Thursday, March 20, 2008

Easter is almost here and I have been dyeing eggs. This year I'm using natural dyes and have found them just as easy, (not quite) as colourful, and healthier than artificial dyes.

Here is what I did:

I gathered up my dye ingredients. I used blueberry juice, turmeric and spinach for this batch.

Eggs were placed in a pan (single layer) with enough water to cover and added one tablespoon of vinegar to the water.

I then added my dyes. I didn't use any exact measures - just enough for what I figured would be effective. I think I put in 2 tsp of turmeric.

Bring the pans to a roiling boil and then simmer for 30 minutes.
Rinse the eggs and then use some vegetable oil to polish.

Final product: - as you can see the turmeric and blueberry juice worked very well. The spinach did turn the eggs a very pale green, but I think I didn't use enough in the pot.

Other frozen or fresh fruits and vegetables you could use are:
Beet juice
Skins from red or regular onions
Pomegranate juice
Grape juice
Curry powder
Mustard powder
Red cabbage
Instant coffee
Lemon peels
Orange peels

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

His name is Larry and he followed me home - hitchhiked actually.

I did some shopping and decided to purchase some indoor plants for the house. Our old place was so dark, I wasn't able to keep any plants alive. This home was build with very large windows for passive solar energy, plus is south facing - very bright and sunny indeed.

I found a large Mass Cane at the store that I picked up. Daughter squealed in delight when she saw it. There was Larry attached to the side of the plant!

Considering I have about a meter of snow (3 ft) in my yard, and snails are not indigenous to our area - I am not able to send him out. I guess I got two for one - a new plant and a new pet.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Saturday's Green Tip

Glass bottles can be recycled infinitely without any loss of purity or quality. 80% of recycled glass will end up as new glass containers.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

I ordered heritage seeds this week - vegetables and flowers. I had loads of fun pouring over the catalogues and reading the history and specifics of all the plants.

From The Cottage Gardener I ordered these:

French Breakfast Radish (Certified Organic)- 1879 (20 – 30 days) An oblong radish, about 2” long, red with white tip.

Five-Colour Silverbeet Swiss Chard ( Certified Organic)- (55 – 60 days).1850’s. A very old variety, nearly lost, that I grow for ornament as much as for flavour. The stalks come in a rainbow of colours – red, yellow, orange, pink and cream – and are beautiful in the garden.

Tennis Ball Lettuce (Endangered; Certified Organic; Butterhead) - (50 days) Introduced in the 1850's (although the name makes it seem modern!), and offered in Canada since at least 1878, this tiny, perfect lettuce produces loose heads measuring only 7" in diameter. Perfect for pots and balconies.

Little Finger Carrot (Certified Organic) - 55-60 days) Did you know that the “baby carrots” that you buy at the grocery store are actually just regular-sized carrots that have been pared down? So deceitful! If you want true baby carrots, Little Finger is the one to grow. Developed in France, this carrot grows to just 3” long and ½” wide with roots that are very tender and sweet. It grows well in heavy soils; is perfect for container gardening; can be used fresh, cooked, pickled or canned and is a good carrot for market growers.

Wildflower Mix (Flowers for Butterflies, Hummingbirds and Songbird) - This high-quality mixture includes a variety of North-American wildflowers that attract and help sustain these beautiful winged visitors to our gardens. Each packet sows approximately 100 sq ft. Contains seeds of: Amaranthus caudatus, Asclepias curassavica, Aster bigelovii, Clarkia amoena, Coreopsis tinctoria, Cosmos bipannatus, Echinacea purpurea, Gaillardia pulchella, Lupinus perennis, Malope trifica,Monarda citriodora, Ratibida columnifera, Rudbeckia hirta,Salvia coccinea, Saponaria vaccaria, Zinnia elegans.

Helianthus - Italian White Sunflower -This beauty, diminutive for a sunflower, is perfect for city lots. Growing just to 5’, it has multi-branching stems that are festooned with pale yellow to creamy white flowers. This makes it also a wonderful cut flower. It is thought that this heirloom was brought to the U.S. by European immigrants.

Digitalis grandiflora -Large Yellow Foxglove - A true perennial Foxglove, originally a native of Greece, and grown in Britain since the 16th C. The “large” in the name refers to the flowers - pale yellow with maroon-netted throats- rather than the height (2 - 3’). Very hardy. Z 3 - 8. (100 seeds

Digitalis Purpurea - Common Foxglove - 15th C. This is the original English wildflower species from which many of today's hybrids were developed. Spotted, bell-shaped flowers in purple, pink or white droop from 2-3' stems in early summer. Attracts bees and hummingbirds.

From Heritage Harvest Seed I ordered these:

Farthest North - Tomato - Introduced by the North Dakota State University in 1934. A very early and prolific cherry tomato that sets fruit in cool temperatures. Good for containers and northern areas. Determinate, regular-leaf foliage. (50 days from transplant) EXTREMELY RARE.

Hahms Gelbe - Tomato - A wonderful little cherry tomato from Germany with delicious yellow fruit. The small plants grow to about 6” high, about the same size as Andrina, which is a red cherry. The two make an excellent combination in containers and you can then enjoy red and yellow cherries all summer long. Determinate. (60-65 days from transplant)

Nasturtium - Empress of India (pre-1884) (Tropaeolum majus) - (aka Indian Cress) This old heirloom variety has bluish green leaves with crimson flowers. The plants are dwarf and bushy. Nasturtiums are not only ornamental but also high in Vitamin C. The leaves and flowers add a spicy flavor to sandwiches and the seeds have a peppery taste. The seeds can be pickled and used as a caper substitute. Annual. Sun-part shade. Ht: 12-14” (25 seeds/pkt

Night Scented Tobacco (1850) (Nicotiana sylvestris) - (a.k.a. Woodland Tobacco) Introduced from Brazil to the United States in the mid 1800’s, Night Scented Tobacco soon became popular for its wonderful fragrance. The tall plants reach 5’ tall with huge light green leaves and the white slender tubular flowers remain open all day. A favorite of hummingbirds and moths. The fragrance is captivating on a warm humid evening. A very stately plant that is beautiful planted towards the back of a large flower bed. Can tolerate quite a bit of frost in the autumn. One of my favorites. Ht: 4-5’ tall. Annual. Sun-part shade. (50 seeds/pkt)

Forget-Me-Not (Cynoglossum amabile) - (a.k.a. Firmament, Chinese Forget Me Not or Hound’s Tongue) These wonderful old fashioned flowers are literally covered with clear blue blossoms all summer long. A very carefree annual that self seeds prolifically. Ht: 14-16” tall. Annual. Sun-part shade. (50 seeds/pkt)

Saturday, March 8, 2008

Saturday's Green Tip

Use low or no VOC paints as they are non-toxic and durable. Much healthier for you and your family.
I spent most of the day yesterday pondering appliances. When we moved we did not take the microwave oven with us, and I have been living for two weeks now without it. Have I missed it? Absolutely not! This prompted me to really consider if I actually need one at the new house.

I have come to the conclusion that the microwave oven is perceived at a 'must have' appliance by everyone - but in actuality how often is it really used? I know of no person that uses it for cooking. I only used mine for defrosting meats and reheating the odd leftover and cups of coffee. Husband really doesn't want a microwave in our new home, as he feels it takes up counter space and isn't needed. I have to agree.... I would rather save the money for something else. I just have to plan a little ahead for my meal planning and baking, so that I take things out to thaw/warm in time. I have even found that reheating leftovers on the stove takes about the same time as it would in the microwave (plus the food doesn't dry out).

My other appliance issue that I have been dealing with is our new oven. We bought a wonderful GE Duel Fuel range/oven - and it cost a lot!

(Ignore the green tape in the photo as the tiles still need to grouted)

For the past two weeks I have not been able to get the oven to heat up, even though the range and warming drawer works fine. Yesterday, we finally had the repairman show up, and.... you guessed it! The oven worked perfectly. The repairman could not find anything wrong with it. Of course, once he left it would not heat up again.
In the mean time I have been using a counter top oven that I received for Christmas from my mother-in-law. Thank goodness that I had one! It works great, I have used it to cook a lamb roast, buns, and yesterday a banana bread.

Banana Bread

Tuesday, March 4, 2008

The kids played outside in the snow last night.

Look at what a gorgeous day it turned out to be! Certainly very different from the barrage of snow yesterday.
It was so warm that I just had to hang out my laundry. Well, just my hand washing actually, since I only have a stand up drying rack so far. It made me feel good anyway. I even managed to squeeze in a walk around the neighbourhood today - it was wonderful! I listened to the nuthatches and chickadees and noticed how the sun sparkled off the snow, and got lots of good fresh air.

Monday, March 3, 2008

This is my car at 6:30am! It snowed approximately 1 metre (3 ft) overnight!

The kids were suppose to take the school bus for the first time today, but with so much snow I decided to keep them home. It turns out the plow truck went off the road and into the ditch, so the bus was an hour late anyway.

I'm staying home today and moving furniture and unpacking boxes.

I seem to be getting more and more sensitive to fragrances - I can barely handle the smell in the Jysk store from all the scented candles now. Today I ordered numerous beeswax candles (pillars, tea lights and votives) from Ebay. Natural, nontoxic and releasing negative ions seems to be the best way to go. No cheap chemical laden and toxic candles allowed in this home.

Sunday, March 2, 2008

Road restrictions will be in effect on Monday, so Husband and Son went to the old house to pick up all the fence posts, the equipment for the Bobcat, and the Bobcat too. If you are not familiar with road restrictions, it means that with spring on it's way the frozen ground beneath the pavement becomes soft, and no large equipment or anything with weight is allowed to be hauled until it all firms up again.

It began snowing quite heavily in the afternoon and the fence posts are are shown here in a big pile.

Husband and Son are chaining up one of the buckets to be moved off the trailer.

Husband is using the quad to pull the Bobcat buckets and grapple out of the trailer.

Saturday, March 1, 2008

Saturday's Green Tip

Don't throw out all of those scraps; save landfill space an make your own rich potting soil using a composter.