Monday, April 30, 2012

It's a Girl !

The suspense has ended and one of the projects I've been working on can be finally shown.

On Saturday we became first time grandparents and this is the little outfit I had been working on to welcome this new little person.

The pattern came from an old Beehive pattern book called Baby Styles  that I had used many years ago when knitting for my own babies.   This layette pattern set is called "Moss Stitch Set" The wool is a Beehive washable acrylic.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Learning to Cook with Beans

I'm learning to incorporate more beans into our diet.    This winter's CSA share regularly had dried beans as a free choice.    Beans came as unwashed, unsorted.     A regular feature was the Lina Cisco bean seen in the photo.    This bean is tan and maroon speckled.  It is aromatic and plump when cooked and when the skin splits open inside is a creamy, potato-like texture.

The first recipe I tried with this bean is found at this link Lina Cisco Bean Spread. 
This tasty recipe included freshly roasted garlic.  This bean spread can be served as a dip for vegetables, a spread in a sandwich with homegrown sprouts (see my earlier links on sprouting), or on crackers.  

The spread tastes better the next day when seasonings for this recipe - scallions, fresh rosemary, and parsley have a chance to bring out their true flavours.  I doubled the recipe and froze in smaller containers to have on hand.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Becoming an Urban Homesteader #7 - This week's Happenings ....

Winter briefly came back to our neck of the woods.  It has since melted and the run-off from the roof has filled a couple of rain barrels !  Yah!  We're really glad of the moisture.  Everything here has been too dry.

The weatherman had predicted the snow was coming so the tomato seedlings were moved back inside in time. 

Cool weather veggies were planted outside : Swiss Chard, Lettuce, Kale, Radish and Spinach. The perennial beds got edged.  

The celery experiment is working out well.  About a month ago I cut the end off the celery and stuck in water... it rooted and I transplanted into earth this week.   And, fresh spelt bread was baked.

I've been concentrating on my "indoor" gardening - Sprouting :  Pea, alfalfa, chia, broccoli, mung beans and lentils.   They are great in salads and in sandwiches/wraps instead of lettuce.

Tomato Seedlings
Celery Experiment - freshly transferred to it's own pot
mung beans sprouting

Alfalfa sprouts

Pea sprouts

Broccoli sprouts
Chia Sprouts
Fresh baked spelt bread

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Winter is Back .... Surprise !


Rhubarb under the snow

Tulip doesn't look too happy


The raised veggie beds

Friday, April 20, 2012

Learning to Barter

For many years hubby and I have been helping out a single mom.   She lives in low income, subsidized housing and is unable to drive.  She's unable to work and lives on subsidy.  

We've helped her by taking her places she needs to go, ie church,  grocery shopping, errands, doctor's appointments, etc.   Often times we'll have spent the entire day driving her places, which can take us hours away from home.

With the cost of gas and hubby's unpredictable work hours it has been challenging at times.  So we struck up a deal with her !    For 4 hours of driving, she would come and clean our house for 4 hours.   She was really pleased about this new arrangement, as she had wanted to give back in some way, but didn't know how or what.   I have to say, she is the most amazing cleaner !    She cleans in places that I would only get to occasionally.   Working full time, most often all I have time or energy for is do what's needed most. 

She has far exceeded my expectations in cleaning.  Not only does she do the regular dusting, vacuuming, wash floors, bathrooms, she also dusts/cleans the high spots - top of door sills, blades on the ceiling fans, etc. She also volunteered without us asking; washing windows, cleaning the oven and fridge.  She even took all the books off the bookshelves and dusted every nook and cranny.

She doesn't have regular access to a washing machine, so I told her to bring her laundry with her when she comes, and because she also has some dietary issues, I pre-make a nutritious lunch with food she can eat and leave in our fridge.   

She's thrilled with the arrangement - she gets her laundry done, a nice lunch, and an opportunity to give back, something she's wanted to do for a long time and I have a very clean house !

Win Win for all !

Saturday, April 14, 2012

Becoming an Urban Homesteader Series #6 - This week's happenings....

It's mid April in gardening zone 5b.  We are about a month ahead in the growing season here compared to other years.

This week have been getting the garden beds ready for planting seeds early.     I'm going to start some cool weather vegetables outside - chard, spinach, kale, and lettuce before the predicted rain comes this weekend.. 

The garlic at the front of one of the raised beds is coming along great.  Rhubarb is coming along too.   The pallet garden I experimented with perennials is showing life.    The chives outside are starting to flower.   The indoor seedlings are coming along well - Tomatoes, kale and other perennials. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

White Knuckle Driving

Last month we had unseasonally warm weather.  The air was warm but the ground was still very cold.  Perfect conditions for fog.

My drive to work one day last month started off not too badly.  It was a bit foggy, but the closer I got to my destination the worse the fog got.  The photos were taken at 7:30 in the morning.   My normal trip to work took twice as long and at times visibility was almost nil.   The fog lasted until late morning.

It is unnerving not able to see where you are going and what lies ahead and not be in control. 

Sometimes the trials of life feels like the fog.   You don't know where you're going. Or you feel stuck wondering what the future holds, or have the feeling that you're trapped with too many decisions or decisions you don't want to make.  Or perhaps you're waiting on something so you can make decisions on your next steps.  It can be scarey.  Sometimes the fog can make you feel panicky - do you stop? do you keep going? do you turn around and go back?

Sometimes you just need to trust and purge on.  Sometimes you need to take the foggy times to slow down, rest, rethink, refocus.   The fog won't last and soon it will be clear and you can see again.

Monday, April 9, 2012

Pets .....

Pets bring alot of joy to peoples lives.   

In our case it's cats!   I know, alot of folks would say that cats don't give back the same as dogs .... but our cats are different !  Yes, she does greet me at the door when I get home from work, and she likes to play and will bring me her toys.   In her case - she loves ribbon and will bring the ribbon and drop it at my feet so I can walk around the house/yard and she will chase it.    She follows me around the house and wants to be near us most of the time.   When I am out in the garden, she's not far from me.

There are many health benefits in having pets.    Pets can control blood pressure  sometimes better than drugs.  They provide unconditional love.  They stave off feelings of  loneliness and can improve your mood.  Pets can reduce stress and often more than people.   Pets can also help reduce anxiety and depression.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring Wildflowers

I went out on a hike by myself after the Pancake Hike last Saturday and enjoyed the quiet time in the woods.   The woods were so peaceful.   Despite the snow we had overnight the wildflowers are doing their best to poke through the ground. 

The Trilliums, Trout Lillies, Blue Cohosh and wild Ginger are about to flower, wild leeks are thriving and the Bloodroot is also flowering. 

Many wildflowers have medicinal properties.   For instance, Bloodroot is used in herbal medicines for broncial problems. Pharmaceuticals mix with other ingredients to treat heart problems, dental plaque and migraines.  Made into a paste it's also used externally on warts and tumours.  The fluid extract can be used for ringworm and as an insect repellent to name a few.  

Wild Ginger, contains Aristolochic Acid - which health Canada says is a toxin which can cause cancer.   The plant can be used in making a deodorant, as an antiseptic and insecticide and herbicide. The flowers are said to be poisonous.   With cancer producing properties, I'm not so sure I'd want to experiment with this plant.

Tea made from Blue Cohosh is said to induce labour. 

Wild Leeks are onion-like plants that grow in the deep woods. The leaves come up in the spring, usually before much of anything else has come up. The flowers only appear after the leaves have mostly died off.  The leaves and bulbs are edible.  They should only be picked sparingly and when in abundance as they are becoming an endangered plant from over picking.  

The Trout Lily - has a green leaf with brown/purplish patches. It has pretty delicate yellow flower.  The Trout Lily is said to be both edible and medicinal.  They are also emetic - which can make you vomit if you eat too much of them.   They are also said to have antibacterial, anti-inflamatory, lymphatic and wound healing properties.  It can be used for treating urinary tract conditions, edema, stress-related conditions, such as anxiety, muscle tension and insomnia to name a few.

As with all wild plants - do you your homework, before trying and making any homemade remedies.

Trout Lily

Wild Ginger
Blue Cohosh
Wild Leeks

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Limehouse Annual Pancake Breakfast

Chives in my window box.
Pancake Breakfast
We had some snow Friday night which didn't last and all melted when the sun came out.

Saturday was our Annual Pancake Hike with my hiking group and I led a short family hiking through the Limehouse Conservation area.

The little town of Limehouse puts on their annual pancake breakfast and after the hike we all went for pancakes, homemade baked beans, maple syrup and butter tarts.
Downtown Limehouse - Memorial Hall
Over 100 years ago Limehouse was a booming town, where lime was mined.  There's a lot of history in this small little Town.  All that remains is this old Methodist Church - now the town's Memorial Hall and a couple dozen houses.   The industry that was once here has long since gone and now the area where the lime was mined is a conservation area.  There are lots of old relics of times gone by in the conservation area.

Powder House - powder used for explosives to mine lime
Remains of an Old Mill

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