Summer Garden

It’s been a while since I really wrote anything about the garden.

We had a considerable amount of lettuce that survived the winter.
When we transplanted it in the spring, it filled an entire bed and more.
The taste wasn’t particularly good, as the lettuce was so old, but we’ve left the plants to bolt, and will collect the seeds in the hope that they’ll produce an even more winter-hardy variety.

I had made hundreds of newspaper pots for seedlings in the early spring, but I believe there was something about the ink in the paper that caused the roots to be stunted.
In fact, Frank has pulled up still-intact newspaper pots from the garden, so they are absolutely NOT degrading in the way I’d hoped.

The tomatoes and brassica that were planted were very much stunted compared to those planted into plastic pots (to the tune of 3 or 4 leaves as compared to 8!).
The tomatoes that were planted into the newspaper are probably around a month behind those that were planted into plastic.
Never again.

The brassica were a miserable failure AGAIN.
I’ll have to really look into why we can’t seem to grow cabbage/broccoli/cauliflower.

The melons and squash are doing beautifully.. This is our first year growing scalloped squash – they’re sweet like yellow squash, but have a beautiful shape!!
As for melons,  we have loads growing at the moment – and some are already the size of a child’s basketball!!
I’m hoping that there will be enough heat through the next 2 months to bring ’em up to a good size.

The corn has seemed a couple weeks behind the corn in farmers’ fields, but it nevertheless silking well.

I canned 4 1/2 quarts of beans two days ago.
It would seem that  one full colander fills two quarts.

The tomato harvest is about to begin in earnest.
We’ve been picking around one a week for the last three weeks, but there are loads that are on the cusp of turning.

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Yesteryear’s Washing Guides

I’ve extracted these from several out of print books, now in the public domain.
They’re worth a read, and you’ll soon realise just why it was laundry duties occupied an entire DAY.

Even with my electrified, albeit vintage, washer, laundry this past Saturday morning took 5 hours from the first rinse to the last item on the line. (I’ll start soaking the clothes on Friday pm from now!)


Audels Household Helps, Hints and Receipts excerpt 1

Audel’s Household Helps, Hints and Receipts excerpt 2

The Duties of the Laundry Maid – Isabella Beeton

Manual of Household Work and Management – Butterworth (this is a  large file, I’m sorry… I’ll put it through OCR sometime and shrink it down).

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Boggling Basement (part 2)

You know how it is…
We get an idea, and rush full-speed into making it a reality.

This basement project has been no different.

After trying to pick and choose bits and bobs from various of the inspiration photos in part 1, I decided to start simple.
We marked out  a chalk-line perimeter on the floor, I choose a suitable blue, Frank bought wood studs, and it all began.

I think the photos are pretty self-explanatory.
We’ll be picking up the sheets of ply tonight, and hopefully we should be 80% done in time for laundry day on Saturday  🙂

NO. Grass does NOT grow under our feet!!

[nggallery id=29]

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1964 Kenmore Wringer Washer (pink & white)

What do I know about this washer?


While Kenmore’s serial numbers for these washers start with  ‘110’, the two subsequent digits represent the year that it was manufactured.
In this case, the washer was made in ’64.

It’s got a two-speed straight vane agitator (though we need to install a new speed toggle), and a timer that goes up to 20 minutes on the one side, or remains on using the “hold” option on the other side.

We believe it is a 1950s model as the 50s models had the brush filter mounted on the lid, which you see below.

The agitator suffered a direct blow at some point in its history, as a chunk had been broken off.
It was nothing that 2-part epoxy couldn’t fix though.
The final step to the repair was the application of fiberglass cloth and resin to ensure that it never cracks in the same place a second time.

[nggallery id=27]

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Boggling Basement (part 1)

The million dollar question:
How do you turn a dark, dank, dreary dungeon-like 1870s basement laundry area, with a mere 6′ from floor to ceiling joists, into something worthy of your brightest whites?


To give you an idea of what I’m aiming for, have a look at these photos, and then continue reading below. Read the rest of this entry »

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The Dangers of Sugars (carbohydrates) … and how to possibly get around them.

No. Not all carbs are created equal.

Here’s the low-down:


There are two main types of carbohydrates: simple, and complex.

Simple Carbohydrates

MONOSACCHARIDE – absorbed into the bloodstream through the intestinal lining

  • Glucose is the most simple carbohydrate.
  • Fructose (fruit) is rearranged into glucose (they have the same chemical formula in a different atomic arrangement) in the liver.
  • Galactose (sugar in milk) is similar to fructose in that the chemical formula is the same as glucose, just in a different atonic arrangement. It is rearranged by the liver.

DISACCHARIDE – contain two monosaccharides – converted via enzymes in the digestive tract

  • Sucrose (white sugar) is made up of one glucose and one fructose molecule bonded together.
  • Lactose (sugar in milk) is made up of one glucose and one galactose molecule bonded together
  • Maltose (the sugar in malt) is two glucose atoms bonded together.

Complex Carbohydrates

STARCHES – have to be broken down in the digestive tract into glucose


Now, it gets interesting.


When some 5 – 7 grams (the amount varies with the individual) of glucose enter the bloodstream, the body produces insulin.
Insulin transports glucose to the cells for use as energy.
If there is more glucose than is required for energy, the glucose will be stored as fat under the presumption that you’ll need it later.
If you don’t use it later, and your body doesn’t have to resort to burning fat for energy (because there aren’t enough calories from carbs), then you’ll retain the fat.


… but it doesn’t quite stop with you accumulating too much fat …


I had someone tell me recently (in response to my mention of the Low Fat Raw Vegan ‘diet’ which primarily consists of calories from fruit) that if I eat more than 5-7g carbohydrates in one sitting, the glucose in my body will be at a toxic level. This would make my body produce too much insulin, my body would then become insulin resistance, and this would give me diabetes.


Don’t panic quite so much … it’s not quite that extreme – but it is something you need to give some consideration to – especially if you suspect that you’re borderline diabetic.

Glucose toxicity … implies the gradual, time-dependent establishment of irreversible damage to cellular components of insulin production and, therefore, to insulin content and secretion” []


Let’s explore …

Type 2 Diabetes results from Insulin Resistance.

Here are some quotes about Insulin Resistance –  I prefer to quote.

Insulin resistance (IR) is a physiological condition where the natural hormone insulin becomes less effective at lowering blood sugars. The resulting increase in blood glucose may raise levels outside the normal range and cause adverse health effects, depending on dietary conditions. Certain cell types such as fat and muscle cells require insulin to absorb glucose. When these cells fail to respond adequately to circulating insulin, blood glucose levels rise. The liver helps regulate glucose levels by reducing its secretion of glucose in the presence of insulin. This normal reduction in the liver’s glucose production may not occur in people with insulin resistance.[]

Insulin resistance is a process in which the body is inefficient at managing sugars and starches you have eaten in your diet. When you eat a carbohydrate, such as a piece of bread or something sweet like ice cream, your body releases insulin from your pancreas to process that sugar. Without insulin, you would not be able to assimilate this sugar, called glucose, from your blood stream into your liver and muscles. In insulin resistance, your body makes too much insulin for the amount of carbohydrate consumed. This extra insulin is what causes so many of the listed problems, both functional problems (those which precede pathological), as well as pathological problems (those with tissue alterations.) Initially, the extra insulin often ends up processing sugar too rapidly and blood glucose levels are driven too low. This is called hypoglycemia or low blood sugar. This adds stress to the body and causes the production of other hormones (especially adrenal gland hormones like cortisol), which increase blood sugar levels. As CI gets worse, more and more insulin is needed to process a small amount of sugar. The insulin eventually becomes ineffective at driving the sugar into the cells where the nourishment is needed. The cells have become resistant to the insulin.


Now, fruits (which is what had sparked the original diabetes ‘concern’) don’t primarily contain glucose!
Fruit contains fructose, and fruits generally have a low Glycemic Index (they’re not listed  as having much of an effect on blood sugar).

Fresh fruits contain sugar fructose that does not need insulin for its metabolism and is well tolerated by diabetics. Emphasis should be on raw foods as they stimulate and increase insulin production. []


This next quote is a bit wordy, but please try to follow it.

Because fructose does not stimulate insulin secretion from pancreatic ß cells, the consumption of foods and beverages containing fructose produces smaller postprandial insulin excursions than does consumption of glucose-containing carbohydrate.

Because leptin production is regulated by insulin responses to meals, fructose consumption also reduces circulating leptin concentrations.
The combined effects of lowered circulating leptin and insulin in individuals who consume diets that are high in dietary fructose could therefore increase the likelihood of weight gain and its associated metabolic sequelae.
In addition, fructose, compared with glucose, is preferentially metabolized to lipid in the liver.

Fructose consumption induces insulin resistance, impaired glucose tolerance, hyperinsulinemia, hypertriacylglycerolemia, and hypertension in animal models. The data in humans are less clear. Although there are existing data on the metabolic and endocrine effects of dietary fructose that suggest that increased consumption of fructose may be detrimental in terms of body weight and adiposity and the metabolic indexes associated with the insulin resistance syndrome, much more research is needed to fully understand the metabolic effect of dietary fructose in humans. []


Fructose may be detrimental to body weight and may cause insulin resistance?
Whaaaaat??? You mean it’s just as ‘bad’ as glucose??
Allow me to try to explain the digestion of fructose, and hopefully give you a better understanding.

Glucose goes straight to your bloodstream, where is it transported to energy and/or fat (depending on your overall calorie consumption vs. exertions).
Fructose does not.

Fructose goes to the liver, where any of three things can happen:

1) it gets converted into glucose which is then released into the blood,
2) it gets stored in the liver and muscle cells as glycogen (a form of sugar which is easily converted into glucose when the body requires energy) in the event that there is already glucose in the blood. (Remember I quoted earlier that when insulin is released into the bloodstream to deal with the glucose, it also causes the liver to act as a glucose regulator and release LESS glucose into the blood stream… well, that is unless you’re Insulin Resistant.)
3) it gets converted into fat (in the event that the muscle and liver cells already have their quota of glycogen).


Despite the common associations between sugars in general and fructose in particular and type 2 diabetes, high cholesterol, heart disease, obesity etc, whole fruit does not typically pose a problem to because of 1) its high soluble fiber content and 2) its high antioxident content – both of which have a counter-effect to the relatively high sugar content. Concluded that modest increases in soluble fiber intake in healthy subjects improved LDL cholesterol and glucose levels.



Most nutritionists recommend high-fiber foods for people trying to lose weight. Fiber is an important part of a nutritious diet, but it is not itself a nutrient; it passes through the digestive system without being absorbed. USDA guidelines suggest 14 grams of fiber for every thousand calories you consume. If you are trying to lose weight, you may wish to consume more than the minimum requirement.

Benefits of a fiber-rich diet include prevention of gastrointestinal troubles, improved digestion, increased nutrient absorption and reduced risk for heart disease and diabetes, according to Adequate fiber consumption can also help you lose weight. []



Well, after all of that, I hope you have a better picture of how your body deals with carbohydrates.
My personal belief is that fructose is far better for you than glucose, because of how the liver is able to regulate and respond to fluctuating blood sugar levels.
Furthermore, WHOLE FRUITS  – especially those rich in soluble fiber (think soft fruits) can not only provide you a good source of calories and nutrients, but can in themselves counter the potential for damage over time from prolonged blood sugar.


If you have diabetic tendencies, it’s probably a good idea to look into improving your insulin sensitivity (reducing your insulin resistance) before embarking on an eating plan that is so rich in carbohydrates.
Also, don’t forget that carbs and fats do NOT mix.

Some nutritionists have suggested that while on a high-fat diet, your body’s ability to process sugars is impeded, not to mention that the fat you eat is more likely to get stored as extra fat.
Most nutritionists agree that if you’re looking to lose weight, a great starting point is to stop mixing carbs with fats (see my previous article “Bread or Butter”.)

I say, cut the filler foods (bread, pasta, refined sugar, white rice) altogether.
They’re filling your stomach with empty calories, and not filling your cells with the nutrients that they need.

If you need some low-fat, filler-free, nutrient-packed  recipe ideas, click this link to visit my collection.


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Bread OR Butter?

In 2010, researchers from of the Center for Obesity Research and Education at Temple University, Philadelphia revealed that after a two-year comparison, a low-carb diet fares about as well as a low-fat diet with regards to weight loss. (

Put another way, a high fat diet is just as good for weight loss as a high carb diet.

More than likely, your first reaction to the suggestion that lots of fat in your diet is a good thing would be one of puzzlement or disgust.

“High Fat” conjures up images of fast food, grease, blocked arteries, obesity and even death.
However, the Inuit diet is a testament to a perfectly healthy, more natural, carnivorous way of eating. (see for a crash-course on the Inuit diet)

How does it work?
When you limit your carbohydrate intake (to around 5%), the body goes into ketosis. Ketosis is the state where your body converts fat (stored body fat and any fat that you ingest) into ketones (what you get when the liver and kidneys break down fatty acids into energy). Your body is designed to survive perfectly fine on energy from ketones.
Raw meat (in particular, organs, and most definitely from organic sources) provides a very compacted nutrient source, and contains a full spectrum of minerals, vitamins, and acids (see study

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Nutrition, an introduction to our standpoint.

Any of you who personally know me, know that I’m very interested in nutrition.

We’re a vegetarian household, but before you jump to conclusions about what it all means, let me say a couple of things.

1) We don’t believe that it’s for everyone, and we’re not pushy about the whole thing.
2) We acknowledge that something will almost inevitably have died to get the food we eat to our plate (even if it’s not meat itself). Pesticides, deforestation to make way for agricultural land, etc etc … all kill animals.
3) Our moral standpoint that it’s not necessary to intentionally take life from another in order for us to live. That being said, in the lifestyle we’ve chosen (self-sufficiency), if something threatens our food supply, we will deal with it (as humanely as possible … just ask all the ground hogs and raccoons who now live in the wild land/nature reserve behind the local WalMart!!!).
4) Following on from 3, no, we aren’t vegetarians who eat chicken or fish!!
5) While we don’t claim to be vegan, we don’t drink homogenized milk (we buy full fat cream and dilute with water where milk is called upon), we eat cheese (more than we probably should), and we eat eggs.
6) We are of the opinions that Vegetarians/Vegans can have worse nutrition than those who aren’t, despite the perceived health benefits of not eating meat.

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Kefir Recipes

Before we get started, let’s take a moment to study pronunciation.
I started pronouncing Kefir “KEH-fear”.
Some USA-based friends of mine pronounced it “KEY-fur”, so I followed in their footsteps.
After some investigation, I find that the correct pronunciation in Russia and Turkey (where Kefir is alleged to have originated, depending on which story you follow) would be keh-FEAR (or k’fear if that makes more sense).
Now … onto this post.

Yeast isn’t expensive, but it can cause internal complications/irritations such as the dreaded yeast infection/candida.

Kathryn over at mentioned the possibility of making bread from Kefir when I offloaded a bunch of grains earlier this year.
When Eliza had a bout with a UTI (not yeast-related), I fully delved into the topic of making bread from this alternative.

I later discovered that Kefir can be used as a replacement for yeast in beverages too.

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Buzzing towards Bees

It started out as an idea which Frank threw into the air “I’d like to have a beehive some day”.
This year, as I’ve been reading up on trying to get our tomatoes to produce earlier than others in the vicinity, the subject of bees popped up again.
We were going to build a “Langstroth” hive, but as we were watching various YouTube videos on the subject of beehive building, we came across the Top Bar Beehive, which Frank ended up building in a weekend from cabinet grade ply that we had laying around.

See this example of a Top Bar Beehive plan.

A relative of mine mentioned having lost two colonies to mites, but I read that menthol or neem can be used twice a year in combat against the various mites which afflict bees.

Two links which were a great resource of information on caring for bees:
Lists  flowers which bees love:
Various types of clover (sweet and/or white), aster, goldenrod, sunflowers, fruit trees, dandelions, snap dragons, honeysuckle,
Gives good general information on caring for bees, along with the recommendation of using Neem as a combat against mites.

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