Category Archives: gift ideas

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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December – a month and a year of slow living

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Another year is behind us. That’s almost a whole year that I have been writing about my life in this space. I’ve been surprised by the people outside of family members that stop by to read and leave a comment and have “met” many interesting people.

WordPress has made a summary for each blog that nicely sums up the most popular posts, stats and commenters (Click here to see the complete report.). Thanks to everyone who visited and commented in the past year.

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. I started doing this partway through the year, and for my own end of year summary, here are the links to the other months:

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{Nourish}:

This month was all about eating with family and friends and coworkers. And turkey. We cooked two turkeys for Christmas Day this year to ensure lots of leftovers. Lots and lots of leftovers. I’m over turkey now. Well, mostly. We’ve had curried turkey and rice casserole, turkey in our baked rigatoni, and turkey on our pizza last night.

I wrote about the 3 kinds of goodies that I make at Christmas to give away – 5 minute fudge, white chocolate party mix and dark chocolate/ginger bark. Unfortunately I think I ate nearly as much as I gave away. Unless I can blame my incredibly shrinking waistbands on the tall hormonal kid doing the laundry.

I also tried an easy and delicious thumbprint cookie recipe from LouAnn and learned a neat little trick for making the thumbprint holes from Carolyn (I’d like to try her cookie recipe too).

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{Prepare}:

The preparations were mostly just of the Christmas baking and present making variety this month. We do have a good stash of cooked cubed turkey in the freezer as well as a few casseroles made by my father-in-law (he is great that way) that will get us through some of the hectic moving days ahead of us in January.

{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

We (and by we, I mean ME) continue to organize and pack for our move to the farmhouse in a couple of weeks. As much as I hate to admit it, it is a good opportunity to weed out unused/unwanted items that I would have continued to ignore in hidden corners and closets. I have one bedroom full of bags of stuff to be donated to charity and I am afraid I am far from finished. How did we accumulate this much? Never again.

My plan to blow up the house by giving the small squeaky (evil) kid a chemistry set for Christmas doesn’t seem to be working out for me, so I will continue until it is all sorted and dealt with. Sigh.

In a similar vein and for the same reasons, our garbage creation for this month is way out of control. I am recycling as much as I can by donating useful items and handing down some pieces of furniture to my brother and giving other unwanted items to a neighbour who resells furniture and household items, but some things just end up being trash. Once the move is done things will improve significantly.

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{Green}:

I made a spiced chai sugar body scrub this month. Other than that, I continue to use some homemade cleaners, but have also found that I’ve been relying on store-bought stuff because of time constraints or laziness. It’s something to work on again in the new year.

{Grow}:

I killed my houseplant this month. Oops. One less thing to move.

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{Create}:

I made several quick and easy dish cloths for teacher’s gifts this month, finished a top knot toque for the mini-nephew and started but (again, oops) didn’t finish a seaman’s toque for my brother for Christmas. Maybe I’ll pick it up again tonight.

{Discover}:

There hasn’t been a lot of time or energy for reading this month, but we got a few new books for Christmas that I will be getting into soon. As a tongue-in-cheek gift for the dad, I bought a copy of the new Janet Evanovich bounty hunter book (we don’t usually admit in public to reading them, but they are quick and funny, and we both enjoy them), a bottle of the Bvlgari body wash used by the male character in the book (I had to have it shipped within the States and brought back by my co-worker’s snowbird mother on her way home for Christmas – my husband saw an email she sent me about “the package” coming across the border and briefly wondered if I had turned to a life of crime) and an all-black outfit that the same character would wear. My coworker’s mom says she is going to call him to see how it all worked out for him.

Anyway. So, I haven’t been doing much mind-expanding reading – though I continue to enjoy and learn from other blogs that I read. I’ve also just started watching the first season of Downton Abbey – another Christmas gift. I’m hooked.

{Enhance – community}:

I’m not sure if this counts, but my husband has bought another business in our community and is now even more firmly entrenched. Fingers crossed that this one works out as well as we hope.

We also had a hockey tournament, a few Christmas get-togethers and visitors to the house as out-of-towners come home to visit relatives.

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{Enjoy}:

Christmas was the big celebration in our home this month, but the end of year birthday of the oldest child can’t be overlooked either. There have been lots of opportunities to tickle the mini-cousins and visit with family.

New Year’s Eve was a quiet night at our house with homemade pizza, leftover birthday cake and a movie (Paul Blart, Mall Cop – hey, the kids liked it) and everyone tucked away in bed before midnight. We’re in various stages of recovery from the flu and needed the rest.

Another busy and enjoyable month. Happy New Year!

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5 minute fudge, with variations

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One last easy Christmas treat recipe from me and then I’m out ’til after the holidays. This is actually a way for me to write this down somewhere permanent so that I don’t have to search through papers every time I want to make this again. I’m not good with paper and finding this recipe each time I want it has become a painful process.

This is an adaptation of a fudge recipe that I saw Rachel Ray make years ago and I’ve been making it ever since. She shaped it into a wreath using a bundt pan or round cake tin, but I’m not that keen on the extra work. I just make several batches of this, cut it up, put it in tins and give it away. I probably don’t give enough of it away. The fact that I currently have saddle bags with carry-on luggage speaks to that.

5-Minute Fudge

  • 2 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips
  • 1 1/2 cups butterscotch chips
  • 1 can sweetened condensed milk
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract
  • 3/4 cup chopped walnut pieces
  • 1/2 cup (a couple of handfuls) currants

Slowly melt chocolate chips, butterscotch chips and condensed milk together over medium low heat (no double boiler needed, just stir constantly to avoid burning). Add vanilla, currants and nuts. Scrape into a 9″ square pan (either use a silicone pan or a pan lined with plastic wrap – it’ll come out easier). Chill in fridge until set.

Cut into small pieces to serve – it’s very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Variations for this recipe:

  1. Replace the butterscotch chips with peanut butter chips, the walnuts with peanuts and the currants with raisins.
  1. Replace nuts and currants with Skor bits.

And for a slightly more adult version of this:

Grand Marnier Fudge

  • 1 can condensed milk
  • 3 1/2 cups chocolate chips (I use semi-sweet)
  • 1/3 cup Grand Marnier
  • 1 tsp coconut oil or butter (gives a nice shine to the fudge)
  • 1/2 to 1 cup of chopped walnuts (optional)

Slowly melt chocolate and condensed milk together over medium low heat. Add Grand Marnier and nuts. Scrape into a 9″ square pan (either use a silicone pan or a pan lined with plastic wrap – it’ll come out easier). Chill in fridge until set.

Cut into small pieces to serve – it’s very rich, so a little goes a long way.

Variations: replace Grand Marnier with Bailey’s Irish Cream or Chambord

Linked to Frugally Sustainable, Wildcrafting Wednesday, Simple Lives Thursday

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