Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The Freezing-Ness of Fall

This time of year, I'm always freezing.  Free. zing!!  It's funny, because come spring, when the weather is like this, and we've survived another Alberta winter, we are outside in shorts and t-shirts.  But not in the fall.  No ma'am.  Right now, I wear 3 layers of clothes (in the house, let alone outside!), am cuddled up under a blanket, and still, my fingers are like ice cubes.  In this season, I have a couple of tricks to help combat the freezing-ness of fall. 
1.  Magic Bag.  The first, and most gratifying thing to keep the cold at bay, is, of course, my magic bag.  My hubs calls it my "woobie", because I'm like a baby with a special blanket.  I can be found curled up on the couch with it.  Once it cools down, I bribe one of my girls to warm it up for me again.  I'm not gonna lie, even the smell of my magic bag I love (except if it gets nuked for too long and the flax starts to burn....) 
2.  Slippers.  Always and forever.  My sister-in-law often crochets me slippers and gives them to me for Christmas, but by this time of year, those have long since worn out.  This year, I decided to treat myself to a new pair of moccasins.  I've always wanted some, and I decided that now was the time.  So I searched high and low until I found the perfect pair...
Truth be told, leaving the house is harder because it means that I have to take these bad boys off.  I do love them!
3.  Quilts.  Already mentioned above.... but they are worth the re-mention.  I have quilts scattered around the whole house, and I especially love my flannel quilts.  The other day, I found a hand made quilt and Goodwill for $20!  You better believe I snatched it up right quick.  You can never have too many...
4.  Heated blankets.  I have a heated blanket on our bed, and I am convinced that whoever invented such a thing was a woman who has survived a long winter on the prairies.  There's nothing like climbing into a nice, warm bed!
5.  Long underwear.  There's no reason to be ashamed....I've worn my long underwear many a times already this year.  My motto: Better safe than sorry!  I tell my Girls to put theirs on too, if we'll be outside for a long time.  It's better to be overdressed rather than underdressed!
5.  Mittens.  Forget the nice, "sophisticated" leather gloves.  Give me mitts any day of the week.  I  may or may not have 3 (or more!) pairs.... Lined, unlined... you name it.  I've got them.
6.  Girls.  Lots and lots of girls to cuddle with.  I've found 4 to be the best number for me, personally...  And I especially love these ones!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

What's In a Name?

Meet George.  George the Giant. 
Think he'll grow into his name?  (Or his paws?)

Tuesday, October 27, 2015


So the saying is true.... "Time marches on." 
And it does!  Kids get older.  I get older.  Life seems full - of good things, yes... but still full.
It's hard, sometimes, with girls at home all.  the.  time., to not wish it away...yearn for a quiet day (or two)....  to sit.  And just be.
Yet I know that it's full of good things, and I'll be sad and lonesome when that quiet day comes....
We've had a beautiful fall around here, and we've tried to enjoy every minute of it outside.  We've done lots of riding...
...and walking,
...and driving,
...and treasure hunting.
 And I'm thankful for this season.



Monday, September 28, 2015

Summer Projects

Summer is a time for outside projects around these parts, and it was a nice treat to be able to work outside so much this year.  Last year at this time, we were still so busy working on house renos, and it was awfully fun to work on the yard instead, while the sun was shining and there was so snow on the ground. 

Our biggest undertaking this year was to do a bunch of fencing around the yard and shop.  I really wanted 3 rail fencing, simply because it looks so nice.  It's rustic and country and classic and beautiful.  It was, of course, a family project.  The Girls laid out all the fence and gate posts for us, and they measured and marked them, so we knew how far to pound them in.  They got a little creative in their markings, and left us funny little notes on many of the posts.  We spent the day chuckling at their sense of humor....
I really wanted to rework the garden as well this year - to beautify it.  The garden was massive - too big for me to take care of, so I decided to put some square foot gardens in part of the garden, as well as just a regular garden.  I think it's a nice compromise?  I had already planted my garden, so it made it a bit awkward, but next year, I'll plant it differently.  We pulled an arbor from another part of the yard (for now), but Art will eventually build a wooden one, and one of the other gates is an old headboard from an antique iron bed.

I'm super happy with how the garden area turned out, with even an area in the shade for sitting and relaxing...
 While we had the fence post pounder going, Art also decided to put some hitching rails around the shop, to make it easier to tie horses to while we tack up.  We also put those rustic beams around the overhang of the shop this year, to add a bit of rusticity (is that even a word?!) to the boring, metal shop. 
The Girls spent many, many hours creating their own "forts" this summer, and it was fun to watch them make something out of nothing.  There were many trips to "The Junkyard" (aka our scrap metal pile that has yet to be removed) to find materials for their forts, as well as many sticks and pieces of scrap wood from who knows where. 
One of the fun parts of watching them create their forts was seeing how they used "junk", and with their imagination, created really neat spaces. 

Since we moved in, just over a year ago, The Girls have been begging Art to build another swing set for them.  At our last house, we had a fairly sweet swing set/playhouse, and The Girls spent many afternoons playing on them.  After finishing up some other projects, Art decided it was time to get this one done.  He had an auger all booked and ready to go, when he happened on some guys that were doing work on power poles in the area.  After talking with them a bit, they said they'd come and auger the holes for us with their truck.  We were so thankful and blessed that they not only did the holes, but they also placed the poles for us as well.  What took this crew of guys 2 hours would've taken us about 3 days.  We made sure we fed them lots of treats, and everyone went away happy, happy, happy!

We still have to put up the tire swing, but meanwhile, The Girls are enjoying having a swing once again.  The rails are 18 ft. high, so it's quite fun for even the older kids to play on. 

We've had some other projects here and there, one especially exciting one, but I'll leave that for a post of it's own... one day.  Although we had a terrible drought here this year, which left us with terrible crops, it was nice to have many dry days to get work done.  Art was able to take many Friday's off, so that we could work around the farm, and I'm so thankful for that.  It was fun to watch my perennial gardens come up again, and set some plans for the next few years of things I want to change.  We (hopefully) got some of the weeds under control in some of the beds, and I'm always amazed at how quickly those beds go from looking overgrown and nasty to quite beautiful.  I'm blessed to have many, many mature perennials, and these delphiniums are just one example of that.  These flowers grew to be almost 6 ft. high!  They are beautiful!

Now, as fall is arriving, we will start to switch our focus back to finishing up a few outstanding projects inside.  I'm looking forward to some days curled up by the fire, reading a book, instead of working, working, working, outside. 
"...For everything there is a season, a time for every activity under the heaven..."
Ecc. 3:1

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Summer In A Nutshell

When things like "summer" come along, I've always said that I'd rather be working outside than stuck inside.  This philosophy has permeated our lives and affected how we make decisions.  Case in point: Homeschooling.  We like to be done the beginning of May so that we can be outside once the weather turns nice.  This has also proven true with blogging.  Apparently, I've been quite negligent in the blogging department, and you know what?  I'm not sorry.  Not even a little bit.  Now that we have that out of the way, I'll give a quick little blip about our summer, and we'll call it a day. 
So.  Summer.  It was hot and dry and glorious and exhausting.  Par for the course, yes?  We made it out to BC a few times, not really for vacation purposes - they were work trips.  We still made it a great time and had fun and enjoyed being away.  We were involved in a wedding during one trip, and a demolition/renovation on the other trip. 
My goal was to do a couple of fun day trips with the kids, and we were able to accomplish that, which was loads of fun.  At the beginning of the summer, we loaded up horses and kids and took a day trip to the Ft. Assiniboine Park.  We met up with friends, in 35C heat, and went on a ride.  It was hot and dusty and beautiful and loads of fun.  I was a bit nervous about the day, seeing how we'd never done anything like that, nor had our horses, but it was a stellar day and the horses and kids all did great.  Let me tell you, air conditioning has never felt so good as it did that day, after we'd finished loading horses and headed home! 

I was especially proud of my new 2 yr. old I bought this spring - he didn't bat an eye as we crossed streams and climbed steep hills and went through the bush.

 Another fun day trip that we did was the Discovery Wildlife Park in Innisfail.  We took Art's sister along on this trip, and it was a great day.  At the zoo, there were lots of big animals who were very active in their homes.  They had shows with the animals, you could watch training sessions, and you could also get your picture taken with some of them.  Art's sister had her heart set on getting our picture taken with the bear.... so we did.  And I was slightly terrified.  Truthfully, the bear looks fake, but let me assure you....it was most real.  And here he is, doing his "Scary Bear" trick.  You choose which trick you wanted him to do while you had your picture taken with him.... And I think he looks quite scary, don't you?  I think I'd definitely wet my pants, should I run into a bear like this in the wild...

We took another day and headed to town.  Em-Te Town, that is.  We went to this old ghost town when Hannah was a baby, so it's been many years since we were there.  It was fun to take the Girls again, and since it's only about 40 minutes from our farm, it's an easy day trip.  Incidentally, we also took them to Ponderosa City, which is just a few miles from Em-Te Town.  It's a very cool western store with a bakery and some new-built-to-look-old buildings on site.  They hold Cowboy Church every Sunday during the summer, so when my folks were out, we went and enjoyed a pancake breakfast and church there one Sunday morning.    

Another afternoon was spent at the Lacombe Corn Maze with some friends, and that was also a great time.  The fun thing about the corn maze was that all the kids loved it - from our teenager to their 1 yr. old.  The weather was beautiful, the company was good, and we had farmer sausage for dinner there, which was the icing on the cake!

 The last day trip we took was just last weekend, and actually ended up being a 2 day trip.  We started off by going to a great gun store a few hours away, and then spent the night in Three Hills and took the kids to The Badlands for a drive.  We were in Drumheller many years ago, when Ellie Mae was a baby, so again, it was great to go somewhere fairly close by that the Girls didn't remember.  We hiked along the river valley, saw the hoodoo's, went up Dorothy Hill, and saw the other local sights.  It always amazes me how the landscape of our province changes so drastically, even just 3 hrs. away. 

I suppose that about sums up our summer.  Of course, we also spent many hours going to the river, just a few miles down our little gravel road,
Going for lots of rides,
And playing with the 8 kittens that our 2 cats had. 
My folks came out for a few weeks, the girls attended VBS, and we got to visit, on a couple of occasions, with old friends, which was such an unexpected treat!  So there you have it.... our summer in a nutshell!  I suppose I didn't talk about all of the projects we did on the farm this summer, but I'll have to save those for another day.  I hope y'all had a great summer too!


Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Before and After's

I figured it was time to get some "Before and After" shots on here, since the lion's share of our reno's have been completed.  I'm going to start with an easy room (or two)... so we'll start with a bathroom.  This is the main bathroom on the upper floor, and the little girls use it to shower, as well, company uses it when they are here. 
And here's the finished product.  We planked the ceiling and walls, took out the floor tiles, changed out the cabinetry, lighting and sink, as well, took out the really lovely plastic doors on the shower and put up a shower curtain.  It's kind of hard to get a decent picture of this space, since this bathroom is so wee.  I think this might be the only room in the whole house which is totally completed.  

Next is the little girls' room.  This room is in the back corner of the house, where the floor slants up  towards the window.  There was a "built in" bulletin board as well.  The really great thing going for this room is the exceptionally large window and closet. 

We replaced flooring in the whole house, as well as planked the ceiling on the entire upper floor, so that's a given for this room as well.  I had to paint 3 coats of paint on these walls because it was doing something super funky, but it ended up alright.  This room now seems so much larger, even though we've crammed 2 single beds in there, as well as dressers, a nightstand and various other articles which little girls seem to collect.
These next few pictures are of the kitchen.  In our original planning, I was alright with keeping the cabinets (for now) and painting them, but when we moved in, and upon closer inspection, we decided that there's no time like the present to make some changes.  That, and I know a great kitchen guy (my husband!!), and he insisted couldn't live with those cabinets.  The laminate in the kitchen was newer, but since we were replacing everything else, the new flooring continued in here.  The nasty, mouse infested cabinets had pipes running through about 8 ft. of them.  It was....interesting.  I think the pictures speak for themselves....

We planked the walls and ceilings, replaced the flooring, put in new cabinets, lights, appliances and plumbing.  Basically, we gutted it.  We also made the doorway bigger to go to the dining room to be more accommodating for a larger family.  We still have a few things to do in the kitchen, such as install the hood fan and finish up the door to the basement.  The lovely thing about this kitchen is that there's lots of natural light, with that huge window above the sink that looks out onto the front porch, as well as garden doors which lead out to the back. 

The last set of before and after pictures I'll do today is our main living area.  The before pictures are a bit hard to explain, but I'll try.  The picture below is taken from the doorway to the kitchen.  There was a wall there, with a closet in it.  It made the entrance area extremely small and cramped (which it still is, only a little bit less), and it felt like you were coming into the house and walking into a wall.  Once we took out this wall, we realized that it was a supporting wall done wrong, so we had a friend come and put in a beam in the attic to do it right.  It was probably the single best decision we made in this reno.  It opened up the room completely.  The closet has been replaced with a row of hooks (we're not really closet people anyhow...hooks are so much easier!)
This picture shows the large windows on the south and east side of the house.  I especially love the lace curtains.  Unfortunately, they HAD to go!

Lastly, this is the wall in the dining room, from where I stood to take the last picture.

The After's:
This picture is taken from the front door, looking at the large picture windows.  Those windows are so wonderful - great for watching the birds out of!
This view is front just in front of the dining room table... I have big plans for the fireplace area - I'd like Art to build me a mantle, and we'll do something with that brick too.  For now, I've just painted it white (of course!) to get us over the exceptional ugliness of the brick.

And lastly, the dining room, with that long wall.  We left space for ourselves, if we want to put some cabinets there.  I wasn't sure if I felt like I'd have enough storage space, with our kitchen being substantially smaller than our last home (and by substantially smaller, I mean it's a third of the size!), but for now, I think everything has worked out fine.  I will keep my eye open for some cool pieces at farm auctions over the next few years, but I'm wondering if that'll make the space seem too cramped?  We'll have to wait and see. 

The only changes we made in this main living area is flooring, paint, planking the ceiling and removing that wall.  Sounds simple, doesn't it?  (Yikes!)
I'll do some more Before and After's in the future, when we've got some more projects completed, but until then, here's a pretty good overview of what we've been up to for the last year!


Wednesday, April 1, 2015


Even after a mild winter, we are still so excited for Spring.  So.  Darn.  Excited.  It comes after months and months of looking outside and seeing white.  I'm not sure who is more excited though.... us, or our animals. 
The Girls have been spending lots of time outside in the steer pen in preparation for their 4H achievement day in May.  They spend lots of time brushing their steers to get all the tag off them, leading them around, and just hanging out with them.  We put in a whole lotta straw the other day for them in hopes that it would help keep them a bit cleaner.  This guy is Ellie Mae's steer.  He is my most favorite of the bunch.  Such a handsome guy, no?

And this is Abby's steer.  If he's laying down in the straw, Abby will come and sit on him and talk to him for a bit.  They both like the company of each other. 

The chickens have been enjoying the longer days, and we're looking forward to making an enclosed pen for them to spend more time outside.

And finally, the horses.  Ah, the horses.  I do love to look out in the pasture and see them.  The other night, Art and I went out for a walk, and I managed to capture a few pictures of them.  Normally, they come running up to us, sniffing in our pockets for grain.  We had nothing for them on this night, other than a little rub for their necks.  They quickly left us alone once they realized that we had no grain, but it's ok.  They're beautiful all the same...

I am looking forward to riding this girl again, out in the pasture.... (we just have to wait for the 8" of snow that fell on the weekend to melt...)

I think they'll be very excited once the grass starts to green up!
Speaking of green... I found this in my garden the other day.  I was very, VERY excited to see some green out there.  Too bad it is now covered in white... But soon, it'll be back.
I'm not sure that this view will ever get old...especially in Spring!