Where June really was a slow month, illness and cold keeping us inside and doing very little, July was the opposite. We still had illness, lots of illness and lots of trips to the doctor, we still had cold and wet (but also some lovely days), but from the time I went back to work in mid-July life has hit the insanely busy point. Mornings are crazy, dinner preparation on work days are frenzied, a race against time to get dinner on the table before the girls become too tired and grumpy to actually eat and the two weekdays off now have to fit in everything we used to do in five days – playgroup, library, shopping, catching up with friends, reading, house work, cooking for the rest of the week, gardening, running errands, and making phone calls. The weekends have been mixed with some so tightly scheduled it becomes quite stressful and others with only a couple of commitments to meet and some time together at home. I’ve had a bit of a hard time finding my feet back at work and have wondered more than once whether I’ve made the right decision, but hopefully with a bit more time that will improve. The girls have also struggled to adjust to me being away from them for three days a week, especially the two days in a row. They both enjoy the day with Granny and have fun at childcare but there is some definite separation anxiety happening, especially with Miss One – she becomes velcro baby on Wednesday and Friday. But with all this going on I have still managed to take a moment here and there do ‘slow’ down and breath.
I continued experimenting with the slow cooker this month, trying out a few new recipes, but also attempting to cook our more familiar family meals in it as well. I’ve been more than impressed with just about everything. The chilli con carn and bolognese were both winners and are meals that we have regularly so being able to make them in the slow cooker is very convenient. The hoi sin ribs which have been made twice are a favourite all around. With the return to work I’ve also been making a few things Mr Good and I can take for morning tea and that the girls and my mother-in-law can enjoy as an afternoon snack. My favourite of these was a whole orange cake which was incredibly easy and quick to make, produces a lovely light, moist cake and has a really strong orange flavour.
In light of all the illness we’ve suffered this last month, I made up a big pot of chicken and pasta soup (someone called this recipe penicillin in a bowl) packed full of vegetables. We’ve had it for dinner, some lunches and there’s more in the freezer. I also stocked the freezer with another batch of flat breads and lots and lots of stock. Finally, some excess broccoli from the garden was blanched and frozen – the very fact that I’ve had EXCESS broccoli is worthy of celebration.
We’ve continued on reducing electricity, but we do slip occasionally and forget to turn off lights or leave the computer on. We’ve also been trying to keep the meat meals down to just a few times a week, or just a little bit of meat in a dish rather than being the main player. Obviously the ribs we’ve enjoyed don’t fit this category so well. I think the biggest challenge here is finding new vegetarian recipes that the family are happy to eat. Probably the best one I made in the last month was the roasted vegetable frittata, which was especially good given that in also used home grown vegetables.
Our solar panels were finally installed and then later switched on this month. This was very exciting! We have ten panels on the west side of the house now, I’ll be interested to see how much power they generate. We just need to get some more sunny days. Along with the solar panels we also got a power monitor which tracks how much electricity is being used at any given time. I haven’t yet worked out quite how to program this, a goal for next month, but it should help to get our usage down to our goal of 10k/w a day.
Despite the fact that it is mid-winter I have continued to plant out some seedlings, from seeds I got for free last month. I’ve added some radishes and carrots to the root vegetable bed (I was going to plant the tomatoes here but I think I’ll need to find somewhere else as the bed won’t be ready in time), some Russian Kale, quick maturing cabbages, some Chinese cabbage and some pak choy. In the last few days of July I finally got around to setting up the seedling tray and mini hothouse to plant my tomatoes, capsicums, eggplants and lettuce seeds. I was determined to get a head start on these as I had so much trouble getting the capsicums and eggplants to germinate last year and the tomatoes went in too late so didn’t produce as much as they should have. I have them inside, in a sunny window and the lettuce have already popped their heads through. These will go out much earlier than the rest, this time in a big pot. The last thing I planted was some coriander which I have on the kitchen window sill and it’s doing very well, probably because it gets a bit more attention being right in front of me while I do the dishes. I must say having something growing, living and green inside is very nice.
Aside from what been planted the harvest have been getting bigger and more exciting too. We’ve had lots of broccoli and there’s still quite a bit in the garden (though all the really big heads have been picked). I’ve pulled some carrots and parsnips and the last of the first planting of turnips. The silverbeet has continued soldiering along, the parsley and rosemary are unstoppable and the mint has come out of dormancy and is growing much better now. The thyme is still pretty quite and small. The peas have been a bit disappointing, only producing enough for snacks as I work in the garden.
While my goal of a granny square a night eluded me, I am still quite slow and there are many nights that I don’t have the chance to even pick it up, I have managed to make something of a start to my blanket. I’ve been making solid colour squares with a dark grey edge to begin with, There will be four of these for each of the four colours and the rest of the squares will be multi-coloured. I saw a picture in a magazine of a rug using this kind of combination, so I hope I can re-create it from memory (it was in the doctors waiting room, I should have torn the page out to bring home).
My discoveries have been mostly work related, catching up on the latest in education initiatives and trying to get my head around new ideas, computer programs and an unfamiliar Year 8 Geography curriculum.
Lots of farmer’s market shopping and chatting with the producers. I especially love talking to the farmers producing meat, finding out about how they raise they’re animals and hearing the passion they have for their animals. It makes eating meat so much more enjoyable.
July is our month for birthdays (well actually January and February are pretty crowded with celebrations too) including my own. Mr Good and I certainly ENJOYED our meal at The Press Club which I wrote about here. After writing that review and thinking even more about the menu, I decided to write to them firstly to thank them for such a magnificent meal, but more importantly to suggest they take the swordfish (an endangered species) off their menu. They sent me a very thoughtful reply, I hope they follow through. We also had a great time with the extended family at my grandfather’s 90th (I share his birthday, as does one of his other grand-daughters).
And finally, while the majority of my garden is dedicated to food production, I have planted a few bulbs some of which have started flowering. After Miss Three pulled the head off the very first flower, I thought I would be better off picking the next ones and bring them inside. They are sitting on my kitchen window so I can enjoy them while I cook, prepare breakfasts and lunches and do the dishes. They certainly put a smile on my face and Miss Three thinks they’re pretty great too, especially the one pink one.
And that brings us to a close for the July wrap up. I can’t believe it is already August! Linking up with Slow Living Essentials, where lots of others have added their slow month summaries.