Garden Expansion

March 20, 2017

Happy First Day of Spring!

Expanded garden

While it may not look like spring here yet, you can definitely feel it in the air. Yesterday was a balmy +6C and the snow banks were melting. Today is cooler and we have cooler weather in the forecast, but I think its safe to say we have seen the last of the -30C temps.

The project sounded simple enough in my head. Just take down a few trees. However, I got a huge surprise when I came outside and found Ken 3/4 through the cutting. We have never clear cut a site before and the sight of it turned my stomach. A mass destruction of about 50 trees! So glad we did not have to clear the site for the house or current garden.

Destruction of over 50 trees to make way for expanded garden

The trees are mostly down now, just a few more to cut. Still have the work of clearing out the branches, cutting and splitting the bigger stuff for firewood, removing the roots and brush and tilling the soil into a usable garden. Ken said he will have it ready for planting this spring. What a dreamer. I expect it will two years from now before it is planted.

 

 

 

 

And speaking of spring and gardens, I have all my transplants planted and sitting in the sunroom. Tomatoes, peppers, broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage, eggplant and herbs. And I have hauled all my geraniums out of the root cellar and they are starting to regrow. We have ordered a LED Grow Light and are expecting it any day. The coating prevents the house from overheating in the summer but it does have its down side – plants don’t grow very well. I am hoping the grow light helps prevent them from getting too spindly. Eventually, we plan to build a greenhouse but for now, other priorities exist.

Day 1 of forcing tulips in water

Nothing says spring like tulips. I planted 50 or so bulbs two years ago in the turnaround. They bloomed last spring and I can’t wait to see them appear this year. However, since they are still under at least a foot of snow, that will not be anytime soon. Sister Sheila picked me up a bag a tulip bulbs on her trip to Amsterdam last November and I cold treated them in the root cellar. I am trying to force them in water using the message found on this link.

Day 10 of forcing tulips in water

So far they are growing well.

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Zero Waste Shopping

March 17, 2017

I was pretty excited to hear about Bulk Barn’s reusable container program. Starting February 24, 2016, you can bring your own containers into Bulk Barn and fill them with the products they sell. I have used a similar service at Vancouver’s The Soap Dispensary and loved it.  This week was my first opportunity to try out Bulk Barn’s new program.

Containers ready for shopping

Before heading to Bulk Barn, please review their Reusable Container Program on their website and make sure your containers meet their standards. Its pretty straight forward – glass or plastic, empty, clean, no rust, no chips, no bags. My containers are labelled because I am using my storage containers, but you don’t have to label them.

When you enter the store, find a cashier and get your containers weighed. They will mark each container with the weight. Then do your shopping. When you check out, the weight of the container will be deducted from the total weight.

Shopping all done.

While the program is pretty straight forward, I was not sure what I would find at the store. The success of this program will depend not only on the shopping public’s desire to reduce waste, but also from the stores attitude to the program.

I was pleasantly surprised at the service I received. There was a line up at the cashier when I entered the store, but when I asked what to do, another employee came out immediately to weigh my containers. While we shopped, the manager came out to speak to us about the program. After shopping, checkout was smooth and seamless.

I would normally price shop a bit, buying the bulk goods wherever I can get the best price. Bulk Barn has very competitive pricing on their products; however, with this new program, I am willing to buy all my bulk goods at their stores just to have zero waste.

It was a real treat to get home and just put my containers away. Normally I would have the job of transferring my purchased from the plastic bags to my containers. Then wiping out the plastic bags and storing them for future use.

A couple of tips:

  • Be sure your containers meet their standards.
  • Take a few extra containers with you for impulse purchases and sale items.
  • Chose containers with wide mouths that are easy to fill using Bulk Barn scoops. (My current container for Tapioca Starch has a narrow mouth and was difficult to fill.)

It is an exciting step forward for a main stream store to offer a Zero-Waste Program. I hope you will utilize it. The more successful this program is, the more likely other stores will be to follow their example. Use your shopping dollars to encourage the change you want to see.

 

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After the Storm

March 6 & 7 2017

Winter Wonderland

The storm is over and it was a beauty. Snow and winds 6- to 70 km/h ripping across the lake to create a blizzard. It started with above zero temps on Monday (March 6) and rain and quickly the temperatures plummeted creating freezing rain then snow.

Freezing rain and driving snow on the tree trunk

With the high winds the trees got coated in freezing rain on one side. Then the winds switched directions and driving snow covered the other side of the tree. With the drifting, its hard to tell exactly how much snow we got, some areas have been swept completely clear of snow and some have drifts up to four feet. I think we received less than 10 cm. Lucky for us, as areas north are expecting 30 to 60 cm.

 

 

 

 

The sun come out in all her glory today, making the place look like a winter wonderland. And after over 30 hours of howling winds, the winds have abated. Still windy, about 30 km/h, but the reduction is much appreciated. So thankful for the one foot thick walls in the house which pretty much muffled the constant howling.

One blessing was that the wind cleared off the solar panels. With the blazing sun and cold temps today, we have an abundance of electricity. And no need to climb the scaffold and clear the snow off the panels.

 

 

 

We have started to dig out the many drifts – in front of the doors and garage, and although our driveway faired fairly well, we will wait for the plow to come through before we venture out anywhere. For now, we are content to strap on the snowshoes and wonder down our many sheltered paths within the trees. So nice to be able to put another log on the fire and enjoy nature’s show.

 

 


 

 

 

 


 


 

 

 


 

 


 

 


 

 

 

 

 


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Livingroom and Master Bedroom Update

March 7, 2017

Its been a while since I posted an update on the house build. We are back at work after our Mexico break and have a few projects in the works…..but nothing finished. I am a finisher. I like to start and finish a project and then cross it off my list. Ken is a starter. So..lots of projects started, nothing finished. But, we are making progress.

After finishing all the cabinets in the kitchen (Love my 100% finished kitchen. Its a dream come true.), Ken got going on the cabinet doors for the livingroom, and there is a lot of them. 12 bottom doors, 6 top doors and 2 false fronts to complete the west wall with the windows and window seats. Plus 2 weird shape doors for the cabinets under the stairs.

Livingroom west wall – almost done

This is the west wall today. The bookcases between the windows are complete. All the bottom cupboards have doors. Ken finished all except for one that warped bad after construction and needs to be redone.  The top cupboards in all three book cases will also have doors, and over the window seats will be false fronts. I made cozy window seats. The seats are a bit high but super comfy. There are lights above the window seats, so perfect for curling up for a read or looking out the window. Sox, the cat, loves this spot. (We have the vinyl flooring and baseboards stored in the livingroom right now.)

Mater bedroom ceiling, walls and floor done

Then he got sidetracked. Ken C volunteered to come help finish the pine ceiling. Once that was done, Ken decided now that the ceiling in the master bedroom upstairs was done, he’d like to put the hardwood floor. (The hardwood was another Kijiji find from a few years back that has been stored until now) So we mudded, taped, painted and put in the hardwood floor.

 

 

 

 

 

Mater bedroom walk in closet floor done

The bedroom still needs the French doors put in and the trim finished, but Ken decided to start the walk-in closet and attached bathroom as well. Finding the perfect piece of vinyl flooring on Kijiji sealed the deal. A great deal and enough for the walk-in closet, master bathroom, both dormer storage rooms and the porch floor. It is the fibreglass backed kind which is wonderful to work with and does not need to be glued down.

 

 

 

 

Master bathroom ready for vinyl

 

We had already installed the Enstrom subflooring in the closet and bathroom. It had been sitting on the veranda deck all summer after we finished the cork floor on the main level. With winter on the way, we figured we had better get it inside. Rather than store it, we laid it down. Now we had the vinyl so we installed it. There is still lots of build to do in these two rooms and we know the floor should be last. BUT, we don’t always follow the rules. So the floor is in and we are finishing around it.

 

 

Master Bath floor in

Hoping all the drywall will be up soon so that the closet can be taped and mudded. Ken does the mudding and taping, I do the cleanup and painting. He has the closet storage system almost finished but the room needs to be painted before it can be installed. Can’t wait to have a closet. We have most of our clothes still stored in suitcases. Whenever we have a special event, we have to rummage through them to find what we need.

 

 

 

There you have it, are projects started:

  • livingroom – almost done
  • master bedroom – almost done
  • walk-in closet – almost done
  • master bathroom – started
  • bannister – half done – still 2 sides to complete
  • dormers – drywall up
  • dormer storage rooms – drywall up
  • TV room – drywall up (but at least now all the drywall that was stored in here is gone!!)

March 7, 2017 Winter storm raging out my front door

I doubt we will finish these projects finished before the warm weather hits. However, given we are in the midst of a fierce winter storm today, you just never know when old man winter will give in and let spring come in. Once the snow is gone, we will head outside for landscaping. And whatever is not done inside, will just have to wait. However, keeping my fingers crossed that I can have at least one more completed project before spring.

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A Wedding and a Week in Buccerias Mexico

February 8 to 15, 2017

7_feb-10-2017_reception_entrance-table

 

We took a break from building to relax in the sun and celebrate the marriage of Kerry and Megan in sunny Buccerias, Mexico, at the Royal Decameron Resort just outside Puerto Vallarta. We stayed at the same resort last year, returning this year with the entire family. It was a beautiful wedding and a fabulous relaxing vacation. It was mega-grandparent time, spending a week with Jacob, Astrid and our two newest grandchildren, Megan’s children Katie and Tyler. All my siblings also came, so it truly was the ultimate family vacation. The pictures below tell the story.

The Happy Couple, Kerry and Megan

The Happy Couple, Kerry and Megan

The new family, Katie, Kerry, Megan and Tyler

The new family – Katie, Kerry, Megan and Tyler

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The wedding party

The wedding party

The Porter Family - Matt, Jacob and Kelsey, Ken and Darlene, Tyler, Katie, Kerry and Megan, Emily, Christopher and Astrid

The Porter Family – Matt, Jacob and Kelsey, Ken and Darlene, Tyler, Katie, Kerry and Megan, Emily, Christopher and Astrid

The whole family - Matt, Kelsey and Jacob; Dennis; Ken and Darlene; Beth; Tyler, Katie, Kerry and Megan; Sheila; Sheryl, Pat and Glenn; Christopher, Emily and Astrid

The whole family – Matt, Kelsey and Jacob; brother-in-law Dennis; Ken and Darlene; Cousin Beth; Tyler, Katie, Kerry and Megan; sister Sheila; sister Sheryl, Pat and brother Glenn; Christopher, Emily and Astrid

Jacob, the cutest little ring bearer ever, even if he would not keep the hat on.

Jacob, the cutest little ring bearer ever, even if he would not keep the hat on.

Kerry and her mothers, Darlene and Wendy

Kerry and her mothers, Darlene and Wendy

Ken, Kerry and Darlene

Ken, Kerry and Darlene

Jacob playing in the sand during the ceremony

Jacob playing in the sand during the ceremony

Jacob playing with the lighted balls at the reception

Jacob playing with the lighted balls at the reception

Reception on the grass at the Royal Decameron, Buccerias, Mexico

Reception on the grass at the Royal Decameron, Buccerias, Mexico

Fireworks

Fireworks

Baba Darlene with Astrid and Jacob

Baba Darlene with Astrid and Jacob

The Aubut Family - Kelsey, Jacob and Matt

The Aubut Family – Kelsey, Jacob and Matt

The Porters - Christopher, Emily and Astrid

The Porters – Christopher, Emily and Astrid

 

Love on the Beach

Love on the Beach

 

Fun in the Pool - Emily and Astrid

Fun in the Pool – Emily and Astrid

Fun in the Pool - Kelsey and Jacob

Fun in the Pool – Kelsey and Jacob

Fun in the sand - Jacob and Digo

Fun in the sand – Jacob and Digo

Boogie Boarding Fun - Katie

Boogie Boarding Fun – Katie

Boogie Boarding Fun - Tyler

Boogie Boarding Fun – Tyler

Time with the siblings

Time with the siblings

Surfs up - Boogie Boarders Extrodonaire - sister Sheila, cousin Beth and sister Sheryl

Surfs up – Boogie Boarders Extraordinaire – sister Sheila, cousin Beth and sister Sheryl

Relaxing by the pool -Brother Glenn and wife Pat

Relaxing by the pool -Brother Glenn and wife Pat

One too many buffets for Glenn

One too many buffets for Glenn

A puddle is all Jacob needs to have fun

A puddle is all Jacob needs to have fun

Or some sand and a pail

Or some sand and a pail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

What a cutie - Astrid

What a cutie – Astrid

Tyler fancy jumping in the pool

Tyler fancy jumping in the pool

Tyler gets some air

Tyler gets some air

Aubut family on the beach - Kelsey, upside down Jacob and Matt

Aubut family on the beach – Kelsey, upside down Jacob and Matt

The Porters introducing Astrid to the ocean - Emily, Astrid and Christopher

The Porters introducing Astrid to the ocean – Emily, Astrid and Christopher

Baba Darlene and Astrid

Baba Darlene and Astrid

Gido Ken and Jacob

Gido Ken and Jacob

Tyler constructing mega castles in the sand

Tyler constructing mega castles in the sand

Sun protection suit - cutest dragon

Sun protection suit – cutest dragon

Katie and Tyler climbing trees

Katie and Tyler climbing trees

Darlene and Ken celebrating Valentine's Day with Cupid

Darlene and Ken celebrating Valentine’s Day with Cupid

Baby sitter in training - Katie with Jacob

Baby sitter in training – Katie with Jacob

Katie with Astrid

Katie with Astrid

Sunsets on another perfect family vacation

Sunsets on another perfect family vacation

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Pine Ceiling

January 28, 2017

There are always those jobs that you just don’t seem to get around to finishing. Small jobs that you just don’t want to do. For us, that was finishing the pine ceiling.

East side ceiling almost done

East side ceiling almost done

In October 2015, while I was off to BC to help out during Jacob’s birth, Ken had Ken C and Nestor over for a ceiling party. They put up most of the pine ceiling, but unfortunately, I had not managed to get enough boards varathaned before I left to BC. They did, however, manage to get the bulk of it done, and enough that the scaffolding occupying the living room could finally be removed. After returning from BC, Ken and I put up a few more rows, just enough to allow us to install the corner bannister posts, which run floor to ceiling. And since November 2015, those last five rows of pine on the east and west sides of the ceiling, have been waiting. And waiting. And waiting.

The Kens working on east side ceiling

The Kens working on east side ceiling

Putting up those boards is no walk in the park. I was pretty happy to see the boys complete the bulk of it while I was away and I know how hard they had to work to get those up. Overhead work is hard, especially when you are perched several feet up in the air. However, it had to get finished and we were very happy to have Ken C volunteer to come help. It really is a three person job – Ken C cutting and handing up boards, and Ken and I banging them in.

 

 

 

Pine Ceiling - South side over Media room

Pine Ceiling – South side over Media room

The east side was relatively easy, working on the walkway with the security of the bannister. The west side was scarier, balancing on a board without a bannister as a safety net. Thankfully, all went well and in a day and a half we had both east and west sides complete.

 

 

 

Pine Ceiling - North side and master bedroom

Pine Ceiling – North side and master bedroom

By finishing the main ceiling early, we were able to utilize Ken’s labor to bang up the pine ceiling in the master bedroom, a much easier task. The bedroom is 13 feet wide, and the pine boards are 12 feet long. To solve the pesky little one foot piece, the boys put up a spacer board on one side and the ran the 12 foot boards up to it. Then we nailed short one foot boards on the spacer board, just overlapping the 12 foot boards. It formed a small lip which we later finished with a trim board, which you can see in the picture below. It made quick work of the job and good use of the lumber.

master bedroom pine ceiling complete with trim

master bedroom pine ceiling complete with trim

 

 

 

Since the bedroom was all apart to put up the ceiling we have decided to get it finished. Besides Ken is only working on one project now – the cabinetry for the living room, and we all know he likes to have at least a couple projects on the go all the time. The room is now taped, mudded and painted. Ken did the taping and mudding and I did the painting. We are using the same brilliant blue as the downstairs bedrooms.

Now working on the hardwood floor in the master bedroom and the living room cabinets.

 

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2016 Year in Review

December 31, 2016

Another year has come and gone with more than its fair share of both happiness and sorrow.

joyce-coulson_2010The year was off to a rough start with my mother’s funeral on January 2. It is hard to believe it’s been a year she’s been gone. On the September long weekend, we held a big family gathering to celebrate her life and bury her ashes.  She would have been so happy to see her kids, grandkids, great grandkids, brothers, sisters, nieces and nephews enjoying a great visit. Thank you everyone who came out to bid her a final far

varadero_09_closeupWhile we were celebrating my mother’s life, my sister Laverne was in the hospital fighting for hers. Unfortunately, she lost the sudden and short fight and passed away on September 12. It’s a loss I still don’t quite believe and am still coming to grips with. Laverne and her husband Dennis had just retired and moved to Sandy Lake in August 2015. I am thankful to be living out here and able to spend that year with her.

 

 

Jacob 1 year old

Jacob 1 year old

 

The year, however, was not all sorrow. Our first grandchild, Jacob Peter, continues to be a wonderful blessing. We were happy to be in Kamloops in October to celebrate his first birthday with mom Kelsey and dad Matt. Amazing to watch how much they grow and develop in the first year. He’s no longer a baby but a little boy.

 

dec-2016_christmas-lightWe spent several weeks in June in BC, waiting for the arrival of our second grandchild who was in no hurry to make her entry into the world. Astrid Beam arrived safely on June 29 and instantly became the center of Christopher and Emily’s world.

 

november-2016_santa-claus-paradeAfter waiting so long to become grandparents, our blessings are overflowing. Kerry and Megan will be married in February, so Katie and Tyler will officially be joining our fast expanding family. 

 

September 2016 the Porter family (missing Matthew)

September 2016 the Porter family (missing Matthew)

 

 

We celebrated our 35th wedding anniversary this October and its mind boggling how our lives have evolved over the 38 years since we first met.

 

 

PV2016_Family picAs you can see family affairs kept us pretty busy in 2016; however, we did find time for a bit of travel. In February, we travelled to Bucerias, Mexico for some time in the sun and play time with Kelsey, Matt and Jacob and Kerry, Megan, Katie and Tyler.

 

Giants Causeway

Giant’s Causeway

 

 

 

In May, Ken and I toured Ireland and Scotland with an incredible group of people. We had unprecedented great weather and saw so many natural wonders and historic sites. What beautiful country and welcoming people.

 

 

 

houseeRetirement has been very busy for us, but we continue to make progress on our retirement home. Three and a half years of building and the first floor is close to completion. Major accomplishments for 2016 include a beautiful staircase to the second floor, cork  flooring on the main level, siding the outside of the house, a deck, balcony, foyer, vestibule, two main floor bedrooms, and the kitchen. The flooring was a major accomplishment and changed the house from a construction zone into a home, mainly because the scaffolding and tool collection in the middle of the living room had to go.

dec-28-2016_kitchen-completeWith the kitchen complete, we have just a few more main floor projects and then we can start finishing the second floor. 

With the house at a point where we have what we need to live, the building pace has slowed down leaving more time for recreation. While Ken did not play any baseball this summer (a very sad state of affairs for him), he did enjoy a number of golf games. And he still enjoys organizing group travel trips. In addition to his annual winter trip down south, he is also hoping to have a trip to England available for fall of 2017. 

I enjoy time for meditation, gardening and cooking. I am still giving plant based cooking lessons in Winnipeg and have a cooking blog ponderosacooks.wordpress.com. Check it out if you are looking for good vegan recipes. This year, I even had time to dust off the sewing machine and get a few projects done.  

photo by James Deng

photo by James Deng

Sox up a tree

Sox up a tree

 

 

 

 

 

 

And we both enjoy our furry companions, Sox and Hanna, who remind us to take a break and go for a walk twice a day.

We hope this year in review finds you and your family happy and in good health. Remember to enjoy each day as it comes and don’t worry about the past or future. Joy and sorrow are both part of life. Without the sorrow how could we appreciate the joy!

Wishing that 2017 brings you a year of peace, good health and happiness.

 

Sunset on the Ponderosa

Sunset on the Ponderosa

 

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