Helpful Kids!

Last night we celebrated Canada Day and a friends little boys birthday party with a big crowd of awesome families! It was our first time at their home but it is located in a beautiful area. They have a big old yard that the kids all ran around in. We sat around a big fire cooking s’mores and chatting. At the end of the night they set off an impressive display of fireworks!

During one of the conversations we ended up talking about kids chores and it is always interesting to hear how other families do this. There are times I feel like our kids could pitch in more around the house and take on more responsibility and hearing from other families I may be right.

Our kids are very helpful though. It is rare that much of a stink is put up when we ask them to do their chores, or ask them to help out with extra things which may not be in their normal list.

For example the other night Jen and most of the kids went out and picked a flat of strawberries at a u-pick close by. Picking strawberries is not the funnest task in the world but they all went and had a good time and now we all get to share in eating the delicious berries!

This afternoon we went out and watched the movie The BFG. It was a really well done movie with a great story by Roald Dahl. It was a lot of fun, but by the time we got home it was already after our usual dinner time.

The kids all pitched in right away. Ella and Noah came out side with me to the garden where we gathered some baby spinach leaves to use for supper. This is the first bit of anything we’ve taken out of the garden so far this year. So rewarding! They had both helped plant it to begin with so just a really neat experience.

Inside Caile was making tea biscuits, with just the slightest help from Jen, for our dessert of strawberry shortcake. When back in Ella helped cut up wash and mash the berries for this as well. The best part of it is none of them were asked to do any of this, they all just wanted to! In the end we ate a delicious dinner with an equally good dessert that they all played a hand in help make and prepare.

So while sometimes I think they could do a bit more, I’m very thankful for my kids and their usual desire to help out around the house.

Yard Work Kind of Weekend

There are a number of yard work related chores I’ve been needing to get done. So far I’ve been picking away at them. Last weekend it was literally picking away at them. The front yard has been overtaken with weeds, so I spent time picking a bunch of them out. There are still piles there but I put a pretty good dent in them.

When I was out there weeding I had wished I had some better earphones to wear while listening to music out in the yard. I didn’t want anything really good though for fear of wreaking them. Yesterday I remembered that I still had the pair of WordPress earphones Automattic had sent me when I first started. They were good and comfortable but they had broken not long after getting them. Part of the plastic broke which connected the left ear piece to the head band piece. After trying a couple types of glue, which didn’t hold for more than 5 minutes, I had put them away and forgot about them.

Before I went out to mow the lawn yesterday I pulled them back out again. This time I brought out my soldering iron, got an old tip for it, and melted the plastic causing the two sided to bond back together. Now I don’t think this will hold for a really long time, but they held up yesterday while mowing the lawn and today out in the yard!

Today was un-fun yard work. Last year we had a strip down the side of the house which we had turned into a bit of a vegetable garden. It worked really well so we decided to expand it this year. We decided to use the whole piece of land on the side of the house. The sod has been all dug up and Jen poured the bags of mushroom compost my sister picked up for us all over, now it had to be tilled up and the compost mixed in.

We looked into renting a tiller to do it, but it would have cost more to rent it then to hire someone who had one to do it for us. So instead I went out with the garden claw and turned up the soil that way mixing in the compost at the same time. It’s times like this where it is obvious the only work I do with my hands, is really with my finger tips on the keyboard. My right hand especially feels like just one big blister.

Although there are a bunch of little projects I would like to do to the yard, the only other one I really want to tackle this year for sure is along the back of the property. We had planted a bunch of little boxwood plants. We were in a hurry to get them in the ground so all we did was dig a hole for each one and put the in. This makes it really hard to mow around, and in behind especially weeds end up growing really tall. So this year I want to make it like a long strip flower bed along the back. Where we dig up the sod again and cover it with mulch in between the bushes. We will also likely plant some flowers in between and around to give it a bit more life.

That won’t happen this weekend though, but hopefully I’ll make time coming up sometime soon.

Defiant Squash

This spaghetti squash has been cut back a number of times because it kept trying to get in with the tomatoes. The other day we came out to find it made it’s way back in with them again. This time it started to produce a squash. The main problem is that it’s way up in the air. Hopefully the tomato cage will hold it up, but some of the other ones, which grew along the ground as they should, are getting quite big. Not sure of the fate of this defiant squash.

Defiant Squash
The ground is your home, don’t you like your home?

Hodge Podge

Last night for supper Jen made hodge podge. This has to be one of my all time favourite things to eat. It’s a local dish could convince me to become a vegetarian.

Usually a fall tradition when the vegetable harvest comes in but really the main thing is having fresh baby vegetables. We were able to pick up everything we needed. There are a few variations but our hodge podge usually consists of new potatoes, baby carrots, peas, and beans. You boil all the vegetables together and then drain them off and cover them with a cream and butter sauce.

Most of the peas for this came from our garden but everything else came from a local farmers market. I can’t wait until our beans and carrots are ready and we can have almost everything come out of our garden for it. Next year we are greatly expanding our garden and we’ll have to grow some potatoes so we can have the full supply.

The Wikipedia article for hodge podge even directly mentions the Nova Scotia version. This is the closest recipe that I could find to how we made it.

It makes me very happy that I had enough restraint last night not to eat it all so there was some left over for me to be eating for lunch right now. It looked better yesterday, but still tastes just as good today.

Photo 2015-07-23, 11 45 29 AM

As Fresh as it Gets

Tonight we are having peas from our own garden in our supper. I had no idea they were even ready yet. A couple days ago they were getting close but I thought they still had a while yet.

Jen came in with some earlier and I was shocked. Now I’m hiding outside eating a few where no one can catch me. 

  

Gardening

For a guy who doesn’t overly enjoy gardening, and isn’t very good at it, I seem to have dedicated a fair amount of time to it this weekend.  It will be worth it though in the end. 

The waste resource management group here was giving away free compost yesterday. We took advantage and I went and shovelled a bunch into bags to bring it home. I was running short of time but luckily my sisters family was there at the same time and they helped me fill a bag or two as well. 

Today we went a picked up some tomato plants and some seeds for peas, beans, and zucchini. There are not many things I like better than eating peas right out of the garden so I’m hopefully the grow the most. 

When we arrived home I mixed all the compost into the garden where all these will go to give them a good base to start with. 

The boxwoods at the back of the yard took a beating this winter with all the snow sitting on top of them. Tried out the new trimmers and have them looking better now. 

Once we were done for the day and were watering a the existing things the peony is starting to come up. I was warned though that after being transplanted it might not bloom this year. My fingers are crossed that we at least get a few though. 

Great Grandmothers Peony

Tuesday night I finally did something I’ve been wanting to do for a while. Gardening and plants are not anywhere near my specialty, nor do I even particularly enjoy it much but I planted a new plan in the flower bed I dug the other day, and I am excited about it.

It’s really the sediment behind the plant that I really like and I hope that it continues on. My mother has had a Peony growing in her garden for some time now. It originated from her Grandmothers garden, part was taken and moved to her Mothers garden, and then she took some and moved it to her garden.

Since she has moved out of the family home she wanted to dig it up and take it with her. She is renting but took part of it to plant in her yard there. Since we have finally settled down into a home of our own it made perfect sense for me to now plant it in our yard.

My only fear is that I will kill it because as I mentioned I’m not great at this stuff. Luckily if I do it doesn’t for sure mean the end of it. Mom did take some to plant in her yard and my sister took some as well to put in hers. Hopefully between the three of us we will be able to get them through the transplant and have some if it available for my kids to plant in their yard someday.

I never met my Great Grandmother but I find it very cool that I have a plant from her garden now planted in my front yard.

With a bit of luck and work later this season I’ll be able to share pictures of it growing strong.

Raspberry Time Travel

There are not many things in this world that can immediately send me to another time and place. For some it is a song or a smell, but for me, just sometimes, when I place a freshly picked raspberry in my mouth my mind is flooded with memories from the past.

All of a sudden I’m a little boy again, parked in one of the rows of my Grandparents garden. The tall raspberry bushes hiding me from anyone who isn’t in my row. Allowing me to pick raspberry after raspberry until I could eat no more. There are few places which hold a sentimental place in my heart, usually that is reserved for people, but my Grandparents home will always be a special place to me.

We lived only a few hours away, but only visited a few times a year. Going to visit them was our family vacations and was something we all looked forward to. Their yard seemed like the biggest property I’d ever seen and was always kept neat and tidy. While we were there we were free to run and play anywhere on this grand estate. Maybe it was because I was young and small or maybe it was because we lived in a mobile home on a postage stamp sized lot. Whatever the case their yard was massive and I loved having the run of it.

Aerial view of my Grandparents home 1960.
Aerial view of my Grandparents home 1960.

The property ran from the main road all the way back to a beautiful river. On one side there was a farmers field on the other side a row of trees separated their yard from the neighbours. Along the fence between their yard and the farmers field there was a gooseberry bush. It still to this day is the only one I can recall ever seeing. It grew wild but the berries were a delightful sour. This reminds me that I should try to find a bush to plant in my own yard.

In the far left corner, close to the river, was an old shed which years ago was used for housing animals. It was since converted over to a kids play house. The toys still in there were from my Mothers generation and earlier so they seemed old to us but still fun to play with. The windows had curtains in them and besides the main door there was a small sliding door that was used to let the animals in and out, but if you could fit it made for a sneaky exit as well.

In the far right corner the neighbours had a small fish pond which they kept fully stocked. If you got close the fish would all start jumping looking for food. On occasion we would be able to help throw pellets to them and watch the scramble as the water erupted with what seemed like thousands of fish all trying to get the food.

Another place which was great to sit and relax was the two seat wooden glider swing. It didn’t matter if I was by myself or if we loaded both sides full of people, I could sit there and swing back and forth and let the time float by. As I got older I would sit out there reading and swinging.

If I decided to take a break from the swing there was a tree in between it and the house which was excellent for climbing. I recall sitting up there, out of sight, and spying on people coming in and out of the house without them ever knowing I was there.

My Grandmothers pride and joy, and my favourite place on their property, was her garden. To me it seemed like she could have fed the whole neighbourhood based on its size and everything growing in it. Apparently by the time I was around it had already shrunk in size compared to what it used to be.

She seemed to grow everything and there was nothing better than a meal from things that came out of her garden. Nothing except maybe just standing in the garden and eating peas right out of the pod, or beans freshly picked. My favourite though was certainly the raspberries.

My Grandfather past away while I was still quite young but my Grandmother stayed in the home almost until she past away in 2007.

Walking the property one last time before it was sold, it no longer seemed to be as big as it once did, but the memories were still there and always will be. Now I look forward to the times when that simple act of putting a berry in my mouth can transport me back to that yard.