Wednesday, June 25, 2008

The Well-adjusted Child

My kids have always learned at home, so with my oldest being 12 I feel like we have been at this for awhile. Whenever someone new to homelearning has asked me about it I always suggest that the first thing they read is Marty Layne's treasure of a book. Reading it really gave me a sense of how I wanted our life of learning to look and, more importantly, how I wanted it to feel. When I read her book I felt as though I was sitting down for coffee at the kitchen table of a wise friend, someone who was able to gently guide me to where I wanted to go...even though I didn't even know that place existed yet. She gave me a real insight to how gentle, loving, fulfilling and natural learning at home could be...for my kids and for myself.

A couple weeks ago I ordered The Well-adjusted Child: The Social Benefits of Homeschooling from our library and now, whenever someone new to learning at home asks me for some book recommendations, I will tell them about this one as well. What a fantastic book for someone new to learning at home... and also for someone who has been at it for years. I think it covers every cause for concern someone (or someone's relative) could ever have. It is a very empowering book, it gives all kinds of supportive information in a very straight-forward, clear manner as well as lots of stories from homelearners themselves.

One of my favourite parts is the story the author tells in the introduction, it starts out "Once upon a time, all children were homeschooled." Something that our society seems to have forgotten.

Monday, June 23, 2008

Catching up

Lately we have had that feeling of playing catch-up...a lot.....and not really getting caught up. ;-) There are always so many things we want/need/plan to get to and only so much time in the day. Last week S got to the finishing touches on our brick path project from last year. We also, after reading The Green Gardener's Guide (love this book!!), got motivated to finally put a proper tap in our rain barrel. I love this and now want more...more...more. We don't live in a particularly rainy area but this spring we did have quite a bit of rain; it really made me realize just how much water we could have saved if we had more barrels and some storage tanks. Tanks are our next want/need/plan-to project. ;-)

Anyway, slowly, slowly we are getting things done, and I do love this pathway.

And so does kitty, see her there?

Sunday, June 22, 2008


On Friday afternoon I found one plump ripe pea pod. A quick glimpse around assured me that I was alone in the garden, safe from the eyes of E, and so I quickly tasted the first pea of the year. Delicious. Yesterday afternoon I was telling a friend about what I had done and how I had made sure not to tell E that some were almost ready. This morning he found out for himself. Sigh!! I guess that one pea was it for me for this year. Good thing I enjoyed it so thoroughly. Now the race is on - first come, first serve. Will the rest of us be quick enough to get any peas?

Tuesday, June 17, 2008

Flea beetles on My tomatoes??

On Monday E and I were out in the veggie garden and we noticed some holes on my tomato plants. (My mom had just phoned me the day before asking me what could be making holes on her plants.) I took a closer look on mine and found little black flea beetles. Lots of them.Well, you can imagine how I felt about these wee little beasties attacking my tomato plants. My tomato plants are to me like blue suede shoes are to Elvis....

Do anything that you want to do, but uh-uh,
Honey, lay off of my.... tomato plants.
Don't you chew on my tomato plants.
You can do anything but lay off of my tomato plants.

Ahem. I do love my Elvis songs. But seriously, it is a bad idea to mess with my tomato plants, they are the main reason for me gardening...and perhaps one of the reasons I so wanted to live in the Okanagan. Anyway, some of the books I checked suggested a garlic spray - but my garlic is special. I get it from a grower my mom knows and I only got 10 lbs this fall. I have no garlic to spare for nasty little flea beetles. Instead I ran an onion through the blender with some water and strained it to use as a spray. I tested it on two plants but didn't want to spray all my plants just in case the onion spray ( especially in the hot sun) did some damage as well.
Being the Impatient Gardener that I am, I spent a ridiculous amount of time going around the garden and squishing the nasty things with my bare fingers....taking great pleasure in it too. It takes quite awhile to squish tiny little flea beetles off of 90 tomato plants. (I'm not entirely sure how I ended up with 90 tomato plants but I did) As I crushed them I thought of all kinds of nasty things about them, I even thought nasty things about all their relatives...and all their future relatives - and what fun that is, it's quite easy to come up with all sorts of rude insults for any little creature who would chew up the leaves of my tomato plants. In the evening I was back at it and when I came across two mating and told my husband about it he asked me if I had squished those ones too. I guess he expected me to show my usual admiration for all things to do with creating life and to spare them. But....I crushed them and felt especially happy that I had prevented another generation of these beggars from being born. E and I were back at it yesterday - squishing and some onion spraying. I learned that if you put them in a bucket of water, instead of squishing, they will find a way to crawl up the sides of the bucket. Better to squish, I say. Afterwards I went to check on the two onion spray test plants and to give them another dose of spray. As I breathed in the evening air I noticed that I was craving onion rings....Elvis would approve, I feel certain.

P.S. - If you do know any surefire ways to get rid of flea beetles will you let me know? And just so you know that it isn't all doom and gloom in my garden right now you might want to have a look at these beauties.

A bit of Veggie Garden Tour

I spent most of yesterday in the garden. It was a lovely day. So lovely that I plan to do the same thing again today.
The pole beans are climbing.
The peas are starting to plump up. The eggplants are blooming.
The Egyptian walking onions are....walking?? Now what do I do with them? The carrots are being eaten by little boys.
These carrots are all from your seeds, Andrea.
The apples are growing and, thankfully, not getting eaten yet by a little boy.

And the poppies are about to burst into bloom and then before I know it there will be loads of poppy seeds to be used in muffins, cookies, crackers and saved for friends.

And lest you think that gardening is all bliss, tomorrow I will tell you about the dark side of gardening - Flea beetles.

Monday, June 16, 2008

A handmade gift for Dad

I saw this gift idea on this blog (thanks, Denise) awhile ago and thought the boys would like to try it. E decided to make it as his Father's Day gift to S. It was well received and has gone off this morning to be put up on his office wall to be displayed proudly.

Saturday, June 14, 2008

Garage sale

Over the years we have found all kinds of things at garage sales. We don't go often anymore, just when they are in our neighbourhood and we can walk to them. This morning we went to one and found some goodies.
I have been wanting some more cast iron pans and have not been wanting to pay the price that I have seen them for at our thrift stores; my patience paid off and I found two - the exact sizes that I wanted - today for 25 cents each. Now I will scrub them up and season them and they will be better than new because they are the old, thick heavy kind.I got 6 of these big jars at 25 cents each - some for me and some for a friend. They are great for storing dried fruits, making sun tea and storing flour or oats. And I got a washboard for $1 to replace the one I broke the glass out of years ago.W got a heavy metal toolbox for himself for $1 and E got a bag of Lego (with mini figures) for 25 cents. This is the kind of garage sale that we love and what a nice way to start our weekend.

Friday, June 13, 2008

Pear Cake

I used to have a really fantastic recipe for an easy pear cake but I lost the recipe when we did our kitchen reno a while back. I wanted to make it for a movie night last night so I found a similar recipe online here. It isn't quite the same but the taste testers all said it was good. I used a little less sugar than the recipe called for and I only put the tiniest sprinkle of cinnamon in because I am pretty sure my original recipe didn't have cinnamon (although if I had made this with apples I would have used the cinnamon). I also used my frozen pear sauce rather than fresh pears so I ended up using a little less milk as well. (I couldn't make it too easy on you, Rebecca) ;-)

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Iris and the Green Gardener

I have some iris in my garden and in the past I don't think I ever really gave them their due. They really are stunning flowers and they thrive even with very little water. One of my gardening goals this year has been to help my garden get to the point where it needs very little water above the rain water that it gets. I know that this will be an ongoing thing and my first step this year was increasing the amount of mulch that I use everywhere. (so if you see someone in your neighbourhood collecting the curbside bags of grass clippings and leaves it may very well be me) I picked up The Green Gardener's Guide from the library and found it to be filled with all sorts of "green" gardening tips. I had a flip through it last night and, although lots of it is stuff that I am familiar already, it still gave me some food for thought and even more motivation to continue with my mulching. I would really recommend it for anyone wanting to learn more about why and how to garden "green".I love how gorgeous these flowers look in full bloom. How could we not be amazed when we see that unfurl from a tight bud?

Monday, June 9, 2008

A gift from the heart

A while ago I posted about the lovely Lego gift that my youngest son made for me. I guess he could tell how pleased I was with that gift because he recently gave me a similar gift.
I can tell that this is truly a gift straight from his heart.

Thursday, June 5, 2008

Walt Whitman and compost??

"Behold this compost! Behold it well!...
It grows such sweet things out of such corruptions."

Another thing to love about gardening is the endless surprises one can find everywhere you look. This year we had some extra compost left over after covering the beds. Yes, I know...extra!?! How lovely. I left some in a wheelbarrow and some in a huge pot to use when I was planting tomatoes or topdressing things, and now there is something growing out of each.

Wednesday, June 4, 2008


Ever since E was a toddler he would eat any fruit he could get his hands on. It didn't need to be ripe - not at all - he would happily grab at tiny apples, green berries and unripe peaches that had fallen on the ground. He has always had an especial love for strawberries. Here he is as a toddler just after a bath in his "clean" jammies helping himself to some unripe strawberries. He was unstoppable and so I stopped trying to convince him to wait 'til they were ripe. What was the motivation for him? He knew that he would get plenty of ripe ones too because we pick hundreds of pounds of them. He wanted ripe and unripe and he wanted them now!!Now I was just the other day telling a friend that I really felt he was growing up. (he is eight now) The reason I thought this was because for the first time he has been able to wait patiently for fruit to ripen. ( a big deal for him) He has had his eye on his strawberries since they started to flower. He watched the tiny fruit develop and waited still. Two weeks ago he noticed that they had the slightest tinge of colour on one side but still he waited. Last week he noticed that they were coloured almost all over but wanted to wait for the deep red to develop. Only two days ago he decided that they were almost ready...yesterday things went very wrong, indeed.

As I was out preparing an asparagus bed I heard a roar of indignation.

"I am so mad," he said. "Something has been nibbling at my berries."

With a sinking heart I joined him crouching over his plants. Sure enough. Something had been nibbling at his ripest berry. So, we talked about the possibility of it being a mama robin who needed energy to feed her babies and then he popped the remainder of the berry into his mouth. Will he continue to wait 'til they are ripe? I am not so sure that he will.

The peas are coming...

Finally, the peas are in bloom. Doesn't it seem a long time in coming this year? Or am I just gettting more and more impatient each year?

Tuesday, June 3, 2008

Dinner from the garden

We've been eating spinach and lettuce from the garden for a few weeks now.
Pasta is a pretty regular dinner around here because it is quick, easy, filling and delicious. To make this, I cooked (slowly) some garlic in oil for a few minutes then added some broth and tomatoes and let it simmer for just a minute. Then I added greens (spinach) and herbs (parsley) at the last minute. Toss it with hot pasta and top with cheese. This time I used Gort's Gouda cow feta and boy, is it ever good. I added chick peas too because E had been snacking on some and I wanted to use up the rest.

The Veggie Garden

A couple months ago this area was pretty bare too. Right now it looks like this.
And in a few months I will hardly be able to see the pathways for the tomato jungle that will be growing.

For some current flower garden pictures check here.

Monday, June 2, 2008


I am always amazed at how different our yard looks as the year progresses; looking at this side flower border it would be hard to know that in just a few months it can go from this

to this.

It does though, and every year I am amazed by it.