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 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 : and (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?

Tuesday, 9 April 2013

NorthWest of 35

If you are now looking back on an age you once thought of as "old", you are not alone. I have to smile at the way I used to feel sad on a birthday, as though that milestone only highlighted my lack of accomplishments. I am now 36 years old and finally, finally, I feel confident enough to embrace my quirks and individuality rather than trying to blend into the background.

When I was a kid I remember hearing adults say they "wouldn't want to go back" to a certain age. I suppose I wouldn't either. There are sure alot of things I wouldn't do over again if I had the chance, but in that hypothetical scenario I might not end up where I am now. I couldn't take that chance.

I'm not sure what really got me past the awkwardness I've always felt: it could be age but I think for me it is having kids. I want my kids to grow up with confidence in themselves, therefore I must have confidence in myself. To show them how to be good men I must articulate myself clearly, be fair, assert myself, show forgiveness and a level head. Those are not the traits of the self-conscious twenty year old I once was. In that sense, I'm glad that I had my boys a little late. I had to grow up so that I could grow them up, so to speak.

This year, on my birthday, I think I will celebrate by thinking of a few accomplishments I'm so proud of: namely my relationship with my Husband and my two wonderful boys. I am enjoying being myself, pursuing what interests me, learning what I want to know, and building a lifestyle that will bring us continued happiness and security. I'm less concerned about what people think and more concerned about what my children will learn from me. My youthful fear of rejection has blossomed into an attitude of acceptance of others. I want others to be themselves so that I might safely be myself and there is no time like the present. To be healthy, to have a healthy family, to have a friend or two that will have your back no matter what hits the fan, that is a fortune to cherish. I suppose breakfast in bed wouldn't hurt anything either ;)

Saturday, 6 April 2013

Busy Work

Having a garage sale in a cold garage, with two kids and no other adult around would be tricky if we weren't in a sleepy little town. My system is to leave the garage locked with a sign to "ring bell if door is locked". I can dress the kids to come out while people look around, and put the baby in the stroller if I need to. There's no point hanging around out there though: the snow is still too deep and crusty for playing, the baby wants to crawl, not sit, and there's not a lot of packing I can do. Instead, I'm working in the kitchen and going out to the garage if and when the bell rings.

I hope I'm not alone when it comes to having too many little bags of spices, crammed here and there and closed with clips, rubber bands or tape. My spice cupboard (or the lack thereof) is shamefully messy.

It's also shamefully icky at the bottom of the tin can where I throw store spices.

So while I need to stay close to the attached garage, I'm keeping busy cleaning up the spice cupboard, putting excess into little jars, and packing them away.

In our new house, I made sure that there is a cupboard large enough (hopefully) to accommodate my many spices. Let's hope I maintain my system of storing and organizing them so that the new shelf doesn't look like this in our new home!

How do you store your extra spices?

Friday, 5 April 2013

Garage Sale

Husband has gone home to Newfoundland for a funeral. While he is away I have been busy getting some things ready for a garage sale. What we are selling is good quality but we just don't use much anymore (or fit anymore, but that's another blog!)

I am not sure how it will work, having a garage sale by myself with 2 kids and it is still 0 Celsius all day in the garage. I set up a heater and if we are out there much the crawler will sit in the stroller and the helper can play around the garage and driveway. I think I'll put up signs and have people ring the bell if they want to have a look. No point keeping the kids out there until people arrive to shop!

 I hope that we sell the bigger items quickly so that we can make room to pack up and move out the things that we are keeping. Setting up for a sale is fine, but it takes up most of the garage! I've advertised the sale and individual items on kijiji to help promote our things.

Do you enjoy garage saling, or have you ever had a garage sale?

Tuesday, 2 April 2013

Packing Up

I've moved many times...I'm one of those people that does a major, later regretted, purge when packing belongings. I wouldn't say I regret most of what has been purged but there are a few notable keepsakes that have been given and sold that I sure wish I had back. I get impatient and illogically start to believe that one more box is just too much.

This time, we are moving from 1400 square feet into 1800 square feet, plus 900 feet of basement. So it is not a matter of downsizing, rather, just gauging what we never use. There is nothing worse than packing a bunch of stuff and later needing something, having to search through boxes, unpack, I'm not going overboard packing just yet. A few things that I won't be needing are my canning supplies and that last bit of Christmas stuff that is scattered in the garage and cellar. I intend to get that tidied away in the next few days.

We are setting up for a garage sale. There will be an ongoing community garage sale in the month of April so I hope to capitalize on the extra traffic through town. I plan to leave things set up right until we move out--whatever hasn't sold can come with us.

I've also started making lists everyday. I usually have a list of some kind going (ok, ok, it's a notebook. I still have the list of things I was doing the day baby 2 was born. Never got that list finished, but too sentimental to throw it out). But as for my daily lists right now, I've got the non-essential but somehow necessary toiletries packed. Batteries, chargers, light bulbs etc sorted and ready to go (but left in the closets so that when I inevitably need them I can still find them). My helper-dude and I have cleaned the cleaning closet, one freezer, crochet supplies, along with sorting in the garage. Striking things off my lists makes me feel like we are making progress towards our move. Do you write lists? Have you got a system for remembering everything you need to do?