Category Archives: Uncategorized

Frozen Yogurt and Whey Dessert

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I previously shared how I have figured out how to make nice yogurt from powdered milk and frozen commercial yogurt starter. My husband is a big fan of ice cream but he can’t have it because when he gets into the ice cream hissed lipids in the triglycerides part skyrocket. He only gets real ice cream on the rare occasion we are away from home and buying it from some special summer shop. Over this past summer we found a nice compromise for his much needed ice cream fix at home.

The other great thing about it is it works really well on banana so overripe they are almost black. We can often find really overripe bananas in the clearance section for low prices. My husband is particularly good at scrounging for them. He then peels them, freezes them solid on a cookie sheet and bags them after they are frozen. I can easily pull out an individual frozen one for cooking or baking later.

I began with this recipe for Chocolate and Banana Frozen Yogurt. It came out very nicely but my husband complained it was too rich. Too much chocolate and too thick. Now that’s not normally something I would consider a problem with dessert but since he’s the one who eats it, I decided to listen. (I am one of those strange people who does not like ice cream.) I modified the recipe to suit him. I found if I increase the amount of yogurt from 1/4 cup to 1 full cup, it comes out the way he likes it. I also found that I can substitute half whey or use watery yogurt and he still likes it. That makes it even more valuable because if a batch of yogurt comes out weak and watery, it doesn’t go to waste. So here it is as I modified it. I would strongly advise starting with the original recipe I linked to above and modifying it later because I LIKE super rich and super chocolaty dessert but that’s your choice.

This requires a high quality blender to work. One of my sons gave me a Ninja version and I absolutely love it.

Ingredients

2 frozen medium bananas (2 cups/10oz/284g) banana frozen

2 Tablespoons honey or agave nectar

1 cup (8oz/250g) plain yogurt (greek, non-fat or full fat) or half yogurt half whey

1⁄3 cup (11/3oz/37g) cocoa powder

2 tsp Vanilla extract

Instructions

  1. Add the frozen bananas, honey (or agave nectar), yogurt, cocoa powder and vanilla extract into a food processor (or liquidizer).
  2. Process until creamy, about 2-3 minutes. Scrape down the side of the bowl to make sure there are no lumps left.
  3. Transfer it to an airtight freezable container and freeze for a minimum 6 hours but preferably overnight. Store it in thefreezer for up to 1 month.

Recipe Notes

Fresh bananas can be used in place of frozen, however the bananas must be frozen solid. Store in the freezer for up to 1 month.
Weight Watchers Points: 5
Smart Points: 9

Many thanks to Gemma Stafford for the original recipe.

A Rabbi once told me anything you like to eat will have a Kosher version. When it comes to food that causes health issues (like goofy triglyceride metabolism) it’s apparently true.

Too Much Spaghetti Squash and Too Many Eggs

One of the things about having your own garden is that no matter how much you plan your garden, something refuses to grow and something else grows in such abundance you are overrun. This year the low producers were cucumbers. We got enough to eat but not enough to pickle more than a few jars. The plant that went crazy nuts overgrowing and over producing was spaghetti squash. Not only did I get lots myself, a neighbour walked down the street handing out her overabundance to anyone she could find who take a few. She insisted on giving me three more huge ones. I couldn’t say no to such big beautiful spaghetti squash even though I had several more sitting in a cool spot in my basement already.

We do like spaghetti squash. No doubt about it. But I have always thought the only way to eat it was as a poor replacement for pasta. My husband likes it for snacking, heated with butter in the microwave. Even so, there was absolutely no way we could even begin to eat our way through all the bounty. Spaghetti squash is a summer squash meaning it won’t keep through the winter. It was time to get creative.

The other over abundance we were dealing with was eggs. A member of our local Hutterite colony came by selling eggs for $2/dozen. (Eggs are currently running $4-$7/doz in store.) I’m not sure why he had such abundance when only a few weeks ago we were limited in store to one dozen at a time. Nonetheless, he was selling at $2 each. The catch was you had to buy a whole case of either 15 or 30 dozen. Ouch! Well it was just too good a deal to turn down after that shortage, The colonies have been hit hard by COVID-19. Either because it went like though like a wildfire due to their communal lifestyle or because, if they came from a colony that didn’t get infected, they had to deal with stigma from the rest of us. How could I say no to his eggs? So I bought the smaller case of 15. (The picture below is a random one off the internet but it could be him, they look so much alike.)

Now I have an over abundance of eggs and an over abundance of spaghetti squash. Eggs can keep for weeks in the fridge. Even though we are daily egg eaters, 15 dozen was far more than we could go through. I mixed up several batches of a dozen eggs and then poured the lightly beaten mess into ice cube trays and froze them. I then popped them out of the ice cube tray and bagged the cubes. I can use those cubes over the winter in baking and cooking, one cube equaling one egg. That will come in especially handy if there is a second wave and we have a shortage of fresh eggs. If there’s no shortage I won’t have to buy as many.

I was searching the internet for alternative uses for spaghetti squash when I came across a recipe for Baked Eggs and Spaghettis Squash Nests. I mixed it up, replaced rice flour for the wheat flour and it came out beautifully. I read the reviews and some people complained it was soggy. Spaghetti squash have highly variable amounts of water. Early in the afternoon I cooked the two smallest squash in a pot of boiling water, peeled off the skins and cleaned the seeds out. I then let the strands cool in a bowl in the refrigerator. I periodically poured off the water collecting on the bottom before mixing the batter. I also found I had to bake the cups a lot longer than the recipe said because they were too soft. Even so, the final result was heavenly! A crispy golden herbed base and yummy eggs baked to perfection with just a hint of cheese flavour. It was not a meal I want to eat often but it was a pleasant treat and a nice change from our regular meat and potato type meals.

As a bonus, the recipe uses 1 1/2 cup of squash for a half dozen egg cups so we had some leftover squash. We tried that fried up for breakfast the next day. It came out very nicely, sort of cross between zucchini and hash browns. Breakfast fry will be another great use for all that the stringy squash!

Life often gives us over abundance in some places and shortages in others. We can either get creative and deal with stuff in new ways or we can feel sorry for ourselves. I try to always choose to be creative.

Mali – Updated

Our Mali (jasmine blossom in Thai), also known as Malika (Queen in Thai) arrived weighing 1 pound 2 oz (510grams). (Pictured on my keyboard above, right) She is a voracious eater still demanding food at least four times a day without any fat on her. All this eating is naturally resulting in a lot of growing. She is now 3 pounds, 1 oz (1400grams). (Picture above, left) She has nearly tripled her weight. Mali had a bad case of worms on arrival and she has been dewormed three times since. This has dramatically improved her fur which is now soft and glossy and has lost all of its former rough look.

Mali has had 2/3 of her kitten vaccinations. After the second vaccination she has a bad reaction and slept for nearly 24 hours refusing to eat and acting very depressed. She then developed a nasty pea sized lump at the injection site. This has since almost vanished. I once lost a cat to distemper and her reaction, scary as it was, is far less of a problem than a bout of distemper so we will be doing shot #3 on schedule. I will alert the vet to what happened and see about maybe spreading things out and perhaps waiting if he wants to do another deworming. We initially confined Mali where she went in the house. She now goes everywhere, including up and down the basement stairs.

Mali watching TV while Klinger Snoozes

We have begun toilet training her as we did Klinger. She is adjusting much more quickly to her rising litter box than Klinger did. Being young and flexible makes new tricks easy. We have also taken her for many truck rides. I don’t want her frightened about riding in a vehicle and so we deliberately exposed her to lots of truck rides during her “critical period”. She really enjoys riding in the truck. She’ll perch on my headrest and watch the world go by. Once she’s worn out, she curls up in my lap and sleeps for the rest of the trip. Mali is also a big fan of TV. She absolutely loves sitting on the bed and watching TV videos, especially ones involving cats or designed for cats.

Mali is a bundle of energy into everything and constantly on alert to something new. She sleeps through the night now but wakes me demanding food promptly at dawn. The days are getting longer as we near the fall equinox I am fine with that. Dawn now comes about the time I wake up on my own anyway. She is a wonderfully affectionate cat. She can’t get enough cuddles and ear scritches. She loves to sleep on or near one of us. She purrs about almost everything. She has begun to lose her kitten mew and it is becoming more and more like a cat meow. She has lost her kitten clumsiness. She now races about the house, leaping, climbing, running, dancing sideways, and managing remarkable acrobatic feats. She’s bold and bossy and hasn’t a bit of shyness to her character.

Misty has continued her love affair over “her” kitten. They often sleep together. Much to my relief, Mali is getting along very well with Klinger. Klinger is far too old and dignified for kitten play fights. He will play swat back from a safe location. He also gives her polite cat nose touch greetings and an occasional nuzzle. He allows her to sleep touching him if she’s quiet. They even do a little bit of mutual grooming as long as she doesn’t try to turn it into a wrestling match. When Hubby Dearest stepped on her tail and she let out that blood curdling cat scream, everyone reacted. Misty was horrified. Klinger came running up from the basement to make sure Mali was all right. He gave her a comforting lick on the face and an all over sniffing. (Mali was fine and she’s gotten much better at dodging the big guy’s feet. Dick was far more upset about the event than anyone else was.)

Mali and Misty snuggling.

Mali has brought new life and joy to our household. She has been worth every knocked over plant, every fresh scratch, and even having to clean a litterbox again (temporarily). We do love our Malika.

New Family Member – Mali

(Not sure how this happened but this was originally posted on my old site July 30, 2020.)

When I was a little girl, Siamese cats were rare and really expensive. Variants like Himalayans did not exist. Today they are unfortunately almost as common as your basic barn cat. Spay and neuter campaigns have not been as successful for cats as they have been for dogs. However inroads are being made. Gone are the days when a sign by the side of the road said “Free Kittens”. It is impossible to just pick up a free kitten though you can get them for $50 to $123 from various local rescues. Among them is a Siamese cat rescue.

I decided it was time for a new kitten a few months ago. Klinger is 14 almost 15 and he’s really slowed down. He sleeps most of the time. He was a fellow feline hater, always prepared to beat the tar out of any cat who comes near him. He has mellowed on that score this summer, often seeking company with cats across the street from us or with a young cat who comes to visit from three doors down. Misty has been acting rather lonesome and blue. It’s a little sigh or a longing look, hard to pinpoint but it says lonesome to me. I did not want another dog. After the strokes I have had to face the fact that we may end up in a housing situation where a dog won’t work so I suspect Misty will be our last dog. She most certainly will be our last full sized dog. There are simply are no senior housing situations where big dogs are allowed.

When an opportunity to adopt a little kitten came up, I decided to jump at it. And now we have little Mali (MAH-lee). According to what I read on line, Mali is a classic name for a Siamese cat. Her name is Thai for jasmine flower. Molly is the English term for a female cat I recall from my childhood around my English grandfather. We also call her Maleeka and that means “Queen”. I met both parents and they were friendly and charming cats though Dad was still recovering from his surgery. Dad was a classic oriental look Siamese, probably purebred. Mom is assumed to be a torte point Himalayan by her looks. There were four kittens in the litter. Two looked much like Mali but one had a tail that had a Z shape and both had much longer hair. One kitten was a short haired lilac point and had white paws and a white bib like Klinger, indicating things are likely not as purebred as one might think. Mali looks very much like a pure applehead type Siamese and I wanted short hair. Both her parents have pretty blue eyes so she will likely keep her pretty blue eyes.

Misty did a total whole dog melt down and almost wagged herself into exhaustion. Mali’s foster home had four dogs. Dogs have always been part of her life. She has since decided Misty is her new Mom. She is now sleeping on Misty’s bed, much to Misty’s delight. They play a favourite game of tag where Misty nuzzles her. Mali rolls on her back and swats her will all four feet and then runs off. Misty tries to follow but Mali goes under something small and then Mali dashes out and runs off. If Misty doesn’t notice, Mali meows to catch her attention before continuing their little game.

Klinger was initially horrified. His first encounter, he had a tail puffed out like a bottle brush and hissed and spat like he was going to kill her. The next day he did the whole spit and hiss thing but without the tail fluff and hackles up. Yesterday afternoon, he approached her and hissed at her. Mali pulled herself up to her full just over one pound size and hissed right back. Her message was clear.

“Oh be quiet you big bully!”

Klinger was clearly taken aback. That was not the reaction he expected. However his expression softened and he let her be.

Mali was playing with the cat toy he hasn’t touched in ages and he sat above her on his perch, watching her every move. There was no hostility in his gaze. He was just watching like he was trying to figure her out. Later that evening, he was in bed with us getting his usual evening neck and ear rub and Mali climbed up and joined us. She stayed about a metre away and curled up into a little ball and fell sleep. Klinger went and sniffed her and then came back for more neck rubs. I won’t say he’s happy about Mali, but I think he’s adjusting. This morning he growled at her. Mali just ignored him and kept playing with his toy. This time Misty let out a low growl. Klinger again was taken aback. Misty’s growl was a clear warning. Mali has a protecter and if he tries anything with Mali, he has to go through Misty. Klinger decided to go eat his breakfast rather than make more trouble.

As the morning progressed, Klinger walked around and pretended both Mali and Misty did not exist. I think it will work. I suspect Klinger might even decide he likes her eventually. As I wrote this, he walked up to her and they exchanged polite cat nose touches and he walked off. And, of course, she has hubby and I wrapped around her cute little kitty paws as you can see from her climbing on my keyboard to get my attention, the little scamp. There is nothing shy or quiet about this little girl. She is supremely self confident, bossy and inquisitive. This one is indeed a Queen.

(In spite of the apparent success with getting the dog and cat used to the new kitten I do intend to make certain they are not interacting without me supervising until Mali is bigger. Misty is so enchanted and excited I am worried about her enthusiasm getting way with her and Klinger may act differently when I’m not around.)

Learning to Smoke Meat

We started on this road to smoking our own beef by buying a whole side from a local rancher. We had been thinking of it for a while because the price of a side of beef works out to be much cheaper than buying meat cuts individually. Generally speaking you can buy a whole side of beef for about the same price per pound or a little more than the price of hamburger. Yes, you do get a lot of hamburger but you also get a lot of other meat including some very fine cuts like sirloin and T-Bone. If you consider the price that would cost, you save a whole lot of money buying an entire side of beef.

The second reason we decided to buy a side was the animal care issue. The location place we buy from is a ranch that raises their own beef, slaughters and processes it in a little local butcher and then cuts and wraps it right there as well. So you get locally grown, locally produced, locally processed meat that I know it is the highest possible quality and my money is staying right in my community. It comes from good solid honest hard working Christians who share much the same life philosophy we do. I know it is grass fed and humanely treated because I can actually go check on those animals myself. It’s not kosher, as in supervised and approved by a rabbi, but for us, it is close enough to do quite nicely, especially since the nearest Kosher butcher is in Toronto.

But what really convinced us it was time was the COVID-19 pandemic. Beef in our local stores skyrocketed in price. We were soon looking at $40/kg for some cuts. Plus there were lots of limits and shortages. Now that things have settled a bit the prices have started back down and the shelves are almost as full by rearrangement and replacement, but still missing a lot of things. However, if we get a second wave that might change. So buying a whole side of beef meant a stable supply.

Once we made our decision, we went out and found a medium sized freezer suitable to a hold a whole side of beef. We made a trip to the butcher to put in our order. We got to select how the meat was cut. For us, that meant a lot more steaks and ground beef and a lot less roasts and stew meat. We went and picked up our order a few days later. We transported it home and shoved it all in the freezer.

It wasn’t long before we realized something. We have all this fabulous meat but we’re really not big beef eaters. Sure we like a good steak but honestly we only ever ate beef once or twice a week. It wasn’t long before steak got boring. I recall looking at all that beef and wondering how we would ever eat it all. Plus one of the specialists advised my husband to severely limit red meat to about three times a week and avoid processed stuff due to his stroke.

Around the same time my husband lamented how hard it was to get really nice smoked meat and beef salami. Folks here grow and eat pork as much as they do beef. It’s actually really hard to find all beef salami or Montreal Smoked style beef. To get that kind of meat in a beef only variety, you pretty much have to special order it in and it never is great quality stuff. And Kosher? Forget that. It is simply not happening.

This got me looking about for some DIY “other” kind of meat to make with our beef. I started with an old fashioned Irish corned beef. It is ridiculously easy to make old fashioned corned beef from scratch. There are many recipes on line. Basically you soak a cut of beef in brine with pickling spices for 5-7 days and then boil the meat with cabbage and potatoes. My very first batch of home corned beef had my husband positively raving. Home made corned beef from scratch was far better tasting than the ready made stuff in a pouch we had been buying in the USA. There was nothing hard about it either. If you can make a loaf of bread or a stew you can make corned beef. The only thing hard was having to think seven days ahead from when I wanted to eat it.

That got us thinking about other kinds of processed meats we love to eat. One of our absolute favourites is smoked all beef salami. We were introduced to that while traveling in the USA. It is simply not available where we live. With a little bit of digging I found a recipe so that I could make it starting from scratch. I watched some youtube videos. I found out there are a whole lot of ways to make your own salami. Some require smoking. Some you can do yourself in an oven. Some require casings. Some types can be made by simply rolling the meat into a log shape. After some searching I found a recipe that kind of looked like the sort of smoked salami we enjoy. I purchased a different casing because I wanted the larger size and I don’t want pork casing. I purchased the ingredients. I ordered a small electric smoker. My neighbour has had plenty of experience living with hunters and she gave me some tips. Lots of people out here in this rural area smoke their own game meats, fish and beef. I found out an electric smoker is as easy to use as an electric fry pan. Because so many folks around here smoke their meat, the supplies like wood chips, casing and curing salt are easy to find in almost all the local hardware stores.

My first batch of smoked beef salami came out far better than I expected. Like the corned beef, the taste was just beyond description compared to store bought stuff. I also tried to make Montreal smoked beef and it too came out far better than we expected. In fact I had to remind Hubby Dearest that he’s not suppose to eat more than three or four servings of beef a week and he’s supposed to avoid the processed stuff. He laughed and told me if the end of the world as we know it ever comes, we’re practically homesteaders now. And I can always barter my smoked meat. I cut the smoked meat and the salami up into small amounts and put it in the freezer for future consumption. (I can’t use the smoker in the winter.) Today I made a second batch and I am trying to smoke a whole steelhead trout. If you have never tried making your own corned beef or smoking something I urge to try it. It’s easy. It’s fun. The results come out far better than anything you buy in the store. Plus it is another skill you can acquire while staying at home hiding from the damned virus that might just come in handy if we get a second wave and the supply chains get messed up again.

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Container Garden Experiment – My Results

This cheerful bit of optimistic propaganda compliments of the Chinese Communists is an interesting video about Venezuelans becoming urban gardeners to solve the food crisis they face. When I first heard of this business of encouraging people to grow their own food on their balconies I was horrified. Having been a gardener for many many years I know it is impossible to grow enough food in containers on a balcony to do more than get some fresh treats.

Since I was building myself a greenhouse I thought it would be fun to try some mixed container gardening. My long term goal was more food from my garden in spring and fall. The plan is to move the containers into the greenhouse. I made five such containers. One I put in a single seed potato and a bunch of onions sets and some dill. One container I filled with a mix of green and yellow beans. One container I planted in snow peas and another regular peas. And in the final container I tried some mixed seeding. It was a row lengthwise of mixed radish and carrot seeds. I then had a row of spinach, lettuce, peas and beet seeds.

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The containers required more watering than my regular garden. They also needed a lot less weeding and fussing. They did produce. The mixed container gave me about a dozen nice radishes first. I have not yet harvested the carrots and beets. There are five lovely looking beets and about a dozen carrots of decent size.

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The same container previously yielded two dinners worth of cooked spinach, lettuce that produced enough for about six big bowls of salad and lots of leaves for sandwiches.

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The peas in the mixed container unfortunately only gave me 10 nice pods. The other full container of peas gave us enough for one dinner but we ended up eating them raw as a snack instead. The snow peas have just begun and, so far, we have enough to add a splash of taste and color to a couple of stir fries.

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The bean container have given us six bowls of beans. They produced very well and though they are nearly at an end. I consider them as worth the trouble.

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The biggest producer was the single seed potato. I also had put in a bunch of dill seed and there dozen onion sets. I pulled the onions to eat as green shallots. The potato plant grew to a huge height, choked out the dill, and then died off. The container was full of medium sized potatoes. For us that is enough potatoes for several dinners.

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The conclusion of my little experiment is the following. Only potatoes and beans produce enough to justify their own container. as a prepper style container, with potatoes being far out in front. The mixed container gives the best over all results with it providing us with a small amount of yummy veggies over a number of weeks. Salads and greens were certainly a welcome addition to our diet.

However it is very clear to me that one simply cannot grow enough produce on your balcony to feed yourself and your family in the summer to last you over winter. Okay, so maybe Venezuela doesn’t have the same harsh winter we do in Manitoba. Even without counting winter, such containers cannot produce enough food. Prepper and everyone else who think you can somehow survive on a garden balcony need to re evaluate this plan. And if I ever do find myself in a position to try to grow food to survive using containers, I’m planting mostly potatoes, maybe some beans and maybe a mixed container or two.

Happy Canada Day!

Belleville Canada Day - 123Dentist

Canada is currently going through many of the same ugly nonsense about the evils of our nation going on in the USA. Our founders were not perfect but they had a great goal and they started a nation with the hope of great things. Just because some Canadians were left behind for a while does not negate with the greatness of the founders’ lofty and high ideals.

I do not accept that Canada is flawed, systematically racist, patriarchal and beyond redemption. I do not accept the title of white colonizer and oppressor nor am I filled with guilt for the color of my skin or for sins committed by others mostly from long before my birth. I am a fourth generation Canadian citizen. I don’t feel I have to explain myself to anyone or apologize to anyone for that fact. I embrace a paraphrased dream of Martin Luther King Jr when he said: I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin (or the languages they speak or do not speak or their birth place or their treaty status or their ethnic/ancestral homelands) but by the content of their character.

I am proud of the ideals Canada stands for and I am proud to celebrate Canada Day and to thank the founders for this great nation. And if you don’t like it, tough.

1867 competes with 1812, 1608 and 1982 as ‘founding’ dates ...

Storm Season – One Eye on the Sky

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This is today’s Environment Canada thunderstorm outlook. This whole thunderstorm prediction page is new for Canadians. Until recently, there was little to no monitoring of  severe storms and even less warning. I did a post about that back in 2014. Back then I pointed this out:

“The Canadian system of forecasting tornados is so primitive that professional storm trackers from the USA consider finding and tracking a tornado in Canada to be the ultimate test of their ability because they get so little help.”

Canada’s one and only confirmed F5 tornado in Elie touched down without anyone at Environment Canada noticing until someone called them to tell them it was happening. Even if Environment Canada noticed, they had no way to warn the public in those days because well….it was Friday evening and everyone had gone out to the lake.

Much of this has changed. There are still issues with storm warnings. In 2014, a storm crossed over from Detroit into Windsor with no warning. I was actually awake watching this particular storm system on radar and I could see it was dangerous. The folks at NOAA were going crazy with red patches all over the map. A local private weather forecasting and warning system known as Ontario Tornado sent out warning tweets to those lucky enough to have their ap. There was silence out of Environment Canada, not even a watch, as tornados pummelled life. There was a lot of justifiable outrage from the Canadian public over that one. When bad things happen in Ontario the government will fix a problem the west of Canada has been complaining about for decades and we finally got our national AlertReady system.

During the Alonsa tornado of 2018 which actually crossed our property, hit with EF4 strength and killed Jack Furrie, 77. The tornado arrived with no local AlertReady warning because MTS-Bell had recently done “upgrades”. In spite of three months of complaints from residents, including official ones from local government officials like our Reeve, Stan Asham, they were apparently totally unaware their “upgrades” had ended all local cell service. Mr Furrie had a landline and he knew people would not be getting the cell phone warning. He also had no basement so fleeing was his only option. He died fleeing to his truck after spending too much telephoning warnings to his neighbours. (If there is a special place in heaven for those who give their lives savings others, Mr Furrie is there.) Meanwhile, the rest of Manitoba all knew Alonsa was being hit by the tornado. Environment Canada was spot on the job that day and they started issuing warnings almost half an hour before the tornado touched down. On the bright side (yes, I say this with heavy sarcasm) Bell-MTS did finally get our local cell phone service working.

And so June has arrived and tornado season is on us. Today we have to keep one eye on the sky and be situationally aware. The sky is already covering with floating popcorn balls that typically indicate severe storms might happen later in the day. My first chore for this morning is to double check the stuff in our tornado shelter/storage closet and make sure we’re ready, just in case.

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In March, we developed indoor drips on the south side of the house. Our neighbour is a retired roofer and he came over even though it was nearing 10:00pm. He and I together got up on the roof and we cleared off some ice dams. He told us we needed a new roof. This May he installed it. Once it was all done he posed for us with his fiddle. We were expecting something like a rousing round from Fiddler on the Roof. Our cultural differences became immediately apparent as they sometimes do around here. He’s Metis and he played Devil Went Down to Georgia. We enjoyed it anyway.

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He told us yesterday our new roof, made with all the best possible, highest quality of ice and water underlay and finest shingles Canada makes, combined with his skillful application, can take any hailstorm nature cares to throw at us. I find that comforting as I watch the sky although you must excuse me if I hope we never get to test his boast.

“A fiddler on the roof? Sounds crazy, no? But every one of us is a fiddler on the roof!”

And that is especially true during severe storm season.

Building a GreenHouse – Part 1

I have wanted my own greenhouse for as long as I can recall. To me, greenhouses were places of peace and quiet and the bigger the better. At about age 14 or so I created a place in the basement crawlspace and raised plants on an old door under some lights. It was a truly wonderful but rather short experience. It was the start of my love of gardening, an addiction I have never recovered from. Every time I thought of getting myself my own greenhouse there was always something better and more urgent to spend the money on. So I made due with small portable greenhouses such as my pop up 6X6 tent (I found at a church bizaar for $5.00) and the little $40 four shelf one that fits so nicely on my deck.

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Spring was unusually cool though not record breaking. I used my greenhouses daytime but for many nights had to bring plants indoors for the nights. This picture was April 26, 2019 which shows how cold our spring often is.

This year I am finally doing it. A big wind came and knocked over my pop-up tent greenhouse and I lost some tomato plants. I was so upset. I reasoned, well, if I can’t get a real greenhouse when I am retired and no longer traveling, when am I ever going to get one? I started shopping. My dream come true one is made in British Columbia and is aluminum and polycarbonate. However, at a mere $4000 and arriving still needing to be put together, I decided I could do better trying something by myself.

After a lot of youtube video and pininterest research I had my plan. I started with this kit from Amazon. It is a basic 2X4 construction kit with end fitting thingies so you only need to cut straight edges. It looked like something I could manage myself. I then bought the lumber they said I would need. (The frame sits on treated wood which you can not see in the picture.) The frame will be covered by polycarbonate sheets that are no where near as strong as the plywood exterior the shed was designed for. To account for that, I am adding lots of extra screws. I am also planning extra cross pieces. I am going to build in my greenhouse shelving so the shelves add to the strength of the frame as well. (I got that idea from this video by Mike Montgomery of Modern Builds.) I made careful note of two major criticisms of Mike’s build in the comments. I have plans for ventilation and I used some two foot rebar spikes to avoid lack of ground anchoring. I even found polycarbonate sheets at 25% at our local Co-op home hardware. So far I have spent just under $800 for the supplies.

I also decided to leave the bottom open and not have a floor after seeing several videos where that ground space was used to grow cold hardy plants like carrots and lettuce in during early spring and late fall in places like Alaska. Since my home is way up near the 51st parallel and is as cold as Alaska, I’ll take whatever I can get in the way of season extensions.

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How is it going? The frame is taking shape and I am really pleased! It wasn’t hard so far and I have even been having fun! The directions on the kit are very clear and easy to follow and it works. I am measuring twice and cutting once . (So far.) This is what it looks like as of today. I am working at a slow pace doing an hour or two a day. It is my retirement hobby project after all and I don’t want to work too hard. I’ll keep updating as I go.

I added this picture of one my soft sided flower pots simply because I am so pleased with how pretty it looks. The pansies and marigolds I grew myself from seed. (Now off to get caught up on my weed whacking.)

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Frost!

When you live up near the 51st parallel as we do, frost in late spring is a constant threat. Here it is May 29 and my tomatoes plants spent the night sitting in their pots because I knew this might happen. Container gardening is much more popular in this region for that reason. Now one might think that our short season means no time for vegetable growing and for some crops that is the case. It is a rare thing to get a full sized watermelon up here. However our days are long enough here that the plants grow at a tremendous rate, My pepper plants are already making peppers and my tomatoes will be transplanted into the garden already blooming. The frost issue is a constant fear though. Last year we had a frost that killed off the tops of my zucchini plants and took several of my tomatoes and cucumbers. This year I have been far more diligent about repotting into larger pots instead of putting things in the garden and keeping things longer in my popup tent greenhouse. Yesterday, after two weeks of lovely frost free summery weather, I moved everything back under cover. I am running out of room and some of the tomatoes plants are getting tall and spindly. We typically get weather that comes in three day rounds. We have a forecast for risk of frost tonight to be followed by hot summer weather in the 30C range (86F) so the plan is tomorrow all the bedding plants get planted. They will love it, growing freely in the garden with heat and sunshine.

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The other awful thing about these late frosts is it makes getting fruit problematic at best. A bad frost on the wrong day means that particular fruit tree will not produce any fruit at all. My husband was very disappointed because last year’s late frost happen just when the apple blossoms were in their full glory and we did not get even one single apple. Every tree in town was similarly affected. The strip along the Railway Ave (so named where there used to be a railway there sixty years ago) there is a strip of apple trees planted which are available to anyone who wants the fruit they produce. My husband took great pleasure in making fresh apple juice from them. Last year there was no apple juice. However the saskatoon bushes were not yet blooming and so they produced abundantly. The previous year the last late frost came later and hit the saskatoon bushes and so we had no saskatoons that year.

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Now that we have stopped our nomadic life and there is no sign we will start it up again, we are looking at our lovely little home for things that will make life easier and better. I have decided to make myself a proper greenhouse. We were going to buy a professional one but the $4000 price tag for the simplest model that can withstand our prairie wind and snow loads ruled that idea out. I have been consulting Pininterest and youtube for ideas and I now have a plan. I think I should be able to make myself a nice greenhouse for under $800. We shall see.

You may recall I was in a state of fearful despair after a bad diagnosis last September. I planted daffodils and crocuses in response. Not one crocus made it but we enjoyed a glorious and lovely brief blast of daffodils that gave us both great joy. Daffodils can take a late unexpected frost and come out unscathed.

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