Sunday, November 29, 2020

Olson Hospital Face Mask

The contoured Olson Hospital Face Mask pattern was designed by and for medical professionals and health care workers, to be used when other surgical and N95 masks are not available. The masks supplied to hospitals are supposed to be left with an unfinished seam at the ear loops so it can be custom fit to each worker receiving the mask.


Olson Hospital Face Mask

Color coordinated ear loops
Due to Covid-19 and a high risk person in my household, I have been sewing 100% cotton face masks since June 2020. I wasn't happy with the amount of disposable masks thrown in the garbage. On top of that, they were uncomfortable on my ears and my glasses always fogged up. 

I tried 4 different mask patterns: the first was designed and approved by a nurse; I loved the string tie behind the head instead of ear loops but the mask pressed on my nose ... the second, a pleated version similar to the paper disposable types; I liked nothing about this mask! ... the third, a contoured mask in several different sizes; did not have enough coverage, it was fussy to fit and pressed on my nose. I was not happy with the comfort or fit of any of the first three patterns I tried. Then I made the Olson Hospital Face Mask pattern. I just love it... comfortable, snug fit, contoured, a nose wire channel, filter pocket, optional ear loops or behind the head string or elastic.Finally, I started to batch sew!!

I sew the masks on my Grandmothers' 1948 Singer Straight Stitch sewing machine. I feel my Grandma and my Mom with me when I work on that machine. It's a workhorse!!

My 1948 Singer from Grandma

New fabrics
I have sewn seasonal fabric masks for Halloween and now Christmas. The masks I personally wear are coordinated with my outfit and have become a wardrobe accessory! When possible, I try to color coordinate the ear loops with the mask colors.

Halloween Edition 2020

A friend told me where to get an N95 'Filti' fabric for making mask filters. This fabric goes out of stock often and as far as I am aware, is only available at one Textile Shop in Canada. I have just ordered my third batch and it will arrive hopefully this week. It is now recommended that the 'filti' fabric be sanitized in a 150F oven between tinfoil with a bowl of water for 30 minutes. This method prolongs the use of the fabric rather than washing.

With new provincial guidelines now in place ... it is suggested that homemade masks have a high thread count, a cotton face covering with a filter ... the Olson mask with 'Filti' filter is a good, comfortable option for protection. All the Covid-19 protocols still apply ... don't touch your face, wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, keep a safe distance and wear a mask with filter in enclosed areas.

Until next time ... Bon Appétit ... stay healthy, be safe, wear a mask and take good care!

'Designer' Olson Hospital Face Masks and photos by Sally Rae

Wednesday, November 11, 2020

Organic Garden Cleaning Crew

Secure hen house and caged run with removable cover

I do not use pesticides on my vegetable garden. So after over 30+ years of gardening the same raised beds, the bugs are multiplying and are very happy ... making me unhappy and my soil very frustrating to grow anything. 

I grew up in a market gardening family business on the prairies. When I would complain to my Mom about my Denman bugs, she would always say; "When grandpa took the garden out ... the chickens went in to clean up." I had chickens in the garden about 7 years ago but within a few weeks predators took out 2 of my hens. It was fenced to keep deer out but not the raccoons, eagles, hawks and mink. Ever since then I've wanted a chicken tractor type enclosure that would fit on top of my raised bed garden boxes. This would make it much more secure to predators. We still had the small hen house it all just needed to be updated and pieced together to work in my garden.

Hardware cloth covered run with rain panels on top
The small hen house from 7 years ago was put on a dolly with four 8" pneumatic casters. The wheels rotate 360 degrees, so moving it around the garden is a breeze for one person! The house also got a fresh floor of plywood installed, a bit of insulation for the walls and a second nest box with a cute door for me to access the eggs easily. I added a hanger for their feeder and a small door was cut out with a ramp installed outside for access into the run. Two turnbuckles attach the hen house and the run together.

The caged run is 2"x2" wood construction with half inch hardware cloth. I read somewhere that; "chicken wire keeps chickens in. If you want to keep predators out hardware cloth with a small grid is the way to go."  It is more expensive but well worth it. The section of the run at the hen house is 3' in height, the rest is 2' and it sits on top of the raised beds that are 4'2" wide by 13' long. It needs to be manageable for two people to lift and move it. We had old corrugated fiberglass panels removed from the greenhouse laying around so they make the perfect cover to keep the rain and possible snow off the ground and the birds. They are light and easy to move on or off when needed.

Hen house and access doors
The doors and gates are all secured with hasp closures and carabiner clips. The cage run is held tight onto the wooden garden box with rubber bungee cords hooked into large eye hooks that are screwed into the side of the raised beds. Now this is chicken security!! One friend called it my new 'Chicken Emporium' ... I kinda like that!

The first garden box I had the hens clean up in the 3 photos above, was the bed for the garlic that was finally put in a bit later than usual on October 20th, 2020. They did a great job aerating the soil, eating bugs and slug eggs and leaving a bit of fertilizer behind! After cleaning three of the garden boxes, it was time to move 'The Chicken Emporium' up closer to the house. Their water was freezing over night and it was quite a bit hiking up and down to the garden several times a day. I really enjoy having them closer to the house now so I can visit them more often. I've left some of the big, old broccoli plants in the garden to pull for them and have some winter lettuce in the greenhouse that they love!

Goldie, L'il Red and Buffy - Inside, happy and secure
Now that they are up near the house, they get moved to a new grassy patch every week or so. Along with hen scratch, broccoli plants, fruit and vegetable scraps and warm oatmeal with blueberries on the cold mornings, I think they are spoiled, happy hens! I just love chickens and I'm thrilled to have a small flock again... even more thrilled that I know they are safe as I can make them!

My new flock are three older girls, I got them mainly as my organic garden cleaning crew, the eggs are a bonus! In the photo at right, inside the run... the buff colored hen far back is a Buff Orpington who I've named 'Buffy (the Vampire Slayer)', she lays beautiful brown shelled eggs. The other two girls are Americaunas who lay pale blue shelled eggs. The lighter, golden one in front is named 'Goldilocks' and the one behind her is 'Little Red Riding Hood'. Yes... I name my chickens, always have... so, for short they are Buffy, Goldie and L'il Red. A week or so after I got the hens, Buffy started molting... feathers everywhere and now she looks a bit like a plucked chicken. They also stop laying when they molt and as the daylight hours shorten. For now, Goldie and L'il Red are still laying so we get about 4-5 beautiful blue eggs a week.

The beautiful eggs are a bonus!
The girls on the high roost
We don't use a lot of eggs, so they have supplied us well. And it makes me smile to look in the fridge and see blue eggs!

They will spend winter up by the house so I can keep their water fresh and tend to them as the winter rolls in. In the Spring, before planting the garden they will be moved back into the garden and put to work scratching around and having a bug feast on the early spring bugs. The first garden bed they cleaned this fall had Proteknet insect netting over it this summer and in May I found three Large Yellow Underwing Moths trapped inside. They are the culprits of the climbing cutworm so I was happy to get the chickens in there to find any eggs and pupae. I wrote a Post about the climbing cutworm Pupae in 2016 and will write a post in the Spring about the Moths that I found. I'm so happy to finally have a secure 'Chicken Emporium' and my new organic garden cleaning crew!!

Until next time ... Bon Appétit ... stay healthy, be safe, wear a mask and take good care!

Photos by Sally Rae 
'Chicken Emporium' design coordinator - Sally Rae 
'Chicken Emporium' construction assistance and supervised by Sally Rae

Monday, November 2, 2020

Chestnut Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

Chestnut Stuffed Cabbage Rolls

A few times per week I prepare a meatless meal ... I made these 'Chestnut Stuffed Cabbage Rolls' for Thanksgiving Dinner and they were filling and delicious!

I grow two varieties of early cabbage; Tiara and Taiwan. Both are very tender yet crunchy. They are an incredible addition to stir fries, salads and soups. Their tender leaves were perfect to make this meatless cabbage roll recipe. 

If you give this recipe a try, please let me know in the 'Comment' section below...

CHESTNUT STUFFED CABBAGE ROLLS      Yield: 16-18 cabbage rolls


6 oz. roasted, peeled and cooled chestnuts (*see directions below)
⅓ cup small diced parsnips
½ cup small diced carrots
1 small early or savoy cabbage
½ yellow onion
1 tsp. avocado oil
2 oz. white wine
½ tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. poultry seasoning
¼ tsp. coarse black pepper
1 Tbsp. white wine
¼ cup vegetable stock

  *To roast and peel fresh chestnuts; Preheat oven to 425F. Thoroughly wash the chestnuts then with a sharp paring knife, cut an 'x' in the skin on the round side of each chestnut.This keeps them from exploding from internal pressure and makes them easy to peel after roasting. Arrange on a bake sheet and bake in preheated oven for 15-20 minutes or until the skins pull back and the nutmeats soften. Remove from the oven and pile the hot chestnuts on an old towel. Wrap tightly and squeeze until you hear a crackling sound. Then let them sit a few minutes. Pull off the dark shells and the papery membrane to reveal the yellowish white meat. Allow to cool.

For the cabbage roll filling; Peel parsnip and carrot, small dice and steam 20 minutes. Steam the whole cabbage 20 minutes. Peel onion and finely dice. Sweat onion in a pan with avocado oil. Add chestnuts, cook a few minutes. Add carrot and parsnip, reduce heat and cook 2-3 minutes.

Deglaze pan with wine and season with salt, pepper and poultry seasoning. Separate and set aside 16-18 whole cabbage leaves and enough to cover both the top and bottom in the baking dish. To a food processor; purée the chestnut/carrot mixture and the rest of the cabbage. Use a #30 scoop (a generous 2 Tbsp.) to divide the mixture into 16-18 balls. Place a ball in the middle of each leaf. Fold sides over and roll up.

Place rolls in an ovenproof dish lined with cabbage leaves, cover with cabbage leaves. Pour over 1 Tbsp. wine and
¼ to ⅓ cup of stock and bake at 350°F until warmed through.

Until next time ... Bon Appétit

Recipe by Sally Rae
Photo by Sally Rae