Monday, March 25, 2013

Home Update

To say we have been busy with the whole transition from one home to another is quite possibly an understatement. Who knew there was so much to do? So far we have accomplished a few major steps.

First things first. Land. We bought a 9.4 acre piece of land in an acreage development just 5 minutes outside of Battleford, SK. I am very excited about the proximity to the Battlefords. 5 minutes, on a grid. Not even a highway! This will make it easy for me and Athena to run into town for groceries and library pick ups and even Girl Guides. I really hope to get her into GG as I loved that when I was a young girl. The parcel we bought is the triangular shaped wedge that you see in the picture. Our property line runs from the road back to that Groomed trail that you see curving on the south side. All of those trees are all ours. Most of them are aspens Paul thinks, one of my favorite trees.

After that was settled and Paul signed the necessary papers we set out to look for a house. Ready to Move homes, if commissioned, take about 6 months to build. Being impatient for these things as we are, we were lucky enough to find one that had been started already. We first wanted to get an A-frame built. We like the openness of the floor plan and all the windows. When a quote came in at $211,000 just for the house (no basement, no furnace/water heater/ air conditioner) we easily opted for the house Paul found as he was driving home from a Hutterite colony. It was already started and was only $160,000. As much as I would have loved the A-frame I love having $51,000 less in mortgage.

This is not a good picture and you can't even see the whole house but you can see there are many windows and it has a very open floor plan as well. Lots of natural light will flood through the windows all year long. It is 1593 sq ft with 3 bedrooms and 3 bathrooms (excessive, I know). The plans can be seen here as I am unable to upload them.
The house is really nice. Not as fancy as some others we have seen. We are NOT fancy people. Some of my sisters are fancy but I didn't get the fancy gene.

The house did not have the kitchen done, nor any flooring of any kind. The main bathtub is a one piece acrylic, just like I have now and I am glad for it as they are so easy to clean. The master bath has a double shower. Why a double shower you might ask? I prefer to shower by myself, thank you very much. My Mom said maybe for when we are old we can put a chair in it. Maybe. Anyway, we were to go to the cabinet store and then the flooring store and pick out what we wanted.

As luck would have it, the builder had picked out some maple cabinets and counter top to match and we liked it so we decided that we would go with it. He dropped off some samples to us so we could take them to the flooring store. I should add here that picking out little details like this is totally not my thing so I was a little intimidated. After consulting my adult daughter and getting their thoughts and opinions, we headed out. When I walked into the store I am pretty sure I let out an audible gasp. There was so much flooring. A huge overload, really. The man who is responsible for the flooring in the house asked us what we were looking for. The only thing I knew for sure was that I wanted non-toxic. He chuckled and led us to the cork. Cork, he said, had some toxins even though it was a natural product. The only thing was it needed to be resealed every 3 years. We moved along to the hardwood. He said engineered hardwood is good but only the top layer is hardwood and the rest is compressed particle board. Then he sent us to the solid hardwood. Nice. Our cabinets are maple so the man advised us to go with maple for the flooring. Now to pick a color. We were looking at the walls and walls of colors and he pulled out a piece of a new color, Sahara, and we loved it immediately.

We decided to go with hardwood in the whole main area, including the bedrooms. In the bathrooms, I already knew I wanted linoleum. Linoleum, not vinyl. The sales guy said that linoleum was the most natural product they had and he added that not many people choose it because it is expensive. Since we needed only small areas done, it didn't seem expensive at all. He was actually glad we chose it because he does it so little. Linoleum is mostly used for commercial applications and they don't do it themselves as it requires special installation. The color we picked matched so well it was a no brainer. So what I thought was going to be a daunting experience turned out alright after all. Deep sigh.


The pictures didn't turn out so well but you can kind of get an idea. The dark is the cabinets for kitchen and bathrooms, and of course the counter top is the speckled piece. And yes, I know, that granite is more natural but at 10x the cost, not worth it to me.

The house has a front porch on it that is made of composite materials. Even though we would never have to stain it I was unimpressed. It was a $4000 adder. I asked Paul if we could build one out of cedar and then out the back garden door off of the kitchen for less money than that and he assured me we could. There we go, extra savings there and how can anyone resist the smell of cedar after a warm summer rain?

And in case you missed it on facebook, this guy stopped by for a visit on Saturday afternoon. After looking for owls in my spruce trees every single day for 7 years one finally showed up. I know, bad omen but I don't believe in such things. I walk under ladders on a regular basis. :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

Two Roads

I just felt like sharing a little poem with you this morning. It is speaking loudly to me these past weeks. Maybe it will speak ever so subtly to you as well. Happy Monday.

  The Road Not Taken
~Robert Frost
TWO roads diverged in a yellow wood,
And sorry I could not travel both
And be one traveler, long I stood
And looked down one as far as I could
To where it bent in the undergrowth;       
Then took the other, as just as fair,
And having perhaps the better claim,
Because it was grassy and wanted wear;
Though as for that the passing there
Had worn them really about the same,       
And both that morning equally lay
In leaves no step had trodden black.
Oh, I kept the first for another day!
Yet knowing how way leads on to way,
I doubted if I should ever come back.       
I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I—
I took the one less traveled by,
And that has made all the difference.       

*Image from Google images

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Snow Day (Again)

A certain someone who just turned 9 a few months ago,
suddenly has an interest in her hair.
She thinks she looks like a teenager. (smile)
She also informed me yesterday
that she plans to go to public school when she is a teenager
for no other reason than she wants to get a boyfriend. (eye roll)

But for now, she is happy to play with this little gal.
They have been best friends since they were babies.


Cousins and friends!

Friday, March 15, 2013

From the Project Pile

The weather here continues to behave like it is January in all its fury. It snowed a great deal overnight and the forecast is for more of the same for the next several days. I think Mother Nature forgot that Spring is right around the corner. She does that sometimes, especially here in Saskatchewan. Oh well, I say, no use complaining about that which we cannot change. So instead of thinking about starting seeds, like some of you have already done, I have been doing some knitting.

I have been working on Athena's sweater for a long time. Actually, I started out well and when it came time to divide for the sleeves, well... I am at a standstill. I will need my Mama to explain it to me. So this project has been sitting in my project bowl for a long long time. My fear is that when I finally do finish the thing that it won't fit her. That would be tragic because my granddaughters don't seem to like my hand knits as much as Athena does.

This particular project is made from Organic cotton. As Athena has texture issues with her clothing, which she totally gets from me, I either use cotton or super wash Merino wool for her. I made her a hat from a silk/wool blend and that was okay too. The Alpaca hat? Not so much. Too itchy. I was surprised at this because it felt so soft. So I tried to wear it and felt the same way.

I made myself a great toque from some leftover siwash yarn my mom sent me. It was fantastic. I knit it with double yarn for warmth. When I went to try it on it was about an inch too short. Athena has yet another hat. Having nothing on hand to make myself a toque with, (my favorite one that I made years ago got a run in it and although I fixed it I didn't want to be without one) I went to the yarn shop in search of a navy blue to match my new llbean jacket. Gosh I love their clothing. Do you think I could find what I was looking for? Not exactly. I must add that it wasn't exactly a yarn store either but Michael's craft store. I was careful to make this hat bigger and make it bigger I did. Too big. Too bad for me, I am wearing it anyway.

I was given some beautiful wool from my daughter's grandma in law. That's a legitimate relation isn't it? Grandma in law? I have no idea what I will use it for. They are both undyed natural wool. They are both oh so lovely and seriously scratchy. Perhaps I'll make something for the cat as she can't seem to keep her paws off of my knitting.


 We got such a laugh yesterday as she came running down the stairs with my newest project tangled around one of her feet. She ripped around the living room making a web of wool all over the place until she finally got her foot free. Thank goodness it was just a wash cloth that I had only cast on and knit a few rows on. It was so funny to us. Not so much to her.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Thank You Charlotte Mason

Charlotte Mason, you have changed my life. No really, you have.


I have been poring over my Charlotte Mason Education books these past few months and I must say things have changed around here. From Kindergarten on I have been using the Classical Method of education and my mind says this is the best way to go. It is labor intensive for the teacher (me) and the student (her). X amount of time each week on all the core subjects. Studying in chronological order. Lots of memorization. Lots of grammar at an early age. Diagramming sentences in third grade! Very orderly, very in depth, very, very good. Or maybe not.

I love the idea of Classical education but the mechanics of it? Not so much. It takes a lot of time and a lot of work. I am not afraid of this work, nor the time but it has not been so effective this past year. Burn out is the word I would choose to describe it. We were well behind in Ancient History by the end of first grade. We skipped the Medieval period in second grade while trying to catch up and all but gave up on the Renaissance in third grade because it was too fast and too furious. And that was just history.


Enter, Charlotte Mason.

*Avoiding twaddle
*Use living books
*Narration as a means of evaluation
*Short lessons
*Nature walks/notebooks
*Art appreciation and picture study
*Copy work
*Free time Handicrafts
*Formation of Habit

These are things that are doable. This makes the days run smoothly. Lessons in the morning. Independent study or reading or handicrafts in the afternoon make Mama and child happy.

Of course we are just testing the waters with this method but so far, so good. I still use the Classical curriculum because it is just THAT good. There is still Latin and by her request we are starting French next week. There is a lot of reading going on too. Audio books, Mama read alouds and her own reading, which right now is the series Guardians of Ga'hoole which she is very "into" these days. But the weight off of my shoulders that the Charlotte Mason method has provided me is just what the doctor ordered. At least for now and until the forseeable future. Deep exhale. Broad smile.

Friday, March 8, 2013

The Kitchen Post

Things are good around the kitchen these days. The season is changing ever so slowly but there is light early in the morning when we get up and it lingers just a little bit longer in the evenings too. I can feel it inside myself and I'll bet you can too. I am not ready to give up warming, comfort foods quite yet though. We are still buried under more snow than I can remember having in recent years and it is still going down to the -20C range at nights so Spring is still far away here in Saskatchewan. A little while back I made these Pumpkin scones. Even though I know scones is pronounced "sconz" I always say scones with a long o. Either way you say it this is a really simple, delicious recipe. I didn't do the double glaze as I don't like sweet food and they were plenty sweet enough. You should try them. Maybe tomorrow for breakfast with your coffee?

I finally figured out why my bread always had a crack at one side. Actually, Paul figured it out. 10 years as a Safeway Bakery Manager might have had something to do with it. He told me he thought I should shape the dough into three loaves instead of two as he figured the outside baked too fast and when the inside baked and rose it split the crust. I heeded his advice and he was absolutely right! Now I have 3 lighter loaves, which I totally prefer to the two more dense loaves. To say I was pleased about this may be an understatement. See for yourself.

And as you can further see, I still have trouble sizing the loaves equally. Perhaps I can use my kitchen scale? Good idea, no?

And speaking of warming foods, there really is no food more warming than Indian curries. I just love them. The myriad of spices used are fragrant and colorful and oh so tasty! And because curries don't photograph well, or shall I say, I don't photograph curries well I just took pictures of the spices before they got all cooked up together. This Indian Butter Chicken recipe in the slow cooker is so easy and good. Best part is you only cook the chicken for the last 40 minutes or so, and in that way the chicken stays moist and not rubbery. I like to throw this in the slow cooker on a busy Monday or on a day we head to the city. That way I'll be guaranteed a beautiful healthy meal is waiting when we get home.

Another thing that makes me so happy in the kitchen is when I can avoid wasting precious food. That is one downfall about not having a grocery store nearby. I tend to over buy so I won't have to run to the city very often. And when I have yogurt that is about to expire, of course I freeze it in popsicles for Athena. She thinks she may be the only kid to get a popsicle for breakfast. Maybe she is right? I don't know if the probiotics survive freezing or not. I pretend they do and give them to her anyway.

And as healthily as I like to think we eat, sometimes on a Saturday, my lunch looks like this.
Not very often but if we have a big breakfast I am not hungry for lunch. Hey, a lot of people I know eat popcorn for meals!

And little Miss A has been offering more and more to help with the cooking. This vanilla pudding was quickly turned into chocolate when she became chef. It is such a good recipe that I want to share it with you here.

Organic strawberries have been back in the market lately and someone couldn't be happier. There are certain things I WON'T buy unless they are organic. Strawberries are one of them. The others are apples, celery, carrots, any type of berries, pears, and  peaches. We call them "poison" if they aren't organic. Paul thinks I'm silly.

Tonight in the kitchen I'll be making Broiled Thai Tilapia. Again, all those great aromatic spices and coconut milk and lots of chopped cilantro on top. Simple, flavourful and healthy.
Of course cooking is not all that happens in this kitchen of mine. There is always a whole lot of kitty loving going on. Sunbeams, kittens and little girls always seem to go so well together. Don't they?

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Country Style

When we bought this house 7 years ago there was one condition to the sale that the seller demanded. He said we must keep the couch and love seat in the basement and we must keep the dining room table along with the buffet and hutch. So we did. My daughter was the recipient of the living room furniture and we kept the dining room furniture where it stood. The chairs were burgundy velvet. Yes... that kind of furniture. The buffet and hutch were made of some type of pseudo-wood composite. There was even some plastic on the facade. It was a horrible piece of furniture. As finances allowed, we sold those two pieces and bought a new dining room table. Our only table. We don't have a separate dining room in this house.

I love our table. It isn't fussy, meaning we do not have to have a tablecloth or place mats on it. It can be wiped with a damp cloth. My kind of table. It is an oak table that expands to seat 8 adults comfortably. We have had many a family dinner around that table and expect to have many more.

In these past few months I have been looking for a replacement buffet and hutch. I had some pre-requisites.

* I wanted it to be thrifted
* I wanted it to be solid wood
* It had to match my dining room table
* I waned it to be inexpensive. Okay cheap

So I looked and looked and looked and found nothing. Until one day I did. Only trouble is, it was too much money. I took a risk and offered the seller about half of what he was asking. He paid over $1200 for it and was asking $600. I offered him $350. He wrote back and politely declined. I though he would. I would have too. But then last week I got an email which read "Come pick it up if you still want it." I really did want it! And as luck would have it, my mother sent me some money. Just about enough to buy it. Double win!

Paul brought it home and it is even more wonderful than I imagined. It is the exact same color as the dining room table. It is solid oak. It even has the same chunky legs and wood design as my table!! It is perfect.


After giving it a good dusting, I set to work filling it up. My first attempt looked much too formal. Fancy schmancy and that is NOT me. Paul thought it looked good but it wasn't what I was going for. After a bit of tweaking here and there, I got it just right and I couldn't be more pleased. Now I have to rearrange my kitchen cabinets as I have a lot of empty space.

Being patient pays off! Sticking to my preferences does too. I need to repeat that to myself in our house hunting saga. Thanks Mom!