutmeg
1/2 tsp ground cloves
Admire your spice rack for the umpteenth time.
Heat all ingredients to boiling, stirring occasionally. Reduce heat. Cover and simmer for 1 hour. Mash apples. Simmer uncovered for 1 hour more, stirring occasionally.
Cool for 2 hours and store in the fridge for up to 3 weeks (alternatively, freeze or can it). Serve with the most amazing biscuits ever. Make a mental note to thank your MIL for that Betty Crocker cookbook.
Peel and quarter 4 apples and place in crock pot.
You’ll notice mine are unpeeled. Big mistake. I’d read that they were easier to peel after they had been cooked. Again – big mistake. It didn’t even give my applesauce the nice “rosy glow” I had been promised. Next time, I peel my apples before cooking them.
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup brown sugar
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
Cover and cook on High for 2 hours or until apples are tender. Stir/mash/puree to desired consistency.
Store in fridge (or can it).
I’m beginning to love fall.
Next up – making pumpkin bread with that cute little pie pumpkin. Assuming I don’t change my mind and decide to make pumpkin butter instead. Or pumpkin pie. Or pumpkin cookies.
Oh, the decisions.
So I’ve been working on improving our eating – and shopping – habits for a while now. I had been buying nearly all of our food from a local organic farmer’s market, but unfortunately when the deep winter hit I just couldn’t keep it up anymore. Back to the supermarket (and, consequently, higher food bills) for us. Le sigh. I still tried to buy as much organic and unprocessed food as I could. I was thrilled when our supermarket started stocking “free from” meat, which claims to be raised without antibiotics, etc etc. I can’t say I have a huge amount of faith in it, but it’s an improvement nonetheless.
I’ve been reading as much as I can on nutrition in the meantime. I am amazed at the power of a simple change in diet to completely turn around one’s life, particularly in children. So much of what is currently labeled as attention deficit disorder, oppositional defiant disorder, learning disorders, and just plain misbehaviour could be entirely “cured” by a few changes in the way the child eats. It’s sad to think how many children are put on medications instead.
One excellent book I’ve read recently is Grub (they have a website here), which really drove home for me the importance of not only eating organic and whole, but also local. As such, I’ve been scouring the local farmers’ webpages looking for a steady source of meat, dairy, eggs and produce. I’ve been considering Community Supported Agriculture, but I’m not entirely convinced as that would only get us through the 17 week harvest season, leaving us with 35 other weeks during which we would have to find another supplier. I would prefer to find one or two farms and buy from them year-round.
Eating local would also mean eating more of what’s in season and less of what is not. Up here in frozen Canada, that’s not so much fun. I’ve been having long, drawn-out fantasies of moving to California and having an abundance of great produce “in season” year-round. But for now I live in Canada, not California, so the winter months will require a fair bit more creativity.
My priority right now is eating whole foods, mostly organic, and, when possible, buying local.
Aside from whole, organic, and local, I’ve also been working on eating more raw foods. I’m not (right now) interested in going 100% raw – I’m not even interested in becoming vegetarian or vegan – but I know that adding more raw foods is definitely a step in the right direction. And so I’ve started having a “green smoothie” for breakfast or lunch each day. My current favourite is (roughly) a cup of frozen sliced strawberries, one and a half bananas (my son gets the leftover half), a big handful of spinach leaves, and a half cup of water. Delicious.
Frozen blueberries with banana and spinach is also good.
And, just for fun, last night’s dinner – crock pot carrots, potatoes and chicken. Yum.