Our garden is beginning to grow really quickly. Some afternoons I go out to find a handful of little snow peas that weren’t there the last time I checked. We’ve been picking lettuce and eating salads like crazy, but every time I go back out to the garden it’s just as bountiful as before. So far we have only started enjoying the lettuce and a snow pea here and there, but soon we will have plenty of kale and other goodies to enjoy.
We have also signed up for a seasonal CSA box from a local farm. We enjoyed this so much last summer. It makes it incredibly easy to always have fresh, local, organic, and ethical veggies on hand. We even enjoyed the odd melon and apple last year. These days it’s difficult to pick up fresh organic vegetables at the supermarket. Yes, there are more and more options available, but sometimes the organic section just looks so sad. It’s also hard to make a healthy choice when I can compare the prices right there. Most of the time I cave and get a non-organic item in order to save a buck. Somehow it’s easier for us to invest in what we eat when we plan ahead and pay in advance.
Of course there are many benefits that come with CSA boxes. I love that local farms benefit from the partnership and I love the community that it creates. The farm even hosts events for CSA members and invites us to see where our food is growing. Last year we were able to try many new veggies that we had never cooked with before. It was somewhat of a challenge for us to learn new recipes in order to consume these. Through this experience we found a love for certain produce we hadn’t heard of before. We quickly became addicted to making fresh salsa verde with our local tomatillos. NACHOS EVERY DAY!! Or just every other day…
We anticipate the arrival of our first CSA box of the season within the next month. We had the CSA in mind when we planted our garden. We picked veggies that we consume the most to plant in our garden. Hopefully we won’t become sick of eating salads or have more onions than we can eat.
Have you participated in a CSA? Do you have any awesome salad recipes to share? I would love to try them. I’m going to need some new ideas to use up all my greens!
If you would like more information about our CSA you can check out the website for Arocha Brooksdale CSA. If you live in the Vancouver area these farms are also worth checking out: Urban Digs Farm and Zaklan Heritage Farm. It might be too late to sign up for a CSA this year, but these farms also have farmers markets throughout the season.
Sometimes it’s just nice to get away from home and the typical routine. Our routine hasn’t even been all that typical lately, but enjoying the outdoors was oh-so-needed after being cooped up at home for the last couple weeks. We were excited when our lovely friend Jenna invited us up to her family cabin for the weekend.
The cabin is in the Okanagan, an area about a 4-5 hour drive from home with beautiful mountains, lush landscapes with orchards and vineyards, desert-like tundra, and refreshing lakes. I could have laid out on the dock reading and sunbathing all day. Every time I started to get a bit too warm, I would dip my feet in the icy Kalamalka Lake and feel entirely refreshed. Jordan couldn’t resist getting in the water a least once. He jumped in for a quick skinny-dip, inspiring another friend to leap out of the canoe with his swim-trunks still around his ankles.
The area also has some great hiking trails. We went for a quick, easy hike on the Cougar Canyon Trail to enjoy a couple beautiful viewpoints. The trail also winds into the canyon where climbers scale up the cliffs.
The cabin itself was big and lovely, but it didn’t have any running water or electricity. Our version of “roughing it” involved homemade barbecued burger patties, discussing the history of rap music by LED lantern, and cuddling away the cold as we watched the sunrise over the lake from our pile of twin mattresses on the screened-in porch. We sat out on the dock and watched the stars, brighter from the absence of city lights. Those moments we spent just chatting with friends and enjoying the fresh air were valuable to us. It was great to hang out without the distractions of technology and simply enjoy conversation.
My brother lives in the area and came to visit with his family. It was fun to watch his golden retriever pup experience jumping into the lake off the dock for the first time.
At the insistence of a friend, we had to visit a little Filipino restaurant that makes their own “purple toast”. They bake several different types of bread, including one with purples yams, which they serve as toast with their all-day breakfasts. I ordered their special for the day – coconut french toast. It was amazingly delicious; the coconut was baked right into the bread. If you are ever in Vernon, BC, I would recommend Rosalinda’s Filipino Kitchen.
On our way home we stopped at a family owned estate winery overlooking the Okanagan Lake. We enjoyed the view as we tasted a variety of wines at the Gray Monk Estate Winery. Yum. I could have taken them all home!
I am a really, really big fan of tea, but I’m not super precise when it comes to measurements. I used to just throw a teabag in a mug of boiling water and roll with it. And that’s totally okay. But for the most delicious cuppa tea to make your day, there are a few steps you should follow. Let’s steep some black tea!
I love starting my mornings with black tea. The caffeine content is highest in black tea, so I avoid drinking it too late in the day. Sometimes I still sip some before bed because I just can’t say no if it’s offered. I’ll mostly sleep fine anyway. Jordan has trouble sleeping if he consumes caffeine after lunchtime. He’s really sensitive to it. If I make a pot in the morning we will drink it together. Our favourite is Earl Grey de la Creme.
How to Steep your Black Tea:
Bring water to a full rolling boil and add tea right away. Black tea is best steeped for 2-3 minutes. I usually set a timer for 2 mins as it takes me a few seconds to get the timer going and remove the tea after the timer goes off. You want to avoid over-steeping otherwise you will get a bitter brew. Pull the tea leaves out after 2 mins and you should have a rich, sweet, and fragrant brew. Depending on your preferences you can add some milk and sugar or honey and enjoy!
Pictured is Earl Grey de la Creme Black Tea. Purchase it here.
It can be difficult to meet people in an apartment building. Everyone values their privacy, and often the only time we run into anyone else is coming or going. We are really lucky to have some great friendships with neighbours in our building. Some relationships we had before we lived together and some we gained after we moved in.
Since we built a community garden on the property, we have been spending some time out there and having conversations with people we didn’t get to know before. It’s been nice to participate in and build a community where we live. I am anticipating the harvest season as I’m sure we will have the opportunity to share vegetables, recipes, and meals. We have already received plants, tools, and gardening tips from our generous neighbours.
We typically gather with our neighbours for a dinner one night each week. It’s fun to connect with friends in close proximity. It’s a great opportunity to share what’s going on in our lives, to find someone to water your plants while you’re away, and to learn how to save 75 cents for each load of laundry. We have even experimented with sharing items in our community. There is one vacuum that gets passed around to a few different suites on our floor, and we’ve also been sharing an economy size bottle of dish soap.
Two of our neighbours left for the summer to work in another province. We had a fun little BBQ/picnic to send them off. We were able to enjoy the beautiful weather so early in the season. Everyone pitched in and contributed something to the meal. I’m thankful for our growing community and all the support and friendship it’s given me.
What do you think about getting to know your neighbours? Does it concern you that you might lose some of your valuable privacy? How do you connect with people in an individualistic society?