September 03, 2012

Down the garden path...

It has been many many many moons since I have visited this blog and put in an update.  So many projects, so little time to share them.  It has been a very hot summer in these here parts and it saps one's energy.  I am looking forward to the fall, to cooler temperatures, and to renewed inspiration and energy to tackle the long list of projects that I want to get to.

Once the exterior of the house was finally painted and complete, we had a new deck attached to the front. Originally we thought that we could just repair the porch that was there.  But upon closer inspection, it was deemed unsafe, and we decided that while we were at it, we would increase the footprint.  That done, we turned our attention to the surrounding garden and the garden path leading to the house.

There was the remnants of a path, long neglected and overgrown.  We dug up the old stone, and scavenged more stone from other parts of the property, and began to put together the puzzle.  The house is on a hill, so periodically we had to incorporate a step into the design.

We began at the top step, setting two huge pieces of rock in place, making sure that we left no cavities beneath where future bee colonies may want to set up home.

Then we started working our way down the hill, trying to add some flow and movement and fitting each piece of rock together in the best formation.  We used a powdered cement type thing between the rock, which was afterwards lightly misted with water.  It then solidified.  We had originally thought of just letting the grass grow between the stones, but this looks so much better and will be much easier to maintain.  We planted grass seed all along the outside of the path and graded it so that water would run off.  The grass is pretty much grown there now.

We began working our way down the slope.

Once we were about half way down, we switched direction and began at the bottom, working our way up the hill.  It was still just a matter of placing the steps first, grading the slope, and fitting in the correct stone.  There were times when we thought we might run out of rock before we ran out of slope, but it all worked out in the end.

The top and the bottom coming together.

The path, the new deck and the gardens going in.

Close up of stone work!

All done!!!

We are off on holidays for a month.  I have a difficult time leaving but I enjoy being gone!!  And I will try to update more often when back.

June 27, 2012

Ensuite reno...

We  have been very busy doing many many things the past few weeks, that I am not even really sure where to begin.  We are trying to finish the inside major renos so that we can go to the bank and get the mortgage all wrapped up.  But the weather has been so nice, that it is difficult to stay indoors.  And we are pretty tired of painting.  So we have been in the garden, when we should have had a paint brush in hand.  Oh well...

The main ensuite bathroom is all finished and functional.  These are some of the photos of it when we moved in and then in the process of having the wiring done so that the switches worked and we had the proper grounding for plugs in a washroom.

The bathroom-to-be is the green room on the left.

Most of the bathroom sitting in the bedroom!!!  The yellow dresser was found at a favourite antique store and the carpenter retrofitted it to fit a sink, with the top drawer faces put back on with hinges to open just enough to fit a hairbrush.  I have always wanted a claw foot tub, and after searching around for a cast iron old one and not finding anything that did not need major work, we decided on a new one...much lighter and it keeps the water hotter for a lot longer.

While we had the plumber here and the ceiling open, we had the plumbing roughed in so that later, if we decide, we can put a bathroom up on the second floor.  We would just have to take up some of the floor boards from above, and all the plumbing would be right there.

We had 4" tongue and groove pine board put up all around the walls, and a rail along the top and then we whitewashed the whole thing so that the knots and grain of the wood would show through.  Then we painted the floor and the walls.

This is it all finished!!

The mirror I picked up at a thrift store for a dollar, and the cabinet was given to me by a friend many years ago in Kenora.

This piece of architectural salvage I found at the antique store.

Once this bathroom was up and running, the old small main bathroom was gutted and redone (pics to follow).

One blog post a month is pretty pathetic, I know.  Many reasons.  One:  My photo files were a disaster and each photo was taking many minutes to upload and was just sooooo frustrating.  I think I have that all fixed now.  Two:  Too much happening and being a little overwhelmed with where to start documenting.  I think I need to get disciplined about it all.  Three:  Life.  The days just roll by with ever increasing speed and are full of "life-things".  And when I have time, I would rather read or play in the dirt or have a coffee-chat with a friend.

Anyway, happy Wednesday to you all!!!

May 27, 2012

Exterior house painting...

We have been working on many, many projects around the house and property over the last 3 months.  The past 3 weeks, in addition to the many other projects, we have been getting the exterior of the house painted.  It REALLY needed it, as it has been left totally neglected for the past 10 years.  We thought this might be a good time to tell you part of the history of this house.

The front part of the house was built in 1835 by Thomas Shadwick in Lincoln County, about 25 km from here.  I have begun to do some research on him and know that he was a British Loyalist who moved here, married, and settled.  He was on the muster roll for Lincoln County for the war of 1812.  In 1970, the house was found abandoned and in very poor condition.

Someone thought it was worth rescuing and lifted the roof and put the whole house on a flat bed and moved it here to its present location on Effingham Road, joining it seamlessly to a 1950's home that was already on the property.  It was lovingly and painstakingly restored to its original condition by artisans and with attention to the actual detail of the 1830's.  Everything that could be salvaged and used was, and anything else was reproduced.

When all was done, it was given this paint job...

Ownership of the home changed hands over the years, and at some point the paint job was redone, and the colours chosen were the ones still showing when we bought the place a few months ago.

The process of repainting was a very long one, as many of the clapboards were rotten and needed to be replaced.  All the windows and doors also needed replacing, as the wood was rotting and so were window frames etc.  Then all the paint that was peeling and chipping had to be scraped and sanded and then filled.  Then a coat of primer.  And then 2 coats of paint on everything.  Much of it was done at the top of a ladder.

And after all of that work, this is what it looks like today!!

This is the back of the house!  The red around the door is now painted also.

There is still the front porch deck to replace and extend, and the landscaping and gardens to bring back to glory.  We want to add window boxes below each of the front windows and think bright yellows are the way to go with flowers.  I love how "quiet" the house looks now and how nicely it just seems to blend into the landscape.

May 22, 2012

Phoebes and free bees...

Another long time since I have blogged!  It takes forever to upload my photos, and so I procrastinate writing day after day.  Now my son has shown me how to make the photos smaller so that my slow country internet can do the job, so hopefully that will help.

I have been meaning to blog about phoebes and free bees for over a month now...but the uploading thing has kept me away...But this weekend got real exciting with the bees.

We have had bees "hiving" in our chimney since we moved in.  We noticed them in mid-March, when the weather got unseasonably warm for a few days.

This isn't the best pic but it is difficult to zoom in and keep a steady hand when the bees are so far up.
We called a local beekeeper about coming to rescue them, but he kept assuring us that when May came and the weather was consistently warm, he would come and deal with them.

Yesterday, while working in the garden, we heard an incredible loud buzzing, and looked up at the chimney to see this.

"Our" bees were swarming!!!  They buzzed out of the chimney and into a nearby tree, where they all grouped together to protect the queen.

I called our local bee hotline, and was given so much information.  They hung like this on the tree for about 3 hours, apparently the queen sending out her scouts to find a suitable cavity to move to.  Once a new home was found, she gave the signal, and within seconds they all flew off over the house and down towards a local vineyard.

Amazing!!!  The beekeeper said that very few people actually get to witness such an event.  He said that approximately 60% of the hive will leave to set up new digs, so we do still have bees in our chimney, and probably a large quantity of honey as well.  He said it is better to wait until January to deal with them.  We are going to go to the next beekeepers meeting and learn more, and possibly be beekeeping apprentices.  There has been a very rapid decline in the honey bee population in the past few years, and apparently these Niagara bees have some special adaptation that has made them immune to the devastating mite.  Sounds interesting!!!

And these lovely phoebes have also decided to nest under the overhang of our side porch.

They sing "phoebe, phoebe" and have the distinctive habit of bobbing their tail as they sit.

Sarah thinks it is all quite fascinating.

So do we!!

May 10, 2012

Aplaca shearing...

It has been so busy around here (and my internet is being very slow) that I haven't had the time to get on here and update y'all.  There is really too much to tell in one post...bathroom almost done, lighting in, bedrooms one thing at a time.  That one thing would be alpaca shearing.

The couple who bought the alpacas a month or so ago, invited me to come to watch the shearing, and a few weeks ago I did just that.  What an experience!!  I am watching this all happen and snapping photos and thinking to myself, "Who gets to do THIS??!!!  I get to do THIS!!  Life is adventure."

First, these two shearers lead one of the alpacas to the mat, and put each of their feet into a harness.  Once they bring the animal down, these harnesses keep it still and stretched out so that the shearing process is safe and fast.

Once down, one shearer stays with the head of the animal, talking to it, keeping it calm.  The other begins the shearing, starting with the "blanket", which is the flank and midsection.  The fleece around this area is No. 1/top grade of the alpaca fleece.  As the fleece is removed it is put into a bag, one bag for top grade, another for second grade and another for discards.  Each alpaca has three separate bags and all is labelled and kept separate.  The animal is amazingly calm for the whole process.

They even get a new hair do!

A pedicure!!

And a grinding down of their teeth!  Then they look all pretty....and very skinny with no fleece!

All the white or tan alpacas were sheared first.  And then they began on the darker coloured ones.  This little darker one was having his very first shearing, and the shearers took his "blanket" off all in one piece, and it was absolutely incredible...thick and soft and almost black!!!

It was a great morning, and so interesting.  These guys know so much about what they do and are happy to tell you everything they know, so it was very educational.  They say that they will shear about 1800 animals this spring!

I will try to get some more of the house progress up tomorrow.  Off to do errands now.

April 20, 2012

Chef at work...

We finally have our kitchen together enough for J to come and cook us dinner.  The wait was definitely worth it.

He did have some help!

But mostly he just had company and admirers and supervisors!!


Including Sarah cat.  I absolutely love this Monet-inspired table is so happy and spring-y.

Curried lentil soup and salad, then herb-encrusted lamb and mushroom risotto and then a cheese plate was all soooo good.  Thanks J!!

This is our new kitchen chandelier.  We found it at the thrift store for only $15, and then spray painted over the brass and the electrician wired it in just the other day.  It looks beautiful when lit.

We have been looking for a big harvest table made with reclaimed lumber, and were hoping for one large enough to seat about 8-10 people.  While at the antique store recently, the woman there said she knew of one for sale, but it was for seating 12-14!!!  We are actually going to go have a look at it!  The Lord is really changing our hearts and preparing them to receive people into our home.  Hospitality has never been one of my gifts.  In fact, it has always stressed me out a little because I am so not good at it.
But we are so sure that this house is a gift and we are SURE that it is way too big for us, and we keep getting pictures in our mind of it full of people.  A place of sanctuary and peace and restoration.  We continue to look with anticipation to what God will work in and through it.