Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Slow Living: April 2012

Today I share my third installment for the Slow Living Project.  :-)

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.

The big thing we did here was prepare most of the food for shearing day from scratch.  Often we make hotdogs and burgers using the pre-made-frozen variety.  But this year,  I roasted a turkey.  I set the white meat aside for sandwiches and used the dark in a turkey-quinoa salad.  I made baked beans from dried and offered fruit and a green salad to our volunteers.

I also continued to continue my new yoga practice.  :-)  I wonder when I'll stop calling it my "New Yoga Practice."  ;-)

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.

My mom and sister each gave me a bunch of canning jars to add to my collection.  They both made me promise to return a few with some yummy goodness on the inside though.  ;-)

REDUCE/Reuse/Repurpose/Repair: 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.

I began disassembling an old favorite sweater.  I intend to use the yarn to make a new sweater that fits better.

Hubba has been pulling out old T-posts.  We've been told the original owner of our house had cattle and the T-posts are what's left of his electric fence.  We don't have a need for an electric fence and the posts make it difficult for Hubba to mow.  I plan to use a few in the garden for the climbers such as peas and the rest will most likely be used in the new fence that we have yet to build.

We also repaired the old clothesline that came with the house.

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.

One of the bad things we did was use disposable plates, napkins, cups, utensils and bottled water on shearing day.  Generally we are good about using re-usables for meals, but when it comes to large, outdoor gatherings I must admit that disposable wins out over washing everything we own.

We did ok with the reusable shopping bags this month as evidenced by the fact that my box stuffed with plastic sacks is no longer over-flowing.

I've also been thinking some about the dog loo/composter I mentioned last time. But I'm not sure where to put it and even if I was, all of the info seems to be for a single smaller dog, not 3 big dogs.  I would really hate to go through the effort of digging that big hole in our clay soil to find out that it was insufficient.  So more research is necessary.

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!

We had our annual alpaca fiber harvest on Saturday.  :-D

I found time to dig manure into our garden and I planned the layout.  I want to do a little more, but the garden is essentially ready for planting... unfortunately it will have to wait now that shearing season is underway.

Our Peach, Cherry and Apple trees are flowering now and most of the others have gone to leaf.  I haven't seen many bees yet, so I'm hoping that I just haven't seen them and that they've been busy pollinating our trees when I wasn't looking.

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've been knitting a little on my Challah Socks and finish spinning some amazing alpaca/silk pencil roving.

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 was given a fun book for my birthday last month called Show Me How.  It's full of things that a modern person should know how to do... like Wrestle and Alligator.  I can't say, I will seek out the opportunity to give that one a try, but some of these other things will come in quite handy.  ;-)

One of the great things about joining up with the Slow Living Project is that most of the blogs participating are based in Southern Hemisphere countries like Australia, New Zealand and South Africa.  All countries that are high on my list to visit, but haven't made it to yet.  Being introduced to these blogs is also introducing me to terms I didn't know...
  • chook = chicken
  • rocket = arugula
  • Netball = a game similar to basketball and appears to have quite a fan base.
  • cavolo nero = kale
  • silverbeet = chard
  • beetroot = we just call them beets
  • granadilla = a fruit I'm not familiar with
  • iceblocks = Popsicle, I think
Lastly, I've spent the last few days in Austin, Texas for my day job.  We had some free time which allowed me to discover an awesome bookstore and a couple of great restaurants and the beautiful trail along the river.

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.

We have a couple of big things on deck to donate, but haven't gotten that finished yet... hopefully next month.

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 had a fabulous day with one of my friends up in Estes Park.  It rained, snowed and hailed.  We got very close to elk, geese and a few varmints and laughed a whole lot.  :-)

Mostly this last month has been about preparing for shearing and planting seasons.  I want to say that I expect next month to be more balanced, but the truth is I will be shearing many alpacas at nearby farms and travelling a little more than recent months.  So I really don't expect too much balance in May.


MarmePurl said...

Kathryn, this is a wonderful post! As I read along I thought of all the things I have been doing so similar to yours, realizing how much better we are living form a year or so ago. Many thanks for sharing and inspiring.

Kristi aka Fiber Fool said...

I really enjoy these posts, Kathryn! It is so fun to see what others are doing to be more sustainable. Especially when they are "others" I know ;-) Thanks for the fabulous lunch on Saturday. I'm getting excited to dig into the photos soon!

Kathryn Ray said...

Thanks guys!

I enjoy keeping track of what we're doing. It certainly helps to ensure we're moving in a positive direction.

Also the other blogs always have interesting ideas or tips or how to do things. I just love the community of it. :-)

Anna said...

I am posting while eating an artichoke for lunch, which is really difficult, but that's how much I liked this post!

Voie de Vie said...

Can't wait to see the pics from shearing day - and that menu sounded pretty good. All except the quinoa, that is - I probably would have used bulgar. Quinoa and I are pretty much not on speaking terms. :)

Btw, there was a great segment on All Things Considered yesterday about food deserts and how to change eating habits in poor, urban neighborhoods. Here's the linky:

Wendy said...

Great to visit you too and great to hear you are learning from other blogs:) Granadilla is the same a passion fruit- not sure if you know the passion fruit. An Ice block is usually cubed ice.Sounds like you had a good month!

Kathryn Ray said...

Ah yes, I know about Passion Fruit. Not sure how I didn't make that connection. Thanks.

An ice block is just cubed ice? So it's not a sweet treat?

Mrs B said...

Hi Kathryn,

Love those canning jars!!

We had success with one of those inground composting dog poo loos and we had two large labradors. The hardest bit was digging it into the ground. I've also tried having one compost bin (above ground) dedicated for our cats but it didnt work at all. In ground works much better.

Ice block can also be used by some to describe an icypole (or popsicle).

africanaussie said...

So glad you joined in here and made a comment on my blog. You certainly do lead an interesting life. I also enjoy travelling around the world in blogland. We make ice blocks for the grand-kids by freezing juice in a popsicle mould with a stick in the middle. Your turkey and quinoa salad sounds great.

Kathryn Ray said...

@VoiedeVie - the original recipe called for chicken and orzo but with Hubba's gluten embargo and the fact that I had a whole turkey... I improvised. I bet bulgar wheat would be tasty too.

The NPR story on the food deserts was great and our local news had another story about a local company doing good this evening.

@MrsB - thanks for the positive reinforcement on the dog loo. :-)

@MrsB and AfricanAussie - thanks for the clarification on the ice blocks. :-)

Kim said...

Loved all the things you have discovered ! It is great learning about other cultures...I was thrilled when you commented on my blog in Australia . Thanks for visiting ..I really enjoyed my visit to Colorado!

city garden country garden said...

I bet you didn't have any shearing day shortage of volunteers with a menu like that for lunch! Although next year you'll have to try Chook and Rocket Sandwiches, with icypoles for dessert... ;-)

Christine said...

Fantastic to hear your happenings from last month, Kathryn! I especially liked your discoveries regarding the differences in terminology, lol! I believe a granadilla is what we call a passionfruit.

I really enjoy reading what you're up to and am off catch up on some posts.
Christine x

Kathryn Ray said...

@CityGardenCountryGarden - haha... unfortunately, not everyone thinks that spending a day shearing alpacas sounds like a fun idea.

I do think I will make chook and rocket sandwiches with icypoles for dessert. :-D

cityhippyfarmgirl said...

So lovely to see what your alpacas have been up to. They always look so funny just after they have been shorn. So skinny!
Lovely to see what else you have been up to :-)

Anonymous said...

linking up from slow living month..thanks for sharing, look forward to seeing your creations with your fleece from the shearing :)