Category Archives: DIY

slow living update – October

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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).

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{Nourish}:

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.

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{Prepare}:

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.

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{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

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.

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{Grow}:

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.

011{Create}:

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.

{Discover}:

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.

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{Enjoy}:

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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an oil and vinegar wood furniture polish/cleaner

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I recently read about a homemade wood cleaner/polish that can be made with pantry ingredients and thought it would be one small thing that I could accomplish while I’m off work for a bit. It has the benefit of being cheap, very green and is actually good for wood furniture.

We have a lot of wood furniture in our house – antiques and second hand furniture are what we used to furnish it (or, as one friend who helped us move put it, too much old stuff). Some pieces get dried out and occasionally need a little something extra to bring them back to life. This combination seems to do the trick – the vinegar provides a cleaning agent and the oil conditions the wood. Wood furniture with a matte finish cleans beautifully with this; it will fill in tiny scratches, it covers some water stains and helped darken finish that had dried out and lightened. It can be used on other finishes as well, but may need to be buffed off or used more sparingly on glossy finished furniture.

I put it to the ultimate test and used it to try to make the old crackled and dried out church pew that sits on my front porch look good again. There isn’t a lot that can be done for the crackled and baked finish on it, but the oil did darken it up and gave it some protection against drying out again quickly. It looks much better in my opinion (though I can’t do anything about the chew marks on the arm rests that were a puppy teething incident).

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The tall hormonal kid’s desk before and after the wood polish – good results

church pew before and after

These photos don’t show as much of the transformation as I would like – but the pew looks dramatically better now.

 

Oil & Vinegar Wood Furniture Polish/Cleaner

  • 1 part white vinegar
  • 3 parts olive oil

Pour oil and vinegar into a jar, seal tight and shake to mix before each use. Apply to furniture using a rag or microfiber cloth.

Linked to GNOWFGLINS, A Pinch of Joy, Frugally Sustainable

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slow living update – May 2013

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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. Once again, it doesn’t feel like we did a lot, but once I got started writing, I could see that we really did.

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{Nourish}:

We’ve been enjoying lots of local asparagus this month, mostly marinating it in balsamic vinegar and olive oil and grilling it on the barbecue. I also wrote about Butter Tart Mini-Muffins, which I made with great hopes of freezing some for lunch pails, but they were all gone too quickly. We cook our meals at home, but a current MS flare-up has made me tired and we have resorted to a few dinners out and take-out a couple of times. Prepackaged cookies and lunch snacks have been sneaking back into the grocery cart again, but I’m hoping to get back to making more from scratch again soon.

{Prepare}:

We’ve been busy preparing the flower gardens, lawns, and the vegetable garden. That has taken up pretty much every spare minute of time this month – though mostly for the dad and the young lad that we hired to help with the flower gardens. There are so many flower beds here at the farm that we could probably keep him employed into adulthood. Or at least pay for his first car and university.

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{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

There is an ongoing list of things for the dad to repair around here – he keeps the tractor, lawn mower and cars going and then helps out friends, neighbours and storage customers when a little extra expertise or an extra hand is needed.

The girls took an old unused shelf, painted it and added a few extras to make themselves some more horse stalls to house their toy horses. They’ve already gotten hours of play out of it.

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

I made some linen spray with essential oils – just to leave a nice smell behind on the bedding when I make the beds. I’ve also been using cornstarch in place of body powder and would like to try adding a few essential oils and maybe some baking soda to it to make it more like powder.

{Grow}:

The garden is mostly planted with the exception of a few packets of seeds and the raspberry canes. I haven’t been out to look since it was planted, but the dad says that many seeds have already germinated and are poking through. We’re well on our way. We’ve even managed to get the pots around the patio planted with flowers and once we get the flower beds free of weeds and mulched with some wood chips, the place should be looking good. Right about in time for the wedding ceremony for some friends that the dad agreed to have on the grounds.

{Create}:

Nothing to write about here this month.

{Discover}:

I found a new on-line magazine and blog called From Scratch, and have been reading through their first few issues. I wouldn’t call us homesteaders by any stretch, but they also have some articles on gardening and cooking and DIY that are quite interesting.

We’ve also made our way through the first season of Breaking Bad on DVD – I bought it for the dad at Christmas and it’s been addicting enough that I will need to go in search of more.

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{Enhance – community}:

The dad started off the season by hosting a skeet shoot and lunch for his local Ducks Unlimited committee members. I love that the high score of the day went to a female investment banker. The local rural guys who are all quite cocky about their shooting prowess didn’t stand a chance.

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{Enjoy}:

It was a little quieter around here this month, which was all right with all of us. The girls are getting back on their horses and enjoying some riding lessons from their grandma – and I may even work up the nerve to get on the big horse soon to go for a short walk.

We are enjoying the nice weather when we get it, the dinners in the porch on those nice evenings, and watching the girls chase each other around the yard while having water fights.

Linked to Frugally Sustainable, GNOWFGLINS

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