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Kena Landry

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since May 17, 2018
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Recent posts by Kena Landry

One silly thing I've done to build sustainability in my community is to use active transportation for gardening.

Whether that's using a bike trailer to pick up supplies at the garden center, carting old bricks in a wheelbarrow along a busy avenue, or walking  to the school garden with my gardening tools on one shoulder and a pitchfork in hand, it makes urban gardening extremely visible and shows the community it can be done, and without fossil fuel to boot.

We are so unused to those "rural" sights in an urban setting that it's sure to attract attention and curiosity, and often spark interesting conversations.
3 hours ago
In my neighbourhood, we have a program called "Un plant de tomates à la fois" (One Tomato Plant at the time) which manages collective gardens. It's not a community garden - people sign up to a garden, go there at planned hours, and there's an instructor/leader teaching basic gardening techniques and dispatching jobs. There is also a rota for watering. And all attendees leave with their share of the weekly harvest. They also manage a community kitchen where people can cook together and bring home a portion of the meal, and organize nature/gardening activities for school age kids.

One of their gardens is on a community center rooftop, and it really reminds me of the Eden garden in The Year of the Flood: you get up there on a dreary escape stair and end up in a green lush garden brimming with produce. The others are in church yards, mostly.

It does require some funding (mostly to pay the instructor and some supplies. They also get donations from home hardware stores and such), but it's been running for several years now and it makes a huge impact in the community. I'm sure lots of gardeners, like myself, have "graduated" from there and gained the confidence to garden at home or in a private patch in a community garden afterwards.
16 hours ago
We did it in our tiny urban yard (removed 2 parking places worth of asphalt/gravel/remnants of a garage) and it almost doubled our usable space. (Apparently, previous owners hated green things? The whole yard was paved in some manner or other)

However, it required heavy machinery (we were having a drain replaced on our house so it subsidized some of the costs since the machinery was already on site) and we paid something around 500$cad just for the disposal costs. Plus another 300$cad for full-panel testing of the soil underneath, and a couple hundreds to get good soil trucked in (we topped everything with 4-6" of good soil).

It was 100% worth it but it was quite a complex project.
2 days ago
No, I don't have experience with American brands, unfortunately.
5 days ago
Victoria cast iron products are made in Columbia (it's a long-established, local owned company), and I already own their tortilla press (I think they are pretty much the reference for high quality tortilla presses). I figured that if Columbian housewifes need to cook their tortillas in something, they probably use Victoria cast iron skillets.

I had been scouting for a few months for used cast iron, without finding any. So I bought mine for 35$CAN  on Amazon (Currently 25$US on, which seemed reasonable.

It came pre-seasoned (whatever that means), with an instruction manual that said exactly what Paul says in his own video guide: boil a little water if something stick, scour with salt if need be, heat it up to make sure it's really dry after use, rub a little fat on it before storing.  

Right from the first use, eggs were sliding off the bottom. The bottom has some grain to it - it's not mirror-smooth. But already, it is getting smoother with use. It has a little spout on each side to facilitate pouring sauces or whatnot in a plate. And the 10'' size is perfect for my needs.

I've been using it for several weeks now, and it's holding up well to all I've put it through. I've used vegetable oils, lard, bacon fat & butter. I've cooked mostly vegetable stir fries, eggs, pancakes and tortillas. It's also perfect for popping corn (borrowing the lid from my soup pot). It also performed well on my electric range as well as on a camping gas stove.

Cleanup is a breeze. It is a bit heavy for me to use with just one hand (I'm a petite woman with flimsy wrists) but I can live with that.

But the ultimate test was my mom (whose own cast iron skillet has half a century of seasoning built into it, and who used to flip pancakes professionally in her youth), who has deemed it "a very good pan" when making pancakes at my place this morning.

In short, if you have to buy a cast iron skillet new, this is probably a fair purchase.
5 days ago
What kind of soil are you working in? I've tried a few of these kind of tools in my yard (back when I was still trying to control dandelions), and our soil being heavy clay, they either broke the stem before getting the root, or left with huge chunks of clay each time (leaving terrible gaping holes in the grass and requiring intervention to get the clay unstuck).

I went back to crouching down and using a sharp hand tool (the kind that looks like a flat screwdriver with a V notch).
6 days ago
I've learned the hard way that making a muslin for anything remotely fitted is an absolute must. I can wing it for children's clothes  (worse comes to worst, they'll grow into it or it will fit a sibling), but not for my own clothing.

Even with a fairly standard sized body, I often need to move the bust darts, raise the underarm seam, etc. I make my muslins from old bedsheets, so it's essentially free. (People always want to give me their old stained bedsheets to upcycle).

For a recent very fitted woven tank top, I even made TWO muslins before I was satisfied with the fit. But  now I have something that skims my body exactly as it should without showing any gaps or a peek of my bra, and I can make that pattern as many times as I want with slight design changes.

Otherwise, for skirts, I tend to go with patterns that are made from your own measurements. My two latest were a linen wrap skirt and a linen circle skirt with yoga waistband.
1 week ago
I'm with you on the reel mower. Granted, I have very little (and working towards getting even less) grass to cut. But the freedom of doing it whenever without having to consider the disturbance to neighbours or my own is a blessing.

I find it a very zen activity. (We do have a weed wacker though)
1 week ago
Adding my recommendation for the Morakniv Rookie as a first child's knife.

I bought one for my girls (7 and 9), to teach them safe knife use. After a few sessions with very close supervision, they can now handle it safely on their own to whittle sticks and whatnot. The rounded tip is a nice feature, and so is the finger guard. I am very satisfied.
1 week ago
I am curious about how the pandemic changed the dynamics of tiny houses.

For myself, it killed any fantasy I had of getting a very small house. We probably live in way bigger than we'd need (2000 sq. feet for a family of four), but the pandemic, especially at the beginning when we were locked within the narrow confines of our house and yard, made me appreciate having the room.

Having a well-stocked pantry, room for a freezer, room for extra bits of material of all kinds for "someday" uses (I did a bunch of home repairs and sewed a small collection of masks just from reused material), room for tools, room for growing our own greens in the basement... These were all sources of great comfort.

I also appreciated having the option of working on more contemplative/indoor hobbies like painting or sewing, which require some room and storage. Just having the room for making large puzzles as a family - that alone played a great role in our mental health.

How have any of you lived through that?
1 week ago