Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Today's Harvest...

...is very green. We had 3 onions, 4 zucchinis, 4 carrots, 6 beets and a gazillion english peas (and some lovely sweet peas for my table). Most of the zucchini was cut up and frozen and I sat and shelled most of those peas and froze them as well. Yay for preserving!

Monday, June 29, 2009

Be Safe!

I felt I needed to write this post after seeing so many cyclist putting themselves and others at risk. Today I saw a cyclist attempt to take on a bus when turning across an intersection and just the other week I almost got plowed down by a cyclist on the sidewalk. So this might be redundant for some people but I'm a stickler for safety.
1. Cyclist ride on the right side of the road. It is important that you ride with traffic. Bike lane or not, bikes are considered vehicles and vehicles all travel the same direction. Also, please keep to the side of the road and ride single-file, if you want cars to give you space on the road you need to give them space too.
2. Do not ride on the sidewalk. Sidewalks are for pedestrians and it is really hazardous to try to ride beside them. If you feel you can not safely ride on the road please dismount and walk your bike on the sidewalk.
3. All road rules apply. This includes obeying stop signs, traffic lights, yield signs, one-way streets, etc. The only way for the roads to remain safe is for everyone to follow the same rules.
4. Wear a helmet. It is so important (and the law) that you wear a helmet whenever you are on your bike. And please remember to do up the straps, it's only going to save your life if it is done up. If you aren't sure if your helmet is right for you, stop by the local bike shop and ask for a fitting.
5. Light up. You need to be seen on the road. Wear light colors (black won't do), reflective material and make sure you have rear and front lights.
6. Be aware. Lets face it, not all drivers know how to drive with cyclists. Have a mirror on your handle bars so you can see cars behind you, don't listen to music so you can hear approaching cars, make sure you signal and shoulder check, and anything else you can do to make sure you get home safe.
In general, the way to be a good cyclist is to use common sense and consider the safety of not only your self but of everyone else on the road (as we should do when we are driving). If you need a refresher in the art of be a safe cyclist visit http://www.bikesense.bc.ca/manual.htm but never give up the bike!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

I had a bad cold this weekend so me and the Kleenex box were inseparable.

Scrambled eggs for breakfast.

We decided to lay on the beach and be stuffed up rather than stay home.

See Sarah to play.

Friday, June 26, 2009

What a huge...


And look how many peas I have!

My peas are so huge that Jon had to prop them with a sort of fence.

My zucchini and pumpkin plants are huge too.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Today's Harvest

Today's harvest includes a lovely assortment of vegetables. We had beets, carrots and cauliflower (there were english peas too but they didn't make it inside). I'm loving this garden thing!

Summer Solstice 2009

Yesterday was the longest day of the year. It wasn't the nicest day, it was trying to rain all day and was a bit windy but we had a beautiful sunset. If you click on the picture to make it bigger you can see the little bit of rainbow in that sunset. Happy Summer everyone!


Check out this contest to win a sling.

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

Left-overs from my sewing project last night.

Flowers from my grandma.

Salsa, relish and a card for my dad.

Making focaccia bread.

Drying herbs.

Happy Fathers Day!

I'll admit, my dad and I don't always have the best relationship. I think it's because we are so much alike and we butt heads a lot. My dad has been a great father and is the one always pushing me to do great things. I love you Dad!
Happy Fathers Day, to all the dads out there!

Sewing Project: A-line Two Tone Skirt

I got a new sewing machine from my grandma a couple months ago but it's been taking me awhile to adjust. This is my first project on the new machine. I found the instructions on Craft Stylish. It is made from 2 old t-shirts. I finished it in one evening (although I may hem the bottom another night, I'm not really feeling the unfinished look). It isn't all that "pretty" but I needed something light to wear when the weather is hot.

Sorry for the terrible pictures but I'm not great at the clothing shots.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Today's Harvest

In case you can't see, today's harvest includes beets, lettuce, spinach, english peas, chard, field strawberries, chives and some herbs.
Here are some updated pics from the garden. My pole beans have way out grown their teepee and the extension Jon put up. They are doing great.

Nessled in those leaves is cauliflower. I have about 3 heads.

In there are some little brussel sprouts!

My peas are insane! They almost up to my shoulder. Can't wait until I can just stand out their and pig out on peas!
Zucchini flowers! I have 3 so I will get a least 1 zucchini, yay!

Pondering Chickens

We recently found out that our city by-laws allow us to have chickens! I was a little excited to say the least. One more step closer to my dream of being totally self-sufficient. Organic free-range eggs everyday then organic chicken meat (not that I could ever slaughter them, I think that will be a job for Jon). And fresh chicken manure for the garden, all the manure I want! It is surprisingly cheap to keep chickens too. Sounds too good to be true.
Yes maybe it is too good to be true. Once you have everything, keeping chickens is not all that expensive, but getting ready for chickens is quite expensive. We have an old dog "cage" that is a sort of chainlink pen that is tall enough to stand in, that was left by the old owners, that we were planning on using for the run. But the coop is quite the project. It needs to be big enought that they can run around inside, that we can go in and clean and get eggs but small enough that we can fit it in the back corner of the property. A challenge? Yes. Add to that the fact we have to stick to a budget. The more reading I do the more I feel like the coop needs to be bigger and better. It needs to be insulated so they don't freeze, the floor needs to be cement so it's easy to clean and they don't get sick and no animals can burrow into the coop, it needs windows for light and air, it needs electricity for a heat lamp if it gets too cold. And before you know it this coop is almost $2000 (and that's without food or even chickens).
Am I going way overboard? Does anyone know if I'm just being sucked in to spending more than I need to or is this really what every chicken coop needs? Am I leaving out costs? Any thoughts?
Then actually getting chickens this time of year is tough. Buckerfields is through with ordering chicks for the year (and I can't get any chicks until they can be sexed because we are not allowed males) and there are no hatcheries on Vancouver Island. I tried calling a couple people who just keep chickens for themselves to see if they could part with 2 or 3 but most said no. Maybe this all is more stress than it is worth. Pondering....

Sunday, June 14, 2009

The Colors Have Begun to Change

Painting is underway! Thanks in huge part to my mother's efforts. She comes and paints while we are at work. At first I didn't really like the color, it was too yellowish. But my Mom took it in and had it darkened and now I quite like it. I didn't think to take a "before" picture of the garage so the picture below is the best I could find. Plus you can kinda see the colors of the house as they currently are (however that hideous satellite dish has already been taken down, thank goodness). Soon the whole house will be the same green as the garage but with white trim. Not really looking forward to that painting.

Snapshot Sunday

Our salt rock lamp on top of a beautiful, hand painted dresser created by my aunt.

I used the remnants of last nights organic chicken to make my own chicken stock. It smells so good. I'm going to freeze most of it and use the rest to make soup for tomorrow.

My washboard is so handy. I don't know why people don't use these anymore. They are great for getting those handwash only clothes nice and clean. And beside it is the bug zapper from my grandma.

Our CD collection that sits above our desks. We've been adding to it lately.

Getting ready for the beach!

To play, go here.

Monday, June 8, 2009

First Real Harvest

We had to clear out some of our crops today. I've been kinda picking out what I need when I need it but tonight we needed to actually thin things out. We completely cleared out our radish crop. We had a bit of a pest problem that ate about half of what was left out there, so we just pulled it all.
I have more lettuce then I know what to do with. J and I are both taking salads for lunch tomorrow. We picked a whole bunch of it and gave the leftovers to Muffin. There is still a ton left out there so if anyone wants some let me know.
Then there is the spinach. I pick and pick and yet the crop looks like it hasn't been touched. I pulled a bunch tonight so it's thinning a little. However the bugs are getting to it so there might not be too much left in a week or so.
There are some herbs in there too. I'm trying to trim some of them back. My dill, cilantro and oregano have completely taken off, it's almost ridiculous. But hey, herbs are delicious in almost everything.

Recipe: Baked Pasta Casserole

This idea came to me because I've been trying to use up my spinach crop before it goes bad. This recipe was supposed to be a sorry excuse for a dinner but it turned out to be delicious and I'll be making it again soon.

You will need:
- 4 cups spiral pasta (I would choose whole wheat but I went with the organic white stuff)
- 3 cups chopped fresh spinach
- 1/4 chopped onion
- 1 clove fresh garlic, chopped
- 1 tsp grated lemon zest
- 1 chopped basil leaf
- salt and pepper to taste
- 1 1/2 cups of shredded mozzarella

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Cook paste in a pot of boiling water with salt and oil. In the meantime, chop the onion, spinach, basil and garlic. Grease the bottom of a casserole dish and mix together pasta, spinach, onion, garlic, basil, zest, salt and pepper. Top with mozzarella, then cover with foil and bake for 30 mins until the cheese is melted and bubbly.

Sunday, June 7, 2009

Snapshot Sunday

The oils I used to cook lunch.

Laundry to be washed and laundry to be put away.

The makings for a tart.

My sewing machine that I am still trying to figure out.

Cleaning the table for a dinner guest.

Friday, June 5, 2009

I am so enjoying...

Mama is..
It is a blog written mainly with comics that she does herself. Heather Cushman-Dowdee is the author and this particular series is based on her life with her 3 daughters (though from what I understand she has some other comics online too). I'm not even a mama yet and I love her! I giggle every time I visit. I think any mama, mama-to-be or female in general should give her comic a read (and hey, boys welcome too).

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Projects, so many Projects

The house in general is an on-going project. But here is a little summary of what is going on at our little house.
We are getting the exterior of the house ready to paint. It is currently an ugly robin's egg blue and white (but it's so dirty it looks a little grey) but come fall it will a calming shade of green with the same (freshened up) white trim.
We are continuing to landscape the front yard. We are expanding the middle garden and cutting out almost all of the trees that are currently growing against the house (they will be replaced with bulbs in the fall).
We are also re-doing our fences. The one in the backyard has been taken down because the posts were rotting. We have put in new posts (which are now secure since we've had the driveway re-paved) and will soon be putting up the panels. Yah, privacy!
We are also redoing the down-spouts and gutters on the garage. Of course that is after we have the roof on the garage redone.
Then the garage will also need to be painted. Then we are re-vamping our patio. We are putting in new fancy stairs and getting rid of the ugly blue "wall" (if you've been to my house you know what I'm talking about).
It is never-ending but maybe by this Christmas we might actually have the time to sit back and admire our work. But the summer for now is completely devoted to projects!

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Green Tips: Think Global, Act Local

Some of the biggest changes in the battle against global warming happen on a local scale. It is like a puzzle, realize what the big picture is, then work on the smaller pieces.

1. Use local businesses for the major of your needs. Some of the biggest contributors of carbon emissions are big corporations. Local businesses are more likely to be geared towards conservations (if only to minimize expenses). If you are wondering about their environmental policies, don't be afraid to ask.

2. If you are worried about global greenhouse gas levels, cut back at home. Drive less, turn down the heat, turn off the lights and anything else that draws power, avoid propane and charcoal, fly less, etc. And make an impact: plant a new tree every year.

3. Eat local. There are going to be less emissions associated with cooling and transporting, if you buy your food locally. Plus, it's fun to plan recipes based on what is seasonally available.

4. Petition your local government to set an example to other cities by taking a strong stance on environmental issues. Have them offer subsidized transit passes, have tight by-laws regarding pollution and excessive watering, ask them to protect wild areas and parks, etc.

5. Support local charities that take action in your area by either volunteering or offering financial support. It will not only improve your local environment, but you will feel proud when ever you pass by your work (it's kinda like your legacy).

In Victoria:
Markets to buy food local: Moss St Market, Sidney Market, Root Cellar Market, Red Barn Market
Local charities: Habitat Acquisition Trust, The Land Conservancy
Where to send petitions: CRD, your local MLA and mayor
Local businesses to support: (this one is endless but start with) Bicyclitis, Fiber Options, Rooster Bakery, ReBar, West Coast Seeds....

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Some Successes

My spinach has been wonderfully successful. I've added fresh spinach to almost every meal this week. My strawberries are doing awesome! The hanging basket has turned out to be a great idea. There are about 3 strawberries that look like they will be ready for eating this week. We have mason bees! I am so relieved to see bees. Apparently if we keep the tubes near the house they will keep coming back year after year!
I have been able to keep one of my basil plants for 1 week! I have a mini cauliflower head in one of my plants. It's a little yellow but it is growing really well. My russet potatoes that I sprouted myself are actually growing! I'm so proud that I got them to take. Finally, my lavender has flowers and they smell great! I'm hoping this is just the beginning of a string of successes.