Friday, June 1, 2012

Slow Living 2012 - Month 5 May

This month I'm linking up with Christine's Slow Living 2012 at Slow Living Essentials.  I've been enjoying reading her monthly adventures and those of others.  Feel free to join in too!

May was a very slow month here, on the whole.  The first week was busy busy busy, and then I caught a cold and from then on it's been very slow!

{Nourish} Make and bake as much as possible from scratch. Ditch overpackaged, overprocessed convenience foods and opt for 'real' food instead. Share favourite links/recipes/tips from the month here.

The last few weeks I've been trying different flours in my gluten-free cooking.  Pre-mixed GF flours are quite pricey and I've learnt that I can replace these in many recipes with rice flour (I use the Thai type), which is much cheaper.  This month I've made cakes, bread, pizza bases and biscuits using a variety of flours. Today I've made the most delicious snickerdoodle cookies which taste just as good as the wheat versions.  I'll post the recipe in a separate post.  The breadmaker has been working nights as I try to bake bread regularly for fresh bread in lunchboxes.

I made yoghurt from scratch using the Easiyo and heated milk, it worked fairly well considering it was my first attempt and a cold night!  Next time I'll try a slightly different method.  However there were no complaints from the yoghurt-eating members of the family on this first try!

{Prepare}Stockpile and preserve. Freeze extra meals or excess garden/market produce. Bottle/can, dehydrate or pickle foods to enjoy when they are not in season.

I've started stocking up on a variety of flours: rice, glutinous (sweet) rice, millet, tapioca, rice bran and so on for gluten-free cooking.  My challenge now is to store them all in the kitchen.  Our pantry is full and so is my "gluten-free shelf".  Now I guess we just have to do lots of eating!

I began a four-week menu about a month ago, and now we are in the second run through.  It's working well, I've been sticking to it except when we end up with a lot of leftovers.  

This month I've also been looking a lot at our family finances, and where I can cut back.  Changes are slowly being made with grocery shopping ... partly because of my menu plan ... and so far I have made one trip to Aldi as well as Woolworths, something I will do again when I am well.  Overall I think I am saving money with the food shopping, although there are still some adjustments to be figured out.

{Reduce} Cut down on household waste by re-using, re-purposing and repairing. A ladder into a strawberry planter? A sheet into a dress? Share ideas and project links here, allowing others to be inspired.

I finally attacked my mending pile, with the result that Steve had a lot more options in the way of trousers!  Now I've got a few garments needing new elastic to mend.  
Despite being unwell I've managed to get to the op-shop now and then on the way our or home to other destinations.  Nothing can keep me away ;-)  My best find this month has been a grey cardigan, just what I would have chosen new if I'd seen it.  With a small percentage of wool in the fibre it was a gamble that I wouldn't have taken on a full-price garment, but for $5.00 it was worth it.  As it turns out, I am coping with the wool.  Yippee!  

{Green} Start (or continue!) using homemade cleaners, body products and basic herbal remedies. The options are endless, the savings huge and the health benefits enormous.
We've been continuing to use our laundry liquid, and are finding it works well.  In the past we have had white streaks of "gunk" on our dark clothes sometimes, and this seems to have fixed this problem. (perhaps it was the dry soap/soda powder not dissolving properly in the past?)

{Grow} plant/harvest. What's growing this month? What's being eaten from the garden? Herbs in a pot, sprouts on a windowsill or and entire fruit/vegetable garden -opt for what fits space and time constraints.
I've planted some shallots (from the supermarket) and am growing parsley.  Not much time in the garden as I have been sick.
One thing I have tried is re-growing celery from a bunch bought at the supermarket.  Simply place the base in water for a few days on the kitchen bench and then plant in the garden.  Now we have two little celery plants happily growing in the vege patch!

{Create} To fill a need or feed the soul. Create for ourselves or for others. Create something as simple as a handmade gift tag or something as extravagant as a fine knit shawl. Share project details and any new skills learnt here.
Being sick has had one big advantage - much more time for knitting and crocheting!!
With my discovery that I could now tolerate small amounts of wool I finally decided how to use 
some gorgeous yarn I bought a few months back.  

This poncho is coming together and I am loving the rainbow effect and the way the stripes came out perfectly without any planning!

I've also started to knit some wrist warmers, I've made the first one and have started on the second one.  For these I taught myself to knit in the round at last, but after a few attempts, interruptions and so on I decided that I'd knit these flat and sew the sides together leaving a hole for the thumb.  I think I will find that more comfortable, anyway.

{Discover} Feed the mind by reading texts relevant to current interests. Trawl libraries, second hand shops or local book shops to find titles that fill the need. Share titles/authors of what is being read this month.
With so much time spent on the sofa I've been doing a lot of reading about gluten-free baking, especially from this blog.  I've learnt so much, my mind is spinning.  Then I've sourced flours, some at the health food shop and others at the Asian supermarket.
I've loved reading Rhonda's Down-to-Earth book that was a Mother's Day gift, and I will return to it often.

{Enhance} Community: Possibilities include supporting local growers & producers, help out at a local school/kindergarten, barter or foodswap, joining a playgroup or forming a walking or craft group.
I was glad to make it to a few of my regular activities, although not all of them this month.  Scrapbooking with friends, bible study, recorder and piano teaching, and playing piano at church have all been enjoyed.  Early in the month I taught a cardmaking class, something I hadn't done for quite some time.  I found it incredibly stressful to prepare for, but loved the actual class, so need to think carefully about doing it again.  I tutored at our school band camp, which was fun ... each year I feel like this is a little "in-service" course for me to be reminded and educated about ensemble work for high school students, especially with percussion instruments.  Also, I am really enjoying my piano teaching at the moment.  This term I have a few new students who are thriving, while most of my existing students continue to work hard and make great strides.  I feel privileged to teach them while at the same time contribute to the family finances.  Our girls are playing the part by behaving well and getting on with homework, showers etc while I teach two afternoons a week.I

{Enjoy}  Life! Embrace moments with friends and family. Marking the seasons, celebrations and new arrivals are all cause for enjoyment. Share a moment to be remembered from the month here.
As always, I have loved the beginning of winter weather.  Days by the heater, early nights, knitting, soup, roasts, baking, hurrying through chilly rooms to get to the living room where the gas heater hums away ... all good.  This weather fills me with energy - so long as I can drag myself away from the heater!!


regina said...

hello fiona,
your last month was very interesting.
thanks for the tip!!!
like your rainbow yarn,it looks fantastic.and your wrist warmers are gorgeous.
btw.lovely blog!!!
wish you a wonderful weekend,
blessings from germany,

Kathryn Ray said...

I hope you're feeling better.

I was going to comment on your rainbow scarf's perfect stripes, but you beat me to it. ;-)

Christine said...

Hi Fiona, I hope you're feeling better too.

I love your celery tip and will definitely try this as I never seem to have much luck growing celery from seed.

Your rainbow yard is beautiful, it must be such fun seeing it form together as it is knitted up.

I miss my piano teacher, she moved away a year or so ago and I haven't found (gone to) another teacher sound like you are really enjoying teaching..I'm sure your student just love learning from you! :)

Christine said...

studentS..oops! ;)

Wendy said...

Lovely to visit you! Hope you are feeling better! Crunchies are oat cookies but crunchy as the name says. They are made with coconut too and rather delicious!

Mrs B said...

I love your celery idea - will definite be giving that one a try. I'm very interested in your GF bread - do you have a recipe you use all the time or do you work out ratios as you go??

Anonymous said...

Hey Fiona you had an amazing month! I hope your health is improving though.
Isn't it interesting that you can look back on a month and realise that actually, a lot was achieved!
Really excellent post, I'm in fine company with the monthly review x

Evi said...

Considering you were sick, I think you had quite a prolific month! I know what you mean about the mending...sigh.... my males have that problem too!
I do hope you have a really healthy June, being sick is the pits especially when the family needs you!

Fiona said...

Mrs B, I have tried a few breads lately and the one I am enjoying now is the one in the Failsafe Cookbook, it doesn't have yeast but is quick and easy, doesn't need to rise. Texture is more like a scone or a damper but I like it, even good with a hamburger!

Linda said...

Hi, Gee you have done a lot foe someone who is not feeling well! I just love op shopping. Nice that you found something perfect to wear. I found a saucepan and cake tray last week. You can never have to many of them, can you?!!!

Barbara Good said...

Who knew there were so many options for flours! I love your crocheting as well, just beautiful.