All Business

Disclosure: The following post includes a recipe, an advertisement, a book recommendation, and more propaganda…

Nathanael crouches and drops bean seeds into the trench I made with my hoe. Vivian is there beside him and throws her handful into a pile and begins to cover them up, all lumped together. When I protest, Nathanael squints up at me and stares.

“Why are you wearing that?” He is looking at the huge hat I just put on to cover my huge head. “Are you a farmer?”

I straighten up and throw my shoulders back. I am pleased with this four-year-old’s question. “Yes,” I say, spreading my arms to point to the  budding raspberries, quivering garlic stalks, blooming cherry and plum, trailing strawberries and spiking asparagus. “This is my farm.”

Nathaneal isn’t convinced. “You can’t be a farmer because you don’t have a barn,” he concludes. I agree with him partly–barns and outbuildings are very useful things for farmers to have, and then we keep working.

After we finish planting the beans he helps me unload a few wheelbarrow loads of mulch and waters the emerging snap peas.  By the time his older brother gets off the bus he’s changed his mind about my title. Still holding the watering can, he waves it at his brother and shouts, “Look Josiah, she’s a farmer!”

Right now we’re harvesting asparagus, green onions, rhubarb, and dandelion roots on our “farm”. It is a pleasant sort of vindication to pull foot-long roots out of the earth, knowing they will become a smooth part of my spring morning ritual. Turning them into coffee is the best way to up-cycle these medicinal plants in my opinion. (And believe me, I’ve tried all manner of recipes.) In fact, if I was inclined to market goods I might actually sell this stuff, but instead I’ll try to sell you on this retreat…

There are a few spots left and early bird pricing lasts until next week. Come be a part of it! Watch this short interview on CTV News to get a better idea of what it’s about. (I come on at 13:25 minutes.)

This book.

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I  have 3 hours to myself every week when Vivi goes to daycare. During these mornings alone I only do Very Important Things, which usually means walking, praying, and writing. Last week I used 30 precious minutes to copy passages from Annie Dillard’s book. Here is one of my favourites:

“One of the few things I know about writing is this: spend it all, shoot it, play it, lose it, all, right away, every time. Do not hoard what seems good for a later place in the book, or for another book; give it all, give it now. The impulse to save something good for a better place later is the signal to spend it now. Something more will arise for later, something better. These things fill from behind, from beneath, like well water. Similarly, the impulse to keep to yourself what you have learned is not only shameful, it is destructive. Anything you do not give freely and abundantly becomes lost to you. You open your safe and find ashes.”

And finally, one last advertisement.

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My nieces and nephews have started their own business, Three Huggers, creating sustainable beeswax wraps with the help of their parents. I love wrapping my children’s sandwiches in them; their fabric designs almost transform lunch prep into a festivity instead of a mad rush to throw some ham between two slices of bread. Here’s their FB page and Etsy account where you can flood them with orders 🙂

Have a wonderful weekend ahead!

Last wkd was mostly all backbreaking work except for Sunday afternoon, which was mostly all about water, fresh fish, fire, and friends.

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DIY Beeswax wraps; an alternative to plastic wrap

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I considered titling this post How to Wreck Your Iron but thought I needed something more upbeat. The truth is, these wraps are well worth making if you already wash plastic ziplocs or are particularly aesthetically motivated, but there are certain things you should know before you start like A) use a piece of scrap wood instead of your ironing board and, B) use an old iron (I used my good iron and managed to clean it but I don’t recommend following suit.)

Several months ago my friend, Shanon, purchased several packages of these wraps and gifted one to me. I was surprised by how well they work to wrap sandwiches and keep leftovers fresh in the fridge. I also loved their honey fragrance–though this has faded from use, and thought I might be able to replicate the product on my own.

Here’s what I used:

-clean cotton scraps

-a chunk of beeswax from our local honey producers

-a fine cheese grater (preferably one dedicated to wax crafts) Of course, I never heed tips like this and just use my regular grater only to get frustrated afterwards when I clean it

-wax paper or parchment paper

-an iron

-a flat surface you don’t mind getting waxy (I used my regular ironing board and ruined it)

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grating beeswax can be tedious; get ready for a workout if you are making lots of these

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fabric sprinkled with beeswax

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You can make these wraps in the oven but I like how you can see the wax melting (and control it a little more) with the iron.

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wrap sandwiches up like presents

To make beeswax wraps:

1. Cut squares/rectangles of several sizes out of cotton.

2. Place parchment/wax paper on ironing surface, then cotton, and sprinkle with grated beeswax.

3. Cover with a second piece of parchment/wax paper and iron (on the cotton setting) until wax is melted. You will know you have enough beeswax if the fabric looks evenly wet. You need to make sure all the fabric is covered in beeswax to make them airtight.

4. While the wax is hot, remove wax paper and hold fabric in the air to let it cool for 30 seconds before laying down…the wraps are now ready!

5. Rinse with cold water after each use.

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I’ve never once used a ribbon with these… this is a photo set-up. Some people attach velcro or buttons; some sew baggies out of their wraps. I find mine work fine without much fuss although sometimes I use an elastic to hold them to a bowl. (The beeswax should warm enough from your fingers, when pressing it against dishes, to stay in place).

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While -50c windchill has driven me to reinventing Saran wrap, others of us have started screenwriting. Yesterday Susanna and Belén spent hours yesterday collaborating on a script they plan on developing with claymation. Later in the day Susanna had her friend, Kirsi, over to play and I overheard them starting another writing project.

“So how do you want the introduction to go?” Susanna asked Kirsi. Kirsi looked a little unsure so Susanna continued, “You know, like every movie starts with something…”

Kirsi looked up at her and asked with awe, “You mean this is going to be a movie?”

“Yeah,” Susanna answered easily, as if a Hollywood old-timer, “This is gonna get published.”

And then they worked earnestly on it for most of the afternoon, propelled by their imminent success, I’m sure.

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hard at work

I just asked my girls if they thought they would have an allergic reaction to their clothes tomorrow morning, since they haven’t worn them for so long. I’m personally looking forward to getting out of my MEC fleece pants; I’ve worn them for two weeks straight (don’t worry, I change the layer underneath), even for the Christmas Eve candlelight service. I counted at least 3 people wearing ski-pants at the same service and felt bad for the city girl who thought she had to wear a skirt.

I wish you all success as you get back to wearing “normal” clothes in 2014,

Tricia