Monthly Archives: February 2014

The Country Garden

The Country Garden

My mother used to have a huge garden when I was a kid. Maybe it was just huge to me as it surely seemed that way when she cajoled my sister and I into working at pulling weeds for what seemed like 8 hours straight on the weekends (it was probably only 2 hours), but her little garden, about 20 by 18 feet was full of lessons learned. Not only on how to plant, weed, thin and harvest, but how to work hard. I remember complaining… complaining A LOT. I would much rather have been playing, or napping, or reading, but there in the soil we toiled, our knees dirty, and our nails full of dirt. I’m sure we drove her nuts with our constant cries of how tired we were, or how hot it was. I remember resenting my mother for years for making us work in that garden. My friends never had to work in a garden, they hardly had any chores to do. They had the newest Nintendo game to play with, or they went out shopping, while we mowed grass and burned brush that fell into our yard. My mother was firm, we had to finish our chores and I remember a few times being sent to my room as I pouted over something that wasn’t worthwhile whining about. Even when it came to eating the fresh produce plucked from that garden, we would roll our eyes, and choke down bites of radish that seemed to end up in every meal. But here I am, in my early 30s, a baby on the way, a yard, still full of snow, and I’m planning my garden. It took me 20 years to stop resenting my mother for working in that garden, and 20 years for me to realize those years of work shaped me into who I am today. I couldn’t care less about the newest gizmo or gadget, and owning and taking care of something of your own is 100 times more rewarding than simply buying it. Food grown in your garden only costs you some sweat and hard work instead of a hard earned dollar. When you start a project, you have to work hard, nourish it, and keep going until the project is done. Just like the plants in the garden, in life sometimes you plant seeds and nothing grows, and you simply need to learn from that and move on, and try again. My garden may not happen this year, maybe next when I don’t have my hands so full with Junior, but it will be about 20 feet by 18, and I hope to have a little garden shed to go with it. I plan on someday weeding my garden with the help of my son. I’m sure Junior will complain. He’ll want to go play with his friends, play video games, or even nap, and I’ll be firm, I’ll make him toil for what he will say seems like ‘8 hours straight’, and hopefully he will learn the lessons my mother’s garden has taught me. When he’s done his chores, then he can run off to play and wallow in whatever kids his age would be doing. And someday, 30 years from now, he will also come to understand those important lessons learned from spending 2 hours on a Saturday in a simple country garden.

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Getting Things Done

Getting Things Done

Well I hope everyone is having a great Family Day long weekend. From the snowstorm that almost shut down all of our county on friday to the sunshine we have today, it’s been a roller coaster in regards to weather. I usually carpool into work but the snow scared off my ride, and I hitched a ride in with my maternity replacement whom I’m now training. Coincidentally she lives just 10 mins south of me. We arrived 30 minutes late to work, but in our defense it wasn’t the weather out in the country that slowed us down but the traffic jam that was created with so many cars on the road in the city, and so few plows to clear the mushy slush away. I’m glad I only have 2 weeks left of work. I’ve decided to go on maternity leave early, both for my own sanity and for the finances. Carpooling saves money but it still costs alot to travel into the city and find parking. I’m getting bigger and bigger and I’ve taken a few ungraceful tumbles on the ice, which gives me even more reason to stay home and put my ever thickening ankles up and read flyers that jam pack our mailbox.

On friday night, after coming home to nearly a foot of snow in the driveway (they called for 5 cms), I figured I could attempt to do something nice for Hubby. It was Valentine’s Day too. So I suited up and attempted the snowblower. Now remember, these things scare me, but sometimes you scare yourself more… so I took a deep breath, jiggled this and that, kicked it twice, pulled the cord and to my amazement it started. Well, for a second it started. When it puttered out I wanted to cry, I admit. I was cold and tired from a long day of work. Another deep breath, another pull of the cord and she started up for me. I can’t say I did a perfect job of blowing out the driveway, but it wasn’t half bad. And to my amazement the snowblower is pretty handy. There is a spot at the end of our driveway that has a little dip in it, and I nearly fell trying to encourage the machine to giddy up over the hump, but luckily I had left that area to the last, and I decided that after that, I was done. But I was elated that I was successful. I couldn’t wait to tell me dad. He’d be proud of me.

This weekend has been pretty productive, for both Hubby and I. We somehow ended up buying a second car this week…. a bit sooner than anticipated and a bit rushed but a good deal was found and Hubby has a new car, which means I won’t be stuck at home on maternity leave…. or worse, stuck at home when my water breaks. I’ve finished up the mobile for the nursery, removing winnie the pooh and adding some owls that match our theme, and I’ve made 2 cotton covers from an old bedsheet for the change pad. I actually managed to make a onesie out of a men’s shirt, sort of following a guide I found on Pinterest. Most patterns ask for 2 pieces, a front a back, but the shirt I found, with 3 football helmets, was too wide, and I didn’t want to loose the graphics. So I made one wide piece, so the onesie has a hem up the baby’s back. Not perfect, but not the worst hand made item I’ve seen. It DID take me a good few hours to figure out a pattern, cut some practice pieces and hand sew the snaps in… which makes me realize that unless you have a shirt that is SUPER cool, it’s much cheaper and easier to simply buy a onesie. I’ve still got some bumper pads to conquer and my delivery gown, but I’ll leave that to another day.

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A Relaxed Sunday

A Relaxed Sunday

Today was the first day that Hubby and I had off together where we had no plans, no people coming over, and no boxes to unpack. The house was relatively clean, the driveway was still pristine in its perfectly plowed state and there was nothing we “had” to do. We slept in (til 8am!), ate breakfast together, lounged around and took the dogs for a much needed walk down the street. We didn’t go too far since I become quite tired, but I’m hoping to get out more and build up my energy. We were probably gone for only 45 minutes but only 1 car passed us, and no dogs ran out to see us (which is good, since I dread a dog altercation while I’m pushing the stroller in a few months). Then Hubby and I packed into the car and went for a drive.

I seem to have a weird fascination with wind turbines. We’ve more than once driven to Kingston to see the towering turbines and once we snuck up underneath one to hear the gentle “whoosh” as the blades went around. They are majestic, spooky, and actually pretty cool. Driving to my carpool meet up spot I pass a section on the hwy where there are trucks parked, warming up in the dark frigid cold of the morning, their cargo, non other than gigantic blades. I was determined to find out where those blades were heading so today Hubby and I scoured the countryside. We didn’t go too far, maybe 15 minutes south east of us and we spotted them on the horizon. We counted about 9 windmills, their white towers and blades blending in with the wintery sky. There is much controversy about wind power and if it’s actually useful or not, and people aren’t usually a fan of their “hulking masses blocking their view” but for some reason, I find the view quite beautiful, in an eerie kind of way. We snapped some pictures and continued into our local town for lunch.

We tried out a local favorite restaurant that serves a combination of chinese food and traditional family fare. We both ordered sandwich platters that came with a mound of fries which left us feeling satisfied. It seemed all the locals were there, as church had just let out, and the wait staff was cheery and friendly. I’d give the place 5 “country” stars.
A few groceries, a stop at the hardware store and we headed home for a much needed nap with the dogs, all of us curled up on the bed together.

Supper is cooking and I’ve still got to get some sewing done (I’m turning an old bed skirt into a crib skirt), and Hubby desperately wants to curl up on the couch to watch a movie, so I’ve got to hurry back to relaxing now.

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A Baby Shower in the Country

A Baby Shower in the Country

Moving out of town while half way through a pregnancy sure isn’t the ideal choice for most, but for Hubby and I it was worth it. Financially it was good timing, and I wasn’t so tired or too large to have the move hinder me too much (or me hinder the move). And other than lifting a few ultra heavy boxes there wasn’t much I was limited from doing. But nowadays, at 7 months pregnant I do find myself getting very tired, and going up and down stairs makes me feel like I just ran a marathon (doesn’t help that I wasn’t in the best of shape before the pregnancy). I’m glad we’ve settled in before I get too far along. One of the first things we did upon moving in was paint the nursery.

Hubby and I aren’t the traditional “cutesy” people. No teddy bears of Winnie the Pooh for our kid. We like the more modern, trendy look. The nursery walls are grey with white trim and the curtains are a layer of white sheer mesh and a pale green solid. We’ve accented with some green, yellow and a bit of blue snuck in the décor as well, which is fine since the original blue carpet is going to stay for now. We have a touch of an owl theme and the mural boasts two owls keeping a watch over Junior’s crib. I think we did a fine job of it. This past weekend we cleaned up the house, finally unpacked some of the last boxes and put the finishing touches on the above mentioned mural and thankfully we got everything done.

Sunday, after picking up a friend in the city, I came home to a driveway filled with familiar cars and a surprise baby shower in my own home. Alright, so having a shower at a house in the country isn’t convenient for everyone, but a lot of people organized rides, trudged out in the snow and by the end of it, it was certainly nice to bid everyone farewell and sink back onto my own couch for a relaxing night… no packing up of gifts or hauling things through the snow. If it’s planned well, a shower at the expectant mom’s house works quite nicely (but luckily/thankfully we cleaned!!!).

The shower was filled with laughter, fun games and snacks, lots of wonderful gifts and sooo many cute outfits that elicited the usual “ooohs” and “ahhhhs” from the gaggle of women. Amongst the top gifts of awesomeness, I am very thankful to have received a diaper bag, so I can finally start putting together my hospital bag, and my sister crocheted a very adorable owl hat for Junior; I think it might just make its way into the hospital bag for Junior’s ride home (pictures will surely come later). As well, two dear friends of mine, created a scrap book, all ready to insert pictures into. I love the idea of scrap booking but I never get around to it. The book was perfect and dummy-proof and the guests at the event signed one page in preparation for a group picture to be glued in. They even left a few pages at the end blank and promised to return to help me complete the book. Very thoughtful!

It was also convenient to have the guests over since many had not seen our new dwelling. I dutifully gave many tours and proudly showed off the nursery which Hubby had thoughtfully closed off to prying eyes until I was ready. I even got the nod of approval from my Aunt to host the family Christmas at our house. I can’t wait to have everyone over again soon!

PS. After a rough start, the snow blower started up for Hubby and he did an excellent job of plowing the 1 foot deep snow off our driveway early on Sunday morning, and next on our must-purchase list is a parka to keep him warm. He was covered in snow, and shivering cold but I didn’t hear a single complaint.

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The Snowblower

The Snowblower

I’m writing this for two reasons. The first is to quickly write down what my dad told me to do in order get the snow blower started before I forget, and the second…so that after even the 20th time doing it, I can still refer back to this blog in order to figure it out once again.

Make sure the machine is on, make sure the gas line is on, pull the choke out all the way, three pumps of the primer… pull cord until I give myself a hernia or blow a baby, when machine starts, slowly push choke back in, in stages, until running smoothly, don’t run over the dog with it. (don’t touch the key or the “on” toggle, they stay where they are). When done, turn gas line off and let machine run out of gas naturally, ensuring minimal drippage in garage. Use a broom to brush off snow from machine, and always use premium gas.

My dad is a handyman. It’s handy to know him, he’s handy to have around and he’s handy when it comes to getting mechanical things to work when they should have died years ago. With Hubby and I purchasing a house in the country, my dad was probably more excited than we were. He grew up on a farm, and even though he now lives in a townhouse in the city, he one day dreams of a huge plot of land in the country where he can hunt to his heart’s content and have sheds full of cool mechanical “stuff”. I’m sure my step mother wouldn’t be too pleased with such a set up, but she goes along with his dreams and that’s what counts. Anyways, when we moved, actually, before we moved, my dad would deliver things like rakes, hoses, wide brooms, shop vacs (boy did that come in handy!), and other “country” goods to us at the old house. Luckily he also was able to find an old snow blower that he had stored down at my grandparents storage shed (having sheds for “stuff” runs in the family apparently). He’s been tinkering with it for the past few months in his overly crowded garage (he’s always got about 4 projects on the go), and the other night the snow blower finally made its arrival into the country. Now… one of the things I did not inherit from my dad is his mechanical ways. I have no clue how things work and almost no interest in learning. I like mechanical things to be simple (ie. turn key, press start button). So I’m sure my dad has had his fill of being frustrated with me while I would roll my eyes as he tried to explain how engines work or how a garage door opener could be adjusted. And it never helped that the items he was trying to talk to me about were ancient and needed special instructions on how to use them. Those special instructions usually included words like “jiggle this a bit”, “put pressure on this hose”, “toggle it a bit, but not too much”.

We’ve only had to shovel the driveway once so far in the past 2 weeks, but we definitely have some drifting snow that piles up. And with me being pregnant, lifting a shovel full of snow is not the smartest. So a snow blower is a new essential for our country life. It’s supposed to snow this weekend, wish me luck!

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Friends in the Country

Friends in the Country

Before we moved the country I had to do some research to find out if I could get into town on a small budget. I found myself on carpooling sites and posting ads on Kijiji looking for a ride into the city. It was surprisingly hard to find anyone to be honest, but in the end a few people contacted me and I now carpool with a young lady from the main town into the city. We share on gas and conversation and we’ll keep this up until the end of next month when I’ll be on maternity leave. But another lady who had contacted me (our hours just didn’t quite match up), has become a bit of an email pen pal. we pretty much email large letters back and forth each day. She’s my mother’s age but we have a lot in common and she lives within walking distance of our new home (albeit a bit of a hike if one wanted to meander over). She crafts, cooks, love Pinterest and has a german shepherd (I used to have one growing up). We plan on getting together soon (and actually meeting) and perhaps get our dogs together as well. It would be good for all of them to make some friends and tire each other out. I came across a box full of corks that at one time had a mission as some obscure craft project and I’ll make sure I bring them to my new pen pal when we meet. It may sound like a weird “nice to meet you” gift, but us crafty people can tell a lot about each other from following the pictures we pin, and it looks like she’s been eyeing some cork crafts for a while.

We’ve also met a few of our neighbors too. We feel bad as we had vowed to go door to door to shake hands and introduce ourselves, but the move has been exhausting and we’ve had a never ending stream of guests through the place that keeps us in each night we’ve had available. One night, as Hubby was at work, a knock at the door revealed a neighbor who had popped in to say hello and to welcome us. He lives further down the road, has a family and plans movie nights on Sundays. He was so welcoming and friendly and he even offered to come back to meet my man. This past weekend we were out shoveling our driveway (a good 40 mins of exercise in the biting cold), and one half of the former owners stopped by to see how we were settling in. She pulled up at the end of the driveway and Hubby and I went over to see her. She inquired as to how we were settling in and wanted to know which room we had chosen as the nursery. She was so friendly and warm. I broached the subject of the coyotes and after we all tried to side step around the big question for a few minutes we were all finally relieved to realize we were on the same page…. if they became a further nuisance they would need to go. We all chatted for about a half and hour and by the end of it we had been invited to potlucks, a men’s gossip group and a scrap booking session (I’ll have to remember to bring some paper that I have had for years!) We have now made more friends at the new house in one week, than the past years in the city. Side note… when you are in the country it is a requirement to wave at every car that drives by. By the end of shoveling my arm was quite tired but both Hubby and I felt refreshed and countrified.

We’ve also noticed that since we’ve moved, our friends from the city have all come out of the woodwork and have offered to visit and as tired as we are, it’s very hard to say no to them. We’ve had to turn away a few people out of sheer exhaustion, but in the end we’ve already hosted quite a few dinners, and our calendar seems to be always full. I certainly have no complaints, but I am very surprised. I would have thought that with us moving so “far from the city” that guests would be few and far between. Instead, I have to get a calendar up soon so we don’t double book!

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My Hubby: The City Slicker Turned Countryman

My Hubby: The City Slicker Turned Countryman

My Hubby is a brute of a man. Built like a football player and intimidating to say the least with his wide shoulders, tattooed arm and a beard that could rival Duck Dynasty’s, if I only I would let him grow it longer. As mentioned before, he was raised in the suburbs and had pretty minimal exposure to actual country life. Sure he went camping, survived road trips and has gone rock climbing, but unlike me he’s never had a cow run loose in his backyard, or had to run to gather clothes on the clothesline before a big storm moves in, oh and don’t forget about fishing dead squirrels out of the garden rain barrel, pretty sure he’s never had to deal with that!

He’s come a long way, even he admits this, from his city loving soul, bar hopping ways, and love of condos and shiny low riding cars. He now owns a toque with a pompom (I need to find him a furry hat with ear flaps to make the transition complete), he owns a lot of plaid, can swing an axe like a true backwoodsman and has cooked whole pork shoulders under the coals of a bonfire. After dragging him each year to a remote camp in the backwoods that I’ve been visiting since I was a kid, he’s now comfortable baiting hooks, swimming in lake water, cooking on a wood stove and living without every single piece of technology (okay, the technology part might be a fight still, but again… he’s making progress).

There’s still a little bit of city boy in him which makes me smile. As the weather turns colder, the windows of the house have a coating of frost on the inside. It is DANG cold right now, but he laments that windows shouldn’t freeze like that (I remember stretching clear plastic over my childhood home windows in the fall to help keep the cold out). I have the thermostat set at a defiantly low temperature to keep costs down, and where he would normally would walk around in his underwear he now stays fully clothed, grumbling about how cold the place is and shivering as he gets into bed, pulling the dogs in close (not his wife) to keep him warm. The thought of animals in the walls either creeps him out or scares him, I’m not quite sure yet, so we’ve agreed that I won’t tell him when I hear mr. mouse skittering about in the attic. Well-sourced water, I even admit, takes some getting used to and he drinks it when he has to, but not without a comment or two on the taste. His normally 40 minute long showers with steaming hot water now last only 10 minutes and he emerges sad that his precious water pressure is “just not like in the city”.

But country looks good on him, and I like that he’s still a little city. It will probably be a few years before he buys himself some rubber boots, suspenders and volunteers for haying season and I won’t expect him to fish any dead squirrels out of rain barrels quite yet, but it will happen eventually. Oh it will happen.

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