$68 from My Sunset Road.
Every summer my family and I go camping in Door County, Wisconsin. We meet up with my folks, and my sister and spend our days on the beach and nights sleeping in a tent. Tent camping is an adventure unto itself. It can be relaxing at times, laying on an air mattress and watching the stars through the zip up screen. Pretending to mind having to go lie down early with the kids, but actually feeling cozy and safe listening to the buzz of conversation and smelling the campfire while I lie there.
Other times, not so relaxing. Like when my son was teething and woke up with an arched back screech of pain. I could tell immediately that the wails were going to be unending and loud so I scooped him up and ran for the minivan. Jumped in and let out a chortle of victory. We made it! We would not be waking up the other campers again tonight! Until my son arched in pain again, stiffening his legs into an unbending position that pressed his feet down directly onto the horn.
Mosquito card by Southern Pest Prints.
My home province holds the dubious distinction of being the “Mosquito Capital of Canada”. I don’t know how official that is, but ask any resident of Manitoba and I doubt any would argue. At the start of every summer, we grit our teeth and prepare for the onslaught of the pesky little bloodsuckers; this year is no exception. In fact, after heavier than usual rains in May and June, an excess of standing water has made mosquito breeding conditions more than ideal. And, according to the latest reports from entomologists, my city is on the brink of the worst infestation in over a decade. It seems that everywhere I go, “eaten alive“ is a phrase found on everyone‘s lips and in everyone’s ears. *swat*
Sterling silver earrings by Pathos Designs.
More than just annoying, mosquitoes can carry several deadly diseases; from Western Equine Encephalitis to West Nile Virus to, in some parts of the world, Malaria. Yikes! It’s no wonder that drastic measures, such as insecticide fogging, are taken by municipalities looking to protect their citizens. Of course, procedures like this never come without controversy. Although the chemicals used here in my city are said to have a low level of toxicity to humans, many concerned residents object to the wide-spread pesticide use and would prefer to take matters into their own hands by employing more human-friendly methods of mosquito-control. *swat*
The Homemade Soy Candle shop is full of the yummiest-sounding scents, but the one that is going on my list of summer “must haves” is the citronella travel candle, pictured above. In this season of spontaneous outdoor activities, you never know where you might end up, but around here, you can always count on mosquitoes being there when you arrive. Tossing a citronella candle or two into your backpack or picnic basket will help to ensure that when you stop to take a break, you can do it relatively pest-free. The unbreakable, lidded containers are ideal for parks and patios alike and the naturally-scented, clean-burning soy wax is an effective, non-toxic alternative to chemical sprays and repellents.
I’m sure that Krystal of Carvel Country Soapworks, located in knows a thing or two about mosquitoes. As a resident of Alberta, Canada, she has some of the most beautiful (and buggy) wilderness right in her backyard. Her chemical and paraben-free Bug Be Gone Body Butter (above) is a natural way to keep the biters at bay. Handmade in small batches to ensure quality, it combines the essential oils of citronella, black pepper, lavender and nepetalactone (a compound extracted from catnip) in a whipped, emollient base.
It’s not just 2-legged creatures that are bothered by blood-thirsty pests. While you are protecting your family from bites, don’t forget that pets hate to be bugged, too. Luxury Falls’ Critter Repel Dog Shampoo Bar, pictured above, is a two-in-one way to protect man’s best friend from fleas, ticks and mosquitoes, while deep-cleaning their fur and skin. The handmade, hand-cut soap contains 100% essential oils in an all-natural moisturizing base, and can even be used on people, making it an excellent addition to your camping supplies.
By far, though, the most passive way of controlling mosquitoes is to let their natural predators take care of it for you. Dragonflies, birds such as Purple Martins and bats can drastically reduce the number of mosquitoes in your backyard. The idea of having bats around might be freaky to some, but as one who has grown to love them, I can assure you that they are completely harmless to humans and will quickly show their worth when they start ridding your yard of annoying insects. In fact, they can eat up to 6 times their own body weight in mosquitoes per night! To encourage a few mosquito-hungry bats to take up residence, choose a quiet, protected spot and put up a bat house like the one above, constructed of natural cedar by The Little Birdhouse Store.
Bat photograph (above) by Owl Viper’s Wildlife Photography.
The first column I wrote for Try Handmade, almost a year ago now, was about berries — the love of them, to be exact. And so, it seems fitting that they’re making news in this month’s column once again. Just last week I received an email from one of our favorite u-pick farms, the strawberries here are finally ripe; the blueberries will follow suit soon. We’re a good few weeks behind those in the warmer, southern climates but when it comes to the scrumptiousness that is fresh berries we’ll take them when we can get them. And this year, when we can get them is just in time to restock our jams and jellies. Many of those we’ll make ourselves, from the fresh berries we source locally, but others we’ll buy and the Strawberry Balsamic variety from Sun Chowder Jams on Foodzie is looking promising so far.
Of course, besides the berries that I’m so happy to finally see again this year many of my other summer favorites are starting to ripen too, if not here in warmer locales. The tomato season is upon many families in the southern United States with some of the best slicing tomatoes they’ll taste all year now gracing farmer’s market stands. Don’t forget to pick up a few jars of stewed, diced or whole canned from your favorite producers as well — or grab an extra bushel and do the canning work yourself — this winter when What’s In Season Now columns are just a fond memory and scarce little is growing the taste of summer like that in home-preserved tomatoes will be a welcome addition to any meal.
Other foods to keep your eyes peeled for this month include green beans, peas, beets, summer squash, peaches, cherries, herbs such as mint — of all varieties, but a favorite here is chocolate — parsley, thyme, lavender, cilantro and some of the year’s last fresh asparagus. And remember, tomatoes aren’t the only summer bounty that can be preserved. Pick up enough to keep over for winter now or ask around the market to find out which producers you can expect to have preserves available as the year wears on.
Don’t forget to check out the April and May editions of What’s In Season Now, as well. Depending on your locale many of the suggestions made in both those columns will still apply. And if you’re new to the Farmer’s Market, last year’s how-to guide, How To Shop a Farmer’s Market, is perfect for getting you started.
Until next time, happy local shopping, happy local eating!