Golden beans

I know, I know. In the story the eggs are gold and the beans are magic. But in our case, it’s our beans that are turning gold.

This is our first time growing soybeans, so we’re learning as we go. It turns out that as the beans ripen, the plants turn yellow.

Soyabean field

The pods are plump and fuzzy.

Soybean pods

Inside, we have actual beans. Edamame anyone?

Open soybean pod

In other fields in the area, where the beans are a bit older, the plants have gone past gold and are all the way brown. I still have no idea how far away we are from harvest time. We’re continuing to learn about this farming thing.

Is it harvest time where you live? Do you like edamame?

Dreaming in front of a crackling fire

A couple of Saturdays ago, while my father-in-law and Matt assembled some deer stands with Baxter’s help…

Baxter "helping"

I took advantage of the log splitter my FIL had brought with him and cleaned up some firewood that had been lying around.

Never mind that we still don’t have a working fireplace. Tree management is ongoing here.

Splitting wood

In the category of wishful thinking, let’s take a minute and talk about this fireplace, though, shall we?

1970s fireplace

I have always wanted a wood burning fireplace. When we moved to our little house in the city, the fireplace in my parents’ family room was one of the things I missed most. Redoing our fireplace has been on my list since we moved in. But it’s been delayed due to finances.

We discovered quickly that making the fireplace what I envisioned wasn’t going to be as easy as we thought. I wanted to pop out the insert so that we had a beautiful open hearth. And I wanted to reface the whole thing with fieldstone.

Unfortunately, the chimney won’t accommodate an open hearth. I don’t understand exactly what’s wrong with it, but it’s not entirely right, even for the insert that’s there.

Fixing the chimney means rebuilding the whole fireplace as though we were starting new. Great for getting exactly what I want. Not so great for the wallet.

Matt, my wonderful, accommodating, frugal husband, thinks that we will be able to scrape together enough money to do the fireplace this year. I’m a little more skeptical.

But let’s not let a little thing like the budget derail this post. Let’s talk about what needs to be done.

Fireplace fixes

The biggest question is the location of the fireplace. You’ll notice in the picture above that it’s off centre (look at the beam at the apex of the ceiling). This actually isn’t a bad thing, in my opinion. By centring the furniture arrangement on the fireplace, we have room to walk around the edge of the living room to the dining room. If we shift the fireplace so it’s centred, passage to the dining room will be a little tight.

What do you think? Should we centre the fireplace?

My plan for the new fireplace is roughly the same location, roughly the same dimensions. The biggest change will be to make the fireplace itself symmetrical. One continuous wide hearth across the bottom. No weird bump out on the left side. A rustic wood mantel (I have some great old beams in the barn) at one continuous depth. Fieldstone face. Open hearth.

I know the insert is more efficient and is a great way to heat the house. However, we are not going to heat this house with wood. Our geothermal system works really well and costs us very little. This fireplace is more about ambiance and appearance than function.

What would you do with the fireplace if it was yours? Are you a fan of the ’70s asymmetry? What would you face it with? Brick? Tile? Stone? Plaster? Would you keep the insert? Or would you get rid of the fireplace altogether? What’s your opinion on centring the fireplace versus leaving it where it is?

The Monarch Project

Have you heard of the Monarch Project? Karen at The Art of Doing Stuff launched it this year.

A couple of years ago, Karen posted a five-part series on how to raise a Monarch butterfly. This year she’s raising more butterflies herself and encouraging her readers to as well. Last week she posted a video of a Monarch emerging from its chrysalis. It was absolutely amazing. Seriously. Go watch it and come back. I’ll wait. It’ll make your week.

As a kid, Matt and his brothers would raise Monarchs every year. It was just something they did, catching the caterpillars, putting them in a bucket, feeding them fresh milkweed, watching them form their cocoons, watching them hatch and then releasing them.

Monarch butterfly and a milkweed pod

I, however, have never seen anything like this. Karen’s video is amazing. I so want to see it in real life.

I’ve seen more Monarchs around the farm this year than I have in past years. Unfortunately, more means about two. Remember that milkweed post that I did earlier this year? It took me most of the summer to get that one single photo of the butterfly. And he was the only butterfly I saw that year.

We have milkweed everywhere on the property, and I check it often for caterpillars. So far, I haven’t found any.

A couple of weeks ago Baxter and I found a Monarch when we were out for our walk (the guy pictured in this post). Unfortunately, he seemed to have a broken wing. We carried him home and set him on some milkweed behind the barn, but I don’t think he’s going to be one of the guys that makes it to Mexico.

Monarch butterfly and a milkweed pod

The Monarchs are a simple example of why I’m glad that we bought the farm. Maybe we can protect a little bit of their habitat. Maybe we can help raise the odds in their favour. Maybe we, and Karen, and the people participating in the Monarch Project can help to keep the Monarchs flying.

What’s the Monarch population like where you live? Have you ever hatched a Monarch yourself?

Surprise laundry room makeover

So you saw on Friday that I’ve started making over our laundry room. As I said, this project kind of snuck up on me. Yeah the laundry room was on my Home Goals 2014 list, but I wasn’t exactly sure when I was going to tackle it. Fall was always in my mind.

But then the stars aligned last weekend.

My thought process went something like this:

“Dad’s here today. He can help me get the table saw running and cut the strips to trim out the cabinets.”

“Dad brought his air compressor. Maybe he’ll leave it with me so I can attach the strips to the cabinets.”

“I have the Advance paint out for the bookshelves and a good stash of foam rollers. I might as well paint the cabinets at the same time.”

So my go-with-the-flow non-project plan for September has resulted in the biggest project of the year.

That’s absolutely okay with me. Here’s the before picture. I think you can probably see why I’m so excited to have this makeover started. Functional? Absolutely yes. Pretty. Not so much.

Laundry room before

I feel good about the possibility of having the makeover done before the end of the year, thereby meeting one of my home goals for the year. I feel even better about the possibility of the makeover matching the picture in my head. It’s not just going to be pretty. It’s gonna be puuuuuuurty.

Here’s some of my inspiration for the laundry room.

I’m not doing one of my formal project plans. At least not yet. I’m sticking with my September plan of going with the flow. So, I’ll be back with an update when I’m back.

Do you have a pretty laundry room? What’s on your dream laundry room wish list? Do you have any suggestions for what I should do to my laundry room?

Sweet cherry tomatoes

She’s my cherry pie tomato, Put a smile on your face, Ten miles wide…
Tastes so good, Make a grown man cry, Sweet cherry pie tomato
(Badly paraphrased from Warrant)

After my lack of success last year attempting to grow tomatoes, I refused to plant anything edible this year.

But Matt wanted to try tomatoes again.

He got some plants from his Dad, and he carefully tended them all summer. He cleared an area on the turnaround, put the tomato cages in place, suckered them and watered them. When they outgrew the cages, he improvised with other trellises gathered from around the property.

It took nearly all summer, but his attention paid off. We finally have ripe, edible tomatoes! So much better than last year.

Even better, most of our plants turned out to be my FIL’s cherry tomatoes. These are wonderfully sweet. My absolute favourite tomatoes.

These tomatoes sprout every year in my FIL’s garden. However, just to be safe, I’m going to try to save some seeds this fall to grow our own plants next year using this tutorial from The Art of Doing Stuff.

Yes, my reluctance to grow edible plants has apparently been overcome by sweet ruby spheres.

Cherry tomatoes

Improvised tomato trellises

Improvised tomato trellises

Cherry tomatoes

How has your garden grown? What’s your favourite kind of tomato? Have you ever tried saving seeds? On a topic more likely to make you lose your appetite, can you believe that Warrant music video? There’s absolutely nothing like 80s hairbands.

Happy birthday, Baxter

Baxter turned four on Friday. For our lazy guy, the very best gift is a good nap. And that’s exactly what Matt and I tried to give him. However, things didn’t work out exactly as planned. I’ll let Baxter tell the story of what happened.

Hey y’all. Birthday Boy Baxter, here.

I knew something special was up when I was invited onto the couch. You see, I don’t get to sit on the couch hardly at all. And to be honest with y’all, it’s kinda hard to get comfortable when I know I’m not really supposed to be there. It just feels wrong.

Plus, Matt and Julia are usually there with me, and they always want to give scratches and kisses and snuggles. I mean, I like them alright, but a dude’s gotta have his own space sometimes.

Well, Matt not only invited me onto the couch, but he and Julia let me have it all to myself. Y’all, it was luxurious.

Baxter on the couch

So much better than my chair. I didn’t have to fold my feet up to my chin or hang my head off the edge.

Contortionist doggie

I stretched myself right out on that there couch and had a little doze.

Now I knew for sure something special was up when I was invited onto the bed. I get invited onto the bed more regularly, but it’s usually just to help Matt pick out his socks (I can’t see into the dresser drawer when I’m standing on the floor). But this time, when I was invited onto the bed, Matt helped me lay down, and he even tucked a pillow under my head. I didn’t just doze. I had a full on sleep! Talk about a birthday present!

Sleeping on the bed

I was an hour or so into my dreams when it happened. All of a sudden the pillows jumped me!

You see them in that picture up there how they’re all just sitting there on the bed? They look all proper and stuffy, don’t they? Well, don’t let them fool you. Pillows have a twisted sense of humour. They thought it was a great birthday trick to jump on an unsuspecting dude while he was sleeping.

I bow-wow-wowed and bow-wow-wowed and bow-wow-wowed. By the time Julia came to the bedroom, the pillows and I had all collapsed from exhaustion.

Baxter and the pillows after the battle

As soon as Julia saw us sprawled all over the bed, she knew exactly what had happened (she knows how weird pillows are). She gave me lots of pats and told me how brave I was for battling the pillows. She told the pillows they had to leave me alone because it was my birthday. We managed to go back to sleep, but I slept with my eyes open, just to be safe.

Aside from Julia: He actually does sleep with his eyes open. It’s creepy.

The rest of my birthday was more naps, lots of scratches, some good walks, a phone call from my Uncle Greg, a visit from Julia’s Dad (who shared his peanut butter sandwich), some chicken, sweet potatoes and cheese. And no more pillows. All good stuff.

Happy birthday, dude.

Highlights from the Canadian Blogger Home Tour

Well that last post was a bit of a downer. I didn’t want to make it seem like I was bashing the Canadian Blogger Home Tour.

I truly do think it was a great series. I know the work that goes into photographing, editing and writing posts like those, and it’s considerable. I admire all of the people who participated in the home tour and the beautiful spaces they created.

There were some really inspirational homes on the tour and today I wanted to highlight a few of my favourites.

Rambling Renovators – Jen’s home tour was the first I read, and it linked me to many of the others. I’ve been a long-time reader of Jen’s blog, so I’d seen most of the rooms on her home tour already, but this was a great showcase of her house all in one post. The trim work and built-ins–all done by her husband–are beautiful. I love the traditional feel of her house and the attention she and Handyman pay to every detail.

Trim work at Rambling Renovators

The Creek Line House – This is a new blog for me that I discovered through the home tour. A tour of a 114 year old farmhouse? I was hooked from the very first photo. And then I scrolled a bit and saw a barn. And there were fields too. This is my kind of place.

The Creek Line House

Adventures of the Uncommon Common Law – Obviously, Becki’s and Chris’ aesthetic is not something you’ve seen from me before. However, if I ever go modern, this is how I’d do it. Sleek and clean. Dark and dramatic. But still super warm and personal. Their lighting is really cool and creative.

The Uncommon Common Law

The DIY Mommy – Some of the Home Tour posts included a collage of images from the various bloggers who participated. One of the little pictures was of a bright kitchen with cheerful blue curtains. This picture is what drew me into the other blogs. I just had to find the house with those great curtains. Well, I did. And the house behind it is great too. The fact that Christina and her husband built it themselves is even more amazing.

DIY Mommy

If you haven’t had a chance to check out the whole roster of blogs in the Canadian Blogger Home Tour, I encourage you to. I’m sure you’ll find lots of inspiration too. Thanks to all of the bloggers for opening their homes to us.

AKA Design
The DIY Mommy
Northern Style Exposure
Echoes of Laughter

A Pop of Pretty
Rambling Renovators
Craftberry Bush
Elliven Studio

First Time Fancy
So Much Better With Age
The Creek Line House
The Sweetest Digs

Clean and Scentsible
The Happy Housie
Just Beachy
Dans le Townhouse

The Uncommon Law
This Little Estate

Comparison, blogging and progress

The Canadian Bloggers Home Tour was a couple of weeks ago. It was great to see Canadian bloggers come together and share their personal styles and beautiful spaces. I’ve been inspired by their designs, photography and styling (tune in Friday for a post showing some of my favourites). I’ve even found some new blogs to add to my feedly.

However, often when I see posts like these home tours, I’m a bit conflicted.

I know all of the houses have been cleaned and staged before any of the photos were taken, but I still can’t help feeling slightly inferior when I see house tours like these.

Holy bad paint job, Batman. There are maybe three rooms in my house that are even close to being photogenic enough to be part of a home tour. And they’d all need a good tidy before I took their picture.

Dining room

Much has been written about the unreality of the blogosphere. I think we all know that the images we see on Pinterest and many blogs are not always accurate representations of how people actually live. Lauren at A Lo and Behold Life did a behind the scenes post last week showing some of the real life at her house, which was nice to see.

The bloggers who participated in the home tour are to a certain extent the cream of the crop of Canadian shelter blogs. One of the organizers, Shannon of AKA Design, said “we selected Canadian bloggers who have gorgeous homes (big or┬ásmall), great photography and mad decorating skills.” Fair enough. Home tours don’t have quite the same inspirational impact when you see the clutter clustered in the corners or the toss cushions tossed on the floor rather than arranged artfully on the couch.

I have to remind myself every so often that reading certain blogs is basically the same as reading a decorating magazine. It’s about appreciating design and finding inspiration for my own spaces. It’s not about other people’s homes or blogs being “better” than mine.


I like the saying that comparison is the thief of joy. In a lot of ways I don’t care what other people do or what they think of me.

Even though I obviously share a lot of my house and my life in public on the internet, I blog for myself (and those like-minded souls that loyally hang in there through slow-moving makeovers and interminable renos).

My house is for myself (and Matt).

I’ll be honest, though, I can’t help wondering what’s wrong with me that my house doesn’t look like these beautiful spaces I saw in the posts last week. We’ve been living here for two and a half years. Why is our house not “done” yet?

I have every confidence that our house will get to a stage where our rooms are beautiful and tidy and perfect reflections of our personal style. Someday, we will be home tour ready. I’m just feeling a little impatient to get there.

(And in case you missed it at the top, I don’t want this post to be interpreted as a rant against the Canadian Bloggers Home Tour. There’s too much negativity and criticism out there. I think the tour was a great way to showcase creative designs and some talented Canadian bloggers. I was inspired by many of the designs I saw. This post is simply my personal reflection and an expression of where I’m at today in my own renovation/decoration saga. I have another post coming up later this week with some of my favourite designs from the home tour. Stay tuned.)

Un-Labour Day

First post of the month means it’s time for another project. But I have something different for you this time around. You see, September’s my birthday month, so I’ve decided to give myself a break.

Of course, there’s still lots to do around here, and since I actually like to spend my time doing things, I will keep myself busy.

Finishing my bookshelves is at the top of the wishlist. My birthday was always my rough deadline to have the shelves completely set up and all of my books unpacked. Having my books back will be like reconnecting with old friends. I think that’s a pretty good gift to give to myself.

Bow on box of books

We made some really good progress this weekend. Matt and I painted the living room. The outer frames of the bookshelves are all primed, and I should be able to get two coats of paint on them today. The shelves themselves will come this week.

Painting the bookshelves

So despite this being an unlabour month, I was pretty productive this Labour Day weekend.

What were you up to this weekend? What are your plans for September?