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We Cleavers are creatures of habit, and this is never more true that when fall begins. As soon as the leaves begin to change color, you can bet there’s a good chance we’ll be hitting the fairgrounds, picking apples, baking pies, and hiking Bradbury Mountain.

Since Mr. Cleaver and I had our first date there back in 2005, we’ve made a point of returning each fall we’ve lived in Maine, and so this year, LMC got to take her second trip, having been carried up last year. And truth be told, I carried her about 90% of the way this time too, without the benefit of a carrier this go around. But this year my budding geoloist was enamored with all the rock and ledge, but perhaps even more enamored with all the dogs on the trail!

And LMC was quite the trooper, as she got carsick on the way up (fortunately primarily on a waterproof jacket). We were spectacularly ill prepared, having no extra clothes and having forgot her sippy cup (and Steinbeck’s doggy bags). But despite that early mishap, we had beautiful weather and a lovely hike. And LMC did look awfully cute in her new winter cap.

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Little Miss Cleaver is, for the most part, a pretty good eater and if there’s one thing she loves to eat above else it’s fruit (unless it’s honeydew melon, because she ain’t having none of that).

She is, however, somewhat picky about the quality and seasonality of her fruit. Watermelon in July – gimme more! Watermelon in a fruit salad in September – no way. So it’s perhaps unsurprising that her favorite outings seem to be our PYO trips, because fruit fresh off the plant? Nothing better than that!

And I tend to agree, our annual Ricker Hill trip is always one of my favorite days of the year. Beautiful views, fresh fruit, apple cider doughnuts, and Steinbeck gets to come too? And this year they even added a hard cider tasting room.

Its was unseasonably warm this year, but everyone still had a great time (even Mr. Cleaver, who we forgot to get in front of the camera!), but I think LMC had the best time of all!

PS – check out the photos from last year, my little one has gotten so big!

Bubble Blaster
Bubble Blaster
Rhododendron
Snuggle Time
Irises
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Steiny
Juliet
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Sand Play
Old Port Festival Parade

Old Port Festival Parade
Old Port Festival Parade

With the arrival of good weather and the Annual Old Port Festival in Portland, it’s really starting to feel like summer here. And with summer comes copious amounts of sunscreen, bug-spray and activity for the Cleaver clan.

LMC got to take in her first parade, which featured beautiful large-scale puppets from Shoestring Theatre and sampled a bit of fair food. We also visited her first farmer’s market and picked out plants to go into the new raised beds, which despite her efforts to pluck them back out have been firmly planted into their new homes.

The boxes are approximately 4 ft x 8 ft x 6 inches. We got a yard and half of loam delivered from O’Donals in Gorham, which we combined with some of our Garbage to Garden compost from last year.  We probably could have gotten away with a yard of dirt, but the leftovers will go into additional boxes we hope to have in place for planting next year.  Because, obviously two boxes aren’t gonna cut it. 🙂

As for this year’s plantings, I kept the plant list fairly similar to my first garden attempt, with the addition of lettuce:

  • Plum tomatoes for salsa and sauce (3)
  • Sweet bell peppers (2)
  • Broccoli (6)
  • Lettuce (6)
  • Basil (4)
  • Thyme (1)
  • Rosemary(1)

I think I’ll probably pick up a few more herbs (I’m thinking cilantro and maybe parsley and mint) and I also planted 4 strawberry plants around the deck in addition to our existing blueberry bush.

Growing up I lived in a house on a corner lot with a huge backyard that my parents filled with all sorts of edible plants. We had cherries, granny smith apples, boysenberries, strawberries and cherry tomatoes most of time. As a kid, my friends and I would spend our summer afternoons out there, reenacting dance routines from Newsies over the sprinkler and eating our fill of the backyard bounty. It was bliss.

Now as a grownup, I live in a house on a corner lot with a huge backyard, that I’m slowly filling with edibles, so my daughter too can eat sun-warmed fruits and veggies to her heart’s content.

Anything need persuading out there?

Gathering up her Tools

What's a Level?

Little Mechanic

Little Mechanic

Little Mechanic

Raised Garden Bed Frames

A Dog in his Domain

Raised Garden Bed Frames

We Can Do It!

We took advantage of decent weather and a long weekend to get some yard work done. Mr. Cleaver mowed the lawn, Little Miss did lawn mower maintenance (it’s electric and I’d highly recommend it), and Steinbeck keep guard. Meanwhile, I put on my best Bobby C. shirt,  pulled out the tools, and put together two very long overdue frame for raised beds.

When we first bought our home 3 1/2 years ago it came with a big above ground pool and accompanying deck. As much as I love to swim, neither Mr. Cleaver or I had any desire to maintain an above-ground pool, so in our first year of ownership we put the pool and the deck up for free on Craigslist and got someone to take them off our hands. We cut back the weeds and (mostly) leveled the soil. Then with pregnancy and new babies, I didn’t do much in the garden at all.

But this year, with a helpful little assistant to keep tract of all the hand tools, we finally got it done. At least the frame building bit. Now I just need to get some dirt, and plants – but oh to have a vegetable garden again! I so enjoyed it back when I had a community garden plot. It’s a bit late to start anything from seed, but if memory (and a blog post) serve me well, I’ve still got time to put some plants in the ground and get a decent harvest. Now to decide what to plant!

 

Ready for a Stroll

Sand Cherry in Bloom

Creeping Phlox

Ready for a Stroll

Birch and Bleeding Heart

Tulips

Tulips

Steinbeck

Bleeding Heart

Violets

Having grown up in California, and gone to college in the Oregon, I have a slew of friends who still reside in those more temperate climes. So while we still had snow on the ground, my Facebook feed was filled with West Coast photos of freshly bloomed daffodils. Now, June is in sight, the snow is but a memory and the daffodils have come and gone, but it feels as if Spring has just arrived in Maine. Suddenly the grass is green, the trees have leaves, and everything is in bloom.

In my own little garden, the sand cherry is in bloom, the violets are out, the bleeding heart has grown to massive proportions and the tulips are starting to fade.  My perennial bed, now in its third year,  is starting to fill in and I may have to start doing some dividing come fall.

Now that the weather is nicer, LMC and I have started taking a little stroll together before I head to work in the mornings, giving me a chance to scope out the neighbors yards for ideas. The phlox that’s everywhere? Totally want some of my own. That perennial bed around that birch tree? Divine!

When we first moved into our little house, I  started my flower beds with no real plan or knowledge. I got the gift of some plants from friend’s gardens, picked up a few of my own and started digging out red brick mulch, tearing out layers of landscape fabric, and plopping plants down and crossing my fingers. Three years later, between some experience and episodes of This Old House, I’m starting to learn more about this gardening thing. Or at least paying more attention. I know enough to know that moving plants is pretty easy, dark mulch makes everything look better and if something doesn’t work out you can always plant something new in its place.

It’s good to be out in the garden again.

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We got our live tree at just the perfect time this year. Picked it up Saturday morning without incident, including my first attempt at strapping it to a car (thanks bungee cords!) and set it up just in time to head to the third almost-annual ornament swap with my knitting group. I made the needle-felted winter scene and took home the snowman head, which went perfectly with my non-breakable/no-hooks-needed theme for this year’s tree. Once again, I was super impressed with all the ornament makings (though I still can’t get my brain around how the pom-pom ones work).  Our timing was also perfect since we got about a foot of snow the next day. We did make a first attempt at sledding with Little Miss C, and while the snow was tasty, the cold and snowsuit and the dog in her face was all a little too much and big tears were shed about .05 seconds after that last shot was taken.  Good thing there’s a cozy warm house and pretty lighted tree to return to.

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It’s no secret that I love Autumn in Maine. Fall has always been my favorite time of year and New England has the best Autumns of them all. And this year I get to share it all with Little Miss Cleaver – which makes it even better.

This year we crammed both of the Cleaver Family fall favorite field trips into one gloriously busy week: the Fair (Cumberland County) and apple picking (Ricker Hill). Miss Cleaver was wide-eyed at all the new things to look at (but not allowed to put in her mouth) and Mr. Cleaver and I loved watching her take it all in. Steinbeck was just happy to be there.

For years now, Mr. Cleaver and I talked about how some day we would take our future children on these annual adventures with us and what a thrill it is to be actually doing it now. We met in the fall and married in the fall (6 years this Sunday!), and the return of the season each year serves as a reminder of how this little family, my greatest joy, made its start. Small wonder that Autumn’s my favorite time of year.

PS: Miss Cleaver just turned 6 months old (how time flies!) and mastered sitting the day we went apple picking.
Pumpkin Photostrip

Or should I say, almost mastered?

PPS: Thanks to those of you who voted for the Pride’s Corner Drive-In. Unfortunately they didn’t win a new projector, but another Maine Drive-In (in Saco) did!