Tuesday, 17 December 2013


Oh, I just love to find a good deal! I take my kids to see the specialist every three months. We drive about an hour and a half to get there, and across the street from the paediatrician is the Mennonite Closet, a thrift store. At our appointment in the summer I noticed this chair for $60.

Patience pays off. I loved the chair but hated to spend $60 when there were so many other things we needed more in our new house. We stopped by the store on our way to my brother's wedding and though it was still there the price had not dropped. Today I was amazed that the chair had not sold, and the price had been reduced to $40. We snapped it up and were thrilled when he sold it to us for $30. It has a new home in our master bedroom.

I always check the material bins when I am in thrift stores. You can find unique patterns of fabric that might be unavailable or just very expensive at the fabric store. Today I found 4 little bundles of material and the fellow at the store also reduced those prices.

We also got some wonderful old wooden skis that will add character to the bar-in-the-basement that we have planned. All in all, it was a nice day out as a family and the appointments for the kids went well. I hope you are finding ways to keep busy this winter!

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Blue Jean Blanket Project

If you have children, especially young ones, you might understand how a project can be started and actually take years to complete. That is what happened with a blue jean blanket that I have finally resumed working on. My eldest son was a baby when I completed a different blanket and began cutting out circles of denim for this pattern. We were having company and when I cleaned up the guest room all the denim got piled in a heap. Then we had baby #2 and that room became the toddler room. So my denim and all thought of the blanket got packed away in a closet.

I have the space to sew again now that we are in our wish house. A few weeks ago I dug out the project and dove in head first. It is so refreshing to see my progress and feel like I am actually getting something done.

In the endless cycle of dishes, laundry, picking up toys and cooking meals, it is easy to fall into a discouraged feeling that every day is the same. Right now I am finding that most days are the same, but in a really productive and self-fulfilling way. I do want to be here with my boys. I enjoy taking care of my family and that includes all the mundane household chores that go with being a stay-at-home-mom. But as they play together more and are growing more independent, I am loving the bit of time that I spend sewing and using the creative side of my brain (without using play-do to do it!).

I saw the pattern on line years ago and loved the look of the blanket. I really like to use denim for beach blankets (sand doesn't stick) and most outdoor use. They are warm to sit on or cuddle under at a hockey game,a sleigh ride, or nice at summer events where you might need to sit on the ground or benches.

The pattern is circles of denim with smaller squares of multi-colored fabric. The circles are sewn together, leaving flaps of denim that are later sewn down to create almost a window-frame effect.

 As shown on the right, I even handstiched a few pieces of old pillow case to add a really homemade feel. I would say that I will have the blanket completed in a couple days. I'll show more pictures then!

Thursday, 12 December 2013

Pottery Results

Recently I began taking a pottery class at the museum in town. I was lucky enough to have my mom suggest it. I really enjoyed having an afternoon to myself "built in" to my week, but mostly I enjoyed the experience of learning and creating.

I took a beginner's pottery class four years ago and ended up hand-building all of my pieces. I wasn't that happy with the glazes and I was disappointed not to have learned a bit about the wheel.

I did not conquer the wheel this go-around, but I'm happy to have a couple pieces that I will use. I also really like my hand-built plates. Unfortunately, two of the ones I made that would match those in these pictures were cracked. It is wise in pottery to never get too attached to a piece--the hardest part for me!

I really enjoyed this class and I can't wait to take another. I dislike driving in the winter and don't want to be out on the road so late at night, plus my mom will be busy with their calving season, so there won't be another until sometime next year. Have you had a chance to take up a new hobby lately, or return to an old one? Any major Christmas projects you are working on?

Saturday, 16 November 2013

Beating the Winter BLAHS

No, I'm not going to start barking about the weather, the short days, the grey sky. I'm saving that for January...FEBRUARY....when I can barely put one foot in front of the other. Today I thought I would share how I pulled myself out of a funk.

After a week of letting housework slide in favour of more important, more urgent matters, it can be hard to get back on track and feel like laundry or dusting matters. To keep from dwelling on things out of my control, I decided today's mission is to make our home feel more comfortable. So I took this:

And turned it into this:

And I did it in under an hour (unless you count the time spent retrieving tools from a 20 month old helper)!

After finding the tools I needed (hammer, drill, drill bit, screw driver, anchors and screws, level and measuring tape) I just measured centre of the wall and centre of where the hooks go on the back of the shelf. I made sure those points were level and marked on the wall where to drill. After making a hole I gently pounded in the anchors and screwed into those the screws (thus ensuring the screws and shelf won't just pull out of the drywall).

I left enough screw sticking out for the shelf bracket to "grab"

 Then I repeated the process again. It took longer to find things to put on the shelves than it took to hang them!

I am glad I got motivated to cheer up one small space in our house. In the process I managed to cheer myself as well! What do you do to keep from getting down in the winter?

Saturday, 26 October 2013

Welcome Mittens

This post is long-overdue! At the end of August, Husband began working nearby. He hauled the camper home and also brought a surprise for our boys.

Welcome to the family Mittens! I am not a cat person....in fact, this is the first cat I could stand to have around. But I have to admit she is cute. It took awhile to teach the boys not to man-handle her, and she has been patient and never scratches them. She waits at the door to play with them, and comes running to play when they are outside. Ahem....she has even taken to going down the slide, and runs back up the ladder to wait her turn. Marvelous good fun!

Borrowed Time

At this time of year, every nice day feels like borrowed time. Last year we had snow by mid-October and we had dreadful spring storms that kept us buried until the last week of April. It was a long hard winter.

Our lives and my outlook are so different this year--proximity to family, friends, town, neighbours to chat with on the shoulder of the road--we just aren't as lonely. My kids play together now (and fight, but that's a different post!) and I finally feel like I can "turn my back" and get more done while they play or run around. As anyone with small kids will tell you, it is a challenge to stay on top of everything when your kids need you more. Their growing independence is a blessing I am grateful for everyday.

There is so much for us to do before the snow comes. It is forecast for tomorrow, so today I want to do as much as I can and enjoy working in the yard before the weather turns my attention indoors (where there is also so much to do!). The last two weeks have been incredibly productive. Our carpenter turned up one day and built the stairs to my basement (cue the angels singing!) and our doorstep and the small deck off the master bedroom. They built the car garage and my sittin' porch before other jobs beckoned. If all goes well the garage floor concrete will be poured tomorrow and the carpenter will return to finish up once it has cured. Oh my how I will enjoy parking in the garage! In our old house we never managed to park inside--there were always too many things stored out there and too much in the way. This time will be different!

Have I mentioned that there is a lot of rock on this piece of land? I will post more on that later, and include pictures of our many, many rock piles, but suffice it to say I am at work on two raised flower beds made of stone, and I have many more plans for all the rock we are picking, picking, picking!

Some of our rocks. 

My dad has made so many trips over with a tractor to bring the topsoil back into our yard from where it had been piled (pictures to come). Everyday the kids and I have been out there--them playing on their spankin' new swing set and mommy picking rocks or watering trees (that reminds me, there is a post on trees coming soon....once it snows!) I am so enjoying the work outside. I would like to get the two stone beds finished and filled with soil so I can plant the bulbs I have left. And then another winter to draw and dream.

Saturday, 5 October 2013

Tuesday Is ME Day

My mom is the best. Now that we are living just down the road, she offers to watch my boys every chance she gets. It is wonderful to see how excited they get to go play at grams', and it is wonderful for me to have a bit more time to myself. All of this at a time when my kids are getting easier--they play together more, and everyday they are more independent.

I was able to enroll in a beginner's pottery class on Tuesday evenings, at my mom's suggestion. I drop my kids off with her in the afternoon, go to town and do the running around that I can't seem to get done (or don't want to, with car seats and little helpers to deal with), and then take part in the evening class. The kids sleep over and have a wonderful time. I even get a bit of quiet the next morning before I go get them.

For now it is just a relief to accomplish things in town that are so hard to get done--but my goal is to also add an exercise class of some kind so that my day out is enriching mind, body and soul. If you have kids or responsibilities that seem to bump you to the bottom of the list, I hope that you are able to find a way to put yourself back on top--if only once a week. You are not doing it at the detriment of your family because it will make you happier, more fulfilled, better at your job. If there is a way to do it, do it. And further, if you know a mom or someone who puts others first but rarely gets a break for themselves, perhaps you could drop off a casserole, a gift certificate, offer to babysit or have a sleepover. It does not need to be monetary, in fact, it usually shouldn't be. Taking time to help a friend, to say "I see what you are doing and I would love to help you" might make all the difference for someone and their family. I intend to pay this forward as soon and as often as I can because I can already feel the difference it is making for me and my kids. And we will certainly thank gramma by helping her as much as we can.

Was there ever a time that someone offered to help you and you were blown away by their generosity? Please feel free to share your stories here!

Friday, 4 October 2013

These Days...

Our little family is settling in--settling into a routine, but also into our new/old community. I grew up here, but I wasn't sure what it would be like to come back to stay. I'm so glad that we are all loving it. For me and the kids, we have had company popping by fairly often and it has made the days fly by. No more wondering why we are all grumpy and suddenly realizing it's because we haven't seen anyone, including daddy, in a couple weeks. We can go to gramma's whenever we want, and we do, and she comes here. My aunts have been stopping in, old friendships are being reconnected. We are happy.

We've managed to do some work in the yard but I'm having difficulty getting the pictures from camera to computer (SIGH). I haven't had the time to properly integrate them into the posts I want to write, so it is likely going to be a winter project anyways. Today I just wanted to say hello and post my most recent list things to do in hopes that I can cross most of them off by next week.

  • finish stone wishing well (many more posts to come on that subject!)it's as finished as it can get for this year!
  • print, complete and return paperwork to RRSP company
  • baking: pizza, buns, muffins
  • pizza party with daddy the night before he starts days off
  • drop muffins off at neighbour's, and at friend's who is having her baby today (so excited for her!)  it was a cake, but whatever!
  •  reorganise guest/toy room 
  • Find and buy a wood stove
  • clean windows inside and out
  • figure out a solution to our moth problem (seriously, there are hundreds of tiny moths in this house!)
  • list some items on KIJIJI
  • order pictures on line and do my wall collage of pictures of the kids
Happy weekend everyone! 

Saturday, 14 September 2013

Happy Saturday!

You gotta love it when a toddler accommodates you with a couple-hour-long afternoon nap. That, a three year old riding in the combine with Papa, and an early morning garage sale find adds up to a pretty great Saturday.

I got these fantastic chairs at a garage sale: chair on the left $15 and rocker on the right $25. They have lots of character and, although two of the spindles on the rocker are loose, I love them!

Now as the little man is sleeping I am hustling around dusting and organising. Excuse the poor photo, but the new-old chair is perfect for my entryway. Hope everyone is having a happy, productive Saturday!

Thursday, 5 September 2013

Updates and More Lists

I love a good list. On my typical shopping list there is also a list of which stores to go to in order--to avoid backtracking and getting caught in awful traffic in town. These days it seems that for every item crossed off a list, two or three take its place. Happily, getting HOT WATER and a working STOVE are now on the "accomplished" side of the list. It makes it much easier to tackle our daily tasks when I am not boiling water for washing on the single burner I also need for cooking.

I had a list of things to do this past weekend. We accomplished a lot and have the house seeming less cluttered and it is starting to feel more like home. The company that built the home had their repairman come out to fix cracks in the drywall. There were only a few and I am glad to have that mess cleaned up. We had a fun day at the lake with friends and Husband and I managed a date night. All in all, it was nice to be together and if we might have done more work on the list, I would not want that at the expense of our time together.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Weekend Goals

What a slave driver...to have a honey-do-list on a long week-end! The fact is, though, Husband has been away working most of the summer and, now that we are living in our new house, the list is too long to take the whole weekend off. Instead, I have a modest list for us to accomplish Saturday with a day at the lake on Sunday as our reward. Our list tomorrow:

  • install mirror on dresser and hang all mirrors in bathrooms
  • mount the bedroom TV
  • install shelves in boys' rooms
  • build shelves for shoes in entryway closet
  • remove the rest of the scuff marks from the stairway (my boys' "artwork" already on my brand new walls!)
If there is time, I would love for us to bring another load over from my brother's shop:

  • eldest son's dresser (was keeping it there to strip and refinish but have decided putting clothes away is much more important and I shall refinish it when IF life returns to normal!)
  • my grandmother's cupboard (built by my uncle) which I have painted
  • Husband's tool boxes, with stud finder and drill charger
  • recycling bins
  • contents of our old "junk drawer", in hopes that the picture hooks are in it
In the midst of these tasks we also need to run to town to pick out a new NEW stove...sadly my gas range will not fit in our kitchen as it stands. It needs 6 inches clearance because it is natural gas! Who knew? Nowhere in my shopping and researching did I hear of needing certain amounts of space surrounding a gas stove. So, we have opted to return it and go with electric. I'm bummed, but I've been living here for 2 weeks with, first, no running water and now, running water but no hot water, so have been heating water on an electric hot plate and cooking on the BBQ....this is all fine and dandy but if I can have a stove that fits and works on Tuesday I AM DELIGHTED to have an electric stove! Let's roll!

Wednesday, 28 August 2013

Keeping Busy

A refresher: we purchased a Ready-to-Move home (RTM) and planned to move it onto family land near my parents'. A Ready-to-Move home is a completely finished home, in one piece, with no frame beneath it, that is built at a construction site and then hauled to its destination. It is painted, light fixtures and doors, cupboards, windows etc all installed. Ours did not come with appliances and we are building the attached garage on-site, although some homes come with the garage attached. In our part of Canada (AB/SK) the building boom continues despite reports of economic decline, and it is impossible--impossible--to hire contractors and all the trades out in the countryside where we now live. In the nearby city of 30,000 residents, one building suplies store told me over 900 houses are being built right now. Phenomenal. But absolutely impossible to hire trades outside city limits. We opted instead to have the actual building built in town and hauled out here. That left the basement to build, all the services to install, a road to be built, not to mention all the tree-planting and landscaping plans that we have. To sum things up: it is a pile of work but well worth it! As our RTM was being built I put the home that we were living in up for sale. You can read more about that here and here. Lucky for us, our home sold in a flash and we could move on to our next project. I have a wonderful, patient and generous family that welcomed Husband, the kids and me to live with them for the summer. It went well. Ther were moments with a three and one year old where I regretted ever putting us in such a position, but it has passed and we are in our new home and the lasting memories will be fond ones.
To pass time while the kids were sleeping, and to pass some rainy afternoons while they played inside the workshop, I busied myself with refinishing some furniture.
We purchased this old medicine cabinet at an auction sale and, with the kids along and the huge crowd there, we did not get to preview it before we were caught up in the bidding process. We bought it only to find the back was rotten. We stripped several coats of old paint, replaced the board on the back and I repainted it with a slightly distressed finish. This medicine cabinet will likely hang in our ensuite and I will update with photos when it is up. Do you refinish old furniture? Do you prefer older, repurposed pieces or would you rather shiny and new? I am finding that I like a mixture of both!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Cukes and Zukes

Normally this is a time of bounty in my own garden, but with the move this year we decided against trying to start a garden. In hindsight it was the right things to do--it was hard enough to help my mom with hers and I would never have gotten over here with the kids to do much. Luckily, my friend gave me some cucumbers and mom has too many zucchini (is there ever just the right amount of zucchini?) so I'm managing to do some pickling and thought I would share a recipe or two.

I make these sweet sliced pickles every year. We love them at Christmas with meat, cheese and crackers, and they are great in a sandwich or on a burger. I doubled my batch because my year and a half old boy devours pickles and I think we will be needing alot more this year! The Million Dollar Pickles recipe is from Jean Pare's Company's Coming: Preserves.

Million Dollar Pickles

6 cups thinly sliced cucumber, with peel

3 Tbsp coarse pickling salt

2 cups water

Place cukes in bowl. Stir salt into water until dissolved. Pour over cukes and add more water to cover. Cover and let stand overnight on counter, then drain and turn into large saucepan.

3 cups (approx) white vinegar, enough to cover cukes

2 cups sliced onion

2 green peppers, seeded and chopped

3 cups granulated sugar

1 tsp turmeric

4 1/2 oz pimiento

To cucumbers, add vinegar, onion, peppers, sugar and turmeric. Heat on medium-high, uncovered, stirring often until mixture comes just to a boil. Stir in pimiento. Using a slotted spoon, pack hot sterilized pint jars with vegetables to within 1 inch (2.5 cms) of top. Fill with hot syrup to within 1/2 inch (1 cm) of top. Place sterilized metal lids on jars and screw metal bands on securely. For added assurance against spoilage you may choose to process in a boiling water bath for 10 minutes. Makes 4 pints.

Another wonderful recipe in the same cookbook is the Million Dollar Relish. I may use up the rest of my cucumbers in a batch--I'm waiting on my gas stove and perhaps hubby to return home and busy the children for an afternoon! If you like relish and are looking for a use for that glut of zucchini, there's a great recipe here

I receive the West Coast Seeds Newsletter , where I read the next recipe. I have not tested this, but with the amount of zukes we have hanging around I thought it would be worth a try. I'm passing it on so if you try and like it, please let me know!

1 medium zucchini, peeled, seeded, sliced less than 1/2 cm (1/4 inch) thick

1/2 cup each vinegar and water

3 Tbsp olive oil

sea salt to taste

After slicing the zucchini, soak it in vinegar/water solution overnight. Drain and pat lightly dry, then toss in olive oil with sea salt. Spread on baking sheet, sprinkle small amount more salt, and bake on lowest oven setting until crisp.

Once my gas oven is up and running I hope these will become a favorite treat for my kids, as kale chips did last year. Do you have favorite ways to use up excess zucchinis at this time of year?

Sunday, 25 August 2013

Back In The Saddle

Well, lawdy lawdy. Look who's back! My little family and I have spent the summer (what there's been of it, amidst rain and cooler temperatures) in a sort of limbo that passed the time--not unpleasantly--with quiet playdates, day-trips to the lake, and time with gramma. For a period of the summer I seemed unable to function without an afternoon nap--whether it be the grey, rainy weather or simply my lack of purpose with no home or yard of my own to care for--either way, the naps have passed and energy has returned...We are in our new house!
We "camped" here on Husband's days off--we had power but no running water--and this past Monday the kids and I began sleeping here at night. Happily, power between the well and the house was completed on Thursday and we now have the miracle of flushing toilets. The natural gas line will be brought in on Monday (the equipment is parked at the end of our driveway) and the plumbers (fingers crossed) say they will be here shortly to run the gas to all the important things like the water heater, furnace and my new gas stove. For now, I heat water for washing and we drive the 3 miles to my parents' farm for showers and baths. They have been busy silaging so we have been going over to cook the meals and bathe and coming home again to sleep. I am excited to have a chance to blog again. I continued taking pictures all summer and we have so many jobs to do this autumn in the house and yard. Watch for upcoming posts on the yard and all that we have planned. After such a long absence I fear my few readers have moved on, but I want to have a record of our progress and so I will continue. I hope you are enjoying what is left of the summer!

Thursday, 4 July 2013

Still Waiting...

We have been living at my parents' now for 6 weeks or so. It is going well (and my kids are loving it!) but we are ready to have our own home again. Things have been progressing and I wanted to post an update on what has been accomplished:

  • Basement dug, built, poured (along with garage footings and frost wall)
  • Power line has been dug in underground and transformer box awaits hook-up to house
  • Well dug and waterline trenched to house, awaiting hook-up
  • Waterline and power cable trenched in to a future watering bowl at the bottom of the yard. This is in preparation for a barn and some animals in the future
  • Grid road to our property has had trees in the ditch mulched to make it wide enough for the house to be delivered
  • Trees continue to grow, but could use a real deep watering
  • One week from tomorrow, our new home is scheduled to arrive! 
The house has been complete for a couple of weeks <we love it> and my nerves over having it delivered seem to be dissipating as the date draws nearer. For someone who struggles with sleeplessness I have only had a couple poor nights of sleep. I have fingers and toes crossed that our delivery takes place without a hitch. I hope anyone that still bothers to read this is having a wonderful summer. I'm looking forward to posting the hundreds of pictures I've taken of this adventure once I'm back on my own system. Happy Camping!

Friday, 24 May 2013

Reality Check

Today it has been two weeks since we departed our old house and moved to my parents' farm to await our new home nearby. In that two weeks:

  • our road and the pad for the house were built (pictures to come, I'm having trouble getting on the Internet here so only infrequently borrow the desktop)
  • road has now been gravelled
  • 3 year old became ill and was soon diagnosed with nephrotic syndrome (under control now, with a 6 month treatment ahead of us)
  • Husband returned to work
  • 13 month old sick and wheezy, on nebulizers, clearing up now but still coughing
  • we planted over 400 trees
  • we received over 800 more trees yesterday
  • cupboards, counter tops, closet shelving, trim and doors have been installed in our wish house
I knew all along that it would be hard work planting all of these trees. Without a well (we are anxiously waiting for the well digger to return and finish. He did a test hole in February but now his equipment is broke down and I need a well!) we are hauling water from the community well down the road and watering what we can with a short, heavy, stiff and awkward hose. We water the rest of the trees by hand and, with two sick kids and my mom already overburdened, we need to set up a better system. Worried about my kids, I came to the conclusion that we need to concentrate on what we can manage this year. The trees that I paid for are in the ground and need watered. We intend to focus on those and plant as many of the shelter belt trees as possible in our garden area. It is so much easier to water a large area of trees rather than carrying 5 gallon pails to the shelter belt. Next year we will prepare the land and plant out those trees when we are better able to water and care for them. I also plan to give away as many of the trees as possible.

If I had more time I would have tried to contact the shelter belt program to pass the trees on to someone who might not have received any. But I was at the doctor five days in a row last week and a 3 hour drive to a specialist this week, and the trees had already been sent. All I can do now is try to give many of them away and ensure that the rest survive to be planted next year.

Our house looks beautiful. My kids are recovering and we finally have appointments to see the specialist to be tested for asthma and allergies. We love the way our new yard is shaping up, and it will be breathtaking when the trees begin to grow along the road as we have planted them. We are fortunate beyond belief. This past two weeks has reminded me to take nothing for granted. As things fall into place for the house to be moved to our yard in July, we are remembering to savour our time together rather than worry about time frames and deadlines. Have you ever heard of nephrotic syndrome? If so, I'd be very interested to hear about your experience!

Monday, 13 May 2013

Ground Work

Well life on the farm has been fun so far, for me at least :) I managed to get out helping sort cow and calf pairs to go to pasture while Husband was in charge of the boys. Sadly, 3 year old is sick now and Husband is returning to work, so I'm back in the saddle, as it were, mothering and holding down the fort.

I'm not unpacked (ie can't find the camera) so I don't have a picture of the freshly built road and pad for our house, but we visited it today after our trip to the doctor. Love it! Within the week we will be out planting trees and I spoke with the power company today: if everything goes well they say we will be getting our underground power mid-June. With a sick boy we didn't go look at the house today, but we are told the flooring is going in and cabinets will be installed in two weeks. I need to buy a few more lights and it seems like the house might be ready earlier than we had thought. I'm stifling the urge to feel like we might have things ready early and move in sooner than planned. Something is bound to come up to delay us. But considering 2 weeks ago we weren't sure when we would get through all the snow, things are really looking up!

Friday, 10 May 2013

Settling In

We still have a trailer to unload. Husband has gone to move the camper to a park near where he will be working (about 2 hours from my parent's farm, where the kids and I will stay primarily). Our kids had a day and night here without us and it feels already like a routine is established. We played outside this morning til baby needed a nap, then once he was asleep 3 year old and I went outside and unloaded a bit from my car. I was astounded at how our possessions added up and we ran out of boxes, trailer room and time. Husband had to rush back this morning for the camper and to clean the fridge and remove a few last things that wouldn't fit. We. Were. So. Tired.

We need to turn our focus from the past and look to the present. Our acreage land and the grid road are drying nicely and a dozer should arrive this weekend to build a road in and pad for the house and garage to go on. The road is going to be further up the hill than we had thought, and we are both glad of it and think it will be beautiful once lined with trees. Speaking of those, sometime next week about 500 are arriving from Edmonton on the bus. A week later, 750 more! And then the real work begins! Have you got any tree planting to do this spring? Any advice?

Wednesday, 8 May 2013


The third trailer load is almost complete. The weather has been fantastic and we hope to see a big change in the snow situation when we drop off another load of rocks this afternoon. We have papers to sign at the lawyer's, a lot of cleaning has been done, mailbox closed, address is changed....it's time to go.

This was our first load--we have too much stuff!
I just couldn't leave the hen and chicks my friends gave me. I also took a piece of barren strawberry...not because I think it is beautiful or irreplaceable, but because it was kind of sad to buy it at the time. The first year in this house was lean and I got it for a dollar at the end of summer because I could afford it and it would fill some space and hopefully spread. It did spread, and every year it has reminded me how far we've come from those days of insecurity. We have a great mortgage on the new house, we have paid off most of our debt, we have a lifestyle that we can sustain. Some of the credit goes to things like barren strawberry plants--when I wanted dahlias and gladiolas I bought a dollar off cast and saved my money. And now I'm getting my wish house and it might not have dahlias for a year or two yet. But someday it will.

I've written about our rocks but didn't have the memory card to download the pictures I wanted. At any rate, I snapped a few last night and there will be more, much more, on stone work as we get to work in our yard. For now we are trying not to hurt ourselves loading them!

I woke at 5am today--not worried, not able to get back to sleep though. Maybe I wanted to have some quiet time here while I still can. The kids are going to sleep over at Gram's farm tonight and we will come back for the last load and to do more cleaning. I think we will sleep in the camper, which also needs hauled away. We are getting a seasonal site near where Husband will be working. A great little escape for us when we need one this summer!

Yesterday we realized it would be our kids' last night in this house, so we planned a fun movie night for 3 year old with popcorn and staying up late. It was a no-go, however. The bustling activity of packing and moving, plus some play dates and the transition to no longer napping had our helper tuckered out. That is "positive blog talk" for tired and grouchy, or as Husband would say, "crooked". So we didn't commemorate our last night here as a family. We had an argumentative supper trying to get the kids to eat, I may or may not have lamented that I put on 40 pounds for this #$%!?, and we put them both to bed at 6:15 pm. As tears filled my eyes at the kitchen sink it occurred to me: there have been many days like this in this house, many, and there will be many more like it in the new house and in between. That's kids. That's family. That's moving with a 3 and 1 year old. And yet when I look back I only remember laughter and babies crawling to lay their little heads on my lap. And being proposed to in the dining room. And showing Husband a positive pregnancy test in the bedroom. And bringing home two babies from the hospital, and Christmas mornings and new year's nights. I can only hope that, in our new home, the chaos and turmoil will be as easily forgotten and the memories just as sweet. I'm pretty sure they will.


Sunday, 5 May 2013

The Packing Continues...

Oh how I dread moving! It is amazing how much a family can accumulate in a few years...kids and toys add a whole new element to the ordeal! We have had a productive week, however, with two truck and trailer loads hauled to the farm for storage and the house now has that hollow sound--proof that we are nearing the end of this enormous job. As well, we have now transported 2 loads of landscaping rocks to our land (more on that here).

It is now the slow goodbye. 3 year old has one more day of playschool, a last play date perhaps and one more trip to the library to drop off our books. Amidst the chaos I've managed to do some baking for friends and neighbours expecting babies. We will drop off the loot and have a little break from packing and cleaning. And then we will load the remainder of our things and we will be gone.

Like, the sweetest helpers ever!

As the pictures have come off the walls, this house has become a piece of our past. Now that our "comfortable" things (ie coffee tables, baby change table, desk, etc) are gone, I'm feeling relief that this portion of the experience is almost over.

Desk is gone...this little heap will probably get loaded tomorrow

 On one hand, the sooner we get out of this house the sooner we will be in the next one. I've had plenty of time to get used to the idea; in fact, it was always our "starter" home and our minds were never on staying here forever. But as I've discussed elsewhere, a couple became a family here and I'm finding it bittersweet to be in a position to move on to the home we've dreamed of. I think that the months between homes (staying in our camper and with my parents) will take the sting out of missing this home. We will be so glad to get into our own space we will probably never look back. But part of me is not there yet, and wants to hang on to this little house for dear life. Tonight when I put my boys to bed I snuggled extra-long, wanting to remember this just as it is. It is a good reminder, every day, to hold them close and savour our time together.

Friday, 3 May 2013

Friday Favourite: Mortar and Pestle

I think it is a touch silly of me to love my mortar and pestle as much as I do. It was one of those kitchen luxuries that I could never justify. When Husband "surprised" me with one for Christmas (I believe he texted me to spell it for him, so he could ask the clerk at Stokes) he watched and watched and finally commented that I'd never used it.

And he was right; I hadn't used it and, in fact, it's not something I use often. But when I use it I appreciate it so much because there is really no utensil that can do the job as well (I suppose I could use my wee coffee grinder to smash a batch of spices for Blackened Salmon, but where is the quiet pleasure in that?).

I love my mortar and pestle (I just looked it up, the pestle is the stick or handle, and the mortar is the bowl). One thing I read is that you can grind white rice with it and wipe with dry paper towel if you need to clean it well between uses. I use mine primarily for spices so have only wiped it with a damp cloth.

I love the mortar and pestle because it is an ancient utensil that can be used in science, medicine, art, cooking and probably many other places. It really hasn't been improved upon and you might find one that is generations old that would be just as functional today as ever. I kinda like that history in an object, and that it is useful and makes my cooking better and more interesting doesn't hurt. Maybe it isn't silly to love my mortar and pestle. I am just extremely pleased to have one and I use every chance I get! Do you have a favorite but seldom-used item in your home or garden?

Monday, 29 April 2013

Rock Collector

Husband runs heavy equipment and I'm fortunate that he enjoys bringing home large flat rocks that he finds at work. I wonder if it is a boy-thing, but our 3 year old has yet to go for a walk or bike ride without bringing home 3 (because three is the limit!) new rocks for his "collection". I guess you might say our family enjoys the rugged shapes, textures and colours of stone, and we are itching to get doing some landscaping in our new yard. So, along with packing and cleaning, we've been loading and hauling our collection of landscaping rocks.

Many of our rocks have a story. Shortly after we had our eldest son, Husband and I went rock picking at our friend's property. Most of those went in the backyard flowerbed.

My dad and brother have saved me some that they found in their fields, and Husband has brought home, literally, a tonne over the years. I'm glad to go to the effort of loading and hauling our rocks: it would take years to replace them, but also it is comforting to bring them along and place them in a new yard and see them arranged differently.

Do you use stone in your landscaping scheme? Where have you gathered your stone, or did you have to purchase?

Saturday, 27 April 2013

A River Runs Through It

We took a load of landscaping rocks out to our acreage site on Thursday. While there, we put a lock on our new mailbox at the group box site a mile down the highway from our corner (I was strangely excited to finally get our new address--partly so I could start changing our address everywhere, but also so that it feels like we will eventually have our own home back!)

I didn't take new pictures of the trail through the snow drifts to our property. The snow has dropped by several feet but the road is still soft and there is much melting to do before it will be passable for small vehicles (or 12' x 20' sheds!). The yard site itself, however, was plowed in the winter and the wind helped to blow a lot of snow away (presumably onto the road!) so it is drying nicely once one makes it into the yard.

Instead of new pictures of the same old snow banks, I took a few of the water running across my parents' road to get to their slough.

To the left, the water crossing their road. The close up below shows how the water is washing the road out.

Below, water crossing in a second spot. It flows into the slough, which drains into a lake a few miles away.

After a couple days of this water (over)filling the slough, the force of the water washed away a culvert and road at the other end. No one knows where the culvert has ended up, or when the water will stop. Lucky for my parents their house is uphill from the worst of the water. Is there a lot of run-off where you are this spring? Are you seeing much damage or has it mostly finished for the year?

Friday, 26 April 2013

Tree Planting

Well, perhaps I have a lot on my mind. I left a loaf of bread in the oven for over two hours the other day (it was well done!) and I used facial cleanser as toothpaste the other morning (I noticed in the nick of time!). So it doesn't surprise me that I forgot I had used my parents' address on our tree application (in case we had already moved when the letter came out). So for two months I've been assuming that we didn't get trees from the shelterbelt program which is finished this year. Instead, the letter has been riding around in my mom's vehicle and she forgot to give it to me (she probably has a lot on her mind too, this can't be hereditary!). At any rate, the letter was delivered to me yesterday and I was tickled to find that we will receive free trees after all. The program ran out of trees so I didn't get all of the types I requested, but beggars can't be choosers. I'm happy to get any at all.

Including the trees that I purchased, we will have to plant:

150 Hedge Rose
250 Scots Pine
300 Mix Poplar Cuttings
50 Mix Willow Cuttings

120 Colorado Spruce
200 Northwest Poplar
180 Manitoba Maple

I will have to pull out the drawings I made this winter to decide where everything will go...we are going to be busy! As we go, I'd like to get into more detail regarding the use of trees in wildlife habitat and as part of an overall permaculture approach to yard design (as my very beginner perspective understands it!). For now, back to the drawing board as we get nearer to beginning work in the new yard!

Tuesday, 23 April 2013

Hangin' Out

I was quite happy to get some laundry hung out to dry on the clothesline yesterday. Happy in that it is the end of April and it is finally warm enough in the afternoon sun that something might get dry, and also happy that we could open the side door of the house. The snow had drifted halfway up the door and it was blocked off all winter.

We had company for the weekend so laundry had piled up, and it is nice to put a load out to hang while the dryer works away inside. In the summer I try not to use the dryer unless it is to work some of the crunchiness out of things...I've found that about 5 minutes in the dryer before hanging outside really keeps soften the laundry.

Yesterday I left some blankets and towels out most of the day, which reached a high of about 6 degrees Celsius. Today I have some floor mats out there. I hung them in the morning; by about 2 pm the sun has made its way around to hit the clothesline. Although it's not that warm yet, I have time to wait and I'm enjoying the last few uses of my clothesline here. In our new house the laundry room is on the second floor (along with all the bedrooms). I worry that the stairs will dissuade me from hanging my laundry outside as much as I like, so we are thinking of having the line go out the laundry room window. For now, though, I'll just be glad to see the snow bank between the house and fence melt away!

Friday, 19 April 2013

The Drywall Stage

We had a chance to look at the house again today: at this point the siding is on and, inside, the drywall is up but not taped or plastered.

We secretly wish we had chosen trim and shakes with more contrast in colour, but we had so many selections thrown at us in an hour (with two hungry, tired boys climbing the walls) that by the time we got home we weren't sure what colour we had picked. Not to mention, dark siding is $1 more/foot (would have been $1807 more...as Husband says, "No Dice!")

My sittin' porch
The decks will be built on site, but the overhang with pot lights is ready. Can't wait for coffee overlooking the garden!

In my current home, company comes in through the attached garage. Nightmare to keep the garage respectable-looking with strollers, garbage, recycling, and Husband (garage-tidier-extraordinaire) usually working away. Above is my bright, lovely company entryway. LOVE IT!

To the right is the dining room. These doors lead to the covered sittin' porch, which will face south and west and overlook the garden and across our quarter-section of land.

Below, the master bedroom--it has a small Juliet deck and a nice sized walk-in closet. We are just thrilled with the house; it is going to be so exciting when the flooring and cabinets go in! Now for the weather to cooperate so we can get a basement dug to put it on!

Have a great weekend!

Monday, 15 April 2013

The Slow Thaw

As I've mentioned (and complained about here and here), our winter has been long and persistent and our spring, well, late to arrive. We have had more snow and wind than usual and, as a result, roads (including ours) have been blocked and impassable. Our plan to move a shed onto our land in which to store our belongings is being revised: unless some serious melting and drying happens in a hurry, we will store in my brother's shop and home until we can get into our yard. Here's why:

April 14, 2013

A trail to our acreage, April 14, 2013
 There is just no way to bring a 12 foot wide by 20 foot long shed up this road. When the snow is finally melted we don't know how long it will take to dry out. We are lucky in that our house is not supposed to come until July/August, but it is worrisome to think how far behind the basement builder will be due to this very late thaw. All the people needing their basements built before us are waiting too, and the season might get off to a very slow start for everyone. Likewise, Husband won't be returning to work until it dries up and any delay in that regard is stressful and costly. Luckily I plan for the worst when it comes to spring break-up, and we are accustomed to not spending until he is back to work. This year will be no different, beyond what is needed for the house and acreage and our upcoming move.

How is spring progressing where you live? Are you, like most of us, experiencing lower than average temperatures?

Sunday, 14 April 2013

Time Lines

We are drawing nearer to our moving day. As it approaches, so do more deadlines.

  • more packing
  • get rid of all recycling
  • get a new address, if Canada Post can decide what it will be! done!
  • cancel services in old house
  • replace wax seal on toilet in master bath
  • replace kitchen window
  • trim around kitchen window, caulking
  • change address everywhere
  • quote from septic/sewer guy (call after Wednesday)
  • confirm any final quotes/ trades
  • garage sale (ongoing)
  • pick up trailer
  • clear spot for belongings in brother's shop
  • load and haul rocks to acreage site
  • prepare site for shed
  • delivery of shed to acreage
  • insure shed
  • finish packing and cleaning
  • well finished
  • prepare camper for Husband to live in this summer
  • vacate old house, move to parents'
  • tree planting, fencing
  • when weather permits, have road and pad built at acreage
  • dig basement hole, fill in old dugout
  • price out central vac
  • basement built
  • raised beds, stone work
  • gas, phone and electric companies notified, and hopefully services completed soon
  • general yard work at acreage
  • delivery of RTM
  • services hooked up
  • decks built
  • move in to house YAY!!
  • garage and decks completed
  • more yard work
I am too exhausted to go on. But I hope this is most of it.

Friday, 12 April 2013

In the Moment

One of the things that I like about gardening is that you can see the results of your labour, whether it be a few hours puttering and planting, weeding, or the results that happen over the years. Gardening is good physical work, connecting us to nature and to ourselves. Often when working in the yard my mind is wandering to the past or the future, but having a task at hand also grounds us to the present. That allows us to experience a moment, that moment, in its entirety, without consciously planning or worrying about anything else. When you really think about it, we would be better off if we could harness our attention more often and simply live each moment as it happens. I've sort of touched on that here and here.

The more that I have going on in my life, the more likely I am to wake in the night and go over what needs done or what I must remember. Sometimes, in those restless moments, I even resolve little issues that I've been puzzling over. Inspiration is great but I dearly wish I could do my best thinking in the daylight hours. With two kids that get me up in the night once in a blue moon, and my own tendency to wake and fret, I have been searching for ways to quickly get back to sleep if I do wake in the night. That's where mindfulness or "being in the moment" come in. I heard somewhere that if you concentrate on 3 good things over and over you will relax and fall back to sleep. I've started getting up, going to the washroom without turning on lights, then returning to bed and thinking about 3 jobs completed or 3 positive things (usually Husband and our 2 sons). I'm finding it really does help. Another thing I'm trying is to just focus on breathing: that moment in, that moment out. With a house to build and all that entails, I have plenty on my mind and I'm trying to keep sleeplessness at bay with these techniques.

I am also trying to be more mindful in my daily life. Anyone who is home everyday with children will (hopefully) admit that it can be hard to be 100% invested in yet another play-dough project or game of eye-spy. But these little boys won't want to play with mommy forever, and I know the day will come that I long to be their first companion and best friend again. So I'm trying not to phone it in. I follow a couple of blogs that are helpful and worth a read : http://www.justherejustnow.com/ and http://zenpresence.com/ (because they aren't gardening-related I don't have them on the blogroll here on my blog). Do you ever have a hard time sleeping? What are some ways you deal with stress/anxiety?

Thursday, 11 April 2013

The 5 x 5 Challenge

Susy over at Chiot's Run has gone to great effort to set up a gardening challenge. If you can spare 5 square feet of your yard or balcony space (or get a community plot), and if you are interested in learning more about gardening or offering your expertise, this challenge is for you. Even if you have to use containers, it will be interesting to see how much food you can produce for your family. I know there is a lot for me to learn and I'm going to use the opportunity to let my 3 year old "help" in his own area of the garden.

If this sounds interesting to you, join us at The 5 x 5 Challenge. If you are unable to join this year, follow along and see the variety of gardens participating from different locations in the world. Because we will be moving and staying at my parent's for a couple months, our plot will be there and I will focus on involving my 3 year old (as much as possible while allowing the plants to survive!).

This is a great chance to learn about gardening and get involved in a community of like-minded people, especially if you do not have that support where you are. Feel free to follow along or join. How big is your garden, or do you have one? Do you grow your own food and, if so, what have you had the most/least success with?