Sunday, December 25, 2011
Currently it's a little before 6 am. I got up at 5 to finish stuffing Steve's stocking and to light the fire in the furnace to warm up the house. We'll need a fire for the morning but the heat from cooking a 30 lb turkey will likely mean opening windows later on.
We spent yesterday afternoon driving in some nasty conditions to take a little girl to her dad's place for Christmas. It did give us a chance to hit superstore for some cereal and milk though so that was good. The trip took twice as long due to blowing snow and icy roads but it still wasn't too bad and having snow tyres on the van sure made a difference. Besides, it's nice to be of help to people, especially at Christmas.
We had just settled down to watch a movie on the laptop in the living room when who should come sprinting through our yard but Santa! Yes, the real Santa (who is in remarkably good shape) dropped off a sack of presents labelled Do Not Open Until Christmas and then took off up the street before anyone could even think to yell Thank You. Kate was thrilled! We told her several weeks ago that Santa was not real and you know what? She doesn't believe us! Well, what's one more year of innocence right?
I can't wait for the kids to see their gifts...maybe that's why I'm up so early. Besides enjoying the warm glow of the lights from the tree. Watching the cats running around like idiots is fun too. Sadie, our old black cat decided to climb the wood pile in the basement at 5am and send half the kindling crashing down in a big avalanche which scared everyone awake. So I fed the cats and gave then their new catnip covered scratching post which so far seems to be appreciated. Now Susie is careening around the house chasing whatever moves.
the kids will be up soon and the fun will begin. We have church from 10-11 and then friends over for dinner at 5 so it's going to be a long but enjoyable day.
From our little family her in Greenwood, Nova Scotia Canada, We wish you all a very Merry Christmas and hope that your New Year is filled with Love, Peace, and happy memories.
Saturday, December 24, 2011
And here we are on Christmas Eve. Cookie delivery day to our friends and neighbours. I've been awake since a little after 3am and I'm tired but I think that stress is preventing me from sleeping and I'm SO tired. Maybe if I write this little entry and think happy thoughts I'll be able to slow down my brain and get back to sleep for a couple of hours.
The gifts are all bought. I have a couple of time consuming service projects to do today and a bunch of cookies to bake and deliver along with some holiday bread. And the guys have a 'men only' breakfast and ball hockey game this morning so it's going to be a fun but busy day. We are supposed to go for a sleigh ride with our friends the Comeau's today too but not sure how we can fit everything in with a trip to Digby to take a little girl home to her father's for Christmas. I'm sure it'll all work out. And if Steve comes then we can spend time together.
Speaking of Steve...I was reminded that he has a built in sense of humour that a lot of people don't see. His snoring woke me up at about 2 this morning and our conversation went like this.
Liz: Steve roll over. *shove*
Liz: Because you're snoring really badly.
Steve: Maybe I need more practice then. Zzzzz
I love my husband!
Here's the recipe for my
Chocolate Crinkle Cookies/Chocolate Snowflakes as we sometimes call them, that we're giving to our friends this year.
- 2 cups sugar
- 1/2 cup vegetable oil
- 4 (1 ounce) unsweetened chocolate squares , melted
- 4 eggs
- 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
- 2 cups all-purpose flour
- 2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 3/4 cup sifted powdered sugar
Mix together the melted choc, sugar, oil, vanilla and eggs until well combined. In a separate bowl mix the flour, baking powder and salt then gradually add the flour mix to the chocolate mix until there are no floury lumps. Chill in the fridge for at least an hour.
Heat oven to 350. Take enough dough to form a 1 inch ball and roll in the icing sugar to coat thickly. Place on a greased or parchment lined cookie sheet and bake for 7-8 minutes. Cool and eat! Also good to give away and fun to make with kids.
Another kid friendly recipe is this one for Tiger Butter
* 1 cup Dark chocolate wafers, melted
* 1 cup White chocolate wafers, melted
* 1 cup Peanut butter, natural smooth works best
Mix the peanut butter together with the melted white chocolate and pour into a square glass dish. pour the dark chocolate over it and gently swirl a knife through it to make stripes. Chill, break into pieces and serve. You can also use orange coloured chocolate in place of the white if you wish and adjust the peanut butter to a half cup for a firmer consistency. This recipe easily doubles, triples and more. For our holiday baking I do 2 lbs semi-sweet chocolate, 2 lbs white chocolate, 1/4 lb orange chocolate and 2-3 cups of natural smooth peanut butter. Use parchment paper to line pans for easier removal.
From our Family to you and yours, we hope that you have a wonderful Christmas and a New Year filled with peace, joy and love for your fellow men.
Thursday, December 22, 2011
Please remind me of this fact the next time Meghan asks me.
Right now she is playing outside with another friend and I'm enjoying some peace and quiet. I got 6 loaves of holiday bread baked and I'm going to make a few more batches later this afternoon but for now I think I'm going to take it easy. And maybe have a sandwich. I'm feeling a little stressed as we haven't received some of the money we were supposed to be paid before Christmas so presents are a little lean for the boys. They really just want a larger TV for playing their games on but it looks like it'll have to wait. Of course, maybe after Christmas there will be some smokin' deals too. I guess it could still come in the mail tomorrow, the money that is, and lets hope so. If not...well I'm going to get Chris a capo for his guitar and a new anti-pull collar and leash for Jordan's dog so she stops pulling him for miles every time he walks her. Each of the kids got things for each other too so there are presents under the tree to open for everyone and my Dad sent a really nice delivery of Hickory Farms stuff, sausages, crackers and cheese, and lots of candy. All the treats we love at Christmas, so we're going to get chubbier over the next week. And we can't wait! Bring on Christmas Eve! Yum!
Our friends the Wolfs very kindly came over with a gift for us and we are looking forward to making our rounds on Christmas Eve with treats for everyone. And looking at the holiday lights. It's going to be fun! We have been invited to a sleigh ride and caroling too so with the hockey game and breakfast in the morning we're going to have a very busy day!
I'm off to get more work done now. Hope you're all having a great day with as little stress as possible.
Wednesday, December 21, 2011
Being able to identify the various trees in winter and summer is important to homesteaders, as is knowing what the various woods are used for. Things that the old timers take for granted such as Ash is used for tool handles (long wearing and less splinters), sugar maple for floor boards (used in bowling alleys) and cherry for furniture due to it's unique colour and finishing qualities. Just because you can tell them apart in the summer doesn't mean you can once all the hardwood's have lost their leaves in the winter but close observation of bark, twigs and buds can tell you what you're looking at. This is important for those maple trees you want to tap in the spring before the leaves unfurl or when cutting hardwood trees for firewood in the winter. You don't want to be burning furniture grade wood when there's other more suitable firewood available.
I have a little book that was originally published in 1973 called Trees of Nova Scotia. It lists their habit, leaf style, bud and flower information and also commercial uses. Such a handy little book. Next I want to look for books on identifying mushrooms and berries.
So...what are you hoping to get for Christmas?
Sunday, December 18, 2011
Monday was busy. The kids are home from school and getting under foot a bit, bt they had friends to play for a few hours so that kept them out of trouble. We also went caroling to a local nursing home with some folks from church so that was fun. The kids all sang beautifully.
Tuesday was a day of meetings and more food. Our Kung Fu potluck was really fun. Lots of good food, fun team games and then we watched the karate kid movie. The terminals on my van caused some problems, namely it wouldn't start, but when we got home Steve was able to clean them up for me. It's tricky on that van because it has side terminals, is mounted below the fuse box and underneath a strut. Awkward to say the least.
Today is Meghan's sleepover. At 6pm the crowds will descend. In the meantime we're heading out to buy stuff for Meghan like pizza and food colouring. Meghan's buying so that's good. Our friend Jennie is coming soon to make cookies so we've got to get going.
Saturday, December 17, 2011
Gingersnaps, Gingerbread People, Chocolate Crinkles, Lemon Ice Box, Scottish Shortbread, Peanut Butter, and Shortbread Pinwheels plus Sugar Cookies that the girls can decorate. For candy we're just sticking to sponge toffee, tiger butter and fudge.
Of course it will depend on what mood takes us when we get started baking in a few minutes.
Every year we take Christmas Eve to deliver cookies to our friends. With Christmas falling on a Sunday this year then we can deliver some of our cookies at church to our friends there and save some gas. But the delivering of the cookies is one of the highlights of Christmas for us. Right up there with doing a secret elf project where we deliver treats anonymously to friends and neighbours.
Kate is complaining...time to go cook!
Friday, December 16, 2011
I met the local Watkins lady while picking up a package for Harvey today. She seems nice and I can stock up on liniment and vanilla (Watkins makes great vanilla). Mmmm...vanilla. When I was little I though there were only two real flavours. Strawberry, Chocolate, and plain. I though that 'vanilla' just meant plain. Now I know that real vanilla is delicious. Love those beans! All the best things come from beans. Green beans, vanilla beans, cocoa beans. Yum! This is what vanilla beans look like before drying which turns them the familiar brown colour. These beans are from Costa Rica and are actually the seed pods from a type of orchid.
Christopher tested for his sash in Kung Fu tonight and passed. Now all 4 kids are officially members of the club. Class is tomorrow and I'm not sure what else we have planned but I have lots of baking to get done and some cleaning to do too. Maybe I can do the latter when Steve takes the kids to Kung Fu.
It's late so I'm going to go. Hope you are all safe and warm. I'm going to light a small fire in the furnace for a couple of hours to warm up the house again so we're good. Haven't used a 1/4 cord of wood yet which is good. The wood supply always looks huge but then you start using it and it dwindles quickly!
Thursday, December 15, 2011
"We can do no great things, only small things with great love."
- Mother Teresa (1910-1997)
This is a copy of the video that I'm sending out with my Christmas eCard this year and I wanted to share it with all of you too. And also this heartfelt wish that we all find greater spiritual strength, peace and happiness in the coming year. That we may all be able to gather with loved ones over the holidays and celebrate what a miracle it is to have family and friends who love us for who we truly are, and may we strive to love our fellow men as Jesus would have us do. I know this sounds like a Sunday message but I just feel that somebody out there needs to hear it today. We live in an age of miracles that we fail to see every day and one of those miracles is YOU.
This is without a doubt one of my favourite songs of all time and I love Sarah McLachlan
Wednesday, December 14, 2011
The good news is that we have the other van up and running at last so I now have wheels! Yay! In 10 days our other insurance expires so I've got to arrange for a new windshield for the white van and get it inspected with new insurance.
Oh one note about vehicle insurance...it turns out that our rates are different in NS than in BC. We were originally paying in BC about $950 per year for PLPD which is basic insurance for business use. Here the same insurance is costing us $323 per year. Our business liability insurance is the same, we paid about 5 times the amount in BC that we have to pay here. I'm not sure why the difference. Maybe less claims and accidents here but we're pleased to save the money either way.
It's now 10 days to Christmas. And the big question (besides 'what am I getting') is will we have a white Christmas? So the good folks over at the Weather Network did some figuring and have analyzed historical weather data to determine the chances of having a white Christmas for different cities in Canada. Here's the list...
|City||Average chance* of a White Christmas|
|Goose Bay||100 %|
|Quebec City||95 %|
|Thunder Bay||89 %|
|St. John's||63 %|
|Saint John||41 %|
So far it's been above normal here in Nova Scotia as far as temperatures go. Although we saw that 17 inches of snow several weeks ago we haven't had a single flake since and it's only just starting to push into below freezing temps. We lit the furnace for an hour or two each of the last couple of days and this evening I'll likely build a small fire for the evening too. With the sun out during the day it warms up the house a little so that I don't worry about heating until supper time.
Ok well I'm getting the kids off to school so that I can go out shopping for a gift for Steve and some butter for making cookies today. I'm going to stick to just a few kinds that keep well...chocolate crinkles, Scottish shortbread, gingerbread men, and we'll see about sugar cookies. I've got to get things packed up and mailed to the Grandkids today if possible too.
Have a good day!
Sunday, December 11, 2011
We got new tyres on the old van so now we have good snow traction hopefully with our mountain and snowflake rated tyres. Yay! We also had the activity and craft day which 18 women attended and we got a bunch of crafts done plus 2 lap quilts tied for different sisters at church who could use the love and cheer from a little huggable quilt. All in all we had a nice relaxing time and a nice luncheon and we ate loads of good cookies! And I'm glad all that planning and cooking is done!
Oh and I have to add that Chris and Jordan did a wonderful job of looking after a dozen little ones and kids for nearly 3 hours. They were both heroes! I promise to not ask you to babysit again this year!
Today we got to see more of Nova Scotia. We went out to Caledonia to pick up a bike for Kate for Christmas and met a lovely lady who's invited us to come back with the kids for a visit in the summer. She has a big lake on her property and it's beautiful out that way past kejimkujik national park. I bet it's lovely in the summer. The bike is for Kate for Christmas and it's raspberry coloured with 5 gears and hand brakes for her to learn on. Now she needs some crash pads and a helmet.
The big news of the weekend is that I've been called as the Relief Society President. So now I oversee all the programs for the women in our little branch of the church. Sort of like the 'mother' of the branch. I'm overwhelmed about being responsible for the spiritual and temporal welfare of the families in our area but at the same time I know the Lord will help me and guide me and I'm excited to be able to be of service. We might just be a little branch now but we're mighty and getting stronger every day.
Here's my thought for today, Sunday. In a world where greed, envy, starvation, abuse and selfishness are rampant we can sometimes just want to sit and weep thinking that there's nothing we can do about it. The problems can seem overwhelming. So many faces needing our help and us without the means to do all we'd like to do. But don't be discouraged. By helping just one person you make a real difference in their world. There is a wonderful story that's told...
“Once there was a great storm that washed thousands of starfish up onshore. As an old man walked the beach he saw a young boy picking up stranded starfish and quickly returning them to the sea.
The man approached the boy and said, “What are you doing? The sun is rising. What difference does it make? They're all going to die anyway.” As the boy rose from gently tossing back yet another starfish he said, “I made a difference to THAT one…”
And that's the lesson to all of us. We can all make a difference to that one person who needs us.
I hope you all have a wonderful week and I'll write again tomorrow.
Thursday, December 8, 2011
Today's weather is basically bad. 50 km/h winds packing gusts up to 80 km/h. Rain. 16 degrees. So far no power outages or trees down and it's unlikely that will happen but I'm ready if it does. The kids have a half day today so they'll be home early and Steve is hopefully working a normal day and will be home in time for dinner.
In the US the EPA's attempt to ban almost all wood burning stoves in favour of so-called more efficient models has me a bit worried because Canada often follows the lead of the Americans and even if they do not, the lack of availability of a good stove will drive up prices. And I'm going to need one for the new house. I love a woodstove for heating, cooking and during emergencies. I was just reminded about this because with this nasty weather it's the perfect day to have a big pot of stew simmering slowly. Maybe I can find the slow cooker instead.
Here's the article from Natural News. Take it with a grain of salt.
Traditional wood-burning stoves are still one of the most cost-efficient, sustainable, and renewable sources of energy production that families can use to heat their homes. But the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) is not a huge fan of them, as was evidenced by its recent decision to push those who use traditional models to convert to EPA-approved -- and oftentimes much more expensive -- alternative models.
Throughout history, civilizations have relied on the burning of wood to cook food, warm water, and heat places of dwelling. After all, trees are an abundant and renewable source of wood, which means that the costs associated with obtaining energy and heat from burning wood are minimal. This, of course, is why many cash-strapped folks today are turning to wood-burning stoves rather than their local utilities.
But the EPA is now expressing concern about the 80 percent-or-so of wood stove users that still rely on non-EPA approved models. Most of the wood stoves manufactured before 1990 do not contain the EPA's certification stamp of approval which, in the eyes of the agency, means they are an unnecessary contributor of excess environmental pollution.
This is debatable, of course, as EPA-approved models can still emit excess smoke just like the others, and may not necessarily provide any pollution-reducing benefits at all. Because of their altered designs, many of the new EPA-approved models do not work as well as the older models, either, especially when used in severely-cold weather (http://www.energybulletin.net/51578).
Most wood-burning stove companies in the US actually went out of business shortly after the EPA established its original certification requirements for wood stoves back in the 1990s. Many of the companies simply could not develop a complying product that actually worked. Today, the EPA is once again revisiting these New Source Performance Standards (NSPS) guidelines in order to push even more people away from the old stoves.
At the same time, EPA spokeswoman Alison Davis recently tried to whitewash the agency's position against wood stoves by claiming that the EPA is "not in the business of telling people how to heat their homes." No, it is actually in the business of restricting the types of wood stoves manufacturers are allowed to produce and sell, which ultimately does tell people how to heat their homes by robbing them of their freedom of choice.
Wednesday, December 7, 2011
Check it out, it's nice to see teens really getting involved in Christmas and not just the getting of presents. I've seen some great new music this year and will post more tomorrow.
Here's the Youtube video.
We got great news today. If you've followed our blog for a while you'll know that we left behind in BC all our animals, including our especially beloved goat Soo who was named after one of our WWOOFers Byung Soo from Korea. At the last minute we decided it would be better for her to stay on the island and not take a 3 week road trip in her kennel. Well, our famous little 'I think I'm a dog' goat just had twins and they were named Hansel and Gretel. Mom and babies are doing extremely well and I'll see about getting some more pics. Oh how I miss that dear little goat! This is Gretel and she's a blue eyed Nigerian Dwarf, just a few days old.
There's not a whole lot going on today. Steve's feeling a bit under the weather, the girls have their youth group tonight and Meghan has a parent teacher interview at 8:15pm. They'll be home for lunch as it's a half day today and tomorrow so Jordan, Meghan and Kate will all be home in an hour. I'm thinking Steve might come home early also.
I've got the necessary supplies for Saturday's classes except the etching cream which I'll need to go to New Minas for. I need a big craft store like Michaels for that. And maybe a few more sheets of cardstock. Lunch is going to be soup and sandwiches. Cheap and easy to prep. in advance and I'll make some cookies or something too. I've got to get that done today so the girls can help me this afternoon.
Apart from that, it's a nice restful day of laundry and regular household stuff.
The calm before the storm no doubt.
Tuesday, December 6, 2011
The Weather Network has just released their predictions for how the winter weather will shape up overall in the coming months. And here's the nitty gritty...colder up north, warmer for Altantic provinces and more snow for BC which will be a little cooler than usual. Deep cold spells and distinctive chinook spells for Alberta mean that their temps are going to be fluctuating quite a bit this winter. But we'll see. Even with a milder winter here in southern Nova Scotia it doesn't mean that we won't get snow or be below freezing, what it does mean is that as a mean temperature it's going to be warmer. And that's certainly nice for us. What we really need though is an early warm spring with good even precipitation to make the farmers happy. For planting crops each week that we're early getting them into the ground is a blessing. But of course there are always unpredictable frosts and snowfalls in the spring. That's gardening in Canada. In a perfect world though I'd like to have my seedlings out enjoying the sun under their covers at the end of March. Maybe earlier if I'm super lucky. But most of my main crops won't be ready to seed out into the main garden until May. And with my corn it could be later still because it won't germinate in cold soil. But there's no point in worrying yet. We'll just have to do what we can when spring comes.
Here's the link to the weather network's report.
I'm busy getting ready for the big activity on Saturday. I have to make soup and buns for 30 people plus plan activities and crafts for everyone. It's going to be lots of fun! I'm going to get some cookie baking done today too. Hope you're all having a great week and not feeling too stressed.
Monday, December 5, 2011
|Study: Organic Farming Outperformed Conventional Farming in Every Measure |
Written by Paul Hanley, The Star Pheonix
Thursday, 29 September 2011 12:57
The results are in from a 30-year side-by-side trial of conventional and organic farming methods at Pennsylvania's Rodale Institute. Contrary to conventional wisdom, organic farming outperformed conventional farming in every measure.
There are about 1,500 organic farmers in Saskatchewan, at last count. They eschew the synthetic fertilizers and toxic sprays that are the mainstay of conventional farms. Study after study indicates the conventional thinking on farming - that we have to tolerate toxic chemicals because organic farming can't feed the world - is wrong.
In fact, studies like the Rodale trials (www.rodaleinstitute.org/ fst30years) show that after a three-year transition period, organic yields equalled conventional yields. What is more, the study showed organic crops were more resilient. Organic corn yields were 31 per cent higher than conventional in years of drought.These drought yields are remarkable when compared to genetically modified (GM) "drought tolerant" varieties, which showed increases of only 6.7 per cent to 13.3 per cent over conventional (non-drought resistant) varieties.
More important than yield, from the farmer's perspective, is income, and here organic is clearly superior. The 30-year comparison showed organic systems were almost three times as profitable as the conventional systems. The average net return for the organic systems was $558/acre/ year versus just $190/acre/year for the conventional systems. The much higher income reflects the premium organic farmers receive and consumers pay for.
But even without a price premium, the Rodale study found organic systems are competitive with the conventional systems because of marginally lower input costs.
The most profitable grain crop was the organically grown wheat netting $835/acre/year. Interestingly, no-till conventional corn was the least profitable, netting just $27/acre/year. The generally poor showing of GM crops was striking; it echoed a study from the University of Minnesota that found farmers who cultivated GM varieties earned less money over a 14-year period than those who continued to grow non-GM crops.
Importantly, the Rodale study, which started in 1981, found organic farming is more sustainable than conventional systems. They found, for example, that:
. Organic systems used 45 per cent less energy than conventional.
. Production efficiency was 28 per cent higher in the organic systems, with the conventional no-till system being the least efficient in terms of energy usage.
. Soil health in the organic systems has increased over time while the conventional systems remain essentially unchanged. One measure of soil health is the amount of carbon contained in the soil. Carbon performs many crucial functions: acting as a reservoir of plant nutrients, binding soil particles together, maintaining soil temperature, providing a food source for microbes, binding heavy metals and pesticides, and influencing water holding capacity and aeration. The trials compared different types of organic and conventional systems; carbon increase was highest in the organic manure system, followed by the organic legume system. The conventional system has shown a loss in carbon in recent years.
Organic fields increased groundwater recharge and reduced run-off. Water volumes percolating through the soil were 15-20 per cent higher in the organic systems. Rather than running off the surface and taking soil with it, rainwater recharged groundwater reserves in the organic systems, with minimal erosion.
Organic farming also helps sustain rural communities by creating more jobs; a UN study shows organic farms create 30 per cent more jobs per hectare than nonorganic. More of the money in organic farming goes to paying local people, rather than to farm inputs.
With results like these, why does conventional wisdom favour chemical farming? Vested interests. Organic farming keeps more money on the farm and in rural communities and out of the pockets of chemical companies. As the major funders of research centres and universities, and major advertisers in the farm media, they effectively buy a pro-chemical bias.
Still, the global food security community, which focuses on poor farmers in developing countries, is shifting to an organic approach. Numerous independent studies show that small scale, organic farming is the best option for feeding the world now and in the future. In fact, agroecological farming methods, including organic farming, could double global food production in just 10 years, according to one UN report.
It's about personal responsibility. You make the choices and deal with the consequences. Sure, some people are dealt a raw hand, but you just have to do the best you can with what you've got.
I just want to tell half these people protesting to "Suck it up, buttercup" but that would be counter-productive and frankly, I have better things to do. It's not that I disagree entirely with what they are doing but I do disagree quite a lot. We haven't seen them protesting about injustice in the rest of the world, it's only when it directly affects their affluent lives that they care. What about the billions of people who live under oppression every day on our planet? Who can't get gov't support or food stamps or even an education. Who have no running water or a safe place to sleep? What about those who can't follow the dictates of their hearts without fear of arrest or death?
Anyways, enough of that. It's too much of a nice day to be dragged down into such discussions. It's sunny right now and 10 degrees outside but looks like it's going to cloud over pretty soon. Chris missed his bus when his alarm failed to go off this morning (due to a 6am power failure) so he's my slave for the day. I'm not doing anything that interesting, just normal household chores. This whole week looks pretty calm in fact and hopefully will give me a chance to get some things caught up.
We had family pictures taken yesterday by our friend Somer who is a professional photographer so with luck we'll have prints back for Christmas mailing and you can see how lovely we all look in our casual clothes (except Kate who insisted on dressing up). The tree is up and now almost totally decorated. Cookies tonight mean it'll be done I think. And there's some friend trouble brewing for Meghan so it'll be good to keep her distracted.
Today's thought for the day is about the News. Would you consider the things you hear on the radio to be fact? What bout in the paper? Do we assume that there must be someone there doing their own fact checking or do we cross reference and try to get different perspectives or more details. I was thinking about this because of a CBC Radio show called "This is That". They basically produce a satirical radio show once a week. We were listening to it last week with the kids in the car. Here's the episode. CBC.ca | This Is That There's a great non-story about how one U.S. town is claiming that Manitoba is stealing 'American Wind' to power their wind turbines. It's really funny. But of course some people don't realize that it's satire, it's not real. A journalist from a large oil magazine recently referenced a This is That story to support his claim that the oil sands aren't that bad. So much for fact checking. That's what made me think that getting the real news can be tricky.
Sunday, December 4, 2011
When people heard that we lived with no running water and no flush toilets for 2 months when the well ran dry, they were shocked and amazed. We just made do.
When people heard that we had plenty of running water but this time flowing over our fields, septic tank and all across the property during some flooding and were back using our composting toilet for another 2 months they were shocked. We just made do.
When the power went out for days at a time we heated using our ancient wood stove and baked cornbread inside it, albeit a bit sooty, and made chili or stew in a pot on top, people said we were true pioneers, but really we were just adapting to the situation. And didn't really think it was a big deal.
In our modern world we take things for granted, no doubt. We forget that running water and flush toilets are a convenience not a necessity though if you live on the 18th floor you might argue that fact. And many people who are not preppers or rural farmers take for granted that if life has gotten better for their parents then they are entitled to that too. Regardless of the fact that their parents have worked hard for their possessions and taken years to get their current standard of living.
In the LDS church our leaders have for years counseled us to avoid unnecessary debt and to work hard. To aspire to things but to work for them and be patient. That it's ok to have hand me down furniture when you're starting out and gradually upgrade. You don't need to have the same level of comfort as your folks have, they started out simply too. And I believe that.
So in that vein of appreciating what you have, working hard and following wise counsel....
Here's the controversial video. Thanks to Danny Muise for the link.
Saturday, December 3, 2011
I think that having a Christmas Tree Farm would be nice. Fun at the holidays and quiet the rest of the time. But as I don't know about the trimming necessary I'll have to do a bit more research.
Steve took me out again last night. We went to a restaurant in Middletone simply called The Restaurant. I hear it had a different name originally but now it's under new ownership for the past 5 or so years by Peter and Bev Terauds who live locally. They, and their staff are very nice. So we went to eat and both decided on ribs with a choice of 2 sides. The selections include steamed veg, brown rice, fries, roast potatoes, caesar salad etc and we both ordered the roast potatoes and salad. Well, the food was fast, we spent the time looking at the local artwork for sale all round the walls. My ribs came with Apple Jax sauce, and yes it was sweet and mild, Steve had a BBQ sauce which he liked and the ribs were very tender fall off the bone and just use a fork type of ribs. The Caesar salad was delicious! The house made dressing was a nice garlicky and creamy dressing on a very cheesy salad. The roast potatoes were fine too, dressed up with herbs and not over salted or over roasted. We even shared some of their house made cheesecake and it was both creamy and tasty, served with real whipped cream (out of a can but still real cream) garnished with shaved chocolate. The crust was crunchy so it was obviously not sitting around for long. Our waitress, whose name I believe was Laverne, was very nice. The atmosphere was relaxed with nice music playing and we never felt rushed even though we later found out that they closed at 7:30 and we were there well past 8:30 chatting to the owners about some land they have for sale. The prices are good, about 20% less expensive than say Kellocks in Berwick and other comparable restaurants yet still very nice food. They also have a good selection of Nova Scotia wines and source a good percentage of their ingredients locally. They're open for lunch 11:30 -2:00pm and dinner from 4:30-7:30 Monday through Friday and open for dinner only on Saturdays from 5-8pm. They have good parking located on the side and they're located right opposite the Scotiabank and beside the Save Easy grocery store at the corner of Main and Commercial Streets in Middleton, the heart of the Annapolis Valley. Their phone number is 825-6099 and they take reservations and also offer take-out. The selections include burgers, fish, pasta, soup and salads and some very tempting desserts. Over all we'd give this restaurant an 8.5 and possibly higher...I want to go back and try some more of their food today for lunch. I think we've found our favourite restaurant. So there you go...another restaurant review. Steve was very nice to take me out for dinner again and we had a nice relaxing time, were home and in bed by 9pm, sigh, yes we're sad old people...maybe we lived in Qualicum Beach too long! lol
Gotta run to Kung Fu. I'll update later and let you know how our tree hunting worked out.
Friday, December 2, 2011
According to the Ministry for Industry, Tourism and Commerce, El Hierro will become the first island in the world to be energy self-sufficient. This will be achieved through a €54 million project combining a greater than 11 megawatt wind farm and two hydroelectric projects.
The project, created by the local Gorona del Viento El Hierro consortium with financial aid from the European Union, will construct five wind turbines capable of producing 11.5 megawatts of wind power to supply electricity for approximately 11,000 residents, an additional number of tourists, and three water desalination facilities. The hybrid wind/pumped hydro storage system will store surplus wind power by pumping water up 700 meters (approximately 2,300 feet) to fill the crater of an extinct volcano. When winds are calm or when demand exceeds supply, water will be released from the crater to generate 11.3 MW of electricity, filling an artificial basin created at the bottom of the extinct volcano. Water in the lower basin is then pumped back up again to the upper reservoir when there is excess wind power.
The closed-loop hybrid wind/hydro system, to be tested by the end of 2011, is expected to save approximately US$4M per year (calculated with January 2011 oil prices) currently spent on about 40,000 barrels of crude oil imported annually, and will make the island completely self-sufficient for electrical energy.
That looks pretty cool and shows some thinking outside the box. Here's a pic of how the system should work including de-salinization of the water and you can see the current Diesel generating station which will be taken offline. It's in Spanish, since the island is itself, Spanish territory but hopefully you get the point.
So what can we learn form this little island? After all, we don't have that kind of money to spend. What we can learn is this...look at what resources you've got, figure out your needs, and look with an open mind to see if there are unique ways of accomplishing your goals. These guys certainly did. And may their rocky shores be blessed for it.
Thursday, December 1, 2011
Have a look and see if there's anything in there that inspires you to go ahead and build something that you can use. Or maybe you just want to keep it for a rainy day. Either way it may prove useful while not taking up much space in your computer.
I'm going to finish my order to West Coast Seeds today. Not actually buying them, just finishing up the order form. I recommend that if you use this company you sign up for an account because then you can save your cart as you go along which means you can take your time.Today is going to be cooler than the 17 degrees we enjoyed yesterday but as Chris is home today he's going to help me clear up the little tomato garden by the side of the house and plan the flower and veg garden for next year. I'm using vegetables and flowers to create a micro-climate and some privacy from my neighbours, things like runner and pole beans, sunflowers, and corn. They're all fairly heavy feeders so I'm going to spend the rest of the nice weather putting down manure and leaf mold in preparation for spring planting and the greenhouse, which will go in in March probably. The greenhouse will be my usual poly tunnel but with more permanent wood framing on the end to give a good wind-resistant result. The soil isn't that great here so we're debating about also adding some raised beds and filling with bought in soil...but that's big expense for a garden we'll only use for one or two years. I guess that as long as the lawnmower can still fit between beds then it'll be fine. First things first. Clean up the side yard and measure.
Hope you enjoy the book and have a great day.
Wednesday, November 30, 2011
But I want you to think about your total income for last year. Not what you reported on your taxes...what actually came into your house as income. Now figure out how much you spend on groceries in a year including snacks and eating out. Is it 10% of you income? 20%? 50%? On average in the developed nations it's under 15% and yet the country complaining the loudest in the US which spends a paltry 7% on food. I think this number is probably higher because of the food stamps program but I don't know how they came up with the results in the info I'll post in a moment. I do know that in our family it's about 25% on average but that will change as the kids grow up and leave home and as our income increases. Other large families are in the same boat as us, and we're not worse off simply because of good shopping habits and growing some of our own food. Once the farm is up and running again our food bills will be much less. Hooray!
Here's the information I'm referring to. It shows selected countries income to food dollars.
I know that cost of food isn't the whole story. These numbers don't take into account that maybe people in developed countries are spending 40% of their income on shelter as opposed to other countries where it's lower. What it DOES show though is the inequality of calories consumed. I'm guessing that the higher the number of calories, the higher the consumption of fat and sugar in junk foods. I wonder if we'll ever be able to strike a balance? Well...my diet continues. All I can do is my part.
I do believe that food shortages are something to prepare for. So today I'm planning my seed shopping for next years garden. I usually have a storage of seeds from one year to the next but since moving we're starting over again with many things. Seeds included. It's time to add them back into my food storage plans. I'll let you know what we're growing next year.
Tuesday, November 29, 2011
Here's a funny video for all you Canadians who know who Rick Mercer is :
The average water temperature in summer is 8-12c and in winter below 4c in the Bay of Fundy. For Last Years Dip the water temperature in the Bay of Fundy was recorded as -3c (26f), cold enough to form sea ice. Brrr! Suddenly Parksville with it's year round 12c (54f) is looking nicer!
The kids are all up now (it's Wednesday morning at 7 am) and so far the idea of the polar bear swim is having mixed reviews. Chris is just leaving to get his bus and the girls are packing a lunch. There's the most beautiful sunrise this morning and the sky is pink and blue. I envy Steve getting to see the sunrise every morning and that's one thing about teaching early morning Seminary that I miss. Also speaking to our son John and our friend Vicki yesterday has made me a little homesick because we miss them and their families, yes, even you Garry! Happy 60th!! It's very weird for Steve who has never lived away from the kids much before. Sure they've moved to Montana and back or Vancouver but this is the first time he's moved away from the West Coast and it's a long drive for us to get back there. We could maybe do it in a 4 day drive if we barely stopped to sleep and went directly there with no detours, if we drive through the US it's the same mileage but gas would be cheaper and the roads are faster so we could shave off a day or we could fly which is much faster, but that's expensive. Actually, I guess it's cheaper than gas for the van if it's only one person going. Our van would likely cost about $1000 each way whereas a flight even with taxes is that much for both ways. If I ever get enough money together I'd like to send Steve back for a visit, maybe Westjet will have a really good sale sometime. Well enough melancholy, I've got to get the last 3 kids off to the bus so I've got to go. Have a great day!
Monday, November 28, 2011
Sunday, November 27, 2011
Compared to their ancestors, the Victorians really went all out with Christmas. But nothing at all like the commercialization of today. There were no Walmart's open 24 hours a day, and frankly children expected less. Ah how nice it would be to go back to that time when friendship and love for fellow men trumped all the gift buying we see today.
But we don't live then, we live now. SO instead of wishing for something that can never be, we just try to instill in our children the importance of remembering the REAL reason for Christmas and we do things with them to have family time and make memories rather than just buy expensive gifts that are quickly forgotten.
But good food has always been, and remains an integral part of our celebrations. From Auntie Tessa's Fruitcake to the fizzy drinks, sharing food and visiting is central to our enjoyment and happiness at the Christmas Season.
Later I'm going to post some of our favourite recipes, but now I'm off to church. TTYL
Saturday, November 26, 2011
And thanks for your support you guys, I really appreciate it.
It's 7am, Saturday morning. Steve's quietly breathing away, asleep, and wrapped up like a burrito in the blankets.
We went out last night to Kellocks at 160 Commercial St in Berwick for dinner. Knowing that he might be late and that the restauants around here are busy early, we had reservations for 7:30 and just made it in time but by then it was fairly quiet. We had Steak and thai curry with bruschetta to start. So here's the review. Pretty good food for the valley, the service was very good, and it's a pub also so if you want a drink you can get one. The curry Steve ordered was medium/mild and he ordered a medium so it's apparently not overwhelmingly hot. The chicken in it was in large chunks, boneless and well cooked. The noodles were plentiful and a bit doughy but all in all it was a nice meal. I had the steak cooked medium rare. It could have used some trimming but otherwise was properly cooked and seasoned. It also came with mashed potatoes that were bland and gluey and roasted veggies that were very nice, carrots, parsnip strips and baby tomatoes all pan roasted and seasoned. The bruschetta was a nice diversion, slices of french bread toasted with garlic butter and the bruschetta was finely chopped onions, tomatoes etc and with feta cheese mixed in. Mild on the cilantro and garlic, we ate the entire plate and found it quite agreeable. Will we go there again? Yes, when it's 2 can dine for $30 or maybe for the prime rib buffet on a Wednesday. It's nice for a special occasion but more expensive than other local restaurants. One thing, the kitchen was pretty fast and that was nice. We were in and out in under 90 minutes even after a long chat. The menu isn't overly large and offers something for everyone. It's right on the main street in Berwick, has it's own parking lot, and we would recommend it. All together with drinks, food, taxes and tip we paid $65 which is WAY more than we'd usually pay however since it's our Anniversary and we're not giving gifts, this seemed like a nice way to celebrate and it's cheap compared to big cities. The breakfast and lunch menus are very reasonably priced! They are open for breakfast & lunch and have an upstairs private dining room that can seat up to 18. One thing, try and be seated away from the bathroom, maybe in the main pub or near the side door, because the bathroom opens right out onto the side dining area, you can see the toilet from a couple of the seats, YUM!
After this nice dinner together we drove back to Greenwood Zellers for midnight madness and madness it was. I've never seen the store so full of people and there was stuff piled everywhere. We got some shopping done for Christmas, just a little, and got the girls snowpants too. Meghan insisted on pink and as it turns out the pair I got her are a bit big. I've still got to get Kate to try hers, hopefully we have better luck. The boys insist they won't need snow pants so I got them new pj's instead. Here comes Kate....and YES they fit! Woo Hoo! Hopefully those pants will fit her for a while yet. She sounds funny swishing as she walks around the house in snow pants.
Well, time to get going. We have Kung Fu this morning then there are lots of things around the house I'd like to get done including fixing the snowblower and clearing more of the snow off the driveway so we can find the wood pile. Hope you're all having a good day.
Update: Kung Fu was really fun. The kids went and got a nice workout, Chris stayed home (after having a really bad start to his morning) for some personal time, and Steve and I discovered that nobody had shoveled any of the walks at the chapel so we did it along with Sherry who helped out too. The snow blower was Steve's job and I did the scraping of the sidewalks to remove any more slush and chunks. It was a nice day for working outside, sunny and 10 celcius (50 f) so we enjoyed it. Here'a a picture of a snow blower for those around the world who may never have seen one. The snow enters the front, gets chewed up by the rotating blades the sent up the shoot and out the top. Pretty nice compared to using a shovel.
Friday, November 25, 2011
This second one could have been a real downer to watch. It's about how the weather has affected farmers, particularly in England. More rain in the Spring, not enough in the Summer, too warm in the Autumn but rather than dwelling in his problems with filling his water storage for irrigating his crops, he sees it as a challenge and is optimistic. What a good way to live your life.
And finally, the Earth Summit happened 20 years ago. And out of it came the real beginnings of public awareness and change towards the environment. Some good and some bad. This article points out 20 ways the world has changed over the past 20 years. The pictures show how things were then and now. Use the arrow keys below the China Pearl River Delta to see more photos and slide the margin in the centre of the picture back and forth to compare the differences.
So Christmas is coming. The kids have 3 more weeks of school and then they're off for their holidays. And it's the 25th of November today, so I have 30 days to get all my stuff finished, baked, sewn, mailed etc. AAArrrggghhh! Thank goodness we only have to buy for the kids and grandkids this year!
One thing we've noticed about Nova Scotia is that these people take their holidays very seriously! They go all out decorating for Halloween and they LOVE Christmas. They decorate early, play music earlier than other places, and really enjoy a month and a half of Christmas. I'm not sure why, but I kind of like it. So no more waiting until the 15th or 20th of December to put up the tree, we're looking at next weekend. The plan is still a live tree (smaller) with edible ornaments so we don't have to move a fake tree or any breakable ornaments. We will have to buy lights though but that's half the fun, turning on the lights in the evening. Oh one tip, when using chocolate ornaments...keep the lights tucked inside the branches away from the ornaments to prevent melting.
In our family we have made and adapted our traditions to blend in both mine and my husbands. Living here in Nova Scotia now I have no doubt that we'll pick up a new local tradition or two as well. So here's what we do...
We make cookies for friends and deliver them Christmas Eve day or before. Sometimes we drive around and look at lights in the evening while dropping off cookies.
We get together and eat appetizers/finger foods and play games on Christmas Eve. Normally this would be with our family but this year we're going to friends I think. Once home we allow the kids to open one gift, usually new Christmas pyjamas and we read the story of the Nativity in Luke in the Bible before sending everyone off to bed.
When I was a kid we left out a pillow case for Father Christmas, now my children leave out a stocking for Santa. But the rules are still the same...you can open and eat anything in your stocking (the edible stuff of course) but you can't bug mum and dad until 7am. (I remember one year being greeted by a particularly grumpy mother as we rustled and ripped open our presents, it turns out it was 12:30 am and they had just gone to sleep). Then we eat a quick breakfast. One of the children is designated the Elf and wears a special hat with ears. They give out the presents slowly and everyone makes a big mess :) with the wrapping paper.
We eat turkey stuffed with a bread dressing and pork sausage meat and if our son John is over then we have ham too. We love brussels sprouts, mashed potatoes, yams, carrots, and gallons of gravy made from scratch. Mmmm..I'm making myself hungry! We usually eat early afternoon and then sit around and visit while digesting. Supper is cold turkey, bread, crackers and various pickles followed by more treats. We drink raspberry gingerale, apple juice mixed with gingerale or sparkling apple juice, not alcohol. We usually need boxing day just to recover and relax, not too much shopping if any. Oh, and we like to sing carols. This year Christmas is on a Sunday so of course we'll be heading to church in the morning for an hour or so as well, which is after all the whole reason for the season.
So that's what we do. Gifts, food and good company. And though we are far away from our family this year, we still have our little group here to love and enjoy our families traditions with.
Thursday, November 24, 2011
Can you believe it? It seems like we were just celebrating 10,000 page views and now we're almost at 20,000. That's tiny for a blog but still pretty cool to us. Especially since our life is boring at the moment. So we are giving away a copy of Nancy Kopoulos's book "The Long Bridge" to a randomly selected person who makes a comment in the next 48 hours. Starting now and ending Saturday at 2pm. Just make a comment, tell us what we can do to improve, give us some feedback or just say hello and introduce yourself. I'll enter every name into a draw to be held on Saturday afternoon and announce the winner then. If you leave a comment and it's marked as Anonymous then please let me know your first name and I'll post the winner on this page on Saturday.
I wrote a book review about this novel last week if you want to read it. And if you don't win but would still like to have a copy of this charming look at Valley life in the 1930's just let me know and we'll get one into the mail for you. (There are 1800 copies in my house still)