Sunday, December 15, 2013

Slow Living 2013 - November/December

Hello! It's been so long and I have missed visiting this space. There are many things happening around me that I long to blog about but am finding the time a real challenge. I won't bore you with the details, I am sure you know this feeling only too well yourself!

However, I really wanted to do a final wrap up for the Slow Living month by month series and was feeling extra guilty about not making it here for the November edition and then suddenly had a brainwave to combine the November and December installments. They don't call it the silly season for nothing! Trying to squeeze everything in at the moment is beyond challenging, so by combining the two months, hopefully it will ease the pressure somewhat! I would love it if you would join in with me to reflect upon achievements made under nine different categories. To read more about this blog link up, please see here. So without further ado, my November/December Slow Living entry:

{Nourish} - I have been spending time examining my diet recently and it's possible connection to some joint pain that I have been experiencing for several months now. I was convinced I had sensitivities to lactose and gluten and took steps to cut these things out of my regular eating. Not noticing any huge improvement with the joint pain, I remain unconvinced to any connection there, but did notice that I felt a whole lot better physically from not consuming so much of these foods. I have pretty much remained off dairy for a couple of months now, with the exception of yoghurt and the odd sneaking in of hard cheese, which don't seem to affect me too much with bloating and cramps. I can't believe it's taken me so long to connect the dots and try cutting them out! Now cooking for the family is another challenge that needs serious thought - what to do about lasagne, macaroni cheese, scalloped potatoes and so on. Why do most of my favourite comfort foods contain dairy? It's just not fair. Does anyone know of a good substitute for cream? I am finding this the hardest part of all!!

Homemade yoghurt, drained overnight to remove excess whey and mixed with homegrown raspberries..yum!

{Prepare} - Ooh, so much goodness has been happening in this category lately! I have been spending a lot of time dehydrating various items for the pantry - muesli, fruit leathers, mushrooms - sliced and also grinding them up into a powder, herbs - rosemary, thyme, sage, parsley (I figured let's save what's growing in the garden before hacking them back after they go to seed!), and apple rings. The apple rings are demolished straight away by the family - and the mushroom powder is proving to be very beneficial for sneaky additions to family dinners for a real flavour punch!


A little bit of pickling has been happening too..when I came across large continental cucumbers recently at a really good price, I just couldn't walk past them. The family love bread and butter cucumbers so we can always do with jars in the pantry - especially now with the warmer weather arriving and more 'picnicky' type lunches being consumed. 


A few boozy preparations have also been taking place in my kitchen too, such as a couple of jars of raspberry schnapps after reading a post on fruit schnapps by Cath at Elastic Mom. How divine does this sound! I have used some frozen raspberries that we had lurking in the freezer from last year's harvest and have used gin for the soaking liquid. Another couple of weeks and we should be good to go for a taste test,  - I'm thinking this could make the perfect liqueur to see in the new year!

A revisit to my oztops has also been taking place, with some apple cider already hitting the fridge. Next up, I am hoping to brew up a bottle of grape juice in the lambrusca style. But what is really tempting me from the boozy quarters is the idea of making some homemade mead! If only we had bees and a plentiful amount of fresh honey to use! Have you ever made mead? Do you have a good recipe to share?

{Green} - Hmm, lets see. I have a good one - did you know that in addition to using it as a hair wash, bicarb soda (baking soda) makes a fantastic cleanser for the skin? If you have dry skin, a little rub with a diluted bicarb paste/liquid (1tbs bicarb to 1 cup water) in the shower and then rinsed off does amazing things to the feel of your skin. I was so impressed to see that it actually kind of mimicked the effect of bathing in hot mineral springs - how cool is that? Try it and see for yourself!

I have also been turning my mind towards some infused oils from the garden now that the healing herbs have made a reappearance. I have started a calendula infusion with olive oil and after about 3 weeks in a sunny spot it should be ready to prepare into a salve. I would love to try a combination of calendula, comfrey and lavender infused in oil as well! And maybe even include a little bit of plantain..but more on that under "Discover".

Calendula oil  - for use on minor skin irritations such as burns, rashes, bites/stings etc.

{Grow} What a lovely thing it was to have some ladies from my veggie group come to visit and put some summer crops in for me. A little bit of cake, some hot coffee and an hour or so chatting is all it takes to fuel their energy for the task. They were kind enough to put in pumpkins, beans, tomatoes, cucumbers and zucchinis for me last week.

With the unpredictable weather we've been having, I also decided to pull up our garlic as I was concerned about the bulbs sitting in damp soil and potentially rotting. I am really pleased this year to have a mixture of white and purple garlic harvested. The purple cloves I planted back in autumn were kindly given to me by my good friend, Kirsty. 

Allowing the bulbs to dry under cover before the messy task of braiding!

{Reduce} - I have been attempting alterations to clothing I don't wear to turn them into something I can wear. In some cases they are op-shopped/thrifted items that are too long or wide and a simple adjustment is needed. Other cases, are items I have made that don't fit me well and a revisit to the seam lines and darts are what's required. It is actually kind of fascinating to study the construction details of different garments and how they create the three dimensional form from what was previously a flat piece of fabric!

{Create} - Gosh, I've been on a big sewing binge lately!! I don't know what happened - one minute it was knitting season and the next - the sewing machine was out and whirring away. In the name of a mammoth fabric de-stash, I have made three summer tops, a pair of shorts for the youngest, a wrap-around skirt, and a dress! What a funny feeling it is to make wearable items from fabric that has been sitting in my drawer for...years way too long. I have also been drooling over online patterns and have found several inspirational sewing blogs to distract me from cooking dinner inspire me. Check out: Ginger Makes, Tilly and the Buttons and Sewaholic Patterns/blog for some great reading!

Op-shopped fabric from the stash and New Look 6803. Classed as easy..and it really was! Don't you love that?
{Discover} - As I mentioned above, some really cool sewing sites for the late night inspirational hit. I also enjoyed reading Changing Gears by Greg Foyster and have passed it along to my biking friend. Another interesting little book I've been looking through is The Weed Forager's Handbook. With references to many common weeds and their uses it is eye-opening to see healing and culinary uses behind these plants that were commonly just thought of as weeds. We have loads of plantain growing here and I would like to try and make an infused oil similar to the calendula one above, using plantain, which is apparently another great skin healer. I also keep eyeing off the mallow that we have growing  but have not gone there yet with it in regards to a  leafy salad addition! Do tell me, have you?


{Enhance} - A couple of meal trees are making the rounds within my circle lately. It is such a good feeling to provide a practical gift that nurtures the other person in a time of need. You can read more about meal trees here. My daughters' primary school also held it's biennial fete which was a lot of fun to participate in. There was such wonderful craft and plant shopping - perfect for this time of year! Helping out on the woodfired oven loading pizzas in and out was also enjoyable on the day. I also had a really nice experience a little further back and happened to meet a blog reader while going through the channels for some local volunteer work. (Hi Angie! :))

{Enjoy} Busy as this time of year is, there is much to enjoy and I really do feel lucky to recognise this. Winding up of photography and spinning club for the year with bbq's and festive lunches. End of year concerts/performances and presentation nights are in full swing. Breathing in the moment of my middle daughter's final days in primary school before she embarks on her high school career are precious. Watching her grow in confidence as she attempts and accomplishes things she has not done before also causes me to stop and reflect. Thinking about the special times planned ahead to gather with family and the arrival of a new year and some much needed holiday time. Hoping your time with the people around you is comforting and enjoyable as we wind down 2013. xx



 If you would like to join in with your own post in this link-up, please add your blog post link to the list below (and please add your post to the list if you were organised for November!)

33 comments:

  1. It's always lovely to see a post from you Chris! I see I am a first commenter again, this sometimes happens at this time on a Sunday afternoon, our schedules must coincide. I am not gluten free but I have noticed that I feel much better when I eat bread made from spelt or quinoa, so I'm starting to make those regularly. I think t's easier on the digestion.

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    1. And it's always lovely to see you visit in my comments, Rose! I'm wondering if your spelt bread is sourdough..or regular yeasted bread? Could definitely be worth a try. :)

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  2. Hi Christine, so glad to read your month. You are very talented at sewing, well done! Seeing your poppies reminds me that I must include them in next years garden. Can't help with cream substitute, sorry, but I do know that many choose to go with soya products but I have recently read a lot of articles about how bad it actually is for humans. Enjoy your day!

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  3. Oh, and just dropping this link here as she has loads of gluten free recipes that are very yummy http://www.petite-kitchen.com

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    1. The soy debate is quite confusing, Wendy - there seem to be two schools of thought. Thanks so much for the link to gluten free recipes..looking forward to taking a good look! :)

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  4. Good to see you back Christine! Life is busy isn't it and like you, my blogging took a back seat but oh I do miss it and am determined to keep recording our days there.
    With regards to the plantain, it does make a very good skin ointment, I made some last year and my daughter used it on her baby's bottom! Worked wonders!

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    1. That's good to hear about the plantain, Evi - we have it everywhere at the moment! Nice to hear it worked on soft baby skin. :)

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  5. Ah, Christine. It seems this last couple of months you have been peeking into my mind! this month I have been looking at 'The weed forager's handbook' and wondering if I should buy it .... have been googling 'plaintain' and wondering if I can make a 'calendula plaintain ' fix it all balm and have made a goat milk soap batch with 6wk old infused calendula olive oil (it went a magnificent orange!) . How I wish you lived closer to compare notes!!
    Also - for cream , try sweetened yogurt if you are able to have it , spelt is a great replacement if you aren't coeliac for easily digestible flour ( and also soaking it first as in the nourishing traditions book) ...and for joint/muscle pain , try magnesium every day , Australian soil is very low in this ....worked for me!
    Promise to have my monthly update ready very soon-Christmas is ever so busy isn't it!

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    1. Ooh, Kim, your goats milk calendula soap sounds gorgeous!! It must feel so nourishing! Thanks for the tip about the magnesium.. you've just jogged my memory - didn't Pat Coleby mention this in a goat keeping book? I seem to recall something along those lines. Wish you were closer too - I'd be picking your brains at every opportunity! x

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  6. I'm convinced that diet is the trigger for my stiffness as recently I was on a very strict (cut out all rubbish etc) for 6 weeks and it went away........I've let things slip because of family birthdays and holidays and we can't forget Christmas is looming and guess what......that stiffness is back. I am back on that after Boxing Day and in the meantime trying unsuccessfully not to over indulge. Regards Kathy A, Brisbane, Australia

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    1. That's really interesting, Kathy. Diet is such a huge part of our lives and so easy to overlook when it comes to these kinds of issues. Hoping your condition improves.

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  7. Hi Christine, I think combining months together is completely acceptable (because that's what I did with Oct/ Nov!) :)
    I also have the Weed Foragers Handbook. The author, Adam Grubb, was one of my Permaculture teachers, so we were able to go on a weed walk with him in one class to check out some of the weeds. It's amazing how many common weeds are edible and usable. I haven't tried any yet, beyond little nibbles, but one of my friends has been getting into it, particularly doing delicious things with nettles over winter.
    Thanks for another fun year of Slow Living Diaries. I hope you have a lovely relaxing summer. Tobi x

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    1. Ahh, lucky girl, Tobi! I also notice Adam Grubb was talking at our local Horticultural Society a couple of weeks ago - I would've loved to have gone but had another commitment that clashed on the same night. Wishing you a lovely summer season too..with bountiful harvests!

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  8. Your dress is amazing!
    I recently did the Whole30 (no grains, dairy, sugar, legumes for a month) and felt much better for it. Used coconut cream or milk as a cream substitute and the family didn't even notice.
    I'm trying a calendula/lemon balm mix at the moment.
    Have a wonderful christmas season.
    Kindest regards from the french alps.
    What is a weed?
    A plant whose virtues are yet to be discovered!

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  9. HI again
    can't seem to find the link to link up to?

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  10. Hi Emma! Coconut cream - yes, I could definitely use this! Excellent suggestion, It seems that the linky tool is having a tanty - hopefully it's back up again soon. In the meantime, feel free to add your link here and I'll pop it in when it's back up again. ;)

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  11. Nice to see you back at it again. Like you, I find things are getting busy and blogging takes a backseat. I still do these round ups at the end of each month, because it gives me a chance to think about what has happened during the month and it makes a good diary for us to look back on.

    I love the dress - I haven't sewed any clothes in years, but I would love to give it a try again. My mom used to sew a lot of our clothing, but that was back when sewing was more frugal than buying. Now, unless you have good luck with finding material in thrift stores, it usually turns out more expensive to make it yourself.

    Enjoy the holidays.

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    1. Yes, I know what you mean about the cost of homemade vs bought. I struggle with this and feel so defeated when I see a top for half the cost of what it takes to make one myself. But at least by making items at home I know that they are produced ethically and I have complete control over colours/details/fitting..especially fitting which can sometimes be a challenge for this pear shaped missus!

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  12. Hi Christine, I love the dress! It's very cute. As for plantain, it's one I've used for ointment with amazing results. It cleared up my daughter's eczema and my granddaughter' snappy rashes like magic!

    Glad to see this post because I've been wanting to to do a slow living post but thought I'd left my run too late! Like you, I'm suffering from a lack of time these days. I might still write up a post in the next couple of days if all goes well.

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    1. That's so great to hear of your success with the plantain, Linda. Looking forward to giving it a go. :)

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  13. A wonderful post, thanks for all the inspiration this year, i shall have a nose at some of those links.I love to make my own clothes and its great to see this flat piece of fabric made into something wearable.I love the dress you made.
    Do have a great holiday.
    sue

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    1. Thankyou, Sue - I can see we are quite likeminded. Have a lovely holiday, too! :)

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  14. Hi Christine, i really enjoyed seeing your blog on my list of followed blogs this morning - i really enjoyed the read and want to go back and reread!. it made me think about whats happening now for me since my move back to NZ 3 wks ago. i realised i was getting back into some SLE type things again and felt it was time to join in after several months sitting on the sidelines observing whilst i was finishing up in the UK. thank you for making me think about these things again.

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    1. I hope your move went well, Rachael and that you are settling back into NZ life comfortably. Nice to have you linking up again. :)

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  15. Wow, that dress is just my cup of tea! You did a beautiful job :)
    On the plantain, is it a particular species that is medicinally useful? I ask because in researching "wild foods" I was amazed to read (in a UK source) about plaintain being edible, but a little investigation showed that it was a different species to the massively-common plaintain we have here in New England. I don't know of ANY animal - goat, horse, cow, or blogger - that will eat this plaintain. Unfortunately.
    Very interesting to read about your dietary experiments, as I am currently reading up on elimination diets and joint issues...

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    1. Thanks, Quinn - you are very kind. :)
      I don't imagine I would try eating plantain...I am more interested in it as a herb to infuse in oil and then turn into a salve for external application on skin irritations. Apparently it is wonderful! My goats used to enjoy eating the very tops off the plantain..which I always puzzled over.
      I hope you find a solution to your joint issues - I can really sympathize with you. I am certain diet can play a key role in these kind of issues and it's just a matter of finding out what agrees with your body. I am quite motivated to try a paleo approach to my diet after feeling better in general after cutting back on dairy and gluten. I don't know how strict I would be though in regards to eliminating foods such as legumes and rice...would have to wait and observe any results. :)

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  16. In addition to your skintreatment from the ouyside, try it from the inside too. This comes wiyh a warning, do not try this when you have a fish allergy! otherwise, remember the spoonfull of codliveroil when you were a child and the months name was written with an R in it? Maybe you had already the orangeflavoured liquid or else you are young enough to have had them in jellycapsule form. I am taking two os those each day, after a gap of 50 years fromchildhood. Somene recommended them as a wintertreatment to make my skin less attractive for sunburn. My sjib burns on clouded days when I am over an hour unprotected outside, meanung long sleeves and widerimmed hat. Imagine the looks you get. In early soring mt hands burn red at a 10 minutes bicycleride ro and from home. The codlivercapsules help, I burn less easuly but they also make my dry rough hands and face skin (like sanding paper) smooth within days (or if I forget for a few days, they get sandy again). I was noit told of this effect and very surprised by it, but the capsules are inexpensive, easy to swallow. It is also considered to help with painfull joints and it seems to me my fingerjoints are better off with using the capsules too, they are less stiff (beginning arthritis?) but I do noy advise them as a medicine, just as a supplement o your usual food (and when not using dairy products, you are loosing on the fatty ingredients in the milk). Needless to say as a child I did get sunburn far less then as an adult.

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  17. Lovely to link up again . wishing your family a wonderful new year!

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  18. Hi Christine, I've finally written my Slow Living post. I hope it's not too late. When you made mention of doing your FINAL Slow Living entry, did you just mean for the year or forever? Just need to get my head around it because if you will still be doing them next year I need to try to organise myself better. Wonder if I could get them out on time for a whole year?!

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    1. Never too late, Linda :)

      Having a bit of a think on the slow living posts...

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Hi there, so nice of you to stop by! Thanks for sharing your thoughts, I love hearing what you are up to. Christine x

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