Friday, November 26, 2010

The Before Picture

I received a request for a "before" picture of the farmhouse after getting a lovely compliment on the new "cranberry" colored metal roof. I stood beside the apple trees to take this view and I'm rather fond of it. I'm so homesick for the old place even though the downstairs rooms bear no resemblance to how it looked upon purchase. Tearing down inside walls makes it feel more like a log cabin inside now.

We change the photo on our computer screen every couple of days and you can be sure we have lots to choose from. I came home with 500 new photos on my camera. May can't come soon enough so we can go back and do more renovations. Our spirits are so willing and we are thinking of even more ways to cut corners so the money in the "Cranberry Cottage" jar will increase. So far we've giving up the movie channels for the winter, a savings of forty dollars a month. I'm a real movie buff so that hasn't been easy but now I'm watching shows I probably would never have watched before, one of which I enjoy a lot, Nate Berkus. Can never get enough decorating ideas.

Also watching that reality show about turning your home into a restaurant for a night. They must have nerves of steel. Just making a meal for three or four extra people puts me into a tail spin. I like to entertain, it's just the food part that sets my nerves on edge. Will it be good enough, will there BE enough and why did those darn butter tarts burn? Meals I've prepared for hubby and I over and over can suddenly turn into a disaster when a girlfriend who drives three hours to visit us appears. Where's the logic in that?

Okay I diverse, back to saving money. As you can see my thoughts ramble a lot these days, you should see me in action around the house, I give "puttering" a whole new dimension. I digress, another way I've come up with to save money is "give up beer". Not that I drink a lot, my hubby buys me a twelve pack and it lasts me two weeks or more. I like a single bottle of beer in the summer when it's so hot, it's so refreshing but in the winter, cold drinks don't do it for me. I'm already shivering inside thinking of going outside into the white, wild north. Here in Muskoka, we are in the North Country. Perhaps it's not going to be a huge savings but it's what I came up with yesterday.

To make myself get out for walks in the winter to keep the momentum going for a bit of exercise I bribe myself with a hot cup of Earl Grey tea when I get home. There is something so comforting about coming home, divesting oneself of scarf, hat, boots, coat and heavy mitts to head into the kitchen and plug in the kettle. I'm not a huge cookie fan, although I do have some favorites one being a gingerbread cookie that only comes to stores this time of year, all sprinked with red crunchy sugar. Any cookie that is good for dipping in tea, gets bonus points.

I have stopped buying new or gently used clothes and am making some Christmas gifts. My two adult children always get a cheque as venturing into the dangerous territory of trying to figure out what they might want is too risky. Buying clothes for them has been out of the question for years now. If I ask them what they want and they say they need a new toaster or kettle, that I can manage. Hubby and I will not exchange this year, after all a new place in P.E.I. is quite a gift. Although, he has worn the toe out of his mocassins. I will relent there.

As hubby read the weather report on the computer today he told me of snow warnings for our area and it had started already. So the snowblower might have to come out of hibernation tonight. Perhaps that will help put me in the Christmas mode but it will take a lot this year. I'm thinking of not decorating the downstairs or putting a tree up down there like usual. I saw a great idea in a magazine I might try for upstairs, decorating my 22" Rosemary plant with white paper doves I make myself. I have one foot in Muskoka and one foot back on the island.

Must run now, want to clip some dried, dead looking hydrangea blooms for decorating my front window box. They look rather nice up against the pine boughs I placed there. Drat, that means dragging out boots, winter coat, mitts etc. Well I guess I'd better get used to it. When I first moved here I told people: "it isn't the North Pole, but you can see it from here!"

Monday, November 22, 2010

Prince Edward Island

I have just returned from spending three weeks in Prince Edward Island. It is fast becoming our "home away from home". I had a very special purpose for going there this November, my husband and I have just purchased a 70 year old farmhouse on a 35 acre property.

We sure are excited and perhaps a bit overwhelmed. We have our work cut out for us for the next five years. My husband is a little over five years away from retirement so we will spend our three weeks vacation each spring on the island demolishing most of the inside of the house, insulating, putting in new wiring and on and on it will go. Thankfully my husband's brother and wife live just 15 minutes down the road so we can "camp" at their place while our house is under renovations. They are also helping us with what I call "demolition derby", taking down old drywall and shoveling it all into a rented dumpster out front.

The reason I went out was to finalize the purchase and decide what color of red metal I wanted for the new roof. There are various shades of red to chose from and I was anxious to get the darkest shade I could find. My husband and I feel it turned out well. The reason for the RED roof is that we found wild cranberries growing on our front lawn so we decided to call our new home Cranberry Cottage. We also are fortunate to have wild blueberries growing alongside the property and many apples trees dotting our landscape. One such tree bears yellow transparent apples, of which I'd not heard of before or tasted.

Many wild rose bushes also abound, the rose hips are very red and beautiful at this time of year. I shall try my hand at rose hip tea sometime. It will be so thrilling to return in May, walk our property, explore the out buildings, a wooden garage, big barn, little barn (mine) and even an old outhouse to be later converted into a gardening shed. Our next problem to solve among many is what color to paint the house and out buildings. White would remain an option, also grey of which there are so many shades and a blue/grey that I've become very fond of.

There will be many priorities inside the house over the next years that will come before painting the outside so we have lots of time to discuss that. It's a joy to walk the property and enoy the white birch trees, the spruce, willow, red maple and chestnut trees, plus tamarack and many which we haven't identified yet. Another thing we are looking forward to is identifying all the birds around the property. As we sit on our small side deck having a break now and then from the hard work, I'm sure we will release of sigh of joy and gratitude that we were able to purchase our retirement home, take part in the tearing down and restoring of our little place for the time when friends and family can come for a visit.

During my three week stay I was able to start in on the tearing down of walls, the kitchen cupboards and plan where new electrical plugs should go. We have had an estimate on new windows so much planning has to go into what kind of windows we want where. It is easy to start feeling overwhelmed with so many jobs facing us but my brother-in-law calms me down when he says: "one step at a time, just one step at a time". I must remember Rome wasn't built in a day so over the next five years we will endeavor to take that "one step at a time", keeping in mind the sense of accomplishment we'll feel when we reach the finish line.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

In Rainy Prince Edward Island

It's a rainy Sunday, following a rainy Friday and Saturday. I am staying at my sister and brother-in-laws house on the island and looking forward to a dry day. We have been doing some shopping in Charlottown for two days, what better to do when it rains, right? They have a huge Value Village Store in the city which we frequented twice. The second time I was there I figured I should look for a rain jacket as I kept borrowing my sister-in-laws.

I was able to find a nice red one, very light with a much needed hood and as I was looking it all over for stains or little holes I saw a navy tag near the side seam. I looked closely at the tag and it said: "Prince Edward Island", how great is that! I tried other jackets on, some of which also fit but resisted the temptation to buy more than one, also resisted the red purse sister-in-law Caron showed me but bowed to temptation on a pair of six dollar jeans that fit like a glove and a white blouse. Like to have at least two white blouses in good shape to wear downtown with jeans or other slacks. My doctor told me many years ago to wear long sleeves even in summer as my skin is getting thinner..yikes!

I am not posting a picture yet, but when I return home I will post a picture of the reason I am on the island. I guess I'll just wait and post the reason at that time too..Family members already know but I'm sure they will enjoy the new picture which may adorn our Christmas Cards this year. Hubby is back home keeping the home fires burning, working hard and I sure do miss him. I hope to join him again in another couple of weeks. Flying alone again will be easier this time as it will be my third time but I'll still be very grateful when the wheels hit the tarmac. I going now to listen to the weather report, please let them say this rain is going to end!!