Wednesday, 15 April 2015

Signs of Life

We have had a lot of wind. It's noisy and bothersome, but it's spring on the prairies and to be expected. I didn't get the pictures I took a few days ago posted--some signs of green around the yard. Today I didn't get new pictures--but we worked in the wind and added manure to compost, mowed and picked rocks and only just began to clean up the messes the dog leaves on the lawn. 

A few strawberry plants survived the winter. 

Some ground cover is waking up and I'm excited to see how things look in a few months!

We have started some seeds, though I'm not the best at hardening things off and actually having things live outside the little greenhouse. It's fun for the kids though:)

The dining room will be crowded for 6-8 weeks, but such is life. I'm sprouting mung beans and I think we will eat them tomorrow (stay tuned for a report on the mung beans). I sat and picked hulls out of them today...I won't say how long it took as it was a serious misuse of time :/

That's a picture of the beans on day 1. 

I think today is day 3. Tomorrow we eat them :) hope spring is finding you in your neck of the woods!

Friday, 10 April 2015

The Red Wheel Barrow

Today is my birthday. I'm 38. I used to think 38 was old, until I realized how very long it takes to grow up. Now I know that 38 is young and that even at this age, the world is wonderful and bright and exciting and full of possibilities. Even when you're 38.

I am finally getting to know myself. I understand why I react in certain ways to social situations (introvert) and I am finally confident enough to pursue the life that makes me happy without feeling pressure to be popular or trendy or fit in. It is absolutely liberating to make choices that are meaningful and to adopt a lifestyle that FITS and fulfills and inspires. It is great to be 38 and OWN IT.

My little crew of men and I are in the "sweet spot" of life, as a friend called it. My kids are healthy, bright and learning so much every day. My parents are 3 miles away, independent and healthy and supportive--still here to teach me and guide me and love my kids without conditions. There aren't words to express how much that means to me. My Husband is a wonderful provider; he encourages me to pursue my interests--he gives me the time and support I need to do so. When I look back on my life, when I am old, really old, if I am lucky enough to get there...when I look back I know that these days that I am living right now will be the ones that stand out as the most wonderful because we are all here together. I want to fill these days with all the smiles and hugs and high fives and tickles and atta boys that are possible. We are in the sweet spot alright, and we are going to enjoy it like there is no tomorrow.

I asked for a wheel barrow for my birthday. Sturdy, practical, strong, not unlike myself. We are all about experiences, not things, and I knew when I asked for a new wheel barrow my 5 year old remembered the hours we spent last year "popping turds" from the cows off the frozen ground and hauling to the compost and garden beds. He loved it, and I loved that he loved it. The kids have kept it a "secret" all week in the shed and there has been much delighted giggling and whispering. Today, now that the secret is out, there have been wheel barrow rides and shouts of joy. That's all I needed today and it's all I'll need any day. Keep us healthy, keep us together, let us fill the wheel barrow together over the years. That is all I'll ever need.

Thursday, 9 April 2015

Not Your Ordinary Thursday

It's a beautiful day today. I can hear the chickadees beyond the crackling fire and hissing pots as we boil one final batch of maple sap into syrup. 

Around 7 am. 

Below, 3 pots over the fire at 10 am. 

I'm having 3 close childhood friends and their kids over for the afternoon and supper tonight. I'm so glad we moved "back home".

Tuesday, 7 April 2015

The "To Do" List: Saving on Insurance

Periodically throughout the year I sit down and make a list of places we might be able to save money. I knew that we could likely save by returning to our old insurance broker (we switched when we moved because the whole thing was too confusing for the poor guy we were dealing with, and I wanted to be sure we were covered). We received our policy renewal notice in the mail last week so I finally made the call to get a quote on home owner's insurance. And guess what? We are switching insurance agencies and saving $900/year.

Just like that, one phone call. (Okay, three, because they needed more information). But when I constantly think of how I can trim what we spend and use coupons when possible, it can feel hopeless at times. There are times when it feels impossible to trim our grocery bill no matter how I try, but in one morning I saved us what might be almost two months worth of grocery money. BOOM.

Now, what to do with the $900 saved? Let it absorb into the family coffers and trickle away to that mysterious place where our money trickles? Add it to the emergency fund? Or how about we put an additional $900 on our highest loan payment (camper) and save a bunch of interest?

I am thinking that I will give it until summer and make sure we don't need that money for an emergency, but once Husband's summer work is in full swing I intend to put the money we saved towards the loan we have on our camper. A double-win.

Do you shop around for insurance/ services to try to save money? 

Sunday, 5 April 2015

Easter 2015

Sugaring on an old cook stove at the farm. 

Great memories for the kids and grown ups alike. Happy Easter!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Sugaring in Saskatchewan

When we planted trees on our acreage the year we had our house moved here, I purchased and planted over 100 Manitoba Maple trees with the intention that my sons could one day tap them and have a source of syrup, if they choose. Then this winter my brother mentioned he didn't think maple trees ran sap in our climate, so we discussed that possibility and he decided we should tap the maple trees at our parents' farm to find out.

A week ago my brother noticed sap leaking from where two limbs were removed from my mom's big old maple tree on her lawn. The following morning we tapped 21 of the maples in her hedge row using stainless steel tubing my brother had on hand. Although we only collected approximately 8 gallons of sap we wanted to boil it up before it spoiled.

There is A LOT of contradicting information online regarding maple sugaring. I recommend you do your research ahead of time using trusted sources (what makes for good photography on pinterest and some blogs may not be sound advice) and, if you have access to maple trees, give it a try. We only tapped about half of the trees available to us--next year we plan to tap all of the maples and purchase some spiles and a hydrometer if we can find them. Our product turned out a bit cloudy but tastes wonderful and the kids absolutely loved the experience of helping tap the trees, collect the sap, and participate in the boiling.

We ended up with about a pint of syrup this year so far--perhaps some might say that is not worth the effort and resources. For us, having the kids up and dressed and out in the fresh air every morning to do their "job" was wonderful and they are extremely proud of the part they played in making the the syrup. But, as my 5 year old pointed out, it's all thanks to the trees ;)

Wednesday, 25 March 2015

Afghans from Granny

I've lost the inspiration to post on the blog, it seems. No reason, just a change in routine lately and I haven't carved out the time for myself. Spring threatens to burst forth and then retreats beneath a layer of chill and snow-- such is March on the prairies. I'm learning to be more patient and haven't even begun my planning for this year's garden. There is plenty of time and I've found myself sewing in the quiet spells (infrequent as they are).

The other day I went to my parents and had lunch with my 99 year old aunt. She is a force to be reckoned with. I've never asked her the secret to her longevity but I'm sure if I did she would answer "eat your vegetables and walk everywhere you go". We took her to the mountains when she was in her 70's and she beat us all to the top. What a pleasure to visit her again. 

The same day I brought home the afghans my granny made for me and my boys. Mine, the dark blue and cream, she made when I was in my 20's. J's is the light blue and O's is light green. She was still crocheting it when she had a stroke. She ended up spending her remaining days in a nursing home and my mom had a friend finish the afghan for O. To say they will be treasured is an understatement. 

I am still working on my grocery budget--Ii shall try to post on the subject soon. I've cut carbs out of my diet for the time being (too much winter baking!) and I've been waivering between euphoria and despair for the last two weeks. I feel great now but the beginning was rough, which shows how I really was filling myself with too much homemade bread!

I hope that spring is finding its way to you--if not in the weather then at least in your spirit. Thanks for stopping by!