Urban garden patch: green tomato relish

This green tomato relish came from …
this early-fall urban garden patch.

Strictly speaking, most of the tomatoes came from the front yard, but lots of peppers and herbs were gathered from the back yard too. When I sent AppleApple out to pick whatever she could find, before the first frost, I never imagined she’d come in with pounds of produce — but she did! Now, what to do with pounds and pounds of green tomatoes? Sure hope our family likes green tomato relish, because we made a ton. I can’t say that another late-night canning session was how Kevin and I envisioned spending our Sunday night, but it seems that canning always happens late at night — or is still going on late at night, no matter how early one begins.

Kevin is also experimenting with dehydrating hot peppers.

Our house smelled fabulous yesterday.


Some other exciting* things happened this weekend. (*applicable to item # 1 only if “exciting” = “organizing”)

1. The kids and I went through all their drawers, plus the bins in the attic, resulting in three bags of purged too-small clothing, and a whole new wardrobe for the younger ones (hand-me-downs, but new to them.) Such a lot of work! Any six-year-old girls in the ‘hood looking for clothes? I’m passing CJ’s outgrown clothing on to his cousins, but Fooey’s will simply be donated.

2. Our family accepted some big challenges this weekend. I ran a tough race on Saturday morning. And both of my eldest kids went to rep soccer tryouts, Saturday and Sunday. This is not big news for our soccer girl, who loves these situations, but it is big news for our eldest boy, who tends to shy away from challenges. And I’ll admit we pushed him a bit to get him out there. But once he was out there, I think he realized that he belonged as much as anyone, that his skills were solid, and that he knew what he was doing. He tried to hide his smile of pride afterward, but he couldn’t, quite.

3. On the parenting front, Kevin and I both felt like we’d added a piece to the puzzle, just observing our son’s confidence after we’d pushed him to try something at which we did know he could fail. That’s a scary thing to ask of a kid. It was rewarding to see him working hard — but I think it was even more rewarding for him to see himself differently, as someone who is willing to take a risk and try his best, no matter the results. I don’t really like pushing my kids, as a general rule — I want them to explore and discover their own passions, and support them as they develop and grow as individuals. But what about a kid who doesn’t seem to know his own passions? How passive/active should a parent be? All I can observe is that our eldest has thrived with a push now and again — he would have given up the piano very early on, if I hadn’t believed in his musicality and insisted he continue, and found a piano teacher who was a good fit; he was recently overheard advising his youngest sister, who is a beginner, that playing the piano is really fun, you just have to learn the basics. I know there are no guarantees of success, and parenting experiments can and do back-fire, but I’m proud of our boy for accepting this new challenge and running with it. I’m curious to see where it leads.

Race day: Run for the Toad
On The Juliet Stories being nominated for the GGs (surreal! and for real!)


  1. Tricia Orchard

    That is great to hear about Albus.

    We have the same dilemma with our eldest, too. We think she would excel at gymnastics. She clearly loves doing it around the yard and house, and many other people have said that we should put her in gymnastics. But she is adamant that she does not want to take it. I think she would like it if she did it, but I also think she is too competitive for her own good and afraid to fail. So like you, we wonder how much we should push her and how much should we just let her be. I don’t want my kids to have regrets later in life or accuse me of not letting them try something!

    • Carrie Snyder

      I know, Tricia. The flip side that I worry about is my kids accusing me of pressuring them to pursue things they had no interest in. Or pressuring them in a negative way to live up to artificial expectations.

      On the other hand, I think a bit of pressure can be positive for a kid who really needs to hear: we believe in you, we know you can do this!

      Learning how to fail has to be the toughest lesson in the book. I’m still not very good at it …

      Every child is different.

  2. Margo

    We have some end-of-garden relish in our basement too! From last year, actually. It’s pretty useful stuff, I find. We love 1000 Island dressing (mayo, ketchup, relish, hot sauce) with grilled vegetarian reubens or as a coleslaw dressing.

    As for pushing kids, it’s hard to know. Sometimes I think it’s ok to handle the same situation differently – ie., push one time, but let the child decide the next time. What I tell myself when I’m not sure how to parent our children is that there will always be something for the kids to need therapy about, that I won’t (good girl that I am) be the perfect mom. . . . eesh. What we don’t know when we sign up for this!

    • Carrie Snyder

      Thank you for the Thousand Island dressing tip! I will definitely use that.

      I agree that even the same situation could be handled differently depending on a whole variety of factors — sometimes you just know it’s not the moment to push. Other times, a little push is just the thing. Basically, in this instance, we talked him into agreeing to try, rather than dragging him kicking and screaming. It’s coercion, for sure, but the choice is still his.


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