Wednesday, 30 May 2012


How does your garden grow? Wonderfully, thank you for asking.

So here's the deal. Just months ago (specifically before February of this year) my family and I were living in a rented house. The house was not well kept, the rooms felt closed off and far away and everything in the house was failing. We replaced the fridge, we replaced the stove, the washer and dryer were next on our list - as soon as we could afford it. The thing is though, I loved it. I loved every minute of it, even though we had to run cloth diapers to the laundry mat on the bus to get them washed. The landlady/ownder was a real piece of work and not in that really cool way.

I loved this house because we had a nice yard and the freedom to do with it as we pleased. Then the stress of it all caught up to us. I could not get to the kids fast enough when they were upstairs playing in their bedrooms and a fight broke out. I could not understand our landlady and she was breaking a lot of renters rules. The bills started to become difficult to pay, and the yard became our dogs burial ground for forgotten toys. My father (thank you, Dad) reminded me that while the yard is wonderful, we are paying an extra $400 monthly to have that yard in comparison to the cost of apartment dwelling. Okay, point taken.

So we gave our notice, and I was anxious. Mostly though I felt disappointed. What of that vegetable garden we wanted so badly? Maybe it was worth it, after all. Not to mention, we're getting the run around trying to find a new place to live, and our two months to leave were almost up!

At last we found a place to rent! Now, if you know my hubby you will understand that he is an outgoing, eccentric guy who does not consider his words before they spew out of his mouth. Also, he is an opportunist who feels even the largest, least attainable dreams can be a reality. And I love that about him, I really do. So there we are, signing the papers when he says to our brand new shiny landlady "Oh, by the way we're putting a vegetable garden in the backyard." Just like that, very matter of fact and not a hint of a question in his mind. I sat there frozen in place. We are moving into an apartment, you can't dig up a tiny patch of grass to put in a garden at an apartment building!! What is he thinking??!!! "Thats no problem, do whatever you want!" I heard her say. We're doomed.. wait.. what did she just say? "Really?" I ask her in my tenative, cautious, usually quiet voice. "Really, yeah, I don't care what you do."

So there you have it, we have a vegetable garden. I'm not sure on the dimensions, but for my very first ever garden it will suit it's purpose. At first I spent some time researching how to grow stuff on the computer. I mean, what if our soil is wrong? How much sun does that area get? Then I started to kind of freak out. A green thumb is not what is on my hand. More like dirty, icky brown. I was once given a Christmas cactus and told that they will live forever and are oh so easy to care for. It was dead within a couple of months.

BUT WAIT. Is it up to me to grow things? Not really. Don't worry if your soil is too hard, too sandy, has too much clay. Soil is for growing things, that is what it does. You have to trust that our earth and Mamma Nature will care for the seedlings. You may need to provide a little water here and there. But you know what? Our garden is flourishing! We have radishes like I have never seen before and will have to go and thin them out soon. And those little roots will not go to waste, because I will wash them  up and toss them into a salad tonight.

We have planted the following:
Scarlet Runner Beans
Hot Peppers (3 kinds)
Basil (2 kinds)

We are running quickly out of room, and hubby still would like to plant some potatoes! Yes, a garden must be nurtured. But if your dirt can grow grass, I bet it will grow plenty of other things too. We also have chives growing on our balcony, and more strawberries. My berry plants failed but that was of my own doing, I let them sit too long in their less than optimal containers. Also on our balcony is dill, basil, rosemary, cilantro.. There is now zero excuse for somebody to say that they can not have a garden. Who is to say that a large pot infront of a window or by the door step, or on a balcony, could not be a garden?

Wednesday, 23 May 2012

Meal-Planning is the Pits!

Like, olive pits? No. Peach pits? Still no. Like stinky, hairy, sweaty, arm pits.

Let me start out by saying that I have never really done meal planning before. Definately not to this extent. My goal with meal planning is to figure out exactly what we will need with groceries, therefore it shall be easier to stick to the budget.

Breakfast is easy, it is almost always one of the following:
Apples and Bananas with Peanut Butter
Cereal with Nut Milk

Lunch will likely be left overs, fresh veggies, salad, fresh fruits.

Dinner is much more complicated. Most will be accompanied by salad or fresh veggies. I will start our meal planning for Monday, with the following recipes out of the book Vegan Planet.

Potato Salad
Tuscan White Bean Soup
Pad Thai
Macaroni Salad
Lemon Risotto
Fusilli with Sun-Dried Tomatoes, Pine Nuts & Asparagus
Shepherd's Pie (husbands recipe)

Meals are challenging in this household. The vegan part is easy. The cooking part is easy. Our oldest son will not eat most things that are brown, despises the thought of beans, runs away screaming from tomato, does not like more than 2-3 visible items in a dish, is texture sensitive and spice sensitive. Sometimes my husband will put a blindfold on him to get him to eat a meal that intimidates him from so many ingredients. One day his favorite thing in the world could be blueberries. It might be all he will eat. The next day he might decide that the peel on a blueberry doesn't feel good and won't touch them, but loves carrots dipped in hummus. That might be a good thing for a few days in a row, but will decide he likes celery better and orange is no good. Also, he will not eat baked potatoes if they have peel on them, but will (sometimes) eat baked potato fries with peel. He will NOT eat shepherds pie, so we save the ingredients for him seperately (mashed potatoes with a side of corn). He loves coconut water from a can, but not from the coconut (it has floating bits of fibre).

I haven't worked out snacks yet. I know that we have some dried fruit/raisins, popcorn and coconut vanilla "yogurt." Market day is Saturday so I will be updating my blog with our list of produce finds and the costs. I have a feeling this budgeting/meal planning is going to be a long (worthwhile) journey.


I thought I should start by sharing some fun point form facts about our family. Here goes:

  • I am 25 years old, my Husband is 32. We have three children, ages five, four and six months old.
  • We do not consume or use any products that involve harm to any animals in any way. This means we do not eat meat, fish, dairy, eggs and we do not use products that were tested on animals as much as we can help it. Also, we will not wear fur or leather.
  • We are free loaders on the system. This is not something that we are proud of or ashamed of, it just is what it is. Jobs are difficult to come by, and even our local temp services do not have jobs available. It's a tough economy.
  • We use cloth diapers for our 6 month old son, and exclusively breastfeed (with the occasional taste of fruit puree).
  • We plan to homeschool our children but have not yet started. We feel our children (especially the five year old) need the social boost and social dynamics that school can provide. This September or next we will start homeschooling. However, any day that the children are not in school is a homeschool day.
  • We are pretty sure our five year old son has aspergers. This provides many challenges for our entire family, our son included! Aspergers is a form of high functioning autism. It is not visible, and most people don't pick up on it unless they spend a long time around said person with aspergers. Have you ever seen the show Parenthood? Max, a young boy character, has it. So does Sheldon on Big Bang Theory. To sum it up in a few words; extreme sensory issues leading to sensory overload. Also socialization can be an issue, but most children/people with aspergers are above average in intelligence.
  • My husband and I enjoy playing DAOC (Dark Age Of Camelot) in the evenings when he is not doing school work and the children are sleeping. I play it almost nightly, it gives me a nice escape from the daily trials of life. It's an RPG MMO (Role Playing Game, Massive Multiplayer Online). Basically I get to play an Ogre, Troll, Briton, Elf, etc with the occupation of Wizard, Necromancer, etc. You run around with people from all over the world and work as a team to blast the other guys over and over again. You do quests, collect items, make armor.. I'm a dork.
  • We started a vegetable garden in our apartment buildings back yard. We have very few things growing thus far, but have planted tomatoes, scarlet runner beans, radishes, carrots, strawberries, blueberries and raspberries. On our balcony we have started lettuce, chives, watermelon, canteloupe, spinach, all kinds of herbs (basil, rosemary, cilantro) even broccoli. FYI - I do NOT have a green thumb. A Christmas Cactus perished in my care last year. I had it for three months.
Now that you know a wee bit about us, I would like to welcome you to follow our journey. Life is an experiment and you really have to keep trying new things until you find what works for you. For a long time I let life carry me away from it all, leading to over spending, lack of scheduling, rarely cooking, letting the housework slide, and so on while trying to scramble from one event (swimming lessons) to the next (communications workshop).

With this blog you hold me accountable to be the best I can possibly be. I have set goals for my family and for myself. We will further reduce our consumption, budget our groceries and stop ordering pizza, plan out our days to include time for being at home and tidying up. Aside from those goals there are more, such as getting myself into tip-top shape.