Category Archives: gardening

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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on making life easier with a few quick frozen meal starters

SONY DSCIt feels like it’s been a while since we had a spare moment to just sit down. I know that isn’t actually the case, but I can be forgiven for feeling that way. Between storage customers dropping by with their boats, trailers and cars, gardens that need cleaning out, horse riding lessons and hockey games and practices, there seems to be someone coming or going at all times around here. Last week alone, the small kid spent three days involved in riding lessons or at shows and we were in three different hockey arenas a total of four times last weekend. Life is a revolving door right now.

One thing that I have done for the past several years, right at this time of year is to clean out the last bits of the garden and use everything that I can to make some meals ahead of time. This past weekend I gleaned some carrots, onions, green peppers, chili peppers and zucchini and set about making some similar meals. I thawed several pounds of ground beef and managed to make ten meals, or at least the start of ten meals that will help get quick dinners on the table for rushed nights (like last night – I was informed halfway through dinner preparation that there was another hockey practice – that makes four days in a row spent at hockey arenas).

Using shredded zucchini, diced onion and peppers, finely shredded carrots and the ground beef and adding a few extra ingredients and varying spices, I’ve made chili, meat sauce for pasta and taco filling. We also cut up the rest of the leftover thanksgiving turkey earlier in the week (we tend to cook a large turkey to keep the leftovers) and packaged them in several meal sized portions to use on pizza, or in pasta or curry.

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Hopefully this will help with keeping our future Olympic athletes fed. Now I just need to figure out how to get them to the Olympics.

slow living – September update

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September was anything but a slow month. It flew by so fast that I barely had time to change the page on the calendar. It was filled with hockey try-outs and evaluations, horse riding lessons and getting back to school. The weather was up and down – we had fleece sweaters on one week, then the next week we were back to shorts and t-shirts.

We said good-bye to the small squeaky kid’s pony this month – he was old and lame and it wasn’t kind to him to allow him to be in pain, so the veterinarian came and dispatched him to greener pastures. The small kid took it with a surprising pragmatism, though she has had some second thoughts about whether or not she would still like to be a vet when she gets older.

Things weren’t all sad around here, and this monthly summary helps once again to revisit the month and show us that we accomplished a few good things along the way.

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{Nourish}:

We’ve still been shopping for groceries in our garden, which makes for easy meals. If it’s not raining and we are able to pick something fresh for dinner, we do – or we pick enough for the whole week of to make it easier. We tend to pick enough carrots, potatoes and onions to last through the week.

I’ve also been getting back into the habit of baking occasionally. I need to do it more often, to have a few things set aside for school lunches, and it would be nice to be able to take something out of the freezer for dessert when we have last minute company. That’ll be part of the plan for next month.

We do need to improve the eating away from home situation. We ate out several times this month, with the craziness of the tall kid trying out for 3 different hockey teams and the travel back and forth between cities and arenas. A bit of advance cooking of meals and freezing them will help calm that down. Some nights we were just too hurried and tired to cook dinner. That’ll get better.

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{Prepare}:

We continue to put tomato sauce in the freezer for use over the winter. We’ve made roasted tomato and vegetable sauce, cooked marinara sauce and hot pepper and tomato sauce – you name it, we’ve made it. Next year I wouldn’t mind finding a dehydrator to make it easier to make dried tomatoes (the oven method takes a lot of time and energy). We are pretty much at the exhaustion point with the whole tomato thing and I now just give them away or throw them whole in the freezer to be dealt with at a later date. I think I saw a bag of last year’s tomatoes at the bottom of the freezer the other day. Next on the list of things to do: clean out the freezer.

I’ve also been freezing Swiss chard and zucchini as they come up, using my new Food Saver machine. It’s probably not a necessity, but it makes freezing and avoiding freezer burn a little easier. The one recipe that I managed to write about was 2 day refrigerator pickles, but they are so easy to make that they barely count. They aren’t shelf stable canned pickles, but they will last for a long time in the fridge. Long enough for us to forget they are in there, I’m sure.

{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

I’ve not been as good at keeping the amount of garbage down this month. It was a month of shopping for school and sports and it seems to guarantee a higher amount of garbage. That, and another few weeks of not feeling well made me a little less vigilant than usual. I try to ensure the recycling makes it to the recycling bins, but I’m not always around when that is supposed to happen.

We did try shopping for some of the sports equipment second hand (unsuccessfully, unfortunately), but did manage to find some of the necessary sports clothes and some school clothing second hand. I’ve also done a bit of closet clean-out and donated the results to the local Sally Ann. There is more to be done, but a start has been made.

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

Not much is new here. We are still in the process of using up what we inherited from the dad’s aunt and uncle when they moved and the increased pace of life plus illness has slowed down the interest in making much of anything at home these days. It’s something else that could improve over the next little while.

SONY DSC{Grow}:

The garden is still going strong. Mostly because we’ve had a nice above-freezing September, so there has been no killing frost. The dad’s war against the stinging nettles was briefly won when he mowed down several of the rows of vegetables, only to have not only the vegetables but the stinging nettles come back with a vengeance. Stinging legs and feet are something that we’ve become accustomed to in the garden. We’re not interested enough in weeding to do that much about it.

We continue to enjoy lettuce, zucchini, onions and green onions, chard, carrots, peppers, potatoes, cucumbers and now pumpkins and cantaloupe. I think that the Brussels sprouts are a wash for the second year in a row – partly because we planted them in the shade of the sunflowers without thinking, partly because we never know how or when to prune them and partly because of bugs. I might just give up on the sprouts next year.

The apple trees are also doing very well this year. I’ve managed to make some applesauce with the Macintosh apples and the crab apples and even made some of the applesauce into apple butter, which is a first for me. It’s good, but it takes a long time to cook down. I’m not all that patient when it comes to cooking. I think I prefer the dad’s way to deal with apples – he’s made a few pies that were eaten immediately.

{Create}:

Nothing happened in this category in September.

{Discover}:

I’ve read more this past month than I have read all year. The little e-reader has been very convenient for travel back and forth between hockey, for reading in bed without keeping the dad awake and at lunch at work.

I’ve also rejoined the book club this year and was able to instantly download the book onto the e-reader, which is definitely a bonus. Unfortunately it didn’t make this month’s pick any less of a waste of time and money, though it is possibly a cure for insomnia.

{Enhance – community}:

This month it has mostly been the kids that are involved in community this month. The tall kid has found a hockey team, although it’s in the city instead of in town near us. The small kid continues to take riding lessons and improve her skills. To simplify life, we allow each kid to do one activity at a time. The tall kid will always choose hockey over horses, the small kid’s interests always lean towards horses.

The dad is involved in Ducks Unlimited and Rotary and I am in the book club, but nothing else (who has time for anything else?).

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{Enjoy}:

The girls are finally back at school. Enough said. There was probably more, but that was the highlight for everyone.

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