This blog will not be adding more posts but will remain open for you to access the information that will remain here.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Time to say goodbye - the last post

There comes a time when many blogs run their course and close down. Such is the case with the co-op. So after 997 posts and almost 1.7 million visitors, it's time to say goodbye and move on.

I started this blog way back in 2008 when accurate information about sustainable living, written by people who were actually doing it, was not commonly available. I'm happy to say we were one of the leaders in this type of blogging and now there are many fine blogs written by permaculturalists, biodynamic farmers and people living sustainably in their own homes. There is more information now and many more people living this way.

I want to thank the people who kept this co-op going - all the writers we've had over the years, Sharon, who did up a writers' roster and kept us all in line and on track, and you, the readers. Without you there would have been no reason to write. The current group of writers are listed on the side bar with a link to their blogs. I thank them all sincerely for the time and effort they put in here.

One of the writers, Amanda, asked to say her own goodbye:
“My time writing for the co-op blog has only been brief but the experience has been an honour. It has been lovely to meet new readers, write alongside some inspiring voices in the simple living movement and share snippets from my own life. I am saddened that I will no longer be participating here, but I am pleased that the community can continue to use this blog as a wonderful reference for living simply. Thank you dear Rhonda, for inviting me to share in this inspirational space and I wish everyone a wonderful life filled with simple pleasures.”

I wish you the best in your own journey towards a more sustainable future. Even though there will be no more posts here, the blog will remain accessible so you can continue to read here and take as much as possible from the practical and inspiring information here.

Thank you all for your support and for being part of an incredible community.

Rhonda Hetzel.


Thursday, July 12, 2012

Upcycling Pillow Slips

by Amanda of Live Life Simply

I made a couple of grocery totes from vintage pillow slips during the week. They were quick to sew up, use an entire pillow slip (no waste), are durable being double layered and roomy enough to fit plenty of farmers market goodies inside!



The pdf pattern for this tote can be found at Spiderwomanknits .It is a free tutorial and is very easy to follow. I did however make a small change to mine and I top stitched the edges of the handles.


I like that these bags are super simple, thrifty and green. I'm making more of these this week!


There are many more ways to upcycle pillow slips. I designed a pre-fold nappy last year from a flannel pillow slip and it is still going strong. I have also cut embroidered pillow slips down into a square shape and made them into simple cushion covers


Here are some more ideas for pillow slip upcycling that I am adding to my list!

Pillow slip into a:

Pretty top
Apron
Little Dress

There are plenty more ideas out there and I would love to hear if you have made something out of a vintage pillow slip too. I have a collection of slips waiting to be transformed into useful things!

Amanda x

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Dual Purpose in the Garden


Even though we have a large garden, we still try to apply the permaculture principle of stacking in some of our plant variety selections. Many times it is to save work, and sometimes it saves on space to choose a dual purpose type of plant.  Celeriac or celery root is one, I no longer grow celery, since the celery root is growing all summer anyway, does not require the water that celery does, and a few leaves taken for the kitchen here and there barely make a dent in the crop. Another is hardneck garlic which puts on scapes and gives me a lot of extra garlic for cooking and preserving.

Music garlic scapes
Sometimes we find these gems right under our noses.  What to do with hardneck garlic scapes?  They come on at once and giving them away is about like trying to give away zucchini during August.

garlic scapes for the freezer
My solution to run them through the food processor and freeze them has changed the way I look at my garlic now.  Previously come tomato processing time, I would spend lots of time peeling garlic for roasting for sauce and salsa, and I was always a little worried about using too much of my winter garlic supply.  Now I use the mild scapes for my tomato roasting endeavors.  Chopping would work fine too, but if you have a food processor you can make short work of a lot scapes.  To fully maximize the potential, I freeze the scapes in half pint canning jars.  Initially I froze the scapes in larger quantities and found that once I thawed them out, I needed to use them up fast.  And you know garlic, a little goes a long way.  One cup of chopped scapes seasons a large roasting pan of tomatoes or other vegetables perfectly, and really saves me time too.  No more peeling and chopping, but you do have to remember to thaw out the scapes beforehand. 

What types of stacking have you discovered in your garden or kitchen?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Home Remedies

Posted by Bel

When I feel unwell, the last thing I want to do is make my way to a chemist or health food store to find some magical cure for my ills.  I want to eat, drink, take or do something here at home.  And rest!

I love hearing about other people's home remedies.  I had a cough recently and asked around about what to take to ease it.  I didn't go out for ages, so had to make do with what I had here.  My favourite 'cures' were: homegrown honey (by the teaspoonful and in hot water - with or without lemon and/or fresh ginger), essential oils to breathe more easily, keeping very warm - especially my feet, and lots of rest.  I wanted to make some chicken soup, or a spicy stir fry, but I just didn't have the energy to cook much so went with what the family were having...



And this week I had a headache.  Lavender oil and massage are my favourite headache cures.  And using accupressure on my hands and head always gives relief too!

Accupressure also relieves nausea for me, as does consuming anything containing ginger, and perppermint tea.

These remedies are as easy to have around as a box of pain killers or bottle of cough syrup from the pharmacy, but they are natural, inexpensive and generally without side effects.

When the winter ills and minor ailments strike - what do you reach for, to ease the symptoms?

Sunday, July 8, 2012

My Frugal Limits

By: Notes From The Frugal Trenches























Every now and then I hear about a large family with the same food budget as our more avearage size family, or a family in size similar to ours, with a much more modest food budget and I question why I'm not able to be as frugal. I wonder where I am going wrong and I usually sit down committed to read their blog, or the article and learn something. The goal? To reduce our expenditures. I begin reading feeling like I'm doing something wrong, I finish, feeling like I'm doing something very right. You see, we all have to do what is right for our family and I believe, what is kinder and gentler for the earth and those who are more vulnerable. But reading the nitty gritty about what people are willing to compromise on, I actually leave feeling like it is a compomise too far. I'm personally not willing to:

- Shop once a month: access to fresh fruit and veg is too important
- Purchase ready meals or packaged foods with coupons
- Skimp on fruits and vegetables - one blog which which received much attention for being frugal and healthy posted a menu plan which included only 2 fruit and 1 veg a day (most studies recommend a minimum of 5-6 a day)
- Purchase factory produced animal products
- Build a diet around cheap fillers without much nutritional value. For example, a pasta dish served with bread was recommended as a cheap meal. Whereas e may have pasta, but it would be served with a fresh spinach salad and a veg.
- Shop at unethical major corporations

The more I think about it, the more I realize that while I certainly do budget and work hard to stick to it with food, I do see placing priority on green living, simple healthy meals and supporting others (for example by purchasing fairtrade items) as more imporant to me than slashing my budget another $50 or $100 a month. And for somewhere between $300 and $350 a month we purchase:

- Free range eggs from local farms
- All organic animal products
- Fairtrade: sugar, bananas, tea, coffee, mangos, flour and cocoa
- Green cleaning and laundry supplies
- Pet food & litter
- About 50% of our fruits and veg organic
- Enough fruits and veg for 3 fruits and 3 veg (plus a salad) a day
- A locally sourced produce box
- Seeds for our community garden plot

Yes, I could probably shave at least $50 a month off the budget if I changed to what some frugal bloggers recommend. And that $50 would come in handy. But more than that, I want my children, who have experienced malnourishment prior to joining our family through adoption, to continue to make educational and emotional gains that good food has allowed them. I want my hard earned money to tred softly on this earth and help people. I want to invest in our health now, to safeguard us for the future. And if that takes another $50 - $100 a month, I'm really OK with it.

What about you? What is your line when it comes to compromise? Is it only about money, or like me, something more?