Wednesday, October 26, 2011

A New Rhythm

Sorry for the unexpected delay in posts, life has been hectic lately! I am officially done working (for now), and today is the first official day that I am unemployed. It is a strange feeling. I went to the grocery store this morning and did the shopping for the next few days meals, did some cleaning up at home, and plan on doing more of that in a little while. Saturday was my birthday, which was filled with family and love, just the way I like it! I got to go down to the market and to the library and in general had a lovely relaxing day at home.

My biggest challenge over this next period of being home is going to be learning to slow down. When I went out today, I found myself trying to rush, looking at the clock, and not enjoying my errands. I then consciously went and got into one of the longer lineups at the cashiers in order to remind myself that I was not in a hurry and I could just let time go by without thinking about it. It was nice. Today, I am cooking slowly- maple baked beans that will take a good 4 hours in the oven. I am going to relish in the slowness of the meal, and while it is cooking I am going to do some reading, take some time for knitting, and do as much cleaning as I want. There is always tomorrow.

Maple baked beans, from the last time I made them.

The weather here is really starting to feel like winter. I needed gloves, a scarf, and a hat yesterday on campus, as the wind was very chilly. The trees on our road are vibrant oranges, yellows, and reds and when I drive down I can see them dancing behind me as they are stirred up off the ground. Today is grey and cloudy, and they actually were calling for snow overnight! I don't think it happened, but it is coming soon. I could smell the wood fires that were heating houses on the street this morning; oh how I miss a wood fire! I am going to make sure our first purchased home has a wood stove, I just love them. 

How have your days been lately?


Sunday, October 9, 2011

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

This weekend is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I could not be more excited! This holiday is one of my favourite and is the kick off for a great couple of months of family, good food, and lots and lots of time in the kitchen! I absolutely love Thanksgiving and everything it stands for. Thinking about everything in your life that is good, having a nice big family meal, and the beginning of fall! The past 2 years we have hosted the big dinner at our house, but unfortunately our new place is much too small to have 10 people over for dinner. Sigh. So this year D's parents are hosting, and we are bringing a few items to add to the menu. We have been put in charge of stuffing (my all time favourite part of the Thanksgiving and Christmas meals) and the cranberry sauce.

Happy Thanksgiving, eh?

Two years ago I made and canned my first ever cranberry sauce. Before that, I had only tasted the store-bought canned variety and thought it was just fine. Boy, I was soooo wrong! Once you have tasted homemade cranberry sauce, I guarantee you will never buy it again. My batch two years ago made about 6 or 7 jars and that lasted us until this year. Considering how easy it is to make and can, that is a great time investment! So, today I am making more. Here is the recipe:

8 cups whole cranberries, washed and picked through
4 cups sugar
1 cup orange juice*
3 cups water*
2 cinnamon sticks, broken ( or 1 tsp. ground cinnamon)
6 x 500 mL jars and lids

* you can also just juice one orange and then top it up with enough water to make 4 cups

Place juice, water, sugar, and cinnamon in a large pot. Bring to a boil and simmer for 5 minutes. Add cranberries and cook until skins have popped and sauce is thick and bright red. Pour into sterilized jars and seal. Process in water bath canner for 15 minutes. Cool for 24 hours and store on shelf.

If you are wondering how to sterilize and seal jars, please refer to my canning tutorial. You can sterilize any sized jar in the oven and follow the same method for heating the lids.

These make excellent gifts and really are one of the easiest recipes to make! Enjoy!

What is your Thanksgiving like? What are your traditional meal staples, if any?


Saturday, October 8, 2011

Picking Grapes

Last weekend we went to visit my family and got to pick grapes! My grandfather has been telling us about this orchard for the past 3 years, and we have tried to make it up there every summer for the past 2 years with no luck. The first year the road to their house was closed due to forest fires and last year D had some health issues that prevented us from traveling.  But this year we made it! It was a gorgeous day, and the grapes were everywhere! Here are some pictures from the day:

Hope you are all having a lovely weekend. I will be back with some Thanksgiving posts!


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

A Change of Pace

Hello! We have just gotten back from a weekend away visiting my family. We went grape picking with my grandparents (more on that later!) and got in a great visit with my parents as well. However, when I was away I received notice that I will be laid off in 3 weeks due to my workplace having a financial crisis. I had a feeling this was coming from recent talks these past couple weeks, so I was not surprised, but definitely disappointed and a bit concerned. I have been working at this same job for the past 3 years and really have no experience outside of my field, which is veterinary reception. But, I have decided to take this as an opportunity to slow down a bit more and really think about what I want to do with my life's work. I am still going to school working towards my B.A., so that will continue, but until I can find another job I will have to change my lifestyle a bit to make up for the fact that my pay cheques will no longer be coming in.

Here are my plans:

1. Use public transit whenever possible to save gas (I pay for a pass in my tuition every semester, so I might as well use it!)

2. Frugal meals! This is already a staple in our household, but I will be extra conscious of using whatever we have on hand and trying to make as many freezer  based meals as possible. This also means no more eating out, no more buying bread, and making everything from scratch. I will also be relying on my canned goods and pantry to get us through rough patches.

3. Cut my cell phone down to the bare minimum. We do not have a land line and I have a contract so I cannot cut it out entirely, but there are some cheaper plans that I will be researching.

4. No more paying for tea/coffee. We have tons at home, I do not need to buy it.

5. Stay in! We hardly ever go out, but from now on it is cheap home entertainment.

6. Focus on my studies as much as possible, as this is the path to my success.

7. Write, every day. I am constantly making excuses as to why I don't write, but now I will have more spare time, so I need to dedicate myself to it. My last professor told me I have the talent to be a professional writer, and I need to hone my skills and get my creative juices flowing!

8. Enjoy this time! I need to realize that this has happened for a good reason and I need to embrace this stage in my life. I want to enjoy being at home and make myself relax and slow down more.

I will also be scouring Rhonda's blog for more tips on frugal living, as she really is the master of it.

I would appreciate anyone's input on this, and would love to hear your tips and tricks to frugal living! Have you ever been in a situation similar to mine? How did you manage?