Living an authentic life in "Our Little Cottage In The Big Woods". Raising our children,
creating art, writing, film making, fibre art, furniture painting, gardening, traveling, restoring vintage dollhouses, hunting for antique treasures
& chasing our big dream to live by
the sea, all on a frugal budget.
With the heavy snowfall we've just endured, comes things that only occur when nature is done. Icy roads, poor visibility and bitter cold. Tonight, we're not getting to sleep as easily as we normally do because of the very loud noises coming from the graders. It it so loud, it actually sounds like they are just outside our bedroom window but in fact, they are quite a distance away. They will be working around the clock to get the snow moved before tomorrow mornings commute. We feel so fortunate to have a county that is providing this service to keep our roads safe and clear. But oh, the noise!! It's almost like nails scrapping down a chalkboard as they scrape away the snow and hit the concrete pavement. It will so nice to drive again after being cooped up inside for the last four days.
One of my blogging goals this year was to increase the number of followers I have. I'm so excited to see a few more have joined the "follow" team and thank each of you for jumping in to this eclectic blog, full of real life, an occasional tale and pictures depicting the journey of our family.
If you've been here for a while, thanks for hanging on!
If you've just joined in, thanks for connecting to this blog!!
Just as I was about to turn the tv off for the night, I came across The Sound of Music Live, a show we really enjoyed last year when it was on in December. My first movie when I was small, this story has always been a favorite. The live version was met with criticism as well as accolades. We thought it was well cast, well performed and put together with great thought and incredible, meticulous detail.
The time has come. (Cue dramatic music). We have two rooms in our house that have suddenly, with all our renovating, sorting, purging and packing, become the place to "put" things that need to be out of the way. All of us have contributed to the clutter and yesterday, it got to me! We've not lived with stuff out of place to this degree. It actually totally embarrasses me to even think of taking a picture and posting the mess. But after reading someone else's blog, where they posted a spot in their home that had become cluttered, and then she posted a week later with the incredible progress, I became inspired to do the same. Because if I post, I have to purge it, right? You, my faithful blog readers will be my coaching team. I can hear you all now, shouting to the rooftops "Go Chy Go!!"
This room used to be our youngest son's room. Hence the "sports" wall paper border. After he moved out, we kept it pretty empty for a while. At that time, all our kids had moved on, except for our youngest daughter, so it was really a wasted space for a while. Then we were gifted the huge dollhouse peeking out on the left. A few months later, we bought the purple couch for $100 ~ brand new and still had the tag on but the family was transferred and had to sell it quick. It was a $1400 couch! So we put in the metal shelves for books and dollhouse reno tools and it became the "dollhouses studio." Now it has become a spot for boxes for packing (empty), piles of "stuff" to sort to donate or sell. A few items from renovating as well, including four boxes of flooring we still need to lay, paint for the walls and the blinds that need to be hung up. Good thing we're still here!
Same room, expanded view.
Scary, isn't it?
Here's the second room that has caused me so much stress lately. It was our "nursery" and then my art studio for the last few years. But again, with all our sorting and purging, it has become a different studio of sorts. Maybe more like a "packing warehouse!" I'm happy we can see the floor but so stressed by the stuff we need to pack. The rest of the house is so neat and orderly, and then you come up the stairs and here's what you see. Ugh! I can't wait for it all to be gone.
A secondary view.
So my dear blog buddies, will you encourage me to get this finished? Yesterday, I cleared out a lovely section in the art studio, with items meant to go back to work (why are they in my house?), items for donation now tucked away into my car for drop off at the charity shop and items for packing that are now in the intended box or sitting on the table to be wrapped. It's a start and I'm tired and sore today, so I know I made a good dent. I will post pictures as soon as it's all done. We have a strict time limit as our oldest son is coming home for Christmas and he'll be sleeping, snug as a bug, in the "sports" themed room on the purple couch. His arrival is set for early on December 21st. Can't wait!
Do you have a spot in your house that you avoid?
A place where things pile up and the door is shut?
After being stuck inside for the last three days, it was time today to venture out and take a few pictures of the winter storm that snowed us in. The snow began, as predicted on Wednesday and we've been shoveling out every since. Accumulation has finally stopped and today, the sun shone, though the chill in the air is bitter cold. I snuck outside in my woolies and slippers to snap away but chose to stay home when everyone else went out to do a bit of shopping. We picked up groceries and a few extras before the snow, so there wasn't anything we truly needed. I think my family truly just needed to get out of the house after a few days of being home and not venturing out to work or school. I've loved this time, being snuggled up inside our warm house, using the time to become grounded again, preparing for Christmas, catching up on letter writing and taking some time for a nap or two! It was nice to step outside for a bit of sun but just as quick I was back inside in the warmth.
We're a bit behind this year with our holiday decorating. Most of our Christmas stuff is packed and I really don't want to start unpacking boxes at this point. So we've decided to have a pared down experience this year. One tree, lights and a few bobbles and ribbons on the tree. Our stockings are hung up on the fireplace, the snowman shelf is done and our wreath is on the front door. No outside lights or lit deer in our backyard. This year, our season will be quiet and less busy. And we're so looking forward to it! Our last festive family celebration in this old house.
I've been fascinated by many blog writers who diligently plan their weekly menus for their families. In our house, we decide on the day what we feel like having for dinner. Which means we have to have a good stock of items on hand on any given day. Or be willing to hop over to the store on a whim. Not always the best thing for our frugal budget. Because we're moving out to the country, "hopping over to the store" will be completely out of the question. So now we will become diligent menu planners for our family, our sanity and primarily, our frugal but healthy budget.
And look what I found to help us out! A menu planning pad, complete with the days of the week categorized and a handy dandy shopping list column. Best part? It was just $2 at the thrift store!! I love a deal that helps us save more.
Do you remember Scholastic Book Orders as a kid? I couldn't wait to take home the order forms, tucked away safely in my backpack, to pour over the forms and choose books that I hoped my mom would agree to buy. Most often, my choices would fit into the budget. Sometimes I'd have to agree to make my list smaller. But books were important in our house and growing our family library was the goal.
When our kids started school, I was surprised but oh so excited to learn that the Scholastic Book Orders were still popular. Just like when I was a kid, I couldn't wait to get home to pour over the forms when my kids would announce that they were tucked away in their backpacks. Even with our very tight budget with many small children, we managed to make book orders a priority. Our children were voracious readers (still are) and growing our own family library at home was very important to all of us.
So guess what I get to do now? Yup, Scholastic Book Orders are once again back in our lives. We're a 3rd generation book order family! Our grandson now comes home with his book order tucked away in his backpack. And we curl up together on the couch and pour over the forms, choosing books and growing his little library. His favorite thing now is to get tucked into bed with a book or two each night. Warms my heart that his mama knows the value of this practice. And we're happy to contribute to his bookcase!
We're off for a quick trip out to the Country, to see how our new house looks now that the snow has arrived. Our builder and his family left last weekend for a well deserved vacation and are back home today. So we've had not notices about what has taken place this week. He did tell us before he left what was planned, with a caution of course that schedules sometimes change with weather and deliveries. The one hope this week was to have our siding installed. At the time he had left, the bundles of material had not yet arrived but they were expected. Then we had a snowfall and a short deep freeze, so even if the siding did arrive, we're not sure that it would have been installed. Dh and our girls are so anxious to see it. Me? I've got butterflies in my stomach!
I'm so nervous because we have steered away from the typical material that all houses are wrapped in around this part of the world. What is normal is a basic, straight vinyl siding, as shown below. Kind of boring, don't you agree?
Our budget for this house was set for straight vinyl in muted tones. Darker tones are more money. Of course, upon learning this, we both wanted a darker color. Our builder priced it out and we started to see where in our budget we could make it work. But I really wrestled with the look.
We discovered, with the new siding budget, we could have a second color, at no additional charge. So we chose the green for the body of the house and the grey for the peaks and the gabled end where the art studio is. But it still wasn't right. Something was off. Then one night, I figured it out!
The whole issue with the siding was staring right at us! The straight look of the vinyl was wrong, oh so wrong, because we aren't building a modern, contemporary house. In fact, we're trying to build a house that actually looks like it's 100 years old! Vinyl siding was not going to do it!! We found the shingled siding from the same supplier and although it boosted our budget a bit more, it was still comfortable and a look we really want. And the bonus? Dark colors are not extra. And it's a thicker material, which will continue to help us achieve our goal of an energy efficient, cozy home.
As with the original plan, the body of our home will be in the darker green shingled siding and the peaks and gabled end will be covered with the grey color. So excited that we made this decision. But now that we're driving out today, I'm scared! What if it's installed and we hate it? Ahhhh!
We live next door to an incredibly vibrant city, famous for our sports stars (think Gretzky!) and our intriguing and popular festivals, all year long! Both my dh and I grew up here but we chose to move to a small suburb just a few minutes away when our children were young, to access the best educational system in our province and provide our children with a safe, small town upbringing. We both feel very fortunate to have the best of both worlds ~ a city with everything you could ever need right next door to our quiet (but growing) hamlet. I love both options all the time.
Right now, both communities are blanketed in a soft layer of snow. But today, someone sent this amazing photo to me and I just had to share. Taken in the fall, it shows the river valley in the city. And one of our favorite places to stay ~ the "castle" in the forefront is the Fairmont Hotel McDonald. We've stayed a few times when we've been involved in things like the Folk Fest or other arts based activities that we needed to be closer too than home was. Always we are treated like royalty there and it's hard to leave after so much pampering. Now I have this stunning photo to cherish. I can't wait to have a break and stay at the castle again one day. So many good memories! A perfect spot in a great city!!
I'm not a coffee drinker. I hate the taste of milk ~ unless it's chocolate! Beer is not on my agenda. Wine has to be really chilled and a certain kind for me to sip it. Pop hurts my throat. And water, well, don't get me started on the awful tasting tap water we have in our region. Yuck! Ugh! No way!!
So what do I drink, you ask?
I love lemonade. And limeade. Cranberry juice. Apple juice. Mike's Hard Lemonade. Or Mike's Limeade! See a pattern there? I will tolerate bottled water if it's flavored. My favorite is the Vitamin Water line. Or water that has been purified and chilled in my yoga inspired water bottle.
But my favorite drink, in the winter, is "good old fashioned, make a chilled body warm, a teary day bright and anytime comfort is needed" tea! Who can resist yummy tea?
Here's the beginnings of our "Winter Shelf" that tends to be very snowmen heavy. Our little B is showing his great gramma where to place everything. Such an organizer!
He was quite determined to fill the upper shelf.
The snowman he's "fixing" is the one he bought for me today at the store when he and his mama went for groceries. He couldn't wait to bring it home to show me! A kind and caring heart, this sweet little boy has.