Monday, January 4, 2016

A New Year Filled with Promise

     I haven't written a new blog for a very long time, so the beginning of a new year seems like an  appropriate time to update my blog. We are enjoying just "enough" snow right now, all pristine and white, just perfect for going out on snowshoes. We have discovered much enjoyment in this exercise, going across our fields, out into our little woods, then further back into our larger woods. It is so quiet in there at this time of year, only the sound of birds who stay around for the winter.

     We see squirrels back there, rabbit tracks and often a sighting of a rabbit. We made a resolution at New Year's that we would walk more and so far have been out every day. The fresh air is invigorating and we are in hopes the exercise will also benefit us in a loss of some weight. We both stood on the scales after Christmas, enough said!

     We have what I call the upper field which is beside our house and the back fields. If the weather is disagreeable, I try at least to walk the upper field, either in snowshoes or in high boots, using ski poles for better balance. It is a good work-out. Once the snow is gone during spring, summer and fall months I envision myself and perhaps hubby too, walking the perimeter of the fields with coffee mugs in hand. A good way to start the morning.

     Some changes that happened here during 2015 was the building of an excellent deck all across the front of the house by hubby and his brother. We enjoyed the use of it as much as possible considering we have to dodge mosquitoes and black flies much of the time. We ended up buying bug jackets for ourselves and guests as often I couldn't garden without the use of  one. Jim found the benefit of wearing one early on too when cutting the lawn.

     In November we bit the bullet and hired someone to put a new red steel roof on the large barn. Jim and his brother put the same color roof on my garden shed in the fall so now the house, barn and my shed all have a red roof. We really like it. Jim added two new small windows to his barn, plus two work benches and shelves for his tools. He also put a new window in my shed. Next spring I hope to hose down the inside of my shed, whitewash the walls and have a work bench at the window end so I can paint in there. I have been taking painting lessons for last couple of years and will also be taking a watercolor course for 8 weeks starting this week just down the road at the Hall.

     One of the biggest changes for 2016 is that Jim is now retired. So far so good. He loves working with wood, his barn is now nice and dry with the new roof, so he spends many hours out there most days. So far the winter has been mild enough for him to work out there without a heat source. We both want to get into the woods more to clean up the dead fall and replant more trees from all the small spruce and fir growing along the edges of the woods. Jim's son has already planted ten maples and white pine in our woods several years ago.

     It is a big dream, wish or hope of mine to buy another wood lot if possible someday. We see so much clear cutting of  trees along country roads that I'd love to save a woodlot for the wildlife. Plus it would be another place to walk through summer and winter to enjoy. I hope I hear of something I can afford one day in the future.

     We continue to have visitors most of  July and August, family and friends enjoy exploring the island with us or just relaxing on the many lovely beaches. It is always exciting to have visitors from Ontario which we intend to visit once the weather is good for traveling. Our little granddaughter will be five years old this year, not seeing her until summer vacation is hard, but she and her mother have spent ten days here each summer.

     We still have one building that needs a lot of repair, the garage plus more work on the barn. The inside of the house is pretty much done except for trim work and a bit or paint retouching here and there. Sometimes I wonder how we managed to restore an old farmhouse when the task seemed so daunting in the beginning. Jim worked so hard, I'm sure he is glad most of the hard, heavy work is behind him.

    I will be very grateful for more help from Jim in the spring when the gardening starts, getting projects done that had to wait before until weekends. We are hoping to add a gazebo along the one end of the house so we can enjoy more of the outdoors without bugs. We are also thinking of a pet, perhaps a dog at some point. It is good to have things to do in retirement, to get us outside, plans to make, satisfaction in seeing finished projects. Jim also enjoys being so close to his brother just down the road, he visits him often. We hope for continued good health as hubby starts his first year of retirement, it feels great having him around more. Now if I can just pry his hands off some of those power tools of his for awhile this summer, we might even travel around the island to explore, or just spend a day at the must pick their battles!

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Summer Visitors and New Shed Roof

We waited a long time for summer this year as it looked like winter was never going to end and spring was pretty much non-existent. The bugs who love to bite never really left until end of August so we purchased even more bug jackets of all sizes to fit our summer visitors. During the month of July and August we had 25 days of company. First our granddaughter who is four arrived at the airport with her mother. The ten days they visited went by too fast but we packed  a lot of fun into those days, beach, flying kites, swimming, a birthday party for one of her cousins, a fancy tea party, shopping and playing with dolls a LOT. I am now an expert on playing with Barbie dolls and other "babies" of various sizes. All great fun and the conversations with my granddaughter were and are priceless as I continue to play with her on Skype.

Our next visitor from Ontario was my girlfriend who just loves the island. She camped here with her son and husband many years ago so always delights in returning here to visit and explore. We fit in more beach days this year to relax, read, swim and beach comb (me) while she reads. There are so many gorgeous beaches here and I still have many left to explore with my hubby when he retires next year. My girlfriend also stayed for ten days as it is a long, two day drive out here.

Our last visitors and shortest visit was with my son and his partner, but my son also flew out in May for a weeks visit. There was still piles of snow about then and many ice flows at the beach we like to swim at in the summer months. When my son visits we drive to many places as he has his trip well planned as to what he wants to see and where he wants to eat. We saw the Lennie Gallant show for the 2nd time and I think we enjoyed it even more the second time around. It was also the night we celebrated hubbies birthday. After the show we four went out for supper. The next day was a drive up to New Glasgow for the Lobster supper experience. And I'd better not mention all those home-made pies for dessert. Although I will say the coconut cream got my vote!

The renovations at Cranberry Cottage are not 100% finished but we keep knocking things off the list. There is a lovely big new deck across the front of the house which we would have enjoyed much more if the bugs had left us alone. We are still in the discussion stages of how or where to screen part of it in. Hubby and his brother finished putting on a new red steel roof on my shed plus Jim put new shingles on the front. My job will be painting the whole shed hopefully this fall. Right now either because of air-conditioning or tiredness, I've developed a summer cold..blah.

I planted some new bushes this summer and gladioli for the first time. They are so gorgeous. My gardens did well in some things, not so well in others. We had tons of peas, snow peas and beans are doing well. My lettuce was a bust as well as my spinach this year. Carrots are doing splendid and squash came up from seeds thrown in the compost..nice bonus. We had a great crop of rhubarb and the pies were well received. We had lots of blueberries growing on our property this year, a real treat in smoothies, muffins and coffee cake.

Hard to believe it is now September, summer flew by. I continued with my art lessons all summer when I could fit them in and still enjoy them very much. The Seniors luncheons will be starting up again once a month and perhaps I will take another course in rug braiding or change over to making a quilt this year. Always great courses to chose from during the fall and winter months and not expensive. We continue to feed the birds all winter and this summer were rewarded with six hummingbirds at a time at one of our two feeders. Another feeder of Niger seed outside the kitchen window attracts gold and purple finches.

It is wonderful having the dining room finished, painted and a new floor down. We also have the same flooring in the living-room. There are spots of trim work left to do here and there but that will be a winter job. Summer keeps us busy outside, cutting grass and picking up fallen apples at this time of year. We feed them to a pony, lama and goat down the road who love to see us now. Our fields are planted with soy beans by the farmer down the road and look very healthy.

We enjoyed a few dances this year and got to a few rousing Ceilidhs which keep our feet tapping. I felt very brave this spring cooking lobster for the first time with help and instructions from my sister-in-law. We were given a dozen by a fisherman down the road, also received some already cooked from relatives and neighbors. We froze some of it so were able to share with company in the form of lobster rolls. We are adjusting to island life bit by bit and I look forward to hubby's retirement but not more than he does I'm sure. That will be yet another challenge, having him here all day but with 35 acres which keep us busy I'm sure we will have to make an appointment to meet under the willow tree for a snack and cold drink! And if I can't find him, he will probably be hiding down the road at his brothers!!

Monday, April 20, 2015

Happenings at Cranberry Cottage

Do we have spring yet? No we do not, our front yard and fields are still snow covered....but the good news is, each day we see a little more brown grass appear. Mostly around the house plus around the trees, the circles of grass are growing larger and larger. Can I see any of my spring bulbs yet? No I most definitely cannot. And I'm very curious to see what happened with all the bulbs I planted last year..Very curious and very anxious. Hubby and I are getting spring fever.

We managed to avoid sickness and colds nearly all winter, then two weeks ago, I came down with a heavy cough that over time developed into a cold which I gave to my hubby. He recovers from illness more quickly than I do and I'd say in a few more days I should be back to normal. I found I had no energy, big lack of appetite which also meant I didn't feel like cooking. I wish someone would magically deliver meals each day as cooking is still not high on my list..

Even while not feeling the best Jim managed to finish the last room to be done, the dining room. It was mudded, sanded and painted. Then he and his brother put down a new floor last weekend and put down the new floor in the living-room this past Saturday. That means the inside of this house is finally finished except for trimming of door ways and few odds and ends. But the heaviest, dirtiest jobs are now done, at least inside!

We are looking forward to building our new 8 ft. deck out front this summer and perhaps getting a gazebo built. Wish I could say all the out-door jobs were done and we could just do maintenance, sit back and enjoy the fruits of our labor. But we have an old garage, a shed (mine) and a huge barn that has to be dealt with.

Once Jim retires, a year from this August, he will be outside all summer working away at projects to his hearts content.  Right now he has to do all these projects on weekends and if he feels up to it, a few hours after work. His brother is a big help to us and work shared gets done more quickly.

Our new TV which we purchased last October died this past week and after phoning the company, we were told we will need a new TV. So we sent away the photos they wanted plus proof of purchase and wait.

My first visitor for 2015 is my son, coming out to watch the boats go out for spring lobster season. We will have a full house again this summer and fall. They will see big changes in the interior all which will make their stay even more comfortable.

I am knitting a blanket for the couch and still going for my weekly art lesson although have missed some because of weather and sickness. Once gardening season get into full swing, I will probably stop my lessons until the fall or go less often. I also spend many hours a week on Skype playing "babies" or dollies with my granddaughter..I'm often the "baby" and she is the mommy. It is a precious time.

We have enjoyed feeding the birds all winter even if we had to use snowshoes to walk across the yard. I love hearing the doves cooing in the morning now, at least two pairs are visiting us. Spring seems so very long coming this year I feel we should have a real spring celebration party once it arrives. Maybe a big lobster supper and a chocolate cake for dessert! Hope springs eternal....

Saturday, February 28, 2015

Waiting on Spring!

Outside the windows it's a winter wonderland. The sun is shining brightly making our mood lighter. The birds, Juncos, blue jays, black capped chick-a-dees and pine siskas are cleaning out the bird feeders once again. We can only refill feeders by wearing our snow shoes. We enjoy tramping across the fields for an hour on days such as this but hubby has started the new back-splash in the kitchen and far be it for me to interrupt that major project.

The above picture was taken one spring while walking back into our woods. Often the little stream dries up in the summer but this day was rather magical back there and I took many pictures. I do tend to take a lot of pictures of our property during all the seasons, we are loving this very picturesque property.

My mind is really dwelling on spring now especially after I purchased a large quantity of seeds last weekend. I did get my peas planted last year at the end of April but with all this snow this year it might not be so early. But in my mind lately I've been planning where to dig up more gardens, what bushes and trees I want to plant yet. In other words I'm really itching to get the gardening gloves on and get busy.

Winter time is a busy time here though, I have my art classes and rug braiding class. There is usually a renovating project going on here inside the house and my in-laws often invite me to join them for a shopping trip into the city. Yesterday was one of those days. The 3rd Tuesday of each month is the Senior's luncheon and once in awhile hubby will even take me to a Saturday night dance.

Some boxes are still not unpacked so there is still a lot of sorting going on, which will probably be ongoing until the dining room is finished. Then I can get my two china cabinets organized. I'm getting quite excited about having the last two new floors put down before our friends and family start visiting this year.

Hubby said he would dig out the steps to the deck where I hang up my clothes as I've seen some clothesline being used already and we love the fresh smell of bedding hung outside. Last year the hummingbirds kept me company at the clothesline or while relaxing in a lawn chair.

I'm probably much more excited than hubby with the thoughts of a screened in gazebo this year as he will be doing the building of it with the help of his brother and any of our guests who happen to land in at that time from Ontario. We weren't long in buying bug jackets last year once the black flies arrived.

My favorite color right now is green! Thoughts of green leaves, green grass, fresh rhubarb and little green asparagus shoots peeking up through the earth. I have four nice sized raised gardening beds somewhere out in the white wilderness that I haven't seen for a long time. They will pop up in the spring also.

Everyone I meet up with these days has one favorite topic. They are ready for springs arrival. It will be interesting to see if all my tulips, daffodils, crocus and iris come up where I planted them or the squirrels decided to move them. If it really comes down to it, I don't care where they end up as long as this snow starts melting soon. Enough of boots, heavy coats, hats and gloves. I've got it all planned out..Mother Nature, are you listening?

Friday, December 12, 2014

Our First Christmas in Our Farmhouse

This picture is fairly accurate of  how our yard and fields look nearing the end of the second week of December. We did not shovel snow once in November. We did have snow maybe twice that lasted two or three days, but nothing to speak of. November here is mostly a month of rain which seems to have continued into December. We just endured two days of fierce winds and heavy rains, then enjoyed a mild sunny day and now back to a downpour. As I look out into our front yard I see that the grass isn't as green as in the above picture and the fields are cradling puddles. When I bought new winter boots several weeks ago, I also bought a pair of rain boots!

As I walked to the mail-box just five minutes away this week, I heard the chickadees. I promised myself  I'd get our bird houses up on posts next year so they will hopefully nest in our yard like they did back in Ontario. Of all the colorful and beautiful birds there are, I'm very drawn to the little chickadee. We entertained gold finches and hummingbirds at our feeders this year plus too many blue jays to count. My nemesis this year turned out to be either squirrels or skunks as they dug up many of my tulip, daffodil and allium bulbs. They didn't eat them, just made it so I had to replant them half a dozen times.

We could easily have cut down one of our many small spruce trees for a Christmas tree this year but as our house isn't finished inside, I opted for 3 small artificial pine trees I bought many years ago. I put lights on the two larger ones and the smaller one set up in our new entrance-way. Hubby has built a nice sized room complete with coat closet, shelves over the new window for mitts and hats plus assembled a large heavy plastic shelf for boots and shoes. I overdid it this year, purchasing a few too many coat or hat hooks but we will hang our favorites.

In our excitement of moving to gorgeous Prince Edward Island, being busy renovating (still), entertaining a lot of company and planting veggie or flower gardens, we did not get caught up in too much homesickness for Bracebridge or other areas of  Ontario. Now "some" of the dust has settled, we are hearing from friends and family members how much we are being missed. My husband's daughter is finding it difficult to be so far away from us. It goes without saying that being a sentimental and emotional person, I've been missing family and friends a "LOT". Especially our dear, one and only grandchild, Claire who will be four in January.

I have taken to sending her postcards every couple of weeks and now her mother is mailing us postcards and sometimes large brown envelopes containing Claire's artwork. I really look forward to my "real" mail. I've always liked sending and receiving Christmas cards so hope stamps stop going up in price. It's getting very expensive. I enjoy including a Christmas letter that I make copies of in the cards of people we don't see often. It makes me stop and think of what we've accomplished each year.

As hubby and I celebrate 17 years together this coming Saturday night by going dancing we often think of our friends and family back in Ontario who would join us when dancing most Friday nights. We know this Christmas will be very different without seeing family and I imagine sadness will creep into our day as we think of who and what we are missing. There are always pros and cons to a big move. hearts and minds get conflicted. Thankfully Skype brings us closer, right into each others living-rooms.

Our first Christmas in our house, our second Christmas on the Island. A new experience for us and for those we left behind. Everyone is in our hearts and we send along very Merry Christmas Wishes and a hope for a wonderful 2015. We are buoyed up by the fact that our family and friends enjoy visiting us here. This encourages us to carry on with our renovations to make our house and home a welcoming place for all we entertain here. Merry Christmas! Happy New Year!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Junk or Treasure

I've been away from blogging for a long time and here it is nearly the end of October, the end of what has been a beautiful fall. We crossed over Confederation Bridge with all our belongings on April 1st, a snowy, icy day. We lived once more with hubby's brother and wife as we continued on renovating our dear farmhouse. With the house unfinished but livable, we moved into our house on June 29th.

We are still renovating inside and out. The last big room inside to finish is the dining room which didn't seem to deter all the summer and fall guests we've had. Family and friends from Ontario visited from the end of July until the 16th of October. Some stayed a week, some ten days and some only for a few days. I had a break in between visits but next year will try and stagger more time between visits, it was fun but tiring too.

No one seemed to mind the house wasn't finished, in fact many people were surprised we had accomplished so much. My gardens were planted and my flower gardens were much added to. Just this fall I planted another 60 or more tulips, my first daffodils and crocus. I planted hollyhocks which the rabbits thought were lunch. But I deterred them by protecting the leaves with plastic pots with the bottoms cut out.

It is surprising also what we find in the sheds, items which were left behind..We have made much use of some of the items. Tucked away in my shed is a very old blanket box seen in the above picture. Also what I think is a large green plastic crab trap. We treasure several old wooden barrels we've inherited plus many great oval old tubs with lids. Old metal gas cans with handles and spouts, lanterns and all the firewood we'll ever need. Perhaps others would see it as junk. We also inherited about a dozen anchors of all sizes, old wooden buoys which many people said they haven't seen before. One day we hope to have enough time to organize our treasure and decide what to do with it.

This year our fields were planted with potatoes and after they were harvested, so many were left I invited any neighbors who wanted some to come and help themselves. I spent two days off and on picking potatoes, many which I gave away. We will have plenty for the winter and are eating them often. Many will just rot in the fields as there are too many to pick up.

My step-son who visited in October walked to the very end of our woods which I've never done yet but certainly hope to do someday. He found a striped maple which I hear is not all that common and some interesting yellow fungus he called Witches Butter..glad I saw pictures of these surprises.

Hubby and his brother worked most of this afternoon covering the "new" back room roof with red steel. Nearly all three sides are now covered with cedar shingles. There is a door on each end and a large window in this new back room which when finished will hold our shoes, boots and all manner of coats. We hope to add to it next year, adding on a screened gazebo to keep black flies at bay.

We've eaten a lot of lobster this year really enjoying it. We've attended many musical concerts and a few dances. I've started a painting class with an artist who lives about fifteen minutes down the road and should have my first painting completed next week. We know it will take us about a year to get used to our new home, our new surroundings, this lovely island. I still can't find things I need or want in the house as there are still boxes packed in the basement but each month brings us closer to turning this house into a home. Our granddaughter wanted to take a nap on a couch this past summer and we hadn't purchased a new one yet. So she will be happy to know we have one now.

We still face challenges as we work towards our goal and the finish line. But we look forward to cutting our first Christmas tree from our own woods and celebrating our first Christmas in our unfinished but comfortable home. Now if I can just remember where I put all the decorations when the time comes!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Spring and Gardening in Prince Edward Island

We are having a late spring this year it seems. After a very long, hard winter and so looking forward to gardening at our new home, it's been disappointing to have so few warm, sunny days. On the positive  side, the cooler, wet days keep me inside unpacking the many boxes that still await me.

We are still not living in our house, thank heavens for good-natured, understanding and caring in-laws. Jim's brother and wife have gone the extra mile for us, letting us live with them these many months. Jim has lived here with them since last September when he was fortunate enough to get a job on the island. I arrived in December, left in March to finish packing up our house and moved here again to stay April 1st. Our farmhouse is just up the road from our in-laws so it's very handy. I can walk there in under 15 minutes.

We are making good progress inside our wee farmhouse, but one job begets another and another. We have ordered our kitchen cupboards and they should arrive within the next two weeks..We have finished painting our back entrance plus Jim built a ceiling height cupboard with shelves for all my laundry detergent etc., as that is where our washer and dryer will go. The poor dining room is a storeroom at present and often used as my hubby's workshop. We cut and paint boards in there and it seems to be the catch-all room. The living room is also a storeroom at present, filled with unpacked boxes and furniture. Some days I feel so overwhelmed when I go up there to work.

As well as the inside work, I've been busy outside when weather permits planting more flowers, especially perennials, many which I brought with us. I purchased two forsythia bushes which I planted, a Japanese maple and a hydrangea. I went to a plant sale in Montague Saturday so purchased a black currant bush, more day lilies, a primrose, lily of the valley plus a few other plants. I'd much rather be outside working in the gardens but the black flies are also here and chewing on me minute by minute. For some reason they like to bite me more than my hubby.

It's been so cool off and on the tulips I planted last year are taking their time to open. This fall I will add some daffodils to my beds. All the hostas I brought from Ontario are doing well, as are my bleeding hearts, my favorite being my white one. Hubby built me a great gardening bed which stands a little over waist height so I don't have to bend over to plant my veggies in it..I'm so pleased with it, I will be putting in an order for several more. I purchased several white plastic gardening beds but one must still bend or stoop over to plant them.

Our fields have been planted with potatoes this year and we were told in three weeks when we see the little green shoots pop up out of the ground, to dig up some tiny little potatoes. We will have potatoes all summer and be able to store some in the fall..The lettuce, onions and peas I planted early are up but with frost warnings last night I'm wondering if I started planting too soon. I did cover my one planter of annuals.

I read many years ago that whatever soil you have in your yard, it can be amended and improved with many different types of gardening soils and fertilizers but ultimately whatever bush, tree etc., that you plant has to make it's way in the soil that came with your yard. I wondered if I was overthinking what I should add to my veggie and flower gardens here as once the roots pass through whatever I've added, they have to survive in this red island soil..So it's an experiment I suppose seeing what will survive by my just adding fertilizer, 3 in 1 Mix with some seafood compost added in. The test will be the end results but what I planted one and two years ago seems to be surviving.

Another big test for me is to not dig up too many flower beds and end up with more than I can comfortably look after. Hubby is hoping I'll have the lawn cut before he gets home from work in the evening with our "new to us" second hand riding lawn mower. My very first vehicle!

I'm trying hard to keep my spirits up what with the discouraging cool weather, the rain and the house not finished yet. Our first guest arrives in mid-June, one of my brother's is coming out this way on his motorcycle so won't mind roughing it inside the house..My hubby's daughter wants to set a date to come out with our granddaughter, so the push will be on to get settled once and for all. The washer and dryer arrive this week and phone hook-up goes in, so I expect we are looking at moving into our "unfinished" house sometime in June. I imagine one of my most exciting blogs will be when I'm able to write "we are in, it's all finished" but is one ever finished in a house, new or otherwise? There always seems to be something to do. Right now I'm off for my morning coffee, then I'll make plans to see what boxes I can unpack today. It's supposed to rain later, so gardening is on hold once again.

Thanks for all your positive comments for those who leave them and I wish everyone a wonderful summer when it arrives! Our new life here is quite the journey and we certainly can't say we are bored..but just once it might be nice to say..'I have nothing to do!"