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.


Natalie said...

I had to chuckle at the comment that Asian food is your weakness. My youngest is one of the pickiest food eaters I have ever met, but he loves all Asia food -unfortunately, my other son does not:(. It is actually quite easy to make your own sushi at home, and that way you can tailor it to suit exactly what you want - and you can make a whole tray of it for so little money. Have you ever tried it out?

Kathryn Ray said...

I have not tried to make sushi yet, but it is on my list of things to try. :-)

Claire Davenport said...

Oh, aren't your alpacas adorable! I totally agree with the observation about being busier trying to live slower. For me, I think it's also that these posts allow me to reflect on how much I do, rather than worrying about what I haven't done.

Linda said...

I know what you mean about slow living! I feel like I live in two worlds and I wish I could shut the regular world off some days.

I love the connection you are forming with your friend's daughter. How lovely to teach her those skills!

lightlycrunchy said...

It's true that slower living is busier living and that it's a learning process. It's been getting easier as we go along, plus I've been learning bt trial and error what works for us and what doesn't. Sometimes knowing what to let slide is as important as the accomplishments.

Christine said...

Lovely to think of those peaches making their way to you soon, lucky thing!

It's fascinating listening to you talk about the alpacas and their crias. I have a serious case of shed envy over here!

Thanks for being number 1!! :)

Kathryn Ray said...

@Linda - I have to agree with you on that one. :-)

@LightlyCrunchy - you are so right, letting go is just as important an accomplishment.

Cath said...

I feel inspired every time I see your gorgeous yarns. Maybe one day I will learn to spin. Your garden is looking great.

Wendy said...

I love what you are getting out of your garden...roll on spring so we can start planting!

Anonymous said...

I don't mind the term Slow Liver-s - although maybe on refelection is sounds like a medical condition rather than a lifestyle!!! Maybe Slow Lifer-s (maybe that sounds like a jail sentence) Slow downers (people who take a long time to metabolise sleeping tablets?) Hang on - Im beginning to see what you mean!

Pictures of the wee cria are cute as! But how do you pronounce such a word? My husband and I have just had a "spririted debate" on it!
- K xx

Kathryn Ray said...

@Kara - you are too funny...

It's pronounced Kree-ah.

Vivian said...

I really enjoy reading your slow living entries. One of my local friends is an activist in slow food and slow living, quite fascinating to see all the work they do. Though I don't formally adopt a "lifestyle" of slow living, coming from a developing country I naturally reduce and reuse everything. Once you get used to it, you don't have to think much.

And of course the "real" Chinese people will tell you the fast food stuff is not "real" Chinese food ;-)

Spinster Beth said...

I think the biggest challenge people face when wanting to be good to themselves is preparing nutritious food ... I don't buy anything already prepared except the occasional frozen pizza or Amy's dinner, but sometimes it's frustrating when you want something to eat and are too tired to cook! I love Asian and Indian foods ... both kinds take a lot of preparation!

AC said...

Ugh, ever since we've moved away from Wisconsin we have not been good about getting our food from local sources. Gotta try to do better...

What's with the CDs? Does it scare them away?

And yay for Breaking Bad, new episodes airing now! Have you seen this site? http://marcvaldez.blogspot.com/2010/08/breaking-bad-locations-part-1-list-of.html He's got all the shooting locations listed in Google Map form, it's awesome.

Also, promise that I will stop rambling soon, I just caught up on the Tour de Fleece and it looks like it was awesome.

MarmePurl said...

Wonderful series Kathryn. All such worthy goals and you fill them so well. I bow in admiration.
Yes it is busier...learning our way through this new lifestyle and stage of life. But it's a GOOD busy.

Barbara Good said...

Each time I visit your Slow Living Month post I am in awe of the life you're leading, very busy indeed. For me busy has always been a good thing, I'm far more productive and happier when I have lots to do... of course being TOO busy is just plain stressful.

The alpacas are beautiful and breeding them must give you a real sense of wonder. The yarn you spun is also beautiful and I bet it makes something fantastic.

Hope you had fun with all those peaches and now have a stash of jams and preserves to see you through the colder months.

We too are enjoying watching the Olympics.