November 16, 2015

Apple Goodness

A few weekends ago, we picked the apples from the tree in our backyard. We've been living in this house for a bit over 4 years now, but this is the first time we have been able to get some apples from our own tree. In previous years, they were completely compromised by some sort of insect that comes out in the spring in our area but, for the first time this year, plenty of them made it through and ripened. Sure, they are not the perfect-looking kind that we find in grocery stores - in fact, they're filled with bumps, bruises and imperfections - but it feels so great to be eating apples from our own garden.

All in all, we had enough to fill the box to the brim, which I thought was pretty good for a tree from which we hadn't picked a single apple before.

The boys - my dad, my brother, and Toby, who mainly helped with eating - were in charge of picking them from the tree, and my mom and I are now busy turning them into pie, sauce, and butter before they go bad.

Video proof of Toby "helping" with picking (read: eating) the apples. He polished off 3 of them, one by one, that he found on the ground underneath the apple tree. The video shows him enjoying his third apple, and I wish that my camera's battery hadn't died before he finished it, but I got such a kick out of seeing him turn and eat it so carefully, almost like a human.

I'd love to know, what are your favourite apple recipes?

November 10, 2015

Wellness List

I thought it was time I talked about my newsletter. This is something that has been on my mind for probably close to a year now. Through taking the IIN and B-School courses, I learned that newsletters are not only great tools to reach the potential customers or clients of any business I create, but also wonderful ways to connect with people about the things I'm most passionate about in a more personal way.

That being said, ever since then, I have been procrastinating on actually starting to send out newsletters, mainly because I had no idea what I would put in them. I did make the small first step of signing up for Mailchimp and placing a sign-up form in the right sidebar a few months ago, but not much progress happened since. Not practically anyway. I have, however, given this topic a lot of thought, and I've finally settled on something I'm happy with and excited about. As always, I have big plans for the future, but for now, I'm mainly looking forward to sharing some short personal updates from a wellness perspective, along with resources that I wish I'd known about along my health & wellness journey in the last few years. I will also be launching my health coaching services soon, and sharing my progress and availabilities there as well.

The way I see it, the difference between this blog, which I consider very personal as well, and a newsletter is that, for the latter, people choose to share their email address with me, likely because they are interested in the same things that I am on a greater scale than someone who may have stumbled across the blog through other links or Google searches. From being a subscriber to several newsletters myself, I know that sharing my e-mail address and allowing people into my inbox is a big deal, and I don't take it lightly.

So, if you think this is something you'd love to be a part of and you'd like to receive occasional emails from me, I'd love to have you join my wellness list!

As a heads up, I thought it would be helpful to mention that, if you do sign up, you should expect the emails to come from "Ana, Summer June Wellness" (my health coaching practice) rather than "Ana, The Summer of June" (this blog).

Photo via Death To The Stock Photo

October 23, 2015

Show of Beauty

By now, we are well into the fall season. Thankfully, it's still the beautiful part of the season, in which the trees are filled with the most gorgeous shades of yellow, orange and red, the leaves that have already fallen are crunching under every step, and there is a tolerable crispness in the air. I know this part won't last much longer though. As I look out the window, I can already see more leaves on the ground than there are left in the trees; yesterday, although mild, was one of the windiest days in a long time, and the weather lady keeps reminding us to go out and enjoy all this beauty and colour, because it will only be here for another weekend or two at most. In other words, the grey part will take over soon. But I'm doing my best not to think of it and instead just enjoy what is.

The other week, I took out my camera and photographed all the colours in our neighbourhood and I love how the pictures came out (though I can't decide if I like them equally as much or more than the ones from last autumn). In another few weeks' time, they'll serve as a great reminder that fall is really not all bad.

October 14, 2015

Life Currently

Making big shifts in my life that will get me closer to my dreams.

Staying positive and brave through all these changes that, exciting as they may be, are also scary and overwhelming at times.

Feeling such a mix of feelings, and beginning to understand the true meaning of the word "bittersweet".

Craving less planning and more doing.

Redefining my work/life balance.

Creating new routines and good habits.

Embracing uncertainty.

Needing to find my voice again.

And on a less serious note...

Reading books again - regularly. I have so much more to say about this, and I will, soon.

Wondering why everyone has been so eager to pull out the boots and thick knit scarves as soon as the temperatures dipped slightly below 20 degrees, knowing full well that for the majority of the next 6 months or so, they won't be an option anymore but a necessity.

July 21, 2015

July Flower Garden

By now, I think it's no secret that I love taking pictures of flowers. I keep taking - and oversharing! - them every year when our front garden is in bloom. There's just something about coming back to a home full of life and colour at the end of a long work day that just gives me a little bit of extra energy, no matter how tired I am. So, I love to record the different stages that our front garden goes through every season and, to be honest, sharing them here only once or twice each year is proof of great restraint on my part!

There's just something about our flower garden that feels special to me. Just like with our vegetable garden, every year we've added new varieties little by little, so that now it's not only filled with many more colours than when we started 4 years ago, but we have a few different kinds in bloom constantly from early spring until - fingers crossed! - well into autumn.

So, it's my pleasure to welcome you into our flower garden, as it looks this week. It's definitely a little overgrown right now, but I think I prefer it this way. If you'd like to see how it's evolved over the years, you can take a look at last year's flower garden, as well as the ones from 2013 (here and all the daisies here!),  from 2012, and from 2011 (here and here).

July 18, 2015


A few weeks ago during a long weekend, I finally got a chance to pull out my sewing machine and do a little bit of sewing. It was the first time in over 2 years and it felt so good. I am not experienced in any way at the sewing machine - I think I sewed less than 10 times in my entire life - but I grew up around women who sewed, and have always had a deep desire to learn.

Since I only had about half a day free, I picked two clothing items that needed some very simple alterations. It felt so good to start and finish something in the same day, since I already have a few in-progress projects that have been waiting patiently for me.

The first item was an ill-fitting dress that was both too short and at the same time had a neckline that was hitting quite low - that is, when the straps actually stayed on. With a loose elastic neckline and armholes, even the slightest movement caused them to slip off my shoulders. This was a quick fix, even for me: I shortened the straps by about 2cm, and now I have a longer, tunic-style top (instead of a dress) that I can actually move in and that stays in place.

The second item was an eco-friendly dress that I bought online. As is the risk with online shopping, I couldn't see all the details clearly, and once it came in the post, I found the actual cut of the dress was a bit odd for me: the sides were extended about halfway through the length and ended with pockets that pointed out. This too was a pretty quick fix by cutting out the extra material.

It was so great to take a bit of time to sit and work at my sewing machine again. Even better, I managed to fix some items that I hadn't worn yet, so with just a couple of hours of work, I technically added two pieces to my closet. I hope to be doing more of the same this month while I'm on vacation from work because my mending and finishing pile alone is overflowing, not to mention that list of new projects I'd like to tackle.

I'd love to know, do you sew or would you like to learn? If yes, do you prefer to fix and re-imagine ill-fitting items or to work on new projects from scratch?

June 26, 2015

Our Raised Bed Vegetable Garden: Early Summer 2015

A few weeks ago, we were finally able to bring out our vegetable plants. After a very long and harsh winter (coldest February I can remember!!) and a particularly cool spring, it finally warmed up enough to start planting just a few weeks ago. Needless to say, we got a really late start this year and so, we are still not picking much yet. That's not to say the garden is looking lackluster though - quite the opposite actually, because we have big plans and we've been working hard to make them real.

First, since our soil is quite literally sand and plants don't grow very well directly in it, we are limited only to raised bed planting. This spring, my brother and my dad built a few more beds, so we've practically doubled their number. Second, after a very small and not so tasty yield last year, we've been doing lots of research and realized we needed to feed our soil and plants with some really good, natural plant food.

It's only been a few weeks since the plants have been in the ground (some of them barely two weeks), but we can already see quite a bit of growth happening. A few days ago, I went out with my camera to capture a snapshot of our garden - because, let's be honest, it's looking so different already - and wanted to share it here as well.

Our herb bed is filled with some cilantro (ugh! I'm not a fan and this was definitely not my choice, but at least it's pretty to look at), lovage and tarragon, as well as lots of basil.

For the first time this year, we are trying out potatoes, and so far they seem to be doing really well. We have both yellow potatoes that are growing like weeds, and sweet potatoes that went in the ground a few weeks later but are slowly catching up.

The zucchinis are, not surprisingly, thriving. We already have one ready to pick, with no less than ten more starting to grow. This might be my favourite plant of all: once it gets started producing, it's hard to keep up with it, and you have to check the zucchinis every day or you'll end up with huge ones you didn't even know you had practically overnight.

Another first this year are strawberries. We have one entire large bed mainly for them and while we're likely not going to eat too many of our own strawberries this year, we'll definitely get a taste; we've already spotted a bunch of flowers and 3 or 4 berries ripening.

The mainstay in our vegetable garden every year are tomatoes. We are particularly proud of the ones we've grown this year that are looking really strong and healthy. Lots of little yellow flowers are blooming already, so tomatoes are not very far behind either.

Some of the plants we're most excited about are melons; we have a few different kinds, including watermelons! Right now, they're growing quickly and we've even seen tiny little melons forming already. They definitely won't be as big as the ones found at the market, more likely in the 1 to 2 pound range, but hopefully they'll be much sweeter.

The green beans were the last to go in the ground but, like always, they're growing incredibly quickly. I took this photo only about a couple of days after we planted them and they were already peeking through. Now, almost a week later, they're a few inches tall!

Finally, I can't end without mentioning the green onions and green garlics that have been our champions so far this year. We've been growing them for a few weeks now and have already eaten well over a hundred of them with, obviously, lots more to come.

The last time our vegetable garden looked this good was all the way back in the summer of 2012. Since then we've been struggling, but after lots of research and work during the last few months, we've got our fingers crossed that we'll be eating even more of our own homegrown veggies than three summers ago.

I'd love to know, do you have a vegetable garden? What is your favourite plant you're growing now or that you would like to grow?
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