September Long Weekend Family Celebration

September 3, 2016

sep-2016_peter-and-joyce-gravestoneBefore my mother, Joyce Coulson, passed away in December, she requested that we wait until the weather was warmer to bury her ashes. On September 3, 2016, she was buried beside her husband, my dad Peter Coulson, who passed away on September 24, 1986, 30 years ago. It was a bitter sweet affair. Most of her family – over 50 children, grandchildren, great grandchildren, siblings, nieces and nephews where able to come for the celebration and we had a great time visiting and reconnecting with each other. However, Laverne was in the hospital at the time, and the get together was just not the same without her.

sep-2016_porter-family

The Porter crew was out, with the exception of son-in-law Matt, and so the house was full of kids, toys, dogs, laughter and fun. It was great having the cork floors in, especially since grandson Jacob was in full crawling mode. This definitely is a house built for family and I hope it gets lots of family use.

lots of room to play on the living room floor

lots of room to play on the living room floor

Party in the kitchen

Party in the kitchen

Astrid (2 mths) and Jacob (10 mths)

Astrid (2 mths) and Jacob (10 mths)

Astrid and Hanna

Astrid and Hanna

Gido playing blocks with Jacob

Gido playing blocks with Jacob

Tyler and Jacob playing lego

Tyler and Jacob playing lego

Singalong in the Sunroom

Singalong in the Sunroom

Katie making cinnamon buns

Katie making cinnamon buns

The Moms

The Moms

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When my kids were young, they spent their summers at my Mom’s house on the farm with their cousins. They formed lasting friendships and spent lots of quality time with their grandmother. I hope my grandkids can spend lots of time with us at the Ponderosa.

Baba's Grandkids

Baba’s Grandkids

 

 

 

 

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Farewell Weiner

September 21, 2016

It is with a great deal of sadness that I post the obituary for my dear sister Laverne, aka Weiner. She was a one of a kind and I will miss her dearly.

Weiner cod fishing Newfoundland August 2016

Weiner cod fishing Newfoundland August 2016

Laverne Christine Lewandoski (nee Coulson) passed away in the early morning of September 12, 2016 at the St. Boniface Hospital in Winnipeg. She was predeceased by her parents Peter and Joyce (Luhowy) Coulson.

2010_Laverne and Dennis on Panama Cruise

2010_Laverne and Dennis on Panama Cruise

Laverne is survived by her husband of 30 years, Dennis Lewandoski,  her brother Glenn Coulson, and sisters Darlene Porter, Sheila Klimchuk and Sheryl Dadey.  Laverne was Auntie Weiner to numerous nieces and nephews.

Glenn, Mom (Joyce) with Sheila on lap. Darlene, Dad (Peter) with Sheryl on lap, Laverne 1966

Glenn, Mom (Joyce) with Sheila on lap. Darlene, Dad (Peter) with Sheryl on lap, Laverne 1966

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

May 1960_Mom and Dad with baby Laverne, big sister Darlene and big brother Glenn

May 1960_Mom and Dad with baby Laverne, big sister Darlene and big brother Glenn

Laverne was born in Shoal Lake, Manitoba on May 5, 1960, middle child to Peter and Joyce Coulson. She graduated from Erickson Collegiate in 1978. Laverne worked in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba, Manitoba Hydro and Angus Reid.  On February 29, 1984 Laverne moved to Fort McMurray, Alberta. She started work with the City of Fort McMurray Department of Parks and Recreation before transferring to the RCMP as a civilian shift clerk for “C” Watch, where she worked for 18 years.

Later she joined the Tim Horton’s crew. Laverne loved her job there and had her own fan club of customers. In October 2013, Laverne was recognized for her outstanding customer service and was awarded Fort McMurray’s Tourism Gold Star Award.

She retired in 2015, and along with her husband Dennis, returned to their roots in Sandy Lake, Manitoba.

Varadero 2009

Varadero 2009

Laverne and Dennis loved to travel and enjoyed many trips all over the world, some of their favourite spots included Greece, Costa Rica, Israel, Egypt, Panama, Istanbul , and Las Vegas. They recently returned from a two week tour of Newfoundland where they celebrated their 30th wedding anniversary.

 

 

 

 

Laverne loved to get on her Harley and ride, she often said it was the best way to relieve stress.  Laverne made many miles on what her Baba Mary Luhowy called that nice” Big Black Horse”!  For many years Laverne and Dennis participated in the Ft.McMurray  Couples Motorcycle Poker Run where Laverne gained the respect of the seasoned bikers for her ability to handle her own Electra Glide Standard, complete with a Thunder Header…She loved running with the High Milers, and they loved riding with her, because, Laverne never left home without her smile.

Laverne loved her family dearly.  Weiner adored her many nieces and nephews as demonstrated by her love for buying toys, the “noisier the better”!

 

Darlene and Sheryl with their noisy Weiner Christmas toys_2016

Darlene and Sheryl with their noisy Weiner Christmas toys_2016

August 2016

August 2016

As many of you know, you would hear Laverne’s laughter long before you saw her. And when you did see her, it was like a ray of sunshine walked into the room.

She may be gone but she will never be forgotten. Rest in peace little sister.

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Stairs

August 20, 2016

Stairs December 2015

Stairs December 2015

Once the cork floor was done on the main level, Ken got itching to get the stairs done. This is the kind of project he loves, with a lot of fine detailed work. And I am so excited that they are finally done and they look fabulous.

Finishing the stairs was quite the project – treads, risers, under stair storage and railing. It took over a month to complete.

 

 

 

Nosing

Nosing

Nosing Glued and Screwed

Nosing Glued and Screwed

Ken constructed the noses on the stair from bamboo by routering a rounded edge on it. The backs and sides of the stairs were also done in bamboo.

 

Cork on Treads

Cork on Treads

Jul 24 2016_treads done2We had some leftover cork tiles from the floor project and decided to incorporate them into the stairs. We have two cork patterns, one in the bedrooms and another in the living room, but not enough of one or the other to do the stairs. So we decided to use both, alternating the treads. I really like the outcome.

stairs backs in bamboo

stairs backs in bamboo

View from upstairs

View from upstairs

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

storage compartments framed

storage compartments framed

The space under the stairs has 3 storage sections. The small triangular area at the foot of the stairs is a little cubby to store the vacuum cleaner. It has a electrical outlet inside so the vacuum can be kept plugged in. I use the vacuum to clean off my dust mop so this is really handy.

The middle storage unit is composed of a triangular cubby and 3 drawers. I plan on using these to store my good dishes (using the sunroom as a dining room).

The big area is a alcove for Ken’s old juke box. We have had it for around 30 years and for the last 6, its been stored in a garage. Over the years, Ken has accumulated quite a collection of 45s. We recently brought the juke box home from the city, where it has been stored. It needs a little TLC, but if it can be fixed up, it will have a new home. If not, I have a plan for more storage cubbies for that corner. Never enough storage. LOL

In the pictures below, the under stair storage area is complete except for the cupboard doors and drawer fronts.

Aug 2 2016_stairs with cubbiesAug 2 2016_stairs with drawers

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Post and rails in.

Post and rails in.

We removed the post at the bottom of the stairs and the railing when the floor was installed, now that is back in. And it is even sanded and finished.

6_drawersThe drawer fronts are done in this photo but not the 2 cupboard doors.

 

 

 

Next job, get the spindles in. A bit tricky but Ken manages to figure it out. It one day to get the first spindle done, but he got steadily faster as he figured out how best to do the job.

Get each spindle sanded was a chore, until he began using the lathe to rough sand them, and a stationary belt sander to finish them up.

7_Measuring spindlesThe spindles are tenon cut, same as the spindles for the bannister upstairs. The bottom and top spindles were fitted by placing it in the hole cut on the bottom rail and eyeballing it to the hole in the top spindle. For the spindles in the middle, the rails had enough give for him to actually put them in the top and bottom holes. Each spindle was numbered as each is specially made for each space.

Once he had all 24 spindles cut to size, he varathaned them all and we were ready to install them.

Unfortunately, I was no help in this process. I took a really bad tumble off my bike when we were out giving Hanna a run. Luckily, nothing broken but a really bad groin pull has put me out of action. Thanks to Sheryl and Rick who helped Ken out in the final install.

Sheryl sorting out spindles by number

Sheryl sorting out spindles by number

Fitting the top spindles in

Fitting the top spindles in

While Rick kept the top rail in place at the bottom pot, Ken and Sheryl fitted the top spindles in place.  Ken made minor adjustments for length as we went .

 

All spindles in but adjusting needed to make each snug.

All spindles in but adjusting needed to make each snug.

Since we knew the middle spindles were the correct length, we opted to install the top and bottom spindles, trusting that we could fit the middle ones in later, same as Ken had done while he was making them. All went well until we discovered that some top and bottom spindles were too long, pushing the rails apart and making the middle spindles too short. After a bit of adjusting, we got them all in. The next day, Ken fined tuned them by filing down the too tight, over long spindles until all the spindles fit well. In hind sight, we should have continued installing the spindles top to bottom and seeing if the top  rail stayed in the right place or was pushed up. That way we could have adjusted better as we went along.

 

It was a bit tricky, but finally the stairs are complete. A real work of art.  The final two doors need to be made for the under-stair storage, but that will wait until later.

5_Aug 20 2016_complete

 

Next job – the living room. Ken has been working on it while doing the stairs, so hopefully it won’t be too much longer to get completed.

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Odd Jobs

July 23, 2016

While the cork floor was being installed and cured, we had to avoid working in the house. It was an unexpected bonus, giving us time to complete some odd jobs around the place.

View from the cabin deck

View from the cabin deck

I moved my kitchen essentials out and into the cabin where I did all the meals while the floors were being done. It was a great flashback in time. We spent so much time at the cabin before the house was started, sitting on the deck and enjoying the lake view.  The Ponderosa was my Mom’s favorite property and she loved to come and sit on the deck. However, its been years since we have used the cabin much. It was wonderful to cook on my mother’s old stove again, although my Kitchen Queen is a much superior stove.

peony bed

As a bonus, the lilies (from my mother’s garden) were in full bloom and it was a blessing to enjoy them everyday. The cabin area was designed as an oasis from construction. Out of the way of the house, on the north side of the garage and shop, you could escape from the chaos of construction. However, since we have moved into the house, I seldom hang out at the cabin and forgot how beautiful it is with all my perennial beds.

Challenging my fear of heights

Challenging my fear of heights

We still have not completed the siding on the house and having to stay out of the way while the flooring was going in gave us the perfect opportunity to work on it. We started the south side a couple of years ago and now it’s finally finished. It was not a difficult or big job but it was a challenge to work up so high. Both of us were glad to see it finished.

2b_Jul 22 2016_south side landscaping

 

 

 

2b_Jul 22 2016_south side landscaping

 

With the siding done, we could also do some landscaping on the south side, which had become a huge thistle patch. My plan for next spring is to plant eggplant and peppers against the house and melons and squash on the slope. I am hoping the melons and squash will spread and cover the area. But for this year, I will be happy just to keep it relatively weed free.

Garden July 15

Garden July 15

Garden July 23

Garden July 23

We also used the time to get the garden weeded. We have been having a whole lot of rain and now that the heat has also arrived, it is growing like crazy. We are enjoying the greens – kale, spinach, lettuce, collard, turnip greens, beet greens and snow peas.

And the raspberries are going nuts – huge and plentiful. Every other day we pick about a gallon for eating fresh and freezing. The Saskatoon berries are also large and plentiful this year. Its been several years since we had a good crop so we are enjoying snacking on them on our daily dog walks and picked a bunch for freezing as well.

4_Jul 22 2016_north sideThe siding on the north side was done last fall; however, not the porch/wood shed. Now that is almost completed. Just the top row to finish. But that has to wait until we get another order in. Somehow we messed up our calculations when we ordered the vinyl siding and we had enough to do only the south, east and north sides. The west side is yet to be started. I am hoping we can get that done in August.

4_Jul 22 2016_north side landscaping

 

We also took the time to get the weed patch on the north side under control. We decided to keep much of the north side in shale rather than earth. We work a lot in this area stocking the woodshed with wood and want to be able to access it with the tractor. Eventually I may put in some raised beds for strawberries but for now a weed barrier is down and a layer of shale. Further west is still weeds and that will be put into garden beds once the deck is completed on the west side.

5_Jul 22 2016_Hanna and Sox on verandaWe are loving the veranda, on the east side of the house, this time of year. Its lovely and sunny in the morning, and cool and shady in the afternoon and evening. The swing has become our favorite place for breakfast, lunch and supper. Hanna and Sox also like to hang out there in the shade.

I am hoping as the weather gets cooler this fall, we will enjoy the deck on the west side overlooking the lake. But right now, it is just plain to hot there once the sun hits in the afternoon.

It’s just over a week since the cork floor was finished and the final coat of urethane applied. The urethane is now fully cured and we can begin working inside the house again. Ken has started his next project, the stairs, and I am so excited to see this one started. I am hoping he can go from start to finish but we shall see if I can keep his attention centered on one project for long enough to do that.

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Cork Floors

July 14, 2016

Another milestone reached…the flooring on the main level is complete. Oh wow, it is starting to look more and more like a house and less and less like a construction zone.

We decided to do the main level with cork tiles for several reasons.

  1. comfort – cork has a nice give to it making it wonderful to walk and stand on.
  2. warmth – cork is a great insulator and will help make the floors warmer.
  3. water resistant – great for kitchens
  4. durability – a cork floor can last 20 to 30 years.
  5. upkeep – damp mop and wash. Every 5 to 10 years, high traffic areas may need another coat of urethane.

We had the cork professionally installed by Ray’s Cork Flooring and are thrilled with the end result. It took three full days to lay the approximately 1000 square feet of tile (kitchen, living room, 2 bedrooms and foyer), and another morning for cleanup and the final coat of urethane. The tiles already had 4 factory coats of urethane on them, so only one final coat was required.

Before

Before

After

After

Kitchen

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Before

Before

After

After

Living Room

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It will take 7 days for the urethane to fully cure, so we are not working in the house until then. Next week we can tackle the final trim on the main floor. We are taking the flooring time as a break from inside construction and getting some of the outside work done. Update to come.

Posted in Construction, Kitchen, Living Room | Tagged | 1 Comment

Baby Astrid Arrives

July 10, 2016

Jul 1 2016_Astrid and Family2

 

We have a new grandchild! Christopher and Emily’s first child has arrived. Baby Astrid was in no hurry to join the world, and arrived with much fanfare 11 days late.

A is for Astrid

She is the sweetest little thing, born 6 pounds 10 ounces. Such tiny little hands and feet. She has a long lanky frame and a full head of dark hair.

Jun 29 2016_with Emily1

 

Jul 1 2016_with Baba and Gido

 

We travelled to BC for her arrival, enjoying a visit with 8 month old Jacob while we waited. And I finally managed to find time to get Astrid’s quilt finished.

Jul 2 2016_with Baba on quilt

Jun 20 2016_Bike timeJun 21 2016_Guitar time2Jacob is now into crawling, standing, playing in cupboards and getting into everything, He’s a busy little beaver and kept us busy and amused.Jul 1 2016_Jacob and Baba

Jun 20 2016_play time with hanna2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Jul 4 2016_through windowHanna came along with us and Jacob was quite fascinated with her and not the least bit afraid.Jun 26 2016_Splash Park_Family2

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

It was wonderful to meet our newest grandchild and spend time with our first. I love watching my kids with their own little ones – musing a teething baby or soothing a fussy newborn.They have developed a selflessness.  They are doing such an awesome job as parents and I am so proud of them. And I cant wait until they are all out here at the Ponderosa in September.

Enough holidays, time to get cracking and get the house ready for the grandkids. I am super excited about our next project – flooring. At long last, the flooring is being installed on the main floor. The house is all ready and the installer just arrived. Going to be a busy week. Stay tuned for pictures.

 

 

 

 

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Blenders

June 12, 2016

You need to develop a different mind set when you live off grid. You think about power usage all the time. Power tools are for sunny days. But regular household items also use power, and sometimes significant amounts. Vacuuming, running the washing machine and using the food processor or mix master are also sunny day activities. I only use the electric kettle in the summer, mid day, if the batteries are floating and lots of power is still coming in. Same goes for the electric skillet. However, a good blender is a must in my kitchen – sun or no sun I would love to have a green smoothie everyday.

We have owned a VitaMix for many years. It is a high power blender and I love it. Or rather loved it. It just bit the dust after 35 years of smoothies and banana ice cream. When researching what to replace it with, we discovered that all the new high powered blenders that have recently appeared to compete with the VitaMix, all use about 1,500 watts of power. Yikes, that is similar to an electric kettle. So when replacing the blender we added another criteria into our decision making – power usage.

35 year old VitaMix and new Waring MBB518 Blender

35 year old VitaMix and new Waring MBB518 Blender

We decided on a Waring MBB518 professional bar blender. It uses 550 watts, but produces a nice smooth finished product. You can get more info on the blenders we considered in my cooking blog post.

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