What I’ve Been Doing This Week.

Most of this week was spent doing what I imagine a lot of you did. Wondering WHAT THE HELL EVERYONE IS DOING WITH THE TOILET PAPER. 

If you live somewhere that’s within one or two galaxies of a Coronovirus case this is a familiar sight for you. The toilet paper aisle. 

I first saw a sight  like this when my friend Andrea who lives in Singapore sent me a photo of the empty toilet paper aisle in her grocery store about a month ago. I assumed it was a sign that people in Singapore were so afraid of the virus that they’d developed loose bowel syndrome. Or more likely, they were trying to add some levity to the alarming situation by toilet papering each others high rise apartment buildings.

But no. Singaporeans were buying up toilet paper out of fear of a Coronavirus induced toilet paper crises (which they in turn caused by buying up all the toilet paper.) There was no practical reason for it. It turned out to be some sort of ingrained response to an emergency situation that knew no boundaries. 

A way to feel some sort of control and preparedness.

Not to be outdone by the misguided actions of Singaporeans; a few weeks later Americans, Italians and Canadians also whizzed past rows of healthy vegetables, Advil and other things that would actually help them feel better during the outbreak – for the quilted comfort of the toilet paper aisle.

It seems the only thing more contagious than Coronovirus is fear.

Take what you need and no more. You do not need all the toilet paper.  You do not need all the bottles of hand sanitizer.

If you leave nothing for your neighbours, elderly care facilities or the family down the street whose kids like to lick everything, you’re not helping protect yourself from the virus – you’re making it easier for everyone else and therefore you to get it. 

 

This is a No Frills grocery store in my area just after it opened in the morning one day after it was announced that our city had its first case of COVID-19. The line to check out wrapped around the perimeter of the store and was starting to double. 

Every country around the world has agreed that the number one thing that will reduce the spread of this pandemic is having enough squishy white bread to make 15 grilled cheese sandwiches.

Also social distancing. 

This is something that most of us haven’t lived through before so it’s understandable that no one is really sure how to handle it.  Handle it by being aware that keeping everyone around you safe is what will ultimately keep you safe.

Do NOT be like the douchebags who were buying all the Lysol wipes (seriously, thousands and thousands of dollars worth) from Vancouver area Costcos and selling them on Amazon for 4X the price. They considered themselves to be enterprising. 

I consider them be – well have you ever seen a dog walk past a pile of barf on the sidewalk and then eat it? That’s what they are. They are barf eating dogs.

Amazon shut down their account.

This is where a kinder person would say “What they’re doing isn’t right but of course I don’t wish Coronovirus on them.“, but I do. I really, really do wish Coronovirus on them. 

Wait. No I don’t. They’re exactly the kind of people who would get COVID-19 and then keep running around trying to make a buck spreading death and virus wherever they go.

Be like the the girl in the US who bought groceries for an elderly couple who were afraid to go into the grocery store.  Be like her.

Don’t be a jerk, don’t be pushy, don’t be an opportunist, don’t be the toilet paper asswipe, be the girl.


MAPLE SYRUP

Hey! Let’s take a bit of a turn here and talk about delicious maple syrup!  As you know I’ve been making maple syrup out of toilet paper for the past 2 wee .. wait, no, that’s not right.

 

I’ve been making maple syrup by tapping a couple of trees in my neighbourhood – here’s how you can make maple syrup if you have a maple tree – and I expect to be doing the same thing this Sunday.  Boiling buckets and buckets of sap into a tinyyyyyy little amount of syrup, which I will guard with the ferocity of someone guarding their elderly parents.

For 8 hours straight last weekend I fed this fire and filled the pans with maple sap to boil.

The cinder block at the back of my fire pit is turned sideways so the holes acted like a chimney allowing smoke to billow out.

As you can see from this photo I did it until it became so dark that the raccoons were literally yelling at me from the tree they live in in my yard.

Raccoons, as it turns out, are pretty committed to their schedules. Hang in a tree, come down to pee, call the kids for breakfast, all of their routine interrupted by my maple syrup.

I boiled 6, 5 gallon buckets of sap in 8 hours. From that I got what you see below.

That’s approximately 10 cups of sap. Maybe a tiny bit more.  Normally I would filter the sap to get rid of the “sugar sand” which are minerals the tree pulls up from the ground. But to do that you have to run the cooked syrup through a felt filter which basically eats up a large portion of the syrup. It just gets sucked into the felt never to be removed.

So this year I’m trying a method a reader suggested known as the “settling method”. That’s where you pour off your finished maple syrup into jars without filtering it. You just let the sugar sand settle at the bottom of the jars over the course of a month or so and then syphon off the clear syrup into new bottles.

GENIUS. I think. I’ll see how it goes in a month.

And just for a shot of happy, when I was out boiling in the freezing cold, I noticed these had sprouted up in my back garden. They’re tiny toilet paper rolls that I’m growing. I’m SO glad I planted them last year. 

No they’re not. They’re snowdrops. They’re always the first flower to nod its head to spring every year around here.


DINNER!

You know I’ve been sharing various recipes I try over the week and this is yet another one from Gayle of Family Food Life who brought us last week’s Tostada recipe via her Instagram account.  I’m happy to report she has now published that recipe to her blog. You can find it here.

The recipe you see above is a quick iPhone shot of her Cheddar Polenta with Chipotle-Butter shrimp. Do NOT attempt this if you don’t like heat in your food. Polenta is one of my go-to side dishes. I do it a bit different than she does though.  To make polenta I mix 1 part cornmeal with 5 parts liquid and simmer and cook for about 40 minutes.  Also, I always use half water and half milk for my liquid.


What I've Been Doing This Week.

Have a good remainder of your weekend and remember – be her. Don’t be them. 

 

60 Comments

  1. Molly says:

    I wasn’t gonna post this, but I won’t sleep if I don’t……..I work at a big box retailer. Today, every knuckle-draggin’, troglodyte was in the store….with thier kids. What I want you to know is——a customer, browsing in the clothing department, licked 3 fingers of her ungloved hand and swiped it across the clothing. There are stupid people and evil people. Both entertain themselves where you shop. I told my parents I can no longer cook for them, be around them, or touch anything they touch. Please pray for and protect you and yours from stupid and evil people.

  2. Emily Fisher says:

    “The ferocity of someone guarding their elderly parents.” Girl, you break my heart. Love to you and Betty the Fabulous. Be safe out there.

  3. Maggie vansickle says:

    IF u need syrup later on I just got my supply (12 -500 litre bottles)From my friends sugar bush. Just let me know and I will drop it off. I know how much u like your syrup

    • Karen says:

      Oh! Thanks Maggie! They were reallyyyyyy nice and patient with me when I first started boiling sap. :) I should be good – I expect I’ll have 15 small bottles by the time I’m done. ~ karen!

  4. Nancy says:

    I truly don’t understand the toilet paper hoarding – wish I had stock in some of the manufacturers.
    But what I’m really curious about are those bright yellow and blue objects hanging from the empty TP shelves. They look functional…but also somewhat obscene considering the store area they’re in.

  5. Patty says:

    This is the first time I’ve read your blog. Gal, you’re hilarious. I so want to be your neighbor, your buddy. As you mention in the latest post, yes, “I am being the girl”. So many people suck and it’s blatantly obvious during these trying times. People, people, pick at least one good deed a day to do at a minimum. With almost 8 billion people on earth, that’s a lot of good deeds daily. Peace and good health to you all. Now off to being that girl.

  6. Caroline says:

    I love the optimism of the empty bottle on the left in the maple syrup post!

  7. Tara says:

    Karen you ROCK!!! Thank you for being……YOU! You tell it like it is and I love it. I am glad I found your blog.

  8. Ann Marie says:

    Ok so this is off topic but …do you know who did the painting pictured behind the bottle under the pig? Is it a print? Looks like an oil? Looks familiar to me that’s all.

    • Karen says:

      I don’t know who did it Ann Marie but I love it. There’s some type fo signature on it. I bought it at a garage sale for around $2 YEARS ago. ~ karen!

  9. Angela K says:

    I’m not promoting a specific website but I recommend everyone read the article I just came across on Bored Panda: https://www.boredpanda.com/infectious-diseases-doctor-scared-of-coronavirus-panic-abdu-sharkawy/
    This doctor explains so much and I believe he’s right on all counts. It’s sad how so many people are reacting in regards to the coronovirus.
    People, please, read up on what the coronovirus is and what COVID19 is before causing yourself or others to panic to the point of stupidity.
    Yes, we need to prevent the spread, and yes, we need to take precautions but hoarding and stockpiling are not going solve the problem OR prevent spread of the virus. It will worsen the situation because supplies are not in the areas they need to be.
    Everyone be safe!

  10. Leslie Barnard says:

    Thanks Karen. I wonder what Freud would think about all the toilet paper hoarding.
    The things I noticed most that were gone from the store shelves (other than TP, of course) was tomato sauce- or anything tomato that comes in a can or jar- and potato chips!! I know you can relate to the chips…!

  11. Caryl Hodgdon says:

    I had to laugh when immediately under your pic of your cinder block syrup reduction inferno was an ad for cremation planning. Was that your doing???

  12. Scout says:

    Well done. Well said. Well timed. And a week well lived. You make humor and that little girl’s heart contagious. Keep up the good work. And thanks.

  13. Lois Baron says:

    And I laughed and laughed over the tiny toilet paper rolls that you’re growing.

  14. Vikki says:

    Thank you for bringing some humor and normalcy to us in this crazy world today. We see the same “sheeple” with the toilet paper fixation here in Oregon. (This truly is anal-retentive.) And…I have a huge new respect for anyone who makes maple syrup and will never take it for granted again.

  15. Lois says:

    I stopped by the Target yesterday to buy earplugs since everyone is at home now during my work hours–my college kid, my husband, a 20-something nephew. I knew the TP aisle would be empty, but it was interesting to see what else was cleared out. I was proud of my high-achieving county that the sugary cereal (Count Chocula, etc.) was still on the shelf while the rest of the aisle was pretty much gone. My daughter was struck by the fact that the wine and snacks were depleted while the condom row seemed untouched. The canned food and boxed food aisles were wastelands. I confess that I bought one more package of lightly salted almonds than I usually do, but have been resisting STUPID-HEAD thinking. Never mind that I check the Washington Post’s Live Updates about three times an hour. lol.

  16. Elaine says:

    Thanks so much for that sweet snowdrop photo, Karen; it reminded me of my childhood in England. Re the toilet paper problem, I was told by a staff member at the local pharmacy that more tp will be arriving this coming week. I asked him (I think he was the manager) if it will be limited and he said “no, first come; first served”. I said that didn’t seem fair to me, explained why and he just shrugged me off. I live in a condo (same town as you) and not every one can dash out to load up. Many of the older residents need help (family or caregiver) with their shopping and are stuck. Thank goodness the manager at our Metro is putting limits on things! If only people had shopped like they normally do, shortages wouldn’t be an issue.

  17. Sarah says:

    This article is spot on in so many ways.

    But about the maple syrup… wow, just wow, how cool is that. And the Coker in the back yard is awesome!

  18. Cherie says:

    As usual, Karen, you have made a dreadful situation at least temporarily amusing. Like one of those who responded, I always have lots of dried goods, canned goods, meat and fish in the freezer and lots of preserves, too, like beets. Good old beets! The most prosaic of veggies but oh do they can well. Add a little cinnamon stick, some pepper and some vinegar and you have food for the soul. The selfishness of others — the Lysol wipes guy, for instance — never ceases to amaze me. Good old chlorine bleach works with a good old and washable rag will do the trick, too, and are more environmentally friendly. My immune system is compromised — lungs and heart stuff — so I sent my dear, healthier man to the grocery store and he reported that while there was not a roll of tp left — we didn’t need any, he was just curious — right beside that were rolls and rolls of paper towel and tissue boxes. Imagination, people! Even tissue paper, while expensive, would work. This is a 1st world problem for sure. Keep us smiling, Karen.

  19. Sondra says:

    This TP problem in the world is NUTS. People are nuts! I’m old enough to remember how cloth diapers were handled and laundered on a daily basis. Five gallon bucket of water with lid sitting next to the toilet – even a pretty design on the side if you want one, to keep the rinsed in the toilet diaper until you had a load. Pour off the water into the toilet, drop the diapers in the washing machine, run through a rinse cycle and then a hot cycle with soap, dryer and you start the process all over again of course after you fold and put those cut things back in the diaper stack, LOL! Worst comes to worse then there is always lots of washcloths or cut up towels for those diaper pails, lol!

    As far as food goes I’ve always been a Mormon at heart…. the religion that I am NOT but who developed the idea of storing large quantities of dried goods in your garage, basement or where ever in case of need. For 50 years I have kept 5 gallon containers of every grain, flour, bean and veggie that I liked on hand at all times. I have owned a grain mill for 45 years so lots of buckets of wheat to make my own breads or to grind beans or rice for a flour. I keep only my favorites and when the buckets gets near empty I order again from my local health food store. I have hundreds of pounds of all of the things I like and need on hand at all times. Should have stored up TP me thinks! Really laughing here but you get the idea. Be smart, be wise and be cautious and stay prepared for anything and you’ll be okay.

  20. Jody says:

    Howdy. Last week you posted on IG doing the finishing boil of syrup. You put a drop of syrup onto a device (which to me looked like a stud finder) to give a digital read out of sugar percentage. What is the device called and where did you get it.

    • Margaret K says:

      It’s a Brix refractometer. I think both as a digital and optical types are available. Be sure to get a Brix refractometer, which measures sugar densities. A refractometer for salt content won’t give you the right reading for syrup. Sellers of maple sugaring tools sell refractometers

    • Karen says:

      Hi Jody! It’s a refractometer. A digital one. I bought it from Amazon. I think I linked to it in my maple syrup article? ~ karen!

  21. Suzanne Herbruck says:

    Thinking of all my TAODS buddies and you, Karen. Thanks for your humor most of all. Safety and good health to everyone.

  22. Phyllis says:

    Hi Karen:

    Another great post. Thanks!

    All this ridiculous TP hoarding had made me research non-paper alternatives. Have you ever thought of doing a review of bidet sprayers? There’s more out there than I was aware of. And I’m sure your quirky sense of humour could make the review lots of fun as well as educational. Our septic tanks and forests would both thank you if it meant more people would turn to a non-paper alternative, :)

    • Marie Anne says:

      Ooh, great idea! Karen, you are the perfect person for this 😊😂

    • Carswell says:

      Haha – I was looking at hand held sprayers on Amazon this weekend. I followed a link from an article I was reading – I never knew such things existed but then it was never something I ever devoted any thought to. A whole new world!

      My local grocery store was completely out of TP, paper towels and all but a few boxes of tissue on Friday morning. I think the announcement of school closings in Ontario really spooked people. Up until Friday things were pretty normal.

      Listening to the radio this morning – the traffic reports are what strikes me. No issues or slowdowns on ANY of the major highways and commuter routes.

  23. Gail says:

    Just love reading your post.. Thank you for your humor and great advice.. Keep making us laugh..

  24. Carlies says:

    Loved your “tiny toilet paper rolls” photo. The world needs more of your kind of humour!
    My husband filters his maple syrup using cheese cloth doubled up a couple times.
    You get rid of the worst of the debris and get to keep more of the liquid gold….

  25. Lisamc says:

    Act in a way you’ll be proud of when you look back in 10 years.
    (That’s our family motto–kind of obnoxious and deep at the same time. Agree?)
    So….
    Speak with reassurance, even if you’re slightly panicked yourself. (Think Mr. Rogers–but not when he’s being Daniel Tiger –that would be too creepy–why would you even do that?)
    Don’t be overly dismissive of other people’s fear (even if you want to smack them silly for being so freaking self absorbed and making everyone else panic).
    Correction: Don’t be overly dismissive of other people’s fear IN PUBLIC. In private, do whatever you want–you’ll feel better.
    Offer to help–to the extent that you aren’t putting yourself or those you should protect at risk.
    If you feel like it, and already have one–wear a mask. (I swear the idea that a mask won’t help at all is insane. That’s the first thing they did in China and South Korea but our experts tell us it will give us a false sense of security. UH, yeah, I’ll take some of that thank you.)
    Remember that nearly all little children are disease vectors–snot with legs (but ya gotta love ’em) so don’t ask your pre-diabetic Mom with high blood pressure to watch the kids. Really, don’t put her in that situation. Really, don’t.
    Oh, and re-read Karen’s blogs so you remember how to laugh along the way life cause it ain’t a life worth living it if it doesn’t induce panic and anxiety at some point along the way. Right?

  26. Miriam says:

    LOVE LOVE LOVE this post!
    Thank you Karen, for your humour and your no panic, sensible approach.
    My favourite – “whizzed past rows of healthy vegetables,,,, ”

    Lots there to keep you busy. Stay well.

  27. Susan Warren says:

    Hi Karen
    I found out why there is a toilet paper shortage?
    1 person sneezes and 10 people s.h.i.t.z.z theirselves….bahahaha 🤣
    From good old Richmond, VA

  28. Margaret Gove says:

    It’s not just the US which is going mad. Here in the UK you find it hard to locate a roll of toilet paper, hand sanitiser or hand wash. Some (sensible) supermarkets are limiting customers to only 2 items.

    I have butchers block worktops, and got sick of varnish wearing off, so after an accidental spill, I started using olive oil, rubbed in, left overnight, and wiped off the next day. I now mske my own polish, using olive oil and beeswax. Works fine. Incidentally, i suffer with arthri8, and make my own anti-inflammatory salve with comfrey, oil and beeswax. It’s more effective than anything foctor has given me.

    • Karen Page says:

      I have an autoimmune disease that mimics Rheumatoid Arthritis, so I was intrigued by your salve. Having no idea what comfrey was I looked it up and found this from 2008: “FDA bans sale of comfrey herb. a cancer-causing agent. The US Food and Drug Administration on Friday asked makers of dietary supplements containing the herb comfrey to withdraw their products due to the danger of liver damage and its possible role as a cancer-causing agent.” Now, I wouldn’t be surprised if Big Pharma lobbied for this for their own purposes, but I thought you might want to be aware of the claims.

      • Margaret Gove says:

        Hi karen
        It says “dietary supplements “, well I always understood that no parts of the herb should be ingested. I can’t see it hurts to rub on externally. I che ked with my doctor, as l am on so many tablets, gabapentin, paracetemol, codeine, statins, blood pressure tablets etc. He googled it, and said it is an anti-inflammatory, and quite safe.

  29. Dana says:

    Dr. Schaffner has been on tv lately saying there is an intestinal and/or cramping component to coronavirus but not everyone who has coronavirus will have that. Overall, I think people are being jerks about it all and hoarding things.

  30. KATHLEEN HARTZELL says:

    Yep, today there were no diapers at Target, dog food was almost out, no rice…etc. I’d really like to do an analysis of what’s disappearing and try to figure out the rationale. Me, I got lots of canned soup and tomatoes and pasta and tried to get my favorite go-to veggie when I’ve gone none fresh: Costco 3 bean salad. GONE.
    But on the TP front – my really expert septic system builder and maintenance guy says don’t use Costco tp in septic systems – it doesn’t break down fast enough. He has a LOT of issues with it, well, he meant, he makes a lot of money on it, as they require so much service and premature pumping from build up of paper.

    • Jennifer says:

      I guess for me the rationale was that the economy might shut down for six months with extremely sick people not going to work, and I can’t make toilet paper. And I prefer not to examine TP alternatives, not that that isn’t possible. Also, I can’t make cat food. We spent serious money when our cat got sick trying to change brands. I CAN grow veggies, HOORAY! And the ingredients were already gone to make detergent so I stocked up on that too. . .

      Also, now that I have stuff I can share it with people that don’t. But I can do that. Not the Amazon creeps who would have grabbed it anyway. Those were my shopping thoughts.

      • Jennifer says:

        Also, though it is sweet that the little girl offered to help people get groceries, it might not be safe long term. In the disability community, most of us have underlying conditions. We are already planning on getting COVID-19, and we know it will be pretty brutal. It might look silly to other people, but I have had to prepare for a lot of surgeries when I was out for months and I did similar planning then. The difference now is that I can’t plan on going back to the store or having help because I don’t know if it is safe for someone to bring me stuff, and how long I have to wait it out before I have to get to the hospital.

        • whitequeen96 says:

          My son is medically fragile and I’m on the older side, so here’s what I do. “Quarantine” your groceries for 3 days in the grocery sacks in an out of the way corner. They say the virus can live on hard surfaces up to 3 days (less on cardboard and other materials). I figure I’m safe to put them away after that. I do the same thing for refrigerated items, keeping them in a vegetable drawer for 3 days before using them. I even use the “quarantine” method on my mail and packages, dropping them in a box by the door.

          I pick up the grocery bags and the mail with a paper towel, dispose of it, then wash my hands. I don’t know if this works, but it’s not that difficult and seems sensible.

  31. Sarah says:

    I live in a rural area with lots of dirt roads. So I asked some of the elderly people if they needed anything. No, they were prepared. Prepared is a word that people do not understand! Why I am I up? I guess people in town think it’s cool to ride up and down the road on four wheelers with loud music playing. I WAS ASLEEP. Good luck.

  32. Catherine says:

    Well it seems that toilet paper frenzy is the same the world over.. well maybe not in Syria where they probably wish they only had to worry about Covid 19. We are in Spain right now, and the aisles of TP were also raided. Thankfully, there was still plenty of lovely veggies, oranges galore, and of course, red wine. And the customers were pretty civil with one another. I are coming home to Montreal today, where apparently, good sense has gone out the window. I heard of some nasty people STEALING Purell from hospital entrances. There is a special place in hell for people like that, alongside the Amazon profiteers. Thanks for the photo of your lovely toilet paper blooms. Spring really is behind the corner. Thanks as always for being informative, level headed, kind, and FUNNY!

  33. Patty says:

    Hi Karen,
    I m so happy each time I see You in my email!. You always seem to make me chuckle no matter how im feeling.. This toilet paper run is awful. I thought I lived in an area of level headed people, until yesterday. Im disabled and get out of the house maybe once a week. My friend that takes me around came to take me shopping for food and essentials. I got to the store and was in Shock! Shock I tell You!. No sugar, eggs, no paper towels etc. and YES, There was no toilet paper in sight! I was on my last roll at home. I didnt want to buy 20 cases of the stuff, maybe a Couple packages. We went to every store within 20 miles. Still no TP. I ended up buying a package of paper napkins lol. Those that are hoarding everything need to get their head out of thier collective arses. Because they made an old disabled amputee use table napkins on her bum. May all their toilets clog!. I suppose i will go out now and find that person on the corner selling T P from the back of his van, i hope its the good stuff! Thanks Karen, I love You emails!

    • Karen says:

      Thanks Patty! My sister went to the store yesterday and they were out of flour, alllll root vegetables, most fresh vegetables and some meat was being limited to 2 packages per customer. If you’re an amputee and someone tries to overcharge you for anything I would encourage you to whack them with your prosthetic if you have one. ~ karen!

  34. Norma says:

    Thank you so much for such an enjoyable read at a time of insanity! You truly made my day!

  35. Veronica says:

    Even worse than the TP shortage is the shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) used by health care workers when caring for patients with highly contagious diseases. I am a student nurse, and we have been banned from helping any patient on isolation precautions because of the shortage of masks. The hospital where I do my clinical rotation reported that people were coming to the hospital to steal masks; they also said around 83 boxes of masks were missing from their inventory. People are stealing masks from hospitals. People are unbelievable.

  36. L says:

    Thank you for discussing this idiotic tp crisis. I was actually in a moderate panic mode today after all the doom and gloom until a levelheaded friend verbally slapped me out of it. Everybody just needs to use common sense and things will be OK.

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