Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Out with the Old

Wow, last day of 2008 already! Where does the time go?
We had a very quiet and enjoyable Christmas; just the four of us. We watched some Christmas movies and played lots of Scrabble over the holidays. It was very cold - down to the -30's (-22f) so we didn't get out much.

Christmas morning (I decided not to include the unflattering photos of me in pajamas)

On Boxing Day it snowed. And snowed and snowed and snowed some more. We did not go out to shovel - we played Scrabble instead and watched it float to earth. The next day Husband took out the tractor and blowed the snow off the driveway and I shovelled the walkways. That is when we realized we had gotten another 30cm (12 inches). I am very thankful that husband convinced me we needed to purchased the snowblower attachment for the tractor. He can get the driveway and way to the compost cleared in about half an hour! It certainly saves a lot of back breaking shovelling.

Once it warmed up a little we got the dog outside to run and play. Being a boxer he is not an outside/cold weather dog.

Kaiser and Husband walking in the woods where the snow is not deep.

Kaiser running(?) in the deep snow. It was over my knees in depth.

Nice photo of husband in his usual winter ensemble - toque, vest, and boots.

In yesterday's newspaper there was a story of a cougar attacking a dog very close to where we live. The cougar was destroyed the next day, luckily the dog survivied. Over the past few years the incident of cougar sighting has grown quite a bit around our city. I can't ever remember cougars being in this area before - they must be slowly moving in after the deer. With the kids and dog, we need to be more vigilant.

We accomplished a lot in 2008...

  • Finished the new house (still some siding, soffits and eavestroughing to put up)
  • Moved in
  • Began fencing
  • Renovated old house
  • Rented old house
  • Landscaping/levelling of yard around the house
  • Brought in sandy loam for the yard
  • Laid some sod in front of house
  • Cleared garden area for spring 2009
  • Set up green house
  • Did some container gardening
  • Did some canning
  • Son made honour roll first year of high school
  • Daughter has made a large amount of babysitting contacts/job
  • Made cheese for the first time
  • Tried to cook most things from scratch
  • Recycled most of our waste - I only take one small bag of garbage to the land fill a week
  • Poured the garage floor and have begun setting up shelving/storage areas in December (yeah! I have some closet space again)
Have a Happy New Year and all the best for 2009!

Tuesday, December 16, 2008

This and That

It has been bitterly cold the past few days... from -16 down to -28c (3 to -18f) with a wind chill of up to -39c (-38f). Of course on the most windy day I had to get gas for the car and by the time I was finished pumping I could barely feel my fingers. I can easily stand the cold, but such a biting wind is terrible!

I should also mention that the price of gas is continueing to go down! Yeah! This summer it was at it's highest $146.9 for a litre (approx $5.56 a gallon) and today it is 76.9 cents per litre ($2.91 a gallon). The crazy thing is that there is a gas refinery where I live and yet our gas is usually higher than other areas in the province.

On these cold days what should I receive in the mail???? The first seed catalogue for Spring 2009!!! Husband has been pouring over it already and has found grapes that will grow in our climate. He is SO excited! I haven't had a chance to thumb through it yet... but I will soon.
Yesterday I went into town to pick up the last few things for Christmas and even though the shops were not really full, I couldn't wait to get home. I seem to be becoming quite the homebody. Actually, my ears have been bothering me over the past few weeks and the noise and bustle in the shops was very grating on my hearing. I just wanted to get back to some peace and quiet.

I still have one gift to finish making and to do my grocery shopping before Friday. We will be making a quick trip before Christmas to see Husband's family from the 19th to the 23rd. I want to get as much of my groceries before the 24th as I'm sure the stores will be crazy on that day.

We put up the tree last night. The kids and Husband did a good job on decorating it. The tree stands 2.5 metres (8 feet) high and luckily we built the house with a large living room!

I finished knitting and felting my slippers some time ago and they actually did shrink down from the clown size to something that fits. I have to say I'm quite happy with them, and best of all they are really warm.

I was hoping to sew a new apron for Christmas with this really cute fabric. Unfortunately, I think I have run out of time... oh well, I can still sew it up for next year. I like wearing aprons while I work around the house. They keep me clean and give me a sense of purpose.
Oh, I just looked out the window and it has started to snow again.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

A Letter to Santa

Last night our children wrote their letters for me to pass onto "Santa"... my kids are teenagers, but they still do this. It certainly helps Husband and I.

I was really proud of my son's letter and thought I would post it here. I think he should become a writer!

Dear Santa

It's me.... AGAIN! Yes it's true.... I'm 14 and I'm still writing.

I didn't really know what I wanted for Christmas until the past few days. I have been spectacular this year... except on a few times. And this is what I want for Christmas.
  • I would like a good hunting knife that is about 6 inches long and has a wood handle. I want a folding lock blade.

  • I would also like some pellets for my pellet rifle

  • I would like an electic guitar and small amp and guitar lessons.

I know that there's only a few items and that I realize I don't need a lot of stuff for Christmas because I have a lot more than other kids have and I don't need more to rot my mind and keep me less active.

From: Son

Our daughter's letter was also good, but being younger her list was quite a bit longer. She wants to donate any cash she receives to the SPCA. She has a very good heart and loves animals. She already donated her birthday money this year to the same organization, as well as raising funds with friends this summer/fall with a lemonade stand (they raised over $100).

Husband and I had already decided to cut back on Christmas gifts this year, for the exact reason that Son gave in his letter - we have SO MUCH and are so very FORTUNATE we don't need anything. I think it must have rubbed off on our kids even though we never discussed it with them.

Tuesday, December 9, 2008

Of Lights and Trees

Well, another 15 cm (6 inches) of snow overnight. I guess winter really has arrived. The power flickered off for a minute, but hasn't gone out totally. Husband called during his drive into town to work and there are neighbourhoods near us that have no power. I filled up some pots of water just in case, as no power means no water because the well pump can not work.

I spoke with Husband last night about our blog. He reads it and is interested that I keep it up, but he has no interest to write anything himself. I asked him what he would like me to add and he said he wanted me to write about the Christmas lights. So here goes...

Two years ago we gave away all our outdoor Christmas lights (thanks freecycle!) and replaced them with LED lights as they are more energy efficient and the bulbs last longer. WRONG! Over the weekend Husband put went to put up the outdoor lights and found that on a few of the strings many of the LED bulbs were not working. He couldn't put the strings up because it would look like a mouth full of missing teeth. He figured that he would just take the bulbs out and replace them. WRONG! LED bulbs don't seem to be replaceable (at least not on our strings). The only way Husband figures that he can fix them is to cut the cord apart, remove the burnt bulb and wire it together again. Considering these strings are outside it make me worry that moisture could get into the cord.

This year we bought four strings of new LED solar outdoor Christmas lights from Canadian Tire. We thought these were a great idea for areas where the extension cords don't reach. Husband charged up the solar power and one set did not work at all. For the life me I was unable to find the receipt, but luckily Canadian Tire let me exchange it for a new set anyway. Husband put two of the strings with the solar panel onto the front fence. One of the strings works fine, but the other one doesn't seem to hold the charge for long. First the blue and green bulbs go out, and then the rest just kind of flicker. Perhaps the panel needs to be charged more, or the rechargeable battery needs to be replaced.
We plan on getting our Christmas tree this afternoon. That makes it 3 days before the full moon, so according to legend(?) the tree should not lose any needles. My parents swear by it, so we will give it a try. Considering where we live we can easily cut down a nice tree on the side of the highway, our acreage, or anywhere really; but we have decided to visit one of the tree farms in town. After discussing it we decided that it would be better to support a local farmer, and to use an agriculturally grown tree rather than to cut down one from nature.

Friday, December 5, 2008

It's Beginning to Look A Lot Like Christmas

There's nothing to start that Christmas like feeling than being snowed in. We are under a heavy snowfall warning and received about 30 cm (12 inches) overnight with up to another 30 cm forecast for today.

Son went out to catch the school bus this morning, only to return right away saying there is an abandoned car in the middle of the road right were the school bus stop is. I told to him to nevermind and stay home. I called the school about 10am to tell them that he would not be attending. Apparently there are so few kids in school today, that after 100 phone calls this morning, the office stopped taking names of children that would not be in class today. Daughter didn't have school today, but her shopping trip to the mall has been cancelled (I'm not even going to attempt pulling the car out of the driveway).

So what do you do when snowed in? Listen to Christmas music and bake gingerbread men of course! ... and sit by the fireplace and read!

I have been reading a book that I picked up at the 'swap shed' at the landfill. A $30 book that I swear has never been read. It is extremely interesting and all about Christmas traditions - perfect for today.

The kids have taken Kaiser outside to play. I think he's having fun as the snow is way up past his belly.
Son has also been experimenting with building oil lamps made out of empty rifle shells, cotton batten and olive oil. I made him burn it outside because it had quite an acrid smell. It burned for about 10 minutes which is not bad considering how small it is.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

I Need Another Freezer

We just purchased and filled a freezer. Yesterday I received a call from a neighbour asking if I'm still interested in purchasing her lamb.

I drive by their farm everyday when I go to work and it always admire it because looks so peaceful and bucolic. Everthing in order and clean with sheep roaming the fields. I have never seen the owners, until one day this past summer. Of course I had to stop and tell them how much I love driving by and looking at their place (I'm just too friendly sometimes). It turns out they are an older Finnish couple and they actually know a friend of mine as the Finnish community here is not very big.

I asked what they do with the sheep - do they raise them for meat or fibre? It turned out that they butcher and sell the lambs in the fall. Well, we love to eat lamb! I gave them my business card and said we would be interested in buying one when they butcher. So, I got the call yesterday as I said. I will be getting 35lbs of lamb cut and wrapped for $3.70 a pound. Now I'm in a panic because our freezer is already full to the top! We stocked with a meat pack from the butcher because I hadn't heard from the couple and I thought they had already butchered as they said they would be doing it in the fall (I guess technically it is still fall). But we definately want their lamb because we can see they have been well cared for, are local and from what my friend tells me, organically raised.

Husband says not to worry that we will buy another small freezer. That way we can use it for our future meat rabbits, chicken and garden bounty. If we it's not full we will just unplug it until we need it again.

Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Could You Survive Another Great Depression?

I took a quiz just for fun and we are 74% likley to survive...

You Are 74% Likely to Survive Another Great Depression

Even though you may not be expecting the worst, you're the type of person who prepares for the worst.

You live a relatively modest life. You don't overspend, and you aren't very materialistic.

You are also quite self sufficient and independent. You have many useful skills.

You can take care of yourself and those you love... which is crucial to surviving another Great Depression.

Monday, December 1, 2008

What Are We Eating?

Our family has made a very conscious effort to improve our eating habits once we moved to Carpe Diem Acreage. We are trying to eat locally produced foods, grow our own, purchase organic and free trade, and make things from scratch.

I thought we did fairly well before, as we were never huge consumers of prepackaged foods. I remember one shopping trip with Husband and the cashier (a high school friend) exclaimed "I can't believe how healthy you guys eat!" as she rung our items through. After she mentioned this, I began looking at what other consumers had in their carts.... and I was, and still am, truly shocked!!!! Even Husband began noticing and whispering to me "Oh my God, the only fresh foods those people have in their cart is prepackaged salad", "Look at the crap she's buying", etc, etc, etc.

This past week we have decided that since we haven't stepped inside a McDonald's since we saw Supersize Me in 2004 (the kids refuse to go), we will now cut out all other fast food as well.

So what does it mean to eat prepackaged, ready made and fast food meals all the time? Well, I happened to see the article below at the Organic Consumers Association and I find the outcome rather frightening.

"Before the Appleton Wisconsin high school replaced their cafeteria's processed foods with wholesome, nutritious food, the school was described as out-of-control. There were weapons violations, student disruptions, and a cop on duty full-time. After the change in school meals, the students were calm, focused, and orderly. There were no more weapons violations, and no suicides, expulsions, dropouts, or drug violations. The new diet and improved behavior has lasted for seven years, and now other schools are changing their meal programs with similar results.

Years ago, a science class at Appleton found support for their new diet by conducting a cruel and unusual experiment with three mice. They fed them the junk food that kids in other high schools eat everyday. The mice freaked out. Their behavior was totally different than the three mice in the neighboring cage. The neighboring mice had good karma; they were fed nutritious whole foods and behaved like mice. They slept during the day inside their cardboard tube, played with each other, and acted very mouse-like.

The junk food mice, on the other hand, destroyed their cardboard tube, were no longer nocturnal, stopped playing with each other, fought often, and two mice eventually killed the third and ate it. After the three month experiment, the students rehabilitated the two surviving junk food mice with a diet of whole foods. After about three weeks, the mice came around.

Sister Luigi Frigo repeats this experiment every year in her second grade class in Cudahy, Wisconsin, but mercifully, for only four days. Even on the first day of junk food, the mice's behavior "changes drastically." They become lazy, antisocial, and nervous. And it still takes the mice about two to three weeks on unprocessed foods to return to normal. One year, the second graders tried to do the experiment again a few months later with the same mice, but this time the animals refused to eat the junk food.

Across the ocean in Holland, a student fed one group of mice genetically modified (GM) corn and soy, and another group the non-GM variety. The GM mice stopped playing with each other and withdrew into their own parts of the cage. When the student tried to pick them up, unlike their well-behaved neighbors, the GM mice scampered around in apparent fear and tried to climb the walls. One mouse in the GM group was found dead at the end of the experiment.

It's interesting to note that the junk food fed to the mice in the Wisconsin experiments also contained genetically modified ingredients. And although the Appleton school lunch program did not specifically attempt to remove GM foods, it happened anyway. That's because GM foods such as soy and corn and their derivatives are largely found in processed foods. So when the school switched to unprocessed alternatives, almost all ingredients derived from GM crops were taken out automatically.

Does this mean that GM foods negatively affect the behavior of humans or animals? It would certainly be irresponsible to say so on the basis of a single student mice experiment and the results at Appleton. On the other hand, it is equally irresponsible to say that it doesn't.

You can read the rest of the interview here. By Jeffrey M. Smith
Comanche County Chronicle, Elgin, OK, September, 2008

Sunday, November 16, 2008

One Down

It's amazing how quickly work around the house can stop when one householder is down.

Husband hasn't been feeling well and had a bit of a fever a few days ago. On Thursday evening we had company and when they left Husband says "Can you please drive me to the hospital". Um, what? He never even goes to the doctor! Things apparently had progressed for the worse over the evening, though he didn't look particularly ill. Luckily the emergency ward wasn't overly busy and he was in and out fairly quickly.... diagnosed with either a bladder or prostate infection. Ouch! He has been sitting and watching football, hockey and movies ever since - and he needs to take it easy for a few days. He will be seeing our family physician tomorrow and may be on antibiotics for 4 weeks.

Needless to say, I have been busy. I have been catching up on laundry, baking, knitting and beginning some sewing projects for Christmas. I found this great Burda site with free sewing patterns. I used to do lots of sewing and made most of my own clothes at one time. Sadly, I haven't sewn for many years. Funny, I don't really know why. Perhaps life just gets too busy and setting up the machine and finding room is too laborious.

On Friday I picked up our meat order. I panicked when I saw how many boxes there were! I was sure it would not all fit into our freezer... and it didn't. I was left with one turkey that just would not fit, so we had a turkey dinner on Saturday evening. It is just as well, now the kids have luncheon meat for this coming week. We stopped purchasing any prepared meats after the listeriosis outbreak a couple of months ago. Husband has been wanting to quit buying it for a long time and now we really have reason.

The snow continues to come down, though I went into town yesterday and there is very little accumulated. That's what we get building our home north and at a higher elevation than town. Actually there is a standing joke in town that we tend to get two weeks earlier winter and two weeks later spring.

Wednesday, November 12, 2008

From Laura to Nellie

I have finished most of the Little House books by Laura Ingalls Wilder and am yearning for more! I was not able to find some of them at the local library and have now resorted to ordering them from

In the meantime, I borrowed a book from the Library entitled "Lovingly Yours Nellie" which contains letters written by Nellie Campbell to her family in Maine about her trip, marriage to George, and life in Saskatchewan in the 1920's and then to her move to my area of the world. I am finding the book very interesting as I personally know her daughter-in-law, many grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great grandchildren.

I love this excerpt from the book in which a farm rooster has been fighting with her pet rooster "He certainly was a bloody bird when I rescued him. George killed Turner so Theodbold could have peace and I stuffed and roasted him and invited Bob and Jim and Jim's sister up to supper."

Life was different then - butcher and eat all in the same day. Now we are lucky when our children know from which animal the pre-packaged meat from the grocery store comes from (of even that it comes from an animal at all!)

Monday, November 10, 2008

I haven't been working much - I think I over did it for weeks of working 7am to 9:30 pm. Luckily, I have a job in which I can decide how much I want to work, and organize my time to how I want. Now with the shorter days and snow I want to stay home and do some catching up. I need to get our personal papers and files in order and get the house cleaned and organized once more.

As I write this, huge snowflakes are falling from the sky. I have already been out this morning with tarps to cover the remaining soffit and siding which need to be installed. I fear if the snow continues we won't be able to find them.

Husband is tired too. We rushed to finish the renovations on the old house which is now rented, pulled everything out of our new garage so that the concrete floor could be poured and now he is building the walls in the garage. There is still so much to be done at the new house/property. Last week a company came to measure the remaining siding and soffits that need to be completed. Husband said he is too tired to finish it - he would rather hire someone to do the rest.
Walls being built in the garage. The black box in the wall is the gun cabinet being framed in.

On Saturday we finally purchased a small freezer, and ordered a meat pack from the butcher. We also ordered an additional 10 organic free range chicken. Friday I will pick it all up and we will have our meat for the winter. Husband would normally go hunting for deer the third week of October, but the last 2 years he has been too busy with the new house and just can't take the time.

Yeah! Finally a freezer!

I managed to process the horseradish and got 6 1/2 jars (125 ml). The half jar is in the fridge and the rest is in the new freezer. I was surprised that it did not sting my eyes much, but I was careful to open two windows for a cross breeze and grated the roots (in the food processor) under the hoodfan. I then put the grated root in with the chopping blade, then let it sit for a few minutes before adding some salt and the vinegar. Once done I packed it into sterilized jars. I read that it loses flavour quickly and that is why its in the freezer.

On Sunday I started some sourdough. I have wanted to do this for years but it seems so intimidating. I'm not sure how it will turn out, and I will document it in a separate post. I also managed to make some yogurt, which I haven't made for some time. I seem to be the only one who eats it... but Daughter was saying "Yum, we haven't had yogurt for ages" So maybe she will eat some this time.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The Snow is Staying

It snowed yesterday. The first few centimeters of the winter. Kaiser had a great time romping in the front yard. I believe his first snow experience was a good one.

Now that winter has arrived, I purchased two more oil lamps. I have prepared them so that they will be ready in case of any power outages. We don't have that happen very often, but it is better to be prepared. Last winter (before we moved in, but were in the process of painting), a truck hit one of the power poles on the highway and our area was without electricity for a couple of days.

I have never used an oil lamp before, but Husband is quite familiar with them. He grew up in a very small town and they were frequently without power. Of course I lit one of the lamps and it smoked like crazy! He showed me that once lit, you actually have to move the wick down so that it isn't exposed.
Doesn't this tie in nicely with Pioneer Week?

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

Harvest Keeper Challenge

I thought I should make a list of the small amount of food we have stored for the Harvest Keeper Challenge.

4 jars of Victorian BBQ Sauce
10 jars of Plum Jam (plums from the inlaws)
4 jars of Wild Berry Jam
12 jars of relish
13 jars of mustard
20 lbs of potatoes
5 jars (liter) of pumpkin (from the jack-o-lanterns)

I still have horseradish to process that was given to us by my parent's friends.

It was an interesting experiment growing the potatoes. We planted two garbage cans and heaped the plant leaves as they came up. These we watered everyday.

Some potatoes we planted directly into the clay soil without heaping (because the clay was too hard). These were only watered on very hot days, otherwise we left them alone.

We actually expected the garbage can potatoes to do much better, but to our surprise we grew larger and more potatoes in the clay.

Monday, November 3, 2008

Pioneer Week

This week is the Pioneer Week Challenge courtesy of Crunchy Chicken. Since I have been reading the "Little House" series over the past couple of weeks, I was gung-ho to join.

I actually began a little early because I wanted to start using the Hallowe'en pumpkins. The story behind all the pumpkin mania (as you will see if you keep reading) is that I have been unable to purchase a pumpkin for Hallowe'en over the past few years even after running to every store in town. This year I managed to purchase 3 large ones at $3.99 each! There is no way that I will be wasting almost $12.00 worth of food!

I recreated Ma Ingalls pie recipe from one of the books in which she uses green pumpkins in a pie. I made a crust and placed in it sliced pumpkin. I then added brown sugar, spices and some butter and topped it off with an upper crust. It turned out yummy, but the kids thought it was weird as it didn't look anything like a traditional pumpkin pie.

I also made a Curried Pumpkin soup. It was very tasty, but next time I will add a little less hot sauce. Here is the recipe...

Curried Pumpkin Soup Recipe
2 cloves garlic, peeled
1 med onion, peeled and quartered
A few drops of hot sauce
2 Stalks celery, cut into -2-inch lengths
3 lg. Carrots, peeled and sliced -1/4 inch thick
2 tbsp. Olive oil
1 3/4 lb. pumpkin, peeled, -seeded, and cut -into 1-inch dice
3 c Low-salt chicken stock
1 Bay leaf
2 tsp. curry powder
1 tsp. Turmeric
1 1/2 tsp. salt
freshly ground pepper

Place garlic in a food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add onion and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. Place jalapeno in food processor and pulse until finely chopped. Add celery and pulse until finely chopped. Set aside. Place carrots in food processor and pulse until finely chopped.

Heat 1 tbsp. of the olive oil in a medium stockpot over medium heat. Add the garlic and onion and sauté, stirring occasionally, until onion is translucent, about 6 minutes. Add jalapeno, celery, and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes. Add the pumpkin, chicken stock, bay leaf, curry, turmeric, cayenne, 1 tsp. of the salt, and pepper to taste, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cook until the vegetables are tender, about 8 minutes.

Place the cooked pumpkin and about 1/2 cups of the liquid in the bowl of a food processor and puree until smooth. Stir puree back into the soup. Can be garnish with roasted pumpkin seeds.

This evenings dinner was a simple one (keeping in theme) of boiled potatoes covered in cabbage sauted with onions and bacon, and leftover lamb roast, and of course steamed pumpkin.

I also finished knitting the first slipper that I will be felting. I put it on and I look like I have clown feet - it is so huge! I hope it shrinks down enough when I felt it.

What it looks like now....

What it is suppose to look like.
The free pattern can be found here.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Happy Hallowe'en!

I'm not sure how many kids we will have at the door tonight now that we live in the country, but I am prepared with some candy.

Daughter carved two of the three pumpkins last night. Unfortunately, Son is ill after receiving his Grade 9 vaccinations and I imagine he will carve his later today.

The garage floor is being poured with concrete today... Yeah! We can finally use the back door as our main entrance now, plus park the cars inside. Just in time for snow season!

Friday, October 17, 2008

It's Getting Colder

Which has gotten me into 'nesting' mode. The last few mornings have been in the freezing range and I have had to scrape the car windshield. Our garage is not quite finished and were are parking our vehicles outside.

Last night it rained very heavily and the water actually came in through my kitchen door. Once the gutters are up that shouldn't happen any more. This morning is very sunny and if it warms up more I'll get outside and finish cleaning the windows which I began the other day.

This colder weather always makes me want to bake, read, knit and do home type things.

Both Daughter and I have started knitting again. I have completed the first my Kennewick socks. I usually name the socks I make based on which road trip they were knitted on. These were started on our trip to Kennewick, Washington.

Lately I have been seeing a lot about the "Little House" series of books written by Laura Ingalls Wilder on websites and even magazines. These were books that I never read as a child, so I borrowed "Little House in the Big Woods" from the library. What a fascinating read! Even though it is written for children, it has amazing accounts of what life was like in the 1860/70's and the things that the Ingalls family had to do to survive - from hunting and storing meat, making cheese to making their own straw hats. It was very interesting and I'm actually looking forward to reading the other books in the series.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Christmas is Coming

I've begun on my Christmas baking. Only because I love a very rummy fruitcake and to achieve this I have to start it now.

Old World Fruit Cake (makes 2 loaves)

2 cups all purpose flour
1 tsp salt
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1 tsp allspice
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp cloves
1 tsp nutmeg
1 cup melted butter
4 eggs
1 1/2 cup cold black coffee
1 cup brown sugar
2 cups raisins
2 cups mixed fruit
2 cups whole blanched almonds
1/2 cup rum

8 Tbsp butter
1 cup rum
1 cup sugar

  1. Mix the melted butter, eggs, rum and coffee together.
  2. Add brown sugar and mix well.
  3. Add rest of dry ingredients and place in a buttered loaf pan. (Line the bottom with parchment paper as I have had a problem with the bottom sticking)
  4. Bake at 300F or 150C for 2 hours or until done (it will separate from the sides of the pan)
  5. Make the glaze when almost completely baked. Melt butter and add rum and sugar. Stir by hand.
  6. Remove the cake from the oven and pan and pour half of the glaze over the loaf. Let it cool for 25 minutes and then turn over and pour the remaining glaze on the other side.
  7. When cool, wrap in parchment paper.
  8. Sprinkle a bit of rum on the loaves every few weeks if desired.

My parchment wrapped fruitcakes. I love the old fashioned look of them all wrapped up.

Monday, October 13, 2008

Thanksgiving Weekend

The weekend was spent with Husband, Son and a family friend cutting up logs that were temporarily moved out of the way so we could build the house.

The original plan was to sell the wood to the mill, but then the prices dropped so much there was no use. Our friends heat their home with an outdoor wood burning furnace so they can use the wood and I feel better that it won't go to waste. There is enough wood to keep them warm all winter.

We need to get the logs out as they were placed in the spot were we want to make our garden next year. Since we have so much clay in our area, we would like to start some preparation before the snow flys (and stays!) which will be soon.

Here I am picking up all the left over sticks and putting them on the burn pile. Not fun work, but I kept thinking "every stick picked up leads to a better garden". Daughter was not too impressed with the work and I kept telling her that we will have a great garden next year and we will be able to feed our family from it. Her response was "Yah, I know and we're already in a global food crisis." It was kind of scary hearing that from a 12 year old... What have I been teaching her? Hopefully not to be frightened, but to be prepared.

I did cook a wonderful turkey dinner for Sunday evening. During kitchen duty, I realized that I had run out of laundry detergent so I whipped up some homemade detergent while the turkey was in the oven.

I have been making my own for a couple of months now, and I am really happy with the results. Clean clothes, no perfumey smell, and it works great in my front loading washer.

Grate 3 bars of Ivory soap in the food processor.

Remove soap and put on the chopping blade, put soap back in and chop until it becomes coarse granules.

Add 3 cups of Washing Soda and 3 cups of Borax and continue to chop.

When it looks like regular dry detergent it is ready.

Use 1/4 cup per load for a front loading washing machine.

It has been so long since I've blogged and we have been busy working around the property. Husband build a proper compost bin for me... though the fox is still visits occasionally for a meal.

He also built a bridge over the ditch/swail complete with solar lights. This allows us access to the compost, lagoon and eventual garden.

We have also added to our family a few weeks ago.... His name is Kaiser!

It is so wonderful having a boxer in the house again. Though I forgot how busy puppies are! Can't wait until the housebreaking kicks in.

Thursday, October 9, 2008

Summer Was Way Toooo Short...

and with that I can report that we had our first snowfall today. Thankfully it didn't stay!

I have been so busy with work that I haven't had much time to put away all our gardening items (let alone blog ha ha). Luckily Husband is more on the ball and has gotten the hoses and most of the flower baskets etc put away.

Friday, July 11, 2008

How to Reduce Your Trash to One Small Bag a Week

I'm so proud of my family, we have managed to reduce and recycle our way down to ONE SMALL BAG of garbage a WEEK!

Our family of four did it and so can you! Here is the way how:


There are bins around the City and at the Landfill to recycle newspaper, cardboard, misc paper, milk jugs and tin cans. Keep a separate bin in your garage or carport to collect these items and bring them for recycling weekly.

Bring your drink bottles and cans for recycling - you have already paid a deposit on them, so you can collect the money back plus you are keeping good recyclables out of the landfill.

Many of the bottle depots around town also collect glass jars (clean, no lids, can keep labels on), milk and juice cartons. BBK Depot is also accepting old television and computers.

London Drugs will accept all plastics (1-7) and styrafoam. Make sure the items are clean and are without lids. If you have a lot they ask that you separate them by number.

For a list of specific places that accept recycling visit

Give your unneeded stuff to thrift shops or give them to away on Freecycle


Compost your grass cuttings and kitchen waste (no meat, bones or milk products) to make great soil for your garden. Don't have a garden? Give it to someone who does - they will appreciate it!

Not sure how to start composting? There is lots of information if you just google 'compost'

Large yard cleanups (grass, tree branches, etc) can be brought to the landfill for composting. This compost is later sold to the public.


Take time to think about purchasing that new item - is it really needed?
Don't purchase items that have excess packaging
Do more home cooking and baking
If you need that Timmie's or Starbuck's coffee, bring along your own mug
Bring your own shopping bags to the store
If you eat take out - do your really need the wrapped sandwich placed in an additional bag?
Stop using paper towels - use rags that can be washed and used over again
Stop using kleenex - use hankerchiefs that can be washed and used over again

I'm sure that there are many other ways to reduce your impact on the earth. These are the things my family did and within six months it has become habit. We are a normal family and used to use the City's medium sized garbage container. It was usually full most weeks waiting for pick up.

With only one small bag a week, we feel better, have reduced our consumption, and are feeling much more environmentally friendly.

Thursday, July 10, 2008

What to do with that Extra Rhubarb...

make barbecue sauce! This is my first Back 2Basics Harvest Keeper challenge project.

My mother-in-law gave us a lot of rhubarb (far more than I can use) and so it didn't go to waste I found the recipe below.

Victorian Barbecue Sauce

8 cups chopped rhubarb
3 1/2 cups lightly packed brown sugar
1 1/2 cups chopped raisins
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup white vinegar
1 tsp ground allspice
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1 tsp ground ginger
1 tsp salt

  • Prepare canner, jars and lids
  • In a large stainless steel saucepan, combine all ingedients. Bring to a boil over high heat, stirring frequently. Reduce heat and boil gently, stirring frequently, until mixture is thickened to a consistency of a thin commercial barbecue sauce, about 30 minutes. (I used my hand blender/chopper to make a smoother consistency - otherwise the rhubarb would have remained quite chunky)
  • Ladle hot sauce inot hot jars, leaving 1/2 inch headspace. Remove air bubbles and adjust headspace if necessary by adding hot sauce. Wipe rim. Center lid on jar. Screw band downuntil resistance is met, then increase to fingertip tight.
  • Place jars in canner, ensuring they are completely convered with water. Bring to a boil and process for 15 minutes. Remove canner lid. Wait 5 minutes, then remove jars, cool and store.

Recipe from the Bernardin 'Complete Book of Home Preserving'

My four jars of barbecue sauce (to be stored in the pantry)

Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Stock Up the Pantry

I went shopping to stock up our pantry. I'm lucky, as when we built the house we put in a special little room/closet to use as a pantry. I'm still waiting for Husband to put up 2 more shelves, but otherwise it is useable and pretty full.

When I got home Son helped me bring in the groceries and exclaimed "Mom, are you insane? Do you realise that we have 5 bags of flour?" Yes, of course I know that... flour has increased in price from $5.99 for a 10lb bag to $11.99 - and I remember seeing in one store that it was '1 bag per customer'.

So I'm all stocked up with necessities - flour, sugar, beans, rice, canned fruit and veggies, canned mushrooms, canned soups, peanut butter, canned fish, old fashioned oats, pasta, and the like.

The one thing I still have to store is water. We quickly found out that when the power goes off so does the well pump. Unfortunately, our tanks only hold so much. I have some large water bottles that will be filled in stored in the crawlspace (just in case).

Now, I'm really not a hoarder but I feel that one should be prepared in the event of an emergency. I haven't done it until now... the terrible hurricanes and earthquakes in other countries have shown how awful it is for those not ready. On top that Husband works with the Provincial Emergency program and I know that the world is far overdue for a pandemic.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

While at the park for Canada Day celebrations I had a major allergy attack. I had been doing well until I stood under a particular Cottonwood tree and then all hell broke loose (or at least the watery eyes and nose).

Once home I made the decision to sew up some handkerchiefs with flannelette that I had bought for the purpose (and had washed) back in March. I have resisted purchasing any facial tissues for about 8 months or so, and have been making due with toilet paper when needed.

It took me all of 45 minutes to cut out and zigzag the edges of 20 handkerchiefs which are approx 20cm x 30cm (8"x12").

It got me thinking about why we use disposable facial tissues and have gotten away from hankies in the first place. According to Wikipedia, Kleenex was first introduced as a means to wipe away cold cream, but received many letters from customers using the tissues for colds and hayfever. By the 1930s, Kleenex was being marketed with the slogan “Don’t Carry a Cold in Your Pocket” and its utilization as a disposable handkerchief replacement became predominant.

Now that we are becoming more environmentally aware and have good washing machines, will the general public be able to get over the ewwww factor and start using hankies again?

For the time I spent (45 minutes) and the cost of the flannelette (which was about the price of a box of Kleenex) I have 20 hankies that I can use over and over again. Better for the environment and my wallet!

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

My parents immigrated to Canada when I was 2 years old and though I still have close ties to my German heritage, I feel proudly Canadian. I love this country and all it offers.
Today we celebrated at the park, enjoyed food from different ethnicities, listened to music at the bandshell and tried to stay cool in the 33C (91F) heat.

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

This is just wrong on SO MANY levels!

Yes, you see that right.... fresh unpeeled apple slices in a bag!

Are we so disassociated from our food that we can no longer eat an apple unless it is prepackaged? What purpose does fruit in a plastic bag serve? Why does the food industry think that a person can't eat an apple (the old fashioned way) and compost the core? Will our children grow up thinking that fruit grows in bags?

What about the waste? All of a sudden there is a huge amount of energy wasted in producing the bag, plus the bag ends up in the landfill.

What is this world coming too????

Saturday, June 21, 2008

It's warm and muggy feeling today at 25c (77f), which for our northern climate is fairly warm. Daughter and friend wanted to sleep in the tent in the back yard tonight, but I think we have to nix that since it looks like there is a storm on its way.

Plants are coming along wonderfully. As you can see from the photo below, I will have to add soil to my container potatoes, and the lettuce is growing like crazy.



Our compost has had to have some adjustments to it. I noticed that the crows are picking out the yummy items. I saw one scratching underneath the wire mesh, so I dug a small pit and sunk the compost into it and packed the clay around the outside. The crows continued to dig, so I had Daughter ring the outside with some bricks. The next day the bricks were flung a meter (3 ft) away from the compost and the clay was dug out from underneath. Obviously that was not a crow! After packing everything back into its place, I sprinkled a mixture of crushed red pepper flakes and black pepper around the outside of the compost and on top of the bricks. So far so good.Bricks around the base of the compost

I surprised a mother mallard and her ducklings in our lagoon. They surprised me too, because I was expecting only to see the tadpoles in there. It is a good thing that I decided not to sprinkle the mosquito pellets in the lagoon. We decided it was more important to have the tadpoles than to battle the mosquitoes (which were very bad for a few weeks, but seem to be getting less now).

Yuck, the lagoon is not really a wonderful place to be raising ducklings. I know that a lot of people have no idea what a lagoon is - due to my line of work I am often asked this question. So, here is the (my) explanation: a lagoon is part of a sewage waste treatment system that is used where the is predominately clay soil and underground disbursement of water is not possible. The waste runs into two underground tanks where the solids are separated to be broken down by bacterial action and the grey water is drained into an above ground lagoon (pond) where is evaporates.

Don't try this at home....

In my wisdom decided to try to get my bread machine to knead a double batch of bread dough, because I wanted to bring my new neighbour (with two babies) a homemade bread. Obviously it didn't work; I was left with a goopy lumpy mess. I thought it might be like drycleaning.... you know, when the label says 'dryclean only' but if you're careful you can hand wash it anyway. When the bread machine instruction say one batch only - take heed!

I did manage to knead by hand and get the two loaves of bread I wanted. And, my new neighbour was very happy.