Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Balance. Work vs. rest

Balance is ever elusive, isn't it?  It's the one thing that I don't feel like I'll ever truly have a handle on.  Maybe if "life" stayed the same day after day, I'd have it figured out, but like you (I'm sure), life is never stagnant.  Each day brings new challenges and new learning which means that adjustments are made on an equally daily basis with regard to balance.  It's an ongoing quest.

Our mornings are frosty (above), but the afternoons are sunny and warm which allow me the total luxury (in October!) of sitting on the newly built front verandah for an afternoon cup of tea.  There's a brilliant little microclimate up in this corner thanks to the glass panes at the front, the dark cedar decking and the house reflecting heat back behind the chairs.   It's a good deal warmer here than any other place outdoors and the cat knows it (he often naps here in the afternoon).   I still sometimes feel guilty for taking my afternoon break here, but I'm getting over it :)   When I look after myself, I am more productive and am truly a nicer person to be around.  It's hard to put ourselves first sometimes when there's a million and one things we could be doing right that VERY minute.

Those way nice adirondack chairs are the ones we picked up through freecycle many months ago.  They were in sad shape (looking very forlorn, actually) and needed a total sanding down, priming and 2 coats of paint.   That took a while!  While I dreamt of a snazzy colour, I had oodles of white paint leftover so it made sense not to waste it.  White they are and I'm glad of it, now.  They are soothing and restful which is just what I need when I'm savouring a hot cup of tea mid-afternoon.  I wonder how long I can get away with such indulgences before both the snow and the thermometer begin to fall?

In the kitchen, I've been trying to use up every scrap of food that we've grown and because my family isn't as wild about squash as I am, I have to "doctor it up" a bit before they'll gobble it down.
This combination went over reasonably well on top of white scallop (patty pan?) squash - bread crumbs, tomatoes, onions, herbs, parmesan and good olive oil with a generous dusting of sea salt and black pepper.

In other not so tasty news, we completed "The Wormery"!  You do remember that when I say "we", I mean "He" right?   I am married to the MOST amazing man on the face of the planet.  He can make anything out of anything.  Seriously!  This (not very old) freezer packed it in and we just couldn't bear to trot it off to the scrapyard when it was the PERFECT size for a worm farm.  Kelly and Mitchell hauled it out of the basement and placed it up on blocks in the garage (to facilitate drainage).  There's a false bottom about halfway up made of mesh and landscape fabric.  On top of that, bedding and the worms.   The screws drilled into the top edge of the freezer prevent the lid from closing all the way which allows for ventilation.  Excuse the horrible looking walls - it's an old garage and many moons ago, there was a leak of some sort from above which left unsightly water marks.  The worms don't mind, though :)

At the bottom left corner, you can see the hole that Kelly drilled.  Eventually, the worm wee will drain out and this will be really useful for a liquid fertilizer when diluted.    I've been saving toilet rolls for months because when pulled apart and moistened, they made good bedding material for a worm farm.  I keep this bag on the nearby shelf so I can add more as needed.

Because you KNOW you want to see inside, here's what it looks like, complete with some food scraps.

Yummy, right?  If you were a red wriggler worm, you'd say yes :)

I've since covered the whole mass with fallen leaves which insulate well, but breathe.  I was fortunate to receive the worms as a gift from a friend who has an overabundance, so the total cost was a big fat $0 for this project.  NICE.  We're extremely happy to have The Wormery operational now before winter sets in as it's going to be much more convenient to put our compostables into this worm farm rather than out in the frozen, snow covered compost pile.  Additionally, we plan to harvest some of the worms to supplement the hens' diet through the winter when they have no access to insects of any kind.  Worms and insects are a vital part of their diet and contribute greatly to their gut health.  A win, win all around as long as the worms are happy and healthy enough to reproduce at the rate that I've been told that they will!  

What have YOU done for rest today or has your balance gone way off kilter?  If so - stop now and take 5 just for you.  XO

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Been awhile...

My intended brief absence from this space stretched into quite a long one, didn't it?  Such was the way of things here this early Autumn.  I kept telling myself that it was just a "season" in life, but good heavens, one busy season seemed to lead directly into another!  I think I've caught my breath, so let's get re-acquainted with one another :)  

I'm trying hard to find beauty in the darkness.  Sunrises grace our eastern sky well after breakfast now and accordingly, the nights envelop us soon after supper.   I adore Autumn for it's colour and the crisp freshness in the air (both of which invigorate me like no other season), but I do truly struggle with the shorter days...  

Harvest was astounding this year!  These green tomatoes are from the last ditch pick the night before a hard frost several weeks ago. 

They've been ripening slowly and every other day, I roast up a big batch with onions and herbs.  So delicious.  The freezer and pantry are now full of richly flavoured sauce that will coat our pasta through the winter.  

We made pickles (for the first time) with our cucumbers and have been savouring the results with our lunches and snacks.  My fav is definitely the bread and butter pickles (wish I made more).

The hens' offerings have been filling the basket each day ~ aren't they beautiful?

Sauerkraut was made to store some local cabbage (sadly ours were devoured by cabbage moth larvae). 

We dug our potatoes.  My, what a year for them!

The new shed has a roof and is almost tar papered...  siding and rain collection to come next.

After pulling the last of the greenhouse tomatoes, I found the cold frames and plopped them inside.  I'm conducting an experiment to see if I can grow greens until Christmas with this double protection.  Previously, by late October/early November, the uninsulated greenhouse was frozen solid!

The main garden was mulched with leaves and those hard working hens have been ever so busy tilling them in for me.  

In other news, I recently took a 3 day weekend (alone!) to travel to a friend's place in the foot hills of the Rocky Mountains.  It was glorious!  On our day out together, we travelled here:

to a beautiful heritage site that now houses an art gallery/studio.  The building sits atop a hill that overlooks the most stunning landscape I've ever seen.

The photos don't do it justice, really - the snow capped mountains were clear as day but in the picture they look insipid and wan.  They weren't!

180 degree views of rolling hills, prairie grasses, leaves turning, majestic mountains and a moody sky ~ it was so incredibly beautiful.  We hiked all over the site and once back at her place, we walked the rocky river bank where I found much peace (and this heart shaped rock).   How fitting that it's beat up ~ I deeply miss living by moving water and have always been a little heart sick for home.

I arrived home from that weekend away refreshed and energized ~ ready to shift gears and embrace the season change.  I cleared the house of summer things and brought out warming harvest colours in preparation for Thanksgiving.

Pies were baked (by Paige!)...

stuffing and coleslaw were made 

and root veggies were prepared for roasting.

Son, Mitchell (pictured below with his daughter Penny) went hunting on Saturday and graciously contributed 2 duck to our feast.  It was all divinely delicious!

We have much to be thankful for here in this country (and indeed, in this home).