Glamping in the Sticks and Tomato-Basil Jam!

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My parents are finally back from their happy-little-retired-people romp all over the United States. They’ve been gone for months and I have to admit I’ve been feeling a little abandoned!

Really, I’m so happy for them. After years and years of bad luck and hard knocks, my dad working harder than anyone I know and being gone for months and months away from his home and family… they are FINALLY living the sweet life. And the best part is that they are still healthy enough to appreciate it. They bought a little trailer and they’ve been camping all over the place. It’s their dream come true.

But now they are finally back and you know what that means!  Quick Stick Fix!!! Woo hoo!  I love where I live but I have missed the sticks. Especially summer in the sticks with it’s crazy-abundant garden-harvest time. Oh, I miss my tomato garden so much!  Good thing my parents have a garden that is hooked up to a drip system and waters itself while they’ve been gone. It pretty much grew into a jungle.

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Tomatoes! Basil! Mint as tall as you! Corn, squash, peaches, plums! It’s a dream out here. A crazy wild out of control garden jungle of a dream.

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Of course Bug loves the sticks. It’s a kid wonderland out here. Junk everywhere, tree houses, broken down clubhouses (ie: death traps), weeds that grow as high as your head,  big panting dogs that like to play fetch, eight cats and of course all the produce you could ever want to eat right at your fingertips. She and her cousin Super Chic have been having a blast.

I call it glamping when I’m here because well, things are not exactly spic and span. If you know how my parents are then you know what I’m talking about. Cleanliness is not on the top of their list but that’s okay because hospitality and charm are. So you just can’t stress about clean bathrooms or dirty dishes, dust or spiders or (gasp!) animal hair. It’s just part of life. Suck up your city-slicker squeamishness and make the best of it.   You just have to let go and give in and if you can do that you’ll have a really good time. I love it here.

If you pretend you are camping then it’s actually really super glamourous. They have electricity , hot showers, air conditioning and wifi! My mom stocks via coffee just for me and my dad makes the best waffles ever. And we get to sleep in their trailer which is just one step away in cuteness from an Airstream.

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Last night when it finally cooled down I walked the garden with my mom and we harvested about three pounds of tomatoes in about five minutes. I was so excited about the sheer quantity of tomatoes that I talked my mom into making a batch of tomato-basil jam. She found the recipe in a Better Homes and Gardens 2013 Canning magazine and it peaked both of our interest. It probably wasn’t the smartest idea to tackle at nine o’clock at night but I can be a bit manic and persuasive at times. My poor mom. Maybe it’s a good thing they don’t see me all that often.

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Anyway, the jam turned out really cool. It’s definitely something of a novelty that you break out at parties with fancy cheeses and crackers or spread on a crunchy piece of sourdough toast or something. I wouldn’t want to eat it in a peanut butter sandwich or anything. It’s sweet but definitely tomato-y and faintly reminds you of cold pizza or spaghetti sauce. But I don’t care I think it’s wonderful and I’m so proud to be taking five jars home.

I love the sticks!

My Very Small Patio Garden

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Remember when Bug and I used to live in the Sticks and we had a GIANT tomato garden that we harvested buckets and buckets of tomatoes from? Oh, those were the days. I miss them. I loved that backyard. Too bad it came with neighbors that liked to cuss and swear and scare the crap out of me on a regular basis. I do not miss them at all. But I do miss the garden, and Holly. We still get to see Holly when we visit my mom but I miss having her around. She was such a love.

My neighbor downstairs has an old yellow lab and even though he pees and poops in their small courtyard and the rank smell of it wafts up to my upstairs windows, I don’t mind too terribly much because the old dog is lovable and he reminds me of Holly. He’s really old and he has big benign tumors growing out of his chest and sides. Every time we go up and down the stairs he hobbles over and gives us a big throaty low bark between the steps. Not a scary bark. Just a deep Hello, how you doin’, Wanna pet me? kind of bark. We do pet him and he pants and lays down.

But he’s not Holly. And my little patio garden, even though I love it, is not my big-back-yard sticks garden. Them’s the breaks.

However! I love my patio garden! It’s perfect for sitting on and drinking coffee. I have my two chairs and several pots and my little pink spool left over from Bug’s Fushia stage. It’s all very pleasant.

A few months ago when Bug and I were walking around our apartment complex we found a baby tomato plant pulled up by it’s roots and just laying on the ground. I think someone must have thought it was a weed and pulled it and then forgot to throw it away. Of course we know the smell and look of tomato plants so we snatched it up and planted it in a pot on our patio.

I haven’t gotten around to buying any new soil for my pots (it’s all old leftover from the sticks) or buying any fertilizer so the garden could be thriving a little more but it’s poking along. Then when one of my neighbors saw that I had an interest in tomatoes, she bought me a big Hearty Girl tomato plant and I planted that one too. So now I have TWO tomato plants. Not bad for a tiny little patio garden. They are growing bigger and bigger everyday. One advantage of having such a small garden is that I see them when I come in and out of my house so I don’t forget to water them AND there are no weeds. At least not yet anyway.

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Also, I get to look at it from my kitchen window when I do dishes. Not too shabby! (The cats like it too.)