Monday, 3 October 2022

Visitors

So we've had a busy weekend. Friday after work we took a drive into Barrington Passage to pick up a tray of cookies and squares we had ordered from a local place called Dan's Icecream Shop(they also do really good wraps), and then to the grocery store for some party pop where met another neighbour. It seems it's really easy for folks to tell their friends and family to say hi to us when we drive such a distinctive car, lol.

After picking up 6 cases of pop and about 24 juice boxes (wanted to be sure of a variety and just... enough) we came home and I mostly just stressed(and showered lol). I was already to go in the morning but based on the number of people who seemed to be excited to come to our housewarming party plus about 1/2 of the rest we invited, we might have 50 people show up at the door. I've never hosted a party that big unless you count our wedding reception and I didn't have to cook anything for that.

Morning of Oct 1st Hugslut and I hopped into action setting everything up, and baking 7 chickens, and cleaning the bathroom one last time, and, and, and....

And then only two neighbours arrived. 

One brought her two kids so there were 6 people in total including Hugslut and I meaning we definitely had enough chairs for everyone. They kindly brought some cards and a bottle of wine, and I was happy to get the chance to chat with them... but it was also impossible to avoid feeling disappointed for a bit. 

As the night progressed I got a few folks who sent messages of being sick and such. Seems a bunch of folks on our street are home with bad colds. None of the other folks we invited called at all. One of our neighbours with a small baby just futzed on the date and promised to come by the next day. He brought us some blueberry wine and an adorable little fridge magnet.


We sent the two that came to the party, and the belated guest who arrived the next day, home with as much of the party food as we could convince them to carry. Potato salad will not last a whole week and it would take at least that long for us to go through it by ourselves.

Yesterday night I traded the belated guest an entire chicken's worth of chicken pieces for some ham he was cooking up so we had some variety. That night and I dealt with the chicken we had left; about 5 chicken's worth, which was about 9.5 lbs deboned. I did not like the idea of tossing it all in the freezer as it might dry out, and it would definitely take up too much room in our fridge freezer... but canned chicken won't have that problem. :-)

The leftover pop will go to our halloween stash. We're planning to get chocolate bars and chips later. I remember being super psyched to get pop on halloween and I hope kids haven't changed that much.

Last night we went grocery shopping and then later, while talking with Mum on the phone, a buck wandered through our yard.  Now we see lots of deer but it's usually just the does and fawns. 

This handsome fella made a beeline for the compost pile.

This morning I woke up super early(5:50am) and I was just going to get some water and go back to bed but when I peeped out the window I was struck with how bright and clear the stars were. I watched the stars for a while and when the sky started to brighten for sunrise I got to cleaning the jars of chicken from the night before and starting my day. That said... it's only 11am and I am pooped. I think I'll go take a nap. 


Wednesday, 28 September 2022

Kitchen Thoughts and Doings.

Meatloaf and a tray of veggies ready to go in the oven.

I don't know if we have been eating healthier, but it kinda seems like it to me. Maybe not, but yum.

The other day before the storm I noticed that the side of my compost "bin" had been torn open. It doesn't look quite as clear anymore but I think it was a deer who stepped in and their body just tore it, and from there it gets more torn.

I'm... okay with this... for now. I mean I didn't really expect the cardboard box to withstand the entire winter, but I don't have a proper containment area yet.

It's gotta be downland from the well, close-ish to the house/future summer kitchen, and also far-ish so any stinkiness doesn't waft into the windows.

Not really sure where yet.

I made a batch of mac and cheese so I could chuck it in the oven the day of the housewarming party.

There's three 8"x8" pans. I have NO clue how many people are going to show up so I just hope its enough.

I'm also going to be cooking up potato salad, a buttload of chicken as well as roasted potatoes/carrots/brussel sprouts/onions.

We're also gonna have some sweets from a local shop and a bunch of soft drinks......

I mean I'm fairly sure at least 5 people are coming..... I just don't know if it's gonna be 50.... or maybe more? Eek.

I’ve started thinking of my kitchen in the same way as a games room.

If you’re playing chess and the game ends... you don’t get sad or annoyed that you need to reset the board before playing again. No, you’re thinking about the game you just played and perhaps what you want to do in the next game.

Same with a games room. You just finished playing a board game and the pieces are everywhere. You don’t mope about putting it back in the box. You just reset the room so you can play a new game without the old game getting in the way.

Same thing with my kitchen. I finished prepping some pans of mac and cheese. I didn’t whine and stomp about having to do *chores* like washing the dishes. No, I just reset the space so I could carry on with making some lunch and an apple glaze.

The reset instead of chores mindset has helped a lot.

I decided to try and make something useful/tasty out of the leftover 2L of simple syrup I had sitting in the fridge after canning the Apple Bits. 

It had a bunch of apple "fluff?" floating in it and smelled/tasted of apple so I made it thick and might be able to make use of it as a ham glaze later.

Calling it Apple Glaze for now.


On Friday Hugslut and I went down to the waterfront and said hi to the ducks. I'm still trying to weigh chickens vs ducks for our homestead. Leaning towards chickens, with ducks in the future.

Also tried my hand at canning beans today. Just three jars as I hadn't done anything like it before.
We'll have to test how mushy they are and I'll have to try with other types, but it seemed to go well.



Saturday, 24 September 2022

Practical Pantry Post Program Perhaps Particularly Promising

I wanted a nice tidy place to keep my canning notes so that I could have info on each batch. At one point in time I would have given each batch a code number(like 220912CAR01 would be the first batch of Carrots I canned on Sept12th 2022) and use that number to find the right row in an excel document... 

That was not very good because I didn't really have a nice way to access it or store photos. As I was playing with label templates and talking about not really knowing how I wanted to do this, Hugslut suggested starting a new blog and using QR codes on the labels to go to the post for each batch. 

That sounded like an amazing idea so I got to work on the Growing Hope Pantry Blog and designing labels. After a few iterations I settled on a design that had a large enough QR code, clear basic info, and an appealing look to them. A bit of a paper jam on the first page wasted half a page of labels and some bad math wasted another 1/2  page, but the jars now have labels pointing to blog posts full of info and I'm not clogging up the normal blog with them. (I'm sure next year will have MANY posts in the pantry blog.)





Still here!

 


It’s still very windy outside but…

  1. The power is still on. 
  2. We’re still alive and well. 
  3. The map shows the worst is past. 
  4. We are very lucky it basically missed us. 


Thursday, 22 September 2022

Hurricane

Happy Autumn folks! So um.... 

I found out yesterday at lunch that a hurricane is headed this way... and the weather network is telling us to hurry up and get prepared before it hits Thursday evening because it's gonna be strong enough to throw loose stuff around your yard and the power might go out so make sure you've got emergency supplies!

So of course that means yesterday afternoon I ran around cleaning up the scrap wood into the shed and undoing the garden cardboard. I also got out the instruction manuals for the generator and the GenerLink(which is the device that connects the generator to the house). There's gas and oil in the generator, and it's strong enough to run the fridge, and water pump/filter, plus charge some electronics like our phones so we won't be at a lack of info as long as there's cell signal.

See the pale green where the cardboard had just barely started to work it's magic?

Hugslut was working and warning her work she might disappear for a few days. The shed door blew off at 30-40km/h. This storm will bring winds >100km/h. I am so glad we had the opportunity to fix it before the storm. Here's the details I have so far:


From weather.gc.ca

Public weather impacts and warnings summary:

This storm is shaping up to be a potentially severe event for Atlantic Canada and eastern Quebec. Numerous weather models are quite consistent in their prediction of what we call a deep hybrid low pressure system, possessing both tropical and intense winter storm properties with very heavy rainfall and severe winds.The latest forecast guidance brings Hurricane Fiona North towards Nova Scotia waters Friday night, passing through eastern Nova Scotia and Cape Breton Saturday, and then reaching the Lower Quebec North Shore and Southeastern Labrador early Sunday.

Severe winds and rainfall will have major impacts for eastern Prince Edward Island, eastern Nova Scotia, western Newfoundland, eastern Quebec, and southeastern Labrador. There will also be large waves, especially for the Atlantic coasts of Nova Scotia, Newfoundland, and eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence. Finally, there is a high likelihood of storm surge for parts of Nova Scotia, the Gulf of St. Lawrence and western Newfoundland.

a. Wind.
Most regions will experience some hurricane force winds. These severe winds will begin impacting the region late Friday and will continue on Saturday. Similar cyclones of this nature have produced structural damage to buildings. Construction sites may be particularly vulnerable. Wind impacts will likely be enhanced by foliage on the trees, potentially causing prolonged utility outages

b. Rainfall.
Rainfall will be significant, especially north and west of Fiona's track, where heavy rain could lead to flooding. The highest rainfall amounts are likely for eastern Nova Scotia, southwestern Newfoundland and the Gulf of St. Lawrence region. Forecast guidance is suggesting widespread amounts of 100 to 200 mm, but closer to the path of Fiona, more than 200 mm is likely. Some districts have received large quantities of rain recently, and excessive runoff may exacerbate the flooding potential. Road washouts and erosion are also possible.

c. Surge/Waves.
There will also be some rough and pounding surf, especially for parts of Nova Scotia and Newfoundland. Large waves will reach the eastern shore of Nova Scotia from the south Friday night and build to more than 10 metres. These waves will likely reach southern Newfoundland by Saturday morning. Some of the waves over eastern portions of the Gulf of St. Lawrence could be higher than 12 metres, and the western Gulf will see waves from the north up to 8 metres in places, which will cause significant erosion for north facing beaches. Iles-de-la-Madeleine will also see some coastal erosion from waves.

Storm surge will also be a threat for parts of Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island including the Northumberland Strait, the Gulf of St. Lawrence region including Iles-de-la-Madeleine and eastern New Brunswick, and southwest Newfoundland. The highest risk for coastal flooding will be a combination of storm surge with large wave moving onshore. There may also be some coastal flooding for the St. Lawrence Estuary and the Quebec lower north shore. For most areas the highest water levels will be near high tide some time on Saturday morning.

Marine weather impacts and warnings summary.

Hurricane force southeasterlies should spread into Scotian Slope waters Friday evening, and these winds will persist near and south of the track. As the storm moves into the Maritimes, storm to hurricane force northwesterlies will likely develop west of the storm track. Waves in excess of 12 metres should form east of the hurricane track, beginning Friday night. These large waves will likely reach the south coast of Newfoundland early Saturday, and parts of the Gulf of St. Lawrence later in the day.



This might turn out to be nothing for us,

 but I'm glad we're as prepared as we can be.




Wednesday, 21 September 2022

My Home Office

So I knew when I ordered my desk that some assembly would be required, of course. I also knew that it would fit through my office door so after dinner Monday night we started unpacking the boxes in the living room where there was more floorspace for assembly.

Step 1: Unboxed and lil circle connectors added to appropriate pieces. - Complete at 8:03pm

Hugslut and I plugged away at this and by the end I didn't know if it was late or if I was just physically tired from hauling the pieces around and hand screwing them together.(I did NOT trust a power driver to not just make a mess of things.)

Step 31: Slide drawers into place. - Complete at 12:38am

There was no way we had the strength to wrangle thing thing into my office after building it for 4 and a half hours so, at this point we called it a night.

While dinner was cooking Tuesday we got to the work of moving the desk from the living room to my office... which was not as easy as I had planned. I forgot to account for the strange configuration of doorways which were each wider than my office door, but together they created a labyrinth for this piece of furniture.

Through standing it on end(on cardboard to reduce scratches and increase slide-ability), and some very careful manoeuvring, we managed to just barely squeak it out of the living room and into my office.

Now I have my workstation for all my homemaker needs... and a nice place to play games. ;-)


Monday, 19 September 2022

Busy As A Bee

I kept hoping to be done with the canning so I could have a nice lil before and after for you but... well, here's what happened.

We were out running some errands on the Saturday the 10th, and on the way home I spotted someone bagging up deer apples! I was already planning on getting some deer carrots but the apples got me excited. We popped over to the bank to get some cash and by the time we got home we had three bags of food.

Tape measure for scale.

Now they're called deer apples and deer carrots because they're "2nds" from the farm. the stores wont take them because they're too large, or too small, or bruised, or in the case of some of the carrots, forked or broken in half. The hunters around here use these bags of food to lure deer which makes for an easy shot so they're less likely to injure the deer and more likely for it to just die quickly. 

Although I applaud their ingenuity.... I'd rather sort through and put-up/preserve some food for humans.

This next bit was over an entire week...


After sorting out the clearly bad apples and washing the rest I loaded them in grocery tubs for later.
Two deer apple bags = two overflowing tubs plus a reusable bag.


The carrots went quickly and easily. There were very few I just tossed and most of them were just too small and had dehydrated. After removing tops and tails, plus a good wash and sort, I used my food processor to "cube" them. The machine is not accurate at all, but especially in this case, it's good enough.
Thirty-Six 500mL jars, fresh out of the canner and cooling overnight.


After the carrots I was..... too optimistic? Apples require a LOT more work. I spent a lot of time peeling and coring on Sept 13th and then letting the apples cook down. I think I must have put too much water with them because it was apple sauce texture by bed time and I put it through a sieve to remove any missed seeds/chunks... and decided to pick it back up in the morning. 

It was a blustery morning so I was happy to spend it in the kitchen. With a timer reminding me to stir every 15 minutes, I spent most of Sept 14th cooking apple sauce down into apple butter.

Half on the stove......half in the oven.

Eventually both of those reduced by half and fit on the stovetop. I added the cinnamon and such, and then reduced by half again by the time it was thick enough. definitely too much water... But look at this!

Beautifully thick.Stays up with no liquid escaping.


All that work for....... eleven 250mL jars..... :-/

I told myself the next batch would be more fulfilling as it's apple sauce and doesn't cook down as much.

Friday Sept 16th I spent the morning peeling and coring apples. When we decided to go into town for a long lunch instead of running the errands after work, we were greeted by and unpleasant surprise.

The shed door had blown right off its hinges!

Immediately after.

Well no time to deal with that then, so we went into town like we planned, picked up a few things including the slow cooker I had my eye on and went to the jeweller to get my wedding ring cut off.

My ring had been stuck on for a while now but I kept telling myself it wasn't a problem since I didn't want to remove it anyway.  The thing is, Hugslut's ring doesn't fit either and with mine so tight it was only a matter of time before something bad happened.

We have plans so we aren't walking around ringless, but for now, my finger feels really naked.

Because I had a crock pot now I decided to try and give apple butter another go while I was busy with peeling and coring for apple sauce.

10qt slow cooker. Hoping for another 11-13 jars

For some reason the chunky apple sauce didn't really.... sauce.

Late afternoon Sat Sept 17th, Hugslut tackled the problem of the broken shed door by bending hinges back into shape, repositioning them, rehanging the door(with my help to hold it steady), and on top of all that, creating better interior locks to hold against the rattling of the high winds here. Very proud of her. :-)


Went to bed that night happy with our work. My apple sauce seemed a bit odd and there had been a bit of siphoning but nothing a quick bath for the cooled jars couldn't fix in the morning. I turned down the crock pot and went to bed... only to wake up to BURNED apple butter. 😭

Somehow it burned bitter and was still wet.  >:-(

Looks like apple butter is one of those things you just can't leave to a slow cooker. It was heartbreaking to have all that work ruined. Don't know what I'm doing with the last half a grocery bucket of apples. Probably going to do lil bits of apple so we can have pie and such, but that won't be today.

A little over 14 L of food in 58 jars plus some carrot & apple bits in the fridge/freezer.

Also, guess what I remembered exists AFTER putting in the effort for three batches of apples? These thing-a-ma-jigs! 



Oh well. Next year. I am sick of apples for now. lol

The Vac-A-Vent guys came out today. Quality work and friendly folks. 👍 
My desk arrived today too. Gonna need Hugslut's help to put it together tonight. Wish us luck!