Posts Tagged ‘Weekly Roundup’

We devoted April to gardening; April is the time to ready for the new growing season here in the frozen north (ish), and it was one for the records. Twenty-five straight days of gloom and/or rain does not make even the cool-friendliest plants feel very friendly.

Gardeners sometimes have blinders on; they see what’s happening in their in their own space, under their own feet, and in that one little hole in the ground. It’s helpful, in our wealthy and diverse society, to put it in perspective. I may have lost my broccoli, but I’ve got a grocery store down the street and four farmers’ markets in walking distance.  I may have had a month without sun, but a tornado did not knock my town off the map, and a fire did not force me into a car with all my livestock, and my well did not go dry (all things that happened to friends here at Not Dabbling, and on My Folia).

I’m looking out my back door right now at grass so green it’s almost a religious experience. I’ll have a garden, and food, and a roof over my head and a loving, whole family. We’re just getting started every day.


I don’t know about Xan, but for me, Jennifer, gardening season brings out the frantic in myself. I feel like there’s always something to do and there’s never time to rest. It’s not until all of those little babies are in the ground that I’ve started that I can actually stop to take a breath – and that’s sometime toward the end of May. By that time I’m ready to start picking! I suppose that’s the problem of  growing our own and doing the best we can to be self-sufficient.

In the past I’primroseve felt like a failure because I’ve had crops that didn’t make it in one particular year, or three in a row thanks to late frosts or droughts. I’ve had to make difficult choices like cutting back my rosemary bush so hard that it looks like Charlie Brown’s Christmas tree, or whether to stay organic or add topsoil to my garden beds just for the quick fix. There are years that no matter how hard you try to make something work that the end result will be for naught. Then there are those seasons that turn out so perfectly and abundant that you can’t find enough people to share with, and yet to put a finger on anything you’ve done differently is impossible.

Gardening is what I do to escape the rest of my obligations and take time out for myself. I actually enjoy the hard work, mentally and physically. And regardless of the sunburns, the sweat, those failed crops, the gorgeous blooms that got eaten by the neighbors :insert critter here:, most gardeners with that same kind of passion will come back to it with open arms.


Ah, I have to admit I tend toward the frantic as well over here at Tanglewood. I spend all winter planning and plotting and when spring hits I am so overwhelmed that I run around like a madwoman, never quite getting anything done. I suppose in addition to being a frantic gardener, I am also a gardener is transition.

Over the last few years I have gone through a sort of gardener’s metamorphosis. I began interested in simply growing plants. I planted seeds, grew them, potted plants and sold them (or tried) at the local market. Now I find I have become a true gardener. I not only enjoy growing; I enjoy cultivating and tending, shoveling and weeding and hoeing. 

This month has shown me that I will never have “enough time” and I can learn to accept that. My list of things to do in the gardens will never shrink, and I will always be coming up with just one more thing to do before the sun goes down. Despite being a frantic gardener, I find my ever-growing list of tasks peaceful in some way. I revel in never finishing; finishing wouldn’t be gardening. It would be gardened.


What kind of gardener are you?

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It’s only been a few days since the Real Food Challenge kicked off, but we’ve all got some stories to tell about our experiences this week. Mr Chiots and I are pretty much eating real food all the time, so I was going to focus on our pets by using the 8 week plan in The Whole Pet Diet: Eight Weeks to Great Health for Dogs and Cats. I started the challenge on Sunday and mixed up the special oil blend that you’re supposed to use during the first week. I didn’t use soy oil or flaxseed oil, instead I used oils I have in the house, coconut oil, red palm oil, olive oil and fermented cod liver oil. You’re supposed to mix garlic and rosemary in with the oil, which I did. The dog of course LOVES it as she will eat just about anything. The cats however, are going to be a real challenge, they did not like this oil on their food one bit. I did purchase a 5 gallon bucket of pastured beef tallow to use in place of this oil mix. I’ll be adding it to the the homemade food, which I start making this week.

I do have a funny story regarding Real Food. Mr Chiots and I took his grandparents out for their 60th wedding anniversary. We let them choose the restaurant, and they chose the Golden Corral. There were so many different things to eat, but sadly not many of them would actually feed much less nourish your body. It was really sad. I ended up eating some fried clams, peas, and a baked sweet potato. Not bad choices, but none of them were organic, and I’m guessing the clams were fried in GMO vegetable oil and the peas were swimming in hydrogenated butter flavored weirdness. The baked sweet potato wasn’t bad, but there was no butter in sight to put on it and it wasn’t cooked quite right. At least his grandparents loved it, which was the whole point. We made sure to drink some dandelion detox tea that night to help our bodies process all that fake food.


meyer lemon kisses

Down here in Tennessee, I (Jennifer) have had my hands full with a very special visitor. My mother, otherwise known as Nana, has been visiting from NW Indiana. We’re fortunate that Nana is a burgeoning Real Food consumer and isn’t afraid to try new and healthful foods.

Because of our guest, we’ve been dining out and snacking more than usual. Our snacks have been simple, like homemade pita chips and humus, or a local cheese with some fruit. We’ve settled for a few minimally processed items like salad dressing, crackers, and cereal for convenience sake, but for now the sanity is worth it. Dining out hasn’t been quite so healthful as homemade, but it hasn’t been McDonald’s nor Golden Corral ( haha, Susy! Glad Mr. Chiots’ grandparents enjoyed themselves!). We’ve even been sampling some fabulous desserts that have been on my list for the last few months.

Most importantly, we’ve intentionally been using our slow-cooker or planning meals ahead of time to minimize preparation time after we’re done playing and doing touristy things. Every little bit counts, and if you can make a double batch of dinner one evening for a busy day then making your own meals isn’t that bad.


I (Xan) got the kids all lined up to start thinking about Real Food, and then Real Life got in the way and we had to reschedule for Monday.  My son has to work, but my daughter’s excited about learning to make a family favorite, pastitio, a Greek noodle casserole, which I learned to make from my mother and grandmother.  The cookbook I inherited from them falls open to this page, which is stained with decades of this dish.

Cooking day is Monday, so you’ll have to wait until next week to find out how we did.


How has your first week of the Real Food Challenge come along?

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