Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Simple Steps In Frugality and Green Living #3 ~ Learning to wait

Simple Steps In Frugality and Green Living #3 ~ Learning to wait

I have found that one of the great "evils" against frugality and green living is impatience, instant gratification and an unwillingness to bide the time. In the past I have been very impatient when I want something - a new machine, an outfit, a dinner....but over the last few years I have learnt to bide my time.

Whether it is waiting for bread to rise....

Waiting for sprouts to sprout....

Waiting for keffir to culture....

Waiting for icecream to freeze....

Or just waiting for the Calendulas to grow and dry so that I can make soap - I have learnt to wait.

I can wait on bigger things too...I wait and watch as the strawberries ripen, the salads grow, the marrows elongate...I can wait.

I am learning to wait for even bigger things, like a new kitchen...we just keep fixing the cupboard doors when they break or repair the stove door when it leaks, disinfecting the crack in the sink top...

We are all waiting for a time (and the money) to build a room in the roof so that we can move the music equipment (and littlest one's Lego) out of the dinning room...

Waiting, I think takes time to learn, but it makes one reuse what is not quite broken. It saves money because there is no buying on credit....waiting instead of rushing out and purchasing makes you rethink what you have, repurpose something you find, or simply helps you to slow down a little and decide if you truly need it now.

Saturday, November 26, 2011

A year ago....

I have been wondering why the garden isn't so demanding this year and then it dawned on me, this is the first year since 2008 that we haven't been establishing a new vegetable garden.

Last December saw us undertaking the most ambitious project which was converting the last remaining yard space into a vegetable garden. It was a mammoth task as trees needed to be cleared through to the roots, lawn lifted, raised beds built, compost dug in, pond made and plants to sow. At the end of this time period it looked like this:

Today I took a photo of it at almost the same angle and it looks like this:

Here is a bed by bed description....

This is the second bed form the gate which holds salad leaves, coriander and radish.
I forgot to photo the first bed but that has new corn seedlings and winters brusell sprouts.

The second bed holds cucumbers in the front where the climbing poles are. Around the edge of the bed, not interfering with the cuucmber seedlings, I planted quick growing salads like rocket, watercress and coriander. These will be used up by the time the cucumbers are climbing.

Behind the trellis which you cannot see are marrow plants and behind that my gorgeous asparagus in all its summer glory.

The next bed holds our heirloom tomatoes like Black Prince. Behind them is the second asparagus bed.

The last bed in this area has some left over cabbages which we will still eat and in front - carrots. I have never done well with carrots as I feed the soil too much. But I picked up a hint from another gardener who grows long gorgeous ones that she plants hers after brassicas. So that is why they are here.

From this last bed is a rather unruly area where we are growing our corn. The photo is a little overexposed so its hard to see, but we have about 100 corn plants in different stages of growth from knee high to shoulder high. We used our own compost in this area which, we realised, held lots and lots and lots of tomato seeds.

The tomatoes have sprung up amongst the corn and whilst we removed many of them I did leave a few to grow alongside. This area also holds our blackberry bramble whose berries we are eating everyday now with our breakfast or in smoothies. Hanging up against the wall are some strawberries and we even have a few stray sunflowers to boot!

Thursday, November 24, 2011


At the moment I have just enough for today...tomorrow I will have just enough for tomorrow....


Lunch today...fresh homemade ricotta...a little bland...

But soon spiced up with pepperdews and fresh things.

Friday, November 18, 2011

A little catching up...

Here's a little of what has been happening in my world in the last 6 weeks...My elder daughter completed her Cambridge IG's = Gr 11...lots of driving to the exam venue, wonderful time for one-on-one chats, but as a homebody I battle being out like that.

We also wrapped up schooling for the year with the other 3 kiddies. What a great feeling to be done. Now it's time to create portfolios, get next years books out and pack this years away.

This past weekend two girlfriends and I went away to Scarborough for a scrapbooking weekend. My elder daughter also took the gap and came along. It was a wonderful time to enjoy the gorgeous seascape from the balcony, make headway into my other daughter's scrapbook and watch some chic-flicks.

Superman and I also snuck away from Tues-Thurs on a special deal for a two night stay at a hotel in Montagu. My mom and dad graciously stayed with the children. Superman and I had such a wonderful time together...eating some good food, visiting the awesome wine farms in Ashton, Bonnievale and Klaasvoogds.

On the way home we stopped off at Happy Hog to get stocked up on free range pork products...the clean styes were full of gorgeous pink piglets.
While away the chickens "summer villa" was completed and we moved them in there today. It's cooler for them and quite a bit bigger and it gives us a chance to deep clean the old coop so that they can move back in during winter.
The garden is flourishing with the unseasonal rains but besides for spinach, kale and herbs we are pretty much in between with supply from our backyard.

We have also been having fun with our ice-cream machine, even though wehave only made 3 types, this promises to be a hit for summer!

Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Taking a break....

Just going to catch my breath a while so I am.....

...taking a break. Will be back soon.

Thursday, November 3, 2011

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Simple Steps Towards Frugality and Green Living

Simple Steps Towards Frugality and Green Living # 2 - Cooking from scratch!

Some would argue that it is much easier to pop into your local grocery store and take your pick of the ready made pasta salad or crumbed chicken schnitzles or even the pasta sauce and use it. However there are 3 immediate reasons this is not eco friendly, healthy or indeed frugal.

#1 ~ Most convenience foods no matter how “homemade” the packaging makes it feel are full of hidden evils like high fructose corn syrup, trans fatty acids, sugar, irradiated spices, preservatives and flavor enhancers like MSG.

#2 ~ Packaging of these products means that somewhere along the line they need to be disposed of and most of these convenience foods have at least 2 layers or plastic or Styrofoam to deal with.

#3 ~ While it seems cheaper, you can be guaranteed that to make, for example, a similar portion of pasta sauce to what you buy you will be able to do it at a fraction of the cost and you can do it in bulk and have for next time you are tempted to rush out to the store because you didn’t plan your dinner. (Just today I priced a jar of pasta sauce - R20.49 for 500ml. For R20 I can buy 5kg's of tomatoes and make 2.5litres of sauce!)

For some, cooking for scratch is a very overwhelming idea. Perhaps it is because they lack basic cooking skills, others may think it is going to add a whole lot more time spent in the kitchen, for others is just to big a “green step” to take.

My advice to woman who say any of the above things is to just start small. Nobody is watching your every move, it’s only you who are judging yourself, so take it slow and easy. I also advise moms to start with just one thing.

The “one thing” should be the food you eat most frequently and in many houses it is bread. If making bread by hand is going to give you brain freeze, then save up and buy a bread machine! Using a bread machine is the simplest thing you can do and soon your home will be filled with the smell of fresh bread, free of any suspicious additives. I have some bread recipes o this blog which you can get started on – with or without a bread machine. We actually only use ours a couple of times per week when I am not using the oven so that we do not have to heat up the whole oven for just two loaves.

If you are not bread eaters, then take a look at what you do eat the most of...pasta? Believe it or not, once you know how, pasta is one of the easiest foods to make. You will need a pasta roller, which you can save up for or ask for as a birthday gift perhaps. One pasta type that does not need a roller is gnocchi and served with a delicious cream, vegetable or meat based sauce is very very more-ish.

Talking about pasta...think about your pasta sauces. If you are in the habit of buying sauce in a jar, I can guarantee you that if you read the label you will see you are buying a highly processed and preserved food. Nothing beats fresh! I have a simple pasta sauce which I use in my bolognaise sauces, or with some lovely smoked bacon, in lasagnas and I even use it in my winter stews and soups. You can keep it in a jar in the fridge if you will use it within 2 weeks or you can freeze it in portions to use over a longer time period.

Once you have these skills under your belt, you can tackle the next food stuff that you eat…cream cheese? Yoghurt? Waffles?

The world is your kitchen! Happy learning and happy cooking.