garden, life

July Garden Tour – on two feet ! 💃💃💃

I can walk! After doing the June tour on crutches, I finally got an X-ray and found out that what I thought was a sprained ankle was actually a spiral fracture of my fibula. So, I’m madly rehabbing my ankle constantly and being very careful but I’m thrilled to be mobile again. I have even more appreciation and compassion for people with permanent mobility difficulties. I tried not to whine, really.

Can you say ‘atrophy’?

Vegetables and irrigation

Needless to say, the garden isn’t quite where I envisioned it would be pre-wipeout. Although I give my husband, who is more of a landscaper than a gardener, full credit for managing single-handedly as well as he did. Hand watering the vegetable containers alone could take an hour or more to do properly, so in the last few days I finally built a drip irrigation system. Hallelujah!

It’s not pretty (yet, but the tweaking is half the fun) but it only takes four minutes per zone to get everything watered through. It’s mind-boggling to me, I wouldn’t believe it if I wasn’t seeing it but the plants are showing the difference just from two days watering, and plants don’t lie. Why did I wait so long???

Tomatoes, peppers, cucumbers, beans, carrots, leeks, lettuce, dill, etc.
Peppers!
Cucumbers and tomatoes. I was amazed at how quickly these tomatoes ripened after I removed the leaves beneath them, and others, in order to direct all the ‘power’ to the fruit.
Onions were not bad, but I think I can do better next year. Leeks still to come though!

The Garlic Experiment

I grew garlic for the first time last year, not altogether successfully. I didn’t know that the ‘flowers’ that garlic throws up are called ‘scapes’, and beyond being my new favourite raw vegetable to snip over my salad, now I know that you need to clip them so the growing power goes into the bulb, not the flower. One of those duh-in-retrospect moments.

This year has been much more successful, due mostly to better planting, fertilizing and watering – and snipping the scapes. There is just no comparison with grocery store garlic when you slice into it. So satisfying!

But check this out, last fall I planted some of my garlic in the ground (left) and the rest of it in half gallon containers (right). I transplanted the container garlic into the ground in the early spring, and the difference was unreal. It was all absolutely huge, whereas the in-ground garlic developed into several smaller heads. I’ll also wait longer to harvest it next year because I just pulled out this monster (bottom right) the other day! I intend to use the bigger heads as my seed garlic in the fall.

And now for the flowers…

The sunflowers are lovely but I’m rethinking my decision to try to use them as trellises. While kind of amusing to go bushwhacking hunting for peas, beans and cucumbers, it’s not especially efficient – or user-friendly. So the vegetables will stay in the containers close to the house in future, and the back garden will be for perennials, annuals and herbs.

Sunflowers everywhere!
Dahlias on Ilam Road, named for our house in NZ where we first fell in love with them.
Gladiolus, here there and everywhere. They always make me think of my oldest BFF, who has given them to me on many special occasions.
Echinacea
Lilies
I would have enjoyed eating this artichoke, but the flower isn’t a bad consolation prize.
Wild kingdom – not ‘the spider on the fly’ but the ‘fruit fly on the crazy translucent spider on the honey bee on the cosmos’.
I grew these cosmos from seed. Check out the mutant on the left – it’s taller than me! Easy for a person, tougher for a flower!
The calla lilies have finally found a home.
This is an orange calla lily that hasn’t flowered yet but I love the sunshine and the petunias surrounding it.
View from the shady spot.

Alright, we’re off to our favourite spot on the west coast for my 50th 😱 birthday holiday. Be kind, stay calm and stay safe.

❤️ Amanda

garden, life

May Vegetable Tour

I can’t believe it’s the last day of May! I wanted to complete my May Garden Tour with a record of how the vegetable beds closer to the house are looking. It’s a crazy windy day – again, ugh – so I snapped them quickly, but such is life.

Unfortunately, the damn deer got in again last night. We can mostly thank our nature-hating, pavement and power tool-loving neighbour for basically killing the hedge on his side. Okay, vent over. Check out the temporary fence – it’s like living in a junk yard! 😂

On the back deck we have potatoes, peas, lettuce, spinach, arugula, leeks, peppers, tomatoes, strawberries and mint. My potatoes have never been this tall before. I’m hoping for a better yield this year, so fingers crossed.

In the raised beds we have potatoes, garlic, radishes, beets, lettuce, peas, carrots, kohlrabi, leeks, peppers, beans and cucumber.

We bought these 20 gallon containers for cheap this year. They’re amazing for tomatoes, peppers and cucumbers and big enough to stuff in some basil, dill, parsley, cilantro, spinach and lettuce.

Tomatoes are so satisfying to grow. I planted these from seed and was horrified when I broke the first one when transplanting. But I pinched off the bottom leaves and stuck the stem deep into the soil and voilà! I also stuck the root ball into the garden and it’s started sprouting new growth. Life will out. 🥰

Alright, I hope this finds you well. Any gardening tips always appreciated!

Be kind, be calm and stay safe!

❤️ Amanda

chronic illness, Health, life, mental health, MS

May Garden Tour

Aloha! Since my backyard urban farm in-development has taken up all my focus and energy and I haven’t been writing at all, I thought I’d share photos of how I’ve been staying busy.

Honestly, it has become a full-time job. There are days when the MonSter awakes and I drag myself out of bed hardly able to face the thought of all the tasks calling for attention. But I make myself get out there every day at least for 20 minutes. Usually that ends up with me outside all day.

Besides the obvious advantages of all that vitamin D and fresh air, I know that digging in the dirt is helping rebuild my immune system and my gut microbiota. So even on the toughest days, I rest a lot but I make myself do the lighter tasks. The trick is to not focus on everything that needs to be done but to put the blinders and just do one, small, task.

Anyway, enough of that. Have a wander through our garden.

Food garden, Lavender , buddleias, wallflower, chives, irises, onions, beets,
10 years ago this was a grassy hill.
Chives,   Snapdragons , lilies ,  succulents , irises,lavender , lilac, buddleia
All the boulders, dirt and driftwood were hauled in and set by hand (and occasionally a rickety dolly with flat tires) by my very determined and creative husband. Those are the boots he wore out during the first few years.
Lilac, iris, lupin,  cosmos, daisies, Corsican mint
We obviously don’t play much bocce ball. 😏
Angelica,  alpine blue,  garden steps
One of my favourite statues because I bought it with a gift certificate from one of my grade one classes.
Rockcress, alyssum, lavatera, wallflower, buddleia, lavender ,garlic, kale, lithadora, ornamental  oregano , snapdragons, iris, strawberries, peonies
The oldest part of the garden. We found the sign buried when we moved in. The alyssum(bottom) reseeded itself from last year.
Petunias, onions, rose, garlic
Pallet deck at the top of the garden.
Hopefully one day a greenhouse.
Lemon, blueberry , kiwi,  artichoke, cucumbers, beans, onions, garlic, carrots, dill, nasturtium , leeks, petunias
Top garden – the Mediterranean garden
Lemon tree, artichoke, kiwi vine, blueberries and apple trees in the distance.
Oh, and that pepper in the tub is called a “ring of fire”. 🤣🤣🤣
Artichoke bud, food garden
Here comes an artichoke!
Daphne, Angelica, garlic, peonies, buddleia, Rosemary, lupin
Mid-garden
New vegetable bed growing zucchini, cucumbers, carrots, radishes, leeks, kale, dill, kohlrabi and buckwheat. Little bird was a Mother’s Day gift from my girls.
New vegetable bed beside the rhubarb and
the Nelly Moser clematis(far left) and anemones (right) finally flowering!
Instead of being chowed down by the deer. 🤞🏻👩🏻‍🌾🤞🏻
Apple tree bed growing onions, beets, potatoes, kohlrabi, radishes and carrots.
View from the apple tree bed
Barbie skinny dipping with a 20 year old bath toy.
Hmmm…that sounds strange… 😳
View from the bottom, the newest part just finished this year. This is where we mostly sit because it’s cool and shady beside the cedar hedge.

I know not everyone is fortunate enough to have a yard to garden. But even a small pot on a windowsill can grow parsley, basil and cilantro. Food security is a serious issue that has finally been brought to the forefront of people’s minds because of the Covid-19 situation. Start small and grow your own!

Alright, thanks for joining me. I didn’t even get to the vegetable beds by the house, but I’ll leave that for another post.

Take care, stay calm and stay safe. And garden!

❤️ Amanda

life

Christmas: pressures and perspective

So, I was ‘voluntold’ yesterday by my youngest that ‘we’ were providing the vegan gingerbread house kit for her and a friend for the class contest on Friday. Ummm… okay? 🤣

I love that she knows I love to bake so assumed I’d be happy to do it. Happier that it doesn’t occur to her that I’m carefully pacing myself at the moment so I can make it through the holidays without the MonSter rearing it’s ugly head too far. One of the perks of an invisible illness when it comes to your kids, at least when you can…

But it’s always smart to remind yourself, chronic illness or not, that it’s not worth pushing beyond your limits. Everyone owes it to themselves to take time for self-care, to take things off their plate when necessary and to ask for help sometimes.

The whole season should be about being cozy and spending low-key personal time with your people. Let go of the consumer, commercial side of it and focus on what matters. You can only do what you can do, and good enough is good enough. Otherwise, you…

The best thing I’ve started doing since I finally got decent running shoes is getting my butt out the door every weekday for a 20 minute walk. Sometimes it’s a few minutes more, but never too much because in the past I would get back into ballet or yoga and go too hard, setting myself back several steps. So now I’m the tortoise not the hare, and I find I look forward to my walk each day and it sets me up well for the day ahead. There are days when 20 minutes doesn’t get me too far…

But I’ve only missed one day, when the wind was too much for my sensory issues, and then the last couple of days when I needed to brave the crowds to finish the Christmas shopping. Now I will get out there every day if possible because I know it’s the single best thing I can do to make it through our busiest Christmas season ever, and enjoy it.

Finally, chronic illness or not…

Depending on how things go, I may post one more time about the vegan gingerbread house. If it’s a total fail, maybe not, so…

Wishing you all a restful, joyous holiday and a healthy, peaceful New Year.

❤️ Amanda

chronic illness, life, mental health

Milestones and Reflections

At the beginning of June, I celebrated the first year of my blog. It was a huge step for uber-private me last year but the response once I finally faced my fear and hit publish was unreal. I can’t believe I have over 500 followers. More importantly, I can’t believe the support I’ve received and the friends I’ve made in this wonderful community. I’m so grateful. Thank you all. 💕

On this day four years ago, I received my MS diagnosis in the morning before going back to school for the last afternoon with my class. I didn’t know it would be the last afternoon I would spend as a teacher at the time.

It’s been an interesting journey, to say the least. The physical symptoms, especially the fatigue, stopped me teaching but the mental gymnastics associated with being chronically ill really stopped me in my tracks.

Fear, grief, anxiety, depression, guilt. Oh, the guilt! Learning to say ‘I can’t’ – especially to my children, forcing myself to stop when I ‘should’ get a little more done, unable to enjoy the good days because I ‘should’ be working.

I’ve learned to mostly maintain perspective when the anxiety and depression hit because I know it’s temporary, no matter how black. The fear hits pretty strongly when my body does it’s weird party tricks. (numbness, tingling, burning, buzzing, dizziness, tinnitus, spasms, trembling, pain and the fatigue that courses through my veins. #msawareness)

But life is scary for everybody in one way or another. Perspective.

The guilt has been the nastiest of the negatives. It comes up over and over and I’ve struggled to gain the same perspective, especially on the good days. I’d love so much to be back in the classroom that when the uglies lessen a bit, I forget how bad they are and feel I should at least try to go back to work. When they inevitably reappear, I remember why I can’t do the job I love so much.

Four years on, I’m done with the guilt on my good days. I won’t compromise the health I’ve regained since I stopped working by forcing myself to go back to work. And I won’t waste the bonus time I do get feeling guilty anymore, dammit! So there, MS. 🤗 From now on, I’m doing ‘jazz hands’ any time the guilt creeps in – haha!

This day marks a milestone for each of our younger children as well. After knocking our socks off at her Variety Show on Monday singing ‘Defying Gravity’ – (check out my instagram or facebook for the video), our youngest is finishing her last day at elementary school. It’s truly the end of an era, as we started there an unbelievable 15 years ago when our eldest was in kindergarten. Not to mention that my husband and his mother also went to the same school!

Our son is finishing his last day of high school, heading across the country to study Economics at Western University in September. Needless to say, we are incredibly proud of his achievements so far and excited for him, but there will be a big hole in our family that will take getting used to. It’s all as it should be and we can’t wait to see where he goes with his life. This kid is motivated!

Finally, our eldest got her first car so now we have our own taxi 😉 she’s embarking on a whole new level of independence and financial responsibility. We have no doubt she’ll manage her shiny new car with her usual attention and responsibility, and have lots of great adventures in the years to come.

So it’s the end of June and the beginning of summer vacation. The garden’s in great shape, the kids all have exciting plans for the summer, and we have lots of camping planned in our new tent trailer. It’s going to be a great summer!

❤️ Amanda