Recently I gave a gardening presentation for beginner gardeners. Great fun and lots of questions. I've uploaded that presentation to slideshare.net and hope it gives some information to people interested in gardening. In May I'll be doing three more workshops one for Early Childhood educators so focused on helping kids learn about gardening, a workshop on feeding the soil to feed yourself (making compost tea too) and then finishing the month with a Healthy Soil = Healthy Food workshop. Then June I'll be very busy with the gardens, depending on the production I might have some crops to sell. Strawberries is the only crop I do plan to sell and I'm hoping for a great crop.
Every year we to try to do something more to simplify and save. This year it will be limit our purchases to 'necessary' and this will be a hard one. We have purged and reduced in many ways but still fight the purchasing of 'things' not totally necessary, because lets face it we can justify just about anything. The reward in moving toward a simplify and save lifestyle is that we become more at peace and less stressed and that feels great! Mind, body and finances.
Purge (De-clutter more than things) and Reduce
Take a hard look at not just 'things' or objects but at all areas of your life.
Things - Go room by room for the things and be honest, do you use it? do you need it? does it add to your life or take away? Then it can be sold, given away or trashed (recycle where possible).
Mind Clutter - are you being 'pecked to death by ducks' "A steady stream of small, seemingly inconsequential or minor nuisances, which build up over a prolonged period of time and which, eventually, take their toll and exact a heavy price."? This could be the numerous memberships you have i.e. magazines you never read (I only have one print subscription now and I read it every month because it is that important to me.) or volunteering for non-profit organizations that all want a piece of you - they are all great causes but really focusing just on a few will benefit you and that organization. (I often offer to do a small project with a start and finish i.e. a press release for an event rather than sitting on a board for several years but I have made exceptions. Don't say yes to everything.)
Do you have a lot of mail or email? Each day take one item and really analyze it - does it add value to my life? do I really need it? etc. Create a process and start purging...the resulting reduction will likely not just free up time but reduce your mind clutter. Hundreds of emails a day isn't a badge of honour - it clutters your mind and exhausts you. Purge your emails to what you value most and de-clutter your mind. Find peace simply.
Review your bills - do you really need a landline anymore? I mean do you really need to pay a monthly bill to talk to telemarketers? and before you say it is part of my package, look at your package, do you really need it all? Can you combine bills to one? Really look what are you paying for and does it add value to your life? Do you need cable or would your time be better spent oh say gardening, time with kids, hiking/biking etc. free activities that promote your health and well being including your mental health?
Tip - take one area at a time say - each week focus on one area of your life, review, make resolutions to put into action or act on it and then move to the next area. Give yourself time to congratulate yourself on your accomplishment and likely freedom of time/money in the process. Share your story with others to encourage their simplifying their life.
Purchasing - The easiest way is to not shop regularly. Plan your purchases. Be focused when you shop and don't get caught up on the sales, unless the items are ones you use regularly and would be buying anyway...it is so hard, I feel your pain....but how many shoes do you really need? Many people use a one in and one out process - if you buy a new shirt an old one needs to be replaced. If you can meal plan that would be ideal. Start with your list of favourites and try to incorporate easy to adapt ones like stir-fries, soups, stews, etc where ingredients can change. Unsubscribe from online shopping sites and shop looking at kijiji and other used website for things you might need or find fun. Look only when you 'need' not 'want' something. Give yourself time to consider. Recently, I did up a seed order and then sat on it for several days - it changed and became more realistic and easier on the pocket book - it is so hard not to get caught up in the moment - be strong.
May 2016 be your year to move closer to simplifying and saving....know that we are all struggling with you.
Each year we reviewed what worked and what didn't work, sometimes we decide again to try while other times it just isn't worth the work. New crops this year were Jerusalem artichokes, French tarragon, fennel, cherry bomb peppers, shallots, and kohlrabi. We also grew - carrots, beets, various greens, potatoes, sweet potatoes, various fruits including goji, grapes, currants, strawberries, blueberries, haskaps, blackberries and rhubarb, onions, garlic, brussel sprouts, broccoli, turnip, cauliflower, parsnips, squash of various types. New preserves we did this year included pickled cherry bomb peppers, pickled jalapenos, Salvadorian sauerkraut. Regular preserves - bread and butter pickles, dill pickles, green tomato mincemeat and salsa.
It was a fun garden year and this coming year we will focus more on herbs, as always, our focus is to grow our own food etc. adding more herbs will allow us to again save from buying in the store. The big advantage besides the cost savings, which are huge, is that we know exactly where are food is from. We continue to work on storage methods.
Seeking homesteaders, small farms, niche farmers, urban farmers and all things in between. Please review interview questions here.
Pensioners are having trouble paying the bills due to increasing costs and decreasing pensions. I was asked by a senior if there were programs he could tap into to increase his pension amount which at the moment is only $800 a month. Below is a compilation of some resources I've found for Island (PEI) seniors.
What Every Senior Should Know about Income and Benefits from the Federal Government?
Income assistance - Everyone not just seniors
For Help contact: PEI Senior Federation
40 Enman Crescent, Suite 214, Charlottetown, PE C1E 1E6
Tel. 902-368-9008 Fax 902-368-9006 email@example.com
They are pretty easy to make and taste delicious - if you roll them into balls they are easy to take with you.
Makes approximately 12 balls depending on how big you make them.
1 cup of toasted almonds 1/2 cup pumpkin seeds 1/4 cup of unsweetened coconut 2 Tbsps maca powder (optional)
1/4 cup honey or less just enough to have the balls stick together
Either chop almonds and pumpkin seeds or put all but the honey in the food processor and pulse until chopped finely then add in the honey and pulse until it starts to stick together. Take out and roll into balls.
Maca powder is great for endurance and it sports this is a good thing. Learn more here.
It is pretty simple to make your own starter pots and very inexpensive. It is storming pretty hard in the East Coast of Canada right now so made a short video on how to make your own using just a few simple items:
- Newspaper (on full sheet folded will make two pots)
- Scissors to cut the sheet in two....you could also just fold and rip if you like
- An empty can or if you like to be fancy buy a Potmaker
- Sometime to help flatten the bottom of the pot i.e. a coaster will work.
Step 1 - take the one full folded sheet of newspaper and cut length-wise into two pieces, set on aside.
Step 2 - Take your can and start rolling the one sheet of newspaper around the can.
Step 3 - Fold in the excess newspaper in towards the can centre. Using the Coaster push to flatten it.
Step 4 - Put a small piece of tape to hold the bottom.
Step 5 - Put a small piece of tape to hold the side.
See video below - another way is using the Potmaker
This is the time of year I start looking at seed catalogues and start the planning of my gardens and ordering of seeds. As I reviewed Salt Spring Seeds in BC Richters in Ontario and Hope Seeds in Nova Scotia it struck me - just how much we save in grocery costs because we have a garden.
If you want to save big then make 2015 the year you grow a garden. Here are a couple of examples:
Leaf Lettuce or Swiss Chard - both very easy to grow and will keep producing if you keep them watered/nutrients and cut them regularly.
Grow yourself - $3.00 package of seeds, plus possibly some other costs that will be utilized in future years. Versus buying one bunch a week at the store $3.00/week for 12 weeks or $36.00.
Savings is $33.00 on one veggie Honestly purchase a pot, add some soil and seed and grow it on your deck.
Carrots - 100 seeds in one $3.50 package compared to buying a bunch of 8 carrots at $3.20/bag - Savings assuming 80 carrot seeds grow would be $32.00
Strawberry plants - get some runners from a gardening friend cost free compared to $4.50/box at the store....10 boxes from a small bed of your own - Savings $45.00
and on and on. Just those three garden items grown save $110! What are you waiting for, start planning what you can grow either as a community gardener, patio gardener or home gardener.
Make 2015 the year you grow a garden and start saving.
Sweet potatoes, we have been trying to grow them for years and this was year three - we ordered the slips from a local supplier again to try and when they died we tried our own version - going to the grocery store we bought an unknown variety that was organic. Went to youtube to see how to make our own slips, planted them and waited. The vines on top were lovely but we really didn't know what we would get in the end. Pleased as punch we averaged about 8 potatoes a plant with 44 sweet potatoes harvested. We will be saving one to make our own slips again in 2015.
What fun teaching the next generation to cook from scratch. Peter, Lauren, Logan and Lucas all in the 11-12 age range came to learn in the local Community of North Shore kitchen. While two had only ever had microwave pizza the other two had done some baking at home. Everyone brought an ingredient plus two brought their own pan and some materials so they could take a pizza home. Starting off with the yeast setting and all the important information around yeast and how it works followed by making homemade tomato sauce with real and fresh tomatoes from the garden and some spices to mixing the ingredients, forming a dough ball and letting it set for a bit. While the dough rose a bit we made some quick wraps for small, quick, oven pizza and zataar pizzas. Getting their hands dirty was definitely a highlight but spreading the pizza dough out was equally as fun....nothing like feeling your cooking first hand. The kids left with full bellies from eating the quick wrap pizzas and took home a pizza ready to cook and share with their family.
If you have time...teach a group of kids to cook something from scratch the rewards are immediate from the smiles on their faces and long-term as they now have a valuable life skill. A child making a meal all by themselves can be very confidence building plus makes them more independent and helpful around the house. For me, the smiles were the best!
Tracey Allen loves to research, learn and write on all topics to do with gluten-free cooking, whole food cooking, saving, sustainable living and living life to the fullest.