Monday, January 19, 2015

Fine Tuning

Every year, after we've taken down Christmas decorations, I always get the urge to rearrange and redo things.  Since we haven't quite figured out where everything fits in our new place, it's been fun (for me!) to try out new ideas.  This is the wall in the dining room, and originally, I had the whole wall full of black and white photos.  That didn't seem to fit, though, and after Art had painstakingly hung them all, I took them down, filled the holes and touched up paint.  Then, I replaced them with these old doors.  I've had these doors for many, many years, sitting outside, just waiting for the right time and place to be used. 
The sign is a very cool Christmas present which we received, and the stars were laying around in various places around the house.  I love the idea that I can create a new look without spending any money.  These doors were literally dragged out of old barns and outbuildings that were being torn down, and although I have (more than) a few of them, I love how they look, and the instant character they give a space. 
We've talked about putting some sort of cabinetry along this wall, to give me a bit more storage, but that solution is so permanent, and I'm not 100% sure that's what I want.   So, for a short (or long) term solution, we repainted this jam cupboard Art made, many years ago, and threw it in the corner. 
This cupboard was the first piece of furniture Art made for me when we were married.  He used 2x4's and a hand saw, and constructed it in the living room of our little basement suite.  Methodically, he stapled all of the chicken wire to the wood.  I then painted it navy blue, and the top, which is pine, was stained with a natural type finish.  Once we moved, I put it outside, where I've been trying to "weather" it, but I'm really happy with how it turned out.  The white painted chicken wire is especially eye catching.  I have another old cabinet sitting out in the shop, waiting for shelves to be cut and installed, which I might use in place of this, but I was too impatient to wait.  For now, this'll definitely do the trick.    
I also wanted to get my office in some sort of order, so I enlisted of The Girls to help.  We organized, purged, created storage solutions and found homes for most everything which was crammed into my office.  That room had turned into  the "I don't know where this should go so throw it in my office" room, and it needed help!  I drug out an old, solid maple table which I had sitting in an outbuilding.  We bought this table a few years ago at a farm auction, and I think we paid about $15 for it.  (Sidenote: it's so great to have a husband who is a woodworker, who can see the beauty behind the nastiness of old things, to support me in my crazy farm auction purchases).  I was going to paint the table, but upon further inspection, I realized it wasn't as bad as I had remembered, and instead just needed a good clean.  I also spent too much time scraping off chewing gum from underneath the table (who does that?!  Yuck!!), and used a whole lotta disinfectant to make me feel like it was somewhat clean.  We lugged the heavy beast into the house and threw it in my office to set up a sewing area for me.  Oy.  Such excitement on a Friday night in these parts!  I puttered around, put up some pictures on the walls and found a lamp or two, organized some more, and Voila!  Here's the result....
For years, I've dreamed of having a room all to myself, where I can leave out sewing or craft projects.  Now, instead of lugging everything to the kitchen table, where I have to clean it all up every time we eat a meal, I can (in theory), chip away at a project a little bit at a time.  The Girls were awfully excited about my "new" office, and especially the fact that I could do any small mending immediately when they require it, instead of waiting for months for me to pull out my sewing machine.  I suppose this means no more excuses for me...
Sometimes I think I have a serious problem... keeping old furniture on the chance that one day, I'll use it.  But then, when I grab something like this old cabinetry or table, and put it to good use, I feel completely justified.  I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing...

Tuesday, January 13, 2015

A Time for Everything

I love the book of Ecclesiastes.  So many good nuggets in there.  In my reading, over the holidays, I once again read chapter 3....
There is a time for everything,
and a season for every activity under heaven:
So many hard, hard things going on with friends around us.  We've mourned the loss of loved ones with friends, and joyfully celebrated new life.  We've laughed, we've definitely danced, we've mourned and wept.  This season, I felt especially grateful as I looked at the ones I love, around me, celebrating the birth of Jesus. 
We did have some time to play, over the holidays too.  We had some really lovely days, with warmer than normal weather.   Art got to try out his new snowshoes, and a few of the girls got a ride in the sled (only for a short while!) while they hiked out to the bush to put up a tree stand.  I definitely think Art was more tired than The Girls were!
We got to go and ride horses, both at home, outside, and at a friends' indoor heated arena (definitely a treat!!)  Ellie Mae is still in the process of breaking in her chaps, and oy, does this little girl look cute!

We called the horses to the pens with some grain, which they loved...

...and I'm still in awe of this life which we get to live.

We also helped some friends work cows, which was wonderfully fun and tiring.... just finishing up while the sun went down.
"Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him - for this is his lot.  Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work, this is a gift from God.  He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart."
Ecclesiastes 5:18-20


Thursday, January 8, 2015

It's the Most Wonderful Time of the Year

Ah, Christmas!  It's the most wonderful time of the year.  And now, it's done.  We had a great holiday season.  We had Art's Mom out for almost a week, which was nice to have some time with her.  Auntie Frieda came and stayed for most of that time that Mom was here, which was lovely.  We ate, and laughed, and did puzzles, and ate some more, and celebrated Christmas.  It was exciting to spend our first Christmas in our new home, and nice to make some memories here.
Christmas Eve is always appetizers, which is relatively easy, since I'm usually in the kitchen for a few days before Christmas.  This year was no exception. 
These little ladies are starting to look so grown up!  It was super nice to have a couple of sous chefs in the kitchen, helping me this year.  Molly was helpful in some of my prep....

As well as Abby, the superstar kitchen helper.  As I looked around the table, I told them they MUST stop growing up, because they are looking more and more like young ladies, rather than little girls!

Molly and Ellie Mae made sure to put out cookies and milk for Santa.  Art remarked that he thought that they should put out rum and pretzels, but whatevs....

We always open one gift on Christmas Eve, and this year, the Girls received excellent pj's.  Oy, they were so cute.  Hannah's were just a little bit different, which she was thrilled about!

Christmas morning is always so fun, and we love watching the Girls open their stockings (my favorite part!).  Ellie Mae got this camo buff in her stocking, which I don't think she's taken off since then.  It's to aid in her "coyote hunting", which she loves to do with Art.

Molly still loves sock monkey anything, so these ear warmers were a bit hit for her.

Art's Mom had her stocking to open, well as Auntie Frieda.  We were so lucky this year, she stayed with us for several days.  It was lovely to get up and sit around in our pj's, while she drank coffee and we watched the birds.

The Girls added a few animals to their Schleich collection, as well as a cattle squeeze and some chutes.  These things are always necessary when you are running a ranch in the basement!

Auntie Frieda made all the girls hats and scarves and gloves this year.  It's a tradition of sorts, and one I totally love.  The Girls look forward to these new clothes to keep them warm every year or two.  We also all got slippers.

From every single person The Girls know, this year we all pooled together and got some chinks made for them.  They were able to pick out the leather and conches that they wanted back in November, but it was a surprise to them to open up a gift and actually see what they had chosen, and how they turned out.  They didn't take these chinks off for days, and would wear them over their pjs to play, all day long.  They played lego in them, cleaned the house in them.... I laughed very hard, and they informed me that they were "breaking them in".  That's hard to argue with.... They have got to ride in them a few times, and every time we go to the barn, they throw those bad boys on, even if they're just helping with chores.

These are just a few pictures from our holiday season.  We also celebrated Art's Mom's birthday, Hannah's birthday, and New Years in the couple of days following Christmas.  It was full, for sure, but very, very lovely.  After New Year's, we basically sat around and rested and relaxed after a full week of celebrating. 
Monday was back to the routine and schedule of life, and I'm not gonna lie, I do love that.  It's nice to have some sort of rhythm to our days again, although I did enjoy a break.  Hope your holidays were great!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Emmanuel. God With Us

I have been loving this song these days.  I've put it on repeat around these parts, and it makes me weep.  Not necessarily a traditional "Christmas song", but I do love the words....

Joyful, Joyful, We Adore Thee,
God of Glory, Lord of love.
Hearts unfold like flowers before thee,
Opening to the sun above.
Melt the clouds of sin and sadness,
Drive the dark of doubt away.
Giver of immortal gladness,
Fill us with the light of day
Rejoice, rejoice, our GOD is here with us
Emmanuel. Our GOD is still with us
Such a good reminder, in this season.  Let's rejoice.... Emmanuel!  Our God is here with us!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

Buildings of Yesteryear

One of the great things about living smack dab in the middle of nowhere is that you get to really enjoy the beauty of nature, and in this area, there are many beautiful old barns and out buildings to enjoy as well.  As I drive by these old barns, I desperately wish that we had one on our farm, but alas, no such luck.  We do have a number of wonderfully run down outbuildings... one of which we burned to the ground a few weeks ago because the bottom had totally rotted out of it.  The building below was full of odds and ends when we moved in, and if you look carefully, you'll see that the door doesn't close all the way.  I'm hoping that critters don't try and make this sweet little house into their winter home.  Next spring, I'm hoping to finish cleaning this building out and use it for storing some of my "treasures". 
This building is also on our land, by our pens.  It was used as a shelter for something in the past, and when we explored it, I found some great old windows as well as an old screen door with a barn swallows nest built into it.  I took the screen door out, cleaned it up a bit lot, and my plan is to take out the nasty old screen and use it in our house as the door to our basement.  When that (finally) happens, I'll make sure to take some pictures!  This building, like many others, needs some work, but I do love the patina of it all.

This little outbuilding, so carefully tucked into the trees, is one of great necessity.  We didn't even realize it was there until after we'd moved it, and Art stepped into it, and the floor almost fell through.  This is a wee little out house.  I think that it was perhaps built for little people, because we can barely fit into it.  The other problem with this outhouse is that it's, well, full.  I'm hoping that next spring, Art will dig a new hole, and we'll build a new outhouse in it's place.  It is awfully cute, and camouflaged!
Outbuildings are used for many, many purposes.  Most of ours were (and some still are!) filled with much junk - both ours and the previous owners.  This outbuilding is actually being used for what it is intended for - grain!  We had 5 tonnes of grain brought in to feed our 4H steers, and we are so thankful for old granaries to store the feed in.  Let me tell you, when you walk into that outbuilding, it smells glorious! 

Those are some of the outbuildings found around our home place.  Below are a few of the other old buildings which we pass by on a regular bases.  
Every time I drive to Spruce Grove, I pass by this old beauty.  I have serious barn envy every, single time I drive by.  This building is aging gracefully, and it's so beautiful.  This building is used as a landmark for many ("Turn right at the old barn"), and is also used by my Girls as a way to gauge how far we are from home ("Are we at the old barn yet?").  One of these days, I'll take a few minutes to walk through this treasure, just to see what is inside.  Yesterday, on our way to church the moon was setting as the sun was rising, and it was an amazing site to behold.
My last building I want to share with you is this old house.  Every time we go the opposite way of The Old Barn, we drive by this sweet old home.  One day I peeked through the windows, and this homestead was full of junk.  Old tires, mattresses, etc.  It always makes me sad to see that, but I suppose not everyone shares my love of decrepit old buildings....  This house is on the way to get the mail, and go to the dump, so we pass by it regularly.  I just love the way the paint is peeling off, yet it still stands, so proudly.  I always wonder who built these old houses, what family lived there, and how their life was so different from mine, but yet, the same.  To me, it speaks of a simpler time in history, yet I know that these homesteaders had to work exceptionally hard to survive out here in the west.  Beautiful, isn't it?

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Thankful In Winter

Last week, it felt like winter had truly arrived.  Sure, we've had a bit of snow here and there, but nothing major.  But alas, all good things must come to an end, and with that in mind, I am thankful for the changing of seasons.  Here are some things to be thankful for, in winter:
1.  It's hard to get a photo radar ticket when the back of your truck looks like this...  Not that I would ever speed, OF COURSE!

2.  On Thursday and Friday last week, we got close to 2 ft. of snow.  It was super cold, as well, and lots of wind and blowing and general nastiness.  Art said that it was some of the worst driving conditions he's ever driven in.  Yuck!  Anyhow, I'm thankful for machinery to clear our driveway, as well as the generosity of neighbors in clearing our whole road (which is only about 2 miles, but still.  2 miles!)
3.  I'm thankful for a new pasture to put horses in, as I'm sure they were thankful too.  It was super chilly outside, but I opened up a gate to another pasture, and they frolicked out there like it was Christmas.  They were excited to start exploring, and finding some "fresh" grass.

4.  I'm just plain thankful for these silly horses, truth be told.  They are fun, and beautiful, and a pain in the butt.  But awfully pretty in the snow, dontcha think?

5.  When I got into the kitchen on Saturday morning, it was -37C.  And that was without windchill, at about 8:30 am.  So you know it was colder than that.  Weather reports were saying it was close to -45C with the windchill.  Brrr!  I'm thankful that our animals are still alive (truly!).  I'm thankful for my handy dandy thermometer, which is also a rain gauge (which I may or may not be obsessed with). 

6.  When it is so frigidly cold outside, I was especially thankful that we (finally) got our woodstove in the basement installed and inspected.  It's only been 3 months of waiting... But alas, it's done.  On the coldest day of the year, none the less.  Let me tell you, we loaded that sucker up Saturday afternoon, and it kept us toasty warm downstairs.  The other reason that having our woodstove installed is that it is the final thing on our "To Do" list on our house.  And now, it can be checked off.  Don't get me wrong, we still have many details to finish up, but that was the last (semi) major thing that we wanted to get done this winter.  So hoorah! 

7.  The last thing I'm thankful for about winter is that I don't have to think about outside work, or yard work, for a good while.  We had such a long fall this year, which was wonderful,  but kept us trying to get "just one more thing" done outside.  With 2 ft. of white stuff on the ground, we don't have to be concerned about doing any such things for a good 4 months.  Yippee! 

Monday, December 1, 2014

The Start of Advent

Today is December 1st, which marks the start of our Advent Season.  Every year, we try and do something fun for The Girls, as well as something that helps us to take a moment, in this busy season, to remember who, and what, we actually are celebrating. 
This year, we chose the Schleich Farm Advent Calendar for the Girls to open every day, and let me tell you, they were pretty darn excited!  Our Girls have been long time lovers of Schleich, and will spend hours upon hours in the basement, setting up elaborate ranches and farms, and then playing them out for days.  It's so great! 
The other special Advent thing we are doing this year is thanks to my Mom, who sent this beautiful book to us, and we received it last week (Thanks, Mom!).  I'm excited to unpack this book over the next several weeks.  I haven't downloaded the ornaments that can go with it, but it provides some great, practical things you can talk about and do, together as a family.
So there you have it....The Countdown to Christmas has begun.  Happy December, everyone!