Monthly Archives: October 2020

Winter is here.

Winter has arrived early, just as it did last year. Fortunately, it did not arrive in a big blizzard. It just sort of came creeping in while we weren’t looking. Everything in the yard is dormant, covered, or packed away from the snow and cold. Life has been very quiet in our little corner of Alonsa. We don’t go out much. We don’t socialize much. Everything is tight due to COVID fear.

The only really nice thing about the cold is that Klinger no longer sleeps in the cold basement. Klinger is now playing with Mali and playing a lot because he isn’t outside running off his energy with the cats across the street. Mali doesn’t keep trying to get outside because she hates the snow. So the cats are now playing during the day and sleeping next to me all night long. I like nothing better than falling asleep to purring kitties. (If you are an instagram fan Klingermain14 is their account and the two cats have 1303 followers as of today and they post daily.)

Now for some really positive news. Today, after many delays, COVID and otherwise, my new doors for our little house on the prairie were delivered! There are three doors. Two of them are to replace the old leaky warped wood doors that frost up in the winter. We have lived with these outdated doors for the last five years. The third door is an exterior single French Door style that we want to open outward onto our planned new southern deck. My husband’s office space on the south side is dark most of the day and this door will make that room into a sunroom. With the second window, the sun can come in from two directions. I can just imagine the February sun streaming directly in via all the little square windows of that door, warming the entire house up even if it is -40C outside. The west window will bring in the sunshine in the late afternoon until sunset. During summer, we can open the window set in the door and get a cross breeze and we can walk out onto our deck through this door. (The door is also 36″ whereas the other two doors are 32″ so we will have one wide door for moving furniture in and out if we decide we want to.)

This door will be in the kitchen. The kitchen is kind of dark and the natural light coming through the glass that is nonetheless just opaque enough to be private should make life more pleasant purely from a visual perspective, never mind the better quality of door. The new front door matches this door but has a smaller fan shaped opening instead of such a big window.

Tomorrow morning a carpenter is coming by to give us a quote for the installation. I am SO excited! I have wanted these beautiful doors since we bought the house but other renovations were higher priority. The imagined look has been in my head for five years and now it will finally become a reality. Once these doors are in, every major renovation and upgrade is complete. (Well there is that problem bathroom with the old chipped tub….)

Happy Canadian Thanksgiving

This weekend marks Canadian Thanksgiving. There is a lot of overlap between our holiday and the American one. The most important difference is that if we waited until the end of November for our Thanksgiving we would be doing it in winter.

Due to COVID we will be having a very quiet Thanksgiving by ourselves. Our children have made plans elsewhere though we would love to be with them, we are playing it safe as Manitoba spirals into another wave with record levels of infection. Nonetheless, I am making a big turkey dinner with all the trimmings even if it is just for the five of us. Mali and Misty will be happy to join us for turkey.

Klinger will likely not enjoy the turkey but I suspect he’ll enjoy eating turkey liver.

Klinger in a sunny spot luxuriating.

And once the turkey is cooked and we’ve eaten our fill I see leftover and special turkey based meals in our future. It’s a substantial bird. I like to cut the cooked leftover turkey up and make containers of meat appropriate for a variety of future dishes. I pop these into the freezer and when I am ready, I take them out and put them in a dish. I see Turkey Bombay, Turkey Lentil Curry, Turkey Pot Pie, Turkey Chili, Turkey Stuffed Acorn Squash, and at least three forms of turkey soup including Turkey Tortilla Soup. And of course we will enjoy turkey sandwiches and fried leftover turkey for breakfast. I would prefer to have all my family around me and few to no delicious leftovers but I’ll enjoy the variety of turkey dishes over the next few weeks.

I have much to be thankful this year. We are not having a giant Manitoba Storm like last year’s Thanksgiving. My husband has fully recovered from his stroke in March. The doctors can’t even tell he had one anymore, he’s done so well. One of my sons who is an aide in the Health Sciences Centre in Winnipeg has been exposed to COVID 19 twice at work and had to go into isolation but he did not get sick. No one else in my family has gotten sick with the virus or had to isolate due to exposure. We have been blessed to not even know anyone who died from it. Little Mali joined our household and has brought us endless joy and diversion and she’s only broken and mauled a few things. I finally got my own greenhouse. My winter preps are done. My freezer and pantry are well stocked just in case we have another lock down. I am ready to snuggle in for our long cold Manitoba winter.

Happy Thanksgiving everyone. Stay healthy and be blessed in all things.

Mali decided Dick’s mouse was a fine toy. This is the replacement and Dick moving quickly to prevent another incident.
Mali immediately after realizing the new mouse is off limits.

Simple Cold Process Soap Making

Some of you may recall how I have written before about living with allergies, especially my allergy to scents. My husband and I found a nice castille soap in the USA that I could use without setting my allergies off. It was available in the Walmart in the USA. Each year, I would stock up on our trip south to have enough until we could make it south again. We hit a sale on our last trip home in 2019 and I bought the place out. This year, for the second year, there is just no going south and my stock of scent free no allergic reaction soap was rapidly diminishing. Since I also used the soap to make my laundry detergent it was a double problem.

I tried finding my soap on line and in the grocery stores here. As it turned out, I could buy my soap from Amazon but only for an astonishing $15/bar. (Gasp!) So I started looking into making my own. I watched several videos on line and I searched for recipes. The simplest of all soaps is a cold processed three ingredient castille soap made with olive oil. That was also really close to the simple castille soap I was already using. I started with that.

I found a perfect recipe from Lovely Green. Goodness I just love her lovely site. Simple easy clear directions for a small batch of the easiest soap. It was absolutely perfect for a beginner like me. I ordered the molds for six bars she recommends. I picked up some lye flakes from our local hardware store. I also purchased a hand held mixer of the type she recommends. (I actually found one made in Romania, not China!)

I made the first batch outside and it went smoothly and easily. After about a half an hour I had six bars of pure castille soap with 100% olive oil. After 48 hours they had hardened enough to remove from the bars and set to finish drying in the basement. Now the bars have to sit for 28 days so I figured I would keep trying some other recipes and see which one I liked.

I next tried making a 70% olive oil and 30% canola oil. Canola is the cheapest oil around here and being a geneticist I understand its reputation for being a GMO is both untrue and not horrid even if it was. If I could cut the olive oil then I would have a soap that was a lot cheaper and made from something we grow locally.

My third batch was 100% coconut oil. I overheated the oil and got a “volcano” effect which was startling but after it settled the bars seemed like they would be usable anyway. I knew better for batch #4 which was 50% coconut and 50% olive oil. I rounded that off with a final batch of 70% coconut oil and 30% canola.

I ended up with five batches of six bars each. The coconut/canola was the softest and it took five days before I could remove it from the mold. Now I just have to wait until the drying/aging time is finished and try the soaps out. I can hardly wait!

Except for dissolving the lye in water, I found the soap making much easier than say, making bread. I wore all the proper safety equipment and handled the lye with extreme care and I had no trouble. The bars feel lovely and I can put them up to my nose and smell them without the tickling and running. I can hardly wait to try them. Once I decide on a base soap I like, I will try adding things I know I am not allergic too, like peppermint or maybe a pure orange for a bit of scent. Or maybe not. Maybe I’ll just enjoy the pure simple soaps. I also want to try making soap in pretty little rose bud molds or maybe even fun shapes like animals. I loved shaped soap when I was a little girl. Do any of you recall Fuzzy Wuzzy Bear Soap from Avon? I sure do.

And making my own soap was not just about a pure soap that didn’t set off my allergies. It was FUN!

If you decide you might like to try soap making I heartily recommend the recipes from Lovely Green for your first foray. They’re lovely!

COVID Blues

COVID is really getting me down. Yesterday we made a trip to town because Hubby Dearest strained his back. We had to ask for an exception to the telephone call only rule. HIs back is slowly healing but it’s hard to deal with inflammation when you can’t take anti inflammatories. The doctor sent us home with a topical cream stuff. While we waited our turn, I was asked to stay outside the office because they only let patients in, not family accompanying them. When my husband protested, they relented and let me stay. However we were both asked to stand outside and wait because the waiting room was overcrowded. Every other seat had a sign on it saying you can’t sit there. This meant even if we could have been inside the waiting area, we could not sit together. We needed to use the washroom after an hour and half of driving but we were told the washrooms were out of service due to COVID. Not allowed to sit. Not allowed to pee. Those rules are new ones incidentally. We were there in May and they weren’t like that.

On the way out we snuck into a washroom probably reserved for staff but honestly it was that or wet myself. I was very careful to wash everything afterward and hopefully not contaminate the washroom with COVID germs I don’t really think I have. The doctor ordered a blood test, just in case, and since we were in town anyway. We drove over to the lab. Again I had to wait outside. This one we didn’t argue about because there is no set of instructions from the doctor for him to remember without my help. Last time we went by the lab I went in after he came out to use the washroom and I had to go through a literally ten minute screening process to make sure I was not a threat due to COVID before I could use the washroom right beside the exit. This time I decided I’d just hold it until I got home.

After our doctor’s stuff I went to the grocery store. He sat in the truck, in what has become out usual routine, because the store only allows one person per family inside. I bought a pumpkin and some halloween candy. I don’t know if it will even be used. There is some talk about not allowing Trick or Treating in town and having a community event in the community arena instead. That will be a neat trick because the board of the community arena/hall just decided that in order to protect our community’s elderly, no one will be allowed in the arena. Some of us seniors like go to the arena to get deionized water. I am not sure why forcing us seniors to get our drinking water somewhere else, like a grocery store, is making us safer, but the board has decided this and that is that. So how they will also have a community Halloween event to avoid the danger of Trick or Treating when no one is allowed in the arena is really beyond me. If any kids show up I will have treats for them.

Masks make me dizzy. I think it’s my asthma. When I wear them I feel lightheaded and like I am going to pass out. I wear them anyway because if I don’t, I can’t get into places. It feels like everything and everyone is now about what we are not allowed to do. You can’t sit down. You can’t shop with your husband. You can’t go out in the community. You can’t visit your grandchildren. You can’t visit your elderly friends in senior homes. You can’t even pee these days. Every time I turn around there is some new rule to worry about. I feel like the entire world has gone stark raving mad. I am beginning to think we’d be better off just letting the bug loose and if it kills us, then let it kill us. We are not being allowed to live.

I will be glad when winter comes. We tend to stay home and cocoon in winter anyway so that will probably feel more normal. I have to start making a very deliberate effort to think positive thoughts and stay cheerful.