Training to Live

living and learning, one day at a time

week at the farm

i had an extra long labour day weekend because of my work schedule and since we’d planned to have a bunch of friends up to the cottage that weekend anyway (the cottage is about a 3 hour drive away from here), we figured we’d make an entire week of it. as luck would have it, the weather didn’t really cooperate. it was cold and rainy all weekend long. after our friends left and we enjoyed the one sunny/warm day there was going to be, jon and i hightailed it to his parents’ farm, about 30 minutes away from their cottage, for the rest of the week. although the farm isn’t home for me, it sure feels like it.


we didn’t have the relaxing week we originally planned (thanks, weather), it was wonderful to be at the farm anyway, as always. we ate loads of good super fresh, local food, worked hard at putting veggies away in the freezer for the winter [a great big pot of ultra veggified pasta sauce (which i'm calling my 500 metre sauce, since everything we put in it came from within 500 metres of the kitchen we cooked it in!, 2 gallons of crushed/stewed tomatoes for making chili with this week (and oh what chili we made this week!!! at least 17 quarts put away in the freezer), and a bushel of red peppers chopped up and frozen]. we went to a small town country fair, played with kittens, watched movies (and napped) and it was good.


i think this photo (taken on my iphone with the super fun ShakeIt app) really captures the beauty of the country (big open blue sky), fall, and the colourful energy of the fair. shortly after i took this, i proceeded to eat a big bag of cotton candy. ohhhhh was my tummy ever not happy about that! (it was certainly enjoyable to eat, however). i’d never been happier to see vegetables again.

we came back to regular-old-at-home life for a week, but come monday, the craziness begins again. i am flying off to the great city of winnipeg for a work conference and then immediately after i come back, i have a half marathon to run! my training over the last few weeks has been pretty abysmal (i blame the weather again.) i’m sure i’ll make it through, even if not super quickly! i’ve been to winnipeg once before, but only very briefly (i flew into their airport and had lunch at a quizno’s before driving out northwest to a wedding. not so exciting) so i’m hoping to have a bit of exploration time.


in other, more creative news, i have been working on a lot of projects, art and otherwise. sadly nothing concrete to share yet though! in august i got an email about a super fun sounding workshop that one of my favourite bloggers (elise) was running on how to make minibooks (like a scrapbook but on a smaller physical scale {hence the “mini”} and with a much more casual concentrated or super stretched out approach). my dining table is covered in all kinds of fun new supplies so i can start making and doing. the workshop was 2 weeks long and i learned tons of neat tricks and ideas.

also, another favourite blogger (kal) is running a different kind of workshop right now, which i am also signed up for. it is called “nurture your creativity and be bulletproof”. i’ve been through a bunch of stuff at work over the past year and a half that i really could have been a bit more bulletproof for (who couldn’t!) so i figured the class would be more than useful just for that. the nurturing my creativity bit is a bonus and pairs perfectly with elise’s class that just wrapped up. i am really looking forward to the next 4 weeks!


last month i finally joined the twenty-first century and ditched my ultra crappy super old pay as you go plan cellphone, which had a battery that only lasted a day (without use) and no other redeeming features (which meant that it was usually left at home, battery uncharged, with no paid time on it! not so useful). i bit the bullet and got an iphone4 (expensive but SO LOVELY), which i guess i was lucky enough to score right when they were released to canada – everyone is out of stock now. having the internet in my pocket has made things so fun and easy! i plan to do a lot more on the fly adventure blogging, once i find a good app for this. any recommendations? i’m signed up for posterous, so i might go that route, but it would have to be separate from Training to Live here. the wordpress app has left me unimpressed (photos only at the end of the text? no thanks!).

other favourite apps so far:

teuxdeux (amazing amazing. i went through a whole bunch of to do type apps before i settled on this one. i love that you can have multiple accounts. and that it automatically pushes everything you didn’t do today onto tomorrow. i also love that you can go back and see what you did on any given day. and that you can assign tasks into any day in the future). also it automatically syncs with the web version, so you can enter everything on your computer at home and have it with you on the go.

doodle jump – super fun and a great game to play when you’re staying put for a bit. i just downloaded tetris for an alternative for my upcoming trips.

shakeIt – just like your old favourite polaroids

mobile banking

mindbody (so i know what yoga classes are being offered where, RIGHT NOW). i’ve been missing from yoga since june and i’ve made a pledge to myself to try and get to class at least once or twice a week.

starbucks (mostly to seek out free wifi. when i was in chicago last month and didn’t have roaming data, i discovered that just being in the vicinity of a starbucks would give me the internet. it was awesome. plus, you never know when you’ll need a pumpkin spice fix! this is good for being in new cities). also, for newbs to the ‘bucks, you can create your own drinks!

alarm clock pro – my alarm clock that i’ve used for the last 5 years recently stopped working (sort of) and i have since been trying to find a good replacement that wouldn’t set me back a ton of money. i came up short. until the day i decided to try out alarm clock pro, for the low low price of 0.99$, it is everything i’ve ever wanted in an alarm clock without a) having to spend a ton of money and b) adding more crap to my night stand. perfect.

and of course, tweetdeck. i still heart twitter!

what apps do you go to?

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September 18, 2010 at 8:51 am Comments (9)

celebrating life!

yesterday we attended the funeral of a 24 year old young woman. heart heavy sadness. as with funerals (and weddings), it brought a lot of family together, and i did have the chance to meet many wonderful people from jon’s side. if only the circumstances were lighter… it was a nice service, anyway, and though i never had the chance to meet melanie during her all-too-short life, it seemed to do her spirit right. many happy memories were shared.


jon’s parents sent us home with a trunkload of farm goods: a big bag of yellow and green beans, a sack of new potatoes, beets, zukes, a jar of blueberries and a big basket of red tomatoes. my own little garden patch is bountiful (even a little out of control) with tomatoes, peppers and varied herbs (basil, mostly). i decided that a big pot of pasta sauce would be a delicious way to use up many of the tomatoes and some other vegetables and be a great excuse to try out my newest toy: (whilst at the same time, crossing one thing off of my mighty life list, which i know, i haven’t quite posted my own yet. it’s coming)


the pasta express! it has 12 different attachments for all kinds of different shapes to extrude. it even does pretzels, bagels, and extrusion cookies!

jon’s sister was cleaning up her house last weekend and getting rid of unnecessary clutter. for some reason, this lovely pasta maker fell into that category for her. i happily took it off her hands, since i’ve been wanting to make pasta myself for ages now AND it’s an easy item on the list to cross off! hooray for fun, new (free!) appliances.


making pasta sauce from scratch is fun, but it can get pretty messy! i basically used this recipe.


first you have to score the tomatoes, so they are easier to peel. i used a mix of romas from my garden, littlish rounds (also from my garden) and the big rounds from the farm. although my plants originally came from the farm, the tomatoes that stayed seem to have grown much bigger!

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blanch for a few seconds and dunk in ice water before peeling

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squeeze the seeds and goop out into the compost and squish the flesh

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onions are required. i don’t like them much, but they cooked long enough to not be noticable.

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basil from the yard along with a few cloves of garlique.

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cook down and add tomato

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add a bit of alcohol. wine is good, but i didn’t have any, so i went with a splash of fortified and then i simmered my sauce.


we took a break to visit a nearby farmer’s market for some fruit.
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then it was pasta time!

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i sadly don’t seem to have any pictures of the plated meal. i guess we ate everything up too quickly! the pasta was delicious. it’s hard for me to say whether or not it is better than bought, since i am obviously biased, but jon seemed to really enjoy it a lot! there will be much more experimenting with this in the future. much more.



this is part of our veggie patch (before we finished weeding!!!) taken back in may. tomorrow i will try to get a picture of it now so you can see just how crazy the situation is. i literally have tomatoes coming out of my ears, and those pepper and basil plants in the foreground have been engulfed. my vegetables are a great source of happiness in my life right now.


bike race tomorrow and a 60th anniversary party!

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August 7, 2010 at 8:51 pm Comments (28)

what i carried home on my bike, part I

this has become a bit of a running joke in my office, and i feel like i should make it into a regular blog feature. every thursday (from june to october) at the park up the street from work, there is a little farmer’s market.  i love it and have talked about it here. as i mentioned,  i have a bit of a problem and usually tend to buy more than i need AND more than what i can manage to get home since i either walk/bus or ride my bike. this problem becomes exacerbated in the fall, during winter squash season. squash are big and heavy!

squash aren’t the only things challenging to get home though – summer fruits, while not as cumbersomely large and heavy are pretty fragile and prone to being squished.

this photo is actually from market a week and a half ago (asparagus season is sadly finished now)

my two panniers contained the following:

  • bike lock (cable + combination lock; i leave a U lock at work)
  • pair of shoes (the black flip flops)
  • bike fixing stuff (tube, co2 cartridges, tire levers, etc)
  • 2 pairs of capris (one from my morning bike ride and one from wearing at work)
  • 1 zip up jacket
  • the shirt I was wearing at work during the day
  • various toiletries (comb, deoderant, etc)
  • 1 big head of lettuce
  • 2 bundles of asparagus
  • 1 litre (maybe more?) of small cucumbers
  • 1 quart of strawberries
  • 1 quart of cherries
  • 1 rosemary plant
  • 1 lavender plant
  • 1 large peashoot plant
  • 1 tupperware of cheese
  • my wallet
  • bike gloves (it was too hot to wear them on the ride home)


in other news, i went for a 3K run in my vibrams yesterday and HOLY COW my calves are feelin’ it today. 3K was probably longer than i should have gone for, given that my last “barefoot” run was only 2K long and that was more than 2 months ago. i plan to try and use them more for actual running lots this summer (i mostly just wear them as walking/around town shoes). my next real race isn’t until mid-late august, so i think i’m going to ease off of serious training for a little while.

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June 29, 2010 at 7:36 am Comments (5)

good eats

i did lots of cooking this weekend (and lots of eating!) and not lots of picture taking. oops. everything was food-blog-sourced and quite delicious.

1) hangry pants’ twice baked acorn squash

i used fresh spinach instead of frozen, added chickpeas for protein, extra cheese (a mix of mozz and cheddar). it was good. a for sure make again.

2) kath’s nutty vanilla kale sweet potato soup

i used fresh spinach instead of kale and skipped the shredded coconut garnish. we love this soup and i had some leftover giant sweet potatoes from the apple farm a few weeks ago to use up. 1 potato was 2 pounds and made at least 4 servings of soup. whoa! perfect for the dreary day we had here.

served them with some of alton brown’s buttermilk biscuits, that i had whipped up for breakfast.

3) make it fast, cook it slow – 365 days of crockpotting slow cooker beef bourguignon (adapted from julia childs)

i had a blade roast in the freezer that we got from jon’s uncle’s farm (grass fed, free range yumminess! happy cows are the best). blade roast isn’t a super tender piece of meat so we decided that a long, slow cook in the crock pot would be just right. we left it whole, but i think cubing it up would have been better. the meat was still a little tough at the end. it was tasty though! i thickened the sauce on the stove and cubed up the leftovers for a hearty stew for tomorrow, over my leftover garlic mashed potatoes. i made my own herbs de provence mix, which i have decided i need to make more of! we still have many cuts of beef to eat through.

i also made some of kath’s maple roasted brussels sprouts to which i added some bacon (for extra porky magic) for vitamins.

for dessert, to use up the last of my last half bushel of apples (i got a new bag on friday. HONEYCRIPS!!! jon is awesome. have i mentioned?) i decided to make a big apple crisp. i remembered that we had tried this one last year and it was great (though, everything i get from URB is great!): apple cranberry crisp.

i had cranberries in the freezer. popped it in the oven just as we started supper and it was ready when we were done. we didn’t have any tonight though because jon’s friend sent home these two fancy pastry/cake things home for us from a bakery. i failed to take any pictures, but they were beautiful! bits of gold leaf writing on chocolate, thin slices of crushed-nut brittle, etc. i sent jon home with half the crisp, but i have some for me to enjoy tomorrow!

food blogs rock!

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November 15, 2009 at 10:33 pm Comment (1)

a royal affair

we woke up early this morning to drive downtown for a fun, unique event: the toronto royal agricultural winter fair. i’ve never been to an agricultural fair, and the toronto winter one is the biggest in the country. holy cow, it was cool. there were tons of animals, lots of interesting farm innovations/initiatives, crazy vegetables and lots and lots of people.

the reason for going was to see jon’s cousin amy participate in the 4H junior beef hereford heifer show. although we did get to see her in the parade of 4Hers, we did not catch her showing. the rest of the family is going to be there to see her tomorrow, so hopefully we’ll have more pictures.


we also had to stop by to see our friend jasmin at her energrow booth with the soybean press that energrow designs and sells. the oil can power diesel engines and the meal that comes out of the other end of the press can be used as a feed supplement to increase farm animals’ protein intake. i’ve seen jasmin take her company from a small idea that started on one of her coop terms when she decided she wanted her own business to this big, very real thing. it’s pretty awesome.

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this is a bunch of different beans/seeds that they ran through the press to produce different oils: canola, sunflower, soybean, mustard and flax




these vegetables made me rethink the hugeness of my squash from yesterday! holy wow. 1236 lbs of squash?? this makes 10 lbs look teensy weensy


cutest thing ever. boy lying down for a rest with his cow. you don’t see things like this in the city.

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cute animals

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two of the coolest things ever: bacon biodiesel (from the cigi biodiesel trailer) and an ipod powered by poop! (cow poop, that is. the only one of its kind!)

there was a bull that reminded me of a wild thing (from the movie)


we had a great day. i got to see some rodeo events – real cowgirls riding their horses super fast around poles and barrels and bull riding, which is just insane.

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being a farmer is cool. and. farmers feed cities! don’t forget that.

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November 8, 2009 at 10:51 pm Comment (1)

what do you do with over 10 lbs of squash?

a lot, that’s what.

(warning: very orangey post ahead. i got at least a week’s worth of beta caratene today)

this squash was twice as big as my head! it dwarfed the squash at the grocery store- they looked like miniature toy breeds. my squash was a manly man squash. i have two more, just like it!


it was $2 from the apple orchard we frequent in waterloo. my favourite farmer from my farmer’s market told me he plants squash in the rows between his fruit trees, so i imagine the martins do the same. it’s efficient use of the land. most of their squash go for a dollar each, but these were monster-size, so we paid two. still, what a deal!

first there was soup:

butternut-apple-pear soup. i decided to go with a veggie stock that i made last night instead of my usual chicken broth. i cubed half the squash and put it in a pot with 3-4 pears that were on their last legs and several glugs of apple cider and let it boil away. when everything was nice and tender, i went at it with my favourite immersion blender. for blended soups, there’s no comparison! it is quick, easy and the cleanup is a breeze (compared to a normal blender, which also sometimes is tricky when dealing with hot soup!). along with some crackers and mamapea chickpeas, we called it lunch! i still have half a gallon of soup left over!


with the second half of the squash, i decided to try something completely different. butternut squash crumble. what a novel idea! squash and some tomato instead of apples. parmesan cheese and parsley instead of sugar in the flour/butter crumble topping. brilliant! i won’t be able to report on the taste until tomorrow (jon’s parents are coming over), but it sure smells good and looks gorgeous! i’ll give it one thumb up so far. i found the recipe on twitter from @freerecipeguide which has so far been a pretty good source of interesting food tidbits for me lately. you should check it out.

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i still have 3 cups of cubed (uncooked) squash left over – not sure what to do with that yet. maybe some squash butter? squash oats? we’ll seeeee.

i’m going to go do some dishes, throw in some laundry and try and squeeze in some yoga before bed. tomorrow is going to be a big day.

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November 7, 2009 at 11:50 pm Comments (16)