Barefoot in the Garden

Betcha thought I was going to write barefoot and pregnant. Naw, sorry to disappoint, but I’ve spent enough years doing that, its time to branch out. I love being barefoot in my garden and feeling the damp soil squishing up between my toes. My feet are about the only thing I can stand to have touching the grass. I even walked- ok ran cause it was pouring rain and I was in my band uniform, kilt and all ( wet wool is not conducive to a comfortable rest of the day)- through a crowded field in Scotland. It was not the thing to do, neither was it ok to take ones very uncomfortable gilli shoes off and put on flip flops. Who knew? No one ever looked at me strange here in Canada, in fact many of us do it, but I guess, over the pond, its not cool. Tough.

Got the grass raked and the garden beds mostly cleaned out. Now I just need for it to get a bit warmer to be able to start planting! Visualize me rubbing my hands together in glee here. I am super excited ( I’m sure you couldn’t tell) to see how much I can produce for us this year!

As I type, I have some veggies roasting to take to Easter dinner. I also tried Avocado hummus, and I’ve also tried making Paleo crackers! I have a paleo blueberry coffee cake recipe for breakfast tomorrow. I watched an amazing series on Netflix called “Cooked” with Michael Pollan. It involved the elements of fire, water, air and earth that affect how we eat food.  It made me super hungry, like I wanted to go make a stir fry. Not a great thing at 8 o’clock at night. But it did inspire me to do some braising ( like I need an excuse!) and sourdough. I also got a recipe to start a sourdough starter. So next weekend, I should be able to say how my first loaf of sourdough bread was 🙂 I am also obtaining a SCOBY tomorrow to try my hand at kombucha again. Last time I left it too long and it was very vinegary- not pleasant to drink.

What new things have you tried lately?

That’s it for me, nothing terribly earth shattering this week. Oh! except that I started a new book series! This one, while I don’t plan on complete X rating, will have a few steamier scenes I believe. Only have the first chapter of the first book written, but I can tell based on the characters that they’ll have a hard time resisting each other.

Menu time!!!

Saturday we had tribal dinner with our peeps

Sunday- dinner at my parents

Monday- braised beef!

Tuesday- chicken tournados, salad

Wednesday- Roasted Pork on the BBQ with salad and potatoes

Thursday- Pasta with pesto

Friday- no idea

Have a splendid week and check back next week for an update on the sourdough. HUGS!

 

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Brrrr

We had one scorching week a couple of weeks ago, and now we’re back to fall, flannel, fires and soup! Good grief!

Oh, and you know I was saying how much I was disappointed in the dishwasher detergent I made, well it turns out it was my dishwasher, not the soap. Our dishwasher died, and our son was nice enough to purchase us a new one ( I say he just didn’t like the prospect of having to handwash the dishes- the boys don’t appreciate the aromatherapy the same way I do). Anyhow, I made a powdered version and we are back to sparkling clean dishes! Yah!!!

We are also getting low on shampoo soap, so I made a new batch this weekend. I tried a new combo, so we’ll see how it works in a few weeks when I can try it. I also tried some herbal infusions – in this case lavender buds- for a batch of soap. I was a bit disappointed that the smell didn’t carry through to the soap, nor did it have an even remotely purple colour. I will have to do some more research on that.

Got to meet a couple of new people- coworkers of my hubby, who are moving back east. Laura does glass art jewelry and they are amazing! Here is the link if you are interested: https://www.facebook.com/laurapenneyglass/ . I also have a good friend who carves and has her own side business doing graphic design stuff which I hope to take her up on. Her name is Fiona and you can find her here: https://www.facebook.com/fiona.plunkett.

As for writing, I will apologize as I have done nothing towards getting book #3 ready to publish 😦 I have been cycling to work, which is good, and I’m sure my body will thank me, once its done swearing at me, but its meant that I have had no time to write in the mornings, and none in the evenings. I have hope that once my body adjusts to this new routine,  that I will be able to stay awake past 9 pm and get some work done. For now, I am done beating myself up over not being able to do it.

Be kind to one another today, even that jerk who has to pass you on the blind corner and who’s wheels are super skinny and who’s bike could probably be picked up with one hand. Spread good karma my friends!

 

Looking back

Well, the toothpaste didn’t happen. There is no outstanding reason why it didn’t’, just simply didn’t feel like it. So I caved and bought another tube of my favorite Green Beaver toothpaste. It’s strange when you switch from reg toothpaste to ‘green’ toothpaste. It does have a slightly different feel to it, but once you make the switch and then run out and have to use your husband’s regular toothpaste, the difference becomes more dramatic. For me, it’s like going from a nice baking soda type clean ( with lots of mint) to washing with foam. I feel like I’m frothing at the mouth!

I am also on week 2 of using my own shampoo bar of soap. I love it. The only thing I don’t like, and it’s purely my own preference, is the scent. I made it more manly thinking the guys would be using it and was going to make some girly smelling shampoo for my daughter and I. That didn’t happen, so we are using the guys soap.

I am loving the new laundry soap formula I made and think that this will be my go to from now on. I will have to have a powder for camping and to send the boy to camp with, but other than that, this is a keeper. The dishwasher soap is another problem. We’re getting film on the dishes, which to me isn’t so bothersome, but it doesn’t look great. I’ve done some more research and will be trying a dry one instead of a liquid one so that I can add the citric acid and see if that helps.

Several story ideas have taken hold in my thoughts and I would love the chance to get them down on paper. For now they reside in my head, along with the other thoughts that jumble around. They’ve decided to be patient and work together which is lovely 🙂 I haven’t managed to write in several weeks, but since we have a rainy weekend ahead of us, I forsee the possibility that I can accomplish that goal- unless I fall asleep, which is a distinct possibility. It’s been that kind of week, and a nap would not be a terrible thing, right?

Once of my favorite things to do is pretend shop. There’s no pressure when you pretend shop. You have no budget, don’t have to worry about whether things fit or not, nor any of the other things that get in the way of normal shopping. This time around, I was doing pretend tiny house shopping. I was trying to pick cabinets, flooring, and colours. I also looked at some dishes and tried to decide which ones I’d be interested in. I’m trying to be economical about it since money will be an issue, but also trying to solidify a colour scheme. Luckily, both hubby and I prefer neutrals, but he prefers light wood and I prefer grey/black, so it should be interesting to see how we mend the two ideas.

For those that want our menu for this week, here ya go:

Saturday : Burgers/ meat on a stick, veggies

Sunday: Tandori chicken with rice/riced cauliflower, and cuke/tomato salad

Monday: Chicken soap ( or maybe its a combo of chicken and turkey) with crackers/buns

Tuesday: BBQ chicken legs, baked potatoes, and spinach salad

Wednesday: Lemon pork tenderloin, raw veggies, left over rice/potatoes/cauliflower

Thursday : everyone together now- Pasta!

Friday: (gag) french fries and BBQ hotdogs and veggies

What’s new an exciting in your world?

Surviving

There’s nothing much I hate more than the blues. From time to time I get stuck in this vortex of self… well battlement for lack of a better word. I KNOW that the thoughts of sadness and loneliness and unwantedness are not truth, but for some reason, those thoughts take over and despite all the ‘tactics’ I use to combat them, I lose. That’s where I’ve been.

Things have been busy here at our ‘homestead’. We now have some plants we purchased from a friend and we can’t wait to try out these lovely heritage tomatoes and salad greens. It is warm enough in our backyard to put them in the sun, but for now, we  bring them indoors at night. I believe we have cemented the plan for our garden and its expansion. The list of veggies to be planted has not been finalized (its in my head still ).

I am loving the dishwasher detergent I made, but not the dish soap one. I find the dishsoap leaves a film in the sink which means I have to scrub it every time, which although not super taxing, is just a pain. I have yet to try the toothpaste, but that will happen soon as my tube of Green Beaver Mint is almost gone.

What new things have you learned this week? I found a recipee for Tiger Balm! Off topic, I know, but I just remembered! It doesn’t take much to excite me these days 😉 Ok, back on target, what news things were learned this week. I learned that I run a pretty awesome party. Everything went off like clock work, no one was injured, all had fun, much creativity flowed and all was good. I was numb afterwards.

Today I play catch up. I have laundry on the line making use of this great sunshine we’re enjoying, laundry on the go, supper prepped and everyone doing their own thing. Hubby is happily up to his elbows in small engine stuff in the garage, daughter is playing with other girls outside, sons are occupied and I have some lovely relaxation music playing in the background. Time to get some writing done!

Happy thoughts coming your way! Enjoy your day!

First Day of Spring!

Today is the first day of spring here in the Great White North and its a lovely sunny day. I ate my lunch on my back deck with just a super warm fleece on. Our house faces North/South more or less, so we can make good use of passive solar sunlight.

Today in the kitchen I tried two new recipes for home cleaning: a powdered laundry detergent instead of the whipped one I usually make, and a liquid dish-washing gel. Both took me less than 1/2 hr to make, and in the case of the dish-washing gel, gave me more than enough to last upwards of several months ( so I hope it works well!!!).

We didn’t get a chance to do a syrup boil off since the weather hasn’t really been good for it so far this year in our area. So I will have to be sure to stock up on maple syrup and maple sugar this year as we won’t likely be able to earn any.  Bummer 😦

Finally I am writing again, and it feels good.!Words are flowing, more or less, and I’ve had a few times where I’ve chuckled over something I’ve written, not believing that I wrote something that funny. Mind you, I have a very british type of humour and what I find funny, some do not, so you’ll have to take that with a grain of salt. Still, it feels good to be able to put fingers to keyboard and create again.

This is birthday alley for our family, with 5 ( or 6?) birthdays in the next few weeks. My daughter is the last of the run of birthdays and is still young enough to qualify for a ‘birthday party’. Yesterday, we spent many hours looking through pintrest to come up with a theme and how we could make it work. I managed to get totally frustrated by the computer because I am not very computer literate and can’t get it to do what I want it to do. A very nice employee spent the better part of a hour with me this morning trying to figure it out, but all we managed were invitations and cardboard Eiffel towers. Anyhoo, it is what it is and I will just have to accept defeat and hope I can figure out some other way of accomplishing the goal.

Here’s the menu for this week:

Saturday: curry chicken, riced cauliflower and salad ( it was very yummy)

Sunday: Sausages, baked potatoes ( or roasted) and salad

Monday: Lentil stew (woops, need to make broth for that!)

Tuesday: Salmon, salad and steamed broccoli

Wednesday: Pork Casserole and Salad

Thursday: Pasta

Friday: Homemade pizza

This week, make sure you get out and enjoy the fresh air and what sunshine can be found, even if its only for 5 minutes at a lunch hour. Be sure to love on your family, if you don’t have any, love on your ‘family by choice’; those people whom you choose to call family. 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!