Blogmas Day 10: ACV

An experiment in making my own ACV from crab apples started on September 22, using the crab apples from the volunteer tree in the back yard here at Mist Cottage.  After four weeks the brew had a knock-me-out alcoholic aroma, so the liquid was strained and placed in a sterilized 1 1/2 litre mason jar, topped with a coffee filter held on with a canning ring.  It has been sitting in relative darkness at the back of the kitchen shelf ever since.  I drag it out to check on it every so often.  A fine sediment is forming on the bottom of the jar, there is no mold, the surface is clear, and it smells a little more like ACV every time I check on it.  It isn’t ready yet.

Yesterday Attila and I ventured out to try to find a Christmas gift for Luna’s children.  We can’t afford much, and we don’t spend time with the Grandbabies to know what delights them, so it isn’t easy.  We finally settled on a family game, which will be wrapped as a gift for all three of them.  We found a gift along the same line for Terra’s three little ones.  So that is us done with Christmas shopping, except for each other of course.  I ordered something from Amazon this morning for Attila, but I am not optimistic that it will arrived in time!  No worries, I’ll give him lots of interesting little exotic food gifts, which he enjoys, and a promise of the gift that didn’t arrive on time in a card.

Since my surgery was not done during my outpatient visit last month, I have been waiting to hear from the surgeon’s office to re-book the procedure.  Having heard nothing, I called today, and his office is supposed to call me back.  He had to research anesthetics that do not contain my allergen, which had not been done before the day of my surgery, even though I told him, and his office staff, about it at every single point of contact.  I am feeling a little disgusted at this point, but I must press on, keep pressing him and his staff, and remain outwardly pleasant and patient to get the medical care I am entitled to.

Today the process of moving furniture around in the living room begins, to clear enough floor space to bring in a Christmas Tree. 

This is a small house.  Mist Cottage is about 640 square feet, some of which is taken up with a block chimney running up through the center of the house, and a stairwell.  People live in smaller spaces, tiny houses, cage homes in other parts of the world, homeless all over the world, so we have nothing to complain about here.  The smallness often takes visitors by surprise, they knew I said small, but seeing how small it is really puts the adjective into perspective.

The bathroom is 5 x 6, there are no closets in the house. Our lifestyle, and home, is setup to not only cook all food from scratch, buy allergen free food in bulk when we can find it, but also to preserve food by steam and pressure canning, dehydration, fermentation, freezing, and vacuum sealing.  All of this activity around food takes up a lot of space.

Our treasures are still with us, downsizing is ongoing.  My books I hope to keep with me while I draw breath.  Attila too has keepsakes he cherishes, items from his Grandfather’s general store, his Great Uncles home, things that bring him joy. And to make fitting it all in more complicated, I use an elliptical machine, which has pride of place in the living room, as there is nowhere else to put it.

Making a place for a temporary Christmas Tree can get pretty complicated, but I am up for the challenge.

Worldly

Weather

-6°C
Date: 10:00 AM EST Monday 10 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.5 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -5.5°C
Dew point: -10.4°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: NE 16 km/h
Wind Chill: -11
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Don’t worry about people stealing an idea. If it’s original, you will have to ram it down their throats.”
Howard Aiken
1900 – 1973

Blogmas Day 9: Downsizing

A dollar store clock was purchased for Grace the trailer, but it wasn’t left in Grace over the winter, it came home to Mist Cottage.  It was sitting in the bookcase in the living room at the time that Terra, Sunny, Sky, and Willow dropped in for a visit.  Sky took a shine to it, it needed rescuing, so it ended up safe and sound, hung on the wall.  Now it ticks away in unison with the clock that already sits on the wall in the living room.  Time is a chorus.

We moved from our country house, to Mist Cottage, which was 1/3 the size. Downsizing has been an ongoing project, even after three years. One of the cornerstones of downsizing is that if a memento doesn’t bring you joy, you are better off letting it go.

Why am I bringing up downsizing? Like downsizing our living space, our Christmas celebrations and expectations have downsized considerably over the years  They were meager indeed to begin with.  For instance, Attila and I ceased to expect that any of our children would spend Christmas Day in our company, with the exception of one Christmas, from the day they left home.  That was unexpected, and a difficult adjustment.

This Christmas is another change in expectations. For many years Attila and I have visited my birth family, usually at some point before Christmas, in December.  This has required dedicated vacation time for the visit, considerable planning and preparation, and a great deal of stress in Canadian winter driving conditions on bad roads, and in busy traffic. This year I am giving it up, I just can’t face that horrendous drive on winter roads and in holiday traffic.  The specter of that journey does not bring me joy, quite the opposite.  Turning down the warm invitations of loved ones is oh so difficult.  I will be thinking of them with a lot of love on Christmas Day.

Attila has been spending his weekend working on the basement.  In the process a few large spiders have abandoned the basement for the main floor of the house.  I don’t rescue spiders, so they were dispatched upon discovery.  The project involves insulating the rim joists around the perimeter of the house, and it is very slow going.  Today his efforts are focused on the section along the wall underneath the back door.  In the summer, during the heat of the day, when the sun hit the bottom of the door, there was a strong smell of rodent.  Sure enough, there were copious ancient droppings in that area, on a sheet of wood that was nailed across the floor joists.  It took most of the day to clean out the debris, which was sprayed with aqueous oxygen, and remove the wood.  That should take care of the smell.

Worldly

Weather

0°C
Date: 2:00 PM EST Sunday 9 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 102.3 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 0.3°C
Dew point: -4.8°C
Humidity: 69%
Wind: WSW 32 gust 46 km/h
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“When everyone is somebody, then no one’s anybody.”
W. S. Gilbert
1836 – 1911


Blogmas Day 8: Herbs and Spices

It was good news about the bill from the garage for the car maintenance!  The bill was under $100, so we are good to go there.  The new tires for the car were ordered today, but they won’t be installed for at least another week.  Hopefully Attila won’t run into too much bad weather and bad roads before they get installed.

All my websites were checked as to the viability of plugins and themes, after the WordPress upgrade.  Nothing jarring going on there, thank goodness.

It has been a quiet Saturday here, sunny and oh so cold.  Attila opted to spend his day working in the basement, rather than in the garage.  It is much warmer in the basement.  He is making some progress in insulating the rim joists, but there is still a long way to go.  There is a lot of stuff down there, and he has to move a lot of it to get near the rim joists.

I continue to organize the kitchen, a job which is getting easier and easier.  Today it was sorting through herbs and spices, putting them in jars, labelling, and then finding places to store them.  The chaos is beginning to retreat!

Tonight’s dinner was prepared, once again, in the Instant Pot.  Attila requested Spicy Orange Chicken with Rice and Vegetables.  Tomorrow we are splurging and I will prepare a Pork Roast in the Instant Pot, served with potatoes, carrots and turnip.  I’ve taken a bit of a break from preparing meals from vintage foods.  The supply of vintage foods is diminishing, so I am having to get more creative.

Although we will not see the Grandbabies until after Christmas, we have been busy finding very inexpensive, but colourful and entertaining, gifts for them.  They are growing up fast, the twins Imp and Elf are 12 years old, soon they will be teenagers.  The youngest, Willow, will be five months old at Christmas.

Worldly

Weather

-5
Date: 6:00 PM EST Saturday 8 December 2018
Condition: Partly Cloudy
Pressure: 103.2 kPa
Tendency: Rising
Temperature: -5.0°C
Dew point: -7.7°C
Humidity: 81%
Wind: WSW 7 km/h
Wind Chill: -8
Visibility: 24 km

Quote

“Nothing is really work unless you would rather be doing something else.”
James M. Barrie
(1860-1937)


Blogmas Day 7: Whole Wheat Flour

WordPress is up to it again.  A new version, version 5, was released today and my sites all automatically upgraded.  Problems were expected with vintage plugins and themes, but so far as I can make out, mine have weathered the change without incident.  Time will tell.  The editing feature has completely changed, and I am still getting used to it.  Right now I cannot find a way to save my draft entry.  A basic function, perhaps it auto saves.  Time to copy the entry, close it, open it again and see if it is intact!  Eureka, as I was copying the text, the Save Draft function appeared on the screen, flashed, announced that it had auto saved, without any input from me.  Now that the Save Draft function is visible, I am able to use it to save the draft any old time I care to.  Time to play around with this and get a feel for how things work.

The weekend approaches.  The project this weekend is to find new tires for the car, the best we can get for a price we manage to pay.  Attila has a nose for bargains, to it is game on.

A big decision was made yesterday.  Many years ago, I don’t really know how many, but more than four, we purchased whole wheat flour in bulk for bread making.  It just so happened that bread making flagged shortly after the purchase, for some logical reason, could have been a busy work schedule with multiple, multi-location jobs, but I’d have to look it all up.  Whatever the reason, the whole wheat flour was not made into bread when it was fresh.  We moved this flour to Mist Cottage when we moved here three years ago.  I wanted to cut our losses and throw it out, it was clearly not fresh.  Whole wheat flour will go rancid if not stored in the freezer, and this whole wheat flour was not stored in the freezer.  Attila balked at throwing it out.  So there it sat for another three years.  I made a few loaves of bread with it, at Attila’s request, masking the off flavour with garlic.  But my heart was not in baking bread with inferior ingredients, so as a result I have been avoiding bread baking.  Yesterday Attila agreed to throw the rancid flour out!  Into the compost it will be going, in small increments so as not to overwhelm the composter.  Thank goodness!

The whole wheat flour was stored in five gallon, food grade, buckets.  Last night the first bucket was emptied (it wasn’t full).  The first wash did not remove the smell of rancid flour.  The second wash did not remove the smell of rancid flour.  So a damp cloth with baking soda sprinkled on it was used to wipe the inside of the bucket, and that did the trick.  The bucket smelled sweet and fresh.  It was left to dry, with the similarly cleansed lid, overnight.  This morning the bucket was used to store a bag of corn meal.  A label was attached to the side of the bucket, and to the lid.  It will be stored in the cool basement, on layers of cardboard so that it does not touch the concrete floor.

There are a few more partial buckets to empty, which will be used for storing packages of food that we don’t want exposed to the damp air in the basement.

I will buy whole wheat flour again, but in very small quantities.  That will be very expensive, so we won’t be using much whole wheat flour.  Someday I would like grind my own flour, using heritage variety wheat berries.  Wheat berries will store well for long periods of time.  That may or may not come to pass.  For now, I will purchase whole wheat flour in small quantities for bread making.

Worldly

Weather

-8C
10:00 AM EST Friday 7 December 2018
Condition:Mainly Sunny
Pressure:103.1 kPa
Tendency:Rising
Temperature:-8.4°C
Dew point:-12.6°C
Humidity:72%
Wind:NW 12 km/h
Wind Chill: -14
Visibility:24 k

Quote

“The ultimate result of shielding men from the effects of folly is to fill the world with fools.”
Herbert Spencer
1820 – 1903

Blogmas Day 6: Misplaced

Sunshine! It is amazing how much cheer a few rays of sunshine can add to a room. After a bright and sunny morning, the clouds returned in force, snow is predicted.

I’ve spent a good part of my morning looking for the information sheet the hospital provided for me before I checked out after the colonoscopy, can’t find it. It has been misplaced. How is this even possible! This is a small house, how many places are there that I could have put it. No luck at all, still haven’t found it. I’ve put is somewhere “logical”, but is beyond me just where that might be. This happens from time to time, I assume it happens to everyone. How frustrating!

Today was the day I had to deal with the huge bill received for the repairs to Tank. Ouch! The repair cost more than new windows for the whole house, and that really hurts. Of course it cannot be paid in one go, so I came up with a plan of borrowing and paying back that will take us well into 2019, but it isn’t so tight a strategy that we will suffer. Our belts will be tightened, but we will still be housed, warm, well fed, and able to transport ourselves to work in Attila’s case, and to medical appointments in my case. Really, that is all we need, and when I think about it, it is about all I want, so a sort of balance has been achieved.

Transportation is a huge expense, and not often counted in the assessments of quality of life. Here at Mist Cottage we spend much more of our meagre income on transportation than we do on either food or shelter, as one must include the cost of the vehicle, the insurance, the fuel, and the maintenance; it all adds up at an alarming rate. I have fond memories of living in downtown Toronto, walking everywhere I needed to go, with an occasional foray further afield via public transportation, and even more occasional drive to the countryside to go camping with my girls. Most residential constructs in Canada are such that one must have some sort of personal transport in order to function. Just obtaining food supplies is a major operation without a vehicle, where most people in Canada live.

After Attila arrived home from work, off we went to the garage to pick up the car. The bill wasn’t unreasonable, and since it was a maintenance visit, the bill was manageable. I sighed with relief. [Confession: I wrote the previous sentence mid-afternoon, as an experiment in positive thinking, think happy thoughts and everything turns out all right, right? I knew it might be, in reality, an exercise in delusional thinking. As it turned out, the bill wasn’t unreasonable, but that outcome may not negate the possibility of delusional thinking. Still, it was much more fun to think that if I wished hard enough, things would turn out the way I wanted them to.

Worldly

Weather

1°C
Date: 11:00 AM EST Thursday 6 December 2018
Condition: Mostly Cloudy
Pressure: 101.6 kPa
Tendency: Falling
Temperature: 1.1°C
Dew point: -2.0°C
Humidity: 80%
Wind: WSW 23 km/h
Visibility: 16 km

Quote

“The weird thing about houses is that they almost always look like nothing is happening inside of them, even though they contain most of our lives.”
John Green