Thursday, March 29, 2012

For the Birds ....

With the unusual Spring we have had this year I've seen many birds in our yard that I wouldn't normally see yet.   The Robins are back from their southern retreat.   A pair of Cardinals were in the tree on our front yard the other day, as well as a couple of Blue Jays as well.      
As I have said in previous posts, nothing goes to waste in our house.   Almost everything has a purpose.  Even the scrap wool left over from knitting/crochet projects, as well as the soft hair trapped in the cat's brush has a purpose.   I placed the scrap wool and the hair in the bird feeder in the garden.  It's nesting time for the birds and all the wool and hair was gone the next day !

Monday, March 26, 2012

Homemade Gift Series #11 - Baby Washcloths

This nice baby wash cloth set crochets up quickly.   

They make a nice little shower gift, paired up with some baby soap. 

The Pattern is by Theresa Grant (click on the link for her pattern).

I used Bernat Cottontots 100% cotton yarn, which is machine washable and dryable.

Friday, March 23, 2012

DIY Spring Planters

At Christmas I posted my do-it-yourself Christmas planter.
This spring, I've redecorated the same pot and window box with spring flowers.  

Most of the flowers and greenery are not real and came from the dollar store, which I re-use year after year.   Each year the pot and window box looks a little different, depending on what I have on hand.


Tuesday, March 20, 2012

My Favourite Flower

The Simple Pansy…  

Pansies that re-seeded themselves in our walkway

The name 'pansy' is derived from the French word pensée meaning "thought", and was so named because the flower resembles a human face.  It is a favourite image in Victorian/Shakespeare times, in arts/crafts with needlepoint and ceramics, greeting cards and can be traced back in history as early as 4th century B.C. 

The pansies in my yard have re-seeded themselves.   One of the first spring annuals we can plant in our climate are pansies.   They like it cool and can tolerate frost.   The photos in this post are ones I took last spring as it is still a bit early for these beautiful flowers to appear. 

"You must bloom where you are planted,
In the garden we call life,
And bring some special beauty to
Each corner where there's strife.

Perhaps you're but a dandelion,
Wishing you were a rose,
Yet in this place of growing things,
You're the one God chose.

It's up to you to finish what
The Good Lord has begun,
By growing just the way you should
And face the rising sun.

There's room for you, if you but choose,
In a glorious array

Of beauty from God's garden, that
He'll add to his bouquet. "
Author Unknown

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Sweet Potato and Cauliflower Curry Soup

Rich in beta-carotene the sweet potato has a lot of health benefits.  High in vitamin A, anti-inflamatory properties, antioxidants, low-gylcemic index, they are easy to cook and can be used in many recipes or just baked as you would for a regular potato.

Cauliflower is an excellent source of Vitamin K, high anti-inflamatory/anti-oxidant properties, fiber and provides good support to the digestive system.

Combining these two vegetables makes a delicious soup.  This simple recipe came from the website Kitchen to Table.    It's a Rose Reisman recipe.

It's deliciously smooth and creamy soup (without any dairy products) with a hint of curry.

Cook Time:30 mins Servings:6
  • 2 tsp vegetable oil
  • 2 tsp crushed garlic
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 tsp medium curry powder
  • 1/2 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/8 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp freshly ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chopped cauliflower
  • 4 cups vegetable or chicken stock
  • 3 1/2 cups diced sweet potatoes
  • 1 1/2 Tbsp honey
  • 3 Tbsp lower-fat sour cream
  • 1/4 cup chopped cilantro
1. In a large nonstick saucepan sprayed with vegetable spray, heat the oil. Sauté the garlic and onion until softened, about 5 minutes.
2. Add the curry powder, cinnamon, salt, pepper, cauliflower, stock, sweet potatoes and honey and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat and simmer for 25 minutes or until the potatoes are tender. Transfer to a food processor and purée until creamy and smooth. Return to the saucepan and thin with more stock if desired.
3. Ladle into bowls. Garnish with a dollop of sour cream and cilantro.
Nutrition:Per Serving
Calories 116
Protein 5 g
Net carbohydrates 12 g
Fat 3.5 g
Saturated Fat 1.2 g
Cholesterol 5.1 mg
Sodium 103 mg
Fibre 3.5 g

Monday, March 12, 2012

Becoming an Urban Homesteader Series # 6 : This week's Happenings

It's still too early to do anything in our gardens in Ontario as the ground is still frozen and there is still some snow/ice in the shaded areas.   Winter isn't over yet !

However, the garlic is trying hard to poke through the ground outside, along with chives, parsley and oregano.
Indoor sprouts are growing high - they are on their 2nd cutting, and the celery experiment is working well so far.

Planted seeds - Tomatoes (various kinds, saved from last year's tomatoes, cherry, beefsteak, persimmons and a different variegated variety saved from my CSA summer program last year), Herbs (Rosemary & Basil), poppy (saved from last year's plants), carnation and marigolds (saved from last year's plants).   I re-cycled yogurt containers for seed pots, which I also used last year and fit perfectly into a $1.75 garden tray from Canadian Tire.

Saturday evening there was a beautiful sky .... so was anticipating a beautiful Sunday, which turned out to be a  glorious day weather wise - good hiking - did 8 km hike with my hiking group. 

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Homemade Gift Series # 10 : Knitted Wrist Warmers

This weekend's project : knitted wrist warmers (or fingerless mitts).  

I found the pattern at an Irish knitting blog.  Knitted on two needles with worsted weight yarn.   The pattern has 3 cables knitted into them and knit up quite nicely.

One 100 gram ball from my stash made two pairs, with some left over that went into my scrap bag for a future afghan.

Friday, March 9, 2012

Winter Hiking

Winter finally arrived close the end of February, which brought a nice bit of snow to cover all the ice on the trails.   The snow has made hiking the trails much more enjoyable.   All you need for winter hiking is some warm clothes, a decent pair of boots and icers to strap onto your boots to help with traction on ice/snow.

Hiking is a great form of exercise and can be done anytime of the year.   The benefits are great - see my earlier post on this great form of simple and frugal exercise.

Bruce Trail

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Benefits of Being a CSA Member

Last week was the last pick-up for my local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) winter program.  I've been a member of the CSA for one year and love it !    I can't grow all or enough vegetables for our family in our small yard as I don't get enough hours of sun.  So the next best thing is to support our local farmers !

Benefits of being a CSA member:
  • I have learned to cook in season.  
  • I rarely go to the grocery store anymore.  
  • My grocery bill is lower.  
  • We are eating healthier
  • We are supporting local farming
  • We are eating locally 
  •  I have learned more about farming and growing my own food
  • Eggs from the farm taste better and are very fresh !
  • Tried vegetables that I haven't had before, which are not available in my local grocery store, ie sunchokes, black and daikon radishes,
  • Food we get from the farm is healthier and tastes better.  The farm I go to practices biodynamics.
This winter season we've enjoyed from the farm;  Fresh spinach, carrots, beets, sweet potatoes, turnips, onions (red/yellow), garlic, dried caynne peppers, cabbages (various - savoy, purple, green), dried beans (black, romano), red/black/daikon radish, potatoes (russet/red/white), sunchokes, celeriac, fresh eggs and local meat such as lamb/beef/pork.

This year, for the first time the farm is offering a Spring program, which I'm looking forward to and will carry us close to when the Summer program begins.

So, if you can't grow your own vegetables look into a CSA program close to you.

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Homemade Gift Series #9: Knitting for Babies

This cute little sweater is made with just one 50g ball of machine washable "Patons Astra", which knits up quickly and perfect for taking to a baby shower.  The pattern is from an  old pattern book called "Quickerknits" by Beehive.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Homemade Gift Series #8 : Sympathy Cards

These simple sympathy cards were made with plain card stock and envelopes.  Photos of the Forget-me-nots are from my garden.  The corners of the photos are punched out and ribbon added to give a decorative look.

Decorative stamp on the envelope and word stamps are from Michaels (using the 40% off coupon), which can be re-used many times.     As an added touch, I added a small little package of Forget-Me-Not seed saved from my garden.

Pin it