So much yumminess!

Word wants to correct my spelling to crumminess, but I won’t let it. I really did mean to write yumminess. Or is it Yummyness? I like the ‘i’ better 🙂

So last week I started a sourdough starter and although it took a while, we had sucess! I have my first loaf started – did you know it takes 5 hrs!!! I did’t quite plan for that :/ looks like I’ll be up a bit later than expected tonight. I also had so much starter, that I tried buiscuits! I used Daiya cheese ( non-dairy for those that don’t know) and the just green part of a leek as I didn’t have any grated cheddar or chives. They are super!!! next time I’ll plan it better and make sure I have sharp cheese and chives.

I also started my Kombucha yesterday, so I will be hoping for less vinegary and more tastey this time around. I snagged a couple of bags ( ok I grabbed 6) of green tea from work as I only had flavoured green tea and not enough black. Can’t wait!

My seedlings are all out enjoying the heat on my back deck and I am jealous of them! I am in the kitchen cooking up a storm, and they’re lolling around in the sun.  Oh, I almost forgot, I’ve been waiting to have some leftover bananas to try the 3 ingredient cookies I keep seeing on Pintrest. Today was my lucky day and I had enough for 2 batches! I did one with mini chocolate chips, and the other with chia seeds, dried cranberries and a pinch of pecans ( someone has been raiding my stash <:( ). I report that they are friggin awesome!! I don’t miss the sugar or flour or anything! These would even be awesome for breaky before a bike ride to work etc. So I will definitely be making these on a regular basis.

Other than that, a relatively quiet week. I didn’t get to write like I wanted to, but I did get a bit of quiet time, which I needed. A new term started with several new students and I can’t wait to see how they all do.

Unfortunately I didn’t get a menu made. I did, however, learn that life is very much like a box of chocolates, as Forrest Gump says. I am struggling to find my place at work, and in life and decide what I want to do. Well, that’s not quite true, I know what I want to do, I just don’t know if I’ll be able to attain it. Change is hard. Contemplating it is also hard. Indecision is even more so. Sometimes, we just get frozen by decisions; our brains saying one thing, and our hearts another. The trouble comes when you have to decide if you’re going to listen to your head or your heart. Most people would say go with your heart, but that can’t always be the choice, since often long term goals take priority.

Take Scotland, for instance. I love that place ( well I don’t especially like Glasgow, but that’s just me). I would move there in a heartbeat! I can’t though, because I simply can’t afford it. but what if I could visit? I did a bunch of math and I would need about $6000 for the hubby and I to go. I tried to rationalize with myself ( hahah!) that if I could keep the cost below $3000, then we should be able to afford to go. However, we are in debt- a lot of debt- and that $3-6000 would go a ways towards getting rid of that, making our plans to move to the country realistic and attainable. But its Scotland! I really want to go! But I also really want to move to property and grow my own food etc. If I listen to my heart, we’re going as soon as I can arrange things. If I listen to my head, that money goes to pay off debt and get us on the road to self sufficiency. Decisions, decisions.

I still don’t know how I will answer that question. I tend to be a logical person who dreams of being a free spirit. I know that once we get our property and animals, leaving on a trip will be significantly more difficult. But as each days goes by, my need to get out of the city grows. I guess we’ll leave that bridge until we have to cross it.

In the meantime, enjoy the spring. Get out and get your body moving and focus your thoughts on good things, and try some new things! HUGS

Fresh Air and Sunshine

So today we had the opportunity to go and help tap maple trees out at Arc Acres. Although some reluctance was met by some of my teenagers, we ALL went. We got a quick lesson in how to tap the trees and were told to do this part of the grove ( insert farmer Amber waving her arms in a general area). No problem, says I. Well, ok, one small problem, I know how to tell most trees apart while their leaves are on, but what about when they’re off? Is the bark different?

Well the short answer is yes, sometimes people can tell by the bark, but more the age of the tree as it differs depending on the age ( crap my hands and forearms are tired just writing this!). However, if you look up at the branches, most- like high 90’s percent, have branches that grow across from each other, in a t-like pattern. But, she says, this whole grove is mostly maple, so you don’t have to worry too much.

It took the better part of 3 hrs and, before you ask, I have no idea how many trees we tapped. While it felt like thousands, it was probably less than 100. The kids all worked together and changed up the jobs as there were several. First one must pick a spot on the south side of the tree ( best time for doing this is in the morning as the sun should be shining on the south side ) then you have to drill at an upwards angle and in about 2 ” approximately. Next someone sticks in a spigot  and taps it in with a hammer ( or the back of an axe) then someone else hangs a bucket from the hooky bit, and someone else affixes the lid with its wires to keep it sort of tied down. Voila! Some of the trees started dripping the minute they were drilled which was exciting! Sap was tasted and we were invited back in a week when we could help with the big boil to see how it goes from sap to finished product.

The sunshine and warmth and yoohoo( I don’t know what they’re called, but their call is a yoohoo sound) birds chirping back and forth in the trees above us was wonderful, and although I’m tired, I feel renewed 🙂

On the home-front, I tried hot process soap making. This is the process you want to use if you need your soap quicker than 6 weeks. Hot process soap takes about 1 week to be ready to use. I’m also going to remind people again, that safety is vital when working with lye as I lazily didn’t go put on safety glasses ( since they weren’t with my soaping supplies where I’d left them) and ended up getting some lye splashed in my eye – stung for a few,seconds, but washed out my eye with fresh water and it was better quickly. It could have been much worse, and I won’t make that mistake again. I’ll also remember to put on long sleeves as I had a bunch of little burn marks on my arms from where it splashed up. I don’t know which method I prefer at this time, but I must say, I prefer the look of the cold processed soaps better- a bit smoother.

I also make liquid hand soap out of some leftover bits of soap I had kicking around and a bar of the hot process soap I had made. Very simple to do and much cheaper than store-bought liquid hand-soap.

Menu:

Sunday: chilli

Monday: Wild boar sausages, baked potatoes and salad

Tuesday: Tuna and cauliflower casserole

Wednesday: Onion and apple pork chops, mashed potatoes and broccoli

Thursday: Pasta

Friday: the usual 🙂

Enjoy the change of seasons as we move from winter into spring. I doubt we’ll go straight into spring without another snow storm, but we can always hope! Get outside and enjoy!Go feed the birds, or go out at lunch and put your face in the sun and dream for a few minutes !

Ah, Winter

This year has had one of the strangest winters I’ve experienced. Here we are, mid February, and the grass is coming up green! We shouldn’t even have grass visible!! I’m not complaining, I quite like the warmer weather. I’m just kicking myself for something I couldn’t control- the weather. If I’d known it was going to be so mild, I would have planted some winter crops or set up cold frames or something. I feel like I’m wasting this lovely warmth. I’m silly like that sometimes. Next year I will be prepared! That is my goal.

Wow, its been a while since I wrote. Life sometimes, I tell ya. In my last message I was looking into chickens and which ones I wanted to have on our future homestead. There is no set answer. I think its going to be one of those decisions I make last minute. I’ve learned about all different kinds and the pros and cons to each. I really like the look of the heritage breeds and their lovely colours, but I also like the Barred Rock with their sturdy make up.

Last weekend we got a chance to meet a local farmer, Amber, who gave me a scoby to start my own kombucha and some of her pastured pork. The kombucha is still in the works since its a bit of a process for the fermenting to take place. The pork was absolutely delish! If you ever have the opportunity to try pastured pork, I highly recommend it. Amber walked us around her farm – Arc Acres – and told us about her set up and patiently answered my millions of questions. She also lives in the cutest wooden cabin!OMGoodness!

I could feel the peace on the property. I know that sounds awfully granola, as my good friend Linda would say, but it’s totally true. Totally! The smell of the wet earth- admittedly a bit ripe seeing as she has cows- mixed with the wood smoke and the smell of pine trees… sigh. Through her I was able to see a few more options for our homestead which I’m hoping I’ll be able to implement both next season and in the future.

Sorry, got sidetracked there for a minute remembering the smells and daydreaming. Back to the subject at hand- chickens. I also learned that we could choose to deal with our own birds- sorry, I was trying to find a kind way of saying… well you know. Anyhoo, the short answer is yes we can deal with our own, but the meat could not leave the property and we could only give it to immediate family members. This would pose a small problem in that if you came out for supper, I would need your permission to eat my meat, I couldn’t just serve it to you. At first I was really upset about this and could only see all the difficulties, but I have gotten past that and am fine with it.

Soon it will be time to start seed and for some reason I am very apprehensive. As some of you know, I hate wastage and I think my anxiety is kicking in around the whole seed starting thing as I can’t control how it’s going to turn out. I can give it awesome soil and water and lots of sun, but I can’t control if the seed will start to grow or not. If they don’t, that will be a wasted effort. My husband calls them learning opportunities and he’s right. This is a chance for me to learn what might and what might not work while we’re not depending on this as our sole source of food. By the time we get our homestead I will be a pro at it, and then will have to learn all over again in a different type of soil. Sigh :/

As for my writing, I received some great feedback from a fellow writer and have been doing lots of revisions to book #3. I have a bunch of other book ideas running through my mind and have been trying to get rough outlines of them when they come to me so I can explore them later. Sometimes easier said than done, but that’s just the way it is.

Gill and I have also tried our hand at washing our hair with collected water from recent rain and melting snow. It is definitely a laborious task and quite awkward to do over the sink with cupboards, but we are quite happy with the results. We also use a shampoo that I made up myself with Dr. Bronner’s castille liquid soap mixed in a ratio of 1 part soap to 2 parts water. Then we spray in a 1:3 ratio of apple cider vinegar to water in an old spray bottle. Gill is very happy with the results and finds she has much fewer knots in her hair and that its much smoother. The boys now almost exclusively use a homemade hair pomade- which reminds me, I should make more- and are also quite happy with it. I also got thumbs up on the shaving cream that I made for Christmas.

I’m looking forward to taking an advanced soap class with a friend in Bonnefield. They will teach us swirls and all that cool stuff. I’m also going to attempt a batch of crock pot  ( hot method) soap soon.

I hope winter is finding you safe and warm and happy and healthy. Make sure you get out and enjoy some fresh air every day and call a friend on those days you’re having trouble getting the will to move through your day. We all need to be looking out for each other. HUGS!

 

And back to the routine

I gotta say, tough as it is after being off for the holidays, I’m quite glad to have things back to their normal routine. We had a very warm Christmas which I am totally not complaining about! We are now in cold mode 😦 and I don’t know why I’m sad about that. I think I was quite looking forward to having a warm winter and so the shock of -20C was a bit of a reality check.

Anyhoo, onwards and upwards. I have been tackling some purging over the holidays and am pleased with its progress. There is still much to do, but rather than dreading it, I am looking forward to it. Each piece of ‘whatever’ that leaves the house, is one less thing taking up space. I am constantly surprised by how good it feels to get rid of things!

I also have some knitting projects to finish ( ie a sweater I have been knitting for my daughter for over a year and if I don’t hurry up and finish she’ll have outgrown it ) and a few soap projects I’d like to try- thinking beer and bacon soap.

I want to get back to writing as well as I have a new story idea swirling around in my head that should probably get explored.

I am also back to menu making, sort of. I would rather clean toilettes than menu plan, which for someone who likes to cook as much as I do, is strange. You would think that I would love it, but I don’t. Seriously! Each week I attempt to get my guys to suggest things, or even look in cook books for suggestions. Pizza, chilli, tacos, hot dogs, these are the things they suggest. I think soon, we will have an ‘eat the freezer week’ where we empty out the freezers ( we have 2 small ones)  instead of buying groceries – except for some fresh veg since at least 2 of my family hate cooked veggies, unless they are in a soup. Feel free to make some suggestions!

As for my continued learning about self sufficiency, I am thinking of exploring more about chickens since they will be our main food source. I have heard that there are lots of regulations surrounding having chickens in our area and so this is something I should definitely look into.

That’s it for this week. Stay tuned for all you ever wanted to know about chickens!

Adventures in Learning- Part 1

So the purging last weekend was not as difficult as I expected. I got rid of quite a bit. My strategy was that if I wasn’t going to be using it in the future, and hadn’t used it lately, it was to to go. Knitting patterns, and sewing patterns, books and clothes all went into the bags and boxes.

I had a friend come over to help me deal with my scrapbooking things. I had invested a lot of $$ into those items, but between work, writing, life etc. hadn’t sat down to do any of it since my last child was a baby. I did’t see myself having time to do it in the future, so rather than give it away, which is usually how I like to deal with things, I gave it to her to sell. I then used some of that money earned to buy the things I’d need to accomplish this weekend’s goal

How to make candles!

So this weekend, my daughter, and one son, will be making beeswax tapers. Find information on the internet is no problem, however it can be quite varied.  I decided to call my supplier Voyageur Soap and Candles, to see if I could just get information from people who’s job it was, and they were a wealth of good information.

Stay tuned as we explore lots of other learning projects all designed to prepare us for our homesteading journey!

Now to make a menu for the week :/

The Future

By now, I’m sure many of you have watched the Tiny Home series in one form or another. For whatever reason, this really appeals to me. Now I have a large family ( 5 kids plus hubby) but they will – with the exception of one- be flying the coup soon leaving just the 3 of us.

I find that with working full time, writing part time, teaching part time, all all the other things that I do in my days, staying on top of housework, cooking, washing etc is a battle I loose on a weekly basis. I was very surprised as I took an inventory, to find out just how much stuff we’ve accumulated. I started looking at it in a different way. If I only have X amount of space, what is really worth keeping? What do I need to make my life run smoothly? Any many other questions like them.

What I learned was that what I needed was actually a pretty small amount. Yes it’s nice to have several clothes and shoes, but day after day, I found myself wearing the same clothes, and the same pair of shoes. So when a charity called looking for donations, I decided to really go through things and anything that hadn’t been worn ( dependent on season) I gave away. I will still have to go back through things again, but I made good inroads.

My hubby and I have decided that as soon as we can, we would like to move to the country and become more self sustaining. We do what we can within city limits ie. aerators on my taps, a garden in my yard, doing our best to make use of our wood fireplace and the sun to warm our house. All of those things make a difference, but we’re both looking to take that next step. To step outside our comfort zone and see what we can accomplish.

Ever since I was little, I’ve always drawn one picture- that of a log cabin with a small farm around it. Now don’t get me wrong, I wrinkle my nose up at the smell of manure same as the next city chick, but I want to have my own animals. I want to feed my chickens and take pride in how they grow, and produce and how lovely they taste on my dinner plate. I want to grow my own veggies and store them in my basement. I want all that, but where to start?

I have no idea where to start. There is not a tone of information that is Canadian. Most of the tiny homes are in the US and in the southern states to boot. Up here, we need insulation. But what kind would be best? I still have to figure that out.

Hubby is not on board for a tiny home, and I can’t blame him as I have no desire to climb a ladder to go to bed, or climb down one to use the bathroom either, so whatever floorplan we go with will need a bedroom on the main level.

I know I would love to have a wood cookstove, but being a city girl, I have no idea how to use one. I will need someone to teach me.

I would love a composting toilette, but what about water? Well? Cistern? some combination of both?

There are many things to consider as we look to our future and it both excites and terrifies me. This will be our forever home, and we’re getting a late start since we’ll be in our 50’s! Are we crazy? Yes, probably a little. Our family is on board though, and are already working on their own 10×10 footprint homes. They’re already planning their summers or time off, and what they’d like to build, or create. I see this as a great way to bring the family together and look forward to seeing their designs come to fruition.

So, all that being said, I’ll keep you updated as we start our journey by doing our research. If you have Canadian sources, suppliers, teachers or any other input, I’d love to hear from you. Otherwise, come along for the ride!