Monday, December 28, 2009


Here are the roofers working in the snow and wind. Not the best day for roofing, but they're working on it! (Click on the photo for a closer look.)

Reflecting on the year . . .

With 2009 drawing to a close, I decided to read through my posts and review the progress this year. Wow! It's been quite a year! We started looking for land last winter and now are half-way through the building of our dream home! I've learned to make soap, can fruits, make yogurt, and bake bread. I can clean my house with no chemicals, cut my boys' hair, and make my own laundry detergent. I can build a fire, help side a pole barn, use a trailer hitch, and drive a John Deere. I've worked harder this year than I ever have before. Our family has spent a lot of quality time together and we've drawn closer together throughout the year! I can't wait for everything to come together in 2010.

Sunday, December 27, 2009

Windows for Christmas!

Here is the back. You can see the daylight windows in the basement, the back bedroom corner windows, and a bit of the glass door and the back door of the garage.

Kitchen windows on the left next to the garage, dining room windows on the front porch, front door and sidelights, dormer windows above and to the right, master windows.
The builders installed these all on Christmas Eve. We were out of town and just returned to a nice surprise! Plumbing is run, electric is run, showers are in place, fireplace in sitting in place . . . Nice!

Sunday, December 20, 2009

Bit by bit . . .

This is the front view of the house. On the left is the kitchen, on the right the master bedroom. The wall with the peak will be stone with a window and arched pediment above it.
Here's the back view. We have a side-entry garage and a covered back deck. You can see the roofers have the shingles sitting on the roof--getting ready to go!

This is the living room with the corner fireplace. We haven't chosen the stone for this yet.

We are working on purchasing the things we need for the new house. A few weeks back, we found a great deal on the fridge and convection microwave we wanted, so we bought those. This week we got another good deal on the range and dishwasher-combination of price matching plus a % off coupon. Yesterday we drove all over town looking for the specific stools I wanted for the island--white wood with square backs, counter height--finally found them and will pick them up on Tuesday. Last night, Josh found a generator to order from Sam's Club.
Things keep moving along and we are anxous to see the progress each day!

Tuesday, December 8, 2009

House is coming along!!!

We're getting a roof! Unfortunately, it won't be covered before tonight's storm. They've worked hard all day and have put up all the trusses. Not sure if they can work tomorrow or not, depends upon the approaching storm. The weather report says it could be rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain, or a crazy combination of all of the above over the next 2 days.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Re-faced the pole barn

Before: (Actually when we 1st bought the land, 1 of these doors and the window trim was painted Christmas green. This is after I re-painted that.)
After: The kids, dog and me!

We spent the weekend of our 16th wedding anniversary re-facing the front of the pole barn. Josh tore off all of the old siding, removed 3 windows, and 2 doors. We all helped and put in 2 new windows and a new door as well as replaced all of the siding on the front of the barn. It was hard to accomplish with the hours of daylight being so short now!

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

Basement beginnings!

Here's the sunset that will be the view out my kitchen window!
The forms for the poured basement walls are all in place! They'll pour the cement tomorrow!

Wednesday, October 28, 2009


Finally our construction loan is approved!!! We are set to close next week. The builder has been ready to start and actually began clearing the top soil this afternoon! We are all so excited!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

"Our" Lake House

We are settling in to our rental house on the lake. It's really a summer cottage that someone is renting to us until June. We are hoping it's insulated enough to keep us cozy during our midwest winter. I am hoping to find the cable I need to post pictures in one of our boxes.

Although this is not our ideal rental home, we are thankful for Nova who rented it to us on less than 1 days' notice. We actually had our ideal rental picked out (lots of storage, garage, basement), but in reading over the lease agreement, it was different that what the leasing agent told us verbally. We were not willing to pay 12 months of rent if we left after 6, and they wouldn't budge. They thought we'd have to cave because we had to be out of our house 3 1/2 days from then, but we did not. I got back on Craigslist and found a new rental in the area we wanted. I emailed her right away and the next afternoon Josh viewed the home and that evening we put down the deposit. She didn't have time to do much clean-up other than clear out the fridge, but I didn't mind cleaning since she let us move it right away without even doing credit and background checks. (She said she could tell we were responsible people and I did show her a copy of our credit report from a few months ago.)

Friday, September 18, 2009

Packing! Moving!

We're packing this weekend and moving all boxes and everything we don't need for 1 week of living out to the pole barn. Turns out we're closing 1 week from today (we just found out yesterday) and have to be out by midnight next Saturday. We don't yet have access to the rental house. We've booked 2 men and a truck for Saturday, but they're pay by the hour and we need to conserve money, so we're trying to do most things ourselves with our little suv and trailer. Since we're going to be in a time crunch, we're taking things to the pole barn tomorrow and Sunday and then when we get access to the rental, we can take them in there. Yes, that means we're moving things twice! Better than over-wintering in the pole barn though. We expect to get house access early next week and then we can take stuff directly to there like plants, food, clothes etc . . . I've got Friday off from work and need to also register the kids for their new schools. Fortunately I've been planning ahead and have faxed most all of the papers to the schools today. Oh, yes! Sweet pea's birthday is in less than 2 weeks! Had to book a party and now need to make invitations! Sometime, I'll need to buy a present!

Right now the truck, trailer and car are all packed and I'm tired and my back hurts. I'm going to bed. (I just re-read my post--no wonder I'm tired!)

Sunday, September 13, 2009

Moving forward

We've got a signed purchase agreement on the house and have passed the inspection phase. We are supposed to close the last week of Sept or 1st week of October. I've spent the last few weeks diligently looking for a house to rent. Finally found the perfect one yesterday! It's in the same school district as the property, so the boys will transfer to their permanent schools when we get out there in about 3 weeks. This will put us much closer to the property. It's on a busy country road with a nice big yard. 1960's ranch with 4 generous bedrooms, 2 baths, roomy kitchen, 3 season porch, garage and full basement. There is a ton of storage space in this house! I plan to take some of the items I have in the pole barn and move them into the rental house, then I won't have to worry about mice getting into them.

I've met with the kitchen guy and flooring lady and have everything all picked out for those rooms and the baths. That was fun and not too dificult--as I'm a woman who knows what she likes! (Of course that's usually the most expensive thing, so then I have to choose something else!)

We are meeting with the builder on Tuesday to go over the proposal and $$$. That will tell us a lot and then we'll decide if we start ground breaking this fall.

Regarding the actual land, we finally got our survey done! Turns out all those black raspberries I posted about earlier actuallly belong to the neighbor--oops! The lines are confusing out there because of the hills running at all different angles, once you go down a hill and can't see the road, we can't determine a straight line! Now we've got post markers all along the property lines to keep us and our kids on our land! Also, the grass seed we planted is now growing in pretty well, along with weeds of course, but that's fine. At least the ground isn't lumpy and something green is growning on it! :)

In terms of food, I have a few blackberries and some black raspberries that are mine. I also have black walnuts, but I don't know how to process them. There's a large apple tree filled with apples, but it's in the middle of poison ivy and they have a lot of bug marks on them. May be next year I can spray the lower branches and compete with the deer for apples. They have a well-worn path to the tree! There are also a lot of other nuts falling from the trees in the wood right now. I'm not sure what they are. This fall I don't have time to figure it out or collect them. Between moving and being back to work as a teacher, I'm quite busy right now.

Josh has had quite a time with poison ivy this summer. He got it really bad on his legs and it lasted about 2 months-finally he went to the dr for steroids. As soon as that cleared up it appeared on his back, thighs and stomach--who knows why those spots--he wears clothes! I got a few small spots on my arms, but I think was from the oil that Josh brought back home on him. Now he's got big rubber boots and never goes out in the woods without long pants and long sleeves!

Next time I post, I'll likely be in the rental house!

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

House updates

Our current house is still for sale, but we've had a lot of showings. Right now we're at the top of someone's list according to their realtor. Hope that we get an offer from them soon--their house is already set to close in 1 month. I've worked really hard to keep our house super clean and organized! So many boxes have been packed and are being stored out at the property in the pole barn. I go back to work tomorrow, so I tried to get quite a few things we don't need packed up.

I'm headed to the flooring store today to look at flooring and Friday to the kitchen shop to meet with the designer!!!!

Thursday, August 20, 2009

Re-grading the land

As you can see, we had some of our land tilled and re-graded. Actually, we had it tilled and Josh re-graded it. Then we put down some grass seed. We bought a spreader that pulls behind the tractor to spread the seed. However, the seed kept clogging up the hole and wouldn't spread. So, the next day, Josh, the kids and I headed out first thing in the morning to seed it manually. Unfortunately, it had rained so much we couldn't walk on it, let alone drive a tractor/trailer combo without leaving ruts in the just-graded soil. We fiddled around for about an hour as we waited for the sun to dry the soil a bit. Then, the boys and I sat on folding chairs in the trailer with buckets of seed and as Josh drove around the property, we tossed out the grass seed for 3 hours. Pretty primative, but it worked!

The surveyor has started staking our property lines for us as well. We are anxious to have that completed as no one really knows where the boundary lines are, especially once you get behind the hill, because the ground rolls at so many different angles, you can't see a straight line very well.

We've had 4 showings on our house in the last 2 weeks. That's not too bad, but no offers yet. We meet with our builder tomorrow afternoon to see what the numbers look like! Yikes!

Tuesday, August 4, 2009

For Sale

Our house is now officially for sale. I've been sorting, organizing, de-cluttering, packing up and cleaning for 3 days straight. My house looks awesome inside. Today I begin the outside--washing the front porch, removing dead flowers etc . . We've priced to sell and hopefully it will sell soon--once we get into a rental we'll be able to save more money each month since rent is quite a bit less than our mortgage.

The weather is supposed to be hot and stormy today, so I better get to it!!!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Ce-clutter, clean, pack

We have decided to put our house on the market. Things are slowly starting to pick up in the real estate market around here. We will be officially for sale on Monday. I've been doing small organizing projects throughout the summer, but now I've really got to get down to business. I've been working on the master bedroom closet this afternoon. I've packed 8 boxes so far, plus 4 trash bags to go to Salvation Army. Most of the main rooms in the house have been de-cluttered. The focus this week will be Sweet Pea's room, master closet, sewing/craft room and play room. Wednesday we are having our hardwood floor re-coated. Friday we are going out of town for the weekend, and our open house will be Sunday while we're gone, so the house will have to be perfect when we leave. I've got a lot to do! Josh has spent the afternoon patching little dents in the walls and repainting scratched up trim and has begun to organize the garage--that's a big job!

Lots of work, but we have some positives going for us right now: a friend works at a nursing home and can provide an unlimited number of adult diaper boxes-good sized, sturdy with handles, all the same size--great for neat stacking! We have a large pole barn on our property that we will put our boxes in as we pack. Finally, I still have 3 weeks left before I must return to work.

Our plan is to price the house for a quick sale. Then begin building and move into a rental house. So, what we're packing up now are things we don't plan to take to the rental house--books, craft supplies, extra blankets and sheets . . .

Sunday, July 12, 2009

Fruit preservation plans

I decided I want to record what I've preserved and what I plan to preserve this year. I decided this blog was a good a place as any.

So far:
Canned strawberry jam
Frozen strawberries
Canned black raspberry jam

Can peaches with my friend Celeste?
Freeze blueberries
Applesauce--freeze or can? Last year I froze and it was good!
Freeze green beans depending on harvest
Bake and freeze zucchini bread-1st one harvested already

By the way homemade yogurt mixed with raspberry jam . . . heavenly!!!!!

Monday, July 6, 2009

Building plans

We met with a builder last week and are considering the possibility of starting to build in the spring of 2010 and move in during that summer. We're checking into all the details and will see how things work out.

Saturday afternoon we went back to the property and I picked 6 cups of wild black raspberries and Sunday I made jam! Yummy! Also found a deer path that went behind the raspberry bramble and went right to a large apple tree. I will be curious to see the apples in a few months. Green? Red? Full of worms? Time will tell! I'll go back and pick more berries later this week. They need a few more days for more to ripen, plus the mosquitos were terrible out there!

I did get a few laughs yesterday afternoon. While I was making the jam, I was watching the Disney version of Little House on the Prairie mini-series. Ma and the girls were picking blackberries and their hands were all purple (like mine were), but they quit because of all the mosquitos. That part of the movie was sure realistic enough, that I can vouch for!

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Look what I've picked!

I've got black raspberries! Lots and lots of black rapsberries! I'm so excited! I picked a few handfuls today, but wasn't adorned in appropriate berry-picking attire. I'll go back Sunday and get more once I've got on my jeans, long sleeves and mosquito spray! I bet you can predict what will happen next week with my kids gone to grandma's for the week . . . can you say "Black Raspberry Jam?" Anyone? mmmmm!

Sunday, June 28, 2009

House plans

We've picked out a houseplan we like. We actually chose it a few month back. You can see it at this link. I wasn't able to copy the photo here.

We're leaning toward the cement board siding in countrylane red for the exterior. We've toyed with the idea of geothermal heating, but have decided we'll probably go with a high effeciency furnace and wood burning stove. The geo-thermal is quite an expensive up-front cost, and it looks like for us, it would take at least 10 years to break even on it.

We've been thinking about the layout for the sometime-to-be-finished basement, so that it can be at least rough plumbed and framed. We can finish it later ourselves. Looks like we'll do a full bath, bedroom, family room, playroom, craft area, storage room and office. I'll also include a cool storage area for vegetables and canned goods. Eventually I hope to have a good number of fruit trees and grow a large garden including root veggies that will store best in a cool, dark space.

For the kitchen, I would like white cabinets and a quartz countertop in some shades of gray. I'm thinking of red for an accent color. I'm excited about the island. I can see some stools there with red cushions on them. I'd also like shelves built into the side of the island for my cookbooks.

Sweet Pea is getting excited about building the house, too. Both boys have picked out their bedrooms in the floorplan already. Neither boy has said anything negative about switching schools when we move. But, I guess it's still an ambiguous point in the future, so they're not worrying about it yet.

We are trying to see if there's a way we can build sooner than our original 3 year plan. We'll see. Josh is planning to talk with abuilder he knows next week.

We bought some more arrows for the boys this weekend, since they've lost all of theirs in the meadow. Big Dog needs mosquito netting for camp, but Gander Mt and MC Sports were both out. I'll ask at scouts tomorrow what type he needs and then I guess I'll order it online.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Eating fresh

Last night I did a training session for child care providers on how children can learn through cooking. We made a few simple recipes. One was the ole' shake cream in a jar until it's butter. So, this morning I made fresh butter for my toast and topped it off with my strawberry jam. (I did use store bought bread, though I can make my own.) For lunch I decided on chicken ceasar salad to use up some leftover chicken. I picked lettuce, green onion, and spinach from my mini-garden and added some chicken and dressing and it was yummy!

I did discover it takes more than a rinse under the faucet to have clean greens though! I rinsed them under the faucet while rubbing with my fingers and still discovered some tiny bits of dirt/bugs, so I had to wipe each leaf with a paper towel to be sure they were clean.

Monday, June 22, 2009

Strawberry Jam!

Last week I decided to make strawberry jam. I grow a few strawberries in my yard, but not enough for jam, I planned to take the boys to pick some. Apparently there are too many pickers and not enough strawberries around here, so we just bought local strawberries at the fruit market.

I have never made jam before, but it wasn't too hard. It is so delicious--well worth the effort! After washing and hulling the strawberries, I pureed the strawberries.

The next step was boiling the strawberries and pectin, then adding the sugar and boiling a bit more.

Once it was done, I canned the jam using a hot water bath method and it's all done! :)

Sunday, June 21, 2009

Pole barn siding

Yesterday Josh decided to purchase some new metal siding to replace the siding on one side of the polebarn. It had a 10'x10' door in place, but there were no tracks and it didn't function. We want to replace it with a regular size door when we have some more money. This weekend, we replaced all the metal siding on the side of the pole barn. That was so much work! We have no electricity out there, so all the cutting was by hand. I did much of the cutting with the tin snips while Josh battled the wasps and worked high on the ladders. We both worked very hard! Metal siding is not easy to cut by hand! Many hours of work yesterday and a few today and it's done! Unfortunately I forgot to bring the camera today so I'll have to post "after" photos later.

Yesterday the boys took the camera out and aroudn the property to take pictures of the wildflowers etc . . . It gave them something to do. I'll post some of them later . . . I'm too exhausted to get off the couch to download the photos.

I'm grilling steak and potatoes for dinner with German chocolate cake for Father's Day dinner this evening.

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

S'more work!

Well, Sunday's visit to the property was nice! The boys and I had just returned from 3 days out of town on Saturday, and didn't have the gumption for too much physical labor. We decided to work on making a rough firepit. The previous owners had a burn pile site, so we figured we'd just go with that location. The ground was very hard in that location--lots of rocks and clay and I only had a flat edged spade to dig with. I got it dug out enough for a small fire for the afternoon. The boys drove the tractor and trailer around searching out firewood. You can see them here unloading their trailer. We found some dead branches--right in the middle of a poison ivy patch! So, we left those and found some more up by the road. Once we had our first campfire going, we made s'mores! Right in the middle of the afternoon--yummy!

Monday, May 25, 2009

Learning about hard work

The boys have been learning about hard work this month. They've helped with picking up trash and lifting heavy bins into the dumpster. They've lugged gallons of water around to care for over 50 trees. They've scoured the dirt floor of the pole barn for any nails or screws that could puncture a tire. Today Big Dog became very good at pounding nails out of 2x4s so they could be used again. (You can see the pile he's working on in the photo below.) Both Big Dog and Sweet Pea stacked the nail-free 2x4's along the wall of the pole barn. Those are heavy when you're only 7 and 11 years old! Big Dog has been working especially hard to show his dad he's tough. It's pretty neat to watch. I like to see them working alongside each other.

Josh has got the floor out everywhere except the section under the 2x4s. He's also got the wall down that had the plastic over it. He even put a 2x4 across the top of the new overhead door, much to the displeasure of the sparrow couple that live in the pole barn! (There's still another huge opening along the east side of the roof--don't fret!)

I worked on mowing today and did some more glass removal from a previous trash pile before sowing it with wildflower seeds--Sweet Pea helped.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

Lots of progess!

This weekend the boys and I cleaned up the last of the trash piles. Big Dog enjoyed driving the tractor to haul the loads up to the dumpster. Honey, our golden retriever, enjoyed following us back and forth, running and barking at the trailer! Josh got the old white shed torn down and most of the interior walls down in the pole barn. He also got a rope swing up for the kids!
It looks really pretty now!

Sunday, May 10, 2009

Met the neighbors and had an accident

The bobcat came in very helpful this weekend as we spent Friday evening and Saturday cleaning up the piles of trash from the property. There was a lot more in the piles than we realized. We filled a 20 cu yd dumpster by lunch time Saturday. We will need 1 more dumpster to finish getting the rest of the rubbish removed along with the contents and wood from the old shed we need to take down.
The picture shows the smallest trash pile. It looks smaller in the photo than it actually was. You can see the white shed that needs to come down in the background, along with my husband, brother and dad checking out the contents of the burn barrell.

We were invited to a neighbor's home for a party on Saturday evening. They invited neighbors for about .5-1 mile in each direction. It was the 1st party of its kind. Most people didn't know each other, so it was a great way to meet most of the people on our road, including the family with the alpaca farm. The boys got to meet the 12 year old boy whose family hosted the party--they live in the wooded land across the road.

The boys really experienced some new things at the party. First of all, Sweet Pea loved the rope swing that started at the top of a steep hill. Josh and I were a bit surprised to look out the winddow and see our 7 year old swinging 10-15 feet above the ground!!! I controlled myself, and allowed my boys to be boys with the rest of the kids. A while later, the kids were all out of sight and I learned they had jumped into the back of a mule--sort of a golf cart with a bed in back. The dad said--don't worry it only goes about 10 miles/hr. OK--but I was a little concerned. I went out to check on them as they drove out of the woods, with my 11 year old standing up in back holding onto the roll bar! He sat down as soon as he saw me. They both survived that as well. All the kids unloaded from the mule and I was standing there next to them when all of a sudden, their dog barked once and jumped at Big Dog (my 11 yr old, not an actual dog) and bit him on the arm! The wife yelled at the husband to put the dog away and we checked out his arm. Fortunately, he was wearing a sweatshirt so he was bruised and swellen, but the skin was not broken.

We decided to go home after caring for the bite. The family was embarrassed and felt really bad (and perhaps worried about being reported or sued). They even called on Sunday afternoon to see how he was doing. He's fine- bruised, but he says it doesn't hurt.

All that dangerous activity and the injury comes from being bitten by someone's dog! I never would have expected that one!

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

Free form artisian bread

Here's some bread I made from scratch a few weeks ago. It was quite easy--no kneading! It makes a soft interior and "crusty" crust!

Monday, May 4, 2009

Making it "ours"

The pole barn was divided into rooms and drywalled. That doesn't work for us--we need car and boat storage. Friday, Josh gutted the drywall and insulation. Saturday we replaced an overhead garage door and put new doorknob/locks on the entry doors. Now it's ours--no one else has a key!

Next week-end we're due for a lot more work! Wednesday our new John Deere Tractor is being delivered. We've got a 20 cu yd dumpster coming on Thursday and are renting a Bobcat on Friday through Saturday to get the trash piles removed and the drywall and insulation from the polebarn removed.

Last week I made another batch of soap. This time it's olive oil with a touch of castor oil. I used peppermint tea in place of the water to mix with the lye. Interesting results . . . initially, it turned an ugly brown color. As it sat, it turned an interesting shade of orange. Now that it's curing, there's an interesting blend of golden yellows and oranges swirled together. It seems the lye did remove any trace of peppermint scent however.

Here's an updated photo of the cured soap. Turned out really nice looking, but the scent is a bit odd! It does feel nice on the skin, not drying at all.

Tuesday, April 28, 2009

It's really ours! The 1st day

We closed on our property yesterday after work! We brought a change of clothes, trees, and about 20 gallons of water. Just before the closing, it started to rain. The rain was down to a sprinkle so we decided to head out there in hopes the rain was done. Josh had purchased a spray to use on the trees to keep animals from eating them and decided to put that on there, so the spray could dry on the way out there. Once he started spraying it one them, he realized it was pretty smelly. Turns out it was made with animal blood! We drove 30 minutes closed in the truck with 70 trees covered in animal blood spray. The stench was pretty bad. We couldn't keep the windows open due to the rain that had started back up. The kids and I tried some mints to cover the scent--it didn't work. I put some scented hand lotion on and kept my hands in front of my nose and mouth all the way there. The kids said it smelled like poop and Josh said it was "something like that'--we didn't tell them the gross truth!

We were glad to all have gloves to wear when touching the trees! The neighbors came over to say hello and introduce themselves. I think they were curious to find out what we planned to use the property for. They seemed like nice people.

As the neighbors left, the rain kicked up. (As it turned out, we didn't need to use all that water we brought--the rain saved us a lot of work!) We had the kids go sit in the truck and Josh and I finished planting the trees. We planted about 25 pine trees on the edges and 10 black cherry trees across the front of the property. We still have 25 white spruce and 10 black walnut trees left. We may get out tomorrow to plant some more.

By the time we left, we were completely soaked and quite muddy! It was good to get the trees in. The boys helped some before the rain really came down--Sweet Pea helped dad with the measuring tape and carrying things. Big Dog helped me plant the trees in the holes after dad dug them. All in all, it took about 1.5 hours and the whole family worked together!

Friday, April 24, 2009

Lots of little trees!

This morning Josh bought 70 little trees! 50 white spruce for along the side boundaries and 10 black walnut and 10 black cherry trees for the front of the yard. We close on the property in 3 days. Our priority once we close is to get all those little trees planted and watered. It's going to take the whole family working together. At least we are due for rain most of next week. That will help!

Sunday, April 19, 2009

Walked all of the property

Yesterday my family came to visit and we had the chance to walk all of the property. We hadn't actually been in the wooded portion and didn't know how much there was. I was quite amazed with how much wooded land we're going to have! I'm not certain of the acreage--maybe 4-5 acres is wooded. It was much deeper than we had expected. The children could get lost back there-especially once the trees leave out. The floor of the woods was deep with leaves and had a lot of dead fallen trees and limbs. I think it will look very different once everything starts growing again.

We are set to close 1 week from tomorrow. The sellers still have a lot of junk on the property--2-3 boats, a camper, couch, coolers, a large burn pile full of cans and glass, and 2 other large trash plies, as well as a shed filled with personal belongings. According to the contract, they are to have all of that off the land before closing. It looks like they've removed anything of value from the land and most of their belongings from the pole barn, in addition to the firewood pile. We've been in contact with the realtor about this and are considering requesting a "clean-up charge" based on the fees for renting a dumpster.

We also noticed a swarm of some type of wasp/bee buzzing around a ground nest. We didn't get too close since they were pretty active. We'll have to put that high on our list of things to take care of.

Then we drove around the corner to the creek. We saw numerous fish swimming upstream--possibly spawning? There were a couple of pretty large fish and a half dozen smaller ones. Someone else was parked by the creek as well. Last week when we drove by someone was camping there by the creek. I don't think that's permitted. I was hoping that few people would know about/use that public area. I won't be able to send the boys down there alone until they're teens if there are frequently strangers using the area.

Monday, April 13, 2009

Soap and anxious kids

I took a bar of my soap in to the chemistry teacher at work today. It's at a PH of 8, so it's getting close. She gave me a small bottle of some chemical to drop on it to test again in a week or so.

My youngest son is ready to own the property. A few weeks ago, I had to explain why we weren't planning on having horses and cows. A few days after that, he said, "I know we're not going to, but if we did ever get horses and I had one and it was a girl, I would name her Elise. Isn't that a good name?" I told him perhaps we'd get some chickens once we're living out there.

Today as he came in the door from school, he told me of his plan to play in the creek this summer and catch salamanders. He knows just what container to keep them in. I've never seen salamanders in the wild. Where in the creek area do you look? Are they under the mud at the edge?

Sunday, April 12, 2009

We took a drive out by the property the other day. Here's a photograph of the treeline along the road. We'd like to restore that treeline to a more natural area, uisng native shrubs and smaller trees to form a border along the front of the property and remove the damaged fence.
Back at home in suburbia, I readied a small portion of the garden and planted some spring vegetables: spinach, lettuce, and green onions. I had prepared the area in the fall by placing layers of newspaper over the lawn and wetting it, then adding a thick covering of mulch. I wasn't sure if the grass would be dead or not. Fortunately, it was quite dead, and the newspaper was quite decomposed. So, I just raked up the mulch, dug up the soil and added some humus. Then I was ready to go!

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


Well, I cut the soap into bars on Monday. They are drying/curing and appear to be soap!

Property update: The closing date has been moved to April 28. I hope it all works out!

Saturday, March 28, 2009


Well, today I made my first attempt at soaping. I attempted to make 1# of natural, unscented soap. It may or may not turn out. The book said to stir until it traces, which basically means until it thickens. It was supposed to take 10-20 minutes. I stirred for 45 minutes-no trace. Eventually I just poured it into the prepared mold. I checked it a few hours later and it looks like it might be turning into soap. In 2 days I can take it out of the mold and cut into bars. At that point I'll know--it'll either be soap or it will be a caustic mess.

I also gave my son a haircut today--my 1st successful looking cut. I used the clippers on the back and sides and scissor cut the front and top. He's 11 and doesn't want it very short on top. It actually looks decent--not professional if you look close, but as long as he stays away from the hair police, we'll be good! I saved $14 by doing it myself! :)

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Closing date & clean thoughts!

Closing date for the property is April 8, right after we return from our trip to St. Louis. Hopefully the sellers will have their belongings off the property by then, or we'll move the closing to a later date--we don't want to have to pay to remove their things.

I have been exploring the idea of making homemade soap. If you are familar with soapmaking, you know it requires the use of lye. Lye is difficult to find these days. If you are familar with cooking your own meth, you know it requires the use of lye. Therefore, to help curb meth production, lye has been pulled from the shelves of many stores. This week I discovered a place that sells it--though the sales guy was sure they didn't--Tractor Supply Company.

So now that I have my lye, I can begin searching out the other supplies I need! I've been reading online quite a bit and went to an introduction to soap-making class. Today I stopped at the library--one of my favorite places-- and checked out a whole book on the subject!

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Starting to get our "country gear!"

Today we went to a discount store in a nearby town. We hadn't been there in years, but they are known for having a wide variety of gloves and good prices. I figured we'd all need some work gloves for projects on the property. What a fun store for hard working guys (and even their wives)! They had every style of glove you can think of and many you've never heard of before-leather palm, liners, cutproof, rubber, work, mechanic, winter, leather, jersey . . . We got leather palm gloves for the whole family for $.59/pair! We also bought some winter gloves and a hat for next year ($1.50 ea), socks-regular and themal, safety goggles, drill bits, batteries (AA 4 packs for $.69), and duct tape. I'm going to put some of this stuff in a backpack to keep in the pole barn over at the property-then we'll always have it there.

I'm wondering what else we can keep out there. Certainly we'll need some first aid supplies. I dug out an oil lamp we received as a gift many years ago to take out there. It'd be nice to keep some water and maybe snack foods, but the pole barn has a dirt floor and I'm sure there are critters living in it at this point--so food's probably not a good idea unless I can store it in a glass jar or something else they can't get into. I wouldn't trust Rubbermaid--I bet critters can chew through that!

We are on the lookout for a good deal on a trailer to use for hauling things like lumber etc . . . We're thinking a used 6'x8' or something along those lines. Josh though about getting a beater truck, but decided a trailer will work just as well and be a lot cheaper. We can just store it out there.

The yogurt making is going well. I made a batch of plain the other day. Putting the jars into bowls of warm water does the trick. Do that at night and it's set in the morning. I liked it with a bit of honey added. The kids liked it with honey and vanilla. Tonight I'm planning to make another batch using my current batch as starter. I've heard that it sets up better the more times you use the starter.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

More woods + yogurt= happy day :) or "1,320 feet of pure heaven, Baby!"

I had to edit this post to include Josh's quote. When he said it, I said, "That's the perfect title for today's blog!"

Last night Josh discovered a discrepancy in the dimensions of the land. The dimensions listed did not equal the acreage. He visited the township office and discovered that the acreage is correct and the land goes back 320 more feet into the woods than we originally thought. We first thought the property ended just after the woods starts.

He also drove by today and found that the sellers appear to be working on clearing their belongings from the pole barn and moving the other items they have stored on the land.

Off the topic of the property, I learned how to make yogurt! It's so easy and yummy and less expensive than store bought! Imagine all the possibilities . . . raspberry, vanilla, honey with nuts, . . . mmmm!

Here's how I made it:

Warm 1 qt of milk to near boiling and stir in 1/8 C of powdered milk. Then let it cool to lukewarm. Then add 1 tablespoon of plain, store bought yogurt and 1 tablespoon of flavored jello (I used raspberry). Pour into a sterilized jar or other container (non-metal). I used a canning jar. Let sit undisturbed in a warm place until thickened.

That's the basics. You can leave out the jello for plain yogurt and you can strain it through cheese cloth or add plain gelatin if you like it thicker. Mine sat overnight without setting up--it wasn't warm enough in the house. This morning I put the jar in a bowl of very warm water and when I got home from work it was done!

Monday, March 16, 2009


The Beginning

March 16, 2009

After searching high and low, we have found the land that is just right for us. We've got a purchase agreement and are set to close by the end of April. The whole family is excited! We're buying 10.45 acres in a rural residential area. To me, it's really rural! From the property you can only see 1 neighbor's house and the roof of the next closest neighbor down around the corner. There are no neighbors across the street--just some private woods and state owned pastures leading to woods and the creek.

The property is cleared for the first 7 acres--some lawn grass, some tall meadow grasses. Then the land goes down a hill and is wooded on the sides. At the bottom of the hill is a grassy clearing with woods on the sides and behind as it dips down again.

There's a pole barn on the property that needs to be cleared out and fixed up. That's on the list of things to do this spring, along with taking down an old shed.

The part that I'm excited about right now is tree planting! We're planning to plant some trees this spring--some along the property lines and some fruit trees as well--apple, peach . . . not sure what else, but definately those! Eventually I want to plant blueberry and raspberry bushes and grow a strawberry patch and a vegetable garden. I think if I plant all this too soon, the only ones who will enjoy them are the animals! Better to wait until we've started building (in about 5 years!)