Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Heating With Wood

When we planned out our new house we knew we wanted a wood stove in our basement to supplement our natural gas furnace. Husband and I both grew up with it and we enjoy the cozy warmth wood heat provides. The one drawback, in my mind, is the mess hauling wood in and the ash and dust that inevitably gets around the house. Cutting, hauling and chopping wood might also seem a drawback for some, but we enjoy the physical outdoor activity and want to include our kids in the task. 




Our basement wasn't ready for the stove last year, so this is our first year burning wood. I'm finding that, besides the cozy heat and beautiful fire to watch, hauling in wood has added a nice rhythm to our day's chores. The kids play outside or ride their bikes in the garage while I carry from the woodpile in the trees to the stack in the garage. We keep about 5 days worth of wood in the garage and 2 days worth in the basement. While I do try to replenish both piles every second day, I have enough that I don't have to haul incase of the kids being sick, it being unpleasantly cold or windy, or just being too busy with other things. 



We are very happy with the quality of the stove we purchased. It burns well and is a beautiful feature in our basement. There were many power outages where we used to live and we always discussed feeling more comfortable with an alternative source of heat. Do you enjoy a wood fire? Have you got an alternative source of heat incase of emergency?



Saturday, 1 November 2014

The Bat Tunnnel

Last year around this time we finally got stairs built into our basement. There is a space below those stairs with a light, an outlet, and a door. Even before it had walls, my kids called it the tunnel. I promised them that we would paint them a play area in the tunnel as soon as we could. Well, we finally have that project almost completed. 

Before. 



After. 4 year old said "awesome mommy but I'd like it better if Lightning was in the lead!"

With the help of a few different Pinterest images, I also did a Batman-inspired city skyline. It's hard to photograph, as you can imagine. 


I wanted this space to be a fun cozy spot to play and contain the overflow of toys in the basement. Now that I'm finding time to complete some indoor projects, our house is feeling more comfortable and personal. 

When we painted the basement, 4 year old (I'm going to start calling him "J". What happens when he's 5 or when the 2 year old becomes 4? It will all be so confusing. "J" is 4. "O" is 2.) anyways, "J" busily painted his tunnel under the stairs. He used markers. He used acrylics. There are gobs of satin paint and primer in one all over the floor. He was quite concerned that I would paint over his work. So we compromised. The boys kept a wall to paint and decorate over the years. 

I plan to do stars on the remaining wals with glow in the dark paint. Perhaps the solar system, or a reasonable facsimile thereof. For now, though, it's done. I was at least 8 hours painting in the tunnel. I sure hope they don't outgrow Lightning McQueen or lose interest in Batman any time soon. 


Tuesday, 28 October 2014

Crafting for Christmas

My friend and I are making a few items to sell at the local Christmas Craft Sale. It is held at a country hall where two highways intersect. I remember going to the New Year's Ball there as a kid--it seemed so glamorous although it was only the local farmers dressed in their Sunday best. I guess calling it a "Ball" made it more exciting. 


Felt owl inspiration via Pinterest: joyzz.com

My friend and I do not have our hopes up that we will make a lot of money. I tried to sell some crocheting and sewn crafts when my eldest was a year old. I didn't cover the cost of renting the table and, worse, they wouldn't let me leave until the end. They don't like empty tables at their craft sales. I was so homesick for my baby I was having a near-panic attack by the time I got back to my mom's to pick him up. All that for about $12.  SIGH. 

But, this year, it's not about making money. Sure, some cash for our own Christmas would be nice. But I'm more interested in keeping busy and making this an exciting time of year for my kids. How their eyes lit up when I brought out the jar of buttons for them to sort!

I already have the materials to make some felt decorations, and I'm trying not to spend much so that I don't lose money on the venture. If the kids and I spend a bit of time everyday (or almost every day) and I work a bit in the evenings, I should be able to make enough stuff to fill my half of the table. I'm also hoping to finish up some forgotten projects to add to our inventory. A deadline really helps my work ethic in that regard :)



We had our first snowfall yesterday (it melted, thank goodness!) so that motivated me to get started. Have your thoughts turned to Christmas? 

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

Random thoughts and photos

The longer I am away from this space, the harder it seems to return. I've decided to post some images in hopes that words will soon follow. 








Yes, four bear wandered into our yard one morning--a sow and her 3 cubs. Thankfully the kids and I were just coming downstairs to go outside when I saw them out the window. 

I was definitely rattled by the bear-sighting, because so often the kids go out to play while I tidy up inside. We have read and talked about what to do if we see bears again, and the kids happily make ALOT of noise while we are outside. We stick together and we are never far from the house nowadays. I always knew they were there, but nearly meeting them in the driveway was quite an awakening. 

We had a lovely summer and we are so grateful that we moved closer to my family. The garden is finished for the year, but for some brussels sprouts outside and the last of the tomatoes ripening in the basement. Every few days a new batch of salsa or slow roasted tomato sauce tops our to-do list. I will be glad when the tomatoes have all been dealt with and I only have to worry about eating them :)



A grainy photo taken out my dining room window this morning. Below, the tomato process continues. 



Wherever you are this week, I hope that you are enjoying good health and good food with those you love xx


Thursday, 21 August 2014

Busy, Busy



After a few weeks of intense heat and humidity, we are experiencing a cool off that has brought on a flurry of activity. I'm starting to recognize in myself an ebb and flow in energy that sometimes follows the weather, but also relates to how busy I've been. For example, after 3 mornings loading and hauling gravel in the driveway, I spent the next few mornings baking and cleaning and couldn't help but have a short nap in the afternoons. A dangerous routine to get into as I often have trouble sleeping at night!

So now that my attention has turned indoors (although there are several outdoor projects that await) I thought I'd show pictures of what we have been doing. 


Best blueberry muffins ever. 4 year old said "mommy you are the best cooker in the world besides gramma!"




My tomatoes are small but plentiful. I love making sauces but I detest peeling them. This morning I slow roasted my ripe tomatoes while I made buns then made a hot and sweet sauce that I will add to chili and different tomato sauces through the winter. I combined a few recipes and am happy with the flavour, but unsure that it will keep without pressure canning. I'm not ready to start pressure cooking this year, so I will keep my little tomato concoctions in the freezer to avoid giving anyone botulism. 


Botulism would suck. 

We have so far made 2 batches of dills, 2 batches of bread and butter pickles (my favorite) and a few jars of pickled beets and raspberry jam. I have another batch of pickles and a batch of relish soaking to be cooked and bottled tomorrow. I'm finding everything easier this year, with a helpful 4 year old and (mostly) potty trained 2 year old. Hope all is well where you are!

Thursday, 14 August 2014

Along Came a Spider





I really wish I had it in me to build something delicate. I would like to someday start something that might seem difficult, intricate, and stick with it to the end. I'd like to take time to fix my mistakes along the way. And if, in a moment, my work was erased, I would hope for the strength to begin again without dwelling on the loss. Someday I hope to be as tenascious as a spider. 





Tuesday, 12 August 2014

Unwinding at the Devonian Botanical Garden in Alberta


During our family vacation with Husband's parents, I flexed my mama-muscles and insisted we go to the Devonian Botanical Garden outside Edmonton, AB.


What a beautiful, serene morning we spent wandering the trails. It was just what we all needed after a busy and hot couple of weeks. 


The grand waterfall was a crowd-pleaser with my bunch. 


As were the fish in the pond below. We loved the Japanese Garden the most, but the whole experience was great. 


It happened to be a cool and overcast day. It was a relief to spend 2 hours walking and chatting (or running and yelling enthusiastically, as were my boys!--my apologies to anyone meditating in the Japanese Garden!) without being overwhelmed by the heat. 

The kids were thrilled with the Butterfly House. 






A few years ago I might not have pushed to take my kids to a garden. I might have assumed they would be bored. I am so glad I gave them a chance to appreciate a beautiful space and unwind before the almost 3 hour car ride home. I was especially proud of my four year old who ran around pointing out hen and chicks and other plants he knew from our own yard. 

Some more pictures:


I loved all the rocks...


Caragana maze was a hit...


Beautiful ponds....


And so many lovely flower beds.




I hope to get back to the garden in June sometime to see the peony garden in bloom. Have you toured any beautiful gardens this summer?