Friday, October 29, 2010

I Need Your Help!

Agh! I cannot stand starting a DIY project and getting stuck partway through. I especially hate getting stuck on the boring, mundane part which hinders you from getting to the fun make-it-look-snazzy part. So, here is my dilemma and maybe you or someone you know has a solution for me!
I found this beautiful antique solid brass chandelier on Kijiji. It had not a single crystal drop on it but the shape was so beautiful! And, I was fully aware it needed rewiring. How hard can that be? I have put up and taken down a few lights with no problem, changing out some wires should be simple! Remember that shape I loved? Yeah, that's what's causing all the problems!

I took some time to read tips online for rewiring a chandelier. It seemed so simple! Attach the new wire to the old wire with some electrical tape, pull out the old wire and the new wire will just slip into place. With this chandy, nothing is that easy! I have ripped wires in half, pulled some wires completely out without the new wires following along as they should. AGH! It has been so frustrating. I think most people have not been working with two-tiered solid brass (therefore the inside of the tubes are not smooth) 'S' shaped arms. The first 13 meters of wire I bought was the tiniest bit thicker than the old stuff and is therefore useless! Now I don't know what to do. After examining the old wire thoroughly, I realize that it is in fine shape. So, on the top tier I have wired in new sockets. What do I do with the bottom tier? Most of those need some new wire in because I pulled the old wire out. To make a very frustrating long story short, how do I thread wire into an 'S' shaped solid brass arm? I can easily get new wire to the top tier as it is a very shallow 'U' shape. The bottom tier is the problem. HELP??!!

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

Progress at the Property

{Let me just preface this by saying that if you own a "diamond in the rough" 5 acre property, who needs a workout??!! With all the cutting and pulling, digging and lifting, my arms are in better shape than they have ever been! And I love it!}

I thought I would show you some of the things we have accomplished in the many weekends we have spent at our eventually-to-be homestead. I find it rather remarkable to think that we have owned this property for one whole year already. Just means we are one year closer to building! Yay!
With a larger property, it only makes sense to break it down into smaller sections. We are starting with the SW corner of the property since it is the first thing you see when you drive on the current driveway (which we are in the process of moving. It requires many large trees to be cut down but it makes much more sense then winding the current driveway through the yard.) In that corner of the property was a long row of Shubert Chokecherries, approximately 75' long with a smaller 25' row of lilacs butting up to them. Now, I love the red color of the shuberts and the berries are great for jam and syrup. I made many jars this past season. However, I did not like the blackknot that was rampant throughout the trees. Blackknot is a fungal disease that leaves large abnormally shaped black chunks on the branches and affects the trees itself leaving the whole think looking a little less than pretty. It is hard to control once established, spreads easily and I knew it would be more work to prune the trees and follow with fungicides for years to come rather than to pull them out. So, we decided to rip them out. It was a rather physical job made much simpler with a little help from John Deere! First, Jay dug into the roots to loosen them a little then we wrapped individual clumps with a large heavy chain and ripped them out of the ground. It worked quite well. Directly behind this row of shuberts/lilacs was another row of lilacs that were a little spindly looking. With the trees out of the way, I am expecting them to fill out nicely, especially if I cut them down a little.

Once the trees were gone, we killed the grass in a large area, tilled it up, brought in some topsoil, and made a new flower bed 100' long and 50' deep, semi-circular in shape. The size of that one bed is larger than my current front yard, I believe! I bought 3 trees in the spring and planted them here, 1 12' Autumn Blaze Maple and 2 smaller Sienna Glen Maples. They will look fantastic as they grow and show off their red leaves each autumn! This winter I will plan the rest of that bed with the landscape design software I bought for $2 at a garage sale many years ago.

As soon as you drive onto our property, you notice the mature spruce trees lining the south side. They are beautiful trees but a little neglected. About the bottom 6' or so of the branches were completely dead. Dead branches do not look nice, especially on an evergreen. So, I took to cutting all those dead branches off the 15 or so spruce that form part of the perimeter of our property. That is a lot of branches! It was so worth the effort since it looks so much tidier. Right behind the spruce are a few more rows of trees/shrubs that need serious tiding but that has been put on hold as we tackle removing the trees where the new driveway will be, about 100' over from where it is now.

A bunch of the branches and trees that were pulled out were piled into the garden and somehow a little den was formed. The kids loved playing in there! Just imagine the big bonfires we will have as this is the smallest of a couple of piles!

Finally, this past Saturday, I made a tire swing for the kids. There were many tires kicking around when we bought the place and we have yet to take them away. So, what does one do with extra tires and perfectly arched willow trees? Create a tire swing, of course! That one event tired me out just trying to throw the rope over the tree. First I tried throwing the whole spool of rope but that was a little heavy and I wasn't getting it high enough. Then I found an old toilet seat lying in the leaves (seriously, the amount of garbage we have discovered is ridiculous!). I used just the bottom portion, tied the rope to it, and threw it like a disc or frisbee. It actually worked! I cleared out a large area below the swing of the stickes, leaves, large iron rods and other junk so that the kids would have a safe place to play. I mowed a path so even baby girl Ari can wander down there with no chance of getting hurt! With the amount of willows and tires on hand, I could make a swing for each of the kids and still have plenty to spare!!

I absolutely love working at the "new country", as the kids still call it. I love the quiet, peaceful feeling that comes over me. I love the possibilities. I love the fact all the kids can play outside with a lot less concern from me. I marvel at the nature God has created and am blessed beyond measure that we get to call this place home. Jay and I have spent many hours together working up a sweat and everytime I remember what a great team we make. I love that we get to make this place ours, together. When you have to put your blood, sweat and tears into it, it becomes even more special. And, I am thankful that it is raining this week so I can actually get some work accomplished here that has been seriously neglected thanks to the unbelievably amazing fall weather we have been experiencing. Seriously, it is October 26 and we still haven't experienced a "hard frost." -2C, -3C, maybe even -4C but that is it. I still have begonias blooming on the north side of my house! Very, very unusual and very appreciated. We don't take that for granted here on the prairies! Now, I just need to get the perennials from here dug up and transplanted over there! All in due time, right?!

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Phonics - Boy Version

Heard during Phonics with AJ this morning:

"Sn in Snot"

"Cr in Crap"

Hmmm. I am pretty sure that's not what the books say. However, I did burst out laughing - after all, he is correct!

A Time of Transition

For the past 13ish years, things have been pretty stable around here. And by stable, I mean that Jay has had the same job (everything else is always in flux!) He is a hog farmer. Every day that he worked, he went to the same place. At the beginning of our marriage, he almost knew the minute he would leave for work and the minute he would return. I loved that predictability. It makes all of life simpler - planning, cooking supper, spending time together, etc. Eventually, as the operation grew and doubled in size to what is now 13,000 hogs, the days got a little less predictable. What he used to do all by himself now required he hire some employees. So, some days he didn't go to work at all, sometimes he left at 5am and came home early afternoon, sometimes late afternoon. Many days he spends time in the office after working all day. The changes have been gradual but to be honest, I liked the predictability of the earlier days! Now all of that is about to change. Jay's parents own a farm that includes hogs, chickens and land. Jay's dad and uncles work that farm, along with Jay's younger brother. Well, the uncles want to retire and Jay wants to work on that farm. It was the plan to make that move in about 2-3 years. Rewind to this past summer. Jay had an employee that returned to school. His plan was to replace that employee - what he got instead was more than he was hoping. He had a gentleman apply that is thoroughly knowledgeable of hog farms - he has worked on them for many years as manager and assistant manager. So, Jay hired him and in essence, hired away his job. That 2-3 year plan to work on his parents farm suddenly changed to a 1 month plan. Starting November 1, Jay will no longer be full-time on the hog farm. He may work there a few hours a week but his main job will be on his parents farm. And we don't know exactly what that will look like. If you know anything about farming (and I mean farming of the land), winter is a slower time, spring is busier with planting and harvest the busiest. We can anticipate he will work less this winter but we aren't sure exactly. What time will he go to work? When will he come home? Will he go to work at all? It is a transition I must be flexible in and I am a little hesitant. It may mean other things can happen sooner than we first anticipated but this whole transition will be hard for me. As much as I like spontaneity, I love predictability. So, if you want to, keep us in mind and in your prayers as we enter this time of transition that I may be flexible and that my communication with Jay will be clear so I know what to expect. I know this change will be a good thing but it will bring its own set of unique challenges. And, I think I am up to it! :)

Thursday, October 7, 2010

A Little About Me

So, Miranda from Blooming in Alaska tagged me. Really, I feel honored! So while the kids do whatever it is they do when they are unsupervised (eat toothpaste, apparently), I will answer her questions and tell a little about myself! She tags me, asks some questions, then I tag 4 more people. Here goes!

1. What did you want to be when you were growing up?
A wife and a mother! Is there anything better than that?! Okay, I did want to be a veterinarian due to my love of animals. However, when I realized how much schooling it would take and how it would "interfere" with my wife/mother plans, I let that dream die. I am thrilled to be living the life I am now!

2. What was your favorite childhood television program?
We didn't really watch TV growing up so I have no memories of that.

3. What was your pet name when you were a kid?
Ha, I laugh at this one! I am still called by that pet name 34 years later - Boom or Boomer, whichever you wish! Don't ask me why, I don't really know. But it is still how my father and sister and cousin refer to me. My dad asked me my real name on my wedding day!

4. What is your favorite decorating task to do (ie: painting, hanging pics, building, etc...)
Hmmm. I would say building. Painting requires too many sore muscles! I really love to put things together so anything like that is good!

5. What is your least favorite home chore to do?
Only one? Well, laundry is a good starter as it is always never ending! Washing floors makes me work up a sweat. Actually, I don't despise any of them, I just don't do them for fun.

6. Besides decor/home stuff, do you have any other hobbies or passions?
I love photography! I love to crochet. I have been known to make a few cards. I love to bake/cook. Oh, landscaping or gardening are pure joy, too! Reading is bliss! Sewing is so fun. There are a lot of things I enjoy doing and more I would love to learn. For example, could someone please teach me how to play the saxaphone? Seriously, that would be amazing! That is a gotta-do-before-I-die desire of mine!

7. Are you a morning or night person?
Late night owl! Mornings are for sleeping!

8. If you could visit anywhere in the world, where would you go?
To Africa on a safari. Lifelong dream! Oh, I can only imagine how wonderful it would be!

Well, that should give you a little glimpse into this wonderfully complicated person called Chantelle!

Now for my questions!

1. What is your favorite memory of your childhood years?
2. What did you want to be when you grew up?
3. If you had an evening to yourself with no expectations placed on you, what would you do?
4. What would you like to learn to do sometime in this life?
5. Last book you read? Favorite book?
6. Would people describe you as a "girly-girl" or more of a "tom-boy"?
7. Favorite beverage?
8. Childhood nickname? Current nickname?

And the lucky ladies getting tagged are:

Becky from Enjoying our Inheritance

Nikki from More From Second Street

Jenn from Mama Jenn

Leah from A Very Sweet Life

Have a great weekend! We are taking the day off school and enjoying the 23C weather in the middle of October by heading to the country (again) to cut down trees (again), pull out trees (again), till up grass (again) and maybe start working on the new driveway! Gotta make the best use of these gorgeous fall days while we can! The snow will fly soon enough (ugh, the thought makes me gag!)!

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Sneak Peek At My Latest Project

I have been fairly silent for a while and I anticipate this trend will continue at least until the snow flies and I can no longer work at the country property on weekends. Schooling takes up a HUGE chunk of my day with cooking, cleaning, laundry and sleep taking up the rest. I rarely have time to sit, never mind blog. However, I do have projects that I continue to pursue since that part of me, the creative part, needs to be nurtured and encouraged. I have been waiting "patiently" for a particular package to arrive in the mail and today was that day. I have been tracking its journey since it left its home in California and when I saw that it was delivered to my mailbox this morning, I packed up the clan (dressed in sweats and a tee, no makeup and hair in a pony - I was too excited to care!) and off we went to the post office! I am giddy with excitement about the final results of this latest project. Here is just a little itty-bitty sneak peek! Hopefully it won't be too long before I can show you the final results!

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