Our Veggie Garden

(Though perhaps a better title would have been My Veggie Garden, but I’m generously including Ben because he heaved heavy compost bags and helped with digging and building a frame for my beans.)

I decided that this year I’d like to have a veggie garden again after not having one for three summers. I built the veggie boxes myself, which really sounds more impressive than it actually is because they came in a kit set and I just had to put them together. I did, however, have to use a power tool — a.k.a. a drill — to build them. I planned and planted, watered and weeded and then we all enjoyed the harvest!

When we got back from our great two-and-a-half week long roadtrip, we were greeted by a veggie garden gone wild. Our kind neighbors watered our garden for us and the plants had grown phenomenally and produced a big crop!

We went from this:

To massive plants and this great harvest:

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Our garden continued to do well through the summer and well into the autumn. Not so much that we didn’t know what to do with it, but enough to keep in a good supply of good, healthy veggies freshly picked from our own garden. Does anything taste better than a carrot you just pulled out of the ground?

Here it is after it had started to slow down in the autumn:

As of now, in the middle of November, I still have a bunch of different herbs, swiss chard/silverbeet, and celery going, but I don’t think they’ll be around much longer. I love growing my own food — it’s so great to know there are zero pesticides or chemicals (though does anyone know how to deter those darn squirrels??), just old-fashioned good food!

I’ll leave you with this funny fella.

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He came to to a delightful end in our stomachs, along with his brothers and sisters who all got roasted with a little olive oil, salt and pepper and sprinkled with some fresh parley. If I was a carrot, that’d be how I’d want to die!

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Roadtrip ’16: Chincoteague

After our stint in Charleston, we had a long but beautiful drive up to Chincoteague, VA. Our reason for visiting was because we had recently listened to Misty of Chincoteague on audio and loved the story, and seeing that it was sort of on our way home, thought it would be cool to stop and see the area. We stayed only one night — I wish it could have been longer! — but managed to see some of the things we learned about in the book: some memorabilia of the real Misty at the local museum, and we took a trip over to Assateague Island where the ponies roam wild. We even saw a licence plate of the Chincoteague Fire Department, who own the wild ponies and hold a Pony Penning day once a year near the end of July.

We had a lovely lunch at a little taco stand, and then followed that with ice cream at the Island Creamery, which apparently has the best ice cream in all of the US! It was very good, but we’ll have to go on an ice cream tasting mission around the US to verify whether this is true. Does anyone know how we could do this as a family and get paid for it?

On our drive inland we drove past the NASA Wallops Flight Facility, where we stopped to have a quick look at their visitor’s center. We had the treat to see two fighter planes take off right next to the road where we were standing. They were super loud! I think the Wallops Flight Facility is the second largest NASA rocket launch site (The Kennedy Space Center in Cape Canaveral being the largest).

Then it was on to our last stop of the trip: Six Flags. Next time. :-)

Roadtrip ’16: Charleston, SC

It was with heavy hearts that we said our goodbyes after the Hoyt reunion, but it was time to start making our way home. Because Ben was in between jobs at that point, he could take off some extra time and we decided to take the trip back up a little more slowly to stop at a few places we were interested in.

Our first stop was in Charleston, SC, and it so happened that we were there over the 4th of July, which was pretty neat. We stayed downtown in the historic district and shamelessly did touristy things like perusing the craft markets and taking a horse carriage tour. The tour was very interesting and was mainly about the different buildings and architecture around town. I loved the planter boxes all over and got to take lots of photos of pretty houses. Charleston has a real charm about it (at least the parts we saw), and I just wish we could have stayed longer and seen more.

In the afternoon, Marica and I went for a walk through the market and had a quick coffee stop — it was nice to have a little one-on-one time as well as getting to peruse the crafts without a bored crowd trailing us!

For the evening on 4th of July, had a nice dinner of (supposedly) southern food–I had chicken and waffles–and then we walked down to where we could view the fireworks. We were pretty early, so we walked around a bit and took the kids to the playground. I looked up and saw some ominous-looking clouds and was kind of pushing to go back to the motel, but Ben was pretty positive it would pass over. Well, it did pass over leaving us rather wet, but was gone in time for fireworks! (I always forget how long that wait is for it to get dark enough for the fireworks to start… always feels like an eternity!) There weren’t any fireworks really close, but we could enjoy several shows in the distance across the harbor. I will not share my attempts at taking firework photos for your benefit, but there are some photos of us all hot and sticky and tired during the fireworks.

Charleston is so rich in history, I wish we could have stayed longer and done some historic tours like visiting Fort Sumter and a plantation or something. Maybe next time…

A morning in the big city

I’m playing catch-up here on the blog after my long silence. We start back at school in 3 weeks or so, but it feels as though we’ve hardly started vacation. Summer for us here in the US seems to be filled with more activity than during the school year. We have trips and visitors and a long To Do list that is always more optimistic than realistic.

So, in an attempt over the next few weeks to catch up to where we are at now, let’s go back to the spring and let me tell of you a delightful morning trip into NYC. Our lovely friend, Shannon, invited us to a high tea Alice’s Tea Cup. We decided to make a day out of it and took the bus in (lot of excitement for the kids, less parking hassle and expense for mom).

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Alice’s Tea Cup is such a sweetly decorated place all in the theme of Alice in Wonderland. They have more teas on their menu than I ever thought even existed. We ordered 3 pots of tea and loads of scones to go with the high tea and is was wonderful. So wonderful, in fact, I forgot to take any photos inside!

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After this we went for a stroll in Central Park, sang hymns under a bridge (fun acoustics), and found a playground for the kids to play while Shannon and I got some talking done. (Not much meaningful talking happens when you try to have tea with 3 young girls.)

I am usually pretty loathe to go into the city for outings, especially with the kids, but this was so manageable and fun we might just have to repeat it soon!

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I’ve been searching for a preschool for Laurelin for a couple of mornings a week. I think it’ll be good for her, and it will help the two older girls and me get a bit more done in school. It’s either that or a very part-time nanny, but I’ve just started looking so we’ll see.

Anyway, in my search, I came across a preschool that uses a church’s facilities (but they’re not affiliated with them at all). Ben and I scrolled through the church’s page and photos to get an idea of what they believe, etc. out of interest and came across this one. No, I don’t know the context, and each to his own, but…?!

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Visit to New Zealand, part 1

How do you describe a place? I can tell you about beautiful green rolling hills, changeable weather, children walking barefoot down the road without anyone scowling at them. I can tell you about the lilt of an accent, of driving on the left side of the road, of great coffee — both instant and barista made. I can tell you of the joy of the familiar, of being able to drive without a GPS because I’ve driven on these roads since I legally could, of going up the hill and looking out over the city. I could mention the high cost of living, the ridiculous house prices, the economy, yet the great quality of life. But I can’t capture the essence of the place, its personality, in words. And even then, maybe it’s relative.

I’ve lived in a few places in my life, never in one place for very long. When people talk about their “family farm” or “family house” that has been in the family for generations, I can’t quite relate. There’s a sense in which I’m envious and a sense in which I’m just confused that anyone can stay in one place so long. Out of my short 30 years, I have lived in 5 different countries, 10 different cities, 16 different houses (20 if you count the temporary ones too). Out of those, Christchurch has been the city I’ve lived in the most, on and off, which is probably why it’s the place I’d most likely call home. (That opens a whole other discussion: what/where is home?) But even then, it only really feels like home because we have so much family there. Parents, brothers and sisters-in-law, and a troop of nieces and nephews. It was for them, so much more than the place, that we headed back to Christchurch for Christmas — Ben for 2 weeks, the girls and I for 5 — and it was marvelous.

I’ll share some more photos next week, but for now here’s a taste.

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To those of you who hosted us to stay (thanks, Pappa & Mamma!) or for meals and coffee and playdates; thank you. We miss you big time.