Tag Archives: green living

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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a month of slow living – July

July went by so fast, it hardly seemed like slow living at all. So far this summer I’ve enjoyed 3 weeks of holidays from work and I’ll have another week off in August. I had grand plans to reorganize the house and accomplish so much, but instead I’ve found that just sitting still sometimes can be more productive. When I don’t run myself into the ground we are all much happier. So I’ve relaxed most of the time, with a few brief periods of intense activity mixed in.

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.

{Nourish}:

We’ve been eating out of the garden as much as we possibly can this month, plus enjoying some other local fruits and vegetables as they come available. It feels like this time of year you can make a whole meal of peaches, cherries, tomatoes and cucumbers. Sometimes I do. I wrote about making German Pancakes, sauteed peas with bacon, and tomato, cucumber and basil salad.

{Prepare}:

I made a gallon or two of marinara sauce this month to use up the last of the frozen tomatoes from last year. It’s all been frozen in baggies and stored in the freezer. I hope to add several more bags of sauce, plus some whole frozen tomatoes in August as the tomato plants ripen. I froze some peas from the garden this month before the heat killed them off and also froze some basil and garlic in cubes to use later in soups and sauces.

Oh yeah, and I made pickles too.

{Reduce}:

The garbage reduction battle is ongoing, but this month it seems to be easier because we are eating so much from the garden. There is not a lot of packaging waste when the food is brought directly into the house with dirt still clinging to it.

One lesson learned the hard way; we’ve always thrown our fruit and vegetable scraps in the field to compost on its own but will be moving our compost area well outside the range of the dog’s security collar. Apparently we attract skunks with the food scraps. Ask me how I found out.

We keep missing recycling day around here, so when my husband finally got around to taking everything to the big recycling bins, he had the back of the truck filled with boxes of it. The garage looks so much emptier now. Actually, I think it’s great that all of that was recyclable, because otherwise that amount of stuff would have been trash.

The girls and I also spent an afternoon sorting through their clothes, packing away the oldest kid’s outgrown clothes for the smaller kid, and the smallest kid’s outgrown clothes went to a friend. That friend in turn gave back several bags of clothes to pass down to my neice (be warned, Aunt S).

{Green}:

We’ve been using the air conditioning during the humid days, but the rest of the time we have it shut off. I don’t mind the heat, but the humidity makes my joints stiff and achy, just part of the fun with MS. I avoid going outside on those days. I also haven’t been very good about hanging out the laundry to cut back on dryer usage, because hauling heavy baskets out of the basement and hanging out laundry for 4 people is a huge job, especially when you have to carry it all upstairs afterwards. I find it much easier to do this in the winter when I can just hang it all in the basement in front of the woodstove. I’ll make a bigger effort this month, but the sore back often gets in the way.

As far as homemade products go, I made a Mojito sugar scrub with mint and lime. Both have cooling properties and are nice this time of the year in the shower to keep skin moisturized.

{Grow}:

Our garden is all set to either go crazy or die. We’ve had one day of rain in a month and we are reluctant to water the garden using up well water. We could possibly look into filling up a tank at the lake, but first we’d have to find someone with a tank they weren’t using themselves. Mostly, we’ve adopted a wait and see if it rains approach coupled with occasional brief watering.

We’ve got lots of potatoes, though the plants themselves have crisped up and died, but we still have five rows of small potatoes that we can continue to dig and eat throughout the rest of the season. We’ve planted another 5 rows, but if it doesn’t rain more soon, who knows if they will produce anything. Our tomato plants are heavy with green tomatoes, the occasional one ripens each day, so we’ve been enjoying those with each meal. Same with cucumbers and zucchini. The onions are also doing nicely, but the lettuce is done and the late lettuce that we planted probably won’t grow any further without water. I also don’t think our late peas and beans will do anything. The cabbages seem to have become a meal for worms. At least someone is enjoying them. We seem to have lots of beets, but I’ve forgotten why we planted them. We don’t like beets. Would anyone like some beets?

The kids were excited to find teeny baby watermelons and pumpkins starting to grow, so hopefully the vines will continue to thrive.

My flower beds have all gone into survival mode – absolutely no colour, just green, brown and dust. Oh well, they were spectacular in June for a few weeks.

{Create}:

I finally dug out some knitting needles and my first project was some wrist warmers to wear while reading in bed this winter. I’m starting small to use up some leftover yarns that I found while rummaging through the trunk looking for the knitting supplies. I also made a few dish cloths to use up a couple of balls of cotton that I found. The tall kid has grand plans for a sweater that I should be making her and I bought some homemade cherry wood buttons at the farmer’s market last weekend that I am going to use on a wrap pattern that I’ve found.

{Discover}:

I read a pile of books this month while at the cottage and sitting out on the deck, mostly fiction and mystery, just something to escape into and enjoy. I can’t honestly remember any of them, but currently I’m reading Steve Berry’s The Third Secret and enjoying it so far.

{Enhance – community}:

We’ve been buying lots of local fruits and vegetables this month – it’s easy to do this time of year, we are in a great spot for it. Other than that, most of our community has been busy doing their own things. People are always stopping in for a visit or to borrow the dad to help fix this or that, or over at the farm for a good old farmer gossip.

{Enjoy}:

We had a great 4 days away at the cottage on the island this month. It is a private (tiny) island with just one cottage on it. No running water, no electricity, just a propane stove and propane ceiling lights. It was wonderful over there. So quiet, and you fall asleep to the sound of the waves on the bay. The only thing I didn’t enjoy was 4 days of outhouse in 30+ celcius weather. I’ll let you guess why not.

We had some friends of the girls come and stay one weekend, the city cousins came and stayed again another weekend and the small squeaky kid won a couple of ribbons with her pony at a local fair. The dad had another birthday, we went to a bridal shower for my future sister-in-law, some friends camping nearby stopped in for a visit and a cross-dressing transport driver stopped in (in full drag) to drop off some rent (one of my personal highlights of the month).

As always, another busy, occasionally strange, but always interesting month.

Linked to Frugally Sustainable, A Delightful Home, Simple Lives Thursday

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Mojito sugar scrub (a cooling body scrub)

I have to admit that although spending the better part of last week at the cottage in the sun and the water was great, it may have been a little hard on my skin. I’ve got some peely bits on my nose and arms that are not so attractive (I know, I should wear sunscreen, but it was so hot and we were in and out of the water so much, it really wouldn’t have stayed on anyway).

I used up the rest of my sugar scrub before we left for the cottage, so I’ve made up a new batch. Since my sister-in-law thought that the lemon olive oil scrub was more than edible, let’s see if she pours spiced rum on this one and tries to make a drink out of it. This batch has the extra bonus of the cooling properties of mint, so it’s a nice scrub to use on summer-time skin.

You can store it in the fridge to keep it fresh, or just use it up quickly. This doesn’t make a whole lot, so if you are using it a couple of times a week in the shower, it’ll be gone before it sours on you. Just be careful – the olive oil does tend to make the shower floor a little slippery.

Mojito Sugar Scrub

  • 1/4 cup fresh mint leaves
  • juice (2 tbsp) and zest of one lime
  • 2/3 cup sugar
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Put mint leaves and sugar in food processor and whir them until the mint is well blended in – or, you could finely chop the mint and muddle it into the sugar afterwards, whichever you find easier. Mix everything together in a jar and store in the fridge to keep it fresh (it does have real juice in it). Use it anywhere on your body that needs a little scrub, moisturizer or general healthy glow.

Linked to A Pinch of Joy , Like a Mustard Seed, Frugally Sustainable, Homestead Simple

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