Monday, June 30, 2014

Memory Monday Postponed

I have a good last Memory Monday post planned but it's going to be postponed a week. I've spent the last week visiting family and celebrating what would have been my Dad's 85th birthday and I just didn't have the time this post needed before leaving.

So you'll just have to wait until next Monday for the closing post of my Memory Monday series!

Friday, June 27, 2014

2014 Goals: Progress Report #2

I can't believe we're already halfway through 2014! Time goes so much faster when you're an adult. I haven't made as much progress as I would have liked with my goals so far, only crossing off three more things. But I'm hoping the next three months go well and I'll be able to cross some more things off by my next check-in.

1. Learn to parallel park My sister Jackie taught me while in Seattle, although I need to keep practicing!
2. Get a will made up
3. Make a roman shade for the laundry room
4. Have a successful herb garden In progress and so far, so good.
5. Visit Seattle We went the end of April and it was awesome! To read more about it, click here.
6. Gain 5 pounds While my weight has fluctuated a little over the past few months, I am still keeping that extra 5lbs on and hoping to continue to gain.
7. Volunteer with a local charity/group I have been volunteering with the local Alzheimer Society since March.
8. Learn to knit socks I finished my very first pair the beginning of March! To see pictures, click here.
9. Plant a new shade tree
10. Run another 5k
11. Read 20 books I've already reached this goal! It could have something to do with me starting the Harry Potter books and not being able to stop...
12. Put an extra $5,000 on the mortgage
13. Join a local knitting group I'll probably take a break during the summer but will join back up come colder weather.
14. Take a Zumba class I participated in a Zumba class with my friend Vicky on March 6th and didn't die! 

How are you doing with your goals? For those of you who made some at the beginning of the year, have you made good progress?

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Thoughftul Thursday - June 26, 2014

Seattle Purchases

This post has been in the works for almost two months and I am finally getting around to doing it now. I kept bumping it because I was too lazy to run around taking pictures of the things I bought. I should have done it before dispersing everything, but I didn't and that is why it has taken me so long.

I am still lazy though, because I didn't photograph everything I bought while in Seattle. I just chose some of my favourites and am here to share them with you today.

First up, games. We may have gone a little overboard buying games while we were there but it was hard not to. We found awesome deals on some and others we just totally fell in love with. My three favourites were S'quarrels, Guillotine and Friends.

We also bought Quarto and Set but I didn't take pictures of them. Once again, too lazy.

On the day we went downtown and visited Pike Place market, I found a gorgeous bread board that I needed to get. I wanted one that could be 100% dedicated to gluten-free bread and this one was perfect.

I found some amazing finds at Goodwill and could have stayed there all day. I scored some adorable clothes, three shirts and a pair of capris. And that is where I bought Friends and Guillotine, for $1.29 and $0.99.

One of the shirts I got
One of my favourite purchases though was the reusable produce bags that I found at Frey Meyer for $1.99. I use them every time I go grocery shopping and feel like I'm helping the environment in a very small way.

That's it for things I took pictures of. I also got a shot glass, some VW Bug cars for my collection, chocolate and Dan got a coat. There may be more but that's all I can remember for now. I think it was a decent haul though, especially since we had to bring it all back in one suitcase.

So there you have it, some of the things we bought while in Seattle. I never knew how much I loved to shop until I was there.

Anyone else been shopping lately and found anything cool? Any great deals? I love hearing from you, so feel free to share!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Outdoor To Do List - 2014 Update

We are constantly adding to and working on our outdoor to do list, so I'm not sure if it will ever actually be completed. But this is our progress to date.

Outdoor To Do List 2013-2014 (and maybe even 2015?)
  • Build split rail fence along property line in front yard Completed July 2013, the full story can be found here
  • Plant hedge along property line in backyard Completed April 2013, to read more about it, click here
  • Prune apple trees
  • Revamp flower gardens
  • Rebury white siding in front flower garden Completed May 2013
  • Paint gable end Completed August 2013
  • Wash front porch Completed May 2014
  • Sand & repaint front porch railings This one was completed just last week, see more details here
  • Wash siding on East side of house Completed May 2014
  • Rebuild stone entryway on East side of house
  • Expand back deck
  • Plant new shade tree
  • Expand garden May 2013 & 2014
  • Build chicken coop in lean-to on back of garage Completed May 2013, click here, here, here and here for details
  • Rebuild hen house Completed May 2013, click here and here for pics
  • Plant blueberries Completed April 2013, click here for more info
  • Plant raspberries Completed May 2013, click here to read more
  • Level backyard
  • Make gutter herb garden Completed May 2013
  • Make rain barrel
  • Buy or make front porch swing
  • Plant rhubarb Completed April 2013, click here to see pics
  • Plant crabapple tree
  • Sand and re-stain picnic table
Anyone else make lists like this? I love lists. :)

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

Simple Pleasures - June 2014

I'm a little late doing these this month, time just slipped away from me. But I still thought you would like to see what has been making me smile lately.

My new found love, dairy-free ice cream

I *may* be hooked on Harry Potter lately

The lilies are starting to bloom

We are going to have blueberries this year!

I'm loving all the daisies everywhere

Our second batch of beans are coming up

The sky the other night as I drove home

The BEST gluten-free bread ever and I found a place that sells it here!
I tried to do better this month with not only choosing food, but I ended up with a lot of nature pictures instead. Oh well. Food and beauty, that's what I love!

What has made you smile lately?

Monday, June 23, 2014

Memory Monday - Old Fashion

Some of you may think I'm crazy for this next memory I'm going to share, but I don't care. I have wonderful memories of playing old fashion when I was little and to this day, I still harbour a secret love of all things pioneer-ish. Old Fashion was played by getting dressed in old clothes, living in the school room, cooking off the wood stove, using an outhouse and overall pretending we were living back in time.

We would get our water from the barn and carry it back to the house in buckets. We would only use candles or oil lamps and we would sleep on the floor in nests of blankets.

We would cook all our meals on the wood stove that we had and wash up in an old basin with water we heated on the stove. We would use old tin plates and cups, wear old aprons and overall dive into our game of playing 'old fashion'. We would use shawls and woolen mittens and scarves to keep warm when going outside.

We would play old games that we had during our free time. But our days were definitely more full when having to do everything we needed without the help of electricity or running water.

We would get together with friends to play with us, making our "family" a bit bigger and having more hands to help. It was also more fun having them around.

We would only play for a couple of days, until we got sick of living back in time and would be ready to come back to the comforts of modern times.

I'm not quite sure how it all started, us playing old fashion, but we loved to do it. And we did it for many years before finally getting too busy with other things.

While some people may look on us as weird for doing this, I treasure these times. No one could dispute that we had vivid imaginations and we enjoyed ourselves immensely. Those were good times.


Memory Monday Mini Series

Week 1: Birthdays
Week 2: Little Sisters
Week 3: Wedding Dresses
Week 4: Hard Work
Week 5: West Trip
Week 6: Christmas 
Week 7: Family Pictures
Week 8: Cottage
Week 9: Homeschooling
Week 10: Old Fashion

Friday, June 20, 2014

Front Porch Facelift

Shortly after we moved into our house, Mia chewed the railings on our front porch. She was a young puppy and didn't know any better, or at least that's what we keep telling ourselves. Most of the damage could only be seen when sitting on the porch, while the view from the front yard still looked okay. No matter, I got it in my head that I would sand down where she chewed and repaint it. This was in 2011.

Fast forward to this Spring, when I finally got around to it. By this time though, the front porch was in even worse shape and needed a thorough cleaning before I was even close to the painting stage. So we borrowed a pressure washer from our neighbour and I got to work.

It took a while to get all the grime and peeling paint off, but when it was done I was feeling good about myself.

As you can see in the above photo, the railings were looking a little sad, with lots of peeling paint. Here is a close up to show more of the damage.

Once the porch was nice and clean, it was ready to be sanded and painted. I took a little break before the next step, probably about a week, but it wasn't long before I was sanding away the remaining paint peels and smoothing it all out.

Sanding took longer than I thought, it always does, so it was a little later in the day before I started painting. Which meant that I was in the sun for a lot of it. Painting was slow too, but Dan came and helped me partway through.

By the end of that day, we had completed one coat of paint and it was looking loads better! But if you looked closely, you could still see a bit of the wood through the paint so we knew we had to do a second coat.

The second coat didn't get done for another couple of weeks, since the weather changed and it was raining a lot. But this week, I finally completed the entire second coat and can officially call this project done!

The porch looks loads better and the new coat of paint will hopefully keep out moisture and avoid rotting. Here's to hoping I won't have to redo this project for at least another 10 years. We just have to remember not to get any new puppies and we should be good.

Anyone else working on outdoor house projects this Spring? The nice weather has definitely made it easier to get stuff done outdoors. I'll be sharing our outdoor to do list with you guys again next week, to show you where we're at.

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Thoughtful Thursday - June 19, 2014

The Robin and the Sparrow

Said the robin to the sparrow,
"I should really like to know,
Why these anxious human beings
Rush about and worry so."

Said the sparrow to the robin,
"Friend I think that it must be,
That they have no Heavenly Father,
Such as cares for you and me."
-Elizabeth Cheney

This poem used to hang in the bathroom at my parents house for many years and I read it almost daily. Because of that, I memorized it at a very young age and can still remember it to this date. It was in my head this morning so I thought I would share it with you.

Hen House Tour

A while ago (I won't say how long), a friend of mine asked me to do a blog post about our hen house and share the things we like or don't like about it. I thought this was a brilliant idea, especially since we just passed the one year mark of building our new hen house, and I promised her that I would get right on that. I didn't "get right on that" but am happy to say that today is finally the day that I am sharing the pros and cons of our new hen house.

We built this new coop last Spring and have learned a lot about how well it works, so I wanted to pass on our knowledge to those who are looking at building their own hen houses. Keep in mind, that everyone has different needs depending on where they live, so these thoughts are just what works for us and not necessarily going to work for everyone.

We built the coop to house 12 hens, so we chose a size that would work well for our needs. We wanted to build it big enough for us to walk into it with ease. This was for multiple reasons, including cleaning, feeding and collecting eggs. We really like the size of the coop, as far as floor space, but wish we had built it a little shorter. It loses a lot of heat with the height of it and it definitely could have been shorter, especially since it's a slanted roof. We don't need to stand up at the very back of it.

We tried to make it nice for our hens to live in, by adding windows along the top that can be opened in the summer or closed in the winter to conserve heat.

Another thing that we are happy with is our feeding system. I originally found the idea on Pinterest and we used it in both our hen house and chicken coop. By using plumbing pipes, Dan built these feeders that use up less space and are able to feed the hens for longer. This works especially well when we go away for a weekend. We just top up their feeders and water and they're good for a couple days.

We also saved space by putting their roosts in the corner. We're quite happy with this set up.

We built three hen boxes which are accessible from both sides. We made them as cozy as possible, with a slanted board along the top to keep the hens from jumping up on top of them. We usually collect the eggs from the outside during the summer and inside during the winter. It works well for us and I would recommend this double sided idea to those who have the space to do it.

Having a light in the coop is another thing we have loved. We have both an interior and exterior light and they have come in handy so often! We use the light often during the winter months and it's nice to have the exterior one connected to the inside one so that if we forget it on, we can see it from the house.

Overall, we're really happy with how we built our coop. The three main complaints would be 1) the ceiling is too high, 2) the board along the door and 3) the run door. Let me explain the last two. When we first built the hen house, we could walk straight into it through the main door. There was nothing along the bottom and over time we found that the shavings would start spilling out or getting stuck along the edges and making it hard to shut the door. It was an easy fix, Dan just added a board along the bottom to keep everything in and so far it has worked really well. Fortunately for us, this mistake was easily remedied.

Our biggest mistake and complaint about our hen house would be the run door. We set it up so that to open it, you just need to pull on a wire and it pulls it up. This part works well.

The part that doesn't work so well is closing the run door. When you unhook the wire and let the door fall shut, it doesn't actually close all the way. It kind of stays open a bit. So in order to actually shut the door, we need to go inside the coop, pull it forwards and then hook it on the inside. It works but is inconvenient. I'm not exactly sure how we would do it differently to make it work better though.

As for our outside run, we have no complaints there. It's a nice size, well enclosed and is easy to get into. We made sure to keep the door to it elevated off the ground so that during the winter we could still open it if we needed to without it getting caught in the snow.

That about sums up my post on our hen house. It's working really well for us so far and we are mostly happy with how we built it. The hens seem content in their home and we are enjoying the eggs they provide us. Hopefully this post can be helpful to someone who is looking for some success stories on coop building. And if not, at least it goes to show that I've got myself a really awesome husband who can design such a well working hen house. 

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Watch My Garden Grow

I can't believe we're already over half way through June and another summer is upon us. Time is going by too quickly. But one of the best parts of summer is my vegetable garden and watching it grow. So now that summer 2014 has arrived, I thought it was high time I shared some garden pictures!

At this point in the game, it's almost impossible to stay on top of the weeds. They grow too fast, especially with all this rain we've been having. But at least you can now differentiate between weeds and veggies.

The other problem with weeding is the mosquitoes and heat. Either it's so hot out you are melting to death or the mosquitoes are eating you alive. And lately it's been raining so much there isn't much time to spend in the garden. So them weeds are getting out of hand again!

Fortunately though, the right things are still growing and my vegetables are making good progress. The ones that came up the first try that is.

We had to replant beans, zucchini, cucumber and some carrots. Some carrots and cucumber came up but not enough, so now we wait and see if the next batch does better.

Everything else came up really well though, so that was encouraging. Other than what's pictured or not growing yet, we have lettuce, onions, peppers and an herb garden.

I'm hoping for a good growing season and a good harvest this year. Anyone else have a veggie garden? Or an herb garden? Anyone don't but wish they did? Anyone do but wish they didn't?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Memory Monday - Homeschooling

I thought I would share today some memories I have from being homeschooled. My three oldest siblings all started out in the public school system but due to some stuff that came up, were brought home by my Mom to be taught by her. So by the time Cora and I were old enough for school, we just started at home.

We made a bigger deal out of it than some homeschooling families by naming our school, dressing in uniforms, and walking to school (which was just walking up to our grandparents house and back). It made it seem more real for us and added an element of fun to it. I'm also pretty sure our grandparents loved seeing us every day looking so cute!

We used a curriculum that Mom bought from the States and we worked our way through the grades, with Mom guiding us along. She really was a great teacher, especially when it came to hands on learning. I remember once when our dog had killed a groundhog and brought it back to the farm, Mom took it as an opportunity to show us what the insides look like. She dissected it right there in front of us! She also had extreme patience with us all. I could never have taught five kids at once, all at different grade levels.

We each had our own desk and worked hard in the "school room". In our younger years, Mom would stay right there with us so she could help us when we needed it. As we got older and more independent, she would wander about doing household chores and we would go find her when we had a question. It worked well for us all.

When we reached grade 10, it was time to enter the public school system again. It was easier to finish off high school in the public system and get a diploma from them than try to graduate at home. It also made it easier to apply and get into cegep and universities. So each kid went off to "real school" while the rest of us kept trucking along at home.

Finally, it was just Cora and I left. It was different when it was just us two, but it was this time that I remember the most from my home schooling days. We would work quietly together in the school room and make up schedules to get through each course on time.

Cora was always more motivated than me and would finish her work each day before me. Consequently, this usually meant she finished the whole year before me too. I remember one year when she was feeling especially motivated, she worked hard and finished her entire school year by April. I worked until July that year.

Cora changed things up a bit by entering a private French school when she came to grade 10, instead of attending the public English high school. I followed suit, but joined a year earlier than my siblings all did by starting in grade 9. Staying at home by myself just wasn't working out for me and I wanted to give myself more time to learn French. While attending a French private school definitely had it's challenges, I graduated from there in 2006 and to this day, it is one of my proudest accomplishments.

I loved being homeschooled and am so glad that Mom took so much time out of her life to teach us at home. While there were obviously more challenging times, looking back I wouldn't trade it for anything. It helped me turn into the person I am today.


Memory Monday Mini Series

Week 1: Birthdays
Week 2: Little Sisters
Week 3: Wedding Dresses
Week 4: Hard Work
Week 5: West Trip
Week 6: Christmas 
Week 7: Family Pictures
Week 8: Cottage
Week 9: Homeschooling

Friday, June 13, 2014

Spring Cleaning? What's That?

Alright, it's time to admit that I am doing horribly with this spring cleaning challenge. I am getting no where fast and dragging the whole thing out over way too many months. It's supposed to take 30 days, not 30 weeks.

Seeing as I did none of my tasks from last week, I have decided to give up on the challenge for now. I made it halfway through and got my kitchen, bathroom and bedroom deep cleaned, which (to me at least) are the most important anyways. So I'm going to stop boring you with weekly updates on how badly I am doing. Plus, I'm pretty sure no one had actually joined me in this challenge. Oh well. You win some you lose some.

I hope you all have a wonderful Friday the 13th and that your weekend is as enjoyable as can be. I shall leave you with a sneak peek of a photo shoot that happened here this week. I plan on using some of these pictures as I update my blog over the next couple of months.

Stay tuned for some changes happening around here! But as you know me well enough by now, it will probably be another year before anything happens. ;)