Fresh Mint Ice Cream Recipe (with Chocolate Chips)

Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips

Is there anything more summery than ice cream? 

Growing up, we had an ice cream maker. It was a behemoth of a thing, one of the old-fashion kinds that had an electric churn inside an outer container you had to fill with crushed ice and rock salt. We didn't use it much, rock salt and heavy cream weren't things we usually had sitting around the house, but once a summer it would make an appearance. The sound of the motor still rings clear in my mind, a sound of anticipation, the harbinger of deliciousness to come. When we did make it, it was always vanilla. I never recall getting any fancier than that, but to a kid, it was enough.

When Mr. Cleaver and I got married, we got a small, more modern ice cream maker as a wedding gift. It held about a quart and had a bowl you froze in the freezer, no rock salt required. I've tried making a dozen or so batches or ice cream and sorbet in that maker, with limited success. It never seemed to truly freeze/whip up properly and the ice cream would melt ridiculously fast. So this summer we decided to upgrade. Based on the recommendation of America's Test Kitchen, we purchased a Cuisinart ICE-21 (in pink of course!), and while we've only used it twice thus far, these results have been so much better that the bowl has earned a permanent spot in our freezer and heavy cream a regular spot on our shopping list.

My favorite part of homemade ice cream is using what's in season to make it really fresh ice cream. The obvious options - strawberries, raspberries, etc - all make delicious ice creams and sorbets,  but the herb garden is also a great place to turn to for ingredients. Especially in the early weeks of a garden before the berries ripen - and anyway, it doesn't get any more classic than Mint Chocolate Chip. Unless you count vanilla, of course.

Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips 

Makes 1 1/2 Quarts (approx. 12 servings)

  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • pinch salt
  • 2 cups fresh mint leaves (peppermint or chocolate mint preferred)
  • 1 cup 2% milk
  • 2 cups heavy cream 
  • 1 Tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 1 to 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate (optional)

Combine sugar and salt in a large bowl and top with mint leaves. With a muddler or the bottom of a sturdy wooden spoon, crush mint into the sugar to release oils. Pour in milk and cream and stir until sugar dissolves. Cover bowl and place in back of refrigerator, preferably overnight, but a minimum of 3 hours until mixture is quiet cold.

Set up ice cream maker, per manufacturer's directions. Strain mint leaves out of milk/cream mix and pour into ice cream maker. When ice cream begins to appear firm, add chocolate. While tempting to eat directly out of the machine, taste a bit, and then scoop the rest into a reusable container and store in the freezer for several hours until firm. Serve in bowls or cones and enjoy!


Fresh Mint Ice Cream with Chocolate Chips

            Serves 12 (1 1/2 quarts)     Ingredients:         3/4 cup granulated sugar pinch of salt 2 cups fresh mint leaves (pepperment or chocolate mint preferred) 1 cup milk 2 cups heavy cream 1 Tbl vanilla extract 1 to 1 1/2 cups mini chocolate chips or chopped chocolate           
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Your Questions - Part I

My Studio

I recently ran a little giveaway on Instagram and one of the contest requirements was to either 1) suggest a tutorial or 2) ask me a question. Yes, I shamelessly pump my followers for blog content ideas! For tutorials, a beginner's guide to embroidery was the overwhelming ask and is currently in the works, but in the interim, I thought I'd answer the non-tutorial related questions. 

Here's a question for you:  how do you balance your work as a maker with your domestic and family life? You seem to have a great time doing both! - Carneykar

Balance.  That's the eternal question, isn't it? Ask any tightrope walker and they'd tell you that balance isn't a one-time trick and you've got it all figured out; instead it takes focus, constant adjusting and having a big stick to help even you out doesn't hurt. At least, that's what I'd guess they say, I don't know any tightrope walkers. 

In terms of mindset, making is a priority for me. You first make time in your life for what you need, (i.e. go to work to make money to feed your family and pay your mortgage, clean laundry, etc.) and then you prioritize (I hope) what you love, and I love both my family and making things.  

Making is as habitual for me as brushing my teeth, so I always have a variety of projects or ideas in the works and I give myself tools to work on them whenever an opportunity arises. Most of my sample knitting is done either on my carpool days or while I'm watching tv at the end of the day. I  always carry a knitting or embroidery project in my bag so I can stitch during lunch breaks or while waiting for appointments. I keep paper around to draw out new ideas and a notebook in my nightstand to jot down story ideas. I'm almost always doing something, but the majority of the time, making is how want to spend my "me time," even if it's for work purposes.

My daughter's playroom and my studio share a space - so we can "play" together. I've learned what I can and can't do with my daughter around: gardening or baking together - a hearty yes; tracing sewing patterns while she's coloring - yes;  cutting out fabric - no way. I've also learned to do everything in bits and pieces. When I really need to focus or do computer work, I work during naptime and I'm usually the last one in the house awake by a long shot. 

As much as I (mostly) enjoy all the aspects of my handmade business and want to grow it, I try to be forgiving of myself when I choose not to work.  I stayed up late last night weaving in ends and blocking a sample that is due shortly. I've got three more projects with deadlines in the queue, but if my daughter asks me to nap with her on the weekend, I probably will, because I know those chances to snuggle and plan her epic "Happy Heart Day" party before we fall asleep are short-lived.

I would also be remiss if I didn't give HUGE credit to Mr. Cleaver. He does 90% of the cooking and laundry in our household and the majority of things like grocery shopping as well. This means when I get home from work, I get to spend time with my daughter instead of rushing to make dinner and I can clean up the dishes in stages across the evening. I work from home one day a week now, which means I can help out more on the laundry/dinner/shopping front and try out fancy new recipes - which again I do in pieces. For example I made some spaetzle with pesto the other day - I made the pesto first thing in the morning before my workday started; mixed the dry ingredients and set out the pots I needed at my lunch break; and then dove into making it while Little Miss Cleaver watched My Little Pony after pickup from preschool. 

I'm certainly not prefect. Somedays I'm not as present with my family as I want to be. I'm terrible at actually taking a break. I wouldn't recommend eating off my floors.  It often feels like it takes me twice as long to get something done as I'd like it to. But I've also become more aware that life has a rhythm and an ebb and flow. So I keep my eyes on the wire, adjust as necessarily, and allow myself to be supported by those who help bring balance to my life. 

Beach Beauties in Progress

 I would like to know what is the inspiration for your designs? - cclynn14

A writer friend of mine introduced me to the phrase "plot bunnies" - the definition being that once you get one idea, it seems to multiply like rabbits until you have more ideas than time. I'd say the same is true for both my knitting and embroidery design.

Inspiration is everywhere, you just have to open and patient. I'm constantly seeing something that triggers an idea for a new design and that trigger can vary widely - I've designed four shawls based on bird-titled songs from my favorite bands, I've got a colorwork sweater in the works that came from a peeling wall paper image I saw in a friend's Instagram post about their home renovation.

Of course, if I didn't tell you that, you probably wouldn't see the connection, even if I placed them side by side. I find inspiration almost works like a dream - it takes familiar things, takes and element or two of familiarity - a mood or a color -  and shifts it into something different. With that wallpaper sweater, there's a muted color palate similar to the original and both have patterns with a circular quality, but that's about it. The songbird shawls set out to capture a mood (Leading Bird), a rather literal translation of the lyrics (Paper Bird and Tributary, aka "Cage the Songbird"), or the layout of the performers on stage (yet to be released Darlingside-inspired shawl).  

My embroidery designs are much more illustrative, and more literal in translation from concept to final design.  Often when I introduce someone to embroidery, I'll teach them by drawing a daisy on the fabric for them to trace- the Coneflower design took that idea and made it a bit more formal. (That pattern is also a secret sampler, which you'll see in the Embroidery 101 series coming up). With my embroidery designs, I'm often illustrating my dream life - something slightly agrarian and rooted in a sense of place, with a timeless quality. When I wanted to come up with a summer-themed hoop, I started thinking about all the things that would be a dream summer to me - inner tubing on a lazy river, rope swings, leaping off a dock into a lake, sun hats on the beach. Of all those ideas, the sun hats won out (see design in progress above), but it doesn't mean I won't revisit the other ones next year.  

One thing I've had to adjust to in designing is the forward-looking nature of it - as soon as I hit my current deadlines, I'm going to be working heavily on Christmas/Winter designs, in August.  Magazine work generally works on a 6-9 month lead time, so I'm designing summer sweaters in January and am knee deep in wool in July.  In those cases, mood boards from the call for submission are a great help, or I'll use Pinterest to make my own.  I'll often collect images for years before they coalesce into something - I'd been collecting images of strong rural women in early 20th paintings and photographs for sometime before it was translated into the Prairie Wife Cardigan and I'm far from done playing with that concept.  I still have a treasure trove of inspiration I've yet to translate yet - art from Andrew Wyeth and Barbara Cooney, Anne of Green Gables and my love of 1950s sci-fi - all hundreds of design bunnies, just waiting to be born. 

Something else you'd like to know? Ask in the comments below and I'll include it Part II.

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Summer Idyll

I don't know if it's the 4th of July, or summer in Maine, or a week off with family, but this time of year gets almost ridiculously idyllic this time of year.

I bought Mr. Cleaver a pair of chaise lounges for the backyard as a Father's Day gift, and I'm starting to think that this made have been my best gift given to date. My brother and his family visited for 4th of July week, and we spent a good portion of that time, parents and kids all cuddled up on those chaises. I'm generally not great at relaxing, but give me a chaise, a cool drink, and a good magazine and I'm content for hours. 

My brother had never been to Maine in the summer before, and my adopted home did a great job of showing why Maine is so wonderful. We had sunshine for days and strawberries warm off the vine; we had seafood feasts and fresh strawberry ice cream; we played candlepin and wiffle-ball in the golden hour. We celebrated Steinbeck's gotcha day and Mr. Cleaver's birthday and Independence Day.

It was a warm, wonderful week and it makes me glad to live in Maine.  

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Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

To say I have a love affair with putting citrus in my baked goods, would be putting it mildly. I generally feel that there are few things that aren't improved by bit a fresh zest, and this poundcake definitely falls into the better zesty category. With some added flavor from honey and aromatics from the inclusion of lavender buds, this is the perfect spring dessert. Not too sweet, with an excellent crumb, and easy to transport to your next picnic.  

To print, see button at bottom of post. 

Lemon Lavender Poundcake

(serves 8)

  • 3 large eggs -room temperature
  • 3 Tbl milk
  • 1 1/2 tsp vanilla
  • 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or 1 cup + 5 Tbl all purpose flour + 3 Tbl cornstarch)
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar
  • Zest of one lemon
  • 3/4 tsp baking powder
  • 1/4 tsp salt
  • 13 Tbl (1 stick + 5 Tbl) unsalted butter - room temperature
  • Confectioner's sugar (less than a cup)

Lavender Lemon Syrup

  • 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice
  • 4 Tbl honey
  • 2 Tbl granulated sugar
  • 1 tsp dried lavender buds

Make lavender lemon syrup by combining sugar, lemon juice,  and honey in a small pan over medium heat and stirring until sugars are dissolved. Pour syrup over lavender buds in a heat proof container and cover. Set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 Degrees Fahrenheit. Grease and flour a 6-cup loaf pan or line with parchment paper (preferred). 

In a medium bowl, combine eggs, milk and vanilla. In a separate bowl, shift together cake flour, sugar, baking powder and salt. Add lemon zest to flour mixture and combine. 

Add half of the egg mixture and all of the butter to the flour mixture. Beat with a wooden spoon until ingredients are moist and well combined. Butter should be mixed well, throughout with no visible chunks. Gradually add the egg mixture in two parts, combining each fully before adding the next. Batter will be very thick. 

Scrape batter into prepared pan and spread evenly in container, smoothing the top. 

Bake until a tester inserted in the center comes out clean and top is a golden brown, about 55 minutes. 

After baking, remove cake from oven. Keeping the cake in the pan, place on a rack and poke all over with a wooden skewer or long toothpick. Strain lavender buds from syrup and brush strained syrup generously over the top of the cake.

Let cake sit in pan for 10 minutes, then remove and place on rack. Brush sides generously with syrup. reserving about 1/8 cup of syrup. Add confectioner's sugar Tablespoon by Tablespoon to reserved syrup until it forms a thick, opaque glaze.  

When cake has cooled, place on serving platter and pour glaze on top. Decorate with lemon slices and lavender as desired. To store, wrap tightly in plastic wrap and keep at room temperature.

Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

Lemon Lavender Poundcake Recipe

Serves 8 Ingredients: 3 large eggs -room temperature 3 Tbl milk 1 1/2 tsp vanilla 1 1/2 cups cake flour (or 1 cup + 5 Tbl all purpose flour + 3 Tbl cornstarch) 3/4 cup granulated sugar Zest of one lemon 3/4 tsp baking powder 1/4 tsp salt 13 Tbl (1 stick + 5 Tbl) unsalted butter - room temperature Confectioner's sugar (less than a cup) 1/4 cup fresh lemon juice 4 Tbl honey 2 Tbl granulated sugar 1 tsp dried lavender buds
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Summer of Basics: Moss Skirt

Karen Templer of Fringe Association is hosting a make-along called The Summer of Basics. The idea behind it being to make 3 garments (knitted or sewn) over three months that would be workhorse garments for the maker.

I often waffle about joining in on make-alongs, I like the sense of community they bring, but because so much of my making is already dictated by deadlines I generally don't want to add non-necessary deadlines to my life.

However,  in this case, the time frame is generous, and as previously discussed, I'm in serious need of some workhorse garments to fill some sizable gaps in my wardrobe right now. So I'm in.

For my first basic, I chose Grainline Studios Moss Skirt. Normally, my style is less austere and modern than the overall Grainline aesthetic, but I find them so thoughtfully designed, that I've made quite a number of her patterns. I've been wanting a simple skirt with a fly closure to replace my beloved 15-year old denim skirt, and Moss fit the bill. I'm not a mini fan, so I opted for View B with the hem band and added an extra inch to the length of the main skirt portion. Other than that I stuck to the directions, and was surprised to find that I've apparently sew enough flies that I'm no longer scared of them. The fabric is a nice chambray I got on the cheap from Marden's (a surplus store) and I did faux flat-felled seams for a jeans-inspired look. Even with interfacing, the chambray stretches a bit more than I expected, so I may take in the waist band a bit after it's next washing. 

I've already worn it twice in the week since I made it, and knowing how much use my old denim skirt got, I know this will be a definite workhorse. 

The top is a Fancy Tiger Sailor Top made in some quilting cotton, that incidentally I also used in the pocket linings of the skirt. I made it before the make along kick off, so it's not part of my official Summer of Basics makes, but I'm pretty sure I'll be making another soon (my third), so I'll save my comments on the pattern for then. 

All in all, as outfit that is comfortable, easy to wear and feels so very me. A win-win!

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Summer Rain Shawl in Taproot Magazine

As a child, I dreamed of summer storms.

Growing up in northern California, my summers consisted of soaking my swimsuit in the sprinkler and rushing to the driveway to leave an ephemeral body print on the concrete; of running barefoot across the hot asphalt to my friend’s house and trying not to burn my feet; of the dark towels my mother put over the windows in the daytime to keep out the heat.

I wanted my summers to be cooler, wetter. I longed for days that passed like a Country Time Lemonade commercial: afternoons spent floating in an old tire inner tube down a lazy river, swinging from a rope into the old swimmin’ hole, taking laps to the dock in the middle of the lake, numerous bodies of water inexplicably available to the same child in a 30-second spot.

I thought a summer storm would be the perfect antidote to the dry California heat, a backyard sprinkler writ large. I imagined I’d see the clouds building up, pull on my one-piece and hurry outside to dance in the warm droplets falling gently from the sky. Summer perfection wrapped up in a single moment.

Later, in my twenties, when I lived in Chicago, I learned that the reality of summer storms could be a very different thing. Chicago summers were hot and sticky. I slept on a futon mattress on the floor of a studio apartment in Hyde Park, a fan positioned on either side of my bed, hoping for a respite from the heat. The storms I wished for a child would come frequently, but no gentle sprinkle, these; instead, soaking torrents of water, best avoided, but quickly gone.

My second summer in Chicago, my husband and I had relocated to the north side of the city. I’d walk the blocks of my neighborhood on summer nights, the sticky nights made more bearable by the cool lakeside breeze. Our apartment was just blocks from Lake Michigan, and though we visited the shores often, I only swam in its waters twice. My first swim in that wide body of water was on a hot day, the water sufficiently warm, and the feel of lake-bottom plants and tiny fish against my legs a constant reminder that this was no tile-lined pool.

My second swim was on an equally hot day, but the water shocked me with it chill. I paid no attention to the flora and fauna as the icy water stung like daggers and made my toes go numb. I wrapped myself in a towel and we rushed home to change. By the time we reached the apartment, a tornado warning had come in and we watched as the clouds folded in on top of themselves, faster and faster, building up into a dense grey wall on the horizon. My hair still damp from the lake, we sat in the windowless lobby of our building and waited the storm out – the menacing clouds giving us thunder and hail and rain.

As a child, it seemed silly that summer only truly started June 21st. School had been released weeks before and the season of short-sleeves and flip-flops had been in swing well before that. In Chicago, the march of time was marked by the swing from biting cold winds to sweltering humidity. Even so, I didn’t really understand the seasons until I moved to Maine.

Not spring, summer, winter, fall. We had all of those, even in California.

But the 16-day window of Lupine Season, when the highways burst forth in spires of purple and blue and pink, or the two weeks when the strawberries are available for picking, its arrival watched for and counted in pint baskets at the farmer’s market. There is the weekend in July when the window air-conditioning units go in and month-long debate in September on when to take them out. Each week in June, July, and August seeming to be a short-lived season of its own.

Perhaps it is because I no longer live in a land of continuous produce, or because I am a gardener now, that so much of the summer is measured in food – not the dwindling canisters of powdered lemonade of my childhood or the cheap takeout of my twenties, but rather, in limited runs of fiddleheads and sugar-snap peas, of strawberries, then raspberries, then blueberries, to finally end in the bags of apples that are picked in that time between the seasons that can be alternately cold or sweltering hot.

The brevity of these seasons brings a different rhythm to my Maine summers, a sense of urgency and a need to take advantage of everything at its peak that I had never felt before. In this environment, the dozen or so summer storms take on a different role, offering a break from activity. They are not an invitation to play, nor to hide, but to simply be.

In the winter, the Nor’easter asks us to stay inside and enjoy the quiet; in the summer, the rains do the same. The storms are a chance to lay in bed and hear the raindrops ping against the top of that window air-conditioning unit, drumming out a steady tattoo that seems to say “Be still, be still, be still.”

As child, summer storms were illusive, illusionary things; in Chicago, they were wild and sometimes terrifying. Now, as an adult, they are a respite. After a stretch of hot sunny days, the plants in my garden welcome the rain. I follow their lead, raise my face to the heavens, and drink it in.


The Summer Rain shawl, inspired by my longing for those summer storms and the peace they now bring can be found in the latest issue of Taproot Magazine: GROW. They also carry kits for the pattern, which uses 2 skeins of Milo by Manos Del Uruguay, a gorgeous merino & linen blend with amazing drape that is truly one of my favorite yarns on the market right now. The issue is available on newstands and online now and you can queue up the project on Ravelry

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Prepping and Storing Your Embroidery Floss - a tutorial

Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver

Embroidery floss is one of those supplies that seems to sneak up on you. I did for me. I'd buy a couple of skeins for a project here, then a half-dozen for another project there. I'll tell myself that I'd wind them onto the little cardboard bobbins, and organize them into binders or boxes, but more often than not I'd pull them from directly from the skeins until I wound up with a tangled mess.

In truth, even when I did bother with the bobbins, I never really cared for them. The floss would get kinked on the card, I'd have to do a bunch of unwinding and re-winding ever time I'd need a new length of floss, and they never stayed put in their binder pages. It was more trouble than it was worth.

Then an acquaintance introduced me to floss braids and it was a gamer changer for me. No special equipment needed, quick and easy to do, and honestly, kind of pretty. And by using the existing label,  I didn't have to rewrite the color code on anything, and spare lengths could be looped back through the label..But the best part was that the thread was already cut into perfect lengths for stitching. 

Like I said, game changer. 

Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver
Embroidery Floss Tutorial by Ms. Cleaver


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Greyhound in the Garden - Cocktail Recipe


We're just about to embark on a long weekend here in the States, so why not kick back and enjoy a bright and refreshing cocktail - not too sweet, not too boozy, with a hint of earthiness from the garden. 

Greyhound in the Garden Cocktail

(makes 1 drink)

  • 2 oz freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz Rosemary Honey Syrup (see recipe below)
  • Sprig of fresh rosemary for garnish (optional)

Stir all ingredients together and serve over ice, add rosemary for garnish as desired.

Rosemary Honey Syrup

  • 1/2 cup granulated sugar
  • 1/4 cup honey
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 2 sprigs fresh rosemary

Combine first three ingredients in a small saucepan and stir over medium heat until sugar dissolves completely. Add rosemary and simmer for 3 minutes. Remove from heat and remove rosemary sprigs. Pour syrup into a sterilized bottle or jar and refrigerate. 


Greyhound in the Garden Cocktail Recipe

Makes 1 drink Ingredients: 2 oz grapefruit juice 1.5 oz gin .5 oz rosemary honey syrup
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FO Roundup

One of the most fun parts of being a designer is seeing how others interpret your designs. Here are a few of my favorite finished objects (FOs) of late (click on any photo to visit the knitter's Ravelry page):

Tributary, knit by Caitlin (schmidr)

Tributary, knit by Caitlin (schmidr)

Ripley, knit by Kim (willknit4borscht)

Ripley, knit by Kim (willknit4borscht)

Caiterly, knit by Jenny (Jenny A Kortfelt)

Caiterly, knit by Jenny (Jenny A Kortfelt)

Cresting Waves, knit by Jenny (jennyinmaine)

Cresting Waves, knit by Jenny (jennyinmaine)

Zoetrope, knit by Stacy (shutterhoney)

Zoetrope, knit by Stacy (shutterhoney)

Bradac, knit by laraghdaniel

Bradac, knit by laraghdaniel

I love the colors each of these knitters have chosen to make the pattern their own and I'm in love with the face on that bear!!

Want to share your knits with me? Tag me @mscleaver on Instagram, or if it's on Ravelry, I'll see it. :) 



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Garden Tour: May

Gardening my own food has taken root in my soul.

I come from a rather mixed gardening background. Growing up we lived on a corner lot with a large backyard. We had a robust rose garden, a pair of fruit trees, some strawberries and a swath of boysenberries vines, but with the exception of the roses, which took far too much pruning in my childhood opinion, I don’t really recall my parents doing much gardening.

Still that fruit was the most memorable part of the yard.  During the summer my friends and I would snack our way through the backyard, staining our fingers with berry juice.

Vegetables, however, were a different story.

Our attempts at vegetable gardening were limited at best. My mother always had a few cherry tomato plants, but there were only two years where we tried something more ambitious. My father made a pair of raised beds in the place where our swing set used to be and planted some veggies. There were pumpkins and baby corn that grew into inedible adult corn, but I have no real recollection of eating any veggies from our garden.

Despite (or perhaps because of) this lack of vegetable-growing experience, I leapt at the opportunity to cultivate my own little “bit of earth”, when it finally arrived

“Might I,” quavered Mary, “might I have a bit of earth?” In her eagerness she did not realize how queer the words would sound and that they were not the ones she had meant to say. Mr. Craven looked quite startled.
“Earth!” he repeated. “What do you mean?”
“To plant seeds in—to make things grow—to see them come alive,” Mary faltered...
“You can have as much earth as you want,” he said. “You remind me of some one else who loved the earth and things that grow. When you see a bit of earth you want,” with something like a smile, “take it, child, and make it come alive.”
— - The Secret Garden, Chapter 12 by Frances Hodgson Burnett

After years of transient living, we moved back to Maine in 2008. We ended up in a first floor apartment in Deering Center and our second year living there, the neighborhood association started a community garden. I was one of the first to sign up for those early plots and planted myself four tidy rows of tomatoes, bells peppers, broccoli and herbs. I was quite detail oriented and spaced each row with precision (and yard stick). I was amazed at how quickly those small seedlings filled in the gaps between them and the chance to use my own produce got me excited about cooking. 

I was sad to leave behind that plot when we moved to our current home, but the wound was eased by the fact that I now had a corner lot of my own. The first year in, there wasn’t much to do in the way of gardening, as we had some clean up (namely the removal of an above ground pool) to tackle first. But bit by bit, bed by bed, my bit of earth has grown up into something a little more robust. I’m still far from finished (is any garden truly finished? I think not), but each year those roots and the deep joy I find in gardening grows a little bit deeper.

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