Sunday, May 31, 2009

And more guests

Another weekend with family visiting. We drove up Island to an area that we hadn't been before and saw some beautiful falls and had some great hikes. Now we are wonderfully tuckered after a full day and full tummies( baked bread in the firepit tonight!) So nice! Having so much trouble with photo layout for some reason lately.... must iron out that bug!

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Fossil hunt

Instead of the island bike trip on the weekend we decided to have another down day in order to get better. We took a van ride about an hour up island to a beach... we were tipped off by some seasoned ( kids are now grown) home learners, that this was a great beach to look for fossils. Sure enough it was! We didn't dress properly because we didn't really know what to expect. Next time we will bring gumboots. 4 inch barnacles and sandals don't mix... or at least all of your focus goes towards stepping carefully.

We are all on the mend, but I had something odd happening. I have had this odd band of skin and nerve pain across my upper thigh and around my butt. The skin hurts to touch and gets stabby pains too. I went to the doc yesterday ( hadn't been in over two years!) and got poked at to be sure that nothing was pressing on the nerve from the reproductive area. Nothing was, so I walked away armed with a prescription for a heavy duty antiviral just in case I come up with shingles... It would make sense since I have been so run down. So it is day four of the nerve pain, but still no rash. Wait and see I suppose! I never thought that I may be the one to give my family the chicken pox!

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Sun is shining, weather is sweet yeah! Makes me want to move those dancing feet...

Gorgeous weather out... to bad that I have vomiting children! We managed an easy stroll by the river to look for fossils the other day, but really don't have a lot of energy. We are hoping to go on a bike trip to a local island tomorrow, but as it stands at bedtime tonight, I don't know if we can make it. We will just have to play it by ear. A day long biking trip just doesn't match up well with regular nebuliser treatments! It would suck to be stuck somewhere with sick kids, on a bike, with a ferry in between any possible way home. I hope that we can do a trip like this one day though... walking onto the ferry is super cheap. Bringing the bikes seems to be the way to go.

I got in the shop for a short while this evening and made this..

It is a nice simple hair fork made from recycled school gymnasium maple flooring! A friend had scored this at a local demolition place with gym lines painted on it and all. She did her home flooring with it and it looks lovely. I took a small bucket of end pieces home to rescue it furthar. The fork is super cute and slides in and holds like a dream. Sometimes simple is best!

Have to mention that I cooked dinner out on the campfire in the backyard tonight! Yippie! It worked so well. I am feeling good about having this as a cooking option when the power goes out in the winter time. Doubles for some good heat too.

Wednesday, May 20, 2009


I have been up to my elbows in mango juice for the past couple of days. Mangos are in season and on sale this time of the year... 6 bucks a case here. Pretty fabulous, as they can be as much as 2 bucks a piece in the off season... otherwise, off limits! I bought three cases and dried two of them yesterday. Today I sliced up the final case for some mango chutney.

As the years go by it feels as though we do more and more canning! In the months where we don't have to heat the house, the extra bit of money seems to go to canning supplies and garden odds and ends.( gas and provincial park parking go in there somewhere too!) Even though I put out the extra funds for cases of fruit, organic sugar( I react to conventional white sugar. Don't know why I don't react to organic cane sugar, but I don't!) and other ingredients, I am sure that it all comes out as being frugal in the end. And let me tell you, there is nothing like opening a jar of mango chutney when you are dirt poor mid winter to serve with a bean and rice minimal dish. Or serving your Christmas turkey with some salal and oregon grape jelly that you lovingly put together months earlier. My preserves have been wedding gifts, additions to care packages, hostess gifts, bartering tools, and shared with lucky neighbours over the past few years.( we usually don't have many exra funds on one income , so having something like this to use for gifts is so fantastic) People ask to pay for thier favourites... strawberry jam, caramel spice pear butter and dilly beans. My hubby covets his chutney and the oregon grape jelly. We make great use of the orchards in the forest behind our house, full of fruit that just falls to waste on the fround. Apples, pears, plums, cherries, berries all right out the back door. We don't buy many condiments anymore. Being gluten free makes us a little bit wary of conventional products. Home made preserves can be used to flavour plain yogurt, whip up a plum sauce, meat glazes, toast, salad dressings and the list goes on.

All you need to start can be found at a local thrift store usually. Water canners can be found for well under 10 dollars, and jars can be found for under 3 dollars for a box there too. The bonus of the jars from the thrift store is that there are unique shapes, sizes and patterns of glass. I find the new ones to be a bit bland! You can find a lot of great canning literature online now, and the library has some great preserving books. You will need brand new lids for the jars keep in mind. For under 20 dollars you can get started on your first batch of home made jam, jelly, chutney, sauce etc. Pretty wonderful.( all you will need past that point will be the ingredients themselves)I keep a pretty decent supply of jars on hand so that I am ready to can right away if I am presented with a surplus of some type.
Just thought I might share the joy and simplicity of home preserve canning( for the frugal too!) in hopes that maybe someone else may be inspired. Off to jar and process my batch as I finish this! Yum yum!

Monday, May 18, 2009

May day

Had a busy day today... parade, petting zoo, bike ride to the lake, fire and art in the backyard. A fine day to end the long weekend!

I came home the other day to find an odd package on the doorstep: a plastic bucket with a note in it. I read it as " I came to throw these paint filled ballons at you".... but it actually said" I came to your house to throw these paint filled balloons with you" . OK .... lol. I was wondering who I had wronged there for a second, a nd confused about why they would leave them for me.... to throw at myself?! Inside were a few dozen paint filled balloons left over from a close friends art class,( homelearners dream to have a freind who is an art teacher!) along with some pieces of cloth to splat them on. Fun stuff! It took a couple of days for the boys to work up to the activity. Since they can both be a little bit sensory avoidant they came up with the plan to sandwich the ballons in between the two pieces of cloth so that they wouldn't have to get too messy. Here are some pics...

This picture somehow sums up the boys all too well! One child who is over the top enthusiastic ( works with all emotions these days though... ) and the other ( check out the sweet get up! ... not sure what is up with the homeboy look) looking at the balloon, wondering if he can get out of this somehow and not able to imagine how he can possibly come out of this without getting messy. This totally makes me giggle to look at it.

Big brother handled most of the stomping in the end. Pretty cool project I must say!

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Road trip.

Took a day trip down island today to meet up with an old friend and her new girlfriend. It had been years since we saw each other, but feels the same! Took a nice short walk to some waterfalls and planned for a farm visit or two... youngest though came down with some hard core diarrhea and barfiness, so we had to cut the trip short and come home. Gorgeous day though, and the long weekend still isn't over! May Day parade and all that jazz tomorrow.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Freaking out!!!

Came home from the market day today to find.... our baby mantisis have hatched!!!!!! There are over 100!!! We thought maybe the sack was going to be a failure. Our house was chilly and we didn't spray it as much as we thought we should. But it actually happened!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

More wool!

Happy Mothers Day all!
I finished about 65 yards of plyed yarn on the drop spindle last week, my second try using it. It was great and turned out beautiful. I am having a hard time taking pictures, as the colours aren't coming out quite accurately. It was a bit tricky to spin any quantity using the spindle, especially since I don't have any equipment other than my hands and a little creativity. It worked out in the end!

The woman at the local wool shop has still offered me the use of her wheel in the store, but I haven't had the time to get in there... store hours aren't really conducive to me being kid free. Even though the kids love the wool shop, I am not sure that I could relax and focus much with them there. So I have secretly been lusting after a used spinning wheel, but with a laid off hubby, and not much ( if any!) dispensable income, I just lusted without attachment! The used wheels I have seen are going for well over 300 dollars. I just had faith that something would come my way if I was supposed to have one, at a cost I could afford and at the right time. We went for a forest/ beach walk today for a mothers day jaunt. I am still under the weather with very little energy. It feels like I work up a fever whenever I exert myself the teeniest bit. I was feeling pretty crappy, but requested a quick stop into my favourite thrift store on the way home. What do I see right the second I walk into the door? A spinning wheel!!!!!! Not priced or anything as it had just come in the door. The woman that runs the store gave it to me for 40 dollars!!! I went out of there with the biggest grin on my face.... and my hubby had that laughing look on his face, because I seem to have that kind of luck when it comes to thrift stores! We don't do gifts for many holidays other than the biggest ones... not really even birthdays. It is just too expensive to buy things just for the sake of buying things. It kind of felt like the universe gave me my mothers day gift! It is perfect and simple... but still has those nice lines that I appreciate. We oiled it up and tightened the belt and it looks wonderful. If I can get up enough energy, I will be using it this evening!

Saturday, May 9, 2009

Dandelion time!

Dandelions are in full bloom right now. With all of the rain they are just lush and happy! We made a wonderful batch of dandelion honey last week by plucking the petals and just stirring the right in. It makes these lovely little glowing slivers of gold all through the honey. So pretty on fresh bread. We also made a huge batch of dandelion syrup. I tried a new method I read about , and instead of painstakingly picking off the petals and discarding all of the green, I made it with the whole flower. I was afraid it would be bitter... but it wasn't at all! It is so incredibly delicious and thick and pretty. Sure beats buying maple syrup at 40 bucks a litre. Hubby just went out to mow the lawn and I ran out yelling with a pot in my hand... to save the dandelions. Surely I am living up to the crazy neighbour lady notorious reputation. Ready to put another couple of litres of syrup by anyhow!

Wednesday, May 6, 2009

Beaver fever

Down with a bit of a tummy bug for the past couple of days. It has been pretty rainy, so I guess it could be the good ol' spring run off tummy rot. Joy!

So in my nauseous stupor two nights ago, I made myself a drop spindle out of some bits I had in the shop. I have never spun before, but got the idea when admiring the beautiful 70 dollar hardwood drop spindles at the farmers market. I thought " I could do that!" ... so I did! I bought a small portion of fleece at the local wool shop yesterday. Walked down there in a sweat, trying to be fast andto minimise any contact as to not spread whatever sickness we have. Took my first try at spinning, or handling fleece for that matter! This is what I came out with!

Awesome success! Now I have the spinning bug! I need to make another spindle with a heavier whorl on it this time, but all in all I am very happy with this as a first attempt. The lady at the wool shop was surprised and offered me the use of her spinning wheel if I would like to try it in her shop. She doesn't spin at all but has a beautiful one on display. I am definitely going to take her up on the offer this weekend. What I would really love to do is to play with natural dyes. Especially since we are in the bush foraging anyhow, I would love to make use of some of the local dye and fiber possibilities.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Busy weekend!

Just have a brief moment of peace! We have had a very packed house of out of town visitors this weekend. Papas folks are up and my mom and niece came for a visit at the same time. For a 780 square foot house and two very sensory overstimulated kiddos... this can feel a little overwhelming! It has been nice though. Today we hit a couple of garage sales and a yearly rock and gem show. I only picked up a couple of small pieces to use for jewelry when I get back in the workshop. At the garage sales I picked up 2 boxes of jars and a decent pressure canner for under 20 bucks( oh yes... and an anvil to use when I am jewelry making too!) I really hadn't thought about the potential of a pressure canner past the thought that it could come in handy. Now though, I am super excited! I have a huge stock on the go right now and am planning to can a bunch tomorrow. I usually have two large plastic Tupperware type of containers that I store the stock in in the freezer. They are the only two containers I have and have thought of using glass in the freezer... but it is a small one and I would be happy to free up room in there anyhow!. I love the potential of canning it and not needing to wait for it to thaw as well as having it on hand for sick neighbours ( I am old fashioned that way... I have a thing for bone broths and feeding them to anyone who is sick... I swear that I am going to be the chunky grandma who constantly feeds everyone!). Making extra large batches of sauces and soups and canning them too. It is much more frugal to stretch a meal into something larger, so this excites me hugely! So it looks as if I will be experimenting with the pressure canner for the next few weeks so that I can get the hang of the routine before the harvest season even gets here. In the meantime... back to socialising with guests... and trying to help the kids stay sane!