Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Slow Living: July 2012

I guess it's true that life moves faster as you get older.  Or at least it moves faster as you get busier.

I was struck by one of the Slow Livers last month... that doesn't sound quite right.  Gonna have to think of a better name.  ;-)  But several of the folks mentioned how they're busier than ever trying to live a slower life.

I would have to agree.  It's not because of this project, but more because we're moving from one sort of lifestyle into another.  Learning new things and changing things over... and for us, certainly working a full-time job while building our own agri-business means there is a lot that needs to be done.

So on to July's installment for the Slow Living Project.

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

I realize that I've been talking mostly about yoga in this category.  I think it's important for my well being... my soul, joints, strength, flexibility and peace of mind.  But I realize the intent of this category is more about food... preparing whole foods in a slower, healthier way.

I think we generally we do a good job in this category since this was our first step into living a greener life... before we were married nearly 15 years ago.  We buy in bulk, local, organic, natural or free-range as much as we feel we can.  But we also go through phases where we buy take away more often than we would like.  Usually it's from the Vietnamese place in town that makes an awesome bowl of Pho, but every now and then it's fast-food Chinese or grocery-store sushi.  Asian foods are our weakness.  ;-)

Roasted Home-Grown and Farmer's Market Beets

So aside from the take-aways that we enjoy, we have moved into full-summer.  Which means our garden is starting to produce and the Farmer's Market in full-swing, we've been able to make several meals each week that are either primarily or completely locally sourced and extremely fresh.  That makes me very happy.

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.

Our garden hasn't produced enough to start canning and freezing yet, but I think that will change next month. At least the canning will change since Hubba purchased two crates of Palisade Peaches from our neighbor.  :-)  We'll be receiving them later this week, so I have been reviewing recipes for jams and butter as well as instructions for freezing and canning.  I'm really looking forward to this weekend.  :-)

We are also planning our annual hay buy.  We need to get this worked out in the next couple of weeks.

REDUCE/Reuse/Re-purpose/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 started making Limeade and Lemonade from actual limes and lemons.  With Hubba's profession as a road racer, we go through a lot of Gatorade type drinks and with this hot summer we've been going through even more than normal.  Which means our plastic recycling has gone open-loop recently.  ugh.

It's not really less expensive than buying the pre-made drinks... especially when they're on sale for $1 each.  But it does taste better and since the rinds go into the compost, there's no waste.

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 hung old CD's in each of our young fruit trees.  The trees are small and I only had 3 CD's available, but it seems to have worked.

I picked this plum a little early, but it was completely free of bird bites.  :-)

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 have started harvesting a few things.  :-)  Zucchini, radishes, cucumbers, beets and tomatoes have all made it to our table.... yumm.

Watermelon, honeydew, cantaloupe, spaghetti squash, pie pumpkin, acorn squash, butternut squash, rutabaga, okra, plums and apples are all in the works.  :-)

We have also started breeding two of our alpaca maidens.  We decided last year that it would be better for us if we moved our breeding/birthing time to June-July.  There are fewer races then so Hubba is less likely to be travelling and since it's summer we're not likely to have a cria born during a snow storm.  ;-)

We will finish the protocol, then ask the vet to come out for ultrasounds over the next month or so.

We have 3 cria due in October and will most likely hold those mommas over to next summer so everyone will be birthing and breeding around the same time.  This not only makes it easier for us, it's easier on the cria who will have someone to play with as they are figuring out their world as well as have some friends to wean with when the time comes.

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.

July has been all about the Tour de Fleece.

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.

We have been about figuring out what's next for Hubba.  Since we're not going to London, I recommended that he take a month off with no focused training and that he spend some time fishing and figure out exactly what he wants to do next.  He hasn't bought a fishing pole yet, but we've spent a lot of time exploring our heart's desires, life preferences and goals.

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.

My friend's daughter has started to help me halter train a couple of our young alpacas.  We have been wanting to show our alpacas, but just haven't gotten to that yet.  They have a youth division at our local alpaca show in November.  So I had made the suggestion to her mom a while back.  Her mom said she just about shook her head right off her shoulders about the idea of helping out with the alpacas over the summer.  :-)

Miss A and Big Thompson

She's learning a little about alpaca care but mostly she's been establishing trust between her and the youngsters.  Big Thompson is still being a little bit stubborn, but Clementine will follow Miss A just about anywhere now.

She's been trying her hand at spinning and crochet too.  It's been really fun for the both of us.

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.

The 4th Season of Breaking Bad is now available on Netflix, so Hubba and I have been enjoying it quite a lot this month.  :-)  Not only because it is well written, produced and acted but because it is takes place in and is filmed in Albuquerque, NM.

Having been long-term residents of Albuquerque, it's quite a trip for us.  With the exception of a few, all of the places are real places on real streets in real neighborhoods...
  • Jesse's aunt's house is close to our old house.  We used to walk our dogs down that street and every time I passed it I dreamed of living in it one day.
  • I remember when they dressed up the duplex that Jesse lived in and thought it was weird that someone spent time and money dressing it up but then no one seemed to live in it.
  • Garcia's on Central
  • The Car Wash
  • The parking lot that Walt Jr learned to drive in
  • The Convenience Store
... these are all places that were part of our regular life when we lived in Albuquerque.

We also celebrated US Independence Day, an impromptu visit with my parents and of course the (delayed) coverage of the London Olympics.

Monday, July 30, 2012

The Pain is Gone?

I was kind of surprised when I realized the other day that there is no longer any pain.  (!)  My right hip will cramp up during yoga class or a long car ride, but otherwise there is no pain.  :-)

It has been about 6 months since I restarted my yoga practice with consistent pain in most of the joints on the right side of my body.  I blame it on more than 3 years of being crammed in an airplane and driving a computer.

I knew it would take a while before I started feeling good and balanced.  I'm not fully balanced yet, but boy I feel I'm getting close.  :-)

Friday, July 27, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2012, part 4

The Tour de Fleece ended on Sunday, so this is my final wrap up for 2012. :-)

Friday, July 20
I literally had only a few minutes for spinning today.  This is a continuation of the alpaca+bamboo I started last week.

Saturday, July 21

Sunday, July 22

104 yards of Double K Diamond Alpaca+Bamboo - Katydid
Wellington, CO
2 1/2 ounces


I might be on to something with this Less is More idea.  ;-)  My only goal was to spin at least 1/2 inch on each day the tour races.  Which I did.  :-)  But this turned out to be the most productive Tour de Fleece I've had... in number of skeins (8), yards of finished yarn (641.5) and ounces spun (17 3/4).

L-R: Corriedale, Corriedale, Lincoln Longwool, Paco-Vicuna,
Alpaca+Silk, Alpaca+Bamboo, Grade 1 Alpaca, Camel+Merino

Some Things I've Learned
  • Lincoln and Lincoln Longwool are the same thing.  The sheep are often sheared twice each year in order to keep the staple at a shorter length or else the mill will often cut the fibers to make it easier to process.
  • A blend of Navajo Churro and Alpaca makes a roving that people are very interested in.  I am intrigued and still need to get my hands on some of that.
  • Plying from both ends of the same cake is possible, but I think two cakes is less stressful.
Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.  :-)

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Garden: First Tomatoes!

This morning I noticed something red in my garden...

There will be more tomatoes to pick tomorrow.  :-)

I've also finally thinned out the radishes enough to start getting some of a decent size.

Sunday, July 22, 2012

Garden: The Squash is OK

I felt really bad posting that sad photo of my spaghetti squash yesterday.  It was noon-ish and about 100F... not the best time to take a photo of anyone, really.  ;-)

It was looking much better last evening.  I gave it more water and it's much happier now.  :-)

By the way, this is the largest single plant I have ever grown on purpose.  Ever!

That's a regulation sized basket-ball and the Alpaca Dog's head for reference.  ;-)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Garden: Things are Growing

I thought that I would have more time for weeding since I'm not travelling for my day job much these days... I haven't.

But I don't feel manic about getting it finished on the weekends.  It's actually been a couple of weeks since I've weeded.  ;-)

The rains came a couple of weeks ago, but we haven't had much since.  So I think my spaghetti squash got too dry this week.

spaghetti squash

It's looking pretty rough right now, but it is loaded with fruit.

spaghetti squash

A whole lot of other plants have fruit on them now too...


Honeydew Melon



My okra and rutabagas have sprouted (finally) and my tomato plants are fully loaded.

The CD's I put up in the fruit trees seem to be working.  Crossing my fingers for plums, soon.  :-)

I picked a few things this morning.  I think these will go nicely with the other things we found at the farmer's market this morning. :-)

cucumber, zucchini, radishes

Friday, July 20, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2012, part 3

Hi Everyone, Happy Fiber Arts Friday.  Today I share part 3 of my Tour de Fleece.  :-)

Friday, July 13
I was so excited about remembering to get my FAF post out this morning that I nearly forgot I was supposed to spin something. ;-)

So I squeezed in about 15 minutes of spinning time between the Day Job and Evening activities.

Saturday, July 14
I love Saturdays... This week I managed a leisurely morning at the Farmer's Market with Hubba and Lil' Miss Wonton, Farm Chores, Spinning and a Nap...

and another very energized single.  :-)

109.5 yards of Camel+Merino - camel and white
Unknown origin - purchased at the Estes Park Wool Market from Your Daily Fiber
1 7/8 ounces
~16 wpi

I then got a second wind.  So I spun

and plied 1 ounce of Corriedale.

I plied using the inside and outside ends of the same cake again.  I figured a little more practice wouldn't hurt.  ;-)

This one is softer than the grey Corriedale that I started the Tour with.

17.5 yards of Corriedale - white
Unknown Origin - purchased at the Estes Park Wool Market
1 ounce
~9 wpi

Sunday, July 15
Yesterday I stopped by Your Daily Fiber to pick up some Alpaca Roving since I was out of prepared alpaca and was wanting to spin more.

This is a Medium Rose Grey Alpaca blended with silk into a lovely pencil roving.  I met the farmer while I was there.  She has been breeding alpacas and llamas for 20 years.  :-)

Monday, July 16
I finished spinning this morning.  Nothing quite like a 2-ounce bump to make one feel very productive.  ;-)

94 yards of Double K Diamond Alpaca+Silk - Silk Feathers
Wellington, CO
2 1/8 ounces
~18 wpi

Tuesday, July 17 - Rest Day

Wednesday, July 18 - Challenge Day
I have a small stash of unusual fibers in cloud form.  I've been nervous to spin them for fear of messing them up.  So I thought this 1/4 ounce of Paco-Vicuna would be a good thing to try on Challenge Day.

I chose my wheel over my drop spindle because I figured the less things my hands have to do, the better.  ;-)

This preparation wasn't skirted very well.  There was a lot of vegetable matter, some second cuts and I found a couple bits of fleece that were definitely not blanket.  It is also quite dirty so the color is dull.

The more time I spend thinking about it, the more I think this was raw Paco-Vicuna and not a cloud.  There were some clumps of fiber that I think would have been opened up if the fiber had been through a picker... and frankly if it had been through a picker, I suspect there would have been less vegetable matter.

All that being said, I did make something that looks like yarn.  :-)  I plied it since the gauge was not consistent and the resulting 2-ply is very squishy.  I think it will be nice as an accent on something... after a good bath.  :-)

7.5 yards of raw Paco-Vicuna - Dark Fawn
Unknown Origin
1/4 ounce
~12 wpi

Thursday, July 19
A different blend with the same Double K Diamond alpaca from earlier this week... Alpaca + Bamboo.

Only a few more days to go with this year's Tour de Fleece.

I hope you will head over to Wisdom Begins in Wonder today, since you know it is Fiber Arts Friday.  :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Garden: What a Difference a Month Makes

Last month we were in  a terrible drought with wildfires nearby.

Today, we're still in a drought, but we have had some rain and everything looks a whole lot better.  :-)

The fires near us have all been contained or are very close to containment... (High Park, Flagstaff, Hewlett, Arapaho, Squirrel CreekWaldo Canyonand the pasture is now more green than brown.

The tomatoes have overgrown their cages and the winter squash is doing really well.

The grass hoppers have hatched this week  :-/  There are quite a lot of these cute little buggers hopping around.

I added some old CD's to my plum and peach trees.  I remember having several more old CDs before we moved, but apparently I got rid of them and haven't added anymore.  I suspect I will need to get a few more since 1 per tree is probably not enough to keep the birds away.

We've had our first harvest a couple of weeks ago... mostly just checking a few things and thinning out the radishes, but still really fun to eat.  :-)

I was able to harvest a couple of proper-sized zucchini today though so I think our harvest is ramping up.  :-)

Friday, July 13, 2012

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2012, part 2

More Tour de Fleece this week...

Friday, July 6
I decided to go back to thick again.  :-)

This is a Lincoln roving that came from the same farm as the Corriedale I spun last week.

My intent is to spin a similar weight yarn so that they can be used together in the same project.

I must say that this is a whole lot different than that amazing Grade 1 Alpaca also from last week.  This is my first time spinning Lincoln, and I am liking it so far.  :-)

Saturday, July 7
I had plenty of time to spin today, including a little time during the Tour de France coverage this morning.  :-)

Sunday, July 8
A little more Tour de France coverage saw me finish the single.

Then I wound it into a cake

and plied into a 2-ply yarn.

This time I plied from the center and outside strand of the same cake.  I had a few issues with tangles, but in the end I used all of the yarn in the final 2-ply.

I love the sheen in this yarn.

64 1/2 yards of Maplecroft Woolworks Lincoln - white
Boulder, Colorado
4 1/8 ounces
~9 wpi
Again, pretty close to what I was going for.  :-)

Monday, July 9
I had a hard time deciding what to spin next since I didn't really expect to complete this much already.

So when I don't know what to do, I usually spin alpaca thin for a big long-term project I have planned.  But since I'm out of prepared alpaca, I thought this camel+merino would be nice.  :-)

Which it is.  :-)

I don't know where it's from other than I picked it up at the Estes Park Wool Market last month.

Tuesday, July 10 - Rest Day

Wednesday, July 11
It's a good thing that I have that 1/2 inch goal.  I didn't think I would have any time today, but I found 10 minutes for spinning.  :-)

Thursday, July 12
About a 1/2 hour before the day job started.

I sure like starting the day with a little spinning.  :-)

Happy Spinning and Happy Fiber Arts Friday.  Be sure to join in the fun over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.