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House and Home

The Goings On of Late..

June 26, 2015
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Days have been saturated around here, with both little and big projects. Today as of 8 am is empty…something I haven’t felt in a while! So, here I am to share a few of the things we’ve been up to!

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The back bush, which is about 8 acres of forest, is slowly, VERY slowly, becoming more tame. What was a bush that could barely be tromped through, now has several trails, and a pond that has been opened up to let more light through. The Hubs really enjoys being back there and if his work day ends early, I can be sure that he’ll want to get some work done with the chainsaw. We’ve been blessed with the use of a huge chipper for a few weeks, and plan to chip some of the trails that are slick with mud.

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On Fathers day, we took a spur of the moment trip to a local beach with my parents, and oh what fun we had!  We walked the pier, and dug our toes in the sand, the inlet of water was warm enough that the kids brought their boogey boards and rode the waves! T’was pure delight! We finished the day off with a carton full of chippy truck french fries and and ice cream cone…necessary beach day nourishment 😉 IMG_0095

We had also visited our local strawberry farm and I bought 2 flats of fresh berries. We got down to business on Monday and turned the kitchen into a jam factory and pumped out about 25 jars of jam…DEEEElicous. In years past I’ve made the high sugar canned jam that is heat sealed, but this year I decided to try freezer jam. It has WAY less sugar, and tastes more like a real strawberry. Total delight to the tastebuds. Will definitely be making it like this from now on!

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The kids were amazing helpers, it amazes me how competent they are when I just give them the opportunity to help. They diced the berries with me, washed the jars, ladled in the finished product and of course they excelled at being taste testers :)

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Since we’ve taken an extended break from school (my original intentions were to just take 2 weeks, and then crack open the math books and some history, in order to not fully lose their facts before September.. ) I’ve been finishing up a few little ‘me projects’ that have been left until I had time to fiddle around.

I love the idea of fresh herbs in my kitchen but the look of new terra cotta pots makes me cringe a little, while the look of ancient ones really turn my crank. I love all things old and dilapidated  (WHAT!!?? I just discovered that the word is dilapiDATED and not dilapiTATED … honestly, I had no idea!! huh, just when I thought I knew everything… 😉

So, I took matters into my own hands, in my typical style of messing around until I’ve produced something tolerable. My husband loves this side of me…I get paint on the granite and on my clothes, I let my looks slide in the interest of getting a project done, and by the time he gets home, he greets a wife who is covered in paint and soil, sporting a frizz ball pony tail, a kitchen that is upsidedown and kids who are running wild.

I stand there and say ‘ BUT LOOK! Look at my creation!!’ and being the wonderful man he is, he looks past it all and sees my vision :) … love that man.

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Here’s my horrible iPhone photo of the basil, sage, cilantro and thyme now gracing my wooden bench in front of the kitchen window.  Makes me feel like a french chef with my “old” pots of herbs.  Now to actually use them haha!

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I used a titch of gold paint and a mixture of baking soda and water to brush on the sides. If I touch the pots a lot, some of the white soda will flake off, but it can always be brushed right back on again. There are more intense ways of makes your pots patina, but I like the quick and easy route!

I’ll have to post an update on the garden soon, it’s coming along nicely!!

Porch Decor…

April 6, 2015
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I like to have a few staples that sit on my porch and make it look home-y and inviting, these bits and bobs change with the seasons, but there’s always something sitting by the front door.

There’s the knight we received for our wedding, 14 years ago. I have to admit I wasn’t a big fan when I first saw it as it was shiny and silver, but now that he’s got some patina he’s one of my faves. I also have a little bench that’s old and worn, currently holding my dollar store bird ‘tweet’ and an old nest I found in a pear tree. Perfectly spring-y if you ask me!

Optimized-IMG_1249In the other corner I have my trusty old milk can from the dairy farm. I painted it up years ago and love the way the rust is coming through now… (just embracing the natural progression of things, moth and rust will eventually destroy it all!) I bought the long sticks at Ikea many years ago in a big bundle, although I’m certain regular old sticks and branches would look lovely too.

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And then there’s the old crock that holds my big hunk of driftwood from PEI. Yes, I found it on the beach there, and yes I brought it back to Ontario :) It’s all about the memories! (we also brought back loads of shells and the kids must have brought back a live sea snail, because by the time we reached home after the 21 hour drive the van smelled like total decay, lesson learned…check each shell carefully!)

Finally, I have 2 large containers that I put near the front of the porch that I fill with tall, short and spilling plants. These I bought at Costco for about $20 each and have had them now for 4 years. Every year the colours of the flowers change, but I try to have them compliment the colours of the house. (I keep all the crazy, wacky, eye popping colours for at the back of the house, where I can enjoy them but where they’re not a visual eye-sore at the front.)

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For seating at the front, I have 4 plastic muskoka chairs (easy to clean, no staining or painting necessary!) with a side table for mugs and a potted flower.

I can’t wait to have a functioning porch again soon!! Snow is almost gone here :)

 

Holy ground..

March 26, 2015
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What a total luxury we have in North America..as many bibles as you’d like, on your iPhone and in your pocket, no hiding them, no skirting around your faith, no secret meetings, or blood shed for your beliefs.  And yet… why is it so hard to find the time..for Him?

I was sitting in church when it hit me hard a few months ago … why am I not putting my Creator, my Father, my Saviour .. first? It weighed heavily on my heart and quietly and slowly an idea began to burn… find a quiet spot and submit daily.

There’s this little space in my home that I consider the safest, most quiet, special spot….and I now meet with Jesus there every morning. It’s in the back of my walk-in-closet and some days it’s surrounded by heaps of clothes while other days it’s neat and tidy. (I am not a woman with a walk in closet that is co-ordinated or organized by any stretch of the imagination…my pinks are intermingled with my reds, shocking, I know.)  But, it’s not about the clothes or the hangers, or the folding job…it’s about what happens in the back corner of that quiet closet.

I threw in an old chair and some blankets, and an overturned box for a side table that holds my bible, a pad of paper and some pens. Luxurious it is not, but the time spent inside those four walls is precious.

I wake up typically before the sun does, and find my bathrobe and make my way into this humble space and slide the door closed. I plunk down and open the most precious book to the marked page and begin the communing with my Father. Let me tell you…this is where its at. Before the laptop, emails, TV, coffee, or even the children…He must come first.

Some days it’s deep and tear filled, other days it’s joy like no other, and often it’s just about being still.

I’ve been writing down some verses that stand out and encourage, and I tape them up on the wall with scotch tape. Probably the most fruitful decor I have in this house :)

It’s changed me. The putting Him first every day. I long for that time in the Word and in prayer .. and it’s got me wondering if you all have a ‘special spot’ in your home and whether I’m just plain old weird for sitting in my closet every morning! (It may be weird, but boy, is it wonderful :)

She Man.

March 21, 2015

It was purely practical. Why would I wear my own clothes when I could wear The Hubs’ work clothes and not worry about the mess we were about to dive into.     Oh, if only I’d known.

I ventured into the back of our closet, to that spot that housed the neglected and thread bare … the clothing I would typically throw away or cut up for the girls to practice stitching on. I dug out a pair of well used and oversized blue dickies, they had a few stains and holes, but for the job we were doing that day, they were perfect. I also dug out an old, light blue, large collared, button up work shirt with armpit stains…something the Hubs wore on the farm for 10 years of hard physical labour, it was begging to die, but I yanked it out for one last day of purpose.

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That day was “Board Staining Day”.  The Hubs and I tried to do as much in the new house as we could to save money where we could, so todays project involved staining every last piece of wood that would be screwed onto the exterior of the house. We had designed the house with a board and batten finish, so you can well imagine the amount of wood involved. At least 300 large planks of wood and 300 more slim battens for on top.  It was going to be a despicable amount of work, but we were up for the challenge.

After staining in the hot July sun for several hours, I was roasting in my nasty man clothes, wishing I had worn shorts and just scrubbed the stain off afterward. My hair was a mass of wily fly aways and frizz, and my cheeks were fire engine red. If you’d seen me I would have died of embarrassment … thank goodness there was no one else around, I looked like a beast of a woman, The Hubs and I began joking about my appearance as his manly wife…laughing our heads off and becoming slightly crazed in the noon day sun.

Funny, became un-funny, really fast as I watched a car roll into the laneway. If the house had been clad with said board, I would’ve run in and hid … but since the walls were see-through, there was absolutely nowhere for me to hide my manly self. I had to stand there and face the music…or whoever that was inside that car. (At this point of the story I need to say that without any doubt, I know God has a sense of humour.)

As we stood with stain rollers in hand we watched as our family friend got out, and just as my relief began to rise, a second door opened and his son, pastor James MacDonald, stepped out of the car.

(Many of you know James as the founding pastor of Harvest Bible Chapel and as well from his audio show ‘Walk in the Word’. If you’re not familiar…just google his name .. and then recall my manly appearance. *ahem*)

I’m not sure if you’ve ever experienced this level of complete and utter awkwardness. But, I assure you, it is not lovely. To add to the unbelievable mess I was in, I peeled off my latex painters glove and watched as the sweat poured forth from it’s innards, after a quick wipe on my hole-y man pants I offered a shake. No lie.

The Hubs was on cloud nine, being able to talk with James was a real treat…and it was okay that he looked like a hard working, sweaty mess of a man, because that’s just what he was. I, on the other hand, would have been a confusing sight to behold. Dressed and sweating like a man, yet with the voice of a woman…..

Poor pastor James probably didn’t know what his father had led him into….was he supposed to pray over us and donate to our clothing fund…or just be his regular old gracious self?  Thankfully..he chose the latter, and spent the next half hour ignoring my appearance and pouring some wisdom into us.

As their car pulled away from the house and out the lane, the Hubs and I could hardly look at each other without busting a gut. Needless to say, when the work was finished that day, those clothes found their way into our burn box, and I am careful about what I consider “work clothes” to this day…because you just never know…

 

We call him Martin…Martin Stewart…

February 28, 2015

I don’t know about you but I have no real rules when it comes to decorating…other than the fact that it needs to fit in my budget. There are a lot of people with a lot of rules out there, and I’m sure if you follow them, your house will end up looking fabulous! I stick things here and there until I feel like they fit and it won’t be long before I shake things up and use them in a different room.

Erring on the safe side of decor and not using a pile of colours seems to work for me. I’ve learned over the years that too much colour makes me feel a range of emotions…for instance I painted my living room a bright red a long time ago, and I was perpetually angry…coincidence? I don’t think so.  The Hubs lived in the old farmhouse before we were married and he had redecorated and painted long before we met. The colour he chose for the dining room was grimace purple (who remembers Grimace from McDonalds..anyone?? ) and the bedroom was a bright orange. I believe this was the beginning of the end of bright colours for me because in the end, you have to at least like the colours you’re surrounded by all day long, right?

In his defence, he’s come a long way.  What was once a guy who used tractor colours as a home decor palette, has now blossomed into a “Martin Stewart” .. he’s far too manly to be Martha, but man he’s got taste.

I stick with natural tones now, earthy browns, creams, gold and white are my go-to’s with a pop of colour here and there. This spring my go to ‘pop colour’ will be green. I picked up these little beauties at No Frills today…(surprising I know, these must somehow fit into the category of frills or gimmicks..)

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 Just a nice little splash :) And tulips = Spring .. Right??

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(Does anyone else have a cat that does this??! Anytime I bring flowers in, he can smell them from a mile away!)

Lovely Laneway…

May 4, 2012
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Early on in our building process we decided to roll out a winding laneway. It’s still one of my favourite parts about this place. It proved to be a bit difficult when the snow fell and there was no gravel to be seen…(t’was a bit of a guessing game as to where the winding began.) We were thankful for our trusty Dortmans Bros. reflectors :)

It was here before the house began.

The lane held the loo for the building months.

It even held our fine dining :)

So it was time we finished our lovely laneway with the final touch. Chanticleer pear trees. Our tree farmin’ friends Tom and Christin showed up with 12 beautiful trees.

Diggin the holes with the skidsteer.

We used our reflectors as guides to help figure out where to plant the trees.

Our lane before trees.

And the final touch! Pear trees lining the lane.

The trees have a great slim top to them, they don’t get ridiculously big, and they have flowers in spring and turn red in fall. … I’ve already envisioned wedding dresses walking up this lane on a bed of petals. They’ve a few years before that’ll happen 😉

The Pond..

May 4, 2012
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There’s this place at the back of our 50 acres that brings me back to life every time I see it. It may not be much to some, but to me, it’s impossible to be there and not be filled with serenity.

Welcome to … The Pond.

This day the pond had a gently floating cover of tree fluff.

God is so good. He’s provided me with a place to ‘Be Still..’

I can feel it..

October 21, 2011
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I can feel it comin in the air of the night…oh yeah…

Those are lyrics, by the way…  and yes indeedy I did feel it coming lastnight, right up my nose down my throat, those nasty cold bugs are back. I’m stuffed up this morning, and if I didnt have to go out, it’d be a wonderful day to sleep away.

We made a mutual decision to turn on the floors this morn…if only that darn sun would come out, I’m sure we could’ve lasted till november, but alas .. the time has come. We’re both a bit excited to see how long it takes for them to start feeling warm, we’ve heard it can take awhile before the radiant heat is noticeable as it has to heat up all the concrete.

Every once in a while I have these moments where I envision the house in its building stages, or the huge hole that was here just 5 months ago…or even the hay field that this was for a number of years, and I’m just in awe of how we have a house…here…that we live in… incredible!

Here are the concrete floors being finished

Heres a pic of the floors with the radiant heat pipes, before the concrete was poured over them.

And here is Gabe and I working at the tiling.. cross legged, that’s how I laid the floor…sat on every square inch of this house before it was finished :)

And here is Dwight, Steve and Bill laying the laminate floor, it went down pretty fast…what a team :)

So needless to say after all that hard work, we’re excited to finally enjoy the warm and cozy aspect of it all!

Grass

October 19, 2011
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It’s a blustery one here today. The goods are baked, the tea’s been sipped, and the lids are heavy.. I’m afraid these days are here to stay, too soon the wet dirt will be replaced with waves and ripples of freshly fallen snow. We’re hoping to see the little green sprouts come shooting up before the first snow fall, what a good feeling that’ll be, to see the grass give us a preview of 2012.

The lists are being made already…landscaping, gardens, clothesline, chicken coop… I’m sure my ‘outdoor file’ will be bursting by April.

Eden has made herself a nest on the floor, parked in front of tvo kids, and I think I may just join her…toots for now.