What Not To Do

Just as the garden project hit critical in the ‘we have to finish this so we can plant wearesolateohmygoodness’ way, a few other things happened.

I took my individual consulting practice to a new level by starting a consulting firm with 2 amazing partners.  Simultaneously, I accepted a  role with a client that is more like a full-time job, and entails some fairly regular travel.   I began to ramp up for my new role while doing all the work that starting a new company entails, and spending every spare moment trying to jam in garden building, finishing my guest room for our summer intern to stay in, and trying to cram in every kind of appointment and time with my children under the sun before my schedule got compressed.

What that led to was 4 of the busiest weeks I’ve ever had, with days going far into the night.  By the time I got on the plane last Monday afternoon, I was ready to drop.  I got back Friday night and was up at the crack of dawn, back at it.

I do this periodically – or maybe life does this, not sure –  cramming every kind of life change, crisis and work demand into a tiny window of time.  I’m not sure why I don’t spread these things out, but I don’t seem to remember from incidence to incidence that it’s really not ‘she who dies with the most checks on her to-do list wins‘.  Maybe you can relate.

Even though I manage to juggle a lot, the thing I am still learning is what to let go.  There was a time where I thought everything, everything had to be cooked from scratch.  I’ve learned the merits of a bag of Trader Joe’s Orange Chicken and some pre-cut vegetables for dinner.   Same for acknowledging that once a year I will clean out my bedroom closet, and then it will slowly degrade until I can get to it again.  No one died when I caved on Pringles.  I can’t do it all alone.  Today I was supposed to have the dirt in the garden spread so I could get another truckload.  The reality is that the pile is halved, there’s 3 garden beds built and planted, and yes, it’s getting done but so is my job, my kids, the animals, the laundry, grocery shopping, cooking….

It’s SO easy to get consumed in life and forget to see the forest for the trees.  Relationships.  Time reading with the kids.  I like to think I have my priorities straight, but I often choose the ‘to-do’ instead of the ‘just be’.

I think we’re all a little like that, to a degree.  I have no words of wisdom on the matter, just that sometimes it’s worth letting the projects go to take silly selfies.

K and I_Home

Garden Dreams Part 4

I had hoped this would be my final installment of my series on building a garden, but of course it isn’t.  Melissa and I have been cranking on the fence, and making great progress, but the magnitude of this project, and our mutual schedules mean we need more time.   The funny thing is that it’s totally ok.  I want to be done, and the plants need to go in the ground, but right now we are both so busy that being stressed about what isn’t done isn’t going to do anything but steal joy away from what we have accomplished, which is a ton.  All of the 8′ fence sections are built, and we have 5 more and a gate to put on.

The garden ended up being 40’x18′, smaller than originally planned, but not by much.
Darn that fence is level

Because I have some work travel coming up, and some of the plants were no longer thriving in their temporary pots, today we stopped construction, and I went to work on building some of the brick beds and planted.   Melissa went off to do some weeding and I immersed myself in measuring, bringing wheelbarrows full of bricks over, and planting.  After a few hours, I had some help from Sithean’s newest resident, H, an Environmental Studies intern staying with us for the summer so she can be close to her summer internship.  She didn’t have to like gardening, or volunteer to help, but both happened.

I built 2 5×5 garden beds today.  On 3 sides are 20″ paths, which will eventually be covered in mulch.  On the fourth side, at the front of the garden, the path is closer to 3′ wide to accomodate Hollyhocks and other fence-climbing plants.  The measuring tape is my best friend these days, keeping my rows of bricks straight and with even distances.

Each bed will eventually be framed internally into smaller squares, but for this year, putting the larger beds in place is what can get done.  Once they were framed out on 3 sides, I added about 3″ of compost on top of the dirt.

5x5 bed

Then we planted.  Today, dill, basil, pickling cucumbers, ‘Livingston’s Best’ tomatoes and begonias went into the beds.

I don’t know that I would have chosen to plant as I build, but I’m still pretty satisfied with the result.

First Planted Beds

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Garden Dreams Part 3

The Peonies are in full bloom, and that means summer is coming, faster than I am ready for.  The air smells like floral perfume, it is green everywhere, and the garden…is still not done.

 

But this weekend was a marathon of effort, and it will be finished and planted in a week.  We started with an auger rental.  Last year, we dug post holes for the temporary garden with a manual post digger, and between rocks and time, barely were able to sink the posts deep enough to stay up.  This year we brought in the heavy machinery.

Auger.jpg

It still required 2 guys to help us in order to get all the post holes dug.  Thankfully my ex and Melissa’s husband were willing and more than able.

They also helped us measure, and remeasure to ensure we were going to be level and the posts would go in evenly.  We never would have gotten as far as we did without them, especially when we hit a buried stone wall, halfway through augering holes.

Yesterday, Melissa and I continued our assembly line prefab and build approach, and cranked out 5 sections in the ground before we had to stop for the day.


We chose a method of 8′ garden sections made out of 1″x5″ pre-primed pine boards, flanked by the big splurge of 8′ cedar posts.  Each section is pre-assembled and then attached, with chicken wire stapled on.  Melissa and I worked as a team to prefabricate, level each post and get it installed while the smallish people did other, equally important things:

Connor being cozy.jpg

In the end, we built a full side and part of the front and back of the garden.  We got faster as the day went on, it stayed level, which is an achievement in and of itself, and by the end of the day, we had gotten pretty darn good at fencing.  I can’t say it’s a skill we’ll have much use for going forward, but it’s a good skill to have.

Breakfast Monsters

Mornings here are the busiest part of the day, typically.  From the moment I wake up to the time I get the kids to school, I only sit down if I can find a few minutes to wolf down some food myself.  There’s lunches to be packed, breakfast to be made, kids to get dressed and out the door, animals to feed and water, and plants that need a drink.

Even weekend mornings are busy until the point when I get breakfast into everyone, at which point we start to take a breath. I cook more on weekends, frequently pancakes, bacon and fruit, although blueberry muffins and waffles periodically show up on the menu.

Pancakes.jpg

I like to take the time to make breakfast for the kids, but the leftover pancakes also go right into the freezer to be warmed for weekday breakfasts.  It’s a quick, easy way to get something homemade into the kids when you have no time.

For me, breakfast has become coffee and smoothies.  I had for years had an egg and yogurt in the mornings.  It’s better not to have to think about food first thing than have huge variety – I can go a long time without getting bored of my breakfast, so long as there’s coffee. And I was always the person, when faced with smoothie options, that replied “I prefer to chew my food, thanks”.  But even the worst cynics can be converted.

I switched to smoothies because I realized I wasn’t quite getting in enough fruits and veggies throughout the day, I needed a new vehicle for my yogurt, and I needed to add some nutritional supplements such as Spirulina, Maca, flaxseed, and a superfood protein powder that has wheatgrass and other goodies.   So I started making what I call my Green Monster Smoothies.  In goes all those things, but also in it goes bananas, blueberries, strawberries, yogurt,  a handful of spinach or super greens, a spoonful of peanut butter and some milk (coconut water or almond/soy milk would work just as well).  I’m finding it keeps me full longer, I’m definitely upping my fruit and veggie intake, and I don’t have to eat all those things individually throughout the day.  And here’s the thing – it tastes really, really good.

And I mean so good I’m sad when it’s gone and I have to wait for the next day.  Which for a ‘no-smoothie as meal’ person, is a pretty solid endorsement.

Smoothie prep

I make enough for 2 smoothies in my $40 sale blender (no, you don’t need a wildly expensive one) so I only have to put in the effort once every other day, and I store the rest in a mason jar in the fridge for the next morning.

Smoothies

I hate to say I’m a convert, but I just might be.  I still like to chew my food, but Green Monster – it’s what’s for breakfast.

Green Monster Smoothies:
1 scoop protein powder – I prefer to use a superfood variety
1/2 tsp Spirulina powder
1 tsp Maca (similar to ginseng and it tastes very good)
2 tablespoons flaxseed
1 banana
handful of blueberries
handful of spinach or other greens
5-6 strawberries
1 cup plain or flavored yogurt
1 tablespoon peanut butter
1 -2 cups of milk or milk alternative, depending on how thick you want it

Whir.  Eat.  Be happy.