Home Harvest: Carrots

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Carrots were one of the easiest things I grew this year! I planted Little Finger baby carrots, three squares worth. I totally failed to thin them out so I think they grew a bit smaller than they would have, properly spaced, but they’re baby carrots anyway so I figured it was okay for them to be small. So far I’ve only pulled up one square, but apparently carrots keep in the ground for quite some time. I think I’ll grab the rest of them sometime this week.

I have never grown carrots before and I was impressed with how simple they are. They really seemed like they barely required care. I can understand why carrots are great for kids to grow! I have a ton of seeds leftover and will be planting them next year for sure. I think I’d also like to grow some full-sized carrots just for the variety!

We roasted our baby carrots, along with the green beans. I vaguely recall Matt making some too — I think he steamed them. Either way we ate them quite plainly, with just butter and salt and pepper. Yum, yum.

This series is wrapping up soon because my garden is wrapping up! I have an overdue report on broccoli, plus our tomato harvest and meager pepper harvest to write about. If the cucumbers manage to make it before the frost really sets in, that’ll be it!

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Navigating Winter Worry

Last night we had a frost warning in effect, and based on our indoor/outdoor thermometer’s stored readings, that warning was needed. I picked all of the largest, green tomatoes off of the plants yesterday, snagged our tiny crop of mini bell peppers, and waved goodbye to everything else on my way back inside. Matt went out before bed and brought in all of the container plants, then covered up my cucumbers with a sheet. Winter is coming.

Fall doesn’t seem to last long, here, which is a shame because it used to be my favourite season. Back to school! Tights and boots! Apple cider! I’m stuck in this sad grownup mindset where now, when I think fall, my brain starts churning in an unpleasant way — Need firewood. Snowblower. Winter tires. Must clean chimney. The baby doesn’t have boots this year. Does last year’s snowsuit fit? We don’t have a roof rake. All of the gardens need to be winterized. So on and so forth. There is no time for tights and boots and apple cider because one minute I’m looking out the door realizing the temperature hasn’t cracked double digits and then all of a sudden it’s a snowpocalypse.

Aside from the month or so left until we really need to be fully winterized, I am going back to work at the end of October. I need to set up M’s trial day at daycare and I feel really anxious about that whole transition in general. I need to think about pumping and how much milk to send, and figuring out our cloth diaper + daycare system, and how we’re going to make it all work as a one-vehicle family. I have a driving test scheduled for October (yes, I am in my mid-twenties and have yet to complete my license, but the government forced my hand this time so I have to test out) and I know how to drive, I’ve been doing it for ages, but I’m tumbling down the rabbit hole in which I fail and can’t drive and have to be chauffeured around. I wake up every morning and think about parallel parking and feel vaguely ill. I’m trying to keep up with housework and getting out of the house and hobbies but I feel uninspired to do things like blogging and laundry when my brain is like HIBERNATE OR RUN AWAY.

I’m exaggerating, of course. But I do feel this sense of foreboding doom and dread. Not all the time, but it’s creeping in, in the quiet moments. I’m trying to remind myself to be present and live now because worrying won’t get me anywhere. We have made some headway on our Giant List of Winter Things. There are benefits to me going back to work and M being in daycare. I have a month to practice all of the fiddly bits of driving so that I will pass. If I don’t pass I will be able to try again before my license expires.

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Mostly, I’m just telling myself to breathe. It’s something that requires a reminder, sometimes.

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Live Clean Baby Calming Bedtime Collection

I was recently given the opportunity to test out some products from the Live Clean Baby line. Well, to be specific, I was given the products but M was really the lucky recipient!

Live Clean products

Images from Live Clean

I have a huge collection of baby bath and body products, and have yet to actually buy any myself, but any time we have something promising all natural ingredients I find myself reaching for it first. I’m familiar with Live Clean because I love their shampoos and conditioners for myself. The brand uses “plant sourced, renewable, sustainable ingredients and non-petrochemical based ingredients” and is committed to cruelty free, organic products, which I can appreciate, especially when it comes to what’s going on my daughter’s skin.

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Home Harvest: Green Beans

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I would venture a guess that my green beans were the most successful vegetable harvested in this year’s garden. They grew like crazy, flowered profusely, and made a ton of beans. When we left on vacation I saw little baby bean pods starting to sprout, and within a few days our house sitter had messaged me to let me know he and his girlfriend had already picked a bunch. When we came home I had plenty to harvest, and since then I’ve picked at least two or three more rounds of beans. We may have one harvest left, but if there’s anything there it will be small. Still, for the small number of plants I grew, it was a lot!

I did have one plant that totally wilted and died. I’m not sure what happened with it because we came back from vacation and it was just hanging limply. And, some of the beans got a mottled look to them, so I think they experienced a bit of sunscald, but the majority were not affected. For the most part they really held up well.

I grew Contender bush beans, because I didn’t have to stake them. I love these guys and am definitely planting them again next year! I did a mini-succession planting plan, sowing one square foot of beans about a week and a half ahead of another foot. I want to dedicate more space to them in the 2015 garden and do a longer succession plan so we have beans for quite some time.

As for how I cooked them, I went basic and stuck to steaming and roasting, with a bit of butter and salt and pepper. I almost ate some raw before reading that they’re actually mildly toxic if uncooked, which surprised me.

Overall verdict — beans, you did well and you’re invited back for next year.

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How We Spent our Summer Vacation: Part Three

The final week of our vacation was spent in Peterborough and the Ottawa Valley — we took the scenic route to our first destination, via Bobcaygeon.

The whole reason Matt took vacation time was his grandmother’s 90th birthday celebration, scheduled for an August weekend in Peterborough. We decided if we were going to head south we may as well see everyone, which is how the two week plan took shape, but the birthday party was our main reason for leaving town and we were really excited to see so many family members in one place! The relatives started pouring in a few days before the party, us included.

Between meeting and spending time with people, we explored Peterborough a bit — or, rather, Matt showed off more of his hometown to me and M. We visited a neat park, Rogers Cove, which features an awesome splash pad that I’m sure M would love to explore when she’s a bit older. This time she was content with the baby swing, waving at geese, and a look at one of the lift locks.

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The party itself was a lot of fun, even though the rain refused to go away. We enjoyed awesome food, hilarious stories and jokes, music and dancing and all of that good stuff. M conked out in the evening but we were able to stay outside a bit longer once we got her into the pack n’ play. The next day we met with some friends at the Peterborough Zoo — I think Peterborough has some of the best playgrounds I’ve ever seen. The one at the zoo is gigantic and looks like a ridiculous amount of fun.

We were sad to leave, that Monday, but had to get on the road for our next and final destination. We stopped for a quick visit with friends in Belleville (hi Michelle and Isaac!) then made our way onto Highway 41 to head up to Round Lake, where my dad spends summers and most of my paternal family resides. Taking Highway 41 was kind of fun because it’s my old stomping grounds so I got to point things out to Matt along the way. This was the part where M had an awful fever, though, so we didn’t do much stopping aside from dinner at a chip stand and grabbing butter tarts.

Poor M was still not feeling well the next day, but perked up a bit when she met my cousin’s toddler daughter. They played a lot over the next few days! We split our time between the lake and my cousin’s home in Pembroke. We had a delicious dinner one night at the Nook Creperie, and of course, had to have an ice cream cone at Brum’s Dairy. Matt did a bit of fishing on the lake, I was able to catch up with people I haven’t seen in ages, and we had a good time, especially when M started to feel better.

We decided to leave ourselves plenty of time to get home, fearing a late night/early morning return followed by Matt heading back to work that Monday. So, on Friday morning we pulled out of Pembroke, with plans to overnight in Sault Ste. Marie again, then do the extra-long trip straight home on Saturday. For the record: the worst drivers I have ever encountered were ruling the roads all the way past North Bay.

Lunch was at Casey’s in Sudbury, which was nothing special but I highly recommend not putting the actual address in your iPhone’s GPS system because you will drive all over the damn city. We stayed over again at the Comfort Suites in the Sault, where we had basic takeout Boston Pizza so we’d have time to visit the saltwater pool. M loved it this time!

 

The next day we set out with surprisingly warm, sunny weather for travel. We stopped at Agawa Bay again, but didn’t spend as much time there because we had a really, really long drive ahead.

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In Wawa, we dropped into Young’s General Store where they have interesting souvenirs and amazingly good fudge. We were looking for a good gift for our catsitters, and fudge won (plus a few bars for us!). We had a relatively uneventful drive all the way into Nipigon, where we were planning to stop for dinner. The Nipigon Drive In has best poutine I’ve eaten in Ontario, hands down. They have classic poutine with real curds and poutine sauce or ridiculous culinary experiments depending on your mood. Mine had bacon and onions and mushrooms in it!
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We were supposed to fuel up in Nipigon because we had looked ahead and determined it had the cheapest gas prices in the region. With all the rush of dinner we entirely forgot and didn’t realize until we had all of seven kilometres worth of gas left showing on the gauge, with 30 kilometres back to Nipigon and 20 more to go before we hit another station. I dug out our roadside assistance card while Matt watched the gauge tick down to zero — and then we kept going. We rolled into a station outside of Shuniah, amazingly, and thankfully. I guess it’s not a road trip for us if we don’t do something stupid…

In Thunder Bay, we made a quick stop at the Target, got coffee, then drove on home. We made decent time for the big chunk of road we bit off, and M was so sleepy that she went down without a fuss (though she did perk up to play with the cats as soon as we came in). We were all pretty exhausted the next day but by Monday things felt normal again.

I’m really happy we had the opportunity to visit family and friends! Although flying is faster, road trips seem like more fun to me, and the drive is part of the experience.

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