Saturday, April 30, 2011

Simple Stone Soup

I first heard this old fabel at my daughter’s school.  I was visiting the school for the day and this soup was made for lunch and shared by all.   The soup was delicious !  I still make this soup regularly (without the stone ! )  Each time it is made it tastes a little different, depending what I have on hand.   The moral of the story is a good reminder for everyone. 

The Stone Soup Story

A kindly, old stranger was walking through the land when he came upon a village.  As he entered, the villagers moved towards their homes locking doors and windows.   The stranger smiled and asked, why are you all so frightened.  I am a simple traveler, looking for a soft place to stay for the night and a warm place for a meal.

"There's not a bite to eat in the whole province," he was told. "We are weak and our children are starving.  Better keep moving on."

"Oh, I have everything I need," he said. "In fact, I was thinking of making some stone soup to share with all of you." He pulled an iron cauldron from his cloak, filled it with water, and began to build a fire under it.

Then, with great ceremony, he drew an ordinary-looking stone from a silken bag and dropped it into the water.

By now, hearing the rumor of food, most of the villagers had come out of their homes or watched from their windows. As the stranger sniffed the "broth" and licked his lips in anticipation, hunger began to overcome their fear.

"Ahh," the stranger said to himself rather loudly, "I do like a tasty stone soup. Of course, stone soup with cabbage -- that's hard to beat."

Soon a villager approached hesitantly, holding a small cabbage he'd retrieved from its hiding place, and added it to the pot.

"Wonderful!!" cried the stranger. "You know, I once had stone soup with cabbage and a bit of salt beef as well, and it was fit for a king."

The village butcher managed to find some salt beef . . . and so it went, through potatoes, onions, carrots, mushrooms, and so on, until there was indeed a delicious meal for everyone in the village to share.

The villager elder offered the stranger a great deal of money for the “magic” stone, but he refused to sell it and traveled on the next day. 

As he left, the stranger came upon a group of village children standing near the road.  He gave the silken bag containing the stone to the youngest child, whispering to a group, “It was not the stone, but the villagers that had performed the magic." 

Moral:  By working together, with everyone contributing what they can,  a greater good is achieved.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Twelve by Twelve

A one-room cabin off the grid and beyond the American dream – by William Powers
“Walden for the global warming era -- A memoire of what can be gained by going without”

I recently read this book Twelve by Twelve.   The title interested me right away with my interest in living a more sustainable life.  How does an individual live in a one-room cabin, off the grid, in North America, where the seasons and weather changes from very hot in the summer to freezing/snow covered in winter ?   And why would they when they could have more?   A lot of people all over the world live like this and some would consider this luxury – however, in this book it was a choice. 

A Successful American physican chooses to live off the grid, in a 12 x 12 cabin, without running water or electicity near a no-name creek in North Carolina  -- why?   She’s a tax resister.   She could earn hundreds of thousands of dollars, but chooses to only earn $11,000 – so she doesn’t pay income tax.   She chooses to live in a 12 x 12 one room cabin, because it doesn’t count as a house, you don’t pay property tax and don’t receive electric lines, sewage or roads from the state. 
Friends call her a wisdomkeeper – elder women who inspire us to dig more deeply into life.
She was completely engaged in permacultre, wildcrafting, activism and doctoring – contributing to a high purpose, a love for life – none of which were linked to material positions. 

Some of the gains talked about in the book are, sense of community – sharing with neighbours,
a smaller footprint, learning to live in harmony with nature and each other, living lightly and artfully, gaining a deeper appreciation for the preciousness of water and the natural world.  "The joy of simplifying one's material life is you don't have to work long hours to buy and maintain a bunch of stuff."

This motivating book offers penetrating insights on clues for a smaller footprint, the joy of ordinariness and a more meaningful life.    It is not a “how to” kind of book – it is very thought provoking – let your imagination run wild and see how some little steps can change your footprint and meaning on life.  Well worth the read.

Friday, April 15, 2011

As My Garden Grows .........

He who plants a garden, plants happiness
(Chinese Proverb)

It’s the 3rd week in April…. The seedlings are now 5 weeks old.

Herbs; Basil and Tarragon, Vegetables ; Tomatoes and Peppers
Perennial – Silver Dollar

In a few more weeks they will be able to go outside, protected until the danger of frost has passed.   It is usually safe in this part of the world to plant after the May 24th weekend, but we have been known to have frost even in the first week of June. 

Week 2 - Basil, Tarragon, Silver Dollar Perennial

Week 3 - Silver Dollar Perennial

Week 4 - Tomatoe Plants

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Simple Laundry

Another way I have simplified – is the laundry.

I make my own laundry detergent (cost savings!), and rarely use the dryer (another savings – electricity)

There are lots of youtube videos out showing you how to make your own detergent, and lots of different recipes for liquid and dry detergents. 

I first found the idea of making my own laundry detergent at The Simple Dollar website. .  The Simple Dollar is one of my favourite websites for ideas on organizing your finances and tons of simple ways to save money.  

I make the dry version of the laundry detergent.  It’s easy to store and takes up little room on my shelf.  I saved a large coffee can, removed the label and created my own label with the recipe and instructions.     I rarely use my dryer anymore and hang everything indoors during the winter, and outside during the summer.  I use vinegar in the “liquid fabric dispenser” of my washing machine.  The vinegar not only softens the clothes, but removes any static and as an added bonus keeps the inside of my washer clean too.   No… my clothes don’t smell like vinegar !   They smell fresh and clean.

When I mentioned to hubby one day that I needed somewhere to hang laundry indoors, he built me a rack which holds two loads of laundry.  It’s suspended from the ceiling on pulleys in the basement and can be lowered and raised as needed.   It was all built with scrap wood and some rope we had in the house.    Air drying your laundry lengthens the life of your clothes.    Hanging laundry doesn’t take long, and gives you a bit of exercise, and if you hang your cloths right, ironing is not needed either !

Lots of savings all around, on detergent, fabric softner, electricity, and your clothes !!! 

Dryer Rack - for hanging laundry inside in winter and rainy days

Saturday, April 2, 2011

April is Cancer awareness month…

Honouring all my friends/family who have been touched by cancer

We have all been touched by cancer by one way or another, be it a loved one, friend or yourself….

“Every three minutes another Canadian is faced with fighting cancer. This April, as part of the Cancer Society’s annual Daffodil Month, the Canadian Cancer Society is asking you to join the fight against cancer by giving generously when you see one of our volunteers in your community selling daffodils or canvassing at your door. Donations collected in April will be used to support people living with cancer, fund research to outsmart cancer and prevent cancer before it starts.”

“You can fight back this April is to wear a daffodil pin to show your support for someone on a cancer journey. Then on April 27th, join us for Daffodil Day as we come together in communities across Canada to honour the people in our lives affected by cancer.”

“To some, the daffodil is just a flower.
To us, it’s a symbol of strength and courage.
A symbol of life. It says we will not give up.
It says we will fight back. It says we will beat cancer.”

“The Canadian Cancer Society is a private non-profit organization, funded by donations from the public and money raised through our fundraising activities. The Canadian Cancer Society would not be able to offer these services or fund important research without the generous help of donors and volunteers.”
“The Canadian Cancer Society makes the best use of every donated dollar, keeping administration costs low in order to fund research and provide community services to help people living with cancer and their families and friends.”
“Speaking up about cancer is one of our most powerful weapons against the disease. But we can’t do it alone. The collective strength of many voices will help make cancer history.”

To find out how you can become involved in supporting the Cancer Society, by way of donations / volunteering, etc.  please visit

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