Saturday, 26 December 2015

Strawberry jam!

Back in October I made strawberry jam for the first time. Full recipe at bottom.

We got our flat of strawberries from Heeman's (and picked up a jug of cider while we were there) then came the hulling and quartering. The jam called for the berries to be mashed before measuring to get accurate measures and to break them down before cooking. That poor plastic potato masher was barely up to the task, next time I'd probably look for a metal one.

Once mashed and measured, the berries, juice, pectin, and butter get boiled, then the pre-measured sugar gets added all at once and mixed in before bringing back to a boil.

After another minute boiling, the jam is set aside while the jars are brought up to temp. The warmed jars are filled with jam and then boiled in a big pot for 10 min to sterilize/seal.

I will admit, the first batch didn't set. I had put the sugar in at the beginning and apparently letting it boil first makes all the difference. It's still edible and we're calling it strawberry sauce because it is just far to mobile to be called jam. The second batch turned out perfectly though so just follow the directions and yours will be awesome too. :-)

 - - - - - - - -
Strawberry Jam 
(yield eight 250ml jars)

5 cups Crushed strawberries (about 3 pints)
7 cups Sugar
1 pkg Bernardin Original Fruit Pectin
1/4 cup Lemon juice
1 pat Butter (to reduce foaming. You’ll need a MUCH bigger pot and will loose some of it to foam if not used. You'll also have separating jam because the bubbles cling to the fruit making it float. TL;DR=use the butter)


Hull, core, quarter, and crush strawberries with a potato masher one layer at a time. Measure after crushing and do NOT use a blender or food processor. The machines destroy the natural pectin. The idea is to demolish them gently. :-)

Get canning stuff ready. Pre-measure sugar but do not add yet.

Mix crushed berries, pectin, butter, and lemon juice in a big potato/pasta pot and heat to hard boil stirring frequently. 

Add sugar all at once, stirring to combine.

Bring it back to a boil, and boil hard for at least a minute.

Take off the heat and let sit while you finish prepping canning stuff(warm lids etc).

Skim off foam. Some can remain but you want most of it gone.

Ladle jam into jars, wipe rims, tighten to fingertip tight, process in water-bath canner for 10 minutes after boil starts. 

After 10 minutes turn off heat and remove lid. Let cool as is for 5 min before removing jars. 

Keep jars in a safe place overnight then check seal.

Tuesday, 18 August 2015

spread too thin

Sorry I am not writing more. Hugslut is traveling, Bard is traveling, Wolfie has gone east.

I'm turning the whole apartment upside down, rearranging it so my stuff can have somewhere to be, working full time, and keeping up with the exercises.

Details and pics later.

P.S. It's ridiculously hot.

Wednesday, 5 August 2015

August Progress Report

Ooops... forgot to upload this on the weekend.

First Sunday of the month is update day!
As a reminder, I've started a 6-week challenge HERE

Quest 1(Do my bodyweight training Mondays and Fridays): success
Quest 2(Take a lunch to work 4/5 workdays): success
Quest 3(Stick with the No-S Diet): one failure
Quest 4(Walk at least 30 minutes daily): success
Bonus(Meditate daily): 4x

Stumble: The one day I bought lunch instead of bringing it was within parameters, but that same day I found myself snacking.
Learned: High carb lunches like poutine are not conducive to satiation. 
Plan forward: lunches purchased should mirror what I would have brought, namely protein and veg(not fries and gravy)

Because it's the first Sunday of the month, it's also weights and measures day.
(last measure was two weeks ago when I started working out)

Weight: +1lb
Calf: +0.75"
Thigh: -0.5"
Hips: -0.25"
Waist: -0.5"
Upper arm: -0.25"
Lower arm: +0.25"
Neck: -0.5"
I'm also thinking that the No-S diet just isn't for me. Systematic moderation is helpful if you have chaotic overeating... but I don't, and needing to know what day it is to decide if I can eat when I'm hungry just feels wrong.

Friday, 31 July 2015

Going to be a Lonely August

Wolfie just moved out east, Bard has gone out west for a month to attend some weddings, and Hugslut is leaving in a week to drive out to BC, hang out there for a bit, and drive back.

I'm going to miss them all and although I get Hugslut and Bard back in September, August is going to have a big hole in it.

I plan to keep busy by rearanging Hugslut's appartment so I can finish bringing my stuff over and making it our appartment. We've already discussed what's going where, and I can do almost everything solo. Kettle said I could borrow her boyfriend to help me carry the dresser and bed across the street and everything else is light enough for me to carry by myself. I do plan to keep up with my challenge while they're gone and as long as I'm not going psycho with the house stuff I should be fine for the workouts.

I've been succeeding with the No-S with one modification. I decided that if I was having a drink(since I don't usually do straight shots) the cola wouldn't count as a "sweet". I am going to go lower carb all August by cutting out the cola completely and making sure I get in lots of veggies(spinach, broccoli, brussle sprouts, etc), with a good amount of fats(olive oil, avocado, whole fat dairy) and protiens(chicken, eggs, fish, tofu). I want to have progress to show Hugslut when she gets back.

To-Do List For This Upcoming Week
 - Monday is weigh-in/measure day (Aug.3, next is Sept.7)
 - Keep up with challenge
 - Spend quality time with Hugslut
 - Help Hugslut prepare for trip

To-Do List For The Rest Of August
 - Keep up with challenge
 - On weekends prep work lunches & dinners, do laundry, and rearrange appartment
 - Go to bed at 9 and get up at 5:30 for BBWW(M&F) or Walk & Meditate
 - Rearange appartment after work most nights
 - Create basic food & workout plan for Hugslut to look over when she returns

I'm feeling kinda brain dead today. Kinda detached and distractable... while at the same time feeling like my train of thought is chugging through wheel-high tar. Hope your day is going better.

Thursday, 30 July 2015

Goal: Ninja

I want to be the kind of fit I don't have to think about. The kind that makes everything fun.

I'm not interested in spending more than a minute at a time running, 
but I love walking/hiking for hours.

I'm not interested in pounding out sets on machines for an hour every day, 
but I'd love to just pop into handstand push ups when I'm bored.

I need to be able in the next 3 years to get fit enough for the homestead, 
but I'd love to exceed that to Ninja Warrior level bodyweight fitness.

I can see myself learning deadlift and weighted squats as an add on to my regular training, but I'd mostly like to be able to fly around a jungle gym / forest / urban environment looking like a special effects team has me on a harness.

If I can fly around having fun and looking kickass I don't care if I'm 225lbs. 
(gymnastics at that weight would require more strength though)


Monday, 27 July 2015

Challenge Time

I've started my very first 6-week challenge over on the NerdFitness forums.

Figured I'd start very simply:

  • Do my bodyweight training Mondays and Fridays (doing the thing is enough. no need to add yet)
  • Take a lunch to work 4/5 workdays so I'm not eating fries or such for lunch every day
  • Stick with the No-S Diet (no snacks, no sweets, no seconds, except sometimes on days starting with S)
  • Walk at least 30 minutes daily 

  • Doing pretty well so far. Did my bodyweight training, today's not a work day, haven't snacked, already got 20/30 min down so a nice stroll with Bard later will top that up.

    Been keeping track of my habits with HabitBull. It's a great little app and completely free if you only want to track 5 or fewer habits.

    Saturday, 25 July 2015

    Adjusting my Sails

    So... I have a confession to make. I did not do my bodyweight exercises Friday after work.
    I had thought that my main struggle would be the habit building, the inertia of couch-potato-dom, the "but it'll hurt" or "it takes forever" whining. I was wrong. I had successfully picked out times that I would have no excuse to avoid exercising and had not yet settled into browsing position. I picked a routine that was short (less than 30 min) and, with proper stretching, not at all painful even the next day. Turns out that although I'm not hurting... I am exhausted.

    Part of addressing that will be eating healthier, another part will be scaling back on the frequency of my workouts. I had thought Mon, Wed, & Fri made sense with rest days between them and all weekend off... but that's the problem with logic, it has no place without data. I have now done science too it and found out that I am not fit enough to do bodyweight training 3 days a week, especially not if I'm walking an extra 2-3km on the "rest" days.

    I don't see this as a failure, I just hadn't got a weather forecast before leaving port and the headwinds are stronger than anticipated. I'll adjust my sails to keep the ship from tearing apart and still make (slower) progress. Anything is better than nothing so scaling back to Monday and Friday for now will be good for me.

    Friday, 24 July 2015

    So Very Tired and Needing to Change My Food.

    I have been getting the normal amount of sleep(about 7 1/2 hours). It maybe all the walking I've been doing by taking the long way home on Tuesday and Thursday(it may be the flat shoes I've been doing the walking in), but my legs are heavy and I feel exhausted. There are iron deficiency issues in my family so maybe now I'm working past my limit. I'll do my bodyweight routine tonight as planned and take iron with dinner to see if I feel better in the morning.

    Sunday is the pride parade but otherwise I'm not exercising this weekend. This week was a lot harder than I expected considering how easy Monday seemed.

    I'm looking at food more. I know I eat a bunch of junk and it's costing me a bunch of money. I had set the idea of taking lunch to work every day but wound up not doing that because it took so much time everyday.

    Once(just once) we made a whole week of breakfasts(refrigerator oatmeal) and lunches(salad in a jar) and it took up all Sunday and the whole fridge. I think I can do better.

    Breakfast - Hardboiled egg, cheese, fruits (protien heavy keeps me from being hungry before lunch)
    Lunch - make a big pan or two of stir-fry or frittata and portion into ziplocks, tupperware, or jars, bring fruit or veg with it(the salad in a jar was awkward to eat)
    Dinner - protien(meat, tofu, eggs, beans, nuts) + a ton of veg (salad/stir-fry/fritata/classic protein & sides)

    Looks simple enough and I can cook well enough to not be bored. I'm also considering implementing the No-S approach to moderation. It's simple enough to be explained in one sentence: "No snacks, no sweets, no seconds, except sometimes on S-days." For details check out the Everyday Systems site.

    I am interested in what you might have to say about any of my posts so please feel free to leave any questions or comments in the comments section below the post.

    - - - - -
    P.S. Reading this I can see I'm tired because of all the brackets.

    Thursday, 23 July 2015

    Healthy(er) Eating

    Last night Hugslut and I were talking about healthy eating patterns and I expressed my frustration with the fact that although I want to eat healthy, I really enjoy being able to have soda/pop with alcohol at parties, as well as the occasional sweet treat like jello, icecream, or gluten free cookies. I know that processed sugars are one of the main issues, and I certainly don't want to just replace them with artificial sweeteners because they have their own issues.

    At that point Hugslut gave me some really good advice. She pointed out that eating healthy most of the week and having a sweet or soda/pop one day is a hell of a lot healthier than eating junk every day.

    I had been considering the baby steps of slowly eliminating sugars... but I hadn't considered that I don't need to completely eliminate them to be healthier. Focusing on moderation may just be my key to actually living a healthier life for the rest of my life. I can continue to level up as I go and if I decide my Level 50 self has home made gluten free apple pie with Sunday dinner, well who's to tell me otherwise.

    It's hard to describe the relief this has provided me. Logically I already know these things... but sometimes it takes someone I trust saying it for it to really sink in.
    I don't have to be perfect to be better than yesterday.

    Wednesday, 22 July 2015

    Sticking To It

    Warm-up walk home from work(about 30 min)
    ((Did not do stairs since still achey))
    10 body weight squats *
    5 incline/chair push ups * (last one sucked)
    10 walking lunges +
    10 dumbbell rows (using 2/3 gallon milk) *
    20 second plank *
    20 Jumping Jacks *
    Cool down stretch (stretched much better this time. Hopefully got everything this time.)

    Everything was harder this time. Maybe I'll just stay here and work on form.

    Started a journal to keep track of this stuff. I'll still update you, probably once a month on weigh in day (first monday of the month).

    Tuesday, 21 July 2015

    Took the Long Way Home

    Figured I'd walk along the river instead of straight home today. It does make the walk about 1.5x longer, 10x prettier, and adds some difficulty with hills... but I think I need to switch from large purse to small backpack.

    I need to clean out my purse for sure... but the basic single strap puts all the weight to one side. Also, even cleaned out it's not big enough to carry a lunch to work like I plan to.

    Looks like this won't be the way I walk home in the winter. I guess I'll have to enjoy London's trails while I can.

    Monday, 20 July 2015

    I Did The Thing!

    Actually did my first real workout at home. Here's what I did:

    Warm-up fast-walk (2km)
    Climb 6 floors of stairs +
    10 body weight squats *
    5 incline/chair push ups *
    10 walking lunges +
    10 dumbbell rows (using a full ketchup bottle because I didn't plan ahead)+
    20 second plank *
    20 jumping jacks +
    Cool down stretch

    + means I could have done more easily so make it harder next time

    * means the last one or two were really hard so stay there

    - means I couldnt finish, ease up a bit next time. There were none of these because I purposefully tried to make it easy so I wouldn't chicken out.

    Happy dance!.... Actually... I'm gonna take a shower. I'm super sweaty. Ick.

    Friday, 17 July 2015

    No Slouch

    I'm starting to realize that my recent attempts to avoid back pain by avoiding slouching at work are misguided at best. For the past few days, when I've noticed myself in the curled up and leaning forward posture that rounds my shoulders and sticks out my belly putting undue pressure on my lower spine, I've done my best to straighten my spine, pull my shoulders back, and tighten my core. This results in "sitting up straight" for a few minutes till my attention drifts and an hour later I find myself slouching with a sore back again.

    I fear I may be attempting to correct the symptoms instead of the cause. My knee has healed from the tumble two weeks ago so I will start my new bodyweight exercise routine this upcoming week. If I want to care for my skeletal system and joints, I need to strengthen the muscles that keep them in the right places.

    I'm going to base my workout on the nerdfitness beginer's bodyweight workout and do it 3 times a week. The first week will look like this:
    • Warm-up fast-walk (at least 15 min)
    • 10 body weight squats
    • 5 incline/chair push ups
    • 10 walking lunges
    • 10 dumbbell rows (using a gallon milk jug or similar)
    • 20 second plank
    • 20 Jumping Jacks
    • Cool down stretch

    After noting how easy/hard each activity is, I'll adjust the reps accordingly but I want to make this achievable and currently the only thing I'm worried about is actually getting 5 pushups, even on an incline.

    I have figured out where in my schedule I'm tucking these workouts. I work Tues-Sat so Monday morning after I've sent Hugslut off to work with a warm breakfast, I'll start my day with a walk around the block and then right into the exercises before I have a chance to think of what else I'm going to go that day.  Wednesday and Friday I'll just launch right into it as soon as I've walked home from work.

    I'm pondering some interval training on Tuesdays and Wednesdays but that comes later. 
    One step at a time.

    Monday, 13 July 2015

    How To Climb A Hill

    This comic came to me at the most opportune time. My next door neighbours got evicted from our apartment building and we found out soon after that we also needed to prep our apartment for the exterminator to come in.  They gave us a list of the prep-work and it seemed a monumental task. You never realize how much clothing you have til you need to wash it all, and we had no clue how much stuff was tucked away everywhere.

    I wanted to sit and pout and complain that it wasn't my fault so I shouldn't have to do it.

    I wanted to quit my job and just power through with no sleep or food because there was no way we could do ALL that and have time for anything else.

    I wanted to just torch the place and say "Fuckit I'll buy new everything".

    I wanted make a time machine and go back to before there was a problem and hermetically seal our home.

    We did it though. Bit by bit we did all the things. We just picked away at it in manageable chunks for a couple days until 9:30pm, twelve short hours before he was scheduled to arrive, we looked around and saw that we were actually done. A change of clothes and a shower later Mom and I stayed over with Hugslut while Riza slept over with her girlfriend.

    I can't wait for things to go back to normal but at least our home no longer has insect squatters. **shudders**

    Saturday, 11 July 2015

    The Difference Between a Map and a Compass

    I'm a planner, and as such I find it really uncomfortable to do things without a map. If I'm going somewhere physical it's a literal map, if I'm saving for a purchase the map is a bit more figurative(ba-dum-tish) but I've done day-by-day cash flow assessments before so it's still detailed.

    This goal focused but baby-step action thing is kinda uncomfortable for me... but I guess you can't grow if you stay in your comfort zone right? I have goals to aim for, I'll be taking a close look at the first few steps in front of me, but how A gets to B is a mystery. There may be back tracking, or mountains to climb, or chasms to walk around, or all three for all I know. It's very unnerving.

    I've set the compass, so now it's just a matter of putting one foot in front of the other and doing it again and again till I'm there.

    Wish me luck?

    Thursday, 9 July 2015

    Goal Posts

    I wrote a new page titled "The Me I Aim to Be". It's not the step by step breakdown yet, these are just the main targets and how I'll know when I've reached them. According to many, many articles about goal setting the idea is to be S.M.A.R.T.

            • Specific
            • Measurable
            • Achievable
            • Relevant
            • Timely

    Being the end goals I'm not really setting time constraints on these except that I'd like to hit all these within three years. The breakdowns of the little steps will have dates attached, for now these are the over arching goals:

    • Physically fit enough to run the future homestead
    • Eating healthy 
    • Financially responsible 
    • Socialy/mentaly healthy
    One day I'll be doing handstands on the beach like the lady in the picture. Bit by bit... I'll get there.

    Tuesday, 7 July 2015

    I Was Adding So Much Stress

    Starting Saturday, the only rule I had put on myself was "Start getting ready for bed at 10 and be trying to sleep by 11 every night." Now I still had to go to work, I had a D&D session to participate in, and I had laundry to do Monday, but in the realm of rules/habits that was the only thing. I did manage to stick to it these past 3 nights and this morning was my first day at work since.

    Usually I'd get up with my alarm, feed the cats, crawl back into bed for a half hour and then hurry to dress and get to the bus that would get me to work exactly on time.

    Because I'd been getting 7 or 8 hours of sleep instead of 5 or 6, I mananaged to get out of bed when my alarm went off. I got up, fed the cats and cleaned their litter(don't usualy bother to check the box in the morning), got dressed, had half a second of "I don't have to leave yet? huh, I'm kinda bored." before brushing my teeth, putting up my hair, and then poking around on my phone for 20 min.

    Imagine that, bored on a workday morning. Thinking back I can recognise the stress under the haze of exhaustion. I'm glad I'm starting to be nicer to myself. I deserve the same level of care and compassion I give my loved ones.

    I'm going to be working on figuring out my goals and breaking it all down in to baby steps. If there's anything I've learned by injuring my knee is that it'll take 'forever' to do it the safe and healthy way... but if I go slowly, I'll get where I want to be instead of making things worse.

    Sunday, 5 July 2015

    Baby Steps Again

    I've read many articles touting the benefits of baby-steps, slow is fast, build on small successes, etc. Now, I logically know all this to be true and helpful, unfortunately every time I've tried to implement the technique I'd get impatient for the finish-line and shoot myself in the foot by doing too much at once.

    Already I'm itching to make getting up early, exercising before work, always taking the stairs, writing articles on every Sunday morning, and doing laundry every Monday morning a commitment. But that's the thing, they are not a commitment. Thinking like that is what got me right back where I am time and again.

    What I have done is commit to going to bed on time (start getting ready for bed at 10 & in bed to sleep before 11). Once I've done that for a whole week I'll consider the next step which is probably getting things ready before bed. There's so many steps between where I am and who I want to be... but if I jump in again I'm liable to fall again so fuck that, I'm doing it right this time.

    The big things to remember for me is willpower, and the force of habit. We all only have so much willpower and if I use mine all up by tackling to many things at once I'll just fall back into the well worn ruts of habit. If instead I use a small rechargeable amount of willpower to make a new habit and then tackle another tiny habit, over the course of time I will cover all the things I'd like to address without collapsing under the weight.

    I've already adjusted my social media notifications so that I'm not a slave to das blinkenlights. I'll be going through my email tomorrow to reduce that stressor by sorting and unsubscribing as required... and I have to be really really careful because I really want to make grand statements of all the many things I'm going to start doing right now! and we've already covered why that's not helpful.

    I'll write a battle plan later. For now it's simple, address my mess of an inbox tomorrow and go to bed on time every night. That's it. Nothing else. ... Well nothing else except convincing myself that's enough and I am doing the right thing by going so slow it's painful.

    Sunday, 28 June 2015

    The Peaceful Life
    I'm sitting here on Hugslut's couch getting ready to poke around on social media for a few hours before D&D and I decided that since the rain from yesterday was over I'd open the window behind me... Wow.  Took a whole day of rain to clean the air but the smell just took me back to very carefree times.

    There are thing in life that when I was a child, I only had access to while camping, so now there's a lot of things that make me smile randomly.

    When we went camping it was the only time I didn't have to wake up early... but I often did, waking with the sun, even at 6am, was much more comfortable than waking to the blaring alarm in my windowless basement bedroom. I still prefer to wake without alarm, or at the very most a non-jaring one. It starts the day on a much nicer note.

    While we camped, the meals that were cooked were often done by my dad and his wife because to them it was fun and cool to cook on the BBQ or campfire compared to the drudgery of fish-sticks and spaghetti at home. That means I had the whole day before me and nothing was expected of me except to show up for meals. I spent those days learning all sorts of things including the cruelty of small children, and the beauty of natural cycles.

    Being old enough to stay up late but young enough to not count as an adult, I got to enjoy sitting around a campfire silently listening to the ebb and flow of conversation around me as I watch the fire dance and consume whatever we gave it. This quiet companionship before bed allowed a meditative space to ponder things great and small.

    These were the most peaceful days of my childhood and I think in some ways, it's the feeling I want to recapture on my homestead. A sort of slower pace that allows for great thoughts between the moments, and a connection with the natural rhythms that is harder to forge in the cement filled city.

    Wednesday, 24 June 2015

    Good Times, Bad Times

    It's the good times I'm living in that make me realize how many bad times I've had. The bad times I've had help me frame the current good times as the joy they are.

    When the only vegitables in my house are frozen, and the only fruit are slightly wrinkly apples, instead of recognising it's time for grocery shopping, things feel normal. I haven't completely broken out of old mindsets. Having a salad for dinner filled with a variety of leafy greens, vegies, berries, plus nuts, seeds, and cheese can be done on a fairly regular basis, yet it feels decadent.

    Obviously finances and therefore nutrition have improved now that I'm not supporting a man who eats twice what I do. But there's also been an overall improvement in my social and family life since I decided that I wouldn't let toxic people dictate anything.

    Last night was what I'm sure is normal for a caring family... but sometimes it's the small things that touch me soo much. I hurt myself Sunday and so I'm having trouble walking or lifting heavy things. I had planned to take the bus to Canadian Tire after work because they're the only one that carries our awesome litter.(seriously awesome, check it out) Then I was going to haul the 9kg(20lb) bag with my good arm all the way across to parking lot back to the bus stop, and then two blocks from the other bus stop to home. This is no big deal usually... but after work I was just so worn out and my shoulder was aching...

    Hugslut has told me not to be afraid to ask if I need anything (especially if it means she gets to drive) so I texted to ask her if she could please pick up cat litter on her way home from work. She did so sweetly without any "well if you really need me to" guilt piled on. When she brought it to my place, my mom insisted on being the one to refil the litterbox telling me it was not a problem for her, but I was injured and wouldn't get better if I agravated the injuries.

    I was really touched by their help and I couldn't figure out why for a bit. It's not like they did anything big or dramatic... but the fact that I thought of Hugslut's actions in the frame of not doing the guilt trip stuff she's NEVER done I realized the issue.

    I've done everything by myself for so long because I was dating parasites.

    It's a long hard road to unlearn the lesons drilled into me by years of abuse, but I'm starting to trust my loved ones to love me the way I love them. Giving with the only payment being making a loved one's life easier/happer/better.

    It's time I took the advice I gave Hugslut not to long ago, "Breathe easy. We can tackle everything together."

    Tuesday, 23 June 2015


    Had an accident on Sunday.  Tripped on some rebar and fell flat scraping my knee and hand in the proccess. My shoulder is a bit jammed up too. 

    I'm very happy I didn't break anything and I didn't bonk my head... that said, being hurt is no fun. I'm limping and having trouble sitting because my knee doesn't want to bend. The insides feel fine but the outside is too banged up to stretch.

    I am not a happy camper, or as Hugslut would put it, I'm in the wars.

    Thursday, 11 June 2015

    Make Hay While The Sun Shines

    Being injured has helped me realize I need to be more greatful and active during periods of health.

    When I'm back to myself again I'm going to be better at taking care of my health. Sure I was walking home from work every day but I wasn't eating well or anything else and that won't get me fit enough to run a homestead.

    I also need to buckle down on savings so we can afford that homestead. LOL

    Wish me luck and a speedy recovery. I'll keep you up to date on the health stuff after I'm healed up.

    Saturday, 6 June 2015

    My Mask Has A Mask
    I was looking at homesteading blogs enjoying the many recipies and tips I was learning... and then a wave of doubt crashed over me. These people are living my dreams, making up their own traditions and recipes, and I'm just sitting here thinking "I wanna do that, and that, and that." I feel like one of those people who are constantly jumping from one get righ quick scheme to another touting their barely grasped understanding as truth. To put it simply, I feel like a fake in my own life.

    Sure my boss encourages me and thanks me for the work I do, but is it because I've inundated her with social niceties and talk of shared hobbies?  I don't slack off as much as some, but I'm certainly not on task 100% of the time and my daydreaming has led to blunders that luckily have been minor.

    Friends and family say they like the dandelion jelly I made even though I know it's too firm and I think they only like it because they haven't had the propper version.

    I fill this blog with info I've gathered from others, castle in the sky dreams, recipes I've got from others & am trying for the first time, as well as personal relationship stuff. Am I teaching or leaching? Am I adding anything of value or just spinning my wheels? Am I sharing or borrowing? Am I rejoicing or bragging?

    All this drama in my head so I googled "I feel like a fraud in my own life." and got this.

    Reading it over I found familiar ideas that were starting to calm me because it's just a normal thing a lot of people feel. That's what this post was going to be about. Just, 'silly me, I have a normal level of crazy'... but one of the "behaviours of high-achieving women with imposter syndrome" hit hard:
    "Gifted women often work hard in order to prevent people from discovering that she is an "impostor". This hard work often leads to more praise and success, which perpetuates the impostor feelings and fears of being "found out". The “impostor” women may feel they need to work two or three times as hard, so over-prepare, tinker and obsess over details, says Young. This can lead to burn-out and sleep deprivation."

    Okay so I do find myself doing the same thing but I'm flat out not gifted or high achieving. I am a working Joe with no fancy papers that would get me a fancy job. I take calls from customers all day. I have an average brain and I'm certainly not earning the big bucks. I'm an imposter among the imposters.

    Thursday, 4 June 2015

    Will It Be A Land Of Plenty?

    Was wondering how close we were going to be cutting it with the whole growing our own food thing so I decided to do a few quick calculations based on caloric intake only. As a programmer Hugslut would probably need about 2000 calories a day and as a farmer I might need on average 2500-3000 a day. Lets average that to 4750 calories per day.

    While our cow is feeding her baby we'll get about a gallon of milk a day. That's 2500 calories. There's three times as much once it's eating grass instead of nursing but lets use the low levels to make it easy.(especially since any over production we don't can or turn into butter or something will just go to the pig) That's about 675 calories

    The hens will be laying about 6 eggs a day. That's about 470 calories. We could easily add more hens but 6 was the number we have been talking about.

    I plan to eat about two chickens a month so that won't really affect the calorie count too much but for accuracy, it winds up being about 80 calories per day. 

    The fruits and vegetables are really hard to calculate since different things are available at different times of year and a bunch will be processed into jars for later. So lets just say at least two apples, two cups strawberries, a cup of cherry tomatoes, a cup of salsa, a zucchinni, 2 cups of salad greens, a cup of snow peas, handful(half cup) of hazelnuts, and two potatoes a day. There will be much more fruit and veggies of high calorie and vitamin contents like squash, those are just a few random veggies easily eaten by two people in one day and the total is about 1199 calories.

    Milk 2500 + eggs 470 + chicken 80 + veggies 1199 = 4249! 
    That's almost enough for both of us and it doesn't count anything we'd be buying instead of growing like salad dressing, pasta, rice, or sugar.

    I'll admit I was worried but colour me content. This is highly doable.

    Wednesday, 3 June 2015

    Would I Choose Like Lois Lane?

    I had a weird sort of epiphany this morning. I could not willingly date Kal-El / Clark Kent / Superman, and I can only see one reason why Lois Lane would.

    I was just thinking about how it's usually shown that Lois Lane has a crush on Superman and a friendship with Clark, and then when she finds out the two are one (after a brief moment of being ticked off) the feelings merge together as a deep love interest... That wouldn't be me.

    First I'd be hurt he lied, yes even knowing that he has to lie to everyone to keep his identity secret I'd be hurt. Feelings aren't logical. During the day or two I tell him I need to calm down, I'd start thinking about how he must see humans.

    Kal-El grew up with human foster parents but he still sees us as weak, cowardly, clumsy, unobservant, and forgetful. The best disguise is to blend in is to be average and Clark Kent is his disguise to blend in. His mockery of the human condition is completely accidental but shows how he really sees us.

    On top of the fact he could never see me as an equal, the lengths he went to to hide himself from the world means that I could never trust him. Every dropped pencil, every bumped head, every single slip and fall was meticulously calculated to look real without damaging the people and things around him.
    Imagine throwing a stress ball at a drop ceiling in an office. It would be difficult to do so without missing the ceiling completely or knocking the light foam tile out of place. Kal-El with his super strength did the equivalent to that every time he tripped over a chair and didn't sent it flying across the room. He never showed undue concern or anger in his disguise and always reacted how Clark would react.

    How can you trust someone who can mask his emotional and physical state to that extent while lying to your face for years? He's a complete sociopath.

    I would never willingly date him and I don't see why she would... Unless...

    We've already established he's a sociopath, what if Kal-El turned out to be an entitled douche-canoe who thinks he's saved her life so she owes him? There's no women's shelter in the world he couldn't find her. Her safest bet (even though, and because he could kill her) is to date the Man of Steel.

    Sunday, 31 May 2015

    What Inspires?

    Writing prompt: "What was the last thing you read, heard, or saw that inspire you?"[sic]

    Interesting question. What does one count as inspiration? I've seen a lot of interesting things lately so let's take a quick aside to check the definition.

    Okay so it can't just be something cool that I think would be fun to copy (like the dandelion jelly) or something that is just another in a long line of interesting think-pieces. What was the last thing that actually motivated me to do something new or create something artistic.

    I'd have to say Dungeons and Dragons. The weekly games have been a great creative outlet for me. It feels like a mix between improv acting and board games. The fact that I'm the record keeper for one of the two campaigns has also helped me write regularly. It's not the same as making it all up myself because the plot is sort of by committee, but the perspective I put on it through my character's eyes is sometimes really tricky and creative.

    If you're interested in reading my campaign notes, they're in the form of a young woman's journal and are available here. There are some adult topics like alcohol, drugs, and sex so if you're offended by that stuff please avoid.

    So what's the last thing you read, heard, or saw that inspired you?

    Friday, 29 May 2015

    What Would You Do If You Didn't Have To Work?

    I've been following Scott Santens on Twitter for a while now and he's a great educator in the why's and how's of Basic Income. Basic Income has been one of my key political interests ever since I heard of the Mincome project in Alberta, and I've just read an article on Scott that starts of with, “If you give a man a fish, he eats for a day. If you teach a man to fish, he eats for life.” What Santens wants to know is this: “If you build a robot to fish, do all men starve, or do all men eat?”

    That's a really important question isn't it. These days more and more things are getting automated. We're even going to have self-driving big rigs soon. Not only does this mean cheaper goods, it also means less taxes to pay highway patrol and less fuel burned as the trucks will not need to find a parking lot for the night. All this is awesome and the only reason it isn't getting funded stronger and therefore produced faster is because people are scared. 

    Sure they might say they're scared of dying when the trucks crash, but the data shows the trucks are safer than human drivers. I think the naysayers are scared of death, but at the much slower and more painful hand of homelessness and starvation.

    Our current system doesn't do enough to support those who cannot support themselves. And even those who can manage, shouldn't have to die early from over work and over stress. There is a better way.

    Check out this article on why we should support basic income. It is U.S. focused but it answers most if not all of the common questions and concerns.

    What would you do if you didn't have to work for food and shelter? What could you accomplish with a guaranteed, no strings attached, $1000 every month?

    Friday, 22 May 2015

    Dandelions (and How to Turn Them Into Food)

    photo of dandelions in a forest

    I kept telling myself I'd make dandelion wine, or learn how to cook dandelion greens, or really anything to get some free food from this plentiful weed... and then realizing that not only had spring passed me by, summer was mostly over and I should start looking at getting ready for canning season.

    I decided that this year I was not going to (yet again) miss out on dandelion season. I did some web searching and found a few links that looked promising and got to work.

    Dandelion Jelly

    Phase 1:

    I called Bard and invited him over to hang out. He didn't know I'd be putting him to work so he was kinda surprised when I told him we were going to pick dandelion flowers in the park. It's an odd sort of date activity to be sure but we talked and laughed and had a great time looking like lunatics to the neighbours. When we thought we had a little over 4 cups it was getting late so we came back home to chill for a bit before I started the next phase.

    Phase 2: (15-20 min)

    The next bit was easily accomplished while watching part of Logan's run with my mom. Taking the flower petals in one hand I cut off the base of each flower and discarded it along with any green bits around the petals. I quickly figured out that I had way too many flowers. the petals are compressed in the head and when free of the base, they take up more room. I soon had a full 4 cups of petals and the bag of flowers didn't really look like it had been touched. I didn't really want to make a double or triple batch in case the first time didn't turn out well, so they got discarded along with the trimmings.

    Phase 3: (overnight or at least a few hours til cool)

    This part is easy, it just takes a bit of time and a heat proof bowl. Boil some water then add 4 cups of boiling hot water to the 4 cups of petals. Cover to keep out dust and let sit at least til cool. Do not speed up with fridge, you want it to steep.

    Phase 4: (5 min?)

    Ladling dandelion tea into coffee maker basket filter over a measuring cup.Coffee maker basket filter with dandelion petal and pollen residue.First thing to do in the morning is get the petals out of our lovely dandelion tea. I just reached right in and grabbed a small handful at a time and squeezed out as much as I could. After a couple of those it became almost impossible to grab another so it was time to strain the rest.

    A coffee filter works really well to strain out the petals and pollen. I had to ladle it in at first and then slowly poured the last of it from the bowl.

    It looks really cool... but yeah I definitely don't want to eat the pollen.

    Phase 5:(10 min)

    Stirring mixture in a pot on the stove.
    Here's where the magic starts. In a pot goes the dandelion tea, lemon juice, and pectin. Once it starts boiling, add sugar and stir til it comes back to a boil. Boil for 1-2 minutes more and take it off the heat to ladle it into jars.

    Phase 6:(15 min)

    I realized before I started that I didn't have a proper water-bath canner but the important part is keeping the jars off the bottom and completely covered in water. I figured I could manage these two things by using our potato pot with a squiggle of scrunched up tinfoil on the bottom. Once boiling, I set the timer for 10 minutes... and promptly realized I had no way to get these boiling hot jars OUT of the pot.  :-/
    Squiggle of scrunched up tinfoll in the bottom of a large pot.Jars in pot supported by squiggle and covered in water.Pot with lid on and water covered jars inside starting to boil.
    I figured out how to carefully scoop a jar out using two cooking spoons and put it on to of another jar so it wasn't IN the water, and then picked it up with oven mitts and put it on the cutting board. I did that for all of them and then the last one I just scooped out with the spoons like a big potato. Very dumb, very dangerous, do not follow my example. I will be buying proper jar tongs before next time.

    Phase 7:

    All that's left is for the jars to cool in a draft free place then you can put them in your pantry.
    Seven finished jars of golden yellow jelly.

    I only had enough room in the pot for five little jars so I had another little jar, and a random jar that didn't get canned. Since we were planning to eat some right away anyway I just refrigerated them. We'll make sure those two get eaten within two weeks, the rest will last in the cupboard for months.

    I hope you've enjoyed this little peak into my messy kitchen and I look forward to more culinary explorations.

    If you'd like to try your hand at dandelion jelly, I got my recipe from SimplyCanning and she's right about the taste.

    It's kinda like honey, and really tasty.

    What should I try next time? Let me know in the comments.

    Friday, 15 May 2015

    Weeds, aka Wild Edibles

    Not-a-dandelion (Agoseris)

    Taking a look through I saw so many familiar faces it makes me homesick. When I was a kid I was curious about the plants like the one I called not-a-dandelion, but I thought that unless it was a "proper" plant that people grew on purpose there would be very few people who knew anything except how to kill it.

    I'm happy to be living in an age where whatever you might be wondering about has at least been mentioned somewhere on the internet. Using the example of edible "weeds", I can now quickly find the healthfulness of many many plants without having to dig out 5 different feild guides and encyclopedias.

    With Hugslut's no-kill diet(long story that gets it's own post) I've been looking more and more into permiculture and edible wild berries and greens. If I can harvest wild onions or salad greens that happily grow in areas I'm not tilling, why would I go through the effort to plant their cultivated counterparts? It's a waste of time, effort, and money. I will be planting chives in pots near the house however because my girl loves her chives.

    Permiculture has it's appeals too. Just set up guilds around fruit & nut trees on the edge of the forest and all that's left is to protect them from choke weed vines. That wouldn't be our main food supply of course and assuming we have a pig, it might make more sense to house the pig under the fruit & nut trees (unless we can somehow combine the two).

    Any readers in BC? What's your favourite wild edible perenial?

    The No-Kill Diet
    Hugslut has been exploring what we like to call a "no-kill" diet in order to reduce the number of organisms that die for her food. Not vegan, but vegetarian with a twist. She's just started and we're still ironing out the details.

    I'd like to point out at the begining here that it's an ideal she's aiming toward and not hard fast rules. Also, this post is for discussion and understanding purposes. It is not perscriptive as to how anyone else should eat (hell, I eat enough meat for both of us).

    The idea of the "no-kill" diet is simply, "Avoid killing whenever possible... even plants."

    Even though it fits in a sentence we've found there's a lot to think about:
    • obviously no fish, fowl, or mamal flesh.
    • no perenial or biennial root vegetables because picking them would kill the plant (carrots while being technically edible at the point of their second winter, are too bland and tough)
    • currently no cereal grains(like oats), corn, or soy because we can't grow/harvest our own to allow the main plant to remain til it dies naturally in winter and comercial practices kill all the mice and such that live in grain feilds
    • no cauliflower, cabbage, or head lettuce because when the head is harvested the bare root would not continue to survive (broccoli is okay because it is on stalks with leaves that send out more heads)
    • sugar from canes is fine but from beets is not

    • baby spinach and salad greens okay because they just trim off leaves and the patch grows more
    • carefully harvested perenial greens like dandelion or kale are also in, as well as loose leaf lettuce once we have room to grow our own and pick a few leaves at a time (grocery stores sell the whole head killing the plant)
    • while onion and garlic bulbs are out, their greens provide very similar flavours

    • mushrooms are definitely in as they are just flowers of a larger underground plant
    • brussel sprouts are fine as they're harvested without killing the plant
    • all berries, tree fruits, tree nuts, and fruit type vegetables (cucumber, squash, peppers, etc) and seed type vegetables (peas, beans, sunflowers, etc) okay
    • milk, cheese, yogurt, etc still in, as well as honey and eggs

    • potatoes and other tubers are tricky since they're basically cloning themselves so it becomes a question of whether a clone is it's own being (we're edging toward potatoes being okay as long as we replant from each plant)
    • peanuts and waterchestnuts are probably in with the same restrictions
    Remember that those points layout the ideal situation. Starving to death isn't ideal either, so if the only food available contains grains or onion powder, she's gonna eat it.

    Now our farm is years away and things may change in that time, but for now I'm planning so my love can eat well off our land without killing.

    We live in a wonderful era where food is so abundant we can choose what to eat based on more than just "is it poisonous?" and I think it's a great idea to do science to your patterns and see what works best for your mind body and soul, but I understand this isn't a choice that everyone has the luxury of exploring.

    Wednesday, 13 May 2015

    Easter to Victoria Day Condensed

    It'll be hard to fill you in on all that has happened since Easter, but I'll certainly try. I mean, it's not like I have even bigger news... but I feel like I've been running around in circles.

    Pic I took of a Dyad's Saddle mushroom near the river. Just 'cause.

    Things that are currently being planned/researched/discussed:
     - When/how I'm going to move into Hugslut's apartment and what that means for my current housemates
    - When/how to get married
    - When/how/where to have the reception party
    - When/how/where move to BC

    I've been dreaming of having/running/living on a homestead style farm for over 10 years and luckily for me, my fiancée thinks it's a great idea. Hugslut is a programmer and her job will come with her, so we can set up anywhere that's close enough to a city for internet.

    We're planning to buy a chunk of land on the sunshine coast of BC in 3-5 years because Hugslut absolutely HATES cold and snow. This works out great for me because longer growing season means more variety of foods. :-)

    I'm a researcher and planner so I've been running numbers and building scenarios and all that lovely stuff. I've just figured out that with the help of a simple hothouse, we can grow not only citrus, but also bananas.

    Bananas! In CANADA!  :-D

    I've not been to the gym in weeks but I think that has a lot to do with spending alternating nights with Hugslut discussing our future. I have still been walking home from work everyday it's not pouring rain and I've started taking the stairs sometimes. I've also been making sure to spend quality time with the Bard as he's got more free time for the summer.

    Dungeons and Dragons is finally back on Sundays now that Loup is back from his trip out east, and I've also been trying to rekindle my social circle by actually talking to friends in person instead of just liking their facebook pics.Speaking of which, Hugslut and I will be visiting a friend's new house this May 24 weekend. Should be lots of fun. :-)

    I'm an introvert and a homebody by nature so all this socializing is wearing me down a bit... it's all good though, I mean that's every spring when you live in Ontario. People seem to hibernate in winter and then when the nice weather gets here everyone wants to do everything.

    I'll certainly post some farm plans when I've finished one but that's it for now.

    Monday, 13 April 2015

    What I mean when I say "I love you"

    I forgive you for all the things you have done, or will do, that may hurt me. I forgive the way you lash out when you are frustrated with yourself or your tech. I forgive the things you may say when you're tired after a long day. I forgive your big mistakes and the small ones. I forgive you when you fall short, because I see how hard you are trying. I forgive you the way I hope you'll forgive me because I know neither of us are perfect.

    I'll sacrifice my time for you. I'll be selfless for you. I'll stay up late with you if you dream of bugs, even though we both have work in the morning. I'll take care of you when you're sick. When you are weak, I will be your strength. I'll be there for you at 3am as readily as I would at 7pm. I'll be there when no one else is, and I'll be there 100%. In sickness and in health, my willingness to be there won't change. My sacrifice is not dependent on your state of being, but rather it is there because you exist and you are someone worth sacrificing for.

    I respect you for who you are. I respect you because you deserve my respect. I'll respect your opinions and consider your feelings. I'll treat you like a person remembering always that you have your own thoughts, hopes, dreams and desires. And those thoughts, hopes, dreams, and desires will matter to me the way they matter to you.

    I'll support your hopes and your dreams. I will always have your back. You can rely on me. I'll raise you up and never tear you down. I'll always try to make sure you have what you need, physically, emotionally, and mentally. I'll lift you back up when you fall.

    I'll protect you from physical harm. I'll protect your heart from pain as much as I can. I'll protect the idea of us. I won't demean you. I'll treasure you and shield you from those who would harm you. I won't let others put you down. You will be safe in my arms, safe in my hands, and safe in my heart. I'll be your safe haven, your safety net, and someone you can always trust.

    I am committed to you. I won't leave you. I will be here for you again and again. I'll make this relationship a priority in my life. I'll look back on our beginning, I'll work on our now, and I'll look forward to our future because we are something that I want to last forever.

    Best Easter Ever!

    It was already one of the best Easter's because I didn't have to eat a single hard boiled egg. I was working 8-4 Friday and 9-5 Saturday (with Sunday and Monday off) so I didn't have a long weekend off like a lot of people but I certainly made the most of the time available.

    Friday after work I went over to Hugslut's house for couch snuggles and DoctorWho.
    Saturday, Bard picked me up at work and whisked me away to a romantic night staying over at his place. It was our first time truly alone, with no one else in the house, in a long time. In the morning we had a nice lazy snuggle in bed before having breakfast and heading over to Hugslut's place for Dungeons and Dragons.

    Bard, Hugslut, Wolfie, and I play every Sunday from noon til 5. After D&D, Hugslut and I drove Wolfie home then settled in for some pizza and more DoctorWho.

    On Monday Hugslut had a migraine so I popped by to see if there was anything she needed around supper time. She was feeling a lot better by then so we had dinner together and watched an episode of Supernatural. When she asked if I wanted to watch another I told her I had written something for our anniversary but I didn't want to save it to read on our anniversary in May since saving joy for arbitrary dates is really not us. She agreed so I read it to her.

    I'll post it separately but it was titled "What I Mean When I Say I Love You", and at the end, I asked her to marry me.

    She Said Yes! I'm still spinning. I am so happy that we are going to be planning our future together.
    We have no clue as to when or anything like that. We're still discussing if either of us are going to change our names. I want to thank our friends and family for their warm support, and I'll be sure to keep you all updated.