Little People

Having an older home with minimal closet and storage space can make it challenging to save stuff. We do have some buildings on our property that have been used for storage. But two of the three are old and dilapidated. One is an old garden shed where a tree fell on it a few years back. So we moved everything from there to an old playhouse. The other is a woodshed/small barn/workshop. Unfortunately that has a rotten roof and back wall.

This past weekend I went into the barn and began to take some of our belongings out. It was obvious from the moment I got in there that rodents have made homes in the upper part. Not too surprising considering we live in the country with squirrels, raccoons, and all sorts of small furry creatures. Most of our stuff was left untouched- which was good. It also didn’t look like we had to much left to move out.

It wasn’t until I got everything into our home that I realized how wrong I was.

My wife and I saved our children’s collection of “Little People”. Three kids and about ten years of buying these toys accumulated to a huge collection. Everything from a castle to a circus, an airplane to a zoo- our kids received almost everything imaginable. I remember the kids spending hours playing with them when they were younger.

On Saturday, our fifteen year old daughter decided she wanted to open up every box and play again. This had all three of our kids sharing memories and stories of playing with the toys and watching videos of “Little People” at the same time.

I’m glad my wife and I saved these toys. We will pass them on to our children or (even grandchildren?) one day. From my youth I saved all my LEGO. My sister saved her Barbies and My Little Pony toys. Both my sister and I passed these toys on to our children. It’s a great way to keep memories alive while creating new ones.

What does do you keep from your youth? Or what toys have you kept of your children’s that you can’t wait to pass on? Let me know!

Berry Good

Living in the countryside means fresh fruits and vegetables are readily available. There’s a place I stop at throughout the summer that has cheap hothouse peppers in red, orange and yellow that are extremely tasty. I love to sauté them on the bbq with a bit of garlic or red onions.

We are also close by to not just one, but two berry farms. I love eating Fresh Berries in the summer. It means that I’ll be making more waffles, smoothies, putting berries in my sparkling wine, toppings for yogurt and ice cream or just eating them straight out of the bowl. Juicy, healthy treats.

Today I stopped by both berry farms. Mainly I wanted to see the difference in quality and price. Krause is all flash with a winery and food available. While Driediger is mainly just berries. Both have U-Pick available which is nice for a morning out with the family. Honestly, even though most people love Krause for its high end look, Driediger has better quality berries that are sweeter and lower in price as well. I do enjoy Krause for a bike ride to sample wine with fruit.

Whichever you choose to hit up, just remember that you’re supporting a local business. Which always adds sweet karma to your meals.

Some Assembly Required

I finally bought us some classic style wooden chairs for our yard. The kind that suits our country living lifestyle. My wife always Adirondack chairs. However, I convinced her that we should by Muskoka chairs instead.

What’s the difference between the two styles you may ask. (If you didn’t ask, I’m going to tell you anyway.) Adirondack chairs are both 2 inches higher from the ground and 2 inches wider between the arm rests. Also, the Adirondack chair is built with a flat back for the seat. The Muskoka chair is built with curved back.

That’s it. The two styles are very similar in every other aspect. When we were purchasing the chairs we wanted natural wood, not plastic. Oh, and the Muskoka chair was cheaper by $20 And came with a foot rest.

I took the chairs home and needed to assemble them. Before I did that, I lay out every piece and gave a light cherry stain to seal the wood. I figure if they’re going to weather outside in our rain forest of a yard, it’d be best to try and get a few years out of them. After a couple of hours of preparing the wood and staining it, I had to leave the first chair over night to dry before assembling it.

This morning I woke up and put the first Muskoka chair and ottoman together. I’m really happy with how it looks. Just a hint of red on the wood from the stain. I’m also happy with the comfort level of the chair. The curve of the yoke feels more inviting than the flat back of an Adirondack chair. Chances are we’ll be spending hours relaxing in our yard on these chairs.

I can’t wait for summer to kick in.

Death Of Our Maker

Yesterday one of the worst things that could’ve happened, happened. It was so sudden that it surprised my wife and I. We were quite distraught to say the least.

Our coffee maker stopped working after five years of daily use. Every morning a full pot of coffee awaited us. Like a friendly greeting by a neighbor that made you smile. A hot cup of coffee was the best way to start our day. (Or end my night shift.) Our reliance on this machine was substantial. Even our children had begun to benefit from the joy a cup o’ java brought them.

As a quick substitute for this morning’s drinks, I pulled out our French Press that we take camping. It makes a great cup of coffee but requires more effort and I can’t set it the night before. The convenience of “Set it and forget it” was gone today. A tear ran down my cheek as I pressed the knob down on my fresh pressed coffee.

As our former coffee maker barely has a chance to hit the recycling bin, I am already on the hunt for it’s replacement. Tomorrow we shall bring home a new maker all set for our weekend wake ups. I don’t have the patience to wait for an Amazon delivery of this magnitude. Perhaps it’s time to up our coffee game with an espresso maker for only $3300… Naw. I’ll stick with the same brand and almost identical coffee maker we once had for $60. Our Oster lasted a long time and the value is there.

Fern Baby Fern

When we first moved into our home, I hated the ferns we had growing everywhere. In fact during the first year or so, my lawnmower found them attractive. I chopped them right down to the roots. You know what happened next? They grew back.

I gave in and accepted that ferns are pretty dang hearty plants. I’ve even dug them up and transplanted them and they’ve thrived happily. Over a decade later, I’m satisfied with the ease at which these plants are to maintain.

Ferns have this amazing ability to just keep living. What I do now is wait until mid spring and cut off the old or dead leaves. It’s easy to figure out because the new one stems have sprouted and are a vibrant healthy green color.

After a quick trim- these plants look good as new. If I forget to water them, no big deal- they could live through a drought of a few weeks. Ferns grow exponentially without being trimmed as well. For us, ferns add the splash of greenery to our garden that we get to enjoy during the beautiful weather.

Carving Up An Education

Our middle child entered grade nine back in September. The one thing about her is that she strives for excellence in all of her classes. A few years ago, her grade four teacher advised us that she could easily skip a grade because of her intellect. My wife and I discussed this at great lengths but came to the conclusion that as proud as we would be in pushing this, we wanted our daughter to remain amongst her peers. This proved to be the right decision socially.

Back to the start of this school year…

Our daughter had made her selections for classes the year prior and was looking forward to some of the possibilities that awaited her. When she found out at the start of the school year that she’d be taking a class she had zero interest in- let’s just say disappointment was prevalent. That class you may ask?

Carving.

Once she began the year, she took it quite well. Her ambition to maintain straight “A’s” took over the disappointment factor. So she aced the class. It didn’t surprise me. The reason being- her Opa is fantastic at working with wood.

My wife’s father was a brick layer by trade, but enjoyed wood working and cabinetry as well. Much of our home was created and envisioned by him. Our children have been surrounded by his talents so naturally it opened up a door to their hidden abilities.

I love seeing something made from nothing so to speak. Creating art from a piece of wood or a blank canvas makes me happy.

Easter Was Sooooo Last Week…

Our home gets decorated for the seasons and special holidays- Halloween, Christmas and Easter. Today we had our daughter pack up the Easter decorations. The same ones she set out about a month ago…

Since we are family of Atheists, the religious aspect of Easter isn’t represented. Just a bunch of cutesy bunnies and pastel colours. Which to me is more mainstream Easter (just like Santa equates Christmas).

With Easter behind us, it’s time for spring cleaning. Time to rid ourselves of unused and unwanted items. A rebirth of our household. A chance to also bring back to life our garden and yard. Filling bird feeders and getting our pond set up once more. A time to put behind the pastel colours and bring forth the vibrant greenery and rainbow flowers.

Time to get ready for summer weather and sunny days.

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.