Slow Living Essentials: April 2015

It’s been far, far too long since I’ve participated but I’m going to do my bestest to get back into the groove here with Slow Living Essentials where I find so much inspiration from the global community of bloggers!

NOURISH…

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With my husband working a lot of closing shifts in his chef job and my working from home, we’ve been loving our mornings, so lots and lots of breakfast makin’. He has daily cup of fair trade organic coffee in our little stovetop Bialetti (which he reuses the same bag each time he gets beans at the store), and while I usually just have water, about once a week I indulge in a cup of the gorgeous Prana Chai that we had a huge box of shipped over from St. Kilda (I’ve yet to find a serious competitor here in the US, and like Dan says, it reminds him of Oz), made with Silk non-GMO unsweetened almond milk (harder to find non-GMO in almond milk in a non-plastic container than one might think!). We currently have three favorite meals on rotation: organic steel cut oats mixed in with homemade jam or fresh fruit (my fave is sauteed Granny Smith apples), sweet potato hash and eggs, or on special days, Bob’s Red Mill Gluten Free Pancakes (pictured above) which are incredible. They are almost crepe-like in texture so in my opinion taste way better than regular pancakes and don’t sink in the gut like your regular short stack can do. We froze a ton of berries last year but are now out of raspberries and have one pint left of blueberries for toppings…yikes!

PREPARE…

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Being that spring has really just kicked off, there’s not a ton of preservation going on, however in thinking about last year’s lack of sufficient pesto quantities, I planted both arugula and kale as my “backup greens” for pesto. While basil is still my numero uno, with these two greens put in the ground in late March, by early April they were popping up (see above) and last week we harvested about 4 cups of leaves to make a really good vegan pesto. While we’re not vegan, we’ve found that we like pesto without the parmesan just as much – so basically the guts of it are: green leafy thing (kale, basil, arugula, parsley, even cilantro, although I don’t care for the latter myself) + olive oil + garlic + salt + nut of choice (I usually do slivered organic almonds as they are the most economical in the bulk aisle. Pine nuts from the US are hard to find – most are from China these days with a smattering of expensive – but tasty – European ones.). I also discovered the awesomeness of nutritional yeast in bringing a nice savory quality to the pesto, essentially replacing the parmesan tanginess. Whip batches of this pesto up and freeze it in little ball canning jars (I’ve yet to do the ice cube tray trick – anyone else out there doing that and liking it?) and voila!

REDUCE…

While the husband was working, I've begun the super unsexy process of demo-ing in the basement a couple areas to allow the plumbers in for our grand repiping project. Let me tell you, it's kinda awesome using a crowbar but I think I need to find a solution to the goggles and mask because after a few breaths it seemed to get fogged up!

With 90 year old pipes in our home, we have been seeing issues come up in our basement, so with a small windfall that came in with my work, we decided to use it to help pay for repiping the house to environmentally-friendlier PEX piping. So with that, we’re going to take advantage of the big mess that will be created with the bathroom plumbing to do a bit of a remodel in that tiniest of rooms. We’re getting rid of our bathtub and putting in a walk-in shower, as well as changing its location, swapping location with the toilet. And with that, our GC’s marching orders have us getting rid of this particular wall in the basement to make the job both cheaper and quicker. I don’t mind demolition, to be honest, so with a bit of time on my hands awaiting my next client engagement to begin and the current one winding down, it was all about the crowbar, goggles, mask, and drill taking down this bad boy! So what’s the “Reduce”? The drywall gets recycled (I found a place that recycles all kinds of construction waste, including this, yay!), the metal gets put out onto the curb (takes <24 hours for scrap metal to disappear in our ‘hood), and the scrap wood gets repurposed for our own projects. We’re also pretty sure we can do things with the old galvanized piping – like this! Nothing to the landfill is our goal!

GREEN…

Picked up some paint at Freddy's and started decorating the new rain barrel! Painted it green and we decided that "good bugs" would be our theme (since the other ones have clouds and flowers). Found these ideas online and drew them freehand and then painted. Pretty cute eh?!
We got our 3rd rain harvester on our property! This 65 gallon Algreen barrel captures water from the new gutter added to our garage, and will help us use less water from the tap for our veggie garden (we now have 2 barrels totaling 115 gallons in the veggie garden which should now lasts a few months, andΒ  a 300 gallon cistern that lasts the whole summer and into the fall). And because I can’t handle a plain barrel, I had to get out the paint πŸ™‚

GROW…

Our new strawberry bed is super happy - our old one was along our (unused) driveway

Strawberries! We are soooo antsy awaiting those blooms to turn into fruit! We’ve also got arugula, spinach, kale, onions, carrots, potatoes, blueberries, raspberries, blackberries, corn, marigolds, and nasturtiums in the garden with tomatoes, chard, leeks and okra going into the ground in May. We’ve had a pretty gorgeous spring so far…a nice change of pace from the usual rainy season πŸ™‚

CREATE…

Saturday temperatures broke into the 70s and with that, my hubby was inspired to finish up his latest project of creating a mason bee house out of scrap wood and putting it up on the back of our garage to attract more pollinators.
Hubby made this mason bee hive out of scrap wood – now hoping it draws them in!! He’s got a bee obsession for sure, with plans to attend the Portland Urban Beekeepers and someday down the road getting our own swarm and (happy sigh) our own honey…

DISCOVER…

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Boy am I behind in my reading! In our used book-buying obsession, we both have a zillion books piled up. While my husband has several going at once, in no particular order – and will even grab the book I’m reading and start on it (ballsy eh!!) – I go one by one in the order I bought them, and with about 15 of them stacked up and a crazy last couple of years, I’m finally reading Fatal Shore, about Australia’s founding (Dan recommended this to me as the Oz version of Howard Zinn’s APHOTUS). And just like when I was reading Zinn, I have to stop every couple of chapters and read a mindless fashion zine or watch Dancing With The Stars to take a mental break because it’s so heavy. (For the Australians reading this, let me tell you, most Americans are taught next to nothing about Australia beyond kangaroos, koalas, and the stars with faded Aussie accents we see on the big screen.) As the wife of an Australian man, it’s important that I have more than a half-ass comprehension of this country. And it’s already an incredible read!

ENHANCE…

...and here I am with one of my kiddos who has come a long way. We don't realize how much of an impact we have on these kiddos, even with just a short amount of time with them each week. It has taught me a lot about having faith in the process because when I look back to the start of the year, I'm amazed at how far these great kids have come and am so proud to be part of such a wonderful program.
April means we’re closing in on the end of the school year for Start Making A Reader Today (SMART). Here I am with Malachi, one of my two sweet kindergarteners I read with every Monday to help him work on his reading skills and love the huge and amazing world that books open up!Β  Just two more weeks, and amazing to see how far the kiddos have come!

ENJOY…

And seriously kick ass getting my tix to Madonna in October! I gotta say her new album is effing phenomenal, one of her best in years. Favorite track so far? Bitch I’m Madonna (feat. Nicki Minaj) of course!! πŸ™‚

  One thought on “Slow Living Essentials: April 2015

  1. May 4, 2015 at 7:35 pm

    Your book reminded me of a time I bought a book for my children, many years ago, that had Australian expressions and defined what they meant. Shortly after we met and became friends with a family from Australia and my kids showed them the book. They couldn’t stop laughing because the “popular expressions” were unknown to them. So much for trying to introduce my children to another culture through books. Have to say Zinn’s book was the core of our US history while we home schooled.

    Your strawberries have me drooling. Mine are just seedlings in the house and I’m a bit worried they won’t produce anything this year.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. May 5, 2015 at 6:55 pm

    What -you mean ‘Thornbirds’ wasn’t historically accurate? I have actually learned more about Australian history from genealogy programs like ‘Who do you Think you are AU?’ on youtube! I too have strawberry envy as mine are new and will probably not produce this year. You have definitely had an interesting month! Thanks for sharing it!

    Liked by 1 person

    • May 5, 2015 at 7:11 pm

      hahaha that’s awesome, forgot about Thornbirds! it’s interesting to see how the Australian stereotype is evolving – when my husband visited in the 80’s it was Crocodile Dundee…when he was walking down the street in my ‘hood, some fellas confronted him in their lowrider-gangsta-rap-playin’ car and when they heard his accent they immediately were captivated, referring to Priscilla Queen of the Desert!! πŸ™‚

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  3. May 6, 2015 at 11:19 pm

    Thanks for joining us again. I love the look of the pancakes with berries. Yum! And the paintwork on the water barrel is gorgeous. Wish I could paint….

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    • May 7, 2015 at 4:28 pm

      Haha Linda you know what I did? Googled “cartoon dragonfly” and “cartoon ladybug” and printed out the pictures of the ones that looked easiest to replicate – got out a sharpie to draw it then filled it in. In real life stick figures are my art πŸ™‚

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  4. Evi
    May 19, 2015 at 3:31 am

    Hahahaha, thats so funny! Yes, I’m an Australian and I often laugh when people from overseas and ask about some of our slang words!! I guess every country has them but because we all see a lot of US films, we hear more of yours than vice versa!
    Thanks for the nutritional yeast idea in pesto – I love the parmesan but will add a bit of yeast too because its so healthy.
    I’m belatedly popping over from Linda’s Monthly9 and really enjoyed reading your post!

    Liked by 1 person

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