Winter On The Farm

We are totally enjoying living here.  The view is incredible, the house is cozy and warm, the people are welcoming, the drive to town is relaxing and the weather is lovely.  At least, this year it is.

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A snowblower came with the house so Darryl was able to clear the driveway with it for most of the winter, until something on it broke.  Luckily we haven’t had a serious snowfall since, and it doesn’t look like that’ll happen until next winter.

One of the great things you can do with a snowblower is make mountains.  Right in front of the carport is a turnaround with bushes in the middle.  Darryl blew the snow into the middle every time he went around the driveway and got that hill close to 9 feet tall.  The kids LOVE climbing up and sliding down.

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Here’s Chad sliding down the snow mountain.

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We got about 2 feet of snow at the deepest, but with all the warm spells this winter, it didn’t last long.

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I used trees to make the front door look more like the front door.  It turned out to be a convenient place to store the snowshoes too.  We strapped those on a few times.

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This is the lower pasture in the morning, taken from the upper deck.  The lake has been frozen over all winter.

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While I was up there getting that picture, I snapped one of Darryl with the milk pail.

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Moola and Banner have lovely thick coats.  They’ve done well this winter.  They have run of the whole upper pasture, but Banner has one path up to the top by the neighbour horses and Moola doesn’t venture beyond the water trough.

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Kai can’t get enough of chasing snowballs and he’ll spend 4 hours straight following the snowblower around, leaping into the air to catch the snow coming out the chute.

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Then he can’t move the next day.

Deer wander across the property almost every day.  I caught a few pictures as this group of 9 walked up the driveway one morning, stopping to sample hay by the barn and check the bird feeder.

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This winter has gone by so fast!  It’s been gorgeous.  We love being able to see so far, and watch storms coming in.  We’re getting pretty good at predicting the weather by watching the smoke from neighbour’s chimneys, the outside temperature, and the barometer.

On sunny days, the house is bright and airy inside, and on cold or cloudy days, we’re cozy and warm, though it’s usually too hot to sit by the fire very long and we have to open the back door for a few minutes to cool off.  I haven’t been able to wear a sweater in the house all winter.

Hope you enjoyed these photos of our first winter in the Cariboo!

Kid’s Bedroom Update

This is what the kid’s room looked like before we moved in.  It was a guest room.

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We decided to lighten it up a bit.  When I painted the first wall across from the window, I thought I’d made a dreadful mistake because the yellow was VERY bright.  Like almost fluorescent.  Then I painted the same yellow on the other side of the wall, in the big upstairs room, which used to be blue, and it was a much nicer yellow.  So I stopped panicking.  The sunlight streaming in the kid’s window just makes it look fluorescent.  No biggie.

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The kids switched places, so Sadie is on the bottom bunk and Chad is on top.  We put princess curtains across the front of Sadie’s bed (the curtains were made using one $7 panel from walmart, cut in half and hemmed to slide on a tension wire).

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This chase for the chimney is not in a good spot, but it’s pretty hard to move, so we have to work around it.  I have big plans for the dresser alcove, but this is the set up for now.  The kitchen is from IKEA.  I was pretty surprised at the quality and thought put into the design of it.  I have more plans for that alcove too.

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I wanted to do something graphic on the wall opposite the window, but I wasn’t about to buy and install wallpaper or take hours painting with a stencil.  I’m all for quick and easy.  So I drew on the wall with an orange Sharpie.

This was my Pinspiration.

And this is what it looks like!

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The yellow in the kitchen alcove isn’t actually that bright…that’s what this fun setting on my camera makes it look like.  It’s a much softer, paler yellow.

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As you can see, we still have no baseboards in here yet.

It’s not a complicated pattern.  Everything is 6″ apart, and it doesn’t have to be perfect.  I worked my way across the wall, starting at the door, and by the end, I was out about ½ inch from ceiling to floor.

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I have no idea how easy hard it will be to paint over.  Hopefully a good primer will do the job.

But it looks cool, the kids like it, and it cost me 4 hours and 1 Sharpie.  I call that a success.

Would you ever try this?

The Stairwell After

I know it’s been a while since you’ve seen the before photos, so here they are again.  This is the stairwell when we moved in, but after we filled the cat scratches all over the spindles.

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And after!

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We installed the battens and painted pretty much every surface in the stairwell except the ceiling.  Because the walls aren’t exactly square, it took 7 or 8 caulking gun tubes of DAP to fill all the cracks.

We LOVE it!  It suits the house so well and looks so great.  Our landlady finally came for a visit and couldn’t believe the difference.  She loved it too.

We still have a refinished chandelier to hang in the stairwell, and then it will be complete.  Mostly.   I’ll hopefully be able to show you the chandelier up soon.  We also have to continue the baseboards for the whole upstairs except the bathroom, at some point when the landlady wants to buy us the materials.

Next up: the kid’s room.

House Tour – Exterior

Now I can show you the outside of the house because I actually got my butt in gear and remembered to take a few more photos of outside before it snowed, and then finally got around to editing and uploading them here.  The outside is also pretty unique.  Remember, it used to be part of an indoor riding arena, which has since been removed and a carport added.  The den used to be an office for a local lawyer or real estate person (I forget which) and still has an unusable door to the back deck.

From the street.  We’re at the end of a cul-de-sac.

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Still getting moved in.  This one shows the car we borrowed for a month while ours was in the shop.

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The front windows.  6×6 feet each.

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The stall on the bottom and the deck upstairs.

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Darryl washed the timbers in the carport with something that strips the weathered part off, then stained them.  This is the before picture.

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This picture is from one of the higher spots in the pasture.

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From the end, the house looks a little goofy.

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The back deck.

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The backside of the barn.  There’s a sheltered corner in the middle and a “bunkhouse” inside the window on the right (and my dad’s black trailer showing on the far right).  The landlady stores a bunch of her stuff in there.

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That telephone pole in the middle is where a power line used to go to the neighbour’s house.

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The grass in this pasture is literally 7 feet high.  An adult can disappear in it.  There’s a low spot in the pasture behind the barn that stays wet all year long.  At least, we assume it does because it was wet since we got here in the middle of August and the grass was still green until it snowed.

We are hoping, that by managing our grazing well, the grass in the rest of the pasture will improve and stay green longer as well.  It’s been 2 years since these fields were (over)grazed.  We have a few (ok, a lot) patches of burdock and canada thistle to deal with and a healthy population of gophers.  I dealt with most of the burdock in the lower pasture before we moved in (not much to do when you’re camping).  Incidentally, the best way I’ve found of killing those stubborn plants is by pulling the mature burrs off in the fall but leaving the plant (I used to do noxious weed removal for the city and we always had to dig them out…doesn’t work).  Any plant I’ve ever done that to never comes back.  They turn black and  you can pull them out of the ground the next year.  And make sure you bag the burrs and send them to the landfill for a proper burial.  I bagged 2 of the large, heavy duty garbage bags full of burrs so far, and that wasn’t all of them in the lower part.

Anyway, I didn’t mean for a post about the exterior of our house to turn into a handbook for weed removal, but you never know when knowledge like that will come in handy, right?

Just For Fun

I’m always trying to get great pictures of Banner running.  Sometimes I resort to chasing him around the pasture.  But when he starts running for any reason at all and I see him, I grab my camera and quickly switch to the zoom lens.

In this case, Moola had gotten out through the electric fence and Banner thought she was leaving him all alone forever.  So I grabbed my camera.

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Her mooing because she couldn’t figure out what happened only made Banner more concerned.

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He kept running to the fence and back to the barn again.

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Most of the decent shots I got were of him running away from me, so I didn’t include those.  I don’t think he realized (or cared) that he was holding his tail to the side and exposing himself to the world through my camera.

He stopped running so I recruited my kids to pose for me.

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The fences were looking particularly lovely that day, so I got pictures of them too.

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Even though my horse or children aren’t always very photogenic, at least my fences are!

Living Room Tour

Alrighty, I have pictures of my living room!  It’s MOSTLY done.

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I was going to hang the mirror vertically but I’m kinda liking it propped there.  Was also going to hang the gold framed chalkboard but it’s too cluttered that way, so I’ll just leave that propped on the sewing cabinet for now.

There are currently no plug ins for lamps in that entire corner of the house, hence the extension cord going over the door.  I need to get another white cord and some of those little clear stick-on hooks to keep it tucked against the door frame, until such time as Darryl can wire up a plug-in into the box that’s already there with wires inside and a metal plate over it.  Not sure why anyone would take a plug out and cover the hole when it’s the only one in the vicinity.  One of this house’s many idiosyncrasies.

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As you can see, it’s a fairly small area.  Looking at the picture above, I think the best option for additional seating would be a pair of tufted ottomans/stools that could be moved around easily.  Something like this.

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I’d also rather have a soft carpet instead of this grass mat.

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Something like this.

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Yes, I have expensive taste.  But it doesn’t have to cost a lot.

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You can totally get nice stuff for next to nothing.  Sometimes, just letting people know what you’re looking for works great.  The wooden candlesticks were $1 at a garage sale, with the candles too.  The pottery …thing, on top of the books was free at the share shed.  The books were my grandpa’s.  I can’t remember where I got the antler.  Probably from my brother.  The mirror was at a fun little shop in West Kelowna for $20.  The radio cabinet was a hand-me-down from family.  Flowerpot–free from the share shed and the plant was a couple bucks back in the spring.  The floor lamp was about $6 at a garage sale.

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The curtains were from my sister (thanks Hannah!).  I made the curtain rods because buying enough for just the main floor alone would have been insane and they don’t make rods long enough for these 3 windows together anyway.  I’ll tell you about that another time.

The couch was from Darryl’s Aunt.  I think I wrote about that a couple years ago, but we had purchased a couch and loveseat off craigslist for $50.  They were comfortable and worked in our old living room, but when she offered us this couch (and a chair), we liked these better and sold the other set for $180, then used $100 of that to buy my dining room table and chairs.

So technically, I don’t think I’ve spent more than $100 furnishing and decorating the living room AND dining room, including the curtain rods.

So there you have it.  Not much to see cause it’s a small space, but it’s working for us for now.

And just so you don’t think my entire house looks this tidy, here’s a picture of the den, taken the same day.

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I think this room might be done last because it takes a little more of an investment to buy a sectional with a hide-a-bed.  That’s also comfortable.  Unless I find a killer deal on one, of course.  I want an ivory shag rug for this room too.  Our TVs keep getting upgraded because people give us their old ones.  Maybe the next one will be a flat screen we can mount to the wall so we can lose the stand altogether.

 

 

 

Artisan Bread In One Shower A Week

I used to make bread back when I had one angel child and ate a lot more carbs.

Now I have three angels, one of whom is itchy a lot and wakes up at night for no apparent reason.  I spring out of bed and flit over to hers in the dark with one blurry eye propped open, always avoiding tripping over the bear head on the floor in front of the playpen, cause sometimes looks trump practicality and it LOOKS cool to have a bear rug under the baby’s bed.

I have to get there before she actually makes a noise, cause I need the extra time to grope around for one of the 3 soothers hiding all around her and poke it into her mouth before she knows she woke up.  Otherwise I’ll have to feed her again.  Which isn’t so bad cause I just take her back to bed with me and drift in and out of consciousness until she starts snoring, at which time I pop the soother into her mouth that I remembered to bring with me from her bed, if I was able to find it at all, and carry her back to bed.  She goes back to sleep, and I tiptoe back to bed, always avoiding tripping over the bear head, and fall back asleep whilst retrieving my half of the blankets from the other side of the bed.

Repeat 3 more times.

Now thanks to daylight savings time, I can see the bear head for the last two treks across the floor.

What was I talking about?

Oh yeah, BREAD.

I love bread.  I used to make 4 loaves a week of lovely whole wheat bread with my very own recipe that I made up (it’s on this blog somewhere) and my Kitchen Aid.  Then my Aid up and quit and I was pregnant and didn’t want to couldn’t knead the dough.  That was two summers ago.

I found other things to eat for breakfast and let the kids eat store-bought bread once in a while, while I recovered from being pregnant and prepared to move a full day’s drive away.  I took last summer off making bread too.

Then I ran out of alternative breakfast ideas because I stopped eating dairy and eggs for baby’s sake (and mine).  Totally awesome to stop eating those when you own a cow and chickens.

So Darryl has been buying the kids the store bakery’s whole wheat bread and buying me the nice artisan sourdough, which isn’t REAL sourdough and MAY contain milk.  Ugh.  So because I’m just feeling lazy even though I get all the sleep I want, I’m trying the Artisan Bread In 5 Minutes A Day recipe, cause I can carve out that much time every day if I skip one shower a week.  I figured it all out.

Basically, you stir some salt and yeast into warm water in a big bowl, then dump in some flour, give it a stir, and let it sit, covered, for a couple hours before storing it in the fridge.  Then whenever you want bread, you pull off a chunk and let it sit on the counter while the oven warms up, then you dust it with flour and slice perfect patterns in the top with a knife and pop it in the oven for 30 minutes.

Cute.  I did it the way they suggested the first time cause that’s how I roll.  I pulled off the recommended grapefruit sized chunk, and I totally remember how big a grapefruit is cause I’ve totally bought one since I got married.  I guess I underestimated how much flour to put on my hands before handling the wet dough and fumbled with the sticky glob for a while, trying to pry it off my fingers in one piece.  That was amusing.  I should have let one of my angel kids do that and taken a picture to prove they do school sometimes.  But, like I said, I’m feeling lazy this year.

The recipe says the lump may not rise much depending on the age of the dough or something, and they were right.  It stayed grapefruit sized, more or less, until I slashed the top in a perfect pattern and slid smushed it off the cutting board and onto the baking stone in the  450 degree oven.

It came out perfect!

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The only downside was…it was only slightly larger than a grapefruit.  But it tasted AMAZING.

It didn’t make it through the day.  And I didn’t want to do that EVERY day either cause I like showers, so the next day, I doubled it.  I pulled off a lump the size of TWO grapefruit and baked that, after remembering to use WAY more cornmeal on the cutting board (it actually slid nicely onto the baking stone!), only I didn’t leave it in the oven long enough and the middle was raw.   I tried again, cooking it until it sounded hollow when thumped on the bottom, but by then, the entire crust was so chewy that everyone else in my family complained.  No one appreciates crusty bread in this house.

Soooo back to the drawing board Pinterest I went and found instructions for cooking this exact bread recipe in the crock pot.  That sounded more like it.  I used the double-grapefruit batch and the parchment paper and it cooked for about 3 hours before I risked taking it out.  The bottom was crusted, but not too bad, and the top was a light dough colour, so I browned it under the broiler.  Not quite long enough, but at least the top was soft.  Yum!  It lasted 2 days.  Perfect.  I can do that every 2 days.  Especially with NO cleanup!

So that is how I make bread now.  Except next time I’m going to put the parchment on one of those expanding steamer thingies so it’s not touching the pot, and maybe it won’t get so crusty on the bottom.  And I’ll remember to slash the top when I first put it in so it looks like artisan bread instead of a mound of pale dough.

Now watch, I’ll have to quit eating wheat for Pete’s baby’s sake and I’ll have to eat hash browns for breakfast every morning.

Can I make those in the crock pot?

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