Wednesday, May 30, 2012

The 50¢ Birthday Dress

If you read Monday's post you will know that we celebrated Cassia's 3rd Birthday. I posted some pictures of her at 6 months, 1 year, 2 years and now three. I kept it simple - we DID have a busy day after all. What I thought to mention, but didn't, is a topic I decided to write about in this post.

Do you like Cassia's dress? I sure do - I LOVED it from the moment I saw it! It has actually been hanging in her closet or in storage for about 1 1/2 years. I knew it would fit and be perfect one day. 

And why is this a big deal and something to write about? Well - because this well made, soft, beautiful, perfect for a little girl, dress ----

cost 50¢

yup - you read right


Pretty simple living right? Pretty frugal right?

Cassia is a bit more of a tomboy these days and dresses don't really work to well. But she is happy to dress up once in while - she spent the whole day in this dress and even asked to change back into when we got home from work.

You see, this dress, and almost every item of clothing that Cassia has worn in her three years have not been new, nope - she is our second hand sally. (She did start out with a good set of new clothes I have to say - the village we were living in at the time held a shower for us and I can't let it go unsaid that the ladies 'showered' Cassia with a great wardrobe.)

We all hear how costly it is to raise a child and I don't doubt that is true - but it must be all relative - right? I can't say at the moment that Cassia has cost us much at all. Of course, family & friends, and birthdays have helped immensely. She has A LOT of stuff! I have a feeling that somehow stuffed animals must be able to reproduce at night! I mean HOW did we end up with so many!

But back to clothes.

Cassia, and Derek and I, get almost all of our clothes these days from second hand stores and consignment shops. Well, Derek and I don't get much new at all. Our clothes are our clothes they are not new but they are in good shape, they fit us, why do we need more? Cassia of course is a different story because she is a growing little girl. Thankfully, Derek's mom handles that department. She enjoys seeking out great deals for Cassia and visits a local consignment shop where she lives. Which is great - she also has great taste. Once Cassia grows out of items I box them up and give them back and Derek's mom reconsigns them - it is a great system. She then starts again.

Cassia has a GREAT wardrobe. The great thing about consignment stores is that you can find items for a few dollars that would have originally cost 10x that.  Except for the pink coat on the far right - everything Cassia is wearing is second (or maybe even third) hand.

Prior to our living simple days Derek and I spent much more on clothes. It didn't help that I worked in an office - it is a little more challenging when you need to dress for work. But I know that great clothes can be found in thrift shops/second hand/consignment shops. Similar to Cassia's dress, my favourite pair of jeans get tons of compliments - pretty good for $1. Derek too was a bit of a clothes horse (but don't tell him I said that!). During our 2007/08 USA Tour he went all out and was trying to win some kind of award for the collection of the most t-shirts!!! But no more - we have seen this for the waste of money it is. This last winter we each came home with 1 t-shirt each from Homosassa Springs and only because they were on the discount rack and we got both for $16.

So - if you want a tip on a way to live a life made simple, one place to start is to cut back on spending money on clothes that you probably don't need and visiting your local second hand shops. I KNOW they are not all created equal. We were truly blessed with the thrift shop we had in Keremeos! And it does take time sifting through to find the gem - but that is part of the fun!

Good news! We sold our travel trailer today! It only took a week since we posted the ad on kijiji and the first people to come view it have purchased it. And for the asking price to boot! I'm sure Derek and I will have a couple of tears in our eyes as it leaves next week. 

Sorry to all of you that I haven't gotten back to this last week. Between cleaning the trailer and Cassia's BD I have felt at least 2 steps behind - the list just would not get shorter! 

An exciting night at the park! I was visiting with a nice Australian couple when I got word that there were two brown bears in the park. I suspected they were the same two spotted last week. I found them up at the washroom building and was able to send them on their way with the sound of my truck. So cute - there is a lot of shrubbery where they were so they kept standing up to get a better look at where the noise was coming from. Eventually they ran off. I was glad that I had intercepted them when I did. If someone had come out of the washroom I wondered who would have screamed the loudest, the bears or the camper! The bears are identical looking and young - just a year. 

One of the perks of our job for sure. Did I have the camera? nope.

We DID have the camera on hand the other day though when Derek got this picture as this butterfly sailed through our garden.

Thanks for visiting!

I probably could have used this post to talk about why you DON'T need to spend much money on a birthday party for a three year old! 

A bag of balloons will do!


Today's Interesting Link: LOVE LOVE LOVE this site and really enjoyed this post. 9 easy ways to boost your child's health by Wellness Mama. I was happy to see that we are doing some and the rest we CAN do - in fact sea salt was added to Cassia's bath tonight and we'll need to find her some mud! I also CAN'T WAIT to start making all the items she lists in #9. I hope you will forward this list onto all those you know with little ones in their lives. It is a good list!

Monday, May 28, 2012

Cassia Is 3 Today!

Today, May 28th, 2012 
is our dear daughters 3rd Birthday!

And since this blog is about our life - and Cassia IS our life I thought I'd share.

There are no words to express our love for this sweet girl.

3 years old - WoW!



Last year, our first season at the park I decided to take photos of Cassia on her 2nd birthday in the forest  - I took a ton of pictures and we had a great time!


This year Cassia received a new pink Radio Flyer Tricycle from her Gram Gram!

How exciting!

And a pink bunny cake made by her DAD!

Happy 3rd Birthday Cassia!

Love Mommy & Daddy
and all your family

Sunday, May 27, 2012


It's Sunday again! I CANNOT believe how fast time is moving these days!

I have one great recipe for today and one so so recipe for today - Energy Bites and Bars.

Derek and I need a lot of energy and protein for our jobs here at the park - we do A LOT of physical work. We eat HUGE breakfasts since most of the physical work - more like a 2 hour work out - is in the morning with cleaning and the racking of sites. I am always looking for ways to provide us with morning food that will keep us going plus snacks to refuel as we are working.

Quinoa is something I have been working hard to work into our diets this year. Last year I was reading a healthy foods book and discovered what a great - complete - protein quinoa is! It is also a good source of dietary fiber and phosphorus and is high in magnesium and iron. It is also gluten free. 

WoW! How come I did not know this! 

I now have a pinterest board dedicated to just quinoa recipes. In fact that is how I found the Quinoa Energy Bars that I am baking today.

But first things first - here is a super energy ball recipe that I have made twice now - it is quickly replacing the Grainy Seedy Cookies as the Wood Clan favourite.

No Bake Energy Bites

1 cup old fashioned oats
1 cup toasted coconut flakes ( I used sweetened)
1/2 cup chocolate chips ( or cut up dark chocolate!)
1/2 cup peanut butter ( I used crunchy)
1/2 cup ground flax seed
1/3 cup honey
1 tsp. vanilla

This is a very quick and easy recipe! First I cut up our 72% dark chocolate into chocolate chip size chunks.

While I was doing that the coconut was toasting. ALWAYS check your toasting flakes frequently - in the past I've had more then a few overcook!

Place all the ingredients into a bowl...

and stir until thoroughly mixed. Place bowl in the fridge for about 1/2 hour.

Once chilled, roll into balls into the size you prefer. Store in an airtight container in the fridge for up to a week. NO WAY will they last that long! Makes about 20 to 25 balls.

Similar to the Grainy Seedy Cookies I don't mind to much that Cassia snacks on these - a few - a day. They are full of good stuff! The first time I made them I stuck close to the recipe and only deviated by adding some wheat germ. I found the batter to very dry and hard to roll. I guess it didn't help that I left it in the fridge for a few hours! Just no time to roll!

The second time I experimented a bit and was much happier with the outcome. I used 1/4 cup peanut butter and 1/4 cup almond butter. I again used part flax and part wheat germ. I also added about a teaspoon of coconut oil and made sure that the honey was liquid. The batter turned out a bit too wet but I just added a bit more oats and flax and they were just right for rolling.

This recipe comes from Riches to Rags by Dori.

This second recipe is for quinoa - nut power bars. Today was the first time I made the recipe. I'll tell you straight out now that we are not impressed. Darn! It had such potential too! All the right ingredients are there. I am including anyway because I think it can be saved - especially for those of you who don't like your treats too sweet and like a softer, instead of crunchy, bar. 

And I'm not sure why but mine looks NOTHING like the picture from whence the recipe came over at Get off your tush and Cook.

Serves me right for making something WITHOUT chocolate in it!

Quinoa-Nut Power Bars

2 cups oats, rolled, quick cooking (perhaps one of my problems
1/2 cup quinoa
1/4 cup flaxseed meal
1/2 cup soy protein powder (optional - I didn't use)
1 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt 
1 cup raw nuts and seeds
1/2 cup dried fruit
1/2 cup sweetened coconut
1/2 cup evaporated cane juice ( I didn't have this and neither did the Marissa - she used 1/4 cup honey and so did I - turns out it probably should have been at LEAST 1/2 cup honey! Maybe more!)
1/2 cup whole wheat pastry flour (I used just plain old whole wheat flour - was that wrong?!)
1/4 cup oil (I used 1/8 cup coconut oil and 1/8 cup canola oil)
2 tsp vanilla (this may be part of my problem - I ran out of vanilla with the Cream Cheese Pound Cake - boy do I wish I had picked up some when we were in Mexico.)
1 cup water
1 tsp cinnamon

Start by cooking the dry quinoa according to directions. Meanwhile -

Combine oats, flax, protein powder, baking soda, cane juice (or honey), flour, nuts, seeds, fruit, coconut and sea salt in a large bowl.

So so glad to have our ipad to cook with!

I roughly chop up the pumpkin seeds....

and the pecans.

Here's everything in the bowl.

Once the quinoa is cooked, add the oil, vanilla and water. 

Add the wet to the dry and mix.

 Spread mixture into a greased 9 x 13 inch pan, pressing down with fingers to fit into pan. 
Marissa mentioned that the dough would seem dry but mine was wet. 

Bake for 20 minutes at 350F. Allow to cool and cut into pieces. 

Eat within a week. Hmmm - this could take months - I'll be eating them alone - Derek took a small bite and almost choked and for once Cassia said no to a sample. 

They look good though right!? 

Well, on to make dinner. It has been a busy week here at the park. Camping numbers are slowing increasing and keeping us busy. Plus we spent the day yesterday getting our trailer cleaned up for selling.

Tonight is the night for the pink bunny cake!!! As baked by Derek for Cassia's third birthday tomorrow. Boy - has the time REALLY flown by. Tomorrow I'll have all the highlights of Cassia's BD! Derek spent last night setting up her pink Radio Flyer tricycle from her Gram Gram - I can't wait to see the expression on her face!

Thanks for visiting on Sunday Cook Sunday.


Today's Interesting Link: Never fear I have tons more granola bar type recipes pinned! Maybe I'll try these next time from Lauren's Latest - No Bake Chocolate Chip Granola Bars. Perhaps quinoa just doesn't belong in a bar - do yo have a good quinoa bar recipe you would like to share?

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Wildflowers in Bloom

Derek, Cassia and Roofous were back to their evening hike last night after the long weekend. The flowers are blooming here at Skihist and Derek took some great shots!



Tuesday, May 22, 2012

How does your garden grow?

Do you garden? 

Veggies, fruit, herbs, flowers? Some or all?

We try to grow as much as we can through the summer months to supplement our groceries. All part of simple = frugal living.

With Derek's horticulture/landscape background and my love for flowers and fresh produce, we have had some form of garden each place we have lived for the last 10 years - no matter how little space we have had. 

Here at the park our space is limited but enough. Last years garden wasn't all that successful - we underestimated the needs of the soil and the large amount of shade we get here. Combined with a fairly wet and cool summer last year we were pretty disappointed with the outcome.

Not deterred we have again dug and planted. This time with manure added to the soil and the addition of creative planters outside of the shade zone.

During our shopping trip to Kamloops last week we picked up some plants - tomatoes, basil, rosemary, lavender, dill, bee balm, catnip, ornamental grass and evening scented stock.

Cassia is always eager to help Derek in the garden! This picture shows her digging last spring and now this spring. Boy she sure has grown.
We are glad that we can teach her about gardening from the beginning and hope that it is something she enjoys for her whole life.

Our tomato plants - this year we planted 4 varieties - Roma, Cherry, Ball's Beefsteak and Bush Champion. I usually do ok with my tomato crop but I may give this recipe a try this year that I found on Jamie Cooks it Up:

3 cups compost/mulch/dirt
1/2 cup epsom salt
1 tbsp salt
1/2 cup powdered milk

Mix the ingredients together and either add it to the hole before planting (too late for that!) or sprinkle a handful around the plant and water.

The garden is a combination of plants and seeds. A friend of ours attends a Seedy Saturday and thankfully passes seeds onto us.

Lavender is one of our favourites so we have a total of 3 plants.

I also love the Bee Balm flower. Usually just a pretty addition, I may see what I can harvest from it this year for other uses.


Here is the cilantro that self seeded from last year - what a surprise. Do you find growing cilantro challenging because it goes to seed so quickly? Here is the answer to that problem!

Our strawberry plants from last year survived and are much bigger and better this year. 

We purchased a few more strawberry plants this year with berries already on the plant. 
As you can imagine, Cassia is pretty anxious to get a hold of this big one!

Here's how to keep strawberries fresh once picked (if they last that long that is!)

Due to the fact that we also have 3 cats trolling our gardens, Derek and I suspected that part of the problem with our garden last year was their - ummm - feces. 

Over the winter I was thinking that container gardening was the answer. But how to get containers. Yes, I know that you can go buy them but that had to be a last resort for us. When Cassia and I came home from my mom's, Derek had solved our problem.

We'll put are garden in GARBAGE CANS! yup.

These old cans are no longer used in the parks and stored here in our compound. Only the top 1/3 or so is soil the rest - pine needles and cones and such. We have 5 of them planted up.


We also found a few other 'containers' around. Like our creative technique for protecting our plants - watercress at the moment - from the cats?

We've also seeded lots of types of lettuce - here is a good resource for growing lettuce.

Cassia learning to prepare the soil ...

put in the plants - basil and parsley -  yum..

and add the finishing touches. If you are into herb gardening like we are here is a great article - I learned A LOT! Ten mistakes new herb gardeners make from The Skinny Gourmet.

We garden because we like to. However, even if we didn't I believe that the cost of food and the desire to live frugally would lead us to it anyway. I think it is possible for EVERYONE to grow SOMETHING irrespective of the type of housing you have. There are so many options.

Here are a few great methods and gardening resources I found around the internet.

Vertical Gardening - this picture comes from Ewa in the Garden.

There also lots of ideas for those of you with balconies - head over to Life on the Balcony.

And of course there is container gardening. Here are The 5 Essential Rules for Successful Container Vegetable Gardening and here is a Beginner's Guide to Container Gardening.

And of course the latest method to catch on - square foot gardening. Two resources are No Dig Vegetable Garden and a really great illustrated directions by Frugal Dad

Well, off to the garden!!!!


Today's Interesting Link: LOL -- don't I have enough already above!!! Here's one more! The Veggie Gardener has a list of his top 15 best vegetable gardening blogs. 

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