Tuesday, August 30, 2011

Free Green Living Ebook

Hello all from a VERY windy Cape Town...gosh I hope it rains after all this wind!

Yesterday I got a really interesting submission on my green living website called Save Money and Help the Environment with Vegetarian Cooking.

It is full of great advice which I want to pass onto you all.

The writer of this article also has a free ebook that you can download with some great green living tips called Going Green in 24hrs.


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Time for everything...

The other day a mom asked a group: “How do you do it all?” There were varying words of advice from doing what you want first then doing what you have to after that to easy tips like writing down what you need to do and then working systematically down the list. Others said just accept what you can do in the hours you have and do not feel guilty about the rest.

I have been thinking about this a lot as I have realized a few things along the way of being a wife, mum to 4, homeschooling, working from home, growing our own food and living green. Yeah that’s a long list of things, but they are all interwoven and intertwined.

I turned the corner at 41 and all of a sudden, it seemed, I could not do more than one or two extra things really well in a day. There were a lot of reasons for this, my back pain, increased schooling hours with my older children and busy hours in my kitchen with changed eating habits. This means that the focus is very simple...once we have done schooling, chores and sports, cooked and spent time together, I can make some cookies or stock...I can knit a bit or garden....you get the idea?

Broccoli harvested yesterday...recipe to follow

One of the worst things we can do as moms is comparing ourselves to others. There are other families who live on farms or whose children are in school or who do not work from home etc and they can seem to achieve much more as they have more time available. I have a handful of places I visit on the web – in fact only 3 blogs – over my week and for the most part I skim what the content is about and only if I can apply it to MY life and MY home do I read further. I have seen many a mom chase the rainbow of another’s home and burn out way to quickly. Staying busy in my own home with my own family and life is what God wants for me (see Titus 2: 3 – 5).

When life becomes so overwhelming I par back so that my time is spent on only doing the essentials. At bare bones level this is 1)spending time on relationships 2)cooking for my family 3)doing schooling 4)keeping the house in order 5)caring for our interests (garden, chickens, home business). I accept in these times this is all I can do but that soon things could change and my capacity may increase to add in social events and learning new skills.

Lucky asleep on the old coir we replaced yesterday

The Bible says in Philippians 2:14 that we are to do ALL things without complaining and arguing. So when I feel like having a good old moan, I remember this scripture and ask the Lord to give me fresh vision for what I am doing as a homemaker. Colossians 3: 23 – 25 also says that whatever you do, work at it with all your might, as working for the Lord. With these perspectives it is easier to keep focussed on what I must do as a wife, mother, homemaker, in this season of my life.
6 litres of chicken stock waiting to be decanted

The other thing that helps me to get through the cooking, cleaning, schooling, gardening, bread making, sustainable practices etc is to make sure our family works as a team. Everybody knows what their daily jobs are, how they need to be done and that they are to “do a little extra” without complaining. I always try to find jobs that suit the personalities of my children...one of my children really gets no pleasure from gardening so I keep this child’s gardening chores to the minimum, but she enjoys baking and cooking so she gets more of these chores allocated. Sometimes though each child will have things to do that challenges their dislikes, but this is great for character training :-)

Almost all the strawberry plants were rehomed in new baskets yesterday

My answer to this moms who asked “how do you do it all?” is simple – you can’t actually. Something always gives if we try to take on too much and there is so much that we can do as homemakers. The key is to be sensible to your stage of life, your unique circumstances and to your families needs before adding anything new to the mix.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Spring production line...

Rain is forecast from today (Sunday) until mid week, so yesterday we made hay while the sun shone.

275 pots planted with tomato seeds (5 varieties), dill, basil, sage, amaranth, cucumber, squash, butternut, hubbard squash.

While 3 if us were busy with that, Superman and daughter tackled making potato planters based on these ones. We can fit about 6 of them along the wall on a brick paved area and at R699 a pop we had to make a plan for ourselves.

We have tried potatoes in tyres but they never yielded like expected and recently studies have shown that chemicals can leech from the tyres to the soil and thus potatoes so to err on the side of caution we were looking for a new way to do this making use of our paved areas.

We have grown potatoes in the main veggie beds too in the past and the yields are good, but they are in the ground for a long time, cannot be replanted there in the next 2 years and in our small space where we need to focus on intensive growing the new wooden frames seem like a win.

We shall see, we shall see.....

Thursday, August 18, 2011

Getting Ready For Spring

The countdown has begun...I have always looked forward to spring as it was a wonderful time to teach my young children out in nature's first blush, it was a time to shake off the cobwebs of hibernation, to get busy again outdoors. This winter has been a dry moderate winter which is very concerning for summer water needs.

But spring is around the corner and it will wait for no woman...at least this year I am not in such a frantic rush like last year when I spent the 2 weeks in the UK with my daughter. I have been able to do a little everyday in preparation for planting days.

Each day my children have on their chore lists to make 10 newspaper pots each. We calculate that we will need close to 500 of these little things to get seeds started this year now that we have added the new pond garden.I shared my excitement previously about Jane's Delicious Garden Planner and have all my plans stuck up next to my desk here at my computer.The coolest feature they now have is a link to Living Seeds where you can click on the necessary seed which takes you to the ordering page at LS. I bought some of my seeds from them this year again. We also have to remove two big tree limbs from our stinkwood as when they are fully clothed they cast so much shade that we loose about 4 veggie beds. $$$$$

Another cash out lay is on replacing some - almost all in fact - of our coir strawberry baskets. Superman surprised me way back in 2009 by hanging up loads and loads of baskets. We planted them up with strawberries and they have given us so many fruits that we owe it to them to give them lots of TLC this spring.

This will be a big job as we will have to remove the current baskets and the roots tend to grow right into them. Give them fresh soil and replant. I really hope this will regenerate their growth and production.

This summer I am determined to grow ginger. I tried last season but it didn't work so I am trying again.

We have not made enough compost for our planting season, so we will have to buy in...time to start shopping around for prices.

One thing I am still trying to decide is whether we will do as we have always done and do big garden days on the weekends to whether we should each be responsible for a patch and work everyday...a little at a time. What do you do in your gardens?

Tuesday, August 16, 2011

Meal planning...for the unorganized :-)

I bet the people who really know me laugh at this title as I am "known" for being organized - well here's a newsflash: I am slipping in my old age!

You see I have always worked with a meal plan - I'd plan 2 - 6 weeks in advance, buy the needed foods and then stick to it! However over the last couple of months I just haven't been doing that.

Mind you, I will not be seen standing at my fridge or in a check out line at 5pm...I always know what I am having at least a day ahead. But now my meal plannng works something like this:

"Aaah we have lots of eggs..." scrambled egg for breakfast or egg mayo sandwiches for lunch or quiche for dinner.

"Mmh, veggies to juice...with almonds" - that's our snack.
"Gee, I better use those broad beans tonight" and they are whipped into last nights meal of chicken and broad bean pasta.

That's just how we roll for now. Here's last nights recipe....

Thursday, August 11, 2011

Easy spinach, pinenut and cream cheese pies.

Today for lunch we had delicious spinach pies. Our spinach is growing fast and furious in this unseasonally warm weather....it's a bit concerning that we have not had enough rain....

I took a packed colander of spinach, washed and chopped it... then added it to a pot with some fried onion in butter to sweat.

In the meantime I rolled out the pastry and edged it with egg.

When the spinach is cooked, drain and cool slightly. Add to it 250ml cream cheese and 125g packet of pine nuts. Mix it all together and plonk a little in the centre of each pasty square.

Seal up and brush with egg then bake until golden. Delicious.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

A day of rest...

“For we are an overwrought generation, running to nerves as a cabbage runs to seed..." Charlotte Mason

Have you ever wondered what our world, our communities and our families would be like if we kept the 4th commandment that the Lord gave to Moses way back when? {Remember the sabbath and keep it holy.}

First asparagus of the season

Over the last few years we have been trying to move more and more to a day of complete rest. It is still a ways off, but we have definately started to understand the benefits of staying home, staying still, resting on a Sunday, honoring God.

Raised beds ready for spring compost

I have been thinking of what it might be like for people to keep a Sabbath, not out of a legalistic constraint but out of a choice to make a difference to their family, community and world. Here are my rambling thoughts...

Sprouting Broccoli picked by the handful, eaten raw

Staying home =

Less cars on the road...

Less CO2 emmissions....

Staying out of shops....

Less money spent.....

Ladies in waiting - newspaper pots

Homestyle family based entertainment...

More time with family...

More time for relationships...

More time to talk about real issues...

More time for slow food...

Winter Salad - snap peas, nasturtiums, rocket, broccoli, pak choi....

More time to be frugal...

Teabags drying in the sun for firelighters

More time for simple pursuits...

More time for weary parents to rest...

Calendulas in full bloom

This in turn will build...

Stronger families...

“The family is the corner stone of our society. More than any other force it shapes the attitude, the hopes, the ambitions, and the values of the child. And when the family collapses it is the children that are usually damaged. When it happens on a massive scale the community itself is crippled. So, unless we work to strengthen the family, to create conditions under which most parents will stay together, all the rest – schools, playgrounds, and public assistance, and private concern – will never be enough…” — Pres. Lyndon B. Johnson

Stronger communities...

A healthier world.

Today's harvest of broad beans

What do you think?

Friday, August 5, 2011

On my mind....

I am trying to get back into juicing every day. I use carrots, pineapples or oranges, celery and whatever else is in season - spinach or cabbage....

I am also growing wheatgrass to juice...its on the sunny step outside my bedroom.

On my mind is a Friday photo feature hosted by Rhonda Jean at Down to Earth.

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Broad bean and bacon risotto

In 2008 we planted our first broad beans. Each year since I have saved seeds from the harvest for the next years planting. This actually happened by accident as the pods are so well camouflaged that the beans inside the pods that we missed became so big that they got quite bitter. Those are the ones we saved. This year we have 3 huge beds of broad beans planted out and they are now in for the eating!

Sunday lunch has turned into a traditional risotto meal. It is a nourishing and filling meal using home made chicken stock and whatever in season green veg I have. If I can find mushrooms cheaply at the shop then I also make a risotto with mushies as the veg instead.

This Sunday I adapted a recipe from Harvest and made broad bean and bacon risotto which was just scrumptious.

1pkt streaky free range bacons sliced
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 tablespoons butter
500g risotto rice
1.5 litres chicken stock
250ml white wine
250g shelled broad beans
6 sliced spring onions
200g finely grated parmesan cheese
handful of thyme

Melt butter and oil, fry bacon and onions. Add rice and coat with the oil. Add the wine, stir well and keep lid on the pot for 2 mins. Start adding the chicken stock cup full at a time stirring well with each addition until all the stock is used.
Add the broad beans, thyme and 3/4 of the parmesan and turn off the heat. Put the lid on the pot while you lay out the plates. Serve into each bowl, top with fresh parmesan. Gobble up quickly!