I went to a very muddy garden today to see about taking off the last of the beets for a few more jars of pickled beets, only to find a few beet tops strewn about, and missing (of course) the beets. I did find deer tracks, so I know the culprit isn’t human.

So I came back home and made another batch of apple jelly. This time, with rum and spices from St. Lucia. I had no idea you could play around with jam that way, but now I do.

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wait, there’s more



I said I was going to have a bit more time on my hands, as the work schedule went down to part-time, and this was how I spent my Monday. I am beyond happy to have a bit of wiggle room in the schedule.

With that bit of free time, and a Christmas market on the horizon for November, I’m happy that I feel like “making” again, and I got going on some apples I had been given. More than nine jars of a beautiful, pale amber jelly, and Sonja asked to take a couple jars to her boyfriend’s house for Thanksgiving. Tomorrow may be beet pickles…

The Christmas market will be candles, which will commence shortly; sad that the only knitting I did all summer was a pair of socks…but the garden was so good! I could (and did) make a list of the bounty preserved. (Such a good feeling. Now to attack the kale!)

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There are Emily Carr roses still blooming as my gooseberry bush starts to change to its fall colour; the false sunflower and the coneflower are in their season, and even though the calendar tells me that it just turned to fall, we have been doing our transition into the season for a few weeks now.

The end of September means that I have almost two weeks (and 8 days off work) to get the rest of the produce off the garden and cleaned up. My head is so into that deadline that I’m making myself nervous, but that always happens this time of year. The butternut squash are coming along just great, but the honeynut have to turn bright orange before they can be harvested. Not sure I have enough time, because only a few have started that transition. One row of carrots is still in the ground, and a few beets yet. The beets will be made into pickles, because I only got three small jars from the batch I made two weeks ago. And on it goes, really, but we did take the last of the cantaloupe off (7!) and they have been just delicious.

Sonja has been doing her best to work hard with the new schedule of university classes and professors. She was unlucky enough to catch a cold the first week, so has been sneezing her way through the tissue boxes. We also spent some time with more scholarship applications, and job applications. And she’s been using her new computer, trying to streamline use for studying and lectures; and occasionally translating English to French and back again. So many changes for her, the least of which has been her bicycle commute.

Elena has been getting back into her usual routine, starting improv again, and even having time for a short-term babysitting job. She’s doing good, even though she has caught Sonja’s cold.

And I am still cycling my way to and from work; only one more week until I switch to a part-time schedule. I am looking forward to a bit more “free” time.

September has been lovely, and October is one week away!

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I don’t think we will run out of tomatoes


The tomatoes did not disappoint this year, but neither did anything else. What a phenomenal year at my garden! I can honestly say that I am as happily overwhelmed as I’ll ever be…with tomatoes frozen, tomatoes sauced, tomatoes canned, and more coming!

The beans are done, but I am harvesting the seeds for next year. These are Black Valentine, with the Ukrainian Comrades still on the garden. Shelling dried beans reminded me of the caragana bushes spitting seeds in my face…not an unpleasant memory.

The beans were some of the best I’ve ever had; tasty, tender and great producers. (And I was secretly pleased with the nod to my Ukrainian ancestors!)

Today, my day off was as gorgeous as I could have asked for…three hours at the garden got the tomato plants mostly cleared off. Of the twenty-four I put in, there were a few that struggled with the competition from the spruce trees (in close proximity), but the San Marzano is still in production. The kale is starting to enjoy the cooler temperatures, so I’ll be chopping and freezing for soup in the next week, and letting it go again. The green cabbage is off, the red cabbage still waiting for me…the beets are roasted, shredded, made into borscht (and frozen), and still to be made into beet pickles. Tomorrow.

Altogether, on the garden there was: beets, carrots, beans, peas, pickling cucumbers, English cucumbers, tomatoes, kale, horseradish, cantaloupe, watermelon, zucchini, sweet potatoes, potatoes, honey nut and butternut squash, green and red cabbage. There is also some volunteer parsnip and more dill. And the weather was very, very good.


I even made some cantaloupe jam.

I am really very proud of myself for mostly keeping up with what was ready at the garden in the moment. (Sorry beans, for only making soup once…but I did freeze zucchini soup, and shredded zucchini…) so it was very funny for me to be confronted by a passer-by at the garden (since it is a community garden it is situated beside a bike path, and my garden is the first one) who told me how dismayed she was at the waste that had happened at my garden. Terrible, all those wasted tomatoes on the ground, and how irresponsible of me to let everything go to waste so badly. Because, you know, imperfect tomatoes can still be made into sauce, and it’s not right that I let sooooo many spoil on the ground.

Of course, how was she to know that the mice had gotten some of them, or that others had succumbed to blossom end rot. That I was still taking the cracked ones, and blanching them, and saucing and freezing them…using every good and marginal one that I could, because the torrential rains that had happened (although great for the squash and the carrots) was not so great for the tomatoes, had as well made the garden impassable for days after…

And as you know (but she doesn’t) that I am working full time on top of managing the garden and oh…life…but what a shame, shame on me, for such a waste. All I told her (do you want to know what I wanted to tell her!!!!) was that the garden had been very good this year, yes, I had done lots of preserving, and every year was different.

I’ve been at that garden plot for probably over nine years now, and I’ve had great years and terrible years. I’ve had years where life really took over all my free time, and this year, I had some great help from my mom and my girl at a “weed imperative” time. Those thing can make or break, sometimes, and Chadd coming with the grass-killer for the perimeter was a huge bonus, too.

And when my lovely next-door-gardener, Mr. Jean, showed up, I told him about the awful visitor, and he promptly gave me 40 pounds of potatoes from his garden. And I gave him a cantaloupe in return.

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beautiful summer


Every summer, Elena insists on a bit of a field-trip. It is usually something educational, and always local. The last couple of years, she was very insistent on visiting the Louis Reil House. That it was not open to the public came as a surprise this year; I was very glad that she had been so insistent last year.

This year, we toured the Legislature and the grounds.


Our adventures together are always so nice. We’ll spend our time together acting like tourists, and she’s up for anything on a whim.


The other day, it was a bike ride through the forest to find the Spirit Tree. When Elena had her babysitting job in the summer, she rode her bike to and from work most days, and part of the ride was along the Seine River. The trails by the river are part of the Spirit Woods, and the “keeper” of the woods is the Spirit Tree.


So we found him. Another little adventure, and a nice one.

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what ho!


Where to start? It’s been busy?!?

And then it becomes a random, check-list, missed-August (but such a good August!) post…and so…there were:

~ Lots of beans! Delicious beans with sautéed garlic, butter, salt and pepper. Bean soup. Pickled beans from my friend’s family recipe.

~ Carrots that got made into pickles. Four jars so far.

~ Cucumbers that also got made into pickles; and even some of my Granny’s recipe. Then there was the relish making, with the shredded onions making everyone cry for hours.

~ Apple-rhubarb oat muffins. With 5 apples from my apple tree, and one stalk of rhubarb that I wasn’t supposed to harvest from my newly planted rhubarb.

~ Zucchini soup, zucchini chocolate cake, shredded zucchini, zucchini cookies…all for the freezer.

~ Two batches (so far) of marinara sauce. One of the batches was made with the tomatoes roasted on the Big Green Egg.

~ A big stock pot of beet borscht, and roasted baby beets.

And there was work, Folklorama and some very stressful contractor negotiations mixed in there, too. C’est la vie.

The girls were both working this summer, (which was awesome!) and responsible for their own transportation (most of the time…except when it rained…or hailed), and we bought Sonja a cheap, used bike to get her back and forth. The route was part urban forest, part asphalt bike path, and sometimes, they even saw deer on the morning trek. Almost as nice as my route (although they would say that prairie dogs aren’t as exciting as deer)!

Summer isn’t over yet, there is another camping trip planned for this weekend, and the garden will be waiting for me when we come back. Red cabbage, kale, squash and potatoes, melons and more tomatoes, still.

It has been so good.

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Sunday morning


Tomatoes. Zinnias. Basset.

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