Harvest 2015: Beans

Ah, beans. If all else fails, I can grow beans.


I tried pole beans this year along with planting the rest of my Contender bush beans from last year, as well as a few rows of Tendergreen bush beans. The bush beans went insane, spilling over my basil and generally being ridiculously unruly. Next year, I will give them a bit more space, as the ones on the edges started to mould in a few places, tangled up in too much greenery. Of course, our weeks of rain didn’t help that much — anything touching the ground has been less-than-stellar.

The pole beans have started to kick in while the bush beans have mostly stopped. They seem to be less prolific, but there are still plenty of them. I grew Monte Gusto (yellow) and Kentucky Blue (which are actually green). M loves to point at them and yell “BEAN!” and I am trying to teach her that you shouldn’t’ eat them raw (which I didn’t know until last year!).

Beans have been a staple in our dinners for several weeks now thanks to how well they’ve done. I don’t do anything fancy — usually they’re just steamed, and served with garlic and butter. They’re also really tasty when they’re sauteed with curry powder but I have yet to do that this year. And thanks to Cook Smarts, I now know that they’re delicious if you steam them, then chop them into salads or potato salad. Maybe one year I’ll try pickling them, but I have a few jars snagged from my aunt that are still holding strong so I don’t need to preserve mine this year.

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Head Up, Love

When I was pregnant with M, and when she was a teeny infant, I listened to The Lumineers and Mumford and Sons and other artists of that genre a lot. Our radio stations always seem to be a few months behind and usually play the kind of Top 40 stuff I don’t love, and when we have Sirius I blast 90s grunge — but at home, with Songza or other radio apps, I’d set it to folk rock (is that the right genre? I don’t know) and enjoy.

A few days ago I got in the car and headed to work. It’s a five-minute drive at most, cold and rainy that day, and when I turned the key in the ignition, Stubborn Love started playing from the radio. I hadn’t heard it in a long time but it brought me back to those days of waiting, and then the days of rocking and soothing, and it made my heart ache and smile at the same time.

This song is, I think, more about a family breakup or divorce than anything, and that’s not something I’m dealing with at all — but at this particular point in my life, when I find myself rolling into anxiety, feeling downtrodden, the chorus really stuck out to me:

So keep your head up, keep your love
Keep your head up, my love
Keep your head up, my love
Keep your head up, keep your love

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Colour Your World

I resisted the adult colouring book trend for quite some time. I’m not sure why — I’m usually a bandwagon-jumper, but I guess I felt like I didn’t have a lot of time to devote to hobbies, especially colouring. Then a friend shared her new Instagram account that features colouring, and talked about the impact colouring has had on her life. A lot of other friends chimed in, sharing their own experiences of lessened anxiety, a way to sort of tune out and relax while still creating something, and I hit the purchase button on two books that evening.

I ordered Outside The Lines: An Artists’ Coloring Book For Giant Imaginations, and Calming Colouring: Nature Patterns: 80 Blissful Patterns To Colour In. Outside the Lines is a crazy book filled with a bit of everything, while Calming Colouring is exactly what it sounds like. I kind of wish I had ordered the seemingly most popular book, Secret Garden: An Inky Treasure Hunt And Coloring Book, but I can’t justify another purchase right now!

We had pencil crayons sitting in with the other craft supplies, and I jumped in as soon as M was asleep for the night on the day my books arrived. Matt was working a night shift, so it was just me, a glass of wine, a fistful of pencil crayons, and my new colouring books. The first page I chose was sort of bizarre but I was drawn to it (har har).


This was quick work but gave me a chance to see how I liked colouring — and I liked it! I have never meditated, but this felt almost meditative to me — focusing on something, one colour at a time, until it’s complete.


I did this one over the course of two evenings. It’s surprising how long colouring takes when you’re attempting to stay in the lines and do some shading and blending. Since then I’ve started another page, a mandala, but I’m not pressuring myself to start or finish anything in any given time frame. When I feel like it, and when I have the time, I’ll colour.


In the meantime, there’s the Colorfy app, which is fun! It’s not quite the same quiet relaxation as physical colouring, but if I feel anxiety welling up and I have my phone nearby, focusing on tapping colour into each little outlined area can be enough to make my brain travel elsewhere and calm my thoughts.

I’m glad I decided to try this out. It’s a fun, easy, relaxing hobby that is fine to pick up or leave as I please.

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Harvest 2015: Cucumbers

Last year, I attempted to grow cucumbers from seed. By the time the frost set in I had one tiny cuke, maybe two inches long, spiky and tough. It never amounted to anything edible. This year, I planted more from seed — tumbling cucumbers that, as of yet, have failed to tumble in any meaningful way. I think that our seasons are just not compatible with cucumbers from seed, even when I start them early — I need to stick with nursery starters, or I need a grow light.

Anyway, I still managed to grow a cucumber this year, because my dad brought up a nursery plant and it took off quickly. I’m not sure what kind it is — it’s a garden cucumber, and it is a little bit spiky. That’s all I know.


This is the first one off the plant! It surprised me when I checked out the garden and saw it hanging out. I let it grow for another week then pulled it off the vine when I needed a cucumber for a recipe. It was a tasty cucumber, juicy on the inside with not a lot of seeds. I’m used to English cukes so I didn’t peel it and I should have but other than that it was great.

There are a few more small cucumbers on the vine. I’m not sure how quickly they grow, but I’m hoping we’ll get a few more. I’m not planning to do anything fancy with them — no pickles here, probably, but we eat them in salads, spiralized or chopped into chunks, or dipped into hummus or sliced into tzatziki.

So, next year, I am probably going to go ahead and buy nursery cucumbers from the get-go. That always feels like cheating, to me, but it beats not having a harvest at all.

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Freedom Clip Update/Perfect Pod

I thought I’d share an update on the Freedom Clip we tried out to see if we could brew our own coffee in our Keurig 2.0. Unfortunately, it’s not a great update — both of the Freedom Clips we had broke, one after another, in the span of a few months. The plastic snapped in both cases. I’m not sure of the exact circumstances because both times Matt was the one manning the coffee maker, but it either had to do with the heat of the Keurig, or us taking the clip out and putting it back in a few times to accommodate carafe pods.

Enter the Perfect Pod… because I’m always willing to try a new gadget. I actually bought the Perfect Pod Eco-Carafe capsule (left) while we still had the Freedom Clip because I wanted a way for us to share a carafe on mornings when we were both home. Once the Freedom Clip broke I bought the single-cup Perfect Pod, too.


These work easily — just fill ‘em up with coffee grounds and place them in the machine like you would a regular pod, and you can access all of the brewing options. The Freedom Clip was neat because it let me use non Keurig/Keurig 2.0 pods, so I’m kind of missing that (so many things I wanted to try!) but the Perfect Pods are good for filling our own pods and using our own coffee, which is more economical anyway.

There are two versions, the Eco and EZ — Eco is what we have, and you can see it has perforated sides. When you use the Eco pods you have to wash the grounds out, which is simple as long as you get to it on time (they seem to harden up over time). If you use the EZ versions you have to buy little tiny paper filters, which is probably great for people who don’t want to spend time rinsing but seemed like an unnecessary step to me.

I picked my pods up from ECS Coffee – they’re not super-cheap but if you consider the cost of buying several packages of pre-filled pods, it’s not that bad. (FYI — no affiliation with any of the companies or products mentioned here; I just like coffee!)

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