State of the Garden, July 2017.

The fact that I hesitate to tell you about July in the PNW feels like evidence that maybe I have truly made it my home. I have adopted the protective nature of the locals — just hush about the summer weather. Allow the perception of the deep darkness, the depressing wetness to perpetuate in the mind of the rest of the world. When strangers wander in and marvel at the clear bright skies, let them think it’s a fluke, they caught us on a good day.

That seems a bit sinister. Maybe it’s that talking about it seems a bit too cruel? Beloved friends down in Texas are persevering through 100+ degree days, 90+ degree nights and we’re up here picking blueberries at 3 in the afternoon, never breaking a sweat, sleeping with windows open and waking up a little chilly.

My friends really don’t want to hear about it anymore, so it’s probably fine that I don’t have many pictures to share this month.

I was convinced that my June pneumonia had cost me the garden. After months of obsessive planning, prepping, and finally planting, I was taken down at the critical moment. Everything went in late, was neglected, left uncovered or unwatered or in various stages of UNGARDENED *horror movie scream*.

But it’s sort of like when you have your second baby and you realize that 85% of the skills you worked so hard to teach your first child are just things infant humans do.

So, yeah, the garden gardened.
Hard.

When we go out to the garden to get food for dinner, our bellies are full before we come back inside. I had to let an entire row of the garden go, be swallowed up by the earth, because we have such an abundance we cannot keep up, more than I can even pack up to give away before it disappears into the soil (we are working on this). The kids are permanently stained with berry juice and never eat at the table.

The only pest in my garden is a barn cat.
The only seeds that didn’t come up are the ones I failed to plant.
The only problems are the ones I’ve invented for next year.

My lack of documentation is not due exclusively to the fullness of the outdoor garden. There’s been a lot going on inside, too. Coming from a climate where we were forced indoors by suffocating heat, we have always started our school year in July. And though I was hesitant to keep this tradition thinking I ought to give them the fullness of the 18 hour PNW summer days to just do whatever people do outside in July when the sun doesn’t kill you, my kids were insistent that 4th and 2nd grade start on time. So school and the garden are both in full swing and I am now very, very grateful for that month long nap I took in June.

Hello.

Hello, Internet.
Hello, friends.
Hello, strangers.
Hello, Switzerland.

I’m normally what you would call a curmudgeonly hermit antisocial type, but I’m coming out of a particularly wonderful Thanksgiving and anniversary celebration, and it’s the first Sunday of Advent, so I’m feeling uncharacteristically friendly.

Normally, this is where I’d apologize for not posting much lately, moan about being so behind, worry about “schooling” my kids, and, if you could read the blog that lives in my brain, meticulously recount every single macro and micro nutrient that has passed these lips over the last week. But not today. Today my friendliness extends even to myself.

And so, instead of beating myself up about being a writer who doesn’t write, I’ll be nice to both of us and tell you what I have been doing instead.

This time of year, my girls and I need every minute of the sun on our skin we can get. Picnics, playgrounds, nature walks, and the sandbox.

One of Bea’s favorite things lately is the “Driveway date”. Sometimes Leona just can’t stay awake the 5 minutes it takes to get from the gym to the house, so Bea and I go through the Starbucks drive-thru for black coffee and warm milk. We pull into the driveway at our house, get unbuckled, and sing along to the radio, tell imagination stories, or just talk until baby sister wakes up.

I spend a lot of time in the weight room at the Town Lake YMCA. It’s my Cheers. Sometimes you really wanna go where everybody knows your name, but everyone leaves you alone because you’ve got the Rocky IV soundtrack blaring in your headphones and you can squat a Volkswagen.

 

We spent a LOT of time getting ready for Thanksgiving. My thumbs have yet to recover from the chestnut peeling/shelling/torture. They were delicious, though. Beatrice perfectly, patiently, meticulously seeded a pumpkin. I swear, this took several days. It was absolutely worth it though, because then we made this.

Bea was an excellent sous chef this year.  She single handedly prepared my second favorite dish of the entire day, stuffed dates.  I swear to you, friends, these things taste EXACTLY like pecan pie.  They are like magic!

She also skillfully wrapped our pears with prosciutto and carefully arranged an assortment of olives. On any other day, I would be really irritated that she didn’t actually eat any of this food.

As with pretty much every meal, holiday or otherwise, our feast revolved around one key ingredient. See if you can spot it.

Here’s what that looked like a little earlier in the day.

And here’s the picture that I got when I asked Bryan to go take a picture of the finished bird while it was cooling.

Yeah, I don’t always get his art, either.

I’m still thinking about this cake, y’all. It was five days ago…but I can still taste it. Pretty impressive for something made of a mash of squash, nuts, and egg! Screw all the Christmas chocolate treats! I am counting the days till I get another pumpkin cake! More exclamation points! For emphasis!!

We also made these cookies. If you like macaroons (as in coconut, not macarons, as in almonds), these are for you. They satisfied everyone’s need for the “alternative to pumpkin”, and were spectacular toasted with a cup of coffee the next morning.

 

Leading up to Thanksgiving, the girls and I spent our school time memorizing “thankful” scripture and searching for “th” in all our books.My favorite part of this exercise is the fact that Bea can’t actually say “th”, it’s still all “f” when it comes out of her mouth. I love it. It reminds me that she is still such a new little person.

Bea working on Ephesians 5:19. Yes, that's God.

 

The Saturday after Thanksgiving was our sixth wedding anniversary. We all went out as a family to celebrate our family’s birthday.

We’re almost as pretty as that turkey!