28 February 2014

Windowfarm 3.0

I’ve made several attempts at growing plants in my window.

Without a pump, the original version didn’t work very well. With small gutter containers, the second version worked fine for starting the seedlings, but then I couldn’t keep up with their water requirements, and they all died from dehydration.

Enter Windowfarm Version 3.0: Kratky Hydroponics.

How does this work? It’s a completely passive, set-it-and-forget-it system. No pump. No bubbler. No electrical stuff at all, totally silent, just sits there in the window and takes care of itself. It’s awesome.

I tried this out last summer with a couple of tomato plants I got at the grocery store garden centre (the day they were closing it down and giving plants away for free, no less). I planted several outside in the raised bed planter stairs, and they did all right … but late in the season when frosts were heading in, I uprooted one that had a lot of green tomatoes on it and stuck it in a Kratky bucket on the window sill … and it kept growing! And the tomatoes ripened! It was amazing and cool.

So what’s this Kratky bucket? It’s a big pail (I am using small ones because I’m just starting plants – a tomato or cucumber needs a very big bucket if it’s to live there all season, but I believe you can grow a lettuce to maturity in about 4 litres of nutrient solution). The bucket needs to be dark, so that algae don’t grow in the nutrient, and the plant sits in a net pot (a plastic plant pot with big holes in the base to let the roots come through) that is suspended in a hole in the lid of the bucket. I use a hole saw to drill a circle in the bucket lid, set the net pot inside the hole, then fill the net pot with some hydroton (expanded clay pellets made for growing plants, they look like cocoa puffs) and nestle the plant in the middle. The plant drinks the nutrient solution, which is right up to the level of the plant’s roots to start out with, and as the nutrient level drops, the plant grows roots to reach down to where the water is … and because there is air in the space between the bottom of the net pot and the surface of the nutrient solution, the plant doesn’t drown and the roots stay oxygenated.  There are a lot of great YouTube videos showing different gardening set ups using this system, if you want to learn more.

Now, because I live where the growing season is very short, I need to get my plants started ahead of time. And, if I can manage it, I’d like to grow some smaller things, like lettuce, over the winter. I don’t have a grow light set up (yet), but I do have a very bright, very sunny south facing window, and I have put my plants up there. So far, they aren’t looking terribly leggy or anything and they seem to be doing quite well!

I start the seedlings in rockwool cubes that I found on sale at the hardware store last year. Once they are well established, I tuck the rockwool cube with the little seedling in it into a net pot of hydroton and put that into a bucket of nutrient solution. I usually keep the bucket down where I can check on it for a few days to make sure the plant is doing well and hasn’t gotten dried out or waterlogged, then I put it up on the window ledge to soak up sunshine and grow. That’s all there is to it.

Photo 2-17-2014, 1 18 36 PMPhoto 2-17-2014, 1 19 02 PM

There you see a couple of cucumber plants and four tomatoes, happily soaking up winter sunshine.

I do realize that these plants won’t be able to live in these buckets all their lives – they are going to be too large, and they’d drink up all the nutrient solution in a hurry. Once the weather perks up, I’ll be transplanting them outside. I may leave some plants in straight up hydroponics buckets (probably smaller plants like lettuce, which will be okay in my smaller buckets), but the larger plants will be going into soil. I’ll be setting up some sub-irrigated planters outside, probably some large raised beds made from scrap wood or pallets, then lined with a waterproof liner, and fitted with a reservoir in the base (flexible weeping tile). More on that adventure when we get there … but you can see an example of what I intend to build here. Growing straight in the ground is a losing battle against quackgrass, so I am changing gears and putting my energy into building some planters that will be lower maintenance and still give me great yields.

I’m hopeful, anyway.

So hopeful that I started new seedlings today … some beans, some lettuce, some peppers.

I love growing things.

26 February 2014


I’ve overdone it. I’m now in deficit mode.

It makes me terrifically angry that doing so damned little by any sort of objective measure can be enough to flatten me like this.

In the past month I have had two eye doctor appointments for myself, one visit to the psychiatrist, one to the counsellor, and one to the dentist. Okay, that is a fair number of appointments, but still.

And I’ve taken The Boy to one appointment for him, and taught for four days.

Now, yes, that’s more than I usually do in a month. But I used to go to work five days a week and do stuff at home in the evenings and on the weekends. Even granting that I was running myself a bit too hard back then, leaving the house once or twice a week for an afternoon or a day ought not to leave a person so wrung out.

But it does. Even with my medication, it does. The drugs help, a lot: I took extra the day I saw the dentist, and I am sleeping at night, though I still don’t fall asleep quite as fast as I’d like, it’s such an improvement over how it was before I’ll not complain. But I look at the dishwasher that needs unloading and I think … wow, that’s … wow. Let me rest for a few minutes then I’ll tackle that.

I’m going to go climb back into my recliner with some yarn and a story and make another shawl. Because I just can’t wring anything else out of me right now, not even tears. And I truly do feel like crying.

I’m just too wrung out to be bothered.

21 February 2014

New shawl design: A Dash of the Waves

Like it’s predecessor, A Dash of Colour, this shawl is a one-skein adventure, meant to work well with colourful sock yarn. It requires almost no counting, minimal concentration, and the lace repeat section is actually random, so you don’t even have to worry about things lining up properly or being all perfect. It’s not supposed to be.

Photo 2-21-2014, 12 44 28 PM

A really easy, really quick knit, this is loads of fun and looks really cool when it is finished … in fact, it looks like it must’ve been a lot harder to knit than it actually is.

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Wanna make one yourself?

The pattern is available right here:

20 February 2014

Boots are finished and on the feet they belong to!

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Didn’t take much scrubbing at all to get the final fitting done … and with the top cuffs turned down they look fantastic!

They also fit nicely inside her existing snow boots … she says she’s gonna wear ‘em all day now, which is good, because if they finish drying on her feet, they’ll be the perfect fit.

Yay! I’m so happy with how they turned out.

17 February 2014

Creative process

I was part of a conversation today about finding the time to do all the things that interest you. There’s a lot of stuff that I want to do – and I am realizing, especially recently, that I only have so much energy to go around, and I cannot always do all the things I would like to do.

Still, I am able to plan and organize when the need arises: it’s one of the skills from my old life that has remained with me. Fortunately I don’t have to do it very often, because it takes a lot more out of me these days, though I can still pull it off when necessary.

But for all the things that come from deep inside, the creative things … well, I simply leave the working materials easily accessible, and then work on the thing that calls to me that day. This drives my family nuts, because I have baskets and piles of yarn all over the house, and they cannot understand why I need them all out. I have multiple projects on the go, and they are scattered everywhere, waiting to be picked up. I feel anxious if it’s all put away, I need it out where I can just run my hands over the skeins, and think about what that yarn might want to be. To have the things that are intriguing me right where I can see them, even if they sit there for several weeks before I pick them up.

Sometimes, I go weeks without spinning. But if I’m in the midst of designing a shawl, or just in a knitting mood, or a weaving one, then that’s what I do.

Every now and then a deadline pops in the picture and I have to hustle and do that thing whether it is the thing I feel like doing or not. But really, my life is better when I simply do the thing that calls to me the loudest. Yes, many things call to me to try them. I let them simmer in the back of my mind while I do the other thing that is currently occupying the front of my brain … and then all of a sudden, at one moment, the thing that was simmering will come right up to the boil and I HAVE TO GO DO THAT RIGHT NOW!

So I drop whatever I was doing, and do the new thing. And when it releases me, then I go to whatever calls me next. It truly does feel like being captured by an idea, by a project … my mind is snared by something, and I cannot rest easy until I let the work find its way out into the world through my hands.

It is very unplanned. Very much the exact opposite of the way I am accustomed to living: I am a very skilled planner, organizer, project coordinator - it’s just one of my gifts.

It is also a skill that is completely irrelevant to my creative life. :) Because that is … soul work. It comes from somewhere deep inside, where there is no time, no calendar, no schedule. Just … just that powerful life force, demanding to be expressed, first in one way, then in another.

It seems to work best when unforced. I think by letting one thing sit, even for months on end, you allow the creative energies for that pursuit to simmer, letting the flavours blend, letting the energy build. Then when you finally realize that it is ready to burst out into the world, you simply cannot contain it … and it rushes out of your hands, all on it’s own, with all that pent up energy and strength and time behind it, and it comes to life.

Which is the whole idea, right?

That’s how it works for me, anyway.

I would love to hear what it’s like for you.

14 February 2014


My daughter Jessica would’ve been 19 today.

Mostly, now, it is not so hard to remember. Mostly, now, it just … is.

She was little, and broken, and the angels took her to heaven not long after she arrived. We got to say hello and goodbye. She taught me a lot about how precious time is. She changed my life in many ways, and I am grateful.

I do often wonder what she would’ve been like if she’d been well and able to stay with us. I figure she would’ve probably been more of a rough-and-tumble sorta girl than a princess (because really, the likelihood of any girl of mine growing up to think herself a princess is vanishingly small). I suspect she’d have liked animals and probably been nuts about horses, like I was when I was little. Since we live out in the country now, maybe horses could’ve really happened for her, too, and not just been a dream.

And then I think of a young woman I know from our community, who is almost exactly the age Jessica would be now. This girl loves horses, and she rides beautifully … and she has a wonderful, open heart and a genuine smile. She’s got the same dark colouring as Jessica, too … and so when I wonder what my little girl would’ve been like, I think … you know, she’d probably have been like this. And that makes me happy.

Yup, it does. Seeing such brightness helps to lighten my sadder memories. With such wonder and beauty in the world, it’s easier to find hope and healing.

13 February 2014

Week 1: Med Report

It’s been a week now of taking Prazosin to help with the PTSD symptoms. I’m up to 3 mg at bedtime: I can tell that it wears off by midafternoon. I don’t want to raise the dosage any further just yet, but my doctor did mention that sometimes a larger dose is taken at night and smaller doses during the day. I may try adding one mg at lunch and see what happens. I can tell when it wears off because the chest pain and what I can only describe as a ‘wound up sensation’ starts to come back … a sensation I wasn’t even aware of until the medication took it away from me and kept it gone long enough that I could recognize the inner stillness as something new, and strange, and wonderful.

I sleep. Yes, I actually sleep. I go to sleep far, far more easily than before – in what I suspect is the time frame it takes healthy people to fall asleep, usually half an hour or less, though occasionally a little longer. Mostly if I’m reading a good book and don’t want to put it down.

When I am asleep, I am deeply asleep. The Jawbone Up band tells me that I’m not rolling around as much, that I’m lying still for an hour or two at a stretch, then moving a bit for twenty or thirty minutes, then back under – which means I have made it into deeper sleep and am getting better rest. I can tell, too. I wake up feeling actually rested, not just like I’ve been lying down for a long time.

I am dreaming: I am having dreams that are strange, sometimes downright weird, sometimes a little disturbing, but not frightening or waking me in a panic. Mostly I wake up and go “hmm, that was interesting, wonder what that was about?” And often, the dreams fade within an hour or so of waking.

I am dizzy if I wake in the night: I don’t usually (which is new, I have been up at least once every night for the last several years), but if I am woken suddenly (by the dog coughing something up, for example), I can’t just bolt out of bed or I’ll be woozy and probably fall over. If I had a small child to look after in the night, this would be an issue, but since generally speaking I am free to just sleep right through, and all the other people in this house, including the children, are big enough to take care of themselves in the night, it’s not a problem.

I am not hungry. My appetite is most definitely suppressed. I can eat when there’s food in front of me, I do recognize when I am hungry, and I have reminders (including an alarm on the Up band to tell me it’s lunch time) that I need to eat something, but I’m not feeling very hungry. It makes figuring out what to cook a bit of a challenge, since I’m not sufficiently interested in food for it to seem exciting, but as long as it’s fairly easy to prepare, I’ll eat. The blender has been a big help in that regard, a smoothie is quick and easy and good for me.

I am … tired? lethargic? resting? I am not sure how to describe what it’s like for me during the day. I slept for ten hours last night and when I woke this morning the thought that was in my mind was “Wow, I guess I was really tired, I needed that.” I don’t wake up feeling like I have been in bed too long and am not rested … I wake up feeling well rested, but then through the day I still do not feel energetic. So I’m rested, but not replenished.

Getting things done is a lot more work right now. This could be because I’ve gone hard for the last two weeks and I truly just need some time to recover – I have no idea what recovery from a ‘busy couple of weeks’ is supposed to look or feel like. I haven’t done a very good job of that for so long, so I’ve no proper benchmark. I spend a lot of time reading. I have knit a little, but I’m feeling a bit too tired to feel much like knitting – which tells you something interesting right there.

I feel … I feel like you do when you are just getting over a serious illness, when you no longer cough all the time or feel that deadly aching exhaustion, but you still need a lot of time to sit and do nothing, to move at a nice slow pace, to stay in your jammies and not have to do too much.

Recovering from a serious illness. Hmmm. That might just be telling me something interesting, right there.


11 February 2014

Quick! Go! Hurry! Teach!

On Friday night, I had a call from my new boss… there was a possibility I’d be needed to teach Saturday, but we wouldn’t know for sure until Saturday morning. I got things ready, just in case, and sure enough, I was called in to cover at the very last minute! I taught my first solo class with no warning, no prep, and it went fine.

I have to say, I was grateful for medication that interferes with the adrenaline response, though! To be fair, I have done a lot of teaching, and the materials for this course are really clear and helpful: the instructor has plenty to do, but it’s not an overwhelming burden and you don’t have to have all your own PowerPoint presentations or anything like that. The students were all very gracious about the delay and the disorganization while I figured out where everything was, they learned the skills quickly and asked really good questions about the material, and we got it all sorted out.

It was cool to be the hero again. That was the best part of my old job: I was able to come up with a process that would solve someone’s problem and they’d say “oh, wow, yeah, that’s perfect! I wish I’d known about this six months ago! You have saved me so much work!” … or I’d find a way to get their data from point A to point B so they didn’t have to rekey it all, or answer a question off the top of my head so that someone didn’t have to go dig through the documentation to find the answer. It was awesome, being able to save the day, being the One With the Answers, the One Who Knew Stuff.

Lately, I’ve been the One Who Needs Help. The One Who Forgets Stuff. The One Who Can’t Keep Up. I’ve been The One Everybody Has to Take Care Of, not the Self-sufficient Manager Of Things I used to be.

So being the One With the Answers, the One Who Saved the Day … even just briefly … that was pretty awesome.

It comes at a price, of course, and I knew that going in – I spent Monday in my jammies, drinking tea and reading on the couch. I did a bit of knitting but I was too tired even to do much of that, so really, I rested. Today I am trying to get a bit of the neglected housework out of the way before the Reluctant Farmer gets home, but it’ll be no more than a lick-and-a-promise as I just haven’t got it in me to go beyond that. Even sending Matilda around to keep the floors tidy feels like work right now, which sounds odd even to me, but it is what it is.

The drugs are still working: I had a harder time going to sleep the last few nights, probably as a result of the stress of teaching. I do still feel that mellowed-out sensation during the day, as well as what seems like honest-to-goodness tiredness. It’s really interesting to feel lethargic, instead of that weird combo of wired and exhausted that I’m accustomed to. The weariness seems to me like it might be a little bit artificially induced (I suspect some of it is medication side effects) but then again, I really ought to be tired after all I’ve done in the past little while so it makes sense that I should feel tired. I jus have no idea what that’s supposed to be like because I’ve spent the last fifteen years or so turning a deaf ear to my body whenever it said “please can we rest now?” Maybe this is what it is like for normal healthy people. I really have no idea, it’s been too long since I fit in that category and I don’t remember.

07 February 2014

Day 3: Med report

The deal with this drug is that it is slowly ramped up: take 1 mg for 3 days, then increase to 2 mg, hold there for three days or so, and then see where you are at, increasing up to a certain amount (7 mg for me at this point) until you are sleeping well and not having trouble during the daytime.

I actually increased my dosage last night, one day early, as I wasn’t having any troubles and I have somewhere to go on Saturday, so if I was going to feel anything untoward from the doubled dose, I wanted that to happen today, when I’m at home.

No problems so far: I am a bit light headed, and I have to be careful not to wave my head around too vigorously when I’m talking (I talk with my whole body, so this actually is something I have to pay attention to) but really, I feel okay. The overall sense of mellowness from the first day is somewhat lessened, as my body is adjusting to the medication I suspect, but it’s still there. I’m tired, but that’s not surprising either, I’ve also been going hard for the last week, doing more than I usually do, and between that and modifications to my biochemistry, I would expect to be a little less energetic.

Now for some objective measurements: pictures of my sleep profile from the Jawbone Up bracelet.

Here is a fairly typical “before” picture – this is what sleep looks like for me, even with all the herbal supplements and two Tylenol 1s:

Photo 2-7-2014, 10 13 11 AM

I’d have been in bed reading for a couple of hours before I finally hit the “I’m going to sleep” indicator at 1:06 am, then I slept … restlessly, until a little before 8, though I stayed in bed until 9:44. The tall dark blue bars are when I was still – what the Jawbone interprets as “deep sleep”. When you are dreaming, you don’t move, and rolling around and moving lots is not good, restful sleep. My deep sleep was just under 50% of the time I was in bed.

Here’s last night’s picture, with 2 mg of Prazosin on board:

Photo 2-7-2014, 9 26 41 AM

Deep sleep was close to 3/4 of the night: that’s a huge improvement. And I was actually asleep longer: that is nine hours of actual sleep, not just nine hours in bed.

Now, I was having bad dreams for some of that time … stressful enough that they probably count as ‘trauma dreams’,  so there’s still improvement to be seen. But for three days into treatment, this is such a massive step forward, I’m very pleased.

I didn’t realize that there were options for treating PTSD besides antidepressants. There are, and I’m grateful to have found a doctor who will help me find my way back to biochemical balance.

06 February 2014

Day 2: med report

By afternoon yesterday, the mellowing had worn off. There is something very interesting about having a drug *work*... Like, maybe there really is something going on here, chemically, if a drug that acts by interfering with adrenalin can have such a noticeable effect on me. Hmmm. 
Anyway, last night I took the same dose ... Took longer to fall asleep but I had a good rest and didn't wake until morning when Ben needed help (ate something that came back up). No dizziness even though I got up fast, and I've got a headache again but nothing serious. Tonight I'll be increasing the dose - that's a day earlier than planned, but I have to go out Saturday so I figure it's best to try the increase when I have nowhere to be the following day, just in case. And, I can tell from how I feel that the increase is needed. 
Off to do today's running around ... Further bulletins as events warrant. 

05 February 2014

Day 1: Med report

My report after one night of the new medication: I went to sleep much faster than usual. Yes, I got very dizzy when I had to get up in the night to use the loo, but I had been warned it could happen so I got up slowly and carefully and just took my time so as not to fall over. I slept, quite deeply and longer than usual. I feel very mellow today ... bit of a headache, little bit tired (also effects that are to be expected until my body adjusts), but I feel very ... chilled out. Relaxed. It’s not at all like the hangover from Gravol, which leaves me feeling thick headed, stupid, and weighed down … this is very … hmm. It feels very restful. Like a warm summer afternoon with a lovely breeze and the birds chirping kind of feeling.

I don’t think I realized just how tense I was. It’s like when I had a bad ear infection and ended up in ER: they gave me Torradol and when the pain eased off, I was just astonished to realize how much it had been hurting and how much relief I felt when it finally went away. I feel relief now at not feeling so wound up – even though my head aches some and I’m kind of tired, the overall sense of restfulness is worth it.

This is fascinating.

04 February 2014

The next step

I decided just after the Christmas holidays that it was time to seek some additional tools for dealing with my PTSD. I have made great progress in counselling: I am no longer so angry, no longer so afraid, and I really do feel at peace with most of what happened. Still, though, I am having trouble: I can’t concentrate, I can’t sleep, I forget simple things … I walk into a room and have no idea why I’m there, I am derailed from my train of thought by the smallest of things, I ask the same question twice in a row and have no recollection of asking the first time … these are all things that happen to everyone sometimes, but they happen to me far more often than they ever used to, and often enough to make it challenging to function normally in the world. The diagnostic phrase is that they “interfere with my activities of daily living”. Add in the fatigue, the irritability, and the chest pains and you have a problem.

Yes, I have a problem. I found someone who might be able to help. A Google search at random one night led me to the MacAnxiety Research pages: Canadian research into anxiety disorders, including PTSD. I found a link to a clinic nearby … I sent an email … and I got a reply. “Have your counsellor send a referral letter, and we can see you.” That was all I had to do!

My first appointment was today. The doctor was very nice, very kind, very approachable … a regular kind of guy in black jeans and a polar fleece sweater, he listened to my story, asked a lot of questions to find out where things are at right now, which kinds of things are bothering me and which are not giving me much trouble, and then he had some suggestions.

One of those suggestions is a new medication to try: actually it’s an old medication, it’s been used for high blood pressure for a long time. In PTSD, it is used to interfere with the adrenalin that I have in excess – take some of it out of circulation, essentially, and I should feel better. I am suffering from adrenalin overload, and if we can reduce that burden on the system, I should sleep … be more able to focus … be less irritable … be more balanced.

I’m very hopeful. The side effects of dizziness and so forth can be a bit rough at the start, but I have the smallest possible dose to begin with and we will increase it very slowly and see how it goes. I go back in a month to see him again and we’ll talk about things in more detail then – but this is not just a “here’s your prescription, go away and try it and come back and we’ll see how you are” kind of thing … this doctor listens, and works with your thoughts as well as your biochemistry.

I am very hopeful.

03 February 2014

Further sourdough experimentation

I am doing another sourdough experiment today.

I don't actually much like what we consider 'traditional sourdough breads' ... English muffins, yes, but bread? I like bread to just be ... bread. You know, like the kind you get for sandwiches from the store. Boring, I know, but that's what I like.

Still, I do want to use sourdough - I went to toss out the last sourdough loaf the other day, expecting it to be a solid hockey puck of dry toughness and it was STILL SOFT! and no mould! whoa, it keeps!!! And there is just something cool about not needing yeast from the store.

So I took my starter out of the fridge last night and fed it and let it rise on the top of the stove. This morning I scooped a bunch of it into the breadmaker, then made bread my usual way, more or less, compensating for the amount of starter I used, but keeping the rest the same as what I normally do. Let it knead and rise, and it looked really good ... though the rise was slower than with yeast. (I don’t bake my bread in the machine – I just use it to knead and raise the dough, so essentially it is a big fancy warm mixer.)

The dough looked great, so I took it out, shaped it, put it in a pan, and put it in the oven to rise a second time. It definitely kept rising! Looked great. Just turned the oven on to see how it bakes. :)

I'm excited!

Oh, yes, that worked just fine!

The bread came out beautifully … the texture on the inside is just the way I like it, fluffy and airy but compact, the crust had just the right amount of crunch, and the taste was a tiny bit tangy but it didn’t yell “sourdough” at me. I think with the addition of a tablespoon or so of honey or sugar, it’ll be absolutely fantastic.

Yay for bread!

Oh, and to go with it, we had cream of potato soup. I sliced a few potatoes into the pot with my awesome v-slicer, then added a few hunks of dehydrated garlic and a green onion (couldn’t find a regular onion) and cooked that until the potatoes were soft. Drained the water, dumped the cooked veggies into the blender, added milk and zinged it until it was nice and creamy. Then I poured it back in the pot and seasoned with seasoning salt, regular salt, pepper, and a bit of dehydrated onion powder. Yum.

02 February 2014

Barter: hand work for hand work

A friend of mine has been experimenting with processing hides in her barn – she has room to do such stinky, smelly work, she has access to hides and eggs and she is a clever girl with lots of energy! When she told me about her hide-processing adventures, I told her I was hoping to make some moccasins for myself – I know how hard it is to clean, scrape (and scrape and scrape and scrape) and smoke a hide, but if she had any extra and might be interested in a trade…

She likes my felted boots. Those are also a lot of hard work – getting the initial felt shape isn’t too bad but there is a lot of scrubbing and rolling and squashing involved in getting them shrunk down to size (which also thickens and solidifies the felt, so it’s essential to the procedure). My green boots took two days of steady work to construct, so it’s a fair swap.

I’ll make her a set of purple boots, she will give me a piece of buckskin. That is one good trade!

I picked up the skin today – it smells so good, having been smoked. And boy is it soft!

Photo 2-2-2014, 4 03 09 PM

I’m not sure which kind of animal it came from, I’ll have to ask. Probably cow or sheep.

Holding up my end of the bargain, I started on boots:

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As I mentioned, they begin very oversized. You have what looks like a pair of giant Christmas stockings, and then you scrub and roll and scrub and roll until they shrink down to a foot-sized boot.

I got this far:

Photo 2-2-2014, 3 59 04 PM

The black plastic is the original size: that is the resist, used in the centre to hold the boot hollow while the felt takes shape. I’ve gotten a good couple of inches off the size, but there’s a lot more shaping yet to do: they are too tall and too thick at the ankle, and still a good two or three inches too long. More scrubbing to be done. However, I’m done for today – if I do any more, even Advil won’t be enough.

01 February 2014

Eating made easier

I often don’t feel like eating. Well, eating I could probably do, but there’s all the hassle of getting food ready and then cleaning up and quite a lot of the time, it just seems like food is more trouble than it’s worth.

I’ve been keeping an eye out for a blender for awhile now. A long time ago I had an Oster Kitchen Centre with the mixing stand and bowls and food processor and blender, it did everything. It was too big though, and once I moved to the country I found I didn’t use it very often … I have a breadmaker, and it’s great for dough mixing, I do pretty much everything else by hand (I enjoy it), and we have a Magic Bullet for smaller beverages.

Still, the Bullet doesn’t pulverize things quite as well as my big ol’ blender used to. Nor can it do as much at once. The blender jars (I had a big glass one plus several small ones, perfect for baby food – or guacamole) and food chopper attachment from my old unit would work on a new blender base … and when the Oster blender went on sale half price at Canadian Tire yesterday, I decided now was the time.

I’ve been experimenting with nut butters and cheeses for a friend with some dietary restrictions, so that was really fun: toss in some soaked nuts, blend with a bit of water, add some seasonings, and you have a fabulous dip for chips or crackers or to spread on bread. Yum.

I have almond milk straining as well – just blender almonds in water and strain through cheesecloth … excellent for making smoothies. The almond that remains can be dehydrated and added to baking, too, so that’s cool.

I took all the oranges that were sitting around here getting weary (we all seem to think we like oranges, but rarely eat them), got them peeled and put the insides in the blender. Whooshed them thoroughly for a bit then put the pulp in my Lee Valley Juice Strainer as I don’t like pulp in my OJ (ask my mom, she used to make me drink a little tiny A&W mug full of juice and I always strained the pulp with my lips as best I could). Voila: over a litre of lovely, pulp-free juice! And I can take the pulp that remains and spread it on trays in the dehydrator … the chickens will happily eat it, and maybe the lovebirds will, too, you never know. (The lovebirds don’t seem to realize that they are supposed to go crazy over raw fruit. They just look at it, they won’t eat it.)

For breakfast, I pureed some soaked almonds with a cored apple, some cinnamon, and a scoop of oatmeal and a dash of honey. Yum. It’s afternoon snack time and I’ve got another apple with some saskatoon syrup (store bought), cherry syrup (that one is home made), a bit of oatmeal and wheat germ and some of the aforementioned orange juice. Yum! The oatmeal gives it a bit of heft and extra fibery goodness, the syrups sweeten the tang of the orange, and the whole thing is full of healthy vitamins and things. Yay.

Lots better than a bowl of ramen noodles, eh? And cleanup is simple: rinse the blender jar, and you’re done. Yep, I think this was a good idea.

I’m thinkin’ guacamole and nachos for supper… there were avacados on sale at the grocery store yesterday!