Wednesday, 30 May 2012

Slow Living - May

I'll be joining up with Slow Living Essentials with this month's slow living post.  It's a very interesting series if anyone wants to come along for the ride.

 Nourish:  Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, overprocessed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

I think I have finally "mastered" the english muffin.  It took a few tries to get it right, but I found a recipe for english muffin bread in "The Complete Guide to Country Cooking" that I quite liked...tried it in the muffin rings, and voila, the best one so far.  So, no more store bought english muffins.  Now I just need to figure out how to make a version with part whole wheat instead of all white flour.  Next month...bagels.

 Prepare:Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.

 This year, my area was hit with a very big frost after a very long warm spell.  All of the fruit trees were badly affected.  In fact, it is predicted that Ontario lost 90% of its tree fruits for the year.  So, I went to the market, bought two half-bushels of apples and made (and canned) apple sauce while there were still apples to be had.

My biggest pot, which covers two burners, filled to the brim makes 5 quart jars with applesauce.  So, two nights of work, two trips to the market and I got 10 quart jars of apple sauce for the fall.  I will be doling it out sparingly!
I have also bought a pressure canner to try out new ways to preserve food (I don't like having to trust it all to the freezer for the winter).  I have visions of my bounty all prepared in the pantry...we will see how that plays out.

Reduce:  Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

 With the nicer weather, this month I walked/biked to work 13 out of 22 days.  I can do better than that...and I will, next month.

Green: Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.

Kinda don't know what to say here...I always try to "live green".  Right now, I am focusing on eating locally as much as possible, but there are some things I just can't get here.

Grow: plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints. 
I love that these pea blossoms look like bonnets.

  This category I am doing quite well in this month...'tis the season though.  I have pulled out a few "ornamentals" that were given to me through the years (when we first moved, I would plunk in just about anything that was free, just to improve the yard a bit) and replaced them with edibles.  I have added 3 blueberry bushes (one still in the pot because I have to move 4 other plants to get it where I want it), an elderberry, 2 haskap berries, and oodles and oodles of vegetables.  The new strawberry bed is added (one handful harvested last night).
 N has chosen some peanuts to plant, and popcorn.  Those were his particular picks this year.

I have chosen pak choy to try (it was delicious...I hope to buy some more seeds today for a fall planting later) and brussel sprouts...I have never tried growing those.  We are also going to taste cardoons, sunchokes and haskaps and elderberries for the first time ever.

I will update a full list of veggies on the 15th when I do the next installment of eat what you grow/grow what you eat challenge (and also here).  I thought I would update what I have been eating on this post, but it will be long enough as it is...I will try to do it in the next couple of days so it is not all at once.
Here is today's beautiful harvest.  Two kinds of kale and some strawberries.

Create:  To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.

This month has been a little short on the creating unless you count the new garden beds.  I have completed one hat, one abomination of a skirt I shared on Tuesday's post, a part of a knit bunny, and a few other small things.  My favourite this month was the yarn I spun and dyed at home using spent frozen daffodil heads.
 Daffodil heads
 Yarn soaked in alum
Finished product.  I especially like the pale green.  I tried very hard for a whole summer to make green, so I was thrilled with this one. (It had a copper afterbath).

Discover:   Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.

I have been reading plenty of books from the library on urban farming, urban homesteading, canning, and that kind of thing which I usually share on yarn along.  I think for next month I might try to keep a list.  A month is a lot to cover all at once.  I will say that tonight I started "Uncommon Fruits Worthy Of Attention" by Lee Reich and it is making me want to source out a bunch of really unusual things.  That's kinda how I roll over here.

Enhance:  Community: Possibilities include supporting local growers & producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group.

Ok, here is a tough one.  Community.  I am kind of a home body.  I tend to focus on our house, our yard, our family.  This month, we attended an art show at the boys' school where they made projects out of recycled/repurposed materials (the boys were even in the local paper for it)
This was N's project that he worked on at home...his initials are now up in his room (he used 4 generations of buttons for this).

I have given away some plants to coworkers to help them get their gardens started.  There is also a new community garden going in across the street at the "church" /rec center/boxing club/homeless shelter/food bank.  I walked over there and asked if they could use some gooseberry bushes - to which they said "ooh, absolutely, yes please" so I walked back across the street, dug them up, brought them over, and let them know that since the roots were exposed they would need water as soon as possible (they had the sprinkler going) and came back home to continue working on mine.  They were planting all gooseberries did not get planted and died.  I wish they would have told me they didn't want them...I could have shared them with someone else instead of having them just die.  There are a few other community gardens going in around town that could have used them.  Just sayin'.

Oh, and I also helped at a track and field meet at the boys' school.  S will be going on to the district one in the 800, 1500, and long jump.  N may or may not be going for the 100 or 200...he won his heat, but I still don't know if he won the whole age group or not.

Enjoy:   Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.

After posting last month, I thought this is where I would focus.  I wanted to do something each day just for the enjoyment of it.  We have gone for walks, bike rides, drank hot chocolate, and mint iced tea with plenty of sugar, gone to visit some beautiful alpacas, spent hours in the garden, cut flowers just because they are pretty, and the boys have been spending time with friends.  Oh, and reading.  Lots and lots of pleasure reading.
 Sweet William - with the stems cut short.

I look forward to reading the other posts.  I truly enjoyed it last month.


  1. Love your primroses, Natalie. A lovely month.

  2. The flowers at the end are gorgeous!

    We are planning to plant berries this summer too, but we have a lot of work to do first since the space is quite barren right now.

    We had a late frost last year that killed most of our apple blossoms, it was a sad winter without applesauce. I'm glad to see you were able to get some.

    I'm very curious about how your peanuts do and don't know what cardoons, sunchokes or haskaps are... off to google. ;-)

    1. It is a year of experimentation. I have never eaten (actually, come to think of it, I have only ever seen them in books) the last three either.

  3. Ohh Natalie..I'm so excited by your daffodil head dyeing! That green is gorgeous. Doing something each day just for the enjoyment of it is also wonderful..I tend to forget to 'stop and enjoy'. Must ammend this. Your pressure canner sounds intriguing too..looking forward to seeing what is preserved in it. Thanks for joining in! :)

  4. hello natalie,
    very interesting post. it seems we have the same dream.
    tomorrow will i plant beans,too. i am glad that i found your great blog.
    wish you a wonderful weekend,
    blessings from germany,

  5. How lovely to have fresh strawberries! Love your light green dyed wool, and yes, a month is hard to recall in one post, isn't it? But loved reading about what you've been doing.

  6. I love the idea of slow living and you seem to be doing a great job of it! I truly like trying to do something just for fun each day, we tend to forget that around here in the hustle and bustle of everyday life.

  7. I love your green wool- it will be perfect for so many projects. I also adore the button collages -I've got a big bag of buttons and I can't wait to start a holiday project with my little grandchildren. Thank you for the inspiration :)

  8. I loved this post! Your yarn is unbelievable; glad to hear you finally managed a green, and such a great one at that.

    I canned applesauce last year, and I have determined I need a bigger pot. At one point, I had three pots cooking away on the stove and only managed to get a few quarts out of the whole ordeal.

  9. Wow! You're up to a lot! Your sweet williams are beautiful. I've never really been interested in them, but now I'll have to add them in somewhere:) Also, finding a good community is real important. I'm a bit o a homebody also, but I've finally found my community, and they're there when you need them:) (Sorry I've been such a bad commentator, it's wedding season, and school isn't out yet...)

  10. Gee the yarn looks great that you dyed. And stopping to find enjoyment everyday is a great reminder. I can often get caught up in the stress of the day and forget to see the beauty around me.

  11. Oooh, I'm in love with your daffodil dyed wool! Such a lovely green - both of them. And you've certainly had a busy month even with all that relaxing mixed in - thanks for sharing!

  12. What a wonderful post, I'm so glad I came over from Slow Living Essentials! The dyed wool is gorgeous, what are you going to do with it? What a pity about the gooseberries, very frustrating! and those flowers are so, so beautiful, it makes me wish I had more room for flowers in my tiny garden.