Monday, July 13, 2009

New Years Resolutions

I thought this would be a good time to review my New Years Resolutions. Do you remember yours?

Honestly, I had to look back at a forum that I frequent to check out what some of my resolutions were, lol.
Here is what they are and how I've done so far... (Marking scale is on even letters, no pluses or minuses for me. Just complicates things.)

1. Work on building skills such as sewing, baking and writing, that I've typically shoved to the end of the line of things to do. Mark: C

I've done some sewing, a bunny for Alexander, curtains for our trailer, cushions for our bench on the porch, an apron for mom and some pillows. Except for the pillows, no patterns were used, and that was really what I was looking to work on in the first place, so while the sewing machine has actually been used (THAT should have been my resolution, lol), I've missed the point of the resolution totally. Ah well...

Baking... what baking. What crazy person says she is going to bake bread to feed her family all year long, when during the summer months she is pregnant and hot already. What crazy person wants to heat her whole entire first floor with an oven for two hours. I started off strong, and as the temps went up, so did the grocery bill because I started buying our bread again. BUT, I buy it direct from the bakery so that saves on money! (maybe THAT should have been my resolution)

Writing... well, we are half and half on this one. I have been writing more, mostly just in a scrap coil paper pad, ideas for stories, beginning of stories, thoughts etc. I've been making up a lot of stories with Alexander while we play, which he loves, but other than that, haven't really worked on this one at all. Fail. Eh, life goes on. I've got this blog and I've been doing well for the past two weeks, lol. Small steps, small steps...

2. Start making ornaments for Christmas that I can sell at the Christmas Bazaar my church holds each year. Mark: F

Alright, not entirely my fault. Really, doing this with a toddler, not the easiest thing in the world, and while, yes he goes to bed at 7:30 now and I could easily do some work then, it is hard to focus when your eyes are cross-eyed because you are so tired yourself. Yes, I'm blaming my inability to follow through on a resolution on my toddler. Add my unborn child to that (you know, for sucking any extra energy that I might have had right out of the equation) and you have the recipe for someone who will not be nominated for mother of the year. That's ok with me, because it isn't one of my resolutions :D

PLUS, making ornaments, no matter how good you are, takes inspiration. I'm just waiting for inspiration to strike...

3. Write an article for Today's Parent and the AECEO. Mark: B

I've got both articles written, in my computer, edited and everything. Virtually perfect. The only thing that keeps this resolution from being an A is my total inability to remember to actually send them off to the editors. It involves so much, an envelope, an address, A STAMP! Usually one of which I don't have and can't find the time to get, or am just to lazy to get it. Maybe I'll get ahead of the game and keep sending it off as my first resolution of the new year :D

4. ( I save the best for last) Follow a healthy diet with the help of weightwatchers and exercise 30 minutes 5 times a week. Mark: C

I thought about my resolutions way back in November so that I would be prepared for the New Year with a positive frame of mind. That was well before the stick turned pink and I was praying to the porcelain gods every day. While I have been sticking to a healthy diet, weightwatchers had to be put on hold because I can't follow it anyway while I'm pregnant and I couldn't exercise for the first three months of the year because I was totally exhausted from all the baby growing stuff and totally busy running to the bathroom to hurl all the healthy food I was eating. Well, hey there, we go, I was running. Exercise complete :D I'm happy to say that once the sickness ended, I did start walking everyday for at least 30 minutes, and am now up to a 30 minute DVD as well as walking 30 minutes, but it is hardly a workout as I can only go as fast as this baby will let me. I'm hoping that these habits will continue after the baby is born...

5. See more of my friends. Mark: D

Hard to do this when your bedtime typically falls before 9pm. (I'm blaming a lot of my inability to fulfull my resolutions on someone who hasn't even graced us with their presence. Not good. ) Also, people work, and I don't so that leaves us working on seperate schedules. Such is life. I do make it a goal to talk to my best friend on gmail chat at least once a week so I don't totally lose touch with her. That is going very well!

6. Read more. Mark: A

If this includes chic lit and Hello Magazine, I'm rockin'!!!! If not, well, I make the resolution so I get to pick the material. Deal with it.

So overall, not the greatest of achievements, but not the worst either. At least I'm still working on some of them (albeit, half of them I couldn't remember), and am leaving lots of room for improvement. After all, it is best not to be perfect in everything, or else you will have nothing to strive towards. I'm aiming low so that I don't have to reach too high :D I should have made one of them to get pregnant. That one I would have aced, lol.

So.... How'd you do with your resolutions?

Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Wednesday Rewind

I was recently going through my computer, cleaning stuff out that I didn't need anymore and backing up those oh so precious pictures of Alexander when I came across a "lost" file of pictures. I must have stuck it in the wrong category and didn't notice as I don't remember ever seeing these pictures of Alexander before. It seems like so long ago that he was this small!

The first two are from mid February, so he would have been about 6 weeks old:
Sleeping on Daddy while he watches TV. I totally forgot they used to sit like this, lol.

Pulling a Travolta pose from Saturday Night Live, while sleeping. Such a talented boy at such a young age, LOL.

These are from early April.


Looks like a face plant, but he must have been tired because he is rubbing the blanket under his nose, something he still does when he is tired.

I haven't looked at his baby pictures in such a long time! It makes me super excited about the new baby coming, just to see what it looks like and its personality. We were so blessed to have had Alexander, who was a super laid back and happy baby. Let's hope we can be blessed twice :D

Thanks for looking!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Busy Busy Weekend

While Canada Day landed on a Wednesday this year, we still got our long weekend in with Peter taking Friday off. He worked late all week so that we could have a long weekend together. Gotta love him for it :)
So anywho, we spent the weekend up at the park on our little piece of dilapidated paradise. Peter set up our trailer so we'd have somewhere to stay, and started tearing out the insides of the bunkie. We were so happy to see that the wood the bunkie is made of is in perfect condition. And when I mean perfect, I mean it looks like it just came off the shelf of home depot. We were very excited because we thought we'd have to replace most of the wood frame just to make it livable. Other than the floor, which is in good condition as well but the boards have shrunk so you can see the ground below, we won't need to replace any wood. And even the floor we are just going to slap some plywood down and stick some cheap flooring over top.

We are super excited about getting some electricity as well. The inspector was there on Friday morning and we should be getting the report in the mail some time this week or early next week. Still no washroom (or water for that matter), but my parents property has two, so for now I'll just waddle my huge pregnant body down the road to use theirs. It's good exercise... although a bit annoying.

Friday night was great. Alexander was pooped from running around like a bad man all day and dropped off to sleep at 7pm. Peter and I just chilled and talked about our plans for the property, and then settled in and watched Mama Mia and some HGTV until around 12am. A very late night for me, lol.

Saturday Peter helped my Dad build a deck, which took pretty much all day, and they still aren't finished. The day was great for working outside as it was cool with a mix of sun and cloud. I thought Alexander would get underfoot the whole time but they set him up with some wood and various tools and he happily played off to the side. It helped that he wasn't too crazy about the sound of the saw, kept him a safe distance from all the main work. We had a great meal with my parents and then headed home. It was such a great weekend :)

Well, here are some pictures of our property and our weekend. I hope you enjoy!


Our dog Abbey. Not the nature lover at all, spent most of the time sitting in the van, lol.

Playing in our trailer, which he calls his club house :)

The property

The bunkie. It is about 12 by 10 feet.

The shed/outhouse. Yes, the people before us created a multipurpose 4X6 room, combining shovels with sh*t. Totally grosses me out. I've not been in it, nor will I ever go in it. The nice thing is they hadn't used the property for about 8 years so the poop hole will be easy to clean and fill. It's just gross. Needless to say, its going.\

Alexander running around like a mad man:

A few years ago this would have been the PERFECT Christmas tree. It is way too big now, but it gave me the idea to plant and harvest our own trees. We are going to plant a bunch of them and then in a few years use them as Christmas trees. We just get small ones anyway so it shouldn't take too long before we can use them.

The view from the back of our property. It backs on to a farm and sometimes, if we are really lucky, the cows are in the field grazing. Alexander is totally fixated on the cows, and so am I.

Our wild strawberries. The property is covered in them. They are the sweetest and smallest strawberries I have ever had, and they are sooooooo yummy :) (We made sure they weren't poisonous before we ate them).

Just some random cuteness:

Thanks for looking!

Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Oh.. The rain in Spain stays mainly on the plain!

Or in Toronto as the case may be this week. ARG! It is only Tuesday, it has been raining since Sunday and we are already going stir crazy. Alexander and I are typically outside all morning until lunch, and then again after dinner until around 30 minutes before bed. We stay inside for the heat of the afternoon because both of us get hot, cranky and irritable when out in the heat. It isn't pretty, lol.

Alexander has so much energy, and we only have so much space to run around inside. I'm all hockey'd, soccer'd and football'd out! And while the weather has cooled down quite a bit, I'm still feeling a bit warm so I don't want to bake anything for fear of making my house too hot. We do arts and crafts in the afternoons, but even that he is having problems concentrating on without his run outside in the mornings.

I hope this isn't going to be an issue once he starts school...

One funny thing that came out if it is Alexander is so excited when it hails because he thinks it is snow and thinks we can go out and shovel it, lol. You should have seen his eyes light up when he saw those white balls of ice on the ground.

Try explaining hail to a toddler.

Not easy :P

Monday, June 29, 2009

It's been a while... again

I have come to the conclusion that even with the best of intentions and scheduling and planning, I cannot commit to a blog full time, lol. I had the best of intentions of writing here twice a week about my homesteading experiences, but frankly, homesteading isn't something done quickly, and leaves me without much time to blog. I love that it takes time to make my home, but I think I need to switch gears.

Up until now I've been focusing on making my blog about something specific. My views on society, or homesteading, or my life in general. I have learned that the only way to actually write here is to make it about everything, lol. So from this entry on you'll see things from all aspects of my life, pictures, stories, frustrations, laughs, everything that fills my life will fill this blog. I tend to throw myself in to things 289%, and have all the best intensions in the world, until I figure out that I don't have the time to do that anymore, not with a toddler, a home and a baby on the way to contend with.

After all, I'm not just a homesteader, or a social analyst or a early childhood teacher. I'm a mom and a wife before all of these things and that is what drives my life. My kids. My family.

So... The update.

Things are going very well. My pregnancy is flying by, too quickly. Alexander is growing up at the same rate and it is just making my head spin! We've basically been spending our weekends up north, where he just runs a-muck, loving the freedom of it all.

Speaking of up north, we ended up buying land. Not on the water, not even close to water. Heck, there isn't even a well on our property yet, so no washroom. And no electricity either. Good lord, this is depressing me, lol. Basically, we could afford the land and not much after that so everything else is coming in stages. I have pictures of our money pit I'll upload and post soon. I love it so much though, and my parents are just a quick minute walk down the street so we are currently using their facilities (well, really we use their everything, lol, the fridge, the washroom, the shower... their food, LOL).

My garden in the city is just plugging away. The tomato plants are already so big, and the cucumbers have just started to really take off now that the nights are warmer. I've already harvested two radish harvests of about 20 radishes each, and have another harvest sprouting as we speak. My container veggies are thriving and we have fresh herbs and mini veggies from our garden each day. The only thing that is not going well are my peppers, and I'm honestly thinking of plucking them out and planting a harvest of fall peas in their place. Right now they aren't growing very tall and they are just taking up space. I told them yesterday that if something radical doesn't happen within the next week, they are out of here (yes, I talk to my plants. It helps them to grow, lol)

I'm most impressed with my flowers though. I've never been much of a gardener, but my mom gave me the task of planting flowers in containers and in our front bed and everything has really grown nicely. I prune and deadhead obsessively and my work is rewarded with a garden full of tall blooms and thriving greens. I'm a happy camper. And so is my mom because she hasn't had to do a thing in her garden this year!

Well, that is me in a nutshell. Alexander and I spend so much time outside these days we are barely in the house. I have been slacking big time on the picture taking. I really need to get back on top of that. I'm sure once the baby is here I'll be going camera crazy again, but I really want to get these last few months of us as a family of three on camera. After all, we'll never be this size again!


Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Eat Wild

We are meat eaters. We don't eat a lot of meat, but we do have either chicken, pork or beef once a week each, leaving the other days for either leftovers or vegetarian meals. For those of you that are sensitive to the topic of someone shopping for meats, you might want to skip this entry.

Lately, all the news on the effects of the antibiotics and growth hormones used on animals to make them bigger for butchering has me worried and looking for alternatives. Organic meat at the stores around here is crazy expensive and totally out of our reach, so I went on a search to buy whole sale from a local farmer or butcher who uses locally raised animals. As always, following my motto, better to buy local if I can't buy locally organic.

While on a search to find where I could buy wholesale meats from a local farmer I found this great website Eat Wild has a directory of farmers that raise their animals the old fashioned way, pasture fed. These farmers do not treat their animals with hormones or put growth additives in their food. The animals are much healthier and rarely need to be treated with antibiotics or other drugs to cure ailments. Over all, very healthy animals, that taste better and are leaner then their "feedlot" companions. I couldn't have been happier! I found farmers in my province that sell wholesale and keep pasture fed, hormone free animals.

Growing up, my parents bought all our beef and pork from a butcher out in Kitchener/Waterloo. This butcher used meat from his local farmers, most, if not all, practiced traditional farming techniques. We would go early one Saturday morning in the fall and package our meat while it was being cut. My mom loved the fact that she could very easily get her meat cut to her liking, and package it in ways the were convienent for cooking. After all our meat was packaged we'd head over to the farmers market to get two huge bags of yukon gold potatoes to last us the year and some fresh buns and cold cuts for lunch. I can still smell the fresh salami and bread when I think about it.

My husband and I have recently started buying some of our meats in large quantities, not wholesale but still cheaper, and from a butcher that gets his meats from a local farmer. Our next step is to find a farm off this website that meets our needs.

You can do the same for cold cuts and sandwich meats as well. Find a local butcher (not the one in your grocery store, unless you shop at a store that sells organic home grown sandwich meats. If you aren't sure ask) and ask them where they get their meats from. Most are very willing to give up the information because most do buy from local farmers.

So where do you start? I just did a google search "buy meat locally" and came up with a bunch of great websites. Here are a few of them, for both Canada and the US.

Food TV - great article on the movement toward local and organic meats, with links on the bottom of the page for specific provinces. Canadian information only.

Sustainable Table Great site that explains a lot about sustainable eating and local buying. Links to US only markets and farmers, but has a ton of information that is good for everyone.

Eat Well Guide Good for Canada and the US, this allows you to search for restaurants, farms, markets and more that provide local, sustainable and or organic foods. The search consists of province/state, distance, postal code/zip code and or key word.

Just a reminder, buying locally pasture fed meat is going to cost you a bit more because the farmers put more time and energy in to their farming in order to give you a healthier option of food, but the quality and taste will make up for the difference. Ways to get around the cost is to find a farmer that does orders custom to your needs, or share a side of meat with friends who are also conscious of what they are eating. Either way it is still cheaper then buying the organic meat in a grocery store because you cut out the middle man.

I really hope this information helps some of you to find a farmer that is near you and can cater to your needs. When we support our farmers we support the local economy and the environment at the same time. And after all, while the world isn't as small as it used to be, isn't it worth helping the people in our immediate area to help keep life sustainable? I think it is.

Friday, May 1, 2009

Going Plastic Free for Seven Days

A few weeks ago I read in article in The Toronto Star about one writers challenge to go plastic free for seven days. It was a very well written article about her life as a working mom and wife attempting to go without plastic for seven days, including plastic wrap on food items, attempting to convince her son to give up his plastic toys, and realizing her toothbrush and car had plastic components as well. She even found that organic food was often wrapped in plastic.

During her week she did find some great alternatives, such as lunch boxes and cloth produce bags at, a GREAT store that offers eco-friendly clothing and accessories for the family. Check it out for some great products to help you live more eco-friendly. She mentions a toy store that sells safe, educational and environmentally conscious toys. You can check out the store website at The Toy Space.

While over all it was a great article, I did have some issues with how it presented the "cause" so to speak.

To totally go off plastic is a very very hard thing to do, as the writer points out. Plastic is such a part of our day to day lives that it is pretty much impossible to not run in to it eventually. Attempting to convince a four year old that his plastic toys are bad for the environment and that he should give them away is something that is way beyond the scope of a four year olds understanding. Choosing to use a styrofoam cup over a plastic water bottle while at a cafe has its own consequences. Going to specialty stores for organic foods and toys that are very expensive is not in the realm of the typical person's budget (nor that of the writers, as she bluntly points out while looking at the nice organic milk in the glass bottle).

This type of article and all its frenzied veiws of attempting to live without plastic paints a picture that would totally discourage most people from even trying to make a difference, and that is where my issues land. There are so many other things, better things, that the writer could do to help the environment and in turn avoid excess use of plastic.

The first very inexpensive thing you can do is to stop putting produce in plastic bags. If you have the extra money, Grassroots has great weightless mesh bags that are reusable and cost only $1.50 for 10 bags. Much less than cotton bags, they don't need to be washed and are extreamly strong and durable (although I do want to point out that the great bags at are made from organic cotton and are sweatshop free. If you have the extra cash they are a great investment. Grassroots doesn't comment on where their bags are made).

Another way to help reduce plastic, bring your own waterbottle. And any reusable water bottle will do. While the stainless steel ones are best, a good old fashioned rubbermaid one works really well too, and they have some with sippy spouts for the younger kids. While it is still a plastic item, you are continually reusing it instead of buying a new bottle each time, cutting down on the use of plastic and emissions caused by bottled water.

Where food type is concerned, I say buy local instead of organic.

My friend recently bought an organic sweet pepper, not realizing until she got home that the pepper came all the way from Iran! Really isn't much point to that, now is there.

Buy buying locally, you are not only contributing to the local economy, you are cutting emisions and helping local farmers to keep afloat. Buying locally has its own challenges though, especially for those of us living in a province/state with four seasons. The winter months can get a little tricky because of the lack of produce being grown.

One thing I always look at is the price sign at the grocery store, or the stickers on the fruits and veggies. They'll tell you where it is from and give you the option of picking the fruit or veggie that has travelled the shortest distance. For instance, if there are two types of tomatoes out, and one is grown in Ontario, I'll get those, even if there is a price difference. First off, they taste better. Much better. And secondly, the cost at the check out is usually only a few cents difference because you don't need as many to get the good taste in your food. Some foods that are grown in a "Hot House" or greenhouse, which helps us get them fresh all year round. Tomatoes and cucumbers fall under that catagory. You can check out more produce availability on your provincial produce farmers website. For Ontario it is Foodland Ontario.

Another great way to buy locally is through farmers or farmers markets. There are so many different alternatives to buying from farmers that it deserves its own page. You can read more about that on my next blog entry (link will be placed here once it is written).

What is really great about the article is the writer does point out that she has become much more mindful of her shopping and eating habits:

"Having to think so much about plastic has made me more mindful of what I buy and eat. Milk is a precious resource when it's $3.69 a litre.

I realize that I shop like a robot in big grocery stores, mindlessly pushing a giant cart down giant aisles. I buy too much and schlep it all home in a dozen plastic bags."

She later points out that her son asks if certain things are plastic, and obvioulsy she has made an impact on his thinking as well.

I think that is the best thing we can do.

Do things in our lives mindfully and with purpose instead of running a muck not stopping to think about the long term consequences on our health and the earth.

Teach each other that there are better alternatives and attempt to work those alternatives in to our lives.

And maybe grow a tomato or two :)

Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Happy Earth Day!!!

Happy Earth Day everyone!

I have made my Earth Day resolution, have you?

Mine was to buy these bags from Grassroots

They are re-usable fruit and veggie bags for grocery shopping, so you don't have to use plastic all the time. I'm very excited to get them, although I'll not be able to get down to the store until tomorrow (on the subway no less!).

Tonight we are also going to have a dinner on the BBQ with candle light and no tv.

I spent most of the afternoon planning out my garden and which vegetables were going where, and how many containers I need to find.

Mini me is just waking up so this is going to be a short post.

Happy Earth Day again!

Monday, April 20, 2009

Bread, butter and pest control

Well, I did it. I made my own butter. I did cheat a bit though. I used the Magic Bullet. Not exactly the self-sufficient homestead way to do it, but I needed to know what it would look like. I currently have a jar of cream sitting out over night so I can shake it up tomorrow, the non-electrical way.

I was surprised how excited I felt when I made the butter. Even though I only made a small amount, it really felt good to make something of my own, with organic cream that came from a local Ontario farm. And because we don't use butter all that much, it is something that I can keep on doing without it getting over whelming. I've been experimenting with different types of cream to see which one works best. Once I find out which one produces the best butter, I'll post how I did it. My next attempts will be with whole milk (milk that hasn't been homogenized) and a high fat cream then I started out with. I'm excited to see which one works best.

My next project this weekend was to make bread. I had made bread in my teen years quite often so I felt pretty safe taking this step. While we eat almost exclusively whole grain breads, I made a white bread because it was what I knew, and because I wanted to get back in the swing of kneeding without having to worry about the actual recipe, since I had followed it before. The bread turned out great, and it wasn't as time consuming as I remember it. I was able to make the actual dough in about 20 minutes, and then it is all about it sitting around to rise, so I did other things. Definitely something that I can continue to do with a toddler and a baby on the way.

My pride and joy for the weekend, after Husband and Mini Me attacked it for dinner:

Feels so good to feel your family quality food :D

Next thing on the agenda for this weekend was the vegetable garden, which used to be a flower garden. The entire thing is only three feet by eleven feet, but we will be transplanting the roses and tulips to take over that part of the garden as well. That will make it 20 feet long.

Unfortunately, the whole bed is totally over grown with Star of Bethlehem bulbs and sprouts. And most of the bulbs are only about 3-4mm wide. And yes, they look like little sperm. Millions and millions of little sperm. In my soon to be vegetable garden. Just lovely.
If I'm lucky, which only happened twice in two hours, I find clumps of them together, but it is pretty rare. They also mulitply like rabbits, so I know that I'm going to be pulling these out of the garden for years to come. I just hope it doesn't affect the veggies any. I guess we shall see.

One more picture of my buddies, the worms. I saw tons of them, which made me so happy! Here is one that was crawling back in to the dark after I disturbed it while turning up some of the blasted bulbs.

Wednesday, April 15, 2009

I've been on another planet

I have totally neglected my blog, but for good reason.

Reason #1
Morning sickness. My baby fever ended up turning in to a pregnancy and from January until the middle of March I was so sick and exhausted that I couldn't even get two sentences together. But I'm so happy that I'm pregnant and everything is going well, so I an now focus on things other than keeping my breakfast down.

Reason #2
A need to find a simpler life. A lot of my posts before were about how I wish we lived in a world that would just slow down and really live and experience life. I was so focused on what was going on around me in society, that I started to feel overwhelmed. I took a step back and realized that just because I'm a member of this society, doesn't mean I need to take part in the craziness. I realized that the way to a more peaceful and simple life was by making changes to my own life, not by waiting for a whole society to change.

I have been spending many an hour pouring over books and websites about a trend called "homesteading". Homesteading involves really getting back to basics and living a more self sufficient and sustainable life. While I am by no means planning on moving to the country to do this, I am making steps in my deep in the city dwelling to live a life where the world doesn't stop if the lights go out or the supermarket is closed.
Here is the Wiki definition if you are interested:

My first step is my vegetable garden. I have become totally enthralled in anything edible that I can grow in my garden, lol. I soak up every bit of information I can find about vegetables and herbs and am basically taking the hope for the best expect the worst stand point. I have no clue what type of soil I have, or if I already have vegetable crop killing insect infestation that is the result of previous planting of flowers or vegetables. All I have is a shovel, a few containers, some good quality soil, and lots of sun. Lets hope that is the equation for a good vegetable garden.

I'm not a trendy person by any means. But this is a trend that I am very excited to experience as a way to give my children a sense of relationship with the land, the knowledge that food doesn't just magically end up at the grocery store, and to experience the stilling of the mind while digging out weeds or a crop.

I plan to do this one step at a time, enjoying the experience, celebrating the triumps and learning from the downfalls. After all, isn't that how our ancestors lived?