The Sweet Daily Grind of Vacation

Vacation life, in bullet point and photo form:

    • Christmas vacation started with a wonderful visit from my parents. It was the perfect combination of fun things to do and straight chilling out. We wandered around Nashville, Indiana; watched football; ate homemade chili and egg casserole and cinnamon rolls and WAY too much chocolate, beer, wine, and Bailey’s (family tradition); watched a really excellent version of A Christmas Carol; enjoyed one of my favorite Christmas movies (ahem…. Die Hard 2, of course); perused the Indianapolis Museum of Art‘s contemporary floor; and, of course, opened loads of presents.
20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: adorable whale rattle and fox baby booties, our new family photo, my lovely parents, me and my mom, and Boombox scanning the presents.

20131225. Christmas collage.

Clockwise from top left: Our present-laden tree, my new chalkboard drawing with Die Hard quotation, Chris and his new handknitted hat, anatomically correct gingerbread men, and Birdie getting cozy with my dad.

    • Yesterday, I took the tree down so we could start Ambitious Vacation Project of 2013 (TM): replacing the carpet in our living room with laminate flooring. I am currently typing from a couch in the middle of a mostly empty, very carpetless room. With all the animals we have – plus adding a kid into the mix – the carpet is just gross. It will be AWESOME once it’s done.
20131226. Family room, pre-flooring.

The living room before.

20131226. Family room, mid-carpet removal.

The carpet comes up!

    • In baby news, if you see a pregnant woman (aka ME) waddling along, it’s not because her belly is so giant she’s about to fall over. It’s because her back hurts so badly it has become difficult to walk. Unfortunately, this pain is most exacerbated by bending over to do work (picture weeding in the garden or – here’s the unfortunate part – pulling staples out of the floor or moving heavy furniture to allow for laminate flooring to be laid). So I felt pretty useless today. I like to be able to help, to DO, and I’ve never really had a health problem that seriously kept me from being able to do the things I want to do.
20131225. Cabled baby blanket.

Instead, I’ve been reading a lot, doing yoga, running errands, and finishing knitting projects, like this cabled baby blanket.

    • In other baby news, I’m starting to feel like I CAN’T WAIT TO MEET THIS BABY. Like, I’m ready. And I’m starting to feel excitedly impatient. Seven weeks and counting!

20131225. Whale rattle.

Today was the quintessential vacation day:

    • I started with day two of morning yoga, which is helping the back out and generally making me feel better about my suddenly unwieldy frame and non-existent stomach muscles.
    • Over coffee, I ordered seeds for the 2014 garden. This is always one of my favorite winter activities: dreaming of springtime’s seedlings poking through the soil, hot summer breezes playing through the bean blossoms, bees buzzing, and chickens scratching through thick grass.

20131227. 2014 garden dreaming!

    • I also did an inventory of the seeds I already have from the past few years. Yikes. I wouldn’t call it a “problem,” per se, but I’ve got quite a seed library going.

20131227. Not that it's a problem, but I might have a bit of a seed problem.

    • It was a balmy 45 degrees today, so after a shower, Birdie and I went for a quick jaunt around the ‘hood, then I ran some errands (including a treat Starbucks run for me and my hard working husband) with my coat unbuttoned, my window down (a little), and Birdie as my co-pilot.
    • Following some afternoon baby book reading, Chris and I tucked into spicy turkey chili and fresh broccoli. YUM.

Not usually one to photograph my food, but dinner tonight was kind of the bomb. Turkey chili and broccoli, what?!

Now? Now it’s movie and snuggle time in our deconstructed home. For posterity’s sake, here’s what’s on tap for the 2014 garden, thanks to a Seed Savers Exchange gift card from my in-laws. Great Christmas gift, am I right?

  • Sunflower, Autumn Beauty
  • Radish, Plum Purple
  • Radish, French Breakfast
  • Pepper, Aji Cristal
  • Pepper, Black Hungarian
  • Onion, Yellow of Parma
  • Lettuce, Forellenschluss
  • Ground Cherry, Aunt Molly’s
  • Cucumber, Edmonson
  • Cucumber, Double Yield
  • Beet, Bull’s Blood
  • Bean, Ideal Market
  • Bean, Purple Pod Pole
  • Asian Green, Mizuna
  • Arugula

No Tuber Left Behind

So hey… we just got back from our honeymoon in Jamaica! I was very good about not shouting it from the rooftops (or, more accurately, my computer keypad) that we would be out of town. You know, that whole thing about it being bad to tell the whole world you’re not at home. I can’t tell you how difficult that was, given that I can’t keep a secret to save my life AND I was way overly excited about this particular vacation.

20131028. Amazing storm clouds.

So there you have it: last Sunday, we left for a resort just west of Ocho Rios, spent the week lying on the beach and floating in the ocean, and returned late last night. JAMAICA!

20131028. Chris and his thematic reading matter.

20131028. Virgin pina colada and a good book.

20131028. Crab friend.

20131029. Ocean floating.

20131031. Bob Marley's home when he was a wee babe.

On Thursday, we took a trip into the mountains and countryside to see Bob Marley’s first home and final resting place, and on the way there, we were surprised to learn that 90 percent of the residents of that particular area are farmers.

20131031. 90 percent of the residents in this area are farmers.

The landscape on the way up to Nine Miles.

Additionally, the area’s sole water source is rainfall. This means everyone had not just a rain barrel, but a rain cistern outside the house (along with some very creative guttering systems to get the water from the corrugated metal roofs of some of the houses to the cisterns). There were also large open limestone rock catchment systems scattered throughout the area.

20131031. Limestone rainwater catchment system.

The limestone rainwater catchment system at Mt. Zion.

Being interested in that whole farming thing, my eyes immediately keyed into the fields scattered on hillsides or lower in the valleys. I began seeing squash vines trailing across the red soil, banana trees (I think), cabbage heads cropping up on stonier slopes… and these strange rows upon rows of tall poles, growing thick with what looked like sweet potato vines.

I asked our guide, Ros-shacka, and he confirmed: they were YAMS! He seemed shocked that we could grow sweet potatoes in Indiana, and we chatted for a moment about growing seasons.

20131031. The view from Mt. Zion.

Farms and gardens were tucked in everywhere on these hills.

This was also the swift kick in the behind I needed to get our own yams out of the ground upon our return. November in Indiana also means garlic cloves need to get into the soil. So as our northern diffused November sun slowly warmed the changing leaves above me this morning and with my trusty knit cap snug over my ears, I began the special chore of gently working through soft dirt for those bright red, gem-like tubers.

20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

Assembling the only tools needed for the task of digging sweet potatoes (not pictured: hands).

20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

This year, I started growing our slips early – like, JANUARY.

20130113. Starting the sweet potato slips.

In January…

201305117. Remember that time I worried the sweet potatoes wouldn't grow?

By May, we had amazing growth. Ready for the ground!

Last year was our first year growing sweet potatoes, and so we planted the slips in June, much later than we really should have. So our haul this year is at least double what it was last October. I love the mystery of underground crops, digging through the soil, not really knowing what you’re going to find. Treasures!

20131102. Sweet potatoes (or did I plant yams?).

Dinner tonight is definitely going to feature roasted, mashed sweet potatoes! Or were they yams? No matter.