Friday, 29 June 2012

Slow Living - June

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 stopped buying prepackage granola bars and snacks about two years ago.  For a while, I was making granola bars at home, but sometimes you want something a little different, right?

 In a saucepan, combine 1/2 cup sugar, 6 tbsp cocoa powder, 1/2 cup butter, and 1/2 cup milk.  Bring to a boil, add 1/2 tsp vanilla extract and remove from heat.  Add 1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut and 3 cups rolled oats.  Mix well, roll into balls (makes about 3 1/2 dozen) and refrigerate.  I would love to give credit where credit is due, but this is something we have been eating since we were little kids and the recipe card is I have no idea where it came from.

Totally easy, totally tasty, and gluten free too if you need that.  I might add these to our Christmas cookie tray this year but for the summer, they make a quick and easy grab and go kind of snack.

I have also made Delicious Raspberry Sorbet and it was so easy I plan to try out currant and black raspberry versions as well.

  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.

We bought a 1/4 pig for our freezer from the Sunday farmer's market and so far, what we have tried of it has been delicious.  We will definitely order plenty to stock up the freezer before they close at the end of the summer.

In the meantime, I have been preserving the harvest...drying herbs and canning. 

So far I have preserved 2 small jars of spring onions (pickled), 3 jars of rhubarb strawberry preserves (find that post here), 3 small jars of currant juice (post over here), 3 jars of nearly seedless raspberry jam and I have a variety of berries in the freezer just waiting to be turned into something.

 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.

Always a work in progress at our house.  This month, I decided that in order to free up some mason jars for canning (rather than buying some more) I should just transfer the dried herbs and bulk snacks into glass jars from store bought items (like of our weaknesses, and pickles and such).  This frees up the mason jars for this summer's planned canning sessions and I don't have to recycle all those glass jars.

 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.

I rode my bike to work 13 out of 18 days.  A little better than last month.  I have also biked to the market every time except the day I had to pick up the 1/4 pig (I can't fit a 1/4 pig in my two baskets!)  We biked and walked to the library, the drug store, the book store.  In fact, one of our cars (yes, we have two) only left the driveway maybe 5 or 6 times all month.

 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.  

Still enjoying something from the garden every day.  Mostly berries this month, but the vegetables are coming along nicely.  We had our fill of peas, but I will be planting some more once a row frees up.  

 Incidentally, these are radish seed pods.  I didn't know until a few weeks ago that they were edible.  Since I keep trying to plant radishes, but have very little success, I figured I would try to let them go to seed and see how they are.  Delicious.  So far we have only eaten a few fresh from the garden, and some tossed into pasta salad, but I see some experimenting in our future.

 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.

Let's see...this month I have started a dress...haven't finished it.
Started a scarf...still in progress.
Started a hat, for a gift...about halfway done.
I thought I finished a pair of slippers, but I'm pretty sure I will have to go back, rip out the toes, and make them a little longer. 

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.

For this part, I am mostly just going through my cookbooks as things ripen in the garden to see what else I can do with my harvest.  We have tried raspberry sorbet and strawberry rhubarb preserve as new additions to our seasonal eating.
Mostly, my new "discoveries" have come from reading other blogs.  I am truly enjoying 
Barn Hop at Homestead Revival - I learn something every single week there.
Carnival of Home Preserving over at Laura Williams' Musings - a blog I have just discovered so I have only participated twice so far, but several people are sharing their canning, freezing, drying ideas.
 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.

Let's see...this month, I spent  a day helping out at the city wide track and field meet that is held just next to the boy's school.  Every year, we do a barbecue and sell juice, pop, chips, and freezies (all healthy choices, right?) to raise money for the playground equipment we are hoping to install shortly.  The school is one of the few in the city that has "special needs" so we have been saving to build some accessible playground equipment that can be used by all of the kids...including those in wheel chairs, who right now have nothing to play on.  We are almost there.

 See the #8 in white in the middle there?   That's S.  They ran all the groups at the same time and then divided them up by age.  He won first in his category for the 1500m.

As usual, I am trying to buy as much as possible from the farmer's market to support them.  
Oh, and at the beginning of the month, I bought some plants from "Return the Landscape", a group in town here that is trying to put naturalized, native plants back in the parks instead of constantly cultivating, watering, and spraying things that really don't want to grow here.   
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.

 With the school year coming to a close, we are trying to find activities that we can enjoy as a family...spur of the moment activities that we can choose to do when the inspiration strikes.  We have made several trips to our local animal farm (which for some reason is actually called the "Children's Farm" which strikes  me as being very odd indeed) to see the new arrivals.
 This little guy, Jaxon, is just 5 days old in the picture.  He was very very entertaining!  He kept trying to jump on his mother, and would jump about a foot in the air to step from the grass to the cement, even though there is only about an inch different in height. 


  1. What a great challenge! I try to do a lot of these things, but it seems like they are really itty bitty steps. I have always wanted to jump right into sustainability/local living/more self-sufficiency, but it isn't something you can just jump into. I spend a lot of time reading A LOT of books about these things though. And I am slowly putting things into practice. Now, if I could just figure out how to get as much out of my garden in our very very short growing season, that would be great!

  2. Oh my gosh that baby donkey is too cute. Hubba really wants a donkey. I just came across a rescue organization that's a couple hours a way. I suspect Hubba will agree to move the fencing improvements up on the list now. ;-)

    Great job riding your bike so many places!

    I love your bowl of berries and agree that a "Children's Farm" sounds very funny.

  3. Your berries look so wonderful! Did you notive the cross on the donkey's back? We always tell our children that it is there to remind us that the humblest creature in the horse kingdom carried the King Jesus.

  4. All this wonderful berries, what potential for all sorts of delicious treats. Do you eat the radish pods raw?

  5. I also love your bowl of berries.

    Do you find that when you start riding everwhere you just don't want to take the car. I ride to work as much as I can and the days I can't I feel like rather guilty.

  6. I'll be trying that recipe. It sounds great!

    I didn't know radish pods were edible either.

    I love that you school is inclusive! I think they all should be, but I have bias. Thanks for sharing your month.

  7. I love the look of that sorbet, it makes me yearn for summer! I'm sure a mixed berry one with all those luscious berries you've harvested would be delicious too. And for a second there I did have a picture of you riding home from the market with a 1/4 pig strapped to your bike rack! We try to ride to our farmers markets, and it often feels like there is a pig attached to the back when we ride home laden with food!

  8. mmm, I agree with Mama Gone Green - your sorbet does look divine! Lovely happenings for you this month, Natalie. Thanks for sharing the chocolate ball recipe, they sound very tasty!

    And that donkey is just too cute! :)

  9. Dear Natalie
    I really enjoy reading your blog and your Slow Living Posts.

    I am currently conducting research into blogs that focus on sustainable
    living as part of my Masters at the University of New England, Australia.

    We are looking for people to participate in a short online survey
    (5-10minutes), link below

    If you could help that would be greatly appreciated.

    Larissa Shashkof
    Student Researcher, Master of Environmental Systems, Markets and Climate
    University of New England