So I took the plunge in making violet syrup today. Yesterday we spent two hours picking the violets. I put my neck out somehow earlier yesterday morning... so the violet picking was quite the feat!
The colour of the infusion was this gorgeous brilliant purple colour. The recipe that I used called for honey. When it came to a boil it turned brown... too bad. Since I knew that you can use violets as a PH tester, I decided to add a bit of lemon juice to see if that would pink up the colour a bit. It did... but now it is reddish brown. I am a little disappointed because I really pictured a vibrant purple syrup to use through winter next year. That is what happens when you have expectations I suppose! Oh well... I have some other violet tricks up my sleeve to try in the next couple of weeks, so I may manage to capture that lovely violet essence yet!
These lanterns are all made out of cloth. It is the first year that the festival has been completely outdoors. Usually it is indoors for the actual lanterns. There have typically been a lot more lanterns and the festival runs for 3 days or so. This year was only one and quite small. I think that our teeny town is having insurance issues because so many events have been cancelled or really scaled back.
A lantern tree with hundreds of lanterns done by children.
A huge rattan lantern on a burner .
Ok... it was really tricky to get a pic of these. They released about two dozen lanterns into the sky. It was so pretty. A little nerve wracking because it was really windy... the firefighters only had to put out one fire!... but that just made it exciting!
It was a beautiful night with a very very cold wind. The kids did really well in the crowd with only oldest growing increasingly jumpy and flappy and maniacally giggly as the night went on. Youngest one deals with it all by wrapping in a blanket all the way over his head and snuggling up in a parents arms. It was a late night for them!
Busy day today! We went to a Taiwanese lantern festival tonight.... I'll try to upload some piccies in the morning! Went for a little outing into the bush with my oldest before dinner tonight and this is what we brought home...
Nettles for supper and wild violets which are in the process of becoming a special syrup right now.
So we recieved the first exciting package in the mail today! We used a teeny portion of our school funding to purchase a praying mantis egg sack. The box was carefully carried the entire 2 km home... and only dropped twice. Luckily it seemed to be well packaged. Now it is in it's new safe home in a terrerium on our kitchen table. Very very exciting!
Littlest one is up another TWO pounds this morning! This totals 4 pounds in the last three months. The last couple of pounds have gone on in the last three weeks or so. There was a lull there in the middle when we were all sick and I even think that he had lost a bit of weight. Anyhow, that is almost a whole years worth of growth in the past 3 months! I had been so worried when we cut out dairy, that he would lose weight and not thrive... looks like we found the culprit. I was a little bit worried about a month ago because it looked like he was regressing and losing the new skills that I had seen at the beginning. He was moody and angry a lot again and retreating into himself a lot more. Over the past week or so I am seeing the improvements again. He even played with the one little boy that he couldnt even be on the same block as before. If there was anyone that could throw him into an instant meltdown it was this sweet little guy with no personal boundary sense! My guy would see him coming from blocks away and freak out. Last week we saw that he was in the teeny little store that we were going into. I immediately said that we would just hit the store on the way back insted. Little guy said " No ... I think I can handle it!" . My jaw almost hit the floor. He DID handle it, and then they played for a minute out front of the store together.So shocking. And awesome! So he has gone from being completely off the growth chart to the 25th percentile in only three months( and has finally hit the milestone where we can get a booster seat for the car). He has gained 2 or three years of social skills in the same amount of time. My other son showed this drastic of an improvement when we cut out gluten 4 years ago. Now hubby wants to cut dairy for him as well and see if some of the lingering behaviors start to improve as well.
Really incredible. The sensitivities definitely are genetic somehow and cause neurological symptoms. Looks like autism... but autism doesnt just go away. We are by no means " cured", but we are able to tolerate life and navigate the world sooooo much better now. I think that they are going to find a " new celiac" type of genetic issue with gluten and casien. I have been pointed towards metabolic/ mito disorders but just am not finding a match... even though my gut says that something like this is going on.
We spent the entire weekend in the garden!! I am completely exhausted , but in that tingly well exercised body kind of way. We doubled our garden. That entailed a ton of breaking up the field grass , so was a lot of work. We hauled it all back into the forest. We moved our compost and turned the finished stuff back into the garden, the unfinished to continue its process in its new location. We repaired the fence in the multiple spots where the bear tore it apart last year. We made a gate in the back fence... cause the neighbours are moving and we don't want to inconvenience any new ones by trouping through their yard multiple times of day. Besides, it will make it a lot easier to get the bikes in and out into the trails this way. We moved the old strawberry bed into the newly expanded garden. I wanted to make everything more central so that the watering isn't such a chore. In the past everything has been spread out all over the yard making watering a little more time consuming. If we have trouble with the water source like we did last year it will help to have everything in one spot so that no water is wasted while hand watering. We raked the neighbours yard to take advantage of the leaves for mulch. I harvested a large bucket of spring dandelion root and have them soaking, ready to chop and lay out on screens to dry. I expanded my herb garden by building another raised bed beside the old one, enriching the soil and moving some of my older herbs to the new garden. It made it much easier to get the grass bits out . Now I have the space to weed out the old one properly and get it ready for more plants. On top of this we grocery shopped, picked up canning jars at the thrift store... and I made three spring, light toques. One left to make tonight! My neighbour came back from Egypt and brought the boys back some Egyptian currency, some sand ( I think that might be illegal... but the boys were stoked and looked at it under the microscope)and some papyrus and bookmarks with hieroglyphics so that the boys could make codes. I don't make them plan schooly things with their supplies, but painting hieroglyphics was the first thing that they wanted to do on it. They were pretty freakin excited. So I am super duper tired and ready to crash out... knew I hadn't updated for a while. Feeling soooooo happy to have a bit of spring. I have to say, after a long spring day and a glass of wine we tore all of the plastic off of the windows last night. It lets so much more light into the house and a little bit of flow. It is always such a liberating sensation! So much more hope this time of the year! I will be sure to post this week.... we have some pretty sweet things coming in the mail during the workweek that I am excited to share!
We FINALLY got the owed pay in its entirement placed in our hands yesterday. I don't think that we have ever been so happy to get a paycheque before! We had huge smiles on our faces all the way into town to the grocery store! We did the classic " go shopping when you are really hungry" grocery shop... lol. I know a few people were checking in ( thanks!) so I wanted to give a quick update. We are fed and happy! Now maybe the tone of my posts can take a more positive tone!
Still no good news. My hubby called and told me that there is no guarantee that he will be paid this week at all. So that totals up to 2 grand that we are owed. I called him back suggest being laid off so that we are at least guaranteed some money for rent if they lay us off retroactively to the point where they couldn't pay us anymore. The only other option is putting a lein on the business owners. We have a car payment coming out on the weekend and will have to find some sort of loan so that we don't default. We really shouldn't be put in this situation... it is the business owners responsibility to find the money somehow. They should get a loan. My hubby feels badly because they are all in the same situation. I don't feel the same way. They are business owners and should know to keep a buffer for payroll or at least have proper insurance so that thier employees arent put into this situation. They put THEMSELVES in the situation if they don't have enough for thier own groceries. It was thier choice if they haven't made proper business decisions and risked that for themselves. They don't have hungry families at home that this is impacting. I am pissed. There is NO OPTION for them at this point. We NEED to get paid by Friday. My brother just got laid off from one of his jobs and is struggling himself. He has suggested that he buy some meat and bring it over and I will cook up so we can have something yummy. It is nice to be able to band together anyhow.
So cute. The camera wasn't working well for some reason. I didn't want to get the flash in everyones faces through the whole show.
No pay again today. I think that today was my cuttoff for major stressing out. I all of the sudden have huge tension pain all up my back and neck and a big ol headache with it. The kids aren't looking so hot either. Not really sure how to fix it all either....
It looks like hives... or mystery bumps of some sort. Thank goodness! I really think that that would have put me right over the edge! Scary to imagine having to deal with a potentially very sick hubby at this point. We had gone to the doctor a couple of years back to see if we could get my hubbys immunity tested for the pox ( I know that you can have your titres checked in the States) but they don't offer the test. My hubbys brother had had the chicken pox when they were young but my MIL said that hubby never got them in his childhood. They offered him the vaccine for two doses at 80 bucks each, but he didn't want to get it if he was potentially immune. I have some homeopathics put aside for him just in case, and good access to a herbalist in an emergency so that we could at least keep him comfortable... just didn't really want to deal with that right now. It feels like I have already been playing nurse all winter already. It was an odd day outside today. Sunny, and snowy all at once. We got out there a bit, cleaned the house really well today and even got the bikes and skateboards out for a bit outside. I did some cupboard organising and some creative cooking! I found some beef bones in the bottom of the freezer and a small bag of freezer burnt strawberries. I roasted some bones and put on a stock for tomorrow. Not sure what I will make but I made a really nice soup a couple of weeks ago with homemade curry and chickpeas seasoned with homemade chutney. The kids don't like it but they will have to just deal with it I suppose! I took some dried pears that I had tucked away, simmered them and took off the peels , threw in some dried apples and the freezer burnt strawberries and made some strawberry applesauce something. It smells yummy! I found a bag of millet, a small amount of quinoa and a package of gluten free hot cereal mix that the kids don't like. I spent a little over an hour and ground it all up in the coffee grinder. Even though I can't eat the grains, at least the boys will have some flour to make bread over the next couple of days. I think that I made about 3 or 4 pounds of flour, so that will make for some good bread with the soup! So it was busy today but I managed to make the strange random bits of food into something edible! Thank goodness for my hours and hour of food prep and drying in the growing season! I am just finishing the last of the nettles from last year just as the new ones are about to come up again! This year I plan to be even more organised ( I even have my special trees in the orchard which I know make the best apple rings, best tart plums, best apple butter etc etc!) and at least double the garden. I couldn't grow much of anything last year because the water reservoir was vandalised in our community and we weren't able to water the garden. Therefore I wasn't able to put anything at all away. Times like this really make me remember how important it is for us to have a good pantry and stock of foodstuffs from harvest time. How much it helps to have those things when you only have beans and rice. We might go into town tomorrow, but would rather not use the gas. We have to go into town on Monday for work and circus class and it would probable be more cost effective to save the gas for then. I have a 25 dollar gift certificate ( one of those ones that you receive if you spend a certain amount of money on a grocery shop) so we should be able to get eggs, water( our pipes are 80-100 years old and the water makes us sick to drink so we refill our big jugs at the store), rice milk , dried beans, garlic and onions. That is about what we can get for 25 bucks these days. Hopefully we will get paid on Monday sometime because we are out of EVERYTHING! I really need things like laundry soap and dish detergent. My oldest kiddo has his circus performance on Monday afternoon. I promise some photos... it should be so fun!
The bosses talked to the main contractor/ owner of the project and used the words " hungry, families, food bank," and he said that he would be back with the chequebook. They asked again today and he somehow has left on vacation for the weekend now. The other employees went to the food bank yesterday. They know that it is a lot harder for us to use the food bank because of the food issues. They don't usually have much of anything that is gluten/ casein free... besides, dry grains and legumes are the only things that I DO have. We are in need of some protein sources and something fresh.... fruit and veggies would be nice! I searched out in the bush for nettles today but only found two tiny little heads/ buds. It is calling for snow tomorrow so I don't think that I can hope for nettles as greens for at least another couple of weeks! I have some sort of cold/ flu bug and felt that I just needed a little something. I harvested some Douglas fir needles for tea ... it is soooooo delicious. Lemony, fresh and yummy like a Christmas tree!
My hubby just called me into the bathroom to check my littlest guy who has a huge cluster of spots on his lower torso. I am not sure what it is yet... I will have to wait to see if they develop a blister or not. My hubby hasn't had chicken pox. I want to crawl into a hole for a little while ok? lol
And it won't be anytime today. Hopefully they will come through tomorrow. One week late. I guess that it is a good thing that I paid all of the bills with the money we had before last payday, but it left us with no grocery money at all left over because we were expecting payday. I have stretched the last two week shop into a three week shop. We spent 50 bucks of our final tiny bit of money left on asthma meds on the weekend and had enough to buy water and eggs and onions. I have awesomely stretched out what we have in the pantry, but it is running super low. Maybe we have enough to get through the weekend before we run out completely. So here I am crossing my fingers that everything will just sort itself out. I was trying to search for labour rights and such to see where we stand or what our rights are or how to cover our butts here. Essentially , if the company can't pay out, my hubby took the gamble of continuing to work even though he wasn't paid ( because all of the sudden there are NO houses being built and a ton of tradespeople are out of work... he feels happy to be employed at all and reluctant to put himself in the position of losing the job) so as of tomorrow he will be owed for two pay periods ( payday again next week). If they can't pay, we are completely screwed. And it isn't even like we are unemployed! He is still out there working a normal 40 hour workweek! Enough bitching about it, but It worries me that a ton of people may see themselves in this situation. At least if you get laid off you can get the ball rolling for unemployment!
Ridiculously enough the boys have over a thousand dollars of learning investment money that I need to spend within the next 9 weeks we have left of school reporting. ( I have to show receipts and the purchases need to match their learning plans in some way, so it is not as if it is OUR money... just to clarify !) We have met most all of the age required ministry outcomes for the year and are trying to figure out where the funds are best spent. Our learning consultant has given the suggestion and go ahead to purchase a video camera for my oldest son as he has been into photography for a long time and has been spending a ton of his time making movies with the video camera function on his camera.
So there is something completely bizarre about purchasing a 300 dollar video camera for your kid when you don't have groceries in the cupboard!lol. Truly this is out of my hands, but since I am not a big consumer in the first place I have this weird sense of guilt! So great to have this funding and it really insures that the kids learning needs/ desires are met. We would never be able to provide them with such wonderful ( read excessive!) resources.
So if you see us at the food bank documenting our adventure on a brand new video camera... life is funny sometimes!