Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Slow Living: February 2012

I love the idea of living a more sustainable and simple life.  It's one of the big reasons why we moved to our own farm in 2009.

Karen of Bare Feet and a Free Spirit turned me on to the Slow Living Project which seems right up my alley.  :-)  It's a monthly diary of things people are doing in a host of categories.  And since the One Small Change project formally ended last year, I've lost a bit of focus on these things.  So I hope they don't mind that a Yank is joining in.  ;-)

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.

We already do a lot of preparing of food from scratch, but I know we can do better. For example, I love baking bread but generally don't and our freezer is often stocked with prepared meal items from CostCo.

I like the idea of making pasta from scratch... especially since Kelly at Twill&Dot makes it sound so luxurious.

I have restarted a yoga practice. I'm not entirely sure that this meets the intent of this category but it has been very nourishing for my state of mind. :-)

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. Aim to reduce dependency on store bought items especially those known to contain BPA and other suspect additives. Stocking up on dry goods when prices are low counts too.

We're in the middle of winter now, so we have been enjoying the tomato sauce I put up last summer. In fact we're down to one jar left.

My snow-covered garden with piles of alpaca manure at one end

It took me a bit to realize this, but I have been stockpiling alpaca manure and spent hay since last fall.  We had been giving it to friends and our neighbor took a bunch for his beer garden, but this year it's all for us.  :-)  Most will be tilled into the vegetable garden once spring arrives. This will be our second year having a garden at this house, so I'm hopeful the added manure and hay will help the clay soil out a lot.

Two of my friends are leaders for local girl scout troops so we support them by buying our annual supply of tasty girl scout cookies from their two troops. :-)  We bought several boxes that went into the freezer. :-)

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.

This has been a significant effort since we put our former house up for sale in early 2009. We have been very focused on using what we already have... especially clothing. It's quite surprising how much we had... and still do. In the last three years we've only purchased a small amount... things like undergarments, socks and jeans, but not much else.

Unfortunately the only recent re-purposing I can think of is taking some of the carpet we ripped out of our basement and cut up into mats for the dogs. Nothing fancy of course, but it was going to the land-fill, so I feel better about that.

We also continue to recycle more than we throw away but the amount seems to have plateaued, so I want to focus even more on the packaging before it finds it's way into our home and reduce both the garbage and recycling.

GREEN: up our lives. 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 bought some compact florescent lights, but have been hugely disappointed with them. The light feels sickening. Is there a version that feels more like an incandescent or natural light and not an institution? Also are there brands that are not packaged in an fortress of plastic?

I have not been traveling as much which has me working from home a lot more... therefore no commuting which means no extra fuel emissions for a while. I sure like working from home. :-)

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. Don't have a backyard? Ask a friendly neighbour or relative for a small patch of theirs in return for some home grown produce, they may surprise you!

It's winter now so there's not much growing around here with the exception of Alpaca. We have 13 alpaca growing their luxurious fleece which will be shorn in May. We also have (hopefully) four cria growing in our mommies tummies. The cria are due in late fall.

Alpacamundo's Big Thompson

I have also noticed that the trees are starting to swell in preparation for the buds to come out. This gets me excited since we planted several young fruit trees last year and they all are showing the same signs.  :-)

our young peach tree showing signs of budding soon

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. 

I do a lot of creation... felting, knitting and knitting this month. :-)

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.

Over the last couple of months, we have taken to discovering our (now not so new) community... mostly this has been new to us restaurants and long drives exploring the area. Even though we have lived here for more than two years, but with both of us generally travelling a lot for our day jobs there is still a lot to discover.

ENHANCE: community: Possibilities include supporting local growers and producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group. Car pooling where possible and biking/walking instead of driving. Even start up a blog if you haven't already - online communities count too! Or maybe just help out someone trying to cross the street! The rewards for your time are often returned tenfold.

It felt like we were single-handedly be keeping our neighbor the plumber in business earlier this month. :-/ A new water heater and some pipe repair as a result of discovering two (fortunately small) floods in the basement.

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.

I've been trying to spend more time with friends, knit night and dedicated time with Hubba, the dogs and alpacas.

With the days getting longer and me working remotely more, Hubba and I have been able to take the dogs on several walks together this month. It's a fun time for all of us. :-)

I was able to (finally) catch up with a friend for dinner after 6-ish weeks of one or both of us having to re-schedule. I just love her. We have a terrific time whenever we get together. :-)

View of Mount Audubon

I also went snowshoeing (my first time) with a group of friends. :-)

So this is my first journal for the Slow Living Project.  It's quite a long post, so thank you for getting this far.  ;-)  I plan to write more during the month as we do these things.  :-)

If you're interested in seeing what others are doing, please head over to Slow Living Essentials to see the February updates.


Christine said...

Yanks are most welcome to join in ;). Yoga is definitely something I want to try does look very nourishing for the soul. All the best with your alpacas and their little ones..what an exciting time for you (and them too, I imagine!). :)

dixiebelle said...

Your alpacas are cute! I am looking at making my own pasta this year too, as part of The Year of Eating Nutritiously, but will be perfecting a gluten free recipe, if I can! You are a very clever knitter.

Kathryn Ray said...

I can't say I've ever been called a "clever" knitter before. Thanks. :-)

city garden country garden said...

Pasta making is actually surprisingly easy and tastes fabulous, especially if you use really fresh organic free-range eggs...or duck eggs if you want to be really decadent! I have to admit to a secret weapon though, I was given a motorised pasta machine for Christmas, and it makes the task substantially easier than with my old crank handle one. Now if only there was a machine to knit socks...! I've been thinking of attempting a pair for ages. I taught myself to knit in cable last winter, so perhaps this coming winter I'll give it a go.
Enjoy Spring!

Paula Parrish said...

Hello Kathryn,
Each day I am striving to live the simple life. It is a journey which transforms daily, to grow into a eco-friendly and self supportive household. Thanks for the tips.
Smiles, Paula

Juggler said...

I strongly agree with the fresh pasta making, it is so delicious and well worth the time. Looking forward to see your update in March especially in regards to the little babies.