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!"

Friday, April 4, 2014

The Winter Move

We are now a permanent resident of Prince Edward Island. We moved the end of March solely because my husband started a new job last September and felt business would be slow enough in March that he could take a week off to move. Now March can be a time when you feel spring in the air or winter is going out like a lion and giving us one last blast after guessed it, this year on the island, Mother Nature had a few storms left over..

Last Monday when we left Ontario, it was sunny, mild and a gorgeous ten degrees. We enjoyed nice weather all through Ontario, Quebec and even New Brunswick. It did start turning colder in New Brunswick and the wind picked up but it was about an hour from the Confederation Bridge that the weather really started to turn. We were driving in a truck, pulling a 12 ft. U-Haul trailer as the moving truck we had hired couldn't hold all our it was we left many things behind. A neighbour and my brother-in-law kindly offered to store some of our belongings until such time as they come out to visit us..

The weather was such that we didn't feel the island was welcoming us with open arms, it was very windy driving over the bridge and once across, blowing snow was drifting across the road, making the driving harder. Several days before we left, the island was bombarded by a blizzard, followed by freezing rain and more snow..the closer we got to our destination, the worse the roads became, many just a glare of ice. We traveled slowly and carefully, arriving safely and also adding more time to the long, two day trip. But what a relief to arrive with only one mishap, getting stuck with the truck and trailer in our in-laws laneway..

We finally just unhitched the truck from the trailer and left it at the end of the laneway overnight. Wednesday we unloaded the truck and trailer at our new residence which we purchased four years ago. I'd love to be able to say all the renovations are done inside the house but that wouldn't be the case. Although 3 rooms upstairs are completely finished, the upstairs bathroom and hallway are only partially done.

The living-room is now painted but the dining room isn't. Nor is the downstairs bathroom completed. We purchased a new refrigerator and stove but we have yet to order our kitchen cupboards. I think it's safe to say we will be living in a mess of mass confusion for awhile. To add to this scenario is a couple of days of mild weather, melting snow and a wet, muddy yard. Spring is a time of year when unpaved laneways are a quagmire of soft, red island mud where many a vehicle can get stuck and needs pulling out..thankfully my hubby's brother owns a tractor and  we may need use of it!

Today is Friday and the moving truck is coming today with three or four men to unload it. I will be standing somewhere in the house, hopefully guiding all the boxes and furniture to the designated rooms. I woke up at 4 a.m., trying to visualize all our furniture and boxes so I could be prepared for the ten a.m. arrival of our belongings. I couldn't get back to sleep, so decided to write this blog.

Hubby is sleeping well thankfully, he goes to bed each night exhausted with many aches and pains. We both do. But each morning we wake up, eat a hearty breakfast and do it all over again. This move would be so much nicer if it was summer and we could just sit boxes and furniture out on the lawn and organize things at a slower pace. But with a wet, snowy and muddy yard, that is not an option.

Life will be crazy for the next little while, something I wish I could wake up from and say: "thank heavens, it was only a dream!"..but this is our reality for many months to come, as we work to finish the renovations and sort out as everyone likes to tell me "too much stuff!" Even the movers were heard to say: "you have a lot of stuff"..I guess a big part of setting up our new household will be parting with as many things as possible..I hear they have a 70 mile long yard sale here every fall, so instead of going from house to house looking, I'll be selling..or just giving things away..

In order to keep some sanity I'm trying to visualize spring approaching, albeit at a much slower pace than I desire. I'm thinking of the 30 tulip bulbs I planted last fall and the blossoms opening on our apple trees. I'm anticipating shopping for more plants at the garden centres and taking breaks under our dear willow tree, that was much damaged in this past ice storm. We had many white birch snapped off also. There will be a lot to spring clean-up this year but as in the past four years, we don't have to leave for Ontario after hubby's 3 weeks holidays. We are now in our forever home, caretakers of 35 acres of land and trees.

Truth be told, once the nice weather arrives, you won't catch me inside unpacking the next twenty or thirty boxes, I'll be outside gardening or relaxing under our willow. I may have to unpack my granddaughters toys though as I expect her parents to visit this summer. A great excuse for a day at the beach, maybe many days at the beach, maybe the whole summer at the beach!

Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Count Down to Our Move

As moving day gets closer and closer I find my stress level going up. Isn't there a saying about divorce and moving being at the top of the stress list? We are trying to work every weekend on our home renovations and even some evenings. Some days I feel like we are standing still on improvements to the house. Even though I can't always see the progress we are making, I know we are going forward.

My husband is arranging for a moving truck. He is even making arrangements for a large container to be placed in our yard to store many of our belongings for a month or two until the house is finished. I'm still a believer in the dream that the house WILL BE FINISHED one day..As I sit in my braiding class on Thursdays, I hear other women talking of their move here and all they are doing to improve their homes too..One lady who moved from Uxbridge, Ontario is hoping to put gravel down on their basement floor this year, an upgrade from the dirt floor they have now. Another woman told me they have worked on their house for ten years, much has been done but it's still not finished and that was said to encourage me!

Amongst all this upheaval is the Winter Olympics. Thankfully whenever I have some spare time, I'm watching our dear Canadians do so well and it takes my mind off the renovations for a few hours. I was hoping to relax and enjoy our finished house this summer and fall but hubby wants to start right into the bedroom addition. Just thinking of that is exhausting me. Alas, what he said is true, we aren't getting any younger! He really likes the color we have painted our bedroom upstairs in the farmhouse so I say: "live in it for awhile and enjoy it!" I know it's important to have a downstairs bedroom as we age, but can't it wait for a year? I also know putting that off, means it might never get done. What a quandary..

I've decided to fly back to Ontario in March and try to pack up the rest of our belongings..the ones inside our house at least. The area where we live and much of Ontario this year has been deluged with so much snow that we will have a lot of work ahead of us digging out our lawn's probably under 3 or 4 feet of snow. Especially since we paid someone to shovel off our roof in December. It just kept on snowing after we had this done and any pictures people sent us of our home looked like it had never been done. If we don't have a thaw, I might never find some possessions outside..

I am looking forward to connecting with friends back home for a couple of weeks and playing with our granddaughter again. I miss her terribly. I send her a letter or card every other week and she is loving getting real mail. One of my friends has me booked for a lunch out together and another friend has volunteered to pick me up at the airport. My daughter wants to help us move so we can say our good-byes until she gets out to the island to see our new home. It will be more bittersweet than usual leaving this time, as we aren't coming here for a holiday, we will be living here for good.

In some ways I've adjusted to island living very well, there are numerous courses to take, the ladies are all so friendly and kind. I've found stores I enjoy shopping in, although I find the price of food somewhat shocking at times. It's grand to eat more fish and lobster, in fact we do a lot of eating on the island and the tea pot is always full..

There is lots to look forward to, I anticipate many visitors the first few years here, walking on the beaches together, touring the area, even just walking through our woods with those wishing to come out for a visit. The new refrigerator will be well stocked with food and the tea pot will be at the ready. Chairs will be set under our lovely willow tree and laughter will fill the air.

Sunday, January 26, 2014

The Renovation Saga Continues

It seems longer than just last weekend that we had a fresh new snowfall that was so beautiful I took 30 or 40 pictures..I walked down the road in front of our house and all around the yard, everything was so white and silvery. I sent many pictures off to family and friends...a brother who is an artist said he would like to paint at least five of the pictures I emailed to him.

Today we had rain, snow and sunshine. One minute it was clear, the next a real blizzard. This is a winter that people will be talking about all across Canada I think, with temperatures being so frigid and the amounts of snow many provinces are getting...Ontario, where we come from has been blasted with so much snow that it's hard to see many houses from the road. Snow is piled so high that our neighbour's grandchildren call these snow piles "mountains". Lots of fun for the kids this year playing outside.

We are plugging away at our renovations, often getting help from Jim's brother. Yesterday the drywall went up on the kitchen ceiling and today all the walls were done. Now that tedious mudding job will start again. Our new fridge and stove arrived several weeks ago, all gleaming and shiny, just waiting to be put in their proper place. Our kitchen will be very small once all the cupboards are in so on the bright side, we won't have to order much flooring! I also look at it, the smaller the house, the less cleaning I'll have to do.

I'm an outdoor person for the most part (not so much in the winter) so will be wonderful to get the house cleaning done quickly and get outside for the more enjoyable gardening chores. I'm so looking forward to buying some asparagus plants this year, would like about a dozen. Right now I only have 4 plants that Jim's son bought me, but they did survive their first winter here.

We are making strides inside the house although it still seems to move along slowly at times. Ceiling lights have been hooked up, our bedroom is painted and nearly all the trim is done, closet doors are hung and a door put on between our room and bathroom. We have two rooms left to put drywall up in so we certainly are coming along. There are so many days this all seems like a dream, I wake up thinking all this can't be real, that we are renovating our farmhouse and are living in Prince Edward Island. I might have to pinch myself sometimes.

Another aspect of the renovations that happened this week is our heat pump is getting installed. We will soon have a heat source in every room. It's the smallest unit the supplier has ever installed but my husband sees it taking up more space in the basement than he expected, so our storage down there is shrinking. I think we are going to have to do a "lot" of thinking about what we keep and what goes...although building a new two storey garage would solve a lot..

Several weeks ago on a Wednesday it was so mild, sunny and beautiful my sister-in-law and I went beach combing. Yes, we did wear our winter coats and boots, but had a grand day at the beach finding sea shells and beach glass. With all I've collected over the years I need to be sure and find something I can do with all of it. Just not leave it in glass jars to be looked at and admired.

We are very happy to hear weekly Friday night dances are starting next week at the Hall just 5 mins. down the road from where we live. We love to dance, they will help pass the winter months and perhaps in the summer with the doors and windows open at the Hall we can enjoy the music just sitting in our yard under our beautiful willow tree. Or we might even have a front porch built by then....I'm also enjoying my art class and my rug braiding class. It's been a great way for me to meet new people.

As I look out the window we are in the blizzard stage again and hubby has fallen asleep already after a busy day lifting drywall. Any extra rest he gets, he really deserves. He works so hard on our place but he enjoys it for the most part. A person needs to really live in a place before one can make all the decisions, so I just hope between the two of us when we get our heads together, we think along the same lines. So far, so good...

Monday, January 6, 2014

Winter On The Island


This is the first full winter in Prince Edward Island for my husband and I, although we did spend a month here in February 2013. Now that hubby has a permanent job here, we will not be leaving until March for our home back in Muskoka. That trip will be bitter-sweet as we pack up all our belongings and wave good-bye to our family and friends.

I was under the misconception that winters here were not as harsh as they were back home. In Muskoka we often had to shovel off our roof as the snow load was so heavy and deep. In fact we emailed a friend back home this past December. She contacted her brother to shovel our roof just before Christmas. I see by the news that Muskoka is getting bombed over and over with 15 to 20 cm. of snow often twice a week, so we are wondering if this is a winter when the roof might have to be shoveled twice...that would be a record.

Another misconception I had was that the temperatures wouldn't be as cold here as they are back home. Wrong again, it's been just as cold here many days as back home. I will soon have to stop calling Muskoka "back home" as the island is our new "permanent" home, it just that old habits die hard. I lived in Muskoka for over 16 years and hubby has lived there for over thirty years. We have been renovating our farmhouse purchased in 2010 for nearly four full years.

Some of the jobs at the farmhouse are enjoyable, the priming of walls and painting help finish off a room and we feel a great sense of accomplishment once the windows are framed and new floors are set down. But the mudding of walls, the constant sanding, sweeping up dust and looking like a pair of ghosts when we are done, dare I say, is not one of our favorite tasks. But it must be done before the paint goes on.

We get most of our work done on the weekends as Jim works five and a half days a week at his full-time job. I decided to give hubby a break from sanding Sunday, so we traded jobs, he painted upstairs while I sanded. Up and down the ladder I went, taking a break when my neck got sore by sweeping up the dust, sending clouds of it everywhere..I imagine we will be vacuuming up drywall dust for a year after we move in.

I have had some fun too, looking for new furniture, planning the new kitchen cupboards with the help of a professional, ordering our new refrigerator and stove etc. I was able to chose paint colors easily until I came to the living-room. The dining room should be the same color, also the hallway to the upper level which can be seen from the living-room..that is a lot of walls to be painted the "same" color or at least in the same color family. I've become really bogged down, I can eliminate many colors, but zoning in on "perfect" one seems to be escaping me. We may move in with just the primer done at this rate.

This will be our first "new" home built within the confines of an old farmhouse. We replaced the roof, all the windows, new heating system, kitchen, added a downstairs bathroom..There are so many decisions to make, so much to buy, things I didn't even realize. I was thrilled this past weekend to find curtain rods on sale to finish all the windows. If I'd gone looking for specific rods I might not have chosen the ones I just purchased but the price was right..

As we finished our work day yesterday, hubby and I talked of our priorities and what we needed to work towards once the bedroom and living-room are finished. Always good to have a focus as it's easy to get off track when faced with a million jobs at once. How daunting it can all seem at times.

It will be wonderful one day to wake up in our own bedroom in our own home, cook in our own kitchen, relax in our own living-room. Right now we are residing just down the road at our in-laws  home. Spring can't come fast enough although I do somewhat dread the "big move", knowing it's a real stressor..but even tho the house might be a real mess with work staring me in the face in every direction I will talk hubby into going for a walk. Across the fields once all the snow is gone, into the woods to look for wild flowers.  As long as we are in the woods, we can't see the work, out of sight, out of mind at least for a short while. Dreamer that I am...