26/52 – Her & Him (late)

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2015.

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Little Man : Another trip to the beach, you are such a water baby! You couldn’t get enough of little clam shells, squeezing them ever so gently : open and close, open and close. We still have some work to do, but you are getting so good at modulating your speeds and energies. You are working so hard, it can’t be easy. Things that come so easy to us just feel so strange to you sometimes, but we’ll find a wonderful middle ground together. We have all the time in the world. <3

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.

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Little Miss : You are just mastering this one-armed business.  You are so very resilient. Nothing stops you, you just go about your days like all is well in the world. But I know you are secretly counting down the days. Only 5 days to go my sweet and then summer is officially back on track. Just in time for the heat to finally set in. You never complained once, you are such a toughy. <3

 Joining Jodi for the 52 Project

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Saturday Garden Inspiration – June 27, 2015 (posted a day late!)

Sharing a little glimpse of my garden that makes me happy.

Wishing you a very peaceful day.

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Once again this year, I’ll be sharing little glimpses of our gardens. Although so much is growing all the time, there is always a little moment every week that makes me smile extra wide and this is what I want to share with you.

Gardening to me is a lot of things. But one of the biggest lessons to learn about it is mastering the art of letting go. To garden is to choose to put yourself entirely in the arms of Mother Nature and all its glorious moods. There is a lot you can do to try to better the situation : Pest control, weeding, covering your rows, protecting your plants, watering… But at the end of the day, the season you get is the first biggest influence on what will grow and what you will harvest.

We’ve always excelled at tomatoes. Maybe we’ve just been lucky and the weather has always been perfect. Even when we started to grow from seed, although many other crops would fail, wilt, stunt, bolt, tomatoes always flourished. This may be the first year we turn that story around.

23 tomatoes is what I counted Saturday morning, all from the nursery stock we bought to replace all the transplants we lost due to late frosts and harsh hardening conditions (mainly excessive winds). I’m sure we will get much more. So many flowers are blooming here and there. But on our own plants, still nothing. Like little wisps of ivy, they barely hold up their heads. The heat just isn’t there to give them the boost they need I’m afraid. So we may not be canning much of our own this year. Thank God for our local farmers. But we can at least be assured a few amazing tomato sandwiches, roasted tomato pizzas and some fresh salsa.

Let it go and chalk it up to a bad year my friends. If you are only gardening for results, you will be often disappointed.  Like my friend Isis from Little Mountain Haven once wrote :

How is your garden growing?

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Picture in your mind…

We were away the last 2 days. My husband is on vacation this week and we decided to go spend few days at my sister’s a few hours South. We left Tuesday afternoon and got a few errands done before they got home and then spent the holiday (St-Jean-Baptiste, French-Canadian holiday) walking around, having a nice barbecue, taking the kids to the park and bird/wildlife watching.

The thing is, with as much planning and packing as we did, I forgot my camera. So of course, I have no images to show you. Several times during that 36 hour period, I wished I had my camera : When my niece and son were playing peek-a-boo, when my daughter found the perfect walking stick while out in the woods, when the kids fed carrots to a very “humanized” groundhog at the local regional park, when we saw a majestic Peregrine Falcon flying above our heads… Notice how none of these are historical monuments or grand natural landscapes? I was surprised… I was surprised at how little I missed the camera for the “big” things.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a picture of a beautiful 300 year old building. Going somewhere new and capturing these amazing sights, bringing them home to share with others, to reminisce, is wonderful. But I tend to take my camera absolutely everywhere and end up sometimes taking the same picture 10 times. And I think it’s quite fun to go out and see everything as if you were seeing it for the first time. It is part of our cultivation to see everything with a child’s eye and heart, to live in the moment and to let go of preconceptions. But it does make for an extra heavy hard drive and a lot of sorting and filtering afterwards.

When I told my sister I had forgotten my camera, she offered that I used my brother-in-law’s. Of course I said yes… but then, the next day, I forgot it again. Hmmm… Was there a message there?

We came home last night and I had no pictures to share. Just stories of birds we got to see that we don’t get to see very often this high North (like Peregrine Falcons, Northern Cardinals, Purple Finches and Eastern Bluebirds. Of deer coming so close to us to graze that we could almost pet them. Of funny moments when endless cartwheels made little people giggle. Of amazing homemade foods that filled our plates and bellies. Of evening spent unraveling yarn after messing up a new pattern over and over again. (LOL!) And of bags full of Linden flowers brought home to dry. And when I have a cup of hand picked linden flower tea, all these images will fill my senses and speak to me 20 times more than pictures ever could.

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Posted in Cultivation, Family Life, foraging, Life, Nature, Outdoors, Simplicity | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , | 16 Comments

25/52 – Her & Him

A portrait of my son, once a week, every week, in 2015.

IMG_1593 (1024x681)Little Man : Oh the adventure, oh the possibilities. We knew leaving the house you would return filthy. But low tide mud play is so good for the soul. The river was warm today, the surf rolling in slowly, slapping against your boots, making you giggle. A few times you went a bit too far, your boots filled with water and you loved it. You ran around the beach, laughing at the sound your feet made. How easy you are to please. <3

A portrait of my daughter, once a week, every week, in 2015.

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Little Miss : It was hard for you to stay on the sidelines today. You love the beach so much. But we made the most of it : Picking shells, rocks and river glass. We found driftwood walking sticks, searched for birds and chatted. The harsh reality of a cast in summer has been a life lesson this week, but you are doing so well. 3 more weeks to go and we will be ready for action. <3

 Joining Jodi for the 52 Project

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Saturday Garden Inspiration – June 20, 2015

Sharing a little glimpse of my garden that makes me happy.

Wishing you a very peaceful day.

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Once again this year, I’ll be sharing little glimpses of our gardens. Although so much is growing all the time, there is always a little moment every week that makes me smile extra wide and this is what I want to share with you.

Until now (or rather the last few years), I never fully appreciated what went into growing a plant. Back when we were tending to our small little community garden plot, we used to just drive to the garden centers, pick what we needed and plant it. It was quick, it was simple, it was predictable and safe. But the more we discovered a passion for gardening, the more we started growing our plants from seed. It has been several years of trial and error, but we are finally at a point where about 90 % of all we grow (including flowers) have been started from seed.

With vegetables and annual flowers and herbs, the instant gratification is amazing. In one short season, to see a plant go from pin size seed to bountiful is just mind boggling. But for perennial flowers, it’s a different story : Cold stratification, germination, hardening, establishment and then the wait. To watch a small little inch tall seedling harden off, to watch it fight for life in that first year. To protect its fragile roots in fall. To pray it survives our harsh winters. To anticipate its return in Spring. And finally to be blessed, after a few years with a first bloom. That my friends, this process, is what keeps me going.

This was our first Lupin flower. We have several little ones all over our yard, full of leaves but too young to bloom. But this beautiful plant, 3 years old now, gave us our first vibrant bloom a few days ago and as I type this, 4 more blooms are on the verge of exploding into these beautiful pinks and burgundies. I could stare at it for hours.

How is your garden growing?

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The season I love

Summer you may think? But it goes beyond that. The season I love is the season of food and herb preservation. The moment I have frozen or canned my first food, my heart feels lighter. The moment my first oils are infused, my body stands taller, my back straighter.

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Check out Cottage Gardener’s organic Specialty Radish Mix

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In the last 2 weeks, 10 lbs of asparagus (not all mine, I must admit, but local and delicious none the less), 1/2 pound of spinach and over a pound of home-grown arugula were frozen. 4 pint size jars of lilac jelly were preserved. 1 pint size jar of plantain oil and 2 quart size jars of dandelion oil have infused. Nettle leaves were picked and dried, rose petals are being dried daily and yarrow, raspberry leaves, linden flowers and red clover are on the verge of being ready for harvesting. And last but never least, we’ve eaten from the garden every day, many times a day. Not to mention that wild fruit have started popping up on our daily walks and we couldn’t be more thrilled.

Many I know don’t understand why we bother. But for us, even though the process isn’t necessarily cheaper, definitely not easier, the results are immeasurable. I feel in control of my life, I feel connected to life, and that is something that money or time will never be able to buy.

Have a peaceful and happy day my friends.

Posted in canning, ehydrating, Family Life, Food, Food preservation, foraging, Gardening, Herbalism, Homesteading | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 22 Comments

A long overdue day

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It’s been a long time coming. My hubby and I have been so busy with life that we had become passing ships. Waving to each other as the days moved along. We are lucky enough that many of our activities and passions bring us together, but doing things together and spending a day together are two very separate thing.

The last time we left the kids with my parents was New Years Eve. We had been invited to a celebration (combination house-warming and new year celebration) and had decided to go. Little Man slept without us for the first time that night and did wonderfully. It felt so good to see friends, but it still, looking back, wasn’t exactly “time spent together”.

So when you get to that point where you cannot honestly remember the last time you had a day alone with the man of your dreams, your best friend, the father of your beautiful children, your soul mate, you need to take some time. And that is what we did. We dropped off the kids, we headed out and drove East to a little island named Île-aux-Coudres.

I’ve told you before that my River is a part of me. That my River has shaped much of what I am. Well, when the warmer season comes, the River calls to me once more. Going East means salt… where the salt water of the St-Lawrence Gulf meets the fresh water travelling from the Great Lakes is where we went. When we stepped out of the car on the ferry, it smelled like the sea. We stood and closed our eyes, soaking it in.

Much of our day was spent walking the beaches. (I had promised dearest Tracey that I would find myself a beach!) We were lucky to come in as the tide was going out. We were able to walk for miles on long stretches of rocks and pebbly sand, watching herons fly in and out, watching loons and cormorants diving along the shore, watching mama ducks bringing their ducklings out onto the shallow waters in search of food. Swallows flew around our heads and the skies were filled with butterflies. The weather was perfect : sunny, cool, breezy. We walked hand-in-hand, talked uninterrupted for hours (what a luxury!), not once did the radio get turned on in the car. We rolled down our windows and let our faces get whipped by the warm waterside winds. It was glorious.

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On the way back, we took a little detour. I just can’t resist a sign for a covered bridge. There is something so romantic about them. We drove along a winding gravel road, soaking up the view, to finally arrive. It was beautiful. Silent and strong, a proud piece of the local history.

And we came home. We had dinner at my parents and heard all about our kiddos’ day. They were spoiled, they were dirty and sweaty, the way kiddos should be. And we were rested, renewed, still happy in love and happy to be home, the way parents should be.

Take time for yourselves my friends. Remember that before being parents, your were a couple… and before being a couple, you were a person. All parts of you need to feel fulfilled, all parts of you make you whole.

Wishing you the most wonderful week.

Posted in Cultivation, Family Life, Gratitude, Life, Parenting | Tagged , , , , , , , , | 26 Comments