Category Archives: DIY

slow living update – april 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.

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{Nourish}:

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.

{Prepare}:

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!).

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{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

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.

{Grow}:

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.

{Create}:

Nothing to write about here this month.

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{Discover}:

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.

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{Enjoy}:

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

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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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slow living update – March 2013

early morning April fools

early morning April fools

Happy April Fool’s Day. I was going to write about March going out like a lamb this year (it did – we had beautiful weather this week). However, this morning we woke up to a bit of snow falling. At least this snow won’t stay. It’s above freezing outside and most of the snow melted away this weekend. Things will start to green up shortly, which means that there will soon be a lot more work to do on the weekends. There are a lot of flower gardens here at the farm as well as lawn. Luckily the tall kid learned to mow lawn last year. We’ll keep her busy and out of trouble.

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.

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{Nourish}:

Easy meals were the focus of this month – mostly because the time change halfway through kicked our butts and we were all dragging by the end of the day. There was a lot of breakfast for dinner in the evenings. We made up for it on weekends, even trying out pasta making for the first time. The dad tried his hand at homemade lasagna. Now he wants a pasta roller. One small success and it went to his head.

I didn’t write much about food or recipes this month (actually, I didn’t write much this month at all), but I did post about making ginger syrup and homemade gingerale.

{Prepare}:

We are still in the process of emptying out the freezers in order to fill them up again this summer.

{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

I’ve got plans for some projects that would fit in here, but they didn’t get accomplished this month. Some closet clean-outs have some sweaters and ripped jeans stacked up in the sewing room waiting to have a few things made out of them. I have an old corner shelf that would make a great stable for the small kid’s horses with a little paint and a few additions. I’m just waiting for warmer weather and for the dad to clean me off a workspace in the woodshop.

We also bought a new (to us) vehicle to shuttle me back and forth to my new job in the city. My old car was ok for driving back and forth to my job in town, but wouldn’t be reliable enough for longer distances each day. We found a vehicle that is in very good shape for being almost 10 years old and should be able to get me through some good snowstorms for several years. We always buy used and the dad keeps the vehicles in reasonable running order. This one is a little bigger than the rest and feels a bit like I am driving a house, but I will be safe and the mileage is the same as my old vehicle.

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

I made a hair mask to help tame some of the winter frizz in my hair.

I’ve also made some more of the dishwasher soap – and I forgot that I am supposed to leave the lid off for a few days or everything will clump and harden. I put it all in the food processor, whirred it up and let it sit to dry out again on a cookie sheet on the counter for a day and the problem resolved.

{Grow}:

Nothing is growing here at the moment, except the pile of books that I need to return to the library.

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{Create}:

I finally unpacked and set up the sewing room, but haven’t as yet done anything in it. I put a small old oriental rug of the dad’s grandmother down on the floor, scored an unused rolling desk chair from the dad’s shop and am ready to go to work. Soon. I can feel it.

I did finish the pair of socks, finally (which the tall kid tells me are going to be hers) and have started a Lady Kina sweater for myself. It it works out well, I can see making more than one of these.

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{Discover}:

I’ve finally got my reading groove back. I finished a couple of books in one night (Before I Go To Sleep and The Glass Castle) and have been working my way through the rest of the pile. I found a couple of Harrowsmith Magazine cookbooks that have been great to read through – I miss that magazine now that it is out of print.

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{Enhance – community}:

The hockey season finally wrapped up last weekend, so the dad’s coaching obligation for this year is at an end. His gig as Master of Ceremonies at a local dinner went well, but hopefully we will have a few quiet Saturdays coming up before the next busy season starts.

I went to a Talents of Our Town sale last weekend as well and found a great hand loomed locally made rug for our freezing cold upstairs bathroom floor and bought a new supply of handmade soap from a local island resident that makes great soaps. I also found a local supplier for lye, so I am soon going to try making my own. I just need to get off my lazy behind.

{Enjoy}:

My husband and I just got back from our first weekend away by ourselves in a couple of years. We try to do that every year or two, but I think three years had passed since we last went away. This year we stayed in downtown Toronto at the Royal York and spent a few days walking around downtown and eating way too much.

Linked to Frugally Sustainable, GNOWFGLINS

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