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How to brighten a green thumb

I haven’t been able to do as much in my garden as I would like this spring. It’s too cold and wet. The ground is cold for the plants and the wind is cold for me. So, to cheer myself up I went to the nursery. 

This might sound like backwards behaviour but I felt better as soon as I got there. I could smell the fresh cut flowers. I chuckled at the whimsical garden statues (who wouldn’t love to have a smirking dragon lying in their grass?). It was drizzling as I headed to the tables of plants under tarps; not many souls except me and a few foul weather friends. 

I was inspired with a few new ideas, and made notes for a future visit on what I wanted to plant. 

In the end I splurged on a few plants I needed to replace – lemon verbena, globe basil and an heirloom beefsteak tomato. They were ones that are hard to find and they should be happy in my greenhouse for the next week or so.  Just for fun I decided to include a few geraniums that will be my salute to Canada’s sesquicentennial. 

I almost skipped up to the exit with my finds, and I hummed on the way home. It was still drizzling but I didn’t care. My green thumb was definitely brighter. 

Taking a Wellness Day

You know those days when you just feel like your get up and go got up and went? Today was like that for me. 

I got up this morning early  to a dark sky.  We were out of yogurt, my best morning energy boost. Ella and I walked in the rain, muck up to our ankles and clouds around our ears. Even the tulips were on strike. 

As the day wore on, I just seemed to get colder even though I was inside. (It was supposed to be a day working on garden projects but pouring rain doesn’t make for good digging weather.) I needed to focus on my wellness, as it was suffering 

 I decided about mid-afternoon that my best chance for a pick-me-up lay in the remainder of the Chocolate Pudding Cake on the counter. I set my sights on dessert to heal my spirit. (Not the most healthy option, I’ll admit; but sometimes instant gratification offers the energy for the next step.)

Thankfully, Wednesdays have a built-in bonus for me – it’s the night I volunteer with Girl Guides. Our Sparks troop, a wonderfully rambunctious bunch of 5 and 6 year olds, is the best remedy for low energy or feeling down.  After a very bouncy Easter egg hunt, ribbon dancing and a parachute game, they all went home smiling, and just a bit more tired.  I felt much better. 

Now that I’ve had my tea and dessert, I feel prepared to tackle the world again tomorrow. I’m so thankful I got a chance to soak in some positive energy today (and a bit of chocolate). 

Soggy Dogs and Mucky Boots Call for Wine

I’m sorry to be a complainer but I hit the wall today. Not once but twice I walked with Ella in the pouring rain. This was no pitter patter, it was a steady downpour. The ground was already waterlogged so there were rivulets and puddles in the mud. Even the birds took most of today off, not chirping their usual spring notes. My gumboots worked overtime. In short, it was a miserable day.

Ella is the best companion in the rain. With a fur coat like that, she doesn’t care if it’s wet. The rain really does run off her coat like water off a duck’s back (they don’t call Labradors water dogs for nothing). Not only that, but the wet weather seems to make all the smells in the field even stronger. She trots around our usual route with an extra skip in her step, like someone turned up the volume. She was definitely soggy by the time we got home, though.

Simon, our other dog, is not so keen to be in the rain, especially at the grand old age of 14. His hair is shorter than Ella’s so he gets cold, but he has never been keen to listen to me. As a result, he’s torn between just going out for a moment and wandering off into the field alone. His compromise is usually to dash out and wander back at a good pace, but not before finding a really mucky spot.

can you tell how much mud is stuck between those toes? It’s like gumbo!

Usually Ella’s good temperament can win me over, but a second soaking in the afternoon was past my limit. As I muttered my way along the only thing that kept me going was the thought of spending the evening with another liquid.

Piccini FIasco – a tasty Chianti (“fiasco” is actually the name of a straw-covered bottle)

I can highly recommend this remedy. An evening with neighbours having a couple of glasses of wine and sharing homemade pizza was just what the doctor ordered. By the time I got home a couple of hours later, the rain had stopped and the skies had cleared, and not just in my head. There were even stars in the sky as I let the dogs out for an evening stretch.

Forget the fact that most of the neighbours were too young to know what I meant by “pizza wine” when I brought what I thought was a ubiquitous bottle. They were intrigued when I told them it would look great with a candle burning in it. We all toasted to everyone’s good health, and I felt not nearly so soggy.

Tomorrow will be a new day.

Rain Rain Go Away

Well, it’s now July and the rain and grey skies continue. At least here in the Okanagan it’s not really cold, but it’s not the summer paradise we’re used to, that’s for sure. Gardens are lanky and lush green, and lawns are hard to keep mowed with all the rain. Everyone is still wearing jackets, and only the die-hards deep in denial are sporting their flip flops – who wants soggy toes? But since I said in my last post I was going to make a concerted effort to improve I decided I had to find my own sunshine.

My garden is overgrown, which for the most part means more weeding and less bounty. However, rhubarb is one of the plants that is grateful for cooler temperatures. The strawberries are also plump and juicy in my boxes out back. So, in the spirit of making lemons when life gives you lemonade, I thought it only fitting to make a Rhubarb and Strawberry Pie!  I used the good old-fashioned pastry recipe on the bottom of the Tenderflake lard box, because I wanted this to be a comfort dish. It always turns out flaky and golden brown. The beauty of the pie though, is that even a store-bought pie crust that you thaw and bake will still show well with the taste of freshly cooked fruit.

Having married a chef, I have to succumb to professional criticism of all of my recipes. Martin is friendly about his comments, but he is not shy to tell me when I could improve (“the filling would be thicker if you made sure it boiled”, or “the centre doesn’t cook very well when you put a large decoration on it”). However, when he says that something tastes really good, he means it. And when he goes back for another piece, I know I have a success.

We’ve now eaten the pie, and it’s still raining. But I feel a bit better. It really was like a bit of sunshine, tasting the tart rhubarb and the sweet strawberries with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream. Scoring a star rating with the chef didn’t hurt either 🙂 

Next I am working on something with our golden raspberries as they are ripening to spite the rain, I think. Keep watching this space for  another recipe!

Back from the brink


You know how sometimes life just gets ahead of you and before you know it, you’re not sure where to start to catch up? Well, here I am, embarassed that it’s been so long since I posted. But I’m back at it, and hoping you will continue along with me. I have been wedged in a tight spot, like a certain bear I have always liked, and I needed a friend.


Summer has started. Spring didn’t seem like much here this year, with colder and greyer weather than usual. I fell off the wagon with much of my cooking as I took on the tasks of getting the garden ready for the season. I thought I would blog about the seeds, but never got round to it.

The seedlings became leggy and then I got busier with work and didn’t have time to transplant them. Luckily I am blessed with a wonderful husband, and he managed to transplant many of the peppers and tomatoes so they could grow a bit, even if it was in the greenhouse. Finally we did get them planted in the garden, and there was so much rain I didn’t need to worry about watering.

The lawn has grown so much when Ella lies down I think she’s pretending to be a wild animal in the jungle. I wanted to mow it today – I finally had a day planned for yard work – but the rain came down so heavy t times it was hard to see. I did some weeding, in my slicker and gumboots. When I tried to hoe between the rows of the veggie garden, the wet dirt stuck to the hoe in clumps and the weeds I pulled stuck to my gardening gloves. But I did get it done!


I felt a bit like Christopher Robin…

The good thing about the rain is that it made me come inside. I made popcorn and the dogs and I watched “Rebel Without a Cause”, which I had always wanted to see. And now, I am finally posting something. Three cheers for me!

Now I am off to the kitchen to make pastry – I am going to bake a rhubarb pie tomorrow. Rhubarb is one of the things that didn’t mind the rain in the slightest. It also doesn’t seem to be enjoyed by the moles, my other challenge to overcome this season.

Thanks for listening. I’ve made a dent in the pile of stuff, and I’m back on track. I feel much better knowing you’re here.


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