Burn!

Having an acre full of trees and bushes is wonderful. The lush abundance of nature is tranquil and serene. As well, we have a sense of privacy from our neighbors which is fantastic. The only problem is the upkeep of the yard.

But we have two times of the year that we can really tackle and take back the yard- October and April. That’s because we get to burn all the dead branches and leaves. My wife claims it to be the best yard work job to do. In other words- she loves destroying with fire!

Burning Season means we also get the entire family out in the yard to help. Cutting branches, ripping out brambles, pulling out invasive plants… All of which gets tossed onto the fire. My wife likes to take full advantage of the weather and her days off in order to make a big dent in the landscaping. Next month we will be maintaining what we planted as well as basic chores.

I enjoy the final results. After a hard day of yard work, you just want to sit and relax. I have come to be using our wheelbarrow as a seat now. I chill with a cold beverage and watch the fire as it winds down. A great opportunity to reflect on life. A fire pit and the sun setting on our abode ends the day.

Do A Barrel Roll

Friday was a day of yard work. My daughter even helped me set up a couple of planters and some new drainage.

I picked up a couple of half whiskey barrels on sale. Our daughter drilled some drainage holes for me. Afterwards we placed them on either side of our carport. We put some styrofoam about half full followed by some drainage stones and soil.

I dug up a couple of ferns and some vines we had in our yard and transplanted them into the pots. My daughter and I removed the downspouts and set up something different.

My daughter and I cleaned up some old chains and spray painted them gloss black. We hung the chains from the copper spouts and into the planters. We added some stones on top of the soil to help keep the dirt from washing away. Having the chains go from the downspouts will help to drain the water from our roof and keep the pine needles from clogging up the drainage. The final result also changed the look of our home tremendously.

As a small celebration, I enjoyed some “Barrel of Sunshine” afterwords. Having a shot helped me to appreciate the hard work being done all day. I’m excited to possibly try this in other areas of our home.

How is your garden growing these days? Ever plant a whiskey barrel before? Let me know in the comments.

Growing Food

We aren’t exactly the best people to ask advice for when it comes to growing your own food. One year we have the best luck growing beans. Another year we have peppers. Usually we have zucchini galore. Tomatoes Are almost out of the question. We got lucky one year however. But in the end, we do grow some foods.

I like growing the easy plants. The ones that really don’t take much effort. Which sounds lazy. But really it isn’t. Take green onions or romaine lettuce for instance.

Romaine lettuce can regrow. But only for a little bit. If you cut the romaine down to about an inch or so from the base and put it in water- in about a week and a half you have some leaves growing. That’s about as big as it will grow. It’s only enough to get yourself some tiny lettuce leaves for a sandwich.

Green onions are similar. Cut them down to about a half inch and place it in water. They will continue to grow for quite some time. You can trim them for use repeatedly as well. Eventually they wilt or lose flavor.

We have also attempted to grow an avocado tree from a pit. We can usually get a good start, but after it’s planted in a pot, we have a dead tree on our hands. No matter how many times we try and grow it. Hopefully one day we will be successful.

Bonsai

I have always wanted a Bonsai. I tried to make one about 15 years ago, but I failed miserably. Mainly because I didn’t put in the care and effort needed to keep it alive. So why not try again..? I am using this as a zen inspired activity. Keeping it watered and trimmed from time to time will help to calm and relax.

I picked up a small juniper since they are the heartiest and easiest to form. I took it out of the plastic pot and planted it into a new clay pot. Unfortunately the pot I do have is a tad large for the roots. A healthy bonsai needs to have the roots trimmed as well as the branches. Unless I want the tree to grow fairly large. So another transplant may occur by the end of summer. We’ll see how it does.

Then came the time to trim away almost everything. A bit of wire was used to help form the branches. This is just the start of my bonsai. Keeping it trimmed and cared for will be ongoing for the remainder of my time. And a desperate hope to keep it alive…

Wish me luck in my Zen Adventure.

Yard Work, Yard Work, and More Yard Work

I have been tackling our yard over the past couple of days. Yesterday I was working on trimming our rhododendron bush when the rain hit. Today, I cleaned the green moss/mold off the front edges of our roof’s flashing.

Then I formed our boxwood bush using bailing wire and my electric hedge trimmer. Followed by planting some Hostas and Helleborus in a shady part of our front yard. I figure by the end of next week our front yard will win back it’s curb appeal.

Having an acre is difficult to maintain. It’s also difficult to figure out how to decorate and keep the flow going. We have a few spots that are overgrown or ignored. I’m hoping to change that this summer (on a budget!). Lots of work to do for the family.

Having three teenagers around can either be useful or frustrating depending on their attitudes of the day. Hopefully they will enjoy the fruits of their labors. I figure by the summer our home will be easier to maintain. Only time will tell.

Safe Neighbors

Growing up I remember seeing signs around my neighborhood such as these:

Now as an adult, I rarely see these signs. Or perhaps I just don’t notice them. I have found however- that information and reporting of suspicious activity gets shared quickly amongst friends and neighbors. Even though the signs aren’t out- I feel good knowing that my neighbors all look out for one another.

Sharing information is great. Sharing fear is not. There is a fine line when it comes to what or how people should share as well. Staying safe and having a safe community to live in is of the utmost importance. So I will continue to talk with my neighbors and keep my eyes open for anything out of the ordinary. I hope that you will do the same.

Stay safe out there. And do your part to keep your neighbors safe as well.

April is Here

Somehow I lost January, February and March. Except for a couple of key moments, like my birthday two weeks ago, the past three months blasted by. Ahhh!!!

I need to take it easy a bit more. With a quarter of the year gone, it’s time to reel it back a bit. The first thing I am going to do to achieve this? Change the music I listen to. No more Heavy Metal or Industrial music. I have discovered the joy of Lounge Music.

No joke.

Hearing covers of “Fame” or “Funky Town” or even Pink Floyd’s “Money” brings me joy. We ate dinner tonight on our back beck as the sun set, listening to some amazing lounge covers. Even our kids commented on how it felt like we were eating at a restaurant on a patio as we tried to guess the songs as they played.

Hearing Michael Jackson’s “Don’t stop ’till You Get Enough” covered by Bossa N’ Disco made my busy day at work seem calm and relaxing. I almost completely forgot about work until I wrote that sentence. I’m off to discover some other great Lounge Style Covers before bed.

From Yard Work to Axe-ercise

My son and I have been hard at work the past couple days clearing out an overgrown part of the yard. We needed to dig out a rotten shed and take back some of our yard.

Yesterday we cleared away quite a bit. Today, my oldest came out to help as well. She knew that I was going to be making a large target for archery and axe throwing. She wanted to be there when we began throwing.

We had ripped up an old deck, and I kept some of the wood. I placed them together and traced out a target. My kids helped me hang the target and excitedly began to decimate it.

Numerous throws and hardly any hits. But the hits that stayed- felt great. I have a feeling this summer we will be working hard in our aim. Seems like everyone wants to come out and try as well.

Blanket Fort or Chores?

While my wife and I were away for the weekend with our son, we left our two oldest at home alone. At age 16 and 14 this was a good opportunity for them to earn some more trust from mom and dad. They are both well behaved and smart girls, so we really didn’t have too many concerns. Read as: No Parties.

Before we left, we gave them a few chores that they needed to do. Usually it takes my wife and I a bit of hounding to get the kids to do stuff around the house. Perhaps we should’ve been more diligent this weekend while we were in another province. When we returned home- it looked like they were expecting servants to clean up after them. (Aka mom and dad). None of their dishes were cleaned and their pizza boxes and lasagna tray from a few dinners before were cluttering up the counter.

Did they do the extra chores you may ask? Why, certainly not.

What they did do was this:

Our middle child made a blanket fort with loads of encouragement from her older sister. It stretched out from one end of our theater room into our main foyer, through to the disaster of a kitchen and around the corner into the dining room.

Our 14 year old daughter had done the entire thing on her own. That’s because she got bored while her sister was at work. Why couldn’t she just do her chores? She is very proud of her accomplishment and since there is another week of Spring Break- she will likely need that long to take it all down and re-fold the blankets and put everything away.

She was inspired by watching re-runs of Community. Growing up doesn’t mean losing sense of childish fun. But there is some grown up responsibilities to be had as well. Hopefully our examples of how to be adults will rub off on our kids.

If you’ll excuse me- I’m off to play some video games and then take a nap before working my night shift. See? Having fun and being responsible is possible.

What do you do to keep the childish fun inside of you alive? How do you balance responsibilities and fun?

Let me know in the comments.

Breaking up the Doldrums

Spring Break has been treating us to some wonderful sunshine and warmth so far. We’ve taken full advantage of it. From washing cars to yard work- our kids have been doing chores without complaints! I know, crazy talk but it’s true.

Here’s the thing, they do the work so they can have the freedom later. Our kids get to play some video games in the morning before we start on the chores for the day. If we get the chores done in a timely manner- the kids then get to play some tabletops games before dinner. Win-win for all of us! Plus a clean yard and car.

I love the fact that they also want to play their games outdoors. They put on some music in the background and proceed to play nicely together. They’re even getting some D&D characters made and shall depart on a journey that will likely last a few days. Seeing our children do their part around the house without a battle and getting along with one another makes me super proud.

What motivates your kids? How have you been spending Spring Break?