Monday, June 30, 2014

26/52 Sand and Fire


A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014

Elsa: building fairy castles in the sand
Oona: enjoying the glow of the fire on Daddy's lap

http://www.practisingsimplicity.com/

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Garden Journey: Weeds, Bugs and Scapes

I'm going to try making my garden updates a weekly thing, so I can track progress. I must admit, seeing other gardens out there in blog land, I feel so inept. When will I ever get the hang of this? I've considered just giving up on the veggies and planting a small orchard since fruit is all my kids want to eat anyways. But there's something quite thrilling about the whole process that I can't seem to give up, even though it causes a bit of heartache.


Cucumbers, snap peas, nasturtiums, melons and morning glories are all growing in the middle circle and a fair amount of weeds after a few good days of rain and still no added mulch!

I'm trying out "the three sisters" this year...  squash, corn, and beans. We'll see if my corn actually gets taller than my beans so that they can twist around it. I still have some thinning and re-spacing to do

My winter and butternut squashes are a bit on the small side, but doing fine.
Half my tomatoes are looking good and the other have gotten a bit spotty and sad.

This year is the first year I had the foresight to plant garlic in the Fall. I never realized it was so magical looking with the twirly scapes on top.
And this morning I enjoyed my first harvest of garlic scapes, which were promptly turned into garlic scape pesto. It will be spread on sandwiches for tomorrows lunch.
These little devils have been hanging out in full force on some of my flower leaves. Anyone have any organic solutions to deterring crickets?

They are definitely top suspects for the crime of punching holes in my sunflowers.

And here's another little criminal jumping in mud puddles right after Mama put a cute vintage pinafore on her. Both the garden and Elsa were thankful for all the rain.

And last, but not least, I leave you with the strawberry thief... I think we need to invest in far more strawberry plants next year if we ever want to eat any ourselves. These kids gobble them as fast as they ripen. 
This week I need to:
- Add some mulch
- Thin and space things out
- Put up sticks and twine for the peas and morning glories
- Weed, weed, weed

Monday, June 23, 2014

Fairy Frolic

I don't think I've ever loved summer as much as I do living here in the mountains. Timeless beauty surrounds us, and when I am in the outside world, I can breathe fully. How lovely it is to explore the natural world with my little people! They don't mind being swallowed up by a field of flowers or trudging through the prickles. Whenever that caged bird feeling starts to get to me... the lack of control and chaos that only bothers you in the inside world, I need to go to the woods. Lucky for me, that is not hard to do where we live. I feel sad for the city kids who have never set foot in a forest or worse yet, are afraid to. I didn't even realize these people existed until I was in college, and came across a girl who had grown up in the inner city, and was absolutely terrified of the woods. What a shame to miss out on such magical places, and how will we ever understand the damage we do if we are never immersed in the beauty of it all?





(the first five photos were taken by Jake and rest by me)











      











Midsummer dreaming awaits! Oh, it would be nice to be little again and have wings.

Sunday, June 22, 2014

25/52 Boating on the High Seas

A portrait of my girls, once a week, every week in 2014

Oona and Elsa: On a boat ride for two... I love when I see these girl's working together without any coaxing!

http://www.practisingsimplicity.com/

Saturday, June 21, 2014

Happy Summer Solstice!

Illustration by Margaret W. Tarrant

Happy Summer Solstice! I hope you had fun under our glorious sun today! We ate sun cakes, built sandbox fairy houses, walked in the fairy woods and had a wonderful bonfire under a full sky of stars. Welcome warmer days! Welcome beautiful summer sun!

Friday, June 20, 2014

Gardening Journey: Is there something growing there?


 The garden is starting to come together... not as bustling as I'd like it to be this time of year, but somethings happening for sure. Unfortunately, there's probably more weeds than anything else, but I'm doing my best to keep them under control until we can get some more mulch down. Gardeners, what is your preferred mulch? We used cedar wood chips to start, but I learned afterwards this might be a no-no because they take longer to break down. I was thinking about pine needles... gathering them from the forest, but there is some debate about the acidity, and I'm also worried they will just blow away. (This study was pretty interesting, suggesting they are no more acidic than rain water within a short period of being used.) If anyone has experience with pine needles, good or bad, let me know! This Fall I'd like to try sheet mulching so I can get in early in the Spring like a proper gardener who knows what they're doing. Everything but the garden seems to grow fast in our yard, so I think mulching is necessary.

The wooden poles in the center of the garden (old Christmas trees slightly charred in a bonfire) form a teepee that morning glories will grow up, which will also provide a play house for the girls.  As mentioned before, we're trying a mandala garden this year inspired by Gaia's Garden, and it's finally starting to take shape as many of the seedlings have emerged now, and most of the starter plants are in. I think there are a few things I need to replant... my lettuce is patchy... and not many pumpkin seeds have sprouted yet... it might be the cedar mulch causing problems for the lettuce... I pushed it back for planting, but rain has been moving it around. The pumpkins had plenty of room, so I'm not sure why they're giving me a rough time. I've already replanted them, so we'll see if the second attempt works out.


My little garden fairy has been helping me keep the grass watered. Gardening with two little ones near a busy road is not as idyllic as it may seem... haha. I spend far too much time pulling a weed and then running to catch the one year old from endless peril. But like an old pony, I keep trudging along, despite the fact that I know this garden will not be the talk of the town, unless it's to say, "Have you seen the jungle the Wildwood's have in their yard?"


Speaking of plants that grow like jungles, I'm excited to try out my first batch of comfrey tea fertilizer that should be ready soon. Check out this video to learn about the virtues of comfrey. A piece of the stem rubbed on poison ivy dries it out and takes away the itch in a day, as I discovered last year.


I am taking solace from my pathetic vegetable garden in the perennial blooms this year. The peony bush we planted when we moved here five years ago finally took off with giant white blooms.


 Our lupines are spreading too, and they are always a delight!


 We planted a bunch of zinnias from seed in the front flower bed, and most are doing well. But many of our sunflowers didn't emerge so I planted more the other day.


We bought some potted strawberries which are being eaten as quickly as they turn red. I'll try putting them in the soil as soon as they are done producing fruit so they can maybe come back next year (I have no idea if this will work, but I didn't want the birds to steal our precious fruit.)


 Oh, the peonies! Can you smell them?! They'll be gone all too soon.


I thought I'd leave you today with a bit of gardening inspiration.... exciting reads and links to checkout...


Here's what I've been reading:
- "Wild Color"  (taken out from the library) Did you know birch bark makes a lovely pink dye? I'll have to try it sometime.
- "Perennial Vegetables" (also a library loaner) Not sure how many of these veggies my picky eaters would try, but it was fun to think about.
- Gaia's Garden This one I did invest in... a great guide to starting a permaculture garden... I haven't read the whole thing yet, but I think I'm learning a lot from it.
- Taproot magazine: the latest issue, "Seed", has so much garden inspiration, and I squealed and clapped my hands ( I never do that!) when a little garden journal illustrated by Phoebe Wahl popped out from inside the pages. Such a cool gift, and such a special magazine!
- "The Book of Gardening Projects for Kids" (another library find) has some great basic gardening information as well as creative ideas for gardening with the kiddos... I might have to add this one to my personal library at some point

And Watching:
- Edible Garden I adore this show... I watched all six episodes in the winter, and it's what led me to start thinking about permaculture. She makes an enchanting garden in her urban backyard.
- Fork to Fork  organic gardening tips and simple recipes from the garden.. I've only watched the first one so far, but it's quite charming... and I do so wish I had their old timber frame home

Looking:
- Beautiful Rock Design
- Tree Stump Path
- Urban Mandala Garden
- "Blackberry Patch" by Julianna Swaney


Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Visiting the Lake Part 2


 We've had a nice bit of relaxation in our own backyard to start off June. My mother-in-law rented a house on Lake Dunmore about twenty or so odd minutes from our home, and so for the last few weeks we've been spending our weekends there playing and relaxing by the serene lake. There have been lots of chocolate chip pancakes, blueberries, canoe rides and even a bit of swimming in the cold VT water (which I think I'm finally acclimatizing to, as I mostly didn't notice... mostly). My little mermaids didn't give one thought to the temperature and jumped right in every time. It was certainly a peaceful break from the daily grind, but unfortunately we've now all come down with some nasty colds upon our return to the daily routine. Here's a visual tour of our little get away, and this time with some captions!

I do so love being serenaded. I count my lucky stars everyday I married a music man.

 
 This porch had a beautiful view overlooking the water... many hours were spent rocking, crocheting and knitting, making music, and just being goofy.                 
 

  I even finished a couple dish clothes, and made a cute little granny stripe cell phone case (for the cell phone that mostly doesn't work where we live) out of yarn scraps from Elsa's baby blanket.

We made delicious, creamy homemade vanilla ice cream topped with cherries and chocolate chips. I'm hooked! I predict a lot more ice cream making in the cards this summer!... ginger... peach... mint... the possibilities are endless.


Oona polished off every last bite in true kid fashion, and even Elsa got her first taste of the devilishly good substance.
And some downtime with busy Daddy is always a dose of happiness for all.



Water is magic.


Pancakes are magic too.
We need to find a house someday with an old fireplace. Much better to gather around than a tv set or computer screen.







So now it's time to get our little family well again. I think besides a possible trip to visit family mid-summer a staycation is in order for us now... finding summer fun where we are and enjoying all the free local treasures that rural VT provides us. Maybe someday I'll create a tour of the lovely spots in our area. It really is a lovely place to be in the summer when there's plenty of sunshine and none of that fluffy white stuff.