Category Archives: healthy living

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.

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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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slow living update – August

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Today is the ultimate slow living day. It’s a humid late summer day at the farm. The flies are driving the horses crazy, the cicadas and crickets are competing for air time and even the hummingbird is sitting down to drink at the feeder.

We gave ourselves a bit of a break this month and did whatever we pleased; occasionally that was nothing at all, which is a lot of the reason for the lack of posts here lately. As usual, I will probably find out that we did more than we thought we had by the end of writing this post.

{Nourish}:

I could just say toasted tomato sandwiches and leave it at that. I could eat them for breakfast, lunch and dinner. Sometimes I did. I have a mouthful of cankers to show for it.

Our grocery bills remain low while we continue to shop at home in our own garden. We’ve also been able to enjoy some of the neighbour’s corn, with the disappointing exception of the night that he left some on the picnic table and the dog ate it, husks and all, before we made it home from work.

I wrote about our chocolate chip cookie recipe, and the small squeaky kid and I are getting ramped up to start baking for school lunches. The girls like to take baked goods to school and tell people that they made it themselves. They’ve already put in a request for some donut muffins to keep in the freezer for their lunches.

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{Prepare}:

We’ve been working away at our garden, trying to get some of the tomatoes dealt with. As usual, we overplanted, but it always works out in the end. We have plenty for ourselves and enough to share with coworkers, family and friends. We’ve been making roasted vegetable and tomato sauce, marinara sauce, I’ve shredded some zucchini that got too big before we could get to them (I’ll use them in sauces or with ground meat later in the year) and we’ve made some easy refridgerator pickles.

The pickles took two tries – on our first try I misread the amount of garlic to be used and then tripled it for a large batch of pickles, which made something that resembled pickled garlic with a few cucumbers thrown in. We’ll call that a lesson in reading your way all the way through a recipe before you start. When we tried a few pickles after the two day waiting period, we were a little overwhelmed with the garlic. Several go-rounds with the toothbrush and some mouthwash didn’t help. The pickles didn’t go to waste, however – a friend who has a passion for garlic (and consequently doesn’t get bit much by mosquitos) has relieved us of the very large jar.

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{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

We’ve kept things in running order around here which means we keep the local repair guys hopping. The old vacuum has been into the shop for repairs and should keep going for another lifetime, the dishwasher is about to receive a home visit from The Repair Guy and the push mower from the island cottage has been sent off to be overhauled. Nothing around here is new, but it all keeps doing the job it was meant to. The Repair Guy told the dad that if he ever tries to get rid of the 30 year old dishwasher, he would like to have first dibs. It was built back when they were meant to work for a lifetime and with occasional repairs, might outlast all of our other appliances.

The one repurposing example that I could think of is the piece of the old public pool that the dad brought home for the kids to use as a hockey practice surface. Our town pool was dismantled recently, and the dad saw a piece of board that would be perfect. It has taken up residence in the barn and is being used regularly. I just need to find a goalie net now.

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

Nothing new here, although the cornstarch that I use as a body powder was commandeered by the tall hormonal kid. She has taken it to the barn to sprinkle on the pool board – to make a more slippery surface for hockey practice.

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{Grow}:

Our garden is still going strong, but it will be winding down very soon. We have rows of tomatoes, have nearly finished off the cucumbers and we are still working on the swiss chard, peppers, zucchini, onions, melons, carrots and potatoes. This weekend we have plans to dig up potatoes and onions, but we’ll see how motivated we get with that. We planted far too much lettuce and watched most of it go to seed before I could carry it all into work to give away, but I am already missing it and think I might be able to sneak one last planting in for some autumn lettuce, if I can find some seed. By far my favourites this year have been the zucchini and the swiss chard. They’ve been making their way into everything we’ve been eating, from pastas to curries and stirfry. I had never grown swiss chard before, but it will be a staple from now on.

We also have trees so heavy with apples that the limbs are breaking. The small squeaky kid and the horses have been the main beneficiaries of the apples so far and I’m sure soon the neighbours will come and take away some for their hunting camps.

{Create}:

I haven’t got any further on the socks that I started to knit, but my intentions are great, as always. Maybe once school starts and we are back in some kind of a routine again. Maybe.

{Discover}:

My brother and sister gave me an e-reader for my birthday and I’ve been using it regularly ever since. I’ve finished three books so far – I’ve recently started re-reading the Russ Van Alstyne/Clare Fergusson mystery series by Julia Spenser-Fleming. I love mysteries and these are perfect for summer reading. We are also still working our way through the Breaking Bad series – we just finished the third season and need to go in search of more to feed the addiction.

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{Enhance – community}:

The dad has been approved for the local Rotary club, which feels a little strange. Aren’t Rotarians old? Apparently there are a few other people that we went to high school with involved, so I guess that puts us up into the older crowd these days.

We’ve had plenty of involvement in the local community this month – we’ve hosted a wedding in the backyard, kept the local repair people working and had a friend install some bathroom safety equipment to help me out with some continuing balance issues. The tall hormonal kid has been trying out babysitting as a part-time summer job and is enjoying the extra pocket money and feeling of maturity and independence it gives her.

We’ve also had some bees added to our place. They’ve actually been here for a couple of months, but I forget about them. The dad’s business partner has a bee keeping business with his family and have moved some supers onto the farm for a while. It’s win, win for us – we’ve got lots of fruit on our trees and they’ll keep us supplied with honey as well. So far there has only been one incidence of a call from a neighbouring farm about a swarm, and it was quickly and easily dealt with. I wish I had photos of the dad with the bees flying all around him.

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{Enjoy}:

I caught up to the dad this month in age (though he is still older) and celebrated Papa’s 75 birthday as well. We had visits with Grandma Upstairs (that’s what our girls always called my grandma – she used to live with us – upstairs), visits from out of town friends that we had not seen in many years, but who brought along two lovely teenage daughters that give me hope for mine in the future, and various and assorted visits with other friends and neighbours. It’s been alternately quiet and busy, with hockey try-outs for the tall kid (as yet undetermined), riding camp for the small squeaky kid, and some summer holidays from work. All in all, it’s been a good summer, but we are all still looking forward to the start of school again next week.

slow living – June

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Now that June is finished, I’m following the example at Slow Living Essentials again this month, and using her categories to summarize my month.

June was slow for many reasons this month – one of them being an MS flare-up that kept me home from work and doing very little other than recuperating. I’m happy to be starting back to work this week because I’m more than a little tired of sitting around the house. Much as I’d like to be able to stay at home, I’d prefer to be at home with the energy and ability to accomplish something around the place. The fact that the girls were done school last week has had nothing to do with my wish to return to work. I swear.
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{Nourish}:

Barbeque season is well under way here, so we’ve been cooking a lot of meals outside (except when the dad runs out of propane). The first few herbs and greens to come up in the garden have been making their way into our dinners, with our favourite being a baked rigatoni using swiss chard, onions, chives and basil from the garden. The girls have been helping out more in the kitchen too, and enjoyed making some bannock to go along with dinner.

{Prepare}:

It’s too early in the season to have anything to freeze or use for jam. I did have big plans to raid my old rhubarb patch, but it just didn’t happen. I am looking forward to getting some strawberries picked and making double the amount of jam that we made last year.

{Reduce/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair}:

The dad continues to keep the household in good running order. Not much out of the ordinary has happened in this category this month and there is a list of old equipment and assorted stuff that I would like to sell or pass off to someone else on Kijiji (internet classifieds). There is also a growing list of projects to accomplish – cleaning out and repairing the greenhouse is somewhere on the list. I look forward to getting that mess cleaned up.

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

I made a furniture cleaner/polish using oil and vinegar that worked great on an old dried out looking church pew that we have on our front porch.

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{Grow}:

The garden is all planted, including some berry canes that we bought locally, plus some others that a family friend dug out of her own patch. Because of all of the rain and the general scarcity of heat for most of June, the garden is slow taking off. It’ll get there, though. The dad is out playing in it with the rototiller right now. The weeds are trying to take over the world, so he is trying to give the rest of the vegetables a fighting chance. The kids are off at the local Canada Day celebration today, luckily escaping the hands and knees weeding that we would have tried to talk them into.

{Create}:

I have nothing to report here. There was a general lack of productivity around here again this month.

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{Discover}:

I’ve read close to a dozen books this month – some of them pictured above. All of them were purely for pleasure – I wasn’t in a learning frame of mind. I ordered and enjoyed a few books from a few favourite authors to help pass some time.

We’re also well into the third season of Breaking Bad on DVD, having become hooked. You have to keep watching to find out of the characters manage to remain lucky despite the constant stupidity of their actions.

{Enhance – community}:

I’m not sure that there is anything to write here, other than the farm is still a place that neighbours drop in on for a visit — just like it was when my in-laws were living here. This time of year there is usually someone sitting in the porch on the weekend, having a coffee or a beer and a bit of a gossip (farmers love to gossip).

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{Enjoy}:

We had a milestone birthday this month – the small squeaky kid turned 10. There have been a few dinners with friends and neighbours and now that the weather is warming up again, we have been spending a bit more time in the porch. I’m looking forward to getting back into the swing of things and back to normal in July, hopefully with more accomplished and more to write about.

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