Sunday, June 29, 2008

what a week!

well, it's been quite a week here this past week. if you'll remember, i think i mentioned that i was going to attempt freezer jam, after the disastrous attempt at crockpot jam (the recipe's a good idea; maybe i'll try it again and actually follow the instructions! lol). anyway... mom and i made freezer jam on wednesday night. the batch we made gave 5 jars, which are now nestled in amongst the ground beef, enchiladas and buns in my freezer. mmmm.... can't wait to try it! :)
another new addition this week was the rain barrel. ed came over on wednesday and got it all set up, including re-routing the eavestroughs a bit. the 2 downspouts from the main roof now come down the roof of the kitchen and the down into the barrel. i've already been using it for laundry, and the kids are loving it for making mud with all the sand from the sand box. i'll have to pick up some more sand this week, since it's asher's happy place, but that's a whole other story.
so, there you have it. a productive week, in a lot of ways. anyway... um... i guess that's all i have to say here today. i may post to "blooming" later tonight, lots to update there, but yeah, i think that's about it here. i hope you have a simple week! :)

the garden this week

the weekly garden update. this week i'm showing off the peas, which were only planted a week ago, and we have 13 little sprouts. only one hasn't popped up. i'm assuming a bird or sqirrel got to it.

then the squashes. look at them! the pumpkin is the one with enormous leaves. i moved the butternut squash to the front corner; it will get more sunlight there. but the squirrels seem to like that corner, too, so we'll see what happens there. but the good news about the squashes: the zukes are already starting to grow, i must have 10 already, though they're still in the very early stages. and the pumpkin and acorn have the beginnings of flowers on them.

next up: cucumbers, which are doing wonderfully. especially the middle one. it's huge, so we've moved it so it will climb up the fence instead of over the peas. three of the plants now have flowers, and there are several cukes in the making. ooh, i'm so excited!

then there's the tomato plant - huge!!! one of the branches actually broke off this week, because it was so long and heavy from the leaves. but, if you'll notice in the pic, there's a tomato now! actually, there's 2, but i only shot one.

at the bottom here, you'll see the full garden, in all its glory. i'm proud (and yes, i know i need to do some weeding this week. probably wednesday).

so there you have it. lots of progress this week. woohoo! :)

but one quick thing: it seems i have a problem with earwigs. they really like my dill, and they've gotten into the basil and oregano. if you have any solutions, please let me know. thanks! :)

Friday, June 27, 2008

20 Ingredients

i just found this on and i was intrigued. they give you a list of 20 ingredients, and then they give you 20 recipes you can make with these ingredients. don't know how many of them i'll actually try, but i thought it was interesting, and i thought i would pass it along. enjoy!

ps - if you try any of the recipes, let me know which ones and how they turn out. just post in the comments section here.

Thursday, June 26, 2008

so, i woke up this morning...

and all i wanted was banana bread. truly, banana bread. so... i came downstairs, and looked in the cupboard for a mix. but, alas, no mix in sight. what to do, what to do?! well, i did what any woman with an irrational craving does: i looked up a recipe on the internet.

and eureka! i found one! and i had all the ingredients! even better!

and then... i followed the recipe, and it's in the oven right now. the banana bread, that is, not the recipe. i'm not that inept when it comes to baking.

here's the link, if you're interested:

so, yeah, the bread's in the oven, baking away, and i am hungrily anticipating my breakfast. i'll update when it's done, and let you know how it all turned out.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008


check it out! strawberry freezer jam! i'm so proud of myself. and it was so simple! why have i never done this before?!

also this evening, we had strawberry shortcake for dessert, and i made the whipped cream myself. oh, i'm so domestic! maybe i should change my name to Martha. lol

Sunday, June 22, 2008

weekly garden update

my tomato plant (from plant). it's huge!
blithe's tomato plants, from seed. doing really well!
zucchini. there's a bud on there, not quite a flower yet, but it's coming.
hot banana peppers. lots of flowers on the top plant, and a pepper is starting on the bottom one.
there are now 6 potato plants.
these are the highlights from the garden this week. but there were a couple of other exciting happenings: 3 of the cucumber plants now have flowers, and there's a couple buds starting on the pumpkin plant. as for the beans i had planted, yeah, nothing's happening there. so, this afternoon, i dug up the 2 rows (and found nothing - i'm guessing the birds ate them - i need a scarecrow), and the kids and i planted one row of peas and one row of carrots. i had no idea carrot seeds were so small! they're tiny! did anyone else know that, or am i the only one who didn't? i don't know what i thought they would look like, but they're even smaller than sesame seeds! who knew?!
anything else this week? well, um, i removed my acrylic nails. i don't mean i had them removed. i mean, i removed them. snapped/pried them all off. now, before you ask why i would post this on my simplicity blog, there's 3 reasons i took them off:
  1. they kept peeling off at the ends a bit, and dirt was getting in between my nails and the acrylic ones. so, even though they made my nails so much stronger the rest of the time, they really weren't practical for gardening, which is my new passion.
  2. i really felt they were the antithesis of all things simple. they represent a lack of genuineness, a dissatisfaction with the natural, and an elitist "ok, so, like, you mean you want me to work? like, seriously?" kind of approach to life. and is that really what simplicity is? is that what i'm aiming for in life? um, no. i'm the girl who was on her hands and knees in the garden this afternoon digging up the rows for seeds. so the whole pretty-girl-refusing-to-work-and-wreck-her-nails image just wasn't jiving. the nails had to go.
  3. i was too lazy to get them filled.

anything else going on in the house this week? my mom is working on stripping the paint off the banister in the front hall. some of it was coming off anyway; it looked like they had put latex paint over oil paint, and that's not the best combination. so, it's coming off, slowly but surely. and mom and i are working on a plan for the front hall, mainly involving what to do with the stairs (that carpet has to go!) and paintable wallpaper for texture, since the hall is too narrow for art, but it's so boring in there.

so that's the house this week. hopefully in the next month or so, i will be painting the bathroom a delightful powder blue, and i'm working on gathering what i need for the master bedroom, which has not been re-decorated since we moved in. so that's the house at the moment.

well, that's all i got right now. have a delightfully simple week, if i don't "talk" to you sooner! h

Saturday, June 21, 2008

Crockpot Strawberry Jam (finally!)

look! i'm finally doing it! crockpot strawberry jam. i didn't use the full 4 lbs of strawberries that the recipe called for, but that's ok. i figure i'll test it out on a smaller scale, and then go bigger if we like it.
i went with a friend to the local farmer's market here in town this morning. i picked up 2 flats of strawberries. i'm going to use them for baking and stuff (if bram leaves any for me to use! honestly, it's like he has a hollow leg or something. where does he put all that food?! the boy never stops eating!). i'll likely freeze a lot of them, and keep them on-hand for roll kuchen (a mennonite favourite - strawberries in deep-fried pastry - delish!), jam and strawberry sauce.
so there you have it. crockpot strawberry jam, in the works. i'll update later (or tomorrow) with the verdict. talk to you later! :)
UPDATE: so, i'm sure that if i'd followed the recipe exactly, including all the directions and not just the ones i chose to follow, it would have turned out. but since i'm a rebel and never do exactly what i'm told, well, don't ask. tomorrow we're making simple freezer jam, and freezing the rest of the berries, which mom and i cut up this morning, so they're ready to go. anyway, don't judge the recipe by my ineptitude. i'm sure it would work splendidly for you, but... i'm not you. lol

Thursday, June 19, 2008

like my little notebook?

picked this little baby up at michaels the other day for $1. anyway, i altered it, and now i'm going to use it for household notes. recipes, farmers markets and local producers, uses for vinegar, how to make pasta, homemade laundry soap, schedules and allowances for the kiddies, that sort of thing. yeah, that's the idea. i figured, if i keep everything in one place, i can be somewhat organized as i do all these changes and stuff.
besides, the way i see it, one day, i can use this book to teach blithe (and the boys, too) about simpler life and natural housekeeping (hence the "family traditions" tag).
now i'm off to bed. i have an early massage in the morning, then blithe's "congratuation" at school. goodnight, all! :)

Sunday, June 15, 2008

oh! one more thing i forgot!

perhaps you noticed the link to Orchard-Hill Farm on the sidebar. this is an organic farm outside Sparta, Ontario. and by organic, i mean, they don't even use tractors, they use draft horses! how cool is that?!

anyway, it's part of a growing trend called Community Supported Agriculture (CSA). this means that you can buy "shares" in their crop, and every week from June to October (in this case), you pick up organic produce at the farm. and it's very affordable. and to make it even more affordable (and rewarding), you can sign up for a working share, which means that you go to the farm a couple of times during the season and do some of the work yourself.

check out their website and see the list of veggies, and get inspired! and i have a link to a list of other CSAs throughout Ontario, which i will post, as well, so you can get involved in this movement near you!

holy beefsteak, batman! check out that tomato plant!

as above. the big one is my plant, and in the bottom left, you see 2 of blithe's seeds.

new today: a row of green peppers! just as i'd given up hope! sheesh! :)

my herbs, including a few newbies. the full list is below.

this would be the pumpkin plant, i believe.

and the garlic - 10 plants!

ok, so i learned something new this week about the garlic. apparently, if i had planted them in the fall, they would be garlic. but... since i only planted them in the spring, they will be onions this year. but if i leave them in the ground, or re-plant in the fall, i'll have garlic next year. but, lesson learned. and in the fall, you can bet i'll be planting a ton of garlic! i mean, seriously! look how much it loves my soil!!!

and seriously, i had about given up on the green peppers. a whole row, wasted. or so i thought! imagine my surprise this afternoon when i spied all those little delights! honestly, they weren't there this morning. how exciting!

and let's see, what else... my squashes are all doing very well. the zucchini and pumpkin especially. i think i'll be planting quite a bit of squash-type things next year, since they seem to do well. and the tomatoes! even the ones from seed are doing well! how thrilling!

and i promised a full list of my herbs. so, as per the pic above, clockwise from left:
  1. oregano (in the blue tin)
  2. marjoram
  3. lavendar
  4. rosemary
  5. cilantro
  6. dill
  7. basil

so, there you go. my garden this week. check back next week and see what's growing! toodles! ;)

Saturday, June 14, 2008

a friend takes some stamps and i learn something new!

thank-you, monika, for popping over this afternoon. i can't wait to make the perogies (a favourite in our house!).

and monika told me how to make my own cottage cheese! woohoo! i'm so excited - i want to make it right now! it'll have to wait, i think, but seriously, yay! :)

take some milk. add some buttermilk. let it sit for about 4 days at room temperature. then cook very slowly until it looks cottage cheese-like. and voila! homemade cottage cheese (which is, when you think about it, the very definition of cottage cheese, but i digress).

thanks again, monika. you rock! anyone wanna make some cheese with me?

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

in the spirit of simplicity...

and learning to live with what i need and let go of the rest....

i am purging. check out my scrappin' space (the link is on the sidebar) in the next couple days. i'm going to be getting rid of a TON of stamps (stampin' up! stamps, no less) and scrappin' paraphernalia all for rock bottom prices or less (maybe some will be free - depends how desperately i want to get rid of it). i may also post a list of what's available here, but the other blog will have the more complete listing.

anyway... i just thought i would give you a little heads-up on all this excitement... ;)

hope you enjoyed the tease... now you just have to wait and see what i'm offering! :)

Sunday, June 8, 2008

my garden - weekly update. and a couple lessons in weather watching. first of 2 posts today. but they're different, so make sure to read both.

garlic! i have 9 sprouts!

pickling cucumbers. doing great!

i have 2 yellow bean sprouts

hot banana peppers. still doing well!

pumpkin's doing nicely, too. starting to spread!

that's right, folks, there is progress and growth in my garden this week. i'm not kidding when i say that the garlic has grown noticeably just this afternoon! the plants are loving this heat and humidity (they'll learn, lol). i wanted to show you our tomato plants, but my camera died, so i have to recharge the batteries, and i'll try to get pics for next week. but they're really growing! in fact, not only is the plant doing well, but we have about 7 plants starting, too, from the seeds that blithe planted in there. so exciting!

i wanted to take these pictures and post them this afternoon, you know, just in case. we've got a severe thunderstorm warning and tornado watch here at the moment, so i thought i'd do this before we lose power or something. (i didn't think it'd be fair to asher if i used up the power from the solar generator so i could update the cyber-world on the garden when i should have been using the generator to, oh i don't know, feed him. lol)

but, you know, we're ready for the big storm now, if indeed it happens and is as bad as "they" predict. mom and i put everything thing away that we could. all the herbs (which are also doing wonderfully, by the way) are in the kitchen, all the tools, toys, balls etc are in the shed (the last thing we need is a pitchfork to come flying through the kitchen window). if the weather gets really bad, we'll probably bring the barbeque inside, too. keep it safe a bit, in case we need it later for cooking. we have a few extra mini-cans of propane somewhere (i'll have to get ed to dig them out for us, or at least tell me where they are). we've stockpiled some water, and we've got cans of beans and rice already cooked. we pulled out the candles, and have the lighters and matches present and accounted for. we couldn't move the sandbox, so we put the picnic table over top of it. i think we're good (or at least, as ready as we'll ever be).

i also gave blithe a little lesson in meteorology this afternoon. she's worried about the storm, so i took her outside and told her a little bit about clouds. i explained to her the 2 types of cloud (yes, uncle ed, i know there's more, but she's 5, and read on to see how i explained them). i told her that the great big ones that look heavy and fat, the ones off in the distance that are kind of grey, those are rain clouds. they dump rain on you. the two or three little one overhead right now, those are "pretty clouds." know what they do? they look pretty. no rain. just prettiness. there you have it: Meteorology 101. i told her that the weather man isn't always right, sometimes he's wrong, but we have to be prepared when he tells us things like today. but the best way to know the weather is usually to look up. if the sky is blue, it's not raining. if you look up and get water up your nose, it's raining. mom also suggested we make a weather rock. i'd love that, but i don't have a big enough rock. i'll have to keep my eyes open for one. so i'm on the look-out for one now. lol

anyway, that's our life at the moment. the kids are stocking up on some good ol' fashioned TV time (we'd have to turn it off during a storm, and it's too humid to play outside right now). but it's Thomas, so the boys are happy, and it's a welcomed distraction for blithe, too. so, i should go. i have to post a video of asher on his blog, then maybe i should spend some time with my family (novel idea, don't you think? lol) ttys.

i give you... the power of Baking Soda!!

this table has been outside for a few years now. that's right, years. ok, well, we put it in the shed for the winter, but i think it came outside in late april, just like every year. anyway, you can imagine, it was pretty dirty. like, i thought the tabletop was actually taupe. ok, not really, but i'd forgotten just how white it used to be.

anyway, as you may or may not have noticed (and if you haven't, have you really been paying attention to what i write here? lol), i have been trying to choose cleaning products that are healthier for the earth and my family. but in this day and age, there are so many conflicting things, and so many products that claim to be green. but what to use?

well, back in the day, and i mean way back in the day, they didn't have all these chemicals and products. not even the "green" ones. but they did have a couple things...

  1. vinegar
  2. baking soda

seriously, you can clean your whole house with these two products. and throw in some (regular or rain) water and some real soap, and there you have it, folks, a healthy, clean, green home. you doubt?

remember the table i mentioned? here it is now! check it out, my friends! it's white again! and there you have it. baking soda, for all your outdoor cleaning needs.

may your day be cool (if only in your mind), may your home be clean, and may you have power in the storm (again, not necessarily speaking metaphorically here, but you could read it that way, if you like. but right now we're under a severe thunderstorm warning and tornado watch. good thing hub had the forsight to charge the solar generator overnight - using hydro, but ah well, at least it's charged and ready for use, but i digress.)

Saturday, June 7, 2008

eureka! i found some!

haha! succès! thanks to freecycle, i have now acquired 2 bikes. i'm keeping one, and my mom can have the other one. sure, they're not perfect, but if i happen upon a better quality at some point, i can donate these somewhere (Bibles for Missions is just down the street), and i've lost nothing, since i didn't pay for these.
also yesterday, we got rid of one of our window a/c's, again thanks to freecycle. there's a family in st thomas who will be much more comfortable today, and that's a good thing.
well, i'm off to shower quickly and then go garage saling with the fam. (and don't forget to check back tomorrow evening for the weekly update on my garden. there's been quite a bit of growth this week, and i can't wait to share it with you!)
may your weekend be cheap and/or free, may your house be comfortable in the heatwave, and may your garden bloom into life.

Friday, June 6, 2008

haha! i'm such a loser!

remember the other day i said i was going to make annie's granola bars? yeah, didn't happen. apparently, i should read the list of ingredients before deciding to bake stuff. oh, i am soooo not a baker...type...person. lol

but, i am slowly but surely accumulating ingredients (i now have flour and sugar in my house! lol), so one of these days, once i have rice crispies and coconut (i have a coconut, but i don't think that really counts, although... holy cow! i just realized! i could grate the coconut! why did this never occur to me before?! stop laughing, annie - lol), i will actually for real make the granola bars. but seriously, i'm going to make jam tomorrow in my crockpot. oh, yeah, i should probably get some pectin. hmm. where do you get that? i realize a store would have it, but which store, and where in that store, and how much would it cost, and could i do this without it? really, if you have these answers, please comment. because i honestly don't know.

are you getting yet just how non-baker-girl i am? lol

CrockPot Strawberry Jam

i'm trying this tomorrow. i bought two quarts of strawberries at the produce stand down sunset, just past shaw's (don't remember the name, but they also have gorgeous flowers!). anyhoo... since i checked out this recipe (link below), i've been dying to make this. well, tomorrow is the day. it's never too hot to crockpot! (esp when you get it going in the morning and let it go all day, and you're outside or something). here's the link, but i'll also write out the recipe for you here:
i don't have quite as many strawberries as the recipe calls for, but i'll improvise a bit. really, i'm just desperate for homemade strawberry jam, so whatever it takes. ;) but this is the recipe from the website:

4 lbs fresh strawberries
3 cups sugar
1-2 boxes of pectin

so, there you go. throw it all, mashed together of course, into the crockpot and cook for 10 to 12 hours. then can it or freeze it or whatever. for specific instructions, follow the link above. i can't wait to do this recipe! i'm so excited! i'm doing it tomorrow, and i'll post the verdict tomorrow night.

Sunday, June 1, 2008


hot banana peppers, look there's a bud-type-thingy (i'm so not a farmer-type).
that's zucchini you're looking at here. grown from seed. yup, i'm good. lol
i'd like to draw your attention to the bud there in the middle of my tomato plant.
some of my herbs. the 2 you see here are rosemary and lavender. in the yellow pot i have sweet marjoram, and there's oregano in the blue one.
that's right, folks, my experiment in gardening is WORKING!!!!! i'm so excited! i've actually got a garden, and there's stuff growing in it! woohoo!!!!!!! next year, i'm gonna have a bigger garden! i have declared! lol
i have a number of things going on in the garden, and a couple things in pots. here's the list:
  1. cucumbers (slicing, pickling). growing from plants.
  2. yellow beans. growing from seed.
  3. lentils. from seed. (giving this a whirl, don't know if it'll work, but hey, you never know.)
  4. pinto beans. from seed.
  5. garlic. i had a few cloves, so i planted them. and they're working.
  6. potatoes. dunno how it'll work out, but i'm trying it.
  7. hot banana peppers. doing rather well, if i do say so myself. from plants.
  8. green peppers. from seed.
  9. zucchini. 2 plants, both doing well. several seeds, one is pictured above. :D
  10. butternut squash. from plant.
  11. acorn squash. from plant.
  12. pumpkin. from plant.
  13. watermelon. from plant.
  14. cantelope. from plant.
  15. honeydew melon. from plant.
  16. tomatoes. one plant (bigger ones), and some seeds (grape, i do believe). they're in a whisky barrel, at least for now.

a lot of the plants are doing well, although i think a little intruder has nibbled on my melon plants. i'm not impressed. i'm thinking of building a scarecrow. how ever so Little House on the Prairie. i just hope it doesn't turn into that Simpsons episode where Marge built a scarecrow but then Homer came home drunk and thought it was an intruder or something and he beat it to a pulp and then all the crows loved him and followed him everywhere. that was creepy. i hope that doesn't happen here. i know it's not likely, but hey, you never know, you know?

anyway, that's my garden. i've decided to post its progress here weekly. so, every sunday night, check in and you'll see how things are coming along.

as for the whole domesticity thing, well, today i canned some pinto beans for quickie suppers, made some rice to have on hand for the week. i love rice, but i'm too impatient, so i make it ahead of time and keep it in the fridge. then when i want it, i just pull it out and do whatever to it, and then i'm happy. also, i did the Day 5 thing on an amish bread starter i got. and i'm thinking of starting my own in a couple days. i looked up the recipe on (i'm really digging that site!). i just want to give it a whirl, having never done this before.

and i just realized, that i may have given the impression that i don't do anything in the kitchen. so sorry, if i have. in fact, i love being in the kitchen. i love to cook. i could cook all day if i had the chance. rarely use recipes; no, i check out food at my favourite restaurants and then come home and make it myself (and mine's usually better!). that's the type of cook i am. i love it. very creative and soothing, in a lot of ways. very pleasing. just baking... ugh. but i'm trying it. tonight i'm trying annie's homemade granola bars, and i'll let you know how they turn out. i'll give you the link to her recipe below. (there you go, annie, a little free advertising there for you! lol)

so, that's going to be my evening.

here's the links i mentioned earlier (just to give credit where credit is due):

Why I Write Here

i like this blog. this is where i write about homelife. my kids, my pets, recipes, natural cleaning products, gardening, cool finds... that's what i write about here. this is the hands-on part of my personal journey. i'm reclaiming myself, a self i lost in a hospital somewhere, among all the meds, plastic, waste and complexity that comes with Special Needs parenting. i crave simplicity, and this is my journey to create it for my family and me.

i'm prolific! check out my other blogs!

you like me! you REALLY like me!!

i'm on facebook! add me! :)


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