How to build raised garden beds

Urban farming seems to be everywhere. I’m sure I see at least two articles a week this past year on the urban farming trend. There are more and more “concept” cities of the future that are not all glass and steel.  Instead, they’re “vertical farms” with each storey having their own plant life.  Of course, if we carry on with “business as usual”, then we’ll end up with a city that looks a lot like the bleak glass and dirty metal of Blade Runner, Star Wars, Dune, The Matrix or other futuristic sci-fi films.

We sometimes jokingly refer to our property as the “Homestead”, as we have tried urban chickens (and will try again this summer with reinforced coop to keep the predators out), and this year we will finally have our garden.

If you eat food, you need a garden – no excuses.  Do you live in an apartment?  You can get a small flower box of herbs or a few cherry tomatoes. Do you have a small city lot?  Carrots and lettuce.

So do you want to be part of this movement?  Here is a look into what we’ve done. [Read more…]

How to Prevent a Domestic Disturbance

Written by Danny.

As the loving husband of your favorite Simple Bites Editor (Aimee), I’ve got the inside scoop on what really happens around here and today, I’m going to spill the beans and tell you one of our family secrets. We have a serious problem in our home, one that could very well lead to instability, sharp words, lost sleep and much, much worse.

Usually when there’s a problem in a relationship, both parties are partially responsible, but this time, I confidently accept no blame. It’s all squarely on Aimee’s shoulders.  You see, Aimee alone has a problem.  A serious one.

Her doctor has said that she needs to slow down and stay off her feet, but instead, she’s nesting. [Read more…]

Hot Spiced Apple Cider

Written by Danny.

I am convinced that Spiced Apple Cider sold our house.  Sure we had a good agent, staged it pretty well, kept it tidy with 2 VERY young kids for almost 2 consecutive months – but the aromas of the cider simmering on the stove on one particular visit made it feel like somewhere you wanted to stay.  And they bought the house.

As you read about in Monday’s post, Aimee had some friends over to our house last Friday for a good cause, and I was doing my utmost to practice what I preach and be of help .  I both wanted to and needed to make something, so that I could more easily convince Aimee to get off her feet and rest.  And so our annual holiday favorite beverage, Spiced Apple Cider was made.

[Read more…]

Giveaway: The Barista Express by Breville

**This giveaway has ended. Check back on Sunday for the winners!**

We’re back for another Home for the Holidays giveaway, and this time, the home wannabe barista (Danny) is going to introduce the last item of the week here on Simple Bites!

Aimée’s family introduced me to coffee-culture, and it is pretty much here to stay.  When we hosted a family reunion for them, we went through between 3/4 lb and 1 lb of coffee each day.

To get our coffee fix, we’ve used drip machines, single serve drip, French press, a cheap espresso machine that conked out after roughly 300 shots (2 months in our home), and more recently, a robust espresso machine on loan from my brother. We can finally return that one (thanks, bro) because we will be using our latest caffeine dispensing machine for a while.

If the title of this post did not clarify what it is, here’s a thousand-word description for what we’re giving away:

Yep, today you could win The Barista Express from Breville! It is my “early” Christmas present from Aimée this year.

Valued at $699, this espresso maker will replace 2 items on our counter as the coffee grinder is built into the machine, just one of the nifty features it boasts. Read about how our mornings have gotten a lot better, as well as how to win The Breville Express for your own!

[Read more…]

How to Keep Your Freezer Cold

Written by Danny Bourque.

Rotten food stinks. Bad.

You know how you feel when someone gets you a surprise present?  Pretty good, I bet.  Now imagine if you got a present, and when you went to use it a few days later, it was broken, spoiled, just turned into garbage.  Just awful, I’m sure.

A few years ago, I knew that when Aimee got me half a cow for Father’s Day, she had to break the news a little bit early so we could prepare appropriately.  That meant finally getting a chest freezer to put it in.  We had been talking about preserving and storing food, buying in bulk and the like, but actually purchasing the freezer was a first step to making that a reality.  A somewhat expensive step.  It would have been really crappy if the freezer broke, or did not adequately freeze the food that we were to put it in.

Hence, I did all the research, read the manual (both French and English versions, of course), and then instructed the store’s moving guys on how to properly move it down the stairs, keep it level, etc.  They guys looked at me like I was some kind of nutcase.  They probably move 20-30 freezers EACH DAY, and here was this engineer telling them the “right” way to move it.  Well, *sulk* just because they’ve been doing it all their life, doesn’t mean that they necessarily are doing it the right or best way.

And so, since those movers wanted nothing to do with my advice, I bottled it all up. Now that I have a larger, (slightly) more interested audience, I propose to share the wisdom I gleaned from both versions of the user’s manual, the sales guy, about 20 websites, and the guy up the street who came to watch.  This, of course, to ensure that your FREEZER DOESN’T DIE and spoil all your hard work and frugal, bulk savings.

[Read more…]