An Unwanted Guest

Last week Florian left the basement door open for a few minutes, just long enough for a mouse to  sneak in the open door. I saw it and chased it with a broom, but of course it disappeared under the pantry door which is located under the stairs and refused to come out. Then in the night I heard a racket in the kitchen and I got up to see what all the commotion was and when I turned on the light a mouse sprinted across the room and squeezed its tiny body under the gap between the door and fled the scene to the basement.

The next day I placed three mouse traps in strategic locations to catch this uninvited guest. Two days later and still no mouse in my traps, but some signs that it (hopefully only one visitor) is enjoying its new home.  By now, I started to panic and decided the best  solution was a cat.  

I went to see a neighbor who has a few strays hanging out near his place and instead of bringing home a mature cat that could actually catch a mouse I brought home an adorable baby kitten.

The little monkey has no manners and follows me constantly. He is not allowed on the sofa or chairs, but he keeps trying to climb on them and I have to watch him like a hawk to make sure he stays off the furniture. He doesn’t want to go outside and play like a normal kitten. No, he just wants to stay inside and torment me.

I made him some toys to keep him busy and out of trouble. He plays with them sometimes, but I am convinced that he prefers to annoy me.   If he continues to demand constant attention I might lock him in the basement for a week with the mouse!

DIY toy made of wood, an old hanger, some twine, and a jiffy pot.

 

DIY house made out of a cardboard box.

 

DIY- Making Soap Instead of Gardening

In an attempt to forget about my lack of gardening success I decided to make another batch of olive oil soap. My first batch a couple of years ago turned out pretty good even though it was quite unattractive. This time around I used a proper soap mold ($6) and cutter ($5) that I bought from  amazon.ca in the winter.  The items were ordered on the same day and shipping was included in the pricing. The cutter arrived within two weeks, but the soap mold was sent on the slow boat from China and landed in my mail box  about three months later.

Silicon soap mold and soap cutter, with a free gift from China.

The batch was too much for the mold, so I used a piece of PVC pipe and cap for the leftover soap.

The PCV pipe with the cap off.

I got this bright idea from a U-tube video. It worked fine on the video – the lady effortlessly removed the cap and gently tapped the soap out of the pipe.  In my case, it took at least twenty minutes to remove the cap and then I couldn’t get the soap out by tapping it. I had to push it out by putting my arm in the pipe and pressing as hard as possible on the soap. Luckily, I didn’t get my arm caught in the pipe. The soap was easy to cut with the cutter, but next time I will use an old juice container for the leftover soap.

If you can remove the soap from the PCV pipe it is easy to cut.

 

Here is the end result – some rectangular and round soap.

 

 

Gardening 2017

After last year’s dismal garden I was hoping for an improved version this summer. I prepared some seedlings in early spring in my indoor greenhouse. Although the greenhouse was in front of a window on the south side of the house the plants struggled to absorb the sunshine and flourish. In the beginning they looked pretty good, but as spring lingered for weeks they looked withered by the time I was ready to place them in the garden. In the end, I trashed them and bought tomato seedlings from the garden center. This was my last attempt at starting seedlings indoors. The hassle and disappointment are not worth saving a few dollars. From now on I am going straight to the local garden center to pick up seedlings.  I converted the mini-greenhouse into a shoe closet in the basement. 

In addition, to my garden boxes I made a small cucumber patch by using some decorative fences that my neighbour was throwing out.

I also made a garden for beets, onions and string beans. This garden is proving very popular with my yard visitors – rabbits and groundhogs. These guys are feasting on the beets and beans.

I guess they don’t like onions.  I took preventive measures to keep them out of the raised garden. I used chicken coup and bamboo stakes to make a barrier. This is a temporary fix for now. I plan on making a fence around the raised boxes, but this may not happen this summer.

My herb garden is doing great. All of the herbs resurfaced in late spring with the exception of the rosemary plant. Of course, this is my favorite, but it is not hardy enough to survive an eastern Canadian winter. It acts as an annual in our area, so I got some at the garden center. 

 

Garden and Chaga Update

My seedlings that I started indoors in the spring in my mini-greenhouse didn’t make a smooth transition to life outdoors. The tomato plants that survived were tall and skinny and produced only a few tomatoes. The cucumbers were even worse – short and stubby. The beets and yellow beans were a bit more successful, but they would not win any prizes at the local agricultural show.

What a terrible garden!

What a terrible garden!

In general, it was not a great summer for local gardens and the lack of attention given to mine definitely contributed to the poor results. Although I was too busy to plant a vegetable garden at my new place this year I planted a small herb garden that did much better than the garden at the cabin. (Below are some close-ups of the plants.)

Although I spent hours last winter scouring the forest on skis searching for chaga I came up empty-handed. Then my brother, who was not looking, stumbled across a ridge with a lot and he harvested some for me. Here are a couple of huge chunks that I cut them into smaller pieces and placed in tin cans to keep dry.

I should have enough for a few months. I also set aside  a big chunk for one of my neighbors who mentioned that he is getting low on his supply.

Good-bye Clutter

It has been months since my last blog post because my life got busier than expected. I landed a short-term position for the summer which involved working shifts, long drives, and an agreement promising not to write anything about the job on any form of social media. Consequently, I decided to avoid blogging for the duration of the job to be on the safe side. In addition, at the end of August I signed an oath promising never to discuss the gig after the completion of the contract. There is nothing to say other than I am happy that it is finished.

In the spring, we bought a new house and spent the month of May slowly moving from the cabin to the house. It is a three bedroom bungalow with a full basement. It was gutted and completely rebuilt five years ago, so it only needed some cosmetic touch-ups like new paint, window screens and a few minor repairs, except for the kitchen cabinets which required a new updated look. We used Rust-Oleum cabinet coating system to redo the cabinets. I am pleased with the end result, but I would not recommend this to anyone who does not have tons of free time on their hands. The whole process, starting with cleaning and deglossing, applying two bond coats, adding a decorative glaze, and applying a protective top coat to protect against stains and scratches, is extremely time-consuming. Here is a before and after photo of one section of the cabinets.

The new house has a wood and oil furnace in the basement. I don’t plan on using oil because it is too expensive. Last March I met a man when I was skiing on his property in my quest to find chaga. We started chatting and he ended up giving me enough wood for the winter. It was already cut and scattered over his lot. My brother helped gather it up and brought it to my place with his truck and trailer. Then Florian and I split it and piled it up to dry.

As for the cabin, we still go there two or three times a week to feed the stray cat and look after the garden boxes. I have no idea what I am going to do with this place. Even after I moved, the garage is full of stuff.

For example, I have a beautiful antique organ and a new exercise twister, but I have absolutely no use for them. I tried to give them away on kijiji, but there were no takers. Actually, that is not true. Two or three people would take the organ if I would deliver it. The Ab-Doer twister has only been used two or three times and it  costs over $300 on Amazon, but I couldn’t give it away for free!

In the end, these items and most of the other junk will have to find a new home in the local landfill. Although I hate to throw away things I have decided if I have no use for something in the foreseeable future then I am eliminating it from my life.  Otherwise, the garage will never be free of clutter.  I am determined to declutter the garage before I start my next job in a couple of days, so that means I better get started now.

Daily Prompt: Shelf

Today’s one-word prompt: shelf  was the motivation that I needed to assemble my mini-indoor green house that I purchased on the spur of the moment on Monday. It was reduced by 50% and at $34.99 it seemed like a good investment and a way to start seedlings indoors instead of buying them at the local market.

This will be a gren house in a few minutes.

This will be a green house in a few minutes.

After bringing it home I put it on a shelf in the garage to avoid clutter in the cabin. After all who needs more clutter? Then again what is the point of getting a greenhouse if I am not going to assemble and use it?

It only took about ten minutes to assemble the parts and it is much sturdier than I expected. The most difficult part is putting the plastic cover on because it needs to be snug and you have to be careful not to tear or damage it.

The seeds, soil, bedding trays and pots are on the shelves waiting the arrival of spring on the 19th, two days earlier than normal.  Then, I can start my seedlings and begin the countdown to summer.

Weekly Photo Challenge: Seasons

Winter is my least favorite season, but it is a long, cold reality in Canada. I find fresh snow beautiful when it covers the trees and landscape around me, but I still struggle to enjoy this season.

It is snowing again!

It is snowing again!

This winter I have made an effort to appreciate it by cross-country skiing and snow-shoeing. When I force myself out the door to go for a walk, a run or go skiing my mood immediately improves. However, when it doesn’t snow and the temperatures dip below zero I look out the window and see the dull, dirty snow in the yard I simply want to hibernate in my cabin and wait for spring. Golden Tips also likes lounging in the cabin rather than going out with his new scarf to enjoy the winter.

Tips wearing his new scarf.

Tips wearing his new scarf.

The positive news is that the deer are hanging out around our place and this is a sign that spring is just around the corner.

I spotted these deer yesterday.

I spotted these deer yesterday.

Another deer going for a stroll in the afternoon.

Another deer going for a stroll in the afternoon.

This is my take on the weekly photo challenge, and now Golden Tips is going out with me for a walk in the snow before it changes to rain – another sign that spring is on its way.