Tuesday, 20 January 2015

Eggs, Sourdough, Cats and Seeds

After many weeks of limping along with just an egg or two a day, we are thrilled to be flush once again ~ I feel like a wealthy woman!  One of the happiest signs that daylight hours are increasing is a full egg basket, I say.

I've been wanting to make homemade pasta for weeks, but as that takes a lot of eggs I had to hold off making it until now.   I took John's advice and made his Einkorn Fettucini.  The wait made it all the more delicious! You must try it - so hearty and filling but not heavy in the least.  

In other kitchen news, oh glory day, I FINALLY made a sourdough loaf that can be eaten thanks to Jaime of Ngo Family Farm!    I still have a long way to go but the taste and tender texture were absolutely divine.   I used some flour that I was gifted over Christmas (organic unbleached white), but next up is using Einkorn from John and Cindy at Gold Forest Grains.  Love their products - highly recommended!  Forgive the blurry picture (kids taking photos for me).

Our new kitten (Tiger) has settled in well.   As you can see, the cats are quite pleased with one another.  Our older cat has become much more playful with his new little charge about (but as you can see they love a good nap, too!).

Like the cats, I've been curling up with my seed orders and garden plans for 2015.  I placed a large order through Harmonic Herbs already (LOVE their quality and high germination rate not to mention their local roots).  I've been ordering from them for a few years now and am very pleased to recommend them to you without any hesitation.

As well, I am finalizing my order from Heritage Harvest Seed.  They have an incredible selection of rare heirloom seeds and I love to add new plants to my garden from them each year.  It's fascinating to read the history of plants and how they came to be grown here in Canada (and ultimately passed on through many generations).

We've had a strange winter so far.  Some extremely cold stretches, yes, but mostly mild temperatures so far.  It has everyone thinking that Spring is around the corner but I know this to be far from the truth.   We have a few more months of winter yet which suits me fine as I've got plenty to do indoors until then!

Wednesday, 14 January 2015


Feeling morose these days as it would seem that as soon as we passed the 5 year mark of living in our home, many of the fixtures are falling apart.  We bought this house knowing that we would be updating the interior and budgeted/planned for it.  30 years of useful service was the outer limit for the interior fittings of the home ~ absolutely everything was worn out, corroded and threadbare (but clean and still functioning).

*Of special note, the wonderful people who owned this house prior to us were long time foster parents to medically fragile children so the house took a real beating from all the wheelchairs and equipment that was in use here for decades.  Many children passed through this home (equivalent to our large family using things daily). 

We set about our planned updates, hiring out the kitchen cupboards and flooring and we slowly picked away at the rest ourselves after we moved in (August 2009).  From furnace and hot water tank right down to the faucets, it was all replaced with solid, sensible and functional fittings.  We weren't aiming for "stylish" or "trendy", we aimed for neutral, functional and durable.   With 5 kids living at home, we knew everything would be used well so we opted for good quality (but not high priced flash).  Our 2 oldest moved out within the first few years and hubby has worked out of town plenty in those 5 years so we certainly aren't talking about overuse!

Anyway, as soon as we passed the 5 year mark of living here, things started to break down.  We've had to replace 3 faucets AND the fridge so far (all of which were bought new in 2009).  All were irreparable after only 5 years!  Granted we USE things as I'm home a LOT, but 5 years seems to be an awfully short life span especially when you consider that what was here when we bought the house was still working (but absolutely at the end of it's life span) after THIRTY YEARS!

I know I'm probably preaching to the choir here, but I'm really quite fed up with the state of affairs in the manufacturing sector.  Try as one might, it is near IMPOSSIBLE to find well made fittings and appliances and of course my preference for Canadian made is totally out of the question.  Is ANYTHING made in Canada still?  Certainly not faucets and appliances...

Another example is our electric kettle (the 4th or 5th in 10 years!).  When this last one bit the dust before Christmas, I searched in vain at the thrift shops for a kettle like my Mother In Law has - an old school chrome electric kettle (Sunbeam or General Electric, I think).  Hers has been going strong for decades without any trouble but it was made in North America not overseas like everything is today.    Try as I might, I couldn't find an electric kettle made made in North America so in the end, I bought a stovetop kettle made of German borosilicate glass.   It was bare bones and only $15.00 at Canadian Tire!  Surely it will last as there's absolutely NOTHING to break down (providing I don't smash the beaker glass).  Simple is better even if it takes longer to boil because I am FED up with replacing things so soon after purchase.

All told in the last few months, we've had to spend $4000.00 replacing things that we had budgeted to replace in 10 years (not 5!).   Good grief, that's a lot of waste.  Sad isn't it?

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Living Seasonally

I love this time of deep winter (remind me of this sentence in 3 months, okay?).  In summer, we're busy working outside 12+ hours/day and we don't have time for reading or hobbies but in the dead of winter, we have time to rest and pick up long neglected pastimes.  My husband loves puttering in his garage and is interested in cleaning up this old steam engine given to him by his Dad.  It works, but he's going to clean it and restore it to it's former glory.   He's keen on setting up some attachments that will be powered by it ~ the kids and grandkids will love it!  He's also been working on his vintage/antique radios (he's got a few that he's tinkering with).  There's a few woodworking projects waiting for when the mood strikes (beehives and mason bee houses among other things).   Kelly likes having a few projects on the go so he can follow his interest as he wants on any given day.  I'm exactly the same way!

As to me, I'm set on busting my stash of fabric.  My sewing machine is calling my name after a taste of recent Christmas gift sewing and there's a few things I'd like to make for myself.   As well, I'd love to spend a bit of time knitting each day to improve my skills.  I'm still a basic knitter and have yet to make anything useful from a pattern (which is something I want to change).  I've been practicing my stitches on several squares but it's high time I bit the bullet and tried to follow a pattern to actually MAKE something.  I think I'll join the knitters group at the library as they meet once per week and help anyone who needs it.  I will most certainly need it :)

I also want to get my seed/tree order in soon (early birds get the best selection) and begin some garden planning.  We have a large area that we are transitioning from grass to a food forest garden (this began with flipping sod and sheet mulching last summer).   The design plan will take some time to get right so it will be an ongoing project with lots of edits between now and Spring.

In the kitchen, there's finally time to bake more than the basics as there's no produce to preserve.  I'm currently working on perfecting sourdough bread (given my results, this will take all winter!) but I remind myself that all things worth doing take practice to get right.  I'm also having fun making recipes out of this "new" cookbook (giggle).

I picked up this little gem at the second hand book store over the summer and it's full of handwritten notes, reviews and thrifty family recipes.  It's a literal time capsule and I LOVE it!

Every night after supper, we both sit by the fire with the cats to read and watch movies (in stark contrast to summer when we're outside working until close to bedtime).   We welcome this rest now, but come April I know that we'll be sick of being indoors and we'll both be itching to get outside again (and so the cycle repeats itself).

Do you live seasonally, too?   If so, how do you spend your winter months?