Lazy Garden

This is year three of spring at our house — the snow has been gone for a few weeks now, but I have done nothing to any of the gardens. I haven’t made any seed orders, nor started seedlings, and the front garden is only raked because Matt did it. I’m not burning out — I’m sick right now, which is making things challenging — but I think I’m dialing back.

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I plan to use all of the space we have claimed and reclaimed for gardening, and I want to rehabilitate more of it this year, too. But I’m not doing anything complex or fancy this year, and I’m recognizing where shortcuts may be better. Until we get a good grow light setup, my seedlings are doomed to fail, each year. So I’m not bothering with early starts from seed — I’ll go to the nursery and get ones that are already in good health. And I’ll buy flower starts too. Sure, I’ll pay a bit more, but they’ll actually grow, and maybe next year we’ll have our own light system sorted out.

I bought my seed packets at Walmart from one of the big warehouse seed companies. I only grabbed a few things, because I still have a lot leftover from last year. This is a far cry from my massive seed orders from years past! But I have a lot, already, and I only want to buy things I can directly sow. I may make a small Veseys order, because there are a few things I’d like that don’t exist in-store, but I won’t beat myself up if I don’t get around to it on time.

I want a child-friendly garden this year, and I want to only plant things we will actually use. Last year I had tomato plants taking up a large, large chunk of my upper vegetable garden. Nobody in this household likes tomatoes but me and I can’t eat six plants’ worth. I don’t know why I grow greens, when getting people to eat them is like pulling teeth (even me — I don’t actually LIKE that much kale).

Carrots, we’ll eat. Peas, we’ll eat. Beans, we’ll eat. Lettuce. Spinach. Cucumbers. Squash. Bok Choy is about as exotic as it gets. Give me basil and rosemary and peppers and broccolini (maybe). I don’t feel like planting things out of novelty this year because it seems to end up wasted, anyway.

So that’s my very sporadic, not planned at all garden. I don’t have a garden mapped out; I’m not sure if the raised bed will make it this year (it’s peeling layers of wood away); I don’t know if we’re digging in new veggie beds; I didn’t weed mat any of the places I was going to weed mat last year… but I’ll do it as it comes. The only pressing thing I have to do in the next few weeks is fix up the pea fences and get the early seeds in the ground.

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REVIEW: Alter Eco Dark Salted Brown Butter Bar

True to form, I snatched up this bar because I love one of the flavours within. That makes sense, right? The Alter Eco Dark Salted Brown Butter bar got me with its promises of brown butter. According to Alter Eco, this is a “a bar to melt over, with sweet brown pastured butter and celtic sea salt.” I say, om nom nom.

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Look at that butter melting on the package! I didn’t hesitate in picking this one up at all.

This is super smooth chocolate, without being melty. I kept trying to let it melt down in my mouth but couldn’t resist chewing it. Why? Because the salty taste kicks in a few seconds later than the rest of the flavours, and I loved it. It slowly crept up on my tastebuds, mingling in with the standard dark chocolate taste and overpowering it a bit at the end — but I liked that part.

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There wasn’t really a strong brown butter taste, which I was kind of hoping for, but I think it comes through in the smoothness and overall deliciousness of the chocolate. This is a really, really good bar.

I found this bar at the Thunder Bay Bulk Barn. You can check out Alter Eco online — they have all kinds of interesting flavours.

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Gifts For Your Mama

Mother’s Day is coming up, and you might have less time than you think! The first Sunday in May this year is actually May 1 so Mother’s Day is a bit early. Here are a few fun Canadian-friendly gift options I rounded up:

Mother's Day Gifts

Fuji Instax Mini 8 - for the mom who wants a new way to document her family!

Badass socks - because your mom is a badass.

Color With Me, Mom! -  a neat way to share hobbies — this book has one complex side and one simple side and lays flat for shared colouring fun.

What I Told My Daughter - awesome for moms with daughters.

Laura Slack Raspberry Ganache Dark Chocolate - because your mom deserves chocolate.

The Ultimate Squish Box - because your mom deserves candy, too.

Birth flower pin – either your mom’s, or your own! Drake General Store had these, and I can’t find them now but Etsy probably has some vintage options.

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REVIEW: IT’SUGAR Premium Milk Chocolate Bar

My husband grabbed this from the IT’SUGAR store in Myrtle Beach. I think he thought the label was funny (and it is!). Normally I’d never buy a plain ol’ milk chocolate bar, but given that we had it in our possession I decided to review it.

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This will probably be the shortest review ever. This chocolate bar… tastes like chocolate. It’s a really basic chocolate bar. It’s not amazing but it doesn’t suck. It tastes like generic chocolate. It’s like the white bread of chocolate bars.

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Bam. Chocolate bar. I would not crave this bar, but I would not pass it over were I desperate for chocolate.

This particular bar was branded for Easter, but you can check out the IT’SUGAR website for their milk chocolate offerings. I wouldn’t go out of your way to buy it, though.

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Cocoa Couriers Subscription Box

Once upon a time, when I didn’t have a child and I did have more time and energy to worry about how I looked, I subscribed to beauty boxes. I cancelled those subscriptions around when M was born, and never looked back (and still, honestly, have some little tiny unused samples floating around my house).

I didn’t subscribe to anything after that… until now. It’s hard to find interesting chocolate bars in northern Ontario (Toronto, prepare yourself for June) — retailers that ship often charge a lot for shipping. So when I stumbled across Cocoa Couriers I was excited!

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This is a chocolate bar subscription box. I’m on the starter plan, which is three artisan bars a month, but there are options for four bars. The subscription boxes include shipping which is a nice bonus! And, all of the chocolate is fair trade.

My first box came to me shortly after I signed up. I wasn’t expecting to be surprised, having read a few reviews of the box, and I got exactly what I was thinking I would – Toasted Coconut by Medecasse Madagascar Chocolate, 70% Madagascar Dark Chocolate 2.64 oz (75g), Raaka Virgin Chocolate, Mint & Nibs, 56% Cacao, Dem. Rep. Congo, 1.8 oz, and Blueberry 70% Dark Chocolate by Brasstown Fine Artisan Chocolate, Ecuador Manabí, 2.25 oz (63.87g).

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This seemed like a fair selection for the cost of the box. I’ll review the individual bars in the future, but so far they have definitely been decent. I’m not sure what to expect for the next box, as all of the reviews and images I’ve seen have involved these three bars plus a fig bar. I guess next month will be a surprise!

The bars come with a little tasting guide, including recommend drink pairings. It’s nice for people like me who love chocolate but still aren’t entirely sure how to properly enjoy it. ;) If you’re a Canadian who is into chocolate showing up at your doorstep, I’d check this box out.

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