Saturday, 23 November 2013

Seasonal Foods

The harvest is in and the snow has come down. Everything is under a blanket of white, so it's time to switch gears and hibernate. Now is the time of year for comfort foods. I believe in eating seasonal foods (for cost and also for the environment) so I'm eating lots of mandarin oranges (in-season, although they do travel a fair distance) and squash (in-season and local). Frankly I've never tried spaghetti squash or acorn squash, so I bought some from just down the road and plan on cooking them up into something delectable for the whole family to try. Living with picky eaters, I always cook a "sweet" recipe first, to see if they like the taste, then delve into earthier flavours once they're used to it.

What are your favourite winter foods and recipes?

Tuesday, 15 October 2013

Zucchini harvest

I have never planted zucchini... heck, I rarely even eat it! But my father's cousin has an acreage and literally, her whole plot of land is garden. Seriously. She showed me her zucchini plant, and gave me a couple, so I had an opportunity to test out recipes that otherwise I would've ignored.

I hope you like my mother's delicious chocolate zucchini cake!

Chocolate Zucchini Cake
1/2 c. butter, softened
4 large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
1 c. sour cream
1 chocolate fudge cake with pudding in mix (18.25g)
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 1/2 c. grated zucchini
1 c. chocolate chips
1 c. chopped pecans
Mix ingredients with electric mixer. Grease and flour bundt pan or 10" tube pan. Bake at 325 for 40-50 minutes or until inserted toothpick comes out clean. Cool on rack 15 minutes, then invert on a serving plate to continue cooling. Frost when cool if you want.

Monday, 9 September 2013

Easy Apple Cider

A lady across the track has let me harvest some of her crabapples (roughly 19 lbs). A friend of my dad's let me harvest 12 lbs of eating apples. A family at church dropped off two grocery bags of crabapples. The man who rents me his garden let me harvest 16 lbs of eating apples. Needless to say, we had a lot of apples.

I've already got apple pies coming out our ears, and with a new school job (yay!) I don't have much time anymore for putting up the harvest. So what to do? Cider, of course! Here is the recipe which was given to me by the first aforementioned lady:

12 qts water
12 qts apples or crabapples, cut in half
Bring to boil for 5 minutes. Add 2/3 cup Cream of Tartar. Cover with lid and let sit 24 hours. Strain and can (process in boiling water canner 10 minutes) or put into airtight food-grade containers (I washed out my juice and milk jugs and used them).

If you're going to freeze it, leave plenty of headspace for the juice to expand. Also, this will produce unsweetened apple juice. If you like a sweeter drink, add 4 cups sugar per 30 cups juice (or I just add a tablespoon per glass).

(for those of you who are curious about the difference between apple juice and apple cider - apple juice is simply put through more levels of straining to remove sediment).

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Harvest and Foraging

For those of you who read my weekly articles in the Strathclair & District Review, you'll know that I found a grove of trees that has chokecherries, pin cherries, saskatoons, rosehips, and hawthorns. All within town (right by my old house, in fact). My mother and I gathered 2 litres of chokecherries before the mosquitoes ate us alive (and I twisted my ankle on a tree root) and I made some awesome jelly with it. Sadly the saskatoons were all dried up and the rosehips weren't dark enough. I think by now they should be ready, although they have a better flavour after the first frost. A local lady has decided to try to start up a farmers market here in town so I called and signed myself up for a table. A word of advice that I gave to myself is not to sell any leafy greens - whatever doesn't sell would have to be eaten before it wilts, and I'm the only one in the house who eats lettuce. So I'll just be selling beets and canned goods. I'm already crafting Christmas items - knitting and crocheting bath sets for family members. For those of you on Ravelry, I'm making "Grandmother's Favorite" washcloth, "Spiral Scrubbie" and a generic soap saver. Can't start Christmas items too early, because (due to my wrist surgery) my knitting is so slow.

Tuesday, 13 August 2013

How are the Resolutions coming?

I just looked back at some of my New Years Resolutions... and I must say I'm doing splendid!
1) Learn how to make maple syrup: failed - lost my maple-tapping supplies that I'd ordered online.. they are somewhere in the house but goodness if I know where...
2) Save at least 80% of my monthly grocery bill through gardening: I think I accomplished that in July. Our grocery bills have dropped down to roughly $30/week and 1/3 of that is just milk. Honestly, if I had a cow and chickens, our grocery bill would be zilch.
3) Learn how to can with rubber rings: Successfully canned 4 jars using rubber rings with glass tops. Only one of them did not stay sealed. That's a pretty good success rate for my first time, but I think I'll stick with "normal" lids from now on.

Monday, 12 August 2013

Fair Prizes

I just realized I never posted my winnings from all my fair entries!

Firstly, after all my jam/jelly submissions, they were all disqualified due to mis-categorization. In other words, nobody had explained how to tag my submissions properly and so none of them were accepted into any category due to confusion.

However my sewing/knitting/crochet did great. I won:
1st prize on a sewn kids vest;
1st prize on a sewn kids sunsuit;
2nd prize on a sewn ladies blouse;
2nd prize on a crochet kids pullover;
3rd prize on knit adult socks
My sewn kids pyjamas didn't place, nor did my knitted dishcloth or sewn clutch.

In total it cost me about $9 total to enter all my entries and I won $14.50 in cash prizes, minus the $5 automatic membership given to vendors, which means I got a cheque for $9.50. Just enough to cover my entry fees.

Next year, my advice to myself:
1) One item per category.
2) Go for the big-payout categories. Even if you only win ONE it will pay for all your entries.
3) Concentrate on handiwork rather than food, which spoils - after the judges taste it, you have to eat it ALL or it'll go to waste.
4) For sewn items, try to make most items reversible or reinforce seams - some judges are picky about seams and will completely disqualify a piece for a personal opinion about seaming.
5) Don't bother having a vendor table, just focus on crafting items for judging. Sitting at a table is a waste of time - prize money will earn more than sales.

Wednesday, 31 July 2013

Yarn Contest

Hey everyone, there's a yarn contest - win yarn FOR LIFE wowzers!

Click HERE to enter - contest is open only to residents of Canada and the USA. Good luck!

Tuesday, 30 July 2013

Total Saskatoon Harvest

Saskatoons (also known in the USA as juneberries or serviceberries) are quite popular in our area of Manitoba. There is a large grove of them growing around the lake just 10 minutes from town, so naturally we went foraging this summer. We picked berries during swimming lessons every day for roughly two weeks, with two larger picks on Saturdays. In total we have foraged (free) wild saskatoons to get about 18 Litres of them (that's about 4 1/2 ice cream pails). Needless to say, I've already made several saskatoon pies, and will be making several more to freeze.

Saskatoon Pie Filling:
4-5 cups saskatoons
3 Tbsp cornstarch
1/2 c sugar

Toss all together until the berries are coated. Pour into unbaked pie crust. Top with another crust and poke holes. Bake at 425 for 15 minutes then lower to 350 for another 50 minutes.

Sunday, 14 July 2013

Total Rhubarb Harvest

I think rhubarb-picking is winding down because the raspberries are almost ready. They never overlap (which is good, because that would be a LOT of work). In total from June 22-July 13th I have harvested approximately 22 lbs of rhubarb. I made one 4-cup batch of juice (colossal failure, it tasted horrible - too much cinnamon in the recipe). The rest went into jams and jellies. I will be entering a total of 6 jars in the fair on July 16th.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Begin the Harvest!

Ok the harvest has commenced. The first items are now up. I harvested 8 lbs rhubarb a couple days ago, another 2 lbs today, as well as two large fistfuls of garlic chives. I have SO MANY garlic chives growing beside my house, I literally just grab fistfuls and rip them up and then dehydrate them once I've picked out the grass. Out of all my rhubarb I have already made 18 jars of dessert topping (mixed with strawberry and cherry) and 7 jars of jam (mixed with grape). When rummaging through my grandmother's cookbooks, I found an excellent book of canning recipes. I told her "Grandma, if I don't leave this here, you'll never see it again!" so I copied down my favourite canning recipes and will try them throughout the summer. I saw an excellent Rhubarb Chutney recipe that I'm anxious to test. Will post the recipe if it works out!

Friday, 21 June 2013

Vote For Me!

I have entered a contest put on solely for residents of Manitoba, and would appreciate everyone's vote! You can vote EVERY DAY so please set your homepage to and bump up my numbers. I could win some fantastic prizes, which are sorely needed to improve my garden, since I just moved in last year.

Thank you again for voting and helping me out!

Thursday, 13 June 2013

Even More Seeds...

OK so I suddenly (halfway through June) have more garden space, since the other lady decided she didn't want to plant anything this year. So I ran down to my local hardware store and found they had a special end-of-season sale on seeds. 20 packets for a dollar! So naturally I bought 20 packets of seeds (and I still won't fill the space...) I bought: - 3 packs of rutabaga - 2 packs of lettuce (1 head, 1 leaf) - 6 packs of radishes - 2 packs of kholrabi - 5 packs of carrots (2 different kinds) - 1 pack of green onions - 1 pack of parsley If I don't have enough to feed my family all winter, I will swear off gardening forever... My corn is doing amazing, as are my potatoes. My pumpkins did not come up, and my heirloom tomatoes are quite disappointing. Luckily I only planted half outside (I think it was the cold or wind that did them in because the ones still indoors are fine). In my small garden my beets, kale, peas, and carrots are beautiful but my onions are still non-existent. Something has been nibbling on my tiny kale already though, and I don't think it's a rabbit... I did my first rhubarb harvest and made 2 small rhubarb crisps... not bad for the first harvest!

Wednesday, 22 May 2013


We've been doing so much gardening these last 2 weeks. Here is a rundown.
- 2 rows of beets
- 1 row of kale
- 2 rows of broccoli
- 3 rows of onions
- 4 short rows of peas
- 1 1/2 rows of carrots
- 1/2 row of lettuce
- 33 hills of potatoes
- 23 hills of pumpkins/squash
- 10'x10' block of corn
- 3'x3' block of wheat (just an experiment)
- 50+ tomato seedlings still indoors
- blueberry seedlings not germinated yet - 12 pots
- still going to transplant 2 raspberry bushes
If you have any great ideas for canning or cooking these foods, let me know!

Thursday, 16 May 2013


Just got back from a trip to BC and the world is in bloom! I left while it was winter and came back to summer. I have already planted 2 rows of beets, a few flowers, a single plant each of thyme, oregano, and basil, and plan on doing the rest before the weekend. So what are you planting?

Wednesday, 24 April 2013

Sewing Ideas

I do not have a Pinterest account. Sometimes I get directed to there when I'm searching for new patterns, but largely I like to dissect clothing I see in the Sears catalog. If you are new to sewing, or an expert, go through the catalog and see what you like - chances are it would be easy to sew. I get lots of inspiration from there. Some things I love to sew apart from clothing for me are: baby sunhats, ring slings, pajama pants, and pencil cases. All these items are for sale on my website Tina's Crafty Treasures - please support small/local businesses! On a completely different note, don't forget I will be giving a Dehydrating Fruit workshop on June 29th at 1:00 p.m. in the Strathclair Community Centre. Everyone in Westman is invited to this FREE workshop as part of Food Matters Manitoba.

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Manual Sewing

I am trying to reduce my dependence on technology. I'm not some "insane Prepper" who thinks there might be some world catastrophe, solar flare, or electromagnetic pulse that will destroy all electronic signals, but I do believe in getting back to our roots and reducing "screen time" and the need for electrical gadgets. The non-electrical ones require hard work, patience, and give a great workout. So I wanted to give you a challenge: every single thing you do throughout the day stop and think: Am I using a modern gadget or electricity to do this? Could I use an "old-fashioned" gadget to do it instead? For example a can opener - go buy a manual one. Your fancy electric one just won't do in a power outage! I am an avid sewer and thought that buying an old manual treadle machine would be costly, but there are hundreds of mini hand-powered "pocket" sewing machines on Ebay. Anything electronic stemmed from a non-electronic item. Take a look into the roots of all the gadgets you use and see if you can replace them and "down-power" your household.

Monday, 1 April 2013

Etsy Shop

I would like to take the time to promote my Etsy shop. Please support small/local businesses and crafts-people! Rather than buy a product at a large international box-store, why not buy the same item from a mom & pop shop where you will get better service, personalized items, and know that you are supporting a family's livelihood rather than slave-labour in a third-world country. Yes, it will cost more, but not much, and it's worth the price. The more you buy, the more milk I can buy my toddler. If you buy from a large box-store, you only line the pockets of the CEO. So click on an item to see more pictures and the price. Thanks for browsing!

Saturday, 16 March 2013

Sew a Baggie

After 3 solid days of searching for an easy zipper-pouch to sew, I've found it:

This is a wonderful tutorial. I managed (on my first try!) to whip one up in 20 minutes. It's only one layer of fabric so no need to fuss with several layers, like other pouches. Here is a picture of mine:

Within the next couple months I will be advertising all my items for sale. They will include my baby sunhats, my zipper pouches and larger diaper bags, and pajamas. I will be posting the items for sale in the Strathclair & District Review as well as my Etsy shop and other social media. Keep an eye out!

Monday, 11 March 2013

Baby Sunhats

I just posted a pattern on the "Make Your Own" page illustrating how to make your own baby/toddler sunhats. I love this pattern! Most patterns you'll find on the internet only use 6 pieces but this one uses 8. It makes for more versatility with "patchwork" hats and colour combinations.
These little hats are very easy to whip up and are adorable on. Add some elastic or ribbon if your little one likes to take their hat off. I'm also going to try to experiment with some bucket hat patterns for adult-sized heads. Keep an eye here for the results!

Also some sad news on the "homesteading" front... I had planned on tapping my maple trees this spring, however.... I have lost my single tap. I don't get into the city often enough to go buy some more before the melting starts so I'm putting that project off until next spring. I've got a lot on my plate as it is, offering daycare during the week! I'm sure some of these wee ones will benefit from my hat patterns!

Saturday, 2 February 2013

Cooking in Advance

It's hard to calculate how much money I'm saving with my new habit, but it's more than I thought! I think in meat we've saved over $100/month simply due to good meal-planning.

Today's advice is this: plan your whole month's meals in advance and calculate how many portions of meat you will need to make them. For example, every Monday I'm making Creamy Chicken. The recipe calls for 3 chicken breasts. Husband will eat one, and baby & I will split one, leaving one for his brown-bag lunch the next day. When I cook with chicken-legs, I use 5 pieces per recipe (he eats 2, I eat 1, baby eats 1, and he takes 1 to work the next day). Therefore I can calculate exactly how much meat we'll go through for the month. Meat is the most expensive item on our menu, and being married to a carnivore means we are obligated to spend that money.

Planning your month's meals in advance and then spending one solid day cooking-and-freezing will save you money AND time. I spread my cooking out over three days since I have a toddler underfoot and because I usually have three different items that require 8 hours in the slow-cooker.

To save even more money, talk to a small local grocer and ask if they'll give you a discount on bulk-ordering. I talked to my local grocer (a Korean couple who I've befriended) and they basically gave me two cases of chicken breasts for zero profit.

Friday, 25 January 2013

Homeschool Section

The "Free Stuff" page had virtually zero local interest so it has been replaced with "Homeschool", where I will attempt to find all the free Canadian homeschool resources for you. You don't need to be a full-time homeschooler to put these resources to use - use them in the summer to keep your kids from being bored, or supplement their schooling in the afternoons.

Saturday, 5 January 2013


I recently updated five of the sub-pages on my blog, please take a look and submit any feedback! Thanks!

Tuesday, 1 January 2013

New Year, New Skills

Let 2013 be the year you learn something new! Half of my New Year's Resolutions include some aspect of learning a homesteading or survival skill including:
- Learn how to tap Maple trees
      - Learn how to make maple syrup
- aim to eliminate at least one month's grocery bill by 80% through gardening
- learn how to can with rubber rings

I have at least one knitting/crochet project planned for each month as well, but due to my wrist surgery at the end of this month, I'm forced to start those projects a bit later. All gung-ho and nowhere to go :)

Have a wonderful year everyone!