Monday, June 16, 2014

Building a Balance

Views from the front deck.

Tomato and lemon balm so badly want to be planted.

The weather did not cooperate this weekend and I wasn't able to be as productive in the yard as I had intended.  Last week A completed a few of my raised garden beds.  My seedlings are in desperate need of transplanting and I've been forced to place veggies into pots here and there around the property.  On Saturday I was able to start screening out soil to put into my beds.  I plan on mixing this topsoil with other components from the nursery and compost from the city.  In the mean time I've been sifting away at the many piles of dirt scattered throughout our backyard. 
The yard is finally starting to take shape.  Some of my garden beds have been completed and areas for the out buildings have been levelled.  I knew it would be a big project but it seems to be taking much longer than anticipated.   With all the recent rain we have received the backyard has turned into a giant mucky mess and although its exciting to see all the progress, its a little overwhelming to have the entire back area looking so dishevelled.  Eventually we will lay the concrete pad for the woodshed and the chicken coop and run will be built.  Only then we will be able to think about laying down topsoil and seeding grass.  Until then, I suppose I will have to learn to live with the mess.

We built our garden beds in the back South corner of our property.  It is the largest area that gets the most daylight.   The garden has been benched with 3 raised beds on the lower tier and (for now) one on the higher tier.   A small fire ring sits between the garden and the hammock.  We would eventually like to add a picnic table to area.  The proposed area for my herb spiral lies directly under a massive pile of top soil.   The projects seem endless.

Mini projects - A modifies my birdhouse so that we may finally hang it.

The front yard has been left raw for now.  Arnica and dandelions are growing like crazy.   I poked around in the grass and located a good handful of wild raspberry bushes I plan to nurture.  In the fall the canes will be pruned and relocated into the back yard to be cultivated.  For now it seems easier to let mother nature do the work.
Yesterday there was a break in the weather and I managed to drag A and Little Dog out for a short walk.   The wild flowers are constantly changing and I was amazed to see the lady's slippers are almost finished.   Last year at this time we had just moved to the area.  Rent was extremely cheap and A encouraged me to take sometime away from working.   I was in the bush everyday, able to explore and marvel at beauty of nature.  This year I have had an amazing opportunity to work in a holistic healthcare office but my days are extremely long and I feel like the seasons are passing by without really getting a chance to enjoy them.  I leave for town first thing in the morning an I often don't get home until well after 7PM.  Its seems like all I do is work, make dinner, and go to bed.  I feel cheated when I work in town all week long and the weekend weather forces me to stay inside.  It's hard to find a balance between our personal lives and our work lives.  I with our yard was completed already so that I may reap the benefits of it. 

Wild roses are coming up everywhere.  The scent is intoxicating. 

Wild Orchards - Lady's Slippers line the trail.

Tiger Lily


This beauty was a new one for me: striped coral root.

Saturday, June 14, 2014


Its warm out, we are working in the back garden, beers are being consumed.  The cast iron bottle opener Megan and Ryan bought for us has been getting a lot of use.

While screening soil today I came across bear tooth.  This is the second tooth we have found in the yard since moving here.  I suspect there are two more waiting to be discovered.

Monday, June 9, 2014

Waste Not - Want Not

For anyone that knows me well, it is no surprise to learn of my love for thrifting.   It's not so much a good deal that draws me in, rather its the lure of vintage items, made with a level of quality that can't be matched to today's products.  Its also a need for giving items a second life - society has become too disposable in the way that we view things.   I don't believe that because a pair of jeans or that set of porcelain mugs no longer serves you doesn't mean that it should be bound for the landfill.   Did you know that it takes almost 11,000 litres of water to produce one pair of jeans?   11,000 litres!?  It doesn't make sense to me to needlessly pollute our planet just for the want of a new article of clothing. 
My love of vintage goes back to when I was growing up.  I remember being a young teenager, scouting the local auxiliary store looking for vintage heels and picking through retro costume jewellery.  It was a way of developing my own sense of style.  That thrill of the hunt has stuck with me and I still find myself frequenting my local thrift stores.  With the purchase of our first home last summer, A and I have become avid garage sale shoppers, constantly searching for tools, garden supplies, and pieces of furniture to fill our house with.   Some of my favourite finds include vintage books, office supplies and clothing.  I also seem to have a soft spot for good quality pottery dishware - slowly swapping out our cheap and generic tableware for unique handcrafted pieces.

Thrifted wicker tray and lilac blossoms I stole from a neighbour's abandoned summer home. 
I tend to live my life through the saying waste not, want not.  Frequently purging out my possessions to donate to the local second hand stores helps me know that my discarded items will get a second chance too.  This past weekend, when A and I were cleaning out some old building supplies we posted a group of used windows for free on the local classifieds.  I'd rather they go to good use than to end up at the dump.   On the receiving end, I recently acquired a large amount of kale plants that someone had posted for free on Kijiji.  She had recently thinned out her raised beds so into my garden they went.  This way of life isn't just limited to my purchases,  this past weekend I managed to gather a few handful of dandelion blossoms to make into jelly.   This otherwise 'pesky' blossom is transformed into a beautiful jelly with a mild honey like flavour.  Foraging and wildcraft is another of my favourite resourceful pastimes. 

 Dandelion flowers in my thrifted herbcraft basket.
Beautuful dandelion jelly.
Take a minute to think about some ways in which you can prevent needless waste.   


Monday, June 2, 2014

Shaping Our Land

Foraged wild asparagus and Bramble Berry Sea Cider.  The essence of spring.
Blue Skies and the neighbour's cherry blossoms.  The recent warm weather has been reaching the 30s.

When I was 12 years old we moved into a vacation style home on waterfront.   The house was small and somewhat dated but it was situated a stone's throw from the sandy beach of a semi-private bay.  The front of the house showcased many large picture windows which allowed you to take in the full southern exposure.  The yard of the house featured a small patch of grass and couple of garden beds surrounded by cascades of blackberry brambles which grew the largest, juiciest berries I've ever had the pleasure of picking. 

Large Susan Magnolia (photo credit:

What really stands out in my mind about that house were the two large magnolia trees that shaded the lawn from the hot summer sun.  These amazing trees with their twisting branches and pink and white flower as big as a saucer seemed out of place for such a cool climate.  The large flower buds are first to emerge, well before the greenery and they always served to be a sure sign of spring.   Ever since living in that wonderful beach house I have been enamoured with magnolia trees and their lovely flowers.
This weekend, while picking up some seedlings and soil at the local nursery I persuaded A to let me purchase a small magnolia tree.   The tiny tree, no higher than my knee is one of the hardier varieties of the magnolias and should be able to withstand the harsh winters we receive up in the hills.  We planted my small tree to the left of the back patio where she will receive almost full sunshine.  It is said that it can take up to two years after transplanting for a magnolia to blossom.  I suppose I will have to be patient if I want to see those pink flowers again. 

My new baby.

Yesterday, while working out in the back yard, an older gentleman on a large Harley motorcycle arrived at the top of our driveway.  He introduced himself as Rick, and asked us where we would like his machine to go.  

For months now I've listened to A promise me that he had lined up a good deal to rent a small excavator for the yard.

For months I've listened to A tell me about all the plans he has for using this machine on the property once we receive it.

For months I've patiently waited for such a machine to arrive. 

Yesterday morning, over breakfast, my patience wore out and we had a large argument about whether or not such a machine would ever appear.  I kindly asked A to stop day dreaming about a machine because we would never receive one and I strongly stressed how we have wasted another summer without a vegetable garden and chickens.  

Its funny the way the universe works. 

Not more than a few hours later, without any previous indication, there was the glorious excavator, parked at the top of our driveway, ready to be put to work. 

Although rather small in size, the excavator it has already made quick work of the back corner of our property.   Tree stumps have been removed and the land levelled and graded to make room for multiple raised beds.   It amazes me how much space we have back there. 
It will be a small investment to pay for the use of the machine but overall it will significantly improve the value of our home.  

It is now I who has been busy day dreaming about plans for the machine...