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


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:


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!


Friday 9 September 2022

Breathing Easier

So not much happened this week beyond trying to get back into the groove of things after that mess of a weekend. I did a bunch of laundry washing all the blankets we had used as packing padding and have been sitting on the closet floor ever since. They're all clean and tidily folded in baskets now. 

One morning as I was eating breakfast I looked up and saw this gunge. Now to me, that's a sign of trouble.

Putting on my gloves and such, I unplugged and opened the air exchanger...... 

This is........ not ideal.

I did some googling and found out how it works, what it's for, and how to clean it. The air exchanger is redundant for us right now since we have the windows open all the time, but what it does in the winter is allow you to keep all the windows closed but still get fresh air in. 

It's a Heat Recovery Ventilation system so the cold air coming in goes through corrugations in the core (the white bit) while the warm air from the house is leaving through different corrugations letting the air get pre-heated on the way in, so you aren't just heating the outdoors in your search for fresh air. A handy lil device... shame the state it was in. 

I cleaned the aluminium pre-filters (the dust filter was completely missing), and as I soaked the gunge out of the HRV core, I carefully removed the 1/2" of dust and mold on the door.

Much Better!

The aluminium filters were damaged so I ordered replacements and the door is supposed to have 1/2" of foam covered in foil as padding to seal everything from everything else which was missing... so the dust took it's place. Someone who didn't look it up had tried to seal the edges with some foam strips but the gap on the inside basically made this thing about 1/4 as useful. Maybe less.

I have contacted a duct cleaning company to clean out the ducts and we should have this back up and CLEANLY running by winter. At the very least, having it turned off and not spraying spores at us should be a good thing.

Tonight after dinner, Hugslut and I took a walk down the road to introduce ourselves and invite our neighbours to a housewarming party Oct 1st. We didn't manage to catch as many people at home as I had hoped but we left invitations for those who weren't there to take them in hand. 

In general, our lifestyle has been a but more physical and we're both feeling really good. I mean neither of us are athletes or anything but all the walking and such is doing us good. 

Tomorrow is a thing in town where they're gonna have a bouncy castle and hotdogs so we're gonna show up and try to meet more people. :-)

Monday 5 September 2022

A very long weekend

I took a nice ling walk into town to drop off a library book and mail something Thursday afternoon.

Unfortunately, on the walk home the wind stole my hat, dropping it in a a fast moving stream, which promptly washed it out to sea... :-/  It wasn't a sentimental hat so I can just get a new one but... arg.

Hugslut took Friday off work for errands so we could drive to Yarmouth and get the plates for the hearse during business hours plus stop in at Canadian Tire and Shoppers.

Unfortunately, they didn't tell us last time we were in that they'd need the receipt from when we bought the hearse... so that was an extra hour home and another hour back out to Yarmouth before we could even start our day. This meant that by the time we were done at Canadian Tire I was tired and snippy... not fun.

When we got home I decided I really wanted a shower, so I googled how and removed the weird twist to open drain-plug that we didn't like and put in a hair catcher. Then I followed the directions to install the new tub diverter we bought that day.

Unfortunately, a little dent in the pipe from the previous guy over-tightening made a weak spot, so when I (very carefully mind you) installed our new diverter, the dent became a hole that leaked water, and it was quickly apparent I was not going to have a shower that night.

On Saturday morning the plumber came back to fix it. He replaced the damaged pipe and even completely installed the new diverter for us.

Unfortunately, in order to do this work, he had to go through the wall. It's a very tidy hole and we're considering if we want to re-drywall or just make a tidy access door there. When he was done we found out the caulk/silicone stuff needs time to cure properly and not to use it for at least a few hours.

While the plumber was doing his thing, Hugslut and I were looking at used trucks online.  There were a few that were the type of thing we were looking for but one really caught my eyes. It was a 2010 Ford Ranger with decent KMs on it and it was a manual(which is something we wanted). It was even within the price range we were hoping for, AND they'd deliver it to us. (Which is helpful since i don't drive yet.)

Unfortunately, in order to test drive it, we had to drive 3 hours there and 3 hours back. It was a cute lil truck and I like it a lot. We did wind up buying it and they'll be delivering it after we insure it. But it was after hours on a Saturday when we wound up signing for it so insurance will have to wait until everything is open again on Tuesday.

On the way home we stopped in at a nice little place called The Boxing Rock in Shelburne for some food. They have craft brews and the BEST nachos I had ever had.

Sunday I did up a dinner meal plan for the week and we went grocery shopping. We chatted with Mum in the late afternoon and then had dinner and looked online for some more stuff. I swear, moving without furniture has got to be THE most expensive thing I have ever done. 

I mean, I'm glad we get to slowly fill this house with only the things we want and didn't drag the crumbling dining room set across the country just so we'd have something right away. But I am staring to think it will be this time next year before we're close to done. That said, we did find me a nice desk for my office.

Today was Labour Day Monday, and also the date of our slightly delayed quarterly "Summit Meeting". We started the tradition in 2018 and it's morphed over time with us. I felt kinda silly at first having a business type meeting for the home, but over the years we have used it to great effect. A month is usually too short a time span for big projects, so it's been great to have that reminder once a season of "Oh yeah, I didn't do that yet? Okay I'll get on it." and the budget/expenses portion of the meeting is half of what I credit for our quickly saving for the house.

Anyway, we decided it was such a nice day we'd sit on the deck, and partway through the meeting we had a random neighbour drive up. She had heard from her sister that we had bought the place her friend used to live in(previous-previous owners) and she just popped by to say hello. 

Everyone is so friendly here. It's a huge change from living in the same place for years and not really chatting with anyone. I'm liking it... it's just a little hard to make the switch.

Before dinner Hugslut decided it was time to start on her big project of un-gravel-ing part of the driveway. We've decided we are not going to put the money into bringing the garage up to code as a garage and instead will do something else with it later. This means that a large swath of gravel is currently in the way of future green-space. So far she's committed to moving the gravel in the red square..... We're still in negotiations regarding the blue square... lol.

There would still be a path to the house at the back and I'm planning one for the front too.

Hugslut did a BUNCH of shovelling today. This strip filled 2 wheelbarrows! It was moved to bare spots.
After dinner we went down to the beach to watch the waves crashing in. There's likely a storm tonight. 
I'm glad to be done with this very long weekend.

Thursday 1 September 2022

An Early Good Morning

It’s 7am and the sun has just cleared the treetops. I’m up and dressed and the coffee is brewing much earlier than usual. I had been enjoying the slow pace of waking up at 8:30 but this morning my body decided I was going to be fully awake at 6:45. 

Yesterday was a bunch of frustrations, and some successes.

It rained a lot so I couldn’t stroll downtown… but there was stuff that I got done around the house that’s been bothering me for a while. 

The bolts I got for installing the paper towel dispenser were too long… but I got to use a rotary tool to cut and grind them down to a reasonable size. 

The bathroom wall where I tried to install a toilet paper holder started to crumble around the hole I drilled making the drywall plug just spin… but I got to use my ingenuity to create a solution for that. (Tiny zip tie holding tiny plastic q-tip sticks to the drywall plugs so they’d hold still long enough for the screw to make them expand into place)

As I was running around trying to piece together a solution for the toilet paper dispenser, I noticed the heavy rain had managed to leak into the basement. 

Hugslut and I checked overhead to make sure the obvious point of entry wasn’t a red herring but there were no pipes dripping, not even that one near the floor that brings the well water in. That big puddle was all thanks to this little gap. 

It was even spewing little bits of dirt with the water. Since nothing was in immediate danger we decided to just pick up a can of sprayfoam when we go out for errands Friday. 

After all that it was lunch time and we got in the car to go down to the post office. We got a lovely care package from Mum including a new gardening book for me. 

I’ve only had a flip through but it looks really interesting and has a lot of advice on the acidic soil, regular fog, and highly variable weather of the coast life. Thanks again Mum. 

The post office also had our new ID cards as well as the appliance parts I had ordered. 

After lunch I got the replacement wheels on the dishwasher rack so now it glides in and out smoothly instead of getting caught where wheels were missing. I also replaced the water filter inside the fridge. The old one was gross and from before the filter was put in downstairs so it had been doing some heavy lifting. I dumped out all the ice that was made running through this and now we should have good ice being made. 

After those successes I turned my attention to the drawer under the oven. It’s just a cabinet drawer but for some reason the rail was bent and off it’s bracket. I bent it back into shape but it refused to stay on its bracket … so I used some handy dandy E9000 and clamped that sucker overnight. I’m also considering adding 2x4s behind the rails to make it impossible for the rails to bow out like that again. Currently they’re just hovering and that can be low stress. 

After dinner we looked up some of the more unusual trash the last guy left us so we don’t get in trouble for throwing it out wrong and the half burned pile of random trash stumped us so I emailed the clerk at city hall to ask. We’ll just hang onto that for now until the path forward is clear.

So that was yesterday. It’s now 8am and I’m going to have some breakfast and start my day. Hopefully much less interesting.