Saturday, 30 March 2013

Walk Before I Run

Like many gardeners out there, I have received some seed catalogues in the mail. Flipping through the pages and admiring the bright colours has my head spinning. Just a picture of a juicy red tomato makes my mouth water!



As I've read here and here, it is wise to live somewhere and observe for a year before going too overboard landscaping. So while I enjoy imagining what some of the beautiful perrenials would look like in our yard, I have to proceed slowly this year and get the structure right.

I've been reading Toby Heminway's Gaia's Garden, along with various other gardening books:

I've got some great plans that need installed long before I get to the pretty part: flowers and vegetables. I am itching to get my yard started, but there is alot of planning, measuring and building to be done before I spend much money plants. I think this year we will concentrate on trees, building raised beds and doing our stone walkways and borders. I want to get some perrenials in place, and allow them to get a good start and next year will be a year of filling spaces and picking out the pretty parts.

While we are staying at my parents' I plan to ready some containers that can be moved over when the house arrives. Nothing like a little instant garden! If all goes well I will have alot done when the house gets there, so that it looks less like a sore thumb. A friend has also offered to throw a "perrenial" house warming where all guests bring a plant they have divided in their own yard. What a great way to build some memories!

Friday, 29 March 2013

Friday Favorite: Thingamagig

Well, I don't know what it's called and I've had it so long I can't believe it has made it with me through 5 or 6 moves. I've lost slippers, frying pans and blankets in moves, but this little kitchen gadget has managed to follow me across Saskatchewan and Alberta and back again.


note the metal poker in the foreground...that's the thingamagig
  It's just a metal thing to poke a cake or loaf in the middle to see if it is done. Yes, you can do this with a toothpick (always too short!) or spaghetti (totally a pain to spill a box of spaghetti trying to get just one piece). I don't know how many times I've broken off spaghetti in the banana bread, then had to demolish the middle of the loaf searching for bits of pasta so Husband doesn't hit something crunchy in his snack at work.



It was a sympathy purchase at a Pampered Chef party, probably 12 years ago. In those days I was very uncomfortable attending those parties without purchasing a little something to support the hostess. So I usually bought the cheapest thing available and ended up with some little gadget I would never use. This time, though, I hit a winner. Have you got any inexpensive but handy kitchen tools?

Thursday, 28 March 2013

Good Bones

Our Wish House is going to be wonderful. There are many bonuses in it that I will enjoy so much (big wall pantry, study with bay window, covered porch out back). These features will give us the room we need as well as suiting our lifestyle. The big pantry will be such a treat after storing groceries in the boot closet, on the basement stairs, and in a corner cupboard that I almost have to lay down to see the back of. We added the back porch so that we can cook, eat, and entertain overlooking our yard with the benefit of some shade. It is built so that, when the time comes, we can close it in without major renovation. It was important to us that we keep the price as low as possible now while still making smart choices for the future.

Like most people, we have rented before finally buying our first home together. Taking the place "as is" and planning what you will change when you have time and money is much different than trying to get it right the first time. We went to a little extra expense now in hopes of saving money over time: namely, triple pane windows and an upgraded house wrap that ups the R-value of the insulation. Although it cost more, we knew that doing the wrap later would require residing the house, which makes no sense. Rather than going for expensive cosmetic touches, we have invested in the energy efficiency of the home in order to save over time. With that in mind, we are also getting an ICF (insulated concrete form) basement. Please note: links are provided for information only and are not affiliated with or advertising for anyone! Our goal is to get it right now so that we don't have to spend money fixing later on.

The electrical walk through was my first good look at the house. Thank goodness two experienced tradespeople walked me through the process (Husband was away working) as there really is so much to think about. A well-placed switch will be appreciated daily, whereas one in the wrong spot will be a constant source of annoyance (especially considering I made the call where things should go!). I think that everything has been placed practically, conveniently, and that we have ensured we won't need to redo things later at further expense.



foyer, and stairs up to second floor
 I was thrilled to see our house the other day. When Husband gets home we intend to take the boys in for a look. It will be fun to see what progress has been made, and hopefully it will be a warmer day as it was 20 below Celsius when I was there. Here are a few more pictures:



kitchen and dining room
 The cabinets, counter tops, hardware and paint are all finalized! Now to be patient and wait for it to come together!

master bedroom
 Happy Easter weekend, all!

Monday, 25 March 2013

Pumpkin Bread

I like to share a good recipe--particularly a healthy one--especially when my kids are crazy for it. I wound up on a blog I've never read before http://ozarkmountainfamily.blogspot.ca/ and saw this recipe. Its author adapted it from the original and I have adapted it further. Here goes:

Pumpkin Bread

1 cup oil (I used half oil, half applesauce)
2 cups sugar
2 cups pumpkin puree
4 eggs

3 cups flour (I used 1 whole wheat, 2 white, with 1 Tbsp ground flax)
1 tsp nutmeg
half tsp cloves
half tsp ginger
3 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp all spice
2 tsp soda
1 tsp salt

Mix together, divide into 2 greased loaf pans and bake at 350C for approx 1 hour. Test for doneness.

*the next time I make this I might toss a handful of raisins into one loaf. I think we would enjoy the little bursts of sweetness.

I made 3 mini loafs and one regular. This will definitely be my new go-to recipe for play dates, book club meetings, babysitting days. My boys gobble it up! Hope you're having a great day! Happy Baking!

Sunday, 24 March 2013

Record Keeping

It didn't occur to me to keep track of what I planted and what my garden yield was until I got into reading gardening blogs. It makes sense, though, to keep a file of some kind so that you can remember where all your efforts are going!



Those blueberries died. Sometimes record keeping is just a reminder of past failure!

My record keeping leaves alot to be desired (I actually lost the binder for an entire year, go figure) but I still find it interesting to look back and remember how things turned out. I like to compare rainfall from year to year and also when things were planted and came up. Because I'm busy with small kids it has been easiest for me to jot down the daily occurrences (how much it rained, what day I planted etc) on the calendar, then when if I get time I can go back to the gardening journal and go into more detail. Possibly due to my frugal nature, but I like to remember the names of veggies I didn't like or that didn't grow so that I don't plant them again!


I've been doing so much research this winter, it would be helpful for me to make a section in the binder for my notes on "how-to" grow things. For instance, I read recently that onions need copper in the soil (totally forget where I read that, sorry!). That might explain the golf ball sized onions that I've peeled and cursed for the last 4 years...I best get that little nugget into the binder before I forget!

Have you got a system for keeping track of what you plant every year? Do you weigh and record how much your garden produces?

Saturday, 23 March 2013

The Kindness of Strangers

Despite my best intentions to stop griping about the weather, we are digging out from under a winter storm that brought 60 km/hr winds and dangerous roads to the whole region. In today's high-tech world it is easy to feel confident out travelling. Armed with a cell phone, most people don't worry about venturing out in wild weather. Here at our house we have been reminded that nature is boss.

I've talked about Husband being away right now. He is staying in a hotel about an hour and a half drive from the job. On Wednesday night, after a very windy day, he left work and was called: a co-worker is stuck, can you pull him out? Before Husband even got to the co-worker he pulled out a farmer and his wife that lived nearby. When he found his co-worker he also pulled him out of the snow. The roads were drifted so bad that snow was packing in around the engine of the truck. Within an hour and a half Husband had pulled out more vehicles and become stuck himself, along with his co-worker, and along with the rest of the crew of men. An hour and a half later a tractor arrived, pulling out vehicle after vehicle. In fact, tractors were plowing everywhere attempting to open roads that people were stuck on. By 10 pm the crew of men were all "unstuck" and safely invited into a farmer's home. They were fed a hot meal and provided a warm bed. Between the extended family and a couple different homes, everyone slept inside and was safe from the storm.

During the whole ordeal cell phones kept everyone communicating and no one got lost or left behind. But Mother Nature got to flex her muscles and remind us that being able to call for help does not mean help can get to you. Tractors were getting stuck in the snow while plowing--road graders were getting stuck!--and it was very lucky that the whole lot of them didn't end up having to sleep in their vehicles. Husband was soaked from pulling people out and had a bag of cheezies with him to eat. It would have been a cold, uncomfortable night and a very long day today. Instead, he slept in a bed and woke up to a home-cooked meal...which brings me to my point: How comfortable are we helping strangers? Would we let them into our homes? Feed them? Let them sleep over? It's a wonderful feeling to know there are people left that will do all of the above. Makes me think about karma, or how "what goes around comes around". Husband never passes a vehicle in trouble without stopping to help. That night he was helped. We live in a part of the world where tsunamis and earthquakes and famines are only on the news, but we still have to be prepared for what nature can throw us: namely cold weather and bad roads. I bet I am not ignored the next time I hound Husband about keeping warm emergency clothing in his truck!

In my vehicle I keep: booster cables, gas line anti-freeze, warm socks, mitts, toque, and a homemade jean blanket that I use in summer on the beach, in winter "just in case". When it is very cold I either wear or bring along snow boots. Now that I have children I don't set out on the highway if it is too cold, or I make sure I have diapers etc in case we have to stay over. After this storm I will be adding candles and matches to my winter kit.

Having so many people stranded in this storm made me think also of what I keep in my pantry and freezer. Because we are such a distance from town I keep extra, especially during the winter. In the summer I rely on my garden as well. At any time I probably could host an extra 10-15 people for a meal. It is more likely, though, that we could simply be snowed in with bad roads in every direction (we've sure had enough of that this year!). In that case, I will continue what I've been doing: extra non-perishables and frozen vegetables, ingredients on-hand to bake bread/cookies, in case we are without fresh food for awhile.

Do you stockpile food for the winter? Have you got any tips on keeping busy while stuck in a storm?

Monday, 18 March 2013

Progress!

While we were out the other day (in what ended up being a bit of a blizzard) we drove by our Wish House. This is what we saw:


Snowy day!
Excuse the horrid picture--it was distant and in a heavy snow--but I'm too excited not to show it off. Our house is the middle one, now with a roof and all its walls. Next week we do the electrical walk-through and finalize our cabinets. It feels like it's getting closer! I really can't wait to see the inside, even though it is only a shell right now. You can bet I'll be taking my camera in rather than taking iphone pictures from the road :)

I hope you're having a great week!

The Present

Sometimes it takes a little step back to get a closer look--look away, look back, refocus. I've been lamenting the late spring we are having, the -20C temperatures and the snow that just. won't. stop. Today we got out for a drive to Grams house and, with two boys quiet in the car, I had a chance to think, recharge, let go.

Here we are, blessed beyond belief to be healthy, fortunate enough to afford a new home closer to my family, and I've been b!tching about the weather. To anyone who will listen.

Cringe.

While what I should be doing is savouring this time of my life. I have a delightful 3 year old that entertains and surprises me everyday with how bright, how innocent, how very good he is at heart. Our one year old is saying his first words, so proud of himself, chubby and glowing and about to take his first steps. Why would I want to rush this? Why would I rather pace from window to window searching for a sign of spring? It will get here when it gets here. I've got an abundance of life, joy, spring, right here in my arms. I just needed to look away for a moment so that I could see it again.

So when the forecast tells me that we have another week at least of daytime highs being below zero, I choose not to feel claustrophobic in my own home because we've spent so much time here in the last months. This is the home where I spent two pregnancies, brought two healthy boys home from the hospital, gardened and played, slept and dreamed. I don't want to rush this. These moments will be gone all too soon. As much as I look forward to our new home, the fresh start, the new yard and all our plans, I can't let go of this place any faster than I have to. It's been a happy home and it will remain so for another 7 weeks. We are going to enjoy every minute of it.

Keep On Keepin' On

Oh my.

We've had a couple more days of snow and wind and the kids and I have been unable to get outside.

We. Need. Spring.

Our first snow came (and stayed) in October. This is month six of winter for us. It's getting impossible to think of more indoor things to do. You see, it's not just that it's been cold and windy, it's that the roads have been awful for days and sometimes a week at a time. We haven't seen anyone, we haven't gone anywhere, daddy is away...we need fresh air, both figuratively and literally.

With the wind today it feels like -27C. What did we do to deserve this? (I know...last winter was incredibly mild with little snow until March. We are being paid back for it!) As long as it is this cold, as long as the snow keeps falling, it is so hard to focus on spring and all the exciting things we have before us. But as I have realized lately, it is my own attitude that keeps this little family on track. I gotta keep on truckin'.

So cold be damned. We need some groceries so we are going to town and we need to rustle up a play date while we are there. It is amazing how some time around others refreshes us and makes us love coming home again and being together. Tomorrow we babysit our little friend here in town--wonderful to watch my 3 year old play with someone his own age. The day after that is playschool, two hours for me and baby to play and bond alone. That time for us together has been rare and valuable so far in his life. Tomorrow might be warmer (or next week, or the week after!) but for now, I gotta keep on keepin' on.

Friday, 15 March 2013

The Tie That Binds (The Post I Never Thought I'd Write)

As I've mentioned, Husband works away sometimes. It might be a few days, it might be weeks. This past summer he was home two nights per week with every third weekend off (a four day weekend). After awhile, it takes on a rhythm.

Today I read a post that really made me think, and I'm indebted to Little Home in the Country for presenting what is essentially my own situation to me from such a different perspective.

I'm not a "young mom". I'm 35, mother to a 3 year old and a one year old. I have lived alone in city and country, supported myself, chopped my own wood--the slayer of my own dragons, as it were. So I consider myself fully capable of handling things with Husband gone. And perhaps that is the problem.

My reading today helped me rethink my role and responsibility as a homemaker (indeed, I don't think I've ever referred to myself as such before). I have many friends whose husbands also leave home for work and we discuss the situation often. Yet only vaguely have we delved into how our own attitude and approach to it affects the mood of the whole family. I see now that I am the thread that holds this little family together. Those two sleeping babes rely on me for their information, for their interpretation of what is going on and why daddy is not home. I think it is time that I step up and truly own the impact my attitude has on how everyone is feeling.

Before having kids, Husband worked away from home for a minimum of 3 months per year. We have been lucky these last few years to have work near home, where he could either travel home for days off or be home every night. But even with infrequent absences, a pattern does emerge:

  • 3 year old might stop sleeping through the night
  • 3 year old might need more reassurance, more snuggle time, might cry for daddy periodically
  • the first full night and full day of daddy being gone are the hardest. We then settle into our "daddy is away" routine.
    • conversely, the first full day and night of daddy being home again are also the hardest: emotions run high, tantrums and outbursts abound. 
What we do to help our 3 year old through (baby doesn't seem to notice yet, but is all smiles and squeals when daddy gets home!):

  • focus on all that we have to get done and our "work".
  • Have a busy but not stressful 2 days after daddy goes, ie) a visit with Grams at the farm, or trip to library.
  • outside time.
  • maintain nap and bedtime schedule. The rules are the rules.
  • plenty of time to talk with daddy: morning, afternoon, before bed. We send daddy pictures on the cell phone, we build him crafts, we bake and freeze treats for him too.
    • just a note on Skype--Husband went to Newfoundland 2 summers ago and we Skyped. The then 1 and a half year old cried and cried for daddy and tried to hug the computer. It was the most gut-wrenching experience of my life and we were all so upset afterwards we have never done it since.
What I NEED to commit to doing, for myself: 

  • time alone. This will be easier when we live on the acreage, near my parents. I've never left my kids with anyone but my mom and, right now, that's an hour away. I try to use naps and after bedtime for "me time" but a scheduled afternoon per week would be tonic to the mama's soul.
  • exercise 4 times per week, intentionally and with vigour. It's the vigour that I struggle with ;)
  • engage meaningfully, everyday, with my kids through play, snuggling, reading, conversation. This means UNPLUG. Unplug everything and just BE with them.
    • once I have some time to myself it will be easier to give it my all during the day. No more stolen glances at the cell phone or sneaking a blog post or reading while they play. Allowing some independent play is fine, but trying to mentally escape my living room for half an hour every afternoon is a bit much. Unplug.
  • admit that many of the behaviours I see in my son are in large part due to the behaviours he sees in me. My frustration and fatigue as a lonely sometimes-single-parent can be an ugly mess. I don't want that to be my boys' reaction to life. I want to teach them to cope, to try again, to foster their own happiness. I want them to take responsibility for how they feel and act, and that begins with me. And it begins now.
What we need to do, for daddy:

  • This is hard to say. I need to stop acting like it's his "fault" he's gone working. We need the money. He wouldn't leave if he didn't have to and I don't need to punish him for doing what he has to for this family.
  • Designate times to visit. Talking on the phone with children screaming for attention is a gong show. But we need to come up with a way to communicate to daddy his importance to us, that he is in our hearts and thoughts, and that we can miss him without being sad.
  • I must allow him to be needed again. I'm afraid my "I got this" attitude translates at times into "just send home the pay". I don't want that. That's awful. I need to be capable, but also capable of leaning on the man that I chose to spend the rest of my life with.
Today I realized that along with being a mommy and wife, I make a house a home. I create the vibe here and along with keeping it clean it is my responsibility to keep it positive. No one is happy 100% of the time and I'm not asking that of myself. I want to teach my sons to cope, express themselves thoughtfully, and learn that happiness takes work.

The only way I can figure to teach them that is to show them.

Thursday, 14 March 2013

Grey Days

I commented recently to a friend that my body can't decide what season it is: on sunny days we walk, I exercise, we have salad and do some cleaning. When skies are grey we bake, do a craft, pile the cheese onto a casserole...

It's middle of March and although the snow is ""taking a cutting", as Husband puts it, you wouldn't say that looking out my window. The town has pushed up a ten foot bank of snow that will eventually melt its way down into the coulee. For now I stare at it, wishing for it to go. Its another gloomy day with, guess what? more wind and even some snow mixed in.

Motivation is hard to come by on days like this. As much as I'd like to curl up and read a book all day and forget the weather I have two little ones so we need to find things to do...inside.

I'm going to see if making (and sharing) a list helps me get my act together:

  1. clean light fixtures in each room (12/15)
  2. move furniture, wash walls in all rooms (2/8)
  3. bag up winter/seasonal clothes (spring IS coming, right? Isn't it?DONE, but spring is not here!)
  4. the tricky one: sort toys. Somehow donate and otherwise disperse the excess. In progress :)
Since the lightbulb in my bedroom needs replaced, I can start by washing the globe on it when I change the bulb (done!). Hopefully that will get me started on all the cleaning I have to do!

Wednesday, 13 March 2013

Debt and Financial Goals 2013

Our financial situation has improved in spite of global economic crisis. Alberta and Saskatchewan have seen their economies grow and the area where we live is busier than ever. But it hasn't always been this way, and I have a long memory.

In writing this, I do not intend to condescend to anyone else's situation or act like what we have done would work for anyone else. But among my friends I am thought to be frugal, and I have often been asked what we have done to set money aside to pay down bills. Here are a few of the things that have helped us pay off our debt:

  1. You must must  know where your money goes every month. Go through your bank statements, credit card statements, everything, and see where you are leaking money. Husband was paying $20 a month in bank fees, on an account that we barely ever use. Cancelling that was a savings of $240/yr, which is groceries for at least two weeks.
    • write a list of all your bills. Which ones can be lowered? Netflix instead of cable? Library instead of renting? You might find that some of the free activities in your community also make you feel happier and get you outside more. Put what you save towards paying off debts. 
  2. We pay our credit card off every month. 19% interest is INSANITY. If you have credit card debt perhaps you can pay it off with a line of credit with a much lower interest rate. Pay that off ASAP.
    • We use a credit card that earns us airmiles. I am not promoting airmiles by any means, but Husband is from Newfoundland and we save them for flights home for us. We are spending the money anyways so we look at the miles as a free bonus. NOTE: you MUST pay off the entire balance every month or your airmiles are costing much more than they are worth!
  3. Get on the same page as your spouse. If you are the saver and s/he constantly sneaks through drive-thrus, resentments can grow. At the same time, if s/he doesn't understand what you are working towards or what the goal is, s/he is bound to run off course. Sit down and talk about it.
  4. If it is possible to work an extra shift here and there without derailing your home life, put the extra money directly towards debt. Get rid of the debt, build an emergency fund and start saving. Always have these goals in mind.
  5. Do I even need to say this one? Stop smoking. Don't drink so much. Skip the junk food, pass on a meal out. Think about your personal vices, what is holding you back health and budget-wise?
I plan to post more on this subject; I look at budgeting as a personal challenge and I actually enjoy scheming new ways to save or find deals. We want to travel as a family and spend our time together rather than working for others. If we can live sensibly and make our money work for us, we will get closer and closer to our long-term goals. Do you have a long-term plan for your money? What are you doing today so that you reach your goals tomorrow?

Monday, 11 March 2013

Cold Frame, Anyone?

I have never grown vegetables in a cold frame. Don't own one. But I'm gonna.

I heard recently on the news that the pre-washed salads you can buy in the bag were tested and found to contain parasites found in human and animal feces.

GULP. I don't normally buy the bags of salad, finding that they spoil quickly and I need my lettuce to last a week til next grocery day (I mean until we eat it, but next grocery day is a week away so it can't spoil overnight before we eat it all!). But the thought of it confirmed my plans to build and experiment with a cold frame this fall/winter/spring. Now maybe I should read that book I bought myself! 

With two small children I haven't ventured into all-season gardening...yet. I'm hoping that once we are on the acreage, with gramma close-by, we might experiment with a cold frame on a raised bed in order to provide us with greens year-round. After hearing what is on the so-called pre-washed salad mixes, I do think it is worth a try. Now then, off to read The Year-Round Vegetable Gardener by Niki Jabbour!

Friday, 8 March 2013

Friday Favorite: Bag o' Wheat

I've had my hot Wheat Bag for years...it is one of those things that you forget you have until you really need it. But this winter it has not been put away as one cold after another and a couple different flu bugs have marched through our home. Those out there with small kids can probably agree that in the middle of the night you do what you can to get everyone back to sleep. We've used this warm bag rolled in a receiving blanket snuggled up to baby in crib, on bad backs, sore necks and, most recently, on myself last night. Ah, once again, the flu. But the arrival of Husband to help with the kids and a last minute decision to pick up supper helped get through an uncomfortable evening. Once Birthday Boy had his cupcake and opened his gift (and 3 year old played with it while baby played with the wrapping paper), mama snuck of to bed with the bag o' wheat and managed to get to sleep.


I have been in pain and wondering what to do with myself when I remember the wheat bag, heat it, and apply it to a sore neck. Without exaggerating, IT HELPS SO MUCH! I have used hot water bottles and electric heat pads but what I like about the bag of wheat is that it conforms to the body so nicely and feels so natural as it sooths. Nothing needs thrown away afterwards and when it finally wears out I can sew a new bag and keep on heating it. I was given mine many years ago and it has been very useful, especially now with children. If you are interested in making one for yourself, I've found a how-to link:

http://www.ehow.com/how_5075394_make-wheat-hot-bag.html

What do you use for relief from shoulder, neck, back pain? Have you got a bag of wheat?

Keep on Stompin'

Keep on Stompin', Tom

1936-2013
 Photo Credit:
http://www.theglobeandmail.com/arts/music/in-pictures-the-life-of-canadian-music-icon-stompin-tom-connors/article9404868/?from=9511168

Thursday, 7 March 2013

Happy Birthday Baby!

One year ago today, our family was completed with the speedy arrival of our second child. I had been busy that morning, making buns, when (for lack of more accurate words) all hell broke loose.

Husband flew home to pick us up, and raced to town with me kneeling backwards and panting in the passenger seat--with two year old chanting "it's okay mommy, it's okay mommy!"



A tad more dramatic than we usually travel. Our little bundle of joy was 9 lbs 9 oz and 23.5 inches long. His attitude thus far in life has matched his entrance into the world: loud, impatient, full of life.

Happy Birthday little man! Love mommy xxx

Tuesday, 5 March 2013

First Glimpse


That's it! The plywood structure in the distance is Our Wish House . Husband was in town today and sent me this picture--I look forward to driving by whenever possible to check on progress!

Speaking of Husband being in town earlier, he has now gone to work away from home for a couple nights. This is the norm for him and me--he was actually gone for the final 3 months of our first pregnancy (he left a glowing pregnant mama-to-be, returned to a whale on the couch. Welcome to parenthood!). My point: he and I are very accustomed to his work taking him out of town, sometimes at length. Not the case for the 3-year old that I've now tucked in for the fifth time. It's just not the same without daddy home.

I really want us to be able to afford for daddy to be home every night. I've been thinking alot about budgets and frugality, reusing what we can and working to eliminate waste...how can we spend our money to make it last? What are our priorities? Over the next few weeks I plan to post about getting out of debt, saving for retirement, and living within our means. Do you stick to a budget? What are some changes you have made to save money?

Sunday, 3 March 2013

Spring Cleaning

This year spring cleaning has taken on a whole new meaning. Not only will we be moving, but our new house is several months from completion. My parents have bravely agreed to take us in for the interim, and we have a large camper that Husband takes to work in summer. So when I think of cleaning this house and airing it out, I am also deciding what needs kept, what doesn't, what we will need all summer, and what can be packed away til August when we get into our Wish House.

On my list is:

Sorting: this morning I have sorted kids clothing into piles and bags-donate, sell, store, pack. The boys will need summer clothes, their winter stuff will go into storage. I am going to have a garage sale with some of the nicer things they've outgrown and donate a PILE to the store in town that funds the women's shelter. I have also divided some for the babies I know that will use some hand-me-downs. We have been very fortunate to have hand-me-downs and it has helped us so much (they outgrow it so fast anyways!). So we are happy to do the same for others.

Packing: I am going to pack up some of the breakables and most of my Folio Society books. The books will go into rubbermaid containers to protect them from moisture. I've got an area in the garage reserved for garage sale, and one for packed items that go into storage.

Storing: Before anything goes into storage, we first must prepare a spot in the new yard, put down some gravel, and a shed will be delivered in April. Once the shed is there we will make trips whenever there is time to store more of our belongings, leaving the essentials til last of course. The shed has been ordered, gravel priced out, now to get the pad ready and wait for delivery.

Cleaning: The young couple that bought our house is expecting a baby. On top of moving while pregnant, I don't want the new homeowner to have to clean up our mess. Cleaning with children is really like being a hamster on a wheel...it never really gets done, but once we have "moved" everything out I will steamclean the two rooms with rug and make sure the walls, light fixtures, floors and cupboards are clean for the new family. I would never want people to talk about how dirty I left my old house, and I also feel I owe it to the home where my family began. It deserves a good cleaning and I would never leave that for a pregnant lady to do once I was gone.

So before May 10th I plan to get organized and accomplish all of what I've mentioned above. I plan to do a bit every day to get ready: pack, sort, clean and get things ready for storage. I might have to clean some things again when we leave but it keeps us busy and makes me feel like I am doing something to bring us closer to our new home.


Once I have Husband's approval, this will be added to the SELL
pile!
 Have you ever been in limbo waiting for your next home to be ready? Have you got any advice to share? We'll take it!

Friday, 1 March 2013

Ordering Trees

Well, I've ordered several hundred trees, in addition to any that I might receive from the shelterbelt program. (Unfortunately, the program is almost out of trees and I'm sure my application is getting there late to be considered for trees. I'll be lucky to get a few hedges methinks. So sad about that!) Alas, my purchased trees should arrive just before May Long Weekend so that we can toil away Husband's days off. He just doesn't know it yet ;)

I ordered:

120 (3yr old) Colorado Spruce
200 (1yr old) NorthWest Poplar
180 (1yr old) Manitoba Maple

That quantity is for shelterbelt on the 200 or so metres into our yard from the grid road. For some colour and visual interest in the yard, I also ordered:

10 Siberian Larch
5 (3yr old) Amur Maple
5 Paper Birch

I plan on posting once the trees arrive, and doing several posts on tree planting and care once they are in the ground. I can't wait to update on how they are growing! I so look forward to the brilliant spectacle of yellowing larch against birch and blue spruce. The reds of the amur maple are going to be a show for miles around, now to be patient and watch them grow (and water, water, water!) I am going to give the yard a year to take shape and then order more trees, possibly a flowering crab for spring colour and a weeping willow or two. Even placing the order has made the February blahs dissipate somewhat....I can almost feel the sun on my back and the dirt under my nails!

March!

March

When I went out
The sun was hot.
It shone upon
My flower pot.

And there I saw
A spike of green
That no one else
Had ever seen!

On other days
The things I see
Are mostly old
Except for me.

But this green spike
So new and small
Had never yet
Been seen at all!

"A Spike of Green"
by Barbara Baker


What a cute little reminder of the wonder spring brings. Although we are still weeks from any "spikes of green", it is wonderful to anticipate and have February behind us.



Uggh!


That pretty little poem came from my Folio Society copy of Year Round Things To Do illustrated by Shirley Hughes 1966. I had to include it today because it reminded me so strongly of going out exploring mud puddles as a child and seeing and smelling all the changes of spring. It is so much fun to relive those moments with my own children.



It might take a few weeks before we see any green, but it is getting closer and closer. How are you preparing for spring?