July’s Garden 

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This year’s beans and peas are slow to arrive because the bees haven’t had many days in a row to visit the flowers. These crops usually abound in July so I’ve felt as though the garden hasn’t done much. 

Looking back, I see that there’s still plenty of growth. In the greenhouse, the tomatoes are flowering, and chiles are setting fruit. 

The purple climbing beans had their first harvest as July left us for another year.

I moved some herbs from pots to the veg patch in the yard for a perennial patch: lavender (also planted one in the plot), lemon balm, thyme, two mints (including chocolate mint), and planted out the newly established walking onions (only 5 bulbs so it will be a while for them). I’ve been harvesting and dehydrating the herbs as often as I can to promote growth and see us through winter.


Volunteer potatoes in the veg patch and planned potatoes in the quasiallotment plot are growing happily. I let last year’s red ursa kale go to seed and harvested about a cup, which I’m sharing out. 


The main stories have been the early field beans, new kale seedlings, and the allium harvest. We got about 13 heads of garlic (lost a few to rot) and around 100 onions (at least 70% of them being decent sized). 


Vintage Crochet Garter

A good friend of mine is getting married today! For her hen night, I made her a vintage crochet garter with a ribbon in her favourite colour. It was a down to the wire gift, blocking it the night before and only weaving in the elastic (an improvement learned from making my sister’s crochet garter 9 years ago) and ribbon 30 minutes or so before we were due to leave. I had forgotten how long it takes to work on something so tiny. It is definitely a labour of love. 

  

Cloth Pantyliners 

If you’re squeamish about the female reproductive system, stop reading now. To make sure you don’t read more than you want to, here’s a photo of the moon I shot on my camera a few months ago. It was the first time I managed to take a photo that actually resembled the moon. If you want to read the rest of the post, I’ll meet you below the photo. 

  
Okay. 

For several years, I had an old brown flannel shirt in my sewing stash that I had planned on turning into cloth pantyliners. After at least 5 years of not making them, I used the fabric elsewhere. 

Although I use the keeper, I recently recognised that it was time to get a few fabric pantyliners for those very light (as well as very heavy) days. Looking on etsy, I saw a very wide range of handmade options but a few things bothered me about buying from there:

1. The fabrics were very light colours and…come on, you know how that will turn out.

2. The backing was always polyester fleece and I want as much of my wardrobe as possible to be compostables when I’m done.

3. I know people in real life who sew for a living and I wanted to keep my money more local. 

I got in touch with All That Is Braw, designer and maker of beautiful handmade children’s play wear and pajamas for the whole family. I asked if she would be up for a commission, discussed the size, shape, and design of what I wanted for the liners, and she made me these lovely things. They’re cotton and wool and perfect. 

  

Last Minute Flower Barrette 

We were due to leave for wedding #1 of the summer at 6pm. At 5:40pm, my wife started changing into the clothes she’d wear and I only had to pull my hair together. 

I planned on a bun that would withstand an evening of dancing. As I added the bobby pins I felt that something was missing and my thoughts landed on the flower that had fallen off the wreath, sitting forlorn on the stairs for the 3rd or 4th week. At 5:50pm, I dug out a barrette to sacrifice, my hot gluegun, dashed downstairs-grabbing the flower on the way down- pulled out a power converter  (my hot glue gun is ‘American’), plugged  the glue gun in and made myself a hairpiece. 

After my hair reached bun length, I should have known it was only a matter of time before I’d feel the need for a cardigan-matching flower for special occasions. 

 

Soapmaking, Take 1

It’s been on my summer bucket list for years, and now I can finally tick it off: soapmaking! 

Over the past few gardening seasons, I’ve dried and tucked away herbs for soapmaking, and began growing calendula last year for the same reason.
I told my parents that I’d probably buy soapmaking supplies with the money they sent me at Christmas, but then I used it for an indoor trampoline.
On reflection, I was a bit intimidated to try soapmaking alone, so when a sisterfriend said she was going to make soap, I was excited for her and gushed about it always being at the top of my to-try list. She suggested we try it together so we set a date and gathered our supplies. On Sunday, we met at hers, layered on the safety gear and gave it a go. 

1. It was much calmer than I had anticipated considering the warnings all over the internet. I had expected the lye to splatter and spit, but it didn’t even splash or ‘jump’. One helpful tip I read somewhere suggested to mix the lye into the water while the bowl was sitting in the kitchen sink, so we did that. 

2. We made a hot process and a cold process (led by the recipes we found and wanted to try) and I’m so glad it turned out that way because now they’re both my foundation for further experimentation. I don’t feel ‘tied’ or more familiar with one over the other. 

3. We started the hot process and as the lye solution cooled down, started weighing and melting the oils for the cold process. The cooking stage of the hot process is really where things slow down: as I stirred and stirred the hot process, she brought the cold process to trace and poured it into the molds! I saved juice cartons but we used lined loaf tins for better structure and portability. 

4. The hot process was a lard-free goatmilk soap that we scented with lavender essential oils and decorated with lavender flowers, and the cold was an olive oil blend from Little House in the Suburbs that we scented (essential oil) and topped with rosemary. The plant matter was gathered and dried from my garden. We ran both recipes through Brambleberry’s lye calculator. 

5. Next batch, I’ll infuse the oils and consider teas and other liquida. 

6. I don’t know yet how they’ve turned out, but I am so hooked. Making soap fits perfectly into the state change crafts /activities I love: take some liquids and a powder you shouldn’t ever touch, and create something that’s good for your skin. Win!

Some terrible, soapy puns I held back from the title:

Not going to lye, I’m hooked on soap.
Block out some time, I’ve a solid love for soapmaking.
Straight talk & clean speaking: adventures in soaping.
(Not sorry) 

Nephew’s First Birthday 

Sunday was my nephew’s 1st birthday party. My favourite memories from the day? Knowing my 2 year old niece called for me and sought me out in the middle of the party play chaos, and going for a walk in the woods after with Honey, my nephew, and his parents.

On our walk, I helped him explore the smell of the tall rhododendrons, watch the tadpoles in the pond (and the floating sticks in the other!), enter into a found den and feel the soft bark on the logs, and spot the green leaves waving overhead in the sunshine.

It was also really nice to just wander along chatting with my brother in law and his partner.

I really enjoy family time in the woods. 

Forgotten Photo Friday: Handmade, Sugar-free Chocolate Bars

Over the past year, Honey has reduced the amount of sugar she eats and now noticed that chocolate bars taste different to her. For Christmas, I chose a day when she would be away all day and late into the evening and made her chocolate.

I wanted to use a recipe that would create a hard chocolate that did not need to be refrigerated, was tempered (and thus shiny!), and sweetened with honey. I found the perfect recipe on Living Healthy with Chocolate. I used the silicone moulds we used to make our lotion bars for a nice chunky mouthful of chocolate.

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Early May Garden 

As I (somewhat) patiently approach our 19th May average frost date, I’m finding joy in the things I won’t have to plant out. Yes, the greenhouse is full of seedlings at various stages, but the autumn sowings, volunteers, and perrenials are winning my heart in the quasiallotment because I know they’re past that nerve-inducing tender stage.

The onions and garlic seem to be continuing fine, last year’s calendula is flowering, we’ve some volunteer potatoes in the backyard veg patch, and I’ve spied some visiting nettle which I hope to naturalise in a section of the plot. 

Finally, the alliums that I planted to be an end of June bloom creep ever earlier and have begun blooming now. 

Forgotten Photo Friday: Ricketts Glen State Park Falls Trail 

This weekend, my family is headed to Ricketts Glen State Park to camp. Some, like my parents and uncle, are staying all week while others including cousins and sister are staying the weekend. They’ll be hiking the Falls Trail. One of the family highlights of visiting Ricketts Glen has always been this trail and several members of the camping party have never walked it before. 

The trail loop is 7.2 miles for the full trail and 3.2 miles for a smaller loop.  The longer loop takes you past 21 waterfalls which range from 11-94ft tall. We’ve walked it as a nuclear family many times and have taken nieces and nephews, friends, and dogs along the path. As a child, the steep and narrow paths, the seemingly endless views, and the humidity and rushing water made the Falls Trail seem like a high adventure. It remains one of my favourite hikes anywhere. I can say with 100% certainly that this trail is why I love waterfalls so much. 

In 2014 (sadly, the last time that both Honey and I were over in the US), we spent the day ‘at the Glen’. The last set of falls on the trail is just a short and easy walk from the carpark, so we walked with my mom-just over 6 months after her kidney transplant- to those falls and admired the view. Then, Honey, my dad and I walked the trail for the day.