Thursday, December 31, 2009

Last day of 2009


Our family has decided to stay home tonight to bring in the new year. The kids each have a friend spending the night. Dinner will be a 'picky' affair with crackers, oysters, meats, cheeses, veggies etc.

For Christmas Son gave me a cocktail shaker. Hmmm... I had to figure out what to make as we normally only drink wine, scotch or beer, and get we fancy with a rum and coke. ( Though I did get really adventurous this summer and made some mojitos.) Vodka makes me really ill so I had to figure out what to do with that shaker!

Then along came Diamond Dame with her page of vintage cocktail recipes! As it turns out most drinks were not made with vodka until the 1950's. So I went to the local liquor store, list in hand, for supplies

So we tried a few already...

half measure dry white vermouth
2.5 measures gin
2 cocktail onions
Pour vermouth and gin into a glass with ice, stir and let chill for 30 seconds. Skewer onions on a cocktail stick and place in a cocktail (Martini) glass so onions rest at the bottom. Strain vermouth/gin into the glass.

(This was my favourite; but husband thinks it tastes like soap. I think it is an acquired taste.)

1 measure Cointreau
1 measure brandy/cognac
1 measure lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into sugar-rimmed cocktail (martini) glass and garnish with a strip of lemon rind.

(Very good - it tastes like a Marguarita without the slush)

Orange Blossom
equal parts gin and fresh squeezed orange juice
Shake with ice and strain into a cocktail (Martini) glass

(Okay, but nothing to write home about)

Legendary 1930s recipe created at Don the Beachcomber restaurant in Hollywood as a hangover cure and became popular at the 1939 World's Fair in New York.
1 measure white rum
1 measure light rum
1 measure dark rum
1 measure apricot brandy
1 measure pineapple juice
1 measure papaya juice
½ measure 151-proof rum
Dash of grenadine
Shake all ingredients other than the 151-proof rum with ice. Pour drink and ice into a tall glass and top with the high-proof rum.

(All I can say is 'Yuck'... perhaps it would taste better if we used apricot brandy instead of normal brandy and had some papaya juice)

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Boxing Day Visitors

Yesterday morning we had three visitors to the acreage... a cow moose and her twins. They were all very large.

Luckily Daughter received a camcorder for Christmas so she was able to film the twins.

We were pretty surpised that they did a good checking out of our compost pile.

Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Christmas Blues

Unfortunately, the family have not been in much of a Christmas mood after Husband's mother passed away in September. Not even the kids seem to be in the spirit of the season, but we have been working hard to brighten our outlook and bring some semblance of Christmas into our household.

My Christmas baking has been very late this year, and most of what I prepare is missing because I have just not had the time. My work has been very busy over the past few months causing me to work many evenings. I did managed to make some fudge, whipped shortbread and anise cookies. I love the licorice taste of anise and found a great recipe at the Mennonite Girls Can Cook blog. To make up for the lack of baking I purchased a Stollen from the German bakery and some other cookies.

Saturday was lovely sunny warm day and we drove out to one of the local Christmas tree farms and found a nice 2.5 metre (8 foot) tree. Below are some photos of the adventure.

A family photo with all of us in winter gear at the tree farm.

Today was -30c (-22f) again. Husband is baking gingerbread with the kids right now and I slipped away to blog and do a quick house cleaning.
It will be a quiet Christmas as our sisters and families will not be able to visit for Christmas this year. I will miss them all terribly. Tomorrow evening we will celebrate Christmas eve with my parents - having a fondue dinner and opening gifts from extended family. They in turn will come to our home for Christmas day and a turkey dinner (free range of course!)

Monday, December 21, 2009

Mac Attack

Our family has not stepped into a McDonalds restaurant since 2004. Yes, that's right we have been Mac free for almost 5 years!

After watching the documentary "Supersize Me" the kids refused to frequent McDonalds any longer (which was just fine with Husband and I). We were very impressed that our kids, ages 8 and 10 at the time, were able to recognize that lack of nutritional value in fast food meals and could made this decision on their own.

The other day a commercial for McDonalds appear on TV and it featured a Big Mac. I said to Husband "We haven't eaten at a McDonalds for 5 years and yet I can still vividly recall the taste and texture of a Big Mac". His comments was "Yeah... I wonder what they put in there to not only make you remember it, but also to want it."

We no longer frequent any fast food places that serve hamburgers and french fries. A decision we made as a family and we have all kept to it. I have tried to tempt the kids into it a couple of times to see what they say, and it is usually "Oh yuck! Can we get a pita instead?".
Daughter has made the confession that she went through the McDonalds drivethru with a friend's family... "but I only had a yogurt, honest!"

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

Baby Its Cold Outside

Yesterday morning's temperature... -36C (-33F)! It was cold, but I knew it was coming.... just as it does every year.

The hen house was fairly warm, but the watering containers froze. I took the hen's container into the house to thaw which took about an hour. One of the ducks decided to lay on the floor and the egg froze. I later found out that Husband when building the hen house did not insulate the floor, but did insulate everything else. We will make do and it doesn't usually stay this cold for extended periods.

I also found out that the new vehicle I purchased in November 2007 came without a block heater! Poor Husband was looking for the cord to plug in for quite a while before he finally gave up and nearly froze his fingers. Luckily the car did start in the cold. I took it to Subaru and it turns out that they forgot to install it. They quickly put in that afternoon at no charge and a huge apology (which I expected!)

Kaiser, our boxer, went out several times yesterday - but it was no surprise that he quickly wanted back in.

Today is already warmer at -24C (-11F)

Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Of Ducks and Eggs and Seed Catalogues

With the cold snap I feel bad leaving the hens and ducks indoors. But it is cold enough to partially freeze their watering containers inside even with the heat lamps.

Here is our henhouse in the snow. It is separated into compartments; the chicken are on the right and have the larger area, and the ducks have the left. In the middle are the nesting boxes which open and a small feed storage area. At the back each have their own runs - though when home we let them have free range in the yard.

We were not sure when the ducks would begin laying so we never built any nesting boxes for them. The are now laying about 4 eggs per day and have made their own nest in the loft area of their house. Yes, they are modern ducks with a ramp and loft!

Here you can see the drake with the dark head and tail feathers and the five hens. The ramp to the loft is on the left and the bottom of the heat lamp.

Some of our lovely eggs. We are getting about 2 dozen everyday.

Luckily we have a steady supply of egg buying customers - coworkers, neighbours and friends. We even have two people that buy our duck eggs. I was surprised at the duck eggs as they are white and around the same size as the chicken eggs. They taste better than the chicken eggs but do have a firmer texture.

When I tell people about our ducks I am always amazed at how many people exclaim "What? Ducks lay eggs?" and "You can eat a duck's egg?" Ducks are birds... I'm not sure how these people think they procreate. Perhaps I am too practical and take these things for granted.

On another note.... the first seed catalogue arrived in the mail today. They always come when we have a cold snap. I think it is to tease us.

Monday, December 7, 2009


The cold weather is upon us. We have been fairly lucky this year and it has been rather mild, but over the past few day the temperature has dropped. This morning it is -23c (-9f).

The other night Son was babysitting next door, and I walked over to bring him some dinner (it was a late dinner night for us and the young children he was looking after were already asleep). It was cold and dark and I had forgotten to bring the flashlight along - but it didn't matter. The sky was completely clear and the stars and moon were shining. I could see the Christmas lights on the neighbouring houses, and the tall trees were full of snow standing out against the night sky. It was so peaceful, and this is one of the reasons we moved into the country.

I like the cold weather and that may seem strange to many people. I have thought about the things that appeal to me:
  • I like to smell the smoke wafting from neighbouring homes that use wood to heat
  • I like to hear the squeek of boots on the snow when it is really cold
  • I like the way sounds are muffled by the snow
  • I like to watch huge snowflakes falling gently to the ground
  • I like to see the birds descend onto the Mountain Ash trees to eat the berries
  • I like seeing birds all puffed up to insulate themselves from the cold
  • I like to feel the squeeze of cold air on my lungs when the temperatures dip to -35c or lower
  • I like the coziness of looking out the window while I sit by the fireplace knowing that I am snug indoors
  • I like the way the snow sparkles on a sunny day - like it has been strewn with diamonds
  • I like to think of the homesteaders and pioneers that came before us, and marvel at how they managed in this climate with very basic necessities

For me Christmas is cold weather and snow - this is what I am used to. I spent two Christmases in Germany and it didn't feel right as there was no snow; just rain. I couldn't get into the holiday spirit as for me that most vital for the season was missing.

Sunday, November 22, 2009


Yesterday's butching of the roosters went well. We kept one rooster named Cockzilla and he was the largest of the roosters that we had.

Husband did the actual killing, myself and daughter did the plucking, and I did the eviscerating and cleaning, and son did the running around.

I was very surpised at how easily the feathers came out once dunked in hot water. The only thing I didn't like was how feathers stuck to everything, including my hands.

Roosters and hens in the 'happier' times this fall.

Bagged Americauna waiting to go into the freezer. They weighed between 2 1/2 to 4 pounds each.

This morning I went to the hen house and found a rooster we missed! He must have been hiding amongst the hens yesterday as he is one of the smallest roosters. He has been named "Lucky"!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

It has been a very long time....

since I last wrote on our blog. It seems that life over the summer and fall was just a very busy time for us and I rarely had any spare time.

Today we will be butchering the roosters. It is a bright and sunny day and the temperature is 0c, so it is not too cold. I have never done this before, but am excited in a way to be able to process and eat our own poultry. I have to go and dig up my big canning pots to scald the birds before plucking.

I'll post some pics later.

Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Perseid Meteor Shower

Wow! What a light show!

Daughter and I arrived home shortly after 10pm after dropping off my visiting sister at my parents home. On the drive home I noticed a shooting star and remembered the Perseid Meteor shower was happening over the next couple of days.

We stood outside on the driveway and craned our neck skyward. The next half hour was amazing! We saw many meteors quickly falling and they seem very far away. There were others that seemed to hit the earth's atmosphere and they fell slower, were often an orange colour, and left a large smoke streak which didn't disappear for numerous seconds.

The most spectacular meteor we saw was a slow moving one that actually exploded! We saw two very large flashes of light like an explosion and the smoke trail lingered for a very long time. It was absolutely incredible - I have never seen anything like that before!

I feel very lucky to have seen this as not an hour before was a huge rain storm. I can't believe the sky cleared up so quickly and we were able to see the shower. I'm also thankful that we live in the country with no lights - 'cause if we were still in the city I would never had had the chance to see this.

For more information about what is happening during the Perseid Meteor shower you can find more information here and here.

Saturday, June 13, 2009

This Week's Wildlife & Plant News

A few days ago we saw a moose had walked right under our bedroom window. We didn't see it... again. We consistantly see moose and deer tracks on the property, but very rarely see them.

Today we saw a grizzly bear in one of the neighbour's fields. It's a little disconcerting as we are used to having black bears around here, but to see a grizzly is unusual. We have told the children to be very careful and keep on the look out when they are outside.

The chicks are doing well and have lots of feathers already. The are beginning to do little low flights in the brooder box and they are beginning to scuffle for dominance. Obviously we have a few roosters in the crowd (Americana chicken that could not be sexed).

The weather continues to be hot; up to 28c. We have now had 3 weeks of glorious weather and no rain. It has rained a few evenings in town, be we didn't get any here, other than the occasion drop. The plants are doing well though - the mountain ash tree is full of flowers and the snowball bush which Kaiser chewed up in the fall has sprung back and is about to flower. The gladiola are up about 15cm (6inches). The North Star Cherries have dried up - we have given the tree lots of water during this hot spell, but I think the stress of moving the tree is the main culprit.

I just realized... this is our 100th post!

Thursday, June 11, 2009

Greenhouse and Garden - A Slow Process

The road restrictions are still on so we can't bring in any soil and compost material into the garden yet. Hopefully the restrictions will be removed next week. Here is Husband tilling up the clay to get the garden area ready.

The small greenhouse is full of tomato, pepper, cucumbers and watermelon plants. Last night Husband and Son finished covering the large greenhouse with plastic. Now we have lots of room for plants!

Oh My! We still have so much to do.

The chicks are a week old and have developed their wing feathers and are trying them out. I'll have to cover the box with wire soon so they don't fly out.

Ducklings are still scheduled to arrive the end of June. "Barry the duck man" as he introduces himself on the phone called to confirm that he has our order. He also wants to know if we want any geese. I do, but will have to wait until next year.

The weather has been glorious with most days at 25c+. It appears to want to storm this afternoon - some rain will be good.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Mosquitos, Chicken and Ducks - Oh My

The mosquitos have come out in full force as of Sunday. They don't nomally bother us too much but, the constant buzzing around ones ears does become tedious after a while. The bugs follow us into the house and the dog is constantly snapping at them. We thought that will so many frogs in the lagoon this year the mosquito numbers would be down, but it didn't happen. Hopefully in two weeks most of them will have disappeared.

My birthday was in May and Husband surprised me with trees! Isn't that what every girl wants? I now own:

2 - Battleford Apples - Tasty, crisp apples that are excellent for eating fresh or for cooking. Flowers on this hardy tree bloom in the early spring and are white with a pinkish tinge. The apples mature in late August.

1 - Goodland Apple - A very hardy 2.5-3" green apple with a reddish blush, high quality, great for cooking and eating fresh, stores well, late season harvest;apples, need a second pollinator, needs well-drained soil and full sun

1 - North Star Cherry - A medium sized bright red to mahogany skinned cherry, with yellow, juicy tender flesh. This attractive small tree, naturally, only grows 8 to 10 feet. The North Star is a highly productive sour cherry that is extremely cold hardy and disease resistant. North Star has a prolonged ripening period from late June to late July.

Our chicks arrived last night! We were fortunate that we didn't lose any during the shipping, nor overnight. I forgot how cute they are!

The dark chicks are the Black Sex Link (which I finally found out are also called Black Rock -this made Husband very happy as that is the breed/strain he wanted - I think 'Black Rock' is perhaps what the British call them as I couldn't find this name in North America poultry circles). The lighter chicks are the Americauna.

Next on the agenda.... DUCKS! We ordered 6 Khaki Campbell ducks which will be arriving sometime at the end of this month. Hopefully once older (next year) they will help keep down the mosquito population. Apparently the Khaki Campbell are prolific layers... we'll see if they outlay the chicken.

Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Spring, Have you forsaken us?

It was a beautiful long weekend. Warm and sunny. The family did lots of work in the front yard. We purchased and planted Peonies, Hostas, Golden Rod and Coral Bells. We planted bulbs of Iris, Lilies, Anemones, and Gladiola. We transplanted cucumbers and into the greenhouse. We put up the hummingbird feeder on the front deck and watched many Rufous hummingbirds flitting about between the tulips and the feeder.

This morning we awoke to snow. But not just a little snow - oh no! By the time I left for work at 8:30am there was 10cm (4 inches) on my car. One of our trees had fallen from the weight of the wet snow and several other were leaning; their roots being pulled from the ground. It snowed all day. By one in the afternoon there was 20cm (8 inches) on the ground. Luckily Husband had the day off and could brush the snow off the plants. The hummingbirds continue to visit the feeder - obviously the only place that they will find any nourishment within the blanket of white.
I haven't gone into the greenhouse to check on the cukes.... I'm scared. We have already lost almost all of the tomatoes we started. I managed to bring some of the better looking ones into the kitchen window - hopefully we can nurse them back to health.

Friday, May 8, 2009

Busy, busy, busy

You can tell when I am busy with work because the blogging stops. My business is either slow or super busy, and lately I have been run off my feet. Needless to say not only has the blog been neglected, but so has my home.

We did manage to hold a party for husband's co-workers as everyone worked hard over the winter. He barbequed baron of beef roasts while I made salads. We had a ton of food, drinks, and really good company! Luckily the weather was warm and sunny and everyone sat outside on the bit of lawn we have in the front of the house. We even got to see some wildlife in the form of a little mouse who has been living under our driveway over the winter. He came out and begged food off our guests - totally unafraid of the 30 or so people milling around.

Our plants are still growing in the garage and the cucumbers and pumpkins are beginning to blossom. Husband has built a large greenhouse frame 12x30 ft and we need to move it to the back of the yard. Unfortunately, the snow has just disappeared last week, so the ground is very muddy. I imagine we will try to move it this weekend, and then I can start to harden off the plants.

I made homemade pasta for the first time a few weeks ago. I have wanted to do this for quite some time and saw pasta machines everywhere. Of course when it came to actually wanting to purchase one, I couldn't find a single machine! I finally found one at the last store I tried - I really should have gone to that hardware store first as they are known to "have everything".
It surprised me how easy it is to make noodles! Just some flour and eggs made into a dough and then slipped through the pasta machine several times. The kids loved them! Of course being homemade the taste is far superior to prepackaged. I want to make some more, but just have not found the time yet.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Watch Hockey: It's Good for the Environment

Well the NHL Hockey play offs for the Stanley Cup have begun.

Now, I'm not a hockey watcher and can easily do without it, but Husband likes to watch. I'm a lucky woman as he only watches when the Vancouver Canucks play (Go Team Go), so thankfully I only have to endure a portion of the season's games.

Strange but True... watching hockey reduces energy consumption! According to BC Hydro during the time a hockey game airs, compared to the same time the day before and the day after, there is a notable reduction in the amount of power used. It was the news tonight, but I can't remember the amount of savings. The belief is that during hockey games people gather around the television and don't turn on any additional lights.

Hockey can also lead one to be socially responsible. Who knew??? A few Canuck fans decided to purchase a goat for developing countries every time the Canucks won a game in this year's Stanley Cup play offs. From a couple of guys who set up a face book group it has grown (as of this writing) to 269 supporters. Check out Goat Canucks Goat on facebook or their new website You don't have to be a Vancouver Canucks fan, or even a hockey fan for that matter, to help purchase goats.

Get Your Goat On!

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Environmental/Green/Food Books

The latest books in the pile are all by Canadian authors...

"Food Security for the Faint of Heart" By Robin Wheeler. I received this book for Christmas and have finally finished it (not that its a difficult read, but it took some time trying to read it in amongst other activities such as work)

It has lots of practical information for growing and storing food and really hits the spot about having to be prepared for emergencies. She uses many recent provincial emergency situations as examples, and as she is from the West Coast she cites 'the big one' (eventual major earthquake) as a very good reason to get prepared.

I am currently reading 'The End of Food: How the Food Industry is Destroying Our Food Supply - and What You Can Do About It." by Thomas F. Pawlick. I happened to see it at the public library and I quickly added it to my book stack.

If you like Michael Pollan's books or "Animal, Vegetable, Miracle" by Barbara Kingsolver, you will like this book too. It really delves into the food industry, farming practices, and can be quite graphic especially the part about the life of battery hens.
I'm about half way through this book and I am finding it extremely informative, as it has been very well researched.

"Mom, Will This Chicken Give Me Man Boobs?" by Robin Harding. I just received this book from my sister as an early birthday present (same one who gifted my the Food Security book above - I guess she knows what I like to read). I quickly read the first few pages and it is HILARIOUS! I can't wait to dive into it.

Friday, April 10, 2009


This has been a week of dirt...

1. Monday evening Husband and I went to see the Nitty Gritty Dirt Band concert. It was a last minute treat and we ended up getting excellent seats. The concert was terrific! I haven't listened to their music for years... now I'll have to dig out the old CD to put on my iPod.

2. Even though we still have a lot of snow, the crocus have bloomed in the dirt beside the house!

Trying to move snow away from the house as the resulting melt water is sitting. Husband is looking to where he can drain it.

Yesterday I also saw the first Robin of spring (4 in fact) and a very large butterfly or moth.

3. Our planting room (aka heated garage) is full of seedlings, and we have already had to transplant quite a few as they have outgrown their peat pellets.

Pepper and tomato seedlings

SEEDLINGS GONE WILD! They'll flash their roots at anyone!

4. We can finally see the gravel driveway! Though there is still snow is some places.

5. We rented the DVD 'The Real Dirt on Farmer John'

Thursday, April 9, 2009

Homemade Salami

Well, I did it.... further to my earlier post about no longer eating commercially processed meats, I have made our own salami. I couldn't believe how simple it was to make, and how superior the flavour is compared to store bought! The kids began gobbling it up before it was even completely cooled.

You really have to try it.

I searched on the internet and found various recipes and methods; and as I usually do, I jumped in and picked out what I thought would work and made up my own.

Homemade Salami

1 lb lean ground beef
1/4 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp garlic salt
1/4 tsp red pepper flakes (crushed - I did this with my mortar and pestle)
2 tsp brown sugar
1 Tbsp liquid smoke

Combine all the ingredients and mix them very thoroughly.

Form a cylindrical roll about 2 1/2" thick and wrap in tin foil. Place in the fridge for the flavour to combine for 24 hours.

Heat oven to 325F, poke holes in the tin foil and place on a baking sheet in the oven. Bake at 325F for 1 hour 45 minutes. Turn oven down to very low (mine only goes as low as 170F) and continue baking for another 45 minutes or so until dry.

Remove tin foil and cool on wire rack. Wrap and store in fridge.

I currently have 5 salami rolls baking in the oven right now... Oh it SMELLS so GOOD.!

Monday, April 6, 2009

100 Foot / 100 Mile Diet

This weekend was definately spent on the '100' theme.

On Saturday morning Husband and I attended a '100 Foot Diet: Growing Veggies in your Backyard' seminar. There were two knowledgaeable local gardeners who are graduates of the Master Gardening program in attendance.

I think were at at least 30 people who came to learn about gardening. We were a little disappointed, because it was really just about the basics of gardening and Husband and I have gardened before and grew up in families that gardened. The other thing that put us off, was that they really pushed purchasing hybrid seeds from catalogues - of course we are really into heirloom/heritage vegetables and saving seeds. Obviously the seminar was really geared to the beginning gardener.

We did learn a few things about growing corn in our area and are going to give it a try this year. There were also a lot of good book suggestions for growing in cold climates, and books from local authors.

The Foodnetwork aired the first of a series called "The 100 Mile Challenge" which was filmed in Mission, BC and follows 6 families in their journey to eat only local food for 100 days. The hosts are, of course, James MacKinnon and Alisa Smith, authors of "The 100-Mile Diet: A Year of Local Eating". It was quite interesting and I'm looking forward to the next episode. You watch the episode online here.

Friday, April 3, 2009

Depression Cooking

This morning as I was driving to the office, I had my radio tuned to my usual CBC station, and this is how a learned about Clara.

Her YouTube videos teach how to cook simple nutritious meals along with stories about the depression. Clara is 91, and I am a new fan! She also has her own website Great Depression Cooking wtih Clara.

Thursday, April 2, 2009


Kaiser at 8 months old
(Shadowdale's Northern Emperor)

Going for a walk (in the snow.... again)

Monday, March 30, 2009

Weekend Update

I really need to finish up my books for our income tax, so that is the plan for today. Needless to say I'm not going into the office or anywhere today. I can also say that I'm having a difficult time getting motivated - hence the blogging.

Saturday's Earth Hour didn't go quite as planned, though we did turn off all the lights and the computer for the whole evening. We did cheat a bit and watched the newest James Bond movie "Quantam of Solace" - so our Earth Hour evening wasn't entirely pure. Though I did look up and down our road and saw neighbours with their lights on - disappointing. I just looked up our city's stats and am totally surprised that we managed a 1.5% cut in electricty up from the paltry 0.2% of last year. The provincial average is down from last year's 2% to a 1.1% for 2009.

Yesterday, it felt like spring had finally arrived. Though the snow has gone down over the past week, yesterday was a glorious sunny day. Our house faces south and we have a front porch with large comfy chairs. Husband and I spent most of the day sitting, drinking coffee and soaking up the vitamin D! It was a wonderful lazy Sunday. (This morning it is snowing again with 4cm expected - UGH!)

My parents came for dinner yesterday and I made a ham. It was wonderful! I purchased a very large ham (bone in) from the butcher. I purposefully bought a large one as then the kids will put it on their sandwiches for school, we can make soup with the bone, and use the leftovers in other meals.

We stopped buying luncheon meat (other than salami) several months ago. Husband has hated the thought of luncheon meat for a long time, and with the Maple Leaf listeriosis outbreak last summer, we were finally prompted to stop purchasing deli meat. I'm glad with the decision, as last week I read another news story about sewing needles being found in deli meats. Hmmm, I'm resourceful, perhaps I should think about ditching the salami too and making my own.

Speaking of making my own... I ran out of my Dove deoderant and I really don't want to buy any more.
Some of the reason I no longer want to purchase it is because it is not a natural product, and Dove which is owned by Unilever, has a lot of criticism against it involving deforestation, race issues, sexism and mercury dumping. Here in Canada it seems hard to imagine because we are constantly being bombarded with Dove's 'Campaign for Real Beauty'

I have tried using natural deoderants in the past, but I feel like at the end of the day they made me smell worse than if I had used nothing at all. This morning I am experimenting with a homemade deoderant which I found at One Green Generation. I changed the formula a bit to 2 parts baking soda to 3 parts cornstarch. I'll let you know how it works.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009


Today I meant to give my father a gift.

At age 73, I am sure he was wondering what I was doing when I made him put on the pink headphones attached to my iPod. He had a puzzled expression on his face, but I would not tell him what he would be listening to... it would be a surprise.

I found the podcast I had chosen for him and put it on play. The funny expression turned into pure joy when he began to listen to stories in Plattdeutsch. The same Platt he grew up listening to his parents speak in Germany - it was even the same dialect from the same area of the country.

Today I meant to give my father a gift, but I think it was I one who received the gift instead. It was so wonderful seeing how happy I made him!

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Earth Hour 2009


We are already planning out our Earth Hour evening. Last year we kept the lights off the entire evening. I imagine this year we will do the same. We plan to use our emergency oil lamps (which luckily we didn't have to use this winter) and play board games.

Monday, March 23, 2009


Below is a ist of tomatos we will be growing this year. Most were started last Tuesday and some have already sprouted. Husband is working on building the new green house so it will be ready once the snow is gone.

Latah - Developed at Latah County at the University of Idaho and named by Dr. Boe. Very early bright red tomato that average about 2” across. The flavor is good and better than many of the super early varieties. Indeterminate, regular leaf foliage. (50 days from transplant) - Originally from Heritage Harvest seed - I saved seeds from last year.

Hahms Gelbe - 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) - Originally from Heritage Harvest seed - I saved seeds from last year.

Farthest North - 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) - Originally from Heritage Harvest seed - I saved seeds from last year.

Amish Paste - Amish PasteAn Amish heirloom from Wisconsin that produces 6-8oz red elongated tomatoes. Very juicy and great for fresh eating or sauce. A great dual purpose tomato. Indeterminate, regular leaf foliage. (85days from transplant) - From Heritage Harvest seed

White Beauty (1850) - (a.k.a. White Snowball) White Beauty is one of the better white tomatoes and has creamy white flesh and skin. Mild tasting and good for salads or making white tomato sauce. Indeterminate, regular leaf foliage. - Seeds are from our friend L

Siberian Red Tomato This is a very early ripening tomato variety which performs exceptionally well every year in a short growing season. The plant is semi-determinate and produces a very large number of round, brilliant red, juicy fruits which weigh from 3-5 oz set in clusters. Very slight flattening at the top. Juicy tomatoes with excellent flavor for early variety. Determinate. The best tomato for cold climates!- - Seeds are from our friend L

Manitoba – (1956) - Developed at the Morden Research Station in 1956, this has been a prairie staple for years. It is great for canning, sandwiches and salads. It has good flavor and is very productive. Determinate, regular leaf foliage. - - Seeds are from our friend L

Brandywine heirloom tomato is Probably the first heirloom to achieve "cult status" within the growing popularity of heirloom tomatoes. A pink, potato-leaf, Amish variety from the 1880’s. Years ago, seed saving was done by individuals who understood that the greatest thing they could pass on to the next generation was some of the treasured food plants that had sustained life and had proven their value. Fruits are reddish-pink, with light, creamy flesh that average 12 ounces but can grow to 2 pounds. - - Seeds are from our friend L

Purple Russian - Indeterminate (80 days) A Ukraine heirloom, this variety produces beautiful, rich plum-coloured and- shaped paste tomatoes that are 3-4" long, very meaty & blemish-free. Heavy producer. Although they're paste tomatoes, they're juicy enough that they're one of my favourites for fresh eating.- From The Cottage Gardener