Urban Farming………Part 4

I love watching the different plants springing into life. Back in May, I was late getting my garden going and I remember looking at the bare earth and wondering how long it would take to start growing and filling in.

The extremely dry and hot summer that we’ve had has certainly been good for the garden, but it definitely requires hand watering, which can be tedious and definitely takes time. Most days, I’m quite happy to go out and water, but some days I’m just too tired…..but its still necessary.

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I keep trying to find fun and interesting ways to utilize the limited space that I’ve got. Last year, I had planters up on top of the white privacy fence, but I found that it was difficult to water them….so i didn’t bother putting anything up there this year. This is the second year that I’ve grown cucumbers from the stairs and through the railing…..You can see that there is a bucket of herbs on the bottom step heading up my deck.

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There is a mix of parsley, sage, garlic chives and rosemary. I have a few smaller containers of mixed herbs throughout my garden. I like the way they look and that I can grab a handful of herbs, to use, from one place. Then I have a bucket of cucumbers every other step up to the deck.

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The cucumbers grow out and through the railing making it easy to harvest, and the row of green looks really pretty too.

Instead of growing a basket of flowers, I planted cherry tomatoes in a hanging basket and hung that from the hook on my deck. I like that I can just go out and pop a few delicious warm red cherry tomatoes in my mouth……..so yummy!

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This year, Jon built a makeshift ledge that fits securely around my deck and I’ve been able to free up some space on the deck. I grew 3 varieties of red lettuce in a small rectangular planter and it’s so convenient to have it ready and mostly clean when I want to make a salad. I think it looks really pretty too.

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I’ve tried to stagger the growing cycles in my garden so that I have a continuous stream of different veggies. Having the ledge on the deck also makes it easy to plant new plants and to be able to keep an eye on them. I find that it’s easy to see when the baby plants need water. It’s easier to see when they are looking a little wilted and even easier to just bring a glass of water out to dump on them. Here is some more salad greens that are about 2 weeks old. They will be start to fill out and be ready to eat within the next 2 weeks. YUM!

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I think that anyone could grow some herbs and a container or two of salad greens, just about anywhere……its not difficult and the taste is amazing! There is something so fun about planting, watering and harvesting. Just because you don’t have the traditional garden space…if you are interested in growing veggies and fruits, find creative ways to grow around your place. Whether it’s on a deck, or at a front door, or in hanging baskets……there are so many creative spaces that can be filled with fresh produce.

Do you have an unconventional garden space? I’d love to hear about it and see pics.

Urban Farming…part 3

This year, I started keeping a record of what I’m harvesting. As of Wednesday, the total was at 39 pounds. Just for reference, I started keeping track of what I was harvesting on July 3rd. Anything we harvested before then hasn’t been included and we definitely harvested lettuce and other salad greens, strawberries, peas and varied herbs.

We have approx 40 feet of width to our back yard and an average of 12 feet between the back fence and the back of our house. It’s not a huge space, but I’m definetely looking for creative ways to get the most amount of food from the smallest amount of space and for the least amount of financial investment.

I haven’t crunched the numbers as far as specific fruits and veggies, but as I was skimming the internet today, I realized that I should be looking at the organic veggie/food and herb prices as opposed to the typical ones….because that what this stuff is. Home grown with lots of love and water, and this years incredible sunshine.

Although last year, my beans seemed to be the big bounty winners…..the incredible heat has not been kind to my bean plants and I’ve gotten WAY LESS than last year, BUT…..the tomatoe plants have been LOVING the heat and are definitely going to be this year’s big winners. Which I’m not upset about, at all.

In the “center” portion of my garden, which looks like this……

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….you can see where the greenhouse is, in the top left corner. In the bottom left corner, you can see the tomatoe forrest, and the yellow containers with the hot pepper plants in them. The small red container is Judah’s and has a tiny tomatoe plant, an habenero and some garlic chives….just because he wanted to. And I LOVE encouraging my kids to be apart of this endeavor and to help foster their interest in gardening and eating the veggies.

Just above the Tomatoe Forrest, you can see some orange flowers, those are Cosmos – which look like this….

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…..and they are planted in a Langley Township Recycling Bin (I had WAY TOO MANY) along with 2 MORE Tomatoe plants….also scrounged from the existing plants. Right beside them is another Langley Township Recycling Bin (Hey! Use what you’ve got available) with TWO HUGE Zucchini plants…

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Today I harvested a Zucchini that was almost 2 pounds…YAY!

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If you look back at the very first photo, to the right of the greenhouse, you can see my pumpkin plants completely covering my fence. I have 4 pumpkin plants growing vertically up and along my fence. Here is one of the pumpkins that is growing…I think we have 6 different ones in varying sizes, at this exact moment…

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They will “orange up” as they get closer to being ready to harvest.

Next to the Pumpkins, is our little corn patch.

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I actually grew corn last year in a large container and even though I started WAY late in the season, we still got enough for each of our family to have a piece. This year, I started much earlier and moved them to a patch of ground. We have 9-12 plants growing….I think and the cobs are starting to fill out.

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My kids love going out and checking on the different veggies to see where they are at and to see what’s ready at any given time.

If you look in the picture with the full stalks of corn, you can see the leaves from my 4 summer squash plants (in 2 containers) to the left of the corn. You can also see the tops of the bush beans in the bottom right of that same picture. I staggered the planting of 3 containers of bush beans, and I also planted more bush beans in the bottom of the corn patch. While I had an over abundance of beans last summer, this year, I’ve gotten enough for meals, but not any to put away….which is sad. Hopefully, the temps cool a little and I still get a decent harvest to freeze a bunch. It was so nice to be able to just go to the freezer and pull out beans instead of buying them.

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If you go back again to the top photo, to the right of the small corn patch, I have a section of Hubbard Squash…..it looks sort of like this….

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It is also 4 plants that I’m growing vertically up my fence. I got the seeds from my momma, who got them from my Aunty Judy. Apparently, these squash make the best pumpkin pie and I’m looking forward to making Squash Soup and Pie from these beautiful Green Squash…

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Next to and nestled in amongst, I have 4 Canteloupe Plants, also from my Momma, through my Aunty Judy…..

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They are in two containers that I’ve situated on top of each other with the help of an old wooden chair that is mostly unsafe to be sitting on.

I was kind of surprised to have these actually grow and to see an actual cantaloupe. I know I shouldn’t be be, with my whole “plant it and water it” philosophy….but I was..

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I have a few flowers tucked here and there and further down I have a row of strawberry plants, but they aren’t doing much at this exact moment, so I didn’t take a good picture of them. if you really wanted to look…in the picture of the Hubbard squash, they are on the far right side, under the hanging basket of flowers.

Well, That about does it for the center section, so I’ll try and wrap up the fourth and final section in the next post.

If you’ve read this far, THANK YOU for visiting my little patch of heaven. I hope you’ve enjoyed it even half as much as I do.

Urban Farming…..part 2

I love the idea of growing my own food. I love the idea of being self sufficient. In a dream world, I would live in the middle of nowhere with huge property and animals and grow everything and be self sustaining…..and, it’s a lovely dream, but not really my reality.

And in all honesty, our last move nearly destroyed the tenuous grip that I have on reality and I have no intentions of moving again, until I “HAVE TO”…..

And so then, I do the best I can with what I have.

Gardening or farming seems to be my blood….we have generations going back on both sides of my family that were incredible gardeners or farmers….and I think that one of my relatives worked in Queen Victoria’s Gardens…..or something like that. I don’t remember the exact details, but I remember how cool I thought it was when I saw the picture and heard the story…now I wish I had paid more attention.

My parents had a HUGE flower garden when I was growing up, but not veggies…..Although now, they have a HUGE veggie garden on my sister’s acreage.

When we were living in Abbotsford, in the early 2000’s, I started a garden in my backyard. The first year it was incredible but the next few years were busy and stressful and it was never quite as amazing as that first year.

We moved from Abbotsford to Langley and bought a townhome and there was really no place to garden. But when we bought our current place, even though the yard was smaller than I had hoped….I was so excited to be able to garden again.

I started researching container gardening and square foot gardening and came across vertical gardening….and well, here I am.

This is our third summer here and my garden is the biggest it’s ever been and I have visions of even greater harvest for next year (much to Jon’s dismay because I keep enroaching on the sacred yard space).

I’m all about using space creatively and beautifully. I love to mix flowers in with my veggies and fruit. I LOVE seeing the space start as a dry and dirty space and becoming a lush green oasis.

In the last post, I was talking about my triangle shaped garden area….I managed to share what was inside of that space, and I’d like to share about the outside of that space now.

Last year, I got 4 tires and planted potatoes inside of one and as soon as it overgrew the first tire, I stacked a second and then a third and a fourth….We managed to get 6 pounds of potatoes from that stack of tires, and I’m sure I could have gotten more, but I stacked the tires and planted some bulbs in them….you can see a glimpse of the tires in the left side of this picture….but there are about 10 lavender plants that I grew from seed last year in this one pot. I desperately need to rehome them to different places around my garden because I’m sure they are nice and root bound now….But I’m looking forward to lots of lavender over the next few years.

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To the right of the lavender are some baby Echinacea plants, that are being cuddled by the chives in a neighboring pot. Herbs for cooking and for medicinal purposes is a passion of mine and so I keep adding different herbs as I find them….I was ever so excited to be stung by a Stinging Nettle in my garden as I poked around last year. I repotted the baby plant and it’s grown nicely and I’ve been able to dry some for tea…..I love that I was able to obtain a plant for free that I have been purchasing dried to use for tea; and to be able to dry it and store it for myself. I’m saving money and I know where and how it was grown and how it was dried. That’s a win/win, as far as I’m concerned.

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To the right of the Echinecea and chives, is a container with Rhubarb in it. I just transplanted the Rhubarb this year from my front yard. It wasn’t too happy in its prior space but apparently being knocked around and dumped out of the container twice before actually settling in was exactly what is needed. It has sprung out of control. I have some amazing memories of eating Rhubarb from my Aunty Ruth’s house and dipping it in sugar. After the Rhubarb settled and started thriving, I was surprised to find both a nasturtium and a tomatoe plant growing in the pot. Both are carryover’s from last years garden when the plants reseeded themselves. It’s always fun to see what shows up where.

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Right next to the Rhubarb, is a narrow planter that I brought from our town house. It has Spearmint from my Mother-in-law, next to some lily bulbs and then Catmint (also known as Catnip). Cat Mint is an herb used for many different medicinal purposes, nit just for drugging your cat…..although the Cat Mint plant is typically the first place that our cat stops when we heads on down to our yard.

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If you were standing facing the Cat Mint bush, and you turned directly around, you’d see my staircase of herbs…..I originally bought 5 colored containers – red, orange, yellow, green and blue….and nailed the bottom into the stairs, but the blue one broke and has been replaced with the lovely grey one, on the bottom step. Starting from the top, in the red container I have Sage, then Parsley, Lemon Balm, Peppermint and Chocolate mint. The two square containers on the inside of the steps also have peppermint and chocolate mint. Mostly because I don’t think you can have too much peppermint…and the chocolate mint was all root bound.

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If you turned back around towards the Cat mint bush and looked to your right, you’d see my overwhelming Tomatoe Forrest. I have approximately 14 tomatoe plants potted in 7 containers. Again, they are either suckers or from last years re-seed. Behind them, I have a HUGE varigated Sage plant, more Oregano, more Cosmos (a flower) and an older lavender plant.

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In the bottom right of the last picture, you can see two yellow containers. One of those containers has2 plants of HOT Chili Peppers and the other has 2 plants of Kung Pao Chili Peppers. I got a ton from my plants last year and dried them in my dehydrator and have used them over this entire last year. I still have a few left and should make it until these ones are ready for harvest. I LOVE that I haven’t had to buy any spicy Chili Pepper flakes because I grew my own…..how cool is that. An entire year’s worth, from my own backyard……YAY!

With our family of 7, we make a weekly run to the veggie market. Depending on what we need, we could spend between 50-100$. It’s crazy. I think we’ve gone 2, maybe 3 times this summer. That seems crazy to me, but it’s true…..and AMAZING!!!!

I’ll carry on with part 3 and the canter section of my yard, in the next post. Do you have any questions? I could try to answer them, if you do….although being honest, my philosophy is “Plant the seeds, Water them, and Trust it will work.” So, no big secrets here…….

Urban Farming……part 1

I’ve mentioned my garden a few times and people seem interested….or maybe I’m just assuming they are interested? It’s something I feel passionate about, and mostly I just love that I am doing something that I can see results in a somewhat of a reasonable time frame.

I’m a stay-at-home mom, caring for my 5 crazy wonderful kids, but seeing the results of that particular “labour of love” is not necessarily a short term thing.

I have quite a small backyard, but I love finding creative ways to be able to grow food and herbs for my family to enjoy and benefit from. I’d love to live on a farm – at least I think I would, but seeing as I don’t and I still want the fresh veggies, fruits, herbs and flowers….I’m doing my very best to have a “farm in the city”……sort of.

If you’re interested, I’d love to “show you around”…so to speak (or type)!

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These first three pictures are a birds-eye view of my yard, starting from left to right…..

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There is still some space that you can’t see, along the left hand side of my house and I haven’t included the front yard spaces either…

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But at least this will give you a general idea of my backyard space and the chaos that I live in.

If you look at each of the pics, you can see where they would overlap. I tried to take a panorama shot, but it just ended up all warped and I figured that if I broke it up into three pictures, I could talk about each space separately. So, I’m gonna break this post up into 3 parts or maybe even more because I’ve taken so many pics.

In the first picture, you can see the left most corner of my yard. Each fence panel is 6 feet, I think…..and we have built a small picket fence from pallets to form a triangular space. We built the fence when we had a dog because I didn’t want the dog digging in the dirt…..and well, I just think it looks cute.

In the very corner, I have a raised bed that is 7 feet long one way, 5 feet long the other way and 2 feet in width. I use the square foot gardening method (sort of) and plant my plants quite close together. It ends up producing quite a bountiful harvest in a small amount of space. It also ends up looking quite wild and overgrown, but I like the untamed chaos….makes me feel right at home and mirrors my life. Ha!

I have a small box around the ornamental cherry tree, and a 6 foot long by 2 foot wide “green house. In between the green house and the corner raised bed, I have a large rubbermaid bin.

If you start back in the far left corner and look along the picket fence….which is hard to see in the above picture….I have a bare patch of dirt, and then a short box and then a taller box. Then, there is the gate. On the other side of the gate, I have a bunch of containers. The containers are easy to move (some of them) and mean that I can have a variety of plants or space in there…as I choose.

If you go back to the left most corner on the outside of the fence…I have a bucket of lavender plants that I started from seed last year, and then a patch of dirt which has a few echinacea plants that I started from seed this year. I have a giant container of rhubarb and a narrow planter with herbs and flowers. On the other side of the gate, I have my tomato forest, another narrow planter with more herbs, two large recycling bins that I re-purposed into planters and a pea cage.

If you walked into my corner garden space and turned immediately left, you’d see this box…

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Along the back of it I have a marigold plant, 3 tomatoe plants (that were suckers that I pinched off the 8 that I bought this year) another marigold plant. Along the front of this planter box I am growing rainbow Swiss Chard. Some people eat it cooked, we eat it as part of our salads or use the large leaves for wraps instead of tortillas. I have tucked a piece of my Oregano plant into the closest right corner. It should grow like a weed, but I want as much Oregano as I can get to dry and be able to use for the rest of the year. We cook with lot of Oregano and I’d rather grow it, than buy it.

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Immediately beside this box, to it’s right is a shallow box of Dill. I love dill in our salads and as a herb, so I am using this both fresh and drying some to use over the year….I really should be planting WAY more as Dill is a herb we use a LOT of.

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To the right of the dill box, I have a patch of dirt that I just recently threw a bunch of kale seeds into and we are all looking forward to making Kale Chips. Judah asks every day if we have Kale to make Kale Chips. Silly Boy!

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In the very left most corner of the fenced garden, I have a few containers that Jeremy is using (or not really using) but I’ve left them for him to “deal with” and so there is nothing actually growing in that space. I used the lid from a large rubbermaid container to grow radishes and some small round carrots. Last year I grew lettuce and salad greens in it. But this particular photo shows one of the HUGE marigold plants that is growing in my garden. It’s taller than my 5 year old nephew. I have a few of these monster plants growing. Marigolds are good because they stink and are supposed to deter or repel bugs. They’d also attract certain insects, like bees, which are beneficial to my garden growing healthy. They haven’t flowered yet, but I’m excited to see the blooms when they do – which should be any day now.

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Behind that mammoth Marigold plant, I have some salad greens, a bucket of green chives and some cosmos….another flower……and then to the right of the Marigold is my cucumber tower of happiness.

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I have 8 cucumber plants in 2 of my “squares”. It’s probably too many plants, but they seem to be growing fabulously and I am pulling at least 1-2 cucumber’s off these plants, almost every day. Fresh cucumbers taste SO DELICIOUS! And my kids eat them as fast as I pull them off the plants.

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I have beets planted under and beside the cucumber plants, nasturtium (an edible flower) and arugula and then a whole bunch of different salad greens. If you look in the very first photo again and manage to peer behind the ornamental cherry tree in the center, you may see that I have more cucumber plants mid-way along the box at the back of the yard. Beside them, I had a patch of carrots, and some green onions, I also had radishes and then 2 squares full of tomatoe plants that are a combo of suckers and random plants that grew after my tomatoes last year went to seed.

In the center box, around the tree I have more salad greens….this particular kind is called Mizuna…pretty, isn’t it?

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I have a few kinds of Choi (pak, bok and something else that I don’t remember…)

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This is a small container of the herb, Rosemary, that I desperately need to plant in the ground but haven’t gotten around to it, yet! I LOVE Rosemary and managed to grow 4 plants from seed this year. I’m just hoping that they grow strong and hearty enough to last over the winter.

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You can see the tomatoe plants to the left of this next picture, but the main focus of this photo is my black Rubbermaid container of carrots, and more Oregano. I’m trying to propagate the herbs that I use the most so I can have TONS!!!!!! I believe that is Marjoram or Summer Savory in the small pot in the bottom right of this picture.

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Next up is my “Greenhouse”. I use it to start all my plants early in the year and because our winters are mild, I may try to grow some veggies in it over this winter. I have 8 Tomatoe plants, 2 large Basil plants, 2 Habenero Pepper plants, and 2 Marigold plants. I did have a bunch of Romaine Lettuce in there, as well, but in the heat it has bolted and so I’ve pulled it out and haven’t planted anything in it’s place.

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I bought the plants inside of this greenhouse. I have 4 Roma tomatoes and 2 Beefsteak tomatoes. They are growing far beyond what I had hoped and the size of the tomatoes are a bit overwhelming….

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These Romas are as big as my hand and I’ve had to tie up the plants twice because they are so heavy with fruit that they actually broke the twine I was using.

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The Beefsteak Tomatoes are even bigger than the Roma’s and are starting to ripen….YAY!!!

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I’m looking forward to canning all of these tomatoes and using them in sauces and soups over the next year. They are so much better than buying the canned ones, I think, anyway!

In front of the greenhouse, I have 3 more containers of varied tomatoe plants, both from suckers from the greenhouse tomatoes and yellow plum tomatoes that reseeded from last years plants. I have a container holding a blueberry bush that I bought on clearance last year. it made it through our mild winter in it’s tiny pot that it came in and I should have put it in the ground, but I wasn’t sure where I wanted it, so I just put it in a larger container. We managed to get a handful of berry’s from the tree this year and I’ll find a place for it before winter comes, this year. (Apparently, I am growing some seriously wild grass too. Need to trim things up some…but not right now.)

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Beside the blueberry bush, I have a container with a zucchini plant in it….it’s just kicking into high gear and between the 4 zucchini plants I have growing in various places in my yard….I am typically picking 1 zucchini per day. We are eating a lot of it, but what we don’t eat, I shred and freeze and we use in spaghetti sauce, soups or baking over the rest of the year. It’s a great vegetable to add in and some complain of an overabundance of zucchini, but I love that I can shred and freeze to use year round….so no complaining from me.

We’ve made our way all around the triangle garden, and the final plant, which I don’t have a picture of is a HUGE Comfrey plant, which is a great topical medicinal herb for wounds. We’ve used it fresh, and I’m also drying some to be able to make a salve.

I think I’m gonna stop there for today and maybe my next post will start on the outside of my “triangle” garden.

My Journey with Food Addiction (part 1)

It’s said that knowledge is power and when it comes to food addiction and me, that saying is so true.

Here is a decent explanation of Food Addiction and how it relates to me…….(just click on the underlined words)

I’ve struggled with my weight for a really long time…..I’ve had issue with food for even longer. I remember sitting down as a child/preteen/teenager and pounding back cookies or chocolate bars or candy or to a lesser degree chips…..any kind of junk food specifically those with sugar and/or flour.

I’ve never really understood people who could take “just one”. As far back as I can remember, it was kind of an all or nothing deal. If I had a bag of M&M’s….I’d eat until they were gone…..and it was never the small bag – always the BIG ONES. I’d never just buy 1 chocolate bar…it was 3 or 4. I’d grab a handful of cookies and most likely head back for a second or third handful.

While I was a teenager, it never seemed that big of a deal because I was a tall, big framed person and weight wasn’t ever an issue for me.

I was 170lbs when I got married and definitely was not overweight by visual standards.

I still struggle because according to different standards like the BMI or other weight calculators, I was overweight based on my height vs weight ratio….but in no way was I overweight back then……I was thin, I modeled. I firmly believe those standards are flawed…

As far as my weight goes, I did ok until after I had my second child and then things started changing……I didn’t lose the weight as fast as I did after having Angelica. Literally, 10 days after having Geli, I was back in my pre-pregancy clothes and I could see my hip bones and everything. It was not the same after having Alexandra and from then on I began to actually “struggle” with my weight.

But this whole issue is about SO MUCH MORE than weight……and that’s where the “knowledge is power” aspect really comes into play for me.

I remember my sister telling me about a friend of hers who was eating a certain way and she briefly mentioned “food addiction” when she was telling me about this “way of eating”. I briefly looked into it but mostly because I was desperate to lose weight. I didn’t particularly “like” the food eating plan and so I dismissed it…..after all, I wasn’t an addict and I most certainly wasn’t addicted to food…I only had 10 pounds to lose and then I’d be happy……

I’ve spent a huge portion of the last 20 years dieting or eating according to a “food program”. I’ve eaten low carb, sugar free, fast metabolism, 3 day diet, and so many more gimmicky eating plans to try and lose weight. And while some of them worked for a bit, in the end……I’ve gained the weight back and felt more miserable and like a HUGE failure on top of it all.

I think that there have been 2 periods of time over the last almost 20 years where I’ve been close to a healthy weight. Neither lasted very long and between the different traumas and stresses in our lives, its been a brutal battle.

2014 has been an extremely difficult year for me and yet……..it’s been an amazing year.

We are exhausted.

And that’s putting it mildly.

Over the past 10 years, we’ve had numerous job changes and losses, a stillbirth, 2 second trimester losses, an early miscarriage, the long desired arrival of Josiah, a crazy long, difficult and exhausting journey to an Autism Diagnosis, children with special needs, cancer and the birth of our sweet Judah in the middle of it, serious Mental Health Issues, and 2 BIG house moves…..there is more that I’ve not accounted for, but that’s enough….it’s just too much. We are tapped out.

I feel like I’ve been fighting a battle for a long time. I have been…….. but what’s worse is that I really didn’t understand what or who I was fighting.

Earlier this year, I committed to 100 days of investing in myself. When I look back, I see that I was searching for answers and that I was close to finding them but just not quite there….

See, in the past, my focus has been for the quick fix….

– If I lose 10 pounds, I’ll be happier and then I can go back to doing whatever I want.

– Ok, realistically, I should lose 20 pounds, but that’s a lot and so difficult so if I eat no/low carb for a few weeks, I should loose a ton of weight, and then I’ll be happy and be able to do whatever I want.

– OK!!!! So I should probably be REALLY SERIOUS and just go for an entire month and hopefully lose more than 20 lbs and then I’ll be happy and can do whatever I want……….

It was all about losing the weight as fast as possible – which for me typically meant no sugar, no fruit, no carbs……just veggies and protein….and then something would happen and I’d “cheat”………. cause everyone deserves a cheat now and then, especially when you’re being SO GOOD. That cheat would typically turn into more than just a little treat and BAM…….soon I’d be stuffing my face with whatever I could find.

The “100 Days” challenge was difficult for me and yet amazing, when I look back on it. I’d decided that it needed to be more than a quick fix. I needed something longer term, because the quick fixes were not working. I needed a shift from “short term/quick fix” thinking to something that was more a “lifestyle/long term” plan.

So I started back in February….on Valentines Day to be exact…. my plan was no sugar, no gluten, low carb, only natural foods that I could eat in whole form or combine to make something. I’d started running in 2013 and planned on combining that exercise with my food eating plan to be able to lose weight and really get control of my life which felt so chaotic and out of control.

It started out pretty good. I started 2014 at 230 lbs…..

Towards the end of March, I was doing pretty good. I was down to 208 lbs. I’d run over 100 km in the month of March….and then I stalled.

March-April-May…nothing shifted and I was getting frustrated. I started eating things that were outside of my chosen allowable foods and my running slowed down and by the start of summer….I crashed. it probably didn’t help that I was anemic over the summer.

Summer of 2014 was an absolute out-of-control, gong show. I ate whatever I wanted, whenever I wanted. I didn’t exercise. I felt lousy. I was trying to just survive. It was so bad, that even walking upstairs to my bedroom was a colossal effort and so once I came down stairs, I avoided going back up until I had too. Lotta couch time over the summer and anything I did do, came at a huge price as I’d crash the next day.

Every time I walk upstairs now, I flash back to how bad it was over the summer and I’m amazed at the difference from then till now. It’s pretty drastic. I went up on my anxiety meds and even added another one into the mix. There were days that I contemplated hospitalizing myself because I could not get the anxious thought under control and I’d spend the entire day fighting thoughts….crying…..it was pretty bad.

September’s are always like a new year for me….a new start……so I kept looking forward to September and the kids going back to school and routine and…….when it came…..everything was still brutally difficult and nothing changed except that I didn’t have the kids home all day…..I didn’t do anything. I couldn’t. I was so exhausted. Just existing was difficult….it was bad!

I went to give blood in September. I’ve been donating blood since I was 18 and while it’s not been as regular as I’d like and been broken up by pregnancy, breastfeeding, and different meds that I’ve been on….I could finally give and so I did….only to be denied because my hemoglobin was too low. While at the time I felt pretty embarrassed to be denied, that was the start of something amazing…….like the catalyst that kick started this next phase in my life.

I went to my dr and asked for some blood work. I started taking iron…..went and saw my naturopath, got a few supplements…… Finally towards the end of October, I started to feel a bit better.

I honestly cant remember why or how the whole concept of food addiction came to me but right at that same time, I started doing some serious research and reading about food addiction.

It was like my whole world exploded into tiny shards of hope and shame, exhilaration and denial…….

Birthday Crepes…..the Gluten-free Edition

It’s Jon’s Birthday today. He is 38 years old now. Seems like yesterday we were 19 & 21; and getting married….so weird to think that we are getting closer and closer to 40. He was saying, earlier today, that he still feels 20 something. Age really isn’t that important, is it? I think it’s more about how you feel than how big or small your actual number is…

We ran across the line today to pick up some groceries. I feel slightly bad that we are not buying local and yet…..right now, there is NO WAY that we would be able to feed our family for as cheaply as we can if we purchase a few things from the States. And right now….every penny counts. Literally, we are counting every penny and making each one count.

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We have enough to cover the basics and that’s good. It’s tight, but we are doing okay!

After we came home, Jon had to renew his driver’s license and he picked up the girls from my sisters place. They had been over for my nieces birthday sleepover… The day was pretty much a “run around” day and I was trying to figure out what we could do to celebrate a little.

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Jeremy suggested crepes and seeing as I have a smokin’ easy gluten free crepe recipe that EVERYONE loves….I agreed.

Most people should have these ingredients in their homes and this recipe is great for everyone.

Gluten-Free Crepes

6 Tblsp Cornstarch (or Arrowroot Powder, if you’d prefer to not use cornstarch)
1 tsp baking powder
1/8 tsp salt
3/4 cup of milk (I used coconut milk)
1 Tblsp of oil (I use coconut oil)
2 eggs (beaten well – seriously….beat them in a separate bowl before adding them into the mix)

Add everything together and mix well until all the lumps are broken up and the mix is smooth and runny.

Heat up a small cast iron pan over medium heat and rub a little bit of oil onto the pan.

When the pan is hot, pour about 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and swirl the mixture around until the batter covers the bottom of the pan and looks like this…

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Cook it for a few seconds (20-30???) and when it starts to lift away from the edges of the pan…then flip it over carefully and cook it on the other side for about half the time.

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After it’s cooked, I flip it out onto a plate…..and it’s ready to be “fixed”…

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I put some Strawberries and Cool Whip on mine. We had some left over Cool Whip from a Pavlova that Jon made for Boxing Day! Nothing like chemical whipping cream to really round a meal out.

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Here it is….all wrapped up and ready to be eaten. The crepe is even strong enough that you can pick it up with your fingers at eat it…you know…if you are ill-mannered enough to do such a thing…..not that I know anyone who would do that…..

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Doesn’t it look AMAZING! It tasted even better than it looked. I used cornstarch for one batch and used arrowroot for another and both batches turned out DELICIOUS, almost identical tasting crepes.

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We couldn’t forget to include the only shot of the birthday boy getting his crepe ready to be eaten…..I think that he used Nutella and Cool Whip on this one…..I tasted and that is one heavenly combination.

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Everyone ate until they were no longer hungry…….

And now its the best time of the day….BED TIME for the littlest ones….YAH!

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See how happy he looks about it…..oh, maybe I hadn’t mentioned it when I took this picture….actually, this one is typically pretty excited for bedtime……naptime, not so much, but bedtime is okay!

ps. These are not “HEALTHY” crepes. There is nothing “whole foods” or even really nutritious to feed your body with these…but they sure do make a good treat for once in a while…and they are gluten-free and use really “normal” ingredients…..

Christmas Eve

It’s hard to believe that Christmas is over, but is it….

The weeks leading up to Christmas were a bit insane with trying to get all the presents made, but we did it. In fact, this year, I was actually ready for Christmas by the morning of the 24th. That’s the earliest that I’ve ever been ready. Now, to be honest, we did have to run out to the store to pick up one thing and trade out some pajamas that we bought for Judah. I’m not sure what I was thinking, but I bought his original pajamas 2 sizes too small…..anyway….other than that, Christmas Eve was a nice relaxing day.

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We started having a Christmas Eve Fondue with Jon’s parents a few years ago and it’s become a Tradition. As soon as we start to think about Christmas, decorate for Christmas, or start to think about making presents….the kids start to ask about Christmas Eve fondue.

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I love that we have these fun traditions with our family. It just seems to make things more exciting and special.

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Judah is especially excited because the entire fondue was Gluten-Free and Dairy-Free. So it was safe for all of us. YAH! What’s even better….it was FREAKING DELICIOUS!

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After we finished our meal, we decided to open presents first and then to come back to eat dessert – Chocolate Fondue – after we were finished opening presents.

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Siah was SO Excited! He could hardly wait to open his presents. Jeremy was also so VERY excited, but he just wanted to be able to give the presents that he had bought with his own money! It was very sweet.

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This is the first time that Judah has really “gotten” into opening presents and he had so much fun. He absolutely LOVED this present that his Nana & Papa bought for him.

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He has played with his car non-stop.

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After we opened our presents, we headed back for some Chocolate Fondue!

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Angelica was loving her some Chocolate Strawberries…

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And then her and Nana started to goof around a little….

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It was pretty funny!

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After the Chocolate Fondue, we sent the kids off to change into their Christmas Pajamas. Isn’t he cute?

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Nana and Geli….

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Xani….all three, so pretty!

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We started a game of Apples to Apples….

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I played about 2 rounds and then Judah couldn’t handle it any longer…..

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….and so I put him out out his misery.

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After the game, we sat down for our traditional Christmas Story. This year we choose to read, Humphrey the Christmas Camel.

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After all the kids were put to bed, and the stocking’s were stuffed and the house was closed down for the night……we headed off to bed….this is probably the earliest that we’ve been to bed on a Christmas Eve…only 1:45am. Not bad, eh?

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To see all of the pics from Christmas Eve click here….

Gluten-free Waffles

Recently, I’ve been reading about cooking gluten-free by weight and by ratio; and it is making SUCH! A! FREAKING! HUGE! DIFFERENCE!

I’m making more consistently DELICIOUS gluten-free food.

Cooking by weight – by ounces or grams – makes such a big difference because there is such a huge difference in between a cup of twice sifted white flour and a cup of packed whole wheat flour…..throw in all the difference flours that I’ve been using in the gluten-free baking (millet, sorghum, amaranth, rice, almond, teff, quinoa – just to name a few) and if you are cooking by cups then you can have a huge discrepancy in each batch of baking that you make and more often than not you end up with some nasty crap….(I’m not trying to be offensive, I’m sure your gluten free food is delicious). BUT, cooking by weight means that if a recipe calls for 500 grams of flour – on my scale, I’ll always use 500 grams of flour no matter what flour I use or how sifted or packed it is….

Cooking by ratio is about understanding what ratio of flour to liquid to fat is required for different items…

Once you have the basic understanding of what the basic building blocks of bread, or cake or pancakes are….you can start playing by adding different ingredients in.

Now, not all of my attempts have worked out perfectly the first time I’ve tried, but I’d say that more of my “tries” are successes as opposed to failures and that is a big deal to me. I hate whipping something up and “hoping” that it’ll turn out, only to have it be a colossal flop and then having to throw all those ingredients out….not cool!

This morning, Xandra really wanted waffles and I figured that it couldn’t hurt to try. I’ve got a delicious recipe for gluten-free pancakes and figured that it couldn’t be that difficult to do waffles.

The ratio I used for waffles is 1-1-1….1 egg, 1 part flour, 1 part liquid.

If you estimate that one cup of regular wheat flour is about 120 grams – then I used that “120 grams” as my measurement.

And this was the result…..

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You can see Judah’s hand in the corner. He didn’t even want to wait for the picture, but he started in on them as soon as I put the plate on the table. He doesn’t know what he can or cannot eat…all he knows is that I make delicious food and he wants to eat it. I love the fact that I can make food for him that will make and keep him healthy.

They turned out PERFECTLY. Yes, I’ve gotten a little crazy with the CAPS, but I’m pretty excited. In fact, Jon turned to me and said that my gluten-free waffles were even better than his waffles….and he’s the king of the pancakes and waffles in our house.

They were light and fluffy on the inside, and crispy on the outside; and with a little “soy-free Earth Balance” and some Maple Syrup, they were heavenly. It was the perfect start to this rainy, grey day.

Even Jeremy (who is incredibly picky) and Angelica (who doesn’t eat waffles) said that they were yummy!

Here is the recipe that I used.

2 eggs
240 grams of Flour (I used a homemade GF Flour Blend)
240 grams of Milk (I used Coconut Milk)
2 tsp of Baking Powder
2 tsp of sugar
1 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp of Cardamom
1/2 tsp of Cinnamon
1/4 tsp of Almond Extract
2 oz. of melted butter (I used Soy-Free Earth balance)

I poured about half a cup of batter between the two sides of our waffle maker and this made about 8 waffles.

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Judah LOVED them…and kept asking for “more, more!”

I can’t wait to have waffles again! Maybe for dinner tonight??? Okay, probably not, but they were really, Really, REALLY yummy!

Cauliflower Pizza Crust

I feel better when I don’t eat flour. I love the things that I can make with flour and yet, when I eat too much flour….I just end up feeling bloated and gross.

Last week, my sister and I decided to support each other in our healthy food eating habits. We were feeling a bit off and knew that if we were accountable to someone that we’d have a greater chance of eating responsibly as opposed to just popping whatever was in front of ourselves into our mouths. So far it’s working. I am less bloated, feel more energy, feeling less sugar cravings and well, I’m just feeling better all around.

Basically we are eating 3 meals a day – no snacking in between. We are eating no sugar, no flour, no dairy – just sticking to whole foods. I think that we might shake it up this next week and do 2 smaller meals, 2 snacks and one larger meal. Neither of us are loving feeling like we need to stuff ourselves at each meal so that we’re not hungry in between meals. I’d rather just plan to eat some veggies or fruit in between meals instead of fighting the hunger.

I had made up our weekly meal plan before I agreed to start this with Debbie and PIZZA was on the menu for Friday night. I could have just had something different, but I remembered that I had heard of a Vegetable Pizza Crust somewhere before and so I went searching.

I found this recipe and with a few variations, I decided to try it.

I used 1 cup of grated cauliflower, 1 egg and 1/2 cup of goat mozzarella, 1 tsp of garlic powder, 1 tsp of oregano and 1 tsp of basil.

You mix all of the ingredients together and mix really well. You end up with something that looks kinda like this…..

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I got a piece of parchment paper and spread the mixture in a pizza shape (otherwise known as a circle).

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I used my fingers and a rubber spatula to spread it all out. Mine was about a quarter of an inch thick. I popped it into a pre-heated oven that was set at 450 degrees Farenheit and waited for about 20 minutes or so….until it looked like this….

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It needs to be cooked until the edges have browned. If you cook it just enough, then the crust will hold together and you can pick it up and eat it with your hands just like a pizza. If you under cook it, then it will be a bit sloppier and less easier to handle. (Just a friendly, helpful little tip)

I had found some Organic Chorizo sausage at Organic World out in Maple Ridge. Lots of the regular pressed meats have chemicals and wheat in them and as I’m trying to avoid those ingredients, I was happy to have found a spicy, healthy and very tasty option.

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I put a thin layer of tomato paste, topped it with the Chorizo Sausage, some Goat Feta, Red Peppers, Kalamata Olives and finally some Goat Mozzarella. Just before I put it in the oven, this is what it looked like….

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This is what it looked like after it had cooked at 375 degree Farenheit for a few minutes until the cheese had melted….

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Doesn’t that just look delicious?

The kids had been commenting about how good the house smelled…kinda like Parmesean Cheese toast and while it did smell and look pretty darn amazing – I will admit that I was slightly concerned that it would taste less amazing than it looked.

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I needn’t have worried. It was DELICIOUS! SO Yummy! I will definitely be making this pizza again and again and again.

I had used a whole head of cauliflower, 3 eggs and 1 brick of goat mozzarella and it made 3 large pizza crusts. We ate 2 of the crusts on Friday and I cooked up the third crust and let it cool. I put the cooled crust into a large freezer ziploc bag and put it in the freezer. I pulled it out of the freezer on Saturday afternoon and let it sit on the counter for a few minutes. It was only slightly frozen when I piled a bunch of topping on it and threw it in the oven. After the cheese had melted, I pulled it out and served it for lunch. The only difference that I could tell was that it had a slight cauliflower taste, but overall I liked it and so I think that the next time I make pizza, I’ll probably make enough so that I can freeze a few crusts to be able to pull out and whip together a pizza when I need a quick easy meal.

If you are trying to avoid wheat and dont want to buy the guten free crusts…I’d offer this as a delicious alternative. Let me know if you do try it and what you think? Does it sound appealing to you or just plain disgusting?