Thursday, 26 June 2008

Crafting with Roses

I truly enjoy fresh flowers, but when it comes to roses I can't help wanting to enjoy their scent throughout the year which is why I harvest some to dry. I'll collect some petals off of these beauties,

or I'll collect the buds from some wild roses.
Not only are they lovely to look at, but the soft rose scent makes them perfect for potpourri or for other crafts. Go here to see what I made using rosebuds and petals.

Wednesday, 25 June 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 they first read 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, 23 June 2008


Foxglove are blooming right now in my yard. I love these flowers. (which kind doesn't she love?) For a few years I had to rip them all out to make sure my youngest wouldn't end up eating them but now they are slowing making their way through the gardens again and I couldn't be more pleased.

I was telling a friend that I had a few colours back again but I couldn't remember the colours. Yesterday I went out to take some pictures and found purple, light pink-ish purple, light yellow - almost a butter colour, and white.

I quite like this white one because it has dark burgundy spots inside.

Thursday, 19 June 2008

I like roses, too!

I'm not able to grace this blog with glorious garden photos like Heather and Samantha. These talented ladies have been putting in the sweat equity that makes their gardens so wonderful. It isn't that I don't love gardening, but my efforts at it aren't so inspiring. I do have to participate with some photos of roses. I adore these flowers. The colours, yes, but even more so, the scents.
From my kitchen window I can look out on these beauties. The colour of these roses are so rich and the rose bush is absolutely covered with blooms right now. They make me smile. I don't really have favourites, but it's these pink roses that I can't get enough of. Their scent is intoxicating and I always take time to "stop and smell the roses" - which is probably providing some amusement to my neighbours as this rose bush is located beside our driveway. Yes, that means I do stop to sniff the blooms each time I pass them - when I head out for a walk, when I'm leaving to do errands or when I'm carrying out the trash. Roses are meant to be enjoyed, I figure.
So, I may not be a great gardener, but I can certainly appreciate the treasures of a garden.

Wednesday, 18 June 2008

A rose garden

I love the roses in my yard. I've been told that the woman who used to live and garden here would get rose bushes as gifts from her children, she had a lot of children. So now I have a lot of rose bushes. Here are just a few pictures. Every year I try to decide which is my favourite and I don't know why I do that - it's impossible to choose because they are all so beautiful.See? Too lovely to choose just one favourite. Now, want to see the dark side of gardening? Have a look at these beasties.

Monday, 16 June 2008

More before/after garden shots

Well, we aren't really at after yet... it's more like before and during.

Heather was asking me about my blackberry bushes - when I planted them and how long did it take them to get big. I looked back in photos and found them looking very tiny, and therefore newly planted, in this picture.

This was two years ago and the first year we didn't get any fruit off it. The next year we got a fair amount, and this year I expect much, much more. Everything looks so tiny in this picture compared to now.
This is now. I can barely see the fence anymore, but I can see a lot of happy changes. Food has become an important addition to our yard so we have been expanding the garden to accommodate this. I figured since the blueberry bushes were so small this year, why not stick in some tomatoes, some beans, and I think a few watermelon plants as well. Gone is the (yawn) square grass yard and with the help of my edger (which my husband still hasn't hidden away from me) and some inspiration from visiting Heather's garden, I have been creating a variety of twists and turns in the grass.
Here is another shot of the new garden bed (yes Heather and Katherine, it has grown since you saw it last week ;-)
Biking has also become a priority around here, and when we weren't working in the garden, my boys were riding their bikes around the yard and trying out the teeter-totter they built. A few bumps and bruises but nothing that would stop them from riding more. I also saw my husband eyeing up my sod compost pile to use as a jump... It's wonderful to have a yard that is full of so many uses and encourages so much time outdoors.


Last week I was talking to a friend on the phone when E came in for a snack. I saw him take an orange (I had bought him some because I thought he was getting a cold) and disappear back outside. When I looked out later I saw this(lambsquarter, johnny jump up and chamomile petals, dill, currants, strawberry and dateball)

and watched as he made this
to roll up and eat. Yes, those are very unripe currants - they are, in fact, black currants, so you can imagine how much ripening they have to do to get from that hard green berry to the dark, almost black, purple berry they will become. But how can you complain when your kids likes fruit so much that he can't even wait for it to ripen?

Friday, 13 June 2008

Food to Live By

One of the books in that stack of library books I got was this one.

You know those kind of recipe books that have you drooling when you look through them? It's one of those. So many recipes with fresh veggies...makes me wish I had more stuff ready in the garden. Lucky for me I still have stuff from last year's garden in the freezer.

I used up the last of the raspberries to make these raspberry cornmeal muffins. Yum!!I was going to see if I could link to the recipe but I couldn't find it on their website. However, I did find lots of others and they all sound good. (I am sooo making the Rustic Summer Crostada as soon as I have enough ripe tomatoes) Here is the link.

And if you want another recipe link for a yummy treat I put the requested pear cake one here.

Wednesday, 11 June 2008

The Living Series

We ordered this DVD series from our local library and I have to say that I think it is pretty good. Each DVD includes a lot of information to help you on the path to living a "greener" life no matter where you are on that path. And I think that can be tricky to strike that balance. Sometimes when I read an article or see a show I tend to think that the tips are so simple that everyone must know them but that isn't always the case; I guess I wrongly assume that everyone is thinking this way and has been on this path for awhile and I want tips that go even further. I think this series does a decent job of including tips that would be of interest to people at any stage of reducing their footprint.The Green Consumer DVD makes me wish that we had a Grassroots store here in town. The owner seems very knowledgeable and I was impressed with the way he suggested getting baby clothes as hand-me-downs or at consignment shops as a first choice over buying new - it is lovely to hear a shop owner put people and the planet before profit. What I liked most of all was all the bulk products I could see in the background of his store - things like dish soap, cleaning stuff, even grass seed. I noticed that some of the products are Nature Clean which our local health food store does carry...just not in bulk. So, I will write to them again.(and hope you will too) :-)
We especially like the gardening and lawn care DVD because my son found some helpful ideas on lawn maintenance. For the last year he has been mowing a neighbour's lawn and this year the neighbour asked him to research some natural ways to fertilize his lawn. W did this and the neighbour was pleased with the results and then asked him to find a way to do a natural weed control. After watching this program W has learned that corn gluten might be one of the ways to go.
Shows like this make me hopeful...hopeful that the tide is turning, that more people are starting to think this way, that we can make good choices, that we can make a difference with our actions.

Monday, 9 June 2008

How do I love our library?

Let me count the ways.

1. Joy of Gardening

2. Food to Live By

3. Creative License

4. Anything Bill Bryson

5. The Green Gardener's Guide

6. Mrs. Miniver

7. Lambsquarters: Scenes from a Handmade Life

8. I Love Dirt!

I came home on Saturday to find a stack of holds that my husband had picked up for me. The only trouble is that there are just so many books to read and not enough time. I already had...ahem, quite a few on the go.I think Samantha was a little scared when she saw our book shelf of library goodies. ;-)

Saturday, 7 June 2008

Flowers for a rainy day

It seems impossible to walk around the garden without taking pictures. Today, on one of our rare, rainy days, I am able to look at my pictures and remember the warm sun and sweet air in the garden.
This lilac was pulled out of a friends garden a few years ago. I had pretty much given up on it ever flowering when, surprise! This year it flowered and since it's close to my veggie garden, it provided lovely scents as a reward for my weeding.

I always forget these little spongy things flower. We have been spreading them around the yard and I love the little hits of yellow in the Spring.

My columbines are getting huge. They are filling up the garden nicely and seem to stretch up above all the other plants and say "see me! notice me!"

Tiny little iris from Heather. I'm always so hopeful when I put plants in the ground and darn near giddy when they flower.

One of my favourite columbines, with a daisy wanting to be noticed as well. I have noticed that the quiet, understated daisies are slowly trying to take over my front grass. I say my only option is to remove the grass around them and let them have their way. Hopefully my husband hasn't hidden my edger yet ;-)

The future looks sweet! I know I'll have to thin them out but it will be so hard. Look how cute and fuzzy they are!

Friday, 6 June 2008

Rhubarb cake recipe

See ladies, I can provide recipes too. ;-) Here is a link to the rhubarb cake recipe that I used last time.

I love the Best of Bridge series of books, so much yummy stuff in there. Since I already deleted my pics of the cake I will have to make do with more flower pictures. :-)

Thursday, 5 June 2008

Works in progress

Every year we make small changes to our yard. Every year we make new plans for our yard. But honestly, I never really noticed how much our yard has changed until I recently looked at some photos from when we first moved in.

Here was our front yard with it's tiny little bean shaped garden, filled with rocks.

Then I met Heather. Heather came over with her edger and some plants and showed me the beauty of edging. I, always a diligent student, practiced until I perfected my edging. Then I kept going, edging more and more, and here is what we have today:
But this isn't the end of my edging career. This garden will grow bigger. It is it's destiny.
And here is the left side of our back yard 5 years ago.

To the left is the tree we planted shortly after we moved in. To the right is the tree that was already planted when we moved in. We nick-named it 'Sticky' because it seemed to be one of those leafless trees... which we realized meant the tree was dead so we had to pull poor sticky out.
Sorry for the sunspots and please ignore the blue tarp - it is hard at work composting. Now we have more trees and more flowers and the plan is for more and more garden.
5 years ago:
Today (actually, about 10 minutes ago...):

Lots more flowers, trees with leaves!, and my new blueberry field. And lots more new and exciting ideas planned for the future.

More alliums.

Here you are, Katherine, a picture of a bunch of the alliums in full bloom.And here is a close up of one just beyond peak bloom, I love the contrast of colours.I will remember to save seeds for friends, I will remember.

Wednesday, 4 June 2008

Rhubarb cake

I love this cake. It is simple to make and delicious to eat...what more could you want from a cake? And if you ask me, rhubarb was just made to go with brown sugar and cinnamon topping.

Tuesday, 3 June 2008


Last summer I saw a post on freecycle for rhodos that had been pulled up. Well, I can't resist a plant in need so I contacted the person and arranged to get them. Now, I am the sort of gardener who believes that - if you water them, they will grow - but even I was a little unsure about these bare-rooted rhodos. They had been out for several (hot) days (wasn't it, Rebecca?) and when I got them their little curling leaves looked pretty sad. But with some peat moss, water and mulch they seemed to be doing just fine. And now look at them.You would think that they have always been here.

Here are our old ones on the other side of the pathway. (plus a volunteer Bridal Wreath Spirea in there)And tucked in back near the fence is this purple rhodo which is just coming into bloomAnd my mulch helper? From thisto this. He was wearing sandals. :-)I just noticed that the picture of the front yard above (with the pile of mulch) was taken a few weeks ago, look at the change in that short time.My goodness but flowers are magic.

Current pictures of the veg. garden are over here.