Recent Accomplishments - June 12, 2019
It's been quite a while since either Elizabeth or I have had a moment to record our weekly accomplishments here on the blog. I think it's a fun way to share a bit more about ourselves and our projects so I've decided to revisit it this month. I'm not sure we'll try to make it a weekly thing again though, maybe we should change it to "Accomplishments of the Month" instead?
The beautiful vegetable garden pictured above has been a joint effort between myself, my boyfriend and our downstairs neighbours (who just happen to be his brother and his girlfriend). It's been pretty amazing to see this garden change and evolve as we all advocate for space for our own favourite crops, and as we evaluate what grows well in the areas we have available. I'm especially proud of my new pole bean trellis at the back of the yard, and when I went out to check this morning I noticed that I have a few little sprouts just coming up. I'm trying out four different types of pole beans this year, and hoping that if they do well I'll be able to convince my gardening partners to allot more space to them in the future!
Another gardening success this spring has been taking the time to actually thin my mustard greens. I often plant out my greens and anxiously wait for them to sprout, and then immediately get distracted with other things. Then much later I'll notice they're too crowded and have all gotten a little spindly. This time I went out with a pair of scissors when they were still tiny and snipped out enough little sproutlings to make some room for the others to grow. I brought the thinnings inside, gave them a good rinse and served them on tacos, making a delicious first garden-meal of the spring.
I was out checking on things again this morning, and with all the extra room the greens are looking much bigger and fuller - in fact it just might be time to pull out my scissors and do another round of thinning.
In my last blog post I shared a recipe for Chickpea Cookies and talked a bit about Nousrire, the bulk buying group we've been using to get a lot of our pantry staples. One of the great things about this method of shopping is avoiding excess packaging, since you bring your own containers to take your food home in. When we started going we had a lot of large plastic ziplock bags and I got into the habit of just using those. I've been wanting to get away from buying more plastic though, so as the original ones wore out, I've been trying to replace them with some simple home-made cloth bags. This has been an ongoing project, but this week I finally had enough of them sewn up to use them for our entire order.
The first couple of bags I made were draw-string, but I found that they weren't really closing tightly enough at the top to hold in small things like oats, chia seeds or lentils. I saw the idea of using a strip of cotton jersey as a "twist tie" on this tutorial, and have included that type of closure in all my more recent bags. I find it much more secure, and now I don't worry about things spilling out on the way home.
One of the dangers of shopping this way is that you order by the kilo, about a month in advance, so it's not always easy to estimate how much of a particular ingredient you'll need. For some reason on this order we ended up with 2kg of toasted coconut flakes, which it turns out is an awful lot... They're delicious, and we're using them in granola and as an ice cream topping, but if anyone has other recipes or ideas to share I'd love to hear them!
This one is an almost-accomplishment, but I wanted to get a little knitting in here somewhere! I'm very, very close to finishing the second of my Cumulus socks, which I cast on as my vacation knitting last summer. These are knit one scallop section at a time, and I'm on the very last scallop before starting the ribbed cuff. My goal is to get these done in less than 1 year, so that gives me until June 25 - if I don't get distracted with other projects I should be able to make it!
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One of our big goals for Sweet Paprika this year was to source a new line of Canadian wool yarns. We started contacting farms and mills last January, researching options, connecting with farmers, and collecting samples.
Eventually we settled on working with wool from Circle R Livestock, a family farm in southern Ontario. Over the spring we worked out the details to have the wool milled in New Brunswick, and we then spent the summer doing dye tests and creating colour recipes for our new Winfield (worsted) and Sutton (bulky) yarn lines.
Lately a lot of my crafting inspiration has come from my son, who is growing and needs things, and from my goal to live more gently on this earth and think twice before buying and using things.
My values of living frugally and buying ethically-produced clothing that is not damaging to the environment sometimes feel completely at odds with each other. For me, this is where mending, crafting, and buying second-hand come in. Can I mend something to extend its useful life? Can I knit or sew more of our everyday wardrobe basics? Is it something I can trade or buy second-hand rather than purchasing new?