Monday, July 21, 2014

Reverb 14: Sweet Green Summer

Summer Time Blues | It’s mid-summer and we’ve got the summer time blues.  Tell us how you’re feeling at this mid-summer check in point.  Do you have the summer time blues?  How do snap out of it?  Or if you’re still loving summer, what’s been going great?

It's mid-summer and I have no sign of the blues. Summer brings absolute joy.  Even the summer labor is work I enjoy.  If working also means having the chance to do things you love, it doesn't feel much like work.  Being very pregnant with a heart condition and a potentially fatal autoimmune disease means some days I feel normal and can get a good amount done, and some days I eat ice cream while watching mind numbing TV.  It just depends on the day. 

Being in the garden, watching it grow, and enjoying the harvest bring me joy.  Chris and I worked as a team planting as pregnant women aren't supposed to play in the dirt and I can only bend/be on my feet for short periods of time. Our team work has resulted in an amazing vegetable jungle. The very left is the day we took our seedlings and planted them, middle is a month later, and right is a month after that. In the distance, by the wooden stakes you can see corn and sunflowers. 
Last year, we got no melon, which was disappointing.  This year, success!
I cannot describe, and the picture doesn't do justice to the amount of carrots and beets we harvested.  Luckily these are stored easily and will last through the winter.  We stored by simply cutting off the greens as the green steal moisture, and burying them in a container of sand.  Some will become baby food and others will be eaten by us in the dead of winter.  We have Lbs. and Lbs.  They are non-gmo heirloom seeds and we didn't use any sort of chemical on them.  Our cost? $3.50, plus labor. What a huge savings from the grocery store!
The greens can be eaten, but our abundance of kale makes storage impossible.  So we fed the greens to the chickens who love them!  Nothing goes to waste.
Carrots that are broken or damaged cannot be stored or they will cause the other carrots to rot.  As it turns out, I might have the only dog in the world who loves carrots.  He can play with them and they taste more delicious than sticks and rocks when consumed!  In the photo above, he is eying G to make sure he doesn't come over and steal his carrot. "Don't do it," is written all over his face.
I buy locally what I cannot grow.  The photo above is a bowl of sweet Michigan cherries, pitted and ready to be made into jam. The cherries that were a little sketchy went to the chickens.  Chickens love Michigan sweet cherries!
The pot is filled with blueberries in the middle of the jam making process.  It's something I've wanted to learn for a long time.  I did it with my parents once as a child and remember it was fun and we had jam all winter. I learned a process that allows the jam to be stored on shelves and uses no preservatives.  Aside from my first batch being a little thin from not getting the fruit up to the right temperature, the jam is great.  I doubt we will be buying any, no matter the amount of peanut butter and jelly sandwiches we consume this year.
G even helps and is my official berry smasher and taste tester.
I also learned to make a dish that is very hard to get here in Michigan: collard greens.  I've heard over and over how disgusting they are.  But I tried some a few years back made by a soul food restaurant in Detroit and I loved them.  Ever since, I wanted to learn to make them.  So this year we planted some in the garden and I learned.  I might be the minority here in Michigan, but I think they are delicious!

It's nearly impossible to live in Michigan and not enjoy the water in the summer.  I mean, it's everywhere!  All work, no play makes for an unhappy child.  So we make sure to get a little R and R in too.

Our town holds a kids fishing event, in conjunction with the DNR's free kids fishing weekend.  I registered G and he received a free fishing pole and tackle box with a few lures thanks to local sponsors.  It was also the weekend of the community garage sale, so I manned our sale while G and Chris went fishing.  I managed to get rid of some junk we had sitting around and they were able to have fun.
We also made sure to get a little time to visit with cousins at the cottage.  They have a beautiful, private beach, nature trail with horses, golf cart rides, boats, fishing and tubes.  They also put on amazingly fun kid friendly events.  4th of July includes turtle races, sack races, tug of war, water balloon toss and more.  Although G is getting a little old for some of it, I was happy to see him able to enjoy his childhood a little longer.  The evening ends with a fireworks display to rival the big ones, but it's private.  So, no obscene crowds, no hassle parking, no long walks and no porta-potties.  I decided to make the kids treat bags, because I like that sort of thing.  So they had junky snacks to eat while they watched the show

No worries, the end of the turtle race is the great turtle release!  Treat bags included a sweet and salty mix of popcorn and M & M's, rice crispy treats with blue and red sprinkles, marshmallows dipped in chocolate with sprinkles, sparklers, pop its and Oreos dipped in chocolate and sprinkles.  They were fun to make.  My favorite part is sitting on the beach, watching happy children.  G loves the water and would stay in it all day if I let him.  There was also a chicken BBQ, a band, and some Czech pastries I could not stop eating.  
Beyond the lake life, gardening, and learning I've done, there have also been many, many Dr. appointments.  The outcome has been better than I dreamed.  There's also the planning for our baby, which is exciting and feels like an absolute gift.  I never dreamed I'd have a little girl and I am thrilled. 

Chris is also growing his business.  And, as a result suffering from growing pains.  We've spent the summer working very hard creating a good work space.  Our garage is being converted to production.  Chris and I now share a computer work space.  My desk faces the window and his is across the room facing the wall.  I imagine our future, him running his business while I write.  With the amount of business now coming in, I doubt it will be long before we are both home full time, working together, growing food, and enjoying our daughter.

No blues this summer.  It feels like my life is charmed and lucky.  Everything we wanted is falling into place and we've been given amazing gifts we didn't even know we wanted or imagined we could have.