Where Are You Christmas?

“Are we getting a Christmas tree?” – My daughter wanted to know yesterday.  What’s Christmas without a prettily decorated tree full of twinkling lights and sparkly ornaments collected throughout the years?  Memories hanging among the pine needles.  Of course we’re getting a Christmas tree!  A little bitty one because the space just isn’t there for our usual ‘the bigger the better’ way of thinking, but a Christmas tree just the same!

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Every year since Hubby and I met, we’ve had a real tree.  There’s nothing like the smell of pine filling the house, to give you the warm and fuzzies.  Or should.  I’ve had a growing lack of Christmas Spirit over the last decade (plus), and it saddens me to no end.  The song “Where Are You Christmas”, tells the story of me – except for the end, where she finds Christmas.  I miss the feeling you get as a kid…you know the one.  I don’t even need to describe it, do I?

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Tucker isn’t too impressed with his Christmas attire!

So this year, I’ve vowed to do everything in my power to try and find it again.  From decorating, and blasting Christmas music in the car and singing along at the top of my lungs (by myself of course!) – and baking (to Hubby’s delight!).  At the same time, I’m hoping to have a “Homestead Christmas” – whatever that is.  We’re not on a farm, so it’s difficult I think to really get into that Country Christmas Spirit.

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What are your Christmas traditions?  Do you have special movies you watch every year?  Things you do as a family?  Special meals, or treats that only seem to appear during the holidays?

Hubby loves A Christmas Story, so it seems to make its way to our television set every year – at which time my daughter disappears to her room.  Oh who am I kidding?  She’s 17…she’s ALWAYS in her room!  I personally enjoy Home Alone (the first one) – just something about it!

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Christmas Eve is usually dinner at my mother-in-law’s.  Last year my sister in law hosted, which was different but lovely!  She has a beautiful home.  I would love to host, but I’ve always lived too far, and this year the house is just too small.  Maybe once we have our own place!  Christmas  morning, we usually do at our house with presents and hot chocolate in our jammies, with the TV on the fireplace channel, and then it’s back to the city to Hubby’s mum’s for another round, and Christmas brunch.  Dinner Christmas day is mostly at my father-in-law’s.  It’s a busy busy day and by the end of it, all we want to do is fall back into our jammies and into bed!

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Somewhere in there – usually a few days before or after Christmas – I find some time and go up North to have Christmas at my mother’s.  Hubby doesn’t usually come because we can’t bring Sherman, but I’m hoping that this year maybe we can get a doggy sitter and he can join us!

It’s always a busy time, and always wonderful with meals and company and music – but always lacking that fuzzy-heart feeling for me.  I want it back, and I’m hoping this year is the year!

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What do you do to get into the Christmas spirit?  Any tricks you can share??  I would love to know how you spend your Christmas on the homestead!  (And I think I may have won the award for how many times I’ve used the word “Christmas” in this post…21 times!!)

It’s In The Bin – Part Deux!

A touch of pride, and some achy feet and stiff muscles.  Okay, more than just a touch of pride.  I’m pretty much beaming to have not only dreamed up the idea, but then executed it and completed the project in the time frame I told myself I would.  Is this the beginning of a new, non-procrastinator lifestyle?  Could it be??  It’s definitely the beginning of producing less waste and sending less to the landfill!

When I decided I wanted to build a pallet compost bin, my biggest obstacle was not having any pallets!  And from following this couple** from the time they bought their land, I want to do this homesteading thing with as little money as possible.  So how to get my materials, without breaking the bank?  Social media is a wonderful thing.

I posted on one of the local Tell & Sell pages I’m part of on Facebook, and within 12 hours I had a bunch of people messaging me.  Some were pretty much offering me piles of rubbish, just so they could get it off their hands.  Thanks, but no thanks.  And so I opted to choose the offers from those I know and trust.  And within just a few days, I had 8 perfectly good wooden pallets delivered to my home, free of charge!  Thank goodness for amazing friends, and my daughter’s boyfriend’s mother!  I’m beginning to see that having connections in this lifestyle is a huge advantage!  I’m going to have to find a way to repay the favor to both of them!

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Mother Nature was on my side today, allowing me a whole afternoon of dry, mild weather…of which I took full advantage of!  Started with a quick trip to our local junk store.  I call it that because it’s not your typical thrift store – it’s literally a glorified indoor junk sale.  You’ve got to dig and hunt for what you’re looking for, and often come out with dirty hands and craving a shower.  But it’s also a treasure trove if you know what you’re looking for!  And I did!  I found everything I needed for about $2.50.  Amazing!  Brackets, hinges, and some chicken wire.

The next step was to find the perfect spot in the yard to build it.  My backyard is quite slanted in most places, and the place where I wanted to build it was on too much of a slope.  The other side of the yard is more level, but also has more trees.  This exercise also brought home the fact that his yard has been grossly neglected for many years, and it’s grand time someone did something about it.  Just look at this mess!

I found the spot I needed, and as luck was shining on me today – it was JUST big enough, but barely!  Clean it up a little and voila!

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So my plan from the start, was to build this by myself.  If I’m going to be a woman living on a homestead – eventually not an urban one – I need to be able to do things on my own.  Hubby may not always be in a position to help, and I need to learn to use all of the tools required to build and repair things.  So this was my first (of many) project.

Tucker did a great job as site foreman, examining the merchandise for safety!!  First lesson learned today, pallets are flippin’ heavy!!  After dragging them from the front of the house, up the “hill” to the backyard, I’d already had a hell of a workout.  I’ve concluded that being a homesteader eliminates any need for gym memberships!  My rubber legs after 8 trips up the yard with a pallet behind me are all the evidence I need on that!

As I was getting ready to start, one of our neighbors came and introduced himself.  Gus.  Gus seems like a very nice man.  A very set in his ways nice man.  After a quick introduction and idle chit chat, he went back to the house and I started arranging my pallets.  A moment later, he was back asking me to make sure nothing is leaning on the fence.  No Gus, it won’t be leaning on your fence.  What am I building?  A compost bin, I’m trying to live a greener life!  No Gus, I’m not going to put it all the way over there, because my flower garden is going to go there.  No Gus, it won’t smell, don’t worry.  Buy Gus!  (Insert heavy sigh and internal eye roll.  Nice guy Gus, really.)

Not wanting any conflict with any of our neighbors, I made sure to put some chicken wire in the back of the bin to stop any compost from spilling out and possibly ending up on his side of the fence.  A great feat on its own since he’s already got about a foot to a foot and a half

worth of leaves and natural compost built up behind a stack of covered lumber I’m sure has been there for years (as you can see behind my bin in the image below).  There you go Gus, chicken wire for you.

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Now, as much as I hate to admit defeat, I’m not a stupid woman.  Admitting when you need help can not only save you a lot of unnecessary wasted time, it can also be a tool to help you learn.  And I admit, the doors had me stumped.  As much as I wanted hubby to just show me how to use the skill saw, I know that for now it was much better to let him help me instead of just teach me.  I value my fingers, and every other part of me.  He’s a contractor by trade and a whiz with all of these power tools that skill intimidate me to no end (also I mastered the impact drill today, and I’m very proud of myself!)

So with hubby to the rescue, we made quick work of the doors.  He also used some 2×4’s he had on hand to give my bins a little more support.  The mostly level, but not quite flat ground made it so that my bins were a little unsteady, and in order for the doors to swing properly, we needed to make sure they stayed square and sturdy.  He cut, I drilled!  Hinges screwed on, doors hung, and done!

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I managed to clean up a few of the leaves around the bins before darkness started setting in, and just as we were putting the tools away, the rain started.  Talk about perfect timing!  Now I’ve got my bins, built mostly by yours truly, and my very first project is complete!  I’m one happy little homesteader!!!  What’s next??

 

 

(** “this couple” is Jesse and Alyssa of Pure Living For Life.  These two are absolutely my inspiration, my muse, my homesteading idol!  Click the link above and follow them, you won’t be sorry!!!)

 

Mother Nature Willing

Our weather here in Southern Ontario has been a little wonky to say the least.  It’s late November now, and I just experienced my first snow yesterday.  It didn’t stay, which I’m completely okay with.  I’m not a big fan of Winter, to be truthful.  I grew up in Northern Ontario, where it wasn’t unheard of to have consistent -30 & -40 Celsius weather.

 

Nobody bats an eye, it’s just considered the norm.  A 5 hours drive South, and it’s not QUITE as cold and QUITE as consistent, but we do still get those days once in a while.  You would think growing up with those temperatures, I would be used to it.  Nope.  I should have been born in warm climate – I could really do with no cold or snow or ice… *shudder*.  But then again, I’m not a fan of those pesky mosquitoes and black flies either… and spiders…don’t even get me started!!  So if having winter is what keeps them at a bearable minimum (barely!)… then I guess I’ll choose the lesser of evils, and deal with the frigid air.  Sigh.

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Our Rotti – Sherman – LOVES the snow and could spend hours playing in it!

Contrary to many beliefs, we Canadians do not live in igloos and have regular polar bear hunts.  Sorry to disappoint! haha

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Gotta love those drifts!

So with all of this wonky weather Mother Nature has been plying us with, I’m really hoping for some decent weather this weekend.  The plan is to get my compost bins built and my hard cleaned up – and as good as my intentions are, it’s not exactly a rain-or-shine activity.  So I’m hoping for dry-ish, mild-ish weather.  I’ve been so excitedly looking forward to it however, that I may just end up doing it even in the rain (no promises, I change my main like I change my socks!)

So fingers crossed that I’ll have a great post on Monday morning, with pictures of my proudly finished bins and clean yard!!  Have a great Friday everyone!!

(All images above were taken last year at our old place in the country)

Slow & Steady?

Hello, my name is Edie, and I’m an addict.  A Pinterest addict.  I just can’t stop, and I don’t want an intervention!

It’s seriously the best thing since Google – have you ever tried to find something on there and failed?  I doubt it.  It’s like every single idea has been tested and tried and mastered!

And it’s a budding homesteader’s dream.  My problem now, is that I want do it all, right now.  I want to harvest seeds – I want to grow new things – I want to build things – I want to learn to can, and blanch, and dehydrate – I want to learn scratch cooking (or more of it).  And I want to do all of that today!  Yep…I confess.  I have a real problem with patience, or rather, my lack thereof!  I have to keep reminding myself that Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will my homestead!

So…itty bitty baby steps it is.  With a couple of projects on the go, I need to learn the art of slowing down.  The skill of pacing myself.  So friends, I offer a most sincere apology right now, from the start – if my scatter brain makes you dizzy from moving from one thing to another and another still…maybe it’s a touch of un-diagnosed OCD, or maybe it’s just a bad case of excitement.  Either way, I don’t think there’s a cure….at least, I hope there isn’t!

It’s in the Bin!

Baby, it’s BRRR outside… and I don’t think it’ll get much warmer until April or May-ish.  I’ve still got time for a few outdoors projects before the real winter hits us (I hope).

Last night, tossing and turning – because of course, my head always picks the perfect time to start brain-storming.  What a more perfect time than 11:30PM on Sunday night?  I mean c’mon!!  Nope – not visions of sugar plums dancing in my head.  Visions of compost bins.  How romantic, the stuff dreams are made of right?  Well, apparently it’s the stuff homesteader’s dreams are made of!

Project numéro un: So while my body is desperately screaming LET ME SLEEEEEEEEEP!!!  My brain is systematically building a DIY compost bin in the back yard.  Who am I to argue?

Pallets.  Old, upcycled wooden pallets – a two-compartment unit with cover, and half doors on hinges and latches for easy access.  It’s perfect!  Only I don’t have pallets.  So now the objective is to find myself 6-8 pallets, for free of course (Isn’t the number one rule of debt-free homesteading, to do things with as little money as possible?)…and brackets, hinges and latches.  Hopefully, by this time next week I’ll be able to show you the finished product! J (And I plan on doing this myself – sans any help from hubby… well, maybe just the cutting for my half doors…not entirely comfortable with any type of saw just yet.  I value my digits – and every other extremity!)

Project numéro deux: Yard work.  I honestly don’t think anyone ever helped out the old woman who used to live here, there’s a literal jungle in my back yard (I’m pretty sure a fox lives back there somewhere), and if I plan on using it, I’d better get my butt in gear before it’s covered in  a million inches of snow!  And, bonus… a lot of that stuff will be going directly into my yet-to-be-built compost bins!  Oh, I’ve got big plans for this back yard, and I can’t wait to share it all with everyone!!

Now is the era of dreaming up projects, starting them, and actually FINISHING them!  …hope I can find those pallets!!!

 

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Starting Line

Fair warning…this first post is sort of an introduction…and it’s a little long-winded (sorry!! I promise the others won’t be so novel-ish), so grab a cuppa (or something stronger, I won’t tell!) and get comfy!!

Okay… this isn’t really my starting line.  It’s my RE-starting line.

Those who know me well, know that I’ve got a bad habit (one of many) of starting things, and never really finishing them.  This isn’t my first blog on the subject of homesteading, but the last one sort of got side tracked a little.  Okay, a lot.  So I figured…new house, new start!

Homesteading has been a growing dream of mine for the past few years, and although I’ve taken sporadic steps in that general direction, my utter lack of commitment and consistency mean I haven’t achieved nearly as much as I’d like to by now.  So I’m dusting off my apron, hiking up my britches, and starting again!  And the inspiration I get on an almost daily basis from watching these guys build their dream, gives me the confidence I need, to know I can build mine!  (Check them out, they’re amazing!!)

We’ve just recently moved to town – from a 34 acre farm that wasn’t ours, and that I didn’t take advantage of as I should have.  This little house on the hill isn’t ours either, but it’s giving us an opportunity we just couldn’t turn down.

We know it’s a temporary  thing, so we’ve got to take full advantage of it while we can.  So here’s the deal…

Some development company bought this house, in hopes of tearing it down (which honestly, it should be!), to build condos or town houses (ick!..not a fan).  I’m not sure if this neighborhood is ready for that type of development, and I’m thinking (or rather, hoping!) the town will take it’s sweet time to approve their permits!  What we’re hoping for, is to have at least 3 to 5 years in this house.  The rent alone is putting $550 back into our pockets, and I’ve eliminated my entire commute to work.  For real.  It takes me 3 minutes to drive to work now!  Bonus!!  So the plan is to pay down all of our debts, repair our credit, and save every penny we possibly can between now, and the time they tell us to hit the road.

So we’re taking the proverbial bull by the horns, and giving this ‘practice run’ everything we’ve got!  When we looked at this place, it was a disaster.  Picture: 70’s porn set.  I’m not even kidding.  Between the wood paneling, and the lime green and orange carpets; it was like the 70’s threw up.  Sorry for the visual.  Now because they’re going to tear in down in a few years, whatever cosmetic upgrade we want is coming out of our own pockets.  (Hence the 4 months free rent they gave us!)  I will share some before and after photos in coming posts, for your ooh-ing and ahh-ing pleasure!

I digress.  “Practice Run” is exactly what this is, in every sense.  From the construction (I got lucky here – hubby is a contractor by trade, so many dollars saved!!), to gardening, to food preservation…and every detail in between!  We’ve still got quite a large lot here, and have been given virtually free run of the place to do with what we please while we’re here.  I plan on taking every iota of advantage I possibly can, and learn as much as possible.  Now is when I can afford to make mistakes, so that I can avoid the entire (or mostly) trial and error ordeal once we’re on our land and trying to make our homestead from scratch work!

So cheers to a brand new start, and hooray to chasing dreams.  Watch out world…here I come!!!

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