Beautiful Surprises (04/14)

Volunteers in the garden! I mean, volunteer plants, not people volunteering….I’m not sure I’d be comfortable with random people volunteering. 

I’m quite sure this is calendula popping up here. Thanks for reseeding yourselves – you saved me some time and money!
I’m really hoping this is the echinacea I planted last year that didn’t germinate. The package did say it could take awhile…

Beautiful Surprises (04/07)

I was looking through old photos this morning and this one jumped out as cute and funny. This is a throwback to our first bunch of chickens when they moved in to their big girl coop.

I can’t be sure, but I’m guessing they’re discussing the total square footage and the choice of flooring.

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No wi-fi in the coop forcing these teenage chickens to have a face-to-face conversation.

Spring Break

Today is the last day of school for our girls before Spring Break starts. We’re not going to Florida or Mexico or on a cruise. We’re staying home. And the forecast does not look promising. It’s going to be an indoor break. I haven’t told the girls yet, but we’re going be starting some seeds.

Both girls have been helping us in the garden for the last two summers with the harvesting, and the weeding and even though they planted their own small garden last year, I’ve never involved them in the spring seed starting. I’m not really sure why. I enjoy working alone, but like having my kids around. I have some control issues, but love giving my kids an opportunity to learn. It’s possible that my issue is as simple as the fact that most of my work is done while they’re at school.

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Working AND getting along!
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This was the haul that day from the photo above. Mostly herbs, but some kale, lettuce, peas and zucchini also.

It’s been amazing to see the learning taking place with our kids. They’re definitely in a minority around their friends.They’ve questioned why we don’t go on more vacations because that’s what they see their friends doing. They ask us why we want to do this because it’s hard work and the work doesn’t stop when we come inside. They see us putting in 10-12 hour days all summer and into the fall. But they’ve also tasted the produce from the grocery store. They’re as disappointed as we are when we open that last bag of frozen carrots or kale. We’re about to run out of beans from last summer and we find ourselves rationing them because we want them to last just a little bit longer. They’ve tasted the difference and they’re starting to really understand why we’re doing what we’re doing.

I understand that there’s a lot of merit in travelling with kids and taking them all over the world. It’s something that we’ve struggled with. We felt that by moving to our current home we were choosing a homesteading lifestyle and that makes travel difficult. We know there are learning opportunities that our kids are missing out on. I also believe that we’re giving our kids a different set of life skills. A set of life skills that will come in really handy wherever they live and whatever they’re doing.

That means it’s really important for me to give them the full circle education about growing food. Yes, pulling weeds is important and harvesting is really what we do all of this for, but they need to know how to start those plants. And they need to learn about crop rotation. And soil building. And succession planting. And companion plants.

Oh man, I’ve got my work cut out for me. I should maybe go and lesson plan for this school vacation.

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Labour day weekend 2015. Our then 7 year old helped shuck 6 dozen ears of corn. Proof that we really know how to live it up on school vacations!

Kitchen Essentials

Minimalism is all the rage right now and I’m all for getting rid of junk that’s just collecting dust in the corners of the basement, but there’s a limit to my purging.

I’ve read that very popular book about holding each item and seeing how it makes you feel and thanking things for their service to you, and it inspired me to do some minor simplifying. I have discovered I am in no way a minimilast. I feel like that’s a bad thing to admit these days, but I’m not about to lie on the internet. We all know this is a place for truths.

There are times when all 5 of my spatulas are dirty and I wish I had another one. I know I could do dishes, but I’m on a roll, people! I’ve got cookies in the oven, muffins lined up ready to go in next, dinner on the stove and a pot of apples simmering their way into applesauce. Breaking for dishwashing ruins the rhythm.

Don’t even get me started on those people who claim you only need one set of measuring cups!

So now that it’s been established that I’m a both a hoarder and a multitasker, let me share with you my list of kitchen must haves. They’re all items that make my life easier and/or healthier and therefore, happier.

Here they are:

1. Vitamix – the blender I didn’t even know I was missing all those years until we finally splurged and bought one.

2. Kitchen aid mixer – never again will I waste $100 on a cheap mixer. Lesson learned. Haven’t regretted spending the money on this bad boy.

3. Stockpot – a recent purchase made to process the harvest of 30 tomato plants.

4. Canning supplies – I walked through the canning section for years, just wanting to give preserving a go. And one day I did. And I fell in love with it. Just writing about canning makes me long for summer.

5. Dehydrator – edible “shrinky-dinks”. Need I say more?

6. Giant bowls – for popcorn and harvesting. Never enough giant bowls.

7. Canning jars of various sizes – (see canning supplies above). Also, jars get their own slot because, well, have you seen the ideas on Pinterest for jars?

8. Salad spinner – I’m not even sure why I ever put this back in the cupboard.

9. Sharp knives – Who knew cutting could be so effortless?

10. Coffee maker – mmm, coffee.

So, if I’m ever sent to a desert island with only one box of kitchen supplies, I guess it would have to be a pretty big box!

Now I feel like making something…

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Here’s my kid filling up a giant bowl with garden goodness.