Oh, Nature! You make me smile with your wackiness

oh, carrots!


oh, carrots!



Forget about the damned zombies ….

music to read by :: Bread and Circuses (Billy Bragg)



It’s a zucchini apocalypse here at casa vassal.

If these things get much bigger I will have to find the machete and go to town in a whole lob off their heads and make some zombie bread kinda way. Only … I’m not too sure if zucchinis have heads. Sure, their flowers do, but we are waaaaay past containment here, and are into full blown zombie takeover.

er … I mean …

zucchini takeover.

Gotta Run Zucchini Bread

In a large bowl, mix 3 cups shredded zucchini, 1 cup sugar, 2tbs molasses + oil to  make 2/3 cups, 2 tsp vanilla, and four eggs.

Sift together 3 cups flour, 2tsp baking soda, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tsp all spice, 1/2 tsp baking power. Add this to the wet mixture and stir, stir stir.

Chop up a bunch (7? 10?) dates, add, stir some more.

Pour into two greased bread pans (or, you know, 4 mini pans, muffin tins, whatever – but adjust the baking time accordingly) and bake for 50-60 minutes in an oven preheated to 350.

Now, honestly, I never measure the zucchini and I find my bread takes a wee bit longer to cook, due to its moisture content.

But it’s well worth it.

((note to self :: take out your damn camera and stop taking pictures with your phone. k? thx. love, me))


My thumb is turning a light shade of green!

2012 has been designated the year I become less dependant on society to accomplish my day to day. I don’t mean in a “can you drive me to the store” kind of dependant, but more in the “can you teach me how to change my bike tire so I can do it in the future”, kind of way.

It is also my year to live a more sustainable and frugal life.

Sustainable, in this case,  can be defined as

– pertaining to a system that maintains its own viability by using techniques that allow for continual reuse: sustainable agriculture;
– able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds: a sustainable life

And frugal as

– economical in use or expenditure; prudently saving or sparing; not wasteful;
– able to be supported as with the basic necessities or sufficient funds: a sustainable life

Challenging myself (and therefore my family) to a whole food “diet” has been part of this lifestyle change, as it forces us to purchase foods of one ingredient and for multiple purposes. But I think this challenge falls mostly to the frugal side of things (and healthy. let’s not forget healthy)

For sustainability, I’ve started looking at what I *do* with some of these whole/real foods once I’ve prepared a meal, with the big kick in the head coming when I started planning my garden.

I want to expand my garden this year, to include more foods we eat, both in the ground and in containers. So in March, I started making a list of the plants and seeds I wanted to buy. Then I made dinner and found myself scraping seeds and such into the compost.



Yeah. I’m a city girl …..

yellow peppersAfter banging my head against the counter for a time, I dug into the compost and pulled out some seeds. Then I wandered around, planting the seeds into already existing indoor pots – it was still winter here.

As you can see, my peppers, mentioned in a previous post, have poked their heads even higher and are almost ready for transplant. I’ll separate them out in the coming weeks and nurse them along. I think these will be container plants so I can attempt to over winter them. The jalopeno plant wintered indoors and seems ok, but we will see if it fruits.

I also channeled my inner kid and dug out the egg cartons. A few weeks later and I have quite a few tomatoes (I think they are roma) greeting the sun.

Depending on how many sprout, I will spread them between containers and ground. Last year I managed to keep a cherry tomato fruiting indoors until the new year.

I’m not sure why it took me so long to use my already existing seeds. The past has always found me wandering the garden stores picking up seedlings and transplanting them at home. It has been expensive and not very sustainable – unless, of course, you own the garden store!

My latest “duh” moment came while staring at my green onions. I use a fair bit of green onions making our flavoured yoghurt cheese, and they sit on the shelf on the fridge wilting and looking sad.

Now, they are stored in a jar of water, on my kitchen window sill and just keep regenerating. I’ve been working off of the same bunch for a few weeks now, and they are tasty! I just change the water every few days. I’ve also stuck a few in dirt (inside) to see what happens. Will they  multiply? No idea. City girl, remember.

I’m feeling a bit more “with it” now, in regards to my garden and how to sustain it. I’m looking at our foods closely, deciding if I want to harvest the seeds and try growing the item. I’m also planning a potato bed and an onion container, and am trying to decide if I want to seed potatoes on hand (they are organic), or just buy the seed potatoes and go from there.

Either way. I’m pretty happy that some of my city brain has moved over to allow a bit more gardener room. Hopefully together, they will figure out how to use this city lot to it’s best potential.


Ok. Who are you and what have you done with March

Buddha enjoying his early greens

Well, I don’t know what the weather is like in your neck of the woods, but around casa vassal, it’s summer.

The only problem with that is, it is not summer. It is spring.


And spring in Ottawa, usually means still winter.

Yesterday’s temperature topped out around 27 degrees celsius (80.6F), with a “feels like” of 31 (87.8F). Today is to be much of the same, with a chance of rain.

Lilies taking a peek at March

In fact, all week has been in the mid to high twenties and sunny, sunny, sunny.

The point of all being, my garden is very confused. I’ve been out all week, cleaning up the leaves and dog poo, dragging out patio furniture, and hanging the laundry outside.

I’m fully convinced it will snow again, or that I am in some nice drug induced sleep where it is summer all year ’round.

My yard is convinced spring has sprung and is months behind in it’s growing schedule and must catch up.

strawberry plants!

Next week is supposed to be more seasonal, but still between 6-10 degrees (43-50F) and sunny. Shorts weather, practically, if you are 9.

My daughter is estactic.

the honeysuckle is leafing!

I, however, am worried. If we do get any serious frost, or a heavy snow fall, that could be it for my garden.

The indoor plants are doing also doing well; probably due to the over abundance of sun and warmth.

sprouted from just eaten orange peppers

sprouted lemon seed

the lemongrass has rooted!

avocado sprout

How is your garden doing? Any surprises this year?


so. with a winter snowfall warning in effect

While the end of February may not seem like a good time to discuss the garden and what food stuff I plan to put away in the fall, it is. It really is. February is the time I can make crazy plans in my head without worrying about the need to jump into action come the weekend. February also gives me three long months in which change these plans, search for items to repurpose for planting containers, and to decide which plants in the house will go to summer camp. Yes, three months. In Ottawa one shouldn’t really consider putting things into the ground until mid to late May. Yeah. May. (Why do I live here?) Then there is the fact that I live all urban, leaving me with not much space to plant. But I do well with what I have, if I do say so myself. …..

Louisa, over at The Really Good Life , asked what garden plans one might have this week, and my only answer can be, none. Nope. Nada, Zilch. No gardening for me. It has started snowing again and we are expecting 15 centimetres, or so. I can’t even wrap my brain around the idea, not even if I had a green house. (which I totally would had I the space)

But that doesn’t mean I don’t garden on a “small, indoor sense”.

Because, you see, I do seeds.

But not in the “let’s start my plants indoors” way.

avocado plant

1 year old avocado plant, started from seed

In the “hey! look, I have a pile of seeds left over from eating dates!” way.

So, this week, I’ve planted 6 date seeds, 3 avocados, and a handful of pepper seeds.

I also took this time to poke and feed my existing avocado plants, all of which (about 4) will head to summer camp this year.

Summer camp, when I drag my tropical or food plants outside to the porch, deck, or garden until mid-September. Summer camp, the time that sees the most growth in the previous mentioned plants. Summer camp, the time that gave me a 6.5 foot banana plant. Continue reading