I'm going to bed now. Really I am. It's almost midnight, I'm very rarely up this late.
But before bed, first a ridiculous amount of photos of our day. It started slow, at home. There was some computer stuff (working, reading and listening). There was some swimming. There was even naps.
Then we hit the town. Discovering areas we haven't been and taking in the sights and sounds of The Montréal Jazz Festival. When we came home, hours later and past bedtimes, we had another swim to cool off from the heat of the day.
Summer. It was delicious.
If you ever have the chance to visit Montréal in the summer, you should run, not walk to that chance. I really had no idea how much awaited our family here. And there was so much that we left unexplored, undiscovered. Another time.
I have one more post of Montréal photos. I'll be posting those in the next couple days from my new home in the woods, where I will be living another reality entirely. I'll meet you there.
Last weekend my auntie and uncle, who live on the west coast, had work obligations in the city of Montréal. It was very serendipitous that we happened to be living here for the month and could connect with them one afternoon. We don't see our west coast relations very often.
In addition to eating gelato and hanging out in the old port for the afternoon, auntie brought gifts (I've never been a very good auntie in this regard).
A total surprise for me was this bag, made by my grandma.
I've talked before about my grandma's creative gifts in my life. I was thrilled with the totally unexpected bag my auntie delivered from my grandma.
The photos here don't do it justice but it's such a clever design. By simply pulling the handle strap the bag closes up and takes a perfect shape for toting around.
I've used it all this week, when I'm traveling by car, for carrying my wallet, keys, phone, knitting, etc. (My poor knitting, that's another story. I totally messed up a couple rows back and I have some serious unraveling and stitch counting to do.)
I still prefer my backpack for taking the Metro and spending the day out on the town. But this bag is such a perfect size for out and about. I think it will be a great grocery trip bag, beach bag.
Thank you Grandma, I love it!
Update: My Grandma emailed me and shared that she has made 23 of these to date. 23! And only two have been the same color. I've seen my mom's, which has a green color scheme. My Grandma is so talented and creative. And she's doing all this in her eighties!
My parents are visiting us these last few days. As "luck" would have it I'm also "under the weather". I can't say I'm full blown sick but my body is definitely fighting something and is telling me to rest, as much as possible. A tad scratchy throat, blowing my nose and more tired than usual. Bummer eh?
We're all feeling this way. Not my parents thankfully, but the five of us. The worst hit is Brienne, as the youngest she always gets the sickest whenever the family has a bug.
She's still building her immunity, at least that's my theory. Or perhaps she has a more compromised immune system than the rest of us. I have wondered about that possibility as she has the most bodily aches and pains of the whole crew also. Which isn't much to begin with but it's noticeable when everyone is otherwise very robust. But that is a discussion for another day.
Right now we're feeling a little worn out (it's been a fun month!) with less than two days left of our month in Montréal.
I think we'll be feeling energetic enough though by tomorrow to hit downtown, maybe even take in a bit of the Jazz Festival.
I want to enjoy these last moments to the maximum but I'm ready now to return to the woods, the rivers, the mountains and the Baie des Chaleur. I got an e-mail from the farm this week that our basket pick up starts next Thursday.
It's time to go home.
But oh how I will miss this vibrant, gorgeous, stone and brick building city. The walk-up apartments with spiraling staircases, front yard gardens overflowing. The bicyclists everywhere, taking over the streets. Festivals, every day a festival. And the simple pleasures of backyard pools and urban markets.
What I won't miss - traffic on the main highways, the expenses of city life (parking, metro tickets etc), road construction, bureaucracy (we are finishing our health insurance application and child tax credit applications here).
It's been a fabulous month. What started as a time of being homeless (in between chalet rentals) turned into a city experience for our family. I am so grateful for this fabulous time with my family.
One of the most common questions I get from readers is "how do I encourage my children to be creative?" One of the ways I've encouraged creativity in our home is by stocking the shelves with supplies. When I've mentioned this, people want to know, "what supplies?"This is my second post in a two part series answering that question.
I did our weekly produce run yesterday at Sami Fruits. A major wholesaler and retailer of fruits and vegetables located in the Montréal area. Definitely not organic or local, but oh man is it cheap. And cheap fruits and veggies are a nice change. (The photos in this post are not from this discount produce market but from Jean-Talon.)
I used to have this idea, back when the kids were little and I was not working outside (or inside) our home for pay, that when I started working and earning money it would help towards the "extras". Now that I'm starting to contribute to the family finances I realize any extra I earn simply goes to help buy the groceries.
I don't talk grocery budget numbers on FIMBY because my grocery spending would make all the tightwads feel superior to me, which is funny since I'm quite frugal but I just can't cut our groceries anymore without significantly adjusting our diet (which I'm not willing to do). Or it would make all you readers with young ones cry at how much it costs to feed a growing family. It just seems discouraging all around. Who wants to bemoan my grocery spending anyway? Not me.
But I will tell you that yesterday I spent ninety dollars for one week's worth of produce for our family. This is at discounted prices (romaine lettuce for .50 a head!) and no organics. This does not include the frozen veggies and fruits I'll buy at the regular grocery store - maybe another twenty bucks per week. I spend more on frozen food in the winter but I spend less on fresh fruit then also, so it balances out.
We always eat more fresh fruit in the summer. Our bodies crave it and there is so much more available. The grocery spending climbs a bit higher as we feast on nectarines, peaches, cherries, plums and watermelon. We each eat 3 to 5 fruits a day (this does not include vegetables) so what I spend on one week's worth of produce is what some families spent on their whole grocery bill. I've seen those blog posts, "how I spend only $100 per week on groceries" or whatever.
Thank goodness I'm starting to earn some income is all I can say. Our son has reached the "hungry all the time" stage. A bottomless pit.
When we go back home to the Gaspé peninsula our farm share will start, but that will be only veggies and I'm guessing not that much. I joined the farm because I believe in community and local agriculture and where I live, farm "baskets" (as they call them) are the best way to buy organic. (There is no Whole Foods or any other store like that.) I'll still be buying the lion's share of our produce at the local grocery store. But unfortunately it won't be at the prices I've gotten used to in Montréal.
Comparing grocery spending is a contentious issue (I don't want to go there). Where you live really plays a big role in your grocery budet. All those metropolitan area shoppers (I'm one this month) who can access discount food stores etc. can't relate to those living in rural areas where there's one or two grocery stores and that's the prices you get. It's not apples to apples.
Also, people have different eating priorities and values. What's good for my family might not work for yours and vice versa. I have struggled with this for years, which is why I don't read frugal food blogs - their food values do not reflect my own and I end up feeling inadequate and insecure as a homemaker. If we absolutely had to we could eat only cabbage, beans and rice. And then I too could write a cheap food blog. But that's not my reality and so FIMBY remains a "groceries sure cost a lot of money" blog.
Anything you'd like to share about food costs? Or summer eating in general?
PS. When I posted earlier today, I forget to share this link about why we eat so many fruits and veggies. We believe in the message of good health and abundant life. Watch Dave & Cathy's video for a feel good story of the best kind. Bon Appetit!
There's been a definite shift in our routine, since being in the city, in order to satisfy the kids' need for activity and adventure. Most notably, I'm taking the kids on a lot of outings.
At home we don't go out a whole lot. We're mostly homebodies. When the kids are antsy we boot them out the door for a couple hours and try to exhaust them with long weekly hikes (the older they get the harder it is to exhaust them).
Head over to Outsideways to read the rest of this post.
Still here... speaking of exhaustion, I'm totally beat this morning from our one day trip to Vermont yesterday. We left at 6:30 am, spent the day doing fun stuff with great friends in the unseasonably hot and humid heat, took an unintended detour through rural Vermont on the drive back, and finally got home at 11:30 pm.
Today I need to wash some seriously sweat-stinky clothes, buy more fruit (oh we eat so much fruit in the heat) and do some breathing in. Mostly, I need to chill - quite literally. It's hot!
And speaking of Outsideways - Damien and I are rebranding and relaunching our adventure blog. The process will be complete sometime in July.
We're working with a design team right now to create a logo. Damien's been doing all the back end, web development work - a name change, upgrading our theme, cleaning up the code on all the content.
I have been painstakingly reading and editing every old post to format them for the new theme and updating categories to create better resource pages. I'm not nearly done what I have to do.
It's a lot of work but when it's done we'll have a better site. Which is good because we have some big dreams and goals for Outsideways. Which I'll be sharing more of this summer.
Outsideways is still very much a work in progress. (Like everything in my life.) The categories are in transition, I'm tweaking the look and feel, and the logo is still being designed, but we're getting there. And when I read posts like this I feel gratified about the work we're doing to encourage families to get outdoors.
I'd love to connect with you at Outsideways. We have a Facebook page and you can follow us on Twitter. I'll let you all know when the site "launches" with the new logo. In the meantime, head over if you're looking for some summer time family outdoors inspiration.
And now I'm off to join my kids for a swim. After spending yesterday in the hot and humid Green Mountains we're spending this hot summer day poolside.
We're headed to Vermont today for a fortieth birthday celebration with good friends. Happy Birthday Damien!
Our friends are driving from New Hampshire, we're driving from Montréal. It's been over one year since we saw them last and we can't wait to connect face to face again. Facebook, twitter and blogs are fine but not the same as hanging out in person.
I'm writing up a storm these days in the morning hours - a shoe review (coming to Toe Salad soon), edits on my salad e-book, a sponsored craft post coming next week. Trying to get some writing projects wrapped up before my parents visit next week and our move back home to the Gaspé.
I was going through my photo program looking for photos to go with all this writing and came across these sunset shots from last August.
Oh, I do love this craft of photography! And I love summer.
Thought these sunsets paired nicely with these food shots.
Nature and nourishing - two huge themes in my life.
Aren't the reds and purples (and orange, yellow, pink, blue, green, etc. ) of summer simply glorious?
I haven't been publishing much about homeschool these days but there's definitely stuff going on behind the scenes. I'm hoping after we move back to the Gaspé I will wrap up our elementary homeschool curriculum series (I've only been writing that series for almost two years).
This summer I also plan to share our experience with dyslexia and the freedom of writing to communicate (vs. using a writing curriculum).
I'm also scheming a homeschool coaching sale for summer and a rewrite of my coaching page, with testimonials. I'm kind of embarrassed to share all the nice things people write about my coaching. Why is it so hard to share our strengths with the world?
In the meantime, check out Sarah Small's Carnival of Homeschooling, the Summer Fun Edition. She's pulled together a lot of good homeschool links which should keep you busy for a while. Like you need to be more busy, right?
As promised, I have a little video for you this morning. Video is something I'd like to get more experienced with.
I love talking communicating and interacting with people. And I have so much I want to share, video seems to work well for this but I need more practice so I can speed up the workflow.
In this video I show you a simple trick I've been using this month while living in Montréal - how I spin our lettuce dry without a salad spinner. This is not life changing knowledge, but it's fun and practical.
If you've watched the video you know I have a new e-book coming out about eating large salads, specifically eating a meal sized salad as a regular part of your diet.
For years, on and off, we've been eating salad, as the meal, for our lunch. In this last year though we got serious about our salad and we now consistently eat a salad meal nearly every day. This e-book is about how we went from sandwichs to salads, making it work in your own life and of course, dressing recipes. Because what's a salad without a good dressing?
What makes these recipes unique though is that they are whole food.
No oil, a miniscule amount of refined sweetners (there's one tablespoon of maple syrup in one). Made with ingredients you can source where you live, ie: no plum or fig vinegars.
These are recipes for vibrant health and I created them with your family in mind. It's no joke when I say I'm excited about writing and releasing this e-book. Something as simple as switching one meal a day to a salad (How the heck do you do that? Ah, I wrote a book to answer that!) has huge health benefits. I want to share that with you.
Back to the salad spinner for a moment. I have to give credit where credit is due for where I first saw this idea. Two years ago I had a brief e-mail converstaion with Rachel Meeks of Small Notebook about salad spinners. Mine died and I think I might have mentioned it on her blog in comments. I was not keen to add more plastic to my kitchen.
I tried the idea but it didn't work well for me. There was water all over the kitchen. I wrote Rachel back and said:
Well I tried it and it was good in theory... but left water droplets all over the fridge, the table, the floor. When Damien saw me he insisted "we really must buy a spinner, want me to look on-line?"
We bought a replacement plastic salad spinner that I use almost every day - when I'm living at home. But like I share in this video, I'm not living at home right now, I'm living in a furnished apartment rental this month sans salad spinner.
Katie's idea came back to me and I tried it again, this time with a cloth bag and outside. Works like a charm.
PS. If you're wondering why I'm writing on my photos, I'm experimenting with making certain posts more "pin-able" at Pinterest. If you want to pin this post on one of your boards use the Pinterest button below and then choose the lettuce photo. It makes it clear what the pin is about. I've noticed other bloggers doing this so I'm trying it. Don't worry, not every post will have a photo like that, I find them kind of annoying - just show me a pretty photo.
Also, if you notice something awry at FIMBY - page links not working, commenting giving you grief, whatever - I would love to hear about it. I appreciate constructive feedback so I can make your experience here more enjoyable.
And yes, you were right, at least in part. That creepy mugshot is a before photo of my oil pulling experiment. I started a couple weeks ago. In the coming months I hope to talk about what natural herbs and techniques I'm doing to take care of my teeth.
There's something about nearing forty with no dental insurance that makes a person really want to take good care of their teeth. Enough to even try oil pulling. I'll let you know how it goes.
No one got the answer spot on and explicitly said this was a before shot. My teeth are more stained in real life. That wasn't captured in the photo, which pretty much makes it useless as a before shot.
I'm taking all the closest oil pulling answers and draw a winner from that.
PS. My twitter feed is on the sidebar at FIMBY and you don't have to do twitter to follow it, just check the blog a couple times a day (teasing, though you're welcome multiple and many times each day!) I post a lot of interesting links this way as well as totally random and useless information about my life.
I have some exciting news to share tomorrow and a little video even, in which I show you how you can exercise while preparing food. You'll have to wait and see. I guess it's ok after all that the weekend is over. Tomorrow's going to be good day and the start of good week. We're going to Vermont this week! For Damien's birthday.
PS. If a whole bunch of you guess the right answer I'll draw a name. If you already have my book I'll give you a gift code for a friend or you can wait till my next e-book is out in a few weeks (more on that Monday) and I'll give you a copy of that instead.
PPS. I'm going to close this "contest" the end of Sunday, June 17th.