Monday, April 30, 2012

We close today!

So today is the big day - the sale on our rental house officially closes today! Both sides have already signed the papers, today is just the handing over of the keys. That is, after we finish cleaning! Our (very sweet & wonderful!) renter is moving the last of her things out this morning, so after I post this we are heading up there to mow the lawn one last time, do a brief cleaning look through, and grab cuttings of some plants.

One of said plants is the backyard apple tree that we both love, so hopefully our first experience with fruit tree grafting goes smoothly... My friend & officemate at work is good friends with a local orchard guy, so I might get her to set me up with him to do it right the first time. And in the meantime, I've been closely reading this article on grafting over on Curbstone Valley Farm's blog to make sure I do everything as close to right as I can today!

So wish us luck! After today, the next big step is handing the proceeds of the sale (plus a good chunk of our savings and pretty much every other cent to our name, darn economy!) over to the seller of our current home who holds our mortgage, as part of an agreement in our contract with him. At least we then we will have a huge chunk of our mortgage paid off, so that will be a happy day too :)

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Dirty little toes in the garden

Over the weekend it was uncharacteristically hot for this time of the year around here, and Little M and I were out in short sleeves & bare feet. Hers especially were quite bare - and got rather muddy! First we were just playing on our small patch of green grass at the west end of the house where it was nice and shady. She was climbing up her slide the wrong way and sliding back down (sometimes) the right way. I wish I had some pictures to share with you, but apparently I've been slacking in that department and haven't been carrying the camera around with me!

Then we decided that we needed some water. Well, Little M decided we needed some water. You see, the day before I had mowed the grass, and dragged a hose up from the lower field planning to water the lawn. But then I couldn't find the sprinkler. So the hose was just sitting there beside the slide, and Little M decided she wanted to water something with the hose. Luckily earlier in the day we had figured out where the sprinkler was, in a random tub in the garage. Once we noticed it (while getting my bike ready to go for a bike ride) I remembered that I had put it in that bin when I took the crawlspace vent covers out of the same bin last fall. Seemed like a good place at the time... now I'm thinking not so much! The garage is definitely an area where I need to do some tidying up & organizing! But anyway, we knew where the sprinkler was, so we went and grabbed it out of the garage.

Once we hooked the sprinkler up, Little M had fun playing in the sprinkler! She made sure to keep coming over to me with wet hands to wet my hair down. I suspect she was doing the same for Tia, who contrary to being an irish water spaniel, generally doesn't like water very much. After Little M finished playing with the sprinkler, we decided to head down to the garden. Here's where she went from a wet little girl to a filthy little girl!

As I watered some of the plants that have been coming up in the garden (mostly peas), as well as the perennials, she kept ducking her head into the stream of water! And then grabbing dirt and patting her head... Needless to say her head, hands, and feet got rather muddy... Luckily it was so warm out she didn't mind getting a little extra hosing off before we went inside, her still a bit muddy and definitely all soaked. And with the sun being up so late into the evening, it was then time for a bath and bed! I just love involving her in the garden chores :)

Monday, April 23, 2012

Crazy weather all around

So my friends & family in Ontario woke up this morning to a bit of snow layering over their spring flowers. Here we had been having a later than normal spring, so unlike usual, our flowers aren't out yet. But the last couple days have been really really hot. It got into the high 70's or low 80's yesterday and is looking like today will be about the same. Hot & icky!

I love that things are warming up, don't get me wrong, but I'm still waiting for spring to truly be here, and not yet ready for summer! Looking ahead at the forecast though it looks like it will cool down substantially in the next couple days, and we may have more frosts coming our way. Hopefully no snow though!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Cleaning up the living room!

We have one space that serves as our living/family/dining room. Not too big, but the right size for us right now. The (non-eat-in) kitchen opens up to the room, and so we have basically the one living space. We've got fairly well defined zones in it right now, which helps a lot. TV area, sitting area by the wood stove, dining room/kitchen table, play zone, and main walk way through from the front door entry way to the sunporch. It's fairly easy to keep clean, since I try to have a home for everything. The problem is that since its small, a little bit of disorganization or lack of cleaning goes a long way to getting the place looking like a disaster!

Luckily it doesn't take that long to get it back to looking civilized again, especially since most things have a home where they belong to return them to.

Ahhh... having the place tidy and clean makes me feel so much calmer & content! Especially having the table clear. It ends up being a bit of a catchall for things that really should be put away elsewhere. Every so often I just have to put my foot down and get it all cleared off. There. Much better!

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Easter Bunny came late this year!

With my husband working weekends, we often miss out on celebrating some of the holidays that always fall on weekends. With Little M getting older and becoming more aware of traditions and holidays and that sort of thing, we decided  this year to ask the Easter Bunny to visit our house a little later than he would have normally. Thankfully he agreed - since his weekend was so busy he was glad to be able to push visiting our house off into the middle part of the following week.

When Wednesday afternoon came around, and the Easter Bunny finally arrived, Little M had lots of fun searching for and collecting eggs out of our orchard. She was well practiced, as we had attended several other egg searches over the weekend. She was also glad to see her easter basket filled with some fun presents! A big floor puzzle from Mama & Papa, and some bubbles, crayons, a coloring book, and a fun pinwheel from Grammy!

Our Easter celebrations thus spread almost a week: we had Grammy visiting right before the weekend for a couple days, then a community egg hunt in the park on Saturday, then Little M and I were invited to an early afternoon egg hunt and family dinner with some close friends & their extended family on Sunday, then today the Easter Bunny visited our house. All told, it was a great Easter. Hope everyone out there had a wonderful Easter too!

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Repetitive thoughts & a garden update!

So I haven't been sure if I have anything new to say the past couple of weeks. The small portion of my thoughts that hasn't been preoccupied with our rental closing and the situation that's been unfolding with the local police departments in the newspapers has been busily thinking and planning the garden & yard projects I want to do this year and in upcoming years. And I feel that I've pretty much shared what I can of those things with you already!

However, since I seem to need to write it all out to process it, I'll give you a brief update on how the rental & gardens are coming, just so you all know where we're at :) On the rental front, we seem to be moving along to closing nicely. The step we're currently waiting on is for the buyer's house to close, since the sale of our house is contingent on her house selling. Her buyer (this time!) has 50% down and is going for a conventional mortgage, so it seems promising that it will close in a week like planned. After that, I think the next step is to wait until the end of the month when our closing is supposed to happen!

Our great renter is obviously sad to be moving out, but she knew the house selling was a possibility when she moved in, so she's been fairly understanding. However she's only moving out the day before closing, so we might be a little busy that last day getting things all tidied up, taking the paint cans up there, and getting clips of shrubs and such that we want to propagate down here.

So overall, the rental situation has been pretty exciting and positive!

Our garden also seems to be coming along well, although I'm currently hoping we get a bit of rain. Its starting to look a bit dry down there and we don't yet have the irrigation turned on since there is still a good chance of freezing temperatures. Luckily there is rain forecast for today and perhaps later this week too. Otherwise I'll be lugging some watering cans down there this weekend!

So far I've moved the garlic chives around so that we've got a nice set up for a herb corner right at the main entrance to the garden, complete with a couple of stepping stones to avoid compacting the ground around the herbs. Over the weekend I direct planted our peas as well as some lettuce, bok choy, and onion seeds. The raspberry canes are starting to bud out a little bit, and the garlic shoots are coming up.
New herb area, garlic chives the only thing planted so far. Strawberries & garlic to the left, perennial bulbs to the right
Inside, my seedlings are coming along nicely, although I've likely got too many of each plant! The lavender plants from last year are sending out lots of new growth, as are the kitchen rosemary plants. Spring is here!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Garden Strawberry Jam

Last summer, over the course of about a month, I slowly gathered enough 'extra' strawberries from our daily ventures down to the garden, and froze them in small bunches, until I had enough to make a batch of strawberry jam. My first batch ever. But then I never made it, and the strawberries just sat in their tub in the freezer for months and months.

I had been meaning to make jam, and promising my husband I would make it, and even refusing to buy jam at the grocery store because I was going to make it so soon.

frozen strawberries warming up in front of the woodstove
Well last weekend I finally made strawberry jam. And gosh was it ever easy! A bit sticky, but sooo easy! I used a strawberry jam recipe from Pioneer Woman, but instead of going all the way and canning the jam, I just froze it, even though I put it in my weck canning jars and the recipe included canning instructions. I just didn't have the energy with a daughter & husband at home sick with colds!

But oh, it is so delicious! With some fresh out of the oven tea biscuits, or on warm crepes, or just on a spoon. YUMMY! I've been trying to find things to bake just so I can put jam on top :) And I'm amazed at how much jam my 4 cups of strawberries made, plenty to last us a while, and overall way cheaper than buying jam!

I think the only thing I would change in the future is not use frozen & crushed strawberries to get more strawberry chunks, and use less sugar! :) I can see doing a batch like that, low sugar & more chunks, and a batch that is sweeter and more like jelly. Goals for this summer/fall!

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Spring cleanup in the garden

I'm typing this from my office at work, taking my lunch break and doing a bit of blogging. This morning was a nice bright morning. I woke up a bit later than usual, thanks to Little M's cold which has been prompting her to sleep in a bit (yesterday we didn't wake up until 9:30, it was so nice!). The extra sleep has been exactly what my body has needed, as she so nicely shared the cold with me and the mister too.

Anyway, this morning my throat was feeling a little scratchier than yesterday, and my head was feeling a little stuffy, and I thought to myself, and then aloud to the mister, that I likely should stay home sick today, and work in the garden. He snorted and rolled over in bed. I took that as an indication that if I stayed home I would likely not have as much time to garden as I might like, so bucked up and went in to work. I still wish I had stayed home to garden though :)

This time of year I rarely can resist the 'just one more trip down to the garden'. I mean seriously, its not like the bulbs will have come up any more since the last time I was down there an hour ago, but I just can't seem to resist the draw of the soil, all ready and waiting to be worked, especially after a long, cold, snowy winter.

So far in the garden I've only done a bit of work. Raked all of the leftovers from last fall off from where we spread them over the soil to do a bit of decomposing over the winter, turned a small section of dirt over to mix in the chicken manure that we spread last fall but didn't get all mixed in, and moved some stepping stone rocks to a section of the garden that I am thinking this year of making into a herb area.

With the warmer temps and sunny days, our snow has been disappearing fast, and I just can't wait to plant the peas (this weekend hopefully!), and start moving my little seedlings out to the back porch to get a bit of a breeze. I know at least a couple of my readers are already in the thick of things out in the garden, but up here in the mountains, spring comes a bit later :) Anyone else still waiting & itching to be doing some serious gardening?
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