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Thanks Mrs. Spit... and Rows and Greenhouses

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Posted on : 10:48 AM | By : Nic | In : ,

Thanks very much to Mrs. Spit who commented so nicely on my last post about raised beds vs. rows.  She had a great point that when you grow veggies in a bed, it's harder to turn the soil at the end of the season because you have to dig it by hand.  It takes a great deal more effort, and is not as effective.  There are some that don't ever turn their beds once they are made, but you end up with inevitable depletion of the soil.


I can understand using a rototiller, and we have access to a very nice one.  However, in our quest to be sustainable and petroleum-free, we have a conflict between food production and sustainability.  

One thing that we are for sure going to do is build a large greenhouse and use it all year.  We are designing it to have a passive solar feature, a large brick or concrete wall along the north side which will absorb heat and radiate it back into the house.  It will be glass rather than plastic.  I also want to try biomass heat and do my compost inside where it will radiate heat and keep it warmer in there as well.   We should be able to do all kinds of leaf vegetables and herbs throughout the winter, and I also want to try a peach tree and an olive tree if I can keep the temperature above freezing.

Now we have to find a way to till the earth without petroleum, but we aren't prepared to have animals the first year.  Maybe we should try a donkey like described in this great innovative post by Pratie Place.

Raised Beds vs. Rows

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Posted on : 4:21 PM | By : Nic | In :

We are trying to figure out whether we want to do traditional rows (which we do have room for) or raised beds. If we did raised beds we would do wooden boxes to make it look nice and have little paths inbetween. Raised beds have lots of great benefits:

Drainage - the soil is lighter and has better drainage.

Better yield - it's easier to distribute compost and you don't walk on the beds ever so the soil stays in tact and fertile.

Efficiency - they save space, also maximising your yield, and they are easier to keep clean.

Easier on your back - you don't have to bend over as far (and the beds are somewhere between 2-4 feet wide so everything is easy to reach).

Fewer weeds - although a raised bed is much more work initially, they eventually will have fewer weeds because the plants are close enough to shade the weeds.

Irrigation - because the beds are permanent, you can put in different kinds of irrigation such as a soaker hose, and keep it there without changing things around too much.

Longer harvest - with a bed in place it is easier to put in a cold frame over it to extend your growing season.

Rows have benefits as well, they are easier to set up, they work with a roto-tiller or disc plow so a large area would be easier to manage. You don't have to set up paths because you have rows to walk in (although sometimes this can be a bad thing as people are tromping inbetween plants). For organic gardeners sometimes rows may backfire because plants are more exposed and it's more difficult to do companion planting.

Lots to think about. Because we have at least an acre to convert into raised beds it is a bit of a daunting task. It is lots of digging, building frames, and mulching paths. We could have a bigger garden the first year with rows, but it would be worth it in the long run to set up beds.

Guess Which Country Supplies the Most Oil to the USA

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Posted on : 12:23 PM | By : Jack

Quote of the Day

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Posted on : 12:03 PM | By : Nic | In :

Of course, now I am too old to be much of a fisherman, and now of course I usually fish the big waters alone, although some friends think I shouldn't. Like many fly fishermen in western Montana where the summer days are almost Arctic in length, I often do not start fishing until the cool of the evening. Then in the Arctic half-light of the canyon, all existence fades to a being with my soul and memories and the sounds of the Big Blackfoot River and a four-count rhythm and the hope that a fish will rise.
- Norman Fitzroy Maclean (A River Runs Through It)

Road Trip!

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Posted on : 11:43 AM | By : Nic | In :

Guess where I am? Montana! We suddenly decided to take a trip back home to see new babies, new step-moms, family back in town after years. And we can see the land and the house we are going to live in. The hardest part of the trip is the ferry, so we left Sunday night, waited three hours for the ferry to Vancouver (because people leave the island at the end of the weekend), and then stayed the night at John's sister's. In the morning we started driving and 12 hours later we were here. We went through the States rather than southern BC because gasoline is $4 rather than the $6 it is in Canada right now.

We will try to take pictures of this beautiful state while we are here (we will borrow a camera), and we are going on a hike to Avalanche Lake, and possibly fishing. John is going to be posting on here too, so there should be lots more posts, even though we are in the midst of summer fun.

Peak Oil in a Nutshell (BONUS: The Solution in a Nutshell)

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Posted on : 9:26 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

Here is what peak oil is, in a nutshell:


Saudi Arabia's King Abdulla told his subjects in 1998, "The oil boom is over and will not return... All of us must get used to a different lifestyle." He then implemented a series of corruption reforms and government programs intended to lower Saudi Arabia's dependence on oil revenues. The royal family was put on notice to end its excessiveness and new industries were created to diversify the national economy. (Scott MacLeaod,2002-02-25). "How to Bring Change to the Kingdom". Time)  Saudi Arabia is the country that claims the most oil... and they were nervous 10 years ago?

Most people are a little confused by the phrase ‘peak oil’, and they don’t fully realize that our entire 1st World civilization is almost entirely dependent on oil.  The rate of consumption of oil is higher than the rate that we can extract it from the earth, and the problem is compounded by the fact that oil reserves are depleting and population is skyrocketing.  With more and more people putting more and more demand on less and less oil that is harder and harder to extract, it creates a situation where people will have to choose to stop using oil, or they will be forced to.  It may not be that oil is rare or running out, we just can’t get it out fast enough because we use such vast quantities. Some people think that when this happens to an intolerable level, we will simply switch to electric vehicles, but the truth is that every product you use is manufactured using petroleum.  Without oil, vehicles wouldn’t be able to be built at all, along with just about everything else.  Even the organic food you eat is dependent on oil because it takes petroleum to grow it (in the form of large tractors), and to ship it. 

In 2003, the world consumed 80 million barrels of oil per day, and the US alone used 20 million barrels per day (The Hirsch Report). The U.S. Energy Information Administration projects world consumption of oil to increase to 98.3 million barrels per day in 2015 and 118 million barrels per day in 2030. ("World Oil Consumption by region, Reference Case", EIA, 2006).  In 2005, the US Department of Energy published a report titled Peaking of World Oil Production: Impacts, Mitigation, & Risk Management. Known as the Hirsch Report, it stated, "The peaking of world oil production presents the U.S. and the world with an unprecedented risk management problem. As peaking is approached, liquid fuel prices and price volatility will increase dramatically, and, without timely mitigation, the economic, social, and political costs will be unprecedented. Viable mitigation options exist on both the supply and demand sides, but to have substantial impact, they must be initiated more than a decade in advance of peaking."

The solution, in a nutshell:

One of my favorite families, the Dervaes, have started a great new website.  Remember the 100 Mile Diet?  Not good enough!  The real solution to peak oil is the 100 Foot Diet.  You have to dedicate yourself to eating at least one meal a week that came directly from your backyard.  One meal isn't that bad right?  Eventually you could even be like them and eat all your food from your urban backyard.



Spur of the Moment Free Japan Study

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Posted on : 1:04 PM | By : Nic | In :

Yesterday we watched My Neighbor Totoro, the Japanese version.  It is a cute little movie about two little girls that move to the country when their mom is in the hospital, and they meet the lord of the forest, a huge furry creature that lives in a giant tree, whose name is Totoro.  The movie shows many aspects of Japanese country life such as the family baths, motorcycle trucks, treatment of the elderly (calling all older women Grandmother), the paper walls and furniture of the house, and aspects of the Shinto religion.


Annie became fascinated with Japanese and we downloaded a podcast via iTunes from Japanese101 that taught various phrases for mealtimes and the appropriate times to use them.  Before they eat, Japanese people say a simple phrase that means 'to recieve' or something similar.  Then we found a website for kids that had a neat video of the tea ceremony and drumming, and clip from a television show with kids making sushi balls.  Then we just had to make sushi balls.  

I don't have sushi rice so I just made regular rice with a little more water, we had some smoked salmon, and we cut up veggies like red peppers and cucumbers and carrots and the girls used wax paper to smash the rice into a ball, decorate it with vegetables and then smash it again to make it stick.  It was very fun (and healthy too!)

Baking Soda for Cleaning AND Hygeine

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Posted on : 12:43 PM | By : Nic | In : , ,

I use baking soda for so many things.  I only use two green cleaners, a concentrated organic orange spray (although when I run out I just use vinegar or sometimes Simple Green), and baking soda.  The spray is used for mirrors, faucets, shower walls, floors, countertops, etc.  The baking soda is used for the tub and the sinks.


Sodium bicarbonate (or baking soda) is a naturally occurring component of the mineral (or salt) known as Natron that is found in hot springs and other places.  Unfortunately the stuff at the store is produced artificially with sodium carbonate (washing soda) and carbon dioxide, but it is still non-toxic and natural.  Even the ancient Egyptians used natron as a cleanser or soap.

Baking soda can be mixed with cream of tartar to leaven bread instead of using baking powder. 

It is an antacid that can be mixed with water to relieve acid indigestion and heartburn.

I use baking soda to brush my teeth.  In a hurry I just pour some on my damp toothbrush, although you could mix it with some tea tree oil and a bit of water and keep it in a jar as a paste as well.  

When I run out of my current shampoo... I am going to go shampoo free.  You simply mix a tablespoon of baking soda in enough water to make a paste, and massage gently into your whole scalp (the massage is important).  I have really thick hair so it might take more.   Rinse out and then apply apple cider vinegar to the ends of your hair, and then rinse.  This is supposed to make your hair really icky and oily for a short while but your scalp soon adjusts and stops producing so much oil.  

Now I don't use antiperspirant anymore, because it's unhealthy and wasteful and all of that.  But I still have body odor so what do I do?  I use baking soda the same way people use baby powder.  It works best before you get sweaty, and I obviously don't want to stink, but I wonder why our society can't tolerate anyone who doesn't smell minty or flowery? 

And finally, if you need some tv-free entertainment for your kids, put a bit of water and baking soda in a bottle and pour some vinegar in and watch it foam.  Or you could do the whole volcano project thing and color it red too, but no matter what it's still fun.  The bigger the foam, the better.

Unschooling Portfolio of the Week

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Posted on : 12:13 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I know I usually do this on the weekend but we are looking ahead to it being a very busy one so I'm doing this now while I still remember.


The week started out very slow, and it was very warm so our plans to go camping and go to the silly boat races pretty much died by the roadside.  And because I had my goat milk reaction and was sick for a day or two, we spent a lot of time watching some movies (including Short Circuit 2 - that's a blast from the past!).  The girls read books, and we continued to read Farmer Boy every night, and we also read some library books including Sacred Places, we looked at pictures of bats and another book about big cats.  This turned to a discussion about carnivores and the difference between a carnivore and an omnivore and an herbivore, and then it turned into a discussion about predators.  Annie connected the idea that a bat is a predator for fruit and bugs, and a big cat is a predator for antelope, and when she realized that the Puma lives in North America, she had the thought they are a predator for us.  

We also played The Impressionist Art Game, which I got in a bargain bin so I don't have the book, just the cards, and Autumn was on my team and we identified different artists and works of art together while playing Go Fish.  I like this particular set because it includes several female artists as well.

We picked cherries and I climbed up the tree barefoot and scraped up the top of one foot pretty badly, and this turned into a discussion about the value of work and how I feel pretty much the same about work as I do about play.  They are both fun to me.  She saw the work that it takes to gather the food that we eat, even such easy sources such as cherries, and decided that some things are worth the hard work.  

We got together with a homeschooling mom today at a new park, I had met her through the internet and we had been trying to get together for some time.  So the girls played with her 8 year old and 1+ year old and had fun running around together.  We also found a Daddy Long Legs in the bathroom and Annie found it in a book and we realized that it's not a Daddy Longs if it has 8 legs.  It was really a Harvestman.

Tomorrow we are planning to go to a free art activity at an art gallery called Artrageous, and possibly the Bathtub Races.  

Living Without Credit Cards

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Posted on : 11:19 PM | By : Nic | In : , ,

We used to think that credit cards were a necessary part of growing up.  When I started going to college and applying for scholarships, I used to get 'credit counseling' pamphlets about establishing credit, and the number one way was to get a small credit card.  The truth about credit is that it is debt.  Plain and simple, debt is bad.  There is only one thing that you need to ever get into debt for, and that is a home mortgage.  Even vehicle loans are unnecessary.  Here is how we live without credit cards (not even one of those Visa Checkcards!):


Vehicles:
Buy your car cheap and for cash... or borrow it from your Aunt Sally.  Cheap older cars are still reliable, and if you get a tiny one they are great on gas mileage.  Get the right model and the parts are cheap, and because they don't have computers, they are easy to fix.  If you have to borrow a bit from family, you won't get murdered with interest.

Renting a vehicle (or renting other stuff like hotel rooms):
Sometimes you need to travel long distances or rent a truck to move your junk.  Most vehicle rental places require a credit card number that they hold ransom just incase you decide to steal their vehicle.  However, U-Haul does not if you do not reserve the truck ahead of time.  Usually there is more than one U-Haul vendor in an area, and if you go in early in the morning on the day you need it, you can rent a truck right away.  You may have to run to more than one location.  An easier option is to own very little stuff, and buy a truck or trailer for cash to have on hand if you need it.  If you need to take a long trip, I highly recommend taking a train which you can purchase tickets for at a travel agent or an actual train station.  You can also rent hotel rooms this way, or go for a Motel 6 which usually has vacancy anyway.

Buying online:
I use Paypal, which you can use at Powell's Books, and many other websites, but if you want to use Amazon you can pay by check or directly from your checking account.  If a website is demanding a credit card, remember there are so many others that won't.  You should be buying handmade from websites like Etsy which accept Paypal or check anyway.

Use cash:
I generally avoid writing checks, and here in Canada it's actually less common to use cash because of Interac, but we use cash anyway.  We take out the amount we've budgeted to spend for a certain thing, and that's that.  Anytime we start using Interac we go over budget.  Actually, the first thing we do is pay our savings account first if possible.  By having a buffer, if we need new teeth or have to take a sudden trip, or want to get the last seats at Cirque de Soleil, we've got it and don't have to resort to a credit card.  We lend it to ourselves, and pay it back to have at least $1000.

Buying stuff you really want but can't get right now:
There is this miraculous thing called store credit.  It's eeeevilllll.  It opens the door to all kinds of horrible credit opportunities.  When you can't afford something you think you need, walk out of the store, and run to your local second-hand shop, look on eBay, or post on Freecycle.  Find one used that you have the cash for, or save a bit longer until you can afford the one you want.  Because if it's not food or electricity, it's a want, not a need.

The bills:
Sometimes credit comes in handy as overdraft protection or to pay a bill that comes up and you don't have the cash for it.  What you don't realize is that the reason you don't have the cash is that you're paying all of these little minimum payments on these little cards and credit lines.  It's eating away at your available money and you're spending beyond your means.  Keep that savings buffer and quit using the overdraft.  

Quit your job:
Just kidding, you need an income.  But without debt we work 1/4 of the time that we used to.  We are extremely wealthy in spare time.  Debt robs you of spare time because you have to work that much harder to maintain it.  Spend less and work less and treat your life like you've already retired and you'll be much happier.

Intolerable Goats Milk???

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Posted on : 9:06 AM | By : Nic | In :

I have an allergy to cow's milk.  When I drink it, I get an itchy rash on the lower half of my face and it also makes my skin break out like I am a teenager again, and mucus builds up in my throat.  It was not an intolerable allergy, and I theorized that it was the casein, although when I eat ice cream I would get stomach aches so I avoid it.  I drank soy milk for years and I like the taste, although they say that it's not really that great for you either.  It's hard on the system and difficult to digest, which I have witnessed... anytime I or one of the kids gets sick, soymilk just makes us feel way worse.  


So I tried goat milk and I loved the flavour and it seemed like a healthy alternative, until I had horrible stomach pains not long after for about a day.  I was stuck flat on my back and I know it was an intestinal issue but wasn't sure what it was.  I cut out all milk, and I felt 100% better.  So the day before yesterday I decided to introduce a tiny bit of milk back in, and put two big heaping spoonfuls of raw goat cheese into a cream sauce I was making out of plain yogurt.  This was tossed into a pasta, just a very thin coating so I actually ate very little.  But like clockwork the next day I got so sick I threw up first thing in the morning and had other terrible symptoms.  Then I cut out milk immediately (while still eating normally otherwise) and today I feel absolutely fine.

So, it seems as though overnight my milk allergy became lactose intolerance.  After some reading, however, this does not surprise me.  Check out these statistics:

"Between 30 and 50 million Americans are lactose intolerant and certain ethnic and racial populations are more affected than others. Up to 80 percent of African Americans, 80 to 100 percent of American Indians, and 90 to 100 percent of Asian Americans are lactose intolerant. The condition is least common among people of northern European descent." (Digestive Disease Clearinghouse)

So if you look at that, most people in the world can't drink milk.  Doesn't it make you question everything the American Dairy Council has been pouring into advertising?  The healthiest culture in the world is Okinawa, with an average lifespan of 81.  They eat seafood, tofu, oily fish, and fruit and veggies:

"The Okinawan diet might well amaze Americans. The average citizen consumes at least seven servings of vegetables daily, and an equal number of grains (in the form of noodles, bread, and rice—many of them whole grains). Add to this two to four servings of fruit, plus tofu and other forms of soy, green tea, seaweed, and fish rich in omega-3s (three times weekly). Sweet potatoes, bean sprouts, onions, and green peppers are prominent in the diet. Vegetables, grains, and fruits make up 72% of the diet by weight. Soy and seaweed provide another 14%. Meat, poultry, and eggs account for just 3% of the diet, fish about 11%. The emphasis is on dark green vegetables rich in calcium (Okinawans, like other Japanese, don't eat much dairy). Okinawans do drink alcohol, but women usually stick to one drink a day, while men average twice that. Moderation is the key." (UC Berkley Wellness Letter)

Is it any wonder that our diet is so out of whack, when the food pyramid was designed by meat and dairy councils?  In fact if you go to nationaldairycouncil.org and beef.org, a large portion of both websites is 'free information' for teachers and parents that be distributed to children.  They include a food pyramid that isn't even an actual pyramid, it's a list of six things that you need to eat each day (http://www.beefnutrition.com/uDocs/ncbakidsmypyramidmini.pdf).  What's even worse is that it recommends 6 ounces of grains, 2.5 cups of veggies, 2 cups of fruit, 3 cups of milk, and 5.5 ounces of meat.  So I should be drinking more milk than eating vegetables?  And eating almost as much meat as bread?  What's even scarier about this is that this flyer, although designed by the meat council is printed by the government.

This has become a long rant about milk, but pretty much I don't want to drink it anymore at all.  We don't need it.  Our diet is the result of advertising and if you are worried about calcium, eat kale, broccoli, collards, mustard greens and tofu.  If you get seven servings of these each day, I don't think you'll have to worry.

Unique Hanging Earth-Friendly Beds

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Posted on : 1:25 PM | By : Nic | In : , , ,


I like all of these beds, but they certainly vary in price.  The hammock will always be the cheapest, but the alternatives are unique.  This is the Le Beanock, which seems to be only available in the UK:This The Floating Bed, for which you can get all kinds of accessories like tents that hang on the outside and memory foam and sheepskins:
This is really my favorite, the Brazilian hammock.  Cheap and comfy:

We are trying to replace our queen size regular bed with a king size ecological alternative, but it's been tough to find.  We are not big fans of futon mattresses, and although we would compromise with latex foam on the top, it's very difficult to find a king size futon frame that works decently.  We live in small quarters and it would take up the entire room so something foldable or portable yet still huge would be ideal.  It may be that we may end up with a thinner Japanese futon that is easier to fold out of the way, and a tatami mat might be the way we will go.  Maybe we'll do a Japanese thing through the whole house now that we can start over with all of our furniture.  This is how they are stored away (you can see the mats on the floor):


Sloooowwwwinggggg Doooowwwwnnnn

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Posted on : 10:32 AM | By : Nic | In : , , ,

One of the things we have done is purposely slow done and de-schedule our life.  We used to each have a cell phone that we carried constantly, we always had to be in contact and to be able to check the most accurate time.  We no longer carry our phones so getting hold of us is a bit sketchy... people find it quite annoying that they have to send us an email or poke us on Facebook to get our attention. I'm thinking that we could probably live without the phone completely.  I know a family that lives in that small Errington community that does not have a phone or a computer.  If they need to talk to someone they go in person.  Our culture sees not having a phone as a sign of poverty but it seems to me the opposite... someone is rich who has enough free time to go see a friend.


I found the Affluenza documentary that I've been wanting to watch (there is also a book available based on this PBS documentary).  This is Part 1:




Free Date Idea: Stalking Owls

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Posted on : 10:55 AM | By : Nic | In : ,

John and I were reunited yesterday after our three-day separation when he works on the mainland, and I was still babysitting.  We ended up sitting on the porch under the stars and looking at the mountains as the dusk settled.  We heard an owl hooting, and then we heard a little animal scream, a scuffle, more hooting, then quiet and we realized that the owl had killed something, probably a rabbit.  Then we were talking quietly and I heard the sound of a bird I hadn't ever heard before.   John said, "It's just a bird, don't worry about it."  It got a little closer, and a little closer and then we saw an owl sitting on the peak of the roof.  It was screeching rhythmically, a different sound than we had heard before, and then we heard another one answer it.  They called to each other for a while, and then our owl flew towards the sound, but we could hear that he didn't go far away.


We jumped up and made our way into the darkness of the trees surrounding the house, and quietly found two owls sitting by each other on a branch, and possibly calling to a third one.  I didn't think owls hung out with each other.  We felt like trackers as we had to walk very quietly and try to see their silhouettes in the dark.  It was a fun little spontaneous adventure, and now I can try to find a recording of the owls and show the girls, but it would be a lot easier if I had Audubon's Field Guide to Birds

Unschooling Portfolio of the Week

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Posted on : 3:46 PM | By : Nic | In : , ,

This week was another very summery week. It was very hot and we were too tired to haul everyone to the beach so we seemed to be inside more than usual, although we were still outside lots.  John took Annie in the bike trailer from Parksville to Nanaimo in about less than an hour and a half, and I took Autumn to the little farm market to try some local foods.  She pushed the cart and helped me pick what to eat and we identified produce together.  


We also went to the library and picked whatever books the girls happened to be interested in and a few random ones that I found that we might enjoy reading together.  So far we've read a poetry book, Bubblegum Delicious by Dennis Lee (a Canadian author), The Magic School Bus at a Dinosaur Dig, and we're still reading Farmer Boy by Laura Ingalls Wilder.  

We visited a fellow homeschooler with children a similar age and picked some of their raspberries, and played in a pool outside where we discovered that rubber erasers float and discussed the possibility that maybe it was because they were waterproof, and thought about other materials that are waterproof.  

Another day the girls played house under the trees in the backyard, and since I took away their dolls in a Continuum Concept experiment, they traded off playing the mother and the child.  Then I picked cherries with them and we talked about why wasps like cherries too.  We went to a restaurant as a treat and the girls ordered their own food confidently and decisively, and the menu had a pattern game on it that was like a child version of sudoku that we worked on as a family.

Last night we spent the night at a family member's house to babysit while the parent's got a night away, and they experimented with mud, played house with each other, built forts, watched The Chronicles of Narnia, helped take care of the chickens, and made pasta, chili and pancakes with me. We'll go home late, and then tomorrow we'll pick more cherries and go see the Silly Boat Races. A satisfying end to a fun week. :)

Buying Organic From Costco

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Posted on : 2:46 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I have posted a lot today!  I guess I have a lot on my mind and the kids are pretty much entertaining themselves running wild and covered with mud.  I am constantly trying to choose organic foods when I shop.  There are three farmer's markets in my town, and there's three more within 30 km.  There's a whole foods market nearby where I live, and also two grocery stores that carry organic foods that were grown within 200 miles of me but had to come over on a large ferry on a truck.  There is also a small farm market that runs ever day if I need veggies, which takes about 20 minutes to get to.  


So I have many options, and two problems.  Problem one is that I don't have the time to run around to each of these little markets trying to find the best deal on a tomato, or gathering together all the items we eat in a week.  I prefer to shop every two weeks, with maybe a milk run in the middle, because buying in bulk saves us tons of money, not only in gas (my car gets 50 miles per gallon but we still spend at least $100 in gas a month at $6 a gallon...) but in food prices.

My closest store is Costco, it's just down the street, and it carries an organic option for just about everything which allows us to stay within our food budget and support organic agriculture. BUT, many of these items were grown in Mexico or China.  That's not true about all the items, such as Newman's Own stuff.  However, in a trade off between a grocery store and Costco for the same items, I would theorize that Costco uses less petroleum because there is only one Costco in any regional area, and they ship everything in huge bulk orders instead of small amounts.  They are extremely energy conscious and turn off the lights during the day, they don't use bags, recycle all that cardboard and packaging they have hanging around, and even try to recycle food waste like meat trimmings and fat, and most Costco's have solar panels on the roof.  They evaluate packaging so that it can be trucked more efficiently... for example, they changed the shape of a milk carton and saved 520 truckloads a year.  So probably if I have to shop at a store, Costco may be one of the most green business I can go to.

I'm not sure how I feel about food coming in from the far sides of the world so I can afford organic food (or get organic food that tastes better), but it's a compromise that I probably have to make.

How Brave Are You?

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Posted on : 2:37 PM | By : Nic | In : , , ,

This is the Humanure Handbook guy:

Quote of the Day, Book Recommendation, and Wearing Dresses

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Posted on : 11:58 AM | By : Nic | In : , , , ,

The log at the wood pile, the axe supported by it;

The sylvan hut, the vine over the doorway, the space
cleared for a garden,
The irregular tapping of rain down on the leaves,
after the storm is lulled,
...The sentiment of the huge timbers of old fashion'd houses and barns.
- Walt Whitman

One of my favorite books is Diary of an Early American Boy by Eric Sloane.  I am babysitting and I found it on a pile in my father-in-law's office and I want to steal it.  I used to own it and I have no idea what happened to it.  The book is an actual diary by a boy who lived in the early 1800's, but illustrated and expanded to give a more detailed picture of what it was like.  The illustrations are simply amazing.  They truly make the book.  If you like the Little House books and the charming pictures of pioneer life, then you will really love this in-depth window into the past.  
I'm feeling a great need at the moment to start sewing on my Sense and Sensibility patterns again...I made the Regency gown, pantalettes and an underskirt, and I have the coat and underthings pattern, but I want to try the more practical Elegant Ladies Closet pattern.  The trouble with Regency dresses is that they are made for a corset, and I haven't made that yet.  I fully plan to but it's not on my priority list at the moment.  The drawstring version of the dress makes it a bit more versatile for what's underneath.

More Thoughts:  The picture above is of Tasha Tudor, and it's from her website.  The reason I admire her (besides that she is a great writer and artist and lives very sustainably) is probably mostly because she wears clothes she made herself, that are from the early 1800's.  I love historical clothing, and I am looking for a reason to wear them all the time.  In the past, women wore dresses.  There was no question that women should look very feminine, and as a culture it was universally accepted that women should be modest as well.  It had nothing to do with religion or politics.    What I find troubling is that if I were to wear dresses like that all the time, I am immediately identified as part of a religious group, when really that choice has nothing to do with religion at all for me.  I am simply questioning the assumption that because about 30 years ago women could suddenly wear pants all the time, we should.  That's not very long ago for such a dramatic shift in what women can wear, and probably represents a dramatic shift in women's roles and power.  I'm not convinced that either of the role and power shifts have necessarily been a good thing from the viewpoint of family unity and the welfare of children, and I would have been happy with simply getting the right to vote and leaving it at that.

Quote of the Middle of the Night

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Posted on : 12:55 AM | By : Nic | In : ,

There are two ways we treat our children. One is the punishing/blaming: "You are very bad, go stand in the corner or I'll spank you." The other is permissive: "That's perfectly all right darling, if you want to walk on mothers face she doesn't mind." We don't know any other way. The more correct way is what I call information. If you thoroughly understand that children are innately social, then you understand that what they want is information. You don't have to be angry to tell them what's needed. You just let them know. The idea is not to blame, and not to praise, because both are insulting. Expect children to do the right thing. You then are being a clear model and there's no conflict. It's the way nature designed us to behave.
--Jean Liedloff, author of The Continuum Concept

Acetaminophen just isn't good enough

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Posted on : 7:53 PM | By : Nic | In : , ,

As I lay here flat on my back because of stomach cramps from who-knows-what, I am musing over herbal alternatives to acetaminophen, which is the only drug I ever turn to (I would take ibuprofen but it always seems to be a stomach problem and that would just make things worse). Acetaminophen, also known as Tylenol at the drug store, is also my drug of choice for pain relief because it's generally considered safe during pregnancy, a state that we are trying to achieve. It's funny that it is relatively harmless compared to aspirin (which used to be derived from willow bark - now it's synthetic), since it is made from coal tar.

Now because I am never content with the mainstream and constantly dissatisfied with convenience, and not really happy that I just ate coal tar, I've used this valuable time to look up herbal analgesics (an analgesic is a pain-reliever, or something that is anti-inflammatory):

White willow: Unlike regular aspirin this is a little bit safer, although people with liver problems shouldn't take it, and neither should pregnant or nursing women. It is taken as a tincture, between 20-26 drops.

Skullcap: This is great for mild pain and intestinal inflammation. It is taken as a tincture. All herbs should be avoided during pregnancy but this one doesn't have any documented warnings for it.

California poppy: This one is extremely gentle, and unlike the real poppy isn't habit forming, even though it relaxes you and helps you sleep. It is safe for children over six, and helps with cramps, pain, nervousness, etc. It works best when made as a tea with mint. There is no documentation about pregnancy or young children, but perhaps if nothing else is possible this gentle alternative might be an option.

Valerian: I have taken this in capsule form when I was pregnant at the recommendation of my midwife, but like all herbs it reacts differently with everyone and it didn't do anything for me at the time. It is considered safe to use when pregnant or nursing, but since it is a sedative if you cosleep then you should be careful. Capsule form is best because it stinks but teas or tinctures work as well.

I also have to comment that it's 8:30 my girls are not asleep. They are in their room playing together and they will put themselves to sleep in their little floor beds, which could be very soon, or at 11:30pm. When I go to bed I will carry them into my room and they will wake up with me when we are all rested, which could be 10:30 or 11am. This seems like a simple thing, but it goes against everything the culture I was brought up in believes in. It is such a tricky thing for me to learn to be the leader and say, "This is what I'm going to do and you can choose to do it or not." And they have to take responsibility for themselves and go to sleep, just because they're tired. If (or when) I have a baby, it will be in constant contact with me and it can sleep and nurse whenever the heck it wants.

When I first had Annie, I started out with her in my bed and feeding her whenever she wanted and trying to really tune into her needs. She slept with us for about 3 months, and John had a knack for getting her to fall asleep since she was so restless. She stayed in our room for a year and then I succumbed to 'conventional' wisdom and put her in own room since she slept through the night, a decision I now regret because we did let her cry in order to enforce that decision. We did similarly with Autumn, and it generally coincided with the time that they weaned themselves. Then I've felt guilty ever since, while well-meaning family and friends told me that was the healthy choice. It just doesn't work. The kids are happier and calmer and more independent and self-reliant when they have the comfort of being even just in the room with the option of climbing into bed. It's silly really, because most people in the world sleep with their kids, even the industrialized Japanese.

Lessons From the 1600's

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Posted on : 12:25 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I have been wanting to watch Tales from the Green Valley, especially now that I have been reading so much about peak oil and realizing that our society might go back to the way it was back in the 17th century, and I found this article by Megan Lane from BBC about the insights gathered by the reenactors who made the documentary (here is a link to the article):

1. Know thy neighbours. Today it's possible to live alone, without knowing anyone within a 20-mile radius (the same goes for townies). That was simply not possible in the past - not only did the neighbours provide social contact, people shared labour, specialist skills and produce. "And women were judged on good neighbourliness," says historian Ruth Goodman. "If you were willing to help others - particularly during and after childbirth - then others would be more prepared to help you in times of need."

2. Share the load. It was nigh on impossible to run a 1620s farm single-handedly, and the family - either blood relatives, or a farmer, his wife and hired help - had to be multi-skilled. Labour, too, was often divided along gender lines, but at busy periods, such as harvest time, it was all hands on deck.

3. Fewer creature comforts have some benefits. No electricity meant once daylight faded, work stopped in favour of conversation, music-making and knitting. And no carpets meant fewer dust mites, which are linked to asthma and allergies. "They scattered herbs on the floor which released scent when trodden on - this drove out flies and other insects," says Ms Goodman.

4. Eat seasonally. Today it's because of "food miles" and the inferior quality of forced products. In the 1620s, it was because foods were only available at certain times of year - and not just fruit and veg. Mutton, for instance, was in abundance in spring, soon after shearing time. This was because a sheep's wool quality plunges after eight years - thus animals of that age were killed after their final fleece was removed.

5. Tasty food comes in small batches. Today farmers' markets are a tourist attraction and many delight in regional specialities. For these producers play to the strengths of their ingredients, unlike, for instance, the makers of mass-produced cheese. This has to taste the same year-round, despite seasonal variations in milk quality. "So high-quality milk in the spring is downgraded so the finished product is consistent throughout the year," says Ms Goodman.

6. Reuse and recycle. Today we throw away vast mountains of packaging, food, garden waste and other materials. In 1620s, there was a use for everything, with tattered bed linens made into fire-lighters and animal fat into soap. Even human waste had uses. Faeces was a fertiliser, and urine was stored to make ammonia to remove laundry stains.

7. Dress for practicalities. Today fashion and social convention dictate our wardrobes. While polar fleeces and high-performance tramping boots may be all the rage when going rural, the wardrobe of 400 years ago proved more comfortable. "While the crew shivered in their modern garb, we never felt the cold in just two layers - a linen shirt and woollen doublet," says archaeologist Alex Langlands. Breeches meant no wet and muddy trouser legs, and staying covered up - rather than stripping off in the heat - prevented bites, stings, sunburn and scratches.

8. Corsets, not bras. "By that I don't mean Victorian corseting," says Ms Goodman. "Corsets support your back as well as your chest, and don't leave red welts on your skin like bra elastic does. They made it hard to breath walking up hills, but I get short of breath doing that anyway. And most people feel sexy in a corset."

9. Biodiversity protects against unforeseen calamity. While the developed world no longer counts the cost of crop failure in starvation and mass migration - the result of Ireland's Great Potato Famine in 1845 - the 2001 foot-and-mouth crisis decimated farms up and down the country as animals, the farmers' livelihoods, were put to death. The 1620s farm had grains, fruit and vegetables, and a range of animals - if one failed, alternatives were available.

9. Reliance on any one thing leaves you vulnerable. Hence the country ground to a halt during the petrol blockades of 2000, and a shortage of coal during 1978-9's Winter of Discontent caused electricity shortages. On the 1620s farm, when oxen used to plough fields fell ill, the implements were reshaped and horses did the job instead.

10. No pesticides means a richer variety of birds, butterflies and other insects, many of which feast on pests - a result as desirable for the gardener as the farmer. And the hedgerow and fields of wild flowers of the past are today making a comeback, as these provide habitats for these creatures and allow edible plants to flourish.

Quote(s) of the Day

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Posted on : 1:43 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I just registered Annie for her homeschooling program.  In BC, if you register as a homeschooler under a provincially-recognized educational institution, you can get financial support from the province for homeschooling.  It varies by the school, but I am doing Wondertree which supports unschooling and anything else you want to do.  It should be fun!


So the theme today is education quotes:

"We who are engaged in the sacred cause of education are entitled to look upon all parents as having given hostages to our cause."
-- Horace Mann, father of common (government)school movement.

"Every child in America entering school at the age of five is insane because he comes to school with certain allegiances toward our Founding Fathers, toward his parents, toward belief in a supernatural being, toward sovereignty of this nation as a separate entity... It's up to you to make all these sick children well."
-- Chester Pierce - Harvard University Psychology professor.

"Let our pupil be taught that he does not belong to himself, but that he is public property. Let him be taught to love his family, but let him be taught at the same time that he must forsake and even forget them when the welfare of his country requires it."
-- Benjamin Rush, signer of Declaration of Independence

Happened to find this, and enjoyed it immensely:
The Earth is degenerating these days. Bribery and corruption abound. Children no longer mind their parents, every man wants to write a book, and it is evident that the end of the world is fast approaching.
- Assyrian Stone Tablet, c.2800BC

Soy vs. Cow vs. Goat

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Posted on : 1:20 PM | By : Nic | In :

Soymilk, cow's milk and goat's milk have been under debate at our house.  I normally drink soy (only the organic Silk brand) and it's just now that I can drink a glass of it and it tastes good to me, even though I've been drinking it for about 6 years.  I'm allergic to cow's milk from the store (I get an itchy rash on my face, which usually means an allergy to casein, the protein in it), but it is possible that I wouldn't be to raw milk.  Unfortunately, raw milk is pretty much illegal everywhere.  


We are also trying to decide whether we will get a cow or goats in the spring, and it would be dependent on what the milk tasted like to us.  So I finally had goat's milk yesterday, and it tasted really good!  Even more wonderful, I am not allergic to it.  

This is probably because goat's milk is closer to human milk and contains very little casein.  It's a good source of protein and calcium, and is easier to digest.  It doesn't really contain enough B12 or Folate so we'll need to make sure we are getting them in our other foods.  It's not something you can just give to a baby (even though it is closer to human milk) because of bacteria, but if you must replace the miraculous human breast, boiling it will make it safe.  But, goat milk is used all over the world and they are much easier to raise than domesticated cows.

So we are going to get goats.  We don't eat a lot of meat so the goats and chickens should be enough for our family, and both have two uses - eggs and meat, and milk and meat.  We have to be very efficient, although I would really like a donkey.  I just have to figure out why I need one.

Toilet Paper

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Posted on : 3:47 PM | By : Nic | In :



The two most popular sections of my book have always been Building a Cabin, and page 210: Toilet Paper. What did people do when they didn't have nice rolls of bleached, tree-pulp paper to clean after using the outhouse, and what do they do now in other countries?

Newspaper: Crumble it in your hands to make it softer.
Paper: Treat it just like newspaper, but you might have to crumble it for longer.
Cloth: Old scraps of cloth cut into squares.
Mullein: Harvest the large velvety leaves of the mullein plant.
Your Hand: In India most people use their left hand, and then wash it.
Sand: Some people dip their damp hand in a jar of sand and scrub a bit with it.
Wisteria: Commonly used as toilet paper, harvested for the leaves.
Persimmon: These tree leaves have been used as toilet paper.
Oak: Oak leaves are also a common toilet paper.
Fig: Fig leaves not only do the job, they cure hemorrhoids.
Straw: A handful of clean straw can easily be put into a composting toilet.
Corn: The corn silk is much softer, but not having that even the ear leaves work.

In Which I Experience Every Aspect of Vancouver Life in Three Days

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Posted on : 1:35 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I just got back from three days of working in Vancouver with my husband. This is part of our unjobbing project... I now work only two days a month, and he works 12, only three days a week. Our goal is to not work outside the house at all, but for now we go across to Vancouver from the island and it works great.

We do cleaning, and I saw these amazing multi-million dollar homes that could be in a magazine (and probably were). Some of these were green built homes that obviously were very eco-conscious, including water and energy saving devices and sustainable materials. I learned for the first time that a good water saving toilet still uses 1.6 gallons of water (a gallon!) which makes want to avoid flushing the toilet as much as possible. Sorry family. I can't wait until we get a composting toilet. These houses were massive and elegant. In the same day we were riding the bus and the skytrain downtown and saw all walks of life and all kinds of people. I saw the worst poverty, children begging in the street and people living in tarps on the sidewalk, and hotels that sell by the hour and had young oriental girls standing in front of them. I'm not sure if the middle class really exists any more because poverty really is so extreme. If you have fresh running water in your home, you should count yourself wealthy.

My husband took me out to a nightclub for the first time because (1) we had never been dancing and I love dancing and (2) I've never been to a nightclub and it's important to try new things. We are both not good dancers and we looked ridiculous but it was so much fun. I enjoy watching people, and so I spent lots of time just observing. We were the only ones not drinking and it struck me how the young people of today get their kicks by bombarding all of their senses at once with the maximum they can handle. The music was insanely loud, there were bright laser lights and strobes, movies playing on the wall, the alcohol and a mass of people all squished together. Why do people feel the need to overload their systems now? In the past young people got their kicks from similar things, but at a much lower level.

The highlight of our trip was that we went to the Corteo show of Cirque du Soleil. It wasn't going to be in Vancouver much longer and I've wanted to go ever since I was a kid and wanted to run away and join the circus. Being a lucky homeschooled child, my dad built me a tightrope and they found a unicycle at a garage sale and I took gymnastics and had all kinds of fun that way. But I never did get to run away with the circus (although I'm not saying I never will). I've been to two circuses in my life, Ringling Bros., and Circus Gatti (which can't really be called a circus), and Cirque du Soleil blows them away. You are paying for everything that you ever wished a circus could be when you were a kid, and it's well worth it.

The Shack

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Posted on : 12:46 PM | By : Nic | In : , ,



I just finished The Shack this morning.  There are certain books in my life that have been so profound that their meaning has been incorporated into the the way that I think and my perspective of the world.  Little Women was one of those, Creating True Peace by Thich Nhat Hanh, To Kill a Mockingbird, The Diary of Anne Frank... there is actually quite a long list, but not that many compared to the thousand that I have read.  The Shack is now one of them.  Every conflict and confusion in my my mind about God and life in general is lovingly and vividly addressed and the way I look at things will never be the same.

Unschooling Portfolio

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Posted on : 11:01 AM | By : Nic | In : ,

Because I am finally allowing my Type-A personality to let go and allow my children to just learn without trying to control (or trying not to try), I feel like I'm not doing anything at all.  So to make myself feel better I'll also kind of use this as a space to record what they did during the week... a kind of educational inventory, if you will.  It doesn't really do anything, it just serves to keep my perfectionism at bay.  If only we could find our little Canon Elph camera then this would be a lot easier.  


This week we played with hoses and water and mud, and the girls both hiked all the way up and down Notch Hill (which would have made some fantastic pictures overlooking Nanoose Bay and the strait, but of course we can't find the camera) and identified a few plants because Annie has become interested in which wild plants are edible and which are not, they have drawn with crayons and markers, and today they are painting with tempura paints.  Annie also learned to make scrambled eggs and pancakes on the stove, which at five was an a bit of adventure because she would forget and try to use the non-spatula hand, but she made some really good eggs.   We also walked about 6 kilometers one day to the mall from our house where there was a farmer's market (the market turned out to be a disappointment but I'll save that post for another day) and back again and Annie's clothing choices were left completely up to her based on her observation of the weather.  Autumn was in my polar fleece sling and at 2.5 she is getting a little heavy, so her hike up Notch Hill was a relief because I think she'll be almost done with riding around like a kangaroo.  The pattern I used to make my sling was from Jan Andrea, but she has a whole bunch of other information on other patterns as well.


My Hippie Book Collection

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Posted on : 1:04 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

I have a growing collection of self-published books from the 70's.  They are all originals except for one which I found as a reprint, and I'd like to find the original of that as well.  

UPDATE: I've been able to find these for sale at Powell's Books, and the links are now included here.
I don't have the original of Living on the Earth, but the reprint is very valuable in itself.


Prenatal Yoga and Natural Birth by Jeannine Medvin (one of the best prenatal books I've ever read!)

Woodstock Craftsman's Manual... detailed instructions on all kinds of neat crafts.
Woodstock Kid's Crafts is also a great art handbook, but for children.
Country Women: A Handbook for the New Farmer (I have the original but not a pic)

More Homestead Equipment and Some More Montana

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Posted on : 11:35 AM | By : Nic | In : ,

I posted the household/kitchen items that we'll need, so here's the list of tools/farm equipment we want to get:


Tools:
12 inch hammer
Large ax
Hatchet
2x8" clamps
4x16" clamps
Chisel
5 pound wood splitting wedge
Low angle hand plane
Sledgehammer
24" level
Brass plumb bob
Chalk line
Bottle of blue chalk
Pick
100' tape measure
Nails
Crosscut saw
Carpenter saw
Keyhole saw
Saw sharpening kit
Sandpapers/sanding block
Linseed oil
Emery paper
Phillips/Robertson's screwdrivers
Ratchet set
Sawhorse
Square
Pipe wrench
.22 rifle
Gun license
Ammunition
Fishing reels and rods
Lures and hooks
Large hunting knife
Fishing knife
Spade shovels
Dung shovels
Snow shovel
Leather/cotton gloves
Pitchforks
Posthole digger
Garden hose
Disc plow
Cultivator
Plow
Spring tooth harrow
Mower
Tether
Lots of seeds (heirloom organic)
Rope
Several sizes of pulleys
Chains and padlocks
Scythe and sharpener
Machete
Garden hoe
Dutch flat hoe
Wheelbarrow
Garden rake
Tote basket
Hay rake
Dung fork

The place that we are going in Montana is the same land that I consider that I grew up on, although in relation to the rest of my life it really wasn't that long that I was there.  It is five acres, has a house and a mobile home available, a small barn that could handle a cow and some chickens, a pasture, a large garden area, and a forested area in the back.  The trailer is the one that I lived in when I was a kid and needs repair, but we will be able to live in the house until we get those done.  The trailer has a wood stove, and is hooked up to a well and power so when we've fixed it up it will be quite cozy and nice.  Much warmer than a tipi.  Montana isn't as cold as the northeast, but it still gets to be 40 below sometimes.  It's also about 10 minutes from Glacier Park and all kinds of lakes to go fishing including Flathead Lake.  One of my favorite spots on earth is Avalanche Lake (this picture was taken by Dennis Jacobsen):
The water in the picture is very choppy because it was a rainy day, but on a clear day it's like glass even though there are dozens of waterfalls around the edge which make a loud roaring sound. You can sit at the edge and all the little chipmunks will come up to you and beg for food.  It's going to be strange being back in the States since I've been Canadian for seven years.  

Tipi Valley

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Posted on : 8:35 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

As sad as I am to let the tipi dream die (temporarily), we will be definitely moving to Montana in the spring and starting a small five acre farm on my aunt and uncle's unused land, and this makes me very happy. In tribute to the tipi lifestyle, here is a video about Tipi Valley in Wales that made me ache with some kind of forgotten feeling... what is that feeling?  I think it's that feeling I had when I became a member of the Society for Barefoot Living.  :)





Peasant Bread and Unschooling

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Posted on : 7:57 PM | By : Nic | In : , , ,

Today I made Peasant Bread, which is part of my goal to get back into baking the family bread.  We're doing the Hillbilly Housewife's $70 a week menu more or less, with a few minor changes.  We did her $45 a week menu once before, but found that here in BC many of the items weren't available or were actually quite expensive.  For example, you can't get greens in a can here.  Food is much more expensive here and the $45 menu cost us about $80 a week which is still quite good, but we felt that we could eat better for that price.  The $70 a week menu is much closer to what we actually eat and in order to get closer to the prices quoted on her website, we bought all the items in bulk from The Real Canadian Superstore (like Costco, but no membership).  Rather than buying white sugar, I stuck with brown and also added honey and peanut butter and apples instead of applesauce.  Eventually honey will replace the brown sugar.  We also added a small carton of milk, and two cartons of soy milk.  I also don't make her bread, I have my own recipes that have similar ingredients.  We'll see how it balances out in the end.


Here's my Peasant Bread recipe.  The molasses flavor is quite strong so you could substitute half of it with honey, which I'll try next time.  I don't know where it came from because it's on a slip of paper but I'm grateful for it, whoever made it:

2 1/2 cups warm water
4 cups whole wheat flour
2 tablespoons yeast
1/2 cup molasses
1/4 cup vegetable oil
1/4 cup milk (soymilk works great)
2-3 cups white flour (I want to try substitute corn flour for this as well)
1 teaspoon salt

Mix water, yeast and 1 tablespoon molasses in a large bowl.  Pour in wheat flour and mix well.  Let sit for at least 20 minutes.  Add the rest of the molasses, oil, soy milk, and salt.  Add white flour 1/2 cup at a time until the dough is not sticky.  Knead 15 minutes.  Form loaves and let double in size.  Bake at 350 for 35-40 minutes.  Rolls at 375 for 20 minutes.
This is a photo of Englishman River Falls taken by Kevin Ebi, who has done some great photos of Vancouver Island.  This is the only part of the river I had been to up until today, but I took the girls to another part with the Errington homeschool group with a little swimming hole.  Errington is an unusual little community that is immune from building codes, and has attracted many interesting people that like living simply and off the grid.  There are many alternative houses and I saw one today that was an octagon and looked a little bit like a hobbit hole.   It's also interesting that the lack of rules and the general possibility that everyone can build anything they like and get back to the land has created a very close-knit open minded community.  It's also driven land prices sky-high.  I am jealous though because just about everyone in that homeschool group is an unschooler or gradually leaning that way and they base all their weekly activities around nature and real life experiences.

Chicken Soup Free Date Idea

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Posted on : 10:25 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

Our date last night was better than any date so far.  We went up to the kitchen at 10:00 at night and made a huge breakfast with hash browns, bacon, and sunny-side up eggs on toast.  We ate until we were stuffed, and then we went to bed and took turns reading stories from Chicken Soup for the Couple's Soul.  We cried and laughed together and stayed up until 2am.  We bought the book at a thrift store for a couple of dollars, but it's probably at the library if you want to get technical and make sure it really cost nothing.

Homestead Equipment List

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Posted on : 9:57 PM | By : Nic | In : ,

So... we have been offered the use of five acres of my aunt and uncle's land in Montana.  It is still under discussion about what we would do with it but we are pretty sure that this is a great opportunity that is too good to pass up.


No matter where we end up, we have created a list of items to collect for our homestead.  This is the list of kitchen items:

Kitchen items:
Clothesline
Broom (can be made, pg. 196)
Treadle sewing machine (Singer)
Baskets (can be made, pg. 195)
Tarps
Rope
Blankets & pillows (quilts, pg. 234)
Can opener
Canning jars
Crockery or enamel ware
Glass water jugs
2 metal basins
Clothes wash plunger
Huge pot (cauldron?)
Dutch oven
Cast iron frying pan/sauce pan
Utensils
Plates/cutlery
Tea kettle
Bread toaster
Hand grain grinder (will check Lehman's)
Pan scrubby/steel wool
Meat cooking thermometer
Liquid cooking thermometer
Butcher knife
Steel and ceramic bowls
Unbleached muslin
Enamel canner
Pressure canner
Pressure gage
Jar rack
Canning lids
Hydrometer
Cooler (otherwise known as an ice chest)
Iron pots/pans
Roasting pan
Stock pot
Bread pans
Muffin pans
Cookie sheets
Wooden cutting board
Rolling pin
Wire racks
Dishpan
Drain rack
Large bowls
Breadboard
Wood spoons
Pot holders/dishcloths
Strainers
Butter churn/paddle (check Lehman's)
Sprout growing trays

Besides the woodworking and gardening tools, the kitchen supplies are super important. Eliminating plastic and aluminum in the kitchen is also a major priority since vinegar, yogurt, soap, herbal preparations and other made-from-scratch items can only be prepared in ceramic or enamel or steel containers.  The same goes for utensils.  No more rubber and plastic flippers or spoons.  Fortunately I've already eliminated disposable plastic and paper items other than wax paper, using cloths for cleaning up and paper for food storage and leftovers.


Free Date Night at a Book Discussion

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Posted on : 10:36 AM | By : Nic | In : , ,

My husband and I have been going on dates 2-3 times a week, without children, and the only rule about these dates is that they can't cost money.  We cheat every time and buy donuts, but that's beside the point.  We've been hiking up to Little Mountain, watched the sunset, and read books together. Last night we went to a book discussion with the author of Life, Money & Illusion: Living on Earth as if we want to stay by Mike Nickerson.  He also founded the 7th Generation Initiative (SustainWellBeing.net) which has defined sustainability in this way:

Well-being can be sustained when activities:
1. use materials in continuous cycles
2. use continuously reliable sources of energy
3. come mainly from the qualities of being human (i.e. creativity, communication, movement, appreciation, and spiritual and intellectual development)
Long term well-being is diminished when activities:
1. require continual inputs of non-renewable resources
2. use renewable resources faster than their rate of renewal
3. cause cumulative degradation of the environment
4. require resources in quantities that undermine other people's well-being
5. lead to the extinction of other life forms

It was a very interesting discussion, partly because the group of people there were already so involved in promoting sustainability as a social goal.  There was a doctor from India there who works all over the world and had recently come from Darfur, an ecoforester working for The Land Conservancy here in BC, various philanthropists and people locally who try to live with a smaller footprint.  I need to read the book but I came away feeling very motivated and feeling as though I could define what I have been doing on DeliberateLife.com for the past 4 years a little better.  

I was wondering if I should bring back the old site as it was, but I think this blog format is working very well, as I would really like to have more people guest-post if I could.