Category Archives: craftiness

slow living update – October


October is over and we are just beginning to get to the quiet time of year around here. At least we are looking forward to it starting. As of yet, we are still busy with the storage business, lawns and the garden, but that should end very soon.

I’m also hoping that the new cold temperatures kill off the cold bug that has been travelling through the family. The small squeaky kid has turned into Typhoid Mary ever since school started. The rest of us have been doing our best to pass the same cold back and forth for the past five or six weeks. I’m pretty tired of blowing my nose.

I am again using this monthly summary to revisit the month and show us that we accomplished (or didn’t, occasionally).



Because of our extended Indian summer this year (is that still an allowable term to use?) we had an great growing season and we were able to eat fresh vegetables from the garden all month.

We still need to improve on the eating out situation. The back and forth of hockey and the weird game and practice schedules have made us fall back on take-out or a quick dinner at the local mom and pop restaurant more than once. There also seems to be a fair amount of arena fries and poutine being consumed. We’re working on it.

I did manage to write about one new favourite in our house – an easy tomato rice pilaf. We’ve made it several times now, each time increasing the amount of tomatoes and always getting the same good results.



I spent an afternoon making some meals ahead of time to help us with the eating out situation. We cooked and cut up the meat of a large chicken and the did the same with the leftover thanksgiving turkey to be used in future meals. We’ve also continued to fill the freezer with the last of the garden zucchini and chard.

Our biggest accomplishment this month has been the massive cleanout of our cold storage room. It hadn’t been cleaned out for several years and when we moved here last winter we continued to ignore it. However, with a few hours work, some sweeping and mopping, we now have a room that is ready for the potatoes and onions and next year’s preserves. At least that is the plan.

The dad has ordered thirty chickens from a friend, some of which are to be shared with friends and neighbours, but the rest are going in our freezer. We have only received a few at this point, but it was enough to get us to clean out the freezers and make room for the rest. Another big job done.



As usual, the fix it, use it up cycle continues. The dad has rewired three lamps for me this month (nobody has been electrocuted to date). We had been wanting a hockey equipment tree for the tall hormonal (smelly) kid to use to air out her equipment between games, until I came up with the (brilliant) idea of hanging a pot rack for her to use. The pot rack has followed us for the last two moves, but we haven’t had the space for it in the last two kitchens. I haven’t been able to part with it, and now I am happy that I didn’t. The dad hung it in an unused corner of the basement and the hooks hold the equipment and everything else can be hung up by a hanger.

{Green – cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies}:

There is nothing new to report here unless I count using the time-of-use hydro guidelines more effectively. I have been running the dishwasher and washing machine after 9 p.m. or on the weekends. The laundry is hung, with the exception of sheets and towels, which I don’t have the space to hang in our basement. Those continue to go into the dryer.



The garden was finally hit by frost at the end of the month, but we were harvesting a lot from it until then. I was able to cut lettuce and chard right up to the end of the month, and even found a few cucumbers amongst the vines. The green peppers and hot peppers kept going right up until the frost as well. I gave up on the tomatoes somewhere around the halfway mark in the month. I just can’t freeze any more tomato sauce.

We’ve pulled the onions and let them dry but have yet to finish digging up the potatoes. The carrots can remain in the ground for a while longer – a little snow won’t hurt them. And apparently the Brussels sprouts should just be getting ready to cut down now. We did manage to grow a few good stalks of them, and have patiently waited until after the frost to try them, as we were told that they are better after a frost. Whether they taste good or not remains to be seen. I was introduced to sautéed Brussels sprouts a couple of years ago by my sister-in-law and have loved them every since. The dad goes one step further and adds bacon and melted cheese, which makes them pretty much irresistible.


This could also go in the repurpose category, but I took a sweater that my mom gave me and made a cover for my hot water bottle and a cover for the Kobo so that it won’t get scratched as I carry it around in my purse. There is still enough left of the sweater that I might make a wine gift bag and a Christmas gift bag out of it.


I continue to love my Kobo and read almost every day at work on my lunch break. My only issue with it is the price of their books. I think digital books should be much less expensive – they have no overhead, paper or transportation costs associated with them, but I am paying only slightly less for a digital book than I would for a trade paperback or hardcover.  I have downloaded books from the library in the past for the iPod, so I will have to look into doing it again with the new e-reader.

The book club book choice last month was a bit of a bust, but this month’s book, The Light Between Oceans, is keeping me interested so far. I also read Runaway by Alice Munro after she won the Nobel Prize and I realized that I had never read any of her books.

{Enhance – community}:

The tall hormonal kid took centre stage this month when she was asked to be an MC for the opening ceremonies at her school. We were extremely proud of her poise and public speaking abilities (she didn’t get the love of public speaking from me).

The dad is involved in Ducks Unlimited with the planning committee for their annual local fundraising dinner and auction. He has also discovered the joys of volunteering to help run the Rotary bingo night. Bingo isn’t high on his list of fun activities, but he is still enjoying being involved and meeting more of the local business community.



The girls enjoyed their trick or treating the other night (and I have been enjoying the fruits of their labour). The tall kid enjoyed a month long winning streak of shut-out games with her hockey team (it ended on November 1st, but it was a great way to start the season).

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slow living update – april 2013


I’m following the example at Slow Living Essentials again this month, and using her categories to summarize my month and list some things I’d like to accomplish.



We’ve eaten a lot of large extended family meals this month. There has also been a few meals provided by friends and neighbours, for which we were very grateful. I wrote about Butter Chickpeas, since butter chicken is a quick dinner at our place and when I am out of ideas at the end of the workday, it’s an easy dinner to put together. We like to add peas or chopped spinach to ours for a little extra colour.


I’m not sure if this counts as food preparation, but the dad’s aunt and uncle gifted us the entire contents of their food cupboards and freezer because they were moving out of province and didn’t want to haul food. I guess that cut down on food needs for a while and filled the pantry (and then some!).



I made a few gift bags using worn out kid’s jeans and even the sleeve from an unwanted sweater. I’ve been accumulating quite a few items of clothing that I will keep using up in similar ways. Nothing else really to report here.

{Green – cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies}:

I also inherited the entire contents of the aunt and uncle’s cleaning closet, so in the interest of using up what we have, I will make my way through all of it before I make my own again. I know some of them might not be as environmentally friendly as I might otherwise use, but it seems wrong to waste anything.


The grass is growing quickly enough that the horses are being kept in the barnyard and out of the field to avoid getting colic and the dad is getting up early in the morning to pick up the lawn mower from the repair shop in order to mow the lawns before the weekend. There is a lot more lawn over here at the farm. I’m just happy that the tall hormonal kid learned to drive the lawn mower last year.

The garden isn’t planted yet, but we did place a seed order which should arrive any day. We will still have to buy a few plants for the peppers and tomatoes. There is a greenhouse here at the farm but some wildlife has been in and out of it over the last few years, so a clean-up this spring will be necessary to get it ready for use next year. In the meantime I don’t mind purchasing some plants that have already been started.


Nothing to write about here this month.



I read a few books this month while the dad was staying overnight at the hospital with his dad. Eighteen years must be the magic number of years that it takes to get used to the snoring, because I found that I missed him when he wasn’t here.

And who knew Pierre Berton wrote a cookbook? There’s a long-winded historical explanation of each recipe, but I guess that’s to be expected.

{Enhance – community}:

The tall hormonal kid has been babysitting at the school during Parent/Teacher council meetings. It has given her a little taste of the working life (she’ll get a bit more when she finds out that she is going to be picking stones for the neighbouring farmer who leases and plants land here at the farm).

We’ve also hired a friend’s 15-year-old son to help with the clean out of the flower gardens and general lawn raking. He has been an awesome help – he has the work ethic of the dad, but the back and arm strength of a 15-year-old. He makes some extra pocket-money and we get a lot of work done that we couldn’t accomplish otherwise. Everyone wins.

I’ve also hired a local woman to clean the house twice a month (her name is Dusty – I figured it was meant to be). She does a lot of work that it would exhaust me to do and I am able to spend some of my weekends resting. Again, everyone wins.



We had a lot of family around in April, we had mini-cousins, cousins and the dad’s aunt and uncle as house guests. We had many weekend meals together while my father-in-law was in hospital and family was down to visit. He passed away in April, but we will continue to remember him this weekend at a Tribute of Life that is being held at our local community hall.

Linked to Wildcrafting Wednesday, Frugally Sustainable

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a 2-step, 2 minute wine gift bag


Since I finally managed to put some order to the sewing room, I did feel like I should actually use it at least once to prove its necessity. I have a stack of clothes to be mended or altered into something else stacking up beside the sewing machine and decided that this would be a quick project that I could do in minutes and feel like I accomplished something. And all told, photographs and everything, this was just minutes from beginning to end.

I used to make my own gift bags, but out of laziness lately I have slacked off. This Christmas we were given some gifts from a neighbour who always makes her own bags and the gifts seem more personal knowing that she made at least part of it herself. This is my shortcut to doing something similar.

The small kid is very hard on blue jeans, so there are always a few pair with no knees laying around to be mended or cut up for patches. One pair of kid’s jean would make two wine bottle gift bags (or other small gift bag, if you want). The process is quick:

wine bag

Step one:

Cut the leg below the knee (the finished bottom of the pants will be the finished top seam of the bag – saving some sewing) and sew a straight seam across.

Step two:

Flatten out the seam until you have two triangular corners at the ends. Sew a straight line across both corners, trim excess material and thread.

And that is it, unless you count turning it right side out and tying a bow on the top as another step.

Linked to Simple Lives Thursday, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Frugally Sustainable

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