Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Another Kind of Determined

When Meredith moved out, I decided that I was going to move my sewing room from the back of the house in the small room where the water heater is, to the bigger room at the front of the house that used to be her bedroom.  It's been a slow process, and I'm no where close to being done.  My sewing table is one of those honking big old oak teachers desks.  The top was quite a mess so a long time ago we found a piece of white arborite to sit on top, it is perfect. The desk is so big that the only way to get it through the doorways is to put it on end, and then get the front legs through the door first and then sort of swivel it and bring the back half through after.  One day I decided that I was going to try and move it myself.  I took all the drawers out and carried them over first.  Then I decided that two book cases either side of the doorway were going to be in the way, so I dragged one out of the room and into the bathroom which was the next room over.  The other one I pulled further into the room.  There was lots of other junk stuff that will be useful someday, in the way, so I moved it around, piled it precariously, whatever it took.  I got the desk up on end and managed to maneuver it through the door, and then slid it down the hall on it's end on the tile floor.  Then through another doorway, and the flooring changed to laminate, so I put a rug under the end of the desk and pushed and pulled and got it to the doorway of the new sewing room.  I tried to get it through one way, and that wasn't working, the wall was just too close.  So I swivelled it around and realized it wasn't going to go through the other way either.  I figured I was going to have to take the door off it's hinges, but then I realized that there were 8 screws that were holding the top of the desk on, so decided to take that off instead.  It was at this point that Larry realized what I was doing, and he wondered why I hadn't asked for help.  Well I'm kind of ornery that way sometimes, and just like to do some things myself!  I knew that he would have done it all properly, got me to move all sorts of stuff in the sewing room, you know how it is when you have to do six other things first before you can do the project you actually want to do.  I just wanted to get that table out of there.  So I got the screws undone, the top off, and then I just managed to ease the desk through the doorway.

This is my spare sewing machine.  $20, works great.  Actually, it's my bobbin winder.  The bobbin winder on my main machine isn't working, and it was just easier to pick up an inexpensive machine at the thrift store rather than take it to be repaired, and wait weeks for it to be done.  

Oh, and I have a spare for the spare.  I got that first, and then saw the spare one a week or two later, and thought it was a much better machine, so bought it. I've bought three sewing machines at that thrift store.  For some reason they seem to get lots in there, and no one there knows anything about them, so they are priced quite well, and if they don't work, you have a day or two to bring them back.  The third machine is at Oliver.

The next job was to run the cable for the little TV through the wall from the other room.  It is a bearing wall, so is 8" thick.  We didn't have a drill bit that was long enough, so Larry measured from the corner in each room and drilled matching holes, but we couldn't see light from the other side with either of them.  After a lot of poking around with knitting needles we realized that when we drywalled those walls, we had buried a lot of scrap pieces of drywall in there, and that was what was sort of springy in there and blocking the holes.  So put the drill back in and drilled through that and got the wire through the wall and I have my TV.

Then there was the shelf to put the TV on.  I had a wire one, the right height, but it was kind of deep, and since I wanted to hang or place that thread holder in front of it, or underneath it, the wire shelf just wasn't right.  We found some boards that would make a shelf if fastened to the wall, but then we couldn't find the studs in the wall, or if we found one spot to put a screw in, we couldn't find another one further over to pair it up with.  We do the 16" on center measuring and all that, and we thought we had found the wood plate that sat on top of the concrete foundation, but when we went horizontally, all of a sudden there was nothing but air behind the dry wall.  We tried some of those drywall plug things that you screw into, and couldn't seem get the screws to tighten up.  It was a gong show, good grief.  We spent so much time fiddling around with these little things....it made my struggling to get the desk into that room seem like the easy part.  Finally we went outside to do something else, and I said I'd have a look around in and behind the shop to see if I could find anything that might work.  So I found a couple of drawers, and one was perfect.

I fastened the thread holder on with hinges.

And put a shelf across the middle of the drawer, and made a stand to hold the thread rack up....and ta da.... a great place to store a lot of the serger threads.  Love it!

Of course they don't all fit in there, so there is a drawer full as well.

Do you think I have enough thread?  The last few months I've really lucked out in the thrift stores and have found bags full of spools for a dollar or two or three.  

And as for the subject of the original Determined post....well she was waiting to get in the coop one morning later last week.   I took that opportunity to go check on the eggs she was sitting on.  They were all smashed up, so I don't know what happened there.  I think the hen must be spending her nights in one of the evergreens now, because Larry has seen her waiting in the morning too.  
No Easter chicks this year.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015


Despite having been bred for generations as commercial egg layers, the hens still retain many of the instincts of the original stock.  One of those instincts is to lay their eggs in a safe hidden place.  The nest boxes in the coop fill that need for most of the hens, but there is always a rebel in every group.  

Back in January when we had a cold and wintry spell, our rebel decided, even though the weather was totally inappropriate for raising a brood of chicks, that she would give it her all.  It took us a while to figure out what was happening.  By the time we did, she was already sitting on those eggs, determined to hatch them.  First of all, the chances of the eggs even being fertile were slim.  Our little bantam rooster (that's him in the header photo) spends the night in the other coop.  During the day time he does fly out of his field, checks out the seed under the bird feeder, and then goes and visits the girls from the north coop.  There are 50 or so hens there, and I don't think there is enough of him to go around, so there is a good chance the rebel hen's eggs weren't fertile to start with.  Then we had some below freezing temperatures before the hen finished laying that clutch, so eggs that were already there may have frozen overnight, or got cold enough that any potential embryo was no longer viable.  When a hen is in that frame of mind, she doesn't know or care, she just wants to sit on those eggs.

So this particular hen had been flying up onto the roof of the coop and then out over the gate into the area behind the barn, to go and lay her eggs there.

She had been waiting for the coop to open one morning so she could dash in for some food, and then head back to her eggs.  When I followed her, she disappeared into this mess of blackberry vines and dead grass.  It was impassible.  We had to cut our way into it.  There was a big metal frame thing in there that was making it worse.

We finally got the vines cut back enough that we could drag the frame out.
Getting closer.

And there she was, sat on a whole bunch of eggs, more than a dozen, I can't remember the exact number.  So we left her there.  We put something over the nest to keep her dry, and then that was when we went to Oliver.  When we came back she had abandoned the nest, she had probably figured out by then that all the eggs were duds. 

A while ago I saw a couple of hens out behind the barn, right after they had got let out in the morning.  I didn't have time that morning to hang around watching them, and then I didn't see anything again.  Until a couple of mornings ago.  Most likely the same hen.  Up onto the coop roof and over the gate she went.  Then off she headed to almost the same spot as before.  Right next to it in the next pile of brambles and dead grass.  Not so inaccessible this time.  I went back that evening to see how many eggs there were.  The hen was still there.  She is trying to hatch the next clutch of eggs now.  She is sitting on 15 eggs.  Once again I'll put something over to give her some weather protection, and we'll wait three weeks and see what happens.  Not sure why I'm doing this.  Oh little chicks are so cute, but they are also something else that needs looking after, and we are trying to reduce those kind of chores.

And that metal frame that was over the first clutch of eggs....well it was the stand for an old fuel tank that we inherited with the property.  I'm kind of excited about that.  We've carried it down to the garden and I'm going to put some wire around it and it will make the perfect frame for pole beans to climb up.  Heavy and stable enough to not fall over, and easily portable so the beans can be planted in a different place each year.

Friday, March 6, 2015

Lumberjack Window

This row of Douglas Firs has been in the background of quite a few of my pictures.  They were wee little trees when we planted them not long after we moved here 28 years ago. They are almost on our south property line, just above it, at the edge of the fill that was added sometime before.  Now the tallest ones are reaching for 70'.  They look rather rangy and spindly in this photo, but stand right next to them and they are fairly impressive.  I found that out the other day.
This time of the year they are a bit annoying, because they cast such a long shadow.  One of the vegetables gardens is to the north of them, and right now is still in the shade of these trees.

I had casually mentioned a few times to Larry that if we took a couple down, (there was a shorter one and a skinnier one next to each other that looked like good volunteers), that it would create a window of sorts and the sun would at least sweep across the garden and melt any frost that was lingering in the shade, and help to warm the soil a little bit sooner.  A few days ago I mentioned it again, and Larry said something like, okay, lets live dangerously, and went and got his chainsaw.  We knew the trees were taller than the distance between them and the garden fence, so the plan was to take them down at about a 45 degree angle, to try miss the fence.  Thankfully they were growing fairly straight up.  The the angled piece was cut out of the northwest side of the tree, and the other cut was done on the backside, and the tree didn't move.  Great, or not so great, and then I started to worry, and was regretting it all.  In the end, the placing of two wedges, and some pounding got the tree moving ever so slowly....

And it landed perfectly, just missing the corner of the garden fence, extending past it about 10 feet.

The same thing happened to the second tree, it just hung there, not moving.  Larry was concerned about the branches getting caught up in the tree next to it, so he over compensated and the tree came down too far over and landed on the fence, about the top 6 feet or so.  Fortunately it missed the posts, and just pushed the wire down.  He sawed off the top part and we pulled the wire back up, and all is good.

The hens were really impressed!

So the kale, which is sending out some new shoots, (they aren't as big as the photo makes them seem) was in the sunshine instead of the shade that afternoon.

The collards have new growth on them too, so I've stopped buying greens now, and we'll just eat our own.

The garlic is really going gangbusters too, I think I planted 280 cloves, and there aren't many that haven't come up.

We've had such amazing weather lately.  This week we've spent a lot of time outside pruning the pear, apple and plum trees.  With some of them I wonder if it is worth the effort, as we don't get much fruit off them.  The last couple of years the plum and apples trees were either not done at all, or only partially pruned, so there was some pretty major stuff to come off.

Because it's been so nice, we've made Calli stay outside for a while, especially since we have been working out there.  After our morning walk all she wants to do is get back on her bed in the basement, and she would lay there all day until it is time for the afternoon walk.  So we took something out for her to lay on, and then before we knew it she would have dragged herself down the driveway and would be barking to go back in.  Finally I took the short ex-pen out and that kept her in place and quiet for a bit longer.   She was not impressed at all though, but seems to be getting used to the idea, and is taking some naps out there.  One day we even managed to sneak off for a half hour bike ride without her noticing, (she is quite deaf now) and she was still napping when we got back.

Spring is here!
(and I have now cleaned those spots off the camera lens) 

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Catching Up

My sister visited from the great frozen land in eastern Canada.  For them this is a winter to remember, or more likely they'd just rather forget it. Ontario has been under an Extreme Cold Warning, for what seems like weeks now.  She felt like she had come to Florida here on the west coast. The first daffodils are blooming, as well as some forsythia. Spring is getting an early start. It rained one day, and was cloudy for a couple,  but we had 3 days of sunshine when she got here, and another three days before she left.  She joined us in our Whole 30 eating plan, and is looking forward to great changes. She left yesterday, having completed 9 days of healthy eating.  I talked to her today, she said she is missing her chef (me), but had a roast in the crock pot and was oven roasting some vegetables.  Supper is taken care of for her, with leftovers for tomorrow.

We didn't do anything really exciting, although we did visit a lot of thrift stores, and I guess for us, that IS exciting! We also took Jake and Luna to a self serve dog wash at the local pet store.  First time I've ever paid money to clean our dogs, but for $10 a dog, it was well worth it.  Just nice to not have to kneel on the bathroom floor and lean over the tub.  Everything was included, waterproof aprons, grooming tools, towels, shampoo and a big dryer.  We passed up on the dryer as I knew it would freak Jake out.  I'll definitely go there again.

One of the 'red sky at morning, sailor take warning' sunrises.

Red sky at night, sailor's delight....

Cathy brought a present for Meredith, a late birthday present.  It was the tea set she had won in the silent auction in a Brockville thrift store, when we were in Ontario last November. The only thing was that she didn't know she had won it until we were back home, so Cathy had to drive half an hour to pick it up, and then pack it carefully in her carry-on luggage when she flew out here.

At the thrift store I found a cute half apron, which some one had embroidered with starbursts to make a border all the way around, and it matched the china perfectly.  It was 99 cents, but linens were half price that day:)

And since it is now marmalade season, I'm doing a lot of this.

It takes about 14 Seville oranges for a batch of marmalade.  The oranges are smaller this year, for some reason.  Since I make 10 batches over the year, that is a whole lot of oranges to juice during the short time that the oranges are in season. 

A few weeks ago I was buying veggies as well as marmalade oranges.  Not far away from my favourite veggie place is the Salvation Army thrift store.  It's not out of the way for me to go there, so I usually stop in.  You just never know what you might find!  
I've seen these citrus juicers before, and wondered why anyone would bother to drag something like that out of the cupboard to juice a few oranges, and then have to clean the darn thing after.  This time I had just bought marmalade oranges, enough for three batches.  The brain kicked in at the right time, and while I was looking at this gadget, brand new in it's box complete with instructions, for a whole $3.99, it occurred to me it might just be the thing for those marmalade oranges, and might save my wrist from some twisting and turning.  Hot damn, the thing is awesome!

28 orange halves done in a couple of minutes!

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Whole 41

As you may have guessed, we've been away at Oliver for a week and a half.  It had been three months since we were there, so it was nice to go and find everything okay.

I wanted to give you an update on that food plan that I started on January 1st.  Remember all the colourful meals I showed you?  Well this is day 41 of no sugar or sweeteners, no grains (which would include pasta of course as well as rice and similar things), no dairy other than ghee or clarified butter (which has the milk proteins removed), no legumes, no soy, no alcohol.  We have removed most foods that cause inflammation in the body.  I'm loving what I'm eating, we eat three meals a day with mostly no snacks.  We are well on the way to,  or already have retrained our brains to not crave that sugary or salty snack.  Is it hard, no, not at all.  I met a friend who is on the same program, and after we had bought our produce one day, we went across the road to Tim Hortons and had a cup of tea and a good chat.  Standing in front of the donut case didn't bother us in the least, we had no urge to have one.

So what do we (Larry joined in five days after I started) eat you ask?  We eat some protein at each meal. Eggs, fish, beef, pork, lamb, chicken, turkey, bison etc.  We have some fat or oil.  The rest of the plate is filled with vegetables and maybe a bit of fruit.  Nuts and nut butter are allowed, but no peanut butter.  Peanuts are legumes.

These were my meals on January 26th.
Tuna patties made with sweet potatoes, onion, egg, tuna and any other added vegetables. Left over salad, plus avocado and cherry tomatoes

Curried butternut squash soup with added chicken, plus tomatoes, kiwi and cashews.

Leftover chicken stew with a multitude of vegetables on cauliflower rice.

Our blood sugar is good.  No big highs or lows, no feelings of being desperate to shove something into my mouth.  It's not hard to make it from one meal to the next.  If I get a slight niggling feeling of hunger, I have a cup of water or tea or coffee and that does the trick.  I found that I can drink black, cold brewed coffee.  In fact it tastes just as good as the coffee with 1% milk I used to drink, and I don't get the bitter aftertaste.  Everything just tastes BETTER!  I have had improvements in a lot of small issues.  Most of the stiffness after sitting down for a while is gone.  The tightness I'd feel in my feet in the same situation is gone.  Some minor swelling I'd get in my lower legs is gone.  Swelling that has been there for years in my lower left thumb is gone.  Muscle soreness in my left hip that ran down to my left knee is gone.  More energy! I wish I could say I'm sleeping better, but unfortunately not much change there.  Less gas:)  There is no calorie counting or limits on amounts, within reason.  Obviously if you stuffed yourself full of nuts or nut butters, or white or sweet potatoes, or too much fruit, you wouldn't lose much weight.  I'm down 12 pounds.  The easiest 12 pounds I've ever lost.  I haven't knowingly cheated in 41 days.  I'm in no rush to add anything back at this point.

This isn't quite the fountain of youth, but I feel like I've made a lot of positive moves to improve my health and remove a lot of inflammation from my body.  I'm continuing on.  I wish I'd done this 20 years ago. Larry keeps mentioning about adding things back in, but he hasn't yet.  I am making a point of trying new fruits and vegetables.  The other day I bought plantain, jicama and dragonfruit.  We ate the dragonfruit at lunch.  It reminded me a bit of kiwi fruit, but I liked it better.  Sunday and today I used the plantain to make tortillas.  I just found out that jicama is the root of a legume, but it is okay because the part of the legume we are trying to avoid is the seed. I've now tried the jicama raw.  Oh wow, love it!  Many of you have probably heard of the Paleo diet.  That is generally what we are eating.
Lots more info here www.whole30.com.  
It is life changing.

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Happy Birthday Calli!

This was going to be a more involved post, but I'm already a day late, so I'll just make it short and sweet.  Dear Calli hit 15 yesterday.  Here's a couple more videos of her.  She's having a lot more fun here than she was in the two in the previous post!  

And Jake is all 'play with me, play with me'

Sunday, January 25, 2015

More Pineapples

We had that whole Hawaiian Pineapple Express storm system dumping rain on us for two days straight.  Really ugly and a bit depressing.  The upside is that the temperatures are really mild. Bothers the dogs much less than us, so they still expect their daily exercise.  You will probably laugh at us walking out there through the bush with our umbrellas.  A bit awkward at times, but beats struggling into the rain gear, which would make me TOO HOT over the top of my other clothes.  Maybe it's my British background, but we use umbrellas a lot here.  This was yesterday morning.  Calli was not impressed.

You dragged me off my nice comfortable bed....for this?

Despite averaging 60" of rain here a year, we do not have rain coats for the dogs.  Some days though, you just kind of get fed up of towelling them off every time they have been outside. So Calli got the one thicker winter coat.  She doesn't move fast so no worries about her getting too hot. Luna and Jake wore reflective 'vests' that I got from the dollar store.  Any bit of rain being deflected from their coats was better than nothing I thought.

Luna has a new routine when we walk in the morning.  She HAS TO find her ball. Sometimes she is frantically running up and down the driveway, trying to find it.  Worst case scenario, if we don't know where it is, there are a couple of older balls that will fill in in a pinch, but this one is definitely her favourite.  She will roll it from down by the house, all the way up the alleyway, through the old riding ring, and out to where the old horse shed is.  She will usually leave it there, go through the bush with us, and make her rounds, and then when she knows we are on our way back, she will run ahead, get her ball and push it down the hill, and through the gate, and days like yesterday, pushes it half way up the trail.  She is pretty tired on the way back sometimes, and will sometimes abandon the ball, so you have to keep watch.  Don't want to leave it out there or the coyotes might start up their own soccer game.  (many years ago they played havoc with water hoses we left out there).  Here she is moving it through the big puddle just inside the riding ring gateway.

Other end of the riding ring, almost at the horse shed.

Waiting to be told that is is okay for them to go through the gate to the bush.

They run full bore up the field, Jake starts out in the lead but Luna catches up, and then they have a bit of snark fest with each other, and then turn around and come back, generally. Unless they pick up a hot scent out there, and then they just keep going.  Usually on the way back Luna will throw herself on the ground and have a really good roll.  And if she is extra hot, on the way through the bush she will lay in the creek in a deep spot, for a quick cool down.

Calli was not impressed with yesterday's walk at all.  It was kind of like, well You dragged me out here in the pouring rain, YOU can get me through the creek.

Sorry for the shaky filming. Holding an umbrella in one hand, the camera steady in the other, and NOT fall in the mud was a bit of a struggle.
Can you hear the rain.  Sounds like a fire crackling in the background.
A bit past the creek, she got moving under her own power.

Today was just the opposite. Still really mild, and the sun came out and it was like a spring day.  I was down to capris and a t-shirt on the way back from our fast walk.  We try to do a half hour fast walk up the road with just Jake and Luna, to get our heart rates up and get some decent exercise.

Day 25 of Whole30 for me.  Larry is five days behind me.