The benefit of neglect

I haven’t shared much about the flower gardens this year. Mostly because I’ve done nothing in the flower gardens.

In life we have to make choices. And my choice this year has been to focus on the vegetable garden. That means I haven’t done anything in the flower gardens… at all.

Most of the gardens have filled in enough that they still look somewhat presentable, but here and there are weeds that are taller than me.

I try not to pay too much attention and remind myself that there are only so many hours in a day and I’ve made my choice about where to spend my energy.

However, this week I received another reminder: sometimes leaving things alone isn’t such a bad plan.

Look at this mini sunflower. There are two of these volunteers courtesy of the birdfeeder.

Mini sunflower

Had I been weeding this year, I would have pulled these out long ago. I never would have seen their sunny blooms.

Sometimes neglect isn’t such a bad thing.

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Summer progress in Illinois

Sarah is back today with more news from Illinois. Like me, she has a long summer to-do list, and she’s made some good progress recently.

Things have been pretty busy around here.

This past weekend Steve and I spent over 4 hours trying to get the garden back in shape. Weeds had really gotten ahead of us.

It’s crazy how a good rain and warm sunny weather for a couple days can turn weeds from “manageable” to “out of control,” because that is exactly what happened. But we do now have a handle on things, and I need to work on it every day, even for just a few minutes, so that we stay on top of things.

Freshly weeded vegetable garden

The rain and sun has been great for the kale though. I have added it to my salads, and I have made some kale chips. But truthfully I really needed to find a way to use more of it and quickly.

I was listening to Young House Love’s podcast, and John mentioned that he blends his kale with just a little bit of water and freezes it in ice cube trays. Then he uses a cube or two to drop in his smoothies. Wow! That was such a simple idea and I had never thought of that or read that idea anywhere. So I cut a bunch of kale, rinsed it and did exactly what John suggested.

Blended kale ice cubes

I used a lot of my kale. It only took a few minutes and now I can add it easily to my breakfast.

I will have more to harvest. This is AFTER I made my kale cubes.

Kale in the garden

The other thing that we worked on over the weekend was the chicken coop.

Building a chicken coop inside a barn

We had just been using wood that we had laying around, but we got to a point where we had to make a run to the home improvement store and get more supplies.

We are basically making a small room inside one of our barns. The exterior wall and the roof will be insulated.

I am still kind of designing and redesigning things as we go, but I have a pretty good plan in mind. I am hoping we will be ready for chickens by the end of this upcoming weekend.

This summer seems to be flying by so quickly. We have gotten so much done, but I feel like I have so much more that I really want to get finished.

I don’t want another month to go by without checking so much more off of my to-do list!

Oh, I know what you mean, Sarah. Summer is the time to get things done. I’m glad I’m not the only one with an ambitious to-do list. You’re doing a really great job, though! I can’t wait to see the rest of the coop–and its occupants.

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Dry fields hoping for rain

Oats harvest

Last week our farmer harvested our fields. It’s been an incredibly dry season. As the tractor rolled across the fields dust plumed behind the wheels.

The fields had been planted with oats. Our farmer was not happy with them, but it looked like he got a good quantity of bales.

Baler behind the hay wagon

He was hoping desperately for rain in the next couple of days. Underneath the oats, he had also planted hay. We needed rain or else we were going to lose all of his seeds.

On Wednesday night, just a few hours after the harvest, the skies opened up. We had rain off and on for two days.

Hopefully that means good things for his seeds.

Tractor harvesting blaes of oats

It would be nice to have another harvest yet this year.

What’s the weather been like in your area?

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Gotcha Day 3

Last week marked three years since Baxter came to live with us.

Inspired by Tracey at Oh Melvin and Yo Jake, I have a tradition of writing a letter to Baxter on the anniversary of his gotcha day. Now that I’m writing for ThatMutt.com, I decided to share my letter there this year.

I invite you to visit ThatMutt.com to share in the love.

Baxter and me

Want to look back at how we got here? Here are my letters from year 1 and year 2 and Baxter’s adoption story.

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Our new summer project

Last week I mentioned that we’ve added a new summer project to our to-do list. Unfortunately this project is driven by a problem. You got a bit of a glimpse of the problem in this photo that I shared on Friday.

What is this?

This is the drywall in the long room in the basement. And in case there’s any confusion, it’s not supposed to look like this.

We’ve had water issues off and on ever since we finished the basement. This spring was the worst.

In the unfinished space just beside the long room, this was the scene. Water seeping in at the joint where the foundation wall met the concrete slab.

Basement foundation leak

We surmise that this happened along the whole wall, including in the finished area. The baseboard swelled and stained. The carpet was damp. And behind the baseboard mold grew.

Water damaged baseboard

We had some water-proofing contractors come in a few weeks ago and give us quotes to fix the problem. Work starts today. So our formerly finished long room now looks like this. And it’s about to get worse.

Spray foam insulation

With the drywall removed the studs don’t look too bad. Yes there’s mold, but it doesn’t go too high on the wall, and the wood isn’t rotted at all. Even so, I’m not sure much of this will be salvaged, as our contractors are doing the waterproofing from the inside.

Water damage

The other area of focus outside of the long room is the cold cellar. The cold cellar is an addition, and when it was added, the concrete floor was poured just up to the old footings. In the spring or even on rainy days, the whole perimeter of the cold cellar leaks.

Water leaks around a basement footing

This area isn’t as worrisome, as it’s unfinished, but nonetheless we’d rather not have water in the house at all.

Our contractor is also going to redo our sump pump pit and put in a two new pumps–one on a battery back-up. During a power outage in one big storm this spring, Matt bailed the sump pit for four hours. We’d prefer not to repeat this situation… or worry about the power going out if we’re not home.

Waterproofing is one of those projects that I’m not super excited about. Cutting into our drywall was a bit heartbreaking after all of the work we put into finishing the basement in the first place. Plus it’s a lot of money just to get us back to where we were when we first finished the basement.

However, it’s a very important project. Knowing that this is our forever home, we want this problem solved.

Have you ever waterproofed your basement? Do you have any water leaks?

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Update and a new adventure in Illinois

Sarah in Illinois is back today with a bunch of updates on what’s happening at their home. Hint: some new additions are on the horizon.

This may be a disjointed post. I had been working on a project, and I thought I would be done before I had to send this week’s post, but it didn’t turn out how I had planned. (Argh. So frustrating when that happens, Sarah.) I will be sure to include why it didn’t work and I had to regroup in a future post.

This post will be a little bit of an update and share what I have in the works.

Kittens

Tiger stripe kitten

As of when I am writing this, the black kitten has been reserved and the tiger-stripe is still waiting for a new home. The mother cat has been to the vet and spayed so I will not have to be in this situation again.

The cutting garden

Zinnias in a mason jar

There are about a half dozen different varieties of flowers that are growing. Right now the only one ready to cut is the zinnias.

Three zinnias in milk bottles

Future posts

I hinted in one of my comments a while back that I am getting chickens! My neighbor has been raising several chicks and offered four of them to me. They will not be ready to lay until about September, but I can get them as soon as I have a secure place for them.

So my free time has been spent reading and reading about chickens and working on making a secure coop for them. I have never had or really even been around chickens so this is all a new learning experience.

Some of the books I have been reading include (not affiliate links):

I think I am ready to start this adventure. I have been told that I am overthinking everything and that chickens are a lot easier than I am making it out to be. I hope so! I will be sure to post about my adventure and in the meantime, any advice would be appreciated.

Cute kitten, pretty posies and exciting news–this worked out to be a post after all, Sarah. Congratulations on the chickens. I confess, I’ll probably take the same approach as you when it comes time to add birds to our farm. Your forethought just might make you a more successful chicken farmer.

Having grown up with backyard chickens, my best advice is to make sure to collect the eggs a couple of times a day. We got a bit lazy and our hens started eating their eggs. That was a hard habit to break!

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Home Goals 2016 mid-year report

Six months ago, I shared my Home Goals for 2016. We just crossed the halfway point of the year, so it’s time for my mid-term report.

Beyond sharing my Home Goals, I also started the year by sharing some of my ideas for the major renovation that we want to do… someday. And the first goal on the list was to get an idea of how much the reno is going to cost to help us figure out when that someday might be.

We consulted with a contractor, got some feedback on our plans and got some numbers. They’re big numbers… as in not any time soon numbers… but it was helpful to give us an idea of where we’re at.

In terms of specific projects, here are the rest of our goals.

Guest room

Robin's egg blue country guest room

The guest room was our first project of the year, and I’ve already done the official “reveal,” so I’m feeling pretty good about crossing this project off. However, there’s one task left on my original to-do list, which has also made it onto my summer to-do list.

  • Paint the walls and trim
  • Replace the light fixture
  • Make window treatments
  • Refinish the desk chair
  • Strip the paint off the metal bedframe (and maybe repaint)
  • Decorate and personalize

Finish the basement

Building shelves in the closet under the stairs

The basement was essentially finished a looong time ago. However, those niggly finishing details are still hanging around. Plus, we have two new summer projects, one that you know about and one that you don’t yet. (I’ll be talking more next week about things that are going to affect our basement progress).

  • Trim around the cold cellar doorway
  • Finish the built-in storage area in Matt’s bathroom
  • Make/buy art to finish off the space
  • Build shelving in the closet under the stairs
  • NEW Build a new closet in the basement
  • NEW Mystery project (more to come next week)

Furniture

Vintage china cabinet

I’m always on the hunt for a few key pieces of furniture. So far this year, I’ve found one piece–the china cabinet for my office–but it’s still awaiting its makeover.

Vegetable garden

Centre axis of a round vegetable garden

My all-consuming summer project every year has become the vegetable garden. Thanks to Dueling DIY this spring, the garden is in really good shape.

  • Hang the gate
  • Edge the garden
  • Build raised beds around the perimeter
  • Build trellises for the raspberries, tomatoes and squashes
  • Plant perennials: grapes, asparagus, rhubarb, more raspberries
  • Run a waterline out to the garden
  • NEW Spread hay mulch over the garden

Outdoor clean-up

I ambitiously added another outdoor goal to the list, although I realized I’d have to pick my battles in terms of which area I chose to clean up.

Thanks to a bit of distraction at the start of the garden Dueling DIY, I’ve cleaned up the large lumber pile on the north side of the centre field and burned the long grass and weeds on the south side of the garden. Matt’s been mowing the burn, and it almost looks like a real lawn already.

Burned lawn

I’m feeling pretty good about what we’ve accomplished so far. Work on a farm never ends, but I love seeing the progress we’ve made.

How are things going at your house? Do you feel like you’re making progress on your goals?

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Happy Canada Day!

Today, I and my fellow Canadians are celebrating our country’s 149th birthday.

I’m also celebrating because I’m a new contributor to homify.ca. homify is a new online platform for housing and construction. The goal of the site is to connect architects, designers, builders–all of the professionals you need–with house and apartment owners.

My first homify.ca post is appropriately Canadian: ideas to incorporate a bit of Canadiana into your home decor.

(I totally want this eh! pillow for my house).

Eh pillow

Source: Samphire Bay

To my fellow Canadians, happy Canada Day. To my American readers, happy almost Fourth of July. No matter what nationality you are, happy weekend, everyone!

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