Archive for the ‘other stuff’ Category

During this COVID crisis, I have been the one who has been masking up (and covering my hair and wearing gloves) and going out as infrequently as we can manage. Even with that as our main plan, we wanted to have some mask options for my father, just in case.

He has a full beard so I needed something that would cover that and still give some droplet protections both for him and anyone around him. This is the very simple and fast option I went with and he finds it easy and comfortable to wear.

The base is a SNL t-shirt that he liked but that was a bit on the tight side for fit. This shirt had a tight neckline so it is able to sit over the nose and head and gives a decent seal. I just ran a pair of seams directly down from the inside edge of the neckline. The seams come down on a slight downwards angle so the mask flares a bit at the bottom. I wanted to keep the printed design so the shirt was cut off just below it. The back is shorter but still fully covers the neck. The edges were turned under and sewn down, but this isn’t really needed with the heavy weave jersey fabric.

Lastly, long strips were cut out of the leftover short and stretched to make ties. They were then roughly sewn into place on the neckline and so it can be tied to secure it.

The fabric is heavy enough that it gives decent blockage without restricting his breathing and fully covers and contains his beard. He wears glasses so it is held down over his nose but if you are not a glasses wearer, inserting a nose wire would do the same job. If you are using a lighter fabric, or need to wear a mask in high traffic areas, it is easy to salvage a rectangle of fabric from the rest of the shirt and sew it as a liner over the nose and mouth area. This could be done with rough hand sewing and would be very quick.

We were happy to have a way to not only give him a comfortable mask option but also refashion a fave printed t-shirt!

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Since I’ve been sharing a bit of what I’ve learned about growing haskap, it makes sense to also talk about how to use the harvest! IMG_0861

Haskap are honeysuckles and while the fruits are a similar colour to blueberries they are significantly different. They have a flavour all their own. Raspberry crossed with blueberry, tart with a hint of wine is the best I’ve come up with to try and explain it. The berries are longer and less dense. The skins are much softer and will completely break down in a blender with none of the chunks you’ll often get with blueberries. This is probably why their expected commercial use in North America is in smoothies. Now that I’ve let the berries fully ripen, I agree that they are terrific in them. They are easy to freeze individually, hold well in the freezer and give great colour and flavour to any breakfast or snack smoothie.IMG_1159

They can be a bit intense on their own and it can also be difficult to get the sweetness balance right in large amounts, such as a pure berry pie. What we’ve found works better is using them as an add-in. muffin1

Fruit and custard pie, muffins or pancakes are all great ways to use them! You may need to slightly increase the called for sugar, or, in the case of pancakes, a bit more maple syrup does the trick! You can totally use them this way from frozen, but they are a bit messier.custardpie1

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My first altered jacket was a “Firefly” themed leather bomber. I wasn’t sure how well the altering and distressing techniques I was planning to use would work, and if the finished jacket would still be wearable, so it seemed safer to start with a smaller trial and I used a vintage men’s small/medium. The slimmer fit limited who could wear it. I had planned to use it as an example for custom work but it did find a home. It’s new owner was a cosplayer and was also kind enough to let me take some shots of him in it too! (the rest of the outfit is his, except for my raygun) Model: Jack Sabbath.


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I’m going to be away from the store this week so we will be closed until the 31st of May. If you are in the area, you can still make an appointment to stop in, (call or email) but I won’t be available for framing consultations!

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Last year, I’d taken the pruned bits from my hardy kiwis and potted them up. All the surviving pots were buried in one of the beds for the winter.

This past week I pulled them out and moved all the living ones to new, single pots. They all had good sized root balls so I’m optimistic about the process. I have 12 plants with 11 being female and one male. That ratio isn’t ideal, but the males seem more fragile.

We took pretty heavy damage on the older ones from bunnies this winter. They had been fine the 2 years before but this winter saw 3 eaten back to smaller than they were when I first planted them. A couple more lost 20% to 40% of their branches. One had the bark cleared off the top of most of it’s base but it seems to doing alright so far. The smaller of my 2 males got the worst, but he’s still alive. I don’t know if was due to how cold this past winter was, but clearly, I’ve got to come up with some form of bunny guard, going forward.

The plan now is to keep the babies in their new pots for at least another year then I’ll look at putting them in the ground. It’s still a bit early for me to take a new round of pruning, so I don’t know what this years crop of newborns will be. At the rate things are going, it’ll be a few more years before I’ll have extras to share.



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Last year, one of the bigger garden projects was that we put in four 4’x4′ “squarefoot” gardens. They covered over where the old septic tank used to be and make that space usable for crops. (it was solid clay and gravel so even grass had a hard time surviving in it)

I’m still getting the hang of how to make them work the best way for us but so far, they have been productive, even if I heavily over-planted them last year.


For this season, I started early and put in the first round of peas in mid April. One batch was our regular sugar snaps and the other was a new one called a grey dwarf that is also supposed to make edible pods. Just this week, both started putting out their flowers and I was pleasantly surprised  at the pretty flowers from the new pea. All the other edible ones I’ve ever grown just had white flowers but these are right up there with most of the sweet peas for the beauty of the flowers. I’m hopeful that the pods will be tasty, but even if they aren’t, I may let a few go to seed since I wouldn’t mind growing these as an ornamental!

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raspThe garden keeps developing and it looks like a few of the longer-term investments are starting to pay off in terms of fruit production. One is the thimbleberries. Unlike our everbearing raspberries, they need to fruit on second year canes and it’s taken a few years for them to spread out enough so we are getting more than just a few to taste. The first year canes also seem to be good eating, as far as the bunnies are concerned, and they all got mowed down to under 2′, over the winter. (which was taller than the years previous where they were mostly eaten right down) That doesn’t seem to have stopped them from producing, so the deeper snow is probably why we’re actually getting a crop this year. This was the early morning haul yesterday and I got almost as much in the late afternoon. The berries are much larger, (most are almost the size of a thimble) a bit sweeter but not quite as tasty as the everbearing, but even so it’s really nice to have a decent run a couple of months before the big flood.

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pink roses

IMG_6700Last year we put in a new flower bed at the end of the path. It was filled with an assortment of different roses collected from other spots on the property. One was an old style high-bush one that had come through the east fence and while surviving, wasn’t doing well in the shade of the large conifers. We weren’t sure that it would make it due to the small amount of root that came out with it, but it got through last summer and showed some growth. This year, it started out strong, set a bunch of buds and has been in constant flower for almost a month. It has pretty, full blooms in a pale pink that are also quite strongly scented. (unlike most of our other roses) Considering how well it is doing and the abundance of flowers after only one year, we’re planning on looking for a support structure for it and the white climbing rose next year.

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The raspberries have continued to come in so I’ve rl3 been working through some baking options. Considering how happy we were with the apple fritter loaf recipe from Tess, I thought it was worthwhile to see if it could be adapted to use the raspberries. Since I didn’t want to kill their flavour with the cinnamon, we decided to go with chocolate. Once they are cooked raspberries can be a bit more bitter than apples so I also needed to increase the sugar just a little. What I went with was around a tablespoon of hot chocolate powder and a bit of the ground vanilla in addition to listed sugar. That seemed to give us the chocolate accent we wanted as well as balancing the sweetness a bit better. I also added a teaspoon of corn starch too. The berries were a bit more liquid than apples and the cornstarch thickens them just enough. (sugar, cornstarch and chocolate were mixed together, then added to the fruit) We cooked it around 10 minutes longer and that made sure it was fully done, all the way through. (the parchment paper liner is also pretty necessary) The raspberry flavour came through strong and clear, but they weren’t bitter or overpowering and were a good balance to the vanilla cake that makes up the bulk of the loaf. I did go a bit overboard with the amount of raspberries on the first attempt and had a catastrophic structural failure. (4 cups was too many) At least it tasted good, but staying around or under, 2 cups of the raspberry mixture is needed if you want a loaf instead of a baked pudding. We like lots of raspberry, but sticking to 1 to 11/2 cups of fruit would make the chocolate more noticeable and the loaf much more solid. I also stuck with the vanilla cream glaze, but you could drizzle the top with melted chocolate to increase the chocolate aspect.

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As the temperature dropped this past week, the insects were getting sluggish. mon1 I had a bumblebee get tangled in my hair while raspberry picking and didn’t even notice her until she had warmed up a bit and made some buzzing noises, once we were back in the shop. She was still slow enough that I was able to pop her into a dish and take her back outside without a problem. I also found this Monarch in the new bed around the wellhead. I think it is one of this years crop, since it was so perfect and clean. The older ones I’ve seen look a bit worn. It had come in for one of the flowers and seemed to be trying to warm up a bit before heading off. In the late season insects we also had this extremely pregnant praying mantis pm3 show up in the back garden. She could barely walk and was clearly looking for a place to lay her egg sack. I’m hoping she found a suitable spot on the property since predatory bugs are something we want more of. I’ll be keeping my eyes open for a herd of little mantises next spring!

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